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Everything posted by TheNiche

  1. I just got back from Jacintoport...hadn't read your response yet, and missed Appelt. All I saw was a series of small overgrown paths blocked off by gates. I also drove by the fire station that you'd mentioned; it might've already sold and looked like it was being used as part of an adjacent trucking operation. Where and how long ago did you see the for-sale ad?
  2. What's the best way to get in there? Are there gates or anything that would prevent access? By the way, where did you see the ad? You've got me curious.
  3. I just had dinner at the Russian Bear along Dairy Ashford...good stuff and cute hostess. Anyone else got any good picks for Russian cuisine? I also know that there's a Russian supermarket off of Kirkwood? Anyone been there?
  4. That's not necessarily accurate. There are a lot of really poor marketers out there that spend a lot of money but fail to garner attention almost at all.
  5. I would seriously question whether they know how to operate the business. I took a look at their ridership numbers a few months back, and although I can't remember specifically what they were out of the Houston station, I remember being shocked at how poorly they were performing. They've also been in the red for ages...they're practically a branch of the federal government. They need to become more competitive with airlines. That means that they've got to lower prices, advertise, and cut down on the number of stops in small towns or find some other way to get from place to place more quickly.
  6. No, they're from FM 521...I've seen them before, and its usually just a few rail cars at a time headed up toward the Grocer's Supply Company distribution center.
  7. I don't know...it's just because the kind of thing that I'd expect a religious zealot to say...
  8. You missed my point completely. I think that it can be said that everyone wants balance, even if we may disagree on where the equillibreum point lies on the continuum of quantity vs. quality. I am more qualitative-valuing than you, but do not value it exclusively. You are more quantitative-valuing than I, but do not value it exclusively. Having established that, do you recognize that by admitting that there is a balance, you necessarily place a value on the quantity of human life? Granted, it is intellectually challenging, but is it somehow unethical to think in such terms? BTW: It just occurred to me that by saying "Unless you revise your moral and ethical parameters, you have become irrelevant beyond imagination", you have in essence stated that 'If you don't agree with me, then you don't matter.' Could there be any less assinine statement ever made in the history of HAIF?
  9. As I see it, there are two components to human life (assuming for the moment that we don't get into metaphysics, in which everything essentially becomes irrelevent): quantity and quality. If you sacrifice one to its fullest extreme, then the other becomes worthless. Let me ask you, nmainguy: if you were the effective dictator of the Houston area, with its 450 premature deaths per year from this kind of air pollution, and you had the option of eliminating every single premature death by banning all vehicular movement within or through the region in addition to shutting down every industrial activity resulting in even moderate levels of pollution that might result in such a death, would you do that? The effect would be disasterous. The local economy would tank and people would start moving out of the region to areas where pollution was still permitted...because they have priorities beyond living a long life. They want a higher income so that they can live a higher-quality life, and they're willing to put themselves at risk for that opportunity. If you, as dictator, forced them to stay here 'for their own good', then you've just condemned them to poverty not unlike that in North Korea, except in a much warmer climate. Is that a circumstance that might make you "irrelevant beyond imagination" for lack of ethical or moral concern? Of course, I wouldn't expect this kind of extremism from you...I'd expect that you'd regulate but not choke Houston's industrial and commercial employment base, even if that means that you'll have to accept that some people will die premature deaths as a result of air pollution. You'd essentially have to balance the trade-off between quantity of life and quality of life, reducing the values of each into a quantifiable formula. It sounds cold, but at its core that's what democracy is all about: balancing the equation. All this aside: your statement, "Unless you revise your moral and ethical parameters, you have become irrelevant beyond imagination" is in poor taste. Morality and ethics are relative. I cannot define what is moral for you, and you cannot define it for me. I personally welcome further debate on the subject, even though I disagree with you so vehemently; if I am to become "irrelevant beyond imagination" in your eyes, then I can only feel sorry for you.
  10. Key word is premature. A murder is a premature death, but of a different nature than from pollution. Murder frequently happens to young people in their most productive years, preventing them from contributing to the economy. Pollution knocks out the infirm and elderly. Moreover, the pollution may have an average marginal effect that equates to a few lost years per person, while murder frequently causes the loss of nearly the entirety of an adult lifetime. That is a much bigger effect. I'd really look forward to the day that the Chronicle does a report about the dangers of stairwells. Falls kill a whole lot of people and are the leading accidental cause of death. They can even use Perry Homes or some other developer as the sinister character that is profiting from the death of people using their products...that'd draw in readership. It'll never happen, of course, even in its spun form.
