Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Dealbreaker #1: She's Extreme, Even for Conservatives

In Richardson ISD's June 18th runoff election for its District 2 seat on the Board of Trustees, I'll be voting for Vanessa Pacheco. I won't be voting for Sherry Clemens because of dealbreakers like this: she promotes extreme propaganda like "The Mind Polluters."

Monday, May 30, 2022

A Very British Scandal (TV 2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
A Very British Scandal (TV 2021): Argyll v. Argyll, the trial of the century, 1963. The marriage and divorce of the Duke and Duchess. Both unsympathetic characters, at first exploiting each other cooperatively, then at each other's throats, literally. Deliciously scandalous. B+

Sunday, May 29, 2022

TIL: An Old Saying in Police Precincts

In college, I read Thomas Kuhn's "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions." In it he popularized the term "paradigm shift" for insights that forever change the framework in which we view the world.

An example is Copernicus's upending of the Ptolemaic cosmology with a helio-centric model. Just think: before Copernicus, the term "solar system" didn't even exist. Now it's second nature to all of us. Another example is Einstein's upending of Newtonian gravity with general relativity. Just think: before Einstein, the word spacetime didn't even exist. Now it's...well, still not second nature. Relativity is still impossible to wrap our minds around, even a century after Einstein, but it has fundamentally changed science.

Thomas Kuhn's work had a big impact on my formative thinking. That's maybe too portentous an introduction for what I'm about to say I learned today, but I'll say it anyway. In all the commentary on Uvalde, one comment (actually a Tweetstorm) has the potential of causing a paradigm shift in my worldview of law enforcement and public safety.

Friday, May 27, 2022

Downton Abbey: A New Era (2022)

Rotten Tomatoes
Downton Abbey: A New Era (2022): If you're not a fan, you'll be lost in all the characters and subplots. If you are a fan, you'll laugh and cry. You'll love the sets and costumes. There are twists and turns and head fakes to keep you guessing. Is this the last Downton Abbey? B+

Thursday, May 26, 2022

When is a Park Not a Park?

The City of Richardson is beginning a project to build a 5 million gallon ground storage tank. Where? Well, I can tell you nearby streets. I can even tell you approximate GPS coordinates. What I can't tell you is whether or not the tank is going to be in Point North Park. What I can tell you is that a city-owned playground will have to go. So will trees. Maybe they'll be moved. Maybe new trees will be planted. And after all is said and done, some of the land that many visitors to the park always considered to be part of the park will be sacrificed to a water storage tank.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

POTD: Colossi of Memnon

From 2019 11 22 Valley of the Kings

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Colossi of Memnon across the Nile River from Luxor, Egypt. According to Wikipedia, "The Colossi of Memnon are two massive stone statues of the Pharaoh Amenhotep III, which stand at the front of the ruined Mortuary Temple of Amenhotep III, the largest temple in the Theban Necropolis. They have stood since 1350 BCE, and were well known to ancient Greeks and Romans, as well as early modern travelers and Egyptologists."

Where does Memnon come into this? Memnon was a mythological Greek king. Blame the ancient Greeks for not knowing about even more ancient Egyptian history.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Review: The Idiot

From The Idiot by Elif Batuman

Open quote I didn’t have a religion, and I didn’t do team sports, and for a long time orchestra had been the only place where I felt like part of something bigger than I was, where I was able to strive and at the same time to forget myself. The loss of that feeling was extremely painful. It would have been bad enough to be someplace where there were no orchestras, but it was even worse to know that there was one, and lots of people were in it—just not me. I dreamed about it almost every night." The Idiot

Elif Batuman's debut novel is a first person account of her freshman year in college, followed by a summer teaching English in Hungary. She has a keen eye for detail. She shows wry humor throughout. You learn about love and linguistics along the way.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Slow Horses (TV 2022)

Rotten Tomatoes
Slow Horses (TV 2022): Slough House is where MI5 sends agents who screw up. No one wants them to do anything but this team of spies can't help getting involved in a terrorist kidnapping. Back story secrets and coverups at HQ add to the intrigues here. Gary Oldman is superb. B+

Friday, May 20, 2022

Ted Lasso - S01 (TV 2020)

