Saturday, April 30, 2016

You're Going to Hate it Here

90% of time I will stop recruiting a kid when the parents complain about the High School coaches. I don't want somebody else's headache.
Source: Gary Lowery.
Gary Lowery is an assistant football coach at Hampton University. His tweet teaches a lesson that's applicable to much more than football.

Friday, April 29, 2016

What Has Stefani Carter Been Up To?

You remember Stefani Carter. The former Texas state representative for parts of Richardson. Swept into office in the 2010 tea party wave. The self-proclaimed "first black female GOP state representative" (which highlights how delinquent the Texas GOP was). The ambitious politician who campaigned nationwide for Mitt Romney in 2012. (How'd that work out?) Who attempted to climb to statewide office (Texas Railroad Commission) only to discover that the moneyed interests had other candidates in mind. Who scrambled back to her legislative race but lost her seat anyway when voters abandoned her for Linda Koop. All that was covered by The Wheel back in the day.

So, that Stefani Carter. What has she been up to? Spoiler alert: her activities in the private sector are raising eyebrows just as her activities in public office did.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

New Setting, Same Old Story

See if you can guess the place described. Hint: it's not far away at all.
Over the past decade, City Hall and other local government agencies have bent over backward and poured tens of millions of taxpayer subsidies to turn the corner...into a dense, vibrant urban center. Instead, the investment has produced a bland apartment complex, a car-centric suburban strip center...and plans for another bland apartment complex and a few dozen townhomes.
Further description is after the jump.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Barkley Marathons (2014)

Barkley Marathons (2014): 100 mi footrace in Tenn mtns. A cult race runners love. Quirky founder has kept it noncommercial for 40 yrs. B-

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

POTD: Walk Like a Cow

From 2016 02 07 Ranthambore

Today's photo-of-the-day is a typical street scene in Rajasthan, India, and probably almost anywhere else in India except for the largest cities. Tourists are taught that to cross the streets on foot, one should "walk like a cow." That is, walk in a slow, deliberate fashion, never showing hesitation or fear. Don't stop and never ever back up. Drivers really don't want to hit cows. Despite appearances, they don't want to hit pedestrians, either. If you walk like a cow, you can usually cross busy streets without incident.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Early Voting on RISD Bond 2016

Early voting in the Richardson ISD election begins today.

Back in February, when the RISD board of trustees voted to place the bond before the voters, I recommended a vote YES. Since then, I've attended four community meetings (one in each high school attendance zone), listened to numerous questions asked at those meetings (and answers), heard more than a few passionate speeches by citizens urging a no vote (and some urging yes votes), and read more Facebook posts than I can recommend to anyone (mostly negative).

The objections to the bond haven't changed. Well, one is new (see below). They didn't persuade me to oppose this bond then. They still don't persuade me now.

Friday, April 22, 2016

POTD: The Eyes Have It

From 2016 02 05 Agra

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Agra Fort in India. There's an art lesson here, which I could explain if I knew something about art. Consider the two people in this photo. The man has much to notice — hair, ear, beard, nose. The woman has, what? Her eyes. So, which person did you focus on? How long did it take for your own eyes to be drawn to her eyes? How long did they linger there? It's said the eyes are the most important part of any portrait. They are the hardest thing for an artist to draw. The art lesson is somewhere in those eyes.

P.S. The most famous cover in the long history of "National Geographic" achieved its fame because of its subject's eyes.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Review: Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights

Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights
From Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights, by Salman Rushdie
Open quote 

This is the story of a jinnia, a great princess of the jinn, known as the Lightning Princess on account of her mastery over the thunderbolt, who loved a mortal man long ago, in the twelfth century, as we would say, and of her many descendants, and of her return to the world, after a long absence, to fall in love again, at least for a moment, and then to go to war."

Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights. Count 'em up. That's 1001 nights. Consider this Salman Rushdie's attempt at fan fiction for "1001 Arabian Nights." How does it hold up?

After the jump, my review.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

POTD: Mumtaz

From 2016 02 05 Agra

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Agra Fort in India. A fort stood on this location for a thousand years, but the current fort dates to the Mughal Empire when Agra was the capital of India. Its most famous occupant was Shah Jahan, who built the nearby Taj Mahal as a tomb for his empress, Mumtaz. This photo of two beautiful Indian women was taken near the marble balcony where it is said that Shah Jahan died, gazing at the Taj Mahal where Mumtaz was buried.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Big Short (2015)

The Big Short (2015): Outsiders bet against housing market and win. Don't blame the poor. Wall Street is rigged. Too many stories here. B-

Monday, April 18, 2016

RISD's Horrible Clock Management

Football combines the two worst things about America: it is violence punctuated by committee meetings.
Source: George Will.
You know how you hate it when your favorite football team trails by two touchdowns late in the game and the team huddles with the clock running and then calls a running play that gains few yards and uses up even more precious time? The Richardson ISD is that team.

