Thursday, August 31, 2023

Council Recap: Municipal Campus Site Plan

Source: H/T DALL-E

At the August 21, 2023, meeting, the Richardson City Council was shown two draft designs for a redeveloped municipal campus. The Council generally favored the building placements of Option A, but with one controversy. That was a new entrance off Arapaho Rd between the library and a relocated City Hall with a drive that will go by the fountain. It's safe to bet that the building placements in Option A will be part of the selected site plan, but what to do with that drive is very much up in the air.

Below, after the diagram for Option A, are selected comments by the Council Members that I find illustrative of their thinking.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

WAIW: Super Bowl XLV

Super Bowl XLV

Where Am I Wednesday!

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

Answer is after the jump.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

TIL: Taylor Swift is Underpaid

Source: New York Times

Are you in the camp of people who think celebrities (singers, actors, athletes) are overpaid? If so, I understand where you are coming from. But Paul Krugman, economics columnist for the New York Times, isn't so sure. He provides some facts that caused me to change my mind. Try changing your mind now and then. I highly recommend the feeling it gives you. Now Paul Krugman has me asking, is Taylor Swift perhaps underpaid?

Monday, August 28, 2023

Three Thousand Years of Longing (2022)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Three Thousand Years of Longing (2022): Scholar of storytelling (Tilda Swinton) visits Istanbul where she frees a genie (Idris Elba) who tells her 3,000 years of his life story. A romance, kinda, that never really ignites. Mostly oral storytelling illustrated with good CGI. B-


Sunday, August 27, 2023

POTD: The Corinth Canal

From 2022 11 03 Athens

"Ancient dream fulfilled,
Grandiose feat is complete.
Corinth's isthmus split."

—h/t ChatGPT

This photo-of-the-day was taken at Greece's Corinth Canal. A canal there was attempted as early as the 7th century BCE but wasn't successfully built until 1893. "The canal was dug through the Isthmus at sea level and has no locks. It is 6.4 kilometres (4 miles) in length and only 24.6 metres (80.7 feet) wide at sea level, making it impassable for many modern ships. It is currently of little economic importance and is mainly a tourist attraction." Hence, our visit.

Saturday, August 26, 2023

POTD: The Neighborhood of the Gods

From 2022 11 03 Athens

"By the gods' side, dine.
Baklava's gold layers shine.
Plaka's blessings found."

—h/t ChatGPT

This photo-of-the-day, showing "L" walking away from the camera, was taken in Plaka, "the old historical neighborhood of Athens, clustered around the...slopes of the Acropolis, and incorporating labyrinthine streets and neoclassical architecture. Plaka is built on top of the residential areas of the ancient town of Athens. It is known as the 'Neighborhood of the Gods' due to its proximity to the Acropolis and its many archaeological sites."

Bonus photos of our dinner in Plaka at a sidewalk cafe beneath the Parthenon are after the jump.

Friday, August 25, 2023

Painkiller (TV 2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Painkiller (TV 2023): Dramatization of the opioid crisis, with OxyContin as the examplar of how overprescribing a legal drug to boost sales revenue is ravaging America. It's a drama. Characters are one dimensional. Richard Sackler, shown as the greedy, uncaring, CEO of Purdue Pharma, is real. So is the harm. Subtle, it's not. B-

Thursday, August 24, 2023

POTD: The Glare

"Off shiny glass wall,
Death ray pierces rooftop screen,
Aimed at Nasher's art."

—h/t ChatGPT

This bonus photo-of-the-day was taken in the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas. Almost twelve years after it first appeared, "The Glare" is still there. "The Glare" is the sun's reflection off the shiny glass facade of Museum Tower next door and down through the Nasher Sculpture Center's "delicately calibrated roof screen", thereby endangering the art within its galleries. This photo shows three metal sculptures by Mark di Suvero. Behind them, on the wall, you can see "The Glare" and the shadows of the roof screen. The dispute over how to fix the problem, and who should pay, remains unresolved a decade after the problem was first discovered.

