Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Ultra-Wealthy Tutoring Market

Hah! Math 800?

I snapped that pic at my local government library not too long ago.

Me? No I got a 790 on my Math SAT some 20 years ago. Please don't ask me how I was demerited a measly 10 points; I recall finishing the sections in about 11 minutes apiece. Usually *one wrong* would bump a Moron down to 780 or 770. So I must not have darkened in a circle enough (unlikely) or the machine malfunctioned in reading my answers (likely). Whatever - I did score 800 on the Math Level 2 exam, I did win the high scoring honors for my regional team at ARML(twice), and I did grab a few other chest-enhancing accolades.  And now I'm here boasting pathetically like Biff Loman about his glory days on the HS football field!

I wonder if that car belongs to a particular sky-high-priced SAT tutor guy in town.

Let me ask y'all a question...what do you think is an outrageous hourly rate for a math or SAT tutor?

I would say $150 or perhaps $200 per hour.

But get a load of this guy's rates:

Man, I have to get in on that racket!

Brownshirts In Drag

Is there a bigger bunch of Bozo's than the Morons at Harvard's Graduate School of Education?

I mean I'm sitting here on a Saturday scouring homeschooling websites, researching geometry curruicula, trying to figure out the best/cheapest online music making software, and working on my new website

And I click on over to that article and read about how all these vaunted Harvard educators (5th year doctoral students!) are arguing furiously over garbage like *diversity*, *community organization*, and *tenure*.

The contrast between what I'm doing and what these *planners* are all geeked up about couldn't be more stunning.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Non-Profit Morons - Falling Into Their Own Pit!

City Sends Tax Bills To Major Non-Profits

For the first time, Boston’s major tax-exempt institutions — its premier hospitals, universities, and cultural centers — are being asked to make regular voluntary payments to the city based on the value of their property to help offset the rising cost of city services and cuts in state financial aid.

Although many of the city’s nonprofit organizations have been making so-called Payments In Lieu of Taxes for decades, this marks a major change to a system that feels to some organizations uncomfortably close to tax bills. Boston officials recently mailed letters to leaders at 40 major nonprofits asking them to pay up to 25 percent of what they would owe if their property were not tax-exempt.

"We’re looking for fairness for Boston taxpayers and the nonprofits," said Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino. "This isn’t something we drew up on the back of an envelope. It’s something we put a lot of thought into."

The new revenue-raising plan — the first of its kind in the nation — is based on the estimated cost of providing basic city services, such as police and fire protection, snow removal, and emergency medical treatment, which account for roughly 25 percent of the city’s budget. And it is designed to gradually increase annual financial payments to the city by the major tax-exempt organizations from the $15 million they paid this year to $48 million over a five-year ramp-up period.

Got to love those totalitarian statists in Boston.

After taxing all the business out of state....they figure (on the back of an envelope!) that they had better somehow come up with the dough to pay for continued pensions, pork, and waste.

AND the good thing about taxing Harvard as opposed to say Fidelity or tourists (14.45% hotel tax PLUS 20% car rental tax) that Harvard can't exactly bolt out of town! Although the Moron Greg Mankiw has suggested it in the past in response to *endowment taxation*.

There's no doubt in my mind that these so-called 'non-profits' will cave in and pay the voluntary taxes.

Of course the extortion will escalate and of course jobs/salaries will be cut and hospital bills will be padded...

But none of that will matter to the elitist brethren who run these institutions. They'll just want to make nice with their cocktail party cronies.

Learn From Buffett

So I see that silver hit $50 an ounce recently.

A lot of sages have been vindicated on that one - notably Jim Rogers who's long been saying that silver (and palladium) had better ROI prospects than gold.

Check out that chart. Do you see that low in the mid-late 90s?

Around $5 an ounce is where Warren Buffet dumped a ginormous silver investment. That was when breakthroughs in digital photography destroyed the old camera technology which had constituted huge industrial demand for silver. Recall Eastman Kodak's stock (a Dow Jones Industrial component) got absolutely crushed.

So what else is that *sage* doing now that we can learn from?

I say take a good look at Wells Fargo. Buffett, while a long-time investor, arrogantly added to this investment in the high 20s.

To be clear for a few Morons....I'm saying to short the stock just as I am via long-term puts. It's probably time for me to buy some more now that I think of it. (I just did today actually.)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

More On The Edu-Bubble

Did you know that national student debt is now $1 trillion, surpassing even total credit card debt?

If you're sick of hearing me go off on the approximate worthlessness of schools and college...

I'd encourage you to read someone else. Check out - Bad Education.

Do As I Say, Not As I Did

"It was a hard decision and I know my parents had their concerns. And while I would never encourage anyone to drop out of school, for me, it turned out to be the right choice."

Yeah, the richest man in the world and one of the most successful entrepreneurs EVER did actually drop out of Harvard - in case y'all didn't know.

But now he has the balls to stand up in front of children the world over and tell them that THEY should stay in these juvenile mind prisons.

Next we'll be hearing politicians tell us that WE need a one-payer healthcare system while they get to keep their own separate fancy health plan.

And then we'll be hearing other regnant elitists and pols tell us that WE need to shrink our carbon footprint....while they jet-set and motorcade all over the globe to and from their 15,000 square foot mansions.

It'd be one thing if Bill Gates stood up in front of these kids and said, "This is how I messed up....don't do what I did."

