Category: Communications Technology


Almost DailyBrett has never dunked a basketball, and never will.

Not enough height, hops and hand-circumference.

Palm a basketball? Forget it.

There are many people for a wide variety of endeavors, who just can’t.

And many times they bravely try anyway.

Which leads your author to those, who won’t.

They have the talent. They have the knowledge. They have in many cases extraordinary opportunity …Some even won the biological lottery.

But … their attitude. Their stubbornness. Their lack of motivation. Their gaming of the system are all symptom of … won’t.

The Best Economy in 20 Years

“It’s the economy, stupid.” – Successful Political Campaign Consultant James Carville

The help wanted signs are everywhere.

According to the U.S. Depart of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national unemployment rate stands at 3.9 percent or about 0.4 percent above full employment.

We have a labor shortage — not for just jobs with wages — but positions with salaries, a full array of benefits and maybe equity opportunities.

Our service oriented economy is in full gear with GDP growing at 4 percent and inflation hovering around 2 percent.

And yet there are so many out there (particularly lame males of the species), who still pretend the economy is mired in the 2007-2010 “Big Short” crash-and-burn mode.

Jobs did not exist back then, not even tasks (e.g., fast food) that many men type believed then and contend now were/are below their pride.

Fast forward to the present day, and these men still act as if jobs/positions do not exist. According to the American Enterprise Institute, up to 32 percent of working age males (20-54 years young) are voluntarily not working.

As Almost DailyBrett has mentioned before, these hombres are typically sleeping in until 11 am or noon, playing video games/binge watching for an average of 5.5. hours per day (e.g., Fortnite, Dungeons and Dragons … ), before happy hour/evening intoxication.

Do you think that someone obsessed with video games/binge watching could quite possibly be adept at software coding for a major publicly traded technology company?

Sure … but …

Ten years ago when the nation was mired in its worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, the national labor participation rate was 65 percent. Today during a boom, its 62.9 percent.

Yep, the economy went from depressing recession to robust economic expansion and the percent of Americans working went down … 2.1 percent or about 3.2 million workers.

Can you imagine the increased productivity and tax revenues if 3+ million workers entered the workforce en masse?

In-lieu of an increase or decrease in tax rates, what would be the impact be on the nation’s bottom line if all of these people were filing tax returns under existing rates each spring?

Instead of never-ending arguing about tax legislation wouldn’t it be more productive to focus on increasing the number of taxpayers?

Scared Of The Service Economy?

As America has matriculated from an agrarian-to-manufacturing-to-a-service-oriented economy brute strength, ignorance and testosterone has lost value. The upswing has been enjoyed by the fairer gender, albeit pay rates are not at parity.

As a result way too many hard-working women who can are supporting far too many sedentary men who won’t.

What would happen if these women realized they would be better off without these parasitical men?

What if they threatened to drop the hydrogen bomb and declare to their young retirees: “you can and you must” learn to add value to the service economy.

Yes, there are some who can’t … but not all of the record 9 million souls on disability. Is there really nothing some of these recipients can do to participate in society to make a difference? Are all of them just waiting for that day when they can’t operate the remote or video game controller?

In some cases for idle men, it’s just plain old arrogance. They appear to be rising out of their respective chairs to go out and find a job, but for some reason … that dog just won’t hunt.

These men can, but they won’t. There is always an excuse.

“I have to sign a document.” “I have to urinate in a cup.” “I have to …

How do you spell the word, F-R-A-U-D?

https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/labor-force-participation-rate

 

Mark Parker of Nike is also one of my mutual fund advisors.

Ditto for Marc Benioff of Salesforce.com

Let’s not forget of Dennis Muilenburg of Boeing.

Can’t tell you how many times Almost DailyBrett has been told to invest anything and everything into mutual funds.

For the record 70 percent of your author’s Charles Schwab portfolio is held in mutual funds, the largest amount managed by William Danoff of the Fidelity Contrafund.

Having made this point, let’s take a contrarian stand.

Why can’t investors create their own mutual fund comprised of individual and diversified stocks within their own portfolios?

Whoa … aren’t you the investor taking on too much … risk? Shouldn’t you diversify?

The humble answers are “not necessarily” and “yes.”

As legendary investor Peter Lynch once said: “Know what you own, and know why you own it.”

When it comes to investing and in the spirit of Lynch’s axiom, Almost DailyBrett follows these self-formulated rules:

  • Never invest in a stock in which you personally detest/loathe the lead executive (e.g., Oracle’s Larry Ellison)
  • Buy shares in firms you personally use or have a 100 percent understanding of how the company makes money (e.g., Apple).

For example, ever cutesy Scott McNealy of extinct Sun Microsystems once labeled Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates as Ballmer and Butthead. McNealy would have been funny, if his company stock wasn’t trading at the very same time at $3 per share.

Whatever happened to Scott McNealy? His company was devoured by Oracle.

