Category: Out of the Box Thinking


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The numbers may be a tad outdated, but the story is still the same.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

https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-universities/freshmen-least-most-likely-return

https://www.payscale.com/career-news/2014/07/fewer-freshman-college-students-returning-for-sophomore-year

http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2014/11/19/u_s_college_dropouts_rates_explained_in_4_charts.html

http://www.azquotes.com/quote/562419

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/02/17/running-out-the-clock/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/11/26/the-role-of-college-in-exacerbating-economic-inequality/

http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2014/02/11/the-rising-cost-of-not-going-to-college/

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/02/stocks-are-high-but-investor-numbers-are-low.html

https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/central-washington-university-3771

https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/asu-1081

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“I’m in favor of progress; it’s change I don’t like” – Mark Twain

The College Football Playoff is change; it’s not progress.

 

Instead it has become a shameless vehicle for ESECPN to proclaim the winner of a four-team playoff among the SEC, ACC and maybe the Big-12 as the “national” champion.

If Alabama doesn’t even capture its own division, let alone play and win the Southern Eastern Conference championship … macht nichts … then just place Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide in the College Football Playoff anyway!

What’s the purpose of conference championships?

USC wins the Pac-12 title on a Friday night. Who cares? It’s what happens on the next day that matters.

Ohio State wins the Big 10 title the next day, easily beating previously undefeated Wisconsin. That achievement should matter, until it doesn’t matter.

We all knew when there are five “Power” conferences, and only four playoff slots, one champion would be the odd man out, and not invited to the party.

But two conference champions not being selected to pave the way for two SEC teams to be anointed for the playoff … that’s highway robbery and every other metaphor of outrage that applies.

Clint Eastwood as “Dirty Harry” once opined that opinions are similar to sphincters, everyone has one.

With this introduction here are the dispassionate thoughts from an admitted Pac-12 supporter (i.e., USC undergrad, Oregon post-grad), the author of Almost DailyBrett:

If the Pac-12 is annually dismissed by the Pharisees at ESECPN, and our champion, USC at 11-2, is not even taken seriously for the College Football Playoff …

… And this year, the Big Ten champion, Ohio State 11-2, is also summarily deemed unworthy of the College Football Playoff, then let’s do something radical:

Go back to the good ole days.

The Pac-12 and the Big Ten champions play in The Granddaddy of Them All®, the Rose Bowl.

Yep, let’s celebrate a classic rematch of USC vs. Ohio State playing each other on New Year’s Day.

That’s way it was, and that’s how it should be.

The Granddaddy of Them All®

Oklahoma vs. Georgia in the Rose Bowl, gag me with the proverbial spoon.

The Sooner Schooner being paraded down Colorado Blvd., while UGA does his business in the bushes? Give me a break.

With the BSC followed by the College Football Playoff, we can now conclude college football has taken a huge step backwards.

Consider when Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota and Oregon blew out Florida State 59-20, ending the Seminoles 30-game winning streak and holding the 2015 Rose Bowl Trophy.

Was that a reason for passionate celebration for the Pac-12 champion? Well no, because there was another game.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Rose Bowl is the game. The author of Almost DailyBrett grew up 20 minutes away from Pasadena. Didn’t want to meet my maker without the Ducks once playing in the Rose Bowl, let alone winning it.

The College Football Playoff Doesn’t Work

We all know now the College Football Playoff doesn’t work.

Expanding it to eight games, just means more slots for SEC and ACC teams.

The Pac-12 and Big Ten should pull out of this monstrosity.

January 2, 2012; Pasadena, CA, USA; Oregon Ducks running back De’Anthony Thomas (6) runs the ball against the Wisconsin Badgers during the second half during the 2012 Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

The two conferences should reestablish their exclusive with the Tournament of Roses, having their respective champions play on New Year’s Day.

If ESECPN wants to televise a “playoff” featuring the best-and-the-brightest of teams from the former Confederate States, go for it. Just pour some moonshine and scream “Go Bama, Go!”

Whattya think Rece “Bama” Davis? Concur Jesse “Gator” Palmer? Ditto David “Between the Hedges” Pollack?

For me, it’s time to go back to the Rose Bowl.

USC should be playing Ohio State in the historic Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, California, not in the Cotton Bowl in Arlington Texas on December 29.

The playoff change did not work.

It’s progress to go back to the Rose Bowl.

http://www.azquotes.com/author/14883-Mark_Twain/tag/change

https://www.tournamentofroses.com/rose-bowl

“I think that coding should be required in every public school in the world.” Tim Cook, Apple CEO

Move over English.

