Monday, June 19, 2017

Summer Reading

It is time to set up the night stand and the pool/beach tote with our summer reading selections.

"Creative Confidence," by Tom and David Kelley - Too often, companies and individuals assume that creativity and innovation are the domain of the "creative types." Especially if you have more than nine letters after your name.  But two of the leading experts in innovation, design, and creativity on the planet show us that each and every one of us is creative.  In an incredibly entertaining and inspiring narrative that draws on countless stories from their work at IDEO, the Stanford d.school, and with many of the world's top companies, David and Tom Kelley identify the principles and strategies that will allow us to tap into our creative potential in our work lives, and in our personal lives, and allow us to innovate in terms of how we approach and solve problems.

American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House," by Jon Meacham. - Andrew Jackson, his intimate circle of friends, and his tumultuous times are at the heart of this remarkable book about the man who rose from nothing to create the modern presidency. Beloved and hated, venerated and reviled, Andrew Jackson was an orphan who fought his way to the pinnacle of power, bending the nation to his will in the cause of democracy. Jackson’s election in 1828 ushered in a new and lasting era in which the people, not distant elites, were the guiding force in American politics. Democracy made its stand in the Jackson years, and he gave voice to the hopes and the fears of a restless, changing nation facing challenging times at home and threats abroad. To tell the saga of Jackson’s presidency, acclaimed author Jon Meacham goes inside the Jackson White House. Drawing on newly discovered family letters and papers, he details the human drama–the family, the women, and the inner circle of advisers– that shaped Jackson’s private world through years of storm and victory.

The Reporter Who Knew Too Much,” by Mark Shaw - Was What’s My Line TV Star, media icon, and crack investigative reporter and journalist Dorothy Kilgallen murdered for writing a tell-all book about the JFK assassination? If so, is the main suspect in her death still at large?

These questions and more are answered in former CNN, ESPN, and USA Today legal analyst Mark Shaw’s 25th book, The Reporter Who Knew Too Much. Through discovery of never-before-seen videotaped eyewitness interviews with those closest to Kilgallen and secret government documents, Shaw unfolds a “whodunit” murder mystery featuring suspects including Frank Sinatra, J. Edgar Hoover, Mafia Don Carlos Marcello and a "Mystery Man" who may have silenced Kilgallen. All while by presenting through Kilgallen's eyes the most compelling evidence about the JFK assassinations since the House Select Committee on Assassination’s investigation in the 1970s.

Casey Stengel: Baseball's Greatest Character,” by Marty Appel - As a player, Charles Dillon "Casey" Stengel's contemporaries included Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, and Christy Mathewson . . . and he was the only person in history to wear the uniforms of all four New York teams: the Dodgers, Giants, Yankees, and Mets. As a legendary manager, he formed indelible, complicated relationships with Yogi Berra, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and Billy Martin. For more than five glorious decades, Stengel was the undisputed, quirky, hilarious, and beloved face of baseball--and along the way he revolutionized the role of manager while winning a spectacular ten pennants and seven World Series Championships. 

But for a man who spent so much of his life in the limelight--an astounding fifty-five years in professional baseball--Stengel remains an enigma. Acclaimed New York Yankees' historian and bestselling author Marty Appel digs into Casey Stengel's quirks and foibles, unearthing a tremendous trove of baseball stories, perspective, and history. Weaving in never-before-published family documents, Appel creates an intimate portrait of a private man who was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966 and named "Baseball's Greatest Character" by MLB Network's Prime 9. Casey Stengel is a biography that will be treasured by fans of our national pastime.

Camino Island,” by John Grisham - A gang of thieves stage a daring heist from a secure vault deep below Princeton University’s Firestone Library. Their loot is priceless, but Princeton has insured it for twenty-five million dollars.

Bruce Cable owns a popular bookstore in the sleepy resort town of Santa Rosa on Camino Island in Florida. He makes his real money, though, as a prominent dealer in rare books. Very few people know that he occasionally dabbles in the black market of stolen books and manuscripts.

Mercer Mann is a young novelist with a severe case of writer’s block who has recently been laid off from her teaching position. She is approached by an elegant, mysterious woman working for an even more mysterious company. A generous offer of money convinces Mercer to go undercover and infiltrate Bruce Cable’s circle of literary friends, ideally getting close enough to him to learn his secrets. But eventually Mercer learns far too much, and there’s trouble in paradise.

Thousand-Miler: Adventures Hiking the Ice Age Trail,” by Melanie Radzicki McManus - In thirty-six thrilling days, Melanie Radzicki McManus hiked 1,100 miles around Wisconsin, landing her in the elite group of Ice Age Trail thru-hikers known as the Thousand-Milers. In prose that’s alternately harrowing and humorous, Thousand-Miler takes you with her through Wisconsin’s forests, prairies, wetlands, and farms, past the geologic wonders carved by long-ago glaciers, and into the neighborhood bars and gathering places of far-flung small towns. Follow along as she worries about wildlife encounters, wonders if her injured feet will ever recover, and searches for an elusive fellow hiker known as Papa Bear. Woven throughout her account are details of the history of the still-developing Ice Age Trail—one of just eleven National Scenic Trails—and helpful insight and strategies for undertaking a successful thru-hike.

The Sun Also Rises,” by Ernest Hemingway - Hemingway’s first novel is at the top of my list because it reflects his reliance on his traditional Midwestern values as he encountered new experiences and values in post-World War I Europe. Using friends and acquaintances that populated the cafes along Boulevard Montparnasse in Paris, he reveals his concern about the valueless life of these Lost Generation characters and begins his personal and literary search for meaning in what appears to be a godless world. In the midst of their heavy drinking and meaningless revelry during a fiesta in Spain, Pedro Romero, the matador, becomes a hero. He conducts himself with honor and courage, and it is here we see the beginnings of what will become the Hemingway Code.

