Sunday, January 31, 2010

"Honor Flight" Veterans Reunion

From 2010 01 Honor Flight

Honor Flight™ is a network of volunteers established for the express purpose of getting as many WWII veterans as possible to Washington, DC to view the World War II Memorial. Honor Flight™ was originally set up in Ohio in 2004 by Earl Morse. Honor Flight™ of Dallas was established in September 2008 to bring this wonderful effort to the Dallas/Ft Worth/North Texas area, honor the service of the WWII Veterans in this region, and to take as many of them as possible to view THEIR memorial in the nation's capital. Veterans travel absolutely free.

After the jump, more about our local veterans.

Friday, January 29, 2010

"Lock, Take, Hide" Reconsidered

Lock, Take, Hide

One of our east Richardson neighbors parked his car overnight in his rear-facing driveway recently and found it in the morning jacked up with one wheel stolen. The Richardson police officers who responded to the call indicated that three other vehicles in the area were similarly vandalized with all four wheels stolen from each. They assume that the thieves involved may have been interrupted since they took only one of the wheels from our neighbor.

The Richardson Police Department publishes a "Crime Prevention Handbook" with tips to reduce auto theft and auto burglary.

  1. Never leave your vehicle running while unattended.
  2. Always lock your car and completely close your car windows when parking.
  3. Do not leave your keys inside your car.
  4. Always park in a well-lighted area.
  5. Keep all valuables out of sight.
  6. Use auto theft deterrents.
  7. Park in your garage.
  8. Don't leave the registration or title in your car.
  9. Etch VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) on windows and major parts.
  10. Drop business cards or other ID inside vehicle doors.

This is all good advice, I'm sure, but curious that I am, I'd like to see more supporting statistics for some of the items.

After the jump, my own thinking on the subject.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Open Letter to Greg Sowell

Greg Sowell

Dear Mr. Sowell,

Congratulations on your hire as the City of Richardson's first director of communications. Richardson is a fine place to live, work, and play. Improved community outreach by the city government can help ensure it remains that way.

After the jump, some unsolicited advice. (You'll get a lot of that.)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Highway "enhancements." Who needs 'em?

Texas Travel Information Center at Denison Denison Travel Information Center

Texans are fit to be tied over highway construction in Texas -- or rather, lack of construction. As usual, no one wants to pay for it. Texans don't want taxes to go up. Texans don't want to pay tolls. Texans are looking for the proverbial free lunch. And the Fort Worth Star-Telegram holds out hope that they just might have found it.

After the jump, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Or not.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Talking Taxes in the Texas GOP

Geoff Bailey / Stefani Carter
Geoff Bailey / Stefani Carter

The Dallas Morning News has made a recommendation in the GOP primary for Texas House District 102. The primary winner will face incumbent Carol Kent in November. Primary early voting begins February 16. Primary election day is March 2.

After the jump, what the DMN is looking for in a state legislator.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Light at End of Tunnel for Newspapers

New York Times

The New York Times made an announcement that, years from now, will be seen as the turning point in newspapers' near death experience. The NYT plans to begin charging readers for full access to the newspaper's Web site, beginning in 2011. Back to the future, you say? Didn't the NYT try this before, more than once? Yes, but earlier implementations were fatally flawed by locking out casual readers. The new implementation promises to allow free access to the first few articles for each reader. Heavy users will find access cut off at a certain point unless they become paid subscribers. The doors remain open, so to speak, for window shoppers and samplers, but if you come through the door often enough, you'll be expected to buy something.

After the jump, why this will work.

Everybody* Hates Avatar

Avatar yourself

* Well, not everybody. After all, a hundred million moviegoers have pushed Avatar's box office over $1.5 billion. But for a movie that is putting so many people in theater seats Avatar is sure upsetting a lot of people.

After the jump, who doesn't like Avatar.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Open Mike Night: Yes, Maybe, and Hell No

Richardson Gymnastics Center Richardson Gymnastics

It's Monday, time for Open Mike Night at the Richardson City Council. Three speakers took the time to speak to the council, with three quite different messages.

After the jump, the descent from yes to maybe to hell, no.

Poor, Pitiful Haiti (Part 2)

The scale of death and destruction of the Haiti earthquake was just the beginning of the ongoing story of ever-increasing disaster. If you haven't done something to aid the survivors, please reconsider. If you have, thank you, now consider doing even more. Things are that bad.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

24 Questions for Elementary Physics

Hilbert + 1

The State Board of Education (SBOE) has been meeting in Austin to set the curriculum standards to be used in Texas schools for the teaching of social studies. The board is split, with eight of the fifteen members solidly or frequently in the conservative camp. And by conservative, I'm talking Texas conservative. For example, former chairman of the board Don McLeroy wants to rehabilitate communist witch hunter Joseph McCarthy in our children's history books ("Read the latest on McCarthy. He was basically vindicated."). Read the Washington Monthly article for scary details about this powerful faction setting standards not only for Texas schoolchildren, but for textbook publishers who will sell into states all across the country.

