Friday, October 28, 2016
Rink Rats every quarter has weekend editions, to highlight topics we on a weekly basis do not cover. As the first seasonal rains and snows arrive this past week in Claremont, California and Canton, New York – we welcome the fall season.
SONNY ELIOT WEATHER FORECAST – (California) NOVEMBER 2016: temperature 56° (2° below avg.); precipitation 1" (0.5" below avg.); Nov 1-3: Sunny; Nov 4-6: Rainy, cool; Nov 7-18: Sunny, cool; Nov 19-30: Rainy periods, cool.
(Michigan/So. Ontario) NOVEMBER 2016: temperature 41° (3° below avg. east, 3° above west); precipitation 2" (0.5" below avg.); Nov 1-4: Rain and snow showers, chilly; Nov 5-11: Showers east, sunny west; mild; Nov 12-17: Lake snows, cold; Nov 18-24: Rain, then snow showers, cold; Nov 25-27: Sunny; cold east, mild west; Nov 28-30: Rainy, mild.
HISTORY 101, YEAR 312 - Today is 1,704 years since the Roman Emperor Constantine I is said to have seen the vision of the cross before the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, which might have basically upended the tides of history.
Constantine was the first emperor to stop Christian persecutions and to legalize Christianity along with all other religions and cults in the Roman Empire. The first Roman emperor to claim conversion to Christianity, Constantine played an influential role in the proclamation of the Edict of Milan in 313, which decreed tolerance for Christianity in the empire.
CHICAGO SWEETS – In Chicago this weekend for the World Series here are three must go to sweet shops:
Katherine Anne Confections No disrespect intended toward your grandma’s hot cocoa, but you’ve probably never experienced anything like the drinking chocolate here. Katherine Anne makes this warm holiday ambrosia with real melted chocolate, sea salt, milk and cream. Even better, it’s customizable. Just pick a flavor, such as milk chocolate, super dark, salted caramel, or hazelnut, and add a homemade marshmallow in another flavor, like cinnamon sugar, salted caramel, spicy hot chocolate or vanilla bean. If you’re looking for gifts for distant friends and family, buy a 15-ounce mix from the online store (katherine-anne.com) to send their way. 2745 W. ARMITAGE, CHICAGO, IL 60647 HOURS: 11-7 TUE & WED, 11-9 THUR & FRI, 10-9 SAT, 11-5 SUN, CLOSED MON (773) 245 - email@example.com
Amy's Candy Bar The Yum Bar makes most chocolate bars feel like the mass-produced items that they are. The thick, buttery shortbread is topped with salty caramel and pecans and hand-dipped in rich Belgian chocolate. If your sweet tooth runs beyond even that, lose yourself in the OMG Bar. Made with layers of sea salt caramel, crackly hazelnut pralines and silky chocolate ganache, it’s hand-dipped in dark Belgian chocolate for a result so good, the name actually may seem underpowered. amyscandybar.com 4704 NORTH DAMEN AVENUE, CHICAGO, IL 60625 (773) 942-6386
Veruca Chocolates Gelt for Grown-UPS proves that in the right hands, Hanukkah gelt—those mediocre-at-best, foil-wrapped coins—can be heavenly. Veruca’s version packs a salty cocoa punch in a treat modeled after an ancient Jewish coin. Grab a few Champagne truffles to ring in the New Year, too. Covered in shiny metallic chocolate flakes, they're a sweet, sparkly way to start 2017. For the naughty on your list, pick up a festive Bag of Coal at Veruca Chocolates. Just don’t give in to the urge to sneak a few of these decadent ultradark chocolate truffles yourself. Covered in a dusting of bittersweet cocoa "coal," they'll mark your mouth and give you away! verucachocolates.com 2409 N. Western Ave. Chicago, IL 60647 (773) 998-2462
GOOD READ - Elon Musk's empire: Countdown," in the Economist: "While he might be loth to admit it, Mr Musk has become America's most audacious corporate financier as well as its best-known entrepreneur. In just over a decade he has created an empire valued at a cool $44 billion despite its heavy losses (see chart). A blend of financial laboratory, corporate labyrinth and buttock-clenching thrill ride, Musk Inc has pushed the boundary of what was thought possible." http://econ.st/2em5y9v
TOP THREE – Halloween movies:
- Halloween (1978)
- Young Frankenstein (1974)
- Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
FALL COMFORT FOOD – Veggie Cheese Chowder
Yield: 6 to 8 main-dish servings
Prep 25 mins
Cook 15 mins
This creamy vegetarian soup is made with canned corn and canned soup so it's quick to mix together for dinner.
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green or red sweet pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 cups whole milk or light cream
1 15 - ounce can cream-style corn
1 14 - ounce can vegetable broth
1 10 3/4 - ounce can condensed nacho fiesta cheese soup
8 ounces pasteurized prepared cheese product with jalapeno peppers, cut up, or 1 cup jarred cheese dip (with salsa con queso)
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (4 oz.)
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion, green pepper and celery; cook until vegetables are tender. Stir in milk, corn, broth, soup, cheese product, shredded cheese, oregano and black pepper.
Cook, uncovered, over medium heat about 15 minutes, or until mixture is almost simmering (do not boil), stirring occasionally. Makes 6 to 8 main-dish servings.
BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Dodie Bracken; Scott Graham ….famous Canadian; Rochelle Hanson …famous law enforcer; Katy Perry (32), Dallas, TX.; Pat Sajak (70), Beverly Hills, CA.
