All posts by tim

The Republican Party Platform

Just got finished reading another press release from the Republican party headquarters that CNN passed off as an “editorial”. Let me see if I can sum up the Republican Party Platform:

  • Let’s cut taxes. If a Democrat is cutting taxes it won’t work because they’re spending too much. We are against tax cuts by Democrats because our middle name is Goldilocks, and Democratic proposed tax cuts are too big/too small/too hot/too cold, while ours are just right.
  • Let’s cut spending. If a Democrat proposes cutting spending they’re actually going to increase spending. This is a fact of nature. If someone points out times that Republicans increased spending we point out that all Democrats do is blame past Presidents.
  • When in doubt blame Bill Clinton.
  • Democrats are out of touch with the voters. If the majority of Americans approve of what Democrats are doing, it’s due to the bias of the mainstream media.
  • Democrats have no plan. Republicans have a plan. The plan the Democrats just told you is not really a plan. Especially that really detailed plan with all of the dates and numbers. The Republican plan is not just to oppose the Democrat plan. And it no longer includes any of the things that were in the plan previously, but had to be taken out because Obama has put them in his plan.
  • If Obama proposes any of the things we want to do, we immediately say he’s lying or call him a socialist. We must protect America from the creep of Obama’s socialist tax cuts.
  • When in doubt blame immigrants and/or gays and/or inattentive parents.
  • It is important to box ourselves into a corner as much as possible. Criticize the President for spending too much. Criticize cuts that do not affect Social Security, Medicare, or the Military as ineffectual. Criticize the president for not supporting the Military and wanting to cut Medicare and Social Security.
  • Criticize as ineffectual any of our proposals the President suggests in an attempt to win our support.


I know it’s a press release because it cites Karl Rove as though he were someone who could provide one with unbiased facts.

801 Barton Springs Update

Drove by 801 Barton Springs today. The neighborhood really, really needs to avoid opposing this if they want to continue to be invited to the table. It’s a tiny parcel of land sandwiched between an 8 story building and a 5 story building.

Update on Amili South Shore and 801 Barton Springs

So an update to this post. It turns out the Amili “South Shore” as it is called will not have a parking garage facing the water. They’ve actually built another building in front of the parking garage, putting them a couple hundred feet closer to the water front. So just imagine the old pictures, but with a building even closer to the water that goes up to the very top of the parking garage and is covered in a mixture of stucco and brick. It’s basically like all the rest of the apartment complexes currently on the lake. This is the sort of thing I wish Save Town Lake was fighting. It’s a massive eyesore from across the lake.

But instead I found out today they’re fighting a development at 801 Barton Springs. I actually probably agree with their reasons that this project doesn’t need to be a PUD. But apparently it’s part of the waterfront overlay. I’m baffled by this. How far does the waterfront overlay go? For those not in the know this is the old “Filling Station” restaurant location that has been a beautiful location of urban blight with views of the Palmer Parking Garage and host to a snow cone trailer. You could not feel farther from the lake at this location.

I’m not a fan of a lot of development going on on the lake. I ran the trail again just today, and the girls and I walked it Sunday. I really love the trail and lake. But I really don’t understand this fighting development that’s so far from the lake. I feel like energy needs to be saved for the stuff that’s really endangering the waterfront like the Amili South Shore.

Freakin’ Out The Ladies

Currently I have to feed Punky the cat a pill every night to keep her alive. This pill must be handled with a latex glove. The irony of that is not lost on me.

Last night I realized that latex gloves are awesome for making sound effects. Specifically the amplified sound of a cockroach. Put one on, and tap a quick tattoo on your fingers. You’ll have the ladies running.

More Buses?

I’ve got to be honest. I like the idea of light rail. It’s cool. It’s different. But the more I look at non-light rail projects like Capital Metro’s Red Line and light rail projects like Dallas and Houston’s. I don’t know if they justify the cost.

When I look at transportation there is one massive problem, and it exists whether we’re talking about rail or buses. Transferring sucks.

In Austin the best case transfer takes 25 minutes. For the bus that goes closest to my house that could go up to over an hour. So no matter how awesome some potential rail line is, I still have to plan to get my transfers as close as possible. And if I miss my transfer coming home, I’ve got an hour to wait.

I think at the end of the day, the best thing that CapMetro can do is run more buses. They get a lot of flack for empty buses, but I think they could counter this with a convenience message. If their goal is to make sure that you can take a bus and never wait more than 5 minutes for a transfer, then the bus becomes much more convenient for getting places. And if a commute takes 45 minutes rather than 65 minutes, that’s a huge difference in deciding to ditch a car. And if a trip to the grocery store takes 15 minutes by bus rather than 35 minutes, I’d be much more likely to consider the bus.

We’re spending hundreds of millions of dollars just to build the new Red Line, what kind of additional bus service could we get for that?

And what about a line going up and down 360 with WiFi? It seems like no one would take it, but I’d contend that with good advertising it could be a packed route. There are a lot of workaholics on 360 and if you could let them work on their commute they’d jump at it. I think this is a big difference between the potential audience on 360 and the audience currently being shuttled into downtown.

The Gubernatorial Debate

A few of my thoughts. Julie eventually got too agitated to watch it so we quit over half way through.

1) I thought Medina came off pretty well, but then eventually went completely over the top. She threw in an “eliminate all property taxes” without in any way explaining it which sounded looney. That said, she also consistently countered Perry’s blatant lies with actual facts and figures. Which was great. I have no clue why Hutchinson wasn’t ready to do the same thing. (She did try, she just didn’t have the facts at her fingertips like Medina).

