Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Clever Idea for a Music Video

First, perform your song extremely slowly but perfectly on beat. Then speed up the video to the actual music, and it looks like you are correctly playing the song. Second, perform your song as fast as you can but perfectly on beat. Then, slow down the video until it looks like you are correctly playing the song. ... Weird.


Monday, March 30, 2009

Sometimes I Wonder

I wonder what this means (from GM board member):

"The board has recognized for some time that the company's restructuring will likely cause a significant change in the stockholders of the company and create the need for new directors with additional skills and experience."

"Significant change in the stockholders of the company" is an interesting phrase. Sometimes in a bankruptcy the stockholders get wiped out and the debt holders become the new shareholders. This time, however, it appears that these new directors' "skills and experience" will be more political in nature. I suspect nationalization. Oh well. I know I won't be buying from them. I refuse to buy a car from the United States Treasury. To me, buying a car from the U.S. Treasury is like going out to eat at the DMV.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

For Your Amusement

Normally I would not condone watching a terrible TV show. However, this 90 second clip of Southpark is clean (except for killing a chicken) and incredibly enlightening. I have gained a better understanding of the Treasury department after watching this clip.

The kazoo is my favorite part.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

"Blind Orphans Get Everything!"

That was the funniest line from the movie Ashley and I watched last night (Igor). It was pretty funny. I recommend it.

Article one of the U.S. constitution states, "No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed."

So what if Congress passes a law that violates both Bill of Attainder AND ex post facto law? That's fine.

Speaking of the U.S. constitution, Uncle Cleon's book, The 5,000 Year Leap, is now #1 on Amazon, even though it's out of stock. It's interesting that his book became a #1 bestseller more than 20 years after he wrote it and three years after his death.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Qualifying Statements

This letter demonstrates the reason why I probably will never support a political party. A letter written by Senators from "both sides of the aisle" to the Wall Street Journal in response to the WSJ's critical remarks on the anti-immigration legislation states, "Contrary to your contention, nothing in our amendment prevents banks from hiring guest workers under any circumstances. We simply ask that those taking American taxpayer funds first determine whether there are qualified Americans for these jobs."

Most banking companies have a rejection ratio of about 20:1. For every twenty rejections, one is accepted. By saying that the banks can hire foreigners once all the Americans have been hired is the same as saying foreigners cannot be hired. Why else did the offers to new employees get rescinded?

The letter also included my most unfavorite writing peeve, double qualifying statements. "Who are these 'talented workers' that the Journal is so concerned about? Many of them reportedly are human-resource specialists, junior investment analysts, lawyers, and vice presidents."

Many... reportedly... in other words, "the following may or may not be true to any extent."

...

Presumably, I may study an alarming number of hours in the near future. (That was the most qualifying statement that I could come up with, four in one sentence.)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Lake Michigan

Jake is studying for finals, which means I won't see him until about Thursday. So you get me.

We live very near Lake Michigan and have enjoyed watching it change as the seasons do. Here are some cool pictures we've taken over the last few weeks. All pictures were taken at the nearby park.

These first two were after a big storm moved across us and hit the East pretty hard. The lake froze as far as the eye could see. One news story told about a dog that went as far as half a mile before turning around. The darkness on the horizon in the second photo is still the frozen lake; it's just under the shadow of a cloud. I like the sky in the first picture.




A few days later as the lake melted, there was no clear horizon line. The sky and lake were the same color. Jake took most of these pictures standing out on the ice on the beach. I was a little nervous to follow him.

You can see the chunks of ice floating.



We thought it looked like the first image from the "Where the Hell Is Matt?" ads from Stride gum. However, we thought it best not to attempt walking on the water.

One of the very few pictures Jake and I have with each other since our wedding. I'm pretty sure I have more pictures of food than of us. I should work on that. Also, my next blog will be about food. Go figure.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Traffic Jams and Zombie Attacks

I heard on the radio that traffic was slow on the tollway because of pothole damage. ... Potholes.

I have a pen from Target that says, "You are [Target logo]." What would a paranoid schizophrenic think if he got this pen? "It's from Homeland Security!"

I don't know why, but I rarely remember my dreams. In the ones I do remember, I die. Before I went to bed I was working on my marketing pizza case final. During my dream, crazy zombies attacked the city and started killing everybody. So while I was running away from certain doom, all these great ideas came to me about my marketing case. I would continue running until I died, then I would reappear as someone else farther away, and the process would continue. On the plus side, I have a bunch of great new ideas for marketing final. On the negative side, I was shot multiple times, drowned, thrown off a building, torn in two, crushed, and stabbed.

On net, I think I came out on top.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

(Unknown)

A few interesting thoughts and amusements over the last week:

Welcome to the happiest state in the union! ... No, it's not Illinois. It's Utah!

Thomas Sowell this week wrote, in his grandfatherly economics way, "The same politicians who have been talking about a need for "affordable housing" for years are now suddenly alarmed that home prices are falling. How can housing become more affordable unless prices fall?"

A lot of the foreign born students at business schools (Kellogg included) who received jobs in the banking sector had their offers rescinded thanks to the latest anti-immigrant laws passed by Congress.