PREVIEW: APPLE MACBOOK EVENT - It's been a while since Apple unveiled a new MacBook product, so this week’s event, which is dedicated to hardware, promises to yield some interesting news. One of the upgrades could include a new MacBook Pro, which comes with an OLED touchbar above the keyboard, a feature that will adapt based on the application a user has open, reports CNET. Also potentially on the docket, according to Bloomberg : sharper graphics for the iMac and an updated MacBook Air with a USB-C port. Additionally, Apple is expected to debut a TV guide-like offering, which will come in the form of software that lets users search for shows and films across different providers, though Netflix has reportedly not signed on yet. The event comes two days after Apple's fourth-quarter earnings report, which included the company's first year-over-year annual revenue decline in 15 years.
Apple posted its first annual revenue decline in 15 years but projected a return to growth in the current quarter behind strong sales of its new iPhone 7. The tech giant’s formula for success proved less effective in the past year amid lukewarm sales of iPhone 6S models and slowing growth in smartphone sales world-wide, especially in China, Apple’s biggest growth market in recent years. For its fiscal fourth quarter, ended Sept. 24, Apple reported its third consecutive decline in revenue and profit. But CEO Tim Cook touted the response to the iPhone 7, released in September, as well as improvements in the company’s services business as evidence of enduring strength. Still, Apple’s revenue outlook for the December quarter isn’t quite good enough for investors who have sent the stock up by 10% since Apple unveiled the iPhone 7 last month.
Apple's annual sales dip for first time since 2001: They came in at $215.6 billion for FY 2016, compared to FY 2015's $233.7 billion, a year-over-year reversal attributed to lagging iPhone sales. Now, all eyes are on how the iPhone 7 performs in the all-important holiday season.
THE COST OF SHUTTING DOWN THE INTERNET - High-connectivity countries stand to lose at least 1.9 percent in GDP for every day internet services are shut down, according to a Global Network Initiative report out this morning that was prepared by Deloitte and funded by Facebook. According to a Brookings study cited by the report, there were 81 government-mandated internet shutdowns documented between July 2015 and June 2016, costing countries including Turkey, Ethiopia and Morocco an estimated $2.4 billion overall. "Shutting down the internet undermines economic activity and chills free expression," GNI Executive Director Judith Lichtenberg said in a statement. Breaks in internet access disrupt residents' usage of key services they need for both business and social activity, the report notes.
JACK ASS OF THE MONTH - New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (#13) is a joy to watch. He's a fun, explosive, game-changing player who has star written all over his career.
Just play football. On his first touchdown, a 75-yard catch and run, he waved at safety Eric Weddle as he ran into the end zone. Why?
Then all the crap with sideline kicking net, which included him proposing to it Sunday after beating it up a few weeks ago, is tiring now too.
Just play football.
Beckham plays the game with emotion. I love that. I like when he dances in the end zone. I loved the triple-jump celebration after his first TD catch. But the other stuff, like fighting with defensive backs and doing dumb things like taking off his helmet on the field, impact the game. That matters.
He's too damn good a player to allow that to happen. His skill set is unreal. He should be in the conversation about the best receiver in the game, right there with Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown and Julio Jones of the Falcons. Now it's more about his antics and his on-field fights and everything else. The game should be the talk. Not the crap.
Beckham should just play football -- and let his game do all the talking for him.
Because of his antics, welcome Odell Beckham to the Jack Ass of the Month club.
WORLD SERIES GAME #4 – Saturday 10/29, 8:00 PM ET, Fox; Cleveland Indians (2-1) vs. Chicago Cubs (1-2), huge game for the Cubbies, a loss means another 108 year wait: Cubs win 2 – 1.
NFL GAME OF THE WEEK – Sunday 10/30, 5:30 PM ET, NBC; Philadelphia Eagles (4-2) at Dallas Cowboys (5-1). No mo’ Romo, is a good thing, Dallas 25 Eagles 17. Season to date (6-1)
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 10/29, 5:00 PM ET, ABC; #3 Clemson Tigers (7-0) vs. #12 Florida State Criminals (5-2), Clemson puts the Criminals on probation, 35 – 21. Season to date (7-1)
SMALL COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 10/29, 1:00 PM ET, HGTV: #20 Wabash College Little Giants (6-1) vs. Ohio Wesleyan University Battling Bishops (4-3). A big North Coast Athletic Conference game in Delaware, Ohio. North Coast of what??? Only in Ohio. Little Giants win 32 – 24. Season to date (5-3)
COLLEGE HOCKEY PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 10/29, 7:00 PM ET: #12 University of Minnesota Golden Gophers (3-3) vs. #18 St. Lawrence University Saints (3-5), Homecoming weekend in Canton; the SLU skid continues, Gophers win 5 – 3. Season to date (1-2)
THE SWAMI’S WEEK TOP PICKS –
(NFL, Oct. 30) Los Angeles (San Diego) Chargers (3-4) vs. Denver Broncos (5-2); Broncos are too much for the snake bitten Chargers, 24 – 17.
(NCAA SCIAC, Oct. 29) University of Redlands Bulldogs (5-1) at Pomona-Pitzer College Endowments (5-1), first place at stake in SCIAC, Redlands wins a close one 17 – 14.
(NHL, Oct. 29) Boston Bruins (3-4-0) vs. Detroit Red Wings (6-2-0), Red Wings off to a surprising fast start, they win again 3 – 2.
Season to date (85 - 75)
Next week: One week to the election …thank God it is almost over.
Until Next Time, Adios.
October 28, 2016
CARTOON OF THE WEEK – Peanuts
Friday, October 21, 2016
To achieve universal financial participation, we need more than smartphones, apps and always on Wi-Fi. The real answer lies in good old-fashioned education.
