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Everything posted by luciaphile

  1. It's less obvious to me than to you, I guess, how the existence of a world-wonder-facade strip center in the Woodlands testifies to the unlikelihood Texas will see a world-wonder-facade casino in the middle of a treeless parking lot so big you can see the curvature of the earth. The second sentence I can't say I follow. The Atlantic recently had a short negative piece by David Frum on casinos: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/08/a-good-way-to-wreck-a-local-economy-build-casinos/375691/2/#disqus_thread. It was a little surprising for 2 reasons: one, it didn't follow the Atlantic's tendency of many years' standing to force every story to (shallowly) upend polite opinion in one direction or another, so that it would have been actually more predictable for them to write something like "Why You Should Want a Casino Next Door"; and two, that a neo-con should have written it. There wasn't much to it, but the comments at the top were interesting and thoughtful (I know, the exception that proves the rule). One takeaway, re "tourism": casinos will certainly capture that coveted demographic, eighty-to-ninety-year-olds. In fact, the gambling-legalization crusaders might do well to market casinos as "daycare for the elderly," as they've been referred to. Er, unless there's some distinction I'm missing, between the old people that get off the charter bus in Oklahoma and Louisiana, and those who would get off the bus in Texas ...?
  2. Don't worry, gambling HAIF-ers! With any luck at all you'll have your casinos within the decade; and perhaps one of them will also appeal to your love of architecture, as does this fine establishment to our north: http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2550/3713553240_855a9bdcdb_z.jpg
  3. Others may judge whether slots players are a completely different (fun!) breed, but the heaviest lottery players do not appear to be playing for amusement, according to a Cornell behavioral economist: That's one very small ray of hope - more like a photon! As Rick Casey of the San Antonio Express-News points out, you have statistically pretty much the same chance of winning the Texas Lotto whether you buy a ticket or not - 26 million to one. You don't actually have to pay to "play" that one. Uness you've been persuaded otherwise by lottery agency advertising. Of course, for all we know, the poor are no longer overrepresented in Texas lottery ticket sales. Maybe that's a myth! The state lottery commission no longer publishes ... I would actually prefer casino gambling to the state-run lottery. There is just something so sinister about it. Doubly so when it comes to the poor: the government distributes a million checks, then tries to get some of it back through trickery. I don't know what that is but it is not governing. More like we are toddlers being redirected - "You were going to save that dollar? Or buy that trinket? No, no, don't do that, buy this ticket instead, wouldn't you rather? There's a good boy." .
  4. Indeed, if I were a betting man, I would wager our gambling future will be a casino in every Buc-ees (billboard: "Royal Flush"? - except there won't be anything as diverting even as poker; no, it will be nothing but one-armed bandits as far as the eye can see, either because Americans don't want to work very hard at losing money, or it's simply the fastest, most efficient way to get to the final outcome). But do dream on about a "couple of" (!) tasteful downtown casinos where elegant gents may enjoy a game of baccarat after dinner.
  5. In a column a year or so ago Ross Douthat explored the tension between consistency and permissiveness. Column short: historically limiting casinos mostly to NJ and NV worked - by which he means, kept vice somewhat contained - pretty well, if "indefensibly," until the big Indian gaming expansion. Turned out the Great White Father still can't yield anything - even casino receipts - to the Indians, and hence the push by the states to cash in too. Were it not for those awful res casinos, despite their well-documented attendant crime and social ills, it is doubtful we'd be talking about legalizing gambling in Texas, a state where most of us with Anglo surnames had at least one Baptist grandmother. Me: libertarians enjoy the feeling they are leading the quest for people of all stations to be able to more liberally squander their $$ in a game where one side always wins, but make no mistake: that side is not the house, it is the statehouse and its insatiable thirst for fresh sources of revenue. Thus libertarians, as so often, are the very useful idiots of big government.
  6. Having just read a book about Detroit - called: "Detroit," but it might well have been called "America" - I am more than ever finding the fixation on who can afford to live in San Francisco, or whether it will have enough baristas per capita - to be about on par with Romans worrying, late in the Republic, about whether the Palatine Hill was getting too exclusive. It's a thing, I guess, but is it really the thing?
