Tuesday, May 31, 2016

About Elly (2009)

About Elly (2009): Iranian friends holiday by the sea when tragedy strikes. Who invited Elly? Why? Lies pile up. No one blames America. B-

Monday, May 30, 2016

POTD: Kodachrome was Made for India

From 2016 02 07 Ranthambore

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Rajasthan, India. India is a nation of vivid colors. Everywhere a photographer looks, he wishes he was shooting in Kodachrome's "nice bright colors."

Friday, May 27, 2016

Best of Enemies (2015)

Best of Enemies (2015): Buckley vs Vidal, 1968. Reflection of our political discourse in distant mirror. They started it for good or ill. A-

Thursday, May 26, 2016

POTD: Sustainable Energy

From 2016 02 07 Ranthambore

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Rajasthan, India, where not much goes to waste. The disks stacked on this house's roof are made of cow dung and are used as fuel. I'm not sure whether burning coal or burning cow dung is worse for the environment, but cow dung is cheap, efficient, and sustainable. It's also photogenic, at least for this tourist.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012): Asteroid collision in 3 weeks. Implausible random stuff, then, let's fall in love. C-

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

POTD: Animal Fodder

From 2016 02 05 Agra

Today's photo-of-the-day is from India's Rajasthan province. Overloaded animal fodder trucks are a common sight on highways.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Monday, May 23, 2016

What Does Lake Highlands Want?

Let me start by saying that I don't have a dog in this fight. Call me agnostic. Non-denominational. Unitarian Universalist. ☪☮⚥✡☥☯✝. Whatever. I don't have children in Lake Highlands schools. I don't own a house in Lake Highlands. Whatever is decided there to address overcrowding is unlikely to affect me. I'd go along with pretty much any solution that the community there can rally around. That's the nut of the problem. The community is not rallying around any solution. Anything that's proposed gets shot down by some faction or another. I'd hate to be the Richardson ISD administrators or school board. It's beginning to look like any solution that they adopt is going to piss off one group or another. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Hateful Eight (2015)

Hateful Eight (2015): Like an Agatha Christie dinner party murder mystery stage play shot in 70mm by Quentin Tarantino. If you like him... A-

Thursday, May 19, 2016

POTD: Of Forts and Canyons

From 2016 02 07 Ranthambore

Today's photo-of-the-day is of Fort Ranthambore in the heart of India's Ranthambore National Park. The fort is the reason the national park exists. The park was formed from the former hunting grounds of the Maharajah of Jaipur, who lived in the fort.

Yet my headline says, "Forts and Canyons." The canyon is Texas's own Palo Duro Canyon. Opposite side of the world. Palo Duro Canyon has its own story to tell, one featured in a previous POTD. Seeing Fort Ranthambore evoked a strong memory of seeing Palo Duro Canyon. Go ahead, click the link and check it out. Maybe you see it, too. It's a small world...inside my head.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Chi-Raq (2015)

Chi-Raq (2015): Lysistrata set in Chicago's South Side by Spike Lee. Daring concept. Worthy effort. Hard to revive a 2,500 yr old drama. C+

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

POTD: Butting Heads

Butting heads. No, I'm not talking about the recent school board election (in the end, that turned out to be not much of a fight at all). And I'm certainly not talking about the presidential election (that headline would be "Butthead," not "Butting Heads").

No, today's photo-of-the-day is from Ranthambore National Park in India's Rajasthan province, where these two Sambar deer practiced their fighting skills for us tourists (or, more likely, for the nearby herd of female Sambar deer).

From 2016 02 07 Ranthambore

Monday, May 16, 2016

Review: Between the World and Me

Between the World and Me
From Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Open quote 

What I told you is what your grandparents tried to tell me: that this is your country, that this is your world, that this is your body, and you must find some way to live within the all of it. I tell you now that the question of how one should live within a black body, within a country lost in the Dream, is the question of my life, and the pursuit of this question, I have found, ultimately answers itself."

A letter from a father to a son, explaining what it means to be black in America. It's not written for me, a white man lost in the Dream, but I need it, too. Maybe the most.

After the jump, my review.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Look Who's Back (2015)

Look Who's Back (2015): Hitler in time warp wakes up in 2014, sets out to make Germany great again. No shit. Life imitates art. B-

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Wheel Award for Excellence in Documentaries

Oscar night is long gone. Oscar picked "Amy" for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. I've finally gotten around to viewing all five nominees and am ready to weigh in on the question of which documentary should have won. Can I get a drum roll?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

POTD: The Star of Ranthambore

From 2016 02 07 Ranthanbore

There's nothing like a close encounter with a tiger in the wild at dawn to get the heart pumping for the day. Today's photo-of-the-day is from India's Ranthambore National Park and Tiger Reserve. The tiger in the photo is Sitara (aka T-28), the "Star" of Ranthambore (for the star-shaped mark above his left eye). This is the dominant tiger of the national park.