Thanks to the digitization of transactions and the proliferation of mobile devices, more and more people have access to cheap and convenient financial services, which makes them more likely to start new businesses, build their credit and invest in their families and communities. A growing body of research suggests that financial inclusion – defined as having a bank account for storing money and for making and receiving electronic payments – reduces inequality, strengthens economic growth and even improves physical health.
We are on our way to achieving universal financial access. Right now, 85% of global commerce still runs on cash. Two billion people are bankless (don’t tell Wells Fargo) but according to the World Bank, every adult on the planet could have a bank account by 2020, which is critical to ending global poverty. This is why finance, accounting, IT are the fastest growing higher education programs.
But having a bank account doesn’t guarantee financial participation – access to a full range of services such as credit, savings, remittances and insurance. For the affluent, checking is free and credit is cheap. For everyone else, being poor is expensive. In the U.S. alone, underserved consumers – the 68 million Americans who lack access to mainstream financial products – spend $138 billion a year on basic money-management services that many of us take for granted and spend next to nothing on.
Technology will continue to provide a pathway toward universal financial participation. Biometrics will provide digital “passports” for identity verification, a critical prerequisite for financial services, and new data sources, such as phone and utility payments, will make it easier to establish credit.
Not all answers like with technology, however. All the financial apps in the world mean nothing if consumers don’t know they exist, let alone how to use them. The biggest barrier to full financial participation is not a lack of Wi-Fi – it is basic lack of knowledge about digital services. We need to increase financial literacy. Equal access to safe, affordable and easy-to-use financial services should be a right, not a privilege. When our approach to education and financial literacy is as innovative as our apps, it is a right that everyone will be able to exercise.
This article is taken from an editorial by Daniel Schulman, CEO of PayPal.
GOOD READ - "America's Dazzling Tech Boom Has a Downside: Not Enough Jobs," in The Wall Street Journal: "Hiring in the computer and chip sectors dove after companies shifted hardware production outside the U.S., and the newest tech giants needed relatively few workers. The number of technology startups fizzled. Growth in productivity and wages slowed, and income inequality rose as machines replaced routine, low- and middle-income, human-powered work."
MANAGEMENT 101 – How to blow crisis management: It was clear John Stumpf, chief executive of Wells Fargo & Co., was in trouble on Sept. 20, when senators from both parties castigated him over the bank's sales practices. ... The bank could have been better prepared. Summoned for hearings in Washington, Mr. Stumpf and other executives didn't answer many questions from legislators - in public or private - about sales practices that had led the bank to agree to a $185 million fine and regulatory enforcement action. ...
Even before the hearings, Wells Fargo had been slow-footed in responding to outrage over employee behavior that included opening as many as 2 million unauthorized accounts without customer knowledge. It misjudged the significance of firing 5,300 employees over five years for related bad behavior, failing to tell its own board of the number before regulators made it public. The botched response, a textbook example of how not to handle a crisis, reached a peak when Mr. Stumpf stepped down.
KRAUTHAMMER WATCH -- "It's not the 'locker room' talk. It's the 'lock her up' talk": "Such incendiary talk is an affront to elementary democratic decency and a breach of the boundaries of American political discourse. In democracies, the electoral process is a subtle and elaborate substitute for combat, the age-old way of settling struggles for power. ... Vladimir Putin, Hugo Chávez and a cavalcade of two-bit caudillos lock up their opponents. American leaders don't. One doesn't even talk like this. It takes decades, centuries, to develop ingrained norms of political restraint and self-control. But they can be undone in short order by a demagogue feeding a vengeful populism."
BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Mike Barnicle (63) Boston, Mass.; Jimmy Breslin (86) New York, NY.; Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) (55) Springfield, IL.; Carrie Fisher (60) Malibu, CA.; Wynton Marsalis (55) Brooklyn, NY.; Juli Roberts …famous educator; Lindsey Vonn (32) Vail, CO.
COLLEGE CHRONICLES – Sign of the times: Students at Humboldt State University are feeling the effects of budget cuts, down to the last roll of toilet paper.
The California institution is no longer stocking toilet paper in four of the six student-residence buildings, according to Humboldt State's housing office. The university said the cost and the staff time spent restocking the paper were the main reasons the paper was pulled.
The change has driven students to desperate measures, like hoarding toilet paper. Now they're petitioning to bring it back. But will it work? Perhaps.
Back in 1998, Harvard University switched from single-ply to double-ply toilet paper following student complaints and a column in The Crimson suggesting that the university was — like its low-quality paper — going down the drain.
One-ply or two, Humboldt students just want their paper back.
NEW NATIONAL STUDENT DEBT FIGURES: Students from the class of 2015 who took out loans to pay for college graduated with an average debt of $30,100, according to an analysis released today by The Institute for College Access and Success. The widely-cited figure, which is up 4 percent from the previous year, captures the average debt of students who received a bachelor's degree from either a public or private nonprofit college.
Nearly seven in 10 graduating seniors in 2015 used student loans to finance their education, TICAS's annual report found. The group's analysis shows that while most students took out federal loans, only about one-fifth of students borrowed private or state-sponsored loans.
SYLLABUS - Average student debt for the Class of 2015 increased by 4 percent, to just over $30,000, compared with the year before, according to a report out this morning from the Institute for College Access & Success.
- One-third of the very poorest student-loan borrowers who got out of default through a rehabilitation program will "re-default" in the next two years, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau projects.
- A study out of Occidental College found that 45 percent of employees in the University of California system go hungry at times.
- In a new report on faculty diversity in STEM versus non-STEM fields, there’s good news and bad news: The professoriate nationwide is getting more diverse, but the pay gap for female and minority faculty members is still significant.
