Wednesday, July 10, 2024

The Sympathizer (TV 2024)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

The Sympathizer (TV 2024): Black comedy about the aftermath of the Vietnam War. Everyone comes out looking bad: South Vietnamese army, Communists, CIA, Hollywood, and Robert Downey, Jr, playing four roles in the same over-the-top way. B-

Max

Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Dark Matter (TV 2024)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Dark Matter (TV 2024): Bad Jason steals good Jason's identity and family. Good Jason has to find him in an infinity of universes and defeat him. Good presentation of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, but with an infinity of worlds, why care about any one in particular? B+

AppleTV+

Monday, July 8, 2024

Student Housing is At Risk Again

Rendering of ATRE Waterview Mixed-Use Development

In December, 2022, when we last checked in on the long-running saga of one Richardson man's quest to build student-purposed housing just north of UT-Dallas, things were looking up, but with a big catch ("Breakthrough in Student Housing").

The catch was that City Council insisted on starting construction on a hotel and traditional apartment along with some retail before agreeing to issue a certificate of occupancy for the first phase, student-purposed housing.

Sunday, July 7, 2024

POTD: Hey, Hay

"Bales stacked skyward high,
Overloaded truck sways slow,
Endless road ahead."

— h/t ChatGPT

From 2023 09 20 Marrakesh

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Moroccan highway somewhere between Fez and Marrakesh. That is all.

Saturday, July 6, 2024

POTD: Nice Bright Colors

"Kodachrome, they give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world's a sunny day, oh yeah
I got a Nikon camera, I love to take a photograph
So mama don't take my Kodachrome away."

— Paul Simon

From 2023 09 20 Marrakesh

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Moroccan countryside, somewhere on the highway between Fez and Marrakesh. I don't know anything about the place in the photo. Its colors were what caught my eye then and I still think it makes for a good photo-of-the-day. All the world's a sunny day.

Thursday, July 4, 2024

Fancy Dance (2024)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Fancy Dance (2024): Set on the Seneca-Cayuga reservation in Oklahoma, a woman goes missing and her sister can't get authorities to care, while she cares for her 13-yr-old niece who looks forward to the mother-daughter dance at the upcoming powwow. A look at indomitable human spirit. B+

AppleTV+

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Shogun (TV 2024)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Shogun (TV 2024): Adaptation of James Clavell’s 1975 bestseller about Japan in 1600. More culturally sensitive than the novel. This one is more about power dynamics in feudal Japan than romantic liaison. It's an American production that feels like a Japanese one. Outstanding sets, costumes, and cinematography. B+

Hulu

Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Richardson Says No to LEED

Source: h/t LEED

During two meetings in which the Richardson City Council reviewed progress on building a new City Hall, the question of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification came up twice, both times in questions asked by Councilmember Curtis Dorian.

In February, 2024, this is what I reported:

Councilmember Curtis Dorian asked if the City is going to pursue LEED certification. Dorian didn't ask for it, only whether the City plans to apply. The answer was, "LEED certification is not something we have decided to pursue up to this point" followed by fast talk about "LEED-light" and bypassing LEED to "focus our efforts on things that are going to provide the best return on investment."
Source: The Wheel.

I now believe that what I quoted as "LEED-light," might have been "LEED-like". Tomayto, tomahto, but I strive for accuracy. I've since learned that "LEED-Lite" is an industry term used by organizations to pick and choose which parts of LEED to pursue.

Councilmember Dorian raised the question again on June 17, when the City Council again reviewed progress on City Hall. Again, Dorian asked if LEED certification has been discussed. Again he was blown off, this time by three people, Assistant City Manager Charles Goff, Anne Stimmel from Architexas, and City Manager Don Magner.

Charles Goff: "We typically haven't explored LEED certification. A lot of the things that would have gotten new LEED certification previously are just now in that 2021 Energy Conservation Code. So we'd have to be even more kind of bleeding edge to pursue LEED certification. So that's not something that we've talked about pursuing this project."

Let's fact check some of the assertions there. According to the City's own website, "In 2007, the Richardson City Council provided direction on all new City buildings being built to LEED certifiable criteria [emphasis added]. LEED is a program that certifies buildings on environmental aspects ranging from construction, waste disposal, energy efficiency, land use, and many other aspects of the design and building trade. In 2009, Richardson's Fire Station #2 and the new Huffhines Recreation Center were completed. Both facilities were certified LEED Silver by the U.S. Green Building Council in 2010."

I'm surprised that Goff, who oversees Development Services, Engineering and Capital Projects for the City, doesn't know of the Council's 2007 directive. I'm even more surprised that City Manager Don Magner apparently doesn't know it either, as he didn't correct Goff. He was around in 2007 when the City Council provided the direction. And if they both know it, and know that the directive is no longer followed, why don't they update the City's website?