COLLEGE CHRONICLES - Harvard's president to step down next year: Harvard University president Drew Gilpin Faust, who shepherded the school through the turbulence of the economic recession and expanded its diversity, will step down in June 2018 after 11 years leading the 380-year-old institution.

Faust announced her pending departure in an e-mail to students, faculty, and staff Wednesday afternoon, igniting an instant buzz on campus and among alumni and the wider world of higher education.

The Boston Globe is floating Barack Obama as a possible next president of Harvard University. Drew Faust, who has led Harvard for a decade, announced this week she'll step down after one more school year. The Globe points out that Obama is a former law school professor and was the first black president of the Harvard Law Review, in 1990. Among the other names floated by the Globe: Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, Rice University President David Leebron and Nitin Nohria, dean of the Harvard Business School since 2010.

Harvard had just 28 presidents in close to 400 years" ... There were 11 Harvard presidents before U.S. was a country.

MICHIGAN TO WAIVE TUITION FOR POOR STUDENTS: The University of Michigan will waive tuition for students from families making $65,000 or less, the school's president announced this week. Many elite universities, including some Ivy League schools, have similar policies aimed at boosting economic diversity on campus. "I've heard from far too many families throughout our state who don't pursue a UM education because they feel they can't afford it," Michigan President Mark Schlissel said at Thursday's Board of Regents meeting. "We now guarantee those with the most need can afford a University of Michigan education."

FORBES CELEBRITY 100 - Ranks the top-earning front-of-camera entertainers on the planet by pretax income from June 1, 2016 through June 1, 2017. Fees for agents, managers and lawyers are not deducted.

HELLO…HELLO - Next year, U.S. smartphone data use will surpass fixed broadband use for the first time according to PriceWaterhouseCoopers' latest Media and Entertainment outlook. By 2021, mobile data consumption is expected to eat up nearly 38% of all digital data consumption in the U.S., while fixed broadband will take up 27%, roughly 4 percentage points less than it does today.

GREAT READS - "A Sociology of the Smartphone," by Adam Greenfield in Longreads, in an excerpt of "Radical Technologies: The Design of Everyday Life": "Smartphones have altered the texture of everyday life, digesting many longstanding spaces and rituals, and transforming others beyond recognition.    http://bit.ly/2roRRYA ..

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Jim Belushi (62) Chicago, IL.; Jeff Dillon ….pride of Renfrew, Ontario; Queen Elizabeth (91) London England; Sir Paul McCartney (75) Sussex, England; Hannah Storm (55) Malibu, CA.; President Donald J. Trump (71) Washington D.C.

SEINFELD STUFF - Soupman, a Staten Island-based company that licenses the name and recipes of the real-life inspiration for Senfeld's Soup Nazi, filed for bankruptcy protection on Wednesday. Just hours later, New York AG Eric T. Schneiderman announced guilty pleas in a totally unrelated construction fraud case whose investigation code-name was Operation Vandelay Industries. Among the crooks? A purported architect whose last name was Newman.

POTUS WEEK -  MONDAY: Trump has Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela and his wife to the White House. He will participate in an American Technology Council roundtable at 5 p.m. WEDNESDAY: The president is going to Iowa. THURSDAY: The Congressional picnic.

BULLY BRANDING - Little Marco. Crooked Hillary. Crazy Bernie. Lyin' Ted. Low-energy Jeb. Goofy Elizabeth Warren. And now ... "The Witch Hunt."

Trump, forced into campaign mode by his own actions and indiscretions, has officially branded the investigation by his own Justice Department.

DAYS OF OUR LIVES – I  have never seen a Cabinet meeting like the one on Monday June 12. Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, taking his turn to genuflect for a beaming Trump, said: "On behalf of the entire senior staff around you, Mr. President, we thank you for the opportunity and the blessing that you've given us to serve your agenda and the American people." (N.Y. Times front-page headline: "Flatterers First, Then President Praises Himself'" ... CNN chyron: "TRUMP'S WEIRD CABINET MEETING.")

Going back to the Clintons, we have never seen a president and his family work so hard to promote or appear on a program like the Trumps' trumpet, "Fox & Friends." From yesterday's show: "Hey, look! It's Ivanka Trump." ... "I join you almost every morning, just not on the couch!" This came after Trump himself promoted the friendly show on Twitter, which he regularly does.

In 228 years of presidents, none has canned the FBI director, then allowed his own Justice Department to appoint a special counsel — who within weeks his friends and allies would openly muse about firing.

In modern presidential history, there is nothing comparable to the personal and public attacks on James Comey by the president and his eldest son. In the last few days alone, they have called Comey — a guy who most elected Republican officials in town like and trust — a liar, a coward, a criminal leaker, and "a dishonest man of bad character."

Remember that we're living through history that will be studied and debated until the end of time. Many Trump backers, both the eager and reluctant ones, enjoy the destruction of norms and bemoan the highly critical coverage of this presidency. But we should never lose sight that we are experiencing a daily display of unprecedented actions and behaviors.

FLIPPING THE SWITCH - General Electric Chief Executive Jeff Immelt will step aside this summer, ending a 16-year run atop a conglomerate that he significantly reshaped but whose shares have vastly underperformed the stock market during his tenure. GE said Monday that Mr. Immelt would be succeeded on Aug. 1 by John Flannery, the head of the company’s health-care business, and retire as chairman of the board on Dec. 31. Mr. Flannery, 55 years old, is a 30-year veteran of the company who spent much of his career in its once-sprawling financial business. The shuffle comes as GE has been under pressure by activist investor Trian Fund Management to slash costs and increase profit in the company’s core industrial business.

