Monday, July 17, 2017

July 1967

Fifty years ago this week this writer was growing up in Franklin, Michigan (northwest of Detroit). I was finishing up my Franklin Pony League baseball season with the Cardinals and my summer league hockey schedule at Gordie Howe Hockeyland in St. Clair Shores Michigan. The Detroit Tigers were battling with the Boston Red Sox, Minnesota Twins, and the Chicago White Sox for the American League title (Red Sox won by a game over the Tigers and the Twinkies).

But what I remember the most about that summer of 1967 began on Sunday July 23. The resulting years after the events in our community of July 23 -27, 1967 influenced where many friends would choose to go to college and eventually where they would live to begin their careers. But more importantly the events influenced social, political, and economic development for the next fifty years in Southwestern Michigan.

In the early hours of Sunday (3:45 a.m.), July 23, 1967, Detroit police officers raided the unlicensed weekend drinking club in the office of the United Community League for Civic Action, above the Economy Printing Company, at 9125 12th Street (now called Rosa Parks Boulevard). They expected a few revelers inside, but instead found a party of 82 African Americans celebrating the return of two local GIs from the Vietnam War. The police decided to arrest everyone present. While they were arranging for transportation, a sizable crowd of onlookers gathered on the street. Later, in a memoir, Walter Scott III, a doorman whose father was running the raided blind pig, took responsibility for starting the riot by inciting the crowd and throwing a bottle at a police officer.

After the police left, the mob began looting an adjacent clothing store. Shortly thereafter, full-scale looting began throughout the neighborhood. State police, Wayne County sheriffs, and the Michigan National Guard were alerted, but because it was Sunday, it took hours for the Police Commissioner Ray Girardin to assemble sufficient manpower. Meanwhile, witnesses described seeing a "carnival atmosphere" on 12th Street. Police—inadequate in number and wrongly believing that the rioting would soon expire—just stood there and watched. Police did not make their first arrest until 7 a.m. To the east, on Chene Street, reports said the pillaging mob boasted a mixed composition. The pastor of Grace Episcopal Church along 12th Street reported that he saw a "gleefulness in throwing stuff and getting stuff out of buildings". The police conducted several sweeps along 12th Street, which proved ineffective because of the unexpectedly large numbers of people outside. The first major fire broke mid-afternoon in a grocery store at the corner of 12th Street and Atkinson. The mob prevented firefighters from extinguishing it and soon more smoke filled the skyline.

The local news media initially avoided reporting on the disturbance so as not to inspire copy-cat violence, but the rioting started to expand to other parts of the city, including looting of retail and grocery stores elsewhere. By Sunday afternoon, news had spread, and people attending events such as a Fox Theater Motown revue and Detroit Tigers baseball game were warned to avoid certain areas of the city. Motown's Martha Reeves was on stage at the Fox, singing "Jimmy Mack," and was assigned to ask people to leave quietly, as there was trouble outside. After the game, Tigers left fielder Willie Horton, a Detroit resident who had grown up not far from 12th Street, drove to the riot area and stood on a car in the middle of the crowd while still in his baseball uniform. Despite Horton's impassioned pleas, he could not calm the mob.

The 1967 Detroit riot, also known as the 12th Street riot, was a violent public disorder that turned into a civil disturbance in Detroit, Michigan. Police confrontations with patrons and observers on the street evolved into one of the deadliest and most destructive riots in the history of the United States, lasting five days and surpassing the violence and property destruction of Detroit's 1943 race riot.

To help end the disturbance, Governor George W. Romney ordered the Michigan Army National Guard into Detroit, and President Lyndon B. Johnson sent in both the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions. The result was 43 dead, 1,189 injured, over 7,200 arrests, and more than 2,000 buildings destroyed.

A decline that had already begun would accelerate; Detroit was the nation's fourth biggest city in 1960, but would rank 21st by 2016. The middle class fled, and a proud city fell into poverty, crime and hopelessness.

There are signs of rebirth in Detroit. Capital investment is booming in the downtown Woodward Avenue corridor in the City of Detroit.  But the men and women who lived through the riots are getting older, and most doubt they will live to see Detroit reclaim its former glory, when its very name was synonymous with American know-how and industry.
The picture below was taken on June 23, 1967 of 12th Street looking east; the second picture below was taken on July 11, 2017 of the same corner today looking east.

GOOD READS – “Once in a Great City: A Detroit Story” by David Maraniss, and “Detroit: An American Autopsy” by Charlie LeDuff: Both excellent accounts of these last fifty years in the City of Detroit.

COLLEGE CHRONICLES - Republicans are becoming increasingly cranky about the value of the nation's higher education sector, according to a new poll released Monday by the Pew Research Center. For the first time since the question was asked in 2010, a majority of Republicans polled (58 percent) said that colleges and universities are having a negative effect on the way things are going in the country. That's up from 45 percent a year ago. Two years ago, 54 percent of Republicans said colleges and universities had a positive impact on the way things were going compared to 36 percent today. The pollsters found that the downward trend in the view of higher education is reflected by all ages, incomes and ideologies within the GOP.

Overall, however, a majority of the public (55 percent), still says that colleges and universities have a positive effect - a view relatively unchanged from a year ago. That includes the 72 percent of Democrats who say higher education institutions have a positive effect.

SYLLABUS – More and more this summer faculty are receiving numerous emails from publishers and student management firms on the benefits of their services. The full court press is on to provide services for helping in the classroom.

BOONDOGGLE - Google operates a little-known program that harnesses the brain power of university researchers to sway opinion and public policy. Over the past decade, the search-and-advertising giant has helped finance hundreds of research papers to defend against regulatory challenges to its market dominance, paying $5,000 to $400,000 for the work, according to our findings. Paying for favorable academic research isn’t new among food, drug and oil companies. But Google’s program highlights a behind-the-scenes push in Silicon Valley to sway decision makers in Washington. Critics worry such funding, which professors don’t always reveal, could undermine academic credibility. In some years, a former Google employee and a former Google lobbyist said, the company compiled wish lists of academic papers, then searched for willing authors. Conclusions of some Google-backed research: The company hasn’t unfairly quashed competitors, and its consumer-data collection is a fair exchange for its free services.

