Sunday, August 12, 2012

Going Dark

There comes a point a few times during the year that this writer needs a break from the social networking world. The time is now – for the next two weeks no text messages, Facebook postings, tweets, no social networking of any kind. Yes, it will be difficult to not do what many people do many times a day - brag about their accomplishments, explain their state of depression, document how much they are in love, or glorify fellow workers who are JUST DOING THEIR JOB!

As you can see I need a break. Not too worry the blog will continue as always 52 weeks a year – but all social technology contact will seize. Time to relax, drink a glass a wine, read a few books, converse face-to-face with people, write some notes and letters – in other words join the human race.

Perhaps I will go for a few walks, catch up on my garden, buy some new clothes (wait a minute; lets’ not get carried away). Time to take an assessment of one’s life. Is my career satisfying? Am I a good friend? Do I have a good soul? Good lord, the Olympics are over lets’ not fall to pieces. I will miss you Bob Costas, stay in touch Michael Phelps, can I get one last hug Tom Hammond. Do all the British have bad teeth?

Okay here goes, going dark … write to you all in a couple of weeks. Next week we have our cartoon edition – prepackaged, already written.  Okay where is my Blackberry, my laptop, my desktop, my iPad, what is happening at CNBC, is Ashley Judd doing okay, oh my God where is David Allen, is Sally dumping Mark, ….help, can I last two weeks!!!!!

THE BIGGEST THREAT TO AMERICA - The No. 1 security risk on Americans' minds is no longer terrorism. In a recent survey by Unisys, hackers and viruses outranked terrorism as the nation's No. 1 security threat. Read on, and I'll explain the growing problem and how you can protect yourself.
The huge rise of cyber-attacks
it’s no surprise Americans are scared. In the past two years, we've seen:
Sony's Playstation Network hacked, with 77 million accounts exposed -- card numbers included.
·         NASDAQ’s computer systems hacked.
·         Hackers from Anonymous cripple the websites of the CIA, Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal.
·         The world's first cyber weapons, Stuxnet and Flame.
·         Malware Monday.
·         6.5 million user passwords hacked at LinkedIn, 1 million at Gawker, and 400,000 at Yahoo!
·         600,000 Apple Macs hacked and controlled by the Flashback Trojan.
·         Reuters, Dropbox, and the MLB hacked -- all in the last week.
·         And a Wired magazine writer's digital life got completely destroyed last Friday.

Our infrastructure is also under attack. Earlier this year, America's natural-gas pipelines were attacked by sophisticated spear-phishing attempts. The Head of the NSA said last month there has been a 17-fold increase in the number of computer attacks on the U.S. infrastructure in just the past three years.

Hackers aren't just going after big companies and infrastructure; Verizon's forensic analysis unit reported that 72% of the data breaches worldwide that it analyzed last year were at companies with 100 or fewer employees.

These aren't minor incidents. A separate survey by the Computing Technology Industry Association found that 76% of responding companies had had a cyber-security incident within the past 12 months resulting in the loss of money, data, intellectual property,  or the ability to conduct day-to-day business.

The really scary part, though, is thinking about all the attacks that go unnoticed or unreported. Shawn Henry, a former executive assistant director at the FBI's cyber division, recently said, "What the general public hears about -- stolen credit card numbers, somebody hacked LinkedIn -- that's the tip of the iceberg, the unclassified stuff."

Five simple tips to boost your cyber security
Many of the above hacks could have been prevented by some simple precautions.
1.      Use complicated passwords with numbers, symbols, uppercase letters, and lowercase letters. If it's available, use two-step authentication. It's alarming how many people use simple passwords such as "12345" or "password."
2.      Don't reuse the same password across multiple websites.
3.      Choose obscure answers to your password retrieval questions.
4.      Use antivirus software.
5.      Use BillGuard to monitor your credit card. BillGuard is a free monitor for your credit and debit cards (truly free, unlike, with its annoying commercials).

