Friday, November 29, 2013

S2L77: Istanbul

From 1977 04 08 Turkey
Istanbul, straddling the Bosphorus, seen from Asia

From 1977 04 08 Turkey
Istanbul, seen from the Bosphorus

Istanbul, like Tehran, like New Delhi, is one of those cities where one's first impression is determined by one's direction of approach. Coming into Istanbul from the east, after travelling overland the length of Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, etc., I was struck by how Western, how European, how ... familiar Istanbul felt. However, we ran into tourists arriving in Istanbul from Europe and they remarked on how exotic Istanbul felt. In Istanbul, East meets West.

More photos after the jump.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Great Gatsby (1974)

The Great Gatsby (1974):
Redford > DiCaprio.
1974 > 2013.
Book >>> Movie (either one).
Less is more.
That is all, Old Sport. C+

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Great Gatsby (2013)

The Great Gatsby (2013): Over-the-top, overdone CGI recreation of Roaring '20s. This Gatsby is not great, you don't even care about him. C+

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Arbitrage (2012)

Arbitrage (2012): Tycoon's business collapses. Fraud, affair, lies, cover ups grow as law closes in. Usual Hollywood stuff, well told. B-

Monday, November 25, 2013

Voting Is Just So Messy

The City of Richardson has a policy regarding electioneering at the Civic Center during early voting: "During early voting, political signs may not be erected on public property." The State of Texas has other ideas.
On June 14, 2013, the Texas Legislature passed HB 259, thereby amending Section 61.003 and 85.036 of the Texas Election Code by requiring a public entity that controls or owns a building used as a polling place to allow electioneering on the premises, subject to reasonable regulations.
So, let's amend Richardson's policy to allow electioneering at the Civic Center, so long as it occurs outside the 100 foot boundary state law specifies. Easy peasy. Next issue.

Not so fast, says Richardson's City Council. After the jump, their thoughts.

Friday, November 22, 2013

S2L77: Izmir, Troy, Canakkale, Gallipoli

April 17, 1977
Quick tour of Izmir, walking through the bazaar and the Roman agora, which was closed for restoration.
Source: Personal travel notes.

From 1977 04 08 Turkey
Izmir, Turkey

We stopped for lunch in Izmir, just enough time to find a restaurant and do a little sightseeing. And by sightseeing in this region of the world, I mean track down the ancient Greeks and Romans. Izmir being at least 3,500 years old, the Roman ruins mark but a stage in its long history, but when you only have a couple of hours, it's a good stage to hunt down.

In Troy, you go back even before the Romans to the Homeric legends of the Iliad and the Odyssey. Today, the site is an active archaeological dig. In 1977, about the only thing for the casual sightseer was a large wooden horse, so that's what I took a photo of.

Canakkale is the modern city nearest the ancient site of Troy. It's also where we said goodbye to Asia. It was there that we crossed the Dardanelles Strait, which separates Asia from Europe, on a ferry.

On the European side of the Dardanelles is the Gallipoli peninsula, the site of a major military campaign in World War I. The British and French sought to secure a sea route to Russia through the Dardanelles. Gallipoli was where the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) saw their first action in the war, with great loss of life. Today, ANZAC Day (April 25) is the day of remembrance for all Australians and New Zealanders who fought and died in all wars. It marks the dawn of national consciousness for those nations.

More photos after the jump.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Cash America's Wallet is a Little Lighter

Cash America

In response to enforcement action by the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), payday lender Cash America will repay $14 million to customers and will pay a $5 million fine because "it improperly pursued some customers' debt and overcharged military service members." Apparently, Cash America charged service members annual interest rates over 36% on loans. Compare that to the interest rate banks pay you when you loan them money by making a deposit to your savings account.

After the jump, what does this have to do with Richardson?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Archives: JFK, the Book Thief

One of the benefits of blogging is that you have a ready-made archive to jog your memory. Today's entry simply references two such memories.

