Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Book Review: The 1619 Project

From The 1619 Project, by Nikole Hannah-Jones:

Open quote
The 1619 Project


  Why hadn’t any teacher or textbook, in telling the story of Jamestown, taught us the story of 1619? No history can ever be complete, of course. Millions of moments, thousands of dates weave the tapestry of a country’s past. But I knew immediately, viscerally, that this was not an innocuous omission. The year white Virginians first purchased enslaved Africans, the start of American slavery, an institution so influential and corrosive that it both helped create the nation and nearly led to its demise, is indisputably a foundational historical date. And yet I’d never heard of it before."

Book Review: The 1619 Project: American history as it's rarely told, with the true story of what's been done by and to Blacks. With separate authors on chapters on democracy, capitalism, politics, citizenship, religion, music, healthcare, and more, its power builds relentlessly to a call for action at the end.

After the jump, my full review.

Monday, February 27, 2023

Triangle of Sadness (2022)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Triangle of Sadness (2022): Satire of social class on a cruise for ultra rich. Catastrophe strikes, roles are reversed and the real makers and takers are revealed. The satire is too blunt. The ambiguous ending is a cop out. Overall, it's too shallow to be great. But it's fun. B-

Sunday, February 26, 2023

POTD: Pfifferlinge

From 2022 07 11 Bamberg

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Bamberg, Germany. It shows golden yellow mushrooms (pfifferlinge) offered for sale in a street market in the center of this medieval town.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

POTD: River Regnitz through Bamberg

From 2022 07 11 Bamberg

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Bamberg, Germany. According to Wikipedia, Bamberg is "one of Germany's most beautiful towns, with medieval streets and Europe's largest intact old city wall, the old town of Bamberg has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993." This view is of the river Regnitz which runs through Bamberg close to its confluence with the river Main.

Friday, February 24, 2023

MLB Spring Training is Here

From MLB

I remember listening to spring training games on the radio from Wisconsin. I remember Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, Warren Spahn, and, yes, Bob Uecker, who all played for the Milwaukee Braves when I was young. I'm that old. I remember shoveling snow from the grass in the yard to make enough room to play catch. I remember baseball.

David Letterman: "Is that right?"
Bob Uecker: “Whether it’s true or not, I’m going to tell the story.”

Thursday, February 23, 2023

TIL: George Washington Burned New York

Source: Wikipedia

General George Washington ordered the burning of New York City in 1776 after his retreat from the city before the advancing British. Well, that's not exactly historically proven. The headline in The Atlantic article by Daniel Immerwahr is less definitive: "Did George Washington Burn New York?" There's a lot of circumstantial evidence saying he did and he wanted his involvement kept secret.

What Immerwahr does make clear is that total war is a tactic as old as, well, war itself. And the side telling the story always blames the other side for engaging in it, never themselves. And that includes George "I cannot tell a lie" Washington.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Guillermo del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities (TV 2022)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Guillermo del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities (TV 2022): Anthology of creepy stories with graveyards, rats, nightmares, haunted houses, etc. Most stories have a long buildup with little to no payoff. Spooky maybe, but no horror. No surprises in this old cabinet. C-

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Cunk on Earth (TV 2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Cunk on Earth (TV 2023): Philomena Cunk, the fictitious host of this satiric documentary about the history of humanity, says outrageous things with such a deadpan delivery that it's hard to know how her interview subjects keep a straight face. Meanwhile, viewers at home keep thinking, "She's not wrong." A-

Monday, February 20, 2023

POTD: Würzburg Power Station

From 2022 07 10 Rothenburg and Wurzburg

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Würzburg, Germany. It shows a modern power station for the City. Normally, I take photos of historic sites and buildings. This one caught my eye because of the lone woman, barely visible, sitting on the steps down to the river. I thought the closeup of that made for an artsy photo. That photo is after the jump.

Sunday, February 19, 2023

POTD: Alte Mainbrücke

From 2022 07 10 Rothenburg and Wurzburg

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Würzburg, Germany. That's the historic city center of Würzburg in the background. In the foreground is the Old Main Bridge (Alte Mainbrücke) over the River Main, built in the 15th Century.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Saturday, February 18, 2023

First Impressions of Candidates for Local Elections

The deadline to file for a place on the May ballot was February 17, 2023. The lineup for elections for City of Richardson City Council and Richardson ISD Board of Trustees is now set. Here are some mentions of the candidates in opposed races from The Wheel's archives. There is more to draw on, but these will do for first impressions. Some of these are from endorsements from past elections. Do not take any of these old quotes as an endorsement in 2023. Which candidates are worthy of endorsement in 2023 remains to be seen. Stay tuned.

Friday, February 17, 2023

TIL: A Servile War

Source: Starz.

This week, I've been exploring various rabbit warrens prompted by Lee Roddy's 1977 book, "Gallant Christian Soldier: Robert E. Lee". First, I examined Lee's purported flawless character. Then I examined Lee's purported military genius. I found both lacking. Today, I want to examine something Lee said in a letter to his wife. I want to thank Lee Roddy for including it in his biography. I learned something from it at least.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

More About Robert E. Lee

Gallant Christian Soldier


Yesterday, a book that caught my eye at the Richardson ISD Council of PTAs Used Book Fair sent me down the rabbit hole in search of the real Robert E. Lee. It's been said that the South lost the shooting war, but won the PR war. Lee's reputation was burnished after the Civil War by advocates of the Lost Cause. Yesterday's book review was of Lee Roddy's 1977 book "Gallant Christian Soldier: Robert E. Lee", an example of the genre that was still going strong a century after Lee's death. Personally, I had long ago rid myself of any belief that slave owner Robert E. Lee had a flawless character, as Roddy maintained in his biography of Lee. But I was still willing to grant that Lee was a masterful strategist and tactician on the battlefield. Today, my explorations down the Lee rabbit hole rid me of that belief as well.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