WORDS OF THE MONTH –

Pedagogy      \PED-uh-goh-jee, -goj-ee\
noun
1. the function or work of a teacher; teaching.
2. the art or science of teaching; education; instructional methods.

Quotes: “It was the cold, pitiless glass heart of Professor March's approach to magical pedagogy. Every lecture, every exercise, every demonstration was concerned with how to manipulate and transform it using magic.”-- Lev Grossman, The Magicians, 2009

Flaco, adjective: thin, skinny

Flaco is one of those useful words you need to describe how people look.
“un hombre alto y flaco” - a tall, thin man
“piernas largas y flacas” - long, thin legs

In Latin America it’s often used as a nickname:
El Flaco Jiménez
Flaco Jiménez

People often use flaco in the phrase punto flaco, weak point.
“Pues cuida tu salud, es tu punto flaco estos días.” - So, look after your health, it’s your weak point these days.

SWAMI’S WEEK TOP PICKS

MLB Game of the Week (June 24) – Colorado Rockies (46-26) at Los Angeles Dodgers (44-26). Time for the Dodgers to take control of the National League West, Dodgers win 5 – 4.

Season to Date (43 - 20)

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

Thanks in part to the rising popularity of cocktails, world-wide sales of hard alcohol rose 0.04% last year. Which of these, in contrast lost ground?

A.     Wine
B.     Beer
C.      Both
D.     Neither

MARKET WEEK - Brexit talks formally kicked off in Brussels on Monday nearly a year after Britons voted to pull their country out of the European Union. The negotiations, which are expected to last two years, started with British Prime Minister Theresa May under pressure to soften her position after early elections she called hoping to give her a stronger mandate resulted in the loss of her Conservative Party's majority in Parliament. U.K. Brexit Secretary David Davis called the debate over the terms of the country's withdrawal from the European trading bloc, and the new terms of its relationship with the EU, the "most complicated negotiation of all time." "We are starting this negotiation in a positive and constructive tone," Davis said. "There is more that unites us than divides us." EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said the first session would focus on trying to "identify priorities and the timetable" to show "a constructive opening of negotiations."

Cars 3 led the domestic box office in its debut weekend as expected, but its $53.5 million haul was the weakest opening in the series' history. Cars made $60.1 million in its opening weekend, and Cars 2 made $66.1 million. The movie was far behind other Pixar blockbusters — Finding Dory brought in $135.1 million in its first weekend. Still, Cars 3 managed to knock Wonder Woman down to No. 2 in its third weekend. Smaller films, including the Tupac Shakur biopic All Eyez on Me and the shark thriller 47 Meters Down also did well.

DRIVING THE WEEK – President Trump meets with tech CEOs at the White House on Monday ... Senate Finance has a hearing on the fiscal 2018 budget at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday ... American Bankers Assoc. holds a forum on payments on Thursday at 8:00 a.m. ... Senate Agriculture Committee holds a hearing at 9:30 a.m. Thursday on the nomination of J. Christopher Giancarlo to be chairman of the CFTC ... House Financial Services picks up the flood insurance debate on Wednesday ... Senate Banking Committee has a hearing at 10:00 a.m. Thursday on Economic Growth ... Chicago Fed President Charles Evans speaks at 7:00 p.m. in NYC on Monday ... Index of Leading Indicators on Thursday at 10:00 a.m. expected to rise 0.4 percent.

Next Blog: “C’s”

See you on June 26, Adios.

Claremont, California

June 19, 2017
#VIII-5-347


CARTOON OF THE WEEK – Harry Bliss, The New Yorker


Monday, June 12, 2017

Trends & Strategies

COLLEGE CHRONICLES - In the 375 years between 1636, when Harvard College was founded, and 2011, college enrollments in the United States rose almost continuously, rarely undergoing even a temporary decline. When the American Revolution began in 1775, only 721 students attended the nine colonial colleges. By 2010 enrollments had surpassed 20 million. The total number of enrolled college students fell every fall from 2011 to 2016, dropping to 19 million from 20.6 million, according to studies from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. The declines were concentrated in community colleges and for-profit colleges, but even smaller institutions struggled to meet their enrollment goals during the years studied. What gives?

Some point to demographic influences, such as a drop in birth rates during the 1990s. Others cite increases in job opportunities, which lured college-age Americans away from the academy in the aftermath of the Great Recession. But two longer-term trends are at work: The cost of college attendance is rising while the financial benefits of a degree are falling.

The evidence on rising costs is well established: From 2000 to 2016, the tuition-and-fees component of the Consumer Price Index rose 3.54% annually (74.5% over the entire period), adjusting for overall inflation. With sluggish business investment, a slowdown in income growth has aggravated the rising burden of paying for higher education. American families have taken on more than $1.3 trillion in student-loan debt—more than what they borrow with credit cards or to buy cars.

Less well known is that the earnings advantage associated with a bachelor’s degree compared with a high school diploma is no longer growing like it once did. Census data show that the average annual earnings differential between high school and four-year college graduates rose sharply, to $32,900 in 2000 (expressed in 2015 dollars) from $19,776 in 1975—only to fall to $29,867 by 2015. In the late 20th century rising higher-education costs were offset by the increasing financial benefits associated with a bachelor’s degree. Since 2000 those benefits have declined, while costs have continued to rise.

