Monday, March 30, 2015

Spring Training - Financial Literacy

Are you—or your spouse or your teen or your parents—among the financially illiterate?

For a quick answer, try this three-question quiz that two professors—Olivia S. Mitchell of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and Annamaria Lusardi of the George Washington University School of Business—have been using for years to assess individuals’ basic financial savvy.

1. Suppose you had $100 in a savings account and the interest rate was 2% per year. After five years, how much do you think you would have in the account if you left the money to grow?
A. More than $102
B. Exactly $102
C. Less than $102

2. Imagine that the interest rate on your savings account was 1% per year and inflation was 2% per year. After one year, how much would you be able to buy with the money in this account?
A. More than today
B. Exactly the same
C. Less than today

3. Please tell me whether this statement is true or false: “Buying a single company’s stock usually provides a safer return than a stock mutual fund.”

The correct answers are at the bottom of this section.

In a recent working paper, Ms. Mitchell and Ms. Lusardi review some of the sorry statistics on financial literacy that they and other researchers have come up with over the years—including breakdowns by education, gender, age and nationality. Among the findings:

In a survey of Americans over the age of 50, only half could answer the first two of the above questions correctly. Only one-third got all three right.

Forty-four percent of Americans with a college degree answered all three questions correctly. The figure was 31% for people with some college and 64% for Americans with postgraduate education.
“Even well-educated people are not necessarily savvy about money,” the professors write.

In the U.S. and other countries, men are much more likely to get all three correct answers. The figure is 38% for men vs. 23% for women in this country.

But the gender variation has an additional twist, as Ms. Mitchell and Ms. Lusardi explain:
Another striking finding, also consistent across countries, is that men are more confident about their financial knowledge than they should be: even when they were wrong, they reported being ‘very confident’ about their answers. In contrast, women generally answer fewer of the financial knowledge questions correctly, on average, but they are more likely to admit when they do not know how to answer our questions. This suggests that financial education may be more welcomed by women, should the opportunity arise.

Fifteen-year-olds in the U.S. ranked in the middle of the pack in a more-extensive test of financial literacy given in 18 countries by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. The top performance came from Chinese students, with 15-year-olds in countries including Australia, France and Poland also scoring higher than Americans.

Feeling confident about your responses to the three-question quiz above? This writer had two out of three.
Correct answers:

EXTRA CREDIT: One Direction's Zayn Malik is leaving the band, temporarily ruining the lives of many teenagers across the country.

COLLEGE CHRONICLES – DECODING THE COST OF COLLEGE: College tuition is undoubtedly on the rise in many places, but using sticker price as a starting point for debates on accessibility and value is misleading - especially when those sticker prices are for, say, a Harvard or Yale. As the Education Department's National Center for Education Statistics aims to explain in a new brief today, the price of college is often lower than people think. After taking grants into account, the average full-time undergraduate in 2011-12 paid a net price of $11,700 to attend a public two-year college and $18,000 for public four-year college. Include loans, work-study and other forms of aid and the out-of-pocket costs come in at $9,900 and $11,800, respectively. That's considerably lower than the list price for tuition and other expenses, such as books, at those institutions. Undergrads at for-profit schools and four-year private colleges paid more out-of-pocket: $15,000 and $18,100, respectively. But that's still only half, or less, the listed cost of attending those institutions.

- The report also shows that dependency status and family income determine the allocation of need-based aid, and less wealthy students generally see lower costs. But that's not always the case. Dependent undergrads from low-income families on average paid more out-of-pocket to attend for-profit colleges than their peers from low-middle-income families. The report:

- Of course, when loans are involved, the discount's not free - but repayment could be easier. The Center for American Progress is out today with its second "College for All" report, laying the groundwork for a system where students pay no tuition or fees while enrolled in public four-year institutions, and students at privates receive equivalent support. This installment focuses on student loan repayment, which CAP says must be modernized - specifically, through the creation of an income-based system that uses the IRS's wage-withholding system for automatic repayment.

POLITICS 101 - In 31 states plus [D.C.] ... Americans have voted for the same party in every single one of [the last six presidential] elections. ... With most states locked in by one party or the other, the presidential contest has largely narrowed to five states that have been consistently competitive in the past six elections: Ohio (which has long been at the 50-yard line of American politics) and four of the fastest growing states in the country-Colorado, Florida, Nevada and Virginia. ... That static map, though, is changing beneath the surface ...

In Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina and Virginia -areas traditionally associated with Republican Party strength-the population is trending younger and more diverse, and it is becoming more politically competitive for the Democrats. ... Four of the five battleground states that have been decisive in recent presidential elections-Florida, Virginia, Colorado and Nevada-all have the central attributes of 21st century America and will prove to be decisive if 2016 is a close election.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Marcus Allen (55), Roger Bannister (86), James Caan (75), Bob Costas (63), Aretha Franklin (73), William Hurt (65), Kathy Ireland (52), Chaka Khan (62), James Lovell (87), Sarah Jessica Parker (50), Tara Pugliese …famous child prodigy, Bobby Orr (67), Diana Ross (71), Gloria Steinem (81).

MILESTONES -- Winter vaults to the top of snowfall records; Just after 7 Sunday evening, with 2.9 more inches of fresh snow blanketing Boston, the National Weather Service in Taunton announced that the city notched its snowiest winter since records started being kept in 1872. The official total at Logan International Airport reached 108.6 inches - one inch more than the previous record, which was set in the 1995-1996 winter.

Antarctica may have experienced its warmest day ever recorded on Tuesday, with the temperature reading of 63.5°F, reports The Weather Underground. Last Tuesday's record high temperature follows another high reading of 63.3°F set just the day before. Until this week's heat wave, the highest-known recorded temperature on the continent was 62.6°F back in 1976.

The Antarctic Peninsula where the readings were made "is one of the fastest warming spots on Earth," reports The Weather Undergound. The website cites studies from 2012 that show the world is warming at a quickening pace.

Five nations and territories have tied or hit all-time high temperature records so far this year.

JUST SAY NO -- Aging Baby Boomers Bring Drug Habits into Middle Age: Older adults are abusing drugs, getting arrested for drug offenses and dying from drug overdoses at increasingly higher rates. These surges have come as the 76 million baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, reach late middle age. ... The rate of death by accidental drug overdose for people aged 45 through 64 increased 11-fold between 1990 ... and 2010 ... The surge has pushed the accidental overdose rate for these late middle age adults higher than that of 25- to 44-year-olds for the first time. More than 12,000 boomers died of accidental drug overdoses in 2013.

RICH MAN POOR MAN -- For 2016 campaign: Out with the rich, in with the really rich: In 2016 campaign, the lament of the not quite rich enough. A couple presidential elections ago, somebody who had raised, say, $100,000 for a candidate was viewed as a fairly valuable asset,' said Washington lobbyist Kenneth Kies. 'Today, that looks like peanuts. Wealthy donors are probably looking around saying, "How can I do anything that even registers on the Richter scale?"' ...

"The VIP treatment for bundlers will ... arrive ... later in the cycle, when candidates become official and turn their focus to those who can raise money in smaller increments. Since campaign committees can accept donations up to only $2,700 per person in the primary, they will need teams of wired fundraisers who can bring in checks to fill their war chests."

ANDREW SORKIN'S NEW TV SHOW - Per Capital Media Pro: "Showtime has given a series order to drama 'Billions,' co-written by New York Times reporter and CNBC anchor Andrew Ross Sorkin. The pay-cable channel has ordered 12 episodes of the series, which stars Paul Giamatti and Damian Lewis as a U.S. attorney and a hedge fund hotshot, respectively. The series will film in New York and debut in 2016."

THE NEXT PRESIDENT? -- "Ted Cruz: I stopped listening to rock music after 9/11," by Kendall Breitman: "On 'CBS This Morning,' the Texas senator [said] he 'grew up listening to classic rock ... My music taste changed on 9/11 ... I actually intellectually find this very curious, but on 9/11, I didn't like how rock music responded. ... And country music, collectively, the way they responded, it resonated with me. ... I had an emotional reaction that said, "These are my people." ... So ever since 2001, I listen to country music.

COLLEGE HOCKEY GAME OF THE WEEK – No game this coming week, Frozen Four Thursday April 9, TD Garden Boston, Mass. – Boston University, North Dakota, Providence College, Nebraska-Omaha.   Season to date (5-3)


(SCIAC Baseball Game of the Week, April 4) Occidental Tigers (17-9) 6 vs. University of La Verne Leopards (15-10) 7

(NBA, April 4) Golden State Warriors (60-13) 101 at Dallas Mavericks (45-29) 98

(NHL, April 4) Vancouver Canucks (43-27-5) 3 at Winnipeg Jets (39-25-12) 2

(NCAA Final Four, April 4) Michigan State Spartans (27-11) 72 vs. Duke Blue Devils (33-4) 66; Wisconsin Badgers (35-3) 75 vs. Kentucky Wildcats (38-0) 79

Season to date (31-16)

MARKET WEEK – Former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke launched his own economics blog today. Hosted by the Brookings Institution, where he's a senior fellow, the first post is on low global interest rates.

