Tuesday, December 25, 2007

"The Ink Fades on a Profession as India Modernizes"

Globalization creates winners and losers, sometimes in the same family. Here is the story of a professional letter writer in India:
G. P. Sawant never charged the prostitutes for his letter-writing services.

Not long after the women would descend on this swarming, chaotic city, they would find him at his stall near the post office, this letter writer for the unlettered. They often came hungry, battered and lonely, needing someone to convert their spoken words into handwritten letters to mail back to their home villages.

The letters ferried false reassurances. The women claimed they had steady jobs as shopkeepers and Bollywood stagehands. Saying nothing of the brothels, beatings and rapes they endured, they enclosed money orders to remit rupees agonizingly acquired. Many called Mr. Sawant “brother” and tied a string on his wrist each year in the Hindu tradition.

Sometimes, suspicious parents boarded a train to Mumbai and turned up at Mr. Sawant’s stall, which a daughter had listed as her address. Mr. Sawant greeted them kindly but disclosed nothing about the woman’s work or whereabouts...

Read the rest of his story here (it has a happy ending).

Monday, December 24, 2007

What is shopdropping?

Shopdropping, also known as reverse shoplifiting, is the act of "surreptitiously putting things in stores, rather than illegally taking them out". Here are some shopdropping stories:
...Anti-consumerist artists slip replica products packaged with political messages onto shelves while religious proselytizers insert pamphlets between the pages of gay-and-lesbian readings at book stores.

Self-published authors sneak their works into the “new releases” section, while personal trainers put their business cards into weight-loss books, and aspiring professional photographers make homemade cards — their Web site address included, of course — and covertly plant them into stationery-store racks.

“Everyone else is pushing their product, so why shouldn’t we?” said Jeff Eyrich, a producer for several independent bands, who puts stacks of his bands’ CDs — marked “free” — on music racks at Starbucks whenever the cashiers look away.

Though not new, shopdropping has grown in popularity in recent years, especially as artists have gathered to swap tactics at Web sites like Shopdropping.net, and groups like the Anti-Advertising Agency, a political art collective, do training workshops open to the public...

Read the rest of the article here.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Maintaining respect and approachability in university

With the increased technology and email accessibility, many university professors feel overwhelmed with student requests. Here are some excerpts from Jonathan Glater's report:

One student skipped class and then sent the professor an e-mail message asking for copies of her teaching notes. Another did not like her grade, and wrote a petulant message to the professor. Another explained that she was late for a Monday class because she was recovering from drinking too much at a wild weekend party.

Jennifer Schultens, an associate professor of mathematics at the University of California, Davis, received this e-mail message last September from a student in her calculus course: "Should I buy a binder or a subject notebook? Since I'm a freshman, I'm not sure how to shop for school supplies. Would you let me know your recommendations? Thank you!"

At colleges and universities nationwide, e-mail has made professors much more approachable. But many say it has made them too accessible, erasing boundaries that traditionally kept students at a healthy distance.

These days, they say, students seem to view them as available around the clock, sending a steady stream of e-mail messages — from 10 a week to 10 after every class — that are too informal or downright inappropriate...

Here is a helpful tip from a professor at Pomona:

...Meg Worley, an assistant professor of English at Pomona College in California, said she told students that they must say thank you after receiving a professor's response to an e-mail message.

"One of the rules that I teach my students is, the less powerful person always has to write back," Professor Worley said.

Read the rest of the story here. If anything, there are some fascinating stories from professors at MIT, UC Davis, Harvard, and others.

"2 Candidates, 2 Fortunes, 2 Views of Wealth"

David Leonhardt wrote a fascinating piece comparing two top presidential candidates: John Edwards and Mitt Romney. They are both part of America's new rich, but they made their wealth in two completely different ways. Here are some excerpts of the piece:

...Mr. Edwards, as he often reminds audiences, is the son of a mill worker. His father, Wallace Edwards, recalled in an interview being paid 75 cents an hour when he was hired by Milliken & Company in 1951. That was the federal minimum wage then translates to about $6 an hour today. In a full year, Wallace Edwards made as much money as George Romney (Mitt'Romney's father) did in a few days.