Anne Stimmel (Architexas): "It does take a lot of additional paperwork, and there is an added cost to proceeding with that. And there are definitely a longer list of items that we would have to make sure we're addressing." Well, then, let's not do something if it includes paperwork, especially if it's "a longer list of items." In any case, it isn't Architexas's call. It's the City of Richardson's.

Don Magner: "Historically, we say we're LEED-like...We incorporate all the elements that have the greatest return. But to the point of the additional laundry list of things that you do and the hoops that you have to jump through, there are a lot of things that you're asked to do that don't have a great benefit and don't have a lot of return. And those are the things that we try to not bother ourselves with. Because they don't have that benefit. And so, again, you know, for the better part now, probably 15 years, we've tried to say we want to be LEED-like and all the things that really matter and that are consequential, but not so much spending time doing things that won't have that big of a payback, plus there's a lengthy application process."

So for probably fifteen years, Richardson has blown off getting LEED certification. Good to know. That's enough time to have updated the City's website. I don't recall the City Council revoking their direction. Exactly when and how did that happen? No one ever updated the website, leaving the public under the impression that the City is still committed to the full list of requirements for construction of sustainable buildings.

I turned to the City Council's Statement of Goals. The word "environment" appears five times. The contexts are "business-friendly environment," "equitable environment," "regulatory environment," "regulatory environment" (again), and last, but least, "Discuss environmental initiatives." That was a tactic suggested by Councilmember Dan Barrios. Tactics are the lowest level in the hierarchy: Vision, Goals, Strategies, and Tactics. Midway through this Council's term, if they've "discussed environmental initiatives" even once, to say nothing about taking any environmental initiatives, I've missed it. LEED certification would fall into the category. We now know they aren't taking that initiative. Based on Magner's dismissal of Curtis Dorian's question about considering it, you can't even say they are discussing the initiative. But at least Dorian asked about it. No other Councilmember said a word. Councilmember Dan Barrios gets a pass for being absent. He's the one responsible for getting even that weak-tea tactic in the Council's Goals statement. It's not too late for him to issue a statement in defense of LEED certification.

In February, I concluded this topic this way:

It'll be hard to brag about the City of Richardson's commitment to good environmental practices if we build a new City Hall that doesn't conform to the world's most widely used standard for healthy, highly efficient, and cost-saving green building design. Dorian was so close to fixing a big problem if he had insisted on something I know he cares about (why else would he ask about it) only to meekly surrender by responding to this disappointing answer with just, "Anyway, thank you." He won't live up to his potential until he learns to wield the power he now has.
Source: The Wheel.

Apparently, that still applies. Next time, tell Magner to quit saying the City's building practices are "LEED-like." There's no such certification as "LEED-like." You're either LEED certified or you're not. The City of Richardson is not. If Dorian or anyone else gets blown off with "We don't do it that way," they should ask why? And if the answer to that is, "There are a lot of things that you're asked to do that don't have a great benefit," they should ask for a detailed list of those things, along with a cost/benefit analysis that includes not just the immediate direct cost to the City of doing something, but the indirect cost to society of "not bothering" to do it.

If the other Councilmembers care about sustainable development, they might want to speak up and support Councilmember Dorian. Aside to Councilmember Joe Corcoran: praising the "dramatic dash of dark green" in the interior while ignoring Dorian's call for making the whole building green is a missed opportunity.

This is not the first time the City has demonstrated that respecting the natural environment is not a priority of them. There was that taking of parkland for a water infrastructure project ("When is Park Not a Park"). There was the cutting down of dozens of mature trees on a Richardson street to lay a pipeline ("Texas Chain Saw Massacre: Promising Change"). And now there's the admission that the City can't be "bothered" with a "laundry list" of requirements to achieve LEED certification for a new City Hall, our civic temple that some speak of lasting more than a hundred years. The next time the City brags about being a green city, take it with a large grain of salt. They might only be talking about the interior color scheme for the new City Hall.


"City Hall plans fresh.
LEED certification asked.
Council's silence loud."

—h/t ChatGPT

Monday, July 1, 2024

Random Thoughts: AI-Generated News

Mastodon

2024-06-01: Today's example of irony: A news story about elections in India from a news source that uses a fountain pen for a logo and a motto of "Dare to Write" ends with this disclaimer: "This is AI generated news with no Human interference."
greatandhra.com/politics/india...

2024-06-01: MaryAnne Doty's comment: "Maybe it's time for Tree the Town to help replace all the mature trees we lost in Richardson this week."