Saturday, July 15, 2017

SIX WEEKS TO COLLEGE FOOTBALL

DIL Amy brought up the fact that the year is flying by and it will soon be football season. We talked a bit about recruiting classes, and we both acknowledged that her Crimson Tide would likely have the best.

Here's one good analysis that gives points to each football power based on the scouting reports about the lads who are signing letters of intent:

https://campusinsiders.com/news/college-football-recruiting-rankings-2017-top-50-classes-02-01-2017/

Not only did Nick Saban's crew come in first, there were some pretty amazing facts--like landing six five-star recruits.

My Cornhuskers came in at number 18. Not bad, but not back on the national stage, either. Especially with zero five star recruits.

Maybe there is a home-grown prospect overlooked by the scouts like Dave Rimington. Out of Omaha, Rimington was the only player to win the Outland trophy two years in a row and in 1982 he won both the Outland trophy and the Lombardi trophy. Just to cap it off, he was voted the conference offensive player of the year, the first time a lineman was given that award. He was an Academic All American. Etc, etc. In the pros for seven years.

I doubt if the rankings in future years vary too far from the ranking of the recruiting classes a few years before.

Growing up in Alabama, you are either for the Tide or the Auburn blue and orange. No coincidence that Amy's son has no blue and orange clothes.


Thursday, July 13, 2017

COMMENCEMENT SPEECH, JUSTICE ROBERTS



Cardigan Mountain School in New Hampshire is a school for boys in grades 6 through 9. Justice John Roberts’ son graduated this spring, 2017. Ye gods, how many of these speeches have we heard in a lifetime? This one is a little different, though.

This was sent to me by my friend from college, James Steve Angus, who served our country as an attorney for the government. The emphasis is mine.

Justice John Roberts, Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court

Thank you very much.

Rain, somebody said, is like confetti from heaven. So even the heavens are celebrating this morning, joining the rest of us at this wonderful commencement ceremony. Before we go any further, graduates, you have an important task to perform because behind you are your parents and guardians. Two or three or four years ago, they drove into Cardigan, dropped you off, helped you get settled and then turned around and drove back out the gates. It was an extraordinary sacrifice for them. They drove down the trail of tears back to an emptier and lonelier house. They did that because the decision about your education, they knew, was about you. It was not about them. That sacrifice and others they made have brought you to this point. But this morning is not just about you. It is also about them, so I hope you will stand up and turn around and give them a great round of applause. Please.

Now when somebody asks me how the remarks at Cardigan went, I will be able to say they were interrupted by applause. Congratulations, class of 2017. You’ve reached an important milestone. An important stage of your life is behind you. I’m sorry to be the one to tell you it is the easiest stage of your life, but it is in the books. While you’ve been at Cardigan, you have all been a part of an important international community as well. And I think that needs to be particularly recognized.

[Roberts gave brief remarks in other languages.]

Now around the country today at colleges, high schools, middle schools, commencement speakers are standing before impatient graduates. And they are almost always saying the same things. They will say that today is a commencement exercise. ‘It is a beginning, not an end. You should look forward.’ And I think that is true enough, however, I think if you’re going to look forward to figure out where you’re going, it’s good to know where you’ve been and to look back as well. And I think if you look back to your first afternoon here at Cardigan, perhaps you will recall that you were lonely. Perhaps you will recall that you were a little scared, a little anxious. And now look at you. You are surrounded by friends that you call brothers, and you are confident in facing the next step in your education.

It is worth trying to think why that is so. And when you do, I think you may appreciate that it was because of the support of your classmates in the classroom, on the athletic field and in the dorms. And as far as the confidence goes, I think you will appreciate that it is not because you succeeded at everything you did, but because with the help of your friends, you were not afraid to fail. And if you did fail, you got up and tried again. And if you failed again, you got up and tried again. And if you failed again, it might be time to think about doing something else. But it was not just success, but not being afraid to fail that brought you to this point.

Now the commencement speakers will typically also wish you good luck and extend good wishes to you. I will not do that, and I’ll tell you why. From time to time in the years to come, I hope you will be treated unfairly, so that you will come to know the value of justice. I hope that you will suffer betrayal because that will teach you the importance of loyalty. Sorry to say, but I hope you will be lonely from time to time so that you don’t take friends for granted. I wish you bad luck, again, from time to time so that you will be conscious of the role of chance in life and understand that your success is not completely deserved and that the failure of others is not completely deserved either. And when you lose, as you will from time to time, I hope every now and then, your opponent will gloat over your failure. It is a way for you to understand the importance of sportsmanship. I hope you’ll be ignored so you know the importance of listening to others, and I hope you will have just enough pain to learn compassion.

Whether I wish these things or not, they’re going to happen. And whether you benefit from them or not will depend upon your ability to see the message in your misfortunes.

