Monday, May 4, 2015

An Inspiring Week

It started last weekend, my niece was spending the weekend and she preached the gospel of kale, goat cheese, and fruits. She cooked and inspired the household to better health management. I am so proud to have a fourteen year old individual in my family as mature and caring as she…”In N’ Out” still a viable option, I hope.

Monday a final lecture by a faculty member of 35 plus years; a lecture of hope as well as a warning – Hope for the human spirit and a warning to us that to fully understand events around us you must understand yourself before you can take on life. In teaching you spend your professional career helping and guiding others, when at the same time you are also guiding yourself. What a wonderful profession!

Then the second annual University of La Verne Spirit Awards were on Tuesday; though I question the effort on publicity for the event, I do not question the award recipients and their spirit to the community.  I left the ceremony not only proud of the level of dedication by all the recipients to their particular causes but after a few days of viewing the Baltimore civil unrest, their message of peace and love brought  a welcome relief to a solemn week of news. All members of the La Verne/Claremont/Pomona/San Dimas community should pay close attention to these leaders of helping others and their communities.

Friday, it is that time of year to honor those retiring, a celebration of years of service and dedication. Though not always agreeing with their management skills, I totally agree with their commitment and service to the institutions they have served. Every year I leave these retirement functions wondering how I will be viewed and critiqued upon my retirement. Perhaps I will get lucky and just quietly fade away into the sunset, unnoticed…not too many years away. The day is topped off by a student play entitled “A Dog’s Will” a Brazilian moral comedy about compassion in death. It sounds morbid but it was quite entertaining and the students’ enthusiasm for the play was refreshing to see. 
Saturday a visit from my closest in age sibling, I like many; let life get in the way of staying close to family members. But when they come for a visit or I visit them, it is like they never were far away and all seems right. “Amo la mia famiglia.”

Finally the week concluded (Sunday) with a concert by students and faculty highlighting their artistic talents in music and song. Perhaps it is because I have no music or artistic talents, I left the concert feeling so good having been giving the opportunity to witness and share these wonderful talents.

If only all my weeks could be this cool.

COLLEGE CHRONICLES – QUESTIONS OF COST IN ASU PLAN: At the onset of MOOC-rage a few years ago, Arizona State University President Michael Crow didn't buy in. "MOOCs were a significant enhancement to what the Internet could do," Crow said last week. "They weren't, at that point, a significant enhancement to college completion." Crow now clearly feels that, having had time to develop, Massive Open Online Courses can play a groundbreaking role in a university-wide goal of improving student success. As the Global Freshman Academy gets underway, Crow will be looking to prove three things: that the cheap, open-access and credit-bearing MOOCs will raise college-going rates, improve freshman-to-sophomore-year retention and lower the cost for students to graduate. "We could talk about this three years ago," Crow said. "We couldn't do this till right now."

- Some analysts, though, such as New America's Rachel Fishman, take issue with that affordability point. A price of $200 per credit hour adds up, Fishman noted  - to about $6,000 for the full freshman year's worth of credits, double the in-district rate of a local community college. The courses won't initially be eligible for federal financial aid. Although the university hasn't sought a 'ruling' from the Education Department on the issue, ASU Chief Technology Officer Adrian Sannier said last week. (In a sense Title IV would be a detriment to the academy because ASU wants to keep at bay barriers to entry - like the FAFSA and other traditional admissions requirements.) But as the program grows and the actual costs become clearer, university officials will explore ways to both reduce the fees and provide aid, he said. ASU arrived at the $200 price tag as - "for now" - the best balance between accessibility and sustainability, Sannier said. But the price could drop for the academy's latter nine courses set for release over the next two years - if the folks in charge decide it's in everyone's best interest.

- Officials at edX, ASU's partner in the endeavor, say they want to see how the academy plays out before considering expanding it to other universities. But the MOOC provider is constantly talking with its five dozen partner institutions about experimenting with different pathways to academic credit. "There's a lot of interest and it's not just college completion rates that stand to rise: A dismal 7 percent of MOOC students finish their courses. Academic credit could provide new motivation.

SPEED READ - Sunday marked the 50th anniversary of Moore's Law, the idea that computing power doubles every two years. Intel co-founder Gordon Moore first laid out the prediction in a paper published on April 19, 1965, though at that time he said power would double every year. He revised that to every two years in 1975. The prediction has held true since then, partly because it's seen as a guiding principle for the industry. There's been pretty much constant speculation that the trend will come to an end as semiconductors reach physical limits, but so far so good.

628 or 415? - Phone numbers starting with 415 are running low in San Francisco. Now there is a new area code in town. Last month, phone companies began assigning numbers starting with the digits 628. The new code’s arrival has some rushing to purchase numbers bearing the old code, while others in the city say the days when an area code mattered have pretty much passed. “Mostly because, who dials a phone number anymore?” says a Silicon Valley newcomer. But in some San Francisco circles, the 415 still carries currency. “It puts you on par with New York and Los Angeles—the 415, the 212, the 310—those are really the most recognizable area codes,” says a real-estate agent. “It’s a status symbol.”