Is coding rapidly becoming the new universal language?

Can coding proficiency be the answer for chronic voluntary male non-employment, and all the societal problems that come from too many idle masculine hands?

Certainly, Tim Cook has obvious motivation in advocating coding widespread proficiency. Apple always needs the best-and-the-brightest when it comes to geeky engineers (redundant).

Nonetheless at least one-third of all in-demand jobs right now require some form of computer coding. Why not make this necessary skill, compulsory in all secondary schools, colleges and universities?

Consider the recent report by the McKinsey Global Institute projecting that 15 percent of the global workforce may be required to change jobs in the next 15 years (or worse, lose them) because of coding-driven automation.

McKinsey projected that 75 million to 375 million workers will be required to change occupation categories while another 400 to 800 million could be displaced by automation and will be required to find new jobs entirely.

Which side of the fence does one want to be standing? Do we want to elect to kick off in the javelin throwing contest (learn coding) or receive (hope for the best)?

Get the point?

More Important Than English?

“If I were a French student and I were 10 years old, I think it would be more important for me to learn coding than English. I’m not telling people not to learn English in some form … this [coding] is a language that you can [use to] express yourself to 7 billion people in the world.” – Cook speaking in Paris

For the longest time the dead-tongue Latin phrase, Lingua Franca, equated to English being the universal language of business and commerce, including the one used by air traffic controllers regardless of the flag being flown below the control tower.

For example, the Georgetown University Law Center reportedly is packing classes in coding for those who aspire to practice before the highest courts in the land, including the Supreme Court.

When it comes to seeking out key words and concepts in Supreme Court rulings, there are times when Google Search just doesn’t cut it … but coding does.

Instead of income redistribution from achievers to others to achieve social justice, it may be more vital for the public and private sectors to encourage the study of computer programming to narrow the income gap or at least to prevent the divide from growing larger.

How’s that for thinking outside the proverbial box?

Getting Idle Men Off Their Collective Derrieres

“It is impossible to imagine any earlier generation in which such a huge swath of prime-age men would voluntarily absent themselves from the workforce, living instead on the largesse of women they knew and taxpayers they did not.” – Nicholas Eberstadt, American Enterprise Institute

Eberstadt in his “Men Without Work: America’s Invisible Crisis” concluded that 32 percent of working age men are voluntarily not working, choosing instead to live off the largesse of working women or some form of government assistance (e.g., three/fifths are on disability).

Their daily modus operandi may consist of 5.5 hours of video games, internet, binge television, eating, drinking and opioids. The bi-products of these idle hands are obesity, alcoholism, crime and drug addiction.

Conversely, the good news emanating from the Bureau of Labor Statistics about an overall unemployment rate of 4.1 percent, points to a coming/already present labor shortage.

There are jobs out there, dudes.

Oh … you don’t want to put on that blue vest and work at the big-box store or the green apron of a barista? The service economy is not for you? Women are better than you when it comes to serving customer?.

What is a realistic answer?

How about coding? If you can work the TV remote and the video-game controller, you obviously have some level of primitive knowledge of the magic of binary code.

Can you imagine the increase of our national competitiveness if we can prod even 1 million idle men off their duffs and into the classroom/training center to learn coding?

Maybe there should be a national public relations campaign to convince idle men that coding is not only cool, but masculine too.

https://www.wearedevelopers.com/coding-is-the-new-lingua-franca-of-the-modern-digital-economy/

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/10/12/apple-ceo-tim-cook-learning-to-code-is-so-important.html

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/19/the-25-highest-paying-jobs-in-america.html

http://fortune.com/2017/10/13/tim-cook-coding-english/

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lingua%20franca

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/03/mortality-of-american-men-and-the-labor-force/520329/

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/440758/nicholas-eberstadts-men-without-work-american-males-who-choose-not-work

https://www.mckinsey.com/global-themes/future-of-organizations-and-work/what-the-future-of-work-will-mean-for-jobs-skills-and-wages

https://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“You read Playboy for the articles, right?

“No, I look at the pictures too … ”

He was repeatedly labeled then-and-now as a “sexist pig.”

He was seen as a dangerous cultural rebel.

He was an illusionist. He pedaled fantasies at a desultory time.

He advocated an exciting, edgy new lifestyle for men.

He was regarded by some as a new-age-for-males philosopher.

Hugh Hefner was an editor and publisher, who will go down in the history books.

Some will miss him, many will not … regardless he made a difference.

“Shaken, Not Stirred”

Author Ian Fleming passed away far too early at 56-years young in 1964.