Now commencement speakers are also expected to give some advice. They give grand advice, and they give some useful tips. The most common grand advice they give is for you to be yourself. It is an odd piece of advice to give people dressed identically, but you should — you should be yourself. But you should understand what that means. Unless you are perfect, it does not mean don’t make any changes. In a certain sense, you should not be yourself. You should try to become something better. People say ‘be yourself’ because they want you to resist the impulse to conform to what others want you to be. But you can’t be yourself if you don't learn who are, and you can’t learn who you are unless you think about it.

The Greek philosopher Socrates said, ‘The unexamined life is not worth living.’ And while ‘just do it’ might be a good motto for some things, it’s not a good motto when it’s trying to figure out how to live your life that is before you. And one important clue to living a good life is to not to try to live thegood life. The best way to lose the values that are central to who you are is frankly not to think about them at all.

So that’s the deep advice. Now some tips as you get ready to go to your new school. [Other Over?] the last couple of years, I have gotten to know many of you young men pretty well, and I know you are good guys. But you are also privileged young men. And if you weren’t privileged when you came here, you are privileged now because you have been here. My advice is: Don’t act like it.

When you get to your new school, walk up and introduce yourself to the person who is raking the leaves, shoveling the snow or emptying the trash. Learn their name and call them by their name during your time at the school. Another piece of advice: When you pass by people you don’t recognize on the walks, smile, look them in the eye and say hello. The worst thing that will happen is that you will become known as the young man who smiles and says hello, and that is not a bad thing to start with.

You’ve been at a school with just boys. Most of you will be going to a school with girls. I have no advice for you.

The last bit of advice I’ll give you is very simple, but I think it could make a big difference in your life. Once a week, you should write a note to someone. Not an email. A note on a piece of paper. It will take you exactly 10 minutes. Talk to an adult, let them tell you what a stamp is. You can put the stamp on the envelope. Again, 10 minutes, once a week. I will help you, right now. I will dictate to you the first note you should write. It will say, ‘Dear [fill in the name of a teacher at Cardigan Mountain School].’ Say: ‘I have started at this new school. We are reading [blank] in English. Football or soccer practice is hard, but I’m enjoying it. Thank you for teaching me.’ Put it in an envelope, put a stamp on it and send it. It will mean a great deal to people who — for reasons most of us cannot contemplate — have dedicated themselves to teaching middle school boys. As I said, that will take you exactly 10 minutes a week. By the end of the school year, you will have sent notes to 40 people. Forty people will feel a little more special because you did, and they will think you are very special because of what you did. No one else is going to carry that dividend during your time at school.

Enough advice. I would like to end by reading some important lyrics. I cited the Greek philosopher Socrates earlier. These lyrics are from the great American philosopher, Bob Dylan. They’re almost 50 years old. He wrote them for his son, Jesse, who he was missing while he was on tour. It lists the hopes that a parent might have for a son and for a daughter. They’re also good goals for a son and a daughter. The wishes are beautiful, they’re timeless. They’re universal. They’re good and true, except for one: It is the wish that gives the song its title and its refrain. That wish is a parent’s lament. It’s not a good wish. So these are the lyrics from Forever Young by Bob Dylan:

May God bless you and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
And may you stay forever young
May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
And may you stay forever young
May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
May your song always be sung
And may you stay forever young

Thank you.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

TESLA, AGAIN

Let's keep beating this drum. I first wrote (not published) about Tesla in 2013 or 2014 and then again published in this blog in August of 2015. Two years ago.

At that time, Tesla's market cap was $30 billion, ridiculous by any measure. Last week it popped to over $50 billion and passed General Motors in the total value of its stock.

Read the old posts here: http://bourbonanddad.blogspot.com/2015/08/tesla-and-tesla-redux.html

Still ridiculous, still resembles a tulip bulb that is valued at more than the ship that delivered it.

Maybe our markets are just not that efficient at times.

As Lee points out in passing along this article, http://www.nationalreview.com/article/436228/wind-energy-subsidies-billions Elon Musk is definitely an expert at acquiring government subsidies. The wind energy business has been subsidized by government to the tune of $176 billion. Watch out below--of that amount, $164 billion is in the form of loans and loan guarantees. Sound anything like Ginnie Mae and Fannie Mae and the 2008 crisis? 

That $176 billion is about $2,200 for every family of four in this country. Every last man, woman, child, transsexual, illegal/undocumented immigrant and politician out there. The info is hard to come by, but that amount is about half the estimated losses in the subprime mortgage crisis, but the total effect on the economy was the loss of value/wealth in the $30 trillion range.

Since we are just about out of things to worry about, worry about wind energy subsidies, the failure of all those loans/loan guarantees and the fallout that happens when that type of thing ripples through the economy. Oh, and don't forget when Tesla's stock falls back to earth...or the dark side of the moon.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

BPI vs ABC

BPI vs ABC

The $1.9 Billion case brought by BPI against Disney's unit, ABC, trebled to $5.7 Billion, was settled last week 3.5 weeks into the trial and at the conclusion of BPI’s side of the story.

Everything is confidential, so we will never know the full terms, but I can only imagine how nervous ABC’s fancy lawyers would be in an Elk Point, South Dakota courtroom decked out in their $3,000 suits and Gucci slippers.