  • November 22, 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of JFK. It's one of those moments people remember where they were, what they were doing, no blog required. I was in sixth grade when the public address speakers in school came on. At first it sounded like someone in the school office had unintentionally flipped a switch, as there was no announcement, only what sounded like a garbled radio broadcast. Students laughed at what we thought was someone's mistake. Gradually, the laughter died away and was replaced by horror and sadness as the news registered. That guilty laughter is what has stuck with me for fifty years.

    Anyway, fifty years later, I live in Dallas. Here's what I blogged last year when Dallas began making plans for the anniversary.

  • To continue on a sad theme, The Book Thief is in limited release (Cinemark West in Plano, Thursday, 10:00 pm). The movie is based on the book by the same name, which was the selection for this year's "Richardson Reads One Book" program. It's a view of life in Nazi Germany from a child's eye. I haven't seen the movie, but you can read my review of the book from last spring.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Samsara (2011)

Samsara (2011): Stunning images from world over. Slow motion, time lapse. Some jaw dropping, some weird. No narration. B- (Watch high, A-)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Learning From Lookadoo

In case you were on Mars last week, here's a recap. The PTA at Richardson High School sponsored a motivational speaker, Justin Lookadoo, for a school assembly. Lookadoo's public speaking focuses on what his critics consider antiquated gender stereotypes. The RHS event blew up on social media, was picked up by Dallas newspapers and television, and eventually received international coverage.

After the jump, what we learned.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Playoffs: Allen 63, Lake Highlands 6

From 2013 11 15 Allen vs Lake Highlands

The Lake Highlands Wildcats faced off against the undefeated Allen Eagles in the first round of the 2013 Texas UIL football playoffs Friday night at Wildcat-Ram Stadium. Allen more than lived up to their #1 state ranking in beating the Wildcats 63-6. The Wildcats end their playoff season with a district record of 5-2 (overall 5-6). Thanks for the good season, Wildcats.

More photos after the jump.

Friday, November 15, 2013

S2L77: Ephesus

From 1977 04 08 Turkey

Most people today, if they know of Ephesus at all, recognize the name from Paul the Apostle's epistle to the Ephesians. Some might know Ephesus as the burial place of John the Apostle, the author of one of the four Gospels. Some others might know it as the home of the Temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. In any case, today Ephesus is the site of a large archaeological dig, giving the modern traveler an entrancing peek into the world of the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Christians.

More photos after the jump.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Review: Empire of the Summer Moon

Empire of the Summer Moon
From Empire of the Summer Moon, by S.C. Gwynne:
Open quote 

Behind it all is the story of the rise and fall of the Comanches. No tribe in the history of North America had more to say about the nation's destiny. Quanah was merely the final product of everything they had believed and dreamed of and fought for over a span of two hundred fifty years. The kidnapping of a blue-eyed, nine-year-old Cynthia Ann in 1836 marked the start of the white man's forty-year war with the Comanches, in which Quanah would play a leading role. In one sense, the Parkers are the beginning and end of the Comanches in U.S. history."

After the jump, my review.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The "Wow Factor" of Richardson's Goals

After complaining for months about the Richardson City Council's non-transparent process for deciding its near-term action items, I guess I ought to say something now that the goals have been revealed. But first, go ahead, read 'em yourself.

After the jump, my own reaction.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

42 (2013)

42 (2013): America needed Jackie Robinson. A hero for his time, for all time. Hagiography at its finest because it's true. Take the kids. B+

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Round of Applause for Paralysis in Sports

Catastrophic Insurance
You know the ritual when a kid playing high school football goes down with an injury. When he eventually gets up and hobbles off the field, he gets a round of applause from the fans in the stands. Apparently, in the Richardson ISD, that might be all he ever gets, even if he can't get up at all and might never walk again.
Catastrophic care insurance offers a safety net for students who suffer life-altering accidents or illness while participating in an extra-curricular school activity, with policies providing as much as $7.5 million of coverage in cases such as spinal cord injuries, brain injury, infection or stroke. But coverage is not mandatory in Texas, nor is it officially recommended by the state's public school extracurricular governing body, the University Interscholastic League. A Dallas Morning News survey of 65 of the largest school districts in the Dallas-Fort Worth area found five that don't provide any catastrophic care coverage: Birdville, Burleson, Cedar Hill, Mansfield and Richardson ISDs.
Richardson ISD?!? No coverage? Seriously?