The accounts of his fictional hero James Bond found favor with dashing debonair U.S. President John F. Kennedy, a priceless endorsement for any novelist.

Fleming’s writing/personal interview also found its way onto the pages of Hefner’s Playboy, “Entertainment for Men.”

In reality, Fleming’s secret agent with a license to kill, James Bond (played superbly by Sean Connery) was everything the America male was not, entering the 1960s. Alas, Fleming lived only long enough to see his prose transformed into two movies, Dr. No and From Russia With Love. The first raised many eyebrows with Connery as Bond teamed with bikini clad Ursula Andress, playing Honey Rider.

Honey Rider swam nude in Fleming’s novel, but not for the 1962 movie adaptation.

Seventeen years earlier, Life Magazine captured the iconic Rockwellesque image of the American sailor passionately kissing a nurse in Times Square on VJ Day characterizing the advent of the Baby Boom (1946-1964).

And with the babies came piss, poop, vomit, crying, wailing and screaming. The preoccupation during years of rationing and the G.I Bill was raising children in suburban communities. We liked Ike, but life other than the Korean War/McCarthy-era Red Scare was more than a tad boring with cookie-cutter cars, crew cuts, skinny ties and white shirts.

Enter Hugh Hefner in 1953 with his scandalous Playboy with a scantily clad Marilyn Monroe on the cover. On the inside was a totally unattired horizontally posed Mizz Monroe on red velvet. Asked what was on during her famous pose, Monroe reportedly replied, “the radio.” The collector’s item inaugural issue of Playboy was an immediate sell out.

There was far more than the girl next door in subsequent issues. There were fast cars, exotic global destinations, tasty liquors, perfect suits, gambling, executive jets and a walk on the wild side. Men were shown how their lives could be, and how to rebel against mediocrity instead of merely running out the clock on their boring/mostly forgettable miserable lives.

Ian Fleming’s M16 James Bond epitomized the Playboy lifestyle with his ejector seat equipped Aston Martin, his vodka martinis, sun glasses at the windswept beach, goggles at the Alpine ski resorts, how he defeated the bad dudes and won over the Bond girl.

Sure beats working all day at the office orfactory and returning to the burbs for meat loaf.

“Life Must Have Purpose”

Meryl Streep playing the role of Mrs. Thatcher, and replied to Dennis’ marriage proposal stating that her life must be more than simply raising children. In reality, Margaret Thatcher was more than the first woman PM of the United Kingdom; she made a difference.

Life indeed had a noble purpose for the Iron Lady.

Almost DailyBrett subscribed to both National Geographic and Playboy during the years as they both took you to places you will most likely never visit in your lifetime.

Your author rejects sedentary lifestyles (no binge watching) that emphasize doing and achieving. Hugh Hefner and Ian Fleming through their editing and writing respectively changed the world. Their lives had purpose then and now.

Hefner and to less extent, Fleming, were both accurately accused as being sexists who objectified the fairer gender. Both are guilty as charged.

The real question in the eyes of the author of Almost DailyBrett is whether we are better as a society in that  men were encouraged to do more in their lives than go to work, raise children and watch television at night.

There is a big exciting world out there and we are fortunate to be here for a relatively short period of time. This proposition applies to both genders. Life does not need to be restricted and boring. It can be upwards to the right, and not just on Wall Street.

There needs to be respect and understanding, but that does not mean we can’t go out and have our vodka martini in an exciting foreign locale… shaken of course, but not stirred.

https://www.economist.com/news/obituary/21729969-founder-playboy-empire-was-91-hugh-hefner-died-september-27th

http://www.ianfleming.com/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/01/10/the-decision-to-pose-for-playboy/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/10/19/farewell-to-the-girl-next-door/

“Donald Trump is like a vampire; he never sleeps.” – Bill O’Reilly

To be accurate he does sleep a tad, and nocturnally he tweets a ton to 40.6 million-plus recipients.

During a late-1980s visit of Almost DailyBrett to Sardine City (a.k.a. The White House Press Briefing Room), there were wire-service reporters, who drew the short straws, and were assigned to Presidential “Death Watch.”

Translated these graveyard-shift members of the Fourth Estate were expected to be poised and ready to report, if the president passed away in his sleep. Fortunately, the media was never required to write/broadcast about a president expiring in the White House living quarters.

It was quite simply one of the most boring jobs on the planet … until 10 months ago.