  7. I don't know about "statistically corrected" - the seemingly modest (in terms of the numbers it generates) practice of imputation, while not directly statistical, has a statistical component, in assigning a number to a presumed household based on local characteristics - but the Supreme Court case that I linked to earlier, held that a Census that is "statistically produced," which had evidently been proposed ahead of the 2000 census, was not consistent with the Constitution. I think Scalia argued that in order to show that sampling would yield a more accurate result than counting, you would have to rely on - sampling. Perhaps the Nine may change their minds, though; that would definitely be more consistent with the Game of Special Interests.
  8. No. A census is an ancient thing, unlike statistics, so I find it strange that you should all trust that the government "knows" the result in advance and assume statistical methods are used to arrive at it. I think, if you'll forgive me, there may be a generational divide at the moment, as to faith in what government "knows." This article explains the one statistical method of "imputation" employed, more and less in some decades, to try not to undercount: http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2011/05/04/imputation-adding-people-to-the-census/ When after repeated failed attempts to count them, people are still thought to live at an address, they are added based on household size in the neighborhood. The article says that Texas had the largest "add," of 143,000 people, in this way. For its between-census estimates, and other data collection, the Census employs the usual statistical methods, and includes a margin of error. I have read the next Census will be internet-based. Perhaps in future they will decide to make it more "scientific," and abandon the notion of a Census, but they'll have to amend the Constitution first.
  9. Seems to indicate Supreme Court rejected massaging the numbers, but the legalese is too lengthy for me: http://www.fed-soc.org/publications/detail/census-methods-raise-constitutional-flags Pro and Con: http://www.scienceclarified.com/dispute/Vol-2/Should-statistical-sampling-be-used-in-the-United-States-Census.html
  10. I am confused. Are you saying the census bureau assumes a certain number of people are eluding them, deliberately or not, and hazards a guess as to their number? I was only a lowly enumerator for a couple months, but I understood the census to be, pretty simply, a head count. i think I heard them say they had a way of catching duplicate surveys, but that's all I remember. Perhaps you are referring to statistical methods and assumptions that are likely involved in census bureau reports, based on sampling, on the attributes of the population.
  11. I would have enjoyed that rant! One of the things about America's troubled future that I actually look forward to, is the lights going out, and no one replacing them.
  12. Exactly. To speak only of the cultural impact: it's the homogenization that dismays some few of us. It is a matter of total indifference whether you call it urbanization or suburbanization. If you are a a non-flyer, as I am, of a certain age, you will have observed over the course of a lifetime of road travel that places have all begun to look the same. If you or your family are new to this country, this can hardly be expected to necessarily disturb you in any way. Or perhaps in any case, the benefits of sprawl are so apparent to you that you in no way regard its displacing something else as a diminishment. You consider it in the aggregate a wonderful place to be "from," to grow up in. Or: even if it is true of the places where most of us live, it is just a small percentage of the surface of the earth. (Relevance unclear.) There can be no reconciling this point of view, with Larry's and mine.That's fine. I only wish to suggest that there is an alternative to the dominant point of view (oh yes, the pro-sprawl view is dominant: it's easy to forget that anti-sprawl urbanism mainly lives on the internet, not in the world). Aesthetic arguments generally fail on this board, so I'll try to present it in other terms: Reflect that diversity is routinely held up as an unalloyed good, an end in itself, whether of people in a classroom or a neighborhood. It amounts to a first principle. If diversity is a value, our last shared value perhaps, then there is no reason it shouldn't apply to geography too. And in fact, diversity of place may well be what gives rise to real diversity of people. Which we most assuredly value, right?
