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Friday, January 19, 2018

Dreamers and the Wall


Here we are again holding the Dreamers and DACA hostage for the sake of politicians in Washington. Both Democrats and Republicans get to share the blame.

The Democrats want to tie the government funding bill to a DACA resolution. The Republicans want to tie funding to Trump's border wall. At this point, no one knows what Trump wants. He keeps changing his mind. 



After a meeting with members of Congress, Trump said he would sign whatever DACA/funding bill that they came up with. So, working in good faith, members of Congress from both parties came up with a plan. It appeared to include most of Trump's requirements for an acceptable bill. During the presentation of the bipartisan bill to Trump, he came up with his "shithole countries" comment. He also found fault with the funding for his border wall. So much for his promise to sign whatever Congress came up with.

Since Trump scuttled compromise on DACA, the Democrats now have no incentive to compromise on the wall funding. That means we have a real chance that the government may have to shut down at midnight on Friday, 1/19.



In an effort to avoid a government shut down, Republicans separated DACA from the funding bill but added a CHIP extension. Their hope here is that the Democrats either would not vote against CHIP or if they did, would take a public relations hit and ultimately a hit at the polls in 2018. 

Let me put this as plainly as I can. DACA needs to be resolved and CHIP needs to be funded. Both of these programs deal with children and young adults. People who had nothing to do with our country's fiscal problems. Nothing to do with the petty impasse in our political systems. 

The regularly scheduled funding issues need to be fixed. They come up too often and it is always a major drama. No other issues should be allowed to be attached to government funding. Our elected representatives should take the DACA and Dreamer issues head-on. CHIP should have been funded and extended months ago. 

It is past time for members of Congress and the administration to show some guts. A little cooperation would be nice too. Stop playing with the lives and health of our children.

wjh

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Very Random Thoughts - December 2017

  • Why do we always have to cut taxes? Our infrastructure and education system could certainly use a tax increase. 
  • Maybe in the future, any prominent man accused of sexual harassment or assault should be interviewed by a female reporter. That Matt Lauer interview of Bill O'Reilly is an example of why. 
  • You do not have a 160 IQ, regardless of what that Facebook quiz says.  
  • Why are the inhabitants of Wales called Welsh? Why aren't they just called Wales or would that be insensitive to those overweight Welsh?
  • I think we need to change the name "polls" to "guesses".
  • It was fascinating to watch news reporters and anchors try to explain net neutrality. Something most of them obviously didn't understand.
  • When someone says "that's not who I am", usually apologizing for bad behavior, you can bet that is exactly who they are. 
  • Isn't it amazing how many officials decide to "retire" right after they screw-up? Of course, it is usually to spend more time with their family.
  • Blackberries aren't really black and blueberries are purple.
  • How did "gh" get to be pronounced "f"? Tough, enough.
wjh

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Godless


I just finished watching the final episode of Godless, the Netflix original series. 

This western has two main themes. One is about a mining town, LaBelle, that is almost entirely populated by women since the mine explosion killed most of the men. The other is about a powerful, charismatic and delusional outlaw and his gang and his search for his lost adoptive son. Of course, the two stories converge at the series climax.

There are several side stories also going on. Some love stories, some revenge stories, some growing of age, plus a few others. I found it a little difficult to keep them all straight or even why some were included.

The series has beautiful scenery and photography. Several of the characters are over the top and one dimensional. Some are a little hard to believe. All are colorful.

The biggest and most known star is Jeff Daniels, he plays the bad guy and does OK. Michelle Dockery and Jack O'Connell are probably considered the main stars and are excellent although their story does not dominate the series. Merritt Wever is one tough broad. Others are also good. I feel the performances were better than the script or execution.

I found the series a little slow moving at times and somewhat disjointed. There were several long scenes of just people or scenery with music playing, no dialogue. Looked like filler to me.

My suggestion, if you are impatient and like action would be to watch enough of the first couple of episodes to get the story and then skip to the last two episodes when the real action takes place. The last episode is particularly action-packed and very violent. Spoiler alert, everybody doesn't live happily ever after. In fact, many don't live at all.

If you like gritty westerns with substantial violence, give it a look. I rate it a B- (B minus). 
wjh

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?


Why is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland called the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Why is it in Cleveland? The Hall was established in 1983 and opened in 1986. There are certainly rock & roll artists, groups, and contributors in the Hall but there are certainly other genres represented too. More so recently.

Most of the performers in those other genres were outstanding and I have no problem with them being recognized for their achievements, but they were not rock & roll performers.

