Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Eagle Huntress (2016)

Eagle Huntress (2016): Documentary of Kazakh girl learning to hunt with eagles. Girl power. Beautiful scenery. Intimate family scenes. B+

Monday, October 30, 2017

Lessons from Jeffrey Weiss

Jeffrey Weiss, longtime staff writer at The Dallas Morning News, died October 25, 2017 from glioblastoma, a form of brain cancer. He wrote about his journey to the egress, as he put it, with realism and good spirit. But I don't want to speak of his illness. It's his writing that inspired me. I said upon his death that Jeffrey Weiss was the best thing that ever happened to Facebook. What I meant is that where most (reasonable) people steered away from the closed-minded, interminable arguments with (crazy) people, he saw an opportunity to engage everyone, taking their opinions and beliefs seriously and gently probing those beliefs in hopes of achieving some level of mutual understanding. He promoted what he called civil dialog, or "civilogue". He influenced no less than the New York Times to change their practices regarding online comments. I admired his approach, and although I sometimes sought to emulate Weiss, I all too often resorted to snark, sarcasm, and satire. Reading Weiss made me uncomfortable doing so.

After the jump, two maxims from Jeffrey Weiss.

Friday, October 27, 2017

POTD: Illumination Sensation

From 2017 10 05 State Fair

The lights are big and bright when the sun goes down on the State Fair of Texas in Dallas. Today's photo-of-the-day comes from the evening show featuring fireworks, lasers, dancing waters, and live dancers on the 700-foot-long reflecting pool that is the Esplanade of Fair Park.

Bonus photos after the jump.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

POTD: Horses at the Fair

From 2017 10 05 State Fair

Today's photo-of-the-day comes from the State Fair of Texas. What's more Texan than a horse? Here's a whole carousel of horses.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

POTD: Yeehaw! SFOT

From 2017 10 05 State Fair

It's October and that means the State Fair of Texas. Today's photo-of-the-day shows this Texan institution at its best. What's more Texan than a Mexican cowboy with a lasso on the back of a horse?

Bonus photo after the jump.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

POTD: NBA Basketball Returns

The 2017-2018 NBA season began last week. Not a day too soon. Today's photo-of-the-day honors the return of basketball by showing the sad, neglected state of the game over the summer.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Hold Your Nose and Vote YES for DCS

This November's election might seem to be a snooze, with only a few things on the ballot, none of them named Donald J. Trump. But there are some heavy hitters trying to ensure one of the ballot items is voted down. That's Proposition A, which will determine whether Dallas County Schools (DCS) is abolished. DCS is the organization that provides school buses for Dallas ISD and seven suburban school districts in Dallas County, including the Richardson ISD.

In one of the oddities of this election, a "no" vote, which in most elections means a vote for the status quo, is actually a vote for change. The "yes" vote means keep the status quo. The change, namely abolishing the agency that provided schools with bus transportation, needs a "no" vote on the status quo to happen. Confused? Maybe the confusion is deliberate. Read on.

Friday, October 20, 2017

A Broken System in Garland

With a 6-3 vote, the Garland City Council approved a motion to demolish a National Guard armory to build a dog and skate park. Mayor Douglas Athas was on the losing side of that vote and afterward announced his intention to resign. If you believe the mayor, it was all about a failure of process, a breakdown in how things are supposed to happen in government.
"We have checks and balances in our system. Professionals on staff make recommendations, we have peer review and then it comes to council for final decisions," he said. "When you skip that, when a council comes up with its own ideas and suddenly starts doing it without professionals, without peer reviews, then you have a system that's broken and extremely dangerous."

Thursday, October 19, 2017

POTD: Sunset Over the Gulf

From 2017 01 29 Caribbean Cruise

Today's photo-of-the-day comes from the Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico. It also brings an end to the photos-of-the-day from our cruise of the Western Caribbean out of Galveston. Big sigh.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (2017)

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (2017): Surprisingly modern threesome in 1920s. At times creepy but mostly normal. Deftly handled. B+

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

POTD: Jamaica Highlands

From 2017 01 29 Caribbean Cruise

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Jamaica highlands south of the port of Falmouth. Jamaica is big and so much more than beaches. Our destination was the Good Hope plantation and great house, once a sugar plantation owned by John Tharp, the island's largest slaveowner. Now it's a place where tourists can enjoy afternoon tea without being discomfited by any of that unpleasant history. </sarcasm>

Bonus photos after the jump.

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Meyerowitz Stories (2017)

The Meyerowitz Stories (2017): Three adults deal with ailing father and each other. All star cast. Great characters. Real but still fun. B-

Friday, October 13, 2017

POTD: Falmouth Port Taxi Service Rate Sheet

From 2017 01 29 Caribbean Cruise

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Royal Caribbean cruise ship port in Falmouth, Jamaica. There's nothing special about the rate sheet, other than the fact that I had a hard time finding this information before visiting Jamaica myself. In the end, we booked a bus ride to Montego Bay onboard our ship. But if this post helps someone else get around the island from Falmouth without booking through the cruise line, then everything cook and curry. Let me know.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

Blade Runner 2049 (2017): Long and oppressive. Gratuitous nudity. A touch of woo woo. Rain, snow and smog in LA create great atmosphere. C+

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

POTD: Catch of the Day

From 2017 01 29 Caribbean Cruise

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the sea shore in Georgetown, Grand Cayman. It's next door to a restaurant on the shore that features the catch on display here.

Not to get all philosophical here, but this POTD follows the previous POTD from Dolphin Discovery. I didn't feel at all uncomfortable seeing a table full of dead fish, unlike my guilty conscience seeing a pond (lagoon? pool? tank?) full of captive seemingly healthy, active dolphins. Why is that?

Bonus photo after the jump.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Journey to Greenland (2016)

Journey to Greenland (2016): French. Two Frenchmen visit an Inuit village. Great setting. Would work better as documentary than drama. C-

Monday, October 9, 2017

POTD: Dolphin Discovery

From 2017 01 29 Caribbean Cruise

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Dolphin Discovery in Cayman Islands. I don't know what to call it — an outdoor aquarium, an amusement park, a prison for animals? The park itself tries hard to emphasize its ecological bona fides ("The only one that loves dolphins more than you is Dolphin Discovery"). On the other hand, not everyone agrees that things are so good.

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Red Turtle (2016)

The Red Turtle (2016): Shipwrecked on tropical island, just a man and a red turtle. Animation. No dialog. Simple, lovely, elegant fable. B+

Thursday, October 5, 2017

OTBR: Rock Lake, Minnesota

Latitude: N 46° 10.482
Longitude: W 093° 53.832

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 (not actually) last month that are "off the blue roads".

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Restaurant Ratings - The Good and the Bad

I've long urged the City of Richardson to improve the usability of the work done by its Health Department in inspecting restaurants. They can get back in the kitchen. The public usually can't.

Things I'd like to see:
  • The health department rating displayed in each restaurant's front window. To its credit, the city has worked with Yelp to display a city health department rating for each restaurant along with other info such as address, map, and contact info. Kudos for this, but I'd like to see the rating when I walk in the door.
  • Inspection ratings incorporated in all promotional material the city provides for restaurants (e.g., its "Dine Smart, Dine Local" advertising)
  • A better presentation of the health inspection ratings on the city's own website
Recently, the city made some efforts on the third item. I took a look.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Battle of the Sexes (2017)

Battle of the Sexes (2017): Feminist icon for more than a tennis match. My admiration grows seeing the back story. #EqualPay #Equality A-

Monday, October 2, 2017

Repeat Tweets: San Francisco Hits 104°

Repeat tweets from September, 2017:

  • Sep 1 2017: "San Francisco hits 104°, breaking the city's all-time heat record, NWS says."
    Just throwing this out there, but maybe we ought to again consider the possibility that burning fossil fuels is changing the climate.
  • Sep 1 2017: RT @WalkableDFW: "car dependence makes our regional economy incredibly fragile."
    So does corn, the power grid, and our supply chains for just about everything. We are one disaster away from, well, disaster.
  • Sep 1 2017: RT @WalkableDFW: "which is why localized food and power production is mission critical."
    Choices. Localized food brings its own costs. 200 years of reducing cost thru comparative advantage and the globe is in precarious balance.
  • Sep 1 2017: Infinite Jest: 20-yr-old classic that takes 20 years to read. Great book...for literature majors. I'm too hard; there are hidden gems. C-

After the jump, more repeat tweets.