Tourists tour the park in open jeeps. People ask if it's safe. The answer is, yes, unless the tiger decides it isn't. The previous dominant male tiger was relocated last year to captivity in another park because of charges that he killed at least three humans. There were no incidents the day we visited. Sitara was the only tiger we saw. We have no way of knowing how many tigers saw us.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

RISD Bond Election Analysis

RISD election map
Dark Green: YES. Bright Green: No.

Richardson ISD voters approved a $437 million bond proposition in the May 7 election by an overwhelming margin, 67% to 33%. Turnout was 9,507 voters. Diving into the details, there are a few interesting, if maybe not surprising, details.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Demography is Destiny

The New York Times did a deep data dive into "Money, Race and Success: How Your School District Compares." That's the Richardson ISD in the upper middle of the plot of every school district in America. The RISD is a little richer than average as measured by parents' economic status. And it stands in the upper reaches of academic performance of school districts with similar economic status, 0.6 grades ahead of the overall average. What's it all mean?

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Cartel Land (2015)

Cartel Land (2015): Citizen armies on both sides of border fight drug cartels. Doesn't anyone wear a white hat? Ignores demand. Bleak. B-

Saturday, May 7, 2016

OTBR: Blue House near Wheaton College

Latitude N 41° 52.116
Longitude: W 088° 06.144

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, May 6, 2016

The Look of Silence (2014)

Look of Silence (2014): Picking at 50 yr old scab of an Indonesian massacre of a million people. Tragic. Inhuman. Inexplicable. Personal. B-

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Two Countries Separated by a Common Language

No, not England and America, as Winston Churchill famously said. Or, rather, not only England and America. Also, America and Australia. They speak English in Australia. That doesn't mean Americans don't sometimes feel like it's a foreign language down under. Here's a headline in the Herald Sun, a Melbourne, Australia, newspaper.
Essendon unveils guernsey for Dreamtime at the G designed by Gavin Wanganeen who says Jobe Watson should keep his Brownlow
Source: Herald Sun.
To add to the comprehension difficulty for Americans, imagine this being read by a television news anchor with an Australian accent (or more properly "Strine").

Here's my attempt to translate it for an American audience:

"The Essendon Australian Rules Football club unveils a special jersey honoring the aboriginal understanding of the creation of the world to be worn at an upcoming game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and designed by retired team great and now indigenous artist Gavin Wanganeen who says team captain Jobe Watson should keep his Brownlow Medal despite accusations of use of illegal drugs surrounding the club."

But that's probably too long to fit in the space available.

P.S. Long ago, I rooted for the Essendon Bombers (which indirectly is how I stumbled across this headline today), but I quickly learned not to "root" for them at all.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

It Gets Worse

I'm talking CityLine of course. Every time I think it couldn't get worse, Richardson's city planners prove me wrong. Two months ago, it was "Residential Uses Not Allowed in Mixed-Use". That was the decision "to build 32 single-family, detached homes in back of a CVS." That a zoning change was even needed to build residential in a so-called mixed-use, transit-oriented urban community was just a small sign that something is very wrong with the planning of this whole area. Worse, the desire was to build a compound of single-family homes walled-off from a traditional suburban strip shopping center. The ad hoc Frankenstein's monster that CityLine is evolving into is something to behold.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

POTD: Stepwell

From 2016 02 07 Ranthambore

Today's photo-of-the-day is of Chand Baori, a thousand year old stepwell in Rajasthan, India. "Stepwells are wells or ponds in which the water may be reached by descending a set of steps."

Bonus photo after the jump.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Review: Spare Parts

Spare Parts
From Spare Parts, by Joshua Davis:
Open quote 

She remembered West Phoenix as a place that she wouldn't drive through by herself. It was a poor area and the better schools were elsewhere. So she was surprised to see an underwater-robotics team coming out of that neighborhood. 'There aren't oceans in Phoenix,' she pointed out diplomatically. 'No, ma’am,' Lorenzo Santillan said. 'But we got pools.'"

"Spare Parts" is the 2016 selection for "Richardson Reads One Book." As such, it carries the burden of high expectations. Does it live up to recent prior selections?

After the jump, my review.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Repeat Tweets: The Budget Deficit Is Too Low

Repeat tweets from April, 2016:

  • Apr 1 2016: "The budget deficit is too low." Not an April Fools story. vox.com
  • Apr 2 2016: Texas is stingy with tax dollars for public schools and Medicaid. Not for private events like Final Four in Houston.
  • Apr 4 2016: As Trump drops and Cruz rises on betting markets, odds of a Dem win in November have stayed the same. predictwise.com
  • Apr 4 2016: 23 years from the Four Tops to NWA. How does that even happen?

After the jump, more repeat tweets.