Category: Mortality

“Invariably, when people read the headline about Martin Shkreli, they hate Martin Shkreli. When they get to know Martin Shkreli, they love Martin Shkreli.” – Martin Shkreli on Twitter

“He (Shkreli) needs to be mythical. He needs to be larger than life. He needs to be a rags-to-riches story. That image is his mansion. His Maserati.” – Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacquelyn Kasulis

Martin Shkreli will be celebrating his 35th birthday next Saturday … behind bars.

Earlier, he labeled his federal prosecutors as the “junior varsity.” The JV team won.

His final destination will not be “Club Fed” as Shkreli once boasted on Twitter.

The sentence is seven years in prison with credit for the six months already served, and a $7.4 million fine.

Last month, CNBC dedicated its season debut of “American Greed” to Martin Shkreli. It was a personal branding and reputation management horror show, plain and simple.

There are zero public relations pros — regardless of their years of experience and skill – who could have saved Martin Shkreli from … himself.

No one loves Martin Shkreli – maybe with the exception of Martin Shkreli.

Among his litany of sins – the always smirking, taunting, arrogant Martin Shkreli — violated the cardinal rule of public relations (as if he ever weighed his own PR):

The most important public relations of all … is personal PR.

Former hedge-fund Wunderkind/drug-price fixer Shkreli received a seven year sentence for three counts of securities fraud.


His attorneys fought against a full 15-year sentence recommended by the U.S. Attorney, arguing he reportedly should not receive the maximum simply because he is … Martin Shkreli.

Shkreli long ago lost in the courtrooms of public opinion, where he was convicted for being … as the Brits would say, an arse.

For some reason, he refused to even acknowledge the myriad of societal stop signs, which constrain mere mortals. Even on Capitol Hill when he was taking the 5th (Amendment), he was even taunting Members of Congress with his characteristic smirk, and later insulted them on social media.

And today there is a worldwide breakout of Schadenfreude. We are all happy, including Almost DailyBrett, that Martin Shkreli is so sad.

Bringing The Donald and Hillary Together

“That guy is nothing. He’s zero. He’s nothing. He ought to be ashamed of himself.” – Donald Trump

“He still hasn’t said how much the drug will cost going forward, and in the meantime, sick patients still have to wait and worry and continue to pay $750/pill. So Mr. Shkreli, what’s it going to be?” – Hillary Clinton

“If there was a company that was selling an Aston Martin at the price of a bicycle, and we buy that company and we ask to charge Toyota prices, I don’t think that that should be a crime.” – Martin Shkreli on raising the price of Daraprim by 5,000 percent

Martin Shkreli performed magic during the divisive 2016 presidential campaign; he managed to bring Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton into an one-time agreement.

He defrauded his MSMB Capital investors, and raised the price of AIDS drug, Daraprim, from $13.50 to $750 per pill.

With his indefensible actions Shkreli also indicted the entire American pharmaceutical industry, leaving the impression that every company was gauging patients with unjustifiable drug price increases. Some are guilty. Some are innocent.

Eventually, Shkreli called upon his social media followers to steal a lock of Hillary Clinton’s hair as a bounty. He subsequently lost his $5 million bail, and was remanded to jail in Brooklyn.

Shkreli’s attorneys were hoping for a 12-18 month sentence. Federal prosecutors were asking for 15 years or even more. The judge played the sentence right down the middle: seven years.

The reality of jail and the prospect of more than one decade in prison seemed to make an overdue impression on Shkreli.

“There is no conspiracy to take down Martin Shkreli. I took down Martin Shkreli, with my disgraceful and shameful actions … This is my fault. I am not a victim here.” – Martin Shkreli at his March 9 sentencing.

Did Shkreli finally listen to his lawyers?

Was his statement before the judge, and by extension the world, written by a public relations counselor?

Did he in the end, get religion?

Too little, too late Martin.



“A hippie is someone who looks like Tarzan, walks like Jane, and smells like Cheetah.” – Ronald Reagan

The author of Almost DailyBrett was asked recently whether he ever contemplated becoming … (gasp) a hippie.

Looking like Tarzan? Walking like Jane? Smelling like Cheetah?

Yours truly? Are you serious?

That interrogative took about two nanoseconds of personal processing capability to respond. The answer was negative: Never ever thought of this unpleasant prospect.

Which brings up the next question: Why is anyone an aging hippie today?

The glories of 1968, which ironically ended with the election of Richard Milhous Nixon, were 50 years ago.

Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Brian Jones and Jim Morrison were still alive.

The Vietnam War was raging … Mercifully, it ended 42 years ago.

It’s time to let go. No, it’s way past time to let go.

To some their greatest days were sitting naked in the rain and mud a mile from the amplifiers at Woodstock even though they couldn’t hear Alvin Lee and Ten Years After, let alone see the stage. Woodstock was a “celebration” in 1969, Altamont, less so.

