Thursday, February 28, 2013

Traffic Light Mystery

Those flashing yellow unprotected turn arrows that caused confusion and mocking in Richardson when they were introduced two years ago are finally coming to Plano. Expect the same commotion to prevail there ... until it doesn't.

But flashing yellow arrows are not what I want to talk about today. It's plain old-fashioned green and red lights, specifically the traffic signal at the intersection of Yale Blvd and Campbell Rd. That's the scene in the photo below, looking north on Yale Blvd. The school bus across the street is southbound on Yale Blvd.

Yale at Campbell
Source: Google Street View.
After the jump, has anyone ever seen another case of this traffic light sequence?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Playoffs: Berkner 66, Jesuit 57

The Berkner Rams men's basketball team met their District 9-5A foe Jesuit Rangers in the third round of the UIL playoffs Tuesday night in front of a standing-room-only packed house at the neutral site of Lake Highlands HS. Berkner had won the two regular season meetings between these two teams. It's been said that it's difficult to beat a team three times in one season. The Jesuit Rangers showed the truth of the saying. After the jump, how the third meeting played out.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Review: Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power

From Drift, by Rachel Maddow:
Open quote 

Remember the words of James Madison: 'The Constitution supposes, what the History of all Governments demonstrates, that the Executive is the branch of power most interested in war, and most prone to it. It has accordingly with studied care vested the question of war in the Legislature.'"

After the jump, my review.

Monday, February 25, 2013


NIMBY is an acronym for the phrase "Not In My Back Yard." It's often used to describe a selfish attitude of neighborhoods that oppose some development or other simply because of its location -- that is, too close to them. There is a recognition of the need for the unpopular development, but also an insistence that someone else pay the price of living next to it. Landfills are a classic NIMBY target.

NIABY is an acronym for the phrase "Not In Anybody's Back Yard." It's a more universal stand than NIMBY, opposing some development or other as unwise no matter where it is located. NIABY would like to see the development not just moved out of one's own neighborhood, but canceled altogether. Drug houses are a classic NIABY target.

I can create scenarios where a NIMBY attitude can be right and other scenarios where it can be wrong. Same for a NIABY attitude. In this blog post, I resist the urge to issue blanket judgments. What I want to do is review various developments in Richardson and identify elements of NIMBY and NIABY thinking that they evoke. After the jump.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Playoffs: Berkner 81, Mesquite Horn 54

The Berkner Rams men's basketball team defeated the Mesquite John Horn Jaguars 81-54 Friday in the second round of the Texas UIL state playoffs. It's a great time to be a Ram!

Update: The Richardson Eagles advanced to the third round of the playoffs also with a thrilling, buzzer-beating, back-court basket by Nylan Yancy. Watch it here.

Friday, February 22, 2013

S2L77: The Plains of India

From 1977 03 02 India
The highway down the Himalayan mountains is serpentine and slow. Whereas in Nepal the mountains are everywhere hemming in the land, at the bottom is the flat plain of northern India stretching out endlessly, filled with villages and fields. At night, you see the harsh lights of gas lanterns in the unelectrified villages that line the highway. "Highway" is a generous term. Cars and buses must share the road with ox-drawn carts, bicycles and, sometimes, working elephants.

More photos after the jump.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Ft Worth Feels Snubbed by "Dallas 2024"

International Olympic Committee rules say that bids must come from a single city, but events can be organized regionally and held outside the city. So, the name "DFW 2024" won't do. Nor will "NorthTexas 2024" or "Metroplex 2024," which would never do even if the IOC was OK with it. So, "Dallas 2024" it is. The organizers are trying to be inclusive. They have pretty pictures of the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, and Pizza Hut Park in Frisco. They sound like civic boosters for the whole area.
The Dallas 2024 Committee is a grassroots organization formed by area Olympians, business leaders and other members of our community who share a common goal of engaging all of North Texas with the ideals of Olympism and are preparing to initiate an Olympic bid on behalf of the City of Dallas and all of North Texas.
Source: Dallas 2024.
What's to get offended about? There's always something. After the jump.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Race So Far

The deadline is March 1 for candidates to file to run in Richardson's city council election of May 11, 2013. This will be the first time in memory that the mayor's position will be popularly elected. After the jump, how all the races are shaping up with only a little over a week left to file.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Fatal Shooting Outside Ice Rink

A man was fatally shot Sunday night outside an ice rink in Richardson, Texas. Three people are being questioned.
"It looks all of them knew each other and had been together earlier in the night," [Richardson Police Department spokesman Sgt. Kevin] Perlich says. A fight broke out, he says, though "over what it's not totally clear yet. We have two, three different versions of what took place, but we're sorting through it. But there is no other threat out there for the public to be concerned about."
"there is no other threat out there for the public to be concerned about."

