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#CWAA: Can We All Agree™ – 5/27/18 edition

May 27, 2018

Can we all agree, the on-again, off-again talks with North Korea suggest Mr. Trump is desperate for a foreign policy ‘win’ to get the focus off Robert Mueller’s investigation?

Can we all agree, Ireland’s vote, repealing a ban on abortion is a recognition of modern realities?

Can we all agree, many Americans, see some kind of sinister plot to silence Melania Trump, since the First Lady has now been out of sight for over 2 weeks, after criticizing her husband with her new anti-bullying initiative?

Hillary and her Russian hat at not so subtle poke at the President.

Hillary and her Russian hat, a not-so=subtle poke at the President.

Can we all agree, it would be hard to find anyone in Washington who understands why the administration felt obligated to save the Chinese firm ZTE?

Can we all agree, Iran’s willingness to rescue their nuclear deal with the EU, will, once again, leave the US on the outside looking in, with no opportunity to affect change.

Can we all agree, now that the head of the federal prison system has resigned in frustration, it’s only a matter of time before the head of the DHS tires of being Mr. Trump’s punching bag?

Can we all agree, the European Union is now setting the standards for internet privacy? That’s why your email has been flooded with new privacy notices this week.

Can we all agree, when Hillary Clinton showed up at Yale Class Day with a Russian-style hat and jacket everyone knew who she was trolling?

Can we all agree, the resignation of the president of USC was long overdue? Accusations that a school gynecologist abused patients is the second major scandal at the school in less than a year.

Can we all agree, it looks like PGE stockholders will be facing a pretty hefty charge, now that Calfire has blamed the utility for causing the devastating wildfires in Northern CA last fall?

Can we all agree, Michael Cohen’s attempts to profit off his relationship to Donald Trump seem to get worse every week, but is he really any different than anyone else in Washington selling influence?

Can we all agree, while former Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein has been arrested, the impact of his case will be felt for years?

Can we all agree, Jack Johnson deserved to be pardoned, but there are probably many more, less well-known folks who deserve the same treatment?

Can we all agree, Mr. Trump’s letter. withdrawing from the summit with North Korea is stunning for its tortured style, egotism and attempts at flattery?

Can we all agree, the administration’s proposed 25% tax on ‘imported’ cars is one more example of a poorly thought out negotiation strategy? It will hurt more American workers than it helps.

Can we all agree, the families of the Sandy Hook elementary school, faced a double-edged sword in deciding to sue conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, but his claims are just too ourtrageous to ignore?

Can we all agree, now that Mr. Trump will be forced to allow his critics to access his twitter account, he’s probably a lot less likely to actually read his social media feed?

Can we all agree, by caving in to Trump’s demands, the NFL owners showed they have no backbone, and do not care about the players as actual human beings?

Can we all agree, Jared Kushner’s classmates at Harvard don’t seem to have much use for the President’s son-in-law?

Can we all agree, the soon-to-be-indicted Mr. Kushner, could find his new security clearance, short lived?

Can we all agree, California Democrats are panicked that a 2% improvement in Mr. Trump’s approval rating, could doom their plan to retake the House?

Can we all agree, the week’s election results revealed a fresh slate of unknown candidates who just might change the face of US politics?

Can we all agree, if gas prices and mortgage rates continue their climb, it won’t be long before everyone starts to realize, Mr. Trump’s policies are costing them real money?

Can we all agree, both the Russian and Venezuelan elections were corrupt?

Can we all agree, there is something wrong with a system that allows two US citizens to be detained just because they were speaking Spanish?

Can we all agree, Deputy AG Ron Rosenstein, made the right choice in acceding to Trump’s demand for a probe if FBI intelligence gathering? While  Mr. Trump is way out of line, the inquiry will turn up nothing and it will keep the President quiet.

Can we all agree, Mr. Trump’s attempt to create an FBI conspiracy might help his ratings but will have little impact on the Mueller investigation?

and finally:

My Bucknell family remembers one of our most distinguished alums, author Phillip Roth, who died this week.

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CWAA: Can We All Agree – 5/14/16 edition

May 14, 2016

Can we all agree that waiting in security lines for over an hour to get on a plane is n0t the payoff we expected for improved security when we travel?

