Monday, January 17, 2022

TIL: MLK on Economic Justice

Minimum Wage by State

Today, our country honors Martin Luther King, Jr. Normally the focus is on his movement for voting rights. It's tragic that today, more than half of a century after his death, the voting rights secured in MLK's day are under threat in America. In 2021 alone, "19 states have enacted 33 laws that will make it harder for Americans to vote." But voting rights are not what I want to focus on today. Instead, I want to turn to a speech by MLK that ties voting rights to economic justice. In it, MLK makes an observation that explains a feature of that map above showing the minimum wage laws by state. The connection MLK drew between economic justice and segregation is what I learned today.

Friday, January 14, 2022

Licorice Pizza (2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
Licorice Pizza (2021): Southern California, 1973. Teen boy and mid-20s woman, independent go-getters, both too busy hustling to connect. Movie is a series of good standalone scenes that lack a connecting thread. Sean Penn and Bradley Cooper each get a scenery-chewing cameo. B-

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Hawkeye (TV 2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
Hawkeye (TV 2021): Clint Barton is on the way out and Kate Bishop is getting started. The crisis surrounding the handoff is crowded with characters and subplots. I would trade a quiver full of trick arrows for a gun. On the plus side, it's Marvel's best Christmas show. C-

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

TIL: Iran is Winning

"Isfahan is half the world"
From 1977 03 29 Iran

When the United States withdrew from Afghanistan in 2021, most Americans barely noticed. We were too busy dealing with Covid-19. Not even the clear and present danger to our democracy could focus out attention. Still, the danger we face in Central Asia and the Middle East is not gone. Who was the big winner from the American experience in Afghanistan? It was Iran. And Iran is likely to extend its winning streak.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

POTD: The Valley of the Kings

From 2019 11 22 Valley of the Kings

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Valley of the Kings in Egypt. It's across the Nile River from Luxor. Whereas Luxor itself was splendid with magnificent temples, the Valley of the Kings was deliberately underwhelming. The pyramids far to the north had all been ransacked by grave robbers in previous centuries, so later pharaohs tried to protect their tombs by digging deep into the mountains, then covering up the entrances to hide them from future grave robbers. (Spoiler: it didn't work, with one notable exception, but more on that later.) Today, tourists can walk into the valley, but other than some uncovered tomb entrances, there's nothing to see to suggest the magnificent displays deep inside.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Monday, January 10, 2022

From "The More Things Change..." Dep't: CPC Edition

"Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose."
("The more things change, the more they stay the same.")
— Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr, 1849.

From the December 13, 2021, Richardson City Council meeting minutes:

City Plan Commission

Motion to: reappoint Joe Costantino and Gwen Walraven for a term effective 08/01/2021 to 08/01/2023; to appoint Sibyl LaCour as a full member effective immediately for a term ending 08/01/2023; to appoint Bryan Marsh as Chair for the remainder of his term and Stephen Springs as Vice Chair for the remainder of his term; and to appoint Nate Roberts as an Alternate for an unexpired term ending 08/01/2023. Motion by Councilmember Justice, seconded by Councilmember Corcoran, and approved unanimously.

From the (few) CPC meetings I've attended, Walraven and LaCour were "furniture" members of the CPC, contributing nothing but their votes in support of the majority, and Bryan Marsh was the leader of that majority supporting the establishment position against needed change. Seeing them all reappointed is no surprise. What is a surprise is that the motion was made by Jennifer Justice and seconded by Joe Corcoran. Was I fooled by their candidacies into believing they would bring change or have they succumbed to the indoctrination into the "Richardson Way"? The vote was 7-0.

Encanto (2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
Encanto (2021): Disney animated musical. Huge ensemble, mostly female. Latina power. Abuela's magical house gives magical gifts to all except Mirabel. When magic stops, it's up to Mirabel to save the day. Everything is enchanting. Grading for family viewing, it's a hit. B+

Friday, January 7, 2022

The Lost Daughter (2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
The Lost Daughter (2021): Woman vacations alone in Greece. Events cause her to revisit regrets from her past. Dialog is scarce and emotions are suppressed. Movie needs voiceover narration by Olivia Colman's character to explore the question, can one be an "unnatural mother"? B+

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Landscapers (TV 2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
Landscapers (TV 2021): Couple is suspected of murdering wife's parents. Is their story believable? Original filmmaking with surreal elements. Less a mystery than a compelling character study. Olivia Colman is outstanding as the mousy wife, David Thewlis as the caring husband. B+

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

The Matrix Resurrections (2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
The Matrix Resurrections (2021): Tired franchise resurrected with nothing new to add. Lots of dialog about how dead characters are alive again. Token "bullet time" fights. Overstuffed with world-building. No chemistry between Neo and Trinity. Keanu Reeves's hair is still good. C+

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Don't Look Up (2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
Don't Look Up (2021): Two astronomers detect a comet headed towards Earth and can't convince anyone to care. Of course, half of America consider it Fake News. A satire that doesn't quite land because today's reality is satire. If it hits, we'll deserve it. Loaded with stars. B-

Monday, January 3, 2022

My New Year's Message

Happy New Year, America. I hope you survive. You see, I've been growing more and more concerned with the fragile state of our American democracy. I no longer take solace in the fact that America has faced crises before and somehow survived, perhaps because of our fundamental values, perhaps because of dumb luck. "Past performance is not indicative of future results" is the usual legal boilerplate language used in ads for financial investments. It's time we apply it to American democracy as well, which is being attacked in plain sight.

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Random Thoughts: House of Gucci

Tweets from December, 2021:
  • 2021-12-02: House of Gucci (2021): More or less true story of business troubles of Gucci brand brought on by family infighting (and some tax evasion). Part satire, part camp. More than a little over-the-top acting. Jared Leto goes too far. Adam Driver not far enough. Lady Gaga is perfect. B+
  • 2021-12-03: The Power of the Dog (2021): Set on a remote ranch in 1925 Montana owned by two brothers, one a bully, the other with a new wife and a bookish son. Like a kettle on a hot stove, the tension slowly builds to a climactic boil. The mystery at heart is what drives the characters. B+
  • 2021-12-05: In the 1996 election campaign, Bob Dole expressed his frustration that his campaign's attempt to paint Bill Clinton as a randy snake gained no traction. Meanwhile, the Clinton campaign succeeded in painting Dole as an out-of-touch old man. In hindsight, the voters were stupid.
  • 2021-12-06: The Curse of Von Dutch (TV 2021): Documentary of a clothing brand that became wildly popular in the early 2000s, then flamed out. The people behind it were an odd assortment of losers, crazies, double-crossers, and even a killer or two. All get to tell their side here. C-

After the jump, more random thoughts.