Ethan Explains White House Visits 5/18/16

Google employees made over 425 White House visits, with 128 of them by their lobbyist, since President Obama was inaugurated. Plus large funders of the Obama Foundation participated in small, private meetings with the President. Money buys access in D.C. so if you don’t like the system will you vote to change it this year?

From the Maplight Foundation article by Andrew Perez:

Some of the other visitors to the White House residence that evening were titans in their own industries. 
One couple in attendance, private equity executive Mark Gallogly and his wife Lise Strickler, had recently contributed $340,000 to the Barack Obama Foundation. 
Tom Campion, founder of the surf wear clothing chain Zumiez, and his wife, Sonya, donated $500,000 to the foundation in the months before the event.

Obama has frequently opened the White House doors to the wealthy donors who have financed his political campaigns, the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and Organizing for Action, a nonprofit the president created to mobilize grassroots supporters to advocate for his agenda. 
Those doors have also been opened to those making substantial contributions to Obama’s private foundation, as it seeks funding for the construction of a monument to his presidency.

Altogether, 15 of the 39 named donors to the Obama Foundation have been invited to small meetings with the president at the White House, according to a MapLight review of visitor logs, the foundation’s website, and its tax returns to the IRS. 
Four of those people were first invited to small meetings with Obama at the White House following their foundation donations. 
Nearly three-quarters of the contributors the foundation has disclosed have been invited to the White House for events with Obama, including every donor whose family or foundation has contributed more than $100,000.

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Ethan Explains Happiness 5/17/16

Do you see those happiness indexes on your social media feed? I explain what’s wrong with them and what you should focus on instead.

From the Quartz article “Denmark beats Switzerland to become the world’s happiest country“:

This isn’t the first time that Denmark appears at the top of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN)’s list of happiest countries. 
The Nordic nation also ranked first in 2013, in the SDSN’s second-ever world happiness report, before falling to third place in the organization’s following report, published in 2015.

The SDSN measured average levels of happiness by looking at variables like GDP per capita, healthy years of life expectancy, social freedom, and absence of corruption. 
However, in this year’s report (pdf), the researchers looked something new: the SDSN has decided not just to look how happy people are, but also how that happiness may be unequally distributed across individuals. 
In other words, for the first time, the SDSN is looking at how inequality affects national levels of well-being. 

The researchers found that the happiest countries were also more equal—where the distribution of well-being was more even across a nation’s population. 
The group measured the distribution of happiness in this year’s report by analyzing responses to something called the Cantril ladder: Imagine a ladder with rungs numbered zero through 10, with 10 at the top representing the best possible life you can have. 
Where do you stand on the ladder at this time? This year’s report looks at the average ladder scores for more than 150 countries, averaged from roughly 1,000 survey responses collected across 150 countries in 2013, 2014, and 2015.

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Ethan Explains Creating Humans 5/16/16

You’ve heard of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) relating to food? Well now scientists are talking about completely creating humans through synthetic DNA, a human GMO. No sperm or ovum required at all. There can’t be any possible bad outcomes a la science fiction right?

From the Washington Post “Secret Harvard meeting on synthetic human genomes incites ethics debate“:

About 150 scientists assembled at Harvard on Tuesday for an off-the-record, no-media-allowed discussion of how to create, from scratch, an intact genome, including the genetic code of a human being. 
The idea is to go beyond "reading" genetic material to actively "writing" it, George Church, a Harvard Medical School researcher who helped organized the event, told The Post in an interview Friday morning.

Scientists can synthesize DNA chemically, and these techniques could ultimately lead to complete genomes that could be implanted in cells for research purposes. 
No one should panic just yet about mad scientists running amok: The researchers are not talking about making synthetic human beings. 
But the gathering drew a rebuke from two academics who heard about the event and didn't think it should have been held behind closed doors.

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Ethan Explains Compromise 5/11/16

Presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont told the editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle yesterday that he won’t even attempt to compromise with the Republicans. Is this what we’ve become, children throwing tantrums when we don’t get our way?

