Saturday, December 29, 2012

Armed Forces Bowl: Rice 33, Air Force 14

From 2012 00 Miscellaneous

Saturday, under sunny skies with little wind, which made the mid-40 degree temperature very comfortable, the Rice Owls defeated the Air Force Academy Falcons 33-14 in the 10th annual Armed Forces Bowl at TCU's Amon Carter Stadium. The Rice defense held Air Force to a season-low 214 yards and backup Owl quarterback Driphus Jackson led the Owls to 26 unanswered points in the second half to win going away. Jordan Taylor caught nine passes for 153 yards for Rice to win game MVP honors. Hoot!

From 2012 00 Miscellaneous

Friday, December 28, 2012

S2L77: Bangkok's Wat Arun

From 1977 02 11 Thailand

Across the Chao Phraya River from Bangkok's Grand Palace is Wat Arun. This temple complex has existed since the 1600s, but the landmark spires were only built in the early 1800s. Covered with small pieces of porcelain and seashells, supported and flanked by statues of monkeys and demons, Wat Arun is spectacular from near and far.

More photos after the jump.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry TubaChristmas - Dallas 2012

From 2012 12 TubaChristmas

TubaChristmas was celebrated in Thanksgiving Square in downtown Dallas at noon on Christmas Eve, the 35th annual performance of over 200 tubas, sousaphones, euphoniums and baritones. One musician has attended all 35 annual concerts. Another began playing only this September. After a two year absence (in China), John returned for his tenth TubaChristmas. Oh, the joyful sound!

This year's concert was dedicated to Alex Burton, long time Dallas and Ft. Worth TubaChristmas Master of Ceremonies, who passed away in 2012.

More photos after the jump.

Friday, December 21, 2012

S2L77: Bangkok's Grand Palace

Bangkok, Thailand
February 12-20, 1977

We took a hot and crowded three hour bus ride to the Burmese Embassy only to find we were an hour late to apply for a visa and must return tomorrow.

We took a long walk along the river warehouses and finally caught a river taxi back to our hotel.

We make another attempt at the Burmese Embassy.

I spend four hours retrieving my passport from the Burmese Embassy and securing a visa from the Nepalese Embassy (3:45 on buses, 0:15 at embassies).

I toured the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaeo -- an eye-popping compound.
Source: Personal travel notes.

From 1977 02 11 Thailand

My first couple of days in Bangkok were spent working on visas. My plan was to travel next to Burma, then on to Nepal. Getting visas in Bangkok was a hassle. Big city. Crowded buses. Finally done, we were free to do some sightseeing. The Grand Palace complex, home to Thai kings from 1782 to 1925, is today still used for state occasions, but is mostly a tourist attraction, a theme park of magical architecture and amazing treasures. Disneyland without the rides. I couldn't help thinking of Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr, in "The King and I," singing and dancing their way into movie legend.

More photos after the jump.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


What would have prevented the tragedy?

After the jump, considering the usual remedies and an unorthodox one.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Review: The City & The City

The City & the City
From The City & The City, by China MiƩville:
Open quote 

I could not see the street or much of the estate. We were enclosed by dirt-coloured blocks, from windows out of which leaned vested men and women with morning hair and mugs of drink, eating breakfast and watching us. This open ground between the buildings had once been sculpted. It pitched like a golf course -- a child’s mimicking of geography. Maybe they had been going to wood it and put in a pond. There was a copse but the saplings were dead. The grass was weedy, threaded with paths footwalked between rubbish, rutted by wheel tracks. There were police at various tasks."

After the jump, my review.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

"Great News !!!"

"Great News !!!" That was the subject of an email blast from the Richardson Coalition PAC that I received on the heels of my less than enthusiastic review of Richardson City Council's rezoning of the land surrounding the PGBT DART station to accommodate the construction of big, corporate campuses.

After the jump, parsing the Richardson Coalition's "Great News."

