By Haddon Libby

With this week being smack dab right in the middle of the dog days of August, why not kick off the hottest and muggiest part of the year with the start of school.  Nothing helps our children learn more than going to school on a hot and muggy, 108-degree day.

Rather than writing this week’s article about any one particular topic, this week is meant for those looking for little stories to get a conversation going with.

Discussing politics can be the third rail of discussions – particularly with colleagues or clients.  In general, harmony is best kept by avoiding politics.


If the conversation turns toward politics, here is a question that virtually all will agree on – “How can the two major political parties of this nation only produce Joe Biden and Donald Trump for eight years?!  If we want to throw in Hillary, make it twelve years!  We really need a ‘none of the above’ option.”  This question will find appeal to the woke left, delusional right and despondent rest of us.

If the conversation starts to drift toward an uncomfortable zone, bring up the Supreme Court. “How can the highest court in the land not have a code of conduct?”  This comes up as people are complaining that Clarence Thomas did something wrong in taking lavish trips and vacations with billionaire industrialist friends.  I like to be sarcastic so I would defend Thomas.  First, it is not like the Supreme Court have a code of conduct.  Second, they are the law.  Third, does anyone believe that Justice Thomas would hang out with us commoners or take a commercial flight?  The truth is that the Supreme Court only answers to itself and will not be held accountable.

Here is another one that most agree on: How can the Federal Government allow more than one million to cross the Mexican border when so many Americans are living on the streets?  Should we not help our neighbors before we can help those from other countries?

Another topic that always comes up relates to cars.  If discussing a twin-chassis, turbo-charged to go from 0 to 180 in 9.2 seconds with flame throwers off the back, is a little too testosterone-filled to be your cup of tea, talk about the traffic.

Traffic is the beigest of conversations.  You cannot get in trouble here. Most people believe that they are good drivers while everyone else sucks.  The beige stories that this line of conversation can invoke are endless.

If you want to add some meat to a conversation, bring up self-driving cars.  Just last week, California regulators approved Waymo and Cruise so that they can test self-driving cars on the streets of San Francisco.   Overall, forty companies have permits to test autonomous cars in San Francisco.  Just last year, these companies drove 1,051 cars 4.7 million miles as the technology was tested.  Apple is working on self-driving cars as Project Titan.  Amazon’s project is called Zoox.  To date, these cars have had a human supervising the driving from within the car.

If you want to up the ante, discuss flying cars.  In June, Alef Aeronautics received Federal Aviation Administration approval to test run its Model A on the roads and in the skies.  The Model A is an electric car with the ability to do a vertical liftoff and, just as importantly, land.  Once approved for sale, the company will sell each vehicle for $300,000 with an estimated delivery date of 2025.  It is estimated that the Model A will have a driving range of 200 miles and a flight range of 110 miles.  The drawback to driving is that the car has a max speed of 25 mph.

The parents amongst us are sure to have an awkward conversation or two with other parents at kick off events for the new school year.  If you have children who are in school, get involved.  One of the biggest issues with most valley schools is inadequate parent involvement.  If you want your children to have a better life than you, it starts with a good education.  Make a resolution to help your children learn and be successful at school this year.

Haddon Libby is the Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Winslow Draken Investment Management.  For more information on our services, please visit