The “Death Watch” reporter now has to be glued to her/his mobile device/laptop for the next 140-character-or-less epistle(s) from the Tweeter-in Chief @realDonaldTrump. In the last two years, his Twitter handle has generated 36,100 tweets, ranking the president at #22 worldwide, ironically one place in front of … The New York Times.

As it turns out the political class now needs to be aware of what Trump is tweeting at 3:20 am EDT, and there appears to be little if any advance warning for even his allies (e.g., Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders) or objective/non-objective adversaries.

Trump has introduced widespread insomnia to the denizens of the Potomac, and also media/pundit types east of the Hudson. At the same time he has usurped the elite media’s role in setting the agenda for America’s national conversation.

It’s time to state the obvious:

Instead of the elite-media (i.e. NYT, WaPo, Big Three nets) framing national issue discussions under Agenda Setting Theory, Trump has stolen this mantle through his frantic and many times undisciplined tweeting.

For better or worse, Trump is setting or preempting the agenda and the elite media doesn’t like it one little bit.

The First Social Media President?

“Think of Franklin Roosevelt’s fireside chats or Ronald Reagan’s television addresses. More recently, presidents have used the internet to directly reach the public, making journalists increasingly irrelevant … “– Northeastern Associate Communication Studies Professor Greg Goodale

“Increasingly irrelevant”? Those are fightin’ words.

Considering that Twitter was founded only 11 years ago, it stands to reason that President Barack Obama was the first chief executive to dabble with tweeting. Having said that, did Obama’s tweets ever rise to the level of newsworthy stories, much less threatening elite-media Agenda Setting?

There is a new sheriff in town and part of the reason he is occupying the White House is directly linked to his provocative and disruptive tweets. Not only does Trump set the agenda, he can also shift, preempt and deflect the 24/7 news cycles with subjects of his choosing.

Some contended the elite-media’s cherished role in Agenda Setting would be eroded by widespread public participation in social media (e.g., 10.3 million tweeted during the first Obama vs. Romney debate in 2012).

Instead, research has demonstrated that reporters/correspondents/pundits use Twitter to silently collude with each during a 21st Century presidential debate. Instead of weakening Agenda Setting Theory, the media role in setting the agenda was actually enhanced through second-screen group think.

Whether the elite media should be charged with deciding what issues should be the subject of national conversation is debatable. What is not the subject of dispute is the fact that Twitter has become Trump’s most reliable bully pulpit.

Is Trump provocative in his tweets? Absolutely.

Has he interrupted the elite media setting of the national discussion? With relish.

Has Trump stepped on his own legislative/political agenda with his tweets? No question.

Has Trump in far too many cases to count been undisciplined in his use of Twitter, attacking both friends and foes? The case is closed.

Does the elite media absolutely grind their collective teeth and literally hate Trump’s Twitter use most of all? Is the Pope Catholic?

Will the 46th President of the United States use social media? Did FDR hold radio “Fireside Chats”? Did Kennedy and Reagan excel on television?

Social media tools are here to stay. As Harvard Business Professor Clayton Christensen coined, they are game-changing “destructive technologies.”

And similar to nuclear devices, Twitter is at the fingertips of one Donald John Trump.

http://news.northeastern.edu/2016/12/how-donald-trump-is-changing-presidential-communication/

https://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/nb/curtis-houck/2017/08/07/

https://techofcomm.wordpress.com/tag/donald-trump/

https://twittercounter.com/realDonaldTrump

http://politics.oxfordre.com/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780190228637.001.0001/acrefore-9780190228637-e-46

Are the Germans finally – after all these years — happy?

If they are for the most part smiling about life, doesn’t that mean good news for the incumbent-chancellor-running-for-re-election, Angela Merkel?

Doesn’t good government translate into good politics?

And yet there’s so much for her to fear.

The Governor George Deukmejian Laws of Politics are two-fold: Always run as if you are running behind; and never take anything for granted.

Consider that two years ago, a national F-U movement led to Brexit, and the U.K.’s upcoming departure from the strictures of the EU.

Last year America’s fly-over states pointed their collective middle fingers into the sky, and elected Donald Trump as president.

How are Brexit and Donald Trump working out?

During the past three weeks, the author of Almost DailyBrett has been informally sounding out das Volk on trains, in Bier Gartens, in hotel lobbies (all very unscientific and anecdotal) about their views about the state of their country.

When asked if they are truly happy, they seem a little startled by the sophomoric question from a simple blog author. After devoting more than a few brain cells, they come back to the conclusion that Germany is successful (e.g., low unemployment rate of 3.9 percent).

