Monday, July 11, 2011

All Star Break

It is Major League Baseball All Star Break this coming week, the traditional midpoint of the summer. At this midpoint it is time to assess a few things.

MLB LEADERS: Here is a comparison to what Rink Rats predicted the division winners for 2011 would be to who the actual leaders are at the All Star Break:

Rink Rats preseason picks:

American League - Boston, Detroit, Texas

National League - Atlanta, Cincinnati, San Francisco

Actual at All Star break:

American - Boston, Detroit, Texas

National - Philadelphia, Milwaukee/St. Louis, San Francisco

So far so good.

SHOCK POLL: U.S. IN PERMANENT DECLINE? - The CBS News/NYT poll found that more than a third of adults (39 percent) now believe the United States has entered a period of "permanent" economic decline. The problem with numbers like these is that while not based in any empirical fact (the U.S. economy is growing, albeit slowly) they can easily become self-fulfilling at a time when lack of confidence is among the tightest shackles holding the economy back. The poll also confirmed that foreign policy will play a very limited role in 2012 ...

The "economy" at 26 percent and "jobs" at 27 percent were the only issues that registered double digits as among the "most important problems" facing the nation. Afghanistan clocked in at 1 percent. All of this underscores that President Obama could eliminate every terrorist on earth and turn Afghanistan and Libya into romantic vacation destinations and it won't make any difference if the U.S. economy doesn't turn north more quickly.

ALL STAR BREAK ECONOMICS - "Gas is 24 cents/gallon cheaper than Memorial Day," by AP Energy Writer Chris Kahn: "Gasoline prices usually peak in the summer. This year, ...they peaked on May 5. ... The national average now stands at $3.55 per gallon. That's the cheapest gasoline has been since late March [but] higher for this time of year than any other year except 2008."

So here’s where we stand at the midpoint of the year:

• S&P 500: +5.0% in the first half; -0.4% in the second quarter.
• Dow: +7.2% in the first half; +0.8% in the second quarter.
• Nasdaq: +4.5% in the first half; -0.3% in the second quarter.

GOT GOLD? Financial Times columnist Gideon Rachman, "America and Europe sinking together": "Both the US and the European Union have public finances that are out of control and political systems that are too dysfunctional to fix the problem. America and Europe are in the same sinking boat. ... On both sides of the Atlantic, it is now clear that much of the economic growth of the pre-crisis years was driven by an unsustainable and dangerous boom in credit. In the US it was homeowners who were at the center of the crisis; in Europe, it was entire countries like Greece and Italy that took advantage of low interest rates to borrow unsustainably. ... Populist movements are on the rise - whether it is the Tea Party in the US or the Dutch Freedom party or True Finns in Europe. ... The similarities ...; are now more striking than the differences - mounting debt, a weak economy, an increasingly expensive and unreformable welfare state, fear for the future and political gridlock are the common points."

SHOCK: INCREDIBLE CALIFORNIA PAY NUMBERS - Exclamation points added to indicate the level to which R.R.'s jaw dropped as he read this astounding article by LATimes' Jack Dolan: "More than 1,400 state employees were paid in excess of $200,000 last year, according to compensation data made public for the first time Tuesday ... Of those, 790 were prison doctors, dentists or nurses. More than 300 others were psychiatrists and other medical professionals working for the Department of Mental Health. One prison doctor collected $777,423 [!!] in 2010 and a dentist took home $599,403 [!!!] ... The president of the state's stem cell research agency received $482,234. ... A prison psychiatrist, Fong Lai, received $594,976 for more than 2 1/2 years’ worth of unused sick time [!!!!]. A prison dentist, Robert Stogsdill, got a $553,253 payout."

TIME cover, "THE FUTURE OF FISH: Can farming save the last wild food? ... The End of the Line," by Bryan Walsh: "Humans have been raising some fish in farms for almost as long as we've been fishing, beginning with Chinese fishponds 4,000 years ago. But it's only in the past 50 years that aquaculture has become a true industry. ... Today about half the seafood consumed around the world comes from farms ... The rapid growth of aquaculture has been accompanied by environmental costs. ... But unless you can convince 1.3 billion Chinese - not to mention everyone else in a growing world - that they don't deserve the occasional sushi roll, aquaculture will keep growing."

