Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day 2016

Memorial Day is a day set aside to honor the military personnel who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

The day is sometimes confused with Veterans Day, though the two events have distinctly different purposes. Memorial Day is for remembering those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle, according to the Veterans Administration. Veterans Day, held in November, is set aside to thank and honor all those who served in the military – in wartime and peace. The day does honor veterans who have died but is largely intended to thank living veterans for their service.

This underscores the "fact that all of those who served- not only those who died – have sacrificed and done their duty," the VA said.

History of Memorial Day - Now observed on the last Monday of May, Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day and dates back to the years following the Civil War. At the time, groups would decorate the graves of Confederate and Union soldiers, a practice still acknowledged with people often visiting cemeteries to decorate veteran graves.

While the tradition existed throughout the U.S., in 1966 the federal government declared Waterloo, New York – which had commemorated the day since May 5, 1866 - the official birthplace of Memorial Day. In 1868, May 30 was set aside as a nationwide Decoration Day, with the date selected because it didn't correspond to the anniversary of any particular battle.

After World War I, the day became known to honor veterans of both the Civil War and the more recent conflict. It remained on May 30 until 1968, when Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the late Monday in May to create a three-day holiday for federal employees. The change went into effect in 1971, the same day Memorial Day was designated a federal holiday.

SUMMER TRAVEL NOTES - The Transportation Security Administration has become public enemy No. 1 in recent months thanks to maddeningly long security lines at major airports throughout the country. As wait times have ballooned, some travelers have turned to T.S.A.’s pre-check as an out, but it seems that the program—designed with the sole purpose of getting people through security faster—might not even help fliers circumvent long airport lines.

The program’s detractors argue that it is simply a profit source for the T.S.A. that fails to expedite travel and address the spike in the number of travelers passing through airports. Between 2011 and 2016, airport-security-checkpoint traffic has surged by 15 percent, while the number of security screeners has fallen over that same period.

Receiving as many as 10,000 applications per day for the pre-check program, the T.S.A. is facing a major backlog with applicants in some cases waiting months for approval, Fox News reports. Even travelers who have paid the $85 and undergone an F.B.I. background check, fingerprinting, and a face-to-face meeting, however, don’t have the option to use their pre-check status at all airports.

A T.S.A. spokesperson said that the pre-check line isn’t always open if the demand isn’t there. “Ideally we would like to have more pre-check lines. Similar to a highway toll, the goal is to be open,” he said.

But more lines mean more staff, which seems very unlikely due to T.S.A. budget cuts and a 10 percent drop in the number of full-time T.S.A. employees since 2013. At a House Homeland Security Committee hearing earlier this week, T.S.A. administrator Peter Neffenger said the department is too underfunded and understaffed to handle the 740 million people expected to go through airport security checkpoints in the U.S. this year.

T.S.A. has faced withering criticism from Congress for airport inefficiencies and for habitually failing security tests conducted by the Department of Homeland Security, Vice reports. Earlier this week, Neffenger fired the T.S.A.’s head of security, Kelly Hoggan, who, despite routine security lapses, pocketed $90,000 in bonuses during his first 12 months in the top security position.

DISK DRIVE - AMERICANS USED 9.6 TRILLION MB IN 2015, CTIA STUDY FINDS - Americans used 9.6 trillion megabytes of data in 2015 and are relying more than ever on smartphones, according to a new annual survey from CTIA being released this morning. There were 228 million smartphones in 2015, up 10 percent from 2014, according to the survey. The 9.6 trillion megabyte data figure is more than double the 4.1 trillion megabytes Americans used in 2014. CTIA President Meredith Attwell Baker credited the wireless industry with investing "more than $30 billion to keep up with our demand and support millions of jobs" in a statement and said the growth "highlights the continued need for a national focus on making more spectrum available to the mobile industry."

CEO PAY: TOP 10: 10 highest-paid CEOs for 2015, as calculated by The Associated Press and Equilar, an executive data firm. 1. Dara Khosrowshahi, Expedia, $94.6 million ... 2. Leslie Moonves, CBS, $56.4 million ... 3. Philippe Dauman, Viacom, $54.1 million ... 4. Leonard Schleifer, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, $47.5 million ... 5. Robert Iger, Walt Disney, $43.5 million ... 6. Sandeep Mathrani, General Growth Properties, $39.2 million ... 7. Brian Roberts, Comcast, $36.2 million ... 8. Marissa Mayer, Yahoo, $36 million ... 9. David Cote, Honeywell International, $33.8 million ... 10. Marc Benioff,, $33.4 million.