Rotten Tomatoes
Ted Lasso - S01 (TV 2020): Workplace sitcom. American football coach is hired by English soccer team. He doesn't know the game. He cares more about being nice than winning. Occasionally funny. That it won Emmys is a sign viewers are tired of mean. Or that the sitcom is dead. B-


Thursday, May 19, 2022

Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)

Rotten Tomatoes
Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022): Dr. Strange is under attack in an alternate universe. Great CGI. No plot arc. Marvel squeezes as many characters into the movie as they can. Afterwards, I wished I lived in a universe where I hadn't spent 2 hours on this movie. D+

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Hang on, UTD Students, Housing is Coming...Maybe

On May 17, 2022, The City of Richardson's City Plan Commission (CPC) recommended approval of an application for development of a 5-story apartment building with up to 171 units to accommodate 529 beds on the north side of UT-Dallas at Richardson. It's been a long, hard road to get (back) to this point. The application now moves to City Council, where it has to be considered an underdog for getting approval there, too.

The Tragedy of Macbeth (2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
The Tragedy of Macbeth (2021): I first read this >50 yrs ago. Seeing it acted now reinforces my love of it then. Stark, stylized cinematography with larger than life, mostly bare, stage-like sets. The acting is powerful. The witches are great. The abridged script feels rushed. B+

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

The Outlaws (TV 2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
The Outlaws (TV 2021): 7 misfits performing community service bond despite widely different backgrounds. A duffle bag full of drug money raises the stakes. More comedy than thriller. Can writers resolve all their predicaments by end of series? No, but by then you don't care. B-

Monday, May 16, 2022

Moon Knight (TV 2022)

Rotten Tomatoes
Moon Knight (TV 2022): Marc/Steven and a superhero struggle with dissociative identity disorder and a pair of fighting Egyptian gods. Story runs out of things to say well before its short six episode run concludes. A miss by Marvel. C-

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Silicon Valley - S01 (TV 2014)

Rotten Tomatoes
Silicon Valley - S01 (TV 2014): Satire about computer nerds trying to strike it rich with a tech startup. 8 years old, but it still feels fresh. The nerds and the VC billionaires are equal targets. The characters are all ambitious and earnest, but each is unique in own way. B-


Friday, May 13, 2022

Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty (TV 2022)

Rotten Tomatoes
Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty (TV 2022): Magic and Kareem are here, but this is owner Jerry Buss's story. Characters are surface thin. Script takes too many liberties with history. But it's watchable, maybe even if you don't follow the NBA. Maybe. B-

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Wanted: Superintendent, Practically Perfect in Every Way

The Richardson school district (RISD) is seeking a new superintendent. Everybody has an opinion. Expectations and demands are as high as those set by the George Banks family in Edwardian England when advertising for a nanny.

"If you want this choice position, have a cheery disposition.
Rosy cheeks, no warts. Play games, all sorts.
You must be kind, you must be witty, very sweet, and fairly pretty.
Take us on outings, give us treats, sing songs, bring sweets.
Never be cross or cruel. Never give us castor oil or gruel.
Love us as a son and daughter, and never smell of barley water.
Hurry, Nanny! Many thanks!
Jane and Michael Banks!"

Assuming that someone with the qualifications of Mary Poppins isn't available, what criteria should be used to identify the RISD's next superintendent?

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

WAIW: Something for Everyone

Where Am I Wednesday?

Fifty points to the first person to identify where this photo was taken.

Answer is after the jump.

Dining, Hookah, and Belly Dance

Yours truly enjoying hookah in Egypt

Richardson, Texas, is not Egypt. Everything here has to be so difficult. The property in question here is zoned retail and has been for decades. The property to the immediate north is, too, but is undeveloped. The property to the south across the street is zoned retail and unified residential. So zoning is not the problem. The plan is for a restaurant, not a bar or lounge. It's not just another hookah lounge in a neighborhood of hookah lounges. It's family friendly. It offers a mix of services — food, entertainment, alcohol, hookah. It's a unique concept for Richardson. Maher Maho of Frisco, mayor of that city from 2008-2017, came to Richardson to speak before the City Council to support the request. I can't remember that happening before.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Pachinko (TV 2022)