Another example: your author won’t touch Bitcoin because even though it is the choice of money launderers around the world, the crypto currency is not associated with any country and there is zero logical explanation of how it makes money.

Isn’t Tim Cook A CEO?

Why is Tim Cook my mutual fund portfolio manager?

Doesn’t Cook run the largest capitalized – $1 trillion-plus – publicly traded company in the world? Absolutely.

Almost DailyBrett clearly understands that Apple is not a mutual fund, but still it offers the complexity, confidence and diversity of a mutual fund.

Apple plays in the hardware (i.e., smart phones, tablets, wearables, PCs) space. Ditto for software (e.g., iOS) and services (e.g., iTunes). Think of it this way, Apple has as many if more investors as any mutual fund … including mutual funds themselves – both buy side and sell side institutional investors – and 75 million shares recently bought by Warren Buffett too.

And who runs this diversified enterprise with the expectation of $60 billion to $62 billion on the top line in the next (fourth) quarter? Revenues grew 17 percent year-over-year. Gross margin remained steady at 38 percent. EPS jumped year-over-year from $1.67 to $2.34 and dividends grew from $0.63 to $0.73.

The dilemma for every Apple investor, particularly today, is when is it time to ring the register at least for a portion of the shares? Almost DailyBrett does not hear very many bells clanging.

There is little doubt that Apple is tearing the cover off the ball. Apple has proven it is not necessarily the number of smart phones sold – even though these mobile devices are an absolute must for our lives – in many ways it is the average sales price, climbing closer to four figures for every unit.

Back to Danoff and Fidelity Contrafund. Today it has a reported $130 billion in assets under management. Cook counters with $1 trillion in investor confidence in Apple’s shares.

Which “mutual fund” manager would you choose, if you could only select, one?

And for diversification, you package Apple with Boeing (U.S. commercial airliner and defense aircraft innovator and manufacturer) …

And Nike, the #1 athletic apparel manufacturer in die Welt.

Finally, Almost DailyBrett has bought Salesforce.com nine times and sold eight times for a profit. To describe Salesforce.com as business software company seriously understates its business strategy.

With all due respect to Satya Nadella of Microsoft, Salesforce.com is THE Cloud pioneer selling software as a service (SaaS) to enterprises around the world.

Let’s see: Apple, Boeing, Nike and Salesforce.com in the Almost DailyBrett mutual fund.

Is your author right? Only time will tell. Will this “mutual fund” adjust and change its holdings? No doubt.

Here’s the point: As Ken Fisher of Fisher Investments would say, it’s time to “graduate” from pure mutual funds.

There is risk associated with selecting stocks for your portfolio, but isn’t that also the case for mutual funds? Some think that mutual funds are no brainers. Not true, and let’s not forget the fees.

When it comes to my “mutual fund” portfolio — AAPL, BA, NKE, CRM — the only fees yours truly pays are $4.95 per trade.

Not bad, not bad at all.

https://fundresearch.fidelity.com/mutual-funds/summary/316071109

https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2018/07/apple-reports-third-quarter-results/

Five years ago Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPE) was kicked off the Dow Jones Industrial Average, replaced by Visa.

Three years ago, AT&T (a.k.a., The Phone Company) was ingloriously removed from the index of 30 share prices, substituted by Apple.

And just last month, General Electric (NYSE: GE) was unceremoniously ushered off the exchange for Walgreen Boots.

Will Itty Bitty Machines (NYSE: IBM) be the next Dinosaur Tech heading for Dow Jones extinction?

Flintstones vs Jetsons

Under legendary CEO Jack Welch, GE was the most valuable (market capitalization) American company in 2000. The company was one of the founding companies of the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 1896. General Electric was a consistent standard on the exchange since 1907, 111 years.

What have you done for us lately, Fred and Wilma Flintstone? GE was replaced on the Dow Jones two weeks ago by a drug store company? How embarrassing.

Almost DailyBrett earlier wrote about companies that are absolutely rocking (i.e.,  Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Netflix, Google, Salesforce.com), metaphorically packing stadiums as opposed to those reduced to playing “greatest hits” at county fairs and desert casinos (i.e., Intel, Cisco, Dell).

These latter companies were/are directly tied to the mature PC market and thus became fairly valued with limited prospects for investor growth unless and until they credibly changed their story with compelling new information (e.g., Apple from Amelio to Jobs2 to Cook) & (e.g., Microsoft from Gates to Ballmer to Nadella).

Apple was on the precipice of bankruptcy in 1997; now the company is the world’s most valuable at $912 billion. The Wunder corporation may be first to ever to achieve a $1 trillion market cap (share price x the number of shares).

Microsoft has cleverly reinvented itself as the market leader in the cloud, even though the PC software company was late to the party. Macht nichts. MSFT has a $762 billion market cap.

Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, Netflix and Salesforce.com constitute the 21st Century version of the Jetsons.

Conversely, AT&T, GE, Hewlett-Packard and IBM are the Flintstones.

