Sunday, March 31, 2024

POTD: Happy Easter

"Córdoba's treasure,
Sunlight's dance upon the stone,
Easter's vibrant hues."

—h/t ChatGPT

From 2023 09 10 Cordoba

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba, Spain. I'll have more to say about this impressive building with a future POTD, but for today, Happy Easter, for those who celebrate. And Ramadan Mubarak for those celebrating that. Joy and prosperity to all.

Saturday, March 30, 2024

POTD: Plaza de España

"In Maria's park,
Baroque, Moorish dreams converge,
Tiled fountains shimmy."

—h/t ChatGPT

From 2023 09 09 Seville

Today's photo-of-the-day is of Plaza de España in Seville, Spain, "a plaza in the Parque de María Luisa. It was built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. It is a landmark example of Regionalism Architecture, mixing elements of the Baroque Revival, Renaissance Revival and Moorish Revival (Neo-Mudéjar) styles of Spanish architecture." I wonder if that blend of eclectic, even clashing, architectural styles drew disdain like today's McMansion mishmash architectural styles do. I also wonder what reaction a similarly designed Richardson City Hall would get.

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Render Unto Tim Dunn

Source: h/t DALL-E

A political cartoon to accompany yesterday's blog post: "TIL: My Texas State Senator is a Puppet of a Billionaire Christian Nationalist".

Note that with a minor change, this cartoon would work on the national level as well, where the presumptive GOP nominee for President of the United States is hawking a $59.99 “God Bless the USA Bible”.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

TIL: My Texas State Senator is a Puppet of a Billionaire Christian Nationalist


Look at that map. The red line is the outline of Texas Senate District 2. The yellow and orange and purple and bluish colored areas are the cities. You can see that Senate District 2 mostly excludes the cities. It is mostly rural, except for one spear point in the northwest of the district, stabbing Richardson, my home, in the heart. Richardson is trending Democratic in recent elections. With the latest gerrymander by the Republican state legislature, Richardson is the sacrificial victim to be absorbed by safely rural, conservative, Republican Senate District 2. And that's how I ended up with Bob Hall as my Senator, representing me despite the fact that he isn't, in any way, representative of Richardson, Texas. Today I learned something else about Bob Hall. I learned it from Bob Deuell, "a staunch conservative with an independent streak," according to Russell Gold of Texas Monthly. Gold tells the story.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Masters of the Air (TV 2024)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Masters of the Air (TV 2024): Despite the horrific death toll suffered by the bomber crews of WWII, this show is about a few survivors. Based on real people, it plays like fiction: aerial adventures of handsome, daring flyboys. We've seen this war movie before. Cramming WWII into one series makes it feel rushed. Production value is excellent. B-

#Apple TV+

Monday, March 25, 2024

The Problem with RISD's School Closures

"Don't tax you.
Don't tax me.
Tax that fellow behind the tree."

— Louisiana Senator Russell B. Long

In local school politics, that political adage might be:

Don't close your school.
Don't close my own.
Close that school way across town.

With votes Thursday evening, March 21, 2024, the Richardson ISD officially moved to close four elementary schools all over town. In December, I called school closures the "third rail of local school politics. Touch it and you die." I knew that no matter how long RISD dragged out the community discussions, the community would never reach agreement on which schools to close. So just two months later in February, when I first heard of Project RightSize, I said, "Bold. Quick. Decisive. Well done." Now, a month later it's official. And I was wrong (again).

Sunday, March 24, 2024

POTD: Torre de Belém

"Waves lap at its feet,
Stories of conquest and feat,
Belém Tower reigns."

—h/t ChatGPT

From 2023 09 06 Portugal

Now for somewhere completely different. Today's photo-of-the-day is of Torre de Belém (Bethlehem Tower) in Lisbon, Portugal, "a 16th-century fortification located in Lisbon that served as a point of embarkation and disembarkation for Portuguese explorers."

Saturday, March 23, 2024

POTD: Selamat Malam, Jakarta

"Skyline stretches out,
A modern metropolis,
Jakarta shines bright."

