10.23.2014

9 States that will Determine the next US Senate




Wall Street Journal graphic

Comments: Watch these 9 races. Sadly the MN Senate seat does not look close.

The Best Day to Buy Airline Tickets: Sunday .... 57 days before travel



The Best Day to Buy Airline Tickets

Excerpt:


The lower Sunday and Saturday prices also result from the ability social media has given airlines to throw discounts in front of consumers at any time. That turns vacation shoppers surfing the Web on weekends into ticketed passengers without discounting tickets business travelers might buy while at work. And the findings reflect the lack of corporate sales over the weekend, since business travelers typically fly on more expensive tickets than vacation buyers.
Comment: Image source.  (Nice retro ticket)


10.18.2014

Ebola: World "in the eye of a storm" ... "disaster of our generation"



Ebola is 'disaster of our generation' says aid agency

Excerpt:

Aid agency Oxfam on Saturday said Ebola could become the "definitive humanitarian disaster of our generation", as US President Barack Obama urged against "hysteria" in the face of the growing crisis. Oxfam, which works in the two worst-hit countries -- Liberia and Sierra Leone -- called for more troops, funding and medical staff to be sent to tackle the west African epicentre of the epidemic. Chief executive Mark Goldring warned that the world was "in the eye of a storm". "We cannot allow Ebola to immobilise us in fear, but... countries that have failed to commit troops, doctors and enough funding are in danger of costing lives," he said. The worst-ever outbreak of the deadly virus has so far killed more than 4,500 people, mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, but isolated cases have now begun to appear in Europe and the United States. "The Ebola crisis could become the definitive humanitarian disaster of our generation," a spokesperson for the British-based charity said as it appealed for EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Monday to do more.
Comment: Image source

Ebola's "super-spreader" event infected 14 women at a funeral



Outbreak in Sierra Leone Is Tied to Single Funeral Where 14 Women Were Infected

Excerpt:

Sierra Leone’s explosion of Ebola cases in early summer appears to stem from one traditional healer’s funeral at which 14 women were infected, according to scientists studying the blood of victims. The funeral, which took place in mid-May, constitutes a “super-spreader” event comparable to one in 2003 in a Hong Kong hotel in which one doctor from China dying of SARS infected nine other guests who spread the virus throughout the city and to Vietnam and Canada. The funeral was in Koindu, a diamond-mining town across the border from Guéckédou in Guinea, where the outbreak is thought to have begun in December, and the healer was known for treating victims of a mysterious illness that turned out to be Ebola. The funeral’s central role, which local doctors had anecdotally suspected, was confirmed by geneticists at the Broad Institute of M.I.T. and Harvard who sequenced the virus found in 78 patients treated at Kenema Government Hospital in northeastern Sierra Leone, near the borders with Liberia and Guinea, two countries that are also at the heart of the outbreak.  ... “It’s frightening that a single event could catalyze a whole outbreak, but that’s what it looks like happened,” said Dr. W. Ian Lipkin, a renowned virus hunter at Columbia University, who called the study “a really nice piece of work.” The scientists not only found that all 78 had virus traceable to funeral guests, but also showed that the West African Ebola strain was quite different from a strain that has been circulating thousands of miles away in Central Africa since 1976, and that the two probably diverged as far back as 2004.
Comment: Image source. Information on Koindu Sierra Leone

10.17.2014

Imagine the Ebola-as-weapon scenario



Six Reasons to Panic

Excerpt:

Do you really want to be scared? What’s to stop a jihadist from going to Liberia, getting himself infected, and then flying to New York and riding the subway until he keels over? This is just the biological warfare version of a suicide bomb. Can you imagine the consequences if someone with Ebola vomited in a New York City subway car? A flight from Roberts International in Monrovia to JFK in New York is less than $2,000, meaning that the planning and infrastructure needed for such an attack is relatively trivial. This scenario may be highly unlikely. But so were the September 11 attacks and the Richard Reid attempted shoe bombing, both of which resulted in the creation of a permanent security apparatus around airports. We take drastic precautions all the time, if the potential losses are serious enough, so long as officials are paying attention to the threat.
Comment: Image source. We should shut down all travel from West Africa.
See Boehner: Ban Flights From West Africa to Stop Ebola Spread

10.14.2014

"If you have $3,650, you’re among the wealthiest half of people in the world"



Are you among the world's wealthiest?

Excerpt:

  • The average person is worth $56,000.
  • If you have $3,650, including the value of your home, you’re among the wealthiest half of people in the world. (This is net wealth - so, once debts have been subtracted.) The other half own less than 1pc of global wealth, while 77pc of adults - that’s 3.3bn people - have less than $10,000.
  • The top 10pc of people - membership requirement is $77,000 - hold 87pc of the world’s wealth.
  • You need $798,000 to make it into the top percentile of the world’s wealthiest. This select group accounts for almost half - 48.2pc - of global assets.
Comment: Image source - Scrooge McDuck. Scriptural perspective:

  • Luke 12:15-21, "And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”"
  • I Timothy 6:6-10, "But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

10.13.2014

An Apple fell on Finland - Steve Jobs took their jobs



Finland Blames Apple for Economic Problems

Excerpt:

On CNBC this morning, Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb pointed to Apple as a major reason for the decline of the country’s largest export industries – paper and IT/mobile, and in particular, Apple’s effect on the outlook for cell phone maker Nokia. A former leader in the space, the company’s device and services business was officially acquired by Microsoft last spring. “Paradoxically, one could say that the iPhone killed Nokia and the iPad killed the paper industry, but we’ll make a comeback,” said Stubb. .. It’s not often that you see a single company blamed for the economic struggles of an entire country. But Stubb, who was installed as prime minister at the end of June, has put Apple in the scapegoat position before. In July, he remarked at a press conference in Stockholm, “Steve Jobs took our jobs, but this is beginning to change.” Last week, financial rating service Standard and Poor's downgraded Finland's sovereign debt rating to AA+ from AAA, bringing Stubbs opinions of Apple’s impact on the Finnish economic state once again to the fore.
Comment: And Henry Ford killed the buggy whip industry! (And the Internet (and email) killed the Post Office)



Mark Cuban: Student Loan "easy money" creating a bubble




Limit student loans to improve economy
Excerpt:


The best way to fix the student loan bubble is to limit the allotted amount of loans each student is allowed to receive each year to no more than $10,000, Cuban said, adding that a cap on student debt would force universities to lower tuition and curb spending. Rising tuition costs don't help the economy as much as increasing students' purchasing power-a college may just use the extra cash to "build a better fitness center at your school." Tuition revenue is "just easy money and easy money goes to a college administrators' head just as much as anybody else, Cuban said on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" Monday. Anytime you create easy money, you're gonna create a bubble or inflation and that's what's happening with college tuition, Cuban said.
Comment: Image source. EZ student loans inflates tuition, makes slaves out of students, hurts the housing market and the economy.A related article - Major Debt Shift for Millenials

10.11.2014

Cash Balance Plan: The Annuity Option



Cash balance retirement plans: Annuity options
Excerpt:


If you're retiring from a company with a cash balance retirement plan, take the time to analyze your payout options. While many people take a lump sum payout, the annuity option might be best for you. ... So when you retire, should you take your account and roll it over to another type of account that could generate a monthly income for you, such as an IRA or annuity, or should you elect to have the plan pay you the monthly annuity? One way to come up with the best answer to this question is to compare the monthly income you would get from your employer's cash balance plan to the annuity income you'd get if you took the lump sum payout and bought an annuity from an insurance company. IRS rules specify the minimum requirements for converting cash balance accounts to an annuity; these minimum conversion rates are usually more favorable to you than the annuity purchase rates you could get if you buy the annuity on your own. And some employers go beyond the minimum requirements and offer even better deals on the annuity. ... Note that a cash balance plan pays the same amount for a man or a woman, due to federal laws that prohibit sex discrimination in employer-sponsored plans. On the other hand, an insurance company is allowed to pay a smaller retirement income to a woman because they expect a woman to live longer than a man
Comment: Website with a quick annuity quote: www.immediateannuities.com.  The annuity quotes from our work cash balance plan system beat the quotes from this site. We may take the annuity option because it is guaranteed money vs the risks of the stock market (rolling into an IRA and investing it). If we live a long time the annuity is a better option .. if we die shortly after retirement it is not. And of course as this article reminds, one never knows. Or as the Scriptures say: "you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away." (James 4:14)

Tyrel Oates' email to the whole company



Wells Fargo employee e-mails pay complaint to CEO, co-workers
Excerpt:


It’s a move that many employees frustrated about their pay probably have dreamed about doing but wouldn’t dare attempt — send a complaint letter to the CEO and copy thousands of co-workers on the e-mail. One brazen Wells Fargo employee in Oregon did exactly that this week. In his letter, 30-year-old Tyrel Oates tells CEO John Stumpf that Wells Fargo can be a leader in reducing income inequality in the U.S. by distributing more profits to employees.
Wells Fargo Employee Calls Out CEO's Pay, Requests Company-Wide Raise In Brave Email Excerpt:

When most employees want a raise, they schedule a meeting with their supervisor or reach out to human resources. A Wells Fargo employee took a markedly different approach: He emailed the CEO -- along with 200,000 co-workers -- asking for a $10,000 raise for everyone in the company.
The Email

Comments: I don't think it went to the entire company. I didn't get it .. Kathee didn't get it. My understanding (and I work closely enough with the process to have some knowledge of it) is that there is a limit to the number of people that can be on an email. In my job function I have to periodically send an email to 500-600 people: and this has to be in a distribution list that has its access secured and only a group with access to the list can add or delete from the list or send to the list. I emailed the CEO once thanking him for a stock bonus that went out to every employee.

10.10.2014

Don't Fish in the Toilet and other Toilet Issues



Why Many Indians Can’t Stand to Use the Toilet
Excerpt:


“Many people regard open defecation as part of a wholesome, healthy, virtuous life,” a recent study conducted in Bihar, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh found. Researchers at the New Delhi-based Research Institute for Compassionate Economics added that the practice is “not widely recognized among rural north Indians as a threat to health.” Those five northern Indian states account for 45% of the country’s households without a toilet, according to data from the 2011 census. But even in homes where toilets were installed, many people still prefer to go outside. The RICE study found that out of 3,235 rural homes, 43% had a working toilet. Of those, over 40% had at least one member of the household who nevertheless opted to defecate in the open. When asked why, almost 75% said they did so because it was pleasurable, comfortable and convenient.

Chinese hotel puts up hilarious posters telling guests how to use a Western-style toilet (handstands are a no-no and FISHING is strictly prohibited)

Excerpt:


The unnamed hotel responded to the guest's comment, saying: 'There are certainly people that would use the toilet by putting their feet on the toilet seat. 'So, while laughing to your heart's content, be sure to follow the rules on how to use the toilet.' Toilets in the Far East are usually suitable for squatting, so it's not surprising that instructions were required to show users the right way to use a seated loo
Comment: We have a cat who plays in the toilet