The Death of "Mr Greed"

Former RJR Nabisco CEO F. Ross Johnson Dies at Age 85 - Executive’s exploits at food and tobacco company became symbol of corporate greed


Mr. Johnson’s fame spread beyond the world of business when his exploits at the food and tobacco company were recounted in the book “Barbarians at the Gate,” made into a movie with James Garner playing the CEO.

Mr. Johnson’s audacious effort to take RJR private in October 1988 set off a bidding war in which Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. wound up prevailing with a bid of $25 billion, then the largest corporate takeover in history.

Though Mr. Johnson’s investment group was outmaneuvered, he was perhaps the biggest winner, walking away with a “golden parachute” payment of about $50 million.

Even before the bid, the gregarious Canadian-born executive was becoming known for his free-spending ways. In “Barbarians at the Gate,” former Wall Street Journal reporters Bryan Burrough and John Helyar wrote that Mr. Johnson and his colleagues crisscrossed the world in 10 corporate airplanes, sometimes dubbed the RJR Air Force.

The Atlanta-based company stored its jets in a hangar next to a three-story waiting area with floors of Italian marble and a walk-in wine cooler.

Mr. Johnson had two dozen country club memberships, and his two maids were on the corporate payroll. His office at RJR headquarters in Atlanta featured a $51,000 vase, a $36,000 end table and a $100,000 rug.

A sports enthusiast who played basketball in college, Mr. Johnson hired big-name athletes including Jack Nicklaus and Rod Laver to attend corporate events and schmooze with customers. RJR sponsored the annual Nabisco Dinah Shore Invitational golf tournament as a way of entertaining grocery executives and others whose help was needed in selling company products including Oreo cookies, Ritz crackers and Camel cigarettes.

Brushing aside quibbles about costs, he once advised a colleague: “A few million dollars are lost in the sands of time.”
Comment: I don't respect executives who "suck" from companies. See below for more excess:


DOW Milestones

HT Marketwatch.  Click image for larger

The Fortune 500 - 60 years on

HT Vala

Data storage & retrieval then and now

Storage cost of 1 GB:

1980 $438K
1985 $105K
1990 $11K
2000 $11
2005 $1
2012 $0.1
2014 $0.03
2016 FREE
15 GB —Google
10 GB —Box
5 GB - Amazon
Comment: HT ValaAfshar


The Church Of Climate Scientology

The Church Of Climate Scientology: How Climate Science Became A Religion


Here are three ways the Climate Scientologists abuse science.
  1. They use manipulative language.  If you are ever asked the incoherent question “Do you deny climate change?” you have found yourself a Climate Scientologist. No one denies “climate change.” “Climate change” is a constant. The “climate,” which is an averaging of weather over long timespan, is an inherently changing phenomenon. There’s no “climate non-change.” Don’t tell me “Oh, we all know what we mean by climate change”--because I don’t, and neither do you. “Climate change” is a manipulative, rubber term used to mean anything from “the climate changes” (which everyone agrees with) to “we impact the climate at least a tiny amount” (which everyone agrees with) to “we impact the climate for the better” (yes, that’s possible) to “we are making the climate much more dangerous” (which much fewer people agree with) to “we are making the climate much more dangerous and the only response is to stop using fossil fuels but also incoherently oppose nuclear power and hydroelectric power while advocating the worst-performing energy technologies, solar and wind.” Climate Scientologists are usually advocates of the last, bizarre position. Since they can’t argue for that view honestly and directly, they dishonestly name their view “climate change.”
  2. They won’t admit when their theory fails. Modern climate science is dominated by the hypothesis that CO2 is the major driver of climate—so much so that increasing it from .03% to .04% of the atmosphere has brought us to the verge of catastrophe. One simple question to ask about this hypothesis, which has been around for many decades, is: “Does it agree with experiment?” Since the theory uses computer models to make apocalyptic predictions about the future, one straightforward question to ask is: can the climate prediction models actually predict climate? The answer is no. As my colleague at Center for Industrial Progress, physicist and mathematical modeler Eric Dennis, writes in a forthcoming essay on climate modeling: the biggest phenomenon in climate modeling over the last 15 years is the spectacular failure of the models to predict what happened over this period: flat global temperatures, no significant warming trend. This was the one test the climate modelers were forced to stick their necks out for, and they have failed it.
  3. They intimidate, rather than explain.  Two weeks ago I participated on an energy panel with a prominent critic of fossil fuels. Anticipating that he would raise the climate issue, I devoted much of my 5-minute opening to trying to explain the big-picture evidence about fossil fuels and climate. Here was his response, in full. He flashed a Power Point slide with an ominous-looking picture of a desert with the text “6 Degrees Celsius” (implying it would get that much hotter) and said “We’re in trouble. The smartest people on the planet have told us that, and we’re listening to them.” I asked him to explain to me and to the audience how the “smartest people in the world” had proven this so we could understand it for ourselves. His response? He told the audience that since these (unspecified) people are smarter than I am, they should listen to him instead of me. In freshman logic, we are taught that this is the fallacy of “appeal to authority.” The true scientist has no need for appeal to authority—he uses his expertise to give clear explanations for anyone seeking them. For example, if you ask a good physicist about quantum mechanics, he will give you an overview of the evidence, such as the famous double-slit experiment that classical mechanics couldn’t explain. But too often, if you ask a question about climate science, a Climate Scientologist will try to intimidate you to take his beliefs on faith.

