Friday, May 31, 2013

S2L77: Delhi

From 1977 03 02 India

Finally, Delhi. Usually, when Westerners arrive in Delhi, it's by way of a long flight from somewhere like Frankfurt. Culture shock is huge. The new arrivals are stunned by the exotic sights, sounds and smells, the crowds and chaos of the streets, the poverty, the utter strangeness of everything.

More after the jump.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Experience with Racial or Religious Minorities

Question: What specific experiences have you had with RISD's racial, religious and/or non-English speaking minority communities?
Rachel Chumney: Well, um, that's kind of a challenging question because, um, well I am of a race and I am of a religion, so I have experience there. As far as different races and different religions and I don't know if you can remind me of the other specific categories or not. But I haven't had a whole lot of experience. We live in a little bubble.
A runoff election for Place 4 on the Richardson ISD Board of Trustees will happen on June 15 (early voting June 3-11 at Richardson Civic Center). The runoff is between incumbent Lanet Greenhaw and Rachel Chumney. I endorsed Lanet Greenhaw in the joint election on May 11. I endorse her again in the runoff. The question above is one reason why.

If you think that someone who describes herself as living in a "little bubble" inside the largest, most diverse school district in the state might not be ready to be school board trustee, then you might want to look beyond Rachel Chumney for a better candidate.

Look, Rachel Chumney is a nice enough person. She's just not qualified for school board. Don't rely just on the quote I found telling. Listen to Chumney's whole answer (starting 6:08). Then, compare with Lanet Greenhaw's answer (starting 8:31). No contest. Vote for Greenhaw.

See also:

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Liftoff of Rocket Gateway Opening

The Heights Recreation Center in Richardson celebrated its Grand Opening with a ribbon cutting ceremony Tuesday night. Thank you, Richardson taxpayers, for approving the 2010 bond package. Because of your willingness to reinvest in our city, Richardson will remain a great city to live, work and play.

The most visually striking feature of the new Heights Recreation Center is the old, beloved playground rocket ship now repurposed into the sculpture, "Rocket Gateway." I have to admit it far exceeds my original low expectations. I was wrong. I actually like it. I especially like how its crescent shape evokes an Islamic influence, celebrating the religious diversity in Richardson. ;-)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Preparation for School Board

Question: How have you prepared yourself to serve on the Board of Trustees?
Rachel Chumney: For the past ten and a half years I've been a mom and I think that this has been the best preparation for this.
A runoff election for Place 4 on the Richardson ISD Board of Trustees will happen on June 15 (early voting June 3-11 at Richardson Civic Center). The runoff is between incumbent Lanet Greenhaw and Rachel Chumney. I endorsed Lanet Greenhaw in the joint election on May 11. I endorse her again in the runoff. The question above is one reason why.

Rachel Chumney is not the only mom in the race. She is, however, the only mom with little other experience and no RISD-wide experience. If you think that school board trustee is maybe not the place to start for someone who has never served as a PTA officer, member of an RISD council or committee for budget review, bond program development, calendar selection, textbook adoption, etc., then you might want to look beyond Rachel Chumney for a better candidate.

Look, Rachel Chumney is a nice enough person. She's just not qualified for school board. Don't rely just on the quote I found telling. Listen to Chumney's whole answer (starting 2:28). Then, compare with Lanet Greenhaw's answer (starting 1:24). No contest. Vote for Greenhaw.

See also:

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day in the Steger Garden (2013)

From Flowers

Lincoln's Gettysburg Address

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Les Misérables (2012)

Les Misérables (2012): Classic literature, French history, opera. Blood, sweat and tears. You either love it or you hate it. I loved it. B+

Saturday, May 25, 2013

That Other Election: RISD Place 4

While most people's attention was distracted by the mayoral election in Richardson, there was another election taking place: for Place 4 on the Richardson ISD Board of Trustees. On April 16, the League of Women Voters of Richardson and the Richardson ISD Council of PTAs co-sponsored a forum for Lanet Greenhaw (incumbent), Rachel Chumney and Bonnie Abadee.

