Wednesday, 17 December 2014

This US-Cuba Hype

Since 19 October 1960.....we've had an embargo and closed relations with Cuba.  The reason?  It's best not to ask this but I'll try to make it simple.

Cuba had a bogus government running things throughout the 1950s.....which had a quiet relationship with various mafia families of the US.  The banking sector, the hotel sector, and anything related to cash-flow.....had some element of the bogus government or US mafia figures involved.

The revolution that came up in 1960?  It brought Castro and his empire into existence.  Most folks figured that a year or two later....with the embargo....the Castro folks would come to be non-existent.  They were wrong.

Every single President since Kennedy.....has been quietly waiting.  LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, and even Obama....all had a simple list of things to take down the embargo.  Free elections was the mandatory item....which the Castro team could never get to some agreement over.

What will happen in this case?  I think some dimwit will be picked as a chief talker for the White House.....some retired Senator, and in less than five days.....work up a fantastic agreement.  The President will sign the document in March, and talk about this for weeks.  The Senate?  Oh, well....that's not going to rate too well.....if there aren't any free elections in the deal.  The odds of the treaty being approved by the new Republican senate in 2015? Zero chance.  And probably zero chance in 2016.  The lack of free elections will be the chief problem.

The President will work up a visit by April for himself.....going down and dining with the whole Castro team....chatting up the new relationship....which officially doesn't exist without Senate approval.  He knows that....and will talk about it for the whole of the remaining two years.

Sounds like a wrestling script?  Yeah.

The positive for regular folks if there was a treaty completed and you could fly into Cuba?  Well....you folks with crappy health insurance....could just drop it, and use Cuba's cheap healthcare deal for any requirements.

Got a gallbladder mess?  Go to Mobile....catch a ferry over to Cuba in eight hours and you get your surgery done for less than $500.

American business folks in a rush to get some deals in Cuba?  Don't count on this happening.  The hotel business?  Who the heck wants to drive around a failed Communist state and look at dilapidated buildings and crappy beaches?  There's just not any tourism that can be sparked out of this mess.

So, it's hype.....mostly free hype, and that's the best that the President can build onto.

I Hate Final Episodes

Generally, I hate the last final episode of most shows.

Coming up in a five months will be the final episode of Two and a Half Men.  There's talk that Charlie might be brought back for the show.....but I really don't care.  It's been messed up ever since his character left the show.

Generally, I thought the last final episode of LOST was crap.  Maybe if I'd been drugged up and sipping straight Jacky D's.....I would have understood it better.

The last episode of Friends.....was a marginal two-star piece and it'd been better just to have all six sit down at a cafe....get drunk....and start some fight, then all walk off in separate directions.

The last episode of Magnum PI was supposed to come at the conclusion of the seventh season....with him dying and going off into the greater beyond.  It was one of the most disliked episodes ever, and convinced the studio to do another season, invent some way of bringing Magnum back and doing a final eighth season, with a slightly better conclusion.

The last episode of the Sopranos left you in a bad fix.....the four family members sitting at the cafe and the camera faded out just before something happened.  But you never know what.

This week.....Larry David, who wrote Seinfeld commented on the conclusion episode of the series.  It was described as "clever".

There are 180 episodes of Seinfeld.  I've probably watched every single episode at least fifteen times.  It's the only series that I can rewind, and watch over and over. The number of bad episodes?  I regard only the final (number 180) as the only bad episode ever made.  I can ever go back to season one, and the first five episodes.....which you'd expect them to be marginally acceptable.  Well....episode one might be just a tad weak, but none could be described as marginal.

How would I have ended Seinfeld?  I would have had Patrick Steward of Star Trek fame come to do a voice piece....leading into the first minute.  His question would have been.....what if the four had never met?

Jerry might have never met George....and gone off to be an insurance salesman and quietly married to Miranda....a Jewish lawyer from Queens.

George, without meeting Jerry?  He would have signed up for voice lessons and been a radio news guy for some New Jersey talk-show.  Married?  Well....by age forty, he'd been on marriage five.

Elaine?  She would have quietly worked her way up to be a catalog designer....living with some car mechanic...and spending summers in Canada.

Cosmo Kramer?  He would still be Kramer, with all his eccentric qualities.

I would have tied the twenty-two minute piece all together.....telling their stories and how never meeting would have been a different ending entirely.  Then I'd come to the final minute where I introduced Newman.....fading in from darkness to a point that you can recognize him.  He'd just say a simple phrase....."I like to tinker with mortals....just to see if you can get a bunch of nothing to be curious or interesting".....then grin and walk away onto a cloud.

Monday, 15 December 2014

The Newest Government Database

It has yet to be discussed much....but late this week.....your Fed-Government is going to roll out this really impressive database, with fed stuff cranked into it, and basically tell you the basic damn college in America for your Johnny or Jill to attend.

I know....it's amazing....fed advice on something.

It's a ranking system, which takes into account all 7,000 colleges across America....from the local level to the state level, onto the private level.

It'll be like an NCAA football bowl database, with lots of critical pieces of info.  Like for example....it'll know the graduation level of first-year students at Auburn....telling you only thirty-seven percent will make it all the way to the end....thus making you ask what happened to the other sixty-three percent (they boozed out, ran out of dad's funds, got some girl pregnant, or discovered that a community college was better).