DRIVING THE WEEK – For the first time since 1996, Tiger Woods is not among the top 100 golfers in the world ranking. He hasn't played since he withdrew from the Farmers Insurance Open on Feb. 6. It's not clear when Woods will return.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew arrives in Beijing today for meetings with senior Chinese officials ... In the morning, the Secretary will meet with Finance Minister Lou Jiwei ... In the afternoon, Lew will meet with Vice Premier Wang Yang. ... Later in the afternoon, the Secretary will meet with Premier Li Keqiang ... President Obama is in Boston today for the dedication of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate ... POLITICO's Mike Allen holds a Playbook lunch with Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy at the Newseum in DC ... Personal income and spending today at 8:30 a.m. expected to rise 0.3 percent and 0.2 percent respectively ... Case-Shiller homes prices on Tuesday at 9:00 a.m. expected to rise 0.7 percent ... Consumer confidence at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday expected to tick up to 96.5 from 96.4 ... March jobs report at 8:30 a.m. expected to show a gain of 250K with unemployment unchanged at 5.5 percent and hourly earnings up 0.2 percent.

Release: The Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate (EMK Institute) is honored to welcome President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden at the dedication of the Institute on Monday, March 30 ... in Boston ... [Victoria Reggie Kennedy said:] The Institute will give people from all walks of life a real, hands-on feel for the vital role the Senate plays in our democracy. Combining interactive technology with a full-scale representation of the U.S. Senate Chamber, the Institute will educate and inspire the next generation of citizens and leaders. It is a distinct privilege to welcome the President, First Lady and Vice President to mark this historic occasion.

Next week: Jack Ass of the Month and the monthly Puzzler.

Until Next Monday, Adios

Claremont, CA
March 30, 2015

CARTOON OF THE WEEK –  Doonesbury, G.B. Trudeau

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Dynamics of Disbelief

Climate change does not exist.
Evolution never happened.
The Moon Landing was fake.
Vaccinations can lead to autism.
Genetically modified food is evil.

Skepticism about science is on the rise, and polarization is the order of the day. In the March issue of National Geographic Magazine there is an interesting cover story by Joel Achenbach about the current push back on science, “The War on Science”. With more technology and information at our ready there is more information available creating segmented beliefs about science.

Today you hear and what you want to hear, as long as it supports your particular beliefs. News organizations have their agendas; values are being attacked by scientific fact. The hallmark of a good scientist is to be skeptical – data verification is the rule. But the credibility of the source of data is being questioned by partisan thinking and politics.

Less than half of all Americans believe the Earth is warming because humans are burning fossil fuels. Science appeals to our rational brain, but our beliefs are motivated largely by emotion, and the biggest motivation is remaining tight with our peers. “People still have a need to fit in, and that need to fit in is so strong that local values and local opinions are always trumping science. Meanwhile the Internet makes it easier than ever for climate skeptics and doubters of all kinds to find their own information and experts.

The University of Google is what I call it, the Internet filter that allows us to find what we want to find, to reinforce our beliefs and values.

“Eat or not to eat eggs?”  “Drinking red wine is good for you.” “The water is okay to drink.” It goes on and on. How wide is science between what we believe and the truth?

I am not a scientist, but I have many friends who are, who read this blog. I welcome their comments about this topic. Personally I think science is cool, but what is not cool is Bill O’Reilly or Rachel Meadow telling me that it is all nonsense and what they believe is the true scientific fact.

COLLEGE CHRONICLES – DIVEST HARVARD GAINS MOMENTUM: Natalie Portman and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. want Harvard to sell all fossil fuel stocks held by its endowment - and they're not alone. Last month, prominent Harvard alumni sent a letter calling on fellow Harvardians to lobby their alma mater to divest. The movement is gaining ground elsewhere: Stanford University and others have committed to end investments in coal.  "Harvard announcing a decision to divest would send an incredible moral and political statement," said Talia Rothstein, a co-coordinator of Divest Harvard, which is organizing a week-long event in mid-April to call attention to the cause. Divestment, she added, would be a "cultural catalyst."

