Tuesday, August 31, 2021

POTD: Commerce on the Nile

From 2019 11 21 Kom Ombo and Edfu

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Nile River. As our cruise ship motored north down the Nile, we noticed a small boat with two men positioned squarely in our path. As we got closer, the small boat made no effort to get out of the way. Our ship didn't veer from our course. It seemed a collision was certain.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Secret Richardson City Council Meeting

From Richardson's Aug 27 Week in Review: "The Council will not meet Monday, Sept. 6 due to the Labor Day holiday. The City Council next meets Monday, Sept. 13, beginning at 6 p.m. with a work session followed by a meeting at 7 p.m." It turns out that's not so.

The Chair (TV 2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
The Chair (TV 2021): Sandra Oh as new head of English dept of a struggling college. Season arc has promise, as it shows how small problems can escalate into crises no matter what you do. The last episode neatly resolves all the subplots. It should have let the arc play out. B-

Friday, August 27, 2021

Annette (2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
Annette (2021): Unlike any movie you'll see this year. A pop opera? A modern tragedy? Standup comedian falls in love with an opera star. One's career soars. The other's crashes. Love does too. Then there's their baby Annette. A modern Pinocchio? Adam Driver takes risky roles. B+

Thursday, August 26, 2021

POTD: Sailing Up the Nile

From 2019 11 21 Kom Ombo and Edfu

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Nile River. It shows a ferry or pleasure boat sailing up the Nile, passing us as we motored down the Nile. It was a captivating scene. That is all I know.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Prime Suspect (TV 1991)

Prime Suspect (TV 1991): UK. Helen Mirren stars as first female DCI in charge of a murder case. She faces blatant institutional sexism. A show centered on it was groundbreaking in 1991. I hope this shit isn't possible anymore. Otherwise, show is standard fare. Bad lighting. B+

#VeryTardyReview #Very

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

POTD: Water and Electricity

From 2019 11 21 Kom Ombo and Edfu

Today's photo-of-the-day is of the bank of the Nile River. They say Egypt is the gift of the Nile and these photos show why. From the air, the Nile is a strip of blue bordered by a strip of green, both placed in an endless expanse of sandy brown. The water brings life to the desert, but it brings something else, too. Fifty miles to the south is the Aswan Dam with its hydroelectric generators. The power lines carry electricity up the Nile, powering cities all the way to Cairo.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Monday, August 23, 2021

How a Tax Rate Cut is a Tax Hike

The Richardson City Council voted to approve the 2021-2022 budget, a one cent tax rate cut, and ratified a tax increase. You read that right. Residents will enjoy a tax rate cut but the City is forced to say it's a tax increase. I doubt one person in a hundred can explain that. Don't blame the confusion on the City. It's the State of Texas who all but guarantees everything is always a tax increase.

Reminiscence (2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
Reminiscence (2021): Sci-fi film noir. Blade Runner set in a future Miami that's under water. Hugh Jackman is a private investigator who can replay subjects' memories. Makes solving crime easy, unless you fall for the beautiful woman involved. Premise is better than movie. C-

Friday, August 20, 2021

Review: Tokyo Ueno Station

From Tokyo Ueno Station, by Yu Miri:

Open quote There’s that sound again. That sound— I hear it. But I don’t know if it’s in my ears or in my mind. I don’t know if it’s inside me or outside. I don’t know when it was or who it was either. Is that important? Was it? Who was it?" Tokyo Ueno Station

The reason the narrator is having trouble locating the source of the sound is because he's a ghost.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Pose - Season 1 (TV 2018)

Rotten Tomatoes
Pose - Season 1 (TV 2018): Melodrama about New York's LGBTQ ball culture for POC in the 1980s, an environment I never knew about. Trans actors playing trans roles. Acting is stilted until they get to the balls where it's electric. It's the '80s so AIDS has to play a role, too. B-


Wednesday, August 18, 2021

"Man Dies After Medical Incident During Police Interaction"

But the Police Unions
"Man Dies After Medical Incident During Police Interaction." That was the headline of the Minneapolis police department's statement on the day of George Floyd's murder. But thanks to a bystander's eight minutes 46 second video, the public has a much fuller understanding of the "interaction" than is admitted in that police statement.

The City Council of Richardson reacted to the murder of George Floyd by asking Chief Jim Spivey to brief the City Council on the RPD's policy on use of force. I was generally pleased with what I heard. But...you just knew there'd be a but.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

The White Lotus (TV 2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
The White Lotus (TV 2021): Rich Americans in a Hawaiian resort for a week. Through a dozen subplots, a look at white privilege from A to B. Like someone thought reviving "The Love Boat" was a good idea. Saved by a great cast. Watchable. B-

Monday, August 16, 2021

Mulan (2020)

Rotten Tomatoes
Mulan (2020): Disney takes on Chinese history and culture. The girl is the hero and has to overcome not just fierce enemies in war but sexism among her own family and comrades. Movie plods along, with everything playing out as expected. 10 year-olds should like it. B-

Friday, August 13, 2021

Review: How the Word is Passed

From How the Word is Passed, by Clint Smith:

