Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Hobbit - The Desolation of Smaug (2013)

The Hobbit - Smaug (2013): Tolkien would recognize it. Jackson added love interest, some humor and lots of mind-numbing CGI action. C+

Monday, December 30, 2013

Lookout, TCEQ is Coming to Plano

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has prepared a draft permit which, if approved, would establish the conditions under which the new Lookout Trash Transfer Station (LOTS) must operate. The TCEQ has made a preliminary decision that this permit meets all statutory and regulatory requirements. Naturally, dissatisfaction with this decision is directly proportional to proximity to the site.

After the jump, the next act in this long-running drama.

Friday, December 27, 2013

S2L77: Delphi

From 1977 04 21 Greece

Delphi was believed by ancient Greeks to be at the exact center of the world. It was the home of the Delphic oracle, the most important oracle of the ancient world. It was also the site of the Pythian Games, the precursor to the modern Olympics.

More photos after the jump.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry TubaChristmas - 2013

From 2013 12 24 TubaChristmas

TubaChristmas was celebrated in Thanksgiving Square in downtown Dallas at noon on Christmas Eve, the 36th annual performance of about 200 tubas, sousaphones, euphoniums and baritones. Oh, the joyful sound!

More photos after the jump.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Duck and Cover - ctd

In reaction to the controversy over the comments of the Duck Dynasty guy, Phil Robertson, in a GQ interview, I said I was reading Isabel Wilkerson's "The Warmth of Other Suns." That book is getting better and better the farther I read. Wilkerson spells out plenty of reasons why blacks in the Jim Crow South would not say "Those doggone white people" to a white person, reasons different from the conclusion of Phil Robertson that blacks were happy with Jim Crow.

Blacks living in the Jim Crow South had good reason to distrust *all* whites -- a single careless comment to the wrong person at the wrong time and their livelihoods, their homes, even their lives could be lost. I'm surprised that this is a controversial statement today for anyone, but it seems to be, given some of the reader reaction I've received to my original post. Apparently, the mythology that blacks were happy with racial discrimination persists to this day.

After the jump, another passage from Wilkerson that provides another example of this.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

HS Basketball District Play Tips Off

From 2013 12 20 Lake Highlands vs Berkner

District 9-5A basketball tipped off its 2013-2014 district season with rivalry games in Richardson. The Richardson Eagles defeated the Pearce Mustangs 61-51 at Pearce High School, while across town at Berkner High School, the Rams defeated the Lake Highlands Wildcats 76-62. Berkner had a balanced offense, with four players in double figures. Lake Highlands' Jamarice Preston led all scorers with 19 points.

More photos after the jump.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Duck and Cover

Recap: in an interview with GQ, Phil Robertson, star of A&E's reality TV series "Duck Dynasty," compared homosexuality with raping barnyard animals. A&E, not keen on being associated with that sentiment, suspended Robertson. Some thought that was a violation of free speech and attacked A&E for, I dunno, exercising their own freedom to choose whom to give TV time to or something. The critics of A&E find themselves in the (I hope) uncomfortable company of the Westboro Baptist Church: "A&E suspended Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty 4EVER for telling you fags won't go to heaven. Hello?! GOD HATES FAGS."

Anyway, Phil Robertson's backwards views on sexual orientation are not what I wanted to talk about today. After the jump, his backwards views on race.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

RALC Appreciation Luncheon

RALC Executive Director Katie Patterson welcomes attendees

The Richardson Adult Literacy Center (RALC) held its annual Volunteer and Student Appreciation Luncheon Wednesday at the Richardson Public Library. The potluck luncheon featured dishes from sixteen countries around the world. I particularly recommend the mole poblano.

The RALC provides free English as a second language (ESL) instruction to adults who live or work in Richardson or the Richardson Independent School District area. Please consider volunteering or donating.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Retirement for "L"

Ellen's upcoming retirement from the Richardson school district was celebrated by a retirement party thrown by her co-workers. She was blown away by the turnout of dozens of teachers and administrators from across the RISD, including the last three Directors of Fine Arts for the RISD. From left to right: Michael Brashear, Texas Bandmasters Association Executive Director; Brian Britt, Director of Fine Arts, Richardson ISD; Ellen; and Dr. Bradley Kent, Music Director for University Interscholastic League.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Sounds of the Season 2013 at LHHS

Attending the Lake Highlands High School Choirs' annual "Sounds of the Season" concert has become a holiday tradition. Something for all. Carols by candlelight. Pop music. Parent choir. More than Christmas shopping, more than decorating the house, the sounds of these talented young singers marks, for me, the start of the Christmas season. Make a point of attending next year and see if this concert doesn't become an annual tradition for your family, too.