STARTUPS - For the first time on record, U.S. companies are dying at a faster rate than they're being born, the slow rate of business starts means the U.S. economy is powered by a narrowing segment of companies, people and geographies — making the overall economy less resilient than it was after previous recessions.

When fewer new companies are being born, it's less likely that the companies and jobs that are disappearing will be replaced by better ones. And without competitive pressures from upstarts, big companies are able to grow bigger faster, increasing industry consolidation.

A NAME TO REMEMBER - SAM ALTMAN'S BIG IDEA -- One unexpected result of the election of Donald Trump has been that some of the brightest minds in Silicon Valley have been inspired to innovate, and to disrupt, in a whole a new universe: politics.

-- That's what's pushing blogger, coder and wealthy Valley entrepreneur Sam Altman, 32, president of Y Combinator -- the legendary tech incubator which has birthed an estimated 50 firms now valued between $100 million and $1 billion, in addition to giants Airbnb and Dropbox.

“We have massive wealth inequality, little economic growth, a system that works for people born lucky, and a cost of living that is spiraling out of control. Most young people think their lives will be worse than their parents' lives, which should set off alarm bells for us."

-- His movement, outlined in a LA Times piece by Seema Mehta, seeks to address issues including affordable housing, health care, clean energy, jobs and automation, and and the importance of "world class education,'' among other things.

-- Why it matters: Altman and Y Combinator founder Paul Graham are widely viewed as among the Valley's most brilliant innovators, up in the tech pantheon with Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk. Altman was the first major tech exec after the election to seek answers about the political shift. As he's written about in his blog, Altman has travelled to Trump country and around California to talk directly to Americans about their concerns.

-- Bottom line: He already has an audience of sharp, tech-savvy folks, business people and Millennials - and he's got plenty of money. If Altman is as successful in identifying new ideas, innovations - and people in politics - in the uncanny way he's managed in tech, this one could be very interesting to watch. And disruptive. Stay tuned.

PC SALES - Higher memory and display prices put further pressure on the already slumping computer market, with PC sales down yet again last quarter, according to preliminary numbers. Shipments were down 4.3% from a year ago and represented the lowest quarterly total since 2007, according to the market researcher Gartner.

It's worth noting that Gartner's numbers don't include Chromebook sales, which have been growing, or iPad sales, which haven't.

As for Chromebooks, Gartner says shipments last year grew 38% in 2016, while the overall PC market declined 6%.

HP and Dell on the rise: While most of the market was down, HP posted its fifth straight quarter of year-on-year growth and passed up Lenovo to reclaim the top spot among PC makers globally. Dell also posted a slim year-on-year rise for its fifth straight quarterly gain. Apple's Mac sales were roughly flat.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Will Ferrell (50) Malibu, CA.; Harrison Ford (75) Aspen, CO; Patrick Pugliese …happy 18th birthday, this writer is getting old; . Kat Weaver …famous Biologist and fan of Ted Nugent.

SUMMER TRAVELTipping: A tip (or gratuity) is defined as a sum of money tendered to certain service workers for a service performed.  A tip is seldom required and its amount is usually at the discretion of the patron being served.

It may not be required, but tipping is certainly expected.  I recently got a haircut and added a tip to the price.  I like my hairstylist and gave her a generous tip for her good service, but also to ensure she doesn’t massacre my hair on my next visit. I have some friends that consider tipping offensive.

People tip, even for bad service, because they don’t want to be thought of as cheap or ignorant.

Tipping Guidelines

The Emily Post Institute provides this guide to customary gratuities for various services:

Barber, hairstylist, or pet groomer – 15 to 20% of the bill.
Waiter/ess – 15% of the bill for adequate service, 20% for very good service and no less than 10% for poor service.
Bartender – 15 to 20% of the tab, minimum $1 per alcoholic drink
Pizza delivery person – 15 to 20%, minimum of $2 per pizza
Taxi driver – 15%
Hotel housekeeper – $2 to $5 per night
Furniture delivery person – $3 to $5 per piece
Movers – $10 to $20 each
Tip Jar – Zip, unless you want to

It’s not always clear, but if in doubt, the general rule of thumb looks to be about 15%.

Unless you have an EdD or PhD then all bets are off.

HEALTH CARE IN AMERICA - Every time you hear the Trump administration or Congress fight about rising Affordable Care Act premiums, or what will happen to people with pre-existing conditions, just remember — we're talking about issues that affect 7 percent of the population. That's how many people are in the individual health insurance market, or the "non-group" market.

Here's what the rest of the population looks like — including the much larger employer health insurance marketplace, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Why it matters: This shows how much time we're spending on a relatively small portion of the market. The ACA was supposed to fix the problems of the individual market, which really was dysfunctional for anyone with the slightest health problems. In doing so, it created other problems, including the rising premiums. But when you hear about those sky-high rate hikes because of "Obamacare," chances are, they're not your sky-high rate hikes — unless you happen to be in that market.

Yes, but: The spending limits that have been proposed for Medicaid really do matter, and they affect a larger group — 20 percent of the population. So every minute Washington spends on the smaller group is time that could have been spent talking about Medicaid changes that will affect more people.

TO RUSSIA WITH LOVE - Russia is the story of this Trump Presidency. Think about the past month alone: multiple investigations of collusion in full swing ... Trump at odds with virtually every federally elected Republican over Russia sanctions ... Trump-Putin meeting overshadows G-20 ... and now our Syria strategy hinges on Russia cooperation. It's like a Trump-Putin ticket is running the world!

THEY SAID IT - JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, during an earnings call:

"It's almost embarrassing being an American citizen ... and listening to the stupid sh*t we have to deal with in this country... Since the Great Recession, which is now 8 years old, we've been growing [at] 1.5 to 2 percent in spite of the political gridlock... [The] American business sector is powerful and strong. My sense is there would be much stronger growth if there were more intelligent decisions and less gridlock."