If James Carville was correct in 1992 that “It’s the economy stupid,” then the prospects are good for Frau Merkel on September 24. As The Economist reported last month, Germany has the largest trade balance in the world at $300 billion.

The nation’s budget is not only balanced, it reflects a surplus. Inflation is low at a microscopic 0.4 percent. Personal savings are high. German engineering is legendary. Alles ist in Ordnung.

Has Germany’s Standard of Living Passed America’s?

When the author of Almost DailyBrett visited divided Germany for the first time 30 years ago, the question of German happiness would seem silly. In fact, one would not even imagine, posing that interrogative.

Sitting on the terrace of the Burg Hotel Auf Schönburg in Oberwesel on the Rhine River, one can easily imagine the DAX equivalent of the Dow Transports are easily going upwards to the right. Passenger and freight ships glide northwards on the Rhine or swim similar to salmon against the currents.

Trains emerge and disappear into tunnels. Passenger cars move along the two shores or just miles away race along the no-speed limit autobahns.

German cities including Berlin, Nürnberg and München are bustling with shoppers in the stores. Spaces in the sidewalk cafes are hard to find. The large beer gardens (e.g., München’s Viktualien Markt) are jammed from happy hour into the night.

The smaller tourist towns (i.e., Heidelberg, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bacharach) are luring visitors seeking out castles, half-timbered houses, gardens and the white wine fruit of the vineyards.

Virtually everywhere are solar panels, modern windmills and soon electric cars from BMW and Tesla. Recycling is the rage, and clear demarcations lead to largely harmonious co-existence between walkers and bike riders.

Many have ruminated about Germany’s angst about Vergangenheitsbewältigung or dealing with the past, namely the Hitler era between 1933-1945. The Germans have addressed these horrific years by acknowledging responsibility, building monuments to the past (e.g., Holocaust Memorial in Berlin) or “Documentation Centers,” such as the one near the former Nazi parade grounds in Nürnberg or a Bunker Museum in Berlin.

Nothing has been forgotten. Everything has been acknowledged. History is all there in broad daylight. The Reichstag dome is transparent to signal a change in the national approach to governance.

Is It Truly Morning in Germany?

Ronald Reagan ran for re-election in 1984 under the banner, “Morning in America.”

The message was patriotism, good times, and a promising tomorrow. Reagan won 49 of 50 states that November.

Merkel is courageously embracing the German flag – the black, red and gold tricolor – as she presents her three-term administration for another four years next month. Germans proudly wave their democratic flag in Deutsche Fussballbund games. The message is love of land, not nationalism. Those unfortunate days for the latter are gone, and for good reason.

Will Angela Merkel win in September embracing the flag, and essentially saying it is indeed “Morning in Germany”? Her latest campaign ad reflects that strategy.

Almost DailyBrett was wrong about Brexit and the same about Trump. These undeniable points need to be acknowledged. And yet, there are no strident middle fingers to be seen in today’s Germany.

The collective mood points to the prospect of a smiling Angela Merkel on September 24. If so, Germany will continue to be in Mutti’s sure hands.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/germans-are-learning-to-love-germany-again-and-merkel-takes-note/2017/07/20/28951bbe-68a8-11e7-94ab-5b1f0ff459df_story.html?utm_term=.147da70955c9

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/07/12/the-new-german-problem/

http://www.history.com/topics/us-presidents/ronald-reagan/videos/morning-in-america

https://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21724810-country-saves-too-much-and-spends-too-little-why-germanys-current-account-surplus-bad

https://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21724801-germany-admired-its-stability-derided-persistent-trade-surpluses-good-and-bad

 

 

Doesn’t the Declaration of Independence provide for life, liberty and the happiness of pumping our own gas?

There is certain joy that comes from feeling the surging petroleum rocket from the pump directly into my little green chariot. This Freude is kosher in the State of Washington and in California.

But what about that state in between?

Since 1951, it has been Verboten for a mere mortal motorist to pump his or her own gas in the State of Oregon. This antiquated 20th Century law requires petroleum transfer engineers (e.g., popular major at Oregon State University), and only PTEs to exchange fluids in the Beaver State.

What’s that Elon Musk?

Are you saying that EVs could spell doom to the PTEs?

The first affordable Tesla Model 3s are coming off the production lines in Fremont, California (the old NUMMI plant). The initial plans call for 110,000 this year and 500,000 next year.

From $35,000 upwards to $60,000 with all the fixins’, the intrepid all-electric motorist can roar from zero-to- 60 mph in 5.6 seconds with just a tap on the dashboard tablet without omitting one fossil fuel particle into the atmosphere.

