Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Two Thousand Fifteen

It is our annual review of 2015, Rink Rats style.

2015 OVERPAID -- Johnny Depp Named Hollywood's Most Overpaid Actor: Johnny Depp is the new Adam Sandler ... when it comes to return on investment, that is, $25 million per picture.

MUSICAL CHAIRS - New Census estimates show which states set to gain, lose congressional seats: The Census Bureau released new state population estimates on Tuesday - and new population numbers mean new projections of which states are likely to gain and lose seats following the 2020 Census. If current population trends hold, six states are projected to gain seats, according to an analysis from Election Data Services. Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina and Oregon are projected to gain one additional district. Florida is projected to gain two, and Texas is projected to gain three.

- On the flip side, nine states are projected to lose one seat apiece: Alabama, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia. But take the projections with a grain of salt - if population trends shift even a little bit, California or Virginia could gain additional seats, at the potential expense of Florida or Arizona.

AND THEN THERE WERE SIX The next GOP primary debate will feature only six candidates, likely bumping Carly Fiorina, Rand Paul and John Kasich to the undercard debate.
Days until the 2016 election: 314.

CONFLICT OF INTEREST - Jerry Brown: Another energy conflict of interest: The Los Angeles County and the City and School Boards declared a 'state of emergency' that covers the massive Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility near Porter Ranch neighborhoods earlier this month. ... Governor Brown's sister, Kathleen L. Brown, former California State Treasurer and Democratic candidate for Governor in the 1990s, has been serving since 2013 as a Director on Sempra Energy, the parent and 100 percent stockholder of the Gas Company, according to Security & Exchange Commission filings...That means the Governor's sister is at the center risk for managing the raging ecological and healthcare disaster.

2015 BIG DOLLAR DEVELOPMENTS - Downtown $6.4B development juggernaut: San Diego's Centre City has more than $6.4 billion in 63 projects under construction, approved or under review - an amount equal to more than 40 percent of the 1,600-acre community's entire $15.5 billion in assessed valuation, according to Civic San Diego, the downtown planning agency, and the county assessor's office.

With this and the Inglewood development (with or without a stadium), Sacramento's arena development, Cupertino's new Apple campus, San Francisco/Oakland and so much more, it's a huge time in California real estate, and it's less focused on residential than previous booms.

Of course, being left out is the Central and North Valleys and even within these cities, where some of the greatest poverty resides.

2015 BEST BUMPER STICKER – “The more men I meet, the more I love my cat.”

STAR WARS DRIVES HOLLYWOOD OVER $11B - The record debut this month of 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens,' along with blockbusters like 'Jurassic World' earlier in the year, have put the U.S. movie industry on track to crack $11 billion in ticket sales for the first time ever. The North American box office, which includes U.S. and Canadian theaters, is forecast to rise 6.3 percent to $11.01 billion in 2015, Rentrak Corp. said Tuesday in an e-mailed statement. That would surpass the current record of $10.92 billion set in 2013. While the overall number signifies health, studios with massive event movies are outperforming their rivals.

FINAL YEAR - Obama's agenda breaks through in 2015: This year's biggest policy stories include significant wins for the administration: Some of the accomplishments don't fit neatly within either party's ideology: Congressional Republicans worked with Democrats to overhaul the much-criticized No Child Left Behind Act, returning more control over public schools to the states. And lawmakers from both parties signed off on a long-sought deal for a five-year highway bill, and legislation that made permanent several business and family tax breaks.

CALIFORNIA DROUGHT - Damage from sinking land costing California billions: A canal that delivers vital water supplies from Northern California to Southern California is sinking in places. So are stretches of a riverbed undergoing historic restoration. On farms, well casings pop up like mushrooms as the ground around them drops.

Four years of drought and heavy reliance on pumping of groundwater have made the land sink faster than ever up and down the Central Valley, requiring repairs to infrastructure that experts say are costing billions of dollars.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Emperor Akihito(82) Tokyo, Japan; Mary Higgins Clark (88) Huntington, NY; Sandy Koufax (80) Beverly Hills, CA; Denzel Washington (61) Austin, TX;  Tiger Woods (40) Orlando, FL.

OP-ED OF THE YEAR -- "A year that seared -- in so many ways,'' by San Francisco Chronicle's John Diaz: " Perhaps it's only fitting that 2015 is about to finish as the hottest year on record, with temperatures hitting all-time monthly highs seven consecutive times through November. This was a year that brought the heat, in oh so many ways, good and bad."

