Monday, April 4, 2011


Our fiftieth blog, there have been many events in the world and locally since we began Rink Rats blog but one thing has remained constant, The Keep Smiling Farewell Tour is still going on as it did one year ago. The Tour reached a high point this past week with various lectures and dedications. In fact rumors abound that The Tour has signed on with The Glee Tour to continue on into 2012.

One of the highlights of this past week lectures was the wonderful and warm presentation of Warren Bennis on leadership. Dr. Bennis’s six qualities to be an effective leader were especially noted: Integrity, Dedication, Magnanimity (smiling and saying thank you to employees and all people), Humility, Openness, and Creativity. Too bad certain individuals took this time during Dr. Bennis’s lecture to take a nap.

We have learned a few lessons in these first 50 blogs; writing and editing is not easy, we have much more respect to the writers and editors who do this on a daily basis. Another lesson is that Rink Rats should not bet in Las Vegas, as you have noticed our picks are usually wrong. Finally, we appreciate all the comments and support from our readers and look forward to another year.

HERE WE GO - President Obama has announced his reelection campaign today (Monday) in an electronic message to grassroots supporters, Democratic sources tell POLITICO. Obama launches with a recovering economy and a weak, fractured Republican field, but with chaos in the Middle East that adds unpredictability to an environment that points to likely reelection. Obama's campaign, which could raise $1 billion or more, will be based in Chicago, just a few blocks from the headquarters of his historic 2008 race.

The website is ready, the donation button has been tested, and call sheets to key political supporters are set. Obama organizers have long planned to launch at the beginning of the second quarter so they can show a fundraising juggernaut in their first report to FEC. But they couldn't pull the trigger on the first day of the quarter, April Fools' Day, and then the next two days were weekend days. Obama will be raising money for the campaign in Chicago on April 14, and the campaign had to formally organize before that date.

The campaign manager, Jim Messina, who was a deputy White House chief of staff past the midterms, has been pumping up donors in meetings around the country, pressing them for major commitments. David Axelrod, who returned to Chicago after serving as a White House senior adviser for the first two year, will once again be Obama's strategic guru.

EDUCATION - WashPost A1, "Algebra II movement multiplies: More states require course, citing it as link to students' success," by Peter Whoriskey, in Conway, Ark.: "Of all of the classes offered in high school, Algebra II is the leading predictor of college and work success ... In recent years, 20 states and the District have moved to raise graduation requirements to include Algebra II ... The effort has been led by Achieve, a group organized by governors and business leaders and funded by corporations and their foundations, to improve the skills of the workforce. ... Whether learning Algebra II causes students to fare better in life, or whether it is merely correlated with them doing better - because smart, motivated kids take Algebra II - isn't clear." Sample problems

SPORTS BLINK: WHO WILL CUT THE NET? Men's college basketball National Championship, 9 p.m. ET on CBS, from Reliant Stadium in Houston (tipoff: 9:23 p.m.) -- No. 8 Butler (of Indianapolis; 4,640 total students) v. No. 3 Connecticut

Las Vegas sports books make Connecticut solid favorite in national championship: UConn favored by about four points over Butler, with an over/under of 129 points.

THE BIG IDEA -- Maureen Dowd, "Mad Men And Mad Women: Republicans talk fiscal policy but can't resist social meddling": "Republicans hate social engineering, unless they're doing it. ... [L]o and behold, social issues have roared back. Many in the Tea Party have joined that chain-smoking, cocktail-quaffing Mad Man John Boehner in the martini party to put a retro focus on wedge issues, from gays to abortion. ... Whether it's upholding the Defense of Marriage Act, trying to defund Planned Parenthood, or aiming cuts at the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Endowment for the Arts, NPR and even AARP, House Republicans are in a lather that occludes their pledges to monomaniacally work on the economy."

"The snowball of social rage will speed up as we head toward 2012, given that the Iowa caucuses are dominated by social conservatives. Pawlenty, Barbour and Huckabee have already talked about vitiating the repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell.' Because independent voters considered President Obama too partisan in his debut, they shifted their loyalties - and swept in one of the most ideological and partisan Republican caucuses in history. Now Obama will get back some of the independents because he seems reasonable by comparison. One thing independents like to be independent of is government meddling in their personal lives."