I was one of about 75 people in the audience of that forum. My judgment at the time? You can read the whole thing or just this summary: "If this were a prize fight, it would have been called by the third round."

Well, of course, it wasn't a prize fight. The election was held weeks after the forum, with a different audience. In the election itself, 11,659 people voted, about 11,584 more than attended that forum to, you know, actually listen to the candidates address the issues face to face. All those additional voters gave Rachel Chumney a plurality of the vote, not enough to win, but enough to force a runoff on June 15 with incumbent Lanet Greenhaw.

After the jump, did I miss something? Or did the voters who skipped the forum miss something?

Friday, May 24, 2013

S2L77: Qutub Minar of Delhi

From 1977 03 02 India

Qutub Minar (English: The Qutub Tower) is the tallest minaret in India, originally an ancient Islamic Monument, inscribed with Arabic inscriptions, though the iron pillar has some Brahmi inscriptions, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located in Delhi, the Qutub Minar is made of red sandstone and marble. The tower has 379 stairs, is 72.5 metres (237.8 ft) high, and has a base diameter of 14.3 metres, which narrows to 2.7 metres at the top storey. Construction was started in 1192 by Qutub-ud-din Aibak and was completed by Iltutmish. It is surrounded by several other ancient and medieval structures and ruins, collectively known as the Qutub complex. Tradition assigns the erection of the pillar to Anang Pal, whose name it bears, with the date 1052 C.E.
Source: Wikipedia.

More photos after the jump.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Election Wrap: Promises, Promises

Now that Richardson's mayoral election is over, there are a few loose ends to tie up.

The most important loose end is a need to document the promises Laura Maczka made in her campaign for mayor. Here are the promises made at just one candidate forum, the one held on April 2, 2013, at RISD's MST Magnet School, sponsored by the Highland Terrace NA.

Selection of Mayor pro tem: Maczka promised to support the selection of the next mayor pro tem in open session, versus the prior practice of doing this in closed, executive session. (This promise has already been fulfilled ... kind of. The council did not use executive session to privately deliberate their choice for Mayor Pro Tem. But they didn't deliberate in public, either. There was one nomination, no discussion and a quick unanimous vote.)

City Charter Review: Laura Maczka promised to support a full city charter review in the next term.

Changes to council agendas: Maczka promised to add a regular agenda item at the end of each council meeting for the council to discuss and propose future agenda items.

Zero-based budgeting: Maczka expressed support for the idea of zero-based budgeting and a top-to-bottom departmental financial review. Maczka fudged her answer enough to give herself wriggle room later as to exactly what that means.

Less trash collection: Maczka gave trash collection as an example of an expense in the city budget that she would look at to save money. She says Richardson residents enjoy four separate collections on a weekly basis: two for trash, one for recyclables, one for bulky items. She promised to look at this, perhaps reducing the number of collections or adding a fee for some collections.

Less tree planting: Maczka gave the cost of watering the trees planted as part of the "Tree the Town" program as an example of an expense in the city budget that might not be the best use of Richardson tax money.

Change pensions to 401k: Maczka expressed a willingness to look at the possibility of converting the defined benefit pension system for city employees to a defined contribution 401k-type system. She did not promise to make the change, only to look at it. Maczka promised that any changes would apply only to future employees, not current employees.

Crackdown on speeding: Maczka promised to crack down on speeding on Grove Rd. "Absolutely," Maczka said. Lucky you if you live on Grove Rd., or not so lucky, depending on your driving habits.

What Maczka will *not* do:

Narcotics squad: Maczka opposed fund and staffing a narcotics squad within the Richardson Police Department.

RISD Natatorium: Maczka opposed partnering with the RISD in sharing facilities like natatoria. In a different forum, she expressed interest in a public/private partnership to provide such facilities.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Election Wrap: Omar's Future

Now that Richardson's mayoral election is over, there are a few loose ends to tie up.

Monday night, Amir Omar made a gracious exit after serving four years on Richardson's City Council. But in losing the Richardson mayor's race, he has made it very hard on himself to have a future in Richardson politics. The establishment turned its back on him. In return, he turned his back on them. The standing ovation he received after his farewell doesn't change that history.