Comment: Read the entire article at Forbes (above link)

More from the Wall Street Journal: Climateers Can’t Handle the Truth
Donald Trump, our new president-elect, has been tagged for indiscriminately referring to climate change as a hoax. Here’s what he actually said at a campaign rally in South Carolina one year ago about climate advocacy: “It’s a money-making industry, OK? It’s a hoax, a lot of it.”

This statement, with its clearly framed qualifications, is true and accurate in every detail. It’s a statement of basic truth that can be embraced, and increasingly should be, by exactly those people most concerned about man-made climate change.

Yet it won’t be, for reasons demonstrated by the New York Times’ adoption of the term climate denialist, whose deliberately non-discriminating function we now take care to state precisely: It enables a kind of journalism that is unable—incapacitates itself—to stumble on truths that would be inconvenient to climate religion.

Hwy 169 Nine Mile Creek bridge closure starts Jan. 10th

Traffic closure map (PDF)


Nine Mile Creek Bridge on Hwy 169 between Bren Rd. in Minnetonka and 7th St. (5th St. – Lincoln Dr. exit) in Edina will be closed both directions starting at 5 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 10. 

The associated northbound and southbound ramps going toward the bridge will also be closed. Southbound Hwy 169 from Excelsior Blvd. to 7th St. and northbound Hwy 169 from Hwy 62 to Bren Rd. will also be reduced to one lane.

The exit ramp from westbound I-394 to southbound Hwy 169 will also be closed during the project. 

The bridge closure and lane reductions are necessary as crews begin to remove the Nine Mile Creek Bridge, which is being replaced next year. The work is expected to last through Oct. 2017, weather permitting.
Comment: 10 months of traffic misery!


Raleigh "English" Bicycle

Raleigh Bicycle Company

I'm not sure of the exact year, but guessing Christmas 1962 or 63, Dad and Mom bought me a Raleigh "English" Bicycle for Christmas.

It looked just about like the above picture except it was brown. It had a 3 speed Sturmey-Archer coaster hub

The bike revolutionized transportation for me: No more walking! I installed a simple speedometer / odometer and a rear generator driven red light.

No one wore helmets back then.

I used it for a good three or four years until I started driving in 1966.


