Monday, April 30, 2012

Cry for me, Argentina

Its time to change Andrew Lloyd Webber's famous song in Evita. There's no option, but to cry for Argentina. How else can you react to the awful move by Cristina Fernandez, Argentina's President, to nationalise YPF, two weeks ago ?

YPF, Argentina's largest oil and gas company is 57% owned by Repsol, the Spanish oil giant. Ms Fernandez's grouse against Repsol is that it is not investing in increasing production in YPF. This is partly true, but the real reason why YPF is not expanding production is that her government has artificially kept petroleum product prices low . No company is going to invest for very little profit. So the good lady has decided to nationalise the company. No doubt, a pittance would be paid to Repsol, well below the market value of its shares in YPF. This is daylight robbery, of the kind Ramamritham (of Vodafone fame) would feel proud.

Is this any way to treat your largest foreign investor ? Spain and the EU are up in arms and threatening a fight. Spanish companies have significant investments in Argentina, united by a common language, of course. Argentina can kiss good bye to any foreign investor from now on. Already it is an international economic pariah having defaulted on its sovereign debt in 2001. However much you hate international finance, you need investors for any economic activity.

Does any serious country nationalise anything these days ? Is there any more proof needed that nationalisation and state control of industry does not work ?

An interesting by line is the parallel with Indian politics. Cristina Fernandez is a Rabri Devi. Her husband Nestor Kirchner was the strongman of Argentina. When the constitution limited him for a consecutive presidential term in 2007, he installed his wife as President and , well ...... The plan was that he would return back in 2011 as President. Unfortunately, God willed otherwise and he died. So, the lady continues.

The worrying thing is that what this lady is doing might be read, and emulated, by another lady who's running another Eastern state in India. Thankfully, the latter lady apparently does not read any newspapers other than those that only write about her greatness. She certainly doesn't read this blog and there is little risk that the Argentinian precedent will be known to her. But still ,.........

The real worry is that Ramamritham has learnt about this move in the opposite corner of the world. You see, the problem with Ramamritham is that he reads widely, maybe even this blog !! The real worry is that he will take a leaf out of Ms Fernandez's book.

Andrew Lloyd Webber will have to produce another musical then. "Sonia" the musical, will feature the hit song, Cry for me, India !

Sunday, April 29, 2012

NOVEL STUDIES

I love to do Novel Studies with my 3rd graders!   My kids seem to enjoy Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing the most.  They simply love humorous fiction.  They identify most with the 4th grader in the story, whose annoying little brother stirs up more trouble than one can imagine.  I, on the other hand, identify with the parent, who at his wits end with the younger sibling's misbehavior with food says, "Eat it or wear it." lol  
  I'm starting a new novel study this week on Indian in the Cupboard.  It's a far more challenging book for my soon to be 4th graders, but they truly enjoy it, and almost inevitably dive in to the sequel over the summer! Nothing makes me prouder when they come back in the fall with their comments about Return of the Indian.  I'm always looking for ways to create something fun for the kids to put together while doing their novel study.  This year  I was successful with a paper bag book (used with Chocolate Touch), a novel study house foldable (used with Stone Fox), a fish bowl foldable for Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, and will be using my latest "cupboard creation" for Indian in the Cupboard.  What are some cool things you do to implement novel studies or literature circles?  I'd love to hear about them.  I know there are some other GREAT ideas out there! :-)  PLEASE SHARE!  


Have a great week!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Are women thick headed ?!

The Delhi government apparently feels that women are rather thick in the head. Considering that it is headed by a lady, we must now take this as a conclusive fact. I am reacting to the continued insistence of the government in making helmets for two wheeler riders compulsory for men , but optional for women. 

This piece of news was too good to resist. Regular readers are familiar with this blogger's tendency to rib the fairer sex once in a while. Realisation has dawned that there has been some tardiness in this matter over the past many months. Time to rectify the situation. Sunday posts are an excuse for unbridled frivolity rather unbecoming of a "serious" business blog. So here goes.

Why else must the government make the differentiation ? There is no evidence to suggest that Romeos are more likely to fall from two wheelers than Juliets. Yes, Romeo's concentration on the bike can easily, and often, be distracted by a passing Juliet, but that's equally true of Juliet too - its just that the human emotions that are triggered by such a sight varies from admiration to envy  ! It certainly cannot be anything to do with display of the hairdo to please the eye . Indian ladies have a mighty preference for long hair, but considering that Rajalakshmi is far too lazy to tend to it properly, it can be argued that it is best hidden under the helmet.

It can perhaps be on the grounds of women empowerment, but then India is not pro choice country (American far right, please note)! Perhaps it is a consequence of the tendency of the ladies in this country to ride side saddle -  Research indicates that a fall might more likely result in a landing on a rather more substantial part of the anatomy.

We have too look for clues elsewhere. There is yet another group in this worthy city which is exempted from wearing a helmet. Members of a certain religious group who sport rather substantial and cushioning headgear are not required to wear a helmet either. But considering the popular perception that under that elaborate adornment, there is a certain sparseness of matter, especially as we  approach midday, we cannot draw a parallel to the feminine of the species ! For the record, the said insinuation is an abominable untruth.

Certain masculine members of my audience might respond as to what was new in the question posed in the title. Any category of the population which is fixated with the saas-bahu serials (soaps for ye non Indians)  must obviously have to be somewhat thick in the head. Evidence mounts in this direction considering the obvious feminine dispensation towards a pedicure (see here for a learned exposition on this subject.