SUMMERS ON TRUMP - Larry Summers: The possible election of 'Demagogue Donald' dwarfs congressional dysfunction as a threat to American prosperity. Beyond lunatic and incoherent budget and trade policies, Donald Trump would for the first time make political risk of the kind usually discussed in the context of Argentina, China or Russia relevant to the United States. How else to interpret threats to renegotiate debt, prosecute insubordinate publications and rip up treaties? Creeping fascism as an issue dwarfs macroeconomic policy!


1. Patrick Soon-Shiong, Brentwood $15.4 billion
2. Elon Musk, Bel Air $13.3 billion
3. Eli Broad, Los Angeles $7.64 billion
4. Sean Parker, Holmby Hills $7.62 billion
5. John Tu, Rolling Hills $7.1 billion
6. David Geffen, Beverly Hills $6.9 billion
7. Sumner Redstone, Beverly Hills $5.5 billion
8. Tamara Hughes Gustavson, Malibu $5.49 billion
9. Stewart and Lynda Resnick, Beverly Hills $4.99 billion
10. Do Won and Jin Sook Chang, Beverly Hills $4.76 million

MOVING DAY - Presidents have put Kalorama on the map: President Obama would follow a flock to the leafy locale, just like these five presidents before him. The tony Northwest neighborhood of Washington D.C. perched above Rock Creek and just northwest of Dupont Circle is where the Obamas are expected to settle in January ... While their younger daughter Sasha finishes high school, the family will rent the home of Joe [and Giovanna Gray] Lockhart ...

The White House has not discussed the move, which was first reported by Politico ... They purchased [the home] two years ago for $5.3 million ... The nine-bedroom mansion on Belmont Road offers castle-like turrets, three fireplaces, parking for up to 10 cars - and a neighborhood dripping in presidential history. ...

Woodrow Wilson ... moved into 2340 S St. NW, a 28-room mansion, on the day he left office in 1921. ... Eight years after William Howard Taft left the White House, he returned to Washington as chief justice ... and settled into the mansion at 2215 Wyoming Ave. NW, where he lived until his death in 1930. ... Warren Harding ... lived just a block away, at 2314 Wyoming Ave. NW, from 1917 to 1921, when he was a senator from Ohio ...

Franklin D. Roosevelt ... rented a house at 2131 R St. NW while he was assistant secretary of the Navy .... from 1917 to 1920. ... Herbert Hoover ... called Kalorama home during his pre-presidency years, buying a house at 2300 S St. NW when he was appointed Harding's commerce secretary in 1921. Hoover left for 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in 1929 but returned to the 22-room house in 1933 after losing to FDR, and stayed there until 1944.

HOLIDAY WEEKEND READS - "Letter from Oberlin: The Big Uneasy," by The New Yorker's Nathan Heller: "What's roiling the liberal-arts campus?"

--"How (and Why) Athletes Go Broke," by Pablo S. Torre in the March 23, 2009 Sports Illustrated: "Recession or no recession, many NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball players have a penchant for losing most or all of their money. It doesn't matter how much they make. And the ways they blow it are strikingly similar."

TRUMP: IF YOU AREN'T RICH, YOU SUCK - Donald Trump on Thursday formally passed the 1,237 delegates needed to win the GOP nomination on the first ballot in Cleveland. Then he promptly said this in Bismark, N.D.: "You have to be wealthy in order to be great, I'm sorry to say." Coming soon to an attack ad near you. ... Trump then got all Messianic: "I will give you everything," he said. "I will give you what you've been looking for for 50 years. I'm the only one." OK then. I'd comment on this (what about Reagan!?) but it's the Friday before a three day weekend and really what's the point?

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Gladys Knight (72) Wilmington, NC; Louis Gossett, Jr. (80) Atlanta, GA; Jerry West (78) Bel Air, CA.; Kathryn Simon …famous college administrator; Belated Birthday wish to Ray Skelton ….THE Man.


Donnybrook - \DON-ee-brook\

1. (often initial capital letter) an inordinately wild fight or contentious dispute; brawl; free-for-all

“The crime reporter told the story in a high-pitched nasal voice that was nearly as grating as the sound of the donnybrook the Dunphys' were having downstairs.” -- Scott Phillips, The Adjustment, 2011

Viejo –

1.      Like old, the adjective viejo can be used to describe things or people.

‘Estos zapatos ya est├ín muy viejos.’
‘These shoes are very old now.”

