Monday, July 27, 2015

Again and Again and Again

The events in Lafayette, Louisiana this past week joining Chattanooga, Tenn., Charleston, S.C., Aurora, Colo., Newton, Conn., and so many others on the long list of cities scarred by gun violence.

The gunman became the latest figure in a gallery of angry men with weapons who walked into a movie theatre, a church, a school or a workplace and shattered the lives of people there.

How we continue to allow individuals to obtain weapons is tragic. In viewing the same cycle of news reports, outrage, and “we must do something about this”, it is becoming more and more obvious that the leaders of this country cannot solve this problem. From local governments without the power or intellectual savvy to deal with gun control, state and federal governments concerned more about PAC money and reelection than the safety of their citizens. 

Society is changing and it is scarring the hell out of me. I go out to dinner now, the first thing I look for is the exit, who in the room looks creepy, and is anyone wearing a t-shirt over a dress shirt. Stop the madness, please.

COLLEGE CHRONICLES – A FREE PLACE TO STAY FOR COLLEGE-BOUND FAMILIES: Airbnb has teamed up with non-profit Summer Search to give students and their families free accommodations while visiting colleges or attending college graduations. Summer Search, a non-profit that aims to help low-income students develop a "college-going" mentality through summer trips, programs and mentorships, was a natural partner for Airbnb, said Rae Richmond, head of global citizenship for the company. "It just seemed like something that our hosts would be so happy to open up their homes for," Richmond said. The program began in May and Airbnb covers the cost of each stay. The majority of Summer Search students are the first or would be the first in their families to graduate college. Visiting colleges is critical for low-income students because it helps them envision themselves on campus, said Sonia Torres, director of marketing and communications at Summer Search.

HARD DRIVE - JULY 21. Forty-six years ago, the front page headline was "Men walk on moon."  Did you know that the Apollo Guidance Computer had only a teeny, tiny bit of memory compared to what you carry around in your pocket every day?!

WHAT'S ON THE LINE IN LOS ANGELES: LAUSD Board President Steve Zimmer has an enormous task ahead of him. The country's second largest school district has been through turmoil in recent years - plagued by a dysfunctional student data system, dogged by questions over competitive bids, Apple, Pearson and a $1 billion iPad debacle that prompted the involvement of the FBI, and the exit of former Superintendent John Deasy, wreathed in controversy.

The district has finally stabilized - for now, said Zimmer, who was unanimously elected president of the board earlier this month. Superintendent Ramon Cortines, who signed a year-long extension of his contract earlier this year, announced that he might leave by the end of the year. So the search for a new superintendent is on for the next six months or so. Still, Zimmer, perhaps the board's most labor-friendly  leader in decades, showered Cortines with praise.

"The bruises and wounds that John Deasy and all the controversy around him had left were almost as dangerous to the district as the budget crisis itself," Zimmer said. Cortines helped balance the budget, signed an agreement with United Teachers Los Angeles that no one thought possible, stabilized the student data system - working collaboratively with the board on all of it, Zimmer said. "So we have to transition from a person who is literally the most skilled school system leader in the country to new leadership in a community that is just healing."

Zimmer said he doesn't want the selection of a new superintendent to devolve into another ground war over schooling, pitting traditional public school advocates against education reformers. The board-elected races - including Zimmer's own campaign - get very ugly. But as board president, Zimmer said he hopes to elevate the conversation. "The premise, the baseline assumption is that a large public system can't work," he said. "But that's still a very open question in Los Angeles."

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this weekend to: Sandra Bullock (51) Austin, TX., Peggy Fleming (67) Bristol, Conn., Norman Lear (93) Beverly Hills, CA., Ted Lindsay (90) Bloomfield Hills, MI., Alessandro Suffredini …famous nephew, J.K. Rowling (50) London, England, Jordan Spieth (22) Dallas, TX.

SIX STOCKS THAT RULE THE WORLD - Just a few companies are driving the gains in major U.S. stock indexes this year, raising fresh concerns about the health of the market's advance. Six firms: Amazon, Google, Apple Inc., Facebook Inc., Netflix Inc. and Gilead Sciences Inc. - now account for more than half of the $664 billion in value added this year to the Nasdaq Composite Index, according to data compiled by brokerage firm JonesTrading. Amazon, Google, Apple, Facebook, Gilead and Walt Disney Co. account for more than all of the $199 billion in market-capitalization gains in the S&P 500.

The concentrated gains are spurring concerns that soft trading in much of the market could presage a pullback in the indexes. Many investors see echoes of prior market tops - including the 2007 peak and the late 1990s frenzy - when fewer and fewer stocks lifted the broader market. The S&P 500 is up 1 percent this year while the Nasdaq has gained 7.4 percent. Other indicators are also flashing yellow. In the Nasdaq, falling stocks have outnumbered rising stocks this year, sending the "advance-decline line" into negative territory, a phenomenon that has come before market downturns in the past, investors and analysts said.

RINK RATS TRAVEL - The Best Sort of Rest

What’s the most strategic way to take a vacation? Psychologists and researchers have been studying how to create an ideal getaway—one that boosts our well-being, relieves stress that can impact our health, and helps us recharge for returning to work. Some conclusions: Longer vacations aren’t necessarily better than shorter ones. Anticipating plans can be more rewarding than remembering them afterwards. Engage in activities you haven’t done before, even if you’re at home on a staycation. And end a trip on a high note.