What Are Their Winning Narratives?

Having worked in corporate Silicon Valley public relations for more than a decade, Almost DailyBrett understands the virtue of championing a winning narrative.

What is your company’s raison d’etre?

How does it make the legal tender?

How is the company positioned in the marketplace against ferocious competitors?

What is its competitive advantage?

What is its legacy of results?

What are the prospects for reasonable and achievable expectations for shareholder joy?

For the record, Almost DailyBrett owns shares of Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM).

Both companies have delivered. Both are leaders in their respective fields. Most of all, your author understands their business strategies – lead in consumer innovation and services; provide selected software via the cloud to business customers).

Investing or Gambling?

When you understand how and why a company makes money then markets are investing, not gambling.

What is the winning narrative for GE? The company is restructuring yet again. Give it up J.C. Penney. Forget it, GE.

Tell me more about the business strategy for AT&T. How will it beat Verizon? Your author doesn’t know either.

Your author loves his Lenovo Ideapad. Who commercialized the PC? IBM in 1981. Reagan was president. “Watson,” can you help?

HPites love the 1937 story of HP founders William Hewlett and David Packard and the Palo Alto garage.

If the two gents could see their creation in the post-Carly Fiorina era, they would most likely would be turning over in their respective graves.

When contemplating these four Dinosaur Techs – AT&T, GE, HP, IBM — in a Jurassic Park era, the hardest questions are also the most basic: How do these companies make money? What product defines their respective businesses?

In stunning contrast, Apple is the #1 company in the world, defined by game changing innovation (e.g., iPhone X) and services (e.g., Apple Music).

Amazon is the #1 digital-retailer in the world with 100 million Prime memberships.

Facebook is the world champion social media company with 2.19 billion subscribers.

Google is the #1 search engine and developed the smart phone Android OS.

Netflix is the #1 digital-streaming-video company (at least for now) with 125 million subscribers.

Salesforce.com pioneered SaaS (Software as a Service) and is a leading-business-software-via-the-cloud provider.

Quick: Can you name a signature product/service directly associated with AT&T, GE, HP or IBM?

Being a jack of all trades, master of none leaves investors will absolutely … nothing.

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/06/19/walgreens-replacing-ge-on-the-dow.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/07/21/what-happens-when-the-music-stops/

 

 

Almost DailyBrett offered commentary two years ago against the unwanted and unproductive practice of unloading unrestrained political diatribes upon friends and family via Facebook or some other digital venue.

What were the results of your author’s admonition?

Nothing, absolutely nothing … if anything the practice is worse, much worse.

The digital fusillades with attachments, JPEGs, emojis, Bitmojis and animated GIFs, aimed at friends and family, are actually increasing with intensity with each passing Trump-era outrage.

What happens when you as the target recipient grow weary of those, who eschew any restraint and let the politics rip … on a daily basis or even multiple times a day?

Worse, what is your reaction when your so-called friend drops political content on your Facebook wall and challenges you to a philosophical duel with no end, until you relent … and allow him or her to triumphantly have the last word?

Almost DailyBrett must ask: With “Friends” like these, who needs enemies?

Whatever Happened to Friends and Family?

Maybe your author is a tad naïve.

Always thought of Facebook as a digital venue to post short stories and JPEGs about a wonderful spouse, visits with friends and families, sharing photos and experiences about lands nine time zones away or closer and yes … cute animal photos.

Almost DailyBrett has found the greatest number of “likes,” “loves,” and “howls of laughter” emanate from family/friend/life/joy stories and photos. Even when your author succumbs to the temptation to offer commentary on anything even remotely political, the amount of traffic on the Facebook post goes through the floor.

There’s a lesson here.

And when it comes to outrage — there are so many-over-the top, out-of-control invectives out there — why do I have to add my two shekels and descend into the rhetorical muck and primordial ooze?

Even though the following pie chart, which is a tad outdated, unscientific and used by Almost DailyBrett  before, is there any doubt that political bombs aimed at family and friends changes no one’s opinion and results in everyone’s blood pressure going through the roof?

What should one do with a “friend” who violates this cardinal rule … way too many times to count?

Do you really want to maintain your “friendship” with someone, who doesn’t give a rat’s derriere about how you feel? The answer may be too simply “unfriend” your “friend.”

And if you do not want to end the “friendship,” but are done with their incessant and undisciplined litany of political bloviations and pontifications, what course of action can you pursue?

The Simple Beauty of the “Unfollow”

There are more than a few who are paranoid enough to call you out, if you made the decision to “unfriend.” They will demand that you “re-friend” (assuming that is an actual word). Your author once actually did exactly that, until it was soon time … actually past-time … to unfriend for the final time.

In most cases if you “unfriend,” the former friend will remain clueless barely coming up for air in-between digital-political blitzkrieg campaigns.

And then … and then there is a magical button located right at the top of your “friend’s” Facebook wall … with a drop down … follow or unfollow.