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

TIL: Hispanics are a Plurality in Texas

Source: Texas Monthly
Few observers of the state’s demographics were shocked when, in 2022, Census Bureau estimates revealed that Hispanics had become a narrow plurality in Texas. At 40.2 percent of the state’s population, they just edged out the non-Hispanic white population of 39.4 percent. The state will never be the same!
Source: Texas Monthly.

That's what I learned in a Texas Monthly article by Richard Z. Santos. He adds the million dollar question: "Texas Is Now a Majority-Minority State. Why Haven’t Our Politics Changed?" He never satisfactorily answers that question. After the jump, the litany of reasons that each contribute to an answer.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

The Watcher (TV 2022)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

The Watcher (TV 2022) Not a horror movie, or ghost story, or stalker movie. It's a mystery, with lots of creepy neighbors, each suspected and maybe cleared, all the way to a not-so-pat ending. Great cast, all getting into their over-the-top characters. For fun, not scares. A-

Monday, August 21, 2023

Great Expectations (TV 2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Great Expectations (TV 2023): Another adaptation of Dickens's classic. Purists object to its added scenes of sex, opium, and violence, but Dickens was constrained by Victorian social mores. This modern tale is still loaded with compelling characters and plot twists. And yet another ending. B+

Sunday, August 20, 2023

POTD: Temple of Poseidon

From 2022 11 03 Athens

"Shadows grow longer,
Temple guards the ancient shores,
Late afternoon's hush."

—h/t ChatGPT

This photo-of-the-day was taken on Cape Sounion about 25 miles south of Athens, Greece. It shows the ruins of the Temple of Poseidon (circa 700 BCE).

A bonus close-up photo is after the jump.

Saturday, August 19, 2023

POTD: Cape Sounion Fish Farm...and More

From 2022 11 03 Athens

"Patroklos island,
Ship of sorrow under waves,
War's dark tragedy."

—h/t ChatGPT

This photo-of-the-day was taken on Cape Sounion about 25 miles south of Athens, Greece. It shows a fish farm. That's mildly interesting I suppose, but it's not really why I snapped this photo. Besides fish, also below the waves here lies the SS Oria. In the background of the photo is Patroklos island. It has a long history, going back to the Chremonidean War. If you never heard of that war, forgive yourself. I hadn't either. The war was fought from 267-261 BCE. But it's not for that ancient war that I snapped this photo, either. It was for a tragedy that happened during a much more recent war, World War II. According to Wikipedia, "On 12 February 1944, SS Oria sank in a storm on the south east rocks of Patroklos island with 4,074 killed, mostly Italian military internees." It was the greatest loss of life in a single maritime disaster in the Mediterranean's history. Travel is enlightening...for some. For others, it's deadly.

Friday, August 18, 2023

Police Beat

Source: DMN

It's been a while since we checked in on a couple of lawsuits against the Richardson Police Department. First, there's a lawsuit by former police officer Kayla Walker charging the RPD with running an illegal ticket quota system. Walker's lawsuit is still slowly, slowly, making its way through the wheels of justice. Then there's the lawsuit by Neco Bonham, who, as an eighteen-year-old in 2021, was stopped by RPD for what seemed like a routine traffic stop, only to end up Tased, punched, and arrested. The district attorney's office dropped all charges against him. The arresting officer was reprimanded. Bonham sued. I haven't read anything about Bonham's lawsuit in over two years. I did read something about the officer who stopped him — he's still with the RPD and, two years later, was promoted.

That brings us to this week's news.

Thursday, August 17, 2023

District 112 Draws a Challenger

Source: City of Richardson

The San Antonio Express-News reports that "Last year’s Miss Texas is entering another competition where she’ll be judged on her talents, leadership abilities and appearance. But this time it won’t be a beauty pageant. Averie Bishop became the first Asian American winner of the Miss Texas competition in its 85-year history. Now she’s running for the Texas House."

What's the Richardson connection? Two, actually. Averie Bishop is running for Texas House District 112, which includes much of Richardson up to the Collin County line. And Averie Bishop was crowned Miss Texas at the Eisemann Center right here in Richardson.

