Wednesday, April 29, 2020

POTD: Giza Pyramid Complex

From 2019 11 17 Ancient Cairo

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Giza Pyramid Complex in Cairo. Our visit in November, 2019, allowed "L" to check off the seventh and final item on the "bucket list" that she compiled in high school.

Bonus photos after the jump.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Tapping the Paycheck Protection Program for $126M

Braemar Rings Opening Bell on NYSE (Stefani Carter on left)

You may remember Stefani Carter. The former Texas state representative for parts of Richardson, swept into office in the 2010 tea party wave. The ambitious politician who attempted to climb to statewide office (Texas Railroad Commission) in 2014 only to discover that the moneyed interests had other candidates in mind. Who scrambled back to her legislative race in north Texas but lost her seat anyway when even GOP voters abandoned her for Linda Koop. All that was covered by The Wheel back in the day. Well, Stefani Carter is back in the news, or at least her business is.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Horse Girl (2020)

Rotten Tomatoes
Horse Girl (2020): Lonely woman sleep walks, hears voices, and has surreal delusions in a descent into mental illness, but it's all her truth. Part dark comedy, part thriller, but mostly psychological character study. Based on family history of Alison Brie, who shines. C+

Friday, April 24, 2020

POTD: 2560 BC

From 2019 11 17 Ancient Cairo

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Great Pyramid of Giza. It was built as a tomb for the pharaoh Khufu in 2560 BCE. Try to wrap your mind around that. That's 4,580 years ago. Or 54,960 month-long stay-at-home quarantines strung back to back. That's what's called an unhelpful analogy. Not only doesn't it really help you grasp just how old that tomb is, but it doesn't make your current spell of being housebound feel any better either. By the way, pharaoh Khufu himself left his tomb no one knows how long ago. They say grave robbers. I suspect cabin fever.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

COVID-19: Financial Impact on Richardson

Everyone's attention has been rightly focused on the health implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the City of Richardson, which has put public health at the top of its list of priorities. The question of "Who's in Charge?" has gradually settled on the answer, Texas Governor Greg Abbott. The City of Richardson will not enforce any provision in the City's own March 23, 2020 Order that is inconsistent with the Governor's Executive Orders GA 15, 16 and 17. With the Governor in the driver's seat on the pandemic response, the City can start giving some attention to the impact COVID-19 will have on other City matters, particularly the City's finances.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Code 8 (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
Code 8 (2019): In a future of people with super powers, we still don't have universal health insurance, so our hero pays for his sick mother's treatment with a $10m drug heist. If you're going to make sci-fi on a small budget, you need fresh ideas, not a mishmash of old ones. D+

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

POTD: Gezirah Palace in Cairo

From 2019 11 17 Ancient Cairo

Today's photo-of-the-day is from outside the entrance to the Cairo Marriott Hotel, on an island in the Nile River, originally constructed as the Gezirah Palace in 1869 for the Khedive Isma'il Pasha. We stayed there in November of 2019, which was only five months ago, but it seems like five millennia ago (but more of that in later posts). Good times.

Bonus photo after the jump, of the patio restaurant in the back of the hotel.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Blow the Man Down (2020)

Rotten Tomatoes
Blow the Man Down (2020): A small fishing village in Maine is the setting for a murder mystery, or two. Great characters, all deserving more screen time. You can't tell the good guys from the bad guys, as the plot unfolds or even after. Just how a great whodunnit should be. A-

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Tales from the Loop (TV 2020)

Rotten Tomatoes
Tales from the Loop (TV 2020): Sci-fi with less focus on the science and more on the characters, lots of them kids, who live naturally in a world of time travel, parallel universes, robots, and machinery with a 1980s retro futuristic tech feel. Stories are slow but charming. B-

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

POTD: The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow

From 2019 10 10 State Fair of Texas

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the State Fair of Texas. It just looks hopeful somehow. Despite the rain, with proper precautions we can remain dry until the sun comes out, which it will.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

COVID-19: Reopening the Country

This Venn diagram illustrates the challenge we face reopening the country during the COVID-19 epidemic. Many of us are in the middle of this Venn diagram. We support the stay-at-home and social distancing orders because we are in the upper left circle of the Venn diagram: "People taking COVID-19 seriously." We supported the $2 trillion relief package passed by Congress because we are also in the bottom circle: "People concerned with economic devastation." And we supported strong oversight in the distribution of that relief because we are also in the upper right circle, which I'll paraphrase as: "People worried about government accountability." In balance, we are in the bulls-eye of the Venn diagram.

But the people who are nearer the outside edges of the circles are getting restless. The cries that the cure is worse than the disease are growing louder from those firmly in the bottom circle. People on Facebook wring their hands and say, "People die every day. Life has to go on." (Maybe they aren't even wringing their hands. It's hard to tell sometimes.) Such people are being joined by people who fit snugly in the upper right circle, those who distrust government, which is most of us, although some go farther than others. "You shut down people's businesses and lives and civil war is the next step."