HISTORY 101 ONE HUNDRED YEARS - 1917: The Year of the Century: The greatest single event of the 20th century was arguably the overthrow of the Manchu dynasty in 1910-11, opening the way to China's modernization. But 1917 was the pivotal year, bringing the Russian Revolution, America's entry into World War I, and the Balfour Declaration reshaping the Middle East. Hard to say now which was more consequential: The communist experiment, the assertion of America as world power, or the entailing of the West in the founding of modern Israel.

EMMYS 2017 - The Full List of Nominations: The 69th annual Primetime Emmy Award nominations were announced Thursday morning... See the list of major categories link and for all nominees, including below-the-line categories,   click here.

 Five newbies -- "This Is Us," "Westworld," "The Handmaid's Tale," "The Crown" and "Stranger Things" --   will compete with "Better Call Saul" and "House of Cards" in the drama category.

"Atlanta," "Black-ish," "Master of None," "Modern Family," "Silicon Valley," "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" and "Veep" are vying for best comedy.

Two shows with very different political themes scored multiple nominations. HBO's satirical comedy "Veep" earned 17 nominations, and Hulu’s new dystopian drama "The Handmaid's Tale” earned 11.

"Saturday Night Live" and the HBO drama "Westworld" both earned 22 nominations. "SNL" is now the most Emmy nominated series of all time with 231 over the history of the show.

SWAMI’S WEEK TOP PICKS

MLB Game of the Week (July 22) – St. Louis Cardinals (44-47) at Chicago Cubs (46-45), one of these two teams will make the playoffs, the other will not. Time to sort this out: Cubs 6 Cardinals 3.

Season to Date (44 - 23)

ON THIS DATE – The hottest temperature ever documented on this planet, 134 °F (57 °C), was recorded on this day 104 years ago in Death Valley, Calif.

ON THIS DATE PART DEUX - The U.S. pulled the $500, $1,000, $5,000 and $10,000 bills out of circulation on this day 48 years ago.

MARKET WEEK - The Great Unwind: Federal Reserve officials in June readied plans to start slowly shrinking the central bank’s large portfolio of bonds and other assets in the next few months, and signals since have increasingly pointed to a September launch. Battling data, though, has complicated the Fed’s internal debate. Inflation has weakened, justifying some officials’ call for a slower pace of interest-rate increases. But despite the increases so far, financial conditions have eased—new stock-market highs, declining long-term yields and a weaker dollar—strengthening the resolve of those who want to stay on the current path of another quarter-point increase this year and four more next year. Meanwhile, soaring assets and low unemployment mean it’s time to start worrying about a recession.

DRIVING THE WEEK – Senate Banking Committee will hold a nomination hearing at 10 a.m. Tuesday for multiple HUD nominees and Chris Campbell, Trump's pick for assistant Treasury secretary for financial institutions ... Sen. Tom Cotton speaks at 9 a.m. Wednesday at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event on arbitration ... Acting Comptroller of the Currency Keith Noreika will speak at noon the same day on the future of the OCC's fintech charter at an event hosted by the Exchequer Club ... Senate Banking holds a hearing at 10 a.m. Thursday on GSE reform featuring small lenders.

This week has been dubbed "Made in America Week" by the Trump administration, including a display of products from all 50 states at the White House today. On Wednesday, Trump will issue a proclamation on the importance of making products in America.

Next Blog: Summer Camp and Dear Rink Rats.

See you on July 24, Adios.

Claremont, California
July 17, 2017
#VIII-9-351


CARTOON OF THE WEEK – Summer Travel by Mark Anderson

Monday, July 10, 2017

Relax Harder

Rink Rats issue number 350, cool!

·         Canada Dry unveiled its new “Relax Harder” campaign — encouraging consumers to relax as hard as they work and play in their daily lives, with the help of the soothing and refreshing qualities of Canada Dry Ginger Ale. The new “Work Hard. Play Hard. Relax Harder.” tagline is intended to reflect Canada Dry’s position as a trusted brand with consistent taste and soothing and refreshing qualities, allowing consumers to move past their busy work and social schedules to achieve the ultimate relaxation.

·         Relax Harder! The Secret of Tai Chi Power: We often hear skeptics say, “I can see how tai chi can be useful for relaxing the body and calming the mind. But I don’t see how something so relaxing can be useful as a martial art.

The response from experienced martial artists is, “How can it NOT be useful as a martial art, if it cultivates a relaxed body and a calm mind.”

In fact, if you are not learning to relax the body and calm the mind, then you are not learning a martial art.

·         Tommy Bahama the upscale clothing retailer encourages you to relax harder with their t-shirt campaign.

Corporate America is urging us to get on the bandwagon to relax harder if you are working harder. Many of our Rink Rats readers are constantly under stress from the pressures of everyday life. How should you handle the stress of stress?

Stress is not a useful term for scientists because it is such a highly subjective phenomenon that it defies definition. And if you can’t define stress, how can you possibly measure it? The term “stress”, as it is currently used was coined by Hans Selye in 1936, who defined it as “the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change”. Selye had noted in numerous experiments that laboratory animals subjected to acute but different noxious physical and emotional stimuli (blaring light, deafening noise, extremes of heat or cold, perpetual frustration) all exhibited the same pathologic changes of stomach ulcerations, shrinkage of lymphoid tissue and enlargement of the adrenals. He later demonstrated that persistent stress could cause these animals to develop various diseases similar to those seen in humans, such as heart attacks, stroke, kidney disease and rheumatoid arthritis. At the time, it was believed that most diseases were caused by specific but different pathogens. Tuberculosis was due to the tubercle bacillus, anthrax by the anthrax bacillus, syphilis by a spirochete, etc. What Selye proposed was just the opposite, namely that many different insults could cause the same disease, not only in animals, but in humans as well.
Selye’s theories attracted considerable attention and stress soon became a popular buzzword that completely ignored Selye’s original definition. Some people used stress to refer to an overbearing or bad boss or some other unpleasant situation they were subjected to. For many, stress was their reaction to this in the form of chest pain, heartburn, headache or palpitations. Others used stress to refer to what they perceived as the end result of these repeated responses, such as an ulcer or heart attack. Many scientists complained about this confusion and one physician concluded in a 1951 issue of the British Medical Journal that, “Stress in addition to being itself, was also the cause of itself, and the result of itself.”