This was probably just a little careless wording on Sgt. Perlich's part. He probably meant to say something like, "this particular shooting does not pose an ongoing threat to the public."

After the jump, the other threats out there.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Texas, Guns, and Politics

Jerry Patterson web ad
Jerry Patterson
So soon after the Newtown gun massacre, which took the lives of 20 children and six adults, only in Texas could a candidate for statewide public office think the ad at the right helps his election campaign. (And only in Texas would he probably be correct.)

Friday, February 15, 2013

S2L77: Pokhara, Nepal

Pokhara, Nepal
March 1, 1977

I sat out on the deck listening to the distant dogs, looking at the stars, and brooding on the mountains.
Source: Personal travel notes.

From 1977 02 21 Nepal

The trip from Kathmandu to India is only a few hundred miles by road. The bounty of sights makes it seem much longer. Nepal is mostly a high mountain valley with spectacular scenery. Outside the cities, people are sparse, most engaged in small-scale farming. In spring, Nepal has warm days and cold nights. Spending the night in Pokhara, sitting outside under a clear sky with a waxing moon, contemplating the eternal mountains, well, that's just about the closest thing to communing with nature that I can imagine.

More photos after the jump.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Weak Cup of CAFR

For city finance wonks, Christmas comes twice a year: once in August when the city budget is set and again in February when the city financial audit is published. The budget specifies the city's cash flow (its planned revenues and expenses). The financial audit details the city's assets (the value of city property, bank accounts, etc.) and its liabilities (outstanding debt, pension obligations, etc.).

After the jump, a quick look at this year's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR).

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Berkner 54, Skyline 33

The Berkner Rams men's basketball team defeated the Skyline Raiders 54-33 Tuesday night to cap off a perfect 14-0 District 9-5A record, winning their fourth straight district championship. It's a great time to be a Ram!

Next up: UIL state playoffs starting Tuesday, February 19 at 7:30 pm at Naaman Forest High School against a team from District 10-5A.

More photos after the jump.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

In Praise of Slow Reading

Sharon Grigsby, editorial writer for The Dallas Morning News, revealed a detail of the editorial process at that newspaper in a blog post about an op/ed that the newspaper didn't have room to print.
Each Friday about this time, I wrap up one of the most difficult -- and fun -- parts of my job for the week: Selecting five days worth of op/eds for our print Viewpoints page. Just as we have too many good editorial ideas to write each week, as I noted here yesterday, I always have a few columns that I really wanted to publish, but simply ran out of space before "finding them a home."
Apparently, the op/eds are selected up to a week in advance of printing. So, if you ever find yourself reading The Dallas Morning News and thinking that you're reading last week's news, it's because you are. It's that increasingly common reaction by readers of print newspapers that's partly responsible for the slowly dying industry.

But that's not what made me want to blog about Grigsby's own blog post. It was the op/ed that she didn't have room to put in the print paper. After the jump, Steve Chapman's ode to slow reading.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Richardson is Playing the Wrong Game

I have been frustrated lately by the direction that development/redevelopment in Richardson is headed. For example, see "Main Street/Central Expressway Study" for my criticism of redevelopment plans for old downtown Richardson; see "The Last, Best Hope for Richardson" for my criticism of development plans for the land around the PGBT DART station; and see "In Southwest Richardson, It's Always Friday" for my criticism of the planned restaurant row in the West Spring Valley corridor.

After the jump, I finger the common source of these frustrations.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

West Side Story at PHS

West Side Story at Pearce High School: Everyone loves the songs, but it's the dancing that really sets this musical apart. Huge Pearce cast nails it.

More photos after the jump.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

OTBR: The Charleston City Market

Latitude: N 32° 46.878
Longitude: W 079° 55.674
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, February 8, 2013

S2L77: Swayambhunath Monkey Temple

Kathmandu, Nepal
February 21-27, 1977

I lined up an overland bus tour to London. The easy way out but a relief to me.

