Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Dropping JV crime, new flights, Metro press, nanomedicine, and more

A few smaller and mid-sized items:
  • A story on the dramatic one-third drop in juvenile crime since 1997.  My theory: the rise and now ubiquity of the internet, cell phones, and video game consoles have got to be a big factor here.  Youth don't get bored and cause mischief as much anymore - there's always something entertaining to do close at hand.  Or with texting, IM and social networking, they're always informed of the latest social events to go join.  While I don't think a continuous stream of novelty/entertainment/socializing is the ideal way to grow up, it's better than some of the darker alternatives like drugs and crime.
  • A YouTube video visualization of planned improvements to the 290-610-10 interchange.  They can't happen soon enough.  Hat tip to Gonzalo.  And here's a video on the plans for BW8 and 290, along with the new Hempstead Tollway.
  • Some of my long-time readers probably know I'm also a bit of an aviation nerd, so I got pretty excited by the Continental announcements of new 787 service from IAH to both New Zealand and Nigeria in the fall of 2011 (once they get the planes).  Nigeria is all about the oil industry, but New Zealand is all about the feed to and from Star Alliance partner hubs at each end: Air New Zealand to points all over NZ and Australia, and Continental to the eastern US, Latin America, and even Europe.  The only other US service to Australia or New Zealand is from California, but Houston can offer a lot more connections than LA or SF can.  I was a little disappointed Continental is not offering thru-service from IAH to Sydney with a stop in Auckland, but evidently it's a crew-rest issue (you'll be able to easily connect on Air New Zealand).  I also understand that the schedules allow them to use just three 787s to provide a circulation of flights covering both destinations (usually it would require four, since each leg is over 12 hours).  Anyway, all in all it's pretty cool and a nice feather-in-the-cap for Houston (take that, DFW!), as is this designation from the press release:
"With the addition of flights to Africa, Houston will become one of just four cities in the world - and the only city in the Western Hemisphere - to have nonstop service to every inhabited continent on the globe."
Well, that's if you assume New Zealand is part of the Australian continent, which is debatable, but I'll buy it.  For the curious, the other three cities with similar service are Doha, Dubai, and Johannesburg.
"I can see in Houston the nanomedicine industry developing like Silicon Valley," said Mauro Ferrari, chairman of the Department of Nanomedicine and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston. "I think it’s a big opportunity for the city and the state, and it’s developing at a good pace."
In the 3½ years Ferrari has been conducting research in Houston, his lab has brought in close to $70 million in funding.
"By the summer, my department will have brought in over $100 million," he said. "Those are unprecedented numbers. That speaks to the growth of nanomedicine and that Houston has excellence in research in nanomedicine and excellence on the clinical side."
"If you put together the numbers for my department, plus these 170 faculty in the alliance, you have by far the largest collection in the world of nanomedicine expertise, and literally hundreds of millions of dollars in funding coming in," Ferrari said. "Nanomedicine is an area that has an unbelievable economic impact, and to be leaders in this high-growth field has a huge impact on Houston and on Texas."
Houston’s position as a hub for nanomedical research has also spawned a number of startup spinoffs in the private sector, including Leonardo Biosystems, with which Ferrari is affiliated. The company is developing a technique to deliver drugs that would fight refractory breast cancer.
The Texas Medical Center continues to grow and provide great high-tech diversification from energy, space, and the port for the Houston economy.

Finally, I've mentioned before that I also have a companion blog at the Chronicle called Opportunity Urbanist.  Some of you may be interested in a new series I've started running over there on Friday afternoons where I re-post (and occasionally update) highlight posts from the archives at Houston Strategies.  I've started at the beginning in mid-2005, and am moving forward from there.  You'd be amazed how many readers front page placement on Chron.com can bring in...

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At 8:13 PM, June 15, 2010, Blogger Alon Levy said...

I don't think your theory of crime holds up well. First, the US crime drop began in 1991. Second, it was observed at all age levels. Third, the highest-crime demographics were too poor for cell phones and video games until the late 1990s, at which point US crime rates flattened. And fourth, the areas of the US with the highest internet access did not necessarily have the highest crime drop; the only study I've seen asserting a relationship had to twist into pretzels just to show correlation.

I honestly haven't read any satisfactory explanation of the crime drop. In a few cases (e.g. New York) it can be attributed to good police management, but it's unlikely that all cities in the US simultaneously had better policing. The other theories I've seen just don't stand up to any scrutiny.

At 9:04 PM, June 15, 2010, Anonymous kjb434 said...

Many of the crime stat drops are due to reclassification of crimes.

Statistics are wonderful thing. You can make them say what you want.

At 9:24 PM, June 15, 2010, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

My reaction and theory was based on the juvenile crime story. I wasn't thinking about the broader crime drop, which is a tough one to decipher. I do think video game consoles were affordable throughout the 90s though. I myself had an Atari in the 80s, and it wasn't that expensive. I think Nintendo was the big one in the 90s. And maybe the original Sony Playstation?

At 11:30 PM, June 15, 2010, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to mention something about the Continental flights to Lagos-along with the oil connection, Houston has long been known for having the largest Nigerian-American population in the US-that's probably a huge reason for the flight. I hope they start a flight to Johannesburg as well!

At 1:04 AM, June 18, 2010, Blogger Alon Levy said...

KJB434: the national crime drop is attested in crime surveys and in homicide numbers, which are immune to police reclassifications. In fact the surveys show a bigger decrease than the stats, because reporting rates increased in the 1990s. The Wire pretends crime drops are all about juking stats (unless you legalize drugs), but the specific falsification charge in Baltimore that the creators were thinking of was subsequently debunked.

Tory: the original Playstation was released in North America in 1995, after the crime drop had begun, and cost $299, more than the underclass would be able to afford.

At 8:02 AM, June 18, 2010, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

Nintendo Entertainment System, 1985
included Super Mario Bros, one of the most popular video games of all time

Game Boy, 1989

Console war between Nintendo and Sega around that time.

I think there was plenty of availability in that time frame.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nintendo

Very large sales figures here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Console_wars

At 10:16 AM, June 18, 2010, Anonymous kjb434 said...

Interesting post on the American Blog.

It has a nice graphic showing the out migration from the rest of the country to Texas and more specifically Houston.


At 5:39 PM, June 20, 2010, Anonymous Evan said...

I don't find Nicholas Carr's book or any of that NYT article particularly convincing.

Of course, if you don't think it is a good way to grow up, that's a values argument that isn't debateable. But the NYT article was pretty schmeh.

At 11:43 AM, June 21, 2010, Blogger Jardinero1 said...

Many criminologists chalk the drop in crime to longer incarcerations. The reasoning is facile but nonetheless correct. If you keep criminals off the streets they can commit no crimes. It has also been shown statistically, that the longer the incarceration the lower the recidivism rate.

Longer incarcerations at sentencing became the norm in the early eighties. It took several years of removing criminals from the streets with longer sentences before crime rates actually started to fall.

At 1:25 PM, June 21, 2010, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

I buy that argument for normal adult crime, but would it have that much impact on juvenile crime?

At 3:14 PM, June 21, 2010, Blogger Jardinero1 said...

The justice system became harder on juveniles at the same time it became harder on adults. Many more juveniles are tried as adults.

In spite of lower juvenile crime rates, there are many more juveniles under some type of government supervision or custody than ever before. The supervision could be school sponsored alternative programs, additional CPS supervision, or outright incarceration. Gone are the days when young offenders are merely fined, rebuked and turned lose.


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