Divest Harvard has been around since 2012, but the group hasn't been able to get an open, on-the-record meeting with the school's president. Students have tried a blockade, fasts and sit-ins - seven members even sued. They hope the April event will make a difference. Groups at other schools, like Yale, are also struggling to have an effect on their administrations. "They've circumvented that conversation by focusing on campus sustainability efforts, while their investments tacitly approve of a business model that exploits communities through destructive extraction ... and actively works against the climate solutions that would ensure students graduate into a livable world," Tristan Glowa, communications coordinator for Fossil Free Yale, told Morning Education.

In 2013, Harvard President Drew Faust explained why divesting of fossil fuels wasn't the right choice saying, in part, that 'We should ... be very wary of steps intended to instrumentalize our endowment in ways that would appear to position the University as a political actor rather than an academic institution.

Fossil fuels aren't the only thing at issue for university endowments. Earlier this year, Boston University decided the school wouldn't end investments in stocks of civilian gun manufacturers, despite the recommendations from the BU Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing. The Board of Trustees began discussing divestment after the Sandy Hook shooting, even before the advisory committee was created.

ELECTRIC SLIDE - General Electric is a complicated company at a turning point. Chief Executive Jeff Immelt already had problems convincing investors he was moving fast enough to remake the conglomerate into a simpler industrial machine, and then he took a bet on the energy boom; falling oil prices are taking their toll on GE’s business and raising new questions about Mr. Immelt’s legacy. Some investors and executives fear it could now be even longer before GE shares escape their losing streak. “In one way, shape or form, I created all the problems,” Mr. Immelt said in September, discussing efforts to cut corporate-bureaucracy layers that have built up over his tenure. “It’s not like I can say…this was Jack Welch’s fault. It’s our fault, and my fault.”

SMITHSONIAN BANS SELFIE STICKS - Go ahead and enjoy that dinosaur skeleton, space ship or portrait at your favorite Smithsonian museum, but don't plan on capturing the moment with a selfie stick. The Smithsonian announced Tuesday that selfie sticks are included in its ban on tripods as "a preventive measure to protect visitors and objects, especially during crowded conditions."

HARD DRIVE - Google's (GOOG) planned wireless service may launch by the end of March, but will work only on the company's latest Nexus smartphone and not on other phones using Google's Android operating system.

Amazon (AMZN) has opened an online store on Alibaba's (BABA) business-to-consumer platform Tmall, in a move that analysts say will boost awareness of its brand in China.

Apple will join the Dow Jones Industrial Average this month, a long-anticipated change that adds the world's most-valuable company to the 119-year-old blue-chip index. The move is the latest milestone for Apple, which has emerged in recent years as the standard-bearer for a resurgent U.S. technology sector. The Cupertino, Calif., company in January reported latest-quarter net income of $18 billion, the largest quarterly profit on record, fueled by roaring sales of iPhones.

Apple will replace telecommunication giant AT&T, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices, the unit of McGraw Hill Financial Inc. that owns the Dow.

GOOGLE tops Fortune's' 100 Best Companies to Work For': 1. Google ... 2. Boston Consulting Group ... 3. Acuity ... 4. SAS Institute ... 5. Robert W. Baird ...6. Edward Jones ... 7. Wegmans Food Market ... 8. ... 9. Genentech ...10. Camden Property Trust.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Alex Ball …famous political strategist, Frank Borman (87), Billy Crystal (67), Al Jarreau (75),  Quincy Jones (82), Eva Longoria (40), Jerry Lewis (89), Mike Love (74), Mitt Romney (68), Hollis Stacy (61),  James Taylor (67), Andrew Young (83).

FIFTY YEARS – Gay Talese -- age 83, a former copyboy at The New York Times who later was a reporter there from 1956 to 1965, and was one of the Times reporters who covered Bloody Sunday in Selma - returns to Page 1  with "Assignment America ('This series will explore changes in American politics, culture and technology, drawing on the reporting and personal experiences of New York Times journalists around the country'): Selma, Ala. - The Story Lines Blur, 50 Years After the Bloodshed at the Bridge."

Talese writes: "Selma today is a place expected to carry perhaps more symbolic weight than any small city can bear. Without doubt, civil rights history - American history - was made here. But ... when I first became part of the University of Alabama's all-white campus in 1949, I saw nothing so different from what I had observed during my New Jersey boyhood.

"In June of 1963 , as a reporter at The Times, I had an interview in New York with Alabama's Gov. George C. Wallace, who had flown in to appear on NBC's 'Meet the Press.' He stayed in a large suite at the Pierre hotel on Fifth Avenue, where our talk took place. The interview had been going well for the first 10 minutes, but then Governor Wallace suddenly rose from his chair, took me by the arm, and led me to one of the windows overlooking Central Park and the row of expensive buildings that line Fifth Avenue.