Go ahead … Yes, go ahead to your “friend’s” Facebook page. He or she has been annoying you and driving up your tension level way too long … Find this wonderful button and click, “unfollow.”

Something magical just happened. Your Facebook feed is liberated at least for a few nanoseconds or maybe longer.

Think of Charles de Gaulle walking beneath the Arc de Triomphe in 1944. That annoying supposed “friend” is still a friend, you just won’t see their daily/hourly rants. As Martha would say, “That’s a good thing.”

Best of all, there is no fear of your Facebook wall ever being commandeered by someone who just wants to pick a political fight and ultimately have the last word.

http://www.bewebsmart.com/social-media/facebook/distance-yourself-without-unfriending/

https://www.facebook.com/help/community/question/?id=3349287071052

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2016/09/09/why-even-discuss-politics-on-facebook/

Does every image portraying Millennials always include a smart phone or does it just seem that way?

Soon – if not already – Millennials will be the world’s largest-ever generation.

Pew Research projects they will bypass the Baby Boomers as America’s most populous next year, not a moment too soon.

Millennials already are saluted and celebrated for being the planet’s most educated, caring and experiential generation.

This distinction favorably compares those born between 1980-2000 with their immediate predecessors: the nondescript, desultory X-Gens (1965-1980), and the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll Worst Generation, The Baby Boomers (1946-1964).

Is it fair — let alone accurate — for Almost DailyBrett and presumably thousands of other societal observers to instantly equate noses buried in a smart phone or other digital device when discussing, assessing and critiquing Millennials?

In the last two years of my face-to-face teaching tenure, your author has required Millennial students to put their phones into the “penalty box” during the course of graded classroom presentations or face the consequences of a game misconduct or worse, league suspension.

At first, the reaction was one of shock, horror and withdrawal. How can you take away the 21st Century equivalent of the teddy bear or security blanket?

Gasp …”What about my Snap, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram … accounts?”

“Can I visit and … even pet my smart phone during breaks in-between presentations? Pretty please with whipped cream and a cherry on top?”

Something magical happened when student devices were in the penalty box … the presentations were not only better; the follow-up questions from the audience were relevant. The reason: Student attention was focused, not divided.

Yes, these digital natives can actually live … for short periods of time … without the binary code of digital communications.

The Serendipity of Moore’s Law

The number of transistors that can be placed on an integrated circuit doubles every 18-24 months – Paraphrase of Intel co-founder Gordon Moore’s 1965 “Moore’s Law

Almost DailyBrett remembers being asked as the director of communications for the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) in 1994, whether Moore’s Law would still be intact in 2000.

The media question seems almost silly now. Moore’s Law is alive and well a generation later.

What does Moore’s Law have to do with Millennials? Everything,.

As a result of Moore’s Law, every subsequent generation of gizmos is more functional, more powerful, faster, smaller and consumes less energy than its predecessor. The smart phone, tablet, VR, AR or whatever device being used by Millennials is at least the 22nd iteration of the technologies available 1965.

Without any doubt, Millennials are the first generation, comprised of digital natives. If a Baby Boomer needs tech support, it is better to first talk to a … Millennial.

Should we care if Millennials are characterized by the device in hand? Should Millennials lose sleep over this perception and/or metaphorical portrayal?

Just think, driving is improved when one is not jabbering on the phone, much less sending and responding to text messages.

Almost DailyBrett reported about the book by MIT prof Sherry Turkle: “Alone Together, Why We Expect More From Technology And Less From Each Other.”

And what do we find on the book cover? What appears to be Millennials consumed with their smart phones.

Turkle’s main thesis is we have become a society — much more than Millennials alone — which can be physically present with living, breathing people, each with a pulse, and you would never know it because everyone is consumed with their own Bitmoji digital world.

There is good news for Millennial public relations practitioners and bad news.

The positives: There are more algorithmic tools than ever to micro-target and instantaneously communicate with virtually anyone of this planet in two-nanoseconds or less.

The negatives: Good luck breaking through to Millennials, who are addicted to their devices and rarely if ever come up for air.

As the author of Almost DailyBrett prepares to celebrate another happy class of Millennials graduating tomorrow, we need to be reminded that when it comes to Millennial metaphors, sometimes perception is indeed reality.

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/03/01/millennials-overtake-baby-boomers/

http://www.goldmansachs.com/our-thinking/pages/millennials/

http://alonetogetherbook.com/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/07/06/the-worst-generation/

Can’t tell you how many times this familiar admonition has been heard in classes taught by Almost DailyBrett.

Even though the pre-flight instructions are boilerplate, mechanical and dull, this one statement always gets your attention.

Put on your own air mask first … before assisting others.

The point is how can you help anyone else, if you are gasping for air? You can’t.

Americans are recognized as the most generous and giving people on earth. That’s part of the reason we are an exceptional country.

Please feel free to argue in favor of Norway, Sweden, Denmark or any other über-government nation of choice.

