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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...
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