GOLF HANDICAP - Q.  What is the current method for adjusting my hole scores under Equitable Stroke Control (ESC)?

A.  ESC is an adjustment of individual hole scores (for handicap purposes) in order to make handicaps more representative of a player's potential ability. ESC is applied after the round and is only used when the actual score or the most likely score exceeds a player’s maximum number. ESC sets a limit to the number of strokes a player can take on a hole depending on Course Handicap™. Apply ESC to all scores, including tournament scores. Below is the maximum number a player can take:

Course Handicap       Maximum Number
9 or less                       Double Bogey
10-19                            7
20-29                            8
30-39                            9
40 and above             10 & Start Drinking

Please visit Section 4-3 of the USGA Handicap System manual for further reference.


Major League Baseball Game of the Week: Saturday June 4, 6:15 pm CT, Fox; San Francisco Giants (32-20) at St. Louis Cardinals (26-25). It is time for the Cardinals to make their move, but do they have enough pitching? Not today, Giants win 7 – 4.

Season to date (48 -31)

POTUS WEEK - Monday, the President will host a Memorial Day breakfast reception at the White House honoring military service organizations, Gold Star Mothers, Gold Star Wives, veterans service organizations, and senior military leadership. ... Later in the morning, the President will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery and deliver remarks to honor members of the US armed services ... On Tuesday, the President will visit the FEMA headquarters to receive the annual hurricane season outlook and preparedness briefing. In the afternoon, the President will welcome the NCAA Champion Villanova University Men's Basketball team to honor the team and their 2016 NCAA Championship. ...

On Wednesday, the President will return to Concord High School in Elkhart, Indiana - the site of his first trip as President. More than seven years after that visit, the President will highlight the economic progress that Elkhart and America have made, the economic challenges that remain, and the decisions that face Americans in communities like Elkhart. While in Elkhart, the President will take part in a town hall hosted by PBS, where he'll have the opportunity to hear directly from Elkhart residents. In the evening, the President will travel to Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he will remain overnight.

On Thursday, the President will address the 2016 graduates at the United States Air Force Academy commencement ceremony. In the evening, the President will return to Washington ... On Friday, the President will travel to Miami, ... where he will attend DSCC and DNC events. In the evening, the President will travel to Palm City, Florida, where he will remain through Sunday. On Sunday, the President will return to Washington.

Next week: Summer reading, movies, travel.

Until Next Time, Adios.

Chicago, IL

May 30, 2016


Monday, May 23, 2016

Real World Time

“There is a little bit of Hamlet and Hamilton in all of us, especially when hearing a voice inside perpetually asking what’s your plan? I have an alternative proposition for you, one that may confuse your parents. Not having a big plan is actually a good plan. The story of tragedy following those who over-calculated their choices makes good theater, but it is, more importantly, no mere fiction.” William L. Fox ’75, St. Lawrence University President, Commencement 2016.

It is that time of year for College graduates to now get dirty. The Real World awaits: this writer has had the honor of knowing 135 of these graduates,  ranging in age from 20 to 49, representing eleven countries, some already working full time, some beginning jobs soon, and some going on to further their studies or seek employment. It is an economic world of multi-national companies, slow growth, political distrust, and immigration drama. Technology is the platform; diversity and equality are the standards.

While listening to Commencement speakers talking more about themselves than their audience, concentrate this time of year on celebration. Celebration of your efforts and celebration of the people who helped you get here: parents, grandparents, siblings, teachers, mentors, and of course, the Game of Thornes. Okay celebration is over, now get dirty!

THE NEW DREAM JOBS – The National Society of High School Scholars asked 18,000 Americans, ages 18 to 29, to rank their ideal future employers:

1). Google
2). Walt Disney Co.
3). St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
4). Apple
5). F.B.I.
7). Microsoft
8). C.I.A.
11). Amazon
17). Starbucks
19). N.S.A.
29). Facebook
42). U.S. Army
43). JP Morgan Chase
50). Build-A-Bear-Workshop


We recently submitted ten questions to a graduating senior from College:

1). Tell us about yourself; where did you grow up, go to high school, hobbies?

My name is Bretten James, born and raised in Palm Springs, California. I’m also the third generation in my family to graduate from Palm Springs High School. I have one sister, two brothers, and two cats appropriately named Thor and Mar’i. I pride myself in being a nerd of all things, including most all books, comics, tv shows, manga, anime, cosplay, and other pop culture. I’ve been singing since I can remember and have sung professionally for five years. I also have been playing piano for thirteen years and enjoy doing theater productions on the side.

