Friday, April 23, 2010

Research says you can nap in school now...

But WAIT until after MY class so the "science" can take effect...
From BBC:  Dreams 'can help with learning'
Napping after learning something new could help you commit it to memory - as long as you dream, scientists say.  They found people who dream about a new task perform it better on waking than those who do not sleep or do not dream. Volunteers were asked to learn the layout of a 3D computer maze so they could find their way within the virtual space several hours later. Those allowed to take a nap and who also remembered dreaming of the task, found their way to a landmark quicker.
The researchers think the dreams are a sign that unconscious parts of the brain are working hard to process information about the task.
Dr Robert Stickgold of Harvard Medical School, one of the authors of the paper, said dreams may be a marker that the brain is working on the same problem at many levels.
He said: "The dreams might reflect the brain's attempt to find associations for the memories that could make them more useful in the future."
Study tips
Co-author Dr Erin Wamsley said the study suggests our non-conscious brain works on the things that it deems are most important. "Every day we are gathering and encountering tremendous amounts of information and new experiences," she said.
"It would seem that our dreams are asking the question, 'How do I use this information to inform my life?"
The research, published in the academic journal Cell Biology, could have practical implications.
The scientists say there may be ways to take advantage of this phenomenon for improving learning and memory.
For example, students might be better studying hard before bedtime, or taking a nap after a period of afternoon study.

Comic books and Game Theory---Death or Cooperation---you choose!

A couple of examples HERE and HERE of using comic book super-hero situations to lean about the AP Microeconomics topic of Game Theory.  Something I failed to do adequately in class yesterday...Gotta brush up for Monday to finish the semester on a strong note...(HT: Valuingeconomics...)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

US Dollar Exchange Rate relative to the Zimbawean Dollar---There is NO bigger number than this...

So tragic for the people of Zimbabwe who did not have to suffer this indignity, but the currency situation is laughable...Make sure you check the exchange rate relative to the US Dollar...
The Economist:  FEW Zimbabweans are excited by the 30th anniversary of independence from Britain. The southern African country was born in turmoil: a civil war, international sanctions and an economic slump in the 1970s had followed an earlier declaration of independence by Ian Smith, who led a regime of white settlers. Turmoil has continued under Smith's successors, Canaan Banana until 1987, and now Robert Mugabe. The 1980s and 1990s saw relative success for the economy, as commercial farmers boosted exports of tobacco, maize and other crops and small manufacturers prospered. But as Mr Mugabe came under pressure to quit, his seizure of farms, reckless printing of money and the emigration of the most educated and productive workers led to economic collapse. Hyperinflation and the destruction of the Zimbabwean dollar as a viable currency culminated in 2009 with the dollarisation of the economy.

Monday, April 19, 2010

You have the right! To fight! Annnnnddddd go on vacation?????? Huh?

If the notion of a right can be dumbed-downed enough to apply to "tourism", then I guess it can mean anything...Not against a countries wish to subsidize travel, I guess it is their "right", I give up...

From The Sunday Times April 18, 2010:  Get packing: Brussels decrees holidays are a human right
""AN overseas holiday used to be thought of as a reward for a year’s hard work. Now Brussels has declared that tourism is a human right and pensioners, youths and those too poor to afford it should have their travel subsidised by the taxpayer.
Under the scheme, British pensioners could be given cut-price trips to Spain, while Greek teenagers could be taken around disused mills in Manchester to experience the cultural diversity of Europe.
The idea for the subsidised tours is the brainchild of Antonio Tajani, the European Union commissioner for enterprise and industry, who was appointed by Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister.
The scheme, which could cost hundreds of millions of pounds a year, is intended to promote a sense of pride in European culture, bridge the north-south divide in the continent and prop up resorts in their off-season....""

POP goes the bubble---Graphic on the rise of housing in our economy since 1963...Quite dramatic!

The housing industry represents a large portion of our economy.  Think of all the goods and services (hence jobs) that are dedicated, directly and indirectly, to building new houses.  It is quite a pipeline!  Question: Do we have an over-allocation of resources to the home building market?  This graph shows the vast increase in housing starts in the mid to late 1990's and accelerating in the 2000's.  Why the sudden surge?  It is still a subject of controversy (Govt policies towards homeownership, Federal Reserve loose money policy, Wall Street greed,  individual "greed", etc)  Do we need to implement policies to prevent the "too many eggs in the  housing basket"? What do you think????