My favorite Christmas movie #1: It's a Wonderful Life

The Morality of Banking in It’s a Wonderful Life


Gillian B. White: I forgot how much commentary there is in this movie about the economics of how banks and loans work. I want an audio file of George Bailey saying “The money’s not there!” as he tries to explain how deposits get rolled into other products, not just stacks of bills tucked away in a vault. But I love that speech for another reason, too: It helps explain, at a pretty simple level, how deeply interwoven America’s banking structure and finances can be—so when a bank, big or small, fails, lots of people wind up feeling the impact. As a whole, the movie raises some critical questions about the purpose of banks: What are they meant to do and who are they meant to serve?

Bourree Lam: That scene has always really stuck out to me. It’s an important plot point, but I also think it speaks to how much people don’t know about how banks actually work. It’s really not clear to the people of Bedford Falls how credit and loans work, to the point that people cause a bank run and George has to use his own money to stop the institution from dissolving. They really think all their money is sitting there in the safe, but never question how the bank is then able to distribute so much money, such as loans for their homes.
How Jimmy Stewart Became George Bailey - The star of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ struggled with his wartime memories


Fans of the movie might assume that making such an uplifting tale was a joy for cast and crew. In truth, this story of redeeming angels was born in the devastating wake of World War II, and it starred an actor swatting away his own demons.

The first time that Jimmy Stewart appears on screen as George Bailey, the image freezes in close-up as two angelic figures discuss the character in voice-over. One says to the other, “I want you to take a good look at that face.” It’s something that all of us should do as we watch the film.

Stewart is supposed to be playing a young man in his early 20s, but the once-boyish 38-year-old had just returned the year before from fighting in Europe, and only makeup and careful lighting could give him a semblance of youth. More seriously, as we know from the testimony of those who worked with him in the military and in Hollywood in those years, Stewart was suffering from what we now call post-traumatic stress disorder.
Why I like it: There's been times in my life that I've felt I've screwed up so much that my life is less than useless ... I remember (this is about 3 decades ago) when I felt that if I were dead (I had life insurance then) that my wife would be better off. How I view it today: This is my "you've got cancer" year and this year I am trying to focus on the wonderful gift of life! Today is "the present" and today is a gift of God. The first article has some nice YouTube videos embedded. Here is the famous dance scene:

 More from the Economist: Why “It’s a Wonderful Life” needed an angel’s helping hand
IN THE late summer of 1945, Colonel James Stewart returned from Europe aboard the Queen Elizabeth; like the hundreds of other men aboard, Stewart wondered what post-war life might hold. His contemporary John Wayne had avoided service in the second world war, but since his enlistment in 1941 Stewart had risen from the rank of private, flying 20 combat missions over Nazi-occupied Europe: he re-entered civilian life as a decorated hero. The year before Pearl Harbour, he had won an Oscar for Best Actor for his role as a tabloid reporter in George Cukor’s “The Philadelphia Story”—but his contract with MGM had expired during the war.

“I just got a phone call one day,” Stewart said years later of this uncertain time. “It was Frank Capra, and he said, I’ve got an idea for a story, why don’t you come down and I’ll tell it to you. Well, I couldn’t get down there quick enough,” Stewart recalled.

“It’s a Wonderful Life” was released seventy years ago, in December, 1946. The Sicilian-born Capra had also served America's army, winning the Distinguished Service Medal for his documentary series, “Why We Fight”. Director and star had worked together before the war on “You Can’t Take It With You” (1938) and “Mr Smith Goes to Washington” (1939), but it is “It’s a Wonderful Life”, the story of George Bailey, his guardian angel Clarence, and the fate of the little town of Bedford Falls which epitomises their partnership. “It shows values that are really very close to an awful lot of us, and are really very basic American values,” Stewart would say decades later.

In the 21st century it can be hard to talk of “American values” with a straight face; but even at the time critics recognised that Capra’s film—much darker than it’s often remembered to be, as full of shadow as it is of light—worked a kind of alchemy of emotion. Capra “again proves he can fashion what ordinarily would be homilising hokum into gleaming, engaging entertainment for all brows—high, low or beetle,” wrote Variety when the film appeared. The Hollywood Reporter echoed the praise. But the box office was not as kind as the reviews, and the film was by no means a hit; it was only when, thanks to what was essentially a clerical error, the film temporarily fell out of copyright in 1974 that it became the cast-iron Christmas classic it is today. It was picked up by American television networks eager for holiday fodder, and it has never been off the airwaves since.

