Monday, December 14, 2015

Disney : A lesson in marketing

Ramblings Post #307
Why is J.J. Abrams considered an genius? Watching the second Star Trek movie, a film that borders on the ridiculous, I have to wonder what's really going on. My old go to reasoning to was that "somebody got some naked pictures ain't nobody supposed to see." But after seeing how Abrams has lain waste to the sci-fi genre practically unchallenged, I'm starting to believe he might have proof of a felony or three. I'm talking fed time. I'm scared to go see The Force Awakens now. 

Remember three years ago when I was happy that Disney bought Lucasfilm? Yeah, I'm over that. Because while was convinced that what Lucasfilm had produced was basically a series of ads for merchandise masquerading as a film, I apparently hadn't seen anything. My god, Disney can you dial it back....

This is a real thing.
Disney didn't just metaphorically tear down the old burger stand and put up a golf course, milking my childhood for every drop of profit, now they're charging you license fees to get access to be allowed to pay the greens fees for that new golf course, and they've got a reservation charge for the new themed restaurant they just threw up. What haven't they slapped a Star Wars logo on? Now I'm hotly anticipating the film's release just so this can all be over.

Barkeep, can I, I don't want the Kenobi vodka. Or the Ackbar gin. For the love of Jedi, please stop. 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Why Justice Scalia should scare us all

This is a political post. 

Justice Scalia, long of the legal tribe of elders of these United States, has seriously suggested during an actual case in front him that perhaps black students would prefer to attend “less advanced, slower-track” schools where they might feel less challenged. What year is it? It's as though a time machine malfunctioned and his brain is operating in 1959. He seems to forget that the person sitting next to him got into school under affirmative action and obviously did so poorly he only ended up on the highest court in the country. If nothing else Thomas, whom in the interest of full disclosure I despise, should take offense at the very idea that "blacks" want to be challenged less in education. What? Thomas just whispered "Yassur boss, dat dere shole do be right" in support of Scalia? I see.

That this case made it into a court room, much less to the Supreme Court (twice) is astounding. I find the claim of injury as a violation of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth amendment extremely dubious unless she can show that but for race being considered as a factor she would have been admitted. I say dubious because once you get past her chosen school's flat top 10% automatic admission concept, the whole decision process with it's leadership roles and awards holistic approach gets more than a little murky. Does she have something like the exact admission chart slot with her name on it crossed out and the name of person of color with lower test and other merit scores filled in it's place? No? I see. So the plaintiff's argument boils down to, after failing to meet the automatic admission requirements for spot at the college of her choice that there is no way that many people of color could have earned through the merit system an bonafide admission, at least not before her, UNLESS they were helped by this system which threw in race. And that such a system is unfair.

Now under the rules a 3.6 GPA from Dirt Poor High will be viewed the same as a 3.6 GPA from Nice Neighborhood High, but once we enter the murk, what about the intangibles? I ask because I'm fairly certain of two things: first that DPH is predominately minority and NNH is not, and two at NNH that there are way more extracurricular activities and opportunities to get those sought after holistic puzzle pieces. NNH might offer internships, travel and access to culture that DPH just can't afford working with less resources. One of the flaws of the argument that only merit should be judged is that not all merit opportunities exist in every forum. Race, in an effort to correct all the other other forms discrimination which have ultimately caused the lack of resources at DPH, maybe the less than 'easy' fix for those missing holistic pieces. But no, she was treated unfairly.

Note: I think the school might be better served by instead considering not the student, but the graduated High School and it's level of resources during admissions, which might have the same effect of diversifying the student body.    

Anyway, the bottom line of the case is that people who are "tired" of affirmative action would like to see race as a factor in considering a person for, well really anything, eliminated. The old I-don't- see-color argument. The jeez, we've got a black president now, everything is equal, don't you get it? The redress of past injustices is done, although we still have clear cases of corporate and individual discrimination and rampant racial injustice as headlines in 2015, these are like 400 isolated incidents that don't expose a deeper core issue stemming from issues of self enforced segregation and other societal factors. No really, it's all good. USA! USA! 

Now, to be fair, these are people who believe affirmative action gives minorities not only access they shouldn't have, but somehow makes the whole following process, whatever it maybe, so much easier. Um, for the record it doesn't make anything easier, it just gives someone an opportunity that they should get but can't because of outside factors. And black detractors of affirmative action, like the aforementioned Justice Thomas, deride it because it makes their owned hard earned success suspect, even when they know how hard they worked. This is ingrained self hate, which speaks to a whole other issue about race in this country if the belief is that the mere existence of this program casts a taint on all achievement. Is the idea that black people are just PEOPLE so crazy?

Which is why Scalia scares me. Because his brain is apparently from 1959. When black people weren't ever going to be just people. And he's a Supreme Court Justice. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Donald Trump is the mole!

This a political post. 

One could say that politics is war scaled back, essentially the same thing with policy and rhetoric substituted for the guns and explosions. Although these days due to the volatile and newly sensitive state of being we live in, those previously "cold war" style actions of the halls of government may not necessarily still be the case. But a little too much real bloodshed due to forces that have gotten out of control is a post for another day. So let's get back to the party at hand. The GOP.  Donald Trump and the Presidency. Sounds like a dreary children's book doesn't. Or a failed series on Comedy Central.