Out of Control Doctor--So much humor here--take your choice of double entendres

This is THE MOST out of control doctor I have ever heard of...Poor patient, but there is too much going on here to not notice...

Surgeon cut off testicle 'by mistake' at Bury hospital
A patient lost a testicle during an operation because the surgeon cut it off by mistake, a General Medical Council (GMC) hearing has been told.  Dr Sulieman Al Hourani was only supposed to cut out a cyst, but removed the whole right testicle instead. Dr Al Hourani was a locum surgeon at Fairfield General Hospital in Bury, Greater Manchester, at the time of the surgery in September 2007. He is accused of misconduct and also of stealing medication. It is alleged the doctor, who is now practising in Jordan and was not present at the hearing, also injected himself with a drug meant for a patient.  Sarah Prichard, counsel for the GMC, said the mistake was made as a nurse helping the surgeon turned her back to get a stitch.  When she turned around the testicle had been removed. Doctor dismissed Ms Prichard said: "Literally as the nurse turned away to get a transfixion stitch, the incident occurred and the testicle was removed. "Such was the level of concern they immediately realised it could be a serious medical incident and took steps to complete the relevant documentation." A month later it is alleged that the doctor, who qualified after studying at Jordan University of Science and Technology, stole two boxes of dihydrocodeine from a treatment room on a ward at the same hospital.  An investigation was launched and the doctor was dismissed by his employer, Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, which ran the hospital. The GMC was told of another incident in August 2006, when Dr Al Hourani had consulted a colleague and was advised to inject a patient with 10 milligrams (mg) of midazolam, a powerful sedative drug. He then gave the patient 8mg and injected himself with the other 2mg, the hearing was told.  The case against Dr Al Hourani is being heard in his absence as he was notified of the hearing but chose not to "engage" with the GMC or appoint lawyers to represent him.  The case, scheduled to last three weeks, was adjourned until Tuesday.

I like my coffee beans UNDIGESTED, please...

To rich for my taste...give me good ol's non-animal digested coffee beans. Maybe I am old fashioned or not sophisicated enough to get it...

NYTIMES: From Dung to Coffee Brew With No Aftertaste

...Reaching a valley where coffee trees were growing abundantly, he scanned the undergrowth where he knew the animals would relax after picking the most delicious coffee cherries with their claws and feasting on them with their fangs. His eyes settled on a light, brownish clump atop a rock. He held it in his right palm and, gently slipping it into a little black pouch, whispered:
Not quite. But Mr. Sibayan’s prize was the equivalent in the world of rarefied coffees: dung containing the world’s most expensive coffee beans.
Costing hundreds of dollars a pound, these beans are found in the droppings of the civet, a nocturnal, furry, long-tailed catlike animal that prowls Southeast Asia’s coffee-growing lands for the tastiest, ripest coffee cherries. The civet eventually excretes the hard, indigestible innards of the fruit — essentially, incipient coffee beans — though only after they have been fermented in the animal’s stomach acids and enzymes to produce a brew described as smooth, chocolaty and devoid of any bitter aftertaste.
As connoisseurs in the United States, Europe and East Asia have discovered civet coffee in recent years, growing demand is fueling a gold rush in the Philippines and Indonesia, the countries with the largest civet populations. Harvesters are scouring forest floors in the Philippines, where civet coffee has emerged as a new business. In Indonesia, where the coffee has a long history, enterprising individuals are capturing civets and setting up minifarms, often in their backyards.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

How much water does it take to make a variety of goods?? Nice resource for a project..

If you have a project about water as a resource, this is a REALLY terrific interactive graph showing how much water is used directly and indirectly to produce a variety of basic goods...Click HERE and scroll down about half the page...

"Can you hear me now?"---not everyone cares about phone coverage..

Can anyone else see the Irony?

Does anyone else see the irony in these two articles, one above the other, in the WSJ today?  Nuanced, but says volumes...

Ecuador Demands More Oil Revenue
Ecuador, following in the footsteps of its ally Venezuela, has threatened to expropriate the holdings of foreign oil companies unless they agree to hand over more oil revenue to the cash-strapped government.

China Gives Venezuela $20 Billion
China will provide $20 billion in fresh funding to Venezuela, the latest sign of the Asian giant's expanding economic and financial role in Latin America

Is there profit in the destruction caused by the Volcano? Here is a reminder from Bastiat about that...

