Friday, July 29, 2016

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (2016)

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (2016): Female reporter goes to Afghanistan. Based on a real story. Watchable but satire doesn't have enough bite. B-

Thursday, July 28, 2016

POTD: Do Feed the Animals

From 2016 02 11 Jodhpur

Today's photo-of-the-day is from rural Rajasthan, India.

Go ahead and feed the cows. The customary explanation given is that "feeding cows, or any other animal for that matter, according to the Hindu religion, is believed to be an act of goodness and humanity." An economic benefit is that "the milkmen in India let their cows roam free as they know they will get free food...It's like a double jackpot for them, because the cows return to their owner's place to give milk after eating [free] food."

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Poor People, Go Home

Donald Trump and the Republicans have a plan to counter immigration. Namely, ban Muslims and Hispanics from entering the country, deport the ones here, and then quit trading with them. Or something like that. It keeps changing.

It reminds me of the 12th century story of King Canute commanding the incoming tide to stop. Contrary to popular belief (i.e., what I believed until I looked it up), Canute in fact understood the futility of this. (I recommend more people try fact-checking before posting on social media.) I imagine Trump understands the futility of trying to stop the tide, too, but is cynically trying to get elected by appealing to voters who don't.

A news story today suggests why Trump's followers are bound to be disappointed even if they succeed in electing Trump in November.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

High-Rise Hotel Coming

A key tract at the entrance to Richardson's huge CityLine campus has sold for a major hotel project. Missouri-based developer Drury Southwest bought the almost 3-acre site at CityLine Drive and U.S Highway 75. The property is just west of State Farm Insurance's high-rise regional campus and near DART's commuter rail station.

"Plans call for 168 rooms in an 11-story building with four levels of parking and seven levels of hotel," said BC Station Partners' Joe Altemore. "Construction is set to start in four to six months."
Maybe I should have realized from the start that the land at US75 and PGBT was way too valuable to ever be used, as promised, for a walkable, transit-oriented, mixed-use, urban development. I should have known all along that it would end up, eventually, like the IH635/Dallas North Tollway intersection. And so it is.

To understand why I'm less than thrilled with seeing CityLine turn into another IH635/Dallas North Tollway intersection, read "CityLine, Palisades and Strip Shopping Centers."

Monday, July 25, 2016

India's 50 Million New Trees

Trees are a valuable tool in the fight against climate change. It's the ultimate in carbon-capture technology — but all natural, and without the licensing fees.

On July 11th, volunteers in India took this old-school climate-fighting tool to a whole new level by planting a record number of trees in a single day, beating Pakistan’s previous record of planting 847,275 trees in 2013.

It took 800,000 volunteers to plant just under 50 million tree saplings along India's roads, rail lines, and on public lands. This is all a part of India's commitment to reforest 12 percent of its land — a commitment made at the Paris climate talks last year.
Source: Grist.
What does this have to do with Richardson, you might be thinking.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Review: Sapiens

From Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari:
Open quote 

Seventy thousand years ago, homo sapiens was still an insignificant animal minding its own business in a corner of Africa. In the following millennia it transformed itself into the master of the entire planet and the terror of the ecosystem. Today it stands on the verge of becoming a god, poised to acquire not only eternal youth, but also the divine abilities of creation and destruction. Unfortunately, the Sapiens regime on earth has so far produced little that we can be proud of."

"Sapiens" is another of Bill Gates's book recommendations for this summer. The paragraph above encapsulates the book's thesis, including the bias that, in the end, caused me not to like it as much as Bill Gates did.

After the jump, my review.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

A War (2015)

A War (2015): Danish soldiers in Afghanistan. War is hell. Then you're court-martialed for a no-win situation. Important for civilians. B+

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Northwestern in Summer

From 2016 06 26 Northwestern

Northwestern University is not only a great university, it's a beautiful university. Set on the lakeshore of Lake Michigan in Evanston, Illinois, the view is stunning. To the south, down the shoreline, is the Chicago skyline. To the east, stretching to the horizon, is the lake. There's no better campus to stroll on a sunny day in summer (OK, there is one, but Northwestern is in the top two, honest).

All photos from our afternoon at Northwestern University can be seen on Google Photos.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

POTD: Hanging Out

From 2016 02 11 Jodhpur

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Jodhpur, India. Just three ladies hanging out on the steps. Colorful. Comfortable. Commanding.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Request for More Parking in Richardson

It's not just downtown Dallas towers that are adding parking. The owners of a Telecom Corridor office building plan to construct a four-level parking garage to add more appeal to the project. The three-story Campbell Commons office campus in Richardson was built in 1998 at 1201 E. Campbell Road.
I saw that and scratched my head. Why does that old office building need more parking? Why would today's tenant need more parking than the tenant who occupied the building twenty years ago? I can think of only one reason. Employers today are cramming more workers into less space than employers did in the past. And that can be for one of two reasons.

