Student Loan Forgiveness, ESG Green Shades, Bitcoin Ponzi Scheme, First Conference AC (After Covid)

Another TBB post featuring the most eclectic links around the web such as more details on student loan forgiveness, ESG green shades, Bitcoin ponzi scheme per Paul Krugman, finally my first conference AC (After Covid), tips for health and wealth, most underrated destinations, best mountain towns, funky hotels, Ukraine on the attack, more Covid boosters, fall foliage map, Diego Maradona, another escape from Afghanistan, amazing animals and the most important action in the quirky and addictive frequent flyer miles and points world.

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This blog publishes every Friday these days…

Best of Web articles are truly exceptional and MUST reads in their entirety, imho.

Welcome to all new blog readers from George, your diligent curator of the BEST web content I find and share with you. No ads, no clickbait, just amazing content I discover along with my sometimes witty and seldom incendiary commentary.

PERSONAL FINANCE

As interest rates go up, the interest earned on your cash is also going up. Two sites you can use to keep track of them are: Deposit Accounts and RateBrain.

There is a lot of media attention on the student loan forgiveness plan: Do you make too much for student loan forgiveness? Here’s how to figure out whether you qualify. It is going to be complicated which leads us to the next article…

Best of Web: Why Aren’t Student Loans Simple? Because This Is America. The complexity in the tax code and so many government programs is insane and extremely frustrating. In the late 90s working at Deloitte CPA firm I made a prediction that simplification is coming in the tax code and we tax accountants will be out of a job…and pivoted to the wealth management industry myself. Well, I was a little bit off lol…as complexity has continued to plague us all! Anyway, this article captures the madness well. Instead of making higher education free, we subsidize it later through repayment plans and attempts at debt cancellation. The complexity is disrespectful. Archived Link.

There are many financial professionals salesmen whose only job is to shove financial products to your faces which will be absolutely great for their own pockets instead of the people who buy them. From whole life insurance, to variable and equity index annuities, to structured products to hedge funds to…the list is endless! Lately, there is a lot of hype about all things ESG, which stands for Environmental, Social and Governance. I mean, the premise is great…invest in companies that do good should end up being profitable to you and if not…at least you made the world a better place! But of course the devil is in the details and this a good article laying it all out: Shades of Green. This is my main beef with it…and of course the industry justifying higher fees to impose their subjective “screens”…

Perhaps the biggest challenge with ESG investing is that it means different things to different people. The acronym itself, in fact, illustrates the diversity of objectives among investors. A good example is Apple. Some ESG investors like the company because it’s very charitable. But Apple frustrates environmentalists because its products don’t have replaceable batteries. Result: It’s impossible to say whether Apple is a “good” company or a “bad” one. It’s in the eye of the beholder.

Some great tips here: Forty-One Quick Tips For Health, Happiness, and Wealth. Some of my favorites are:

Money’s purpose is to bring joy to others and fund contentment. Possessions are a front-row seat to a never-ending trip on the hedonic treadmill.

Politicians, sports figures, and celebrities couldn’t give a crap about you. Stop caring so much about them.

Set a good example for your kids. They’ll remember what you do, not what you say.

Never underestimate luck’s role. You have ZERO control over where/when you’re born and your parent’s identity.

Lifelong learning is the antidote to dissatisfaction.

Avoid taking yourself so seriously. If pediatric cancer workers and front-line soldiers can find time to make jokes, so can you.

Ignore the iron laws of compounding at your peril. Compound your wealth, health, and emotional well-being.

CRYPTO

I do not agree with everything Paul Krugman says…but he has been consistently anti crypto which I find admirable. And these are great: Nobel laureate Paul Krugman has slammed bitcoin as pointless, wasteful, and in large part a Ponzi scheme. Here are the economist’s 12 best quotes about crypto over the past decade. I had a really hard time picking my favorite. Okay, here is the most recent one then:

“The way I see it, crypto evolved into a sort of postmodern pyramid scheme. The industry lured investors in with a combination of technobabble and libertarian derp; it used some of that cash flow to buy the illusion of respectability, which brought in even more investors. And for a while, even as the risks multiplied, it became, in effect, too big to regulate.” (“Crypto Is Crashing. Where Were the Regulators?“) (July 11, 2022)

TRAVEL

I like these types of lists because I am just curious what shows up in them. Never take them too seriously ok? 22 of the USA’s most underrated destinations.  I mean, Buffalo NY?