Rising costs and declining benefits mean the rate of return on a college investment is starting to fall for many Americans. Some observers have begun asking whether it might not be better for more students to forgo college in favor of less expensive postsecondary training in vocations like welding and plumbing. The New York Federal Reserve Bank says about 40% of recent college graduates are “underemployed,” often for a long time. They sometimes resort to taking jobs as Uber drivers or baristas. With some inexpensive vocational training, they could easily get jobs that pay much better.

To be sure, the payoff from a college education varies sharply depending on school and major. U.S. Department of Education data suggests recent attendees of Stanford University earn on average far more than twice as much as those attending Northern Kentucky University ($86,000 vs. $36,000). Electrical engineers typically earn twice as much as psychology majors. No wonder elite students flock to schools like Stanford and demand for graduates with engineering degrees remains robust, while many state universities, community colleges and smaller liberal-arts schools struggle to attract students.

The size of the college-earnings advantage also varies with race and gender. In recent years, male college graduates’ earning power has decreased significantly, as it has for whites and Asians. Not so for women, Hispanics and blacks, for whom the financial payoff to a college education has continued to rise. College graduates traditionally earn more than high school graduates in part because their degrees act as signaling devices in the job market. To employers, a candidate with a bachelor’s degree has always seemed brighter and more disciplined, ambitious and reliable than someone with only a high school diploma.

As the proportion of adult Americans with college degrees grows beyond one-third, being a college graduate no longer necessarily denotes exceptional vocational promise. The bachelor’s degree is not the reliable signaling device it once was.

Nowadays, because of underemployment among college graduates, restaurant owners can hire bartenders who have college degrees. Credential inflation is at work. In the mid-1970s, far less than 1% of taxi drivers were college graduates; by 2010 more than 15% were. Is it possible that by 2030 a master’s degree in janitorial science could be a prerequisite for a job sweeping floors?

Apprenticeships and colleges: The average age of an apprentice in the United States is 28, and the positions are usually reserved for people interested in the building trades or the manufacturing industry. Now advocates are arguing that, given the rising cost of college, apprenticeships could play a greater role in job training. But where does that leave institutions of higher education? Extended learning, continuing education, non-degree certification training, are all possibilities, time to think out of the box.

OPINIONS - On POTUS: "Every president has some type of ideology, and the current president is basically a capitalist who believes in efficiency... So whenever he sees something that is inconsistent with efficiency, he'll abandon what he said before in order to get to execution. The previous government was different. They had a very strong ideology."

Finance philosophy #1: "There are no brave old people in finance. Because if you're brave, you mostly get destroyed in your 30s and 40s. If you make it to your 50s and 60s and you're still prospering, you have a very good sense of how to avoid problems and when to be conservative or aggressive with your investments."

Finance philosophy #2: "There are no patents in finance. Everything has a decay curve, in terms of its margins."

MILLENNIALS ON THE MOVE - Millennials are moving to America's cities — and not just the biggest ones. While places like New York City and Los Angeles remain millennial magnets, research from the Urban Land Institute shows that smaller cities, from Virginia Beach, Va., to Riverside, Calif., are actually seeing the most relative growth in their population of 25-to-34-year-olds.

DEAR RINK RATS – We have accumulated quite a bit of mail these last few weeks, here are some of them:

Dear Rink Rats: Is it possible for a man to be in love with two women at the same time? —Jake
Dear Jake: Yes, and also hazardous.

Dear Rink Rats: I've been going with this girl for a year. How can I get her to say yes? —Don
Dear Don: What's the question?

Dear Rink Rats: I've been going steady with this man for six years. We see each other every night. He says he loves me, and I know I love him, but he never mentions marriage. Do you think he's going out with me just for what he can get? —Gertie
Dear Gertie: I don't know. What's he getting?

Dear Rink Rats: What's the difference between a wife and a mistress? —Bess
Dear Bess: Night and Day.

Dear Rink Rats: I have always wanted to have my family history traced, but I can't afford to spend a lot of money to do it. Have you any suggestions? —M.J.B. in Oakland, Calif.
Dear M.J.B.: Yes. Run for a public office.

Dear Rink Rats: What inspires you most to teach? —Ted
Dear Ted: The Bureau of Internal Revenue.

REUNION OUT AND ABOUT – Reports have been coming in via social media and the FBI about last weekend’s St. Lawrence University class reunion weekend. After repeated efforts to decipher and multiple versions of translation, we offer our old friend Paul Gallagher’s (St. Lawrence ’77) version of the festivities:

“Hi Folks; just to let you know I survived the 40th Reunion for the Class of 77. Lots of laughs & of course I had to hold up Bugsy's Legs at the Whoot Owl while he did his performance (Chugging beer standing on his head) to the amazement of 300 younger SLU graduates who were mystified by this old guy---Priceless. Our class gave a record high $1,977,000.00 (almost 2 million) in donations. I guess we are a "Loaded Class" in more ways than one??? Kisses & Hugs. Caper.

Please see our SUMMER TRAVEL below, where we visit the area of the world where Mr. Caper lives.

MUST SEE TV - Carl Reiner's documentary (HBO) explores life after 90: Hollywood tends to place a premium on young, fresh faces, but these days there are plenty of talented stars in town working well into their 90s...Front and center in the film is 95-year-old comedy legend Carl Reiner, who created the 'Dick Van Dyke Show' and directed such films as 'Oh God!' and 'The Jerk.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Maria Aguirre …famous banker and financial analyst, Paul Giamatti (50) Scotia, N.Y.; Gabby Giffords (47) Tucson, AZ.; Elizabeth Hurley (52) London, England; Bill Moyers (83) Alexandria, VA.; Liam Neeson (65) Dublin, Ireland; Vice President Pence (58) Washington, D.C.; Nancy Sinatra (77) Rancho Mirage, CA.; Kate Upton (25) Orlando, FL.