My favorite Christmas movie #2: Home Alone

Home Alone (1990)

Harry and Marv are no match to Kevin!

More: Just how lethal were the traps in Home Alone? Expert reveals how they would REALLY affect a person - and some could kill

My favorite Christmas movie #3: Scrooge (1951 film)

Scrooge (1951 film)

I haven't seen all of the Christmas Carol films, but of the one's I have, this is my favorite. Others.

Other's I have liked: Bill Murray because of Carol Kane and the Fonz (we have this on DVD but the sound is very poor)

Images from Scrooge:


Dave White (Kathee's brother) has his 5th hole-in-one

Southwest Florida (Naples) golf: Holes-in-one 

David White: with a 24-degree hybrid on the 149-yard No. 2 at Bear's Paw (12-7); Witnesses: Jim Aurelio, Hugh Mohler, Gary Glotzhober

Comment: Not bad for 79 years of age. Photo and additional image from the Bear's Paw Facebook page


A Billionaire’s Plan to House the Homeless in Shipping Containers

Fremont Billionaire Proposes Shipping Container Apartments for the Homeless


Tiny houses have emerged in the past decade as a promising way to house more homeless people for less money. Now the idea has gained a powerful proponent in the billionaire California real estate developer John Sobrato, who unveiled a proposal this month to build 200 micro-apartments for homeless and low-income renters in Santa Clara.

Sobrato, who has spent much of his career building office space for many of Silicon Valley’s technology giants, asked the Santa Clara City Council for exclusive negotiating rights to lease a 2.5-acre plot of city-owned land, three miles south of the San Francisco 49ers football stadium and currently leased to a Hyundai dealership. His plan for the lot calls for a mix of 160- and 240-square-foot units, large enough for a kitchenette and bathroom with shower, which he said could be fashioned out of repurposed shipping containers.

“I think it’s time to turn my attention to creating a very cost-effective solution to housing the homeless and very low-income people,” Sobrato said at a Dec. 6 meeting of the Council, video of which is posted online. “Instead of sleeping in a pup tent or under an overpass, Santa Clara homeless folks will have a clean, dignified, safe place to call home.”
Comment: What a great idea say for Oakland . Additional information here. Image source.


The Japanese KFC Tradition

How a fast-food marketing campaign turned into a widespread Yuletide tradition for millions.


Yes, it’s a Merry KFC Christmas for the Ando family. It may seem odd anywhere outside Japan, but Ando’s family and millions of others would never let a Christmas go by without Kentucky Fried Chicken. Every Christmas season an estimated 3.6 million Japanese families treat themselves to fried chicken from the American fast-food chain, in what has become a nationwide tradition.

... According to KFC Japan spokeswoman Motoichi Nakatani, it started thanks to Takeshi Okawara, the manager of the first KFC in the country. Shortly after it opened in 1970, Okawara woke up at midnight and jotted down an idea that came to him in a dream: a “party barrel” to be sold on Christmas. Okawara dreamed up the idea after overhearing a couple of foreigners in his store talk about how they missed having turkey for Christmas, according to Nakatani. Okawara hoped a Christmas dinner of fried chicken could be a fine substitute, and so he began marketing his Party Barrel as a way to celebrate the holiday.

In 1974, KFC took the marketing plan national, calling it Kurisumasu ni wa Kentakkii, or Kentucky for Christmas. It took off quickly, and so did the Harvard-educated Okawara, who climbed through the company ranks and served as president and CEO of Kentucky Fried Chicken Japan from 1984 to 2002.
Comment: Japan KFC / KFC is a YUM brand

Carl Icahn's Christmas gift to me

Carl Icahn selling St. Charles railcar leasing firm for up to $3.4 billion


Billionaire investor Carl Icahn is selling St. Charles-based American Railcar Leasing LLC, or ARL, to another railroad car management company owned by a Japanese bank.

