Saturday, March 12, 2011

Oil is found in between a rock and a hard place---Is it a coincidence that is where we find ourselves in terms of our national energy policy??

Dependence on oil--the bane of our existence. There are a couple of interesting trends in this graph.  One is the change in oil consumption (red line) pre and post mid-1980's.  Pre 1980's the trend line increases at an increasing rate--steeper.  Post-1980's the trend line increases but at a decreasing rate--flatter (the big dip in early 80's is due to a severe recession).  Why would that be? Any thoughts as to why? 

Second, is post 1980.  The mirroring of the import line (green) with red consumption line AND the gradual decline of domestic production (black line).  It is hard to see, but imports have increased at an increasing rate significantly as consumption increased and domestic production decreased.

Oil is found, literally, in between a rock and a hard place. Is it not ironic that we find ourselves as a nation, in terms of our energy policy, in the SAME place figuratively AND literally? Just sayin'...   

Source: Wall Street Journal

Compiling your NCAA College Basketball Brackets right now? STOP! I may have the secret to success right here...

Well, I don't have the secret, but the article below might give you some help in deciding---it is not how good your team is, but how far they travel relative to their opponent that may be the key...Pre-conceived notion smashed? Read on here---In Tournament, There’s No Place Like (Close to) Home

Since 2003, for instance, teams playing an N.C.A.A. tournament game within 50 miles of their campus are a remarkable 24-2. One of the two losses came in last year’s championship game, when Butler — playing just miles from its campus in Indianapolis — came within 2 points of defeating a heavily favored Duke team.

By contrast, teams travelling at least 1,000 miles to play their game are 121-174, having won just 41 percent of the time.

The rest of this article has much more data/graphs/charts...well worth the read if you are into the office pools

Friday, March 11, 2011

Don't you HATE it when you see someone has beaten you to your "Million Dollar Idea"? My island purchase is going to have to wait...

DANG IT!! I think of this EVERYTIME I use a public restroom, wash my hands, then grab the handle open the door...God Bless them. I hope they retire to an island before the age of 25. They will have made my life better....

MILLION-DOLLAR IDEA: This Device Lets You Open Doors With Your Feet

The idea: The Toepener is a handle that attaches to the bottom of a door so you can open it with your feet.
Whose idea: Forge LLC, a cool startup created by University of Minnesota students.
Why it's brilliant: Germaphobes, rejoice: you'll never have to touch a dirty public bathroom door handle ever again. Toepener is also a great alternative to awkwardly opening the door with your elbow when you've got your hands full.

Can China compete with American manufacturing? Yes, you read that right...

Is US manufacturing in decline?  Are manufacturing jobs in decline? If you answered "yes" to both of these questions, you would be wrong...Click on the link to read the whole article. Below I excerpted the part that I channel to students and adults (who can be objective enough to listen, few and far between) in and out of class.  The underlined sections tend to be the roadblock in understanding the issue.

Can China compete with American manufacturing?
So why do so many Americans think the U.S. doesn't make anything anymore? Part of the reason is that we're deceived by what we see everyday. Shopping through your local Target, you're going to see a lot of “Made in China” labels on things like clothing or electronics. The U.S. tends to make stuff that requires more technology and engineering know-how, like planes, semiconductors and machinery. Basic economics tells us that is exactly how things should be. Since China has so many, low-wage laborers, there is no way high-wage America can possibly compete in products that require teams of workers to manufacture, like toys, apparel, consumer electronics, and a lot of other stuff you'll find on Wal-Mart shelves. Making such products in the U.S. would simply be too expensive; companies that did so would not be able to compete with cheaper imports made in lower-cost economies. But the U.S. still is very competitive in the types of products that demand a high level of technology, engineering and capital to produce. In such industries, wages don't matter quite as much, and the U.S. can capitalize on its clear advantage over emerging markets like China in expertise, technology and innovation. That's why the U.S. sells Boeing aircraft to China, and the Chinese sell blue jeans to Americans. (Read the rest HERE)
Need further evidence:

Carpe Diem

The WRONG way to do Social Enterprise as only xkcd can illustrate...


See the projected path of the Tsunami waves from the earthquake in Japan...Quite amazing!

Source: Business Insider

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Apple provides workers a safety net in China---but it is not the kind of safety net you are thinking about...I guess there IS an APP for that!

Source: Wired
 ""It’s hard not to look at the nets. Every building is skirted in them. They drape every precipice, steel poles jutting out 20 feet above the sidewalk, loosely tangled like volleyball nets in winter.