—h/t ChatGPT

From 2023 04 09 Jakarta

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Jakarta, Indonesia. It was taken on the last night of our month-long vacation in New Zealand, Australia, and Indonesia. Jakarta is a modern megalopolis. Situated just south of the equator, its climate is warm year-round. I say warm instead of hot because Texans experience hotter summers than Jakarta does. Jakarta is one of those cities where the expression "it's not the heat, it's the humidity" was made for.

The photo was taken on the umpteenth floor of an apartment building. I say umpteenth because it's hard to know for sure. There are levels for parking, for a mall, for a large outdoor deck, for a swimming pool and community rooms, all before you get up to the residential floors, for which the numbering starts all over. Let's just say we had a magnificent view of central Jakarta from our son's apartment high above Jakarta's streets.

Good night and goodbye, Jakarta. Selamat malam.

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Woman in Gold (2015)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Woman in Gold (2015): In a true life story, Helen Mirren stars as Holocaust survivor trying to recover artwork looted by Nazis in WWIII. Austrian government doesn't want to give up its national treasure. Flashbacks save this movie from being a dry courtroom drama. B+



Monday, March 18, 2024

Irma Vep (TV 2022)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Irma Vep (TV 2022): A TV series that remakes a 1996 movie of the same name, itself about the remaking of a 1916 French classic. Expect a lot of inside the movie industry references. Also a mentally unstable director and wild antics on and off set. The movie borders on the surreal. C+



Sunday, March 17, 2024

POTD: Beehouse Dijiwa Ubud

"Way down bumpy roads,
Dinner's joy in Bali's heart.
Wonderful retreat."

—h/t ChatGPT

From 2023 04 06 Bali

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Beehouse Dijiwa Ubud in Bali, Indonesia. We didn't stay in this "private paradise surrounded by amazing rice paddies, lush greeneries, and view of Mount Agung." But we had dinner here on our last night in Bali. Just getting to the restaurant was a nighttime adventure down a narrow, bumpy road that our driver never hesitated on, although I suspect he scratched his car on one tight squeeze. I wish I could remember what we had to eat, but like everything about our stay in Bali, I do remember that it was wonderful.

Saturday, March 16, 2024

POTD: Pura Taman Ayun

"Taman Ayun's heart,
Bali's heritage enshrined,
UNESCO's love signed."

—h/t ChatGPT

From 2023 04 06 Bali

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Taman Ayun Hindu Temple in Bali, Indonesia. Pura Taman Ayun is a quiet oasis of Balinese temples and gardens with water features. In 2012, Pura Taman Ayun was added as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Ferrari (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Ferrari (2023): Biopic of a point in the life of Enzo Ferrari and his wife and dead son and mistress and his son with's complicated even for Italy in the 1950s. B-


Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Funny Woman (TV 2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Funny Woman (TV 2023): Dramedy about a Blackpool beauty queen in London in the 1960s, trying to succeed in a TV comedy. There are modern jokes about being gay or Black or Pakistani in London, but even those jokes seem as dated as the slapstick and jokes about sexism on a 1960s TV show. C+

Sky Max via PBS


Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Black Bird (TV 2022)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Black Bird (TV 2022): Convicted drug dealer in prison accepts offer to entice a suspected serial killer to confess. Nice tight psychological study. Two questions were with me throughout: "Will they catch him?" and, "Will there be a plot twist?" B+

Apple TV+


Monday, March 11, 2024

Spaceman (2024)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Spaceman (2024): Adam Sandler in his most restrained acting ever, plays an astronaut on a solo mission to Jupiter, going slowly crazy from loneliness and the breakup of his marriage back on Earth. Spoiler: it also has a giant alien spider...therapist? Less sci-fi than character study. B-


Sunday, March 10, 2024

POTD: Rice Terraces of Tegalalang

"Rice terraces stretch
Up, down, along the valley.
Swings high above."

—h/t ChatGPT
From 2023 04 06 Bali

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Tegallalang, Bali, a popular tourist site because of its beautiful rice terraces and countless photo ops.

A bonus photo is after the jump.

Saturday, March 9, 2024

POTD: Tanah Lot

"Bali at twilight,
Low tide unveils rocky path
to Tanah Lot's grace."

