Showing posts from December, 2012


I am now halfway through my 42 nd year as a college teacher.    This semester (like all semesters) had its ups and downs.    There were days when every student seemed brilliant and days when no one seemed to be able to count to four.      I don’t think I taught any geniuses but almost every student appeared capable and, hopefully, gained something of lasting benefit.    I started with 73 students and a total of 16 finished with the grade of A.    I always hope for more excellent work but 21.9 percent was not bad.    I try not to contribute too heavily to grade inflation. At the end of every semester, there are always a few students that I wish I had handled differently.    I often ponder them long after class has ended.    With 73 students, it can be difficult to get an accurate read on each student at the beginning of the semester.    Some need carrots to do well and some need sticks.    Often, I feel frustrated because I do not have the time needed to determine what buttons to push

Apple App Not Apt

Nowadays, people take their cellphones everywhere, to the park, to the store, to the dinner table, to the bathroom. It has become such a huge part of our lives in the past few years, and justifiably so. It's a phone, camera, music player, calendar and computer in the palm of your hand. A more recent feature is GPS. If you're lost in NYC, you pull up the Maps app. If you're driving somewhere new, you pull up the Maps app. Most of you have heard how Apple dropped the ball with iOS 6 and the new Maps app. Some people are still stranded in that park... Fortunately, Google has just launched the much anticipated Google Maps app, previously a default app for all new iPhones before iOS 6, available for free in the App Store. The consensus is it's in fact more user friendly, accurate, and reliable than Apple's own version, and it has always been so. So one might wonder, why would Apple get rid of the previous, well-functioning Google maps in place of their own? Although Tim


Happy holidays to all the teachers out there.    This blog just went over 67,800 page views.    I have been thrilled throughout the year to have the chance to interact with so many wonderful educators.    ** When I give teaching presentations around the country, I am often asked how my teaching has changed during the past 42 years.    Because I stress working for 5 percent improvement each year, that particular question is certainly a legitimate one.    Invariably someone will jump up and ask:    Okay, how are you managing to improve over time? I actually have a couple of different answers for that question.    But, there is one response that I always give:    During the past decade, I have come to spend a lot more time writing my test questions.    I used to throw tests together hurridly with one goal:    to be fair.    Now, though, I view testing as a much more important element of my class environment, one that requires a significant amount of preparation time.   I occasionally

The SEC vs. Netflix

Back in July, Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix, posted a message on Facebook, which caused the SEC to warn the company last week of a potential investigation into Netflix’s violation of the Regulation Fair Disclosure. The message itself was short, consisting of only 45 words, and a simple exclamation of his excitement to see that the company has hit the milestone of 1 billion hours viewed in June (see above image). Netflix disclosed that it received a Wells Notice from the SEC last Thursday, meaning that the SEC staff will recommend the full commission to pursue either a cease-and-desist action and/or a civil injunction. The SEC believes that Hasting’s post has violated Reg FD, the brainchild of Arthur Levitt, former chairman of the commission. The regulation was put in place slightly over a decade ago, originally designed to prevent selective leaks from companies to certain analysts and to promote “full and fair disclosure”. In general, Reg FD states that “when a public company gives

Big Data Big Money

                 What the internet has done to social media will be talked about for the next hundred years, as it has changed the game for so many industries, especially advertising. Take Facebook for example. Everyone has one. Okay, not everyone , but about a sixth of the entire population (1 billion people) are active users, which one can leave up to the imagination the number of people who have simply used Facebook once in their life.                 Facebook users post all types of information on their profile, from photos, personal information, relationship statuses, school, and location, also known as Big Data. To any consumer targeted business such as retail or advertising, this information a goldmine, as they are only a couple clicks away from obtaining information from a billion people. From photos for example, you can see that Person A has recently posted pictures of his snowboarding trip in the Swiss Alps. If companies could obtain this information, stores such as Dick’s S

10 Year Treasuries Trade in Tightest Range Since July on Fed Speculation

      What seems to be somewhat of a surprise recently is the fact that US treasuries are trading at their tightest ranges since July, which most believe is due to Fed speculation.  10 year US treasuries have been trading within a quarter percent point, a record low, as potential forecasted job growth failed.  This is leading to speculation that the Federal Reserve will, as a part of QE3, announce another round of bond purchases and further increase their balance sheet. Yields on the 10-year treasury note benchmarks have risen from the least in more than 2 weeks after the United States Labor department showed figures that the US has added approximately 146,000 jobs in November, causing the unemployment rate to drop to 7.7 percent.  Federal Reserve officials have expressed that they will continue to buy bonds until the job market improves greatly.  Industry leaders expect easing to continue, guaranteeing that we will “see more balance sheet operations,” expecting the Fed to continue to

Foreign Retailers Poised to Enter Indian Market

                 The lower house of India’s parliament, the Lok Sabha, today voted to allow foreign supermarkets to conduct business in India. The Congress Party backed government managed to push the measure through, after to minority parties abstained from voting. India badly needs Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) as its once booming economy has slowed to around 5.5% percent growth in GDP and is suffering from high inflation.             The move to open the retail sector to foreign investors was first approved in September, and did not need parliamentary approval. However in the face of opposition protests, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh decided to put the measure to vote in both houses of parliament. The vote passed with 253 members for and 218 against while 74 abstained. The measure has been largely contended because many believe that it will put many small stores out of business. However, the passage of the measure in the lower house raises hopes that it can also

Cash-Trapped Companies

Recently, we’ve heard a lot about companies holding excess cash on their balance sheets. Many claim that if these companies invested some of the cash they’re been hoarding, the US economy would get the boost it needs. Ironically, even though American companies currently hold near record amounts of cash, many of them are “cash poor” in the US. This is because a majority of their cash is trapped in foreign countries, mainly in Europe and Asia. The list of companies with cash aboard is extensive and includes some major US companies such as Johnson & Johnson, GE, Whirlpool and Microsoft. So why can’t they just bring the cash back to the US? This mainly has to do with the fact that these companies would incur a 35 percent tax rate on corporate profits from the cash they bring back. A recent WSJ article mentioned the company Emerson Electric, which holds almost $2 billion in cash abroad, has only been able to bring back $500 million to the US. This meant that the company had