OVERTIME - The new federal overtime rule, which will open up many more college employees to overtime pay or the prospect of reduced hours, is poised to have an especially profound effect on admissions offices. Those offices, which rely on a cheap work force to carry out time-intensive recruitment campaigns, are grappling with whether the new rule will upend this "all-hands-on-deck culture”.
HARD DRIVE - The 8,000 mile internet cable: Facebook and Google, along with partners in Asia, plan to build an undersea internet cable stretching from Los Angeles to Hong Kong. The so-called Pacific Light Cable Network will have an estimated capacity of 120 terabits-per-second - about twice that of the "Faster" cable Google and others recently launched. It's expected to go live in 2018.
TOP THREE – Political campaign movies:
1). The Candidate (1972)
2). The Last Hurrah (1958)
3). The War Room (1993)
Days until the 2016 election: 18.
It's going to be a long 18 days. This whole thing almost makes you miss the trainwreck that is Capitol Hill.
RINK RATS PRESEASON NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION PICKS –
WEST- Pacific: Golden State Warriors
Northwest: Utah Jazz
Southwest: San Antonio Spurs
Conference Champs: Golden State Warriors
EAST - Atlantic: Boston Celtics
Central: Cleveland Cavaliers
Southeast: Atlanta Hawks
Conference Champs: Boston Celtics
NBA Champs: Golden State Warriors
NFL GAME OF THE WEEK – Sunday 10/23, 1:25 PM ET, CBS; New England Patriots (5-1) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2) Pittsburgh without Big Ben is like The Donald without hair, trouble. Pats win 28 – 14. Season to date (5-1)
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 10/22, 12:30 PM ET, CBS; #6 Texas A&M Aggies (6-0) vs. #1 Alabama Crimson Tide (7-0). Bama cruises 30 – 17. Season to date (6-1)
SMALL COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 10/22, 1200 PM ET, HGTV: #11 Hardin-Simmons Cowboys (6-0) vs. #3 Mary Hardin-Baylor Crusaders (6-0). Crusaders win in a tight one, 17 – 14. Season to date (4-3)
COLLEGE HOCKEY PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 10/22, 7:00 PM ET: #4 Quinnipiac Bobcats (3-1-1) vs. #8 Boston University Terriers (1-2). BU is overrated, Bobcats win 5 – 2. Season to date (1-1)
THE SWAMI’S WEEK TOP PICKS –
(NFL, Oct. 23) New York Giants (3-3) vs. Los Angeles Rams (3-3), London is calling for the Giants, 24 – 14.
(NCAA D-III, Oct. 22) #16 St. Lawrence University Saints (6-0) vs. Merchant Marine Mariners (4-2), Mariners will test the Saints, but SLU wins 35 – 28.
(NHL, Oct. 22) Montreal Canadiens (3-0-1) vs. Boston Bruins (3-1-0), Bruins win 3-2.
Season to date (79 - 67)
WORDS OF THE MONTH –
1. a person's area of skill, knowledge, authority, or work: to confine suggestions to one's own bailiwick.
2. the district within which a bailie or bailiff has jurisdiction.
“Arguing cases in front of the Supreme Court isn't Hamp's bailiwick. He's an old-school criminal defense attorney.”
-- Paul Beatty, The Sellout, 2015
Noun: race; breed
El Día de la Raza is a holiday celebrated in Latin America on October 12th to commemorate Columbus’ arrival in the Americas. It is also a holiday in Spain, where it is called El Día de la Hispanidad.
MARKET WEEK - Tesla (TSLA) said all of its new vehicles will be equipped with hardware that enables fully autonomous driving, with the electric automaker planning to have a vehicle drive itself from Los Angeles to New York by the end of 2017.
Wells Fargo (WFC) is the subject of a criminal investigation by California's attorney general, centering on whether the creation of new accounts for unsuspecting customers by the bank's sales staff involved identity theft.
Netflix (NFLX) and 21st Century Fox (FOXA) are in a court battle over alleged employee poaching. Fox accuses Netflix of illegally hiring two employees who were under contract at Fox, but Netflix filed a complaint questioning the legality of those contracts.
Alphabet's (GOOGL) Google unit reportedly reached a deal with CBS (CBS) to carry the network on a soon to be launched online TV service, which is likely to premiere in early 2017.
TAX - Paychecks for the top 7 percent of earners will be a little lighter next year, due to an increase in the cap on the payroll tax.
After staying flat this year, the cap will rise from $118,500 to $127,200 in 2017, a change that will affect about 12 million of the U.S.'s 173 million strong workforce. The hike comes as the Social Security Administration will also be tacking a 0.3 cost-of-living adjustment on top of beneficiaries' checks next year.
Next week: Jack Ass of the Month.
Until Next Time, Adios.
October 21, 2016
CARTOON OF THE WEEK – Paul Noth, The New Yorker
Monday, October 10, 2016
The National Hockey League is a professional ice hockey league composed of 30 member clubs: 23 in the United States and 7 in Canada. Headquartered in New York City, the NHL is considered to be the premier professional ice hockey league in the world, and one of the major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. The Stanley Cup, the oldest professional sports trophy in North America, is awarded annually to the league playoff champion at the end of each season.
To most of our readers’ hockey is a sport where all they do is fight and you can never follow the puck. But to this writer it is the best sport in the world.
When the season begins Wednesday, the NHL will celebrate the 100th anniversary of its founding and the 50th anniversary of its first major expansion, which doubled the league’s size from six teams to 12 for the 1967-68 campaign. The men who gathered at a Montreal hotel in November, 1917 to form the NHL from the ashes of the National Hockey Assn. couldn’t have envisioned what the league looks like now, with teams based in California, Florida and Texas and another to launch in Las Vegas for the 2017-18 season.