I like this list a little better: The Best Mountain Towns to Visit in America. A client of mine just raves about Telluride, Colorado.

Let’s go way out in space, you know, the truth is out there! Europa & Io moons orbiting Jupiter, captured by the Cassini space probe. Amazing!

Most of these hotels have been featured here in blog posts over the ten years my blog has been in existence: 35 Funky, Quirky And Unique Hotels From All Over The World. Anyone stayed in any of them? Let us know in the comments.

Nasir-Ol-Molk Mosque, Also Known As Pink Mosque, A Traditional Shiraz Mosque, Iran
Nasir-Ol-Molk Mosque, Also Known As Pink Mosque, A Traditional Shiraz Mosque, Iran. Yes, I have been here!

UKRAINE RUSSIA WAR

I try to be balanced. And not get carried away always mindful that I don’t get the full picture and, let’s face it, most of the media I am consuming about the war is pro-Ukrainian. But, we all must admit that what we have been witnessing all this week is a masterful plan and execution by them delivering a whole lot of hurt to the Russians. I mean, they faked them they are going all in to recapture Kherson only to have them make huge progress in the East. I don’t know…but this is not looking good for Putin. Who banks that the Europeans will break…if only his army can hold out until the winter comes! Anyway, I have been with the Ukrainians from the start and when I see such scenes of liberation I get emotional!

Putin is just scrambling all around. When you go to Iran to buy drones and to North Korea to buy back your decades old ammunition…something is wrong! It’s the tech stupid! The chips are down: Putin scrambles for high-tech parts as his arsenal goes up in smoke. Journalist got her hands on a list of chips the Russians are looking to buy wow.

Best of Web: You also need to be aware that most of the Russian casualties are not Russians from Moscow and Saint Petersburg. It is non ethnic minorities from all over the still vast country. This Twitter thread will educate you, it is amazing: 1/ Why have Russia’s non-Russian ethnic minorities joined the Russian army in large numbers to fight in Putin’s wars? A fascinating and sad interview of a reindeer herder turned contract soldier helps to explain.

COVID-19

I had my 5th shot, the new Omicron booster. Very smooth delivery, scheduled it online and was in and out of a Walgreens nearby. And then I went out and ran almost 10 miles. So, no issues at all…so far at least. With two trips coming up this month I thought I should just get it out of the way. But I am not sure it will start its protection magic right away…I think. My shot number #4 was back in early April. I have three Pfizer and two Moderna shots in me…maybe my 6th one is another Moderna to be even? 🙂 I refused the flu vaccine, I will do it in early October. Let me know in the comments if I am doing anything wrong, I don’t want to get knocked out…and then we will all miss this blog! Update: Second night after shot #5 I had fever…I think it must be working.

. I just thought it can’t hurt. Playing the odds…maybe all the shots have protected me from catching this virus?

ODDZ & ENDZ

This is pretty cool: 2022 Fall Foliage Prediction Map.

Best of Web: As a big fan of this sport, I was stunned when I learned that a colleague had never heard of Diego Maradona and his legendary Hand of God goal against England in the 1986 World Cup. And this article on him and his life is just absolutely wonderful, therefore the Best of Web designation. Recently, I came across the other Argentinian phenomenon Messi video as an 8 year old!

The New York Times Magazine had a feature on How To Do Everything. I checked out some of them and they are great, especially the ones how to save your life. I hope one day my blog can save a reader’s life! Archived Link.  Maybe when you get stuck in deep mud…this is how you get out of it!

Best of Web: Another amazing escape from Afghanistan story: How an Afghan Soccer Player Escaped the Taliban and Began a New Life.