I spent today trying to finalize overland plans. Visas have me worried a lot. I walked to the Indian Embassy only to discover I had forgotten to bring passport photos.

I picked up my Indian visa, went to the Pakistan Embassy (no visa needed). I went to the casino to pick up some greenbacks needed for an Afghan visa (US$7 cash, no travelers checks accepted, no pounds, no rupees, everyone must pay with US cash). At the casino, I changed a traveler's check into US cash and left with that plus gambling winnings of 43 Indian rupees besides. Free drinks, too!

I spent time in the American library reading current US magazines.
Source: Personal travel notes.

From 1977 02 21 Nepal

I said goodbye to Kathmandu with a visit to Swayambhunath, an ancient religious complex atop a hill a short walk from Kathmandu's Durbar Square. The site affords solitude and an expansive view of Kathmandu Valley. Yeah, I know, the string of flags make the stupa look a little like a grand opening of a gas station in Appleton, Wisconsin, but forget that. The monkeys remind you where you really are.

More photos after the jump.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Brain Farts

Texas Gov. Rick Perry aired a radio ad in California trying to lure California businesses to Texas. California Gov. Jerry Brown dismissed Perry's radio appeal as "barely a brain fart."

Coincidentally, Texas state Representative Stefani Carter filed a bill in the Texas legislature to make Texas a little more like, you guessed it, California.

After the jump, Carter's own brain fart.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Repeat Tweets: Sports and Weather

Repeat tweets from January, 2013:

  • 1 Jan 2013: Headline: "Bard men fall to Caltech again in basketball." Go Beavers!
  • 2 Jan 2013: Final. Berkner 100, Sunset 36. It's a great time to be a Ram. #txhsbb
  • 4 Jan 2013: Headline: "Senator John Cornyn's Outrageous Op-Ed On The Debt Ceiling." Cornyn's a deadbeat.
  • 6 Jan 2013: I'm glad I'm not only one who thought Sunday's Redskins game was less playoff football, and more medical malpractice.
  • 7 Jan 2013: Headline: "Seahawks' Russell Wilson last rookie QB left in playoffs." He's from the University of Wisconsin. :-)
  • 8 Jan 2013: Headline: "Australia Is So Hot, They Had to Add a New Color to the Weather Map." Not to worry. Weather is not climate.
  • 8 Jan 2013: Headline: "US roasts to hottest year on record by landslide." Great. Global warming wasn't bad enough? Landslides, too?

After the jump, more repeat tweets.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Charter Amendment Upheld By Court

ORDERED, ADJUDGED and DECREED that judgment be rendered in favor of the Contestee, Mayor Steve Mitchell. ... This is a final, appealable Judgment disposing of all claims against parties.
Source: Honorable Gene Knize.
Whoa... "Mayor" Steve Mitchell? Isn't the current mayor Bob Townsend? Isn't the new mayor going to be Amir Omar or Laura Maczka? Wasn't the former mayor Gary Slagel? It turns out that "Mayor" Steve Mitchell is not a typo here. Steve Mitchell was mayor of Richardson from 2007-2009. A little bit of history that has been bouncing around our legal system for what seems like forever needs to be disposed of before we can devote all of our attention to the upcoming council election.

After the jump, an important court ruling on an old legal case.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Bye Bye Birdie at BHS

Bye Bye Birdie at Berkner High School: A+ all around -- orchestra, lead singers, chorus, choreography, comic acting (Shriners hilarious). Best sound ever.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Little Shop of Horrors at RHS

Little Shop of Horrors at Richardson High School: Intimate setting of black box theater works well. The macabre has never been this much fun. Feed me!

Friday, February 1, 2013

S2L77: Kathmandu Durbar Square

From 1977 02 21 Nepal

Durbar Square is a generic name for a plaza outside an old royal palace in Nepal. There are three in Kathmandu. These photos are of Kathmandu Durbar Square. Palaces, temples, courtyards, all with elaborately carved and decorated architecture make up this UNESCO World Heritage site. Because much of the architecture is wood, few buildings or carvings more than a few centuries old have survived, but the site has been in continuous use since at least the third century.

More photos after the jump.