Saturday, December 11, 2010

Louis CK appreciates Capitalism...Funny video on the things we take for granted (On Conan--the old show)

Here is a longer, audio version of the similar material...

Keller ISD Survey on when students should start making college plans...I COMPLETELY disagree with the most popular choice!!

Poll is on the homepage for Keller ISD and open to anyone who goes to it, so it is by NO means scientific.  I find the results interesting for a number of reasons. See my blog post from earlier today to get a feel for why I think this is not accurate. What do you think????

When do you think a student should start making plans for college?

Senior year (4130) (BLUE)
Junior year (667) (RED)
Sophomore year (497) (GREEN)
Freshman year or earlier (1411) (ORANGE)
Total Number of Responses: 6705

Find a niche and fill it...Rent the same Christmas tree for multiple years...

I never heard of this before---you can "rent" a live Christmas tree AND have the same one year after year!! It is delivered, picked up and stored for next year. See a niche and fill it--a virtue of the market-system...

""RENT A LIVING TREE THIS CHRISTMAS and have a live, potted tree delivered to your doorstep. It's fun, it's easy, and it's great for your home and the environment. Simply choose one of our varieties of locally-grown trees and we'll deliver it to your home or business. After Christmas we will pick up your tree and return it to our nursery until next year. You can even watch your tree grow as your family grows by adopting the same tree year-after-year.""

If you are a Senior and applying for College NOW, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE read these mistakes to avoid! The MOST important one is #2, followed by #1...

Number 2 is near and dear to my heart as an AP teacher and requires no explanation. It is self-evident, in my opinion.  Number 1 is the one we need to work on at our school.  I think too many students get this one wrong. Many are "accumulators" when it comes to extra-cirriculars.  "Quality is always better than quantity" when it comes to deciding which activities to engage in. If I was an admissions officer, I am sure I could see right through the application where the student is an officer is a gazillion clubs and volunteers more time than Mother Teresa could have in her lifetime. Pick one or two activities and GO DEEP with them! Get something substantial accomplished and that will show through...

Five mistakes to avoid on your college application

1. Being too 'well rounded'

For many parents this may come as a shock, but colleges don’t necessarily favor the students with the longest list of extracurricular activities.
“Right now, the buzz word is really being ‘angular,’ ” says Lee Bierer, an independent college adviser who runs College Admissions Strategies in Charlotte, N.C. “Colleges aren’t looking for what I call ‘serial joiners’ ” who simply show up at various club meetings, she says. “What they’re looking for is a sustained interest, a commitment, responsibility, taking on a leadership role, showing commitment.”

2. Taking the easy path

Some students worry so much about getting high grades that they don’t take courses that really challenge them.

“Colleges would rather see students earn a C in an AP course or a B in an honors course than all As in standard academic-level classes,” says Michael Curtis, a high school counselor in Bucks County, Pa., who created the college-planning portal.

Don’t just take his word for it. Seven out of 10 college and university admissions officials rated “strength of curriculum” as a top factor in applications, according to the 2010 College Admissions Report by the National Association of College Admission Counseling.

3. Lapses on the online apps

About 80 percent of college applications are done online now. The Common Application, accepted by about 400 colleges, also makes it easy to streamline the process.

But it’s a digital danger zone, too. Imagine being an admissions officer at Princeton and reading a passionate essay about how a student would be a perfect fit for ... Yale. Yes, in addition to spell-check horror stories, students still manage to send off applications with the wrong school’s name embedded in the text. Be sure to proofread. And proofread again.

Another common mistake with the Common Application: forgetting that some schools require supplemental essays. If you don’t submit a complete application, it won’t even get a reading.

4. Dime-a-dozen essays

Now that students are applying to more and more colleges, they run the risk of making their applications more generic,” says Michael Pelly, who oversees admissions and financial aid as a vice chancellor at Chapman University in California.

Answers to application questions should be specific and should reflect an understanding of why you would be a good fit at that particular college, he says, just as résumés are tailored when applying for jobs. It’s easy to spot cut-and-paste answers, he warns.

When writing a personal essay, pick a topic that shows how you tick or what you care deeply about, says college adviser Lee Bierer. So many students now take service-oriented trips, for instance, that it comes across as clichéd to write about how much more fortunate you are than you ever realized.