During the campaign, Omar gravitated to becoming the de facto candidate of the tea party, whether any group going by that name officially endorsed him or not, whether he himself embraced the notion or not. Unfortunately for him and his future, the tea party hasn't been able to elect dog catcher in this town. Omar was their best candidate by far in three elections and even he came up far short.

Maybe the city council will be magnanimous and offer him a seat on a board or commission, and he'd probably be humble and dedicated enough to accept, but somehow I don't see that happening. The attacks on his character were too vicious, too personal, for a "let bygones be bygones" attitude to prevail after this election. Still, stranger things have happened.

Is there an opening up the ladder? He didn't help himself with the country club Republicans in this election. As for the tea party Republicans, he could recreate himself as a full-fledged tea party candidate, then challenge an existing officeholder from the right in a GOP primary. But think of that. Is it even possible to imagine anyone getting to the right of, say, Stefani Carter? Or outfundraising Pete Sessions? Or attacking Tiger Mother Angie Chen Button?

Is there an opening elsewhere? Is Omar young enough to pack his bags and move away from Richardson to work his way up through the ranks again in another city? Regardless here or there, he would need to clean up his biography and business résumé, which was picked on to devastating effect by the Richardson Coalition PAC and not just them. Rodger Jones of The Dallas Morning News expressed doubts about Omar's claimed business experience. Omar has some damage control to do if he wants a future in politics anywhere.

If he can put aside electoral ambitions on his own behalf, he would probably be both welcomed and excellent working for another officeholder. A stint in Austin or even Washington, D.C., working on a politician's staff or for a lobbying group could do wonders for his own next run for public office. Will Omar be satisfied leaving politics and throwing himself fully into his work with charities and non-profits? Who knows? He himself may not be sure what he wants to do next. But any organization that can recruit him is getting a dynamo.

All that's certain is that there will be another act for Amir Omar. He has too much talent and energy to just fade away. I just don't have the crystal ball that can give me any confidence in predicting just what his future might hold.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Election Wrap: An Independent View

I received an email from a long-time Richardson resident, which contained a thoughtful analysis of Richardson's recent mayoral election. I am publishing the email in full, with the author's permission, after the jump.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Selecting a Mayor Pro Tem

It's that time again. Now that Richardson's city council election is over, now that the sturm und drang of an election campaign has abated, now that the voters themselves have elected their next mayor, it's time to seat the new council and have them choose from among themselves, with no say from the voters, who should be their mayor -- mayor pro tem, anyway. What?!? If that sounds like maybe we haven't made as much change as we thought we were making, it's because it's true.

It's even less of a change when you consider just who we are swearing in as mayor. The voters ratified the preferred candidate of the establishment group that has backed every winning city council member in the last three elections. So, instead of the voters picking the establishment-backed council candidates who then pick the mayor, the voters pick the establishment-backed mayor themselves. Ironically, the anti-establishment forces that succeeded in getting direct election of the mayor into Richardson's city charter just ended up giving the establishment pick more legitimacy. The Richardson Coalition PAC owes Alan North a big thank you.

But enough hindsight. The time has come to pick a Mayor Pro Tem. Who should it be? After the jump, my thoughts.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Lincoln (2012)

Lincoln (2012): Why Lincoln was our greatest president. More true now, 150 years on, than ever. Great storytelling. Deserved the Oscar. A+

Late Spring in the Steger Garden (2013)

From Flowers

Friday, May 17, 2013

Election Wrap: Petition

Now that Richardson's mayoral election is over, there are a few loose ends to tie up.

Richardson Citizens For A More Democratic Government: That's the name of the PAC behind the petition drive that put direct election of the mayor on the November, 2012, ballot. The petition was not a factor in the outcome of the recent mayoral election, but it was the sole reason we even had an election in the first place. So, it deserves a little post-election review.

There is still more than little mystery surrounding the PAC behind the petition. The public story is that the PAC was created by Alan North, who hired Austin political consultant Chris Cutrone to organize and run the petition drive. But the financial statements I've seen don't explain where all the money came from and where it all went. Call my interest less a conspiracy theory than just plain curiosity. I'd like to know just how it all went down.