Elon Musk, CEO of US automotive and energy storage company Tesla, presents his outlook on climate change at the Paris-Sorbonne University in Paris on December 2, 2015. / AFP / ERIC PIERMONT (Photo credit should read ERIC PIERMONT/AFP/Getty Images)

How’s that sound green Oregonians?

Even a Prius requires a PTE now-and-then. And despite all the hype and owner strutting, the Toyota hybrid still contributes to Climate Change. The proud owner may still be gluten free, but his or her precious Prius is nonetheless putting CO² into the air.

In contrast, the Tesla Model 3 can travel 220-to-310 miles on one charge of electricity. What does that mean to Oregon’s PTEs (same for New Jersey’s legally mandated PTEs)? Are each of you heading for the same crash landing as those who made buggy whips?

Electronic vehicles make PTEs as uncomfortable as a former sales dude or sales dudette at Borders as the imposing Amazon digital shadow hovered over the bricks-and-mortar store. Did you have that out-of-print book, Borders? Do you sell that obscure concerto, Barnes & Noble? Amazon does (Google “Long Tail” Theory”) as there are no physical restraints on its inventory.

Maybe the Oregon PTEs will unionize (if that haven’t already) and march into Salem (not the one where they burned witches) and ask for a new law requiring ETEs (Electricity Transfer Engineers) to recharge EVs in Oregon.

Wait a minute? Oregon could actually mandate that ETEs recharge your Climate Change friendly EV? Don’t bet against it.

Think of it this way, if the state Legislature in its infinite wisdom for 66 years and counting required PTEs to pump gas into each car and expressly forbids the motorist from doing the same, then what’s to prevent them from requiring highly trained electricity transfer engineers (ETEs) to recharge your EV Tesla, Volvo, BMW, Chevy etc.?

What’s next? Will the state mandate an ETE to plug in your toaster or change a light bulb?

Incentives Today; Taxes Tomorrow

Immediately south of Oregon, the Golden State’s one-party Legislature is weighing adopting the California Electric Vehicle Initiative, which would designate $3 billion for larger rebates for those who purchase Tesla and other electric cars.

In April, the same Legislature passed legislation raising California’s gas tax by 12 cents to 30 cents per gallon.

Let’s see the state is considering incentivizing EVs to the tune of $3 billion. And nearly at the same time raising gas taxes to raise $5.2 billion.

What happens if the EV revolution is real and a precipitous decline in fossil-burning vehicles ensues? Does that mean gas revenues will simultaneously decline? Oh dear.

And does that lead to actually taxing EV recharges even though these environmentally friendly cars have been incentivized by the state?

What’s more important in Sacramento and other state capitals? The environment? Tax revenues?

Seems like a silly question to even ask.

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/07/31/tesla-falls-after-model-3-as-street-thinks-musk-sounded-squeamish.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/innovations/wp/2017/07/29/i-spent-three-minutes-inside-teslas-model-3-and-im-still-thinking-about-it-a-day-later/?utm_term=.98459e459664

https://www.quora.com/Why-is-it-illegal-to-pump-your-own-gas-in-New-Jersey-and-Oregon

https://www.wsj.com/articles/tesla-model-3-arrives-as-elon-musk-tries-to-manage-expectations-1501234208

http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/06/28/new-bigger-incentives-for-electric-cars-could-be-ahead-in-california/

http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-sac-gas-tax-signing-20170428-story.html

 

 

 

 

“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” — Jerry Seinfeld

It was a Funeral for a Friend.

To be more precise, it was a service celebrating the life of my best man and my BFF.

John Newhouse moved into heaven at 62-years-young.The world would be a better place if there were more John Newhouses. Alas he was taken from us way too soon.

The author of Almost DailyBrett was honored to deliver the third of four eulogies June 30.

Having long ago conquered Glossophobia, which hails from the Greek γλῶσσα glōssa, meaning tongue, and φόβος phobos, fear or dread, delivering a eulogy was still an unprecedented, daunting challenge. The emotion cannot be minimized. The semantic issues are real. Even the best orators are confronted by the strictures of the eulogy.

If the family requests a three-minute eulogy that does not mean you should double or triple that amount of time. As Carly Simon sang: “You probably think this song is about you.” It’s not. Time your presentation. Stick to the written script. Work on your transitions, timing and eye contract.

As an assistant professor, a PowerPoint, a laser pointer and a clicker are de-rigueur standard tools of the trade. Using the Steve Jobs technique, each slide is a prompt, making speaking notes superfluous. Alas, there are no PowerPoints or Prezis for presenting the eulogy.