Icahn Enterprises L.P. announced the agreement to sell ARL to SMBC Rail Services LLC, owned by the Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation. The cash sale price, subject to adjustments, is based on an ARL enterprise value of $2.78 billion and a fleet of 29,000 rail cars.

SMBC will have a three-year option to purchase an additional 4,800 rail cars for $586 million, boosting the total price to $3.36 billion. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2017.

"I have been in the railcar business for over 30 years," Icahn said in a statement. "During that time we have built one of the leading railcar fleets in the world... I am very proud of the business we have built at ARL and am pleased that SMBC Rail Services also sees the tremendous value in this business."
Comment: Note the jump in the price mid-day! I began investing in ARII several years ago. For all ARII posts on CFG click here. Icahn owns 61% of ARII so it's a done deal! SMBC Rail Services is private so this will be a cash deal. The expected close is in the first half of calendar year 2017.

Updated: WSJ article


Whither the S&P 500 for 2017

What 14 strategists forecast for the S&P 500 in 2017

Comments: A 5% rise would be 2,371. Seems reasonable to me. Hot link here


Would you tread on Fumi-e?

What the Media Isn’t Reporting on ISIS’ Beheading of 21 Christian Men


The tragic images are almost impossible to see and process.

There on the shore of Libya stand 21 young Christian Egyptian men, each clad in an orange jumpsuit.

Behind each man is a hooded radical Islamist, holding a knife. We know what’s coming next.

If American Christians were ever tempted to believe martyrs are only people we read about in the Bible and history books, the 21 men who were brutally beheaded because they called Jesus Christ their Savior remind us nothing could be further from the truth.
Scorcese’s ‘Silence’ Asks What It Really Costs to Follow Jesus
Based on the acclaimed 1966 novel by Japanese Catholic writer Shusaku Endo, Silence is a book about 17th century Jesuit missionaries trying to make inroads for the gospel in the inhospitable “swampland” of Japan, facing intense persecution by a Japanese shogunate determined to wipe out Christianity’s influence in their realm.

Sent from Portugal to seek the whereabouts of a fellow Jesuit priest (Liam Neeson) who had gone missing in Japan amidst intensifying persecution, Father Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Father Garrpe (Adam Driver) go to Japan to minister to the persecuted Kakure Kirishitan (“Hidden Christians”) community and see if they can find the missing priest. Their faith is tested as the Grand Inquisitor Inoue (Issey Ogata) forces them to denounce their faith or watch Christians be tortured and killed. ...

Dedicated to “Japanese Christians and their pastors,” Silence has a lot to say to the church about cross-cultural missions and contextualization. Father Rodrigues (Garfield) and Inoue (Ogata) frankly discuss the nature of Christianity and why it is unwelcome in Japan: “You missionaries do not seem to know Japan,” says Inoue, who insists the “tree” of Christianity won’t take root in the soil of Japan. It may be fruitful in Portugal and Europe, and that’s fine, but it doesn’t work in Japan. Rodrigues responds with a defense of the universality of truth: “If a doctrine wasn’t as true in Japan as it is in Portugal, we could not call it true.”