Waiting in line in Minneapolis (Star Tribune Photo)

Waiting in line in Minneapolis (Star Tribune Photo)

Can we all agree that opponents of the death penalty may have found an unlikely ally in Pfizer?

Can we all agree that George Zimmerman has carved out a new definition of insensitivity by deciding to auction the gun he used to kill Trayvon Martin? And that’s the kindest thing I could say.

Can we all agree, speaking of insensitivity, it’s hard to figure out what a Belgium beer company was thinking when they decided to replace the name on their beer cans with ‘America?’

Can we all agree the Obama Administration’s decree on bathroom use has made an isolated problem into a national issue?

Can we all agree we finally found someone nasty enough for Donald Trump to disavow – his  former Butler ?

Can we all agree Donald Trump’s reaction to calls for release of his tax return makes even his supporters squirm?

Can we all agree, it’s nice to know the GOP’s Stop-Trump movement is still in the game?

Can we all agree that new revelations about how Donald Trump handles himself with women is not exactly a surprise?

Can we all agree the Russian government’s reaction to the Olympic doping scandal, just adds credibility to the charges?

Can we all agree the GOP’s ‘victory’ over the Affordable Care Act, issued by a Republican judge, will be short-lived since the Supreme Court has already ruled on the issue?

Can we all agree the Catholic Church’s decision to study the possibility of female Deacons, does not mean it will happen, but it adds to Pope Francis’ legacy of change?

Can we all agree that reading about the political turmoil in Brazil is starting too get very boring?

Can we all agree that Speaker Paul Ryan’s meeting with Donald Trump was all form and no substance?

Can we all agree that if Mr. Trump is elected President he will have at least one foreign leader who will welcome a visit – the new President of the Philippines? He appears to be Trump 2.0.

Can we all agree that Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s social media attacks on Mr. Trump may not win her a VP job with the Clinton campaign, but it’s sure fun to watch?

Can we all agree it’s about time an American President visited Hiroshima?

Can we all agree that the tactics Uber and Lyft are using to avoid improved background checks on their drivers are leaving a bad taste with many consumers?

Steph Curry: NBA MVP (USA Today photo)

Steph Curry: NBA MVP (USA Today photo)

Can we all agree it’s good to know that our representative in Washington can’t agree on fighting Zika, or helping Puerto Rico, or any of a host of other problems, but they can agree that the bison should be the national mammal? As a true orange and blue Bucknell bison I am just so proud.

Can we all agree that Commencement season is destroying the concept of free speech, as campus after campus cancels an invitation, because some group raises an objection?

and finally:

Can we all agree Steph Curry’s shimmy may be a bit of unnecessary celebration, but he certainly deserves to be the first unanimous MVP of any major sport?

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Graduating Into Networking

May 23, 2015

It’s graduation season.

High school seniors are looking forward to a summer off, before they start worrying whether they chose the ‘right’ college.

College graduates are considering taking on more debt to get an advanced degree, or worrying if they will ever find a job.

And perhaps not surprisingly, older workers are starting to wonder if they should return to the classroom. In an era where many thought leaders are openly questioning the value of a college education, univrsities have seen a dramatic increase in the number of ‘mature’ students returning to campus.Unknown

Just 15 years ago most of these older students were baby-boomers who were suddenly empty nesters, looking for a new challenge. Degrees such as Executive MBA’s were the province of small schools trying to generate some extra money from unused classroom space at night or on the weekend.

But with the recession, and millions of Americans out of work, almost every major university suddenly discovered that money from established workers was just as good as fees from undergraduates. Schools such as the University of California’s Haas School of Business, which had dismissed executive MBA programs in 2000, now have huge, and costly, courses in conjunction with other major universities.

So, as your son or daughter threatens to do a “Steve Jobs”  – rejecting college to work in the garage – is returning to school worth it?

I might be biased, since I received my MBA about 30 years after my bachelor’s degree, but my answer is a decided yes, for a number of reasons.

First and foremost is the knowledge you gain, which is particularly valuable in an economy where you can never have enough skills. Change in the American workforce used to take place over generations. These days, it can occur in much less than a decade.

Just look at the number of jobs that went begging over the last 8 years while unemployment hovered around 10%.

Schools are making it easier to get accepted by removing testing and, in many cases, undergraduate degree requirements. Your work experience now has a completely unexpected real-life benefit.