2). What was your major in undergraduate study, and why did you select your major?

Funny enough, I actually applied for the University of La Verne as a Math major, but changed it last minute to Psychology during my senior year of high school. I honestly had no idea what I wanted to do for the rest of my life when I was 17 years old. As I mentioned before, I love singing, theater, and playing piano, but I didn’t want to be an entertainer. Those were just for fun. I knew I was brilliant at math, which is why I chose the major, but I didn’t want to be a math teacher either. So in the efforts of filling my schedule for my senior year of high school, I randomly took an unnecessary, non-mandatory psychology class. And I just fell in love with psychology; it came so easily and was so interesting, like something had finally clicked in my brain. I thought, “Oh. So this is what I was meant to do.” Studying people with mental disorders and learning how the brain functions is just the coolest thing in my eyes.

3). What did you like most about college?

The thing I was shocked most about my freshman year was the fact that my consistent schedule of going to school from 8:00am to 3:00pm, Monday through Friday, was that it was stripped away from me. Though more difficult when it comes to courses, college is way more laid back, with a more open schedule and more time to attend extra-curricular activities and clubs. I was so surprised to have two hours between classes, at minimum, so I could take a break from life or get more homework done with ease. And I got to study what I really loved to learn! It was never a struggle to want to learn something, because you’re supposed to be in college for something that you want to do for the rest of your life. So if you’re not enjoying it, what’s the point?

I also found that you make your best friends in college. A few people had told me this before I entered college, but I never believed them until I got there. And it’s most certainly true. You find the people who only want to see you grow and who genuinely accept you for who you are, which was hard to accept, because it’s difficult for me to trust others, and I have such an unusual personality. But joining a sorority really, really helped me break open my shell. It taught me that I can become the best version of myself. And I have changed so much from little Freshman-Bretten to bigger Senior-Bretten all for the better. I am so confident in who I am, and it’s all thanks to my college friends and to my sisters.

4). What did you least like about college?

The hardest part, I would say, is the panic that comes with registering for classes. Unless you’re a senior who needs to graduate, everyone is left in a scramble to catch as many courses as they can manage to fit in one semester. It’s quite chaotic, and the schedule you end up with is never the one you planned a week in advance. You’re lucky if you get one class you planned on taking. Now, I’m not saying that pushes you back from graduating; I’m just saying what you expect to be given is usually different from what you receive, and you end up taking the classes you wanted later.

5). What next? Explain.

Just like when I was going into college, I also didn’t know where life would take me after college. I only figured out as of a couple months ago that it would be best for me to move back in with my parents in Palm Springs and find a two to three year career out there. I want to earn up some money for a steady apartment in Pomona and/or for a potential wedding in the near future with my boyfriend of five years. I want to get connected and work at a place called Easter Seals, which is a development center for children with mental disorders, who are local across places in California. So even if I move to somewhere else, I still have that connection. But who knows what will happen. Life always changes. I may not be happy about it changing, but I have to work with what I’m given.

6). How has education added to your life?

I am the first in my family to finish college and graduate with a Bachelor’s degree, which is a pretty nice title in itself. But college has made me increasingly more intelligent. I know much more about people and the world than I could have ever known coming out of high school. I know how to function in the real world, how to make my dreams become a reality, and how to take initiative if there’s something I need done. It’s taught me how to manage my life and determine what is truly important and what is not. Those firm morals will certainly help me later when I have to make hard decisions that could potentially change the course of my future, and without pursuing a higher education, I wouldn’t be mature enough to even be able to think like the person I am today.

7). What is your perfect job?

This may seem completely random from everything I’ve just said, but my dream is to work at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios (in Hollywood, CA, or in Orlando, FL). If there’s one thing I obsess over the most, that’s Harry Potter. I just find its world so astonishingly magnificent, mythically entrancing, and powerfully influential. To see it and feel it come to life when it first opened in Orlando was a dream come true. It isn’t a typical theme park that looks like a theme park. You walk through the brick wall, and you are there in the Wizarding World. It’s so real, and it’s so breathtaking beautiful. It’s truly an admiration for fans, and it doesn’t disappoint. Just seeing the joy of every person in the park sharing the same love and appreciation I have for the Harry Potter series would make my day every day.

8). If you had some “mad money,” what would you purchase and why?