From the article at sfgate.com:

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders says he learned from the mistakes President Obama made in his first term — they taught him that if he wins the White House, he won’t be able to compromise with Republicans in Congress.

“I think a keen mistake that the president made is that he refused to recognize that reality — that these guys (Republicans) were never serious about compromise,” the presidential candidate said in a meeting with The Chronicle’s editorial board Tuesday.

“He kept extending an olive branch, and he kept getting his hand slapped,” Sanders said. 
“I do not believe that right-wing Republicans are prepared to work with a progressive president.”

The way to break that logjam, he said, is for people who support Sanders’ “political revolution” to contact their members of Congress directly.

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Ethan Explains TSA Government Spending 5/6/16

The Transportation Security Administration, better known as the TSA, is claiming they need yet more money or you’re going to suffer at the airport waiting in lines this summer. Do the government spending problems reflect your personal financial situation?

From The Hill:

“As we look ahead to the surge in summer travel, we will continue to consider a number of other steps to ensure enhanced aviation security while also maximizing efficiency at check points,” Johnson said in a statement.

But he emphasized that some of these steps are going to require money. 
He called on Congress to reallocate fiscal 2016 funding to pay for overtime for security officers and fulfill other “critical short-term needs.” 

“These funds will allow TSA to expand the work hours of screening officers in peak periods at high volume airports,” Johnson said.

Congress may be reluctant to pump more money into the agency, which has come under fire for high-profile security lapses and been plagued by reports of mismanagement at the senior level.

But with constituents spending as long as three hours in security lines and 600 passengersmissing flights in one day, lawmakers — who fly regularly themselves — may be nudged to address the issue in some capacity.

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Ethan Explains Vote Your Conscience 5/4/16

Ted Cruz drops out of the race after Donald J. Trump won Indiana. Bernie Sanders beat Hillary Clinton in Indiana, yet Sec. Clinton is still the presumptive nominee. I say vote your conscience in the primary, regardless of what everyone else is saying who will win.

From Nate Silver‘s FiveThirtyEight:

The Democratic race remains fundamentally unchanged after tonight’s win by Sanders. 
Yes, his victory was somewhat surprising, given that all of the polls had Clinton winning and by an average of 7 percentage points. 
And yes, Sanders has promised to fight on in the primary until perhaps the convention. 
The problem for the Sanders campaign remains delegate math and demographics.

And

The psychology of Democratic voters continues to look detached from the reality of delegate math. 
Trump and Clinton are both pretty much presumptive nominees at this point, but Trump is winning Indiana with about 51 percent of the vote tonight while Clinton is taking only 47 percent and could end up even lower. 
As Trump consolidates Republican support, it’s more apparent than ever that Clinton needs a strong Sanders endorsement to unite the Democratic base.

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Ethan Explains Puppy People 4/28/16

Meet the newest member of the #Bearman family – #havanese #dog #puppy #adorable

A photo posted by Ethan Bearman (@ethanbearman) on

There is a new puppy in my family. We love her dearly, but puppies are a lot of work, like a newborn baby. Why people fail with puppies is a microcosm of many of humanity’s ills. What do you think?

Here is what Cesar Milan says about your new puppy:

New puppy owners often make the mistake of endlessly worrying about finding the right accessories, puppy treats, or bed. 
They spend little or no time thinking about how or what they will teach their new puppy. 
Yes, a puppy needs nutritious food and a safe, warm place to live, but another equally powerful and important biological necessity is the need for a strong pack leader.

Puppies are naturally hard-wired to follow a pack leader. 
A pack leader is, by definition, strong, stable, and consistent; traits many new puppy owners forget. 
Many of my clients are strong leaders in their jobs, but when they come home, they turn to mush with their dogs. 
Then they come to me puzzled as to why their dog won't behave.