But this is not about the settlement. This is about the coverage of the story in 2012, the lack of coverage now and the power of words.

ABC, a subsidiary of Disney, ran a series of reports about BPI and their product, Lean, Fine Textured Beef (LFTB) in which they referred to LFTB as “pink slime” at least 137 times. The result was that BPI’s business declined by 80% and 700 people lost their jobs. LFTB is used, for one thing, to increase the lean and decrease the fat proportions in ground beef. It is beef, it is healthy. It is low cost because the 10 to 20 pounds of beef (separated from the fat) that is gained per animal (the news reports tended to call the animals "cows," the ignorant term for beef) was formerly lost and the process is efficient.


I could not find online coverage from the “usual suspects.” Where are you, CNN, CBS, NBC? Where are you, New York Times? Actually, the NYT won a Pulitzer Prize for defaming the process prior to ABC. Have we seen retractions? Most of the articles were from Drover’s magazine, Beef Magazine and the like. The Tribune article went out of its way to carry a quote from a media law professor who said it was “folly” to speculate on the motives for ABC to settle, but that she was dismayed that the trial was not concluded because the position could be “defended.” Yep, that’s why you have the high-priced lawyers, but they might have been defending the indefensible?  

I knew Eldon and Regina. They were among the very first residential and business occupants at the Dunes. Pioneers in every way. Good people, built a business, provided good jobs. Eldon was justifiably proud of his process and accomplishments and invited Jim Avila, the ABC reporter, the real “slime” into his business. DIL Amy worried, justifiably, about the 700 people who lost their jobs five years ago. Who makes restitution to them?

I’m reminded of the Scorpion and Frog. The scorpion can’t swim, asks the frog to carry him on its back across the river. The frog is hesitant, “I’m afraid you’ll sting me.” But the scorpion finally convinces him and midway across, the scorpion stings the frog and they are both doomed. The frog asks why, the scorpion says, “It is my nature.”

As consumers of news, we need to be vigilant. Scorpions will be scorpions.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

ROYALS...AGAIN

I know, I know, you get sick of my posts about the Royals, but get this--they played in KC today, Saturday, June 24 and broke above .500 for the first time this season. Now 37-36 and still before the All-Star Break.

I think the last time I mentioned the Royals, they had slumped to something like 8 games under .500. This a big accomplishment. Ok, we are still not in the same stratosphere as Houston with 50 wins, but not bad.

Back to respectable, and that is pretty good.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

MEXICAN CONSTRUCTION WORKERS




My cynical side wonders if the reason California is so eager to harbor illegal immigrants with their sanctuary city business is so they can have their gardeners and maids. Frankly, I still don’t understand why the “illegal” part is overlooked so blithely.

Had an interesting conversation today, however, with a long-time client. Kirk is in the specialty construction business, and he said we have to figure out a way to get Mexicans into our country to work. That doesn’t mean they have to be citizens, as a lot of them are not seeking citizenship. They want to work and make some money, and the fact is that white and black Americans do not want to work in the construction industry.

He said that about 25% of their work force is Mexican, and they are the “nicest, hard-working, skilled, pleasant, loyal” people he knows. They are just good folks, and he said they are “good with their hands,” which might be because they have grown up working, not sitting in front of a TV or a game console.

Another client, Dennis, operated a demolition contracting business in Phoenix. I asked if he ever had black or white employees in the field force. “Yeah, once in a while, but they just stand around and watch the Mexicans do the work.” He stopped hiring white laborers. You still have to hire black workers, but they don’t last long.

When my mother’s youngest brother came back to California after WWII, he married (converted to Catholicism, see below) and eventually went to work for the fledgling firm United Parcel Service driving one of their ubiquitous brown trucks. At that time, UPS preferred to hire young, white, Catholic men from the Midwest. Young=strong. White=the times. Catholic=guilt, reinforced by their Midwestern work ethic. They were sued to stop hiring that way, of course, but employers want to have the work done.

Our young people are told to go to college when some of them might be better off to take up a trade. They have not been prepared to work with their hands, to do manual labor. It is hard and beneath them. The Mexican workers Kirk and Dennis referred to have not been brainwashed that way. They are much like those young, strong, white, Catholic Midwestern farm boys back in the day.

As you all know, I trust the observations and word of people I know and trust so much more than the media, so I’m going to say that my opinion right now is that we need to figure out, as a nation, how to utilize the energy, strength, skill and loyalty of Mexican workers who want to perform in the construction industry in the US. They are not taking jobs away from deserving white guys—in fact, a lot of the white guys are in unions that are disappearing since they just can’t get the job done.

Side note: The Governor of Missouri signed the right-to-work law in February 2017. That’s the end of unions in that state.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Almost June

Yeah, I know, it isn't June yet, but the Royals are in last place in the AL Central, 7.5 games back. This is not good.

Off to a terrible start and it isn't getting better. The unlikely Twins who swept the Royals to start the season are in first and cruisin'.

You never know what's going to happen in baseball...well, maybe this time we do.

Bask in the glory of those two seasons, ahhhh.