Why is Japan so inhospitable to the gospel? Rodrigues insists officials are poisoning the soil. Inoue says the climate is simply not conducive to the growth of Christianity, as if one tried to plant an orange tree in Siberia. Late in the film one of the “fallen” priests suggests that the fruit of Japanese converts is false fruit. They believe in the “Sun God,” not the Son of God. They aren’t becoming martyrs for Christ, but for the missionaries, he argues. The film (and book) asks the audience to ponder for themselves the authenticity of the Japanese converts’ faith. Can Christianity survive in hidden form, even if publicly it is denounced? Can the Christian gospel be enacted in a particularly Japanese manner (even with some Buddhist-inspired touches) and still be the same Christian gospel?
Comments: I would like to see this film - probably will wait for it to be streamed. To tread on Fumi-e is explained in this Wiki article.
The Japanese government used fumi-e to reveal practicing Catholics and sympathizers. Fumi-e were pictures of the Virgin Mary and Christ. Government officials made everybody trample on these pictures. People reluctant to step on the pictures were identified as Catholics and were sent to Nagasaki. The policy of the Edo government was to turn them from their faith, Catholicism; however, if the Catholics refused to change their religion, they were tortured. As many of them still refused to abandon the religion, they were killed by the government. Executions sometimes took place at Nagasaki's Mount Unzen, where some were boiled in the hot springs
Comment: God calls us to publicly declare our allegiance to King Jesus.

John MacArthur comments on John 12:42-43 (ESV Study Bible, John MacArthur notes)
While the people seemed to trust Jesus with much more candor and fervency, the leaders of Israel who believed in him demonstrated inadequate, irresolute, even spurious faith. The faith of the latter was so weak that they refused to take any position that would threaten their position in the synagogue. This is one of the saddest statements about spiritual leadership, for they preferred the praises of men above the praises of God in their refusal to publicly acknowledge Jesus as Messiah and Son of God.

If a Man came from Heaven ...

If we made contact with aliens how would religions react?


[M]any scientists ... now argue that the detection of extraterrestrial life is more a question of when, not if.

There are several reasons for this confidence, but a main one has to do with the speed at which scientists have been discovering planets outside of our own Solar System. In 2000, astronomers knew of about 50 of these ‘exoplanets’. By 2013, they had found almost 850, located in over 800 planetary systems. That number may reach one million by the year 2045, says David Weintraub, associate professor of Astronomy at Vanderbilt University, and author of Religions and Extraterrestrial Life. “We can quite reasonably expect that the number of known exoplanets will soon become, like the stars, almost uncountable,” he writes.
Comment: Observations and comments. But first a note on the image. A still from "The Day the Earth Stood Still" . Kathee, my sister and I are doing a detailed study of the Gospel of John. We have had 39 studies and we are just past the mid-point (end of John 12). There is a theme in John of what I will call "the man from heaven". Note the chiasm in John 16:28:

John 16:28 is not the first reference to "sent" or "return" in John's Gospel. Note the following: (this list is not exhaustive. See this search on "sent"
  • For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him (John 3:17)
  • For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit. (John 3:34)
  • “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. (John 4:34)
  • Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him (John 5:23)
  • “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. (John 5:24)
  • By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me. (John 5:30)
  • I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me. (John 5:36)
  • For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. (John 6:38)
  • I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me. (John 8:18)
  • Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. (John 9:4)
  • what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? (John 10:36)
  • but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ (John 16:5)
  • that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (John 17:21)
  • Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” (John 20:21)
  • Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God (John 13:3)
  • The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
Back to the linked to article which  hypothesizes at mans' response to an alien encounter: This science-so-called is a religion unto itself which misses the obvious: God came from heaven with a message of hope and salvation. His name is Jesus!

Something very putrid at the University of Minnesota Football culture

KSTP Exclusive: 80-Page Report Outlines U of M Investigation into Gophers Football Players


The University of Minnesota authored an 80-page report after conducting an investigation into 12 Gophers football players. University officials have said they cannot comment on their rationale for the discipline 10 players received due to privacy restrictions. However, the basis for their decision is laid out in a confidential EOAA report obtained by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.

The Minneapolis Police Department conducted its own investigation into accusations involving football players at an apartment in Dinkytown on Sept. 2.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS is releasing both documents because we believe it is important for community members to be able to read and evaluate for themselves what Minneapolis police found in their investigation of the incident and what the University of Minnesota’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action investigation concluded.
Comment: Image source


Aleppo: Blame failed US foreign policy

Before and after photos Update:

How Elvis Grbac was named People Magazines' "Sexiest Athlete"

Direct link to video

His daughter is still proud!

The intended: