Saturday, January 8, 2011

VERY cool graphic on the life-cycle of various technologies---one innovation replaces another AND becomes less expensive!!

Observe Creative Destruction as it happens.  Innovation either improves or destroys existing technology  allowing a new and improved version to come to the market-place.  Graphic is measured since 1980 and it shows by the size of the bubble the relative change in the cost of the good over time. The axis on the right shows the number of units of the good sold...I am always amazed by the changes that have taken place in my lifetime AND yours, all you young people! (click on image to make bigger OR go to the source HERE for full screen view)

Source Washington Post

AP curriculum is changing for some subjects but not economics---see why here...Nice NYTIMES article that will surely spur debated amongst AP teachers...

I am happy to see AP Economics is not going to change...No real need to---Here is an old economics joke that explains why: 

""An economist returns to visit his old school. He's interested in the current exam questions and asks his old professor to show some. To his surprise they are exactly the same ones to which he had answered 10 years ago! When he asks about this the professor answers: "the questions are always the same - only the answers change!"""

Teachers of the affected subjects will be highly interested in the substance of this article, I believe...

NYTIMES: Rethinking Advanced Placement

""Trevor Packer, the College Board’s vice president for Advanced Placement, notes that the changes mark a new direction for the board, which has focused on the tests more than the courses. The rollout of “the New A.P.,” as the board describes it, will actually start this year with a new curriculum taking effect in two smaller programs, German and French language. Major revisions to physics, chemistry, European history, world history and art history will follow, with the hope of being ready for exams in 2014 or 2015.

“We really believe that the New A.P. needs to be anchored in a curriculum that focuses on what students need to be able to do with their knowledge,” Mr. Packer says. A.P. teachers made clear that such a shift was impossible unless the breadth of material covered was pared down. Courses in English and math are manageable, Mr. Packer says, and will not be revised until later....""

Source HERE

I am a closet Chinese mother...Very good article on parenting differences across cultural lines...

WSJ: Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior : Can a regimen of no playdates, no TV, no computer games and hours of music practice create happy kids? And what happens when they fight back

An article that can/will provoke alot of discussion--the cultural differences in raising children the "Asian Way", although the writer includes other ethnic groups. It is predominantly about the Chinese/Asian culture of child-rearing vs the Western view.  Much of the discussion surrounds the importance of "self-esteem", and in her view it is considerably over-rated.  She has lots of great points but perhaps carries things to an extreme (OF COURSE that is what I would think, using my ingrained Western value system as the filter).  I do believe we promote the concept of self-esteem to levels that are unproductive and harmful.  I often wonder if we should promote it at all.  As a teacher (and parent) I know I err too much on the side of caution to avoid conflict.  There are times I find myself, given a particular circumstance, fluffing up a students esteem when I REALLY know what they need is an honest assessment (read that to mean the proverbial kick in the figurative butt).  It is not only exclusive to students--adults, especially me, from time to time need a real assessment of their current performance relative to their potential.  Ahh, potential, that is a word that is not easy to define and is perhaps why we are hesitant to judge. I do occasionally have a student come to me and ask me in a direct way for a hard assessment of their capabilities (I will only do this if I know the student rather well).  I will give it to them, but preface it with "you might want to get a second opinion".  I think they are generally appreciate it and take it to heart.  What do you think about the article?  Also, feel free to assess me---my self-esteem is pretty good...

""A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids. They wonder what these parents do to produce so many math whizzes and music prodigies, what it's like inside the family, and whether they could do it too. Well, I can tell them, because I've done it. Here are some things my daughters, Sophia and Louisa, were never allowed to do:

• attend a sleepover

• have a playdate

• be in a school play
• complain about not being in a school play

• watch TV or play computer games

• choose their own extracurricular activities

• get any grade less than an A

• not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama

• play any instrument other than the piano or violin
• not play the piano or violin....""

Friday, January 7, 2011

Who has the BEST selling jersey in the NFL??

The playoffs have not yet begun and the Steelers enter as the No. 2 seed in the AFC but the NFL already has declared them champions ... of merchandise sales.

More Steelers merchandise was sold during the 2010 season than any other NFL team, according to, which counted sales from April 1, 2010 through Jan. 2.

And the top-selling jersey? Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, a candidate for NFL defensive player of the year, beat them all and was the only non-quarterback among the top eight jersey sales last season.

The Dallas Cowboys had the second-best selling merchandise and reigning Super Bowl champion New Orleans was third.

Following Polamalu in jersey sales were Saints QB Drew Brees, the 2009 league MVP, and popular rookie quarterback Tim Tebow of Denver. (Source HERE)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

How ironic---the Zimbabwean currency is worth more as a collectors item than as an actual legal currency...Sad but true...