According to the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), charitable giving by individuals as a percentage of GDP: America led the way at 1.44%, New Zealand 0.79%, Canada 0.77% and the UK 0.54%.

If you are scoring at home that means that Americans are contributing nearly 2x more than their nearest competitor.

Is generosity based upon heredity and examples of kindness demonstrated by parents? These are certainly factors.

There is another reason: Many Americans have bought low and sold high. They have invested in their own education. They have used their discretionary income for their retirement, their children’s education, the dream vacation, that new business they always dreamed about starting.

They have put on their own mask first by building personal/family wealth and prosperity.

They have realized that taking care of No. 1 is not selfish, but selfless. They are now in a better position to assist others, to write checks, to give back, to volunteer time to make a difference.

Taking Money Away From The Generous?

There is an unfortunate movement calling for ever-expanding governments in the name of the “public good” to penalize societal achievers with redistributive taxation. In return, there is the vision of guaranteed public sector jobs, free college, healthcare for all and maybe even the ultimate in entitlements: universal basic income.

Who needs college, a job or frankly anything else, when one has direct deposit for governmental largesse and the option to sleep until noon?

Will these souls be willing to part with even a small portion of their entitlement money for little or no work performed to assist others? Is it selfish or selfless to receive government subventions for simply breathing, eating, sleeping and performing biological functions?

Or is there another way?

How about coming up with a great idea? How about becoming an entrepreneur? How about having a dream? And if your vision is realized, then how about giving back big time to those less fortunate?

A great example is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which donated $41.3 billion so far to fight extreme hunger and poverty in developing nations. Bill Gates through his dreams, the creation of Microsoft, the unveiling of the ubiquitous Windows OS, and earning $92.9 billion in accumulated wealth, has made sure his air mask is tightly bound.

In return, he has assisted literally millions of others through his philanthropy and generosity.

Gates and his co-founder Paul Allen actually created Microsoft in 1975, not government.

Almost DailyBrett can’t stop thinking about how the Obamacare website repeatedly crashed and even its calculator didn’t work. “If you like your doctor or health plan … “

In contrast, how many tens of thousands transactions do Microsoft, Amazon, Apple … process per hour? And they overwhelmingly get these calculations right thanks to ingenious algorithms.

Shouldn’t the mission of a wise government be to foster an environment in which entrepreneurs can continue to dream, to build wealth and to give back to society?

The United States did not become the most generous nation on earth by accident. Our exceptional distinction was powered by those who put on their own mask first, and then … they assisted others, millions upon millions of others.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/america-new-zealand-and-canada-top-list-of-world-s-most-generous-nations-a6849221.html

https://www.donnaschilder.com/articles/life-coaching-articles/put-your-oxygen-mask-on-first/

https://thedijuliusgroup.com/put-your-own-mask-on-before-helping-others-your-best-is-unacceptable/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2016/07/06/universal-right-to-a-paycheck/

https://www.gatesfoundation.org/Who-We-Are/General-Information/Foundation-Factsheet

https://www.forbes.com/profile/bill-gates/

“Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.” – Winston Churchill

Relationships matter, now more than ever.

Tact also counts more than ever, even for those not known for gentile diplomacy.

It’s way too easy to obsess about our digital world with instantaneous global communication in mere nanoseconds, which was unthinkable three decades ago.

These “destructive” technologies have forever changed the world (note Facebook and Google privacy concerns).

Even more destructive is the ability to plunge the world into an unthinkable thermonuclear exchange.

And let’s not forget trying to deflect attention from the ubiquitous, addictive smart phone.

Despite all these seismic shifts in the form of digital ones-and-zeroes, personal relationships are more than ever taking center-stage, particularly in the global political arena.

Think of it as “The Art of the Deal” on steroids.

Not So Warm and Fuzzy

What are the most important public relations of all?

The answers are personal public relations and reputation management.

Do Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin have the best personal PR, let alone Kim Jong Un?

This question seems almost silly, but the ability and willingness of these gents (and at least one Frau) to establish and maintain fragile bromances and romances in our scary digital world are absolutely vital for our survival.

Consider that Trump and Kim (dubbed by The Donald as “Rocket Man”) were bragging about the capability of their nuclear buttons a few months ago, yet they still may or may not meet in Singapore on June 12.

Despite the low expectations for lasting, meaningful success, the prospect of a Trump-Kim summit is far better than a potential nuclear war.

Arm-in-Arm gehen Francois Mitterrand (l) und Helmut Kohl (r)

When it comes to war and peace, bromances and romances matter. The longest sustained peace in Europe has been maintained by the establishment of The European Economic Community (EEC) in 1957, followed by the European Community (EU) in 1993.

If you are scoring at home there has been peace for the most part on the European continent for 73 years and counting. The relationship between the two most influential EU members – Germany and France – has survived and prospered by means of the relationships between Konrad Adenauer and Charles de Gaulle, and then Helmut Kohl and Francois Mitterrand, and now Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron.