I also realize that rock and roll does not have a specific definition. In general, rock, soul, blues, and derivatives are OK. It's probably a given that your definition of rock an roll does not match mine. I consider blues, 50's rock and roll, doo-wop, surf, most British invasion, soul/Motown, psychedelic, Southern, glam, hard, long-haired, metal and a couple of other branches of rock and roll. It comes from many places, Memphis, Detroit, Liverpool, San Francisco, southern California, Jacksonville and Macon, Atlanta, and many others. I also have no problem with influential non-performers being inducted. Alan Freed, a DJ, belongs. Berry Gordy, founder of Motown belongs. Songwriters belong. Studio musicians belong.

In my opinion, folk, country, and rap do not belong in a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame any more than classical or big band music does.   

Members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame include many of the early greats like Chuck Berry, James Brown, Buddy Holly, Elvis and more. The hall has continued to add great performers. 

The Hall stayed pretty true to rock and roll for the first several years although I probably wouldn't have chosen some of them, at least not in the same order. Others may not belong at all. Johnny Cash in 1992 is a stretch for me. Brenda Lee and Chet Atkins were also stretches in 2002. Miles Davis, a great Jazz musician, is in the Hall. Then in 2013 Public Enemy was inducted. A real rock and roll stretch. In fact, a real music stretch. NWA and Run-D.M.C. are in. This year Tupac Shakur got in. Yet, the Doobie Brothers are not in or nominated. LL Cool J has been nominated again year. This year, Dire Straits and The Zombies are nominees. How is it that they are not already inductees?

There are currently 317 members of the Hall, including non-performers such as producers, record executives, songwriters, etc. 

One other bitch. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is in Cleveland yet the induction ceremonies usually take place in NYC. Either move the museum to New York or move the ceremonies to Cleveland. To be honest, neither New York or Cleveland is famous for spawning rock and roll.

Truth in advertising. I do not like or listen to rap (music?) and very little hip-hop. I'm sure some of it is wonderful. So let's celebrate it in the Rap and/or Hip-Hop of Hall Fame. Folk music should be celebrated in the Folk Hall of Fame. Jazz in the Jazz Hall. Country music already has their Halls. If someone wants to start an all-inclusive Music Hall of Fame, that's fine too.  

We have two choices here in my opinion. Either rename the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to the Some Music Since the Second Half of the 20th Century Hall of Fame, quite a mouthful, or create a Rap/Hip-Hop Hall of Fame. I really don't care which as long as we correct the Hall's misnomer title. My preference is to keep the Rock and Roll name and charter. 

I love rock & roll or whatever we call it now. It is the music of my youth and still plays in my ear and head several hours a day. 

BTW, how in the hell does Tupac get in before The Doobie Brothers or Dire Straits?

Long live Rock and Roll!

wjh 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

SPNN - Sexual Predators News Network

SPNN

With all the fallout from the recent sexual harassment and assault cases in the news business, it occurred to me that those predators need a new employer. So, I propose the creation of the Sexual Predators News Network. We could refer to it as SPiNN. 

After all, most of those guys only made a few million dollars a year for several years. They also made vast quantities of money outside their day jobs. There were book deals, speaking engagement fees, and other moneymaking opportunities. Now, most of that has dried up. 

Let's look at the potential lineup for SPNN. First up, we have, ironically, Mr. No-Spin, Bill O'Reilly. He was finally fired by Fox News Network. O'Reilly was accused by several women over several years of very inappropriate sexual behavior. While he still denies the allegations, he and Fox paid out millions of dollars to settle out of court. On his new internet No Spin News show, he even told God or was it just Jesus that he was angry at Him for putting him through this. Afterall, Bill is a good Catholic, why would God punish him for inappropriate behavior? Besides his daily program on Fox, O'Reilly has co-written several bestsellers and sold O'Reilly Factor junk on his website. Surely his little internet show does not pay as much as his Fox News gig which was estimated to be around $20 million per year. His estimated net worth is around $85 million. It would be much higher if he didn't have to pay millions to women to not sue him. So, you can clearly see that Bill needs a new job although he may get (has gotten?) a $25 million severance package from Fox. How many more women will get some of that money to settle?

