Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Feel Good - Season 1 (TV 2020)

Rotten Tomatoes
Feel Good - Season 1 (TV 2020): Sitcom about 30-yr-old standup comic with relationship and drug problems. Her insecurities are not helped by falling for a woman who isn't sure she's lesbian. Doesn't sound like a comedy. Call it a quirky drama. Complicated but worth it. B+

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Paved A Way: Boulevards and Parks


On a national scale, Dallas is only average in terms of providing residents with access to parks. But the goal has been on the minds of Dallas city officials for more than a century. In 1910, the city brought landscape architect George Kessler to Dallas. The journey from George Kessler's vision to today's reality hasn't been a smooth path.

I'm reading "Paved A Way: Infrastructure, Policy and Racism in an American City" by Collin Yarbrough. The city is Dallas, Texas. I'm blogging as I go, using whatever parts of the book catch my attention. Today, we look at how infrastucture development finds a way to target Black and poor communities.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Hacks (TV 2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
Hacks (2021): Jean Smart plays an aging standup comic in Vegas forced to hire a young TV writer to punch up her stale set. Predictable oil and water relationship. Show improves as defenses break down and jokes are left behind. Maybe it'll hit its stride in Season 2. B-

Friday, June 25, 2021

Paved A Way: Redlining


I don't know when I became aware of the notion of "redlining." High school maybe. I do know that I learned it was a racial injustice. And I thought it was a thing of the past, like segregation. Or was it?

I'm reading "Paved A Way: Infrastructure, Policy and Racism in an American City" by Collin Yarbrough. The city is Dallas, Texas. I'm blogging as I go, using whatever parts of the book catch my attention. Today, Yarbrough introduces us to redlining and its long-term impact in Dallas.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Update on That Land North of UTD

Speaking of the outdated 2009 Comprehensive Plan for the City of Richardson, there's one corner of the City where that Comprehensive Plan is a killer obstacle for a development that would be good for Richardson. I'm talking about the land north of UT-Dallas.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Joji (2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
Joji (2021): India. Inspired by Macbeth, loosely. Stern family patriarch suffers a stroke and a family fight ensues. Son's greed for an early inheritance leads to a spiral of worsening consequences. No witches, no prophecies, but in the end, that fatal flaw leads to tragedy. B-

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Paved A Way: The Battle of Village Creek

If you have studied the history of Richardson, Texas, you have probably come across this marker in McKamy Spring Park in Brick Row:
The Yoiuane tribe of the Caddo group of Indians lived here as early as 1690 to 1840. They hunted buffalo and deer on the prairie. They used McKamy Spring as a watering place. It was from these friendly Tejas Indians that Texas got her name.
McKamy Spring Historical Marker

Something about that statement should trigger a question in your mind. What happened in 1840 that caused these friendly Tejas Indians to leave the area? I doubt that it was something like "There's a job opportunity in Oklahoma too good to pass up."

I'm reading "Paved A Way: Infrastructure, Policy and Racism in an American City" by Collin Yarbrough. The city is Dallas, Texas. I'm blogging as I go, using whatever parts of the book catch my attention. Yarbrough doesn't discuss Richardson or McKamy Spring, but he has the answer to my question anyway. And, no, it had nothing to do with the local job market.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Goals for our New City Council

Richardson has a new City Council. Three new members were elected in May, taking seats alongside two others who were elected in 2019. That leaves only two members with more than one term of service (Bob Dubey, with two prior terms, and Paul Voelker, with four). Early in each council's term, it's traditional for them to set goals for their own term. I have a suggestion. ;-)

Sunday, June 20, 2021

A Father's Day Meditation on Abraham, Isaac, Kierkegaard, and Donald Trump

Thinking about the inherent conflict between American individualism and Christian selflessness, and how some people can comfortably hold both in their heads simultaneously, I found some paragraphs from a Kierkegaard biography relevant. They are about true faith. They also made me think of Donald Trump.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Action Required: Email Subscription Change

If you've been receiving new blog posts of "The Wheel" by email subscription, notice that this service will be changing in mid-July. The service available for years (provided by FeedBurner) will be going away, requiring all subscribers to resubscribe using the new service (provided by Feedrabbit). To do this, use a desktop browser (not a mobile browser) to go to The Wheel's home page ( There, look in the right side menu for the "Subscribe by Email" link. Or, you can just go to the subscription service directly here
( Subscribers will receive each new post in their email inbox immediately after publication.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Paved A Way: Extermination as Government Policy


Who is the worst villain in history? Hitler, right? And what makes him the worst villain? Genocide, right? The word was even coined for him. Where does Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar rank on the list? Top ten? Top hundred? Or so far down the list that your first reaction is "Who is Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar?"

I'm reading "Paved A Way: Infrastructure, Policy and Racism in an American City" by Collin Yarbrough. The city is Dallas, Texas. I'm blogging as I go, using whatever parts of the book catch my attention. It fills us in on Mirabeau B. Lamar.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Paved A Way: "Dallas Doesn't Give a Damn About its History"


I've begun reading "Paved A Way: Infrastructure, Policy and Racism in an American City" by Collin Yarbrough. The city referenced in the title is Dallas, Texas. Instead of reading it all the way through and then writing a short review (my usual practice), I've decided to blog as I go, using whatever parts of the book catch my attention.