The careers their sons chose reflect that fact: Mr. Romney became rich investing in corporate America, and Mr. Edwards became rich doing battle with it. Yet they also have benefited from the some of the same broad forces that have created the new rich — including a cultural change in how Americans view money...

The piece also covers how each candidate highlights their wealth during the campaign:

...In the final days before voting begins, neither Mr. Romney nor Mr. Edwards is emphasizing his own finances, for obvious political reasons. Instead, the two candidates talk about the work that led to their wealth.

Mr. Romney speaks about his managerial skills and notes that not one of the leading Democrats has ever run a large organization. Mr. Edwards talks about his record as a lawyer who fought for ordinary people against the rich and powerful...

Read the entire article here.

Wooden toy makers hit with an unusually high demand

After the lead paint China recall, some American based businesses are seeing increases in demand. Here are some excerpts from the NY Times special:
Ron Voake has spent the last few months in a blur of wood, wagons and widgets, trying to keep up with demand for the toys he makes in his home here.

Mr. Voake, the owner of Vermont Wooden Toys, has been deluged with orders from customers leery of buying toys made in China after millions of toys manufactured there were recalled this year because they have lead paint.

“Every time there was a story about a toy recall, I got flooded with orders,” Mr. Voake said. “This year stacks up as preposterous. I’ve never had a year like this, and I hope I don’t have another one...”

Read the rest of the story here.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Tree Faces

Have you ever seen these? Check them out here.

VistaPrint is a Scam

As I looked through my credit card statements, I realized that I was getting charged monthly for $14.95 by a company called "Passport to Fun." I never purchased anything from that company, and I looked into the matter further. I ordered some business cards two months ago from Vista Print, and they gave my information to "Passport to Fun." Vista Print might be a legitimate company (I did get my business cards), but they are partnered with some unscrupulous affiliates. This is a huge scam!

I'm not the only person getting scammed. Check out other claims here. Now I have to call my bank and Vista Print and remove these fraudulent charges! Click here to find out how to get your money back.

I will never use this company again. If you know of anyone who has used Vista Print, please pass along this information. You may save them hundreds of dollars in fraudulent charges and fees.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Physics Professor Lewin is a Web Star

The NY Times covered a unique story about a physics professor with a cult following at MIT. His name is Prof. Walter H. G. Lewin, and he was the number 1 on the most downloaded list at iTunes U. Check out the story here. Check out some of his videos here.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

QuickCite

QuickCite is a free online tool that will put your citation in proper format if you provide the author, title, etc. Check out QuickCite here.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Engineering a mouse that does not fear cats

Scientists from the University of Tokyo genetically engineered a mouse that does not fear cats by altering its sense of smell. They concluded that "that mammals do not learn to evade predators, but are genetically hardwired to fear certain smells." They hope that this discovery will help humans with anxiety disorders. Poor fearless mouse... Read the rest of the story here.

The UMass Minutemen's Unlikely Success Story

Check out their inspiring story here. Good luck against Ohio State!

Billionaires Push for Social Changes

A new generation of billionaires are spending their money on social projects. Here is just one example:
Stuck in a traffic jam in his bulletproof BMW, the richest man in Turkey lets loose with a satisfied grin.

Since 2000, Husnu M. Ozyegin has spent more than $50 million of his own money, building 36 primary schools and girls’ dormitories in the poorest parts of Turkey. Next to the Turkish government, Mr. Ozyegin is the biggest individual supporter of schools in the country — and an official from the education ministry has told him that his market share is increasing.

“Not bad,” he says in his gruff, cigarette-scarred voice as he pockets his mobile phone. “If I can have an impact on one million Turkish people in the next 10 years, I will be happy..."
Landon Thomas Jr. made an inciteful arugment, comparing these new billionairs to early 20th century philanthropists:
...For these emerging economies, where loose regulation, opaque privatization processes and monopolistic business practices abound, this extraordinary and uneven creation of wealth rivals in many ways the great American fortunes made at the turn of the 20th century.