Secondly, it’s all about networking. I once had a very heated and lengthy discussion about post graduate networking with a dining companion who insisted that “the only value’ to an advanced degree was the people you meet. His argument suggested that the only programs worth attending were from elite schools where you could rub elbows with classmates who were already successful.

The discussion grew so heated, my wife pointed out later, that diners were asking to be reseated away from our table. She admitted that I was not the main culprit, my debate-mate was. His debating style included language that probably should not be used outside a locker room – if at all.

I know I wasn’t convinced that my MBA was worthless because it was not from an Ivy League school, and I doubt he agreed that an education could be just as valuable, but we both should have apologized to the other diners.

You probably didn’t realize you were networking as an undergraduate, but as any college career office will tell you, your classmates can be a huge advantage when you start looking for a job.

In fact, some schools welcome freshman as alumni at their annual convocation near the start of the school year. They don’t exactly start fund-raising to 18-year-olds –  that’s a subtle side benefit that comes later.

School networks can be incredibly valuable on both the graduate and undergraduate level. Particularly with sites such as LinkedIn where you can easily find fellow alumni at companies where you want to work.

Likewise when hiring agents recognize their own college on your profile, it might be the extra leg up you need to at least get an interview.

So whether you are in college now, or contemplating a mid-career  advanced degree, remember the advantages of networking and use it as part of your job search. By the way my undergraduate degree is from Bucknell University in Pennsylvania and my MBA is from Dominican University in San Rafael, CA.

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Thank You, US Postal Service

January 25, 2015

The United States Postal Service gets a lot of grief these days. Derided as the delivery agent for ‘snail mail,’ they are criticized for being too expensive,  too slow,  outdated and time consuming in the era of instant communication.

I am here to defend them.letter

Yes, I have tracked letters sent via ‘Priority Mail’ as they traveled to San Diego before reaching their intended destination 10 days later, two zip codes from my office. I can send a package to Hawaii (from San Francisco) in two days, but the same size box to Boston takes over a week.

And yes, grandma, I remember when a first class stamp was 5 cents. I now buy forever stamps in rolls of 100, so I don’t even know what first class postage is. (Great marketing, if you ask me.)

I can text my friends all over the country and within 10 minutes will have a response…any longer and I get impatient. Email, which we all thought was great a few years ago, is now too slow, since most people still have to check before responding.

I tweet to my followers, and most of my relatives have Facebook pages,so we’ll all know who’s doing what. I write this blog so everyone knows how I feel about what’s going on in the world.

But none of those methods can generate the emotions of a stamped letter. Neuroscientists now know that memories are more than just events. Our brains recall all five senses and any of them can spark a memory.

I was reminded of that this week, when a good friend, David Allen, sent me a batch of letters, found while cleaning out his mother-in-law’s attic.

They were written over 47 years ago when I was a freshman at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, PA. In fact, they were written in the first few months of college, when I was really still attached to my high school experience and scared to death about the future.

I remember the onion paper, the smell of the inked ribbon , and the old green and white Smith Corona that I used, to peck out letters to my parents, friends and former high school classmates. I still have the typewriter in fact – even had it reconditioned after I found it while going through my old homestead when my Dad died. I’m told it’s a collector’s item.

The letters were written to David’s wife, Betty, my best friend, and while we were never involved romantically, are filled with good natured banter that would pass for flirtation.

The actual content is really irrelevant: my observations about  classes, social life, campus events, and gossip. It was 1967, and I know every campus was awash in protest and politics, but there’s none of that, so I doubt Oliver Stone will need them for some new 1960’s expose.

But for me, they are more important than any email, tweet or text I will ever send.   When I re-read the words, and hold the letters, the memories of those years come flooding back. More importantly, I’m talking to my friend, Betty, again, even though she was struck down by cancer 12 years ago.

So, while I can find endless versions of various web pages, and can see the trail of my texts to friends and colleagues, none of them will ever hold the power of the printed word that I can pick up, hold in my hand, and still smell the memories from so many years ago.

For that I thank the US Postal Service and David, who was thoughtful enough to mail them back to me..

 

 

 

 

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So, Why Does the World Exist?

May 10, 2013

I admit that I started reading Jim Holt’s “Why Does the World Exist?” as penance. Many years ago, Douglas Sturm, my political theory seminar leader at Bucknell University, tried to introduce me to Plato.

Seems I never had time for the deep thinking required and I almost flunked.