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Last, Best Hope of Richardson

At the December 10, 2012, Richardson city council meeting, the council approved zoning changes for the vacant land around the President George Bush Turnpike (PGBT) DART station. This property, because of size and location, is potentially much more promising than anything previously done at the Spring Valley or Arapaho DART stations and, if done right, can improve upon the mistakes made around Galatyn DART station.

PGBT zoning

The diagram above is the new zoning for the property just to the east of the PGBT DART station platform. See that undifferentiated big block labeled "TOD Core"? In the old zoning, there was a network of streets there. Now a slide says, "The proposed development includes: Significant new corporate campus (1.5 million sf)."

In subsequent news, it appears that the tenant for that corporate campus will be State Farm Insurance. After the jump, why it's likely that State Farm being there won't make for a good neighbor.

Friday, December 14, 2012

S2L77: Bangkok's Chatuchak Weekend Market

Bangkok, Thailand
February 12-20, 1977

We arrive in Bangkok after a 23 hour train trip having had nothing to eat but peanut butter sandwiches on the way.

Our cab driver ignored our directions and took us to his own hotel.

Finally, after getting settled, we tour the huge weekend market. I buy a used copy of "The Floating Opera" by John Barth for 5 baht.

Chinese New Year! It's quiet in Bangkok. No celebrations.
Source: Personal travel notes.

From 1977 02 11 Thailand
It is 750 miles from Kota Bahru to Bangkok, up the long Malayan peninsula. We traveled by overnight train, a long ride on hard bench seats, with nothing to eat but what we brought with us. More than a little tired, we rolled into Bangkok as the sun came up, watching the endless industrial and warehouse districts pass by. We weren't impressed with what we first saw of Bangkok. Before we ended our visit, we learned that Bangkok has much to offer. It turned out to be the city where I would spend the longest amount of time on my whole 9,000 mile trip, until reaching the end in London.

More photos after the jump.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Retail-Ready is the New Mixed-Use

Just what is transit-oriented development anyway? A high-density, mixed-use residential and commercial area with convenient access to public transit. More or less, right?

After the jump, another definition.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

GreenVUE: A Case Study in Muddleocracy

I've been thrashing around on the subject of efficient local governance. For example, in "Mayor John Marshall", I suggested that maybe a strong personality in the mayor's office can bring leadership and direction to the Richardson City Council. It's a start. Today, I want to review a recent example of the council at work to suggest that the muddled process on display Monday nights at city hall might be only part of the problem.

After the jump, analyzing the second council hearing on the GreenVUE apartment application.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Berkner 87, Lake Highlands 53

From 2012 00 Miscellaneous
Basketball season is underway. The Berkner Rams defeated the Lake Highlands Wildcats 87-53 at LHHS Tuesday evening in the District 9-5A opener for each team. The Rams, ranked 11th in the state, are off to a great start. It's a great time to be a Ram!

Come out to support the Rams or Wildcats all season long. The season schedule for the Rams is after the jump.

Review: Lying

From Lying, by Sam Harris:
Open quote 

What was so fascinating about this seminar, however, was how difficult it was to find examples of virtuous lies that could withstand Professor Howard's scrutiny. Even with Nazis at the door and Anne Frank in the attic, Howard always seemed to find truths worth telling and paths to even greater catastrophe that could be opened by lying."

After the jump, my review.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Mayor John Marshall

Confidential to Amir Omar and Laura Maczka: This first paragraph is the only time your names will be mentioned in this blog post, but I have you both in mind as I write the rest.

Recently, I lamented what I considered the recent sorry state of Richardson government. In my opinion, in this council term, we've been treading water, accomplishing little, missing opportunities. I titled the blog post "Dysfunctional by Design" because I saw the problem as structural, imposed on us by the constraints of Richardson's City Charter and the Texas Open Meetings Act. I ended on a pessimistic note, saying "I'm thrashing around here. I don't have the solution."

Well, thrash long enough and sometimes you break free from the constraints holding you down. John Marshall, Tom Craddick and the Texas State PTA provide three examples of how things can get done even in the face of structural constraints. One example is lauded by history, one reviled, one trivial, but all show what can be accomplished if you take the initiative to do something.