How do we return to normal in an environment like we're in?

Monday, April 13, 2020

POTD: Back in the Saddle

From 2019 10 10 State Fair of Texas

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the State Fair of Texas. It's time for more photos-of-the-day.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

COVID-19 Response: Who's in Charge?

The outbreak of COVID-19 has led to a flurry of government orders in an effort to stem the pandemic. I don't claim to be an expert on any of them. They seem to change every few day, so don't rely on anything written today to be accurate tomorrow. But here's what I think I know, and here's what I think about what I think I know.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Review: Baron Wenckheim's Homecoming

Baron Wenckheim's Homecoming: Stories
From Baron Wenckheim's Homecoming, by László Krasznahorkai

Open quote 

he could hardly even remember that he had a daughter at all, who, as people tended to put it, was 'from the wrong side of the blanket,' he'd forgotten about her, or, to put it more precisely, he'd learned not to think about her, at least when he was able to do so, there were periods — even if transitory — when he was left in peace, sometimes even for years, just as now, he’d been left unperturbed "from that direction," he'd washed his hands of the entire matter, as in general he did with his entire past, he'd washed it away, and as for a good few years now nobody had been pestering him, he'd already reached the conclusion that he was free of all this, free, that is, until yesterday afternoon when out of the blue, unexpectedly, this daughter had just suddenly shown up here, and grabbing a megaphone, yelled out to him 'I'm your daughter, you basest of skunks,'"

This Hungarian novel by László Krasznahorkai, translated by Ottilie Mulzet, won the 2019 National Book Award for Translated Literature.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Ozark - Season 3 (TV 2020)

Rotten Tomatoes
Ozark - Season 3 (TV 2020): Same dark story of dealing with a drug cartel. No more breathers for the audience. All characters are in danger, all subplots are life-threatening. Wendy shows she's as badass as Marty. Ruth steals every scene she's in. Emmy noms for both. B+

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

2020: When Sh#t Got Real for RISD

Source: AwTeez.

It's only early April, but it seems like 2020 has already been the longest year of our lives. America has experienced other bad years: 1952 (57,628 victims paralyzed by polio in that disease's peak year); 1968 (16,889 US deaths in the Vietnam War's peak year); 2001 (2,996 deaths on one day alone, 9/11). Queen Elizabeth II had a term for such years. She anointed 1992 her family's personal annus horribilis: divorce or separation of three of her children and a disastrous fire at her royal residence Windsor Castle. For children today, too young to remember any of those other tragic years, they now have their own. 2020 is on track to be worse than any other. How quickly COVID-19 turned this year from one of innocence and joy to an annus horribilis when sh#t got real.

Monday, April 6, 2020

COVID-19: A Follow-On Crisis is Brewing

While we have all been preoccupied with matters of life and death (rightly so), a follow-on crisis is brewing. As unemployment skyrockets, the ability to pay mortgages and rents craters. We need to direct some of our efforts from quarantining to preparing for the follow-on disaster that quarantining brings in its wake. 40% of the housing units in Richardson are occupied by renters. What is the City doing to prevent the disaster that comes when renters miss their rent payments?

The Death of Stalin (2018)

Rotten Tomatoes
The Death of Stalin (2018): Maliciously funny black comedy about Kremlin infighting following Stalin's death. More frat house farce than deadly serious power struggle. It helps if you know a little history of the times. If not, what you learn here makes a fun history lesson. B+

Saturday, April 4, 2020

The Politician (TV 2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
The Politician (TV 2019): Ambitious high school student runs for class president as first step in life goal of becoming POTUS. Political satire with over-the-top, absurd elements and plot twists. Politics is properly skewered but questionable treatment of sexual orientation. B-

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Random Thoughts: After South Carolina

Tweets from March, 2020:
  • 2020-03-01: Expect Trump to suddenly get interested in Hunter Biden again after South Carolina.
  • 2020-03-02: Anyone notice how Biden, Klobuchar, and Buttigieg are all going to be in Texas today, the day before Super Tuesday? With so many states to choose from, Texas is the big prize. Quite a turnaround from the usual flyover status candidates give the state in campaigns.
  • 2020-03-04: The Souvenir (2019): Student filmmaker and her sketchy boyfriend. He exploits her and she apologizes too much. Instead, run away! Movie has an arty look and feel. Lots of long takes with mirrors and windows and reflections. See the movie poster. It all feels pretentious. C-
  • 2020-03-05: The state of American politics in five words: "Democracy is not a meritocracy." -- Jennifer Rubin

After the jump, more random thoughts.