Commentary

Wed
27
Apr

The ethics of (in)action

Conflicts in morality and ethical responsibility at the highest levels of government make for a gripping drama in the political thriller, “Eye in the Sky,” now in wide release.

Oscar winner Helen Mirren headlines an elite cast as a British colonel leading a mission to capture international terrorists in Nairobi, Kenya. When the mission changes from capture to kill by drone strike, the legal and political stakes get elevated to extreme levels as a young Kenyan girl sells bread on a street corner within the target zone.

Officials from three different nations, military experts, legal minds and spies working on the ground, all must make difficult decisions in short order.

The film works thanks in large part to Mirren’s commanding presence on camera. While the role of military leader isn’t a typical role for her, Mirren blasts through dialogue with ruthless efficiency and insists viewers take notice.

Wed
27
Apr

The ethics of (in)action

Conflicts in morality and ethical responsibility at the highest levels of government make for a gripping drama in the political thriller, “Eye in the Sky,” now in wide release.

Oscar winner Helen Mirren headlines an elite cast as a British colonel leading a mission to capture international terrorists in Nairobi, Kenya. When the mission changes from capture to kill by drone strike, the legal and political stakes get elevated to extreme levels as a young Kenyan girl sells bread on a street corner within the target zone.

Officials from three different nations, military experts, legal minds and spies working on the ground, all must make difficult decisions in short order.

The film works thanks in large part to Mirren’s commanding presence on camera. While the role of military leader isn’t a typical role for her, Mirren blasts through dialogue with ruthless efficiency and insists viewers take notice.

Wed
27
Apr

Wildflowers abloom in Texas State Parks

Thanks to heavy rains and warmer temperatures, Texas state parks are enjoying an early spring this year. Rolling waves of bright blue, deep red and rich yellow blanket Texas’ hills and plains in an impressive wildflower display.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department notes that the state is blessed with more than 5,000 species of wildflowers, and this spring has seen a proliferation of wildflower populations. The state’s more than 90 Texas state parks present some of the best and safest places to view and photograph nature’s bounty of wildflowers and blooming shrubs and trees.

At Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site, visitors have ample opportunity for wildflower viewing. With easy, accessible trails and no entrance fees, LBJ makes for an easy day trip from San Antonio or Austin.

Wed
27
Apr

Remember to work on your eulogy virtues

My favorite “Far Side” cartoon was one of a child entering a door to the Midvale School for the Gifted. And he’s pushing against the door and pushing and pushing. And there is a sign just above his eye level that reads, “PULL.”

Congratulations on getting into the National Honor Society. It’s an accomplishment. You guys have shown the dedication it takes to get your studies done in addition to your extra-curricular activities.

You’ve shown some time management skills. Tonight I’m going to tell you about a few things I’ll hope you’ll develop besides just good study habits.

Ours is a changing industry, so even at age 49, I find myself having to study and learn to keep up with what’s going on. I certainly won’t say we have it figured out, but we have a good product, we treat our customers and readers well, and we have an eye to the future that is full of change and possibilities.

Wed
20
Apr

Charter amendments eye needed revisions

By Ken Esten Cooke

Distrust in government permeates our society, and it is many times healthy. But we don’t see much point in thinking the proposed City Charter Amendments on the May 7 ballot are any type of threat to local governance or citizens.

The 29 ballot items were mailed to all water customers and printed in our March 16 paper. Some address minor wording changes, delete references to the 1991 election (which is no longer applicable) and others address changes in state law over the past quarter century.

Others define city rules, such as that council members must be eligible under the same requirements to run for public office in the state of Texas, that the council appoints the city attorney, the effective date of new ordinances is 10 days after passage and provides ability of the council to appoint assistant judges to the municipal court.

Wed
20
Apr

Seeing the world through a new lens

In March, a colleague and I spent Wednesday evenings brushing up on our photography skills with pro photographer Steve Rawls.

It quickly became obvious that automatic mode is Photography 101. To really take great pictures, it requires manipulating the camera further.

Out of my comfort zone, I’ve gone as I’ve switched modes from automatic mode to program, aperture, shutter speed and manual modes.

It’s amazing how one can take pictures for years but not realize there’s an entire world of pictures that can be taken by experimenting with the aperture, shutter speed, flash and ISO (the camera’s level of sensitivity to available light). With depth of field changes, some colors become more brilliant.

One friend slowed her shutter speed while photographing a Fiesta dancer in San Antonio in 1999 and captured a swirling shot — the kind that wins awards.

Wed
20
Apr

Bringing down the house

Following back-to-back successes with “Dallas Buyers Club” and “Wild,” director Jean-Marc Vallée hits another cinematic homerun with “Demolition,” now in select theaters.

Jake Gyllenhaal beguiles audiences with one of his most compelling performances, taking what could have been an ordinary performance and elevating it to an Oscar nomination-worthy effort.

Gyllenhaal stars as Davis, a man struggling to cope with the death of his wife following a tragic car accident. In an attempt to process his thoughts, he writes letters to the customer service department of an area vending machine company. His performance is refreshing, given his recent loud, brash work in both “Nightcrawler” and “Southpaw.” Gyllenhaal proves once again he can play subtle, natural characters as well as the bombastic, in-your-face ones.

Wed
13
Apr

State representative race needs more substance

By Ken Esten Cooke

Okay, gentlemen. We know you can’t stand President Obama. We know you’re for gun rights, for securing the border and against Planned Parenthood.

But is that it? Some voters in District 73 would love to know what incumbent Doug Miller or challenger Kyle Biedermann will do to deserve a new, or first, term in the legislature. We want to see your vision for this Hill Country district instead of just what you’re against or how bad you think your opponent is.

Here are a few issues critical to District 73 and the state:

Growth: What can the legislature do to encourage smart growth so the entire Hill Country doesn’t end up like northwest San Antonio and covered with housing developments? Should counties be given the authority to regulate development density, incompatible land use or the types of construction in environmentally sensitive areas?

Wed
13
Apr

Searching in vain for 'pie melon preserves'

Several days ago, I roared to the grocery store to pick up strawberry preserves for bar cookies I was planning to bake.

I stopped in the jelly aisle and stood in front of the display … mesmerized.

So many choices. Which one do I buy? There were more brands and varieties than I could shake a stick at and I’m still confused when it comes to whether a product is jelly, jam or preserves.

I have no problem understanding that jelly is cooked from the clear juice, but when it comes to jams or preserves, to me, there’s not much difference.

I’m not real versed on buying such delectable sweets for toast and plain old jelly bread, especially since I was raised on homemade jelly!

When my three brothers and I were growing up, “jelly” became a generic term. Anything sweet we spread on homemade bread was jelly. It didn’t matter if it was preserves, jam or jelly.

Wed
13
Apr

'Pappy O' Trump' familiar to Texans

By Christine Granados

When I start doubting the Lone Star State’s impact on our union, someone like Donald Trump comes along to remind me of how much influence Texas wields in shaping the nation’s politics.

A celebrity businessman running for higher office during rocky economic times is a familiar sight to Texans.

Our forefathers voted a radio personality — with no previous experience and who wasn’t registered to vote — into the office of governor twice and into the U.S. Senate in the late 1930s.

That was Wilbert Lee (Pappy) O’Daniel. Pappy said he ran as a way to sell more flour, as Bill Crawford wrote in his book “Please Pass the Biscuits, Pappy.”

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