As the lone woman in this equation (all due respect is afforded to the UK’s Theresa May), Merkel is rightfully regarded as the most powerful woman on earth – a title she did not seek and obviously does not cherish.

Nonetheless, Merkel has proven she is more than a match for some of the most self-absorbed men on this planet including: Trump, Putin, China’s Xi Jinping and to a lesser extent, Marcon.

Merkel’s relationship to Messrs. Trump and Putin are not warm and fuzzy, but she has been an effective foil. She rolled her eyes at Trump and reportedly insists on speaking German to Putin, while Putin speaks Russian to her – even though they are fluent in their respective languages.

Macron has obviously concluded that Trump is the leader of the world’s largest economy and power. Some have scoffed at the bromance between the two, and questioned what Macron has received in return (e.g., US pulled out the Paris accord and the Iran nuclear deal). Keep in mind that Macron has Trump’s ear, and may be Europe’s closest confidant to POTUS.

Trump’s bromance with China’s president Xi, including a visit to Mar-a-Lago in Florida, is a complicated relationship including strategizing about Kim Jong Un’s nagging North Korea and the question of tariffs and intellectual property (IP) protection. A solid, even though conflicted, relationship between the world’s two largest economic and military powers increases – not decreases – the prospect for world peace and maybe even, harmony.

President Donald Trump talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, with their wives, first lady Melania Trump and Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan as they pose for photographers before dinner at Mar-a-Lago, Thursday, April 6, 2017, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Time will tell whether Almost DailyBrett is correct on this point; hopefully that is the case.

You Can Take Putin Out of the KGB …

But you can’t take the KGB out of Putin.

Russia’s leader will play games, including inviting his black lab Koni to a 2007 summit with canine-phobic Merkel (see earlier Almost DailyBrett blog on this Machiavellian topic). How will Putin exploit perceived Trump weaknesses? How will Trump counter?

And yet these two leaders appear to enjoy each other’s company, at least in front of the cameras.

Will Trump develop the same kind of rapport with Kim Jong Un?

Kim has already kibitzed with Xi and most recently on both sides of the most heavily fortified and dangerous border with South Korea’s Moon Jae-in.  The overriding subject of their historic encounters: the prospect for a summit between Kim and The Donald, regardless of the potential for success.

In our increasingly dangerous world – in which the digital ones and zeroes work for us and hopefully not against us – Almost DailyBrett takes the humble view that talking is far better than fighting.

Bromances and Romances matter.

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/33365-tact-is-the-ability-to-tell-someone-to-go-to

https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/common-market-founded

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/02/20/putins-pooch-und-merkels-dog-o-phobia/

“You guys are obsessed with Trump … You pretend like you hate him, but I think you love him. I think what no one in this room wants to admit is that Trump has helped all of you. … He’s helped you sell your papers and your books and your TV. You helped create this monster, and now you’re profiting off of him. – Michelle Wolf speaking to the White House Correspondents Association dinner

Michelle Wolf once again proved the old adage: A stopped clock is indeed right twice a day.

Supposedly, Alec Baldwin is getting “tired” always playing Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live.” Somehow, someway Alec makes a go of it, even bringing in the real Stefanie Clifford (e.g., porn “star” Stormy Daniels) to play herself as SNL ratings soar.

Speaking to media expert Howard Kurtz, former RNC chairman and Trump chief of staff Reince Priebus, pointed to the universal improvement of media business models and share prices, and proclaimed:

“Trump is Money.”

Whether you are a conservative switching on Fox News, a liberal watching CNN’s angry talking heads or a socialist getting his or her red-meat fix on MSNBC, all three of these news networks are virtually 24/7/365 Donald Trump … and their ratings are upwards to the right.

Everyone and anywhere, the conversations are about Trump. As Patrick Buchanan once said: “Worse than being misquoted, is not being quoted at all.” Trump never suffered from this malady.

Since June 2015, the media has been in a foaming-at-the-mouth state of Schadenfreude waiting to stomp on Trump’s political grave … and yet the news of his demise has been greatly exaggerated.

As Almost DailyBrett and others have stated, Trump is a walking-talking-breathing, daily-outrage via Twitter or his own verbal expression machine. He is catnip to the media, and the Fourth Estate felines are stoned.

Some have suggested the American media (e.g., Wolf quote above) created Donald Trump and made his presidency possible. The mediaQuant estimates are America media provided the wealthiest presidential candidate in history with $4.6 billion (advertising equivalent) in earned media coverage.

Like him or detest him, Trump — “The Apprentice” — knows how the media works and plays it like a violin. There is nothing the media animal loves more than a good fight or a sordid controversy. Trump delivers in spades.

Show Me The Trump Money

The stately Gray Lady, The New York Times, (“All the News That’s Fit to Print”) at one time set the national agenda, providing us mere mortals with the daily subjects to think about and discuss over the dinner table.