"'Here we have the citadel of hypocrisy in America,' he said, pointing down to the street and declaring that hardly any black people, even those who could afford it, could hope to share living space with whites in this area, or in surrounding areas, because of the longstanding, if unacknowledged, practices of real estate segregation in New York and other Northern cities.

"And still, he went on, they come down to the South and rant about equal rights! I quoted him at length in the next day's paper, but I left the interview without mentioning to Governor Wallace that I myself had an apartment a few blocks away from the Pierre - and I did not have then, nor do I have to this day, an African-American neighbor on my block." With pic of Gay Talese gazing at the Edmund Pettus Bridge

--HOW THE TIMES covered Bloody Sunday: On a crowded eight-column front page, Selma was a 1-col. headline in col. 1 (the off-lede), next to a 4-col. Associated Press Wirephoto pic. (The 3-col. lead was the release of the plan for New York City school integration). Here was the headline over Roy Reed's article from Selma: "ALABAMA POLICE USE GAS AND CLUBS TO ROUT NEGROES: 57 Are Injured at Selma as Troopers Break Up Rights Walk in Montgomery -- DR. KING IS IN ATLANTA -- He Reveals Plans to Lead a New March Tomorrow."

--The lead: "Alabama state troopers and volunteer officers of the Dallas County sheriff's office tore through a column of Negro demonstrators with tear gas, nightsticks and whips here today to enforce Gov. George C. Wallace's order against a protest march from Selma to Montgomery."

--GAY TALESE has a scene story on p. 20 (the jump page for the main story), "New York Doctors Barred at Scene: "SELMA, March 7 - The long line of Negroes walked slowly and silently to the main sidewalk of Selma's business district on this quiet Sunday. There were 525 of them, walking two abreast, and they were headed for a small concrete bridge at the end of the street."

SPORTS TALK -- "Why America fell out of love with golf," by Drew Harwell: "It's been years since the increasingly unpopular sport of golf plunked into the rough, and the industry now is realizing that it may not be able to ever get out. All the qualities that once made it so elite and exclusive are, analysts say, now playing against it. ... Even what loyalists would say are strengths -- its simplicity, its traditionalism -- can seem overly austere in an age of fitness classes, extreme races and iPhone games. ... The number of Americans who said they played golf at least once last year has fallen to one of its lowest point in years.

SPRING TRAINING – It was good to see Hall of Fame Coach George Valesente’s Ithaca College Bomber baseball team make their annual spring visit to SCIAC teams this past week. Coach Valesente begins his 38th season as head coach. Their trip was not too successful, going 2 – 5 for the week.

WHAT’S ON THE iPAD? – five songs we are listening to this week:

1). Adele, “Rolling in the Deep” (2010)
2). Garth Brooks, “What’s She Doin Now” (1991)
3). Chely Wright, “Single White Female” (1999)
4). The Hollies, “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress” (1972)
5). Harry James, “Sleepy Lagoon” (1942)

BRACKETOLOGY 101 - Kentucky's chasing history, trying to become the first undefeated champion in March Madness since Indiana in 1976. They're seeded first in the Midwest Region, in search of six more wins for a perfect season. Kansas is the No. 2 seed in the Midwest. ... Kentucky's first game will be Thursday against the winner of Tuesday's play-in game between No. 16 seeds Manhattan and Hampton. The 68-team tournament begins Tuesday in Dayton, Ohio, with a pair of play-in games; it goes into full swing Thursday, with 16 games. ... Villanova seeded No. 1 in East Region, Duke seeded No. 1 in the South, and Wisconsin seeded No. 1 in the West.

The Swami’s Final Four – Kentucky, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Gonzaga.

COLLEGE HOCKEY GAME OF THE WEEK – Friday 3/20, 7:30 PM ET, TWCS; It is conference playoff time, in the ECAC #16 Colgate University Raiders (21-11-4) coached by Don Vaughn, St. Lawrence ’84, v. St. Lawrence University Saints (20-13-3), coached by Greg Carvel, St. Lawrence ’93. The game will be watched by yours truly, St. Lawrence ’76.  St. Lawrence wins 5 – 4.   Season to date (5-2)


(SCIAC Softball Game of the Week, Mar. 21) Cal Lutheran Regals (10-11) 4 vs. Whittier Richard Nixons (11-4) 6

(Big Ten hockey, Mar. 19) Wisconsin Badgers (4-25-5) 2 vs. #19 Michigan Wolverines (20-14-0) 6

(NBA, Mar. 21) Portland Trail Blazers (44-20) 95 vs. Memphis Grizzlies (46-20) 97

(NHL, Mar. 21) St. Louis Blues (44-20-5) 3 vs. Minnesota Wild (38-24-7) 4

Season to date (28-15)

MARKET WEEK – Last week marked six years since the 2009 stock market bottom. Since then, the Dow has risen 173 percent, the S&P 500 has added more than 206 percent, while the Nasdaq has gained more than 288 percent.