2015 IN CULTURE - It’s been quite a year for the arts—from museums to movies. The best exhibitions introduced visitors to Mughals, migration and Renaissance masterpieces. Television confronted some of today’s harsh realities, from jihadists in Berlin to a harrowing crime in India. Politics, Paris romances and puppets were just a few of the rewarding and varied musicals that audiences were offered this year. At the cinema, moviegoers found emotional experiences in a multitude of genres, ranging from the intergalactic to the intimate. And with the music industry’s massive output, listeners simply can’t be blamed if they found it too hard to choose a favorite album—though Bj√∂rk’s “Vulnicura” ticks our rock-and-pop critic’s box.

Top Television Show: “House of Cards”
Top Movie: “The Martian”
Top CD: “25” Adele

2015 YEAR IN NEWS - It was a year marked by brutal Islamist terrorist attacks—in Paris twice, in California, in the skies above the Sinai, and elsewhere. Russia opened a military campaign in Syria as the U.S. and its allies struggled to thread the needle between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Islamic State. Iran and the West signed a nuclear deal. Oil and commodity prices slumped, companies merged at a record rate, and, after we waited all year, the U.S. Federal Reserve finally raised interest rates. China’s markets wobbled and rattled the world. The pope came to the U.S. and, of course, it was the year that saw Donald Trump transformed from property tycoon and reality TV star into leading presidential contender.

SPACEX MARKS BIG ROCKET SUCCESS - Elon Musk's SpaceX marked the first flight of its Falcon 9 rocket since a June explosion in spectacular fashion when it succeeded for the first time in returning to earth a booster rocket that had deployed satellites into space. ... Amid deafening cheers from employees watching in the company's mission control room on Monday, SpaceX returned the first stage of the rocket to a launch pad at Cape Canaveral, Florida, around 10 minutes after it had lifted off. The mission was carrying 11 small satellites into orbit for Orbcomm, the satellite communications company. ...

SpaceX hopes that the ability to reuse rockets could help significantly to reduce the cost of space launches, which have been high partly because rockets were used only once and discarded in the sea. The rocket's second stage went on successfully to deploy all the satellites into orbit. The landing at Cape Canaveral - during which the rocket landed gracefully on a series of landing legs that had helped to slow it during the descent - marks SpaceX's first successful return of a rocket in reusable condition after three failed attempts at landing rockets on barges at sea.

DESSERT - The 10 best food cities in America, ranked: 10. Charleston ... 9.Washington ... 8.New York ... 7.Chicago ... 6.Philadelphia ... 5.Houston ... 4.New Orleans ... 3.Los Angeles ... 2.San Francisco ... 1. Portland.

COLLEGE CHRONICLES - Not only China's wealthy want to study in America: In 2007, just 2,500 Chinese students were enrolled at U.S. community colleges, which have become increasingly attractive to low-income or low-performing Chinese students who want to escape the pressure of the gaokao. Now (2015) more than 16,200, or 13% of all Chinese undergraduates in the U.S., are studying at community colleges in this country.

GRAPHIC OF THE DAY - US stocks are ending 2015 mostly flat, capping volatile year: Despite veering between record highs and the steepest dive in four years, the stock market is on track to end the year essentially flat. That means if you invested in a fund that tracks the Standard & Poor's 500 index, you have little to show for the past 12 months." Graph

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 1/3, 8:30 PM ET NBC; Minnesota Vikings (10-5) at Green Bay Packers (10-5), the winner wins the NFC North, Pack in overtime 16 – 13. Season to date (9-7)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Thursday 12/31, 8:00 PM ET ESPN;  The National Semi-Final, #3 Michigan State Spartans (12-1) at #2 Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1). Tide moves on to Glendale, AZ. 30 – 24. Season to date (10-7)

COLLEGE HOCKEY GAME OF THE WEEK – Saturday 1/2, 9:00 PM ET, Roots; #16 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9-4-4) at #17 Denver Pioneers (7-7-2). Irish win in Denver 4 – 3. Season to date (2-3).


(NCAA. Dec. 31) The National Semi-Final - #4 Oklahoma Sooners (12-1) vs. #1 Clemson Tigers (13-0), Sooners end Clemson’s perfect season, 40 – 32.

(NHL, Jan. 1) The Winter Classic – Montreal Canadians (21-15-3) vs. Boston Bruins (20-12-4), Bruins win in Foxboro, 3 – 2.

(NBA, Jan. 2) Orlando Magic (19-13) at Cleveland Cavaliers (21-9), Cavs win a laugher 106 – 80.

Season to date (112-68)

DRIVING THE WEEK – A toast to Guy Lombardo and The Royal Canadians: Where has the year gone????

Next week: 2016 Rink Rats Year Preview.

Until Next Monday, Happy New Year.

Tucson, AZ.
December 30, 2015

CARTOON OF THE WEEK – “Enough that we succeed”

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