Pacific Voyages is…out there. You just never know what is going to appear here. And this one is, well, out there big time…as it is about Amazing Animals. Like bears, hippos, leopard seals and gorillas. Actually, the video with the gorilla is a must click. I had seen it before and it still amazes me every time!

MILES & POINTS

HOT CREDIT CARD OFFERS: 80k CITI Premier, 60k CHASE Sapphire Preferred, 75k Capital One Venture X, 75k CHASE Ink Cash, 75k CHASE Ink Unlimited, 100k CHASE Ink Business Preferred, 60k CHASE World of Hyatt Visa, 60k CHASE Sapphire Reserve, 70k Bank of America Alaska Airlines Business Visa, 50k Bank of America Alaska Airlines Personal Visa, 20k CHASE Freedom Flex, up to 30k CHASE Freedom Unlimited, 140k IHG Rewards Premier AND 1 Free Night, 20k CITI Custom Cash, and many more, including many AmericanExpress cards, including Delta, Marriott and Hilton cards! Please check out my Affiliate links. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Visit to learn more. If you do not see a credit card with my affiliate links, perhaps I could refer you?

This section is about my hobby addiction of collecting frequent flyer miles and hotel points since the early 1990’s! Skip it if you are not into it!

As of today, I have burned 725,851 miles/points year to date and have 4,900,252 miles/points in the bank. Some do drugs, I do miles lol!

BEGINNERS

BASICS: This travel hacking hobby is mostly about getting the fat Signup Bonus of travel rewards credit cards while of course NEVER EVER carrying a balance. Banks have a marketing budget and are willing to give us many THOUSANDS of miles/points to travel mostly for free hoping to hook us to charge 20%+ interest rates on our balances. The poor souls who fall for their marketing paying these ludicrous interest rates end up subsidizing us responsible consumers who enjoy taking advantage of, cough, such bank marketing budgets! Some of us have been doing this for thirty years creating amazing travel memories…Feel free to ask me questions or post them in the comments.

BASICS: Prefer credit cards from the proprietary points programs of banks, such as Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Network, Capital One Rewards Miles because they are a lot more flexible and are not devalued as frequently. Over pure airline and hotel travel rewards credit cards. Pure cash back credit cards may work for you best and they are getting more valuable as airline and hotel loyalty programs keep getting devalued. Sometimes, a pure no annual fee 2% cash back card works best for simplicity!

If you wanted nothing to do with these miles and points churning related shenanigans and just wanted a no annual fee 2% cash back card, you can not go wrong with the Citi Double Cash Mastercard. And right now it has the highest Signup Bonus ever. Ok, it is only $200 but still it is the highest ever lol. It comes in the form of 20,000 ThankYou Points which you can cash out for $200 if you decide not to transfer them to any of the ThankYou airline and hotel transfer partners. Available here under CardIssuer/Citi.

Citi Double Cash now featuring $200 welcome bonus

The minimum travel rewards Signup Bonus to jump on is now 50,000 imho, here is a list of some of the current offers:

 NEW: The 10 Best Credit Card Offers for Travelers in September 2022

TOP TRAVEL REWARDS SIGNUP BONUS CARDS

Master Guide to Credit Card Applications: All the Rules You Need to Know, Bank by Bank 

Citibank increased the Signup Bonus for the Citi Premier card from 60,000 to 80,000 Thank You points. Annual fee is $95 and the minimum spend to score the Signup Bonus is $4k in the first three months. The Citi Premier card has a solid earning structure as it earns 3 points per dollar on gas/groceries/dining/travel and 1 point on everything else. Of course, you can transfer your points to mostly foreign airlines and JetBlue. Or you can cash out at one cent per point. Therefore, 80,000 points means $800 less $95 annual fee——-> BOOM, here is $705 in your pocket, you need this $$$ to pay for gas! Read the newbies paragraph above and always think…taking advantage of bank marketing budgets! Available , thank you!

NEWS/PROMOS/MY ACTION

ADVANCED TRAVEL HACKING

I am not sure we are all ready for this dude to be King…






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