Maybe there are some who still wax nostalgic about being arrested for attempting to burn down the administration building? Or maybe they thought they were incarcerated? Details, details.

Volkswagen is trying to resurrect those magical days with its Joe Cocker ad (“With a Little Help from My Friends”) in order to remind the aging hippies about love vans with wood paneling and cramped VW bugs. These vehicles had no guts then, and who would really buy one now?

Isn’t it time to grow up, wake up and smell the Geritol?

Celebrating Communal Misery?

“The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries” – Winston Churchill

Your author winces when he hears accounts of those who excitedly scan for throwaways on the other side of the street … in 21st Century America.

… Or those who don’t have two shekels to rub together, based on their own bad decisions. They choose and cherish the hippy lifestyle, and for some reason want others to join them in … poverty.

They still hold grudges against America for the Vietnam misadventure. They are jealous of entrepreneurs and all of those who overachieve in life, even though they themselves have the mental horse power/ talent to build their own personal success stories.

There is always an excuse for not going to college, for not attaining a degree, for not pursuing that five-figure position … not just a job … with full benefits, for not saving anything for retirement.

Instead of sirloin, chicken, pork and fish, there are beans, sprouts, kale and tofu followed by more beans, sprouts, kale and tofu. Doesn’t the same old, same old … get old?

They worship at the altar of Darwinism and rail against Climate Change, but vaccinating their kids to combat diseases of the ages …? Guess there are sciences that find favor and those that don’t.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Isn’t there a need to finally acknowledge the hippie era is dead and buried? Some are attempting to resurrect the tie-dyed nostalgia, which wasn’t that good in reality.

Almost DailyBrett is unafraid to embrace the desire for the good things of life: a wonderful spouse, a comfy house, a decent paying intellectually challenging job with full benefits, a Wall Street portfolio and his health … at least for now.

When it comes to Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll, two out of three ain’t bad. To an aging hippie getting stoned was a ticket to Nirvana way back then and apparently now as well. Isn’t it time to move on?

For some odd reason, Almost DailyBrett was instead celebrating Neil Armstrong walking on the Moon and implanting the red, white and blue on the lunar surface. Some things change, some things don’t.

Ronald Reagan has been described as “The Counterculture to the Counterculture.” Taking a few moments to move past the era of The Gipper … As we contemplate the opioid epidemic, one-third of all American working age males voluntarily not working, and way too many still detesting the last great hope for the world (e.g., America).

… Is it any wonder … the dishes are still piled up in the sink?




“Don’t mistake activity for achievement.” – Legendary Basketball Coach John Wooden

Almost DailyBrett has been reflecting on a deep conversation with my physician.

Philosophically, my doc pointed to the onset of one’s seventh decade as the beginning of the “Dying Years.”

The “Dying Years”?

Does the author of Almost DailyBrett really want to ponder this inevitable subject? Not really.

Having said that, consider the following:

There was a time when everyone in my immediate circle seemed to be graduating from college.

And then everyone was getting married or going to weddings in hopes of getting married and lucky … not necessarily in that order.

Weddings, receptions and honeymoons eventually led to babies, toddlers, kids and PTA meetings.

Next up were the wave of divorces, and once promising loves gone wrong.

Along the way, there were surgeries and medical procedures, providing far too many of us with the war wounds of life.

Some deal better than others when it comes to mid-life crises. There are those who purchase sports cars, but they don’t all have to be red. My little chariot is green.

And finally … friends and family start meeting the Grim Reaper. The years go by and more than a few have bought the ranch. Those 60-and-above are now in the “Dying Years.”

Death is a subject that no one wants to assess — let alone discuss — even though the end of life is part of life, and thus inevitable. There will come a day in which my ashes will start their eternal swimming and swirling in the Willamette.

Almost DailyBrett contends those in The Dying Years have a responsibility and yes, even a choice about how they approach and enhance these vital final chapters of life.

Every Day Is A Gift; Every Day Is An Opportunity

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” — Apple Founder Steve Jobs

“Don’t cry. Don’t raise your eye. It’s only teenage wasteland.” – Pete Townshend, Baba O’Riley

If life is short and finite for everyone, isn’t there a personal responsibility to do the best we can with each remaining day of our lives?

How many have lamented about far too many people – young and old — wasting their lives, mindlessly spending hour-after-hour, day-after-day playing video games, watching “original content,” drinking PBR Talls – while the dishes pile up in the sink?

As the Germans say, “Life is too short to drink cheap beer.”

How about those who receive all of their news and information through their smart phones, Comedy Central and video games? According to Theologians, Jesus spent his 33 years on the planet and lived within a 150-mile radius of his Bethlehem birth place. His reasonable explanation, if asked: global transportation really did not exist in a 33 AD flat-earth world.