JOE Z. PICK - #16 Republican candidate! Rink Rats friend Joe Z., Cornell University and Jamestown New York, likes Ohio Gov. John Kasich as he jumps in the Republican Presidential campaign with an announcement at Ohio State University student union in Columbus. The themes, per a campaign adviser: "It will be authentic and passionate: His experience is unmatched ... He led the effort to balance the federal budget, he served on the House Armed Services Committee for 18 years, he helped turn around Ohio and cut taxes by $5 billion ...

"He knows how to lead, keep America safe, create jobs, bring people together and lift people up. ... His optimism and hopefulness is infectious: The governor will talk about his vision for America that connects so well with people because it's what we need-a stronger military for a safer country; a balanced budget for a stable future; a return to the values that made America great-personal responsibility, teamwork, empathy, resilience, family and faith. ... He's for us."

DEBATE DASHBOARD – August 6 Cleveland, Ohio: Roster for first debate, based on latest polling: 1) Trump ... 2) Jeb ... 3) Walker ... Tied for 4) Huckabee, Rand, Rubio ... 7) Carson ... 8) Cruz ... 9) Christie ... 10) Perry.

--THE BUBBLE: Christie and Perry could drop off. Santorum and Kasich are closest to making it.

--OUT for now: Santorum, Kasich, Jindal, Carly, Lindsey, Pataki, Gilmore.

THE BIG PICTURE: The GOP's statehouse advantage: Leaders worry losses of state, local offices create shortage of top candidates: Democrats maintain a significant electoral college advantage as shifting U.S. demographics tilt their way. ... But many Democrats worry that GOP success capturing state and local offices will erode that advantage before they have a chance to rebuild. ... Obama ... has lost 13 seats in the U.S. Senate and 69 in the House during his tenure, a net loss unmatched by any modern U.S. president.

Democrats have also lost 11 governorships, four state attorneys general, 910 legislative seats, as well as the majorities in 30 state legislative chambers. In 23 states, Republicans control the governor's office and the legislature; Democrats, only seven. ... In few places are the Democrats' troubles more apparent than in Ohio, the perennial presidential battleground state twice won by Mr. Obama. Ohio Democrats lost every statewide contest in the ... midterms.


Tell me again why we need the NFL in Southern California. Tell me again why we need to build two billion-dollar stadiums within 20 minutes of each other, when bridges on Interstate 10 are collapsing. Tell me again why the past 21 years in Southern California have been so awful, why we have been deprived of true sporting entertainment despite the best efforts of the Lakers, Angels, Dodgers, Kings, Ducks, Clippers, Galaxy, USC, UCLA and, for that matter countless high schools and SCIAC.

The NFL is so wonderful and majestic thing from a distance, like a meteor shower. But it becomes harder to separate the suspense of the game from the moral bankruptcy of the league.

Because of this, NFL you are Rink Rats Jack Ass of the Month. It has been a pleasure being played a sucker over and over again.

RETIREMENT - Garrison Keillor says he's ... retiring from 'Prairie Home: Keillor said he plans to step down as host after next season, following four decades of entertaining listeners with his baritone voice and folksy comedy sketches about Lake Wobegon, his mythical Minnesota hometown 'where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.


(MLB, August 1) Los Angeles Angels (55-43) 5 at Los Angeles Dodgers (56-44) 3

Season to date (63-31)


Technophobia: \tek-nuh-FOH-bee-uh\
1. abnormal fear of or anxiety about the effects of advanced technology.
"Technophobia and fear of OIT go hand in hand.”

Verb: to shrink; to shrug
 “Este vestido ha encogido, y no me entra más.”
“This dress has shrunk and I can’t get it on any more.”

MARKET WEEK - The Dow is coming off its biggest weekly drop since January, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq since March. This coming week features another earnings onslaught as well as a two-day Fed meeting beginning tomorrow.

DRIVING THE WEEK - President Obama continues his Africa trip today in Ethiopia ... Hillary Clinton is in Iowa today talking renewable energy ... Inaugural Playbook New Jersey event this morning in Newark with Mike Allen, Matt Friedman and Sen. Cory Booker (RSVP: ) ... Fed begins two-day policy meeting on Tuesday with a statement (but no news conference on Wednesday). ... House Financial Services has a Dodd-Frank at five years hearing Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. ... Joint Economic Committee has a hearing at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday on dynamic scoring ... House Ag has a hearing at 10:00 a.m. on Dodd-Frank and derivatives reform ... First read on Q2 GDP on Thursday at 8:30 a.m. expected to show growth popping back to 2.5 percent ... Twitter reports earnings Tuesday after the close ... Facebook reports Wednesday after the close.

Special Olympics continue in Los Angeles; free event tickets, wonderful stories, if you are in Southern California try to attend. Our cynical politicians could learn a lot from Special Olympic athletes.

Next week: The People Magazine Syndrome.

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
July 27, 2015

CARTOON OF THE WEEKEND – Mike Twohy, The New Yorker

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