How ironic---the Zimbabwean currency is worth more as a collectors item than it did as an actual legal currency...Sad but true...
""Western visitors to Zimbabwe are looking for zeros. They're snapping up old, defunct Zimbabwe bank notes, most notably the one hundred trillion Zimbabwe dollar bill, as an economic souvenir.
The one hundred trillion Zimbabwe dollar bill, which at 100 followed by 12 zeros is the highest denomination, now sells for $5, depending on its condition. That bill and others -- among them millions, billions and trillions, were abandoned nearly two years ago, when the American dollar became legal tender in the hopes of killing off the record inflation that caused all those zeros.
"I had to have one," said Janice Waas on a visit to the northwestern resort town of Victoria Falls. "The numbers are mind bending." She got her so-called "Zimdollar" in pristine condition, from a street vendor who usually sells African carvings.""
Source: Yahoo News

Abandoned building stripped of all that is valuable, except for one thing...can you guess what it is?

This is a photo of an abandoned library in the city of Detroit...MOST buildings like this would be stripped of all its useful/salvageable content and sold for some cash...For some reason, books have no value here. A sign of the times?...(HT: Coyote Blog)

Source HERE

Class Warfare---Athenian-Style...the more things change the more they stay the same...

Class warfare, Athenian-style...

Source: The New Arthurian Economics
  The more things change, the more they stay the same. 

HT: The New Arthurian Economics

Sunday, January 2, 2011

What has changed in the Movie industry in the last 10 years? Ticket sales are LESS but revenue MORE. How does that happen? (see the Top movies from 2000--really? That long ago?)

I posted this graphic (left) just the other day.  Looking at it closer, I was curious about the "entertainment" category at the bottom.  In 2000, U.S. box office revenue was $7.7 billion on ticket sales of 1.4 billion.  So the average ticket price was $5.50. Adjusting for inflation, that would be the same as $6.99 today. In 2010 the box office revenue was $10.3 billion on ticket sales of 1.3 billion for an average ticket price of $7.92.  Movie ticket prices have increased faster than the general rate of inflation as measured by the CPI).

A couple of observations...I found it curious that gross ticket sales were less THIS year than in 2000. We were in the very early stages of a recession then, but still in the midst of one in 2010 so that could account for some of it.  However, U.S population most assuredly increased during the decade so that should have compensated some. The only other explanation for a higher average ticket price over the course of the decade is the increase in the number of 3-D movies that sell at a premium over 2-D movies. How about you? Can you think of any alternative explanation I may have missed?  Below are the Top 15 Movies in 2000.  Seems like yesterday!!

1  The Grinch
2  Cast Away
3  Mission: Impossible
4  Gladiator
5  What Women Want
6  The Perfect Storm
7  Meet the Parents
8  X-Men
9  Scary Movie
10  What Lies Beneath
11  Dinosaur
12  Crouching Tiger
13  Erin Brockovich
14  Charlie's Angels
15  Traffic
Source: HERE

Tips for communicating with your collge professors by e-mail...Only one chance to make a first impression...

Here are some tips for e-mailing your Professors in college.  Most center around "growing up". Numbers 1, 8 and 9 would be my personal pet peeves ..(Source: Chris Blattman)

1. Kick the email address from high school. It’s time for “” and “” to rest in peace.

2. Greet. Politely. Launching straight into the message is bad, but “Hi!” is poor form and “Hey Prof!” is an unmitigated disaster. “Dear” and “Hi” are fine, so long as you follow both by a name or title: “Hi Professor” or “Hi Mr. ____”.

3. On second thought, be careful with the Mr. and Ms. I could care less if strangers address me as Mr., Dr. or Prof. Blattman. Few of my colleagues seem to feel the same way. Sadly your approach must conform to the average (or even lowest common) ego. If you’re not sure if the person is a Dr. or not, three seconds on Google should tell you.

4. Capitalize and punctuate. otherwise we will lol at yr sad attempts

5. But not all punctuation. Of the exclamation point, Elmore Leonard said “You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.” That’s roughly one exclamation point for every 500 messages you send. Use them wisely, for their overuse is the first sign of an immature mind. (Related, from Terry Pratchett: “Five exclamation marks, the sure sign of an insane mind.”)

6. Death to the emoticon. Keep them for your friends. And recall that, for centuries of the printed word, writers managed to convey sarcastic and funny without the semicolon and parenthesis. If you think your comment needs an emoticon, this is a sign you need to rewrite (or delete) the remark.

7. Avoid fancy typefaces or “stationery”. One word: cheeseball.

8. Be clear and concise. Write short messages, make clear requests, get to your point rapidly, and offer to provide more information rather than launch into your life story.

9. Don’t ask for information before you’ve looked on Google. “Can you send me paper X?” is annoying. But the best I’ve received: a request to explain the Cold War.

10. Don’t sound presumptuous. Many people are busy and important (and everybody thinks they are). If you are asking for anything requiring time or energy, it is courteous to be demure.

11. No quotes from famous people in your signature. See “cheeseball” above.
12. With your juniors, do the above as fastidiously as with your seniors. Allow me, momentarily, to break rule #11: ”Modesty is not only an ornament, but also a guard to virtue” – Joseph Addison
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