Monday, June 8, 2015

I'm from Boca

It is easy these days to escape reality: the social network, tweets, 264 television cable channels, faculty meetings, CSPAN, Housewives of Orange County,  the choices are endless.

But I found another escape from reality this past week. To save miles on my Ford, I decided to rent a car to travel the Southwest. When picking up the car I noticed the license plates on my rental were from Florida, “The Sunshine State”, Weeki Wachee, Da Boca Vista.

As always when traveling around the country especially in the land of Cracker Barrel restaurants, there is always someone who notices your license plates and strikes up a conversation.

So, while stopped at a McDonalds in Surprise, Arizona, a gentleman comes up to me in the parking lot and says, “What part of Florida are you from?” So I say “I’m from Boca.” Well, he begins to tell me he is from Cocoa Beach, is retired from NASA, and lives here in Surprise, Arizona. He ordered a Big Mac meal, by the way.

A very friendly man, he was quite taken back that I was from Florida, and I had just driven from Tucson, on my way to Las Vegas. We wished each other well and he went onward to a happy retirement in Surprise, Arizona and me to further unreality life in Southern California.

Perhaps my next Trust Department meeting I will wear my I Love New York t-shirt, or at the next Faculty meeting wear my Guns N’ Roses baseball hat; I will never know when reality ends and unreality begins.

BOB SCHIEFFER's last commentary, airing Sunday morning on his grand finale edition of "Face the Nation" (John Dickerson takes the baton next week): "As I prepared for this last broadcast as moderator of 'Face the Nation,' I thought back to when I was in the ninth grade and saw my byline in the school newspaper and decided right then I wanted to be a reporter. I got a chance to do that. When I was a young reporter I wanted to work for CBS because Walter Cronkite was my hero. And I got a chance to do that.

"After I was here awhile I wanted to be the moderator of Face the Nation -- and I got to do that and did it for 24 years. Maybe it's because I just loved the news but at the time, I thought every job I ever had was the best job in the world: going behind police lines, talking to cops, and soldiers, and then senators, and even presidents.

"I tried to remember that the news is not about the newscaster -- it's about the people who make it and those who are affected by it. I'll be honest, I'm going to miss being in the middle of things. But the one thing I'll never forget is the trust you placed in me and how nice you were to have me as a guest in your home over so many years. It meant the world to me and it always will. Thank you."

SENTENCE OF THE DAY -- Orin Kerr of George Washington University Law School, on The Volokh Conspiracy blog: "If I understand the history correctly, in the late 1990s, the President was impeached for lying about a sexual affair by a House of Representatives led by a man who was also then hiding a sexual affair, who was supposed to be replaced by another Congressman who stepped down when forced to reveal that he too was having a sexual affair, which led to the election of a new Speaker of the House who now has been indicted for lying about payments covering up his sexual contact with a boy."

COLLEGE CHRONICLES – PAY RAISE FOR PUBLIC COLLEGE PRESIDENTS: Public college presidents' median pay rose 7 percent between fiscal years 2013-14, The Chronicle of Higher Education reports in its latest annual survey. Two top officials raked in more than a million bucks - compared with three dozen private college presidents in the Chronicle's most recent past survey of those institutions - but the typical chief made just over $428,000. Rodney Erickson of Penn State, R. Bowen Loftin of Texas A&M and Joseph Alutto of Ohio State - all of whom have since left their presidencies - were the top three earners. (In fact, six of the top 10 are no longer at the institution that landed them on the list.) See how others ranked:

RECORD GIFT - Paulson's $400m gift to Harvard is school's largest ever, the gift from hedge fund billionaire John A. Paulson ... will permanently endow Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. The gift tops the previous largest donation, a $350 million gift in September from businessman Gerald Chan to the School of Public Health to help fight global health threats. Harvard will rename the School of Engineering in honor of Paulson, who graduated in 1980 from Harvard Business School.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to:  Maria Aguirre ….famous Finance Executive, President George H.W. Bush (91), Tonya Carmon …famous student advisor, Gabby Giffords (45), Anna Kournikova (34), Prince (57), Tom Scali …famous singer, Nancy Sinatra (75).

U.S. RECOVERY STUMBLES AGAIN - GDP shrinks for the third time in 6 years as tough winter knocks the economy off course.

The U.S. economy contracted earlier this year as harsh weather and a strong dollar sapped demand for American goods, underscoring the choppiness of an expansion that has struggled to lift off.

Gross domestic product shrank at a 0.7% seasonally adjusted annual rate in the first quarter, the Commerce Department said. The agency previously estimated output grew 0.2% from January through March. The revision, which was near economists' latest estimate of a 1% contraction, showed how the world's largest economy remains vulnerable to shocks as it struggles to regain its vigor. The dip, expected to be short-lived, marked the third quarterly contraction since the economy emerged from recession in mid-2009.

The U.S. economy added 280,000 jobs in May, the best month of 2015. Unemployment ticked slightly higher to 5.5% as more people entered the job market.