U.S. stock futures were higher in early trading, ahead of this week's Fed meeting, and after a third straight week of losses for the Dow and S&P 500 and two straight negative weeks for the Nasdaq.  Anticipation of a Fed rate hike has recently been sending ripples through financial markets. Investors may get more hints on the timing, after the central bank's two-day meeting ends on Wednesday.

Apple (AAPL) investors are looking for a turnaround, following three weeks of losses in a row, despite last week's smartwatch unveiling and the stock's upcoming inclusion this week in the Dow.  The battered euro hit new 12-year lows against the dollar early this morning, before recovering. Meanwhile, oil prices were under pressure again, with U.S. crude trading under $44 a barrel at one point.

DRIVING THE WEEK – Big week for the Fed with an FOMC statement and Janet Yellen presser on Wednesday ... House and Senate Republicans are set to produce budget blueprints that could differ on key points including defense spending and how long it takes to get to balance ... U.S. and Iranian negotiators resume talks today toward a possible nuclear deal ... Treasury Secretary Jack Lew testifies before House Financial Services at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday on the state of the int'l finance system ... Lew testifies before House appropriations subcommittee on Wednesday ... CFTC holds a roundtable Wednesday on cyber security ... House Financial Services on Wednesday has a hearing on 'Preserving Consumer Choice and Financial Independence" ... Industrial production this morning at 9:15 a.m. expected to rise 0.2 percent ... FOMC announcement at 2:00 p.m. Wednesday expected to drop the "patient" language, setting the stage for possible rate hike later this year ... Index of leading indicators at 10:00 a.m. Thursday expected to rise 0.3 percent.


May the road rise to meet you, 
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
The rains fall soft upon your fields,
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.
    ~~Old Irish Blessing ~~

Next week: Spring Training continues and The Puzzler.

Until Next Monday, Adios

Claremont, CA

March 16, 2015

CARTOON OF THE WEEK –  Science Fact: The Composition of the human body

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Where have you gone, Tim Russert?

Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

I miss Tim Russert.

Gone are the days of unbiased journalism, everyone has an agenda or opinion. From Bill O’Reilly to Rachel Meadow, from Megyn Kelly to Chris Matthews, does anyone not have an agenda anymore?

I could always count on Tim Russert, died 2008, for providing unbiased, accurate, reporting. With Brian Williams and Bill O’Reilly spinning tall tales about their exploits in the field, and Sean Hannity denying he does not color his hair – I have had enough.

News, especially network news has gone the same way our politics has gone: segmented, spin, ideology that only serves a specific group or agenda. Recently I sat in on a journalism class at The University of La Verne. How refreshing, straight news, no cute quotes or insensitive commentary. Lets’ hope our graduates continue this on into their careers.

Is their hope for news reporting? I think not, that is why we have Rink Rats.  J

KOCH CASH - The Koch network's 2016 spending goal: $889 million: The Koch brothers' operation intends to spend $889 million in the run-up to the 2016 elections - an historic sum that in many ways would mark Charles and David Koch and their fellow conservative mega-donors as more powerful than the official Republican Party. The figure, which more than doubles the amount spent by the Republican National Committee during the last presidential election cycle, prompted cheers from some in the GOP who are looking for all the help they can get headed into a potentially tough 2016 election landscape. But while the leaked details seemed in part a show of defiance to Democrats, who had targeted the brothers as bogeymen, the spending goal also appeared to be a show of dominance to rival factions on the right, including the RNC.

S&P CUTS RUSSIA'S CREDIT RATING TO JUNK - S&P said the downgrade, the first time in a decade that Russia has been assessed as below investment-grade by one of the major credit rating agencies, was a reflection of its belief that 'Russia's financial system is weakening and therefore limiting the Central Bank of Russia's ability to transmit monetary policy.' ... Moody's and Fitch have also cut their ratings for Russia in the past month, but both still rate it at one notch above junk. Traders said that since two of the three major agencies still rated Russia at investment-grade, the S&P downgrade should not trigger a wave of automatic selling.