Issues like the NHL’s participation in the upcoming the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea and the so, so television ratings of the most recent World Cup in Toronto (lack of competitive balance and poor U.S. ESPN television ratings, so what else is new) are separate from the upcoming season, one which features relative stability for the NHL’s business operations (aside from the fall of the Canadian dollar) and the assurance of labor peace through the 2019-20 season. While it’s logical for the NHL to look beyond its geographic borders for new revenues and audiences, it’s imperative that it addresses a number of nagging issues at home.
The most prominent of those issues is the stagnation of scoring, which has remained low despite the introduction of rule changes and tweaks intended to boost goal production. Teams combined last season to score an average of 5.337 goals per game, down from 6.051 in the 2005-06 season (The numbers exclude shootout goals.). A plan to streamline goaltenders’ equipment by limiting the dimensions of their pants and chest protectors this season had to be delayed because manufacturers were late in delivering prototypes to be tested, but those changes alone, when implemented, probably won’t make much difference.
Goalies, once the worst athletes on their teams, are now among the best, and there’s no rolling back the years of specialized coaching they’ve received and still get. Playing on the wider, international-size ice isn’t the answer, either. Because there’s not enough scoring talent to go around, it’s easier for coaches to try to neutralize opponents’ skilled players than to ask their own players to raise their games.
There are no easy answers, but maybe the recent league-wide trend toward speed over muscle will continue and will lead to more scoring. Pittsburgh, San Jose, Tampa Bay and others thrived by emphasizing speed, and it’s likely that other teams will try to copy that formula as much as they can.
The promise of seeing more speed is among the reasons to look forward to the new season. There will be four outdoor games (Winnipeg, Toronto, St. Louis, and Pittsburgh), the Detroit Red Wings will bid farewell to Joe Louis Arena — which will be replaced by Little Caesars Arena — the Edmonton Oilers will inaugurate gleaming, new Rogers Place, and the league will celebrate its centennial season with events that evoke the past while its teams introduce the stars of the future, notable, the All-Star game in Los Angeles on January 29, 2017.
NBC’s NHL FORMULA TO INCREASE RATINGS - NHL fans are notoriously sensitive about the sport they love, and particularly why it isn’t a major television draw. This past postseason, the formula should have produced success. Most of the teams NBC loves were in the 16 team draw, there were no Canadian teams to sap ratings (which may never going to happen again), and plenty of the teams that create buzz had the potential to go deep. But, the overall ratings for the playoffs were down 14% from last year and 15% from 2014. NBC and the NHL looked long and hard to see what had happened to their momentum from previous years as it seemed that momentum was unstoppable. Then you see what they do in the regular season…
Instead of promoting teams such as Nashville, Tampa Bay, and others who made deep playoff runs this past season (and likely will do so again), NBC decides to ride and die with the teams that have made its ratings bed over the past eight years: the Blackhawks are on national TV 21 times, the Flyers 20, the Bruins 17, and the Rangers 15. Three of those teams went out in the first round of the playoffs last year, and one of them didn’t make them at all (sorry, Boston). The last two #1 overall draft picks, including a player from Arizona, will be on US national TV once this season combined. NBC’s plan to fix ratings woes not only in the regular season but the playoffs seems to be: more of the same, and cross your fingers.
This formula has worked in the past eight years because those teams, plus others like the Penguins, Red Wings, Kings, and Capitals, have all been league powerhouses. Recent Stanley Cup Finals have been Red Wings-Penguins (twice), Blackhawks-Flyers, Blackhawks-Bruins, and Kings-Rangers, all of which are appealing to fans both diehard and casual and consist of big markets, big teams, and big hockey fan bases.
But as the NHL’s ever-present parity takes its toll on all of those teams, none of them seem to be major Stanley Cup contenders next season outside of the Penguins, and their presence didn’t do much to help ratings against the Sharks last year. It does make sense for NBC to use this formula because it has worked, though largely out of convenience and because the teams in question were really good. And after teams make 11 national TV appearances, any national games beyond that are blacked out locally, bringing forward diminishing ratings returns.
Three of last year’s division winners, Dallas, Anaheim, and Florida, are on national TV a combined seven times. Seven! In what other sport would that even be possible? Two of them are legitimate contenders again this season, and that they won’t be on a third as much as the Blackhawks is insanity. At a point, it doesn’t matter who you put them on against, just that you put them on at all. It seems fairly routine and simple to show up-and-coming teams more, but NBC never seems to actually do it, and it ends up biting them come playoff time. Also, NBC needs a Don Cherry, Mike Milbury is not the answer. Someone the average fan can watch as different, entertaining.
While going back in time and changing the NHL’s now monolithic TV contract with NBC isn’t possible, the Peacock Network and the league can fix some of their ratings woes with simple tweaks to their schedule and programming that seem obvious, yet so far out of the realm of possibility that it’s a bit sad.
Unless changes are made, the story for NBC will continue to be the same when it comes to sagging NHL ratings. And they only have themselves to blame.
WHAT’S ON THE iPOD? – five songs we are listening to this week:
1). “Teacher”, 1970 – Jethro Tull
2). “Work To Do”, 1972 – The Isley Brothers
3). “The Fez”, 1976 – Steely Dan
4). “Clair de Lune”, 1890 – Claude Debussy
5). “Mack the Knife”, 1955 – Louis Armstrong
WHILE ALL EYES WERE ON THE CANDIDATES - News emerged that Samsung is temporarily suspending production of its Galaxy Note 7 phones amid numerous reports that its replacement models are overheating and catching fire. According to South Korea's Yonhap News Agency, Samsung worked in coordination with authorities in China and the U.S. in making the decision. AT&T and T-Mobile both said on Sunday that they are halting sales of the Galaxy Note 7 due to customer safety concerns, with five reports about phones igniting in this past week alone.