What is the excuse for those in the 21st Century who confine their lives to a 150-mile radius, when global transportation is ubiquitous? If you want to stroll The Ginza, walk the cobble stones of Red Square, traverse the once-forbidden arches of the Brandenburg Gate or shop gaze along 5th Avenue … you can and you should. The world is out there, Carpe Diem!

There will always be overachievers, such as Condoleezza Rice, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Phil Knight and Elon Musk, and then there will be the teenage wasteland crowd, which matriculates to adults running out the clock until that inevitable last day arrives.

In effect these people who are wasting their lives – more than 30 percent of working age males are voluntarily not working in today’s America – are already in their dying years.

Don’t we have a responsibility to leave the world in better shape than we found it? Naturally, we don’t individually have the means to end Third World famine in Africa and elsewhere, but we can serve our communities, countries and the planet … making them all better for our presence.

We also have a choice about how we approach these Dying Years. If we are conscious of our diets and exercise, we may be able to extend our active years into our 70s and maybe 80s. If we make the choice for a gluttonous sedentary existence, we hasten the demise of the quality of our lives, restricting our opportunities, until that day arrives.

The Dying Years is quite frankly not an easy subject for Almost DailyBrett, let alone anyone else. Nonetheless it’s a topic better addressed earlier than later, when we still can take responsibility and make the right choices.

Can’t tell you how many times, a commentator has referred to a passing as “an untimely death.”

When will The Dying Years, let alone death ever be timely?




“When are we going to realize in this country that our wealth is work?” – Comedy Central Jon Stewart assertion to CNBC’s Jim Cramer

Heard one of the talking heads of the chattering class last week on CNBC extol the virtues of “passive investing” in the face of massive volatility and the long-awaited arrival of a Wall Street correction.

Isn’t “passive investing” an oxymoron or a contradiction in terms, if not just plain dumb?

The basic premise is the 54 percent of Americans investing in stocks and stock-based mutual funds should put all of their investments on auto pilot, automatically “investing” a fixed percentage of their pay checks into company 401Ks or brokerage managed IRAs (Individual Retirement Accounts).

On more than one occasion, Almost DailyBrett has been critiqued for surfing Charles Schwab, Fidelity, Zillow and Wells Fargo each on a daily basis.

Is your author an unreformed capitalist? Please allow me to plead, guilty.

What’s curious is no one seems to raise an eyebrow to those constantly burying their noses into their smart phones, spending an inordinate amount of time on Facebook or Snapchat or bingeing on video games or streaming video.

As Jon Stewart correctly surmised in his 2009 televised pants-zing of Jim Cramer, far too many times retail investors have been sold this notion that markets inevitably go up, so don’t mind volatility and fluctuations. Forget about it!

And if that is indeed the case, panicking only leads to losses. No argument.

The question that Almost DailyBrett is raising and arguing is very simple: Do we want to manage your wealth accumulation or be managed by others who may not have our best interest at heart?

The Day, The Music Died

“I went down to the sacred store; Where I’d heard the music years before; But the man there said the music wouldn’t play.” – Don McLean, American Pie

Your author contends that portfolio management is not the same as day trading. At the same time, the notion of long-term investing makes absolutely no sense. Back in the 1990s, one would have been advised to invest in IBM, Cisco, Intel and Microsoft and walk away.

With the exception of Microsoft, the music stopped playing for these “DinoTech” stocks.

Worse, the 1990s investor would have missed the massive upsides of newly minted 21st Century rock stars, the likes of Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google (FANG).

Since the days of the three Gees – Andy Grove, Bill Gates and Lou Gerstner (all retired or in one case, deceased), a new trove of corporate rock stars has ensued – Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Tim Cook (Apple), Jeff Bezos (Amazon) and Elon Musk (Tesla).

Don’t you know, these shooting stars will eventually flame out? And as Don McLean wrote and sang, their music will eventually die.

Who will be the rock stars of the next decade? Should we keep some money on the sidelines, ready to buy low and sell high. If we become “passive investors,” we will blindly throw our hard-earned, discretionary dollars at Wall Street regardless of bull market or bear market.

Shouldn’t we be selling near or at the height of the market and buying near or at the low of the market? Or should we just designate portions or our IRAs or 401Ks to this mutual fund manager or that mutual fund manager because they are the “experts”?

Where Do You Shop? What Products/Services Do You Buy?

“I don’t care about a stock’s past, only its future.” – Jim Cramer of CNBC’s “Mad Money”

Almost DailyBrett has his fair share of mutual funds – domestic/foreign; large cap/mid-cap/small cap – and cash under management. Your author also manages four individual stocks, carefully avoiding the perils associated with all eggs coming from one chicken.

Apple: Let’s see, in the morning your author reaches for his Apple Smart Phone, runs to classic rock sounds on his antiquated iPod, and turns on his Mac at work. You bet ya, Apple is part of the portfolio.