For the better part of a year, Amir Omar denied rumors that he had anything to do with the petition drive. Then, in the last weeks of the mayoral election campaign, he gave a radio interview to Alan North's brother, Larry North, and revealed that Alan North had called him after the Richardson City Council voted in January, 2012, to drop discussion of direct election of the mayor. Omar said he advised North that the only thing North could do to change things would be to organize a petition. And that's just what North did. What else Omar and North talk about in that phone call? Were there any contacts before or after that? Again, call my interest less a conspiracy theory than just plain curiosity. I'd like to know just how it all went down.

I hope someday Alan North writes a memoir. An open and transparent telling of the story would make for fascinating reading, selling several copies I'm sure. He could title it "Petition: Spending Thousands of Dollars to Get Laura Maczka Elected Rather Than Selected Mayor."

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Election Wrap: Money

Now that Richardson's mayoral election is over, there are a few loose ends to tie up.
Money makes the world go around
The world go around
The world go around
Money money money money money money
Money money money money money money
Get a little money money money
A mark, a yen, a buck or a pound
That clinking clanking clanking sound
Is all that makes the world go around
It makes the world go around!
Source: Cabaret.
It turns out that money didn't make Richardson's mayoral election go around.

Some people tried to make something of which candidate collected more money from outside Richardson or outside Texas or whatever, but I personally didn't see that as a factor in the election. I saw that as mostly a proxy attack on Amir Omar's religion, which I covered earlier.

As for the total amount of money raised, that wasn't a factor in the outcome either. Sure, the Richardson Coalition PAC paid something like $25,000 to mail their noxious voters guide to probably every registered voter in Richardson. No scrimping there. Overkill. But Amir Omar wasn't hard up for money, either. In the last weeks of the campaign, it seemed like every day there was another mailer from Omar in the mailbox, even more insistent than the last in its allegation that a gaffe at a tea party forum revealed a secret plan that Laura Maczka has for covering Richardson in cheap apartments. (I'm surprised he overlooked the idea of reusing a photo of Maczka in a hard hat -- taken in front of the soon-to-be-demolished Continental Inn -- to imply that she was out there building those cheap apartments herself.) I don't need to know the exact amount spent by both candidates. It was a lot. Something like $150,000 or $250,000 will have been spent on Richardson's first direct election of the mayor in a half century. (Belated tip of the hat to Richardson's founding fathers for saving us from that for at least a half century.)

Maybe I should correct myself. Money *did* make the Richardson mayoral election go around, but like a carnival ride that goes around and around and never gets anywhere. And here's the irony: for the backers of direct election who thought this would increase democracy, know that the cost of entry into electoral politics in Richardson just went up big time. Electoral politics in Richardson are likely to get less democratic in future, not more. Who has the deep pockets who can pay that cost of entry? Land developers, for one.

That brings me to the one money angle to this election that, had I noticed in time, I just might have made something of. Laura Maczka collected $5,000 from a developer who has come before the City Council seeking zoning approval for development projects in Richardson, and may do so again in future. That's sketchy, especially when it's this guy. It may not be illegal, but it just looks bad. Really bad.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Election Wrap: Endorsements

Now that Richardson's mayoral election is over, there are a few loose ends to tie up.

In my opinion (without polling data to back it up), the Richardson Coalition PAC's voters guide, with its bankruptcy/divorce allegations, was the decisive issue in the campaign. The second biggest factor (my rankings are my wild-ass guesses) was religious prejudice, which is hard to measure, especially as public displays of prejudice are outnumbered by privately-held prejudices. The third biggest factor in deciding this election was the list of endorsements Laura Maczka assembled.

There's a school of thought that argues that endorsements shouldn't matter. Sometimes endorsements even have a perverse opposite effect, like the commenter who rejected my own endorsement, saying, "Thanks, I needed help eliminating a choice." But I'm not here to argue whether endorsements *should* matter. In my opinion, they *do* matter, whether you like it or not.