The Transport Minister in the Delhi Government who is leading the fight against women equality is the fantastically named Arvinder Singh Lovely ! But then being a member of the group which is exempt from wearing helmets for reasons outlined  a couple of paragraphs above, we cannot take his  arguments too highly !!

Motion is hereby moved that the fair sex is indeed rather well defended in the highest part of the anatomy. Spirited defence against the motion is invited. Those in support of the motion might consider tactical restraint as a means of saving their lives.

Friday, April 27, 2012

SPOTLIGHT SATURDAY

Welcome to Spotlight Saturday, where I hope to share a couple of great FREEBIES I've found while out searching Pinterest, TN, and TpT.  I've quickly learned that this is going to be a FUN task for me each week.  Maybe in my retirement there's a future for me in Private Detective work....out sneaking around for good deals.  Who doesn't love a good freebie? There are plenty out there, that's for sure!  So LET ME GET STARTED...First, I want to introduce you to 2 quick downloads this week.  The first one is from DOWN UNDER TEACHER...Yep...a REAL Aussie!  Kylie has a 50 page multiplication unit focused on the 2's, 5's, and 10's.  It has 8 different activities that can be used as centers or small group instruction.  The pages are colorful and very attractive for little eyes. A great grab for 2nd-3rd graders learning multiplication.                                                                                                                                                 
 Check out freebie #2 from my new friend, Kristi over at LUCKY IN LEARNING.  Kristi is a 2nd grade teacher and NEW to the world of blogging...so you know what to do...show her the love!  :-)  We've ALL been new bloggers once.    Who isn't inspired by a trip to Disney? Kristi was, and created a cute Fairy Tale foldable that focuses on the story elements and the characteristics of  fairy tales.  An adorable add to your genre units!                                                                           
So....not to bad for my first week of searching, huh?  I'm on the prowl again this week....No blog, pin, or store is safe.  ;-)

PhotobucketHappy Weekend friends!                                      

Thursday, April 26, 2012

How the stock market works

"Company X crushes estimates; Shares Soar" screams the headlines in Forbes,  a respected business magazine. "Company X profits slip 35% as spending continues"  proclaims the equally loud headlines of The Wall Street Journal, a respectable business newspaper. Both refer to the same company - Amazon - and the same piece of news, the first quarter results of the company. Flummoxed ?? Read on.

Can both headlines be right ?? Surely they can't.  Only in the rarified world of finance , especially the even more ionospheric world of stock markets can both statements be true. Yes.

You see, company performance and movement of share prices is based on "expectations" and not on reality. Expectations of whom, you may ask ?  Of a unique sub species of the human race called homo sapiens analystensis (hereinafter referred to as HSA).

Cut to business school. Some of the best brains in the land want to "go into finance" after they graduate. Their ambition is to mutate into this unique sub species I referred to earlier. There are distinct variants even in the subspecies that you can aspire to become - HS Brokerensis, HS Sellsideanalystensis, HS Buysideanalystensis, HS Fundmanagerensis, etc etc.

All of them have only one aim in life. They aspire to make predictions of the future. These predictions are called "expectations" or "estimates" in the lingo. Never mind that humanity has not yet discovered how to foretell the future. All through history, many quacks have attempted to do this - astrologers, palmists and charlatans of various kinds. To this tribe has now been added the aforementioned HSA. Their tool is not a parrot or a horoscope, but an abomination called the Excel spreadsheet. For their quackery, HSAs earn only in seven figures.

Based on their wise gazings, they come up with an Estimate (with a capital E). Then they all flock together , total up all their Estimates, divide it by the number present and come up with a "Consensus Estimate". This is the magic target for the company to beat. This is what Amazon beat by 4X prompting the Forbes headline.

Companies are of course wise to all this. They cuddle up to this species. They ply them with booze in events called Analysts Meet. They provide them with "guidance" so that the fertile minds of the great members of HSA can be fertilised. Sharp readers may note that along with other humans, company honchos are equally clueless about the future. But that doesn't stop them from pontificating. They  whisper, allude, provide crystal balls etc etc so that the sainted HSA can come up with the "right" Estimate. Then they spend all their life trying to beat the millstone around their neck.

The stock market formula is simple. Beat the Estimate and your share price will soar. Miss the Estimate and the share price will tank. Never mind if you made a profit or a loss. Never mind that you sold more or less. Never even mind if you made cornflakes or condoms.

Now you see why both Forbes and Wall Street Journal were right. Amazon's profits actually dropped by 35% from last year's first quarter. Signor Bezos continues to thumb his nose at any naysayer and spends money like water (made respectable by calling it investment). But he beat the consensus estimate of the HSA. Not just beat it, but licked it.  

Amazon's share price rose 14% yesterday.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Sale, A Giveaway, and a New Saturday Feature



I am really enjoying the new TN site.  This is SALE & GIVEAWAY week for me!  I've got everything in the store on sale for a variety of percentages off!  (Some even 50%) Check it out!  With the Kentucky Derby fast approaching (May 5th), I also put the Probability & Kentucky Derby unit in a giveaway on TN!  Be sure to enter before Sunday!  
Finally, I'm going to add a new feature to my blog each Saturday called SPOTLIGHT SATURDAY!  I plan to Spotlight a couple of my favorite freebies & provide links to them.  That means I'll be on the prowl for some outstanding goodies for us all!  Check back each Saturday for the newest treasures I've found.  :-)
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The Business April 25th 2012, "THREE YEAR BIRTHDAY!" Edition




GO BUSINESS!  IT’S YOUR BIRTHDAY!  WE’RE GONNA PARTY!  LIKE IT’S THE BUSINESS’ BIRTHDAY!