MEET THE WORLD'S WORST ECONOMIES - "Sudan: Worst Economic Growth ... Gross domestic product growth 2012 reading: -7.3%. The war-torn North African nation of Sudan has endured decades of civil war and social strife -- a cycle that has significantly hindered the country's economy ... Congo: Worst per capita income ... Gross domestic product per capita 2012 reading: $231.51. Despite its rich resources, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has battled violence, poverty and systemic corruption after gaining its independence from Belgium in 1960... Belarus: Worst inflation. ... Inflation 2012 reading: 65.9% ... Macedonia: Worst unemployment ... Unemployment 2012 reading: 31.2%"

"Last month also was 3.3 degrees warmer than the 20th century average for July. Thirty-two states had months that were among their 10 warmest Julys, but only one, Virginia, had the hottest July on record. ... The first seven months of 2012 were the warmest on record for the nation. And August 2011 through July this year was the warmest 12-month period on record, just beating out the July 2011-June 2012 time period. ... Drought is a major player ... The coolest July on record was in 1915. The coldest month in U.S. history was January 1979 with an average temperature of 22.6 degrees." 

KNOWING RYAN -- "5 keys to understanding Republican Vice President nominee Paul Ryan.”At age 42, he's been trawling these corridors for nearly two decades, starting as a coolly pleasant but hotly ambitious staff member, to nearly 14 years as a fast-rising lawmaker on his own. ... He is an unquestioned ideologue, a committed conservative since his days as an acolyte of tax-cutter Jack Kemp but also a team player - someone capable of rocking the boat in the Republican caucus but never one to tip it over. He is widely perceived, even by Democrats, as a friendly man in an angry age in Washington. But he is also unmistakably a self-contained politician. Here, based on years of observing Ryan in action, are five keys to help understand what makes the GOP's new man of the moment tick:

"1) He's a man in a hurry - and has been for a long time. When Ryan was in his twenties - he began his political career as an intern for Wisconsin GOP Sen. Bob Kasten in 1991 - it was already obvious to anyone who spent time around him that he had his future mapped out with uncommon precision. He told reporters in the Capitol that he was going to run for Congress in his native Wisconsin, and he made it clear he had a clear plan for winning. ... 2) He's a creature of the Capitol. Unlike many of his colleagues, some of whom talk endlessly about short and seemingly inconsequential business careers to establish private-sector bona fides, virtually all of Ryan's professional experience is in Washington. ...

"3) He feels misunderstood. Ryan is nothing if not earnest about his obsessions. He is defined by a belief that he is on a long-term, often solitary quest to save the United States of America from the ills of crushing debt, unsustainable entitlements and a broken Tax Code. He simply doesn't understand why everyone else won't march in lockstep. ... 4) He's an island. ... Ryan can be aloof at times - just like Obama. In interviews, he's engaging, charismatic, a true believer in the principles he espouses. ... 5) He's a loyal soldier - mostly. The continual theme of Ryan's legislative career has been a willingness to accept risks that would make more conventional politicians blanch."

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Ben Affleck (40), Bobby Clarke (63), President Bill Clinton (66), Tim Geithner (51), Frank Gifford (82), Kathie Lee Gifford (59), Magic Johnson (53), Denis Leary (55), Steve Martin (67), Maureen O’Hara (92), Donna Redman …famous educator, Robert Redford (75), John Slattery (50), Fred Thompson (70).

TECH BLINK: NEW iPHONE DROPS SEPT. 12 - "Apple is preparing to introduce the next version of the iPhone on Sept. 12 in what will be a design overhaul of its top-selling product, according to two people ... The new iPhone will have a larger screen and thinner body, and is expected to work with faster long-term evolution wireless networks being introduced by carriers such as Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc., according to analysts such as Piper Jaffray Cos.' Gene Munster. The design change will be Apple's first for the best- selling smartphone since 2010, when it unveiled the iPhone 4"

THE BIG QUESTION: WHAT SHOULD APPLE DO WITH ITS CASH? - NYT's Andrew Ross Sorkin has some interesting ideas: "Question: What would you do if you had $117 billion? That's the challenge facing Tim Cook, Apple's chief, whose company's cash hoard keeps growing - by about $1 billion a week. ...TWITTER AND PATH Consider this a one-two punch. Apple should buy the social media companies Twitter and Path ... It is one of the few, if only, independent social media properties that could allow Apple to build its own social media platform to truly compete against the likes of Facebook and Google...

