Monday, February 15, 2016

President's Day

President's Day, also known as Washington's Birthday. It not only honors George Washington, the first President of the United States, and Abraham Lincoln whose both birthdays are in February, but honors all the presidents. It is a federal holiday although most businesses are open (especially Heroes in Claremont, CA.), except the Post Office.

In 1879, it was originally implemented by an Act of Congress for Washington government offices as a federal holiday. It expanded to include all federal offices in 1885. It was first celebrated on Washington's birthday, February 22. Then in 1971 it changed to the third Monday of February. The first attempt to change the holiday to President's Day came in 1951 when the "President's Day National Committee" was formed. The purpose was to honor the office of the Presidency, not a particular President. It was not until the mid-1980's did the "President's Day" term appear in public.

Although George Washington's birthday is celebrated on February 22, it is observed as a federal holiday on the third Monday of February. To complicate matters, Washington was actually born on February 11 in 1731! How can that be? During Washington's lifetime, people in Great Britain and America switched from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar (something most of Europe had done in 1582). As a result of this calendar reform, people born before 1752 were told to add 11 days to their birth dates. Those born between January 1 and March 25, as Washington was, also had to add one year to be in sync with the new calendar. By the time Washington became president in 1789, he celebrated his birthday on February 22 and listed his year of birth as 1732. Upon entering office, Washington was not convinced that he was the right man for the job. He wrote, “My movements to the chair of government will be accompanied by feelings not unlike those of a culprit, who is going to the place of his execution.” Fortunately for the young country, he was wrong.

1.      George Washington (1789 – 1797)
2.      Abraham Lincoln (1861 – 1865)
3.      Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1933 – 1945)
4.      Thomas Jefferson (1801 – 1809)
5.      Theodore Roosevelt (1901 – 1909)

            44. Andrew Johnson (1865 – 1869)
            43. James Buchanan (1857 – 1861)
            42. Herbert Hoover (1929 – 1933)
            41. John Tyler (1841 – 1845)
            40. Millard Fillmore (1850 – 1853)

COLLEGE CHRONICLES – A $2 BILLION PELL BOOST? The Obama administration is proposing that Congress approve a $2 billion-a-year expansion of Pell Grants to finance year-round awards and a bonus for students who stay on track to graduation. Calling the $30 billion grant program for low-income students "the cornerstone of college affordability," officials said today that two new Pell proposals "will help students to accelerate progress towards their degrees ... increasing their likelihood of on-time completion." The first, "Pell for Accelerated Completion," would let full-time students earn a third grant award in an academic year. Nearly 700,000 students would receive an average $1,915 in additional aid. Some lawmakers have previously proposed making the Pell program year-round again because many full-time students exhaust their award eligibility after two semesters and can't afford to take summer courses. (The president and Congress eliminated year-round grants in a 2011 budget bill.) Legislation introduced in the House  and Senate last year went nowhere.

THE ROLE OF PLACE IN PICKING A COLLEGE: The first contribution to a new American Council Education research paper series explores how - despite the current dialogue about the importance of college choice - about 13 percent of students remain stuck in "education deserts." Such areas have just one community college or no broadly accessible public institutions at all located nearby. But for a rising number of students bound by work or families, particularly low-income ones, location is the only deciding factor: Nearly six in 10 income freshmen attend public four-year colleges within 50 miles of their permanent home.

WHEN BERNIE SANDERS' WIFE RAN A COLLEGE : When Jane Sanders was in charge of a small private college in Vermont for seven years, it sank deep into debt while trying to expand its campus. Many students took out tens of thousands of dollars in loans to attend, but their investment was questionable: Only a third of degree holders from Burlington College earn more than the average person with a high school diploma. Jane Sanders' husband, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, has offered a higher-education plan that would make tuition at public colleges free. But it would do little to prod colleges, public or private, to keep costs down or ensure that a college degree is worthwhile for graduates.

- Jane Sanders, who led Burlington College from 2004 to 2011, spent millions on a new campus - 33 acres along the bank of Lake Champlain - to attract more students and donations from alumni. "The idea is very common: We're going to create a new campus, that's going to drive interest and alumni giving will go up," said Alexander Holt, policy analyst at New America. The problem is that as small, private colleges compete for prestige and students they may take on too much debt and wind up worse off, Holt said.

- Bernie Sanders' higher education plan focuses on an issue that's most palpable for college graduates and dropouts: their debt, which has ballooned in recent years to $1.2 trillion. In addition to eliminating tuition at public colleges and universities, he'd lower rates on student loans for new borrowers and graduates. But his focus could backfire, experts say, because it doesn't address the costs that are the root of the problem: Colleges and universities could continue spending money on programs and amenities to attract students.

- Sanders finds himself at the epicenter of a political youth movement more powerful than any we have seen since the 1960s. In New Hampshire, he won 83 percent of voters under the age of 30. Why is an aging, rumpled socialist from earthy-crunchy Vermont is so popular? For young Americans - even college-educated ones - the future looks bleak, the American dream all the more distant. That is key to Sanders' appeal.

When asked recently what Sanders would do to make college more affordable for students at private institutions, he said "I want to increase funding to them like Pell Grants and work study.