Puppies sense our confidence levels and will take control if they perceive us as weak. 
When this happens, bad behaviors, such as excessive barking, chewing, leash-pulling, or anxiety, will develop.

The most important thing you can do is become your puppy’s pack leader. 
This role doesn’t begin when your dog is six months old or when he’s bad; it should be maintained throughout the entire dog training experience. 
For your new puppy to grow into a healthy, balanced dog, you must demonstrate leadership from day one!

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Ethan Explains Apple’s Drop 4/27/16

Apple announced their first drop in sales since 2003 and revenue fell 13%. Why does this happen and who will be the tech visionary in Silicon Valley to replace Steve Jobs?

From Fortune:

Along with confirming a widely predicted decline in iPhones sales during the first three months of the year, Apple on Tuesday reported its first drop in quarterly revenue on an annual basis since 2003. But the whole point of quarterly earnings is to glean information we didn’t already know.

So here are a few pieces of new information that are worth pondering as investors try to decide whether the most valuable U.S. public company is headed for a torturous decline or about to emerge triumphant again.

CEO Tim Cook didn’t sound worried on the company’s call with analysts. “The future of Apple is very bright,” he said while alluding to exciting but unspecified new products.
In recent years, most of Apple’s sales growth has come from China, but that engine too has greatly slowed. Apple said its China sales shrunk by more than a quarter to $12.5 billion. The rate of growth had already slipped to 14% last quarter’s from jumps of 99%, 112%, and 71% in the three prior quarter. Further, the challenges are increasing after China forced Apple to shut downits iBooks store and iTunes movie service last week after just six months in operation, reducing the appeal of the iOS ecosystem there.

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Ethan Explains Voter ID Laws 4/26/16

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed a bill restricting the legality of local IDs for voting purposes (Voter ID). What is the right answer for balancing election integrity and ensuring legal citizens can vote? I provide the answer here in the video.

Share your comments below!

This is the link for the study “Do non-citizens vote in U.S. elections?” referenced in the video – https://goo.gl/z9WcRb

From the study:

Our exploration of non-citizen voting in the 2008 presidential election found that most non-citizens did not register or vote in 2008, but some did. The proportion of noncitizens
who voted was less than fifteen percent, but significantly greater than zero. Similarly in 2010 we found that more than three percent of non-citizens reported voting.

These results speak to both sides of the debate concerning non-citizen enfranchisement. They support the claims made by some anti-immigration organizations
that non-citizens participate in U.S. elections. In addition, the analysis suggests that non-citizens' votes have changed significant election outcomes including the
assignment of North Carolina's 2008 electoral votes, and the pivotal Minnesota Senate victory of Democrat Al Franken in 2008.

However, our results also support the arguments made by voting and immigrant rights organizations that the portion of non-citizen immigrants who participate in U.S.
elections is quite small. Indeed, given the extraordinary efforts made by the Obama and McCain campaigns to mobilize voters in 2008, the relatively small portion of noncitizens
who voted in 2008 likely exceeded the portion of non-citizens voting in other recent U.S. elections.

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Ethan Explains High Heels 4/25/16

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My Millenial baristas knew very little of Prince (may he rest in peace) but asked about his high heels. So I share a little story about my experience in high heels and admiration of women who choose to wear them.

From CBS Los Angeles:

Prince also set fashion trends as the prince of style.
The jackets, pants, the ensembles. And the shoes.
Since the beginning of the 80s, the shoes were designed and made on Sunset Boulevard — at Andre No. 1.
The owner told Paige that nearly all of Prince’s 3,000 pairs of shoes are identical — with the exception of color.
Each pair had to match the fabric and color of the clothes he was wearing.
“The only thing he would change about his shoes were either it would be a wood heel or the same material would cover the heel or he would have a Lucite heel that flashes lights,” said Gary Kazanchyan.
“He wanted the shoes to be as light as possible and also as durable as possible because you never know when hes going to start doing splits,” said Kazanchyan.
That’s why the brace was made of stainless steel — it’s light and strong.

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