Barbie (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Barbie (2023): From great opening scene to brilliant closing joke, Greta Gerwig deftly balances the childhood joy of owning a doll (I presume) with the problematic associations that attached to that doll. An adult movie that raises themes worth exploring long after the credits roll. A-

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Council Recap: Proposed Budget

Source: h/t DALL-E

At a work session August 14, 2023, the Richardson City Council reviewed the 2023-2024 budget proposed by City Manager Don Magner. With property appraisals up, the City is awash in additional tax revenue. With the economy booming (historically low unemployment and solid consumer spending), public complaints about the cost of local government are unusually muted. There were no public speakers at this week's Council meeting. Drawing up this year's budget must have been as easy as falling off a log. The bottom line: the City has $15.4 million more in revenues and is having no trouble finding ways to spend it.

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Missing (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Missing (2023): Teen's mom takes vacation in Columbia and goes missing. Teen turns online detective to find her. The action in this low-budget thriller is watching her skills at hacking phones, email, and social media. Enough plot twists (and holes) to keep it interesting to the end. B+

Monday, August 14, 2023

An Underfunded Mandate for Texas Schools

Source: Richardson ISD

Texans who follow the history of public schools in Texas are familiar with the story. The legislature passes mandates theoretically to improve schools but fail to provide sufficient money to pay the costs of implementing the new requirements. The latest example is Texas House Bill 3 (HB3). Except this time, it doesn't even pretend to improve education. It requires Texas school districts to have an armed officer on every campus, as if the secret to better reading scores is more guns. No, that's too absurd for even the Texas legislature. For them, it's the secret to ending gun violence in schools that is more guns. More guns seems to be their answer to every problem. In any case, for Richardson ISD, it's an underfunded mandate requiring the hiring of an additional 34 security personnel (plus two supervisors) and equipping them with handgun, duty belt, ballistic vest, and RISD Logo shirt.

Sunday, August 13, 2023

POTD: Chromesthesia

From 2022 11 03 Athens

"Chromatic music,
Athens sings in bright colors.
Melody of paint."

—h/t ChatGPT

This photo-of-the-day was taken in the Stavros Niarchos Park in Athens, Greece. It's just an open piano where park visitors can sit for a minute and pluck out a tune. Or an hour and play a concerto. If you are lucky enough to experience chromesthesia, so much the better for you.

Saturday, August 12, 2023

POTD: The Eleventy-Seventh Portrait of Jesus

From 2022 11 03 Athens

"In oils and water,
The most painted soul endures,
Art's eternal muse."

—h/t ChatGPT

This photo-of-the-day was taken in Athens, Greece. Who is the most painted person in history? It's got to be Jesus, right? By a long shot. Wikipedia has a page devoted to a partial list. Wikipedia even has a page devoted to paintings of Jesus just in the Louvre, and even that is long. Anyway, no matter what the answer is, this artist at the foot of the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, is adding to history's collection of Jesus art. And doing a pretty good job of it, too, in my untrained opinion.

Friday, August 11, 2023

The Secret Invasion (TV 2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

The Secret Invasion (TV 2023): Dark and foreboding, the fate of humanity is on the line. Many Marvel shows feature superheroes and humor. This is not one of them. Not for the uninitiated. It was only in the last couple of episodes that I felt I knew what was happening. Great cast. C+

Thursday, August 10, 2023

The Beanie Bubble (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

The Beanie Bubble (2023): Story behind Beanie Baby boom and bust. Ty Warner caught lightning in a bottle but never understood why. Women around him did but were exploited. They aren't victims, though, exactly. It's hard to say what the moral of this one dimensional story is. C+

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Council Recap: Atmos and Oncor

Clocking just 75 minutes, the Richardson City Council held a relatively short work session August 07, 2023. Agenda items were a review of the upcoming Corporate Challenge, reviews of utility rate requests by Atmos and Oncor, and action items setting dates for public hearings on the proposed tax rate and municipal budget, and naming a temporary location as the official City Hall.

By my count, although all of the Councilmembers said something, none offered any suggestions for change on any matter. The three matters put to a vote all passed unanimously.

