Saturday, May 15, 2010

Do you ACTUALLY make phone calls with your cell phone? If you do, you are in the minority...

We do not have a landline phone (you know, one that plugs into the wall) in our home anymore.  We have cellphones as our primary home and mobile telephony devices.  How about you?  This article in the NYTIMES make the point that we have passed the point where we now collectively use our phones MORE for other uses than simply making a phone call:
""Instead of talking on their cellphones, people are making use of all the extras that iPhones, BlackBerrys and other smartphones were also designed to do — browse the Web, listen to music, watch television, play games and send e-mail and text messages. The number of text messages sent per user increased by nearly 50 percent nationwide last year, according to the CTIA, the wireless industry association. And for the first time in the United States, the amount of data in text, e-mail messages, streaming video, music and other services on mobile devices in 2009 surpassed the amount of voice data in cellphone calls, industry executives and analysts say.""

Professor Mark Perry at Carpe Diem makes an ironic point about this process of "creative destruction" but in reverse(??)...
""Isn't it interesting that historically the telephone replaced the telegraph, and talking on the phone replaced sending telegrams as the preferred method of communication. Now with the popularity of using phones for text messages and emails, it's almost like going back to sending telegrams by phone instead of talking on the phone.""

Friday, May 14, 2010

World's First Gold Dispensing Machine---Watch your fingers!!!

"""This Wednesday saw the official opening of the world’s first permanent gold-dispensing vending machine. Created by German company TG Gold-Super-Markt, the GOLD To Go ATM is located (unsurprisingly) in the lavish Emirates Palace Hotel, in Abu Dhabi. Gold has strengthened 13 percent in 2010 following nine straight annual gains, so now when hotel guests want to exchange their cash for something a little more economically-stable, they won’t have to bother with gold store clerks or business hours.
A computer inside the ATM keeps track of gold prices in real time, and prices its gold accordingly. Because it has less overhead costs than a store, TG Gold-Super-Markt claims the machine is able to offer “very competitive prices.” Besides dispensing 24-carat gold bars in 1, 5 and 10 gram sizes, the ATM also offers gift boxes of gold coins bearing symbols such as the Krugerrand, a maple leaf, or a kangaroo - perhaps market research showed that South Africans, Canadians and Australians like gold? Interestingly, there’s no American eagle."""

A Penny for your thoughts...unless that Penny costs 1.62 cents to make...

Nice example of interest group politics getting in the way of "good" economics...I support the President on this one....
""Those pennies and nickels in your pocket cost more to manufacture than they are worth. That's why the Obama administration wants to use cheaper materials -- possibly an aluminum alloy -- to make the coins.
"Making coins from more cost-effective materials could save more than $100 million a year, which isn't just pocket change," said Dan Tangherlini, the Treasury Department's chief financial officer.
But some businesses, particularly vending machine owners and laundromat owners, are preparing to fight the administration plan to downgrade nickels. They're worried that any change in weight and metal content would require expensive overhauling or even replacement of their machines, The Los Angeles Times reported.
"We're all taxpayers, and we're all in favor of being able to mint coins at a more reasonable cost," Brian Wallace, president of the Coin Laundry Association, told the Times. "But we want to make sure there aren't unintended consequences that could deeply impact the small business owner during a recession."
Last year a penny cost 1.62 cents to manufacture. The nickel (which contains more copper than actual nickel) costs 5.79 cents.""

Donate a shirt or shoes and destroy a business in Africa...STOP this madness please!!!

No good deed goes unpunished...OR is it a good deed?  There seems to be a consensus in the international aid business that, no matter the good intentions, people who collect a variety of goods to send to poor countries are really hurting more than helping...Click HERE for original story from TIME Magazine "Bad Charity? "All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt!)"
In the history of foreign aid, it looked pretty harmless: a young Florida businessman decided to collect a million shirts and send them to poor people in Africa. Jason Sadler just wanted to help. He thought he'd start with all the leftover T-shirts from his advertising company, I Wear Your Shirt. But judging by the response Sadler got from a group of foreign aid bloggers, you'd think he wanted to toss squirrels into wood chippers or steal lunch boxes from fourth-graders.
Little did Sadler know he had stumbled into a debate that is raging in the aid world about the best and worst ways to deliver charity, or whether to give at all. He crashed up against a rather simple theory that returned to prominence after aid failures following the 2004 Asian tsunami and 2010 Haiti earthquake: wanting to do something to help is no excuse for not knowing the consequences of what you're doing.
 Dumping "free" goods that are readily available in these countries (yes, there are LOTS of viable industries/businesses in ALL parts of Africa) have negative consequences on the local economies...
But why gang up on a guy who just wants to help clothe people in Africa? First, because it's not that hard to get shirts in Africa. Flooding the market with free goods could bankrupt the people who already sell them. Donating clothing is a sensitive topic in Africa because many countries' textile industries collapsed under the weight of secondhand-clothing imports that were introduced in the 1970s and '80s. "First you have destroyed these villages' ability to be industrious and produce cotton products, and then you're saying, 'Can I give you a T-shirt?' and celebrating about it?" says James Shikwati, director of the Nairobi-based Inter Region Economic Network, a think tank. "It's really like offering poison coated with sugar."
Mr. Sadler has relented and is not going to send the shirts to Africa. He is going to raise money with them or donated them to local charities...