Friday, July 15, 2016

POTD: Easy Riders

From 2016 02 11 Jodhpur

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Jodhpur, India. People feel joy the same way all over the world. That is all we need to know for today.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Trumbo (2015)

Trumbo (2015): Heavy-handed treatment of 1950s Hollywood blacklist. IOW, just like the true history. So-so drama, but important history. B-

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

POTD: World's Top Hotel

From 2016 02 11 Jodhpur

Where would you guess the world's top hotel is located? New York? London? Tokyo? Not even close. Greece? Vietnam? Cambodia? Believe it or not, you're warmer. Those are in the top five. Would you ever have guessed Jodhpur, India? Today's photo-of-the-day is of the Umaid Bhawan Palace Hotel, voted the top hotel in the world in TripAdvisor's 2016 Travelers' Choice awards. We didn't stay in this hotel, but we can dream. The photo was taken from Mehrangarh Fort, four miles from the hotel. Top hotels stand out.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Poverty, Inc. (2014)

Poverty, Inc. (2014): Eye-opening. Poor countries don't need world's surplus food and clothes. They need jobs and access to markets. A-

Monday, July 11, 2016

Tragedy in Dallas

Many others have spoken, but I feel compelled to offer my own thoughts on the deaths of five Dallas police officers and the wounding of seven other officers and two civilians at a protest march in downtown Dallas.

Most of all, it was a tragedy. Five law enforcement officers lost their lives protecting the public. Their families and friends lost loved ones. The wounded and their families were also touched by tragedy. They deserve our gratitude and support.

Friday, July 8, 2016

POTD: Jodhpur, the Blue City

From 2016 02 11 Jodhpur

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Jodhpur, India, known as the "Blue City" for its many houses painted blue. No one knows why they are painted blue, but it's been this way for hundreds of years. Many theories abound. Today houses are painted blue because Jodhpur is known as the "Blue City." Funny how that works. Kind of like how no one knows why some people are famous. They remain famous for being famous.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Jaco (2015)

Jaco (2015): Jaco Pastorius, world's greatest electric bass guitar. Troubled genius I never heard of. Needs more music, less talking. C+

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Lights Out for Red Light Cameras

Richardson's red light camera program hit a roadblock in June when a Dallas County district court judge sided with a plaintiff who sued the city over the program (case DC-15-00289 in the 134th District Court).

According to one account, the judge "shut down the city's renegade photo enforcement system over several flagrant violations of state law." According to another interpretation (see William J. McCalpin's comments), "The City's problem is that it relied on the State passing laws that were constitutional, and the judge evidently believes that Texas' statutes ( Chapter 707 of the Texas Transportation Code and provisions contained therein, and Section 29.003(g) of the Texas Government Code ) were not constitutional."

I'm not going to try to settle this difference of legal opinion myself. I'm more interested in another aspect of all this.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

OTBR: A Split-Log Boardwalk in Finland

Latitude: N 61° 53.826
Longitude: E 023° 12.408

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, July 4, 2016

Review: American Sphinx

American Sphinx
From American Sphinx, by Joseph J. Ellis:
Open quote 

Soon after his death in 1826 Jefferson became a touchstone for wildly divergent political movements that continued to compete for his name and the claim on his legacy. Southern secessionists cited him on behalf of states' rights; northern abolitionists quoted his words in the Declaration of Independence against slavery."

Thomas Jefferson has always been my favorite of the Founding Fathers. But after reading this twenty year old biography by Joseph J. Ellis, I have to concede, no more.

After the jump, my review.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

A Family Celebration

We visited family in Appleton the week before the Fourth of July. A good time was had by all.

More photos after the jump.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Repeat Tweets: Karma is a Bitch

Repeat tweets from June, 2016:

  • Jun 1 2016: Headline: "Ken Starr has resigned." Made name investigating sex in Oval Office. Failed to investigate rapes at Baylor. Karma is a bitch.
  • Jun 3 2016: RT @SenTedCruz: "@CFPB's proposed rule will put added strain on low-income families and workers struggling to access loans." @SenTedCruz defends payday lenders and their predatory lending practices.
  • Jun 3 2016: RT @roddreher: "The Left has played its part in the rise of Trump and his identity politics." Passive Trump supporter @roddreher edges closer to a public endorsement.
  • Jun 6 2016: Headline: "NFL player Aqib Talib reportedly shot at Dallas strip club." Berkner grad. It's a sad time to be a Ram.

After the jump, more repeat tweets.