Unfortunately, Selye was not aware that stress had been used for centuries in physics to explain elasticity, the property of a material that allows it to resume its original size and shape after having been compressed or stretched by an external force. As expressed in Hooke’s Law of 1658, the magnitude of an external force, or stress, produces a proportional amount of deformation, or strain, in a malleable metal. This created even more confusion when his research had to be translated into foreign languages. There was no suitable word or phrase that could convey what he meant, since he was really describing strain. In 1946, when he was asked to give an address at the prestigious Collège de France, the academicians responsible for maintaining the purity of the French language struggled with this problem for several days, and subsequently decided that a new word would have to be created. Apparently, the male chauvinists prevailed, and le stress was born, quickly followed by el stress, il stress, lo stress, der stress in other European languages, and similar neologisms in Russian, Japanese, Chinese and Arabic. Stress is one of the very few words you will see preserved in English in these and other languages that do not use the Roman alphabet.

Because it was apparent that most people viewed stress as some unpleasant threat, Selye subsequently had to create a new word, stressor, to distinguish stimulus from response. Stress was generally considered as being synonymous with distress and dictionaries defined it as “physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension” or “a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize.” Thus, stress was put in a negative light and its positive effects ignored. However, stress can be helpful and good when it motivates people to accomplish more.

As illustrated above, increased stress results in increased productivity – up to a point, after which things go rapidly downhill. However, that point or peak differs for each of us, so you need to be sensitive to the early warning symptoms and signs that suggest a stress overload is starting to push you over the hump. Such signals also differ for each of us and can be so subtle that they are often ignored until it is too late. Not infrequently, others are aware that you may be headed for trouble before you are.

Any definition of stress should therefore also include good stress, or what Selye called eustress. For example, winning a race or election can be just as stressful as losing, or more so. A passionate kiss and contemplating what might follow is stressful, but hardly the same as having a root canal procedure.

Selye struggled unsuccessfully all his life to find a satisfactory definition of stress. In attempting to extrapolate his animal studies to humans so that people would understand what he meant, he redefined stress as “The rate of wear and tear on the body”. This is actually a pretty good description of biological aging so it is not surprising that increased stress can accelerate many aspects of the aging process. In his later years, when asked to define stress, he told reporters, “Everyone knows what stress is, but nobody really knows.”

As noted, stress is difficult to define because it is so different for each of us. A good example is afforded by observing passengers on a steep roller coaster ride. Some are hunched down in the back seats, eyes shut, jaws clenched and white knuckled with an iron grip on the retaining bar. They can’t wait for the ride in the torture chamber to end so they can get back on solid ground and scamper away. But up front are the wide-eyed thrill seekers, yelling and relishing each steep plunge who race to get on the very next ride. And in between you may find a few with an air of nonchalance that borders on boredom. So, was the roller coaster ride stressful?

The roller coaster analogy is useful in explaining why the same stressor can differ so much for each of us. What distinguished the passengers in the back from those up front was the sense of control they had over the event. While neither group had any more or less control their perceptions and expectations were quite different. Many times we create our own stress because of faulty perceptions you can learn to correct. You can teach people to move from the back of the roller coaster to the front, and, as Eleanor Roosevelt noted, nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent. While everyone can’t agree on a definition of stress, all of our experimental and clinical research confirms that the sense of having little or no control is always distressful – and that’s what stress is all about.

Go ahead and have that early evening glass of wine, an early morning jacuzzi, scream “I’m mad as hell, and I cannot take it any more”, eat a pizza, sit in a dark closet, watch “The Real Housewives of Orange County”, or better yet just understand your stress and then relaxing harder is a breeze.

RINK RATS QUIZ – the first to get this month’s quiz correct will receive a Rink Rats T-Shirt, please send entries to rick@rinkratshass.net

            Canada is considering stress tests for a surprising new group. Who are they?

A.         Psychiatrists
B.         Mortgage-seekers
C.         Gamblers
D.         Dentists

COLLEGE CHRONICLES - The Education Department may soon stop publishing a weekly list of colleges and universities under investigation for allegedly mishandling sexual violence claims - a list that started with 55 schools when it was first published in 2014 and has since ballooned to nearly 240 as of this week. Candice Jackson, the acting head of the department's Office for Civil Rights, called it a "list of shame" this week at the National Association of College and University Attorneys conference in Chicago where she said it's high on the list of things the Trump administration may soon do away with.

Colleges would be thrilled with the decision to stop publishing the list. Higher education leaders have been unhappy with it since the Obama administration first started publishing it three years ago. "Given that colleges and universities are placed on the list merely because they are under Title IX investigation, the list unfairly casts institutions in a negative light, not to mention the fact that investigations are taking so long," Daniel Kaufman, an attorney who represents colleges and universities and a member of the National Association of College and University Attorneys, told Morning Education. "Ending the publication of the list is a positive development for colleges and universities."

Three schools were added to the list - which the department did publish - just this week. They are: The New York College of Health Professions, State University of New York at Buffalo and Saint Norbert College in Wisconsin. The list now includes 339 investigations at 239 colleges and universities. Some of the investigations date back as far as 2011 (at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst). Some of the schools on the list are targets of multiple investigations. Cornell University, for instance, has six open investigations.

SIGN OF THE TIMES - In the new media world, five companies are crushing everyone else. This year, two-thirds of all global ad dollars will go to the Big Five: Google, Facebook, Tencent, Baidu and Alibaba, according to the latest PriceWaterhouseCooper's Entertainment and Media Global Outlook.

Roughly 50% percent of ad dollars flow to to Google and Facebook, America's "Duopoly." Together they are expected to take 83% of every new ad dollar, according to calculations from Digital Content Next, the premium publishers association.

Three companies in China — Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent — control over 60% of the Chinese ad market and now account for 15% of all global advertising.

Google's ad revenue has almost caught up to all print ad revenue globally and Facebook's ad revenue is quickly approaching all radio ad revenue globally.

The 12 companies behind the Big Five — Yahoo!, Microsoft, Linkedin, IAC, Verizon, Amazon, Pandora, Twitter, Yelp, Snapchat, Sina and Sohu — bring in roughly half of what Google brings in annually in ad revenue.

WEIRD APPS – “Screamers”: Screamers are apps that place voice level controls on games in which the speed of a player's run is controlled via the volume of the player's voice. In May, there were 94 screamers in Apple's App Store. Apptopia's Adam Blacker calls it the first "weird fad" of 2017.

“Fidget Spinners”: The virtual versions of these mind-thumbing gadgets are exploding on Apple and Google, with 118 different ones in app stores now.

“Chat fiction” apps: These apps are hot among teens for telling fictional stories through text messages. On any given day, Hooked and Yarn, two of the most popular chat fiction apps, both rank ahead of Amazon's Kindle and Amazon's Audible in the store books category in the Apple app store.

RANSOMWARE - Get used to the kind of ransomeware attack that crippled critical infrastructure and shut down major corporations last Tuesday. It was an escalation of the kind of cyberattack that's becoming a regular occurrence worldwide with a reach that's threatening key elements of national security.

Following a similar attack in May, the fresh cyber-assault paralyzed some hospitals, government offices and major multinational corporations in a dramatic demonstration of how easily malicious programs can bring daily life to a halt. Ukraine and Russia appeared hardest hit by the new strain of ransomware - malicious software that locks up computer files with all-but-unbreakable encryption and then demands a ransom for its release. In the United States, the malware affected companies such as the drugmaker Merck and Mondelez International, the owner of food brands such as Oreo and Nabisco. Its pace appeared to slow as the day wore on, in part because the malware appeared to require direct contact between computer networks, a factor that may have limited its spread in regions with fewer connections to Ukraine.

These kinds of attacks are affecting more people as the physical and digital worlds converge, and the attacks spill out of the cyber realm and into the real world of hospitals, power grids, and multinational corporations.

Consumer anxiety about security is at an all-time high, according to the recent Unisys Security Index. EY's Global Capital Confidence Barometer shows cybersecurity concerns are delaying business deals.

Eastern European systems are more likely to be running unpatched and could be more vulnerable to this type of attack. He says the "bulk of the U.S. capability in cyber security is in its offensive operations. We are in a very vulnerable place when it comes to defenses. 

Can you say Blackboard.

POLITICS 101 - Kamala Harris goes to Washington: Prior to arriving in Washington earlier this year, Senator Kamala Harris was known, mostly just among her fellow Californians, as the two-term district attorney in San Francisco and two-term state attorney general, heralded for her stylish wardrobe and reliably progressive-if low-key-policy positions. Harris has now represented the Golden State for only a few months, but the glamorous 52-year-old is already among the top tier of potential Democratic nominees for the 2020 presidential race ... Given her scant national experience and rookie status in the Senate, does the ambitious Harris have a chance?

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Susan Ford Bales (60) Alexandria, VA.; President George W. Bush (71) Campbell, TX.;  Yousef Daneshbod …famous father, husband, and teacher; Tom Hanks (61) Calabasas, CA.; Kevin O’Leary (63) Manhattan, NY.; Anna Quindlen (65) Cambridge, MA.; Donald Rumsfeld (85) Bethesda, MD.; Jimmy Smits (62) Las Vegas, NV.; Ringo Starr (77) London, England.

80th BIRTHDAY - For the world's oldest emergency telephone number, the British 999 first introduced in London and a forerunner of today’s 911 in the United States.

TWO HOURS TWENTY-SIX SECONDS - The story last week on how Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge, at Italy's Monza Formula One racetrack Italy, tried to break the two-hour barrier for running a marathon:

Nike, which had spent millions of dollars applying the most advanced technology and sports science to get a marathon runner across the finish line in under two hours. Kipchoge was nervous because he simply didn't know how his body would react to the stress of running so fast for so long. The fastest anyone, ever, had run a marathon was 2:02:57.

Kipchoge wanted to run nearly three minutes faster, a 2.4 percent improvement, which might sound small but represents a giant leap in human performance. And when the body fails in the marathon, it can fail dramatically and painfully. Millions of people across the world were tuning in to watch livestreams of the event. His final time: 02:00:26.

SUMMER TRAVEL - Paris has 37 bridges across the Seine, of which 5 are pedestrian only and 2 are rail bridges. Three link Île Saint-Louis to the rest of Paris, 8 do the same for Île de la Cité and one links the 2 islands to each other. A list follows, from upstream to downstream :

Pont Alexandre III
Pont amont (carrying the Boulevard Périphérique, situated at the river's entry to the city)
Pont National
Pont de Tolbiac
Passerelle Simone-de-Beauvoir (pedestrian), inaugurated 13 July 2006
Pont de Bercy (made up of a railway bridge carrying the Line 6 of the Paris Métro and another stage for road traffic) ;
Pont Charles-de-Gaulle (1996)
Viaduc d'Austerlitz (railway bridge used for Line 5 of the métro), directly followed on the Rive Droite by the viaduc du quai de la Rapée,
Pont d'Austerlitz
Pont de Sully (crosses the eastern corner of Île Saint-Louis)
Pont de la Tournelle (between the Rive Gauche and the Île Saint-Louis)
Pont Marie (between Île Saint-Louis and the rive droite)
Pont Louis-Philippe (between Île Saint-Louis and the rive droite)
Pont Saint-Louis (pedestrian zone, between Île de la Cité and the Île Saint-Louis)
Pont de l'Archevêché (between the rive gauche and Île de la Cité)
Pont au Double (between the rive gauche and Île de la Cité)
Pont d'Arcole (between Île de la Cité and the rive droite)
Petit Pont (between the rive gauche and Île de la Cité)
Pont Notre-Dame (between the Île de la Cité and the rive droite)
Pont Saint-Michel (between the Rive Gauche and the Île de la Cité)
Pont au Change (between the Île de la Cité and the Rive Droite)
Pont Neuf (crossing the west corner of the Île de la Cité, Paris's oldest bridge, built between 1578 and 1607)
Passerelle des Arts (pedestrian)
Pont du Carrousel
Pont Royal
Passerelle Léopold-Sédar-Senghor (1999) (pedestrian, formerly the Passerelle de Solférino, renamed in 2006)
Pont de la Concorde
Pont Alexandre III
Pont des Invalides
Pont de l'Alma
Passerelle Debilly (pedestrian)
Pont d'Iéna
Pont de Bir-Hakeim (crossing the Île aux Cygnes, comprising one stage with a railway bridge carrying Line 6 of the Paris Métro and another for road traffic)
Pont Rouelle (rail viaduct for line C of the RER crossing the Île aux Cygnes)
Pont de Grenelle (crossing the Île aux Cygnes)
Pont Mirabeau
Pont du Garigliano
Pont aval (used by the boulevard périphérique, at the river's exit from the city)