—h/t ChatGPT

From 2023 04 06 Bali

Today's photo-of-the-day was taken at Tanah Lot, a spit of rock off the west coast of Bali, Indonesia, that is home to a Hindu temple. The temple can only be reached on foot at low tide. The sun setting in the ocean behind the temple makes it a popular site for photography.

Thursday, March 7, 2024

Future of High-Speed Rail is in Richardson's Hands

Source: Hunt Realty via D Magazine
Artist rendering, D Magazine

The future of high-speed rail in Texas is in Richardson's hands. Overstatement? Sure, but it's not completely wrong, either. The "hands" I'm referring to belong to our own Richardson City Councilmember Jennifer Justice. She's a member of the Executive Board of the North Central Texas Council of Governments. NCTCOG allocates billions of federal dollars for transportation projects. In contrast, the Richardson municipal budget is about $400 million. A hot project under consideration by NCTCOG right now is an elevated high-speed rail line through the City of Dallas going west to Ft Worth and southeast to Houston.

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

FAQ Reveals Inconsistent Treatment in Project RightSize

Project Rightsize (edited)
RISD FAQ, edited

The Richardson ISD is working on a plan to reduce expenses by closing four schools. The district website has a page with FAQs. There is one question whose answer I find difficult to accept. The question is about teachers, but my difficulty with it can be seen by replacing "staff member" with "student." When RISD says, "RISD will not remove a staff member at one campus to replace them with another," they are demonstrating the "people-first" approach they are taking, at least as regards staff members. Good for them. But why not demonstrate the same "people-first" approach for students? Why not say, "RISD will not remove a student at one campus to replace them with another"? The argument for this is even stronger for students, as RISD exists for the children, even more than for the staff.

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Council Recap: Outdoor Storage is the new "Edgy"

Source: h/t DALL-E

The Richardson City Council began consideration of a request for a Special Development Plan with a reminder of the vision for the Interurban Sub-district: "To create an edgy, mixed-use district built upon the existing bones of the district, focusing on adaptive reuse of existing buildings and targeted infill development. Exterior building materials should promote design creativity and unify the eclectic style envisioned for the Sub-district."

Monday, March 4, 2024

Einstein and the Bomb (2024)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Einstein and the Bomb (2024): Docudrama about Einstein's contribution and attitude towards the development of the atomic bomb. It gives insight into the man, not the scientist. Restricting dialog to words found in Einstein's speeches and papers weakens the drama in the dramatic re-creations. C+


Sunday, March 3, 2024

POTD: The Monkey Forest in Ubud

"Hindu temples stand,
throughout the Monkey Forest,
Nature's bandits close."

—h/t ChatGPT

From 2023 04 06 Bali

Today's photo-of-the-day was taken in the Monkey Forest of Ubud on the Indonesian island of Bali. About a thousand long-tailed macaque monkeys live in the sanctuary. The sanctuary is also home to three Hindu temples. Let's stipulate up front that the monkeys love stealing from the tourists and the tourists love seeing the monkeys do it. They can unscrew water bottles and unzip backpacks and purses and reach inside pockets. Keep your hats, sunglasses, cameras, food (especially food) to yourself and out of reach of the monkeys (better yet out of sight of the monkeys), and no one will get hurt (probably). Otherwise, all bets are off.

Saturday, March 2, 2024

POTD: Pura Bratan, Bali

"Bali's Hindu charm,
Temple by Lake Bratan where
Nature and gods meet."

—h/t ChatGPT

From 2023 04 06 Bali

Today's photo-of-the-day was taken on the island of Bali, Indonesia. Bali is Indonesia's only Hindu-majority province. With its temples, music, dance, painting, and, of course, beaches and resorts, there's something for almost any tourist. Our photo is of Pura Ulun Danu Bratan. The temple complex is on the shores of Lake Bratan in the mountains near Bedugul in north-central Bali.

Friday, March 1, 2024

Random Thoughts: A Profile in Courage


2024-02-08: Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) deserves a place in a "Profiles in Courage" for the 21st century. "A Princeton and Georgetown-educated PhD, a Marine veteran and a committee chairman, he had warned his GOP colleagues not to “pry open the Pandora’s box of perpetual impeachment.”" For that he was encircled and screamed at by his Republican colleagues.