Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Hughie Tweedy is Not For Sale


It doesn't get any weirder than this, and when it does, you can be rest assured that corruption, money, and sex are about to appear before your eyes.
I do think it is important to note that there are two sides to every story. Someone working for the oil company decided to get a little creative, and look at the results of their flight of ethical fancy. Do you blame the entire company or just the guy with the authority to sling women around like party favors?
What is the mindset of such people? Underage prostitutes? Really? Is this how things are still being done? Who is going to rescue the young woman being victimized here? Will they shame her in some way and make this about good ol' boys being good ol' boys? She's clearly not the individual with the ethical problem here. In fact, she might be more ethical than everyone else, save Hughie Tweedy.
If you can't buy Hughie Tweedy with the affections of a woman, what can you buy this man off with? Is he an environmentalist or does he want fair market value for the use of his property? Good for him, in any event.
Somewhere, there's a person who could be bought off in this manner, and I'm thinking they're lonely and living in North Dakota next to some fallow ground.


Friday, May 8, 2015

For Profit Colleges Are a Scam


The thing that really bugs me about the collapse of Corinthian Colleges is that we've known there were problems with this method of education for years. Now, the wolf is at the door:
Pittsburgh-based Education Management Corporationsaid it would gradually shutter 15 of its 52 Art Institute campuses, which currently serve about 5,400 students. Students enrolled at the closing schools will be able to finish out their degrees, but the schools will stop enrolling new students. Schaumburg, Illinois-based Career Education Corporation also said it was undergoing a restructuring that would include selling all but two of its university holdings. It plans to close its 14 Sanford-Brown College and Institute campuses and online programs in the next 18 months and sell three of its other colleges. Altogether, those institutes enroll about 8,600 students. The company had already announced that it is selling its Le Cordon Bleu Colleges of Culinary Arts and shutting down its Harrington College of Design in Chicago.
The Obama Administration has been fighting the next debt bubble that will threaten the economy--student load debt. Thanks to these for-profit schools, real damage has been done to the economy. The taxpayers are out millions and the students are walking around with suspect degrees and a mountain of debt.
Given everything we've known since 2012 and earlier, which you can read here, there's no question that the enablers of the for-profit debacle have been wrong about everything and wrong like nothing you've ever seen before: 
In mid June, the Department of Education put for-profit Corinthian Colleges out of business. Citing the company’s failure to respond to claims it had fudged jobplacement data and falsified attendance records, the department placed a 21-day hold on any additional federal loan and grant money due the institution. Corinthian’s 107 colleges — serving 72,000 students under the Heald, Everest, and Wyotech brands — draw 83 percent of their revenue from federal sources, and the firm was already reeling from two years of declining enrollment and a dozen state-level investigations. Despite Corinthian’s $1.6 billion in revenues in 2013, the department’s hold left it without enough cash to pay the bills. In early July, the firm agreed to sell most of its campuses and close the rest. The announcement sent a shock through the for-profit sector. The Obama administration’s bloodlust for such schools had put the industry on its heels since 2009. But before June, none of them had been effectively forced out of business by the government. Education Department officials themselves must have realized that they had overstepped, and feigned ignorance that the hold would be the final nail in Corinthian’s coffin.
Many conservatives were understandably outraged by the administration’s coup de grĂ¢ce. The Wall Street Journal editorial page called it an “extraordinary violation of due process . . . akin to a judge issuing the death penalty while a case is in discovery.” Economist Richard Vedder called it an “ideological victory at the expense of many poor younger Americans.” A longtime Wells Fargo analyst of the sector called it a “chilling and aggressive new level of oversight.” 
The first hint that there was something seriously wrong is buried in this piece of delusional nonsense--Corinthian Colleges was turning a billion dollars in profits in 2013 and it couldn't pay its bills? Hello? Is this thing on?
Well, it wasn't just Corinthian--it seems to be an industry-wide problem. As in, the whole thing was rotten to the core. And it has always been rotten. A for-profit school is a predatory aspect of modern society. There is no incentive to apply real standards to anything because money talks.
That last part stings a little bit because I attended Brown Institute in Minneapolis in the late 1980s.
Sanford-Brown Colleges (SBC) and Institutes (SBI) will no longer enroll new students in its programs and will begin what’s called a “teach-out.” A teach-out is a gradual discontinuation of operations that affords our students a reasonable opportunity to complete their programs of study before a campus ultimately closes. We’re entering these teach-outs -- instead of immediately closing the schools -- because we remain committed to the success of the students who have enrolled in our programs. We made the difficult decision to teach out all of our other Sanford-Brown campus locations after several years of declining enrollment and financial losses. 
So long, Brown. I paid way too much for a broadcasting certificate which, to this day, remains absolutely worthless in terms of the return on investment. I think I paid out thousands of dollars for which I got back about a solid year of working in the radio industry, which collapsed because the technology of automating radio stations improved to such an extent that it made no sense to employ people anymore. The most I ever made, in late 1980s dollars, was about $850 a month. A month. And even then, I said to hell with living and working in Atlantic, Iowa because why wouldn't you? Things were so tight then that if I had been able to make a little more than $900 a month I probably would have stayed in radio.
I cannot imagine the feeling of being ripped off like that in these modern times, where debt is permanent and unsustainable for people who can't find a job that will pay them enough to live on and then repay the insane amount of money that Corinthian Colleges and the like have been charging them over the years (and, in the case of people using their 21st Century GI Bill benefits, charging you, the taxpayer).
Everything is a grift nowadays, and the grift gets more and more complex. You might as well bet disaster capitalism if you want to get ahead.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Parks and Recreation