It'll have data to tell you about assaults on campus.....and if so-and-so college is dangerous to attend.

It'll tell you if it's a mostly minority college, with lesser grade averages.

It'll tell you the tuition costs per year, what the dorms and food-pay-plan might cost.

Now, I'll admit....for the parent sitting in their living room and pondering over what Carl (all of fourteen years old) might do in four years....it might be a shocker.  You go through the database and realize that an idiot studying French literature at Mississippi state....might have to pay up $72,500 for tuition, room and board, and pocket money over four years.  Maybe you'd sit down with Carl and establish some thoughts over French literature not amounting to much, and talk him into a welding certificate at the community college....for the grand sum of $7,300 over two years (living at home of course).

There are some positive things that such a database might provide.....but the trouble is.....the federal government is the builder of this.....just like they built the Affordable Health Act database.  Same folks.  What's the odds of them building this right?  And if they built it right.....why couldn't they do it with health insurance?

Ever heard of Fort Hays State University?  It rests in Kansas.  The yearly tuition for a IT or computer science degree?  $3,472.....per year.  It's the most affordable college in America with in-state tuition figured up, for the degree.  Normally, most folks wouldn't care.....but if you only had $12,000 in the family account to put forward for some certificate to help Jill get some education and avoid borrowing a lot of cash.....Fort Hays makes sense.

All of this brings me back around to good intentions, incompetence by the US federal government, screwed up priorities on selecting a college, and the ranking system.

Based on a priority system.....the NCAA bowl selection process is likely to be fairly screwed up because NO one wants to allow some scenario to occur where Auburn and Alabama would meet up in the final game.  So various gimmicks have been worked into the system....to ensure that Auburn and Alabama NEVER meet in such a game.  The same strategy guys are likely at work with this college database....to ensure that you never get to a best over-all college.  That is my humble opinion.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

The Big World of Memoirs

From all this stuff of the past week in the news....I came to this one single note that I noticed....which makes no sense.

The news folks have talked a great bit over the last month or two about this young gal Lena Dunham.....who wrote up a memoir at the youthful age of 28.  To be honest.....she was writing it when she was 27, and published at 28.  Lena's book (Not That Kind of Girl) isn't on my reader's list....mostly because I read historical stuff or Steinbeck.  I admit.....it's a pretty closed-off reader's list.

Dunham's big piece in the book, which draws lots of curious readers....is some rape scene with a Republican guy.  Several facts revolve around this scene and the description of the guy.....which we've been told this week that it's a composite character.

For those from rural areas of America....composite characters are when a writer has hit a block of misery and can't really fill in a space.....so they make up a scene and then try to throw in this character who is a mythical version of James Dean, Flip Wilson, Hulk Hogan, Seinfeld's Cosmo Kramer, and the Lone Ranger.

Composite characters are this new trend in writing.  You write a mostly true-to-life book....getting the reader really into the story with juicy writing and real facts.....then you inject the composite guy/gal for the weaker moments that you can't really write facts.

You can imagine trying to do something like this in the 1930s and 1940s.....and a book publisher would have chased you out of the office.....refusing to publish garbage like this.  It was either FACT or FICTION.  You can't blend either into some type of engrossing novel.

But enough of this composite garbage.  What got to me this week....was the nature of a 'kid' (27 years old when writing it).....publishing a memoir.

Typically, a guy gets up to his fifties and starts thinking over life, and starts to write something like this.  The majority of memoirs don't get published until a guy is sixty to seventy years old.

President Obama released his memoir back in 1995....he was 34 years old and his chief accomplishment in life was six years of college and some community organizing efforts in Chicago.

Generally, I have a limited amount of respect for someone who spends a fair amount of time in their youth....who sit down and write some memoir of their accomplishments.  It's like some idiot sat there and told them they had a great story to tell.  If they'd been traveling across America by bicycle, spent an entire summer in Ireland with some hot lusty affair involving a pub mistress, or tamed lions for some Texas traveling circus.....maybe there's some great stuff there for a memoir.  But if the best you got is composite characters or chatting up on the brief two years at Harvard....there's just not much to say.

Do I read memoirs?  About the only memoir that I can recall reading completely through and having some interest in.....was George Orwell's piece on Homage to Catalonia.  From what I can remember....it was the Spanish Civil War period, and Orwell wrote up on his experience there.  From my memory (it's over thirty years ago that I read the book).....it was a fairly detailed piece and I was glad he was doing his 'duty' in Spain because I wouldn't have gone or sat through as many days of misery there as he put in.

So I come to this question.....should anyone take a twenty-seven year-old's memoir as significant?  The simple answer is "NO".  It's mostly gossip stuff that sounds juicy.  Beyond that?  There's not much of life accomplishment to regard as significant.  The sad thing is....we probably will get a Lena Dunham updated memoir about every six to ten years, for the remainder of her life.  Maybe when she gets up to around sixty years old....she'll just combine the half-dozen memoirs into one single memoir.....building up more composite characters, and getting us all enthusiastic about some real or fake scene.

Sadly, we accept stuff like this....as normal, which says a lot.