Hey Party People: While you were all busy filing your taxes at the last possible second, The Business, San Francisco’s longest running alternative comedy show and foam party, turned a distinguished THREE YEARS OLD on April 15th.  We’ve survived our terrible two’s (which were not terrible at all).  We’ve made it past the Sophomore Slump (which wasn’t very slumpy at all).  And as you know, three is a very lucky number that is very important to comedy.  So far this year has been the most fun and full collection of shows we’ve ever put on.  THE MAGIC IS WORKING ALREADY!  Please come out this Wednesday night and help celebrate with us and our party pals:

Nato Green will be on hand and ready to party like it’s 2012.  Known as “The Fifth Businessman” (even though we now are six members strong, so technically he’d be “The Seventh Businessman”) Nato is back at The Biz to help prep for his upcoming FULL LENGTH COMEDY ALBUM RECORDING!  Nato speaks truth to power through the international language of love: stand-up comedy.  When not prepping for CD recordings, Nato has also been working on a documentary with and about his fellow pinko commies Laughter Against The Machine. This party just became a political party yall!

Party Dog Mike Drucker visits The Biz again to do a keg stand off our pony keg...of laughs!  A recent transplant from the Northwest, Mike has already made his nerd dominance felt throughout the Bay.  A writer for Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, McSweeny’s and Nintendo (that’s right, dorks)  Drucker also recently went head-to-head with Businessman Alex Koll during a Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction battle royale at Portland’s The Bridgetown Comedy Festival. How erotic will things get this Wednesday?  Probably not much at all!

To add to the party vibe, we will also have The DJ Real Vs. Joe Tobin Experience on-stage as our house band, some party snacks and many more surprises!

All of the regular Businessmen will be in the mix, except for Bucky, who is off pushing his poetry in Portland.  But not to worry, we’ve enlisted several holograms to take his place!  Come for the comedy, stay for the future technology!

As always, the party starts at 8pm, the party price is just $5 and party supplies are nearby at Taqueria Cancun and other hot party spots in the ‘hood.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY EVERYONE!

Monday, April 23, 2012

The thorny problem of media pluralism

The term pluralism is regularly used in critiques of media and in arguments for public intervention. It is employed so loosely, however, that it allows varied interpretations to be attached and this makes it highly challenging to turn general support for the concept into specific policy. Much of the lack of clarity is the consequence of indefiniteness of the term and because it is used as a proxy for more involved concepts.

The term is derived from “plural”, an indistinct quantitative concept indicating the existence of more than a single thing and plurality itself merely indicates a state of being numerous. This alone allows the term plurality to be used in various ways when applied to media.

For some it means a plurality of media outlets. This is indicated by having multiple types of media and multiple units of each media and the existence of a range of print, broadcast, satellite, and Internet content providers can represent pluralism. For other observers pluralism means plurality in ownership, that is, a range of owners and different types of ownership. For others it is indicated by the existence of public service as well as private commercial firms so some provision is made by an organisation(s) without direct individual economic self-interest(s).

The amount of media, its ownership, and its operation are not in themselves the objects of concern about pluralism, however, and these usages are merely shorthand semantic devices that indicate a collection of political, economic, and cultural concepts and ideologies. Because that collection is not universally agreed, the term pluralism is disparately employed.

The term encompasses fundamental concepts in liberal democratic media ideology and neo-Marxist critiques of media. It incorporates ideas of the benefits of free flow of information, ideas and opinions and the value of a variety in artistic and cultural expression. It recognizes the amount of content that can be offered by any one provider is limited by temporal and spatial factors. It accepts that the abilities of individuals to obtain and attend to content are affected by monetary and temporal limitations. It recognizes that operation of media is accompanied by political and economic benefits such as access, privilege, influence, and power and that those can be used for personal advantage and interests.

Those who accept these concepts underlying the term pluralism differ widely about the proper means for its pursuit, however. They have divergent beliefs about the roles of the state and the market and differ widely about whether policy should promote beneficial outcomes through regulation or incentives and whether—and the extent to which—non-market provision of content is desirable.

The difficulty of achieving the ultimate objectives is further complicated by the fact that public policies promoting pluralism tend of focus on the overt evidences of plurality in media outlets, media ownership, and media operation. Although multiplicity of media outlets, ownership and operation increase the possibility of achieving the objectives of pluralism, they do not guarantee because they are not necessary and sufficient conditions for its existence. Thus ‘external pluralism’ is sometimes not enough. This has led many to advocate for ‘internal pluralism,’ meaning that within a single broadcasters or publisher as variety of content and perspectives are provided. The provision of internal pluralism is typically used to justify public service broadcasting and narrow internal pluralism is a typical critique of private media.

The contemporary world creates lower barriers to participation in communication by making production easier and shifting distribution away from technologies that limited the number of providers and content available—the fundamental rationale for concern about pluralism. In the digital media world, the fundamental challenge involving pluralism is not limitations on producing content, expressing divergent ideas and opinions, or access to distribution systems. The primary challenge is the ability to effectively reach audiences.