SWAMI’S WEEK TOP PICKS
MLB Game of the Week (July 11) – 88th Major League Baseball All-Start game, Miami, Florida. National League has the stars this year, they win 7 - 4.

Season to Date (44 - 22)

ON THIS DATE – This week marks 71 years since the bikini went on sale, after debuting at a Paris fashion show.

MARKET WEEKFed Chair Janet Yellen appears on Capitol Hill on Wednesday and Thursday. The central bank is widely expected to begin to chip away at reducing its $4.5 trillion balance sheet in September. A third interest rate hike this year is seen as possible in December.

DRIVING THE WEEK – President Trump to France: Trump heads to France at the end of the week for meetings with President Emmanuel Macron, who is going out of his way to build a rapport with Trump. They'll celebrate Bastille Day together on Friday.

Israeli-Palestinian negotiations: Trump's Middle East negotiator Jason Greenblatt travels to Israel tonight to meet with U.S. ambassador David Friedman and others. "This trip is an interim visit as talks continue about potential next steps," in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, a White House official said.

Congress returns with three weeks to go before the August recess. Not much to do between now and October except deal with the intractable health care issue, raise the debt limit and pass a 2018 budget to avoid a government shut down and set the stage for tax reform. And all of it with the Russia story getting red hot yet again. ... Yellen testifies before House Financial Services on Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. and Senate Banking on Thursday at 10:00 a.m. ... House Financial Services subcommittees hold hearings Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. on reg relief for community banks, Thursday at 10:00 a.m. on the fiduciary rule and Friday at 9:15 a.m. on bond market structure ... House Ways & Means subcommittee has a hearing at 10:00 a.m. Thursday on tax reform.

Next Blog: Tipping and Dear Rink Rats.

See you on July 17, Adios.

Claremont, California

July 10, 2017
#VIII-8-350


CARTOON OF THE WEEK – Frank and Ernest

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Constitution

GREAT READ - By Jill Lepore

“It is written in an elegant, clerical hand, on four sheets of parchment, each two feet wide and a bit more than two feet high, about the size of an eighteenth-century newspaper but finer, and made not from the pulp of plants but from the hide of an animal. Some of the ideas it contains reach across ages and oceans, to antiquity; more were, at the time, newfangled. “We the People,” the first three words of the preamble, are giant and Gothic: they slant left, and, because most of the rest of the words slant right, the writing zigzags. It took four months to debate and to draft, including two weeks to polish the prose, neat work done by a committee of style. By Monday, September 17, 1787, it was ready. That afternoon, the Constitution of the United States of America was read out loud in a chamber on the first floor of Pennsylvania’s State House, where the delegates to the Federal Convention had assembled to subscribe their names to a new system of government, “to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common Defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”

Then Benjamin Franklin rose from his chair, wishing to be heard. At eighty-one, he was too tired to make another speech, but he had written down what he wanted to say, and James Wilson, decades Franklin’s junior, read his remarks, which were addressed to George Washington, presiding. “Mr. President,” he began, “I confess that there are several parts of this constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them.” Franklin liked to swaddle argument with affability, as if an argument were a colicky baby; the more forceful his argument, the more tightly he swaddled it. What he offered was a well-bundled statement about changeability. I find that there are errors here, he explained, but, who knows, someday I might change my mind; I often do. “For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better Information, or fuller Consideration, to change Opinions even on important Subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise.” That people so often believe themselves to be right is no proof that they are; the only difference between the Church of Rome and the Church of England is that the former is infallible while the latter is never wrong. He hoped “that every member of the Convention who may still have Objections to it, would with me, on this occasion doubt a little of his own Infallibility, and to make manifest our Unanimity, put his name to this Instrument.” Although the document had its faults, he doubted that any other assembly would, at just that moment, have been able to draft a better one. “Thus I consent, Sir, to this Constitution because I expect no better, and because I am not sure, that it is not the best.”

Three delegates refused to sign, but at the bottom of the fourth page appear the signatures of the rest. What was written on parchment was then made public, printed in newspapers and broadsheets, often with “We the People” set off in extra-large type. Meanwhile, the secretary of the convention carried the original to New York to present it to Congress, which met, at the time, at City Hall. Without either endorsing or opposing it, Congress agreed to forward the Constitution to the states, for ratification. The original Constitution was simply filed away and, later, shuffled from one place to another. When City Hall underwent renovations, the Constitution was transferred to the Department of State. The following year, it moved with Congress to Philadelphia and, in 1800, to Washington, where it was stored at the Treasury Department until it was shifted to the War Office. In 1814, three clerks stuffed it into a linen sack and carried it to a gristmill in Virginia, which was fortunate, because the British burned Washington down. In the eighteen-twenties, when someone asked James Madison where it was, he had no idea.

In 1875, the Constitution found a home in a tin box in the bottom of a closet in a new building that housed the Departments of State, War, and Navy. In 1894, it was sealed between glass plates and locked in a safe in the basement. In 1921, Herbert Putnam, a librarian, drove it across town in his Model T. In 1924, it was put on display in the Library of Congress, for the first time ever. Before then, no one had thought of that. It spent the Second World War at Fort Knox. In 1952, it was driven in an armored tank under military guard to the National Archives, where it remains, in a shrine in the rotunda, alongside the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.

