Wednesday, May 31, 2023

One Argument Against Electric Vehicles

Electric car in Amsterdam

I'm feeling optimistic today. I know, my style here usually leans towards the negative, so regular readers who did a spit-take with their morning coffee just now are forgiven. But, this morning I'm believing in American ingenuity, in American can-do spirit, in an expression attributed to Winston Churchill, "Americans will always do the right thing, after they have tried everything else." What am I optimistic about today? Electric vehicles.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Team Parking or Team Health Care

Paved Paradise by Henry Grabar

The City of Richardson will be taking up the City's outdated Comprehensive Plan in this next City Council term. It will be a heavy lift. Not everyone even agrees on what the action item encompasses. Will it just be an exercise of refreshing the map that shows where in Richardson single family homes are allowed, and offices, and shops, and parks? Or does it include related things like whether homeowners are allowed to add an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) to their property? Or whether the minimum number of parking spaces buildings are required to have should be relaxed or eliminated altogether?

City government resists change. It's in their nature. I'm expecting Mayor Dubey to align with the institutional interests and narrowly draw the boundary of what's open for review. I'm hoping that there will be pushback from the new City Council to get the boundary drawn expansively. Updating the Comprehensive Plan to allow a broader mix of uses is useless if they leave in place other regulations and building codes that deter such uses. A push for broad change is bound to meet resistance. Some people are passionate about the status quo.

Monday, May 29, 2023

Air (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Air (2023): Starts as pure 1980s nostalgia, becomes a standard sports movie, where the sport is brand marketing, finishes as a movie championing economic justice for athletes. The audience manipulation is visible throughout, but I couldn't help but be won over regardless. B+

Sunday, May 28, 2023

POTD: Papal Arches

From 2022 10 24 Avignon

This photo-of-the-day is from Palais des Papes in Avignon, France. The photo shows a curious architectural detail of the palace, a brick wall viewed through three arches. Two of the arches are back-to-back in front of the wall, but off-center from each other. Why? Dunno. The 14th century architect was not around to ask.

Saturday, May 27, 2023

POTD: Palace of the Popes in Avignon

From 2022 10 24 Avignon

This photo-of-the-day is from Palais des Papes in Avignon, France. I'll let Wikipedia tell the story:

"It is one of the largest and most important medieval Gothic buildings in Europe. Once a fortress and palace, the papal residence was a seat of Western Christianity during the 14th century. Six papal conclaves were held in the Palais, leading to the elections of Benedict XII in 1334, Clement VI in 1342, Innocent VI in 1352, Urban V in 1362, Gregory XI in 1370 and Benedict XIII in 1394. Since 1995, the Palais des Papes has been classified, along with the historic center of Avignon, as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for its outstanding architecture and historical importance for the Papacy."

Friday, May 26, 2023

BARDO, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths (2022)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

BARDO, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths (2022): Mexican. Iñárritua's surreal epic about a fictional film director's family and career (even this movie is in the movie). BARDO sometimes soars with beautiful imagery and dream scenes, but the story is pedestrian. C+

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Meet the New Boss Same as the Old Boss

The Dallas Morning News reported that mayoral candidate "[Bob] Dubey said [Mayor Paul] Voelker’s “micromanagement from the top down” has deterred some council members and residents from speaking at council meetings."

Candidate Dubey won. It's Mayor Dubey now. Monday night the public got its first chance to see how the new regime is changing how council meetings are run, presumably opening them up, encouraging more open deliberations by council members. I'm here to report that from my perch in the cheap seats at the back of the house, the new boss looks a lot like the old boss.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

WAIW: R2-D3 and R2-D4?

Where Am I Wednesday!

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

Answer is after the jump.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

The Traitors (TV 2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

The Traitors (TV 2023): Reality show. Goal is to out the "traitors" before they "murder" the rest. With meaningless contests earning money for the prize pot to pad time. Stupid rules, even stupider players. It's a game of chance, but they play it like a game of trust. C-

Monday, May 22, 2023

The Law According to Lidia Poët (TV 2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

The Law According to Lidia Poët (TV 2023): Italian. In 1883 Turin, a feminist fights for the right to practice law while defending people falsely accused of murder. Based on a real woman. The murder mysteries aren't original, but the subplots are. Matilda De Angelis is a star. B-

Sunday, May 21, 2023

POTD: Sète Street Art

From 2022 10 23 Sète

This photo-of-the-day is from Sète, France. It shows one of the many street murals that adorn this city.

A bonus photo is after the jump.