So when I saw Mr. Holt’s book on several 10-best lists last year, I decided to get it another try, for Professor Sturm.

I guess it took 43 years before my brain could wrap itself around the concepts but I’m glad Mr. Holt succeeded.

I would recommend this book for anyone who wants to spend some time contemplating our world’s oldest question, but particularly journalists who get caught up in the daily routine of facts, figures and political hyperbole.

Holt’s writing is erudite, easy to read and understand but filled with concepts that most of us never consider, or try to avoid.

At the same time, like any good journalist, he examines the question posed in his title from every conceivable angle. No just as a personal essay, but by interviewing leaders in the field and then explaining what they seem to be saying.

Others have called his book a “detective story” but, like his readers, who want concrete answers, he accepts or rejects various arguments along the way. He reaches his own conclusions, which we are free to accept, or not, and manages to humanize the whole effort with references to his own life and his experience with death.

The journey is interesting, entertaining and, if Professor Sturm is reading this, enlightening. I’m finally starting to understand some of what Plato was telling us. Thanks for whetting my appetite.

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Bucknell Report

September 30, 2011

Filed under: Bucknell,Uncategorized — Tags: , — admin @ 9:56 am

To download the Report:

The Campus Climate for Bucknell University Students: A Multifaceted Analysis

BucknellCampusClimate2011

The president’s letter:

OpenLetteronCampus ClimateTaskForceReport

Comments are welcome.

 

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What’s Important in Business

June 13, 2011

Recently I helped to host a career networking night for my Alma mater, Bucknell University. We do an event twice a year at interesting locations around the Bay Area and focus on career advice for alums.

Amy Klement, Vice President Omidyar Network

Last week’s gathering was at The Bechtel Corporation,   where Peter Dawson, (CFO) and his wife,  – parents of a current student  – sponsored the evening, featuring the Dean of the College of Engineering, Keith Buffinton as well as 1996 alum, Amy Klement.

Amy focused on her career path, at Paypal, EBay and now as Vice President, of Omidyar Network. To say her  career has been on the fast track is an understatement. But after listening to her talk, it’s easy to see why she has been so successful.

She is human, genuine, honest and real – all qualities that are is short supply at most businesses today. She understands that  her Emotional Intelligence has been the key. It’s also a point that most most people simply don’t get.

Every six months another book comes out about emotional intelligence, and, as Amy points out, executives claim that it is more important than traditional I.Q., but most businesses are still filled with executive who have very little of it.

I’ll leave a more complete explanation for later posts, but I think Amy’s 20 minute talk is worth listening to.

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Orange and Blue Wine

November 11, 2010

Filed under: observations,Uncategorized,Wine — Tags: , — admin @ 4:02 pm

Spent part of last weekend touring two wineries in Napa Valley with a bunch of other Bucknell University Alums.

Ed Farmer, a BU grad from 1969 showed us around the Kendall Jackson Oakville winery where they process grapes for a number of KJ’s  brands. This is the Napa headquarters for the brand and Ed oversees 5 different vineyards and as well as the press/processing

Tasting from the barrel at Kendall Jackson

operations. Well-known brands such as Freemark Abbey and Alisos Hills get their start here.

Ed, who holds a degree in civil engineering, keeps a watchful eye on all 30,000 barrels. It was great fun to taste barrel samples of a number of wines, although it was more like sampling lemonade in some cases.

It was also the last day of crush and they were hand-sorting some of the fruit that goes into their 0/bottle Cardinale brand. We didn’t get any samples of that, but there was some excellent cabernet, viognier, and merlot.

On the other end of the wine making scale was Reverie Winery on Diamond Mountain in Calistoga – owned and operated by Norm Kiken and his new bride.

Norm Kiken of Reverie Winery

Complete with wine cave and Redwood picnic area, Reverie makes about 3000 cases of highly respected wine, including a Roussanne which is not seen that often in California.

Norm is a 1968 graduate of Bucknell, but admits that he learned by the seat of his pants – moving from investment banking when he accidentally discovered he had a palate.

Norm’s wines have drawn high praise from critics and consumers alike and if you ever seen any if your local wine shop by a bottle or two and have a toast to one of Bucknell’s finest. And by all means try his special blend named for his son, Andrew Scott Kikken – that would be the A.S. Kiken brand.

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