Thursday, May 31, 2018

David Brooks as Rorschach Test

The New York Times's columnist David Brooks is like a Rorschach test for Americans' view of politics. He equally pisses off conservatives and liberals alike. Conservatives because he refuses to pay obeisance to Donald Trump. Liberals because he pines for a mythic past that never was. His latest column doesn't disappoint. It's a Rorschach test that both sides can criticize. Let's unpack.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

Rotten Tomatoes
Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018): Finally a Stars Wars movie I like. Minimum mumbo jumbo about the Force, Jedi and the Empire. Instead a popcorn-worthy heist movie about the Millennium Falcon's first Kessel Run. Look for winks at classic movies and genres. B-

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

School Sports

I didn't think this needed saying. I didn't think this was controversial. But apparently, I was wrong, so here goes...

Every student should have the opportunity to play sports. But not every student should make the varsity team. There needs to be varsity sports, junior varsity, intramural, physical education classes, etc. Every student should be given a chance to play in a setting appropriate for his or her age and ability.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Book Club (2018)

Rotten Tomatoes
Book Club (2018): Four mature women seek to refind romance by reading "Fifty Shades of F*%#ed Up." Four great actors with so-so material. Hope this movie leads to more opportunities. Some laughs, some sympathy. Some of it falls flat, but satisfying overall. C+

Friday, May 25, 2018

POTD: Puntarenas Sunset

From 2018 01 25 Costa Rica

Today's photo-of-the-day was taken just offshore of Puntarenas, a Pacific port town on Costa Rica's Gulf of Nicoya.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

POTD: Hopped Up on Caffeine

From 2018 01 25 Costa Rica

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Doka Estate, a coffee plantation in Costa Rica. The photo is of the plantation tour guide, or as I like to think, an example of what happens to you if you work too long on a coffee plantation.

I think I may have had a similar look after writing this week's earlier blog posts. ;-)

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Time to Review Richardson's Code of Ethics

Yesterday I called out the City of Richardson's Code of Ethics as being deficient and in need of review. So, color me surprised to find this section deep in the code itself:
Sec. 2-10. Review.
The City Council shall review this article once every two years following its adoption on September 27, 2010.
Maybe those periodic reviews have been happening like clockwork and I just missed them. Can someone alert me when the next one happens so I can contribute?

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The City Has Some Explaining To Do, Too

Yesterday, in response to the federal indictment for bribery of former Richardson mayor Laura (Maczka) Jordan, I explained and apologized for my endorsement of her for mayor in 2013. The City of Richardson itself (whoever the "City" might be) offered up its own response to the indictment. I'll let others judge my response. But in my opinion, the City's own response falls short of any hint that I might not be the only one with some explaining and apologizing to do.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Never Apologize, Never Explain

"Never Apologize, Never Explain." Purportedly, that was the guiding philosophy of the Victorian English in how they ran the British Empire. I don't believe I have any English ancestry, and I certainly don't rule an empire. I find a better personal guiding philosophy to be, "Always Apologize, Always Explain." That brings me to a rather awkward moment in my blogging archive: that time when I endorsed Laura Maczka for Richardson mayor.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Review: The Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad
From The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead:
Open quote 

The music stopped. The circle broke. Sometimes a slave will be lost in a brief eddy of liberation. In the sway of a sudden reverie among the furrows or while untangling the mysteries of an early-morning dream. In the middle of a song on a warm Sunday night. Then it comes, always—the overseer’s cry, the call to work, the shadow of the master, the reminder that she is only a human being for a tiny moment across the eternity of her servitude."

"The Underground Railroad" had me by its awards: Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. But then there was this: Winner of the Arthur C Clarke award for Science Fiction. Say what???

Thursday, May 17, 2018

POTD: Coffee Beans Soaking Up Sun

From 2018 01 25 Costa Rica

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Doka Estate, a coffee plantation in Costa Rica, where what look like parking lots are coffee bean drying patios where beans are spread to dry in the sun. All in all, a much better use of space, in my opinion.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

POTD: Costa Rica Hydrangeas

From 2018 01 25 Costa Rica

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Doka Estate, a coffee plantation in Costa Rica. Although most the estate is given over to growing, drying, roasting, tasting and selling coffee, the grounds are beautiful for other reasons, especially if someone in your party doesn't drink coffee.

(P.S. I like coffee.)