A good place to start is with this quote in the opening chapter:

Robert Lee Thornton, Dallas’s former mayor, once said, "Dallas doesn’t give a damn about its history; it only cares about the future."
Paved A Way

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Raya and the Last Dragon (2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
Raya and the Last Dragon (2021): A conventional quest movie. 5 yr-olds will like the plush friendly dragon. (Are all dragons friendly now?) 10 yr-olds will like the quick, smart dialog. Parents will like the message of inclusiveness and trust. Me? I'm not the target audience. B-

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

TIL: Whatever were the Founders Thinking?

Growing up, I heard a lot about what the Founders were thinking when they drafted and adopted the confusingly worded 2nd Amendment to the Constitution. The dominant argument (by NRA types) was that the Founders intended the right to bear arms as a safeguard against tyrannical government, a protection should an evil King George III ever arise again and seek to take away our precious liberties. It seemed to be a compelling argument to my young self. But it wasn't the last word on the subject.

Monday, June 14, 2021

In the Heights (2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
In the Heights (2021): Caribbean-American musical. The block is gentrifying. Neighbors are being priced out or moving to follow their dreams. Yet, the neighborhood holds together. Cast and plot are a little crowded, but the joy and message of "Paciencia y Fe" come through. A-

Friday, June 11, 2021

Review: The Ministry for the Future

From The Ministry for the Future, by Kim Stanley Robinson:
Everything was tan and beige and a brilliant, unbearable white. Ordinary town in Uttar Pradesh, 6 AM. He looked at his phone: 38 degrees. In Fahrenheit that was— he tapped— 103 degrees. Humidity about 35 percent. The combination was the thing. A few years ago it would have been among the hottest wet-bulb temperatures ever recorded. Now just a Wednesday morning.
Ministry for the Future

This is speculative fiction from the near future, when the world can no longer ignore global warming. Lots of things touched on here, from science to economics to government to terrorism, sometimes dramatized, sometimes just straight talk.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Halston (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
Halston (2019): Documentary about the fashion designer who was a demanding, demeaning coke addict. He is treated more favorably than in the 2021 TV series, maybe because there is no video to show of his private excesses. There's more focus on his successes than his failures. C+


Compare with the 2021 5-part Netflix drama.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Halston (TV 2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
Halston (TV 2021): Dramatization of life of Halston, a talented fashion designer who was an egotistical coke addict who drove away those around him until he crashed his business and his life. If there's anything below the surface to the man, this movie doesn't bring it out. C-

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

The Underground Railroad (TV 2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
The Underground Railroad (TV 2021): Cora's flight joins Odysseus and Gulliver's travels among fiction's all-time great journeys. She's always fleeing from horror, not running to freedom. Harsh backlit look and haunting sounds accentuate the horrors of the Black experience. A-

Read my review of the novel it is based on. This is one of the rare cases where the movie lives up to the book. Both are excellent.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Analysis of Local Election Runoffs

The City of Richardson's City Council elections are now completely over. The Richardson ISD school board elections are, too. Congratulations to Arefin Shamsul, new Richardson City Council Person for District 6. Congratulations to Chris Poteet, new Richardson ISD Trustee for Place 7. Both runoff elections were effectively over with the announcement of the early vote when polls closed at 7pm on June 5. Neither runoff upset the results of the May 1 general election. Both candidates who led then went on to win the runoff, by about the same amounts.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Cruella (2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
Cruella (2021): Backstory for an all-time great villain. Writers succeed in balancing her evil (or madness) with sympathy for how she got that way. Movie is slow getting going, but once the two Emmas take over, the fireworks are worth watching. More fun than I expected. B+

Thursday, June 3, 2021

RISD Race Turns Negative

"I am running against a candidate that has raised 77% of her campaign funds from not only outside the district, but also outside the state of Texas! 69% of her campaign funding is from the same Washington DC organization." — Chris Poteet.

I care less about where donations come from than who they come from. That a non-profit for developing leaders for education equity thinks highly enough of Amanda Clair to donate just affirms my decision to support her. Chris Poteet attacking her for it is disappointing. Besides, he's the odds-on favorite to win this runoff election. Why come out and attack a non-profit organization developing leaders for education equity? It's a bad look.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Mare of Easttown (TV 2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
Mare of Easttown (TV 2021): Outstanding whodunit. Plenty of suspects, all kept in the game until the last episode. But more, it's a story of unresolved grief that comes between Mare (Kate Winslet) and her ex-husband, her daughter, her daughter-in-law and her job. Emmy worthy. A-

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Random Thoughts: Look Beyond Dallas County to Know Who Won

Tweets from May, 2021:
  • 2021-05-02: Look beyond the Dallas County vote to know who won the election (or made the run-off anyway). Daniel Burdette beat Marilyn Frederick in Dallas County, but it was the reverse in Collin County, so Frederick will face Arefin Shamsul in a run-off for Richardson City Council.
  • 2021-05-03: There's something deeply wrong with an American political party that tolerates collusion with Russian interference in US elections, but wants nothing to do with vaccination against a pandemic disease.
  • 2021-05-04: Trying to shoehorn English into the rules of Latin makes no more sense than the Star Wars nerds who try to speak English with the speech patterns of Yoda of Dagobah: "Backward run sentences 'til reels the mind."

After the jump, more random thoughts.