I would buy a plane ticket to anywhere and everywhere outside of America, but this time I would bring my little sister and my boyfriend along. I’ve travelled to several places: Canada, Mexico, England, France, and the Netherlands, but that’s not nearly enough for me. I want to see the world, experience new cultures, try weird foods, and get lost in the amazingness. Traveling abroad to bits of Europe was one of the best experiences in my life, but I only wished I had someone there to experience it with me. And the next times I travel, it will never be alone.

9). What are you currently reading?

The better question is, “What aren’t I reading?” I’m very prone for getting into books later than they are published, but I’m quite a frequent reader. Right now, I’m simultaneously reading the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan, A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, and Attack on Titan manga by Hajime Isayama. I enjoy long series of books, because it gives me more to look forward to rather than craving more after I’m done with a single book. My absolute favorite books are the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.

10). Define happiness.

The first thing that comes to mind is a quote by Albus Dumbledore that says, “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” It means that happiness is always found somewhere. There’s always something to be grateful for and someone to be thankful for. Happiness can be an old friend waving hi across the street. Happiness can be holding hands with another person. Happiness can be laughing with friends over a stupid joke. Happiness can be hugging your mom and dad. Happiness can be staying up late just talking with someone. Happiness makes you forget the rough day you had at work, because now you’re home with your wife and kids. Happiness makes you forget the annoying girl at school, because your older brother has got your back. Happiness makes you forget the pain of losing a loved one, because of the great memories you had with them. Happiness makes you forget why you wanted to kill yourself, because there is someone who loves you and cares about you more than anything else.

Happiness can’t be described by one thing, I think, except that it is a result of love.

Thank you Bretton, it has been a pleasure.

BORING CONFERENCE – It is the conference season, conference can be a little niche, but most don’t aim to stultify. Not so the “Boring Conference,” a daylong showcase of talks on deliberately dull topics. First staged in London in 2010, the conference is set to take place next month in New York, tickets are sold out.

This year’s participants include a historian who will discuss the history of lampposts, and a jigsaw aficionado who will assemble a puzzle at the conference throughout the day.

Past participants include Tim Steiner, a hand-dryer enthusiast, a 7-year-old boy who likes elevators, and Peter Fletcher, who kept a years long record of each of his sneezes.

Boy this conference has AAUP annual meeting beat.

FAILURE TO LUNCH – In the 1987 movie “Wall Street,” Gordon Gekko famously remarks, “Lunch is for wimps.” It has proven to be a prescient line in the American workplace, where taking time off for lunch has increasingly become a sign of idleness. Now some 62 percent of professionals say they typically eat lunch at their desks, “desktop dining.” Eating takes a back seat to meetings, catching up on to-dos or responding to email. Roughly half of American adults eat lunch alone: “I eat alone to multitask better.”

  •          109 minutes on average a day that Americans spend on “secondary eating and drinking, that is, done while carrying out other tasks like driving or working. By contrast they spend just 67 minutes on “primary” eating and drinking, in which the meal is the central focus.
  •           2:00 P.M. – 4:00 P.M. the peak period for workplace snacking each day.
  •          5.1 million estimated number of vending machines in the United States, up 96 percent since 1995.


My boyfriend, Mike, and I just moved into a house that’s fancier than what we’re both used to. When friends come over, they often ask what we pay in rent. Mike thinks we should tell them, because they’re probably asking to see what’s attainable for themselves, I disagree.


Right & Wrong
Watertown, New York

Dear Right & Wrong –

Mike is nice but wrong. Your friends are doing exactly what you suspect: trying to figure out how much money you have, hoping this will help them feel O.K. about how much money they have. This is why this question is considered rude except in New York City, where they are all monsters. More charitably, they may be worried that your new fancy house might mean you’re going to dump them now that you’re a rich snob. Either way, the best answer is to break down your monthly rent to what you pay by the hour and let them do the math.

Rink Rats


Cornell University – May 28: James Franco, actor-director

MIT – May 28: Matt Damon, actor

Caltech – June 10: Atul Gawande, surgeon and author

Northwestern University – June 17: Seth Meyers, comedian

Sarah Lawrence College – June 20: Mo Rocca, humorist

Stanford University – June 11: Ken Burns, filmmaker

GOOD READS (SUNDAY) - MAUREEN DOWD, "Weakened At Bernie's": "I've talked to several former Clinton and Obama White House aides who don't enjoy checking in with the joyless Clinton campaign in Brooklyn. 'It's the Bataan Death March,' one says. Hopeful acceptance of Hillary has shifted to amazed disbelief that she can't put away Bernie. ... Hillary's Bataan Death March is making Republicans reconsider their own suicide mission with Trump. More are looking at Clinton's inability to get the flashing lights going like her husband, and thinking: Huh, maybe we're not dead here. Maybe Teflon Don could pull this off. ...