Ours is one of the oldest written constitutions in the world and the first, anywhere, to be submitted to the people for their approval. As Madison explained, the Constitution is “of no more consequence than the paper on which it is written, unless it be stamped with the approbation of those to whom it is addressed . . . the people themselves.” Lately, some say, it’s been thrown in the trash. “Stop Shredding Our Constitution!” Tea Party signs read. “Found in a dumpster behind the Capitol,” read another, on which was pasted the kind of faux-parchment Constitution you can buy in the souvenir shop at any history-for-profit heritage site. I bought mine at Bunker Hill years back. It is printed on a single sheet of foolscap, and the writing is so small that it’s illegible; then again, the knickknack Constitution isn’t meant to be read. The National Archives sells a poster-size scroll, twenty-two inches by twenty-nine inches, that is a readable facsimile of the first page, for twelve dollars and ninety-five cents. This item is currently out of stock.

Parchment is beautiful. As an object, the Constitution has more in common with the Dead Sea Scrolls than with what we now think of as writing: pixels floating on a screen, words suspended in a digital cloud, bubbles of text. R we the ppl? Our words are vaporous. Not so the Constitution. “I have this crazy idea that the Constitution actually means something,” one bumper sticker reads. Ye olde parchment serves as shorthand for everything old, real, durable, American, and true—a talisman held up against the uncertainties and abstractions of a meaningless, changeable, paperless age.

You can keep a constitution in your pocket, as Thomas Paine once pointed out. Pocket constitutions have been around since the seventeen-nineties. The Cato Institute prints a handsome Constitution, the size and appearance of a passport, available for four dollars and ninety-five cents. The National Center for Constitutional Studies, founded by W. Cleon Skousen, a rogue Mormon, John Bircher, and all-purpose conspiracy theorist, prints a stapled paper version, the dimensions of a datebook, thirty cents if you order a gross. I got mine, free, at a Tea Party meeting in Boston. Andrew Johnson, our first impeached President, was said to have waved around his pocket constitution so often that he resembled a newsboy hawking the daily paper. Crying constitution is a minor American art form. “This is my copy of the Constitution,” John Boehner, the Speaker of the House, said at a Tea Party rally in Ohio last year, holding up a pocket-size pamphlet. “And I’m going to stand here with the Founding Fathers, who wrote in the preamble, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ ” Not to nitpick, but this is not the preamble to the Constitution. It is the second sentence of the Declaration of Independence.

At some forty-four hundred words, not counting amendments, our Constitution is one of the shortest in the world, but few Americans have read it. A national survey taken this summer reported that seventy-two per cent of about a thousand people polled had never once read all forty-four hundred words. This proves no obstacle to cherishing it; eighty-six per cent of respondents said that the Constitution has “an impact on their daily lives.” The point of such surveys is that if more of us read the Constitution all of us would be better off, because we would demand that our elected officials abide by it, and we’d be able to tell when they weren’t doing so and punish them accordingly.

Pop quiz, from a test administered by the Hearst Corporation.

True or False: The following phrases are found in the U.S. Constitution:

“From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

“The consent of the governed.”

“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

“All men are created equal.”

“Of the people, by the people, for the people.”

This is what’s known as a trick question. None of these phrases are in the Constitution. Eight in ten Americans believed, like Boehner, that “all men are created equal” was in the Constitution. Even more thought that “of the people, by the people, for the people” was in the Constitution. (Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg, 1863.) Nearly five in ten thought “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” was written in Philadelphia in 1787. (Karl Marx, 1875.)

About a quarter of American voters are what political scientists call, impoliticly, “know nothings,” meaning that they possess almost no general knowledge of the workings of their government, at least according to studies conducted by the American National Election Survey since 1948, during which time the know-nothing rate has barely budged.

The Constitution is ink on parchment. It is forty-four hundred words. And it is, too, the accreted set of meanings that have been made of those words, the amendments, the failed amendments, the struggles, the debates—the course of events—over more than two centuries. It is not easy, but it is everyone’s. It is the rule of law, the opinions of the Court, the stripes on William Grimes’s back, a shrine in the National Archives, a sign carried on the Washington Mall, and the noise all of us make when we disagree. If the Constitution is a fiddle, it is also all the music that has ever been played on it. Some of that music is beautiful; much of it is humdrum; some of it sounds like hell.”

Jill Lepore is a professor of history at Harvard. “The Secret History of Wonder Woman” is her latest book.


HAPPY 241 BIRTHDAY - Last night, these fireworks exploded as the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra played its annual patriotic celebration at Conner Prairie Amphitheater in Fishers, Ind.

2018 WATCH: Republicans have again found their boogeyman: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. The Congressional Leadership Fund, which is aligned with Speaker Paul Ryan, is out with new polling from 11 Congressional districts showing Pelosi's popularity is underwater. The lesson: Expect Republicans to employ the same tactic they have been using since 2010: make Pelosi a key issue in ads in states like California, Florida, Montana and Nebraska.

Days until the 2017 election: 127.

Days until the 2018 election: 491.

JULY 1 - Gov. Jerry Brown stripped California's tax collector of most of its power last week, in what The Los Angeles Times called "the most dramatic shake-up of the California Board of Equalization in its 138-year history." It doesn't get any easier from here, either. State officials are trying to get a replacement agency up and running by July 1 - also known as Saturday. The California Justice Department has been investigating staff and members of the elected Board of Equalization, for matters like putting $350 million in sales tax revenue into the wrong accounts. "The governor signed a bill that pares the state board from an agency with 4,800 workers to one of 400 employees, shifting the other staff engaged in the collection of sales and excise taxes to a new California Department of Tax and Fee Administration."

The Tax Foundation lays out the seven states implementing tax changes on July 1, which is the traditional start of their fiscal years. Among the highlights: Indiana's corporate tax ticks down to 6 percent, Colorado hikes its tax on recreational marijuana to 15 percent, Tennessee decreases its sales tax on groceries by a penny a dollar and five states watch gas tax increases go into effect.

POTUS - Days to hit a 60% disapproval rating:

Carter: Never
Reagan: Never
H.W. Bush: Never
Clinton: Never
W. Bush: 1,756
Obama: Never
Trump: 144

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Dan Aykroyd (65) Oakville, Ontario, Canada; Lisa Looney ….famous Blackboard scholar; Olivia Munn (37) Malibu, CA.; Ross Perot (87) Houston, TX.