Open quote The history of slavery is the history of the United States. It was not peripheral to our founding; it was central to it. It is not irrelevant to our contemporary society; it created it. This history is in our soil, it is in our policies, and it must, too, be in our memories." How the Word is Passed

If you didn't learn this in school, it's not because it didn't happen. It's not because it wasn't important. It's because the people who wrote the history in this country didn't want you to learn this, to the point where even today's teachers don't know what they aren't teaching.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

POTD: Down an Old Corridor

From 2019 11 21 Kom Ombo and Edfu

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Temple of Kom Ombo on the Nile River in Egypt. Ellen is taking the same photo as mine, only without her in the frame. That's why I like mine better. ;-)

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Made for Love (TV 2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
Made for Love (TV 2021): Reclusive tech billionaire implants a chip in wife's brain to know everything she sees, hears, thinks. No surprise, she's not OK with that. She's on the run. Part satire, part comedy, part tragedy, with not much new to say about tech or relationships. B-

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

The Suicide Squad (2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
The Suicide Squad (2021): Gratuitous, video-game violence with jokes. It never takes itself seriously. One anti-hero is Polka-Dot Man, who throws polka-dots at people. Think Dirty Dozen with super powers and the best monster since Ghostbusters. Teen boys might love it. C+

Monday, August 9, 2021

Ask Arefin

New councilmember Arefin Shamsul hosted a coffee klatsch at Communion Coffee. Attendees were encouraged to "Ask Arefin." Unfortunately, I didn't attend. My bad. But I do want to thank Councilmember Arefin for doing this. Listening to constituents is important. Let me repeat that. Listening to constituents is important. But so is keeping constituents informed so they can ask informed questions. That means two-way communication. It's important to explain to constituents the constraints the city faces in meeting their careabouts.

I have some understanding of what Arefin was asked. I don't know what Arefin answered. Let me offer what I would have answered.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Visit vaccines.gov to Learn More

Visit vaccines.gov to learn more. Sounds like innocuous advice, right? Not to the anti-vaxers. If it's McDonalds giving that advice to customers, it's considered practicing medicine without a license. It's considered an end run around the government regulations regarding drug advertising. Anti-vaxers and I live on different planets.

Source: redacted.

Friday, August 6, 2021

The Young Pope (TV 2017)

Rotten Tomatoes
The Young Pope (TV 2017): Jude Law as a young American elected Pope, the compromise candidate who proves to be his own man, authoritarian and just maybe an atheist. Expected show about bureaucratic infighting in Rome, instead saw the thin line between dictator and saint. B-


Thursday, August 5, 2021

Palm Springs (2020)

Rotten Tomatoes
Palm Springs (2021): A bit of a nihilist (Andy Samberg) is trapped in a time loop. Then another guest at the wedding (Cristin Milioti) gets trapped. To surprise of both, romance blooms. Not original but it's fresh and fun. A worthy successor to Groundhog Day and Russian Doll. B+

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Katla (TV 2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
Katla (TV 2021): Iceland. Volcanic eruption leads to strange things on a glacier. Dead people and clones come to life. What's going on? A sci-fi mystery and a study of loss and grief. It's bleak, gritty, and slow. In the end, it all comes together in a satisfactory resolution. B-

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Paved A Way: Shingle Mountain


There's a pattern that runs through Collin Yarbrough's book. The neighborhoods he reports on all suffered from infrastructure development. The tools used against the neighborhoods were sometimes simple neglect, sometimes they were explicitly targeted. The end result was almost always the same: discrimination, disinvestment, deterioration. The patterns of racism continue to the present day.

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 Shingle Mountain.

Monday, August 2, 2021

The Green Knight (2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
The Green Knight (2021): Adaptation of middle English Arthurian epic about Sir Gawain's quest. True to spirit of poem if not the details. A fantasy whose sets, lighting, pacing, and feel make the legends seem real and not just a CGI recreation. When myth and history merge. B+

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Random Thoughts: Highs in the 80s in Texas in July

Tweets from July, 2021:
  • 2021-07-01: I agree, Pete Delkus. Highs in the 80s in Texas in July are pretty amazing. Now say something about global warming. Be sure to mention that Portland, Oregon, now has a hotter all-time high temperature than Dallas, Texas.
  • 2021-07-02: Headline: "Olympic sprinter Sha'Carri Richardson suspended one month after marijuana test." I didn't know marijuana was a performance enhancing drug. If it is, all the warnings about it when I was in school were a big fat lie.
  • 2021-07-02: Gary Slagel has filed to run for Congress against Colin Allred. Expect Richardson to suffer a black eye as Slagel's history gets rehashed: CapitalSoft and StarTech, Richardson's bridge to Fossil Watch, Slagel's donation to Ill. Gov Rod Blagojevich before winning a govt. contract.
  • 2021-07-03: No Sudden Move (2021): A heist movie set in Detroit in 1954. The object is engineering drawings. Or a mobster's code book. It doesn't matter. Neither do the plot twists. Just try to figure out who the bad guys are. The film noir feel more than makes up for a convoluted plot. B+
  • 2021-07-05: I used to think American democracy was resilient. To survive 245 years, there had to be a stable super-majority who believed in democracy. I no longer have faith in that. I now believe close to half of Americans would trade democracy for autocracy to get their way in politics.

After the jump, more random thoughts.