After the jump, WTF?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Make Believe (2010)

Make Believe (2010): Teens from world over compete in magic contest in Vegas. Great kids but not much magic in this documentary. C-

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Season Ender Game: Skyline 48, Berkner 13

From 2013 11 08 Skyline vs Berkner

The 9-1 Skyline Raiders defeated the Berkner Rams 48-13 Friday night at Wildcat-Ram Stadium. The Rams' season comes to a close with a record of 4-6. From the 104 degree season opener at South Garland to the final playing of the Berkner fight song in 58 degree weather, it was a wild season of blowout wins ... and losses. Thanks for the fun, Rams.

More photos after the jump.

Friday, November 8, 2013

S2L77: Turkey's Aegean Coast

Kusadasi, Turkey
April 14, 1977
First sight of the sea since Kota Bharu, Malaysia.
Source: Personal travel notes.

From 1977 04 08 Turkey

Finally, in Kusadasi, Turkey, on the Aegean Sea, after more than 7,500 miles and eight countries, I saw the sea again for the first time since standing on the beach of the South China Sea in Kota Bharu, Malaysia.

The history of the area around Kusadasi goes back 5,000 years. Everyone sooner or later had some reason to come to here -- the Aeolians, Ionians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Christians, Byzantines, Venetians, Ottomans, the modern Turks, and, in 1977, yours truly.

More photos after the jump.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

OTBR: Autumn Leaves on Utah's Mt. Nebo

Latitude: N 39° 58.104
Longitude: W 111° 41.442

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, November 6, 2013

"The Primal Scream of Suburbia"

Eric Nicholson nails it in Unfair Park: "The Opposition to New High-End Apartments in Richardson is the Primal Scream of Suburbia."

Eric Nicholson just saved me the trouble of blogging about the public hearing before Richardson's City Plan Commission (CPC) regarding the proposed Palisades Village development.

After the jump, some speculation and gaming this out.

Autumn in Breckinridge (2013)

From 2013 11 03 Breckinridge Park
More photos after the jump.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Election Day: Can You Prove You Are You?

Source: Superbad.

It's Election Day. Thank God, for the first time ever you have to show a photo ID to vote in Texas, the way the Founders intended. No more Democrats stealing elections. Finally, at long last, we'll be able to elect a few Republicans here.

It's a well known fact that photo IDs are difficult to forge. If not, kids would be using forged IDs to buy beer. It's also a well known fact that the desire to vote illegally is much stronger than teens' desire to consume beer, so much so that there have been ten cases of voter impersonation nationwide since 2000. But now, with the new photo ID laws, those ten cases in the last decade are about to be reduced to at most single digits in the next decade. What's not to like?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Repeat Tweets: Interpreting the Mayor

Repeat tweets from October, 2013:

  • 2 Oct 2013: Interpreting the mayor: what makes a Richardson dog park a priority is that it's holding up real priorities.
  • 2 Oct 2013: MT @SenTedCruz: "We can work together but Democrats don't want to." Cruz is just trolling us now. #wacko
  • 2 Oct 2013: Headline: "Congressman Pete Sessions: Republican In Name Only?" Seriously? Sessions isn't deranged enough for GOP?
  • 2 Oct 2013: .@KenPaxtonTX, get your facts straight. Honor Flight cofounder says Park Service "bent over backwards" for veterans:
  • 2 Oct 2013: MT @SenTedCruz: "This is #HarryReidsShutdown. He won't negotiate, won't talk." Cruz on other hand is all talk. He broke it, he owns it.

After the jump, more repeat tweets.

Friday, November 1, 2013

S2L77: Hierapolis

From 1977 04 08 Turkey

In the previous installment of this travel journal, we were in southwest Turkey, in Pamukkale, where people have been going for thousands of years to bathe in hot springs on travertine terraces.

The ancient Greco-Roman city of Hierapolis was built there. In 1977, we had the site to ourselves. We were free to wander among the ruins, from the baths to the temples to the huge outdoor amphitheater.

More photos of Hierapolis after the jump.