MORE PROBLEMS IN THE LAND OF LINCOLN - Illinois' budget problems have been well documented, and now uncovered another issue. The state collects about $2.3 billion a year in unemployment insurance tax. But Illinois also only clawed back $264 million out of $714 million worth of overpayments of unemployment insurance between 2012 and 2016 - a 37 percent recovery rate. (National average: 66 percent.)
OUT AND ABOUT – Rink Rats reader and old friend Tom Playford reports from his new home in Durham, North Carolina this week on Hurricane Matthew. Tom is good, no problems just plenty of rain.
BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Jeff Bracken …famous world golfer; Angie Dickinson (85) Beverly Hills, CA.; Karla Hasse …famous fashion consultant; Brian Lamb (75) Bethesda, MD.; Desmond Tutu (85) Paris, France.
OUCH!! -- Not since the tap dancing George Murphy and the tam o'shanter-styling S.I. Hayakawa squatted in California's seats in the World's Greatest Deliberative Body have there been two Mickey Mouse lightweights as insubstantial as 2016 Senate wannabes Kamala Harris and Loretta Sanchez. So we guess it was appropriate that the one and only faceoff between the Democratic dynamic duo last Wednesday night was the lamest so-called debate in memory. Or at least since the 2016 vice-presidential contenders parleyed the night before.
-- Memorable, for the wrong reasons - The way that the debate room was lit made me wondered if they'd booked a Halloween haunted house. The lighting was off. The room seemed too dark, and there were all kinds of strange and distracting shadows, created by the moderator and the candidates.
FIFTY YEARS - Black Panthers celebrate 50th anniversary: It was 50 years ago this month, against a similar a backdrop of civil unrest, that Oakland junior college students Huey Newton and Bobby Seale penned the Ten-Point Program of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, a manifesto demanding respect, justice and basic human rights for African-Americans.
IRWIN ALLEN - Scientists say they've discovered a new fault line running along the eastern edge of the Salton Sea parallel to the San Andreas Fault. The announcement, published this week in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, follows a recent rash of almost 200 small earthquakes at the Southern California inland sea and heightened concerns about the 'Big One.'
Earthquakes in California are discovered more than 15 miles deep, heightening seismic worries: Scientists in California have found that earthquakes can occur much deeper below the Earth's surface than originally believed, a discovery that alters their understanding of seismic behavior and potential risks.
-- Here is what you need to do to prepare if you're in earthquake country. And if you're in California, head on over to the Great California ShakeOut's website to learn more about California's specific risks, and steps to take that are specific to California. It's okay. You've got this. Even if the big one does come, you can be prepared to survive it. http://www.shakeout.org/california/
RINK RATS PRESEASON NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE PICKS –
WEST- Pacific: 1. San Jose, 2. LA Kings, 3). Calgary
Central: 1. Nashville, 2. Dallas, 3. Chicago
Wild Card: 1. Anaheim Ducks, 2. St. Louis
Conference Champs: Nashville Predators
EAST - Atlantic: 1. Tampa Bay, 2. Florida, 3. Montreal
Metropolitan: 1. Pittsburgh, 2. N.Y. Rangers, 3. Washngton
Wild Card: 1. Philadelphia, 2. Boston
Conference Champs: Tampa Bay Lightning
Stanley Cup Champs: Tampa Bay Lightning
Note: Detroit Red Wings will miss the playoffs for the first time in twenty six years.
NFL GAME OF THE WEEK – Sunday 10/16, 1:25 PM ET, Fox; Dallas Cowboys (4-1) at Green Bay Packers (3-1), Tony Romo who??? Dallas beats the Pack at Lambeau, 24 – 20. Season to date (4-1)
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 10/15, 8:00 PM ET, ABC; #2 Ohio State Buckeyes (5-0) vs. #11 Wisconsin Badgers (4-1). Camp Randall will be loud and cheesy for this one, Bucks win 35 – 28. Season to date (5-1)
SMALL COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 10/15, 1:00 PM ET, HGTV: Cortland Red Dragons (3-3) at #25 Alfred Saxons (5-0), E8 Conference at its best, Saxons win big 32 – 14. Season to date (3-3)
COLLEGE HOCKEY PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 10/15, 8:00 PM ET: #4 Boston University Terriers (1-0) vs. # 3 University of Denver Pioneers (0-2), BU visits the mile high city and wins 6 – 3. Season to date (1-0)
THE SWAMI’S WEEK TOP PICKS –
(NFL, Oct. 16) Los Angeles Rams (3-2) vs. Detroit Lions (2-3), battle of the wanna b’s; Lions win 24 – 17.
(NCAA-MWC, Oct. 15) Lake Forest Foresters (4-2) vs. Macalester Scots (5-1); the Scots rule 20 – 17.
(NCAA BCS, Oct. 15) Western Michigan Broncos (6-0) vs. Akron Zips (4-2), Broncos are for real, beware Zips; 45 – 30.
(NHL, Oct. 15) Detroit Red Wings (0-0) at Florida Panthers (0-0), early Atlantic battle, Panthers win 4 – 2.
Season to date (73 - 65)
MARKET WEEK - The U.S. stock market trades normally today, but the bond market is closed for the Columbus Day holiday today. Overnight, the stock markets in Japan and Hong Kong were also closed for public holidays.
There are no economic reports due today, but investors look for clues on the economy from Chicago Fed President Charles Evans, who appears in Sydney while the U.S. markets are open today.
Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer said on Sunday the central bank's decision to hold interest rates steady at its September meeting was a "close call," done largely to allow further progress on jobs.
