Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The enemies of TX, private TX HSR, #1 for blue collar jobs, high-rise history, oil HQ, and more

Sorry again for the posting delays.  2014 has been a very intensely busy year so far.  The misc items have been backing up...
  • Really cool little interactive short video put together by the NYTimes on the history of the high-rise in cities.  I was impressed.  They clearly put a lot of work into it with some stunning images and clever animation along with a narrative in rhyming verse! Hat tip to Jim.
  • Dug Begley from the Houston Chronicle calls me the city's oracle. Thanks Dug!  Yours truly also got a couple of quotes in Dug Begley's recent column and blog post on the sustainability of the link between expanding freeways and our suburbs.
  • Bill Gilmer from UH on Houston as America's Oil HQ.
  • This is pretty amusing: State Hate - Which state is your state's enemy? Quite a few states don't seem to like us.  And it's especially amusing if you wait for the graphic to cycle around to Texas (they go in alphabetic order).
  • H-GAC hosted a Brown Bag Lunch on January 20, 2014, featuring former Harris County Judge Robert Eckels. Judge Eckels presented an overview of the current Texas high speed rail plans by the Texas Central High Speed Railway, LLC, a private enterprise seeking to build a high speed rail system linking the major metropolitan areas of Texas with true high speed rail service. Here are the presentation and the video.  How are they aspiring to do this without public money?  After talking with the Judge, the secret seems to be that the government of Japan is offering attractive debt financing since the entire system is Japanese and would be manufactured there.  It looks like a very proven, high quality and safe system based on the record in Japan.  The economics also seem sound from what I can tell (especially compared to California), so it's probably a good investment by Japan, and it's certainly better to have their taxpayers at risk than ours.
  • Eric on "Houston - America's Next Great City"
  • Houston ranked #1 by Forbes for adding good paying blue-collar jobs
  • Great graph from Patrick at the Partnership on how strongly Houston's job market has recovered since the recession vs. other metros, most of which still haven't recovered all the jobs they lost.
  • That was quick!  Demand must have been hot for them to upgrade from 4/week to daily before the service even started!  A very good sign for Houston.
  • The 2014 10th Edition Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey has been released.  As always, Houston has a strong showing, although not quite as strong as previous years with our increasing house prices.  Developers are just not keeping up with demand.  Hopefully that is just a short-term phenomenon.  
There's a lot more, but that's already too much for one week.  Let me end with a very cool short 2min video with aerial flyover shots of different parts of Houston.  You'll be reminded how impressive our multiple skylines really are.

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Saturday, February 08, 2014

The best posts of the first 1,000

Apologies for the long break between posts.  Not only has work and life been insanely busy, but I really wanted to do something special for my 1,000th blog post after almost 9 years(!).  What I finally decided to do was extend and update my five-year anniversary post to include what I consider the very best posts of the first 1,000.  If you're curious, you can find the inaugural post here, and my very first "strategy" post here: a proposed elite UH - Institute of Technology campus (which I still think is a good idea). And now here we are 1,000 posts later with so much content I can't even remember most of it, and count on Google to help me find it. Most of you know I do regular quarterly and annual highlights posts, and I decided to cull those down to the very most important posts of the last nine years - roughly the top 5% - the ones that I think really form the foundation of the blog's reputation. As you skim this list, I hope you find some of interest that you missed, forgot, or may have been posted before you discovered Houston Strategies.  Enjoy.  As always, thanks for your readership.