"RESEARCH IN MOTION Yes, this one may be a head-scratcher, considering that the iPhone seems to have eaten RIM's BlackBerry for breakfast - and lunch. But with a market value of $3.7 billion it is a relative bargain and could be had for four weeks' worth of Apple's spare cash). Such a deal would instantly put Apple into the enterprise market, giving it access to corporate and government customers that require RIM's highly secure servers. Apple could build access into RIM's network directly into future iPhones and maybe even create an iPhone with BlackBerry's famous keyboard, which for many of us would create the ultimate smartphone."

FILLER UP - "Price of gas up 17 cents in July : Jump for the month biggest since 2000,  after dipping to $3.33 a gallon and flirting with $3 in the South, the nation's average gas price climbed 17 cents over 26 consecutive days in July. It was the first monthly gain since March and the biggest July jump since at least 2000, AAA said Tuesday. Nationally, regular gasoline now averages $3.50 a gallon, although it's pricier in 25 states. ... The Midwest is particularly pinched. Refinery woes in Indiana and Illinois have crimped output, propelling prices to as high as $4.29 a gallon in Chicago and to near $4 levels in several regions of the Rust Belt. ...

"Hawaii has the nation's highest average gas price at $4.15 a gallon, followed by Alaska at $4 and Connecticut at $3.82. The three states with the lowest prices are in the South: South Carolina at $3.20, Mississippi at $3.24 and Alabama at $3.25. State taxes, which can tack on up to 42 cents a gallon, explain part of the difference."


Last weeks’ answer: Tug of war

Which of the following countries won the most medals (in order)?
1.      China, United States, Great Britain
2.      United States, China, Great Britain
3.      China, Russia, United States
4.      United States, China, Russia
5.      China, United States, Russia

Answer next week.

RINK RATS OPENING NFL RANKINGS: 1) Green Bay Packers 2) New England Patriots 3) New York Giants 4) San Francisco 49ers 5) Baltimore Ravens 6) Houston Texans 7) Pittsburgh Steelers 8) Philadelphia Eagles 9) New Orleans Saints 10) Denver Broncos 11--tie) Chicago Bears 11-tie) Detroit Lions 13) Atlanta Falcons 14) Cincinnati Bengals 15) Dallas Cowboys 16) San Diego Chargers

17) New York Jets 18) Kansas City Chiefs 19) Buffalo Bills 20) Carolina Panthers 21) Tennessee Titans 22) Seattle Seahawks 23 -- tie) Arizona Cardinals 23 -- tie) Oakland Raiders 25) Washington Redskins 26) Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27) Miami Dolphins 28) St. Louis Rams 29) Minnesota Vikings 30) Cleveland Browns 31) Jacksonville Jaguars 32) Indianapolis Colts

RINK RATS COLLEGE FOOTBALL PRESEASON TOP TEN: 1) Oklahoma 2) USC 3) Alabama 4) LSU 5) Oregon 6) Michigan 7) Virginia Tech 8) Florida State 9) South Carolina 10) Texas

TOP GUN - All three of Tom Cruise's wives were 33 years old when their marriages ended.

CONGRATS – To Rink Rat follower and new Chicago resident Linda P. for her new work at The Field Institute in Chicago. We miss you but well done.

JACKASS OF THE MONTH – James “Jamie” Dimon (56), Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of JP Morgan Chase, one of the Big Four American banks: Bank of America, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo. Despite all the TARP bail outs, all the calls for regulation, all the “too big to fail” quotes – American banking institutions continue to take high risks with their depositors money. Under his watch JP Morgan Chase has lost an estimated $200 billion dollars in investments. But he continues to be treated by the press and more importantly The Congress as a rock star.

Enough is enough, let us start calling Mr. Dimon for what he is, a Jackass, a poor manager of other people’s money.

Next week, our annual cartoon edition (I am on vacation).

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
August 13, 2012

#III-16, 121


  1. Jamie Dimon may be a poor manager of people's money (sorry state for a banker), but at least he's a hands-on manager of his employees! More than we can say about a few managers that are close to home.

    1. Agreed, a good manager needs to fulfill three main tasks, all equally important: 1). maximize investor (owner) value, 2). take care of your customers, 3). Don't be a boss be a leader of your employees.