Frederic Bastiat wrote about "The Broken Window Fallacy" in the mid-1800's.  It is still applicable today and it STILL is misused by politicians, and the public alike, to equate damage/destruction to "encouraging industry". Be on the look-out in the media for suggestions that "there may be profit in destruction".  I am certain you will see many references...
Have you ever been witness to the fury of that solid citizen, James Goodfellow,*1 when his incorrigible son has happened to break a pane of glass? If you have been present at this spectacle, certainly you must also have observed that the onlookers, even if there are as many as thirty of them, seem with one accord to offer the unfortunate owner the selfsame consolation: "It's an ill wind that blows nobody some good. Such accidents keep industry going. Everybody has to make a living. What would become of the glaziers if no one ever broke a window?"

....From which, by generalizing, we arrive at this unexpected conclusion: "Society loses the value of objects unnecessarily destroyed," and at this aphorism, which will make the hair of the protectionists stand on end: "To break, to destroy, to dissipate is not to encourage national employment," or more briefly: "Destruction is not profitable."
What will the Moniteur industriel say to this, or the disciples of the estimable M. de Saint-Chamans,*3 who has calculated with such precision what industry would gain from the burning of Paris, because of the houses that would have to be rebuilt?

I paid WAY MORE Federal Taxes than General Electric did...Guessin' you did too!!

I paid WAY MORE Federal Taxes than General Electric did...Guessin' you did too!!

From CNN :GE: 7,000 tax returns, $0 U.S. tax bill
General Electric filed more than 7,000 income tax returns in hundreds of global jurisdictions last year, but when push came to shove, the company owed the U.S. government a whopping bill of $0.  How'd it pull off that trick? By losing lots of money. GE had plenty of earnings last year -- just not in the United States. For tax purposes, the company's U.S. operations lost $408 million, while its international businesses netted a $10.8 billion profit.
That left GE (GE, Fortune 500) with no U.S. profit left for Uncle Sam to tax. Corporations typically face a 35% federal income tax on their earnings. Thanks to its deductions and adjustments, GE reported an actual U.S. federal income tax rate of negative 10.5%. It got to add a "tax benefit" of $1.1 billion back into its reported earnings.
"This is the first time in at least decades that GE has reported negative U.S. pretax income and it reflects the worst economy since the Great Depression," Anne Eisele, GE's director of financial communications, said via e-mail.
But what about the $10.8 billion profit overseas? GE is "indefinitely" deferring income tax payments on those profits, Eisele said.  It may seem like accounting magic, but it's completely legit.
GE isn't the only "Top 5" company on this year's Fortune 500 list that owed no income taxes. Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500), which suffered major losses in 2009, included a tax benefit of $1.9 billion in its annual profit.
"That's one way of escaping taxes," said Scott Hodge, president of the Tax Foundation. "Companies get to deduct their losses, so if there's no earnings, then they pay no income tax."
But GE isn't exactly escaping all tax-related pain: The company paid almost $23 billion in taxes to governments around the world from 2000 to 2009, Eisele said.  Plus, paying the accountants to crank out 7,000 tax returns can't be cheap. 
And then there's all the lawyers needed to defend those returns. GE filed tax paperwork in more than 250 jurisdictions around the world last year. "We are under examination or engaged in tax litigation in many of these jurisdictions," the company dryly notes in its annual report.
GE may not owe the IRS, but it still has to file -- and its filings are epic.
In 2006, as the IRS ramped up its corporate e-filing program, the tax agency actually issued a celebratory press release when it processed GE's tax return. On paper, the return -- the nation's largest -- would have totaled a massive 24,000 pages. But instead, the IRS was able to upload the 237 MB document in under an hour.  Reading it, though, is apparently taking a bit longer. The IRS is currently auditing GE's tax returns for 2003-2007.

Record time in clearing a check...Great job IRS!

Has to be a record for check clearing...I went to the post office and MAILED (regular, no reciept) my tax return on Tuesday, April 13th AFTER schoo at about 4:30pm. THIS morning SUNDAY, April 18th the check I had to write is shown as cashed in my checking account.. I assume this had to have been cleared before the close of bank business on Friday...Efficiency is back in government and the IRS is setting the example...Can this be good??
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