And that's the end of them.

Parks and Recreation was the last "NBC" comedy that I liked. Community lives on in a Yahoo! format that I don't think anyone will decry or mind, but that show has shed the network that failed to make it a hit, not the other way around. I don't know what's coming, but I do know we need another paintball episode, fast.

The Office, Community, 30 Rock, and Parks and Recreation were four of the greatest comedies ever. They rank up there with Newhart, which is a show that has never been forgotten specifically because it had the greatest finale ever.

I don't care about Seinfeld, Cheers, Friends or anything by Chuck Lorre. I'm sorry--those shows mean nothing to me. Fuck Frasier, easily the worst and most manipulative comedy there ever was in terms of things I believe are my opinion. I do miss News Radio, and I know we will have more Arrested Development. But the loss of Parks and Recreation marks a turning point for me.

The minds that put The Office, Community, 30 Rock, and Parks and Recreation on television represent the best talent in American comedy. They are the shows that have been invaluable now for years, developing and exposing America to the kind of entertainment that has been swallowed up by an indifference to quality. How people could neglect them and not watch them is beyond my understanding. The ratings for those four shows have been atrocious and anemic, and yet the talent and the writing has been incredible.

I don't buy that Community was too weird. Years from now, we'll have numerous shows like it and people will be thrilled, but you'll never top the cast of that show. 30 Rock was fast and perfect, always. It never sagged or dipped and it was the best thing Alec Baldwin will ever do. The Office was not nearly as bad as people made it out to be. The last two years were better than a lot of shows in their prime, held up by the brilliance of a supporting cast that was assembled out of actors and actresses that should be working forever. When The Office was chewing through seasons three and four, no one could touch it.

And tonight we saw the end of something special. Parks and Recreation created a town that was real and it entertained the hell out of anyone who wandered by. It was an incredibly written and performed show, marking a highlight of sorts. It was informed by the craft of television and then went further than any other show, celebrating the mediocrity of a Midwestern town without hating anyone or anything. A throwaway bit like Lil' Sebastian became a moment of inspired lunacy.

We live in an age when nobody knows what they're missing simply because they won't watch good shows. I'm not surprised by the indifference that good art is subjected to, I'm just saddened by it to the point where I find myself hoarding DVDs. Nights like tonight remind me that binge shopping when pissed only enriches the bastards who deliver us garbage. If I could go my whole live and never give NBC a dime, I would.

They had magic in their hands, and they shit the bed.