Next up we have Charlie Rose. He was co-host of CBS This Morning and host of The Charlie Rose Show on PBS. He also contributed to 60 Minutes and sometimes sat in as anchor for The CBS Evening News. Charlie was on TV all the time. First one, then others, came forward to say he was a creep. Someone who made sexual advances and put them in uncomfortable situations. Rose is a relative pauper with a net worth of only $25 million. He has now lost his estimated $8 million CBS salary plus whatever he made from his PBS show which his company also produced. 

The latest and maybe biggest TV star to fall is longtime NBC Today Show host Matt Lauer. He also did several Olympics and specials for NBC. It is estimated that he was the highest paid TV newsperson at $25 million a year. His net worth is estimated at $60 million although some believe it is much more. Of course, Lauer and NBC are working on a severance package that may be worth as much as $30 million.

The new SPNN could also hire political journalist Mark Halperin to add commentary and analysis. Mark lost his jobs at MSNBC, Showtime, and Bloomberg. He also lost a book and HBO mini-series deals. Marks net worth is estimated at $30 million with an annual income of $4 million. 

I expect there will be more high profile casualties in the news industry to fill out the new network roster. In order to cut down on the big money settlements, no women will be allowed to work for the network. Since all the underlings will be men, no gay male predator stars will be hired. Sorry, Kevin Spacey. 

It's hard to predict how large an audience SPNN will draw. There are plenty of sexual predators out there so the ratings could be good. We know Roy Moore, John Conyers, Donald Trump, and Harvey Weinstein will be watching. It's a birds of a feather thing. It should also get pretty good ratings in Alabama. 

It may be that there will be enough movie and entertainment TV industry people, stars, directors, and producers, to start an entertainment branch of SPNN. Bill Cosby and Louie CK could do comedy specials or sitcoms. Kevin Spacey's new drama show will be House of Gropes or a TV movie version of The Usual Suspects. They could then go with just Sexual Predators Network, SPN, as the name. Even better for the SPiN pronunciation.

Watch closely for the launch of SPNN &/or SPN on your cable, satellite or streaming provider. All those poor predators need a place to land. 

wjh 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Where Teams Play


There are many professional sports teams in this country. How many teams home court, home field or home stadium is not located in the city they are named for? I'll look at the three major sports, baseball, basketball, and football. Others can examine hockey and soccer.

Let's start with basketball. There are 30 teams in the NBA. Since they play basketball indoors in arenas that seat about 20,000, there shouldn't be much need to go outside the downtown area of the host city. That is primarily the case. There are a couple of ambiguous names. The Golden State Warriors play in downtown Oakland. The Minnesota Timberwolves play in downtown Minneapolis. The Utah Jazz arena is in Salt Lake City. An aside is that the Utah Jazz is one of the most inappropriately named teams. Jazz and Salt Lake City have nothing in common. The franchise was originally the New Orleans Jazz before it was moved to Utah. The NBA should have required the nickname be changed. New Orleans now has another NBA team, the Pelicans. It should be named Jazz. The Salt Lake City team should be called the Mormons. The remaining 27 NBA teams actually play in the city whose name they carry. 

There are also 30 MLB teams. Baseball stadiums require considerably more land than a basketball arena. That makes it more difficult to find a location in some downtown areas. Although tax incentives rather than available land is more often the reason some teams threaten to build outside their namesake city. As with basketball, there are a few ambiguous teams. My favorite Texas Rangers play in Arlington, TX. The Arizona Diamondbacks are based in Phoenix. The Minnesota Twins stadium is in Minneapolis. The Colorado Rockies play in Denver. The Tampa Bay Rays are located in St. Petersburg. Those are all OK. Many people probably think that the Texas Rangers are in Dallas and the Tampa Bay Rays play in Tampa, but their names are technically correct. The Atlanta Braves recently moved to SunTrust Park which is northwest of downtown Atlanta in unincorporated Cobb County. While still in the metropolitan Atlanta area, it is not within the Atlanta borders and in fact is not even in the same county as most of Atlanta. Now we come to the longest and most confusing team name, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The team does play in Anaheim and were once named the Anaheim Angels. They were originally named the California Angels when they actually played in Los Angeles. 

The NFL has a whopping 32 teams. Like baseball, they require enough land for huge stadiums plus parking. The NFL is currently the most popular and high profile major sport. Competition for their stadiums and training facilities is intense The NFL also has its geographical area named teams. There are the Minnesota Vikings who play in Minneapolis. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in Tampa (not St. Petersburg). The Arizona Cardinals play in Glendale, AZ. The Tennessee Titans settled in Nashville after a year in Memphis. The Carolina Panthers are located in Charlotte, NC. The New England Patriots expanded beyond a single state to encompass a whole section of the country. They were originally the Boston Patriots but had the decency to change their name when they moved out of the city. Their home field now is located in Foxborough, Mass., halfway between Boston and Providence, RI.  

