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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Tidbits from the Tele: The World is Going Mad

TV Series Going, Going, Gone!!!

I woke today...a bit...hungover. Yes, I danced with the devil last night under a pale moon. The graduation ceremonies at Purdue were rocking, and people came a knocking. So I went out - and drank a bit more than a socially acceptable limit, and likely said, some socially unacceptable things, but all in good fun. No personal jibes.

So, back to the real point of this post. Seems most of my Hulu favorites to kill some time on are going bye-bye. GCB, Pan Am, The Finder, and House are all finished. House, after a glorious if an uneven run at times, bids us farewell and leaves a trademark character in the TV universe, that of Gregory House. I hope the finale is worth all the psychological and philosophical ground trekked over the last decade by Hugh Laurie's character. But, everybody lies.

GCB was a replacement show; but, it seems television execs actually thinks they can get the same ratings out of all the shows they put up. Instead, reality shows, winning money for singing, business planning, cooking, or quiz show mastery seems the pace of things in TV land for the foreseeable. Pan Am too was doomed by high expectations and very poor script writing. The Finder - my quirky favorite, like Psych  -  likely a product of bad timing, a Fox overkill of weird shows (so the Finder is actually normal by comparison), and no place on the network.

It seems many of the shows I like get axed quicker than most. For example, these shows all had good casts - GCB was a real hoot, superficial Texas people with modest charm, pulled off by a half-dozen real talents from David James Elliot, Leslie Bibb, Kristin Chenoweth to lesser-known names like Annie Potts. The Reillys (Miriam Shor, Mark Deklin) are an interesting set that will get lost to the ratings axe: that of a successful rancher and gay man with a career-always-first woman both engaged in hiding their arrangement while striving towards a more friends-with-benefits-and-responsibilities marriage. As sit-coms go, it just came too late to get the Modern Family treatment and accolades. That formula did not save it.

China's Rating System IS No Better...Still, America, Wake Up!

Moving on to other TV stories, China is pumping their kids up with IV fluids to get them higher test scores. And they achieve it- #1 in math, science, and reading - at least in Shanghai, which is not counting the other one billion point three souls (1.3 billion) who probably like to be educated too, and lo, were not studied. As James Fallows deduces about those Chinese 15-years old children:

It is certainly arguable the Chinese educational system and culture leads the world in training students how to take tests. But it is not clear whether this type of training prepares students for much else other than taking tests. Certainly I have seen much evidence for this proposition in the Chinese graduate students that I have worked with. My favorite examples were the Chinese students with perfect TOEFL scores who could neither read nor write English in any meaningful way. 

That said, what does it say about the United States of America? How does one cope with the hysteria (over the lagging scores in the US, #24) and still motivate our kids to scholastic achievements and to be more able to score well, and also, adapt well to a changing balance in the race (and it is a race) to properly use Earth resources towards humanity's best ends? (As someone is always deciding - consciously or unconsciously.)  And does that fit with U.S. domestic and foreign policies? How do we play the long game - as China has for 5,000 years?

Because whether you believe it or not - it is a competition; their are sides; and, lest we forget, many of those soon-to-be-attending American universities, will, one day, assume positions of power, in business or in government, in their respective countries. And, China is still communist; one party that designs and destines what it sees fit for its people, including which ones get ahead in their system and which ones will have advantages based on those pesky scores. Sure, at 15, they are seen as just eager little sponges of knowledge - but, remember: who amongst them might be the next Mao with a capitalistic bent? Mao did little right, but nonetheless led the nation with personality plus (Chinese style) for 40 plus years (1930s -1976).

I said the world is going mad because I find myself straddling two points of view: sure, China is still underdeveloped in most areas, yet, the high growth areas are rivaling America without democracy; and, I really worry that the above picture is not some righty wing nut's version of the future, but a bitter reality prediction. The second point is not to scare myself or others into extreme behavior. Sure, we need better education - less TV, social media, playing of video games - to be structured towards turning out some real genius level winners in the 21st century of the race to make a better future. 

It is a maddening thing - change. We can accept it; evolve with it; or defy it - or deny it. What camp do you feel you are in?

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Summing up Spring 2012: Purdue, Part II, Beyond & Debt

Friday, it will be done. Five more classes I will attribute fonder remembrances to only if the grade meets my economic expectations. (Inflated ego or inflated grades?)

Yet, it was easier this go. Amazing what time management does for you as one gets older. When I was younger, I never had time - probably because I wasted it on people (or as I've seen, in hindsight, talking too much about them:see that presently in college) - and so, one rushes around, and presently, they whine a lot. I whined a lot too, then. Not this time.

Not to jinx it, but I should come in around 3.5 GPA-wise. That is the best semester I have turned in since I was in high school in the 1980s. (First college go: 2.7 was my best semester.)

Monday, I start Job #23...or is it #25? I forget, and should stop counting. It will pay for rent and food, and give me the additional finances to do another year I suspect at ol' Purdue. More importantly, I will focus on these three things, and only these three:
1) This job for enough cash and tighter money management (cushion for my screw ups)
2) Completing the book - yeah, been a real slacker on that one...July!!!!
3) Studying and taking the GMAT by end of August 2012: $250 bones for that, and whatever these applications cost

That last one will be the decision maker for my future in 2013. Apply to grad school in Indiana - IUPUI, Purdue, maybe Valpo...or too, some-always-admitting grad school somewhere else. I may also retake the LSAT, by October, but that's rather non-critical - yet if I could gain admittance.JOINT DEGREE!

But you get the idea: I will become grossly indebted ($120,000+), and as a result, by 44, I will also have my advanced education, one way or another. Some may say, "You'll never find the job to match since you'll be only productive, what, 10-15 years?" Well, maybe I'll be productive 30 or 40 years? As it stands, I am not productive or considered worthy via my current background, so, why not go into debt --it's the American way!

And also, in the long run, we all pass from this mortal coil. (History lesson: Many kings died insolvent back in the Medieval times...(Judith Bennett, Medieval Europe, 11th edition, 329) Anyone care? (Creditors) President Jefferson was deep in debt as he pass in 1826. Anyone chasing him through the ages? Nope. So why should I care? Or why should you care?)

I think I know enough about life's importance and debt too now.

My mother will be gone a year come June. And so, what I do is often a reflection on what she would hope I had done since her passing. Not everything - I am no saint - but when I stick to a higher purpose or thought.

That's all for now.

Alphaville: Forever Young plays us out....