What I Bought at the PTA Used Book Fair

Gallant Christian Soldier


The Richardson ISD Council of PTAs had its annual used book fair last weekend. If you've never been, you don't know what you're missing. There are thousands of books, of all genres, for sale at steep discount prices, a treasure hunt where you never know what you'll find. The book that caught my eye, the book I just had to buy, was the one with the big Confederate flag on the cover. I just had to take this one off the shelf...for review, let's say.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Women Talking (2022)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Women Talking (2022): Women and girls in an isolated, traditional religious community are subjected to sexual abuse. They debate "Should I Stay (and Fight) or Should I Go?" Lots of talking, but it's not preachy. Anger, resignation, grief, despair, hope, all get aired. A fine ensemble cast. A-

Monday, February 13, 2023

Planning for Active Transportation Plan is Active

The City of Richardson has been creating an Active Transportation Plan (ATP) for most of the last year. It's intended by the City "to elevate the existing bicycle and pedestrian network to better serve non-motorized mobility, create connections to key destinations, and build upon Richardson’s efforts towards being a pedestrian- and bicycle- friendly community." It's nearing completion and a (final?) draft was presented to the City Council February 6, 2023.

Sunday, February 12, 2023

POTD: The King of Medieval German Cuteness

From 2022 07 10 Rothenburg and Wurzburg

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Travel show host Rick Steves calls it "Germany's best-preserved walled town. Countless travelers have searched for the elusive "untouristy Rothenburg." There are many contenders, but none holds a candle to the king of medieval German cuteness."

Saturday, February 11, 2023

POTD: Käthe Wohlfahrt

From 2022 07 10 Rothenburg and Wurzburg

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany. If you're lucky enough to be in Germany in December, you probably have visited one of its town's famous Christmas markets. But even if you aren't in Germany at Christmastime, there's always Käthe Wohlfahrt year-round indoor Christmas store.

Friday, February 10, 2023

One Week to Deadline to File

With one week to the deadline to file for a place on the May ballot, here's the state of play for the elections for City of Richardson City Council and Richardson ISD Board of Trustees.

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Fire of Love (2022)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Fire of Love (2022): Oscar-nominated documentary about husband and wife volcanologists who died together in an eruption. Lots of pretty images of volcanoes, not much science. Not even much of a love story, unless the love is an obsession with the danger of getting too close to volcanoes. B-

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Stay in Your Lanes, Candidates

It's campaign season. If you are a regular reader of The Wheel you know that I don't like political parties getting involved in nonpartisan local elections. I also don't like campaigns mixing up city politics with school politics. Stay in your lanes, candidates.

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Avatar: The Way of Water (2022)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Avatar: The Way of Water (2022): Mashup of old stories (Moby Dick, Poseidon Adventure, war movies from the Old West to Vietnam). Characters are stereotypes (Marines are bad guys, parents are dumb, kids are plucky). But give it the Oscar for special effects. C-

Monday, February 6, 2023

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022): On the plus side, women take over the franchise. In an existential war of world powers, Wakanda and an undersea kingdom, there's an awful lot of hand-to-hand combat and little of the world political intrigue that gave the previous installment some heft. C+

Sunday, February 5, 2023

POTD: Karmann Ghia (Type 14)

From 2022 07 10 Rothenburg and Wurzburg

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the streets of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany. Not only are the streets of this medieval town old and classic, the cars you might find parked there are, too. This is a Karmann Ghia. From the license plate, it looks to be a Type 14, produced in the 1950s and 1960s. If anyone can pin this one down more specifically than that, let me know. The city itself dates to 1170, but I seriously doubt the Karmann Ghia is anywhere near that old.

Saturday, February 4, 2023

POTD: Cruising the Middle Rhine

From 2022 07 10 Rothenburg and Wurzburg

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the deck of the longship Gefjon (Norse Goddess of the Plow) from Viking River Cruises. The photo was taken on a cruise of the Middle Rhine in Germany. In forty miles, there are forty castles lining the shores. Karlstadt Castle can be seen in the background of this photo. Not a bad way to travel.

Friday, February 3, 2023

POTD: Ice Storm of 2023

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Richardson, Texas.

Bonus photos after the jump.

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Gentleman Jack - S01 (TV 2019)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Gentleman Jack - S01 (TV 2019): Suranne Jones dominates the screen as the real-life Anne Lister, an early 19th-century forward-thinking woman. She browbeats men and seduces women. A period piece with a punch. B+


Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Random Thoughts: Teary Bolsonaro


2023-01-01: Headline: "Teary Bolsonaro calls loss unfair, condemns violence, flies to Florida."
Florida, the refuge of criminal ex-presidents everywhere.
Brazilian president mimics Trump in two out of three.

2023-01-01: The football gods meted out justice. Ohio State couldn't even win their own conference. They had no business playing for the national championship. Of course TCU lost its conference championship game, but they did have their conference's best overall record. Georgia is the only deserving champion, despite winning because of Ohio State's last-second, missed field goal. Football isn't fair.

2023-01-03: The closed meetings Republicans in Congress are having right now to decide whether to support Kevin McCarthy as Speaker could never happen if Congress had to follow rules like the Texas Open Meetings Act. Is that good or bad?

2023-01-04: The late great Arizona Rep. Mo Udall once said, "You know the difference between a cactus and a caucus? A cactus has the pricks on the outside."
-- Matthew Dowd