Rotten Tomatoes
Pachinko (TV 2022): Four generations of a Korean family in Japan. Story jumps back and forth in time, which is part confusing, part spoiler because you see the family's future. American viewers will learn some history that Japanese viewers won't like. Ends without resolution. B-

Monday, May 9, 2022

The Batman (2022)

Rotten Tomatoes
The Batman (2022): Long, dark, and repetitious. No humor. Batman has to catch a serial killer. No mystery. Riddler and Penguin are villains, but not evil geniuses. Catwoman is defined by her relationship to men. They are all lifeless comic book characters. Need another reboot. C-

Saturday, May 7, 2022

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022)

Rotten Tomatoes
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022): Nicolas Cage plays a movie star (himself) who gets mixed up in a CIA plot to capture an arms dealer. Billed as an action-comedy, it comes up short on both. Also fails as a character study of a fading star. For Nicolas Cage fans. C+

Friday, May 6, 2022

Doctor Strange (2016)

Rotten Tomatoes
Doctor Strange (2016): Origin story. Insufferable neurosurgeon recovers from a car accident by going to Kathmandu and studying sorcery. In the process he becomes even more insufferable and has to save the world from the darkness. Occasional wise cracks keep matters light. B-

Needed to watch this before "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" was released. #VeryTardyReview

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Severance (TV 2022)

Rotten Tomatoes
Severance (TV 2022): Sci-fi mystery. Ever wish you could free your mind of work when you leave the office? With Lumon's mind chip you can. Four co-workers grow suspicious. Show is slow to reveal what's going on, even slower why, setting up Season 2. Equally devious and absurd. B-

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

WAIW: Oils, Watercolors, and Acrylics

Where Am I Wednesday?

Fifty points to the first person to locate this photo.

Answer after the jump.

The Partisans Are Coming for District 5

From: Anna Donlan

"The Partisans Are Coming for Your Cities and Schools." That was the headline of a Texas Monthly article as far back as five years ago. The Wheel wrote about the encroachment of partisan party politics several times (e.g., in November, 2020: "Partisan Nonpartisan Elections"). I do not like it when the Republicans do it. I do not like it when the Democrats do it. I do not like it.


Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Let's Talk: Child Grooming

Source: Alliance for Children.

During the public comment section of the April 11, 2022, Richardson ISD school board meeting, one speaker criticized RISD for practicing child "grooming" in elementary schools as part of official RISD policy. Yeah. Then it got worse.

Monday, May 2, 2022

"CRT-esque Ideologies"

In case you still wonder, CRT is not a subject taught in public schools in Richardson ISD, nor anywhere else in Texas. It's against state law to teach CRT in Texas public schools. Where does the myth that it's in RISD come from and why is it so hard to put down? In part, it's because partisans wanting to take over school boards know that people have bad connotations for the words "critical," "race," and "theory." Put them together and people think surely CRT must be something really bad, even if people can't say exactly what it is. If critics actually define the term CRT, they fall back on making up their own definition. And their own definition is something even libtards agree is bad. It's a straw man that the critics erect because it's easy to argue against. But it's not being taught, no matter how many times the critics cry "CRT, CRT, CRT."

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Random Thoughts: 1950 Census Has Been Released!

Tweets from April, 2022:
  • 2022-04-01: 1950 Census has been released! Woot for everyone over 72.
  • 2022-04-02: "In 2019, Mike Tyson said on Joe Rogan's podcast that, ever since smoking toad, he's 'never been the same.' " If there's a straight line with more openings for a punchline than this one, I haven't seen it.
  • 2022-04-04: The Bubble (2022): Judd Apatow comedy about making a movie in a pandemic quarantine. The bubble's isolation eventually cracks everyone. Pokes fun at actors, directors, producers, social media influencers, (crew escapes unscathed), all with characters immediately forgettable. C-
  • 2022-04-04: I just got an email from Trump that I can't figure out. "Friend, This has NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE. As THE TOP donor, I've texted you 3000% more. Do you want to stay on top?" Then it says, "CONTRIBUTION STATUS: PENDING. DEADLINE: IMMEDIATELY."
    Is he losing it?
  • 2022-04-04: Steve Brown has a job with DMN copy-and-pasting developers' press releases into the newspaper. Nice work if you can get it.

After the jump, more random thoughts.