While such countries have long been accustomed to vast disparities between a tiny class of the wealthy elite and the impoverished masses, the new elite shares some characteristics with counterparts in the United States. And just as Rockefellers, Carnegies and Morgans once used philanthropy to smooth the rough edges of their cutthroat business reputations — as have a current generation of wealthy Americans that includes Bill Gates of Microsoft and Sanford I. Weill of Citigroup — local billionaires in emerging markets are trying to do the same...
To learn more about how Mr. Ozyegin and other billionaires are spending their money, click here.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Techcrunch YouTube Download Tool

If you ever want to download a YouTube video to your computer, use this Techcrunch YouTube download tool here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Let's Say Thanks

On the Let's Say Thanks website you can send a real card to a soldier abroad. It costs nothing on your behalf except for 10 seconds of your time. Check it out here.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

South Korea cleans up a big oil spill

Read the NY Times story here.

Andrew Young: "Bill (Clinton) is every bit as black as Barack"

Civil Rights icon, Andrew Young, says the Barack Obama is too young to be president. Here are some clips from the AP story:
"I want Barack Obama to be president," Young said, pausing for effect, "in 2016."

"It's not a matter of being inexperienced. It's a matter of being young," Young said. "There's a certain level of maturity ... you've got to learn to take a certain amount of (expletive)."

Young went on to say that Obama needs a protective network that he currently lacks - a quality that could hurt him if he were to be elected. He said Hillary Clinton already has that kind of network, including her husband to back her up.

"There are more black people that Bill and Hillary lean on," Young said. "You cannot be president alone. ... To put a brother in there by himself is to set him up for crucifixion. His time will come and the world will be ready for a visionary leadership."
Read the article here.

Someone tried to hack into an American nuclear weapons laboratory

Someone tried to hack into an American nuclear weapons lab, and the evidence now points to China. Here is more on the breaking story:
SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 8 — A cyber attack reported last week by one of the federal government’s nuclear weapons laboratories may have originated in China, according to a confidential memorandum distributed Wednesday to public and private security officials by the Department of Homeland Security.

Security researchers said the memorandum, which was obtained by The New York Times from an executive at a private company, included a list of Web and Internet addresses that were linked to locations in China. However, they noted that such links did not prove that the Chinese government or Chinese citizens were involved in the attacks. In the past, intruders have compromised computers in China and then used them to disguise their true location...
Read the rest of the article here.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Do you listen to educational rap yet?

Someone was bound to make educational rap commercial business. Educationalrap.com describes the company's mission:
Rhythm, Rhyme, Results, LLC was founded in 2006 and is located in Cambridge, MA. We produce supplementary educational music in academic subjects such as mathematics, language arts, science, and social studies. The content-rich lyrics adhere to state and federal curriculum requirements and flow to thumping, original music.
This is so funny/awesome. Visit the here. Below are some sample social studies songs (may take a long time to load):

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Since when did Santa's "ho, ho, ho" become degrading to women?

Courtesy of the New York Times:
A Santa Claus starting his fourth year at a store in Cairns said he had been fired for saying "Ho! Ho! Ho!" which, according to local reports, the recruitment agency Westaff, the country's biggest Santa supplier, feels might frighten children and be seen as demeaning to women. The agency wants its Santas to say "Ha! Ha! Ha!" instead, the reports said. "They're trying to kill the spirit of Christmas," the dismissed Santa, John Oakes, who is 70, told The Cairns Post. He said he had been told that the old catch-cry was "not appropriate." A Westaff spokesman said Mr. Oakes had been dismissed for his attitude, not his ho-ho-ing.
Here is my favorite response to this article: "omg!!!! i dont want santa to laugh at me when i walk by?!?!?!?"

Dyslexics "more likely than nondyslexics to delegate authority"

Brent Browers, NYT, covered a new study about how dyslexia may bolster business acumen. Here is the beginning of the article:
It has long been known that dyslexics are drawn to running their own businesses, where they can get around their weaknesses in reading and writing and play on their strengths. But a new study of entrepreneurs in the United States suggests that dyslexia is much more common among small-business owners than even the experts had thought.