Maczka had the influential Richardson Coalition PAC behind her, as I discussed in earlier blog posts. She had all the incumbent council members in her camp. She had Mayor Bob Townsend and former mayors Gary Slagel, Steve Mitchell and Martha Ritter as well as numerous former council members. She had The Dallas Morning News. Full disclosure: she even had my endorsement, explicitly because of those endorsements by returning council members (I felt the council's own preference for who should be their council leader deserves respect). She had so many endorsements she was able to send a mailer geo-customized for each neighborhood, featuring a nearby prominent civic leader (council member, former council member or mayor, HOA president, etc.) saying something nice about Maczka.

On the other side, Amir Omar had the fire fighters, the police, and the realtors. Not too shabby there, but Maczka dismissed those as "unions" and "special interests" (despite welcoming those same endorsements in 2011). In the end, Omar's endorsements were no match for Maczka's.

She had such an impressive array of endorsements that, even if the Richardson Coalition PAC had put out a fair and balanced voters guide, even if there hadn't been a whisper campaign about religion poisoning the atmosphere, I think it can be argued that Maczka could still have won the election based solely on her endorsements. Instead the Richardson Coalition PAC adopted a campaign of overkill. Not satisfied with just playing up Maczka's positives, not satisfied with just winning, it was as if they were out to destroy Amir Omar personally. I know it's been said that politics is a blood sport, but I always thought of that as meaning people will do anything to win. Now, I have to expand the definition to people going beyond what's needed to win solely in order to destroy others. That's one behavior that I cannot endorse.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Election Wrap: Religion

Laura Maczka
Now that Richardson's mayoral election is over, there are a few loose ends to tie up.

The elephant in the room was religion. Neither of the candidates raised the subject of religion in any forum or in any email or mailer. That's not to say rumors about religion weren't raised in whisper campaigns. I am hopeful that the public silence is a sign of social progress and that one day bigotry won't be tolerated even in private conversations.

Still, I believe that religion was a deciding factor in at least some voters' minds. Were there enough such voters to be a factor in the outcome? It's hard to answer that. I don't think we'll ever know for sure, unless one of the candidates did some polling on the issue and shares the results now that the election is over. I'm not counting on that happening.

So, I'll just have to be grateful that religion was not considered a legitimate issue for either candidate to raise in public. Not verbally, anyway. Peace! ;-)

(Photo: Laura Maczka greets early voters at the Civic Center.)

Monday, May 13, 2013

Election Wrap: Bankruptcy

Now that Richardson's mayoral election is over, there are a few loose ends to tie up.

When the race started, I didn't detect any negative feelings towards Laura Maczka. She was considered to be talented, accomplished, and likable. She probably could have won a positive campaign built around her own many positive attributes. But the Richardson Coalition PAC decided to make the race a referendum on Amir Omar, or at least the image of Amir Omar they could paint for the electorate.

The unadorned court documents from Omar's bankruptcy and divorce would probably have been decisive in the election, but the negative interpretations by the Richardson Coalition PAC made them devastating to Omar's chances. It's a defensible argument that court documents are a legitimate campaign issue. They are pertinent to assessing a candidate's character. But half-truths and unsupported insinuations about those documents are not defensible. In fact, no one made an attempt to defend them. The PAC just dumped their allegations about the documents out there and let them work their toxic effect on the public. Maczka stirred the pot by linking to them.

Fair or not, Laura Maczka got blamed for the PAC's voters guide and now has to live with the consequences. The consequences are not good for her reputation. She won. She won big. But at the expense of turning those universal good feelings at the start of the campaign into hostile feelings among many of the 30 percent of the electorate who favored Amir Omar, and at least feelings of disappointment among many who voted for her. If she cares about being mayor for *all* of Richardson, she's got some healing to do.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Election Wrap: Over Before It Began

Congratulations to Laura Maczka, Richardson's next mayor.

Now that Richardson's mayoral election is over, there are a few loose ends to tie up.