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Square (2017)

Rotten Tomatoes
The Square (2017): Museum curator experiences crises with a pickpocket, PR stunts, and sex. This Swedish, Palme d'Or winner pokes at art, money, society, political correctness and social consciousness. Hit or miss on the satire, but always weird. B-

Monday, May 14, 2018

Mapping Racial Diversity in the RISD

The Washington Post published a tool that allows one to use census data to map changing racial diversity in cities across the country from 1990 to 2016. The graphic here is roughly contiguous with the Richardson ISD boundaries. There are no surprises.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Neighborhood Schools

Recently, 300 community members of the Richardson school district wrapped up months of meetings, making 27 recommendations that were accepted by the school board to comprise the RISD's Strategic Plan 2017. One recommendation in particular caught my eye.
Adopt a neighborhood school policy and create a formal definition of neighborhood school to provide clarity on future decisions regarding school construction, boundary lines, and transfer policies.
Source: RISD.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

POTD: Scarlet Macaw

From 2018 01 25 Costa Rica

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Botanical Orchid Garden in La Garita, Alajuela, Costa Rica. The garden is filled not only with tropical flowers but shows off a few native bird species as well, like this Scarlet Macaw.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

All the Money in the World (2017)

Rotten Tomatoes
All the Money in the World (2017): Forget the drama surrounding Spacey/Plummer, this is a surprisingly good thriller. Maybe JP Getty is made too much the villain, but maybe in real life he was. Wahlberg and his character are weak points. Michelle Williams is great. B+

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

POTD: Land of Orchids

From 2018 01 25 Costa Rica

Costa Rica, land of orchids, volcanoes, coffee, jungles, beaches, you get the picture. Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Botanical Orchid Garden in La Garita, Alajuela, Costa Rica. The garden is filled with trails, greenhouses, nurseries and a laboratory, mostly but not exclusively devoted to orchids.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail (2017)

Rotten Tomatoes
Abacus: Small Enough to Jail (2017): Documentary of how a small family bank in Chinatown became the only US bank the govt prosecuted for mortgage fraud during banking crisis. The only one. Besides the injustice, movie provides insight into Chinese-American community. B+

Friday, May 4, 2018

POTD: Add Some Color to the Skyline

From 2018 01 23 Panama Canal

Today's photo-of-the-day is of the Biomuseo in Panama. a museum desiged by Frank Gehry, showcasing Panama's natural and cultural history. Three million years ago, rocks rose creating the isthmus of Panama. The resulting land bridge joining North and South America allowed species exchange. Simultaneously, species exchange between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans was blocked. The museum tells the story of the significance of Panama to the history of life on the planet. And for the casual passerby in a cruise ship, the museum provides a splash of color to the monotonous gray color palette of the Panama City skyline.

A bonus photo after the jump.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Rotten Tomatoes
Avengers: Infinity War (2018): More like Infinity Cast. Full of deaths, resurrections, near-deaths, and scratches. Needs less over-the-top acting and more self-aware pop culture references. I did not see ending coming, but in hindsight, it's brilliant. C+

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Metadata and Education

I understand the benefits of metadata collection. I want to know what school children who are failing have in common so that by targeting that, maybe I can have more children succeed. Is it the school, the teacher, socioeconomics, health, language, etc. If you look at one child's academic results, it's difficult to understand why that child is failing. But if you look at dozens or hundreds or thousands of children's results, patterns emerge that can be used to pinpoint the source the problem and suggest ways to improve teaching methods.

But I also understand that metadata collection and analysis is unpopular in some circles. I'm not unsympathetic to some of their concerns.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Repeat Tweets: Nasi Mexi-Goreng

Repeat tweets from April, 2018:

  • Apr 1 2018: The closest these Texans came to having a traditional Easter dinner in Jakarta was having quesadillas and something called Nasi Mexi-Goreng.
  • Apr 3 2018: Roman J. Israel, Esq. (2017): Aging civil rights lawyer has trouble fitting into modern legal system. Vehicle for Denzel Washington and he is superb, but character overwhelms story. C+
  • Apr 4 2018: Justice League (2017): Only as much plot as needed to give each superhero his or her time in front of the camera. With wisecracks. I guess the Flash stands out as most interesting character but that isn't saying much. C-
  • Apr 5 2018: Coco (2017): Oscar for animated feature. Boy travels to land of the dead in search of his gg-grandfather. Sweet tale about power of music and family. More music please. B-

After the jump, more repeat tweets.