Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Stefani Carter Supporter "Feels Like a Fool"

The celebrations following the Republican sweep of Texas state offices in the November election didn't last long. The knives are out as the victors, fresh from vanquishing the Democrats, now turn on each other to root out those Republicans whose conservatism is not deemed pure enough. The first litmus test: choice of speaker of the Texas House.

After the jump, a Stefani Carter supporter expresses disappointment and Carter's surprising response.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Richardson Trash Talk: Pointing Fingers

The neighborhood group got the agreement it wanted with the city and the water district. So why do the neighbors still seem so unhappy? Perhaps a case of buyer's remorse? Perhaps because they didn't get everything they hoped for? Perhaps because they didn't get a legally binding agreement? Perhaps because they misunderstood who they were dealing with? Perhaps a little bit of all of these.

After the jump, the latest trash talk from Richardson regarding the renovation and expansion of the Lookout Drive trash transfer station.

BCS Bowl Madness

Unbeaten TCU likely won't have a chance on the playing field to make its case for being the best football team in the land this year. Even though no team TCU has faced this year has been able to stop them, the BCS powers-that-be have, using polls and computers to decide that TCU doesn't even belong in the so-called national championship game.

After the jump, more craziness of college football.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Christmas at Firewheel

From 2010 11 Garland Firewheel

To see more photos, click here.

Black Friday: Now Safe From Natural Disasters

Anyone have trouble finding a parking spot because of that 40-foot long tractor trailer parked in the Target parking lot in east Richardson on Black Friday? That was the Richardson Police Department's new "mobile command unit". The police say "it provides a deterrent to crime." I'm sure it does, but is it a cost-effective way to do that? The police say it will be used in response to natural disasters and SWAT operations. I'm sure it will, if R-town ever suffers a hurricane or terrorist strike.

After the jump, why this 40-foot long tractor trailer is in Richardson and not, say, in a city much more likely to be struck by terrorists?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bad PR from the PR Guy in Richardson

Silver Jubilee plaque

Queen Elizabeth II is looking forward to celebrating her Diamond Jubilee in 2012, marking her 60 years on the throne. Expect parties and parades in celebration. Expect markers and plaques to be installed to serve as a reminder of the celebration long into the future. For example, even today, 33 years later, walk between any of London's key attractions and you will notice discs embedded in the sidewalk honoring the Queen on her Silver Jubilee in 1977.

After the jump, Richardson's own discs.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Richardson's Walkability

Richardson's Walk Score Heat Map

Are you thinking of buying a house and care about being able to walk to restaurants, grocery stores, schools, parks and entertainment? The map above is a heat map, with colors indicating walkability (green indicates walkable; red indicates car-dependent).

After the jump, how Richardson fares.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Department Store Time Machine

Neiman Marcus
Photo by Elliott Muñoz

All good time travel stories need a time machine. H.G. Wells used a Victorian sled. For us, light rail provided the vehicle.

Waiting at the Richardson DART station was a couple wearing Dallas Stars' jerseys. It wasn't hard to guess where they were headed. Also waiting was a young couple with two children, aged about 4 and 2. I think I know where this family was headed, too, and it wasn't to a hockey game. The boy was excited by the adventure by train, asking questions only a four year old can ask. "What are we waiting for?" The simple answer, a train, wasn't what he really wanted to know. "Why is this a train station?" Syntactically fine, yet impossible to know exactly what he meant or how to answer. Across the tracks was a billboard for a 4G cell phone service that promised "Waiting for the train was never this entertaining." I had to agree, but not because of the video streaming offered by my mobile phone provider.

After the jump, our train ride to a younger America.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Politics and Dining Out in Richardson

Restaurant Scores

The Richardson Coalition is a political action committee (PAC) perhaps best known for its infamous mailer before the 2009 City Council elections, which many thought was misleading and/or unfair. The PAC is now endorsing restaurants as well as candidates.