Amir Omar was warned that if he supported direct election of the mayor, then he wouldn't win re-election. Well, he did and he didn't. He was probably doomed in January, 2012, when he stood alone, among seven council members, in not going along with killing talk of a charter change. He was certainly doomed when Alan North gathered enough petition signatures to get a charter change on the November ballot. Fair or not, Omar got tied to that, too.

Omar was probably doomed whether he sought the newly-created mayor's seat or if instead he tried to find an open seat in the game of musical chairs that resulted from the charter change. It really didn't matter. It's just that hard to win election in Richardson without the support of the establishment, a.k.a. the Richardson Coalition PAC, which has gone 15 for 15 in city council election campaigns in Richardson since 2009. Omar went for the gold ring, not because it was reachable, but because he had no viable options. In for a dime, in for a dollar.

Now, I could be wrong here. There were rumors that the Richardson Coalition PAC was willing to let bygones be bygones and support Omar for another council seat, if Omar would agree not to challenge Laura Maczka for mayor. If that rumor is true, then Omar badly misjudged the electorate and shares the blame for being on the outside looking in now. In any case, Mayor Amir Omar wasn't meant to be. It was over before it began.

The above explains when the race was over. It doesn't explain how it went down. More on that in future posts.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Night of Drumming at BHS

The Berkner Percussion put on the 5th Annual "Night of Drumming" at Berkner High School Saturday evening. If you've never attended one of these, you don't know what you're missing. Besides the beat of the drums, there's melody and visual entertainment as well. Berkner has one of the best high school bands in the nation (no kidding) and its percussion section is one of the reasons why. I can't recommend this too highly. Don't miss it next year.

As for the other beat down that happened today, a.k.a the Richardson mayoral election, I'll have more to say on that in the morning. For now, congratulations to Laura Maczka, Richardson's next mayor.

Friday, May 10, 2013

S2L77: Fatehpur Sikri

Agra, India
March 8, 1977

The hotel reception desk lost my room key. I was locked out for an hour while attempts were made (unsuccessful) to unlock the door with various "master" keys. My key was finally located in the room next door.
Source: Personal travel notes.

From 1977 03 02 India

Why I thought it significant to comment on a lost room key, but not say a word about Fatehpur Sikri, I'll never know. As bewitching as the Taj Mahal is under the light of a full moon, Fatehpur Sikir is, for me, the most haunting site in India. Twenty three miles west of Agra, it was the capital of the Mughal Empire in the late 1500s. It was a planned city, built and abandoned all within a couple of decades, leaving this haunting red sandstone ghost town for tourists to wander and imagine what life must have been like in the imperial court of the Mughal Empire of Akbar the Great.

More photos after the jump.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Politics is Not Here to Please You

Politics is not here to please you.
Source: Ezra Klein.
By that, Ezra Klein was referring to the dysfunction in government in Washington, with one side insisting that all would be well if the President would just lead and the other side insisting all would be well if Republicans in Congress would just compromise. Klein says the polarized state of politics in Washington is not difficult to understand; it's just difficult to fix. That may not please those who demand simple, immediate solutions, but then, politics is not here to please you.

After the jump, applying that lesson to Richardson politics.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Review: The Book Thief

The Book Thief
From The Book Thief, by Marcus Zuzak:
Open quote 

She was the book thief without the words. Trust me, though, the words were on their way, and when they arrived, Liesel would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out like the rain."

Life in Nazi Germany for a young girl. Ugly and glorious, a story each generation needs to relearn.

After the jump, my review.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Richardson's Concrete River

A story in the Atlantic, "L.A. Wants to Turn Its Concrete 'River' Into a Real River," tells about efforts in California to remove most of the concrete from the river channel of the Los Angeles River (poured in the 1930s for flood control) and restore the natural habitat of the river. This story gives me an opportunity to correct a misconception I had about Richardson's own concrete 'river.'

After the jump, an update on the construction in downtown Richardson on the Floyd Branch of Cottonwood Creek.

Monday, May 6, 2013

OTBR: An American-Themed Diner in the UK

Latitude: N 52° 20.778
Longitude: W 000° 10.602

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".

