Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Citizenfour (2014)

Citizenfour (2014): Greenwald interviews Snowden in Hong Kong hotel room. Oscar winning doc. Serious issue; dull cinema. One-sided. C+

Monday, March 30, 2015

Illegal Freestanding Structure?

Illegal freestanding structure? I hope not. Little Free Library.
In my neighborhood in Seattle, these adorable book-lending birdhouses liven up almost every other block. Whenever I see one -- even if I'm mid-run rocking out to Nicki Minaj -- I stop, I look, and I smile up at the sky thinking, "God, I love this city." Little Free Libraries give you that kind of feeling -- they just do.
Source: Grist.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Finding Vivian Maier (2014)

Finding Vivian Maier (2014): Private, eccentric hoarder who took 100,000 great street photos but never shared. Want more of her photos. B+

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Now You See Me (2013)

Now You See Me (2013): I wish I hadn't. I never suspended disbelief in the hole-filled plot. Movie magic, yes. Movies about magic, no. C+

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Copenhagen (2014)

Copenhagen (2014): Too young Effy befriends too immature Will seeking his long-lost grandfather. Not creepy. Charming. City is a co-star. B+

Monday, March 23, 2015

Exceptionalism or Tribalism

I've never been a fan of Exceptionalism, the notion that the U.S. is favored by God and is exempt from historical forces that have affected other countries. I've believed those who hold this notion to be guilty of, at best, hubris and at worst, preposterousness.

Even though I can't subscribe to (capital "E") Exceptionalism, I do believe that American history is (small "e") exceptional. I used to think the difference between (capital "E") Exceptionalism and (small "e") exceptional was a difference of degree, not kind. But something Paul Krugman said recently has changed my mind.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Review: 1493

From 1493, by Charles C. Mann:
Open quote 

What happened after Columbus, this new research says, was nothing less than the forming of a single new world from the collision of two old worlds -- three, if one counts Africa as separate from Eurasia. Born in the sixteenth century from European desires to join the thriving Asian trade sphere, the economic system for exchange ended up transforming the globe into a single ecological system by the nineteenth century -- almost instantly, in biological terms."

After the jump, my review.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Winter's Tale (2014)

Winter's Tale (2014): Fantasy romance between thief and consumptive heiress. Magic horse. Devil. Miracles. Too many WTF elements to work. D+

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Hangover Part III (2013)

The Hangover Part III (2013): Surprisingly smart and entertaining, pretty much free of sex and drugs. Nothing filling, just fun escapism. C+

Monday, March 16, 2015

Science vs the World

According to surveys, there's a gap between what the public thinks and what scientists know.
The surveys found broad support for government to spend money on science, but that doesn’t mean the public supports the conclusions that scientists draw.

The biggest gap between scientists and the public came on issues that may elicit fear: the safety of genetically modified (or GMO) foods (37 percent of the public said GMOs were safe, compared to 88 percent of scientists) and the use of pesticides in agriculture (28 percent of the public said foods grown with pesticides were safe to eat, versus 68 percent of scientists). There was also disagreement over the cause of climate change (50 percent of the public said it is mostly due to human activity, compared to 87 percent of scientists).
I found myself in disagreement with scientists on only one issue.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Paul Krugman Has Me Pegged

Paul Krugman has me pegged. In the following excerpt from his blog, he's referring to someone else, but I see me all over it.
There's a big difference between just being clever in general and being a guy who really knows what he's talking about...
What matters is a large investment of time and hard thinking -- and also a lot of reading of what other smart people have said, not to mention economic history. Sorry, but just being a clever, facile writer doesn't cut it -- and imagining that you can just brazen it out in this arena is a recipe for serious embarrassment.
Source: Paul Krugman.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

Edge of Tomorrow (2014): D-Day meets Groundhog Day meets Alien vampire spiders. Not bad. Film 10 min, loop for 90. Clever cost reduction. B-

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Coherence (2014)

Coherence (2014): Dinner party. Comet. Parallel universes. Low budget movie cares about story, not special effects. Sci-fi at its best. B+

