Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Now Kindness is a Dirty Word, Too

The Richardson ISD celebrated "Kindness Day" Friday, February 24. It was the brainchild of the Superintendent's Student Advisory Council. By most accounts, it was a rousing success. Most accounts. According to some, "Kindness Day" is a leftist plot.
My take is that kindness day is clearly a (attitudes, values, beliefs, and behaviors...strongly tied to SEL) program that indoctrinates kids...that students are to avoid saying anything "intolerant" that might offend the diversity and inclusion snowflake crowd. Kindness day is the subtle way for K-12 to impose the sort of leftist speech codes that we observe on college campuses.
So, add kindness to the list of motherhood and apple pie virtues that I used to think were non-controversial. Virtues like tolerance and compromise and civility all have come under attack from conservatives. What I thought made American democracy great is being surely dismantled, virtuous brick by virtuous brick.

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Great Wall (2016)

The Great Wall (2016): Mercenaries fight monsters less scary than a horde of roaches. Western greed vs Chinese trust. Stunning visuals. C+

Friday, February 24, 2017

The Wheel Award for Excellence in Motion Pictures

The Academy Awards will be given out Sunday evening. This will be the first time in history that I've seen all the nominees for Best Picture before the Oscar is awarded. That means my opinion means something. Right? All in all, 2016 had a good crop of movies, better than the choices in 2015. "La La Land" is the heavy favorite for Best Picture, but four or even five of the movies deserve consideration.

My ranking is based on the grades I gave the movies immediately after seeing them. In case of ties, I ordered them by my considered judgment today. Note this is not my prediction of which movie will win, but which I would vote for, had I a vote.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Jackie (2016)

Jackie (2016): Partly gut-wrenching, partly ghoulish. I remember 1963. I remember her dignity. For me it will always be too soon. A-

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

POTD: Happily Ever After

From 2016 09 10 Montreal

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal. The happy couple is unidentified.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Arrival (2016)

Arrival (2016): Talking to aliens is hard. So is talking to each other. But Amy Adams has a gift. Non-linear thinking is key, somehow. ?? B-

Monday, February 20, 2017

Candidates in Upcoming Local Elections

The deadline has passed for filing to run for Richardson City Council. The deadline has passed for filing to run for two of the three seats on the RISD school board up for election this year. The third seat, an open seat to fill the remaining term of Kris Oliver, has a deadline to file of March 6. So the races are (mostly) set for the May 6, 2017, election. So far, things have played out as expected.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Review: The Oddfits

The Oddfits
From The Oddfits, by Tiffany Tsao:
Open quote 

The boy was clearly and unmistakably oddfitting. Oddfittingness emanated from his every pore; it enveloped him like a cloud; it hung on him and exceeded him as if it were a baggy, oversized T-shirt that came all the way down to his scrawny little ankles."

An odd boy must decide whether to abandon his home and go on a Quest to explore an odd fantasy world. Easy. Short. Odd.

After the jump, my review.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

Hacksaw Ridge (2016): Every war movie cliché in the genre, including slow-motion combat porn. But Desmond Doss was a real-life hero. B-

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

POTD: Cultivating Her Garden

From 2016 09 09 Quebec City

"We must cultivate our garden," Candide said in reaction to scenes of human cruelty in Voltaire's famous novel. Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Rue du Petit Champlain in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada, where a nun appears to take Voltaire to heart.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Lion (2016)

Lion (2016): Boy in India gets lost, raised in Australia, yearns for home. Boy, man, India, Australia, both families, all real & moving. A+

Monday, February 13, 2017

CAFR: Those Pesky "Deferred Outflows"

For city finance wonks, Christmas comes twice a year: once in August when the city budget is set and again in February when the city financial audit is published. The budget specifies the city's cash flow (its planned revenues and expenses). The financial audit details the city's assets (the value of city property, bank accounts, etc.) and its liabilities (outstanding debt, pension obligations, etc.).