The NFL is the most notorious league to actually play outside the city limits of their namesake. The two New York City teams, the Giants and Jets, not only don't play in that city, they don't even play in New York state. Both teams share MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. The Buffalo Bills play in Orchard Park, NY. The Miami Dolphins play in Miami Gardens. The recently moved LA Chargers play in Carson, CA. The Washington team plays in Landover, MD. The San Francisco 49's stadium is located in Santa Clara. The local Dallas Cowboys haven't played in Dallas since 1971. They were in Irving, TX until 2008 and are now in Arlington, TX. As of now, the remaining teams play in the city they are named after.

If you have enough land and can pull off public financing and tax incentives, you may be able to get the next new major sports venue. No need to actually be in the city the team is supposedly named for. 

So, don't always believe the name on the hat or jersey. You can use Google maps to find your favorite team's stadium. It may not be where you expected. Let's all root for the Arlington Cowboys or the New Jersey Giants (or Jets) or maybe the Carson Chargers. 

wjh

Monday, December 4, 2017

College Football Bowls 2017-18

Here we are about to start the College Football Silly Season, aka bowl season. For the past few years, I have written a post at the beginning of the bowl season. It is usually tongue in cheek with some observations and criticisms. Let's look at this year's bowl picture.

There will be 40 division one college bowl games this season. The championship game is between two teams that have already played a bowl game. That leaves 39 games needing 78 teams. There are 130 division one college football programs. That means approximately 62% of the teams get a bowl invitation, not a very exclusive honor. A team must win six games during the season to be bowl eligible. This year there were 81 eligible teams, so only three drew the short stick. The ACC won the prize this year with 10 teams in the bowls. Almost all the games are televised by ESPN/ABC including all the playoff games and the other major bowls in the College Football Playoff mix. In fact, ESPN created and produces several of the bowl games. They needed college football content during December. The bowls start on December 16th and end with the championship game on January 8th. Wikipedia has a good recap of the games here. 

Of the 40 bowl games, exactly three of them have a real meaning. So about 92% of the games are just exhibitions, "friendlies" in soccer terms. Some people keep track of how the various conferences fair. Maybe that matters a little. The bowls are a way for cities to spur tourism and an economic boost, sponsors to get publicity, ESPN and other networks to have content, provide events for vacant venues, and maybe provide a perk for teams with mediocre seasons.   

This year, my favorite team, the Florida Gators, is not playing in a bowl. My alma mater, USF Bulls, is playing in the Birmingham Bowl on 12/23. The Bulls at 9-2 will play the 6-6 Texas Tech Red Raiders. My local favorite, TCU, will play 12/28 in the Valero Alamo Bowl. The #15 Horned Frogs will play the #13 Stanford Cardinal. Which team do you think will have the bigger fan support.  

There are always some fun facts and figures involved in this mostly silly season. Here are a few: 

  • The Bahamas Bowl is played in a 15,000 seat soccer stadium in a country that has no idea what American football is. We have larger and better high school stadiums here in Texas.
  • The Goodyear Cotton Bowl is played at AT&T Stadium (Cowboys Stadium) in Arlington Texas. 
  • The Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl is played in the actual Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas.
  • There are some very long bowl names as they try to squeeze in the sponsor name, city and bowl. Some examples are:
  • There is a heated contest this year for the funniest bowl name:
Most of the games are of little interest to the majority of us football fans and the country. I'll watch a few. Obviously, the three playoff games are of interest. I'll watch the USF and TCU games. I'll probably watch the Peach Bowl where UCF plays Auburn. I'm interested to see how the undefeated American Athletic Conference (AAC) champion stacks up against a good SEC team. Other games will mostly depend on what else I have to do when they air. 

The Bowls are a tradition so I'm sure they will continue. I'm old enough to remember when there were fewer than 10 bowls and it was an honor to be invited to play in one. They also rarely decided a real national champion. Some years there was more than one #1 team depending on which poll you read.  

The current playoff system is an improvement, but the rest of the bowls are still mostly inconsequential. I personally think we need to expand the playoffs to eight teams although six with the top two getting first-round byes would be OK too. Let's at least get all the power five conference champions into the mix. 

So, get the remote, snacks, and beverages ready. Bowl season starts 12/16. Let the games begin.

wjh