TRAILER OF THE DAY - "House of Cards - Season 4 - Official Trailer": "Frank and Claire continue their pursuit for power, battling everyone in their way, including each other." Hits Netflix March 4

TITANIC II - The Titanic sails again: Inside the lavish £300 million replica of doomed ocean liner, which is due to set sail in 2018: "The Titanic II will stick to the incredible detail of the original ship ... with a maiden voyage planned from Jiangsu, China, to Dubai ... [and has] a small swimming pool, Turkish baths, a gym with Edwardian equipment and a squash court." With 32 images on one page

TOP SCOTUS LIST – With the death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia RR has put together a list of favorites: [1.] D.C. Circuit Judge Sri Srinivasan ... would be the first Indian-American Supreme Court justice ... [2.] Paul Watford ... is an Obama appointee on the 9th Circuit ... spent a decade as a federal prosecutor in Los Angeles. ... [3.] Patricia Ann Millett ... sits on the D.C. Circuit and is part of a slate of three nominees Obama put forward for that court in 2013 ... [4.] Merrick Garland ... is a politically savvy Clinton appointee on the D.C. Circuit who has long been discussed as a potential Supreme Court nominee. He's well respected by lawyers and lawmakers in both parties ... [5.] Attorney General] Loretta Lynch. [6.] California Attorney General Kamala Harris ... [7.] Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar ... [8.] Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch… [9.] Jacqueline Nguyen, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ... [10.] Jane Kelly, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Hugh Downs (95) Hilton Head, SC.; Matt Groening (62) Pasadena, CA.; Jim Kelly (56) Buffalo, NY.; Gretchen Pugliese …famous Hockey Mom; Jane Seymour (65) Woodland Hills, CA.

IF ANY ONE CARES – “Star Wars: Episode VIII' release delayed to Dec. 2017 [from May 2017]: Disney offered no reason for the delay, but rumors have recently swirled that writer-director Rian Johnson ('Looper'), who is taking over for J.J. Abrams, is rewriting the script. Production is set to begin next month in London.

PACKING IT IN: Good news for dry times - Sierra snowpack highest in 4 years: The snowpack in the Sierra contains more water than any year since 2011 on this date, according to the California Department of Water Resources. It's a good sign, but no guarantee that the four-year drought that has left the Golden State high and dry is coming to an end, officials said. Electronic readings of the Sierra snowpack Tuesday showed a water content of 18.7 inches, or 115 percent of the historical average for Jan. 26, water resources managers said.

GOOD READS - Who Poisoned Flint, Michigan?" by Stephen Rodrick in Rolling Stone: "A writer returns home to find a toxic disaster, giant government failure and countless children exposed to lead."

--"The Real Legacy of Steve Jobs," by Sue Halpern in the NY Review of Books: "Even as a multimillionaire, and then a billionaire ... Jobs sold himself as an outsider, a principled rebel who had taken a stand against the dominant (what he saw as mindless, crass, imperfect) culture. You could, too, he suggested, if you allied yourself with Apple."

FUTURECAST – As Apple Computer sees sales slow as the Chinese market weakens. Apple is predicting its first drop in revenue in over a decade.

Apple builds secret team to kick-start virtual reality effort: Apple has assembled a large team of experts in virtual and augmented reality and built prototypes of headsets that could one day rival Facebook's Oculus Rift or Microsoft's Hololens, as it seeks new sources of growth beyond the iPhone. The secret research unit includes hundreds of staff from a series of carefully targeted acquisitions, as well as employees poached from companies that are working on next-generation headset technologies.

NO ALMOND JOY: The price of almonds may have met a slippery slope: When the price of almonds rose from around $2.50 three years ago to over $4 per pound in 2014, farmers went crazy ... Many replaced their lower-priced crops, like grapes or cotton, with fields of almonds. That flooded the market, and the price dropped to around $3 per pound. The real kicker was the strength of the dollar in 2015. It began to cost more for places like China and India to buy almonds. In turn, Asian markets are shelling out less cash for the crop.

BILLIONS - For most of past year, Facebook’s spending outpaced its revenue growth. But in the latest quarter, that dynamic reversed. The social-networking site posted more than $1 billion in quarterly net income for the first time, reflecting its ability to quickly capitalize on its popularity. Behind the investor enthusiasm: Facebook still has many untapped revenue drivers at its disposal, including video, messaging and virtual reality, analysts say. There may be challenges ahead but it is hard to argue with results like these.

COLLEGE HOCKEY GAME OF THE WEEK – Saturday 2/20 7:00 PM CT, OSN: #8 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (18-5-7) at #5 Providence Friars (21-5-4). A large Hockey East match-up, we like The Friars 5 – 4. Season to date (5-7).


(SCIAC, Feb. 20) Baseball; League play begins for 2016, Claremont-Mudd Republicans (1-3) vs. Pomona-Pitzer Endowments (4-0). PP wins 7 – 2.

(NHL, Feb. 20) Tampa Bay Lightning (30-21-4) at Pittsburgh Penguins (28-14-7), Lightning win 3 – 2.

(NBA, Feb. 20) Golden State Warriors (48-4) at Los Angeles Clippers (35-18), Clips win 94 – 90.

Season to date (18 -13)

Next week: Words of the month and Gravity.

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
February 15, 2016

CARTOON OF THE WEEK – “Bernie Sanders”

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