The nets went up in May, after the 11th jumper in less than a year died here. They carried a message: You can throw yourself off any building you like, as long as it isn’t one of these. And they seem to have worked. Since they were installed, the suicide rate has slowed to a trickle.""
Apple outsources the manufacture/assembly of all of its marquee products to a Chinese company called FOXCONN...It has a HUGE facility and employs about 1 million people. They have a history of stress related suicides, apparently from jumping off the buildings...I guess there IS an APP for that!!!!

Brief overview of several Middle-Eastern countries---Yes, I am facsinated with population pyramids--they say SO MUCH!

From the NY TIMES.  A brief overview of relevant Middle Eastern countries on the brink.  Of particular interest to me are the population pyramids to the right...The demographics will drive change in that area for several decades. SO YOUNG!!!!

Another great example of Social Entrepreneurship helping people in poor countries AND creating jobs at the same time...This model of development needs to become the norm...

An excellent example of a concept I believe in more and more everyday---Helping people in developing/poor countries through the promotion of entrepreneurship and self-sufficiency.  In this instance, providing low-cost  (NOT "free) eye glasses to people through a network of "health entrepreneurs" who are residents of the areas served. Using local talent to serve local needs--not rocket science, yet it eludes the purveyors of government administered foreign aid.   This is social entrepreneurship in the same vein as my favorite, INDEGOAFRICA....Students---if you are looking for a way to help people improve their lives, social entrepreneurship is the wave of the future...Someone tell me again, why dont groups like this get much recognition???

VisionSpring Global Video from Darby / John-Michael Maas on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

If you take a shower, you WILL relate with this graphic...

Source CP

A nice primer on the National Debt limit and its implications for policy and financial solvency of the US...

National Debt
As of 3/8/2011
This is a nice primer on the National Debt and how Congress sets the debt limit.

National debt ceiling 101: Is a crisis looming? (Christian Science Monitor)

1. What is the debt ceiling, and why does it exist?

The debt ceiling is Congress's way of controlling how much the Treasury can borrow. The current debt limit is $14.29 trillion. The Constitution gives Congress the job of managing federal spending and borrowing, and Congress then taps the US Treasury to carry out its directives. When spending plans aren't matched by tax revenues, the government generally must borrow.

In the nation's early years, borrowing was authorized case by case, with parameters set by Congress. But for more than 70 years, the House and Senate have agreed on an overall debt limit. The ceiling has been adjusted upward frequently, more than 40 times just since 1980.

Some budget experts say the cap isn't necessary and mainly provides for periodic grandstanding by lawmakers about a debt problem of their own creating. To date, the imposition of caps has done little to check the rise of the nation's debt.

But others say that, as messy as the periodic votes on the ceiling can be, the process can prod lawmakers to focus on the long-term consequences of their spending decisions.

Help Wanted: Economist needed by Somali Pirates to help with peak load ransom pricing. Experience piloting deep sea cargo ships is a plus...

Hostage Oversupply in Somalia?  Pirates Negotiate Better Deals to Free Up Space

Somali pirates may have reached their limit, at least for now. Security agencies have suggested that Somali pirates are willing to negotiate lower ransoms to release ships they have seized -- because they are running out of room.

Somali pirates have made large swathes of the Indian Ocean a no-go area, but lately they've become victims of their own success. Security agencies report that pirate groups are more willing to negotiate the release of captured vessels lately -- in large part, experts believe, because their ports at Haradheere, Eyl and Hobyo are choked up with ships.

The pirates are reportedly looking for quicker deals, and seem willing to accept lower ransoms, if it means the ships can be moved on...

The Happiest Person in America has been located! A very unlikely bundle of characteristics...

The happiest person in America has been located!! Sadly, it is not me, but could be...

The Happiest Man in America Goes Viral

The New York Times asked Gallup to come up with a statistical composite for the happiest person in America, based on the characteristics that most closely correlated with happiness in 2010. Men, for example, tend to be happier than women, older people are happier than middle-aged people, and so on. Gallup’s answer: he’s a tall, Asian-American, observant Jew who is at least 65 and married, has children, lives in Hawaii, runs his own business and has a household income of more than $120,000 a year. A few phone calls later and ...
Meet Alvin Wong. He is a 5-foot-10, 69-year-old, Chinese-American, Kosher-observing Jew, who’s married with children and lives in Honolulu. He runs his own health care management business and earns more than $120,000 a year.