Boeing: Considering that Donald Trump is president and more federal dollars are headed for defense and the economy is strong, regardless of market gyrations, Boeing has been a solid buy. The company sold 700 commercial airliners this year and plans to deliver 800 next year. Has your author been transported by Boeing Aircraft? Is the Pope, Catholic?

Nike: Uncle Phil is the founder of athletic apparel market leader and the über-benefactor of University of Oregon Athletics. Nike shoes/gear are worn for morning runs to complement the Nike+ software program on the Apple iPod. Marc Benioff hails from my undergraduate alma mater, the University of Southern California (May The Horse Be With You). Mark is the founder, chairman and CEO of business software innovator, Let’s face it, many may claim a cloud legacy, but was first to SaaS or Software as a Service.

Apple, Boeing, Nike and Salesforce are the four present individual securities in the portfolio of Almost DailyBrett. Are they examined and managed on a daily basis? You bet ya. Will they be there forever? Forget it.

Should an investor, who rejects passivity, consider these individual stocks?

Only your investment advisor knows for sure.–2



Where I think we’ve got a little sideways as a culture is that people take it personally, if you have a different perspective, a different point of view. I would say, we just need to lighten up.” – Portland Mayor Ken Wheeler on “60 Minutes.”

Can we all learn to eventually let go? Yes, let it go.

And what about the “lighten up” suggestion made by Portland Mayor Ken Wheeler?

In this tumultuous Age of Trump, have we crossed the threshold that anyone who does not agree with our pre-ordained philosophy and Weltanschauung is our mortal enemy, never to emerge from the Pit of Misery?

As the author of Almost DailyBrett prepares to exit the professional world stage in four blessed months, one reflects back to the battles of life, and asks:

How many of these conflicts were truly worth fighting? Were their Pyrrhic victories in which battles were won, and wars were lost? If so, what was the point?

More to today’s discussion: How many issues in life are really worth going to the mat?

Very few in reality, when you for example look back over the course of a four-decade career.

Allegedly Margaret Thatcher as played by Meryl Streep in “The Iron Lady” upon receiving a marriage proposal from Denis, romantically replied that “Life must have purpose.”

Agreed. That does not mean that each-and-every topic of life must have purpose. Reading Howard Kurtz’ Media Madness, Donald Trump , The Press And The War Over The Truth leaves the reader absolutely exhausted after only 200 pages.

Is there a remote control for life? Can we change the channel (bad metaphor, the networks are part of the problem)? Can we simply turn down the sound, if not mute the noise?

Now before you insinuate that Almost DailyBrett is changing the tune about being up to date on what is happening in the world, please understand that the Polish proverb, Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys, simply applies to the notion of carefully picking our battles.

Going To The Mat

Gary Oldman playing the role of Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour spars valiantly against those in England’s War Cabinet, who advocate negotiating mit dem Führer upon the Fall of France and the Low Countries in 1940. He resists the pressure, goes to the mat, fights and wins the battle of his life.

On the worst modern era day of our lives – September 11 – my company was contemplating proceeding with the layoff of 600 workers, shuttering two factories, about 8 percent of our total workforce … the following day.

Yours truly was shocked that a serious discussion to proceed was occurring in the board room as the smoke was rising from the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. There is no way that Almost DailyBrett wanted to be associated with this exercise.

Even though my salary (not including benefits, options and the Employee Stock Purchase Program – ESPP) reached northward toward $200,000 per annum, there was no question about severing and refusing to allow my personal brand and reputation to be tied to this wrong action.

The Nürnberg defense about “just following orders,” did not and would not apply.

Fortunately even though the rocket scientists in HR were upset for weeks, we collectively made the decision to postpone the restructuring until America returned to some semblance of normalcy: The planes were flying, the markets were open, the ball games were being played.

Yes, this postponement was a cause worth fighting and winning.

The Rear View Mirror

“The reason that university politics is so vicious is because stakes are so small” – Former Harvard Professor Henry Kissinger

The graying temples and follicly challenged appearance may be signals about growing wisdom, if not moving toward the sunset of one’s life.

Looking around, one can see battles to fight and dragons to slay. Maybe someone else can engage in these wars and get en fuego with fiery reptiles?

When one contemplates Kissinger’s quote one sees the linkage between the words, “vicious” and “small.”  If one concludes a matter is small and does even come close to warranting going to the mat, then why risk rising one’s blood pressure if only viciousness is the result?

There is a sense of liberation that comes from letting go and lightening up. One can assert that the need to NOT be so “tightly wound,” is a legitimate criticism.

Being Type A has resulted in many victories and achievements, but at what price in terms of health and happiness?

Sometimes we need to learn to allow others to have the “opportunity” to pay the price.

Let the latest fight/cause be their circus and their monkeys.