It has long been known that dyslexics are drawn to running their own businesses, where they can get around their weaknesses in reading and writing and play on their strengths. But a new study of entrepreneurs in the United States suggests that dyslexia is much more common among small-business owners than even the experts had thought...
Read the rest here.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

New Perfectionism

Benedict Carey writes about the new forms of perfectionism in American society. He asks "if you can’t tolerate your worst, at least once in a while, how true to yourself can you be?" Read the NY Times article here.

Even Facebook's Zuckerberg wants privacy

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg wanted to remove some unflattering documents about himself from the magazine 02138 (also Harvard's zip code). A judge denied his request. Read the story here. Check out the controversial documents here.

"Meteorologists Shape Fashion Trends"

Fashion designers are following a new trend: hiring meteorologists. According to the NY Times:
...Two consecutive years of volatile weather — last November and this October were the warmest on record for the New York City area, a retail Mecca — have proved disastrous for companies that rely on predictable temperatures to sell cold-weather clothing like sweaters and coats.

So the $200 billion American apparel industry, which is filled with esoteric job titles like visual merchandiser and fabric assistant, is adding a more familiar one: weather forecaster.

Liz Claiborne, the apparel company, has hired a climatologist from Columbia University to predict weather for its designers to better time the shipments of seasonal garments to retailers.

The discount retailer Target has established a “climate team” to provide advice on what kind of apparel to sell throughout the year. More and more, the answer is lighter weight, “seasonless” fabrics...
Read the rest of the article here.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Wall Street Journal links to our blog!

WSJ links to bluejaguars.blogspot.com! Click the picture for a bigger view or check out the WSJ article here. The link is the first one listed under "Blog Posts About This Topic" at the bottom of the page.

Here is the original BlueJaguars post.

Gossip Girl on set (and the 13 year old fans)

Ever wonder who goes to the Gossip Girl set to see a glimpse of the actors in NYC? Look above at the picture. The NY Times also included some dialog:

“I totally want to see Chuck,” said 14-year-old Catherine, who appeared to be the ringleader of a group of Sacred Heart eighth graders and who was wary of sharing her full name. She meant Chuck Bass, the young rouĂ© played by Ed Westwick.

“Blake Lively is my idol,” she said, referring to the actress who plays Serena van der Woodsen. “But if Chuck walked out here, I think I’d jump him.”

Katherine Withseidelin and Hollis Alpert, who are in the eighth grade at Chapin, were there early on Tuesday afternoon. “We saw Chuck yesterday,” Miss Withseidelin said.

“Yeah, that was a big deal,” Miss Alpert said. “He sort of was just, like, walking back to his trailer. So we got pictures. This is our third time here..."

This made me laugh -- read the rest of the article here. Check out full length episodes of Gossip Girl, including the most recent "Blair Waldorf Must Pie" episode, here.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Overheard in New York

Overheard in New York publishes funny overheard conversations. Check out the site here. Here are some fun examples:
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It's Okay-- It's His Job to Stand There

Tourist man: Pardon me, officer, can you tell us where Orchard Street is?
Cop: See that naked Chinese guy?
Tourist man: Ummm...Yeah.
Cop: Walk down to him and make a left.
Tourist man: Um, thanks.
Cop: No problem.

--Delancey & Allen

Overheard by: Isaac

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Pre-Class Registration Starts Once A Month

Dumb teen: Hey, look at this! It says "Train for jobs in biotch."
Smarter teen: Fool! That word is biotech. Why you gotta be ignorant all your life?

--1 train

Overheard by: Manhattman

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The Buddha Was a Tough Kid to Raise

Mother: Don't you ever do that again! [slaps child hard]
Child, calmly: Well, are you happy with yourself?

--Union Square

Overheard by: Miranda

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(Thanks Bocci!) Visit the site here.

Why Women Aren’t C.E.O.s, According to Women Who Almost Were

"It’s not a pipeline problem. It’s about loneliness, competition and deeply rooted barriers." Read more in the NYT .