FATHER’S DAY - Professional golfer Phil Mickelson says he will miss the U.S. Open [starts June 15 at Erin Hills in Wisconsin] for the first time in 24 years to attend his oldest daughter's high school graduation in California.
This is the same daughter who nearly caused Mickelson to miss the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2, where he carried a beeper ... Amanda was born the next day. And now she's graduating high school.

CLASS LECTURE – These are the leading women business leaders who (if I could and had the means) invite to speak to my Finance class:

Susan Wojcicki – CEO of YouTube
Ursula Burns – American Chairperson and CEO of Xerox
Mary Barra – CEO and Chairperson of General Motors
Beth Comstock – Vice Chair of GE
Marillyn Hewson – Chairperson, President and CEO of Lockheed Martin
Safra Catz - Co-CEO of Oracle
Emma Walmsley – CEO of GlaxoSmithKline
Harriet Green – General Manager of IBM
Wendy Tan White – General Partner of Entrepreneur First

SUMMER TRAVEL – Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada: Although physically separated from the Nova Scotia peninsula by the Strait of Canso, the 1,385 m (4,544 ft) long rock-fill Canso Causeway connects it to mainland Nova Scotia. The island is east-northeast of the mainland with its northern and western coasts fronting on the Gulf of Saint Lawrence; its western coast also forms the eastern limits of the Northumberland Strait. The eastern and southern coasts front the Atlantic Ocean; its eastern coast also forms the western limits of the Cabot Strait. Its landmass slopes upward from south to north, culminating in the highlands of its northern cape. One of the world's larger salt water lakes, Bras d'Or ("Arm of Gold" in French), dominates the island's centre.

The island measures 10,311 square kilometres (3,981 sq mi) in area, making it the 77th largest island in the world and Canada's 18th largest island. Cape Breton Island is composed mainly of rocky shores, rolling farmland, glacial valleys, barren headlands, mountains, woods and plateaus. Geological evidence suggests at least part of the island was joined with present-day Scotland and Norway, now separated by millions of years of continental drift.

The climate is one of mild, often pleasantly warm summers and cold winters, although the proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf Stream moderates the extreme winter cold found on the mainland, especially on the east side that faces the Atlantic. Precipitation is abundant year round, with annual totals up to 60 inches on the eastern side facing the Atlantic storms. Considerable snowfall occurs in winter, especially in the highlands.

The island's residents can be grouped into six main cultures; Scottish, Mi'kmaq, Acadian, Irish, English, and Paul Gallagher (St. Lawrence ’77), with respective languages Scottish Gaelic, Mi'kmaq, French, and English. English is now the primary language, including a locally distinctive Cape Breton accent, while Mi'kmaq, Scottish Gaelic and Acadian French are still spoken in some communities.

Much of the recent economic history of Cape Breton Island can be tied to the coal industry.
The island has two major coal deposits:

-           The Sydney Coal Field in the southeastern part of the island along the Atlantic Ocean drove the Industrial Cape Breton economy throughout the 19th and 20th centuries—until after World War II, its industries were the largest private employers in Canada.

-           The Inverness Coal Field in the western part of the island along the Gulf of St. Lawrence is significantly smaller but hosted several mines.

Tourism in particular has grown throughout the post-Second World War era, especially the growth in vehicle-based touring, which was furthered by the creation of the Cabot Trail scenic drive. The scenery of the island is rivalled in northeastern North America by only Newfoundland;[citation needed] and Cape Breton Island tourism marketing places a heavy emphasis on its Scottish Gaelic heritage through events such as the Celtic Colours Festival, held each October, as well as promotions through the Gaelic College of Celtic Arts and Crafts. Whale-watching is a popular attraction for tourists. Whale-watching cruises are operated by vendors from Baddeck to Cheticamp. The most popular species of whale found in Cape Breton's waters is the Pilot whale.

Best Brew - Founded in 1820, Alexander Keith's is a brewery in Halifax, Canada. It is among the oldest commercial breweries in North America. (The oldest surviving brewing enterprise in Canada was established by John Molson in Montreal in 1786 while the oldest in the US, Yuengling, originally called Eagle Brewing, was founded in 1829 in Pottsville, PA.)

Keith's was founded by Alexander Keith who emigrated from Scotland in 1817. Keith moved the facility to its final location, a three-storey building on Hollis Street at Lower Water in the downtown area, in 1820. Keith had trained as a brewer in Edinburgh and London. His early product included ale, porter, ginger wine, table and spruce beers. Alexander Keith was mayor in 1843 and in 1853-54 and president of the Legislative Council from 1867 to his death in 1873.

Keith's brewery produces Keith's India Pale Ale, Keith's Red Amber Ale, Keith's Premium White, Keith's Light Ale, and Keith's Nova Scotia Style Pale Ale, Keith's Nova Scotia Style Lager, and Keith's Nova Scotia Style Brown Ale for US markets. Keith's first, most popular, and most widely distributed beer is its India Pale Ale. Keith's has also produced Keith's Ambrosia Blonde, Keith's Harvest Ale, and Keith's Tartan Ale as seasonal brews. Originally brewed in the Halifax brewery, Anheuser–Busch InBev expanded production of Alexander Keith's beers to breweries in Ontario (London), Quebec (Montreal), Newfoundland (St. John's), British Columbia (Creston), and New York State (Baldwinsville), in addition to the original Halifax brewery which now produces beer for all of the Maritime provinces.

STANLEY CUP NUMBER 5 – Congratulations to the Pittsburgh Penguins in winning the Stanley Cup (Rink Rats picked Nashville in six). A special congrats to St. Lawrence alumni in the Pittsburgh Penguin organization: Assistant Head Coach Jacques Martin (’75) and Director of Amateur Scouting Randy Sexton (’82).