"Hillary can't generate excitement on her own so she is relying on fear of Trump to get her into the White House. And Trump is relying on fear of everything to get him into the White House. So voters are stuck in the muck of the negative: What are you most afraid of?

BILLIONAIRE’S BAY - The Spread of 'Billionaire's Bay,' the Glut of Million-Dollar Homes Across San Francisco. More than half of the homes in San Francisco cost $1 million or more. While million-dollar-housing creep is happening nationwide, it's nowhere more prevalent than in San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland.

The rise of "Billionaire's Bay" is a distressing wake-up call from Trulia chief economist Ralph McLaughlin, who has charted recent growth in seven-figure homes across the 100 largest metros. There's no comparison: Between 2012 and 2016, the percentage of $1 million+ homes in San Francisco grew an unbelievable 37.8 percent, rising to represent 57.4 percent of the homes in the city.

MICKELSON SNARED IN TRADING PROBE - Golfer Phil Mickelson has agreed to give back $931,000 in profits he made from stock trades as US authorities pursued insider trading charges against a famous sports gambler and a former chairman of Dean Foods. ... William "Billy" Walters, a golf course owner and leading figure in the sports betting industry, was charged with gleaning non-public information about the food and dairy company's earnings and its plans to spin-off an organic food line from Thomas Davis, his long-time friend and a former Dean Foods chairman and director.

By trading in advance of company announcements from 2008 to 2014, Mr. Walters made $32m in profits and avoided $11m in losses, according to a federal indictment. Over phone calls and text messages, Mr. Walters urged Mr. Mickelson to buy shares of Dean Foods ahead of spinning off its organic food subsidiary WhiteWave, according to the SEC. Mr. Mickelson, who had never owned shares of Dean Foods before, had gambling debts owed to Mr Walters at the time of the trade, authorities allege.

SPOTTED – At the Citrus Valley Health Foundation “Corks & Forks” wine and craft beer fundraiser, Tricia & Chuck Gomer.  Tricia (St. Lawrence ‘75) was Citizen of the Year for the Town of Glendora, California for her outstanding civic work.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Greg Ball ….famous amateur golfer, Cher (70) Palm Springs, CA.; Janet Jackson (50) Montecito, CA.; Reggie Jackson (70) Scottsdale, AZ.; Ron Reagan (58) San Diego, CA.; George Strait (64) Garland, TX.; Jack Whitaker (92) Palm Beach, FL.


Major League Baseball Game of the Week: Saturday May 28, 4:15 pm ET; Fox – Always off to a slow start St. Louis Cardinals (23-21) visit the Washington Nationals (27-17). Nats win 6 – 3.

Season to date (48 -28)

MARKET WEEK – American companies have been wadding up huge amounts of cash is no secret. What may be less well-known is that they're also accumulating debt at a much faster pace.

Total debt among more than 2,000 nonfinancial companies swelled to $6.6 trillion in 2015, dwarfing the $1.84 trillion in cash on their balance sheets, according to a study released Monday by S&P Global Ratings. The ratio of cash to debt is the lowest it's been in about 10 years, or just before the global financial crisis.

As financial markets came to grips with the prospect of higher rates ahead, corporate America went on a debt bonanza. Debt grew 50 times that of cash, with companies rolling up $850 billion of new IOUs compared to just $17 billion, or 1 percent, cash growth.

DRIVING THE WEEK - President Obama visits Vietnam and Hiroshima, Japan in one of his last big foreign trips as president. Prior to Hiroshima, President Obama will spend two days in central Japan for his final G-7 meeting ... Senate Finance has a hearing Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. on "Debt versus Equity: Corporate Integration Considerations." ... Senate Banking has Iran sanctions hearing at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday and 2:30 p.m. Wednesday ... Second estimate of Q1 GDP at 8:30 a.m. Friday expected to rise to 0.9 percent from 0.5 percent.

Next week: Summer reading, movies and words of the month.

Until Next Time, Adios.