“Be sure to put on your own mask before helping others.”  — Flight attendant instructions before take-off.

The author of Almost DailyBrett couldn’t be more excited for his students preparing to graduate on June 9.

He is also charged up for his recent graduates, realizing that they too have the wind in their collective sails. No more taking any job just to survive, but instead actually seeking out a “position” that serves as the stepping stone for a rewarding career.

Think of it this way: Job boards are passé. Today’s graduates have a unique opportunity to seek out positions with their employers of choice through informational interviews and networking. They can create their own positions and forget about taking the first offer.

They have a unique opportunity to build their own wealth, and later give back to those who are less fortunate. They can voluntarily live below their means and become The Millionaire Next Door as reported by Mssrs Thomas Stanley and William Danko in their New York Times bestseller.

There simply has not been a better overall economic climate for competing college graduates in the last two decades.

We are living in a Goldilocks Economy.

Surging Business

Better strike while the irons are hot, red hot. Like all economic moves upwards to the right, the trend which is now their friend will not last forever.

Last week, we learned that America’s $19.41 trillion GDP economy grew at a non-inflationary 2.6 percent pace after two consecutive quarters of 3.0 percent … all of this growth coming before congressional passage/presidential approval of the historic tax reform bill and regulatory relief.

Could we experience 4 percent GDP in 2018, leaving no doubt that we are in a robust growth economy? How’s that sound, graduates?

Unemployment stands at 4.1 percent. The next Department of Labor’s jobs report will be announced on Ground Hog Day. Will it be the same percentage over-and-over again or even lower, coming closer to the 3.5 percent threshold for full-employment?

The benchmark Standard & Poors 500 surged 22.46 percent in 2017, and it has already grown another 7.55 percent since … January 1.

Wages and salaries are rising, reflecting a labor shortage for skilled employees.

America’s inflation rate (e.g., Consumer Price Index) was 2.1 percent in December.

The Federal Reserve’s Fed Funds rate is 1.25 percent, before expected increases by Jerome Powell’s Federal Reserve.

Americans for Tax Reform is keeping tab of the 263 companies (so far) making new commitments in terms of repatriations of billions overseas, paying more corporate taxes, increasing wages, providing bonuses, investing in the economy and hiring more people.

For example, FedEx announced the spending of $1.5 billion to expand/modernize its Indianapolis and Memphis hubs, $200 million in raises for hourly workers, and $1.5 billion for employee pensions.

The future regardless of economic gyrations revolves around newly professionally educated students graduating, who are ready to the hit the ground running in our digitized service-oriented economy.

We need graduates, who can tell the story and tell it well through the written word, verbal expression and compelling multimedia presentations.

To some, major corporations are somehow the bad guys in any drama. How can one arrive at this misguided conclusion, when these entrepreneurial firms innovate and produce the products we use on a daily basis, hire millions, invest billions, and provide trillions in investment returns for the 54 percent of Americans, who constitute the Investor Class.

This fantabulous story cannot be taken for granted, it needs to be told and retold by skilled communicators, the types we are graduating.

The great irony is American corporations are doing more to combat income inequality by hiring, investing and creating greater shareholder value by means of a reduction in corporate tax rates from 35 to 21 percent.

Portland: Where Young People Go To Retire

Or do they go there to stagnate?

As a former Portland resident for five years, Almost DailyBrett has news for those who voluntarily choose not to work: The recession of 2007-2008 is in the rear view mirror.

As mentioned earlier, the economy is thriving and there are more than McJobs, but positions.

If one is playing video games or binge watching “original content” – the new streaming video Holy Grail – then one obviously has a clue about digital devices.

How about putting that knowledge into the coming new Lingua Franca, coding as suggested by Apple’s Tim Cook?

There is no reason to do as little as possible and selfishly allow someone else to work two or more jobs to support you.

The time to strike is right now in this surging economy, and it won’t last forever.

The record number of working-age men voluntarily not working is estimated at 32 percent according to the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).

Alas, this is not a question of can’t, but really a question of won’t.

Sad, very sad.




“I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works.”

“It’s not a mere threat, but a reality that I have a nuclear button on the desk in my office.”

Almost DailyBrett quiz question: Which quote was uttered by North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, and which one was tweeted by Donald Trump?

Both quotes appear to be almost identical, except one obviously followed the other. Sounds like two testosterone-enhanced males comparing the size of their “buttons.” And what are the consequences of these intemperate remarks?

Does it really matter? Ask the Hawaiians.

Where and when did we hear the quote before: “This is not a drill”?

Hawaii has been infamously bombed before. Just yesterday, the entire State of Hawaii was contemplating nuclear annihilation, collectively kissing themselves good bye.

The “Oops” moment in the Aloha State capped a week filled with public discussion of sphincter-aperture countries, a potentially paid off porn actress, and even Oprah running for president.


And that is only for one week.