NEW SQUEEZE ON MIDDLE CLASS -- L.A. Times 2-col. lead, "Companies slim down on health plans: 'Narrow network' HMOs cut costs, but at the price of fewer medical options," by Duke Helfand: "Thousands of employers in California and across the country are slashing expensive doctors and hospitals from their insurance rosters in a move to hold down rising healthcare costs ... The savings on insurance premiums - nearly 25% in some cases - are gained when companies switch their health plans to 'narrow network' HMOs that offer fewer choices of medical providers. ... Healthcare experts and consumer advocates warn that eliminating doctors and hospitals from insurance lists could harm patients, particularly those who depend on specific providers to treat chronic or life-threatening conditions."

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Governor Jerry Brown (73), Francis Ford Coppola (72), Tony Dorsett (57), Vince Gill (54), Jim “Catfish” Hunter (65), John Madden (75), Rachel Meadow (38), Craig T. Nelson (67), Alden Reimonenq …who?, Omar Sharif (79).

ANNIVERSARY QUIZ – this month we will be giving a quiz every week to celebrate our First Year, the first person to pick the correct answer in our comment section will win a special Rink Rats prize:

A Russian billionaire paid $100 million this past week for a home where?

- Manhattan’s Upper East Side - California’s Silicon Valley
- Palm Beach, Fla. - Bel Air, Calif.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - From a new book, "The Ruins of Detroit,“ by French photographers Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre. They set out to "document the decline of an American city."

Added news item: Detroit's population has dropped 25% since 2000, "the country’s most startling example of modern urban collapse." NYT

Up and down Detroit’s streets, buildings stand abandoned and in ruin.
French photographers Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre set out to document the decline of an American city. Their book “The Ruins of Detroit“, a document of decaying buildings frozen in time, was published in December 2010.

From the photographers’ website: Ruins are the visible symbols and landmarks of our societies and their changes, small pieces of history in suspension. The state of ruin is essentially a temporary situation that happens at some point, the volatile result of change of era and the fall of empires. This fragility, the time elapsed but even so running fast, lead us to watch them one very last time : being dismayed, or admire, making us wondering about the permanence of things. Photography appeared to us as a modest way to keep a little bit of this ephemeral state.

MLB 2011 -- SI's "Baseball Preview" issues picks Red Sox to win World Series: "After reloading and priming themselves to be the beasts of the AL East, the Boston Red Sox are Sports Illustrated's pick to win the 2011 World Series [going 100-62], defeating the reigning champion San Francisco Giants. DIVISION SERIES: Red Sox over A's ... Twins over Yankees ... Phillies over Rockies ... Giants over Reds ... CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES: Red Sox over Twins ... Giants over Phillies."

INSIDE THE NUMBERS - The TARP (QE1) bank program will turn a profit after three financial institutions repay a total of $7.4 billion. With the expected proceeds, taxpayers will have recovered $251 billion. That exceeds the original investment Treasury made through those programs ($245 billion) by nearly $6 billion. Treasury currently estimates that bank programs within TARP will ultimately provide a lifetime profit of approximately $20 billion to taxpayers.

The Dow and the S&P 500, however, did finish with their best first quarter since 1998.

UNIONS - Membership in the United Auto Workers union grew 6 percent in 2010 — adding 20,000 workers to its ranks — breaking a string of annual declines as the auto industry rebounded. The Detroit-based union's membership climbed to 376,612 last year, up from 355,191 at the end of 2009, according to a UAW filing Thursday with the U.S. Labor Department.

COLLEGE HOCKEY GAMES OF THE WEEK – April 7: NCAA semi final – North Dakota Fighting Sioux over The University of Michigan Wolverines, and Notre Dame Fighting Irish over the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs. NCAA Champ – North Dakota Fighting Sioux.
Season to date (3-8)

CONGRATULATIONS – to The Detroit Red Wings clinching their 20th straight year of playoff participation (the most of any major professional sport) and for recording 100 regular season points for the 11th consecutive year – very impressive.

Next week, our first year anniversary month continues.

Until next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
April 4, 2011

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