Saturday, May 20, 2023

POTD: Sète, Venice of the Languedoc

From 2022 10 23 Sète

This photo-of-the-day is from Sète, France, known as the "Venice of the Languedoc" for its network of canals. "It is a port and a seaside resort on the Mediterranean with its own very strong cultural identity, traditions, cuisine and dialect." It's overshadowed by Marseilles, Saint Tropez, Cannes, Nice and Monte Carlo, but it's worth visiting anyway. We happened to be there because Viking cruises thought so, too (and it's a convenient stop for a cruise between Barcelona and Marseilles).

A bonus photo is after the jump.

Friday, May 19, 2023

Betting Line on Mayor Pro Tem

The 2023-2025 Richardson City Council was sworn in Monday, May 17, 2023. Other than canvassing the election results and swearing in the new Mayor and Council, no business was conducted. The first order of business next week at the May 24 meeting will be selecting a new Mayor Pro Tem from among their ranks. The following is The Wheel's highly unscientific, subjective-as-heck, just-mostly-guesswork betting line on who that will be.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023): Latest superhero movie has action, humor, and heart, but not much of a plot. What's the end goal here, to save the galaxy or save a raccoon? Lots of CGI fighting. I kept asking myself, is this character GGI? is anything real? C+

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Beef (TV 2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Beef (TV 2023): Two broken strangers have a road rage incident that spirals out of control in tit-for-tat revenge. Works when the two leads share the screen, but doesn't when the story enlarges to involve family and friends. Strong final episode doesn't quite save it. C+

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Woke Bureaucrats Invade Kentucky Schools

The photo above shows "woke bureaucrats" parachuting into public schools in Kentucky to "hijack our children's future" and teach CRT. Or at least that's what one imaginative candidate for the GOP nomination for governor, Kelly Craft, Donald Trump's own former U.N. ambassador, claims is happening. Watch her television ad yourself. Then watch Tuesday's election results from Kentucky to see if voters are persuaded.

Monday, May 15, 2023

POTD: Street Scenes in Barcelona

From 2022 10 21 Barcelona

This photo-of-the-day is from Barcelona, Spain. It shows a selection of souvenirs at a shop on a city street. Is the chimp embarrassed?

After the jump, a bonus photo of my favorite street sign.

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Correction: Party Politics in Richardson Elections

In relaying my thoughts on the 2023 Richardson City Council election, I said something that is both factually incorrect and personally embarrassing. I said:

Despite the backing of the Richardson Coalition PAC, [Stephen] Springs couldn't overcome [Dan] Barrios's support of his own from the Richardson Area Democrats PAC. Even though the RC spent money on a mailer endorsing Springs and the RAD only used its Facebook presence and word-of-mouth to promote Barrios, it wasn't enough to get Springs across the line.
Source: The Wheel.

I should have said, "the RAD also spent money on a mailer endorsing Barrios." Then I should have expressed my displeasure with their action.

I regret the error.

H/T to Andrew Laska for catching my mistake.

[Update: July 21, 2023: The Richardson Area Democrats PAC's semiannual report shows a $100 contribution to Dan Barrios's campaign.]

Saturday, May 13, 2023

Dewey Defeats Truman, Richardson Edition

Source: DFW NBC5.

There are good reasons not to get your news from local television stations, not least of which is reporting this bad. It's not "Dewey Defeats Truman" bad, but it's still pretty bad. And here it is a week after the election and DFW's NBC5 television still has this up on its website of election news.

Looking at NBC5's vote totals, you can see where NBC5 went wrong. The votes are exactly the totals reported by Collin County. The problem for DFW NBC5 is that the City of Richardson is spread over two counties. Adding in the Dallas County votes, you'd get the true totals: Dubey 4,909; DePuy 4,609.

Remember, if you want the best in local news, news you can trust, look no farther than The Wheel.

POTD: Basilica de la Sagrada Familia

From 2022 10 21 Barcelona

This photo-of-the-day is from Barcelona, Spain. It shows the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia. According to Wikipedia, "it is the largest unfinished Catholic church in the world. Designed by architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926), his work on Sagrada Família is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On 7 November 2010, Pope Benedict XVI consecrated the church and proclaimed it a minor basilica." We exposed more film here than anywhere. Of course, we shoot digitally. We haven't shot film in two decades. But this basilica would have been worth the film if we had.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Loose Ends from City Council Election

Source: Dubey for Richardson

The City Council election is over. Congratulations to all the elected council members. Congratulations to Bob Dubey, our new mayor. But before we close the books on the election, I need to mention some loose ends that really should be tied up, before we move on and they are lost to memory.

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

WAIW: Traffic Stopper

Where Am I Wednesday!