It used to be the four-letter, s-word was verboten on the pages of our family newspapers and by means of FCC regulations of our air waves. Now the word, shithole, is freakin’ everywhere.

The media, particularly the 24-7-365 talking heads on your affirmational media of choice (i.e., CNN, Fox News, MSNBC), are seizing upon each newest outrage.

Wasn’t “Sloppy” Steve Bannon, “out of his mind”?

Was that “Fire and Fury” last week or the week before? Hard to keep track.

One outrage begets the next outrage. Are we as a society becoming increasingly numb to non-stop outrage?

Is everything coming out of the White House an outrage, and then the knee-jerk media response to the outrage … or does it seem that way?

Four presidents (e.g., #41, #42, #43, #44) called for Jerusalem to be recognized as Israel’s capital. Trump did the same, and that constitutes an outrage. The unstable Middle East will become more … unstable. Outrageous.

Is the media obligated to bloviate about every outage? And when they do, is the result more outrage following outrage?

How do we turn down the temperature as a society?

Does the media want to turn down the thermostat when glaring headlines are good for ratings and readership?

Media Treatment of Black and Brown Countries

“If the earth had an anus, it would be located in Yemen.” – Best Selling author Nelson DeMille, The Panther.

“In the storm of mainstream anger, it is hypocritical of the media to fail to reckon with and correct its own practices of reporting on black and brown countries and how this coverage affects perceptions about very real people.”—Karen Attiah, Washington Post Global Opinions editor

Is Trump saying out loud, what many people in-and-out of the media (not all, of course) have been thinking for years?

Karen Attiah in her piece in the Washington Post reminded the Fourth Estate that its ledger is not exactly clean, when it comes to derogatory characterizations about Third World locales.

And yet they are the first to yell and screen about Trump’s alleged “shithole country” remarks. How do we know these exact words were uttered? U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) said they were genuine.

Does Senator Durbin have a competing political agenda? Does that matter?

Former George H.W. Bush was roundly criticized for being out of touch, when he was amazed that supermarkets used scanners at the checkout counter. He failed to secure re-election.

In contrast, Trump by contrast seemingly has something outrageous to say about every topic.

Will we all be exhausted by this never-ending stream of controversy by 2020?

Or will we accept that outrage du jour is the new norm in American life?

Does it have to be this way?


“In seeking truth you have to get both sides of a story.” – Walter Cronkite, CBS anchor from 1962-1981

When asked what sports historians would take away from his record (e.g., five home runs) performance in the 1977 World Series, Baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson paused and humbly proclaimed: “The magnitude of me.”

What about the “magnitude” of former CBS anchor Dan Rather?

The question is particularly relevant today as former CBS anchor Dan Rather is attempting a relevancy comeback at 86-years-old.

With his new book, “What Unites Us, Reflections on Patriotism,” Rather appears to be trying to escape the embarrassing details of his bitter 2005 termination … err resignation.

More to Almost DailyBrett’s point: Should Rather be seen as The Father of Affirmational Journalism?

Affirmational Journalism? Do these two words constitute an oxymoron?

Affirmational Journalism (e.g., Rather) is the mirror opposite of Informational Journalism (e.g., Cronkite).

Under the tenets of Informational Journalism, a news outlet will sift through the relevant facts and information – including both sides of every story — and deduce a logical conclusion for readers or viewers to decide.

Is there any wonder that Walter Cronkite was the most trusted man in America in 1972?

The esteem for American Journalism peaked in 1976 at 72 percent (e.g., Gallup survey), shortly after Woodward and Bernstein’s Pulitzer Prize reporting and the demise of the Nixon administration. The same poll revealed that public trust for the media plummeted for four decades to 32 percent in 2016.

What happened to the days when the vital First Amendment mission of the media was to inform and enlighten?

Enter Rather as the successor to Cronkite in the CBS anchor chair in 1981. Shortly thereafter, the seeds of today’s Affirmational Journalism were planted.

Certainly, there were outlets in 1972 and beyond that editorially represented the left (e.g., New York Times) and the right (e.g., Wall Street Journal), but the news pages of these publications were essentially straight.

Rather: Keynoting the GOP National Convention?

“(Rather) stepped on his own dick.” – Ronald Reagan, 1988

Two celebrated incidents involving Republican presidents (not Democratic) clearly demonstrated how Rather’s aim was to “affirm” preset narratives, not to totally “inform:”

  1. His rudeness against then Vice President George H.W. Bush in a cataclysmic 1988 live interview, which included Bush reminding the world that Rather stormed off his set one year before, when a U.S. Open tennis match ran too long.
  2. Rather’s ill-fated 2004 60 Minutes piece (e.g., Rathergate), confusing the fonts of an IBM Selectric with those offered by Microsoft. The forged 1972 document reportedly proved that President George W. Bush received special treatment as a member of the National Guard. Alas for Rather, the letter was written with a Microsoft font.

