Monday, January 28, 2008

A Single Sheet of Paper

Peter Callesen creates art with a single sheet of paper.

Check out more of his work on his website here.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Decline in Abortions

A new study has come out that the "best practical strategy for reducing abortions is to focus on helping women avoid unwanted pregnancies." According to the NY Times:
Between 2000 and 2005, the last year in the study by the Guttmacher Institute, the number of abortions performed yearly dropped from 1.3 million to 1.2 million, the fewest since 1974...

...Almost two-thirds of the decline in the total number of abortions can be traced to eight jurisdictions with few or no abortion restrictions — New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Illinois, California, Oregon, Washington State and the District of Columbia. These are places, notes the Guttmacher Institute’s president, Sharon Camp, that have shown a commitment to real sex education, largely departing from the Bush administration’s abstinence-only approach. These jurisdictions also help women avoid unintended pregnancies by making contraception widely available.

The lesson: prevention works. Restrictions on abortion serve mainly to hurt poor women by postponing abortions until later in pregnancy. While shifting social mores may change some people’s behavior, the best practical strategy for reducing abortions is to focus on helping women avoid unwanted pregnancies....

Read the rest of the article here.

"Société Générale’s Sales May Have Incited Market Plunge"

Société Générale's rogue trader, Jérôme Kerviel, is still making headlines. Barry L. Ritholtz, chief executive of FusionIQ, asked "wouldn’t it be embarrassing if the Fed had to make one of the biggest emergency rate cuts ever because of some rogue trader?" Read the rest of the article here.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Rogue trader lost $7 billion

A rogue trader at the Société Générale, one of France’s respected banks, lost over $7 billion (!) on bad bets. Why did it take the bank so long to uncover the fraud? According to the NY Times:
A French bank announced Thursday that it had lost $7.2 billion, not because of complex subprime loans, but the old-fashioned way — because a 31-year-old rogue trader made bad bets on stocks and then, in trying to cover up those losses, dug himself deeper into a hole.

Société Générale, one of France’s largest and most respected banks, said an unassuming midlevel employee who made about 100,000 euros ($147,000) a year — identified by others as Jérôme Kerviel — managed to evade multiple layers of computer controls and audits for as long as a year, stacking up 4.9 billion euros in losses for the bank...
Read the rest of the article here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Papua New Guinea to the US: "If for some reason you're not willing to lead, leave it to the rest of us. Please get out of our way."

A young leader from Papua New Guinea issued a bold statement to the US regarding the world climate. According to the NY Times:
For 15 years, United Nations talks aimed at fixing a faltering 1992 climate treaty have provided little drama. But at the latest session last month on the Indonesian island of Bali, Kevin Conrad, a young man representing one of the world’s least influential nations, Papua New Guinea, gained a worldwide spotlight as he faced down the sole superpower, the United States...

...After a long sequence of polite criticisms from developing countries over the sudden diplomatic logjam at the very end of two draining weeks, it was Mr. Conrad’s turn. “I would ask the United States, we ask for your leadership,” he said. “But if for some reason you’re not willing to lead, leave it to the rest of us. Please get out of the way.”
Read the rest of the article here.

Is more financial aid always better?

According to Roger Lehecka, a former dean of students at Columbia, more financial aid at institutions like Harvard and Yale is not producing positive results.
...It is understandable that Harvard and Yale want to make themselves more affordable. But the way they’re going about it sets an example that is likely to make it even harder for low-income students to attend the best college for which they are qualified. Harvard’s stated motive is to stop prospective students from “voting with their feet” by choosing public universities or other private colleges. But surely this is not a very serious problem for a university that each year turns away hundreds of high school valedictorians and whose yield (the percentage of admitted applicants who enroll) is around 80 percent.

At Yale, Mr. Levin has acknowledged that another motive for the new policy is to blunt the growing pressure on wealthy universities to spend more income from their endowments. But is supporting upper-middle-class students the wisest way to dispense the additional money?

Read the rest of his argument here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Fed Makes Emergency 0.75% Rate Cut

The Federal Reserve lowered the federal funds rate this morning, which regulates overnight loans between banks. According to the NY Times:
"'It’s a once-in-a-generation event,' said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s In recent years, the Fed has rarely acted between scheduled meetings of the committee, and almost always in increments of one-quarter or one-half point. It was the biggest short-term cut since October 1984."
Read the rest of the article here.

If you dig a hole to the opposite side of the Earth, where would you end up?

Aaron Hotfelder discovered some fun trivia:
"So if you were to dig a hole to the exact opposite side of the Earth, would you really end up in China? Not unless you live in certain parts of Chile or Argentina. In my case, I'd need to bring my swimming trunks, and so would almost all residents of the continental US, as we'd end up in the Indian Ocean between southern Africa and Australia...

...This map is handy for finding out a rough approximation of the antipodal (opposite) point of any place in the world, while this one is better for a bit more precision."

Visit Hotfelder's blog here.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Worldwide Stock Prices Plunge

The American market was closed today for MLK day, but the rest of the worldwide stock prices plunged today. The market in Frankfurt had it's largest drop since Sept. 11, 2001. The futures market is predicting a 520 point drop in the Dow Jones industrial average. Read more here.

"To those that have, shall be given"

The Economist wrote an article about why the beautiful succeed. According to the story, "The ugly are one of the few groups against whom it is still legal to discriminate. Unfortunately for them, there are good reasons why beauty and success go hand in hand." Read the rest of the story here.

A Big Deal: A Young Poker Player

Annette Obrestad, often referred to by her online moniker, annette_15, is one of the hottest new poker players. She is from Norway -- and is only 19! Check out her story here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Duke Experience: Inside Cameron

Check out an ESPN special on Duke University's Cameron Indoor here. Doug Ward writes about his "first pilgrimage to the hoops mecca of Cameron Indoor Stadium". Go Blue Devils!!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Most Inspiring: Jason McElwain

This video is beyond words. Take three minutes and share your life with Jason McElwain.

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 .