Thursday, February 26, 2009

A World's Fair for Houston? Bill Gates touts KIPP, and more

Wow. Just finished watching an amazing Rockets game where they completely dismantled Lebron James (the only shutout in his career for assists) and the Eastern conference-leading Cleveland Cavaliers (holding them to their lowest score of the year). This team definitely has the potential to go all the way, even without McGrady. If you didn't see the recent NY Times magazine article on Shane Battier as the "No Stats All-Star", it's well worth reading, even if you're only a mild basketball fan (written by Michael Lewis, author of "Moneyball"). The Rockets and Shane are pioneering a whole new strategic and tactical approach to basketball based on deep quantitative analytics that is starting to yield amazing results.

Before I get to some smaller items, I'd like to put in a plug for the De Lange conference on "Transforming the Metropolis: Creating Sustainable and Humane Cities" at Rice next week (Mon-Wed). I'll be attending some of it, hoping to find some good content for the blog. Speakers include Joel Kotkin, Bob Bruegmann,and Mayor White on Monday. If you find the agenda interesting, it's quite cheap to attend ($35), as well as having webcast video.

On to some misc items:
  • Not sure how long this has been up, but here's the TXDoT Project Tracker if you want to know the status on any of their projects. Hat tip to Jessie.
  • Bill Gates of Microsoft fame talks about Houston's amazing KIPP charter schools at the most recent TED conference. Go 14 minutes into the video.
  • The Chronicle's Lisa Gray with 25 random things about Houston, and a followup piece, a dozen happy thoughts about Houston. I liked 'em. I think they're pretty observant. She took some flack for a little negativity in the first one, but I didn't think it was that bad. As these guys point out, even our negatives can reinforce our sense of identity.
  • Houston Cheap Eats blog. I loved the book and am looking forward to discovering new places via the blog.
  • The Wall Street Journal had a recent front-page story on the ups and downs of the World's Fair history and it's rocky relationship with the U.S. It talks a lot about Manuel Delgado from Houston who's trying to get us one. He and I met over lunch several years ago when he described the concept to me. From the article:
A marketing executive and Boy Scouts volunteer in Houston, he says hosting one of the international get-togethers would do wonders for America's image abroad.


In Houston, Mr. Delgado and his team of about a dozen people believe they know how to get people juiced for an expo in 2020. "We want really bizarre looking buildings," says the 39-year-old native of Venezuela, who moved to Houston in 1997. He says his epiphany about organizing an expo came from fond memories of working at the 1992 "Age of Discovery" Expo in Seville, Spain, and meeting people from around the world. America's expo amnesia has surprised him.

The Houston team is lobbying local politicians, whom they want in turn to press Washington for support. Mr. Delgado is also consulting local universities on urban-impact studies and investigating ways to tout Houston at the Shanghai expo.

"It's a very fine line between being considered a visionary and a wacko," says Mr. Delgado.


Back in Houston, Mr. Delgado acknowledges his looming challenges by noting that Americans sometimes say a tough task "needs an act of Congress" to get done. He adds: "This is the first time I've done anything that actually requires one."

I think it'd be pretty cool if it could avoid being scheduled during our summer. What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

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At 8:03 AM, February 27, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even though I was a child in 1984, nothing could stop someone from hearing the news about the bust the World's Fair in New Orleans. It was primarily due to poor marketing. The advertiser relied on word-of-mouth which was quite stupid.

At 8:41 AM, February 27, 2009, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

I was also a child then, but had just moved away from NOLA, and definitely remember the bankruptcy stories.

At 5:33 AM, March 03, 2009, Blogger engineering said...

Do thank you for the posting which reminded me about the conference.
I was worth attending and looking forwards to the rest.
I think some of the topics and disclosure of realities on urban planning made some people think :).


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