Consider this a layman's adventure into the netherworld of municipal accounting, otherwise known as the CAFR. Fun fact: CAFR happens to be the abbreviation of a Latin phrase that means, "Abandon all hope ye who enter here." (Warning: I have the same lack of training in Latin as in accounting). Open the door and you'll be lured into a spider's web of terms and numbers that will bring you down and overwhelm you and smother you. Last warning: run away!

After the jump, the descent begins into this year's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for the City of Richardson.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Review: Welcome to Braggsville

Welcome to Braggsville
From Welcome to Braggsville, by T. Geronimo Johnson:
Open quote 

It's not that the Davenports had never had black people around their house before, or even a Chinese guy once, but never a Malaysian who looked Chinese to some and Indian to others, fancied himself black at times, and wanted to be the next Lenny Bruce Lee; a preppy black football player who sounded like the president and read Plato in Latin; and a white woman who occasionally claimed to be Native American. They were like an overconstructed novel, each representative of some cul-de-sac of idiolect and stereotype, missing only a handicapped person — No! At Berkeley we say handi-capable person — and a Jew and a Hispanic, and an Asian not of the subcontinent, Louis always said."

Those four diverse characters are the self-identified "Four Little Indians." They meet at UC-Berkeley and travel together to rural Georgia on school break. An "incident" there changes all their lives.

After the jump, my review.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Gleason (2016)

Gleason (2016): Documentary of former NFL player with ALS. Raw and relentless as real life, clichéd as movie. Needs more of wife's story. C+

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Fences (2016)

Fences (2016): Denzel Washington in a Willy Loman role, raising questions about what it means to be a husband, father, man. Oscar-worthy. A+

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

OTBR: South Mountain Creamery

Latitude: N 39° 27.918
Longitude: W 077° 36.498

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, February 6, 2017

POTD: This Guy Needs a Beer

Click for a panorama
Today's photo-of-the-day is a panorama from the Liberty of the Seas, a cruise ship out of Galveston that cruises the Western Caribbean. Click on the photo to see a 360 degree panorama of the ship at sea...and see the unidentified guy who, self-admittedly, needs a beer.

Friday, February 3, 2017

POTD: Rue du Petit Champlain

From 2016 09 09 Quebec City
Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Rue du Petit Champlain in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. A walkable street in a walkable city.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Main Street Mixed-Use

The City of Richardson announced that it had approved a mixed-use development in old downtown Richardson.

A proposed mixed-use development at the northeast corner of Central Expressway and Main Street was approved unanimously by the City Council Monday. The 14.5-acre development will include residential, commercial and restaurant space. It is the first significant private sector development in the downtown area since the adoption of the Main Street/Central Expressway Form Based Code last year...A highlight of the development is the mixed-use portion planned for the corner of Main and Interurban streets. In addition to 15,000 square feet of retail/commercial space, it will have multifamily units located above the retail space, surrounding private courtyards, and a 700-space parking garage, which will be shared with tenants from the Chase Bank building. Immediately to the north of the mixed-use area will be townhomes with private yards and garage parking. The for-lease units will be two or three stories each and average 1,800 square feet per unit.
After the jump, why I am cautiously optimistic.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Repeat Tweets: Conspiracy Theorists

Repeat tweets from January, 2017:
  • Jan 1 2017: Am I wrong in thinking that conspiracy theorists are the kind of people most likely to not recognize irony or sarcasm?
  • Jan 2 2017: More bowl game teams than not have serious off-field reasons for me to want them to lose. Why isn't there a "Good Guys Bowl"?
  • Jan 2 2017: Penn State had worst play calling in their last two possessions. Three runs and a punt, then a run and two crazy passes. Deserved to lose.
  • Jan 5 2017: Rogue One (2016): A rollicking fun adventure...just like all the others. Fighting an authoritarian regime has new relevance in 2017. Sad! C-

After the jump, more repeat tweets.