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

Zero Dark Thirty (2012): Torture porn. Controversial history. Little dramatic tension. I thought death of UBL would be more satisfying. C+

Friday, May 3, 2013

Protecting Richardson From More Apartments

Tell me a story, tell me a story
Tell me a story, remember what you said
You promised me you said you would
You got to give in so I'll be good
Tell me a story, then I'll go to bed

Once upon a time I remember long ago

Don't go back in history your memory's kinda slow
Source: Lyrics by Terry Gilkyson.
"Protecting Richardson From More Apartments." Uh huh. That's the story that we're being told. Not from a PAC but directly from the candidate himself, Amir Omar. Who wants to be mayor. Who has hired a high-priced political consultant to achieve that for him. Who has said he conducted telephone polls to determine the issues that are relevant to our residents. So protecting Richardson from more apartments must be one of those issues that plays well with voters. So, that's our story. But does the story match the history?

Let's go back in history to find out. After the jump.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

More About That "Inner City" Remark

Laura Maczka's comments at the Richardson Tea Party forum afford me an opportunity to discuss something that Richardson needs to discuss. Unfortunately, campaign dynamics prevent the candidates from discussing it. In the campaign, Amir Omar's negative attack ads rule the day, aiming for distortion more than serious discussion.

Politicking rules the day online, too, but assuming local blogger David Chenoweth is serious when he says he's confused about what people really mean, let me try to help. He doesn't name whom he means by "one of her supporters," but for argument's sake, let's say he means me:
It is interesting to see how a campaign plays out.

No doubt by now, you have probably heard all about the comments Laura Maczka made at a Tea Party meeting. Laura stated that we are now an inner city and reinforced that statement with saying "We are no longer the suburb to the north."

She went on and then said "The demographics are going to demand that we make the changes. I think one of the biggest areas we are going to see the change is definitely going to be in housing. You know that word multi-family is something that is hard to swallow. And so I think more and more as we have lower economics folks moving in we are going to be able to have more affordable housing".

Her supporters are claiming she didn't really mean what she said. Interesting things seem to have developed from that. One of those supporters seems to now be at odds with what he wants Richardson to be. He wants Richardson to be urban big time, with stack 'em and pack 'em ruling the town. But in defense of his chosen candidate, he is saying she really doesn't want more apartments, which is in fact what he wants, high density. He is using her campaign literature to show Laura really didn't mean what she actually said. His endorsement seems to conflict with what he claims he wants.

So it can be confusing what people really mean.

Always obliging, I'll try to clear up the confusion, at least regarding my own meaning. After the jump.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Repeat Tweets: Ted and Mike and Me

Repeat tweets from April, 2013:

  • 2 Apr 2013: MT @SenTedCruz: "UN Arms Treaty should be rejected. It's international gun regulation, plain and simple." Leftover #AprilFools tweet, right?
  • 2 Apr 2013: Headline: "In Nelson, Georgia., you now have to own a gun." I thought mandates were supposed to be tyranny.
  • 2 Apr 2013: Hard to imagine, but print dinosaurs like @MikeHashimoto still use terms like "Chicago union thugs."
  • 4 Apr 2013: .@SenTedCruz, folks in Lubbock have some of the worst uninsured rates in the nation. That's the result when govt gets out of the way. #wacko
  • 4 Apr 2013: RT @MikeHashimoto: "Obama gives Hollywood a pass on violence." His hands are full trying to reduce real gun violence.
  • 4 Apr 2013: RT @SenTedCruz: "Cut extravagant parties at the White House-not cancer treatment for Medicare patients." Really? Have you no shame? #wacko
  • 5 Apr 2013: MT @SenTedCruz: "We must champion growth & it won't come from politicians in DC." No, but politicians demanding austerity can kill growth.
  • 5 Apr 2013: RT @MikeHashimoto: "Don't blame sequester for awful jobs report, says even the NYT." @MikeHashimoto suddenly likes NYT. Who knew?
  • 5 Apr 2013: MT @SenTedCruz: "over 4 years after financial crisis, the economy is gasping for breath." So, quit choking it. #NoToAusterity #wacko

After the jump, more repeat tweets.