B OF A PAY DAY - Because of an astute investment made in Bank of America six years ago while the bank was struggling, Warren Buffett is about to make a quick $12 billion and become the financial institution's largest shareholder.

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway will exercise warrants in Bank of America allowing it to acquire 700 million common shares at an exercise price of $7.14 each, or about $5 billion.

At Monday's closing price, that stake is worth more than $17 billion.

Berkshire will also become the bank's largest shareholder.

SECOND QUARTER MARKET - The Nasdaq was up nearly 4 percent second-quarter gain. The Dow was up 3 percent and the S&P was up 2.4 percent for the quarter. On the eve of the start of the third quarter, all three measures were sharply higher in the first six months of 2017.

MEXICAN PESO ON THE RISE - The Mexican peso rose to its highest level in more than a year against the dollar Monday, leading this year's rally in emerging-markets currencies that had fallen around the time of U.S. presidential election.

The peso rose 0.7 percent against the dollar on Monday, with little in the way of news to drive the move. It was the latest leg of the peso's 16 percent rally against the greenback in 2017. One dollar bought 17.87 pesos.

SUMMER TREAT - Strawberry "Cool Brûlée

This deceptively good, summer-easy dessert has a topping of yogurt and whipped cream with raw sugar that looks like creme brulee, but requires no cooking.

Ingredients
2 cups sliced strawberries
8 teaspoons demarara or turbinado sugar (raw sugar), divided
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/3 cup lowfat vanilla yogurt

Directions
Divide strawberries among four 8-ounce dessert dishes. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon demarara sugar over strawberries in each dish.
With electric mixer, whip cream to soft peaks. Fold in yogurt and spread evenly over strawberries.
Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the remaining demerara sugar over each. Cover and chill for 2 to 6 hours.

Makes: 4 servings - Hands On 20 mins - Total Time 2 hrs

AMERICA’S CUP - America's Cup Back to the Kiwis: With a mixture of ingenuity and national pride, Emirates Team New Zealand got back up after a gut punch for the ages and came to the Bermuda Triangle and ripped the America's Cup right out of tech tycoon Larry Ellison's hands.

Ellison, the Silicon Valley maverick worth an estimated $62 billion, watched the humbling defeat from a chase boat and later shook hands with his crew. He was joined by New Zealander Russell Coutts, the CEO of Oracle Team USA who suffered his first defeat in six Americas Cup finals. It was Coutts who first won the America’s Cup for the small sailing-mad island nation, skippering Team New Zealand to a five-race sweep of Dennis Conner off San Diego in 1995.

POWER FIVE – We are at the half way point of the major league baseball season, here are our top five clubs through 81 games:

1). Los Angeles Dodgers (55-29) Rink Rats preseason pick
2). Houston Astros (56-27) Rink Rats preseason pick
3). Washington Nationals (48-34)
4). Arizona Diamondbacks (52-13)
5). Boston Red Sox (47-35) Rink Rats preseason pick

SEASON IS OVER FIVE – We are at the half way point of the major league baseball season, here are our bottom five clubs through 81 games:

5). Detroit Tigers (36-45) Rink Rats preseason pick, to win it all!  L
4). Oakland Athletics (35-47)
3). San Francisco Giants (33-51) Rink Rats preseason pick
2). San Diego Padres (34-48)
1). Philadelphia Phillies (27-53)

SWAMI’S WEEK TOP PICKS

MLB Game of the Week (July 8) – Milwaukee Brewers (45 – 40) at the New York Yankees (44 – 37). As we head into All Star week the Brew Crew is in first place in the National League Central, but, Yanks are tough at home, they win this one 5 – 2.

Season to Date (44 - 21)

ON THIS DATE – McDonald’s menu July 1971

MARKET WEEK - The stock market has been on a tear this year and more gains may be ahead, according to what some say is the oldest market indicator on Wall Street.

The Dow Jones industrial and transportation averages hit all-time highs on Monday, confirming each other's upside trends and triggering a "buy" signal in the market, according to the "Dow theory."

The theory was created by Charles Dow in the early 20th century (after whom the two indexes above are named after) and it examines the relationship between the transports and industrial averages. Simply put, it states that major trends must be confirmed by both the transports and industrials indexes. Confirmation of a trend higher sends a "buy" signal in the market; one of a trend lower sends a "sell" signal in the market.

The fundamental basis for the theory is that transports stocks are considered the backbone of the economy and so if they are doing well, then the whole economy must be doing well, the thinking goes.

DRIVING THE WEEK – After celebrating July Fourth, President Trump leaves Wednesday for the second foreign trip of his administration. He heads first to Warsaw, Poland, then to Germany for the G-20 meetings with the world's most powerful leaders. 

Progressive activists are preparing to carpet bomb Republican senators in their home states with health care protests this week. The Left sees the July 4 recess as an urgent opportunity to kill the GOP repeal-and-replace effort, which is floundering in the Senate.

Tonight at 7 on HBO, from director Alexandra Pelosi, HBO Documentary Films presents ... "The Words That Built America" — passages of the Constitution read on-camera by ...
... every living president (Trump, both Bushes, Carter, Bill Clinton, Obama), 50 senators (including McConnell and Schumer), three Supreme Court justices (Roberts, Kennedy, Breyer), six vice presidents (Pence, Biden, Cheney, Gore, Mondale, Quayle) and 11 House members (including Speaker Ryan, John Lewis and Leader Pelosi, the director's Mom). Plus Hillary Clinton, Henry Kissinger and more.

On top of that, Hollywood and media stars of both parties read the Declaration of Independence (Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Sean Hannity, Caitlyn Jenner, The Rock, Megyn Kelly, Rosie O'Donnell, Kid Rock, etc.), and grade-school students read the Bill of Rights. David McCullough narrates.

Next Blog: Relax harder.

See you on July 10, Adios.

Claremont, California

July 4, 2017
#VIII-7-349


CARTOON OF THE WEEK – Chris Christie: From Here to Eternity