That all ended with Twitter, particularly Trump’s nocturnal tweets – most outrageous, some not. Instead of the NYT being the poster child of Agenda Setting Theory, Trump with his presidential bully pulpit is posing the questions of the day … even before the Times hits the streets.

The inhabitants of the New York Times ivory tower have been preempted and leveraged, and they hate it. Let’s … yes, let’s write another front-page editorial chastising this rogue in the White House. That’ll show him.

Here’s the rub. Counterintuitively, negative publicity actually helps Trump. And in turn, Trump sells newspapers, raises Nielsen Ratings and boosts book sales.

We are approaching the three-year anniversary (June 16) of The Donald descending the Trump Tower escalator to declare his candidacy. The media was laughing back then, and going to the bank today.

Shares of the aforementioned New York Times are up 62.48 percent in the same three-year time period. 21st Century Fox, the parent of the Wall Street Journal and Fox News, increased 11.62 percent. Comcast (NBC and MSNBC) is up 12.64 percent. Washington Post, 7.75 percent. Time Warner (CNN), 9.99 percent … How’s that for creating shareholder value?

The media is making money – lots of money – off Donald Trump. They can’t wait to collectively dance on his political grave, but just not now … pretty please with sugar on top.

Hold your collective ears New York Times Pharisees: When it comes to Donald Trump, you are only too eager …  yes, too eager … to buy low and sell high.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/06/arts/television/snl-stormy-daniels-donald-glover.html

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/4/30/17301436/michelle-wolf-speech-transcript-white-house-correspondents-dinner-sarah-huckabee-sanders

https://www.cnbc.com/2016/09/30/breakingviews-trump-cold-shoulder-for-tv-ads-may-set-the-trend.html

https://www.thestreet.com/story/13896916/1/donald-trump-rode-5-billion-in-free-media-to-the-white-house.html

 

 

 

 

“If I had an unattainable ideal, it was leading Europe out of her darkness toward a new age of reason. I have it still.” – George Smiley in John le Carré’s 24th best-selling novel, “A Legacy of Spies”

John le Carré’s net worth is $100 million.

His beautiful house perched over the Atlantic in Cornwall’s Land’s End is stunning.

His earned place as a premiere story-teller in the cultural history/spy genre is assured.

John le Carré (pen name for David John Moore Cornwell) is one of the greatest authors during the last two generations, regardless of category.

He projects ethos having served in Britain’s international Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), stationed in Bonn – “The Little Town in Germany,” and gravitas based on his institutional memory.

His command of die Deutsche Sprache provides him with even greater credibility, when it comes to writing about the Cold War stand-off between the Federal Republic of Germany and the so-called German Democratic Republic.

“To possess another language, Charlemagne tells us, is to possess another soul. German is such a language. Once you have it in your head, you can go there anytime, you can close the door, you have a refuge.” — John le Carré

Jawohl mein Autor!

And after more than five decades of success and praise, there are no signs of closure.

He told Steve Croft of “60 Minutes” that he already is penning his 25th English spy novel. He confessed that he becomes sad and disconsolate when one of his novels is signed, sealed and delivered (Novelist postpartum depression?). Eventually, he is born anew and refreshed when he commences work on another tome.

He still uses his well-worn pen, a pair of scissors and scotch tape to write and revise. Intel’s MPU and Microsoft’s Windows OS are not required, and presumably never will be as far as le Carré is concerned. Why change at this point of his amazing life of writing?

His wife of 46-years, Valerie Eustace, employs the humble PC to convert the le Carré prose and thoughts into binary code. Digital is indeed forever.

Some see life in one’s 80s as an afternoon nap, a cane, a walker, forgetting what day it is, merely running out the clock on life. For le Carré, it seems that his celebrated life is heading for a next chapter.

Looking Back At History; Trying to Make Sense of the Present

“If this is truly the denouement of the mystery of George Smiley and indirectly of Mr le Carré himself, there is something odd about it. It does not have the feel of closure.”The Economist review of John le Carre’s 24th novel, “A Legacy of Spies”

Re-reading and re-watching the novel/movie “The Spy Who Came In From The Cold” (1963), no one questioned the urgency of standing up to the USSR just two years after the erection of the evil Berlin Wall. The death of Alec Leamas, played by Richard Burton, and British Communist Liz Gold at the base of the blasted wall, leaves the reader/viewer hoping for a better ending … one that did not come for another generation.

“A Legacy of Spies” questions what was the noble purpose that left Alec Leamas and Liz Gold prostrate in the death strip just a few climbs up the ladder to freedom. These interrogatives are easily posed in the form of a deposition. The answers are not as easy, particularly since the Soviet threat (or at least that version of the Russian menace) went into the history books nearly three decades ago.

The author of Almost DailyBrett has re-read/re-watched le Carré books and movies, learning even more from his command of detail and projection of British thought/culture as the UK has moved on from the Loss of Empire, Cold War to Brexit.