A recent PAC editorial brags that "Richardson has attracted almost 100 new restaurants in the last three years. ... We encourage you try a number of local restaurants. You may be pleasantly surprised at the variety, high quality of food, and service." The PAC promotes a program, "Dine Smart, Dine Local," by the Richardson Chamber of Commerce to encourage patronizing Richardson restaurants.

After the jump, what about inspection scores by the Richardson Health Department?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

President Obama Bestows Science Medals

"I've danced with a man, who's danced with a girl, who's danced with the Prince of Wales."
-- Herbert Farjeon, 1927

Dr. Amnon Yariv and President Barack Obama
Amnon Yariv and President Obama

From the Associated Press: "From super glue to microchips to digital cameras, President Barack Obama on Wednesday celebrated the brains behind these inventions and other breakthroughs as examples of 'the promise of science.'"

After the jump, my own two degrees of separation from this celebration of science.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Trail at Yale, FAIL

Richardson, Texas, has an abundant and growing urban trail system. Not only are more trails being added all the time, existing trails are being enhanced and expanded. For example, in the Duck Creek Linear Park, the spillways in the creek bed were reinforced for erosion control; the Tree the Town initiative planted a hundred trees along the trail; and a side trail was added through Huffhines Park connecting to the Glenville Trail. This constant attention to the quality of life in Richardson is much appreciated.

Still, there's been one aspect of the Duck Creek Trail that I've never been happy with. After the jump, see if you can spot what it is.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Guess the University Behind the Essay Prompt

It's that time of year when high school seniors are applying to colleges. That means writing the dreaded essay to show that they are expressive, creative, unique, or whatever other mysterious traits university admissions directors are looking for this year.

After the jump, one particular essay question that reveals as much about the school as the essays reveal about the applicants.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Speaking English: Perilous Debt

"Americans for Prosperity Citizen Watchdog Leader." Whew! That noun stack is a mouthful. I think it means Grand Poobah of the anti-tax crowd. It's how one Adrian D. Heath is described on the AFP Texas website, where his November 8, 2010, testimony before the Texas House County Affairs Committee is published.

Heath complains of elected officials "encumbering our real property with perilous debt." Heath says "perilous debt" kind of like you might imagine him saying "dastardly villain," taking it for granted that debt is perilous just like villains are dastardly.

Heath believes that debt is contrary to the whole purpose of government. After the jump, what Heath believes that purpose is.

Friday, November 12, 2010

All Richardson, All The Time

Richardson Times

How often do you drive by a strip shopping center and wonder how long some new business or other will last? You know, the new knickknacks-and-more store, or the 50-flavors-of-popcorn store or the cake decorating store? A year? Six months? You wish the owner the best of luck, but you wouldn't bet on the business overcoming the high mortality rate of small businesses.

After the jump, a new business venture that has me figuring the odds again.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Putting a Lid on the Trash Talk

VJ Day Times Square Kiss

Our long municipal nightmare is over. The trash talk has reached consensus on Sixteen Points that make our neighborhoods fit and safe to live in. Peace is at hand. Even though light at the end of the tunnel has been glimpsed before, this time it's for real. Really. For sure. Pinky swear. Probably. Maybe.

After the jump, the good news from the peace talks.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Rick Perry vs Jon Stewart

Rick Perry and Jon Stewart

This week, Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) got into the ring with a heavyweight and came out unscathed. Rick Perry is making the media rounds plugging his book "Fed Up!" One of his stops was "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart." Jon Stewart didn't lay a glove on him.

After the jump, some thoughts about the highly anticipated (at least in Texas) match of wits.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

OTBR: A Gentle Stretch of the Deschutes River

Latitude: 43.9322 N
Longitude: 121.4190 W

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".

Monday, November 8, 2010

Senior Taxes: Pay Now Or Pay Later

Richardson City Council member Amir Omar keeps trying to sell his senior tax freeze. He ran on the idea when he won election to the council in 2009. He lobbied his fellow council members in a July council work session. This week, he was back. There was nothing new to change the analysis I offered in July.

After the jump, rehashing old arguments.

