Friday, March 25, 2016

5 Things on a Friday: New Zealand Keeps Its Flag

This was a Hell of a depressing week, news-wise.  I wrote a whole “5 Things” column on my favorite TV shows in protest, but thankfully, yesterday took a turn for the absurd.

The would-be, non-colonial flag of New Zealand.
Preliminary results of a nationwide postal vote, which pitted the incumbent against the final challenger — a flag known as the Silver Fern (Black, White and Blue) — showed on Thursday that 56.6 percent had voted to keep the existing flag flying, despite the assertion by Prime Minister John Key that it symbolized a colonial era whose time had passed.
I probably would have voted to keep the old flag, too, but I like some of the new designs.
[Voltron:] Legendary Defender centers on five Earth teenagers — Keith, Lance, Hunk, Pidge and Shiro — who are thrown into the middle of an intergalactic battle and become the last line of defense for Arus and other planets against an evil alien force led by King Zarkon…
Princess Allura, a main hero, will be more realistic… “She doesn’t have to be the (greatest) fighter right off the bat. She’s still a princess from a peaceful kingdom. But she’s certainly not fainting at every little thing that overwhelms her.”
Voltron: Legendary Defender
This is a Dreamworks project, produced for Netflix.  The first season premieres later this year with thirteen 22-minute episodes.
Trump's negative ratings are driven by the 53 percent of Americans who view him "very unfavorably" — the stronger of the two options for "unfavorable." For reference, only about a third of Americans hate Congressthat much. But half of the country gives Trump the worst rating it possibly can.
This perhaps explains why Jeb Bush endorsed Ted Cruz earlier this week.  All things considered, a Trump victory in November seems impossible right now.  Then again, Newt Gingrich seems to like Trump, though it might be more honest to say that Gingrich is glad that someone—even Donald Trump—is finally shaking up the machinery of elite Republican political circles.  
Newt Gingrich was architect to the "Contract with America".
I've always liked that legislation but doubt it could have worked except
in the roaring 1990s.
For what it’s worth, Gingrich is a smart and always very interesting guy, and if I don’t agree with him about Trump specifically, his interview on the state of the Republican Party is nevertheless a fascinating and insightful read.  He points out that between Ben Carson, Cruz, and Trump, 75% of GOP voters have rejected the party apparatus wholesale.  By that metric, Trump has been merely the most successful of the group seeking to dethrone the GOP elite.  Clearly something is wrong, and as it happens, Trump is the agent of change.
[T]he cost of a college education is going up and up at an unsustainable rate. In the 20 years since I finished my bachelor's, the cost has tripled, but the pay has not. I think the pay for a beginning teaching position was about $36,000 and is now $45,000. That's only a 25 percent increase.
This can only go on for a certain amount of time. At some point the value of an education and fear of incurring a huge, unforgivable, and unpayable debt will have some kind of catastrophic effect upon the system. What that effect will be is impossible for me to predict.
Social collapse?  
I’m going to go with social collapse, following an epic concentration of wealth and capital assets in the hands of a tiny “ownership” class of uber-wealthy Americans.
Sept. 3 at Temple
Sept. 10 RICE
Sept. 17 at UTEP
Sept. 24 at Buffalo
Oct. 8 at Duke
Oct. 29 at Wake Forest
Nov. 12 Notre Dame (Alamodome)
Dec. 10 Navy (at M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore)
Sept. 2 at Tulane
Sept. 16 at Ohio State
Sept. 23 at Rice
Sept. 30 DUKE
Oct. 7 UTEP
Oct. 21 TEMPLE
Nov. 4 at Air Force
Nov. 18 at North Texas
Dec. 9 Navy (Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia)
Depending on how 2016 shakes out, this could be a tough year.  The back half of this schedule looks far more favorable than last year’s schedule did, but this season has a rough opening.  Playing at Temple is a tough ask in the first game of the season, and following that with Rice at home isn’t necessarily setting the conditions for sustained success.  Army could beat Rice at Michie Stadium, but they don’t usually play their best football early.  The team then takes a long road trip—to El Paso, Texas, followed by games at Buffalo and Duke.  I would classify three of these first five games as winnable, but it’s been awhile since Army has played consistently good ball on the road.  I’d feel better about this schedule if either the UTEP or Buffalo game was at home.
Fortunately, 2017 looks to be a better year.  Army should win its home games against Buffalo, UTEP, Eastern Michigan, and Fordham, and I don’t think it’s an overwhelmingly tough ask to pick up road wins at Tulane and North Texas, especially late in the season.  That would be six wins, which would be enough to get Army to a bowl game.
Granted, we won’t really know anything until we see how the team is shaking out at the end of camp in August, but for now, we can look at the schedule and hope.  As Army fans, that’s sometimes as good as it gets.
That’s all I’ve got.  Have a happy Easter, folks!

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