  11. You did an excellent job retorting to my response to nmainguy, although when I referred to an optimal solution, I was really referring to economic optimality rather than political optimality. See, I'm more concerned with having the optimal goals in the first place before I try to go out and get them implemented. I'd really like to hear what you have to say to my analysis of the effects of pollution once I'd used that data from a source that you appear to endorse. With effects as miniscule as 450 premature deaths per year out of a population of over 5 million, I'm even starting to wonder whether its worth my time to even look at the content of the study when its so easy to take the bottomline conclusion and reasonably break it down to the point that it doesn't matter anymore. You might also reference a post that I'd written a ways back about a worst-case scenario invovling butadiene or benzene exposures in the greater ship channel area. Similar stuff.
  12. Regarding your first quote, can you find and post a copy of the study that argues this about diesel exhaust. I'd like to see what methodology they used to arrive at such a conclusion. How the researcher could quantitatively assess the impact of varying combinations of pollutants with reliability would be interesting, but plausible I suppose; how they derived the source of each category of pollutant and the sources' net effects seems implausible unless the study sampled significant numbers of people within very fine geographies, and also accounted for their typical exposures. That is, one must not assume that a person has inhaled a "lifetime exposure" because that person lives next to a refinery if half of every day is spent in West Houston. For that matter, it would have to account for the person's historical exposure. Perhaps they live next to a refinery right now, but moved here from near an industrial district in Mexico City two years ago. Perhaps they live in West Houston now, but moved there after 20 years of exposure in southern Texas City. In addition to a lifetime of migration patterns, the data would also have to correct for ethnic/cultural factors. Hispanics are more likely to be overweight, more likely to work in dirty blue collar jobs, and are also disproportionately likely in the Houston area to live around refineries--could that corrupt some correlation between health problems and proximity to pollution sources? You can see how the data could become muddled with any number of issues. For that reason, I want to see the study. Your second quote from the article may be correctly stated, but doesn't provide enough detail from which to draw USEFUL conclusions. Note: "approximately 435 area residents die prematurely each year". This is not an issue comparable to a cause of death such as FALLING, which can strike anyone anywhere at any time or stage in their life. These things are going to cause premature deaths among the elderly and infeeble. For instance, rather than living to an age of 70, someone may die at the age of 65. These are folks that are either retired or contributing only marginally to the local economy, so the marginal impact is pretty small. And they're talking about the whole Houston area of over 5 million residents. That's not even 0.0087% of the population that died a few years before they should have. And out of that, I'll bet that most of the tiny fraction is concentrated in certain places, like Pasadena/Deer Park/La Porte, and Texas City. So what miniscule fraction of the tiny initial fraction of people are being killed early by trucks driving along suburban highways? And how much does it really matter given that they're only dropping a few years off of the lives of those affected? Perhaps even more importantly, if those freeways don't exist, how much more pollution will be emitted by trucks that would now have to stop and accelerate at every red stoplight along the next best alternate route? It's not like the trucks are going to stop coming just because there's congestion. Seems to me that keeping uncongested freeways probably prevents pollution by preventing stop-and-go driving. With that in mind, perhaps the residents of Spring could be made healthier by implementing limited-access high-capacity freeways. My opinions have been developed based upon the information and analysis that appears to eminate from a reasonable and trustworthy source. That's really about as good as most of us can do when faced with truely complicated issues. My source may be incorrect. That'd be a good reason to reassess my opinion...and that's one thing that this board is really good for. By the way, I do want to see your research...what little I've seen so far doesn't seem to give much cause for panic. You're free to make a cogent argument, but please don't delude yourself into thinking that anyone that doesn't agree with you is closed-minded...that'd be hilariously ironic. Also, once you've made a convincing argument about the biological effect of pollutants, how about considering the policy implications of various proposals? Citing a death toll isn't a very effective way of coming about an optimal solution.
  13. Actually, my information (and I'll freely admit that my personal background on the effects of varying forms of pollution is limited) came from a notable environmental economist that works as a local professor.
  14. Yeah, look at all the missing highways in the Houston area. I'm not impressed with some of the routes that they propose here. I'd prefer to see a route straight up the I-35 corridor from SA to Dallas, with the Houston-to-Dallas route passing through B-CS and merging with the I-35 corridor in Waco. Then, I'd almost rather see the Houston-to-SA route connect in Austin. Seems like that'd be more efficient. I still don't see it as a realistic scenario, unfortunately. There will always be airline money in politicians' pockets.
  15. Particulate pollution from vehicles is not substantial. Futhermore, only coarse particulates have been scientifically shown to cause substantial health problems. Most of those come from construction sites, and another substantial share comes from industrial production. According to the Grand Parkway Association (as of 8/25/2005), segments E, F1, and F2 would open to traffic in Sep-09, Dec-09, and Jul-11, respectively. However, given the precarious nature of funding and the delays that are typical of the political/planning process, it is reasonable to assume that they will deliver at a later date. Besides, in the long haul, the gap between deliveries just doesn't really seem like it matters. Yeah, and my grandparents in Austin resisted the construction of Barton Skyway between Mopac Expwy. and Lamar Blvd. because they argued that the extra traffic and noise would bring down the neighborhood. They were right about that, and of course the Austin City Council gave in, but if you know Austin, then you know about the difficulty of travelling east/west; having the extra connection was in the common good and that common good almost certainly outweighed the cost of a relatively small number of homeowners that would have been affected. I am shamed by their actions. Just as my grandparents and their neighbors lobbied in their best interests, so shall the citizens of Spring. But the residents of the Spring area are going to have to come to grips with the fact that the common good isn't always perfectly fair. Some people gain, and others lose. As long as there are more gainers than losers, that's what counts.