Sadler has proven flexible: he says he is listening to his critics and no longer plans to send the shirts to Africa. He says he will find another way to use the T-shirts he collects, possibly for disaster relief, giving them to homeless shelters or using them to create other goods. He says any profits would then "go back to the company's goal of helping foster sustainability." And judging by the response on the Web, he's getting a lot of donations. "I've since listened to a lot of these people," he says. "I want to change this thing into something that's better, that's more helpful and that listens to the people that have the experience that I don't have."
This story is just representative of the whole "problem" of foreign aid, BUT I believe the model is changing for the better.  Aid is necessary for immediate relief to save lives---NO question about that. However, when it extends beyond that scope you risk the unintended consequences of imposing harm on local  industries and entrepreneurship, and that is the only real hope for life beyond subsistance level in developing countries.


Economics Majors rank #2 in pay!!! Get you some!!!

Just a plug for Economics as a major...Number 2 on the payscale!!!  A very flexible degree and can take you in many different directions. It trains you to think about resources in non-traditional ways...

2. Economics. A pretty ubiquitous myth is that economics is all statistics and math. The fact is, while economics majors do a lot of statistics and math, they also study a wide range of topics, including social science, psychology, political science and history. Alan Metzer, even said: "economics is a social science." There are plenty of humanitarian efforts you can make in this line of work, as economists are needed to create public policy -- domestically and internationally.

Average first year salary: $50,200. Average mid-career salary: $101,000. 
Go HERE to see number 1...

Mr Huston's family is now legal and can eat Thanksgiving dinner in peace...

Mr. Huston's family will no longer have to break the law for Thanksgiving dinner  (if they happen to be in Georgia)....
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Georgia is one of the top 10 states in the country in deer-related auto accidents. Now, drivers can get some just desserts – or dinner. The Senate gave final passage to SB 474, which allows drivers to keep any bear or deer that they might run over. The so-called Road Kill Bill, carried by Sen. Don Thomas of Dalton, passed 47-0. “This is hot of the grill,” Thomas said, tongue planted firmly in cheek. “And I urge you to support it.” According to the bill, “Any person may take possession of native wildlife which has been killed by a motor vehicle.”---Source: Division of Labour

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Would you buy a $9 Million dollar house that will be soon underwater? Did not think so, but someone did...

If you thought that because of climate change the oceans will rise and consume a good portion of the coastlines, would you buy a $9 million dollar house/property on the coastline?  Seems like a bad investment OR you dont really believe that the coastlines are going to become part of the ocean anytime soon OR you believe you have solved the problem.  I am not questioning the validity of climate change, but do question the motives of self-appointed gurus of any sort...I am guessing that leaders of the environmental movement do not approve of this either, so I dont believe I am being partisan on this issue....Cant people ACTUALLY lead by example?? Just askin'...
""It is reported that former Vice President Al Gore just purchased a villa in Montecito, California for $8.875 million. The exact address is not revealed, but Montecito is a relatively narrow strip bordering the Pacific Ocean. So its minimum elevation above sea level is 0 feet, while its overall elevation is variously reported at 50ft and 180ft.At the same time, Mr. Gore prominently sponsors a campaign and award-winning movie that warns that, due to Global Warming, we can expect to see nearby ocean-front locations, such as San Francisco, largely under water. The elevation of San Francisco is variously reported at 52ft up to high of 925ft. There being very little reason to suppose that the Pacific Ocean would (or could) rise much less in Montecito than in San Francisco, it follows that Mr. Gore just paid nearly $9 million for property, which according to his professed beliefs, will likely soon be literally under water and hence worthless both as a residence and for resale""....(Click HERE for rest of the story)
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