Her ears perked up recently when one advisee mentioned that he has spent half an hour a day for the past three years practicing to be ambidextrous, because he read somewhere that ambidextrous people are more successful. “That’s an essay topic, “ she says, “something not every other kid has done.”

5. Procrastinating

Do your homework early. Research career ideas and colleges with majors that could lead to careers that interest you.

Don’t wait until the week before a deadline to ask a teacher or a coach to give you a letter of recommendation.

Don’t show up at an interview without knowing enough about a school to explain why you’d make a great contribution there. A surprising number of students start chatting about their intended major only to find, in embarrassment, that the college they are interviewing for doesn’t even offer it.

Research costs and financial aid thoroughly, and as early as possible. “Never overlook a college simply because of the published cost,” says Kris Roach, director of admissions and financial aid at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. “For many students, what they pay out of pocket for a college education is very different than the published price because of merit-based scholarships and need-based financial aid.”

And don’t delay filing financial-aid paperwork. Some stend to be doled out on a first-come, first-served basis.chools may have rolling admissions, but their grants tend to be doled out on a first-come, first-served basis.

Something GOOD about the "Wikileaks" cables---Tell me again, WHY, I mean REALLY why do we buy diamonds? I don't get it...

All who know me, know that I am very "free"-market oriented, and don't believe in telling people what they can and can't buy, or bring to market. But, I don't get the purchasing of diamonds for personal use or display.  It is the ultimate luxury, "feel good" purchase/possession that appeals to our most selfish, inner desires.  Is that too strong?  If so, tell me where I am wrong.  What is the real purpose of diamonds for personal use, other than vanity?

Zimbabwe's 'Blood Diamonds' exposed by Wikileaks cable
""The Mugabe regime siezed the Marange fields in 2006 from African Consolidated Resources (ACR), a mining venture listed on London's AIM exchange. The site has since seen horrific violence as local panners were machine-gunned from helicopters or torn apart by attack dogs in a drama with echoes of the film Blood Diamond. "In a country filled with corrupt schemes, the diamond business in Zimbabwe is one of the dirtiest," said one cable in November 2008 entitled Regime Elites Looting Deadly Diamond Fields""....Washington keeps a close eye on Marange because of suspicions that diamonds are being sold to Lebanese traders acting for Al Qaeda. Terrorists rely on gems to move money because they are compact, and do not set off metal detectors.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The rich and famous were not always rich and famous---see what many of them did for "regular Joe/Josie" jobs to make ends meet...

Click on the link below to see what some of hollywood stars and other notables did before they struck it big...

The Humbling First Jobs of 25 Very Successful Celebrities and Business Leaders

""As a youngster, Depp donned makeup for his gig in a KISS tribute band and also dressed up as part of the faux B-52s, as well as Iggy Pop. Back then, Depp pocketed about $25 on bad nights; now he makes about $25 million per year.""

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Short video explanation of Bastiat's "Broken Window Fallacy"---So simple yet so powerful...

Tax Bill Compromise---What is in it and who supported it---nice, concise graphic that cuts to the chase...

Breaking down the tentative tax deal

Fiscal Stimulus $2.00 at a time...Is reducing the Payroll Tax enough to "prime the pump"?

     One of the key components of the latest stimulus deal the President and the Republicans in Congress have hammered out is a decrease in the Social Security part of mandatory payroll taxes that just about everyone pays. The other part of the mandatory payroll tax is Medicare, but that is staying the same at 1.45%.   Currently 6.2% is taken out of paychecks and goes to the Social Security Trust fund to be distributed to "old" people in the form of a monthly check.  The compromise reduces this amount with-held by 2 percentage points, down to 4.2%.  For example: at 6.2% every $100.00 a worker earns he/she pays $6.20 in Social Securtiy taxes.  If the compromise becomes law, then only $4.20 will be with-held.  Soooo, a worker will retain $2.00 more for every $100.00 earned.  If a worker makes $500.00  a week, then their check will increase by $10.00.  The assumption is this money will be spent on goods and services and will stimulate the economy.
     There are two ways of looking at this. (1) The amount is so small for each person the stimulus will not be sufficient.  After all, what can you buy with $10.00 additional dollars per week that will make a significant difference? (2) Although the amount is small, there will be no debate about saving it or using it to pay debt. People will fully spend this extra money and the economy will get the maximum impact of the whole amount being spent, rather than just a portion. 
     I am not really sure what to think, so I ask this "good or bad" stimulus?  Extra credit on the next test awaits!