Myths About the Stimulus and Bailouts

Things everybody believes are true that really aren't:

  • The Bush administration's TARP bank bailout cost American taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars. Wrong.

  • The Obama administration's loans to General Motors and Chrysler cost the American taxpayers billions of dollars. Wrong.

  • The Obama administration's stimulus package led to a huge increase in government spending. Wrong.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Speaking English: Man Up

Sarah Palin said President Obama didn't have the "cojones" to crack down on illegal immigration. Christine O'Donnell told Chris Coons to get his "man pants" on. And, most famously, Sharron Angle told Harry Reid to "man up."

After the jump, what such language tells us about the state of American society today.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Election is Over. Here Comes the Election.

In the American political system, the next election campaign begins the morning after the votes are counted in the last one. Will Sarah Palin run? (Yes.) Will President Obama draw a serious challenger for his party's nomination? (No.) Those are the big early questions for the 2012 presidential election. (You heard the answers here first.) But there are local elections to watch that are much, much closer on the election calendar.

After the jump, a look at the local elections ahead and what, if anything, the state and federal elections just ended can tell us about them.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

When the Lights Go On Again

"When the lights go on again all over the world
And the boys are home again all over the world
And rain or snow is all that may fall from the skies above
A kiss won't mean 'goodbye' but 'Hello to love'

When the lights go on again all over the world
And the ships will sail again all over the world
Then we'll have time for things like wedding rings and free hearts will sing
When the lights go on again all over the world"

-- by Bennie Benjamin, Sol Marcus, Eddie Seiler

Is there a song at once more sad and still so hopeful as this #1 hit tune from 1943, a time of battles and blackouts during World War II?

After the jump, what that song has to say to us today.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Coterie Scaredancing

From 2010 10 Coterie Scaredancing
"Coterie" is an organization of Richardson-area friends who get together three times a year for dinner and entertainment. The theme and activity for each occasion varies. The October 2010 Coterie party's theme was "Haunted Hoedown." For a slide show of festivities, click here.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Twitter Tracks: World Series, Election

Twitter tracks from October, 2010:

  • 2010 10 01 - Bank bailout (TARP) not only prevented another Depression but cost much less than once thought. Thank you, George Bush. http://goo.gl/GsVs
  • 2010 10 01 - Irony alert: RT @imccanntx: "Happy birthday @dallas_news ! Still going strong after 125 years"
  • 2010 10 02 - Had a nightmare where everything I said came out wrong. Good was bad. Up was down. Now I'm scared it was no nightmare but just life as usual
  • 2010 10 02 - You Can Count On Me (2000): Single mom, sheltered son, drifter brother, stifling small town. Imperfect family with a big heart. See it.
  • 2010 10 03 - No Libertarians? "We find it shameful and disheartening that the Dallas Morning News is abdicating its responsibility". http://goo.gl/wZM1
  • 2010 10 03 - No respect. Northwestern (5-0) and Kansas State (4-0) are the only two unbeaten college football teams that are unranked.
  • 2010 10 03 - Kudos to Berkner's Mighty Ram Band for finishing 3rd out of 31 bands in the BOA Regional competition at UT-Arlington. http://goo.gl/2C3P
  • 2010 10 04 - Conservatives at Abilene Christian University feel marginalized. They really need to get out more. http://goo.gl/kb9r
  • 2010 10 04 - Ouch! Wick Allison: "I have accused the Texas GOP of hypocrisy before, but I did not know ... how deep the rot goes." http://goo.gl/8cDx
  • 2010 10 04 - DMN recommends Carol Kent ("poised and thoughtful", "non-ideological") over Stefani Carter ("troublingly misleading") http://goo.gl/6BgH

After the jump, more Twitter tracks.

Of Tornadoes and Tea Parties

A tornado is a force of nature. It is mindless, destructive and unstoppable. You can't prevent it. You can't reason with it. All you can do is pick up the pieces afterwards. Political movements are like that sometimes.

After the jump, how I'm trying to come to terms with that fact.