  13. I tend to be comfortable when others are hot. My Houston family must be air-conditioned at all times. I have never known them to dine al fresco even once, at any time of year. Moreover, they prefer the air to be conditioned to a fairly arctic degree, because "the men are wearing suits," Mother used to say. But men aren't wearing suits all that much anymore, and my family are a collection of old fuddy-duddies, and I'm pretty sure none of them has ever been to a park anyway. As HAIFers often point out, Houston has drawn a very international crowd of newcomers, most of whom have gotten along just fine without air-conditioning in their home countries. I suppose it's possible they came to Houston for the A/C. Still, a big chilled dome park seems, forgive me, a bit dated. "Passive cooling" seems much more of the moment. And I think people value outdoor spaces a good deal more than they used to, especially now that we've finally figured out about hydrating. There is so much more enthusiasm for parks now. I agree with all who have argued for the shell of the dome overarching a green space or open venue of some sort. Also, an impression I've had, and I don't quite know how to put it, but I think a trend is people sort of bringing their own entertainment again. They just need places to gather and do whatever oddball things they do; there is less desire for things to be programmed from above. Turning the dome into a sealed rainforest just seems like overthinking. Sometimes "the solution to an architectural problem is not a building," as I've read somewhere recently. The "world's largest gazebo"?
  14. I'm not sure if you think it would be nice, or if you are being facetious, but I wouldn't look for it to happen since corporate America has figured out that keeping American workers in a perpetual cage match with newcomers, is a good way to tamp down costs. "Savings passed on to the consumer," of course, of course. Only little hitch is the malaise that seems to come with "consumer" being one's identity, but that will pass in time, I expect.
  15. You're kind. I am amazed Missouri is so thoroughly unpoliticized; they certainly are missing a trick. (I knew I liked it! - though I haven't been there since we buried my grandparents more than thirty years ago ...) It is (perhaps?) worth noting that, among young black men, the particular group most concerned, much as we might all like to identify with them in a radical-chic sort of way, in these fatal police altercations - having a job that prevented you from going to the poll, could be considered a bargain at twice the price. Black men have significantly lower employment rates than other demographic groups, but this wasn't always the case. In 1969, the employment rates for men between the ages of 20 and 24 were about 77 percent for blacks and 79 percent for whites. By 2012, the employment rate for young black men dropped to less than 50 percent, while young white men were about 18 percentage points higher at almost 68 percent. http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/cepr-blog/addressing-chronic-black-male-unemployment One wonders about that mayor, those 5 white city councilmen, the 94% of the police department: what's in it for them, what ranks of society they are drawn from (not the creme de la creme, one suspects). The rewards don't seem very great, prompting the suspicion that they are drawn to the conflict, and are carrying their own anger, about other things. That's practically another class issue right there. But not one that attracts much notice.
  16. To complaints that people don't exercise the right to vote: I've noticed that people are easily manipulated by demagogues, but that left to their own devices, they tend to have a kind of bedrock common sense.And, pace Kinkaidalum, voting, while never more pointless, has never been easier, amounting to a trip to the grocery store in the weeks leading up to an election. I'm left to conclude that if the blacks of Ferguson don't bother to vote, it's because they understand what the simpletons in the media do not: most problems don't have political solutions. Would that they did.
  17. Bravo to poster Thomas Colbert in the linked article for noticing that road construction in Texas is driven neither by needs nor wants, but by the magically reinforcing nexus of an agency (led in turns by a buddy of Rick Perry, or by some woman who used to bring him his coffee) with hundreds of billions of dollars of contracts in its gift, and a huge consulting and roadbuilding industry, with job offers and campaign contributions in its gift. (Please note that Bubba, whatever else he may be, is not an ideologue, and this is an utterly non-partisan rant; 25 years ago it likely would have concerned Bob Bullock, to whom it is tempting, as the anecdotes pile up, to apply the word "amoral." Nor of course is it exclusive to roadbuilding: healthcare, education ... but those things, though lucrative, bear no particularly Texas stamp.) The governorship might as well be an appointed position. It's TxDOT chair that people should be voting on, as it's TxDOT that largely determines what Texas becomes. Until then, I don't think parkways (in Colbert's words,"serious attention being paid in the design of the roadway to the scenic and spatial experience of drivers and the development of meaningful relationships between roadway, landscape and urbanism") are something you need to seriously fear.
  18. Thanks for the article. I [a] don't know enough to have an opinion on the effort to keep the bayou from meandering where it will - beyond asking that, the next time you see a liburbarian complaining about environmentalists and open space in other parts of the country "driving up the cost of housing," etc., recall this controversy: were there a truly ample buffer of open space, the bayou's movements, be they natural or runoff-worsened, wouldn't be so threatening; and I am entirely sympatico with the writer's seeming sympathies. But, and it is a very big but, she errs greatly in putting about the notion that this is an "intact forest." The last time I visited Bayou Bend, about a year ago, I observed a more or less intact understory of Asian privet along the bayou. You could film scenes of jungle combat there.