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

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

America's "Third Places"

It's odd how something that you notice for the first time suddenly seems to be everywhere. How did I ever miss it? One example is the word "chocolaty". I noticed the package for Girl Scout Tagalongs® cookies (by the way, the best Girl Scout cookie) describes them as "Crispy cookies layered with peanut butter and covered with a chocolaty coating." I wondered why they didn't say "chocolate coating". Looking at the ingredients, I realized the answer is because the cookies don't contain any chocolate. They use various chemicals that taste "chocolaty." Once I was aware of this, I now see "chocolaty" on lots of products that I previously would have called "chocolate."

Likewise, I had never heard the term "third place" until a week ago. (Actually I had, but it had a different meaning. I'll get to that in a postscript). Then I heard "third place" three times in a week.

Monday, May 8, 2023

My Thoughts on the Recent Election

OMG. What Just Happened?
The Wheel followed seven contests in the local elections this year. All were settled on election night with no runoffs. Of the seven, voters' choices matched my recommendations in four of the races. I take no satisfaction in that's a majority. I think it's more an indication that voters and I are on slightly different wavelengths. Oh well. On to my first impressions of the results.

Sunday, May 7, 2023

CoR and RISD Election Results

Final unofficial election results for the contests The Wheel was following this year for City of Richardson and Richardson ISD.

I'll have thoughts about this in the blog tomorrow.

POTD: Madrid's Plaza Mayor

From 2022 10 19 Madrid

This photo-of-the-day is from Plaza Mayor in Madrid, Spain. According to Google, "Cafes & restaurants line the arches of this stately square with Philip III's statue in the center." It's a great place to start exploring Madrid in any direction.

A bonus photo is after the jump.

Looking out from Plaza Mayor through one of the square's arched entrances towards the streets of old Madrid.
From 2022 10 19 Madrid

Saturday, May 6, 2023

POTD: The Land of Flamenco

From 2022 10 19 Madrid

The first photo-of-the-day from another odyssey is from Madrid, Spain, the home of flamenco. According to Smithsonian Magazine, "the world outside Spain often stereotypes the nation as inhabited by flamenco dancers, singers, and guitar players...Inside Spain, however, the relationship between the flamenco art form and Spanish national identity has been fraught for more than a century." But forget that for an evening, just sit back, relax, and enjoy the music.

Bonus video after the jump.

Thursday, May 4, 2023

Morris Ice House Gets Respect from Google

Morris Ice House

In May of 2019, when I first wrote about the Morris Ice House in old downtown Richardson, now called the "CORE" (you know, like New York has the "Big Apple", Richardson has the "Core"), I noticed that on Google Maps, the Morris Ice House was labeled "Rinky Dinky Building." Offended, I immediately submitted a correction to Google Maps. Of course, I was ignored. (Remember, our motto here is "Not Being Listened to Since 2006.") Or so I thought.

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

8-Day Campaign Finance Reports for RISD

Source: DALL-E

Candidates for Richardson ISD Board of Trustees have filed 8-Day Campaign Finance Reports. Here are the totals for the 30-Day Reports and the 8-Day Reports, ranked by the combined totals.

Total Political Contributions
Eric EagerPlace 6$2,484.14$1,886.09
Debbie RenteriaDistrict 3  $2,226.43$1,943.40
Blake SawyerPlace 6   $1,967.37 $573.00
Bonnie AbadieDistrict 3$1,205.00 $650.00

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

8-Day Campaign Finance Reports for City Council

Source: DALL-E

Candidates for Richardson City Council have filed 8-Day Campaign Finance Reports. Here are the totals for the 30-Day Reports and the 8-Day Reports, ranked by the combined totals.

Political Contributions
Bob DubeyMayor$21,697.55$3,387.10
Dan BarriosPlace 3   $14,629.56$8,481.69
Janet DePuyMayor$11,350.00$7,515.00
Ken HutchenriderPlace 5$3,915.00  $11,515.00
Curtis DorianPlace 1$10,401.00$2,050.00
Stephen SpringsPlace 3$6,875.00$5,260.00
Todd HunterPlace 5$1,961.70$3,386.15
G. Scott WaddellPlace 1$3,755.00$700.00

Monday, May 1, 2023

Random Thoughts: Jeff Leach Had It Coming


2023-04-02: Jeff Leach had it coming:
"Texas GOP lawmaker is tricked into reading dirty names during committee meeting."

2023-04-07: "On a vote of 86-52 the Texas House adopts amendment to ban school vouchers."
Richardson's representative, Angie Chen Button, who campaigns on a message of supporting public schools, votes to support vouchers.