  16. I understand that starting out near the Beltway and wrapping up in the East End makes for a good (albeit long) trip. I've also seen that a new concrete landing with stairs has been built along the south bank of the bayou and on the west side of the York/Sampson bridge. Alternatively, the Lockwood bridge is also a good take-out and also provides for shaded parking. I've never done this either, although I've been meaning to for some time.
  17. I live near the South Loop and Almeda (FM 521). I'm not sure that this applies to you, but I only hear horns very late at night and very early in the morning. If I had to guesstimate the frequency of the horns (I stopped paying attention to them long ago), I'd put it at about two or three trains per night...but then you're further down the line, where I wouldn't be surprised if traffic was heavier.
  18. My understanding is that expansions are already planned for the North Freeway, the Northwest Freeway, and the north and west segments of Beltway 8. There may be a few years in between when projects are completed, but it really doesn't seem like a disaster in the long run.
  19. The ridership from B-CS alone will almost certainly be insufficient to justify the cost of the route at present. HOWEVER, tracks from B-CS go through Hearne, a major junction, and then go to both Dallas and Fort Worth! If we could somehow connect 'Grand Central Stations' in both Dallas and Houston, and maintain relatively high-speed rail service, then such a route becomes very desirable for a lot of people. Unfortunately, Southwest Airlines would kill that idea as soon as government entities became involved. They've got a long political reach.
  20. Yeah, just like Cinco Ranch was a complete and utter failure...with the Katy Freeway as bad as it is, soaring gas prices, and the area is just a big chunk of farmland with no trees except those planted by the developers... Someone should really tell PureAuteur to get a clue, look at the sales volumes already present because of low home prices in the suburban northwest, then look at the new generation of home buyers (seven of eight new homes purchased are outside of Beltway 8), where we find a renewed interest in inner-loop living among those that can afford it or that work there, but pragmatism among those who want a house with a yard, but have a more modest income or work in the suburbs, where the bulk of new office, retail, and industrial job creation is.
  21. It is in fact a single market, albeit a monopolistically competitive one. The goods in question, in this case parking at varying distances from destination clusters, are imperfect substitutes for one another. If there is a glut of parking spaces at any distance, say two blocks from a key destination cluster, then the owner of the affected parking spaces will lower their prices to lure in customers from more convenient but more expensive space and from less convenient and equally-expensive spaces, as well as from equally-convenient and now-higher-priced spaces. At that point, in order to compete for customers, the entire market, imperfectly competitive that it may be, will shift its pricing to adapt to the glut. In the end, the relationship between closer-in spaces being more expensive and further-out spaces being less expensive will hold, but the whole market will be less expensive than at the outset. Development in any given year in an urban environment is more likely to occur on land that is lower in value...at least that seems to be the pattern in Houston. In that way, land is effectively rationed and economically-zoned. By lowering the value of the land for its highest-and-best-use, which may currently be a surface parking lot, the profit margins start looking better for development of all categories of occupiable structure. There is no cost to having "downtown flooded with parking". In fact, as I thought that I had made clear in my initial explanation, there are benefits to inexpensive and readily-available parking.
  22. First, I only wrote in such a technical way because Hizzy and others who fail to understand supply and demand are the types that complain about everything from this to gas prices to insurance rates, and every time I hear their ridicuous arguments, it raises my blood pressure that our education system is so mediocre. I would have PMed him, but figured that someone else might actually agree with him, so I made it public. As far as riders of mass transit are concerned, perhaps you would not decide to park for $1 less, but some marginal number of people will. Its called a demand schedule, and YES, you are counted.
  23. Almost everyone I know well is either from a different country or from a small town. I've gotten more than one comment about our magnificent freeway architecture from visitors. People that haven't been indoctrinated into the "freeways are bad" set of arguments sure are impressed by concrete and steel.
  24. So what's the problem with the Grand Parkway, now? Please be as clear and concise with your arguments as possible.
  25. In fact, if I may twist your words a little, it MADE downtown Houston. One can easily argue that without the storm of 1900 (and assuming no other emminent hurricanes like the one in 1915), Galveston would have continued to develop as the financial and white-collar Central Business District for the region. Houston may have had its ship channel, but Fort Worth had its stockyards and it ultimately was second to Dallas. Galveston could have been the equivalent of downtown Dallas.
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