Newsweek's "First Annual Rankings" of colleges - BEST SCHOOLS FOR FUTURE POWER BROKERS (takes into account future presidents and senators, Fortune 100 CEOs, Forbes billionaires, undergrads going to top grad schools ("After Harvard and Stanford, the University of Pennsylvania, which includes the topnotch Wharton School ['world's first collegiate business school'], has graduated the most billionaires"):

#1 Harvard, #2 Yale, #3 Columbia, #4 Stanford, #5 Princeton, #6 Penn, #7 Duke, #8 Georgetown, #9 U.Va., #10 University of Chicago, #11 Dartmouth, #12 University of Arizona, #13 Chapel Thrill, #14 MIT, #15 University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, #16 Notre Dame, #17 Williams (Williamstown, Mass.), #18 Northwestern (Ill.), #19 USC (the one in California) ... #20 Amherst (Mass.) ... #21 William & Mary (Va.) .. #22 West Point ... #23 Washington University (St. Louis) ... #24 Bowdoin (Maine) ... #25 University of Wisconsin (Madison).

--MIA: St. Lawrence University (Canton, N.Y.), University of La Verne (La Verne, CA), Plattsburgh State University (Plattsburgh, N.Y.) and THE Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio).

These people live among us … a sample of letters we have received the last few months at Rink Rats:

A couple of women moved in across the hall from me. One is a middle-aged gym teacher and the other is a social worker in her mid-twenties. These two women go everywhere together and I’ve never seen a man go into or leave their apartment. Do you think they could be Lebanese?

What can I do about all the Sex, Nudity, Fowl Language and Violence on My VCR?

I have a man I can’t trust. He cheats so much, I’m not even sure the baby I’m carrying is his.

I am a twenty-three year old liberated woman who has been on the pill for two years. It’s getting expensive and I think my boyfriend should share half the cost, but I don’t know him well enough to discuss money with him.

I joined the Navy to see the world. I’ve seen it. Now how do I get out?

I was married to Bill for three months and I didn’t know he drank until one night he came home sober.

You told some woman whose husband had lost all interest in sex to send him to a doctor. Well, my husband lost all interest in sex and he is a doctor. Now what do I do?

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Bill Cosby (74), Alex Karras (76), Cindy King (59), Anna Quindlen (59), Sela Ward (55).

REMEMBERING BETTY FORD - "First lady inspired others with her personal battles: The outspoken, candid wife of President Ford helped lift taboos on addiction and cancer," by Marlene Cimons: "She was 93. Ford died Friday at the Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage [Calif.] ... The cause was not given. As wife of Gerald R. Ford, ... she spent a brief, yet remarkable time as the nation's first lady. But after he left office and even after his death in 2006 at 93, she had considerable influence as founder of the widely emulated Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage for the treatment of chemical dependencies."

--Betty Ford appeared on the cover of TIME three times: Dec. 17, 1973, "The New Second Family" ... Oct 7, 1974, "The Ordeal of Political Wives" (also Pat Nixon and Joan Kennedy) ... Jan 5, 1976, "Women of the Year".

Greg’s ball came to rest against a rake lying next to a bunker. Greg moved the rake in order to hit the ball without also hitting the rake. Greg's movement of the rake caused the ball to also move. Chip said the ball movement by Greg should result in a one stroke penalty.

What is the correct ruling?
A. Two stroke penalty. Greg improved his lie when he moved the rake and moved his ball, two stoke penalty.

B. One stroke penalty. Greg moved his ball, even though inadvertently, one stroke penalty.

C. No penalty, Greg moved the ball inadvertently while moving a movable obstruction, no penalty. Replace the ball and play on.

The answer…next week.

Next week, summer management school and the words of the month.

Until next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
July 11, 2011


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