In other news, the White House budget chief's latest response to critics:
"If you're a teacher making $50,000 a year and decide to donate $1,000 to the Red Cross or United Way, you enjoy a tax break of $150. If you are Warren Buffet or Bill Gates and you make that same donation, you get a $350 deduction -- more than twice the break as the teacher."

There are a hundred things wrong with that explanation and there are many simple counter-arguments (including the argument, "if you want to solve that 'injustice,' just make it a flat tax, or disallow write-offs altogether"), but I just wanted to point out one. There are quite a few "charity workers" in the United States. They are people that don't need the income, but continue to work anyway (making a lot of money) and simply donate their income to a preferred charity. I wonder what the effect of not being able to write-off income be on these people. If I were in that situation, I think I'd quit.

I think every boy who grew up in rural American can identify with the boy in this music video.

I better get back to studying for finals. I think Ashley is going to post more food soon... it was good.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Scooped

I had a good blog post, but it got scooped by Best of Web. Rather, they picked it up and wrote about it in a much better way that I would. I did want to make an additional point though. If an index that starts at 10,000 drops to 9,500, it loses 5% of its value. If an index that starts at 5,000 drops by 500, it loses 10% of its value. Humans are bad at noticing that the second scenario is twice as bad. Perhaps that's why the President decided to tell Americans when to buy stocks (because of his insights into "price and earnings ratios"). Most Americans don't know that markets are down about 30% since election day. Most felt that the markets dropped a lot more before election day than after, but that is because most humans are bad at perceiving percentage changes.

Southern Utah University is in the national news. It is a surprisingly interesting sports article (I usually hate them).

Monday, March 2, 2009

I Needed Somewhere to Put This

I needed somewhere to put this information. And, assuming blogger doesn't get hit with an EMP, I'll have this info for future use. 2012 is an election year and if I don't get my 4.6% GDP growth, I'm going to be upset (not really, but the story sounds better if I'm more personally invested in the numbers). The last time 4.5% GDP growth was exceeded was 1984. Before that it was in the 70's, but high inflation wiped it out so it doesn't really count. Maybe the ridiculously high growth projections are a sign that somebody will be fiddling with the money supply and causing a little inflation to hit the targets. Either that, or traditional GDP manipulation will take place. Of course, there is the third option that nobody remembers this and uses this as a benchmark to judge the federal government (thus the post).

This GDP forecast reminds me of a pastor I met in Brazil. He said his church was the best of all because it promised salvation to every person who had ever walked through the door. I believe the moral of this story is that making spectacular promises that take a long time to pan out are an effective way to please people while deflecting responsibility.

In red is the growth forecast from the new administration's budget. In blue is the consensus forecast from private sector economists. (Source)

2009: -1.2% -1.9%
2010: +3.2% +2.1%
2011: +4.0% +2.9%
2012: +4.6% +2.9%
2013: +4.2% +2.8%

There's a six percent cumulative effect between the two scenarios.

HT: Mankiw

I Forgot the Best Part

I can't believe I forgot this! Instead of sending me the two identical letters (why send me two in the first place?) all folded in a normal envelope, which would have cost them $.43, the Illinois State Board of Education sent the pages in one of those big orangey-yellow envelopes. Total postage: $1.00. And I know the big envelopes cost more than the normal white ones. I'm glad to know where my tax dollars are going.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

You No Smart Enough to Teach School Good

As has been previously implied, I'm not a big fan of the Illinois educational system. A letter I received the other day confirmed this position.

First, some background info: To switch a teaching license from one state to another is usually no big deal. Illinois, however, is one of the most difficult states in which to make the switch. I have heard this from teachers from many states, not just Utah. I was required to fill out massive paperwork, provide transcripts and Praxis test scores, and take two tests specific to Illinois. I took the second of those tests in January and received my passing score last week, thus fulfilling all requirements to keep my Illinois teaching license until 2010. The testing company sent my scores to the Illinois State Board of Education. I received a letter on Friday (dated several days after the score should have been reported) telling me I needed to take the tests by June. No big thing, I thought. They just must not have received my score yet. I kept reading. And I quote:

"The statements listed below this section indicate deficiencies resulting from an evaluation for the certificate indicated above.
Rules Changes
The applicant is deficient coursework addressing the psychology of, the identification of, and the methods of instruction for the exceptional child, including without limitation the learning disabled child.
Applicants should send official transcripts, course descriptions and any other correspondence to their regional superintendent's office."

First of all, "rules changes"? And no, I didn't miss an "in" between deficient and coursework; that was their mistake.

So they're going to change the rules in the middle of the year and tell me about it using idiotic grammar after I have my license and finished their stupid tests? I'm not even sure I know what I'm supposed to do. Am I actually deficient? And why don't they look at the official transcript I already GAVE them in August?

I would call the number given on Monday, but Monday is Pulaski Day, a state holiday that no one really knows why it exists. Something about honoring Polish immigrants.

On the bright side, I subbed 5 days last week. Yay for a paycheck! Boo for licensure issues.