Speaking extemporaneously or winging it is not an option. Don’t go there. The eulogy needs to be just right. Standing behind the podium and mentally searching for the right words at the right time in the presence of the audience can very well lead to an embarrassing rhetorical train wreck.

And yet even with a tight script, the English language simply will not rise to the occasion. Nonetheless, there must be chosen words and they may not be perfect – that’s not possible – but still they must describe my best friend for 41 years.

Borrowing from another tongue, the Latin words of the U.S. Marine Corps motto — Semper Fidelis/ Semper Fi (always faithful) — spoke to the character of John Newhouse.

Regardless of his given cause/affinity, John was always loyal: The Spirit of Troy, The Los Angeles Dodgers, our USC Fraternity Phi Kappa Tau, his fellow Rotarians, his youth baseball teams … and most of all his family.

Looking into the collective eyes of his grieving family and recounting John’s unshakeable commitment to his two sons regardless of the circumstances, and how he treasured his wife and instinctively knew he overachieved in marriage, is a testament to why the phrase Semper Fi is appropriate.

Even though the author of Almost DailyBrett endured 12 years of parochial school with its sentence diagrams and the petty tyranny of the nuns and priests, the question comes whether it is kosher to add a Biblical verse 1 Corinthians near the conclusion of a church eulogy.

“Love is patient. Love is kind … “seemed to work for this setting. John was patient, did not keep score (except at a baseball game), always protected, always trusted. Yes, 1 Corinthians did the job.

As the clock clicked past three minutes, it was time for the close and a promise to share a microbrew together, if your author ever makes it to the pearly gates.

There are a myriad of challenges that each one of us will face in life. We will do better with some than others. Crafting and properly delivering the eulogy is one of them. With proper preparation, an understanding the English language will not cut it, and with a confidence the words will make the mark, then it will be time to go forward to remember, celebrate and pay proper respects to a departed colleague, friend or dear family member.

“Love Never Fails.”

John Robert Newhouse: A Celebration of Life

“John Newhouse was my best man.

“John Newhouse was my best friend … forever.

“He was everyone’s friend.

“He was my fraternity brother … and a fraternity brother to several in this room.

“He was the kindest person I ever knew.

“John Newhouse loved the world, and was a renowned traveler.

“My grandfather told me there were two places he never wanted to go.

“One was hell. The other was Russia.

“John and I went ‘Back to the USSR’ during the height of the Cold War in 1981.

“More than a few thought we were crazy, and they were right.

“When one talked about going to The Evil Empire it was not to-and-from, but in-and-out.

“John saw Moscow, Leningrad and the Baltic States as just another adventure.

“We did come out of Russia. We came back to America.

“John literally visited every continent on the planet, and was always looking forward to his next road trip. Wendy knows this undeniable fact oh-too-well.

“Speaking about the world, we can all say ex cathedra, our planet is a better place because of John Newhouse.

“When celebrating a life of someone so special that ended way too early, the world’s Lingua Franca, the English language, simply fails us.

“The U.S. Marine Corps adopted from the Latin, Semper Fidelis or Semper Fi as its motto. Translated it means: ‘Always faithful.’”

“There are many virtues about John, but his passionate loyalty to the Spirit of Troy, his devotion to his beloved Los Angeles Dodgers, his commitment to his fraternity bros, his service with his fellow Rotarians, but most importantly his faithfulness to his family, stand out when one contemplates what made John Newhouse just so special.

“John Jr. and Scott. Let’s face it: From time-to-time, you drove him insane. Nonetheless he was proud of each of you, and he literally would do anything in his power to make your lives the best they could be.

“Wendy, you were always a miracle in John’s eyes. He was so proud to have you on his arm. He loved you dearly. I can state with impunity he was always Semper Fi when it came to you and your 33-years of marital bliss. He instinctively knew that he overachieved in marriage and he treasured your union every day.

“Considering that we are celebrating the life of John Robert Newhouse in a house of God, there are lines of scripture that seem just right in depicting why John was a gift to all of us. They come from 1 Corinthians:

“Love is patient, love is kind.

“It does not envy. It does not boast.

“It is not proud.

“It is not rude. It is not self-seeking.

“It is not easily angered.

“It keeps no record of wrongs.

“Love does not delight in evil.

“But rejoices with the truth.

“It always protects, always trusts.

“Always hopes. Always perseveres.

“Love never fails.”

“John, I love you. Your family loves you. Your wonderful spouse loves you. Everyone here will always love you.