After the jump, what century-old math questions can tell us about teaching social studies in the 21st century.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Poor, Pitiful Haiti

Given the vastness of the death and destruction from the Port-au-Prince earthquake, nothing else is worth talking about today. The hair length of first-grade boys and the fate of elementary school cafeteria murals don't deserve much attention in any case, but today, they come to mind only as examples of first world problems that show just how blessed most of us in Richardson, Texas, are. Hug someone you love today, then go to WhiteHouse.gov to learn how you can help the people of Haiti deal with this incomprehensible natural disaster.

Labadee, Haiti

From 200903 Labadee

I've been to Haiti. Well, yes and no. What I saw was the beautiful sand beach on a cruise line's private property on the north coast of Haiti, safely fenced off from the real Haiti, the Haiti seen in today's news stories from Port-au-Prince. What can I say? The vast gulf between my vacation experience in Labadee and the day-to-day life of residents of Port-au-Prince, even before yesterday's disastrous earthquake, is immeasurable. I can't defend it. I can't say what can be done about it. Pity is not a solution, but it's what I feel right now. Hopefully, Americans' spirit of generosity will prove true again and many of us will go to WhiteHouse.gov to learn how we can help the people of Haiti.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

RISD and the Vision Thing

This week, the school board for the Richardson school district (RISD) announced a new Vision Statement for the district. I know what you're thinking. Motherhood and apple pie. Ho hum, right? Maybe not this time.

After the jump, what the changes might tell us about what's to be expected from the new superintendent the RISD is searching for.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Of Open Meetings and Gag Rules

Open Meetings Handbook

The "law of unintended consequences" states that any well-intentioned action will produce some unintended, unwanted consequences. The Texas Open Meetings Act is not exempt from this law. The act stipulates that local governments must publicly post agendas for meetings at least 72 hours in advance. They are forbidden from deliberating issues that are not included in the agenda.

The purpose of the Open Meetings Act is to make sure the public is aware of what business the governmental body will conduct and where and when that business is conducted. By and large, the act has served its purpose. Meetings are open.

After the jump, what can be wrong with that?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

What's In Your Netflix Queue?

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Richardson's #1 Rental

The New York Times has published a fascinating time waster, "A Peek Into Netflix Queues", which allows you to "examine Netflix rental patterns, neighborhood by neighborhood, in a dozen cities," including Dallas and nearby suburbs.

After the jump, an analysis of mine and my neighbors' tastes in movies.

Friday, January 8, 2010

All the News Not Fit to Print

Rumorcheck.org
Rumorcheck.org

If you're in the least aware of the explosive growth of the so-called blogosphere, you're aware that there's never been more truth to the old adage that "A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to put its pants on."

After the jump, what one Richardson resident is doing about it.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Fred Hill Is My Hero

Fred Hill
Fred Hill
Former state representative Fred Hill (R-Richardson) is my hero for one glorious act of rebellion in May, 2007. During the closing hours of the legislative session, Hill attempted to offer a motion to remove Tom Craddick (R-Midland) as Speaker. The Speaker refused to recognize Hill to allow him to make his motion. Another representative also attempted to make the motion to vacate the chair. He, too, was not recognized. A third representative attempted to have a vote of the House to overrule these parliamentary decisions. He, too, was not recognized. Speaker Craddick argued that, under House rules, legislators cannot make a motion to remove him from office unless he lets them do it. And if he doesn't, there is no appeal. That position prompted the House parliamentarian to quit but a replacement upheld Craddick's position. Hill lost his battle that chaotic night in 2007, but he won a warm spot in my heart for his stand against autocratic rule.

After the jump, what Fred Hill has been up to lately.

Monday, January 4, 2010

TX House District 32 Race Gets Crowded

Today was the last day to file for a place on the ballot in March primaries in Texas. The Dallas Morning News has already decided that there are "No serious challengers for Texas' U.S. House delegation." That may be true, but the several challengers to incumbent Pete Sessions (R) for his District 32 seat would probably object. After the jump, the candidates...

OTBR: The Driveway into Warrawee Therapies

Latitude: 38.373100° S
Longitude: 145.113098° E

A child on a road trip with his family asks, "Where are we?" and the father answers, "Let's check the map. We're off the blue roads [the Interstate Highways marked in blue on the road atlas]. We're off the red roads [the US and state highways]. We're off the black roads [the county highways]. I think we're off the map altogether." It was always my dream to be off the map altogether.

After the jump, a few of the random places (and I mean random literally) that I visited vicariously last month that are "off the blue roads".

Friday, January 1, 2010

Open records requests "soaring" in Richardson. Really?

Ian McCann, in a story in The Dallas Morning News, tells readers that open records requests in Richardson are "soaring." Really? He tells us that the number of requests went up from 257 in 2008 to more than 300 in 2009. That is, instead of, on average, one request being made per weekday (M-F) in 2008, Richardson is now receiving, on average, another request on Saturday, too. I guess the definition of "soaring" is open to interpretation. After the jump, how Richardson compares.

Still Crazy After All These Years

New Year's Eve
"And we talked about some old times
And we drank ourselves some beers
Still crazy afler all these years
Oh, still crazy after all these years"

-- Paul Simon

Happy New Year, everyone. Wishing all a happy and prosperous 2010.