Earnings season kicks into high gear later this week, with Friday ushering in the quarterly results from big financial institutions, including JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Wells Fargo (WFC), and Citigroup.
Twilio (TWLO) filed for a follow-on offering, with most of the shares expected to be sold by existing stockholders. The cloud computing company won't receive any proceeds from those share sales.
Next week: Educating the unbanked and words of the month.
Congrats to all our Canadian friends on the Blue Jays series win last night, The Swami was wrong on this one. Also, Happy Canadian Thanksgiving Day!
Until Next Time, Adios.
October 10, 2016
CARTOON OF THE WEEK – The New Yorker
Thursday, October 6, 2016
Our quarterly review of the state of finance: bottom-line, we wait: wait for the Federal Reserve and interest rates, wait for U.S. Presidential elections, wait to see if the Cubs can win the World Series and we wait to see who wins Project Runway this fall.
Since the markets’ sharp retreat in January and February, stocks, bonds and many emerging-market assets have rallied, delivering solid gains in a year in which portfolio managers’ expectations started out very low. But substantial rallies in dissimilar assets such as stocks and government bonds are raising concerns that investors could be exposed to big losses if dynamics suddenly shift.
Some worry about a potential banking crisis in Europe and the prospect of volatility caused by U.S. elections or a Federal Reserve interest-rate increase. Others fear that years of monetary easing have drained central banks’ ability to shield economies from recessions or market shocks.
Despite a lengthy list of challenges — a drop in earnings at U.S. companies, high valuations for stocks, concern about rising interest rates — the benchmark S&P 500 Index rose more in the third quarter than it did in the first half of the year.
And although stocks have risen this year, the fundamentals are deteriorating.
The S&P 500 is trading at 19.99 times its trailing 12-month earnings as of Friday, up from 17.15 a year ago and compared with a 10-year average of 15.7.
Analysts expect earnings at companies in the S&P 500 to decline from a year earlier for a sixth consecutive quarter, raising concerns about the sustainability of any further advance.
The S&P 500 SPX, +0.56% returned 4% for the third quarter (through Sept. 28). Here’s how the 10 sectors of the benchmark index performed:
Aside from the recovery for the energy sector, as oil prices have risen from their cycle lows in February, this year’s major themes have been investors’ flight to yield and low volatility, owing to seemingly eternal low interest rates. But the utilities and telecommunications sectors, which feature many stocks with high dividend yields, declined in the third quarter.
WELLS FARGO TROUBLES CONTINUE - California Treasurer John Chiang took center stage last Wednesday as a major player in the sordid scandal surrounding Wells Fargo, the oldest California-based financial institution, now battered by accusations that bank employees created millions of unauthorized credit card and bank accounts.
In a news conference, Chiang brought the hammer down, suspending state business ties with the banking giant for a year. That move by California -- the nation's largest issuer of municipal debt -- may eventually cost Wells Fargo millions in fees.
Chiang's tough words in an open letter to the bank's embattled chairman John Stumpf got play around the country: "How can I continue to entrust the public's money to an organization which has shown such little regard for the legions of Californians who placed their financial well-being in its care?"
THE TAKEAWAY: The national attention for Chiang will come in handy his 2018 race for governor against the other Democratic announced candidate, Gavin Newsom; the lieutenant governor has gotten plenty of attention this year with high-profile advocacy of tougher gun safety measure in Prop. 63, and Prop. 64, the legalization of recreational use of marijuana. So Chiang has signaled he won't be a wallflower -- and he has the podium and the statewide position -- to become a far more familiar name to state voters as 2018 approaches.
TOP THREE – Business Movies
1). Wall Street (1987)
2). The Big Short (2015)
3). Barbarians at the Gate (1993)
TOP THREE PART DEUX – Common Sense Finances
1). Don’t have debt rise faster than income.
2). Don’t have income rise faster than productivity.
3). Do all that you can to raise your productivity.
TRUMP'S DECLINE REVEALED - Abraham Wallach thought he had scored a major career break when Donald J. Trump hired him in 1990 for a senior executive role. Based on Mr. Trump's boasting and gaudy lifestyle, Mr. Wallach imagined he would soon be leading impressive construction projects around the globe. ... Instead, he found an array of failing enterprises ..
That year, he would later learn, was the beginning of Mr. Trump's reckoning with a decade of rapid, debt-fueled expansion. The eclectic empire Mr. Trump had built with leverage from his father's brick-and-mortar fortune began to fail, generating enormous losses and bringing him to the brink of personal bankruptcy. The full magnitude of the financial hemorrhaging was a closely held secret until this weekend, when The New York Times published portions of Mr. Trump's 1995 tax records that showed business losses of $916 million ... For a single businessman to declare losses approaching $1 billion is so extraordinary that it caused several accountants and lawyers consulted by The Times to blanch.
Days until the 2016 election: 33.
Days until the presidential debate: 3.
U.N. WATCH -- Antonio Guterres, a socialist former prime minister of Portugal, is the unanimous choice of the United Nations security council to lead the organization, from 2017 to 2021, U.N. ambassadors announced Wednesday ... In choosing Guterres, the U.N., has set aside an informal tradition of rotating the presidency by region (this term would have been for an eastern European had the tradition been observed). Eastern Europe will remain the only region never to have held the post of secretary-general. The Security Council also bypassed pressure to select a woman to hold the post.
OUT AND ABOUT – The empty, fenced-off lot across the street from the Packing House (Claremont, California) could become a parking lot.
The news comes from Director of Community Development Brian Desatnik, who said that the lot, if approved by the city, would be a temporary placeholder for the Village Lofts development that is now put on hold.