Microsoft was not founded until 1975 – three years later. Oops.

Dan Rather was exposed for his eagerness and glee to accept any “fact” that fit a preordained narrative about George W. Bush and his National Guard service. More importantly, he and his producer, Mary Mapes, were terminated at CBS for practicing Affirmational Journalism, which sought out tidbits (e.g., the forged letter) that affirmed and fit the story and excluding those (e.g., Microsoft font) that did not.

Rather’s mission was to “affirm” through selective reporting the predisposed reigning political philosophy of elites residing east of the Hudson and within the confines of the Beltway:

Democrat John Kerry was good; Republican George W. Bush needed to be excused from office.

Today, the list of affirmational elite media on the left is long: New York Times, Washington Post, NBC, CBS, CNN, and MSNBC. The list of affirmational media on the right is shorter: Fox News.

Whether these major media outlets reside on the left or the right, their mission is to affirm, sustain and enhance entrenched narratives that advance a chosen political philosophy.

Is Dan Rather solely responsible for this movement toward affirming, whether through interpretation or presenting, preordained narratives? No. There are others.

Is he the poster child for affirmational journalism and with it a record 32 percent low in national esteem for the media? Almost DailyBrett is making that assertion.

Affirmational Journalism Schools?

As a college assistant professor in a school of communication, the author of Almost DailyBrett worries that future journalists will be trained to seek facts and figures that fit a preconceived narrative, and ignore those inconvenient points that potentially contradict the “story.”

Are the ends of supporting an adopted political philosophy more important than the means of not presenting both sides of a story? If that is indeed the case and we are no longer informing the public about the positions of both sides, can we call this behavior Journalism?

There are some of us who yearn for the better days of a free-and-fair media.  The Fourth Estate can potentially come back; just the same way Rather is trying to revive his tarnished reputation.

Can the media return to the days of Informational Journalism? Or is Affirmational Journalism here to stay, contributing to and hardening our divided society for years to come?

Maybe if the media moves to adopt the model of Walter Cronkite — not Dan Rather — we will all be better off as an American society.

We can only hope.

The male of the species has never been the best when it comes to personal public relations.

The seemingly never-ending list of creepy, predatory men (e.g., Harvey Weinstein, Anthony Weiner, Al Franken, Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, Dustin Hoffman, Kevin Spacey, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump …) represents the classic definition of a story with legs.

No pun intended.

When will this litany of abuses end?

One thing is for certain, not anytime soon.

The series of lurid and accurate stories of lustful men with next-to-zero self-discipline have resulted in pain, anguish and ruined careers for literally thousands-and-thousands of women.

These awful accounts go beyond the world of politics to include entertainment (e.g., casting couches), jurisprudence, business, military and many other human endeavors, bringing the two genders together.

The resulting anger from the fairer gender, justifiably directed toward males en banc, is warranted.

Having fully appreciated, comprehended and acknowledged the anguish and suffering inflicted on way too many women by way too many men, Almost DailyBrett wants to bravely make one statement, and then duck for cover:

Not All Men Are Creeps, it just may seem that way.

Seemingly absent in this public discussion are the guys who are – believe it or not — semper fi.

There are the men who are 100 percent faithful to the vows they made in marriage. Almost DailyBrett actually knows one of these kind souls.

There are men who are respectful of women, and do not even entertain the thought of using any influence to extract (e.g., sexual) favors from women.

There are men, who would never lay a paw on any woman for any reason (referring to professional settings). There is a time and place for everything.

As Henry Kissinger once said: No one will ever win the battle of the sexes; there’s too much fraternizing with the enemy.”

There are the men who can instinctively sense the dread of a single woman riding an elevator with a lone male. The man may move toward the door, allowing the woman to shift to a position behind him. When the designated floor arrives, he should be a gentleman, holding the door open, and maybe even wishing his travelling companion an absolutely fantabulous day.

Most of all there are actual men who do not think below their waist, but actually use their real brains (gasp) to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong.

An Office Door With No Window?

Touring our new office space this past winter, your author noticed to his horror that our new academic caves featured doors with no windows. No bueno. Nicht gut. Hell, no.

When asked, a rocket scientist from Facilities said there were zero dollars for door windows. Time to go to the mat.

There was absolutely no way I was going to teach public relations and meet with students, if I could not shut my door but at the same time the outside world could not see inside. To yours truly, this was matter of safety and common sense.

Your author today has a door with a window, but not one that can be locked from the inside (e.g., Lauer).

When it comes to the all-too-common “he said, she said” disputes, the one making the accusation can win, and the one on the receiving end may be on the downward slide to the end of a once promising career.

What are some common sense behaviors that good men should employ in this ultra-charged political climate?