Friday, December 13, 2013

S2L77: Kavala, Platamon and Thermopylae, Greece

From 1977 04 21 Greece
Kavala, Greece

The drive from Istanbul to Athens hugs the coast, affording views of the Aegean Sea, fishing villages and towns, and the ancient castles that protected Greece from invasion by sea.

More photos after the jump.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Mayor Maczka Shows Leadership on Palisades

The Richardson City Council, led by Mayor Laura Maczka, approved by a vote of 5-2 the rezoning request for the proposed pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use Palisades Village development. I applaud the vote. I support the development. This is what I said after the request was approved by the City Plan Commission and was sent to the city council for their approval:
Mayor Laura Maczka has made known her enthusiasm for this Palisades development. Getting it passed over the vocal opposition of some Canyon Creek homeowners is a test of her leadership. In the end, expect it to pass.
Source: The Wheel.
Even though I predicted council approval, I can't say I'm not a little surprised. Objections to building apartments next to the Canyon Creek neighborhood were loud and clear. Maczka not only went against the wishes of the opposition, she was in the lead of a solid majority of the council in approving the request. Her leadership style, however you want to characterize it, was strong enough to carry the day on this politically risky project.

After the jump, another tack I could have taken in reporting this.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Blackfish (2013)

Blackfish (2013): One-sided look at killer whale living up to name. SeaWorld blames trainer errors. Keeping orcas for human fun is cruel. C+

Monday, December 9, 2013

Review: The Signal and the Noise

The Signal and the Noise
From The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail -- But Some Don't, by Nate Silver:
Open quote 

Political news, and especially the important news that really affects the campaign, proceeds at an irregular pace. But news coverage is produced every day. Most of it is filler, packaged in the form of stories that are designed to obscure its unimportance. Not only does political coverage often lose the signal -- it frequently accentuates the noise."

After the jump, my review.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Early Winter at the Steger House (2013)

From 2013 12 06 Ice Storm

More photos after the jump.

OTBR: The Edge of Australia's Corio Bay

Latitude: S 38° 09.612
Longitude: E 144° 31.590

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".

Thursday, December 5, 2013

High School Basketball is Back

From 2013 12 03 McKinney Boyd vs Berkner

Now that the football season is over for the four Richardson ISD high schools, it's time for basketball to take center stage. The Berkner Rams, coming off a 2012-2013 season that was one of the two best in school history, culminating in a trip to the state Final Four in March, are off to another great start this season.

After the jump, the Berkner Rams take on the McKinney Boyd Broncos.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Review: The Hidden Reality

The Hidden Reality
From The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos, by Brian Greene:
Open quote 

The trek in this book has been toward what may be the capstone Copernican correction. Our universe itself may not be central to any cosmic order. Much as with our planet, star, and galaxy, our universe may merely be one among a great many."

After the jump, my review.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Repeat Tweets: Hungry Kids Work Harder

Repeat tweets from November, 2013:

  • 1 Nov 2013: Headline: "Deep cuts to country's food stamp program kick in as Congress debates more." Hungry kids work harder.
  • 1 Nov 2013: MT @KenPaxtonTX: "27 years ago I married my best friend and absolute love of my life." Someday all Texans in love will have same right.
  • 1 Nov 2013: High school football final: Berkner 41, Richardson 38. It's a great time to be a Ram! #txhsfb
  • 2 Nov 2013: MT @SenTedCruz: "Good news: Taliban terrorist mastermind Mehsud has been brought to justice in Pakistan." By Kenyan Muslim Commie Obama. :-)

After the jump, more repeat tweets.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Palisades Passes a Test

The proposed Palisades Village development (a pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use development on the west side of Central Expressway across from Galatyn Park DART station) passed a key test, getting a 7-0 recommendation for approval from the Richardson City Plan Commission (CPC). I've expressed my support for this development before.

After the jump, the latest incarnation of the developer's proposal and the additional conditions imposed by the CPC.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)

What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993): Depp and DiCaprio together, back when they played ordinary, believable characters. Less is more. A-