Monday, March 9, 2015

It Sounds Mixed-Use and Transit-Oriented

I'm always getting my hopes up, I know. But this news about a planned development at US 75 and the Bush Turnpike sounds promising.
Apartment builder Trammell Crow Residential will start construction next month of the first phase of a 1,250-unit rental community located just west of the DART station. The first, 351-unit apartment block will be five stories with ground-floor retail and a parking garage. "We wanted an urban look to the project," which was designed by Good Fulton & Farrell Architects, Altemore said. "Trammell Crow Residential is delivering the product we wanted for the site."

Friday, March 6, 2015

Review: Station Eleven

Station Eleven
From Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel:
Open quote 

Jeevan was crushed by a sudden certainty that this was it, that this illness Hua was describing was going to be the divide between a before and an after, a line drawn through his life."

After the jump, my review.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Here Comes The Sun

From 2015 03 05 Snow

Weather in Richardson, Texas, at noon today: 33 degrees and sunny.

Today's weather triggers an old and pleasant memory. Believe it or not, in Wisconsin a day like today (sunny, melting snow) is a welcome sign of Spring, not Winter. Once when I was in college, on a day just like today, everyone was outside enjoying the "nice" weather. A classmate opened his dorm window, put his stereo speakers on the window ledge, and blasted the Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun" to the whole campus. Good times.

And by the way, I hate to date myself, but that event was so long ago that "Here Comes the Sun" was at the time just recently released.

OTBR: Ice in Estonia

Latitude: N 58° 32.784
Longitude: E 023° 22.398

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".

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Regional Quarterfinals: Berkner 59, Skyline 53

In the third round of the State UIL basketball playoffs, the Berkner Rams men's basketball team defeated the Skyline Raiders 59-53 at Garland's Curtis Culwell Center. The win gets Berkner into the "Sweet Sixteen," the surviving teams in Class 6A out of the 128 who started the tournament.

The Rams win was all the more impressive because their leading scorer and playmaker Torey Everett missed most of the game with a sore ankle. The rest of the team more than stepped up, working the lead to fifteen points and then holding off a late charge by Skyline to take the win.

It's a great time to be a Ram!

Sorry the photo is kind of blurry, but I was kind of excited.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Repeat Tweets: Little Shop of Horrors

Repeat tweets from February, 2015:

  • Feb 1 2015: Little Shop of Horrors at BHS: So much to praise, including orchestra, tech, Audrey II, Mr Yartym, Doo Wop Girls and Audrey's awesome voice.
  • Feb 1 2015: Mike McCarthy just blew Pete Carroll a big kiss. #CoachingMalpractice #SuperBowl #SB49
  • Feb 2 2015: Headline: "Ex-Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel enters rehab." The Justin Bieber of football.
  • Feb 2 2015: Headline: "Chris Christie: Scientists Have a Point About Vaccines, But So Do Crazy People"
  • Feb 2 2015: Headline: "Obamacare’s not so bad after all, business leaders say." This from a business journal in Texas. Really. bizjournals.com

After the jump, more repeat tweets.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Barely a Ripple in Richardson Elections

Only two places out of seven will be contested in Richardson's May 9 City Council elections and of those, only one won't have an incumbent running (Kendal Hartley declined to run for re-election.)

Place 1: Bob Townsend (incumbent), Rick Wilder
Place 2: Mark Solomon (incumbent)
Place 3: Scott Dunn (incumbent)
Place 4: Claudia Tatum, Mabel Simpson
Place 5: Paul Voelker (incumbent)
Place 6: Steve Mitchell (incumbent)
Mayor: Laura Maczka (incumbent)

The RISD school board ballot will have no contested races. In fact, there won't even be an election. Only one candidate filed for each of the three positions up for election in 2015, so those three will be elected by default.

Place 1: Jean Bono
Place 2: Kim Caston (incumbent)
Place 5: Eron Linn

Congratulations to all the candidates who volunteer to serve.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.
Source: Theodore Roosevelt.