Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Moral Costs of Counterfeiting

The NY times present's Dan Ariely's newest findings on cheating:
We have long been told the monetary cost of counterfeiting: lost revenue for companies, lost tax dollars for government, lost jobs for workers. We have even heard of the toll on national security, with an advertising campaign that linked counterfeiting to terrorism.

But what about the moral costs of counterfeiting?

A professor at Duke and M.I.T. has done studies on how counterfeit goods influence people in other aspects of their lives. Among his findings: People who were told they were wearing “fake” designer sunglasses were significantly more likely to cheat on tests than ones told they were wearing “real” ones...
Read the rest of the article here.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Time to rethink B-Schools?

In the midst of the current financial crisis, business schools and critics are starting to rethink how they teach students. Read about the changes here.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Açaí Berry

The NY Times covered the controversial acai (pronounced ah-cye-EE). Read an excerpt from the article here:
It's hard to ignore the hype over açaí, the purple berry that dangles from 60-foot trees in the Brazilian rain forest and has found its way into “detox” beverages and anti-aging creams. Just browse through your e-mail messages or advertisements on Facebook and you’ll get the gist of the claims: “Lose weight with Oprah’s favorite diet secret!” “Eat the berry that Dr. Oz calls the ‘No. 1’ superfood!” ...
Read the full article here.

Randy Pausch - Time Management

This is the best time management presentation/book/article/anything I have ever seen. Make time to see this.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Milage Tax

Americans currently pay a "gas tax" -- a small portion of each gallon of gas they purchase. The government that this is not making enough revenue.

In response, some states are testing out new ways to impose a "mileage tax," which would track your car mileage rather than how much gas your car uses! Creepy/big brother? Read the NY Times article here.

String Theory

I've met a lot of people who enjoy debating "string theory," but I know few who can actually explain what it is.

Luckily for you, I found a fantastic website about the basics of string theory. Click here to acquaint yourselves with the idea and debate with confidence!

Berkshire Hathaway Shareholder Letters

The recently released 2008 Year-In-Review Shareholder Letter from Berkshire Hathaway is getting some buzz around the internet. Read Warren Buffet's annual letters here (they go back all the way to 1977!).

The Quants that tried to beat Wall Street

The NY Times covered the hidden world of "quants" on Wall Street:
... Dr. Derman, who spent 17 years at Goldman Sachs and became managing director, was a forerunner of the many physicists and other scientists who have flooded Wall Street in recent years, moving from a world in which a discrepancy of a few percentage points in a measurement can mean a Nobel Prize or unending mockery to a world in which a few percent one way can land you in jail and a few percent the other way can win you your own private Caribbean island.

They are known as “quants” because they do quantitative finance. Seduced by a vision of mathematical elegance underlying some of the messiest of human activities, they apply skills they once hoped to use to untangle string theory or the nervous system to making money.

This flood seems to be continuing, unabated by the ongoing economic collapse in this country and abroad. Last fall students filled a giant classroom at M.I.T. to overflowing for an evening workshop called “So You Want to Be a Quant.” Some quants analyze the stock market. Others churn out the computer models that analyze otherwise unmeasurable risks and profits of arcane deals, or run their own hedge funds and sift through vast universes of data for the slight disparities that can give them an edge...
This is definitely something you'll want to read. As we look back on this current recession, we are going to see that the biggest problem was our inability to quantify risk. No one knew how risky their assets were -- but felt confident backed by "quant" financial models. We know now that those models didn't do a good job predicting human behavior. Read the rest of the article here.

"When Consumers Cut Back: An Object Lesson From Japan"

The NY Times writes about how when Japanese consumers stopped spending money, the economy lost its potential for fantastic growth. Here is an except:
As recession-wary Americans adapt to a new frugality, Japan offers a peek at how thrift can take lasting hold of a consumer society, to disastrous effect.

The economic malaise that plagued Japan from the 1990s until the early 2000s brought stunted wages and depressed stock prices, turning free-spending consumers into misers and making them dead weight on Japan’s economy.

Today, years after the recovery, even well-off Japanese households use old bath water to do laundry, a popular way to save on utility bills. Sales of whiskey, the favorite drink among moneyed Tokyoites in the booming ’80s, have fallen to a fifth of their peak. And the nation is losing interest in cars; sales have fallen by half since 1990...
It's an example of why American consumers should reinvest even then they are terrified. Read the article here.

Lost in Translation -- A US Gift to Russia

The US's gag gift to Russia last week went awry due to an unfortunate translation error. We wanted to give Russia a "reset" button. Click here for the NY Times story to see what Hilary Clinton actually had on the button.

Monday, March 9, 2009

"Marine delivers holiday joy, toys"

Here is an older article about a Lance Cpl. Brad Durkin of Andover, MA:

This year, Santa will be two days late to the Durkin family home on Shawsheen Road.

That's because 20-year-old Brad Durkin, a lance corporal with the Marine Corps, will be spending Christmas Day handing out toys with Toys for Tots, and the family plans to celebrate Christmas on Saturday, Dec. 27 after he is finished.

"I'm going to be very happy on Christmas morning knowing that I have done all that I can. Sgt. Boice (his supervisor at Toys for Tots) and I have a saying: 'We won't stop until every tot has a toy, and every toy has a tot,'" said Durkin.

Durkin has spent seven 12-hour days a week through December working as assistant coordinator for the Toys for Tots effort in New Hampshire. It's a role he "fell into," he says, after going into the Marine Corps Reserves to recover from a series of surgeries.

Last June, when Durkin was halfway through a three-month Marine training stint in the Mojave Desert — and just two months away from deployment to Iraq, his appendix burst. His injuries were life threatening, as previously reported in the Townsman, but after several surgeries and a few setbacks, he has been home in Andover since August, steadily recovering.

Once healed, he hopes to be deployed overseas with his Bravo 1/25 reserve company out of Londonderry, N.H., he said.

This fall, Toys for Tots asked Durkin to help them buy calling a few people to ask them to participate in the program again this year. But he so threw himself into the work they gave him the title of assistant coordinator, he said...

Read the rest of the inspiring article here.

Friday, March 6, 2009

An Empty In-Box, or With Just a Few E-Mail Messages? Read On

The NY Times wrote a popular about how to manage all of your email-- even when it completely overwhelms you. Read the article here.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

For Free Throws, 50 Years of Practice Is No Help

Here's an interesting fact:
"Basketball in the United States has changed in myriad ways over the decades, from flat-footed set shots to dunks, from crotch-hugging uniforms to baggy knee-length shorts, from the dominance of American players to the recent infusion of international stars. But one thing has remained remarkably constant: the rate at which players make free throws. "
Read the rest of the NYTimes article here.

The Crisis of Credit

The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.

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 .