After the jump, what a Richardson mayor can learn from history.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Playoffs: Allen 37, Dallas Skyline 17

From 2012 00 Miscellaneous

The Allen Eagles defeated the Dallas Skyline Raiders 37-17 Saturday afternoon at Mesquite Memorial Stadium. It marked the first loss for the District 9-5A champions, who end their season 12-1. The Eagles (12-1), the District 10-5A champions, advance to play DeSoto next Saturday at 6:00 PM at SMU's Ford Stadium in one of the Class 5A Division 1 state championship semifinal games.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Laura Maczka Wants Businesses to Come to Richardson

A week late, Neighborsgo has the story that Laura Maczka is running for mayor of Richardson. Taylor Adams quotes Maczka:
"As the mayor, my biggest job is to encourage businesses to continue to come to Richardson. I have a responsibility to bring what is most important to the taxpayer. My goal is to balance the quality of life and the amenities our city has come to enjoy," she said.

Plans also include development of the remaining green space in the city, she said.
Source: Neighborsgo.
After the jump, unpacking Maczka's words.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Texas Picks Winners and Losers

Rule of thumb: picking winners and losers is bad if Barack Obama's Washington does it. It's good if Rick Perry's Texas does it. That's the kind of contradiction that makes American politics inscrutable to foreigners and infuriating to the ever-shrinking middle of the American electorate in between the party bases.
Under Mr. Perry, Texas gives out more of the incentives than any other state, around $19 billion a year, an examination by The New York Times has found. Texas justifies its largess by pointing out that it is home to half of all the private sector jobs created over the last decade nationwide. As the invitation to the fund-raiser boasted: "Texas leads the nation in job creation."

Yet the raw numbers mask a more complicated reality behind the flood of incentives, the examination shows, and raise questions about who benefits more, the businesses or the people of Texas.
After the jump, a big loser in Texas.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

OTBR: An Olympic Rowing Course in Australia

Latitude: S 33° 43.560
Longitude: E 150° 40.812
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".

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Richardson Leaves ICLEI

From David Chenoweth's blog comes word that the City of Richardson is dropping its membership in "ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability." I assume that this doesn't mean that Richardson's interest in sustainability is waning. Or that it thinks sustainability is best accomplished with a go-it-alone approach.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves here. You probably have never heard of ICLEI. If you have heard of it, the chances are it was through some right-wing channel that views it as part of a worldwide conspiracy to impose socialism, herd you into cities, confiscate your guns and pickup trucks, and force you to use contraception and abortion to control population growth. Or something like that.

After the jump, let ICLEI introduce itself to the rest of us.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Repeat Tweets: America Votes

Repeat tweets from November, 2012:

  • 1 Nov 2012: A British look at the election: "America could do better than Barack Obama; sadly, Mitt Romney does not fit the bill."
  • 1 Nov 2012: Today I've read three different calls for Obama's impeachment. Could GOP be reconciling themselves to defeat and moving on?
  • 1 Nov 2012: Yelling at Nate Silver is like yelling at a thermometer. We're learning just how many news pros just don't get math.
  • 1 Nov 2012: The good news of Daylight Saving Time: you get an extra hour of sleep Sunday. The bad news: the election campaign is extended another hour.
  • 2 Nov 2012: Headline: "Sandy cost $50B." When will business decide the cost of ignoring global warming is higher than the cost of addressing it? #Sandy

After the jump, more repeat tweets.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Big Ten Champs -- Rose Bowl Bound

Big Ten Champs

Everything's coming up roses. The Wisconsin Badgers defeated the Nebraska Cornhuskers 70-31 Saturday night in the Big Ten Championship game to earn their third consecutive trip to the Rose Bowl, the "Granddaddy of them all," where they'll face the Stanford Cardinal on January 1, 2013. It was reported that Bucky Badger was on suicide watch during the game, the football team torturing him, forcing him to do so many push-ups. Go Badgers, the best 8-5 team in the country! ;-)

Look back on last year's Rose Parade and Rose Bowl game.