Claremont, CA

May 23, 2016


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Credit Line

“There is a strange little cultural feedback loop that’s playing out again and again on social media. It begins with, say, a white American man who becomes interested in taking an outspoken stand against racism or misogyny. Maybe he starts by attending a Black Lives Matter demonstration. Or by reading the novels of Elena Ferrante. At some point, he might be asked to “check his privilege,” to acknowledge the benefits that accrue to him as a white man. At first, it’s humiliating — there’s no script for taking responsibility for advantages that he never asked for and that he can’t actually revoke. But soon, his discomfort is followed by an urge to announce his new-found self-­awareness to the world. He might even want some public recognition, a social affirmation of the work he has done on himself.

These days, it has become almost fashionable for people to telegraph just how aware they have become. And this uneasy performance has increasingly been advertised with one word: “woke.” Think of “woke” as the inverse of “politically correct.” If “P.C.” is a taunt from the right, a way of calling out hypersensitivity in political discourse, then “woke” is a back-pat from the left, a way of affirming the sensitive. It means wanting to be considered correct, and wanting everyone to know just how correct you are.

Earning the “woke” badge is a particularly tantalizing prospect because it implies that you’re down with the historical fight against prejudice. It’s a word that arose from a specific context of black struggle and has recently assumed a new sense of urgency among activists fighting against racial injustices in Ferguson, Sanford, Baltimore and Flint. When Black Lives Matter activists started a website to help recruit volunteers to the cause, they called it “Woke” denotes awareness, but it also connotes blackness. It suggests to white allies that if they walk the walk, they get to talk the talk.

“Woke” feels a little bit like Macklemore rapping in one of his latest tracks about how his whiteness makes his rap music more acceptable to other white people. The conundrum is built in. When white people aspire to get points for consciousness, they walk right into the cross hairs between allyship and appropriation. These two concepts seem at odds with each other, but they’re inextricable. Being an ally means speaking up on behalf of others — but it often means amplifying the ally’s own voice, or centering a white person in a movement created by black activists, or celebrating a man who supports women’s rights when feminists themselves are attacked as man-haters. Wokeness has currency, but it’s all too easy to spend it.”

Amanda Hess is a David Carr fellow at The New York Times.

COLLEGE CHRONICLES – After two semesters of vigorous protest at campuses all over the nation, we come to the end of an academic year. At the University of Missouri, a graduate student’s hunger strike prompted the football team to announce a walkout, compelling in turn the resignations of the university president and chancellor. At Claremont McKenna College, protesters drove out the dean of students. Under pressure, Harvard and Yale did away with the title “master.” And at more than 50 schools in all, student protesters made demands – for greater faculty diversity, new courses, public apologies, administrator’s ousting.

It has been half a century since we’ve seen U.S. schools so roiled. This following recent years’ campus actions on sexual assault and student debt – has managed to broaden the attention on administrators and trustees. One of the signature achievements of the last century was the reconstitution of America’s higher-education system. After World War II, student bodies at the country’s public and private institutions started to look like America itself. But their faculties have not caught up. Less than 6% of full-time faculty at four-year institutions are African American. Faculty diversity has proved harder to pull off than student body diversity; the problem comprises not only universities’ struggle to keep professors from leaving but also the difficulty in diversifying doctoral programs.

In recent months, university presidents have pledged to address this problem. Yale vowed to spend $50 million on faculty diversity, Brown has said it will double its faculty diversity by 2025, and college presidents at less wealthy universities have signed off on protesters’ demands, promising movement on a handful of related issues.

Making black students and professors feel truly welcome at predominantly white U.S. colleges will require heavy lifting. Colleges without war chests would be well advised to do their damnedest to promote openness, tolerance and curiosity among their student bodies. The ex-protesters who will graduate this season deserve an extra cheer for dragging their schools into the future.


John Hopkins University – May 18: Spike Lee, filmmaker

Rochester Institute of Technology – May 20: France Cordova, Director of the National Science Foundation

Colby College – May 22: Arianna Huffington, journalist and author

SPOTTED – Alex B. Deputy Campaign Director to Josh Gottheimer’s New Jersey Fifth Congressional District and niece to this writer, hugging Vice President Joe Biden at a campaign function last week:

TRUMP REFERENDUM - This year, the presidential race isn't a clear referendum on the outgoing president/incumbent, and whether he will effectively get four more years through Hillary Clinton. This is a referendum on Donald Trump, the reality show candidate, the infotainment ringmaster, the Twitter-meister. As Marshall McLuhan put it long ago, the medium is the message. Just watch today's Sunday talk shows.