2) Perry was creepy. I thought Bush was creepy. Perry is like a really creepy animatronic Bush. He also appeared to be a bobble head doll with one arm on TV. It did not help matters. His answers were on message, but he really tried to get away with some statements that ranged from stretching to outright lies. He tried to use job numbers from 2007 and got called on it. He tried to claim he cut business taxes after raising them last year. It as classic Republican “they’ll believe me if I say it enough”.

3) While I give Hutchinson points for having a nuanced view on Abortion and actually trying to express it, she did so in such an inelegant way that it was laughable. She basically was trying to make the point that if Roe v. Wade was overturned there would be places in the United States where abortion was very, very legal and it would be quick car ride to get to them. Whereas under Roe v. Wade the federal government has control and can restrict abortions everywhere even if they can’t completely eliminate them. In other words Roe v. Wade gives the anti-abortion movement control at the federal level and thus is a good thing (in so far as it can be in her view). That said, she was obviously trying to avoid the headling “Hutchinson for Roe v. Wade”, and her answer danced and danced. It was patently ridiculous.

4) On the emminent domain question, Perry talked like Bush. He said he was extremely for emminent domain which I couldn’t tell if it was a freudian slip. He said he’d presented a bill for the voters, that they had overwhelmingly approved. It was a constitutional ammendement. But the worst part was they asked about farmers who felt they weren’t getting a fair shake with regards to access and new roads. He said he grew up on a farm (random). And then proceeded to give a completely tone deaf answer. He said the voters were overwhelmingly for tort reform and these farmers concerns were actually just trial lawyers trying to start a new cottage industry in frivolous lawsuits. Which possibly it is. But he really pretty much told rural Texas to take a flying fuck. And with a big ass smirk on his face.

5) Hutchinson quoted a figure from the Dallas Morning News and Perry said that he didn’t take them as a paper of record. WTF? The Dallas Morning News? That’s a Republican newspaper. I understand attacking “the media”, but attacking a right-wing news source, makes you seem ridiculous.

6) Perry brought up the fact that he’s not afraid to veto bills. But I think that misfired, since he just reminded people that he tends to veto bills that they’re counting on. Like the recent retired teacher bonuses bill.

I thought Medina was the only one who came off as being able to articulate a point. Unfortunately her points were a bit to wacko to be elected. She did a great job, though, of breaking through the current Republican trend of being able to flat out lie and have no one call you on it. I have no clue why Hutchinson didn’t do a better job of that.

Hutchinson looked somewhat human and gave the best answers. She talked about Texas being great right now, but needing to plan for the next 20 years. Which is a really good counter to Perry’s platform of nothing. I mean, he really had nothing. That said, he didn’t completely fall on his face, and Hutchinson wasn’t as compelling as she needed to be, so the advantage went to Perry.

Seriously?

So I’ve gotten kindof into the idea of talking about theater lately, and where it should go, and what it should look like. And I realize there’s a difference between my idea of theater, and the idea of theater in some town where they get hundreds or millions of dollars in funding. I mean, I’m a little bitter about Zach Scott getting a new theater on my dime, but it really seems kind of practical when you read this. To sum up for those of you not interested in the subject matter:

FugardChicago2010 is a website jointly created by three Chicago theatres, my day job, Remy Bumppo and Timeline. The League of Chicago Theatres supported the project by helping to cover some of the costs around the project. The rest of the project was paid for by the three theatres. The purpose of the website and the related efforts is to increase the public’s awareness of Athol Fugard, a South African playwright and author.

For those who don’t know who Athol Fugard is, this is basically like 3 south african theaters geting together to create a website to increase awareness about Arthur Miller. Athol Fugard is probably the most famous African playwright. A few people have heard of him. Like a few people have heard of Tony Kushner.

So apparently to raise awareness of one of the world’s most well known living playwrights (which I realize makes him still about as well known as your favorite indy band), we need to pool our grant money to make a website?

Seriously. Established theater’s cannot die quickly enough to stop wasting their resources.

Our Love of Narrative

So The Holmes wrote a great post that pretty much sums up how I’ve been feeling about religion lately. One of the things I’ve been struggling with is our brain’s love of narrative (I know, crazy for a writer, right?). One of the things that I’ve heard people use to justify the idea of a God (any God) and an afterlife is that pretty much everyone on earth seems to think there’s something after death.

But I just wonder if that’s because our brains are hard-wired to invent narrative. What happens in a romantic movie after the final kiss and the credits roll? Our brains tell us that these people live a wonderful life, do wonderful things. But they’re characters in a story. And unless there’s a sequel, technically nothing happens. They’re gone. No thoughts. No actions. Nothing.

Our brains have a real problem with this concept. Sure if we think about it we can wrap our heads around the idea that at the end of Jurrassic Park the survivors don’t continue living their lives. It’s just credits and black. But we like to imagine new adventures. New lives. We do it naturally without even thinking about it. My brain thinks of the characters who are still alive at the end of the story as still being alive (which is definitely bizarre if you’re talking about a silent movie from the turn of the century).

Which, coming back to religion, I just wonder if this built in need for narrative is what drives our need for religion. Because we have a real problem with death being nothing. Not nothing like a black void. But nothing, as in no continued consciousness. Not watching our children grow old. Not hanging around in robes continuing our life on earth more or less with more singing. Just the end.

I’m still trying to wrap my brain around it. And my brain keeps suggesting alternatives. It really doesn’t like this idea of an unresolved narrative that just abruptly ends.

And that makes me wonder about the evolutionary function of it. As a species did we get too neurotic knowing that death could be around any corner and that was the end? Does this evolutionary delusion make us more productive and more likely to take risks thus increasing our genetic mixing?

I’ve been spending way too much time thinking about this.