The movies based upon his books … even some that vaguely follow the actual text (e.g., BBC adaptation of the “Night Manager” ) are a further testament to the author. Besides Burton, two James Bonds have even stepped up in leading roles including Sean Connery (e.g., Russia House) and Pierce Brosnan (e.g. The Tailor of Panama).

Le Carré proves that voluminous reading and writing is a profession/hobby/source of joy that we all can enjoy until that final day arrives … Just one more paragraph, please.

More power to you, John le Carré. You’re an inspiration to all of us.

https://www.johnlecarre.com/

https://www.economist.com/news/books-and-arts/21728611-old-masters-john-and-george-puzzle-their-watchers-legacy-spies-john-le-carr-s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4bnUHVhrjI

https://www.celebritynetworth.com/richest-celebrities/authors/john-le-carre-net-worth/

https://www.sis.gov.uk/

 

 

“Barbara Bush was a generous and smart and amazing racist who, along with her husband, raised a war criminal. Fuck outta here with your nice words.” – Fresno State English Professor Randa Jarrar in a tweet upon the passing of former First Lady Barbara Bush

“I’m happy the witch is dead. can’t wait for the rest of her family to fall to their demise the way 1.5 million iraqis have. byyyeeeeeee.” – Another tweet by Creative Writing Professor JarrarThe body was still warm on Tuesday.

And shortly thereafter, the race card was played with the nasty labels of “war criminal” thrown into tweets filled with unmitigated hatred. This time the ugly words were uttered by a tenured Fresno State Creative Writing Professor Randa Jarrar.

To his credit, Fresno State University President Joseph I. Castro immediately disassociated the university from Jarrar’s stunning tweets.

FSU Provost Lynette Zelezny said the professor’s horrific comments are under review in accordance with the university’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA). She was asked whether Jarrar could be fired. Zelezny answered the subjunctive question with the affirmative.

When it comes to tenure, CBAs and academic freedom and Jarrar’s outrageous tweets, Almost DailyBrett will take the “under” when it comes to firing a tenured professor.

If Jarrar is not fired, does that mean that tenured professors can say whatever they want, no matter how vile? Are we better as an academic community as a result?

First Amendment Rights/Academic Freedom? 

“I will never be fired.” – Jarrar

We all have the First Amendment Right of Free Speech, regardless of the level of maliciousness.

And tenured professors have “academic freedom.”

The question remains how far does “academic freedom” and CBAs extend when it comes to termination with cause?

Jarrar is taunting the administration of Fresno State, and quite frankly universities and colleges across the country.

When is too much, too much … or is the sky the limit, if there are any limits at all?

Can a university simply proclaim that a tenured professor in question can speak for himself or herself no matter how destructive the comments?

Almost DailyBrett takes issue with this notion.

As the former Press Secretary for the California Office of the Governor (e.g., George Deukmejian), the author of Almost DailyBrett did not have the academic freedom protection enjoyed by tenured professors. Instead your blog writer was an agent of the state, serving at the express pleasure of the governor.

There was zero separation between my own personal comments and my official duties as press secretary. When the phone rang at home at 1 am and a reporter was on the line, yours truly was not a private citizen but a 24/7/365 representative of the Office of the Governor for the largest state in the union.

Likewise, Professor Jarrar is indeed a wealthy $100,000 per year agent of the State of California, and by extension Fresno State University.

She is teaching the leaders of tomorrow, which should make any decent person shudder.

Where Are The University Presidents?

“A professor with tenure does not have blanket protection to say and do what they wish. We are all held accountable for our actions.” – FSU President Castro

Will there ever be a time when a rhetorical red line is crossed by a tenured professor?

Will President Castro eventually succumb to the pressure of his tenured faculty, simply slap Jarrar on the wrist, and let her back into her classroom with a big cat-who-swallowed-the-canary smile on her face?

Will he and others in the administration by omission send the image of an uncaring Fresno State University to students, parents and alumni? Will the university president essentially pardon a professor, who wishes for the quick deaths of a revered American family that produced two presidents?

The deciding question is not free speech, academic freedom and collective bargaining agreements.

The real issue is accountability vs. no accountability, when there is no doubt a red line has been trampled.

An agent of the state has betrayed her trust.

Will FSU President Castro and Provost Zelezny have the courage to stand up for decency in these vitriolic times?

Almost DailyBrett is hoping that is the case.

Don’t hold your breath.

Almost DailyBrett note: As predicted Professor Randa Jarrar was not fired because of her tenure. Her insensitive tweets and arrogant referral of critics to call a State of Arizona mental health hotline notwithstanding. President Castro wants to assure FSU donors that Jarrar doesn’t speak for the university. Let the checks be written.

http://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/education/article209227364.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2018/04/18/after-calling-barbara-bush-an-amazing-racist-a-professor-taunts-critics-i-will-never-be-fired/?noredirect=on

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-secrets-of-a-great-first-spouse-1524177700

https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/first_amendment

http://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/education/article209752459.html

 

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