FIRST QUARTER PROFITS SHOW WARNING SIGNS - Most U.S. companies so far this earnings season have managed to beat Wall Street profit forecasts despite weak sales, but investors hoping corporate headwinds have died down may need to temper their enthusiasm. Of the 169 Standard & Poor's 500 companies that have reported so far, 71 percent beat earnings estimates, many of which were modest to begin with ... But they did so with help from share buybacks, cost-cutting and other measures, instead of robust sales growth.

Despite those beats, analysts are now trimming their profit and sales expectations for the second quarter on the belief that the stronger U.S. dollar and sharply lower oil prices, widely held to have hurt first-quarter results, will continue to dampen business growth for a while.

A YUAN-SIDED VIEW -  For years, the U.S. has alleged that China gives its companies an unfair competitive advantage by keeping the value of its currency below a level suggested by market fundamentals. Now, after a decade in which the Yuan has been allowed to appreciate by more than 30% against a basket of currencies, the International Monetary Fund is close to declaring China’s currency fairly valued—although, in its typically cautious style, the fund is unlikely to use the term “fairly valued” in its official statements. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama is warning U.S. lawmakers about Beijing’s economic rise in an effort to sell his ambitious trade agenda. But Beijing may need to speed up its efforts to boost the economy. According to a private gauge of the country’s factory activity, China’s manufacturing sector in April turned in its weakest performance in a year.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Erin Andrews (37), Carol Burnett (82), Eric Clapton (75), Ann Margaret (74), Willie Nelson (82), Al Pacino (75), Jerry Seinfeld (61), Sula Vanderplank …Rink Rats’ resident scientist.

SPORTS TALK - NFL league office relinquishing tax exempt status: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell ... wrote in a memo ... that the owners voted to have both the league office and the Management Council ... file taxes for 2015 ... Goodell referred to the tax exempt status, which the league has had since 1942, as a 'distraction' as media and fans often confused the league office with the entire business of the league.


Stanley Cup Playoffs: Second Round Series Picks
West – Ducks over Flames in 5 games, Blackhawks over the Wild in 6 games.
East – Rangers over Capitols in 6 games, Lightening over Montreal in 7 games.

NBA Playoffs: Second Round Series Picks
West – Warriors over the Grizzlies 6 games, LA Clippers over Houston in 7 games.
East – Atlanta over Washington in 6 games, Chicago over Cleveland in 6 games.

Season to date (48-20)

MARKET WEEK – Billionaire Warren Buffett explains the stock market would be viewed as "cheap" now if interest rates continued to remain low. If rates normalize, stocks would be on the high side on a valuation basis, he said.

Warren Buffett's financial acumen is well documented, but the CEOs of Berkshire Hathaway's big four investments-IBM, American Express, Coca-Cola, and Wells Fargo-paint a vivid picture of the Oracle of Omaha.

Berkshire Hathaway beat estimates on earnings, and saw a 20 percent increase in operating earnings, thanks to higher revenue at its insurance and railroad operations.

DRIVING THE WEEK – UK ELECTIONS - Britain is heading towards a hung parliament after Thursday's national election, fuelling uncertainty about the country's future in the European Union, its economic policy, and Scotland's place in the United Kingdom. ... Four days before Britain's closest election in decades, the prospect of no single party winning an overall majority and which alliances could be struck with smaller parties afterwards is dominating debate.

Opinion polls show Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservatives and the opposition Labour Party, led by Ed Miliband, neck and neck, with neither on track to win control of the House of Commons on their own. ... If Cameron is re-elected, he has promised to hold an in-out EU membership referendum in 2017, while the rise of Scottish nationalists .. is generating continued uncertainty about Scotland's place in the United Kingdom.

Greek negotiations continue today ... UK voters go to the polls Thursday ... April jobs number out Friday ... Hillary Clinton heads to California ... Senate expected to clear Iran bill this week and move on to TPA ... SALT conference takes place in Las Vegas with tons of top names (look for an M.M. preview tomorrow) ... President Obama is in NYC today where he will deliver remarks at Lehman College in the Bronx for the launch of "My Brother's Keeper Alliance" ... President Obama will also attend a pair of NYC fundraisers for the DNC and tape an appearance for one of Dave Letterman's final Late Shows ... Brookings today has a panel at 1:00 p.m. on 'The Path Forward in U.S.-Japan Relations: Trade, Diplomacy, and Security" ... Factory Orders today at 10:00 a.m. expected to rise 2.0 percent ... Int'l trade at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday expected to show deficit up to $41B from $35.4B ... ISM non-manufacturing at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday expected to dip to 56.2 from 56.5 ... ADP employment at 8:15 a.m. Wednesday expected to show a gain of 200K ... Productivity and unit labor costs at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday expected to decline 1.9 percent and rise 4.4 percent, respectively ... April jobs report at 8:30 a.m. Friday expected to bounce back to a gain of 225K with unemployment dropping a tenth to 5.4 percent and wages up 0.2 percent.

Next week: Top Five and What is an Emeritus?

Until Next Monday, Adios

Claremont, CA
May 4, 2015

CARTOON OF THE WEEK –  Tego, New Yorker

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