62 days to Cleveland, 69 days to Philly, 175 days to election.

INFLATION WATCH - The year-over-year rate of core CPI inflation rose steadily from a low of 1.6 percent in January 2015 to 2.3 percent in February this year. At that point, the three-month annualized rate had reached a startling 3.0 percent. You could be forgiven, therefore, for thinking that the dip in core inflation back to 2.2 percent in March was an inevitable correction ...
With upward pressure now evident in each major element of core CPI inflation - rents, non-rent services, and goods - we were quite surprised to see such a soft number in March. Prudence suggests, therefore, that we look for a 0.3 percent rebound in April, lifting the year-over-year rate back to 2.3 percent.

HISTORY 101 - 100 YEARS AGO THIS WEEK, the modern map of the Middle East was drawn: European powers secretly concluded the Sykes-Picot agreement that led to the modern Arab states. In 1916, during World War I, France and Britain secretly ratified the Sykes-Picot Agreement, which concerned postwar partitioning of Arab lands held by the Ottoman Empire.

50 YEARS AGO THIS WEEK - China barely notes start of Cultural Revolution 50 years ago: On May 16, 1966, the ruling Communist Party's Politburo met to purge a quartet of top officials who had fallen out of favor with Mao. ... The start of the Cultural Revolution was not widely known or understood at the time, but soon took on an agenda characterized by extreme violence.

SPORTS BLINK - As doping scandal grows, could Russia get Olympic boot? Is Russia's doping limited only to track and field and the winter sports at the Sochi Games? Why would that be? ... Earlier this year, the World Anti-Doping Agency announced that Russian swimming was being scrutinized.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Barb Colley …famous ROC administrator;  Bill Dillhoefer …the best practice swing in golf; Giselle Fernandez (55) Austin, TX; Shelly LaMotte …famous hospitality manager.


Major League Baseball Game of the Week: Saturday May 21, 2:10 pm ET; Fox – World Champion Kansas City Royals (19-19) vs. First Place Chicago White Sox (24-15). When will the Royals start playing like World Champs, we say now: Royals win 4 – 2.

The Preakness Stakes: Saturday May 21, 6:18 pm ET; NBC – A Sawbuck across the board:
Win – Nyquist,      Place – Exaggerator,       Show - Stradivari

Season to date (46 -26)

MARKET WEEK – Saudi Arabia held $116.8 billion in U.S. debt at the end of March, revealing for the first time the holdings of the world's biggest oil exporter. That puts the oil rich nation among the largest foreign nation holders of American debt.

Chinese investment in the U.S. real estate market has surpassed $300 billion and is growing despite China's economic weakness and increased currency controls, a new report shows. But China still only makes up 10 percent of all foreign direct investment.

STOCKS TO WATCH - Syngenta's (SYT) takeover by ChemChina will reportedly be scrutinized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Reuters reports the USDA is joining the government panel reviewing the planned $43 billion deal in this country.

Office Depot (ODP) is mulling a possible sale of some of its European operations, after its takeover by larger rival Staples (SPLS) was called off last week due to regulatory concerns.

Alaska Air (ALK) and Virgin America (VA) have been asked by the Justice Department for more information about Alaska Air's $2.6 billion acquisition of its rival airline. The two companies say they're cooperating fully with regulators as they move to complete the deal.

Pandora Media (P) is being urged to explore a sale by hedge fund Corvex Management, which has disclosed a 9.9 percent stake in the online music streaming company.

DRIVING THE WEEK -  Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Monday "will participate in a moderated conversation at the Anti-Defamation League's Shana Amy Glass National Leadership Summit ... Senate Finance has a hearing at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday on the corporate and individual tax system ... House Financial Services subcommittee has a hearing at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday on "Interest on Reserves and the Fed's Balance Sheet" ...

House Financial Services has a hearing at 2:00 p.m. Wednesday on CFPB arbitration ... Consumer Prices at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday expected to rise 0.4 percent headline and 0.2 percent core ... Industrial Production at 9:15 a.m. Tuesday expected to rise 0.3 percent ... Index of Leading Economic Indicators at 10:00 a.m. Thursday expected to rise 0.4 percent ... WalMart reports first quarter earnings on Thursday ... G7 finance ministers meet Friday and Saturday in Sendai, Japan

Next week: Ten questions to a new college graduate and words of the month.

Until Next Time, Adios.

Claremont, CA

May 17, 2016

CARTOON OF THE WEEK –Moving to Canada