THE WAR ON JEB BUSH - The war on Jeb Bush is on. Rand Paul is attacking him as a hypocrite on marijuana who's indistinguishable from Hillary Clinton. Ted Cruz is questioning whether Bush's stands on education and immigration will fly with primary voters. Conservative outside groups are going after him, with one airing a TV ad declaring, 'We do not want dynasties in our White House.

For most of the past year, the Republican 2016 nomination fight had been seen as a free-for-all among a half-dozen or so viable candidates with no clear favorite. But in a matter of weeks it's morphed into a collection of would-be Bush rivals and detractors ganging up on the early frontrunner ... There are huge question marks surrounding Bush, from his controversial surname to positions on issues that may be deal-stoppers for conservative early-state voters. Yet big donors are lining up behind him and top political staffers are signing up for campaign jobs.

COLLEGE CHRONICLES – Positions in the news:

Assistant Vice President for Finance, Controller: The Huntington Library, Pasadena, CA

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is a world renowned humanities research and cultural center surrounded by breathtaking gardens.  Originally the private estate of railroad magnate Henry Huntington, today it is one of Southern Californias must see cultural destinations with magnificent collections of rare books, manuscripts, and important works of art.

Working under the supervision of and reporting to the Vice President for Financial Affairs, the Controller will be responsible for managing the finance, accounting and reporting activities of the institution.  The Controller will lead daily operations of the Business Office and supervise the accounting staff, overseeing the following functions: financial reporting and compliance, accounts receivable, accounts payable, payroll, grant management and investment accounting and analysis and assists in management of budget and forecasting. The Controller will have extensive contact with all levels of staff, has frequent contact with outside vendors, agencies and consultants, and interacts with Trustees, Overseers, donors and volunteers. The Controller will be involved in supporting presentations to the board and senior leadership team, implementing new processes and systems, playing a strategic role in the financial planning of the Institution, and assisting in the administration of the endowment fund.

Bachelors degree in accounting, finance or related field, CPA required, MBA preferred

Minimum of 10+ years of accounting experience required, with 3+ years in a supervisory role

Strong knowledge of and experience with fund accounting in a large multi-disciplinary non-profit organization preferred. Experience working with an endowment fund and with planned (or split interest) gifts desirable

Investment management experience preferred; strong understanding of accounting for investments  FAS 157, ASC 820; alternative investments and capital markets.

Date Posted: February 26, 2015
Type: Executive
Salary: Not specified

A TIGHTER INTERNET - The U.S. government has expanded its oversight of a once lightly regulated business. The implications of the Federal Communications Commission’s move to assert “net neutrality” in the Internet is far reaching. The outcome is a win for Internet companies, but a setback for big telecommunications and cable companies. In a notable response, Verizon issued a statement—typed on a Remington typewriter and datelined Feb. 26, 1934—criticizing the rules as antiquated. The immediate practical effects of the decisions are limited because companies, regulators and users all agree in principle that traffic shouldn’t be blocked, but the possible consequences down the road are hard to predict. In the meantime, the telecom and cable industries plan to fight the rules in court and are backing attempts by Republicans in Congress to supersede them with new legislation.

CHANGING TIMES -- 10 big trends that are transforming America; 1: The rise of majority-minority and near-majority-minority states ... 2: The diversification of eligible voters ... 3: The lagged diversification of actual voters ... 4: The rise of post-Baby Boom generations ... 5: The superdiversification of America's children ... 6: The graying of America ... 7: The diversification of the gray ... 8: The decline of the white working class ... 9: The rise of white college graduates ... 10: The rise of the unmarried electorate.

SCOTUS - Supreme Court considers constitutionality of independent redistricting. Hundreds of congressional districts might have to be redrawn before the next election - and several other election laws could be at stake - depending on how broadly the high court rules in a much anticipated case brought by the GOP-controlled Arizona state legislature ... But the case could do more than just dismantle the independent redistricting commissions that good-government groups have been championing for decades - it could invalidate some state election laws such as those related to voter identification, regulation of primaries and residency requirements passed through ballot initiatives.

California's redistricting success in jeopardy? Just last November, California voters experienced a bracing novelty: a handful of competitive state assembly elections - after decades of blatant gerrymandering in which the legislature drew lines that lopsidedly favored the party in power, or willfully protected incumbents on both sides of the aisle. One big reason for the change: a bipartisan citizens' redistricting commission created by a statewide ballot initiative to govern state electoral boundaries, and later expanded to cover congressional seats ... But California's modest gains - along with various electoral reforms in more than a dozen other states - would be at risk if the Supreme Court rules in favor of a little-publicized suit brought by Arizona's state legislature, which is seeking to invalidate a similar redistricting commission that drew the most recent congressional boundary lines in that state.

