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Recently, a bunch of people (some of them high-profile and well-respected) have been going around trumpeting that "college is a waste of time." I agree with them, but I think that they are missing a lot of the point. I think that saying "college is a waste of time" makes about as much sense as saying that "everyone should go to college." I honestly think that college fills a vital role for some people, but on the flip side, a lot of education is clearly wasted (either unneeded or useless). In order to resolve things, we need to become more educated consumers of higher education, and we need to figure out how to fix the higher education system. (Source)
Shortly before his death, Marlon Brando was working on a series of instructional videos about acting, to be called "Lying for a Living". On the surviving footage, Brando can be seen dispensing gnomic advice on his craft to a group of enthusiastic, if somewhat bemused, Hollywood stars, including Leonardo Di Caprio and Sean Penn. Brando also recruited random people from the Los Angeles street and persuaded them to improvise (the footage is said to include a memorable scene featuring two dwarves and a giant Samoan). "If you can lie, you can act," Brando told Jod Kaftan, a writer for Rolling Stone and one of the few people to have viewed the footage. "Are you good at lying?" asked Kaftan. "Jesus," said Brando, "I’m fabulous at it."
The Great Recession has obviously left a huge imprint in the mindset of the people who lived through it. At the heart of the boom preceding the recession was a virtuous cycle. Lenders, realizing that home prices have never dropped year-over-year at once across the United States, wanted to extend credit to home buyers in a chase for yield in the low rate environment of the early 2000s. Home buyers were happy to oblige as the cost of home ownership vs. renting decreased and they too realized the benefits of rising home prices. As prices rose, these buyers looked to cash out either by drawing the equity out of their property via a refinance or by selling the property to yet another lender-backer home buyer. All of this proved to be a boon for all parties until it wasn’t and home prices finally fell.
The fall was devastating. The global economy was plunged into a recession. Homeowners defaulted on their loans, banks collapsed, politicians pointed fingers, and central banks had to step in to provide necessary market functions to keep the system alive. The recession cost the United States 5+mm jobs and left participants shell shocked.
However, markets have taken different trajectories since the recession. The housing market obviously took a beating from which it has yet to recover. 400k-500k new 1-family houses used to pop up every quarter from 2005-2006 while right now just 90k are built every quarter. The Case-Shiller Price Index, which measures home prices in 20 metro areas, fell from a peak of 206 in 2006 to 138 in March 2011 and is still posting new lows. On the other hand, equity markets worldwide have rebounded since the recession driven by growth in corporate earnings as well as the ability for corporations to once again tap credit markets. The S&P 500 which peaked at 1550 in late-07 fell to 680 at the height of pessimism in early-09. Now, it sits cozily at 1300, just a -16% discount from its peak.
The problem with traditional newspapers is that they have traditional newsrooms and staffing levels to support, and I suspect this is why they are priced the way they are. Meanwhile, an iPad specific publication like The Daily was built from the ground up for digital, so they are staffed and run accordingly, hence why they charge just a buck a week.
I already read plenty of international, tech, and business news from the web (and my digital subscription to The Economist), but I really wish I had a great source for Canadian economic and political news. The Globe and Mail fits the bill, but their iPad app sort of sucks and it’s pricey when I can get most of the content I want for free on their website.
Who does your iPad newspaper edition compete with — traditionally priced print newspapers, or the vast amount of free content on the web? The Daily understands they’re competing with free, and have priced accordingly. (Source)
In the parlance of investors there is an oft-expressed and colorful turn-of-phrase, namely, "hair on the deal", that immediately signals the kiss of death for a company’s investment prospects. There are of course grammatical and regional variations on this expression but the implication and import are always one and the same: that the company in question will not get funded. Among investors discussing a deal, the mere whiff of this hirsute quality will often suffice to end a discussion of the company’s merits and shortcomings. In this post, however, I intend to delve into exactly what the range of characteristics exhibited by a company and/or its founders are that embody this dreaded state of ‘hairiness’.
On a warm June day in 1978, William J. LeMessurier, one of the nation’s leading structural engineers, received a phone call at his headquarters, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, from an engineering student in New Jersey. The young man, whose name has been lost in the swirl of subsequent events, said that his professor had assigned him to write a paper on the Citicorp tower, the slash-topped silver skyscraper that had become, on its completion in Manhattan the year before, the seventh-tallest building in the world.
LeMessurier found the subject hard to resist, even though the call caught him in the middle of a meeting. As a structural consultant to the architect Hugh Stubbins, Jr., he had designed the twenty-five-thousand-ton steel skeleton beneath the tower’s sleek aluminum skin. And, in a field where architects usually get all the credit, the engineer, then fifty-two, had won his own share of praise for the tower’s technical elegance and singular grace; indeed, earlier that year he had been elected to the National Academy of Engineering, the highest honor his profession bestows. Excusing himself from the meeting, LeMessurier asked his caller how he could help.