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What do The Titanic, an iceberg, and your money have in common?

Short promo video explaining uber-pimp Peter Schiff’s book “Crash Proof 2.0” :

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Educational deficiencies

2011-04-02 3 comments

Many people these days are aware of problems with schools.  It’s an extremely complex issue with no easy answer.  So I’m not proposing anything or trying to make any kind of grand sweeping generalization, or claiming I know how to fix the problems.  But I want to share with you a personal example of a deficiency in my education (through no fault of my own).

I always paid attention in history class (or at the very least read all the assigned reading and did all the assigned work).  So while I may not be a history whiz, I should at least know some of the basics, right?

Today I was on wikipedia reading about the Industrial Revolution.  I’ve heard the term before, but we never covered it in school.  Someone may have mentioned it in passing, but I really knew nothing about it until I started reading about it today.  In the opening paragraph, it states “Economic historians are in agreement that the onset of the Industrial Revolution is the most important event in the history of humanity since the domestication of animals and plants.”

As I learned more about the Industrial Revolution, I began to see that this statement about the importance of the Industrial Revolution is not an exaggeration.  Every single one of us lives the way we do because of what happened during the Industrial Revolution.  I learned about economic growth.  Mechanization.  Worker exploitation.  Labor unions.  Collective bargaining.  These things are huge.  They matter, in a very direct and real sense.  I’ve only skimmed the surface but now I at least have a foundation of knowledge about that subject.  So many things in our every day lives are a direct result of global changes that took place during the Industrial Revolution, and having now learned the basics of it, I have a much better understanding of the world.

So what’s my point?  Well, we’ve already talked about how we’re autodidacts. I just want to continue the conversation.  There is so much to learn out there about the universe we live in.  The more you learn, the more pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that comprises our reality fit into place.  Let your curiosity guide you.  And know that there’s always so much more to be learned.  You just have to teach it to yourself.  It’s empowering.

 

EDIT 2011-10-16: The following videos about the future of education and how it can be changed for the better are both inspiring and jarring:

Both videos are TED talks regarding the current state of and the future of the educational system.  In the first video, Salman Kahn (of Kahn Academy fame) talks about how he has begun working with schools to revolutionize teaching.  The second video, which is a bit more bleak, has Bill Gates (of Microsoft fame) talking about the consequences of the budget cuts to education as well as the possibilities for fixing the problems.

 

But I thought “Insider Trading” is illegal…

2010-11-12 2 comments

The term “Insider Trading” is fairly well known from it’s somewhat ubiquitous presence in film and TV. In brief, Insider Trading is when someone with “inside knowledge” of a company (aka the “Insider”) profits from that knowledge by buying/selling shares in a company.

An example would be a scientist working for a pharmaceutical company that has developed a cure for AIDS. Obviously, the price of the company’s stock is going to go up once their cure is made available to the world. If this scientist knows about the cure but that knowledge has not been made public, the scientist is prohibited by law from buying a lot of shares in the company and thus profiting greatly once the information is released and the stock price soars. This would be an example of illegal insider trading. But in fact it is possible for insiders to trade stocks legally. In fact, it is common. Read on…

Legal Insider Trading

Many employees have stock in the companies that employ them. Those employees are free to trade that stock. This is perfectly legal and fairly common: As you read these words, somewhere in the world shares of some company have been bought or sold by employees of that company. Nothing wrong with that. These employees may be called “Insiders,” depending on who you ask. Typically, the officers and directors of a company are considered insiders.

Illegal Insider Trading

So what makes it illegal for insiders to trade stock in the company they work for? The key is Material Nonpublic Information. What the hell is that? Good question. As of this writing (2010-11-12), Wikipedia does not have an entry for Material Nonpublic Information, so it was necessary to look elsewhere (gasp!). According to LSU Law Center’s Medical and Public Health Law Site, Material Information is any information that would influence an investor’s decision to buy or sell securities. Nonpublic Information is information that is not available to members of the general investing public. Put the two together and what do you got? Any information (not available to the public) that would influence an investor’s decision to buy or sell securities. In this case, “public” essentially means “shareholders.”

So in our example above, the scientist who knows about the new AIDS cure would have to wait until the news was made available to the shareholders or to the public in general via a widely-read publication such as The Wall Street Journal. Only then could he legally trade the stock based on his inside knowledge.

Now you know: And knowing is half the battle. GI Jooooooeee…..

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