SWAMI’S WEEK TOP PICKS

MLB Game of the Week (June 17) – Washington Nationals (38-24) visit New York Metropolitans (28-33), if the Mets want to get back into the National League East race they need to sweep this series, they win this game: 6 – 3.

Season to Date (43 - 19)

ON THIS DATE – June 11, 1961: Stormin Norman Cash became the first Detroit Tiger to hit a home run ball out of Tiger Stadium. Cash hit the ball over Tiger Stadium's right field roof four times in his career.

Norm Cash who spent almost his entire career with the Detroit Tigers: An outstanding power hitter, his 377 career home runs were the fourth most by an American League left-handed hitter when he retired, behind Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Lou Gehrig; his 373 home runs with the Tigers rank second in franchise history behind his teammate Al Kaline (399). He also led the AL in assists three times and fielding percentage twice; he ranked among the all-time leaders in assists (4th, 1317) and double plays (10th, 1347) upon his retirement, and was fifth in AL history in games at first base (1943).

Norm Cash was also one of the last players to not wear a batting helmet.

MARKET WEEK - The five most valuable companies in the U.S. are all technology firms that employ far fewer workers than their industrial predecessors.

These companies symbolize the central issue of employment in a new age of technology, automation, and artificial intelligence. For example, Ford, which is worth a tenth of Facebook, employs 200,000 workers compared with Facebook's 17,000. Worse, Ford is cutting jobs, saying last month that it will lay off 1,400 workers despite record revenue.

The success of these tech giants highlights the changing face of corporate America -- three of them did not exist 25 years ago, and the other two are just 40. That such relatively young companies are on top illustrates the trend of a higher churn rate among American companies. According to consulting firm Innosight, the 33-year average tenure of companies on the S&P 500 in 1965 narrowed to 20 years in 1990 and the average tenure is forecast to shrink to 14 years by 2026.

Stocks, bonds, gold and bitcoin—assets that rarely move in unison—have all been surging this spring, an “everything rally” that leaves investors confounded about how to play the plodding U.S. expansion. Major U.S. stock indexes have soared to records this month, reflecting some investors’ confidence in the recovery. Prices of bonds, which often decline when stocks rise, have also risen lately, while U.K. terror attacks and U.S. political turmoil have increased gold’s following. The simultaneous gains have begun to concern some investors. Many point to a wave of money driving up asset prices, tied in part to lower bond yields and a lower dollar—a confluence of events they say feels good but can’t go on forever.

DRIVING THE WEEK - Big week for the Fed with Chair Janet Yellen expected to announce another quarter point rate increase on Wednesday and speak at a news conference about the outlook for the rest of the year. This week's action seems locked in but with wage inflation still low and hard data a little soft, will the central bank show any sign of backing off plans for a further hike this year?

Next Blog: Summer Reading and Words of the Month.

See you on June 19, Adios.

Claremont, California

June 12, 2017
#VIII-4-346

CARTOON OF THE WEEK – Drain The Swamp




Monday, June 5, 2017

"Plastics"

As the Commencement season is coming to a close for college and universities, this writer heard the usual “me, myself, and I” chatter from Commencement speakers. The patting oneself on the back, speaking only about their accomplishments and not speaking to the graduates in the audience: when will many of my generation speak to graduates as intellectual equals and not social media customers?

“No one is doing College students any favors when they intellectually isolate them.” To quote Meg Witman, CEO of HP Enterprise in her Carnegie Mellon University Commencement address of last week.  Link is below: 

Meg Whitman: Carnegie Mellon University Commencement address (21 minutes):

There was a common theme sent to graduates across the country this Commencement season: Truth, Justice and Civility. We must stand for free speech, do not insulate ourselves from all viewpoints. Learn to listen and understand others. Civility in society is the etiquette of democracy. 

Another common theme was future employment opportunities: The jobs figures for May disappointed most analysts. But Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, who built billion-dollar technology companies in two very different areas, see more seismic shifts ahead.

At his Harvard University commencement speech last week, Facebook FB,  chief executive Zuckerberg, had some tough words for the Class of 2017. “Our generation will have to deal with tens of millions of jobs replaced by automation like self-driving cars and trucks,” he said, adding, “When our parents graduated, purpose reliably came from your job, your church, your community,. But today, technology and automation are eliminating many jobs. Membership in communities is declining. Many people feel disconnected and depressed, and are trying to fill a void.”

Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft MSFT,  last month, sounded the same warning. Gates said he didn’t want to sound like the guy from “The Graduate,” which celebrates 50 years this year. In that movie, old Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) was given this very famous piece of advice: “I just want to say one word to you. Just one word …Plastics,” And today? That word would likely be “robots.” Gates took his 34.8 million Twitter followers by the virtual shoulder and said “artificial intelligence” would have a huge impact. In other words, why not join the revolution? After all, that’s exactly what Zuckerberg and Gates did with social media and computer software.

But that’s not the only response to the robot revolution. Last February, Gates also said that robots should free up labor “and give graduates an opportunity to focus on jobs that only let us do a better job of reaching out to the elderly, having smaller class sizes, helping kids with special needs. You know, all of those are things where human empathy and understanding are still very, very unique.” Gates said there is a counter-intuitive way of approaching the rise of robots. “So if you can take the labor that used to do the thing automation replaces ...then you’re net ahead.”