In this environment promoting pluralism must focuses on reducing control over what flows through new digital distribution systems so dominant owners of production and distribution systems are not able to marginalize alternative perspectives and make them difficult to locate. And the fundamental content and attention problem remains.

Although digital media provide many more opportunity to be heard, the issue today is not ‘share of voice’, but ‘share of ear’. We need to seek ways to promote knowledge about alternative content and to make it more readily accessible. Otherwise the concentration of where the audience goes—in terms of aggregators and sites—is every bit as damaging to pluralism as limitations on spectrum and concentration of ownership. This is especially true by the Internet service providers, content aggregators, search engines, and video on demand services that pursue their own interests through in-transparent practices and algorithms that skew the access to and distribution of information, even when it is ‘personalized’ by individuals.

Those who hold that pluralism is no longer an issue in the digital world argue that its underlying infrastructures are neutral. That technology may be neutral, but the systems necessary to make them function are under the control of companies with their own agendas and the abilities to limit or direct its use in ways that harm pluralism.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

1984

Alas, George Orwell's prophecy has come true. Its 30 years late, but its now a reality. His book, 1984, I mean. For those unfamiliar with the aforesaid gentleman and book [having been born subsequently :) ], here's a helpful link as to what it is all about.

The sudden realisation dawned on me through the innocuous act of installing the Ghostery plugin to my Firefox browser. I had innocently thought that something that would enhance my internet privacy would not be a bad thing. Little did I realise what a disaster it would lead to.

You see, I had not realised how much the powers that be were interested in my colourless life. Within one second of installing the damn thing it showed me that Facebook and Twitter were monitoring my every click on the Net. Never mind that I don't use either of those.  I expected to see the usual culprits like Google Analytics and Double Click. But, pray, what on earth are Chitika, Open X, Crazy Egg, Tealium doing spying on me ..... . Now every 5 minutes, Ghostery is throwing up a new character that wants to monitor me. As soon as I block one, another one pops up. I have become completely paranoid. What on earth is happening.

Why is anybody even remotely interested in what I do ?? After all, the wonderfully exciting things I do on the Net are blogging, checking email, etc etc.  I am not a terrorist. I am not in  China trying to stir up trouble over Bo Xilai. I am not  circulating cartoons of a certain Chief Minister of India, which will land you in jail. No, I am not even browsing girlie sites !

So who is interested. The official explanation is that they are collecting non identifiable data so that they can target ads better . Really ? Who the hell cares two hoots about an ad on the Net these days ? I haven't ever bought a single thing on the Net because I saw an ad for it. I never will.

I think Big Brother has come into being. With all this analysing going on, I can picture my dossier in Big Brother's hands. My dad's name is Ramamritham and Rajalakshmi is my secret girl friend.  I have connections with the Greek protestors since I am friendly with , one, Zeno. I have a taste for seafood since I seem to be fascinated with Gils. I have one eighth Maori blood in me since I know a kiwibloke.  ?  And I am surely narcissistic since I seem to be gazing at Reflections (yes, she is eminently gazeable at:)) . But who in the world is the mysterious "J" ?

I am now quaking with dread. No doubt there are video and audio trackers in action. Since I rarely switch off my computer, they can presumably see what I do and listen to what I say. They can find out some amazing things. Yes, I woke up at 7.48 in the morning today. No, I do not sing in the shower. Yes, my sartorial talents are not well developed. No, I do not watch TV .... Riveting stuff.

This is simply awful. Even the good old Soviet Union of yore, or  present day North Korea are better. Get an internet connection at your peril. Big Brother is bound to find out that you sleep on your tummy.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

S.P.O.R.T. day & a SALE on TN! :-)

Well, I survived, (ahem) I mean WE survived S.P.O.R.T (Students Preparing Outrageously for TESTING) day on Friday. Call us crazy, but my teammates and I decided to review for testing in a FUN way!  8-9 year olds get a little uptight over their first BIG state mandated test, so we thought this approach might be a good strategy.  (Ask me after results come in if I'll do it again! lol)  Check out the photos below:  Students (and teachers) arrived wearing their best sporting event attire (jerseys, uniforms, headbands, ponytails, etc.)  We stretched and warmed up with a little "YMCA" action. 
Our games included a few games/activities from my TpT and TN store.  (Bullseye, Corners Game, Road Runner, and Match!)  Then we moved to the outdoor activities, including a balloon pop relay where students had to run to a chair, sit on and pop their balloon to get their review question, answer it correctly, and return to tag the next student!  *A favorite of all!  Students also had to give up one of their shoes for a shoe relay, where the teachers stuffed their shoe with a review question.  Students had to race to retrieve their shoe AND answer their question before returning to tag the next student.  Finally, we concluded with a beach ball toss.  The beach balls had different subject matters written on them.  Students took turns catching the ball and we'd ask questions from the different subject matters.  


I TOTALLY needed a nap afterwards, but my students will never forget how they prepared for this test!  * Email me if you need a list of activities, parent letter, ideas, etc.  It was a BLAST!   
    
Photobucket    In closing today, I'm excited about my TN "Countdown to Summer" sale running from April 22-27th, with some items up to 50% off!   Link @ right on my TN link.  :-)   

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What you can get with a billion dollars

In the last post, I asked a rhetorical question - What would you do with a billion dollars ?