Monday, December 6, 2010

A few questions for the organizers of the Climate Change Summit in Cancun...First one, "Why are you not holding this conference in Chad or Niger?"...just askin'

Actual Conference Center:  Lots of damage to the eco-system to build this, no?
 I may be a bit critical here, but is it REALLY necessary to have a United Nations Summit on Global Warming in Cancun, Mexico?  Did they not have a summit recently in Copenhagen, Denmark?  Is it safe to say that 90% of the people at this summit (and the Copenhagen summit AND every other summit) know each other and have met on MANY occasions before? Do these summits cost LOTS of money? Does the UN NOT have a budget problem like most other entities? Rhetorical question: Where does the UN get its funding?  Could they have been sensitive to the plight of 99% of the rest of world that is struggling to get by, and held this summit using the latest and greatest technology to tele-conference?  Oh, and lest I forget, could they have REDUCED the carbon emissions they are trying to prohibit us from emitting by not flying hundreds/thousand(s) of people there in the first place?  Is that not the goal of these summits?

I am not against meetings at exotic locales (ok, I lied, I am against them especially when it is on someone elses dime), just meetings that at the outset EVERYONE knows will produce minimal results, if any.  I believe this group travels more than U2 on a concert tour....  wonder where the next stop will be and if I can get a Tee-Shirt...

Note: I DO care about the environment, but I don't care for feeble attempts at trying to solve a problem...Why don't they meet in sub-Saharan Africa so they can see problems first hand?  Guess that would not be as comfortable for them and the Margaritas are probably not as good either...

A machine that picks Strawberries...there go MORE jobs...Dang technology!!

But what about the workers who will lose their jobs? This type of technological advance must be stopped, so would say a Luddite...

"The Institute of Agricultural Machinery at Japan's National Agriculture and Food Research Organization, along with SI Seiko, has developed a robot that can select and harvest strawberries based on their color. Ripened berries are detected using the robot's stereoscopic cameras, and analyzed to measure how red they appear. When the fruit is ready to come off the vine, the robot quickly locates it in 3D space and cuts it free. From observation to collection, the harvesting process takes about 9 seconds per berry. Creators estimate that it will be able to cut down harvesting time by 40%."---Source HERE

Sunday, December 5, 2010

20 of the World's Richest Women...can you guess where the largest percentage come from?

The Economist

A bit of advice for college bound students---it is free and worth what you pay for it...maybe even a little more!!

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE consider spending a semester (or two) in a foreign country when you are in college.  The experience will stay with you forever on a  personal level, but it WILL help you in your career/profession.  In today's marketplace you never know where opportunities may lead you.  Having this kind of exposure increases your value to an employer, EVEN if they don't send you overseas.

NYTIMES: When a Career Path Leads Abroad

Choosing the wrong person for an overseas job is costly, for both companies and workers. “The failure rate with international assignments is quite high,” Professor Teagarden said — people come home before their contracted time or they don’t achieve their goals. Business is lost, and professional and personal relationships can be damaged, she said.

That is why she and her colleagues at Thunderbird have identified a “global mind-set” — attributes of a successful overseas employee. For one thing, people who thrive overseas are drawn to variety and novelty, she said. For example, ask someone what types of food or television programs they like, she said. If their answers cover a wide range, she said, these are likely to be better candidates for an international assignment.

They also show resiliency and are willing to take risks, she said. “They may be a black sheep or the outlier at home,” she said, and the international assignment fills a professional void in their lives.
Her book focuses on women; she and Ms. Yeatman found that the women they surveyed who worked abroad (the typical assignment was three to five years) advanced professionally at a much faster pace than women who stayed in their home countries.
Like Ms. Berdan, Mr. Wall says overseas experience tends to help people’s careers — especially in the new, more global economy. “We really encourage international exposure and experience,” Mr. Wall said. “It creates a more well-rounded professional.”
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