 

“And on a personal note as your best man, John: If I am good enough to enter those pearly gates to join you in eternity, the first microbrew is on me.”

 

 

 

“[If] you have, as performers will call it, ‘f–k you’ money, all that means is that I don’t have to do what I don’t want to do.” – Johnny Carson 

The original American dream consists of the spouse, the kidlets, the house in the burbs, the dog and the cat.

And to some extent, that long-standing vision of success still rocks on.

Even though many are still grousing in this summer of discontent, what CNBC calls the “Trump Rally” continues. Since the November 8 election, the NYSE is up 13.4 percent and it has increased 6.8 percent from Trump’s inauguration in January to July 7.

More than half of all Americans are making money in this bull market. These participants comprise the Investor Class, those who buy individual stocks, mutual funds and manage 401(k) portfolios and IRAs.

The unemployment rate is down to 4.4 percent; there is a labor shortage. That means wages are slowly rising, and there are more discretionary dollars to invest.

At the same time, there is no conceivable doubt that many are destitute, enduring desultory lives, living from one-paycheck to the next just to make ends meet. These ignored Americans made their presence known in a big way last fall.

And yet there are more than just a few, who have earned their F-U Money. They are not privileged. They worked. They saved. They invested. Thank (f..k) you very much.

As John Goodman said in The Gambler, own your house, have a “couple of bucks” in the bank, don’t drink … and you have your “Fortress of Solitude.”

To Almost DailyBrett, F-U Money equates to the freedom to do what you want to do, not what someone else tells you to do.

It is more than having the means to tell some irritating superior to go out and have passionate carnal knowledge with himself/herself, but having the confidence to back up the explicative.

Your author has never been a proponent of burning bridges, no matter how good it may feel at the moment. As George C. Patton recited: “All glory is fleeting.”

There is a responsibility that comes with F-U Money.

Are you prepared for your bluff to be called? Are you really serious, because your employer may happily accept your resignation. And then what?

Retirement? Decades at home? How many trips to the overpriced, upscale coffee shop can you make before it gets old?

Keep Overhead to a Minimum

Almost DailyBrett has always asked his classes: “What are the most vital public relations of all?” The answer: Your personal brand and reputation.

In your last act as a working stiff, do you want to be remembered for using the ultimate explicative with your employer? Who wants to hire you, if later you cool off and come to the conclusion that you made a mistake?

Are you certain this temporary euphoria will not stick to you like Velcro or an insensitive tweet, when we all know that digital is eternal?

Let’s say you gave your boss the final (middle) finger, when you know — or at least you believe — you have more than adequate F-U Money. Okay, now what?

Money Magazine suggested that one must calmly calculate what amount each year + inflation will be enough to ensure a moderately comfortable life. Next, figure out how many more years you can reasonably expect to be on this planet.

Finally, how much F-U Money do you really have? Is it enough to ensure your money doesn’t run out before you run out?

One suggestion that Almost DailyBrett will make for the F-U Money crowd is to own your residence outright: No mortgage, no monthly rent. Another point is to maintain fiscal discipline and to avoid recurring payments if you can (e.g., car payments, credit card bills, furniture purchases, orange doors to store your “stuff.”) and most of all, keep your overhead to a minimum.

Can you keep driving your same car, making periodic upkeep payments? If you can, you may be able to enjoy exotic trips every now and then.

You Decide When Enough Is Enough

One major advantage of F-U Money is you have the freedom of deciding when enough-is-enough as opposed to your employer selecting the time and place to put you out to pasture. There is an eternal satisfaction that comes from leaving on your own terms, not when someone who doesn’t necessarily have your best interest at heart determines when to put a fork in you, because you’re done in their eyes.

How many people do you know, who are surprised when they are cashiered after 15, 17, 20, 30 years on the job? What these poor souls see as eternal loyalty, maybe a few in younger management may regard as stagnation.

Maybe the best solution involves sweetly telling a superior that it’s time, perhaps it is past time for you to leave. You didn’t burn any bridges. You determined when it was time to depart on your own terms at time of your choosing. You’re not bitter. Best of all, you are leaving to do what you want to do – all because you have an F-U Account.

WTF!

http://time.com/money/4187538/f-u-money-defined-how-much-calculator/

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

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=fuck%20you%20money

https://www.quora.com/What-is-fuck-you-money

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/daily-202/2017/07/13/daily-202-trump-is-the-disrupter-in-chief-in-an-age-of-disruption/5966a386e9b69b7071abcb23/?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_daily202

 

 

 

 

 

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