Well, I read in the Economic Times today, that it was all too real a question to two people. They were faced with precisely this problem.

Read here , what they actually did. I found this a moving piece and would strongly commend reading it.

Analogies Driving School

I got tired of not having anything CUTE to teach Analogies with, so created this unit to help.  My students are anxious to earn their "Analogies Permit" upon successful completion of "Analogies Drivers School."  (click link to view) Also, it's the last 3 days for my giveaway on TN.  I have a Story Map collection in there for GIVEAWAY (3 lucky winners!)  Here's a link to that giveaway. 
    STORY MAP COLLECTION               Photobucket

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Business April 18th 2012, "The Maximilian Affair" Edition


This week, The Business regulars are stuffing your enchiladas with baguettes as we welcome a bill of guests that would have Napoleon III plieing in his grave hard enough to knock off the sugar skulls.

Clara Bijl is visiting us from The City of Angels, but was born in The City of Light. PARIS, FRANCE. She was raised in the Alps, attended schools in Germany, Switzerland, and South Carolina; then one day, she moved to The City that Never Sleeps to begin a career in stand-up comedy. Performing all around the Big Apple and the rest of the country, she became a prolific writer of cutting, witty, internationally flavored comedy.

She will truffle your butter.

Frankie Quinones is a rising star to search for and catch. He is a founding member of For The People Comedy, is a collective of artists who share a common goal of producing colorful events fueled by positivity and laughter. Always maintaining a diverse lineup to represent San Francisco culture through high energy shows filled with humor and music. Frankie has also toured with some of the industry’s top headliners including the legendary Paul Rodriguez, and has performed for our troops overseas in Japan, Europe, and the Middle East.

He is also quite dapper. Muy rico suave.

This show is gonna feel like French kissing a churro. It’s gonna be like peeping on the Dos Equis guy with a French maid. It’s gonna make you wanna escarGO(silentT) see more live comedy!!! EIYIYI!!!! (I’m sorry)

Grab $5, your burrito and your beret and come join our fantastic guests and all the regulars! (except Alex, who we wish well in the wilds of the Northwest. If you are reading this in Tacoma, Washington- go see his shows this weekend at the Comedy Underground!)

Monday, April 16, 2012

GRAPHING, GRAPHING, & MORE GRAPHING!

Nothing like a week's worth of graphing!  I'm so excited to post this unit in my TpT & TN store, as I've been working on it for weeks!  I finally got to try it out on my class and they give their FULL APPROVAL!  :-)  They truly loved making the class graphs and couldn't wait to see what graph we'd do next.  Instead of "Good morning Mrs. Harper,"  I was greeted with, "What graph are we doing today?"  They especially liked the application piece where THEY THEMSELVES got to go around the room collecting data for their own graph.  This unit follows the "I do" (teacher modeling) "We do" (class together) & "You Do" (now you try) style.  It's my new favorite!   Click to view it on TpT!                               GRAPHS GALORE                                 Photobucket

Saturday, April 14, 2012

And the Winners Are...

YAY!  I survived my first blog giveaway! I'm happy to announce the following winners...(drum roll, please!)  Brynne, Stacey, Jodi, Krista, Kimberly, & Adrienne!  See results here:  NEW BLOG CELEBRATION GIVEAWAY WINNERS     THANK YOU, THANK YOU for entering and helping me celebrate my new blog adventure.  Don't be a stranger! I plan to have another giveaway soon!  That was too much fun!                                                                                             Photobucket

Friday, April 13, 2012

What can you get for a billion dollars

You have a billion dollars burning a hole in your pocket (Gils, Zeno, and a few others have that problem !). Take your pick. What would you buy ? 800 patents, dating back to the early days of the Internet. Or a red hot new internet rage that everybody is talking about but which has no revenues. Or boring old Yellow Pages. What would you take ?

These are three transactions that actually happened in the last couple of weeks for about $1 bn. 

Microsoft bought the 800 patents from AOL for $1.1 bn. The patent world has become completely crazy for tech companies in the last few years. Everybody is suing everybody else for patent infringement. Some 800 plus patents are given simply for what goes into a mobile phone. Its impossible these days to launch anything without infringing on somebody's patent.The US patent office has gone crazy as I wrote about here - Patents have now become innovation stifling rather than innovation building. Anyway Microsoft believes its better to pay $1.1 bn to acquire them rather than defend later in court.

The crazy deal is Facebook buying Instagram for a $1bn. If you don't know what Instagram is, its  a photo sharing program which allows you to apply filters to your photo (for example to make your photo look like it was taken in 1960) and share it. For a humourous look at it, watch Jon Stewart's show here. This transaction confirms my view that Facebook is a nut case. Instagram has 13 employees and has no way to make any revenues at all, let alone a profit. And here comes Facebook which believes its worth $1bn. Anybody remember dot com mania. Its alive and kicking. Yeah Yeah - I am an old duffer who "doesn't get" the Internet Age.

The third is a boring transaction. Cerebrus , a private equity firm is buying The Yellow Pages from AT&T for a billion. Who even opens the Yellow Pages these days. Doesn't everybody Google everything ? Its a dying product (if not already dead), right ?  Dead wrong. Sure the business is unglamorous. But it has revenues of $3.3 bn and is churning out cash even while in a slow decline. Private Equity folks aren't fools - they can smell money better than any drug sniffing dog. This seems to be the bargain of the lot for the buyer.