Zuckerberg too spoke about finding meaningful jobs and purpose in this new automated economy. “Class of 2017, you are graduating into a world that needs purpose. It’s up to you to create it,” he said, adding, “Taking on big meaningful projects is the first thing we can do to create a world where everyone has a sense of purpose. The second is redefining equality to give everyone the freedom they need to pursue purpose. Many of our parents had stable jobs throughout their careers.” Today’s graduates, he said, will need to carve their own path, but have the freedom to fail and to try again.

They’re not wrong: Robots are expected to create 15 million new jobs in the U.S. over the next 10 years, as a direct result of automation and artificial intelligence, equivalent to 10% of the workforce, a recent report by Forrester Research found. The downside: robotics will also kill 25 million jobs over the same period. So in one way Gates is correct. Artificial intelligence and automation is an area undergoing a seismic shift, just like computers did in the 1980s and plastics did 30 years before that, and how people around the world changed how the communicate and share information about themselves (and, yes, data about themselves) 10 years ago.

And what field will be hot 50 years from now? Some 65% of Americans expect that within 50 years robots and computers will “definitely” or “probably” do much of the work currently done by humans, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center, a nonprofit think tank in Washington, D.C. Some 38% of jobs in the U.S. are at “high risk” of being replaced by robots and artificial intelligence over the next 15 years, a separate estimate by consulting and accounting firm PwC found, which is still lower than Germany (35%) and the U.K. (30%).

But for those who don’t want to work in artificial intelligence, there are some “robot-proof” careers, at least for now. They include composers and artists, nurse practitioners, home health aides, elder care specialists, child care workers, engineers, teachers and, finally, human resources executives, a report released earlier this month by careers firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas concluded. What’s more, many traditionally blue-collar jobs will be hard to replace, including carpenters, plumbers, electricians. And, of course, robot engineers will not be replaced by robots.

Low-paying jobs appear most at risk from robots, economists predict. For those who want to avoid being replaced by robots, a college education will likely help. There is an 83% chance that automation will replace a job that pays $20 per hour, according to a White House report released last year. It found that there’s only a 31% chance that robots will take over a job that pays between $30 and $40 per hour, and only a 4% chance that automation will replace jobs with an hourly wage over $40.

Gates also cited biosciences and energy as a good bet for the Class of 2017. Traditional energy and energy efficiency sectors employ around 6.4 million Americans, according to the 2017 U.S. Energy and Employment Report. These sectors increased in 2016 by around 5% on the previous year and account for roughly 14% of all those created in the country. Jobs in biosciences are increasing at a rate of 10% per year, the latest report on the industry by the Biotechnology Innovation Organization estimated, and employs nearly 1.7 million people in the U.S.

And Zuckerberg also had some words of wisdom for tomorrow’s entrepreneurs. “Let me tell you a secret: no one does when they begin. Ideas don’t come out fully formed. They only become clear as you work on them. You just have to get started,” he said. “If I had to understand everything about connecting people before I began, I never would have started Facebook. Movies and pop culture get this all wrong. The idea of a single eureka moment is a dangerous lie. It makes us feel inadequate since we haven’t had ours. It prevents people with seeds of good ideas from getting started.”

A NEW ORDER - The opioid epidemic. Stagnating wages. The anti-establishment political wave. All are linked to the start of a new industrial age in which robotics, automation and artificial intelligence are changing the nature of work.

Why it matters: Deaths from opioid use have more than quadrupled since 1999, and addiction costs almost $100 billion annually — all linked, among other social trends, to stagnating income and the loss of jobs. Economists also connect unemployment and low wages with a breakdown of families, including a rise in children born to unmarried mothers and living in single-parent households. This is the beginning of a social, political and economic transformation.

COMMENCEMNT THEY SAID IT - Robert De Niro, at Brown University’s commencement  in Providence, R.I.:

'"When you started school, the country was an inspiring, uplifting drama. ... You are graduating into a tragic, dumbass comedy."

COMMENCEMENT OUT AND ABOUT – Jamie Baker, St. Lawrence ’89, celebrates his daughter Bridget’s graduation from University of Vermont along with his wife Reilly. Jamie was a member of the Skating Saints, and is now a broadcaster for the San Jose Sharks. Daughter Bridget played hockey for the Lady Catamounts.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Gary Bettman (65) Scarsdale, N.Y.; Clint Eastwood (87) Carmel, CA.; Morgan Freeman (80) New Orleans, LA.; David Yoshida ….the pride of Dryden, Ontario.

LET’S DO LUNCH - The U.S. restaurant industry is in a funk. Blame it on lunch. Americans made 433 million fewer trips to restaurants at lunchtime last year than in 2015, resulting in roughly $3.2 billion in lost business for restaurants. It was the lowest level of lunch traffic in at least four decades. Many U.S. workers now see stealing away for an hour in the middle of the day as a luxury. And while restaurants have raised their tabs over the past few years to cope with rising labor costs, the price of food at supermarkets has continued to drop, widening the cost gap between bringing in lunch and eating out. If we’re going to eat lunch at our desks and get rid of open offices, columnist Jason Gay has some retro suggestions for the workplace—namely, cocktails.

LBJ VOLUME V - Robert Caro Nears End Of Research on L.B.J: Those waiting for the fifth and final planned installment of Robert A. Caro's award-winning life of Lyndon B. Johnson might be both heartened and frustrated by the [81-year-old] historian's most recent update on his progress. In an interview ... with C-Span's Brian Lamb, ... Caro said he had most of the research and 400 typed pages of the manuscript for the next book done. But 'one more big thing' remains, he said: A trip to Vietnam. ... The author estimated that less than 5 percent of the material in his research files has made it into the finished books."