HIGH ROLLERS - Forbes' 29th Annual World's Billionaires Issue - release: Bill Gates ... was once again on top as the world's richest person on Forbes' 29th annual ranking of the world's billionaires in the Mar. 23, 2015 issue of Forbes magazine ... with a current net worth of $79.2 billion ... A record 1,826 billionaires (up from 1,645 in 2014) made the list, with an average net worth of $3.86 billion ... Added together, the total net worth for this year's billionaires was $7.05 trillion, up from $6.4 trillion last year. 1,191 members, or roughly two-thirds of the list, were self-made billionaires. 230 inherited their wealth; another 405 inherited at least a portion but are still growing it.

Mark Zuckerberg [has] a net worth of $33.4 billion ... American gambling tycoon Sheldon Adelson (No. 18) dropped out of the top ten from eighth place last year. ... The most recognizable athlete of all time, Michael Jordan (No. 1741), is new to the billionaires list, thanks to his well-timed investment in the Charlotte Hornets ... 46 billionaires are under 40 this year, including: Three from Uber: Travis Kalanick (No. 283), 38, and Garrett Camp (No. 283), 36, each worth $5.3 billion, and Ryan Graves (No. 1324), 31, worth $1.4 billion. ... [and t]wo from Snapchat: Evan Spiegel, 24, and Bobby Murphy, 25, tied at No. 1250, each with a net worth of $1.5 billion.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Ralph Nader (81), Catherine O’Hara (61), Jesper Parnevik (50). Tom Wolfe (85), Joanne Woodward (85).


1). Quinnipiac 16-3-3 
2). St. Lawrence 14-7-1 
3). Yale 12-6-4
4). Colgate 11-7-4
5). Dartmouth 12-8-2
6). Harvard 11-8-3        
7). Cornell 9-9-4 
8). Clarkson 8-11-3
9). RPI 8-12-2       
10). Union 8-13-1    
11). Brown 5-14-3 
12). Princeton 2-18-2

COLLEGE HOCKEY GAME OF THE WEEK – Saturday 3/14, 5:00 PM ET, FSD; Michigan State University (14-14-2) at #16 University of Michigan Wolverines (19-11-0). The Big Ten is finishing up their regular season, Michigan wins big 5 – 1.  Season to date (5-1)


(SCIAC Baseball Game of the Week, Mar. 8) Ithaca College Bombers (0-0) 3 at Pomona-Pitzer Endowments 8

(ECAC hockey, Mar. 6) Rensselaer Engineers (8-12-2) 3 at Clarkson Golden Knights (8-11-3) 4

(NBA, Mar. 7) Portland Trail Blazers (40-19) 101 at Minnesota Timber Wolves (13-47) 80

(NHL, Mar. 7) Pittsburgh Penguins (36-18-9) 2 at Los Angeles Kings (30-21-12) 4

Season to date (26-12)

MARKET WEEK - Stocks are struggling to get March off to a bullish start, as futures fell despite an interest rate cut in China. The major averages ended a positive February with a whimper, with the Dow falling the final two days of the month and the S&P 500 falling the final three days, but it was still the best monthly gain for the S&P 500 since October 2011.

The Nasdaq comes off its first close over 5,000 in nearly 15 years, sparking both optimism and worry on Wall Street. Many investors still remember the Nasdaq bubble bursting and a tumble down to the 1,114 level, but others point to more realistic valuations and actual revenue and profit among the companies involved. Though they did not get nearly as much attention as Nasdaq 5,000, the Dow and S&P 500 closed Monday at all-time highs.

DRIVING THE WEEK - Congress managed to avoid a DHS shutdown but just barely. The department will need another funding bill by Friday midnight and there is yet again no clear path to get there. ... Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will speak to Congress on Tuesday morning, irking the White House and many Democrats ... President Obama this afternoon meets with members of the Technology CEO Council ... Personal income and spending today at 8:30 a.m. expected to rise 0.4 percent and drop 0.1 percent ... ISM manufacturing at 10:00 a.m. expected to drop to 53.0 from 53.5 ... February jobs report on Friday at 8:30 a.m. expected to show a gain of 235K with earnings up 0.2 percent and unemployment down a tenth to 5.6 percent ... . Big banks on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. will receive their latest stress test results from the Fed.

Next week: The Dynamics of Disbelief

Until Next Monday, Adios

Claremont, CA
March 5, 2015