Overall, the report marks good news at a time of uncertainty. In the early part of 2015, the economy had contracted and job growth suffered, due largely to harsh weather, a port strike and a strong dollar. But recent months have brought more positive signs.

WAGE WEAKNESS -   When U.S. unemployment rates fall, simple rules of labor supply and demand predict wages will go up. But a Wall Street Journal analysis of Labor Department data points to persistent constraints on worker pay, even as the economy approaches what the data say is full employment. The Wall Street Journal found 33 U.S. metropolitan areas where unemployment rates and nonfarm payrolls last year returned to prerecession levels. But even in those regions, pay raises typically were small as large numbers of former workers who had become detached from the labor force filled many of the available jobs.

HACKED OFF -  The U.S. may have been the victim of another data breach, but this time on a record scale. Officials suspect that hackers in China stole the personal records of as many as four million people in one of the most far-reaching breaches of government computers. It isn’t clear exactly what was taken, but officials said the information can be used to facilitate identity theft or fraud. The breach, disclosed yesterday, is the latest sign of the U.S. government’s struggle to protect its own data. It also brings to light a potential new fear: How safe is any information shared with the federal government?

BLATTER RESIGNS AT FIFA - Sepp Blatter (last weeks’ Rink Rats Jack Ass of the Month), the longtime president of FIFA, announced his resignation Tuesday, a stunning about-face that came just days after he celebrated his reelection and defiantly criticized U.S. law enforcement agencies leading a corruption investigation that has rocked world soccer's governing body. ... While it remains unclear what prompted Blatter's resignation, two people familiar with the case said Tuesday that Blatter remains a focus of the sprawling investigation into FIFA and that federal prosecutors hope to get evidence from those already arrested to secure further indictments. ...

In a short news conference in FIFA's Zurich headquarters, Blatter admitted no wrongdoing but acknowledged that he had lost the support of 'the entire world of football' and called for an election to select his successor. Blatter will remain president until a new election, and no date is set. Until he steps down, Blatter said, he will focus on imposing 'far-reaching, fundamental reforms' in the organization that oversees the world's most popular sport.

SPORTS BLINK -- The NFL and Yahoo ... announced ... a ... partnership that will ... digitally deliver the NFL's International Series game in London between the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars on October 25 ... for free on any device.


Chicago Black Hawks win the Stanley Cup in 5 games.
Golden State Warriors win the NBA Championship in 6 games.
Women’s World Cup: 1). Germany, 2). U.S.A., 3). Japan

Season to date (57-24)

MARKET WEEK – Warning signals from a century-old stock-market analysis tool known as Dow Theory are sparking debate about whether stocks are headed for a fall. Dow Theory holds that any lasting rally to new highs in the Dow Jones Industrial Average must be accompanied by a new high in the Dow Jones Transportation Average - the 20-stock index that tracks some of the largest U.S. airlines, railroads and trucking companies. When the transport average lags, it can presage broader stock declines.

Right now, the Dow transports are sitting on a 6.9 percent decline for the year. They haven't hit an all-time high since Dec. 29. Delta Air Lines Inc. has dropped 13 percent, United Parcel Service Inc. 9.6 percent and railroad CSX Corp. 5 percent. The Dow industrials, by contrast, are up 0.2 percent, setting a record high as recently as May 19. The decline in transport stocks is especially notable, given how closely together the two indexes trade. Since 1900, the Dow industrials and Dow transports have traded higher than their average of the last 200 days in tandem more than 50 percent of the time.

DRIVING THE WEEK – Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (TPA) debate returns to the House ... G-7 continues and President Obama will attend a meeting on energy and climate. ... Afterward, the President will hold a bilateral meeting with President Hollande of France. ... Later in the morning, the President will attend a G-7 meeting on terrorism with outreach guests. ... Later in the day, Obama will hold a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi of Iraq followed by a press conference before returning to DC ... Business Roundtable today announces its Q2 CEO economic outlook at 2:00 p.m. ... JOLTS survey at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday will offer another read on the strength of the jobs market ... Retail Sales at 8:30 a.m. Thursday excepted to rise 1.2 percent headline and 0.8 percent ex-autos ... University of Michigan Sentiment at10:00 a.m. Friday expected to rise to 91.4 from 90.7.

IN MEMORIAM - The death of Beau Biden, the former Delaware attorney general and the eldest son of the vice president, on Saturday has generated an outpouring of remembrances and pieces on his close-knit family. The New Yorker posted one of the most elegant on Monday evening, by Evan Osnos, a staff writer who wrote about the elder Biden for the magazine last year. "In a town where 'family' is often brandished as a political prop, the Bidens have never attracted a cynical reading," Osnos writes. "In their tragedy, their striving, their survival, and their improbable optimism, the Bidens are a deeply American family - a clan that, even as it edged into privilege, has never looked out of reach or out of touch."

Next week: Rink Rats begins its’ sixth year of blogging with Words of the month and Summer Reading.

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
June 8, 2015


CARTOON OF THE WEEK – Charles Schultz, Peanuts

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