The Village Lofts was a planned multi-story mixed-use project with seventy four one and two bedroom apartments, retail space and on-site parking located at the former Rich Products building, which was torn down on June 2015.
Mr. Desatnik said the developer, Los Angeles-based Denley Investments, indicated their need to postpone development a month ago. The idea of building a parking lot came up shortly after. Denley said that it was too uncomfortable with the current market to move forward with the project.
BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Karen Hasse ….famous health consultant; Devorah Lieberman …famous POTULV.
DEAR RINK RATS –
Recently I received a robo-call with an urgent voice mail message, telling me to call a phone number to “settle” my tax bill with the Internal Revenue Service (I.R.S.). They also indicated this is the “last warning” before legal action. When calling back I was threatened with arrest and revocation of my driver’s license. How can I tell if a tax call is legitimate and what should I do? And I thought NPR fundraising calls were tough!
Confused in Santa Barbara, California
Dear Confused –
Consumers should be wary of any unexpected call supposedly from the I.R.S., the Federal Trade Commission warns, because the agency generally initiates contact with taxpayers by United States mail. The I.R.S. says it will “never” call to demand immediate payment by a specific method, like wire transfer, and it won’t ask for credit or debit card numbers.
Do not give out any information, and hang up immediately, the I.R.S. advices. If you get a voice mail message, don’t call back, the F.T.C. (Federal Trade Commission) advises. Also you should contact the Treasury Inspector general for tax administration to report the call.
COLLEGE CHRONICLES - DEFAULT RATES KEEP DROPPING: Student loan default rates are continuing their steady decline, the Education Department announced Wednesday. The department's three-year federal student loan default rate fell half a percentage point, to 11.3 percent, for students who entered repayment in fiscal 2013. It marked the third straight year the default rate decreased. Meanwhile, nine for-profit colleges and one nonprofit school, mostly small cosmetology schools, could lose access to federal loans after large portions of their students defaulted during the last three years. Default rates at those schools either exceeded 40 percent or were higher than 30 percent for three straight years.
TESLA OF SPORTS TECH - The gleaming new Sacramento Kings home, Northern California's first new major indoor sports center in more than two decades, is packed with state-of-the-art technology...Perhaps more important for younger fans, the 17,500-seat arena is designed with enough Wi-Fi capacity to upload 500,000 Snapchat photos per second.
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PLAYOFFS – The Swami likes:
Division Playoffs – Dodgers over Nationals in Four, Giants over the Cubbies in five, Boston over Cleveland in five, and Texas over the Blue Jays (sorry Cat) in five.
League Championship – Giants over the Dodgers in seven, Texas over Boston in six.
World Series – San Francisco Giants over the Texas Rangers in six.
NFL GAME OF THE WEEK – Sunday 10/9, 1:00 PM ET, Fox; Houston Texans (3-1) at Minnesota Vikings (4-0). Vikings are for real, U.S. Bank Stadium will be rocking; 28 – 17 Vikings. Season to date (3-1)
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 10/8, 3:30 PM ET, CBS: #9 Tennessee Volunteers (5-0) visit #8 Texas A & M Aggies (5-0), huge SEC matchup; we like the Aggies 32 – 28. Season to date (4-1)
SMALL COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 10/8, 3:00 PM ET, HGTV: #5 Univ. of Wisconsin Oshkosh Titans (4-0) at Univ. of Wisconsin Whitewater Warhawks (4-0), WIAC Conference at its best. Warhawks win a wild one 38 – 35. Season to date (2-3)
COLLEGE HOCKEY PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 10/8, 7:00 PM ET: #15 Northeastern Huskies (0-0) visit #2 Quinnipiac Bobcats (0-0). A pretty good game to start the college hockey season, Cats win 5 – 2. Season to date (0-0)
THE SWAMI’S WEEK TOP PICKS –
(NFL, Oct. 9) Atlanta Falcons (3-1) at Denver Broncos (4-0); now we shall see how good the Falcon offense against a real defense. Denver wins 24 – 10.
(NCAA-SCIAC, Oct. 8) Pomona-Pitzer Endowments (2-1) vs. California Lutheran Kingsmen (1-2); the Endowments take a loss, 35 – 17.
(NCAA BCS, Oct. 8) #5 Washington Huskies (5-0) vs. Oregon Ducks (2-3); are the Huskies for real in the Pac 12? Yes, 32 – 28.
(MLB, Oct. 8) Divisional Playoffs – San Francisco Giants (88-75) at Chicago Cubs (103-58); Cubs win this one but not the series, 5 – 4.
Season to date (67 - 63)
DRIVING THE WEEK - Following record ratings for last week's first presidential debate and this coming Sunday's clash of Trump and Clinton, their running-mates Mike Pence and Tim Kaine met in a feisty debate on Monday.
The results of the presidential race could shape the Supreme Court for decades to come. The high court begins its 2016 term today, with the seat vacated by the death of conservative justice Antonin Scalia still open.
Prime Minister Theresa May has set Britain on course to leave the EU by 2019 in her first major speech on Brexit, saying the U.K. would become a "fully independent, sovereign" country.
It's a fairly busy week for U.S. economic data, in the run-up to Friday's release of the September jobs report.
GoPro's (GPRO) new actions cameras, the Hero 5 Black and the more compact Hero 5 Session, went on sale this weekend. The Starbucks (SBUX) pay increase for partners and store managers in the U.S., announced in July, goes into effect. They're receiving an increase in base pay of 5 percent or greater.
Next week: National Hockey League preseason picks. What is on the iPod? Educating the unbanked.
Until Next Time, Adios.
October 6, 2016
CARTOON OF THE WEEK – Peanuts, by Charles Schulz