AUTO SALES CONTINUE TO SLIDE - U.S. auto sales fell for the fifth straight month in May, bolstering expectations for the first annual sales decline since 2009. Some industry analysts lowered predictions for the year as General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Hyundai and Toyota all reported May decreases compared with a year ago. Ford, Honda, Nissan and Volkswagen said their sales were up. The figures added up to just over 1.5 million vehicles sold and a 0.5 percent decrease.

And GM is still scrambling: General Motors Co. is limping into the highly anticipated summer selling season, beaten by Ford Motor Co. as the market's top seller in May and on course for more job cuts at its American factories.

GM, among the world's most profitable auto makers, has been scrambling to adjust production as the U.S. market plateaus. The adjustment reflects a discipline installed by chief executive Mary Barra after decades of stocking dealer lots with more cars and trucks than customer demand warranted.

PHOTO DU JOUR: The Supreme Court justices gather for their first official group portrait to include new Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, top row, far right, on June 1 at the Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C.

GOOD READ - Legendary tech journalist Walt Mossberg on May 25 published his final column, on where tech was (intrusive) and where it's heading (invisible).  Here it is.

DIGITAL DIVIDE - While Americans in rural areas have made significant strides in tech adoption over the past decade, they are still less likely to have access to broadband or own a smartphone than urban or suburban adults, according to Pew's latest survey on the digital divide. Rural Americans are also about twice as likely to say they never go online as suburban and urban Americans.

Expanding rural access to broadband has long been a challenge in the U.S. — since internet providers worry they'll never recoup the investment they make in building those networks. That's why it's something to watch if Congress gets around to an infrastructure package that includes incentives for expanded rural broadcast access.

JACK ASS OF THE MONTH - Did Bill Maher just try to take the heat off of Kathy Griffin? His out-of-nowhere use of the N-word on Friday’s “Real Time” brought instant rebukes and calls for him to be fired.

The former “Politically Incorrect” host proved he’s still politically incorrect when Republican Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse jokingly invited him to “work in the fields.”

“Senator, I’m a house n—-a,” Maher said, immediately adding: “It’s a joke.”

Griffin, who was forced to apologize this week after widespread outrage over images of her with a fake decapitated head of President Trump, has been a real-time guest before.

Maher was notably silent on her situation — but his egregious N-word helped her as nothing else could have. At least for a night, it drew national outrage toward him, instead of her. HBO issued a comment, saying, “Bill Maher‘s comment last night was completely inexcusable and tasteless. We are removing his deeply offensive comment from any subsequent airings of the show.”

Maher said Saturday through a spokesperson, “Friday nights are always my worst night of sleep because I’m up reflecting on the things I should or shouldn’t have said on my live show. Last night was a particularly long night as I regret the word I used in the banter of a live moment. The word was offensive and I regret saying it and am very sorry.”

Welcome to the Jack Ass of the Month Club.

HOUSE  OF CARDS, SEASON FIVE - This season focuses on many of Frank's sins coming back to haunt him.

Netflix's flagship drama is back, and Frank Underwood is more corrupt and less subtle than ever before.

If CNN/Fox News/MSNBC haven't sated your appetite for stories of voter fraud, media distortion, a fragmented electorate, an initialed terrorist group out of the Middle East [ICO] and the potential for Russian interference in our democratic process, House of Cards has you covered.

See Season 5with chapter-by-chapter titles.

A GREAT AMERICAN WRITER, FRANK DEFORD - Literary Storyteller of Sport, who wrote a shelf of books, and whose long profiles were a mainstay of Sports Illustrated in its heyday — dies in Key West at 78.

It was just 25 days after he delivered the last of his weekly "Sweetness and Light" commentaries for NPR's "Morning Edition.”

AP sports columnist Jim Litke: "He dressed up every event he attended."

"He also dressed up in a more literal way, always sharply attired and cutting a debonair figure at 6-foot-4."

N.Y. Times obit for Benjamin Franklin Deford III: "At Sports Illustrated, he became a leader in a form of literary sports journalism."

On NPR, "he spoke to an audience less obsessed with box scores, statistics and injury updates and more interested in the cultural impact of sports and the people behind the games."

NPR's Colin Dwyer: "The Hall of Fame sportswriter was public radio's scholar of sports for some 37 years ... He leaves behind an astonishing 1,656 commentaries for NPR."

Classic Deford quote: "I believe that professional wrestling is clean and everything else in the world is fixed."

SWAMI’S WEEK TOP PICKS

The Belmont Stakes; (1) Tapwrit, (2) Epicharis, (3) Irish War Cry

MLB Game of the Week (June 10) – Baltimore Orioles (29-26) vs. New York Yankees (32-22), Yanks are taking control of the American League East, they win 4 – 2.

Season to Date (40 - 17)

DRIVING THE WEEK - Former FBI director James Comey testifies Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Get the popcorn ready ... Congress returns with 31 days in session before the August recess. Lot on deck including the need to lift the debt ceiling ... House expected to vote Thursday on the CHOICE ACT 2.0 which should pass now that it doesn't include Durbin amendment repeal. But it's not going to pass the Senate in its current form ... Trump expected to travel to the Midwest during the week to talk infrastructure and may visit London at the end of the week ... Treasury may release at least some of its recommendations to alter financial regulations ... Trump kicks off his infrastructure week Monday at 11:30 a.m. with an effort to privatize air traffic control ... Productivity on Monday at 8:30 a.m. expected to decline 0.2 percent ... ISM Non-manufacturing Monday at 10:00 a.m. expected to dip to 57.0 from 57.5.

Next Blog: Words of the Month and Dear Rink Rats.

See you on June 12, Adios.

Claremont, California

June 5, 2017
#VIII-3-345

CARTOON OF THE WEEK – Warp, The New Yorker