All this just confirms my theory on valuations. There is no science to it despite what business schools like you to believe. It just depends on the degree of desperation of either the seller or the buyer.. Sometimes both !

Readers are invited to present their own creative proposals on what they might do with a billion. Gils and Zeno are excused on the grounds that they may have to give away what they might actually do !

Smartie Pants & Giveaway THIS WEEKEND!

I was surprised today with a new door decoration from one of our Kindergarten classes.  They are cheering my boys and girls on for the state mandated testing coming up very soon!  All of our K-2 classes "adopted" a 3-5 classroom to support before & during testing week.  HOW SWEET!  My kids returned from their  Music class to find our SMARTIE PANTS door waiting.  Not sure if you can see the details, but it has the "Smartie" candies next to a pair of pants that the K students decorated.  ADORABLE!  My kids ARE a bunch of SMARTIES and I know they'll do well on the test.  THANK YOU Mrs. Settlemeyer & your precious K students!                                            
It's almost GIVEAWAY time.  I'm so excited to be sending out some units to the winners this weekend. If you haven't signed up, it's not too late.  Click here:  NEW BLOG CELEBRATION GIVEAWAY
Happy FRIDAY!!  
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Monday, April 9, 2012

The Easter Brady Bunch

It's my last day off on the long weekend.  It's also the last little break we get before the end of school.  You know what that means...CRUNCH TIME.  My students and I have a lot of work to do before testing in 2 weeks.  Although, we have this GREAT day planned the Friday before testing...  I can't wait.  I'll keep you posted on the event and post pics afterwards (if we all survive).  :-)
I trust everyone had a wonderful Easter weekend.  I was happy to have the BRADY BUNCH all together.  It's difficult getting all of us together for 5 minutes, let alone for pictures.  BUT, somehow we managed.  For those of you that don't know me well, my husband and I have put together the modern day Brady Bunch.  His 3 and my 3.  The only thing missing is ALICE (which I would kill for)  Oh, and instead of 3 boys and 3 girls, we have 5 boys and 1 girl.  (Yes, she's rotten)  Here's my rowdy crew of 6 all together.     
   We're only a few days away from my NEW BLOG CELEBRATION giveaway.  (Click HERE to enter!!!)  If you haven't entered, you don't have much longer.  Good luck to all!    Bananas for my Brady Bunch today,
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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Horses, Easter, & and a Game of Tag!!

My Easter weekend got started with a surprise invitation from my parents to drive back home to Kentucky for a trip to Keeneland.  I'm not a gambler, but I do love horses, so thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful weather, time with my family, and cheering on ALL the horses!  :-)  
My NEW BLOG CELEBRATION giveaway is on it's LAST WEEK.  WOW!   (Scroll down to ENTER!)  I've been so excited to meet some new fabulous teachers who have stopped by and said hi and/or entered.  I had no idea how much blogging creates a sense of team spirit.  I'm soooo looking forward to networking and learning so much from peers.
Finally, TAG I'm it...apparently.  Not once, but twice.  THANK YOU Corinna over at Surfin' Through Second and Barb over at It's About Time. All I can figure is that I'm not very good at TAG if I'm IT twice. ;-)   But sounds like fun, so will be stalking some blogs tonight to pass the torch on to some other teacher blogger who least expects it.  HAPPY EASTER and maybe, just maybe...you're IT!

Here Are The rules:

* Post these rules
* Answer the 10 questions that the tagger posted for you.
* Create 10 questions of your own to ask the people that you're about to tag
* Tag 10 people and link them with your post (and let them know they've been tagged!)

I was asked the following questions and my answers follow:

1. What is your favorite sweet treat?    Anything Chocolate & I'm happy :-)
2.  What other profession besides teaching did you aspire to?  Nothing...always knew I wanted to teach
3.  What talent do you possess that not many people know about?  I can whistle about 20 different ways.  
4.  Who is a celebrity that you would love to meet?  Tim Teebow (just admire his courage, faith, and integrity)
5.  What inspired you to become a teacher? Another teacher & a chance to teach basic spanish to an elementary class when I was in high school.
6.  If you could do a Teacher Exchange program for a year, where would
you want to teach?  Hmmm...Alaska (break out the winter coat)
7.  What is your favorite pair of school shoes?  Anything flat that I can stand in all day
8.  What are your top 3 favorite places to shop?  New York & Co, TJ Max, Belk
9.  What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you
while teaching?  I was teaching K at the time and I was teaching at an inner city school with a rough little crowd (I LOVED THEM!)  But I said, "Boys and girls, I'm going to read you a story called 'Is Your Mama a Llama'  One of my K students blurted out..."Is your mama a ho'?"   I honestly thought I'd die right there.  
10.  How/Why did you get into  blogging?  Someone suggested it was a great way to meet other teachers, get my items out there, and FIND some great items, teachers, and sites.  How true!

OKAY all you "IT" friends, here are your questions to copy!  Can't wait to read your answers!!!
1.  What teacher inspired you most & why?
2.  What has been the most challenging behavior problem you've had to deal with!
3.  If you didn't teach, what would you be doing?
4.  What do you do in your summers off?
5.  School lunch or bring your own?
6.  What is one word that describes your teaching style?
7.  Coffe or hot cocoa?
8.  What is the ideal # of students to have in a classroom?
9.  What's the funniest thing a student has ever said to you or asked you about?
10.  If you could choose a celebrity to team teach with for a day, who would it be & why?