Friday, April 15, 2016

POTD: All the World's a Sunny Day

From 2016 02 05 Agra

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Taj Mahal in Agra, India. But instead of showing the classic photo of the main tomb building, which probably made Kodak shareholders rich in the day of film cameras, this photo shows one of the buildings that line the forecourt. India is a nation of colors. Even the architecture — white marble against blue sky framed by red sandstone — demands Kodachrome's "nice bright colors."

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Spotlight (2015)

Spotlight (2015): Based on true story. Principled. Important. Suspenseful. Maybe too tailored for Oscar notice, but it still delivers. A-

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

POTD: Bucket List

From 2016 02 05 Agra

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Agra, India, where someone checked off a high-value item on her lifelong bucket list. The visit was every bit as delightful as she had hoped.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Straight Outta Compton (2015)

Straight Outta Compton (2015): I still don't like gangster rap, but I love this movie. Back story of the music and of modern America. A-

Monday, April 11, 2016

Finally, Cracking Down on Payday Lending

Cash America
Not the official campaign HQ of Rep. Pete Sessions

Payday lenders like CashAmerica and ACE Cash Express often make loans with annual percentage rates of 350 percent or more. They prey on the poor, trapping borrowers in debt they can never pay off. Sixty percent of borrowers are repeat borrowers who string together loan after loan, using the proceeds of the next loan to pay off the last.

But help is on the way. Finally.

Friday, April 8, 2016

POTD: Every Which Way

From 2016 02 05 Agra

Today's photo-of-the-day is from a street in Agra, India. The automobile hasn't taken over the streets in that country — yet. There's still room for auto-rickshaws, motorbikes, bicycles, pedestrians, even cows. I wouldn't recommend it as an urban planning ideal, but neither do I recommend, say, Central Expressway as an urban planning ideal.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Castle Ruins

The City of Dallas has a problem with rental homes.
"Several of the occupied properties do not have running water, at times there has been open sewage, much of the wood subflooring in the properties is rotten, and makeshift supports seem to be all that are preventing two houses from collapsing into each other," [Dallas's first assistant city attorney Chris] Bowers said via email.
There's so much about this Robert Wilonsky story that could and should be talked about. How individuals find themselves living like this. How a society as rich as ours ends up letting the poor live like this. Where, if we condemn and demolish these homes, the tenants are supposed to go. As one tenant who has been homeless before says, his house "is better than nothing." But, this being a Richardson blog and all, I'm drawn to talk about an issue that's been papered over here at home.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The "I" in Richardson ISD

The Richardson ISD is in a tough spot. Enrollment is growing in Lake Highlands. Schools are overcrowded. Expansion could make them unmanageably large. Land for new schools is expensive. Making the issue pressing is an upcoming bond election in less than two months. Money is set aside in the bond for dealing with this, but exactly how to spend it is not yet determined.

What to do? The RISD has established a "Lake Highlands Reflector Committee" made up of parents, staff members, community members and students to research, discuss and recommend options to the board of trustees. Others are freely offering their own advice as well. There's a Facebook group, "Lake Highlands Schools Plan 2030", that has offered a comprehensive long-range plan. And there's even a Dallas city council member, Adam McGough, who has offered his own plan.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

OTBR: Perpendicular Point in New South Wales

Latitude: S 31° 38.508
Longitude: E 152° 50.700

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".

Monday, April 4, 2016

Will the RISD Bond Pass?

Someone asked me if the Richardson ISD bond will pass in the May 7 election. Well, that's not a question of fact. It's a matter of speculation. We're all entitled to offer an answer that can't be proven wrong, at least for another month. What follows was my off-the-cuff answer.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Repeat Tweets: Ride the Atomic Bomb Down

Repeat tweets from March, 2016:

  • Mar 1 2016: Trump supporter: "I might as well be like Slim Pickens and just ride the atomic bomb down and see what happens."
  • Mar 2 2016: If Clinton picks Julian Castro for veep, this Dallas segregation story will get the public attention it deserves.
  • Mar 2 2016: "Obama has a soft spot for homosexuals because of the years he spent as a male prostitute." -- likely SBOE member Mary Lou Bruner.

After the jump, more repeat tweets.