The demise of the one dollar bill would be a good thing---not the value, but the paper it is printed on...It is time to go to coinage.

Source: Carpe Diem
Source:  Carpe Diem for this posting....
The chart above is based on data from the Dollar Coin Alliance (DCA), a coalition of small businesses, budget watchdogs, trade associations, and private companies advocating that the U.S. transition to the dollar coin. The DCA is asking Congress to eliminate the dollar bill in favor of the dollar coin to save billions annually in taxpayer money. According to the DCA:
1. Each year approximately 3.2 billion $1 bills are removed from circulation due to wear and tear. They are not recyclable, so they are shredded and most are deposited in landfills. Dollar coins have a lifespan of 30 years or more, while $1 notes last approximately 2-3 years. A $1 coin that is produced for less than 16¢ would replace 17 bills that would have to be printed for a cost of 47¢.
2. The private sector experiences even greater cost savings and increased revenues from $1 coins. Jammed $1 bills in vending machines cost the industry $1 billion in annual repair costs and lost sales. According to the transit industry, it costs six times more to process $1 bills than $1 coins.
3. Other countries have already recognized the cost savings and benefits of the dollar coin, including Canada, the European Union, and Japan. When Canada transitioned to a dollar coin 25 years ago, the government realized savings more than ten times initial estimates.
4. The United States has one of the smallest denominations of paper currency among the major economies of the world (G-8 Countries). The $1 bill is worth less than any of these other bills except for the Russian Ruble (see chart above).
5. According to a January 2011 poll, Americans favor the transition to a dollar coin by a two-to-one margin once the potential government savings are explained.

Monday, March 7, 2011

It is the entitlement programs and interest payments, Stupid...

That is a play on the words of Pres. Clinton's campaign slogan of 91'. Entitlement programs, primarily Social Security and Medicare, and interest payments on the national debt, will eventually consume ALL of the projected revenues to the Federal Government.  This is NOT including paying for other things, like National Defense and ALL other discretionary spending the Federal Government does.  We are going to need a bigger boat---load of tax money to pay for this.  Notice the year it is projected students---right in your early 30's. The onset of your peak earning years. You better do REAL well, because it is going to be costly..

Source: The Economist

Nice job, Congress...Can't wait til next month---Record Monthly Deficit...$223 Billion...

Government posts biggest monthly deficit ever

The federal government posted its largest monthly deficit in history in February at $223 billion, according to preliminary numbers the Congressional Budget Office released Monday morning.

That figure tops last February’s record of $220.9 billion, and marks the 29th straight month the government has run in the red — a modern record. The last time the federal government posted even a monthly surplus was September 2008, just before the financial collapse.

Last month’s federal deficit is nearly four times as large as the spending cuts House Republicans have passed in their spending bill, and is more than 30 times the size of Senate Democrats’ opening bid of $6 billion.

Senators are slated to vote this week on those two proposals — both of which are expected to fail — and then all sides will go back to the negotiating table to try to work out a final deal.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Nice video on the state of US Manufacturing and the failure of the US to adapt to the changing nature of work in this industry.

HT: Carpe Diem....A nice, short video on the changing face of American manufacturing.  The popular focus from the media and politicians is the off-shoring of jobs to foreign destinations. True that. However, the elephant in the room of modern day manufacturing is the way work is done in today's factories in the US--it is high tech and takes different skills relative to old-line manufacturing jobs.  They require more education and less phyiscal prowess.  The second video is a production of "The Onion" and how trying to save old manufacturing jobs is, well, not in the interests of a 21st century US. (Warning: Some bad language in that video!!)

Obama Promises To Stop America's Shitty Jobs From Going Overseas

I think Qaddafi just either became a Libertarian or joined the TEA Party...I am having a political identity crisis today...

Source: ME!
 As a quasi-Libertarian (but not a member of the TEA party) I do not welcome this development, but as someone with a sense of humor, I guess I have to welcome him to the club as a tax-cutter... :)..Also, did he just declare "Mission Accomplished"?  Guess he does not read the papers either...

Qaddafi's Solution To His Crisis: Tax Cuts!

Libyan state TV announces wide-ranging tax cuts. It says:

""The general public committee has decided to reduce customs on basic commodities to zero per cent and to reduce customs on all other commodities to only five per cent. It also decided to remove all consumption and production taxes. The new changes were made on the occasion of the victory of our great people over the terrorist gangs.""
View My Stats