  1. Never, ever touch a member of the fairer gender anywhere for whatever reason at any time in a professional setting. On your author’s last day after eight years working for the California Office of the Governor, my female colleagues gave me a hug … not the other way around.
  2. Never comment on the appearance of women (e.g., hair, dress, jewelry …). Former National Semiconductor CEO Brian Halla once took verbal notice that a Bloomberg TV reporter was wearing her wedding ring on her right ring finger …  Halla was then informed that her late spouse perished in the World Trade Center on September 11.
  3. John Madden has a rule: He will never say in private, what he wouldn’t say in public. Guys, it’s past time to deep six the sexual jokes and comments even among fellow knuckle draggers. Let the locker room be a simple place for showering, changing and talking sports. Period.
  4. The rules of sexual harassment are clear. Quid pro quo is obvious. When you are asked to stop … STOP!
  5. Former ABC correspondent Lynn Sheer suggested the universal adoption of a standard phrase, “That’s NOT okay.” Even bystanders can even use this same phrase when sexual harassment is in progress.

This common sense phrase should even be comprehended and immediately understood by all men, not just semper fi guys.

The latter, exist. Seriously.



“The best thing about freshmen is that they become sophomores.”– Legendary Marquette Basketball Coach Al McGuire

What strategies can American colleges and universities employ to ensure that more freshmen do indeed become sophomores?

Consider the question this way: The late Intel President and CEO Andy Grove wrote about strategic inflection points in his 1996 best seller, “Only The Paranoid Survive.”

There are a few strategic inflection points in everyone’s life.

Get them right, and life may be a good thing as Martha would say.

Get them wrong, and life may end up simply running out the clock of life drinking PBRs in a dive bar.

What Almost DailyBrett is talking about are those poor souls who fall by the wayside may be directly attributable to the failure to make the transition from the freshman to sophomore year in college.

Based upon the experience of your professor author — more times than naught — is once a student takes time off after the frosh year to take a job, the overwhelming chances are the student never comes back to college.

Worse yet the student may have already incurred an educational loan, ending up with the double whammy of zero degree and crushing debt on the books.

Life is off to a miserable start, and it may only get worse.

Are these former students prepared for the demands of our service-oriented, digital, coding-dominated workforce? You know the answer.

Are they one “bad day” from being unemployed … yet again?

Forget about discretionary income to invest in stocks, bonds and mutual funds, these lowly sods are living pay check-to-pay check.

Sure there are examples of early college drop-outs – Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg – who become billionaires, but how many reach the Three-Comma-Club anyway?

Grooving With A High School Diploma

“If you think education is expensive; try the cost of ignorance.” – Former Harvard President Derek Bok

The numbers may be a tad outdated, but the story is still the same.

Pew Research reported in 2014 a startling gap between those who attain a BA/BS degree (let alone a master’s or Ph.D), and those with only a high school diploma.

The percentage of those with a bachelor’s degree in poverty three years ago was 5.8 percent; the percentage of those with a lowly high school diploma in poverty was 21.8 percent or more than one-in-five.

The college grad made on the average $45,500 per year; the high school diploma holder, $28,000 … a $17,500 per year delta. Multiply a $17,500 gap (which most likely will grow exponentially) by a 40-year career and the gulf reaches $700,000.

What does the $700,000 (at least) gulf mean?

This staggering number translates into the college graduate having discretionary income to invest in markets. Since the depth of the 2009 recession, the S&P 500 is up 270 percent. For 2017, the Dow Jones has increased 22.2 percent, the benchmark S&P has climbed 17.4 percent.

Many ponder, pontificate and bloviate about the growing economic separation between those who succeed in our interconnected, digital, service-oriented economy. Pew provides insights into the gap between those who graduate with a bachelor’s degree (about 29 percent of Americans) and those who don’t.

Colleges and universities are rightfully attuned to the percentage of entering freshmen, who graduate within the next five years.

Almost DailyBrett is asking a different question:

If many would-be sophomores are dropping out and co-signing themselves to a meager life (maybe even poverty), including one-bad-day-away from being unemployed, shouldn’t we be more concerned about freshmen retention?

Let’s review the U.S. News & World Report records for freshmen retention of four universities of particular interest to Almost DailyBrett:

  • University of Southern California, 96 percent freshman retention to sophomore year (BA degree in Broadcasting Journalism, 1978).
  • University of Oregon, 87 percent freshman retention rate (MA in Communications and Society, 2012).
  • Arizona State University, 86 percent freshman retention rate (Offered Ph.D Fellowship).
  • Central Washington University, 77 percent freshman retention rate (Presently employed as an Assistant Professor).

Some loss of frosh students because of plain, old life, and that is to be expected.

Losing 10 percent-to-20 percent or more of a freshman class should set off alarm bells.

Will these lost students be tomorrow’s poverty dwellers?

That may sound extreme, but then again it may not.

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