AM EXHAUSTED after this one....Gotta get to bed.  I want to be asleep when the Easter bunny arrives!  
Blessings,


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Friday, April 6, 2012

Wealth and Morality are not mutually exclusive

Not for nothing is Archbishop Desmond Tutu widely known as "South Africa's moral conscience". The Nobel Peace Prize Winner in 1984, Archbishop Tutu was one of the leaders of the anti apartheid struggle in South Africa. He headed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission after the fall of apartheid which so enabled South Africa to move on from the past and not start a war of vengeance. He speaks often in defence of moral positions. 

So when he wrote a piece in the Financial Times, I sat up and read. He argues in his piece that you don't have to lead a life of austerity to be moral or spiritual. Being wealthy is not a crime (its often made out to be by those who claim to speak for the poor). "It is fine to make a living; we are meant to enjoy abundant lives. The conflict comes when we separate ethics and economic progress and when we equate the latter with happiness", he says.

There's a beautiful statement in his piece.  "Shareholder responsibility is not only to make profits. How they are made also matters." Beautifully put.

I'll leave you to read the article yourself. Its not earth shattering or a blindingly  novel idea. But I believe he has stated very well, with all his moral authority, that yes, you should strive to be wealthy, but be careful of how you become wealthy.

In early stages of a career wealth seems to be everything. That's the goal to aspire for. As you grow older, you may realise that wealth is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for happiness. You may or may not be religious, or even spiritual. But you have to be "moral" to attain a degree of happiness. Those who age, without this realisation, have grown older, but no wiser. It may appear that they have the trappings of happiness, but in reality, they do not.

The opposite is equally true. To condemn wealth and say that it is a barrier to morality, or even spirituality, is sheer bunkum. Glorification of poverty is one of the greatest sins that people can make. Unfortunately many activists do so stridently. They should listen to Archbishop Tutu.

I've often felt that the world needs moral leaders. In the ancient world, the Pope performed that function (alas often appallingly). Leaders, tainted by religion, are now too narrow to be moral world leaders. In the modern world, there are no moral leaders. The closest to having that aura would be Nelson Mandela, but he is an old man now. Archbishop Tutu is somewhat in that mould, even though much of America vehemently criticises him for his strident opposition to Israel's policies on the Palestinians. The world needs more men (and women) like them.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Business April 4th 2012, "Where Eagles Dare to Fly through the American Dream" Edition


This week our guests help us soar like we’ve never soared before. Business regulars Sean Kean, Alex Koll, Chris Garcia, Caitlin Gill and Chris Thayer (Bucky Sinister can’t be with us, though he’s still a proud eagle dreamer) welcome two of the finest comedians to come out of America since the birth of our Nation (by caesarean).

Matt Leib’s parents named him after the famous beef of Mattlieb, Japan, which they saw on a restaurant menu. He and former-teammate Shaquille O'Neal (actually, just him) led the Lakers to three consecutive NBA championships from 2000 to 2002. In 2003, he made headlines when he was accused of sexual assault at a ski resort in Eagle, Colorado by hotel employee Katelyn Faber. He admitted an adulterous sexual encounter with the accuser, but denies the sexual assault allegation. In September 2004, prosecutors dropped the case after Faber informed them that she was unwilling to testify.

(I asked Matt if Shaq is as friendly in real life as he seems in the movies. He just dunked on me, so I’m still not sure.)

You can also catch his weekly show on FCCFree Radio, Where Eagles Dare.

Kurt Weitzmann began performing stand up in 1987 at the infamous Holy City Zoo in San Francisco, a dark and wondrous place. His act has been seen on Comedy central and (ashamedly) MTV but more recently at The Vancouver Comedy Festival and at San Francisco Sketchfest. In between Stand Up performances Kurt founded numerous Bay Area sketch groups, including Nervous laughter, Comedy Noir and The Twist Off Cabaret. Kurt was honored as a semifinalist in the Reverie Next Generation Playwrights Competition last year for his dramatic feature length play, The Abnormal Psychology of God.

(He has also been honored with the award for Best Sushi Rolled by a German.)

His highly acclaimed comedy sketch album Talented is now available on American Dream Records.

THIS SHOW COSTS ONLY $5 AMERICAN. Bring your dead presidents and a burrito to The Dark Room, patriots!



Just posted this item in my TpT store!  You gotta' love the old Charlie Brown classics.  Your students will enjoy this graphic organizer that accompanies the video, It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown.  (available on i tunes or dvd).  It's FREE to the first 25...(HURRY HURRY!)  If you miss out, no worries...I still have some freebies available to GIVE AWAY.  Scroll down to the NEW BLOG CELEBRATION GIVEAWAY and enter to win....April 1-15th!  Happy EASTER everyone! 
 Blessings, Photobucket

Monday, April 2, 2012

A good fight clears the mind: On the value of staging a debate

I always enjoy witnessing a good debate. And I mean the type of debate where one person is given a thesis to defend, while the other person speaks in favour of the anti-thesis. Sometimes – when smart people really get into it – seeing two debaters line up the arguments and create the strongest possible defence can really clarify the pros and cons in my mind and hence make me understand the issue better.