I know I once thought Michael Steele was the mole, but I was just playing. Hear me out here, this almost makes sense. The Donald has clearly stated that the economy does better under the Democrats and famously has indicated that if he ran he'd run as Republican because they're..."easy to manipulate." Words that I am shocked that his opponents haven't pulled out the closet to undermine his momentum early on. It's as though they're saving them up for a knock out punch at the convention or when things look bleak. Too late, things already look bleak.

Donald has billed himself as the Master of the Art of the Deal. And although I think of him as a guy who was born to the country club and worked his way sideways, IF THIS IS IDEA has any validity it's actually a pretty good scheme. This might be the ultimate business plan to ensure long term success. The plan as I envision it:

- For a few million of his own money, Donald runs for President,
- Using reality TV antics and wild hyperbole he ignites the base.
- First out of the gate he gets a huge following.
- He pushes the envelope of decorum until the GOP can't deal with him anymore, gets booted. 
- Starts a third party campaign with a few more million of his own money
- Takes 5% of the Republican base with him.
- In states where it's close, even a 2% shift means the Democrats can now win easily.
- Start of 2017 the Democrats still hold some power (White House, at least)
- Donald gets a good economy to, going sideways.

Total out of pocket expense - $30 million.
Gain from economic boons over next 4 years - $300 million

And with more than 30% of the GOP supporting him, the idea that he can hang on to 10-15% of that if he gets booted out at the convention isn't exactly crazy. Noting that Democratic turnout is heavy in the Presidential years, more than few seats in the House and Senate that should have been safe might suddenly even be in play as part of the political fallout. This might be the most brilliant plan since they hid whole cities during World War II to keep the German bombing raids at bay. It's Bond villain level genius.

The only problem is, I'm not sure Donald is this smart. Or worse, he's so far ahead in the polls he might have started believing his own propaganda.

And that's where it gets dangerous. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

No, the 'Boys are NOT back in town...

Ramblings Post #306
My brother thinks that Dallas fans are the worst. A win, even by the skin of the teeth, and we start talking about a Superbowl run. I like to think of it as just confidence. We're no worse than nutty Steeler fans or Browns fans, or whatever bandwagon is hot right now because somebody won a few games. I mean, before they won the Superbowl was anybody a Seahawks fan? Tell the truth. But now that I think about it, technically, even now, we could still make a run. I'm just saying. 

There is an old saying, "I root for my team and whoever is playing the Cowboys." It says a lot more about the nature of the game as a whole than about anything else. But I am, as you have to know by now, a die-hard Cowboy fan. And now, as the nadir of our season, I have a couple of things I need to share.

As much I think of Tony Romo, he is on the tail end of great career and after this second injury trying to do too much, should start looking at the next phase of his life. And although the Romo era should be over as of now, it won't be for the reasons we'll see every Sunday between now and the end of the season - there is no one else. Not in development or even on the radar. We have clearly demonstrated that we have no reliable understudy. So, if he desires, Romo will suit up next year and try again to make the dream of  Jerry personally building a Superbowl team come true. Yes, I went there. After Jones famously "bought" his way into the league, he hired the best and won Superbowls. Only Jones didn't get the credit, the coach did. And he's been trying to prove that it was all his idea ever since. Seriously.

Jones was a money man, good with deal making and profit margins. He can build a stadium or put together a marketing deal that makes you marvel at his mastery. But football is, ...well, it's football. It's a whole different skill set, involving guessimation, personal projections, gut feelings and a dozen other intangibles that are beyond quantification. So, while money helps in football, it alone does NOT buy championships. If you think about it, Jones would have let go someone who was as unsuccessful at being general manager as he has been many, many YEARS ago. But it's "his" team so he gets a pass. And what has come to pass for that pass is for the past twenty years Jones has been tinkering and plugging in pieces, each one he can call his own handiwork so that all of the credit will be all his. Even the coaching staff. And after assembling this team of great talent, apparently held together by duct tape and bailing wire, here at the end we find he's still missing a few parts.

As we all know, winning hides a lot of holes, but losing exposes everything. Cam Newton and Colin Kapernick had similar numbers at the point in the season Kap got benched - but Kap was losing and Cam was going undefeated, so who cares. My team hasn't been so lucky, even in what is right now an actual version of  the Norris division in the NFL. Dallas needs..., well they need a lot, but let's go through this carefully. They need a quarterback of the future, a serious running back since we let the last one walk out the door, another receiver to complement Dez and the next generation of Jason Witten. Continuing to build the offensive line wouldn't hurt either. Defensive ends who aren't the focus of social justice would also be appreciated. A higher caliber of corner or three would also be nice. So like... everything. But they're still my team though. My team good or bad.

Let's be realistic. Jerry may resort to the draft for the running back, there are too many good pieces out there, and if he's smart take a developmental player in the second round, if we still have picks. Do we have any picks? Beyond that is a wheeler-dealer crapshoot of epic proportions. My concern lies with Jones's penchant for player "rehab" work, see Terrell and Hardy. And now with Manziel on his way out in Cleveland, I'm seriously revisiting the idea of the city of Dallas buying the team out from under him, or using eminent domain or something. Something!

It's hard being a Cowboy fan right now. That's all I got to say.

Barkeep. The brown. Three ice cubes. No chaser.