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

River Wild (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

River Wild (2023): Five young people go on a white-water rafting expedition. The rapids turn out to be the least of the dangers they face. Standard action thriller. No character development. The only question is how many will die and how. There was a maybe better 1994 version. B-

Monday, August 7, 2023

Towards an Award-winning Comp Plan

Source: DALL-E

After the long 3.5 hours the Richardson City Council and City Plan Commission devoted to updating the Comprehensive Plan, there were three comments that stuck with me.

Joe Corcoran: "I do think that if the Comp Plan was just, hey, here's five reinvestment zones, I kind of consider it a little bit a failure, not to be dramatic. But it's important to talk about all this other stuff as well."

Joe Costantino: "I'm not for less studying, I'm just like, understanding how some of the other bullet points are going to be fleshed out...How are those other areas going to be studied?"

Dan Barrios: "I'd like to see that whatever comes out of this is something that hopefully is an award-winning plan. We have a lot of great things in Richardson, and I hope this is one of those things we can add to it. Because it'll either be great or we're going to look back 10 years from now and go 'Wow, where did we go wrong?' "

Source: The Wheel.

Sunday, August 6, 2023

POTD: Brain Tumor

From 2022 11 03 Athens

"A moment in time,
Cyclist's journey continues,
Seated man's unknown."

—h/t ChatGPT

This photo-of-the-day is from Athens, Greece. It was taken at the foot of the ancient Acropolis. There's a story here, but I didn't pause to learn it. Neither did the cyclist. Therein lies another story.

Saturday, August 5, 2023

POTD: All Alone at the Parthenon

From 2022 11 03 Athens

"Alone 'midst ruins,
Time's river flows endlessly,
Parthenon's witness."

—h/t ChatGPT

This photo-of-the-day is from Athens, Greece. It shows the Parthenon, the most crowded tourist spot in Greece. When we take tourist photos, we work hard to compose shots with the tourists out of the frame of the camera, unless we are deliberately taking photos of the tourists themselves. It's complicated. But I was happy with this shot showing "L" all by herself in front of the Parthenon.

A bonus photo, showing the side of the Parthenon, is after the jump. You'll see what I mean about the crowds. I wanted them in this second shot.

Friday, August 4, 2023

Our Little Angel

No context.

Mayor Bob Dubey: "Our little angel, our Charlie's Angel"

Source: Richardson Police Department

How Comprehensive is the Comprehensive Plan?

Source: City of Richardson

Recently, I've been meddling in the City of Richardson's efforts to update its Comprehensive Plan. To decide who is off the rails—them, me, or maybe neither—I've decided I need to back up (to first principles), or pull up (for a birds-eye view), to understand just what the City thinks is included in this effort.

Thursday, August 3, 2023

Jury Duty (TV 2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Jury Duty (TV 2023): Mockumentary follows a trial where everyone is an actor except one juror. Crazy things happen that would not in any real courtroom. Humor is in the unknowing juror's reactions. Last episode spoils the magic, revealing how the audience was tricked, too. C+

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Council Recap: Planning a Comp Plan

Source: DALL-E

The Richardson City Council and the City Plan Commission held a rare joint work session July 31. The main topic on the agenda was "REVIEW AND DISCUSS THE ENVISION RICHARDSON COMPREHENSIVE PLAN UPDATE AND COMMUNITY SUMMIT ONE." That took almost all of the 3.5 hours the meeting lasted.

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Random Thoughts: Black Mirror


2023-07-01: In the "Black Mirror" episode "Beyond the Sea" (S6, E3), astronauts on a deep space mission get R&R by periodically transferring their consciousness to replicas on Earth. If this technology exists, why wouldn't NASA use it the other way around, sending replicas into space and keeping the humans safe on Earth, except when needed in space?

2023-07-03: Life would be easier to figure out if it were accompanied by melodramatic music like in bad movies.

2023-07-03: I'm reminded of when I taught high school in Australia in 1976. I told my students that in honor of the upcoming American bicentennial, there would be no school on July 4. An initial burst of excitement was quicky followed by irritation when they realized July 4, 1976, fell on a Sunday.