For example – be it one in a written format – recently my good friend and colleague at the London Business School, Costas Markides, was asked by Business Week to debate the thesis that “happy workers will produce more and do their jobs better”. Harvard’s Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer had the (relatively easy) task of defending the “pro”. I say relatively easy, because the thesis seems intuitively appealing, it is what we’d all like to believe, and they have actually done ample research on the topic.

My poor London Business School colleague was given the hapless task to defend the “con”: “no, happy workers don’t do any better”. Hapless indeed.

In fact, in spite of receiving some hate mail in the process, I think he did a rather good job. I am giving him the assessment “good” because indeed he made me think. He argues that having happy, smiley employees all abound might not necessarily be a good sign, because it might be a signal that something is wrong in your organisation, and you’re perhaps not making the tough but necessary choices.

As said, it made me think, and that can’t be bad. Might we not be dealing with a reversal of cause and effect here? Meaning: well-managed companies will get happy employees, but that does not mean that choosing to make your employees happy as a goal in and of itself will get you a better organisation? At least, it is worth thinking about.

In spite that perhaps to you it might seem a natural thing to have in an academic institution – a good debate – it is actually not easy to organise one in business academia. Most people are simply reluctant to do it – as I found out organising our yearly Ghoshal Conference at the London Business School – and perhaps they are right, because even fewer people are any good at it.

I guess that is because, to a professor, it feels unnatural to adopt and defend just one side of the coin, because we are trained to be nuanced about stuff and examine and see all sides of the argument. It is also true that (the more na├»ve part of) the audience will start to associate you with that side of the argument, “as if you really meant it”. Many of the comments Costas received from the public were of that nature, i.e. “he is that moronic guy who thinks you should make your employees unhappy”. Which of course is not what he meant at all. Nor was it the purpose of the debate.

Yet, I also think it is difficult to find people willing to debate a business issue because academics are simply afraid to have an opinion. We are not only trained to examine and see all sides of an argument, we are also trained to not believe in something – let alone argue in favour of it – until there is research that produced supportive evidence for it. In fact, if in an academic article you would ever suggest the existence of a certain relationship without presenting evidence, you’d be in for a good bellowing and a firm rejection letter. And perhaps rightly so, because providing evidence and thus real understanding is what research is about.

But, at some point, you also have to take a stand. As a paediatric neurologist once told me, “what I do is part art, part science”. What he meant is that he knew all the research on all medications and treatments, but at the end of the day every patient is unique and he would have to make a judgement call on what exact treatment to prescribe. And doing that requires an opinion.

You don’t hear much opinion coming from the ivory tower in business academia. Which means that the average business school professor does not receive much hate mail. It also means he doesn’t have much of an audience outside of the ivory tower.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

FIRSTS...

Today I'm reflecting on all the FIRSTS that have happened in the last several months.  There's something special about all the FIRSTS in your life, don't ya' think?  Hesitantly, not having a clue what to expect,  I opened my TpT store in November of 2011.  I remember jumping (literally, not figuratively) up & down when I sold my FIRST product! I remember my FIRST follower!  I won't forget my FIRST piece of advice from a great seller.  I am thankful for my friend, Kim (loveofteachingkimberly.blogspot.com),  who was the FIRST person I talked into joining me on TpT! I started my FIRST blog this past week, and finally decided to have my FIRST giveaway which started TODAY! (Scroll below to No Monkey Business New Blog Celebration Giveaway post) What are some of your "FIRSTS" that make you smile when you think about them?   :-)  I'd love to hear about them...                                                                                                                             Photobucket

Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn

Immortal words from an immortal movie. If you don't know where this quotation is from, click here (excusable because this was before you were born)

I am however writing about more prosaic things. Like the American nomination of Jim Yong Kim for the Presidency of the World Bank. Readers of this blog may recall that I had railed about the practice of nominating an American for the head of the World Bank and an European for the Head of the IMF here. The IMF vacancy came rather suddenly after the antics of Dominique Strauss Kahn. After some pious sermonising about how it wasn't an European stitch up, the post went to Christine Lagarde, another French person !

Now there is a vacancy coming at the top of the World Bank as Robert Zoellick is completing his term. The Americans are now wanting to stitch this up. But its the American they have nominated which is raising eyebrows. Kim who ??

Jim Yong Kim is an eminent American, no doubt. But he is an anthropologist and physician by profession. He is currently the President of Dartmouth College and was the former director of the HIV/AIDS section of the World Health Organisation. He is a highly respected figure in his circles. But he is not a banker. So what's an anthropologist going to do as head of the World Bank.

Convoluted justifications are being given. Apparently it would be good to have a "development expert" as head of the World Bank. Balderdash. Its simply America trying to make it more palatable to have their nominee as the boss. Kim is Korean by descent and is not a white man. They can even pass him as an "Asian". Its just an effective fudge to continue the tradition of stitching up. Or else a more interesting logic might have been in the mind - Bankers are too dangerous to be allowed to run the World Bank (I can begin to have sympathy for such a thought !)

There is some muted opposition to this. A Nigerian and a Colombian are standing against him, but are unlikely to have much of a chance. But the more interesting development is that nobody seems to care. Deafening silence from the chief lender to the world - China. I don't know how to say it in Chinese, but I can almost hear Hu Jintao saying "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" !