  19. I watched "Tiny," a movie about the tiny house movement, the other night. It was kind of inspirational, in that the story centered on an inexperienced DIY'er with a fuzzy dissatisfaction with the accroutements of modern life: "'I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn ...," etc. It was interesting to see how people rose to the spatial challenge, and to catalog all the things they had evidently decided they had no need of. The tiny houses didn't have much on RVs, though, beyond aesthetics. The movie showed a world without children. Not that that's entirely unappealing, mind, but I just realized that what the tiny house movement most resembles is the Shakers.
  20. ^ I'm sorry. My import must not have been clear. Or perhaps we may be living in alternate universes; in mine, the gap between reality and this orderly 7% solution stuff is ... well, nevermind, I must be being pranked. Back to the topic of the anachronistic park.
  21. Just the other day my co-worker pointed out where the Austin paper reported on its front page that a tornado near Blanco "threw a home 150 years off its foundation." I said I reckoned when those people walked out of their house: "Comanch!" Not race, no, but ethnicity. From the pro-immigration Immigration Policy Center (http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/just-facts/how-united-states-immigration-system-works-fact-sheet): Per-Country Ceilings In addition to the numerical limits placed upon the various immigration preferences, the INA also places a limit on how many immigrants can come to the United States from any one country. Currently, no group of permanent immigrants (family-based and employment-based) from a single country can exceed 7% of the total amount of people immigrating to the United States in a single year. This is not a quota that is set aside to ensure that certain nationalities make up 7% of immigrants, but rather a limit that is set to prevent any immigrant group from dominating immigration patterns to the United States. I'm sorry for being mischievous, this may not get at what you meant at all -- but no matter where you stand on immigration you've gotta marvel at the unironic tone in which is explained the purpose of the limit.
  22. Currently enjoying less violence (per capita! gotta love that exploding population, flatters us in the stats, 'cuz babies don't tend to hurt people!) than ever before is the received wisdom since Steven Pinker explained it all for us -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Better_Angels_of_Our_Nature ... but then, hitting the reset button at 1945, "there really wasn't any other direction." Maybe the undeniable pleasure many of our fellows take in depictions of violence is just a way of keeping their hands in. In case we need to pivot, as the business gurus say. Maybe that's why, arche_757, despite your heroic efforts to return us to the topic, after it devolved to whether individuals have TV remotes, you could not find any common agreement that there was a line we ought not, or need not, cross. There was no line to the imaginary violence, because the only line is actual violence. The Bomb ushered in this era of peace. I'm pretty sure that's the very pattern of a Faustian bargain. Something just read in another context: "The Dream and the Shadow were the best of comrades."
  23. It's interesting to be judged by someone who's just emphasized that moral judgments are invalid. I think I dodged your question earlier, am distracted today. The elite has more or less imposed their very particular moral sense on the rest of us. Since we'll not be undoing that in my lifetime, all that really remains for me to wish for, is that people would be honest - which they never have been - about what it means to live without standards, what the costs are, and how much energy and resources we should devote to ameliorating those costs. I think "none" should be in the mix of reasonable answers to the latter question. I haven't seen those movies you mentioned, and am not aware of being squeamish about needles, but it recalls to me a young man I remember as one of the liveliest and most charming of my son's school friends. He recently overdosed on heroin. I consider that boy a sacrifice to the general societal "fun." That's embarrassing that I mentioned that, isn't it? Or that I would feel that way? Priggish. And like I didn't play fair. It's not good form to suggest that people get hurt when moral standards are lax. There are only pretend needles and pretend killings; celebrating them means nothing. You may want to insert another of those sticking out the tongue emoticons.
  24. Well, samagon, that's not going to work. According to mr.l, who is reliable in these matters, I have no moral sense. I am some lower order of being, or at least quite primitive. Fortunately, It's not relevant. I know Americans think everything of importance begins and ends with the individual, and that the personal is political, but I'm afraid this really is all about the aggregate.
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