But what he's really saying is, "Don't YOU take the path that led to all my success."

No. He'd rather you stay in school, forget about your wild dreams and passions, learn to *follow orders* and *respect hierarchies* and hopefully you'll become qualified to work at a big corporation like his one day.

Just imagine how SCREWED the largest tech companies out there would be if say the most promising 200,000 students dropped out of school and started tinkering as Gates did way back when!

105 Years Ago

This is San Francisco, 1906 - 4 days before the big earthquake.

And it's supposedly the first 35mm film EVER.

People were certainly queer back then. All the dudes wore hats and it was weird to see so many people and not one iMoron with their head buried in a newfangled electronic gadget!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Attention All Y'All Whiners

Socialized Medicine - Fait Accompli

The idea that Obamacare would represent the *advent* of socialized medicine is ridiculous.

Not only do we already suffer from rationing and thoroughly distorted medical economics from government interference....the very nature of politically-sanctioned and tax-advantaged HMOs has successfully vaccinated our entire healthcare sickcare system from commonsense and fiscal sanity.

My first wife, who can't really micromanage or surveil her large and far-flung staff, always says that when she has a hunch that an employee is incompetent in one department....that in the end she always discovers that they were doing a hundred other tasks poorly. In other words, if you think someone is bad they are usually a whole lot worse!

The same goes for the healthcare imbroglio. Like most people (except apologetic swine flu enthusiast doctors!) I have a clue that the system is corrupt in terms of Big Pharma's influence, out-of-control tort extortion, and the inherent problem of *third party payers*.

But last night I read a post on Mish's website - Conversation With A Surgeon... - and I couldn't help but thinking about my wife's insight into her poor performers.

Click that link - it's a terrific albeit depressing post.

30% Off Nothing!

I just quit Groupon - the email coupon subscription service.

I had seen the commercials and heard raving praise and thus felt obligated to sign up. I kind of have to force myself to check out the *trends* so I don't miss the bounty of TNBT.

But this one stunk. It offers deals on over-priced garbage that I'd never even think about splurging on in the first place.

And in general that's what I've always thought of old-fashioned clipped coupons too.

I have my brands; I stick with them; and I load up when they're on sale.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sick Of/From School

Guess what...

Now that winter is definitely over (was 80 degrees today!) I can do this post without knocking on wood.

My little ones, ages 4 and 6, were not ill for even a second this winter - NOT A SECOND.

Sure we got out of the cold and into fresher air during our 6 weeks down in Florida.

But I submit that being *homeschooled* probably played a larger role in their health.

Ignorance is hardly the only communicable disease transmitted at government schools!

I myself only had the sniffles for about 36 hours this cold/flu season - AND I think that may have been related to allergies as it was pretty recent.

Skipping traditional *school*'s greener, healthier, more effective, strengthens the family, it's better life prep, etc.

How many reasons do people need?

Tim Ferriss made a great remark in that video I posted the other day.

He said that it's very difficult to reason people out of things that they never reasoned themselves into in the first place.

After all, the main reason - if we can call it that - people send their precious children to school is cultural inertia.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Great, Another Golfing Wacko...

Check it out - some guy had dropped everything to test the 10,000 hour hypothesis in golf:

One wet, raw day last April, at the Broadmoor public golf course in Portland, Ore., Dan McLaughlin stood in the center of one of the greens. He wore running shoes, blue jeans and a yellow rubber raincoat. He wrapped his frozen fingers around a two-buck putter and hit one-foot putts, and he did that for two hours straight, stopped for a cup of hot, decaffeinated tea, then did it for two hours more. That's how this started.

On his 30th birthday, June 27, 2009, Dan had decided to quit his job to become a professional golfer.

He had almost no experience and even less interest in the sport.

What he really wanted to do was test the 10,000-hour theory he read about in the Malcolm Gladwell bestseller Outliers. That, Gladwell wrote, is the amount of time it takes to get really good at anything - "the magic number of greatness."

The idea appealed to Dan. His 9-to-5 job as a commercial photographer had become unfulfilling. He didn't want just to pay his bills. He wanted to make a change.

Could he stop being one thing and start being another? Could he, an average man, 5 feet 9 and 155 pounds, become a pro golfer, just by trying? Dan's not doing an experiment. He is the experiment.

The Dan Plan will take six hours a day, six days a week, for six years. He is keeping diligent records of his practice and progress.

You can also check out the guy's progress on his website.

The 10,000 hour theory was covered here on Marginalizing Morons a couple of years ago. See:

Book Rec - Talent Is Overrated

Outliers - A Must Read

Thanks to Jabroni Jr for this one!

I Blame Obama For This Job Loss Too!

After deadpanning a *we have to talk about something* early this evening, my first wife informed me that she wants to quit her job.

So that'd be great - with me trying to quit trading the markets....we'd be one big unemployed family!

She said she'd take a year off so I can focus on my edu-preneurial pursuits and in the worst case scenario she's confident that she can land another similar job 12 months from now. (Anyone that believes she'll ever go back to that corporate Wall Street BS after a sabbatical is a complete and utter Moron!)

In other words it would only be a trial - one that would cost 50k (our annual bills), out-of-pocket health and dental coverage, plus the money we save each year from her salary.

Now we do have the cushion and the risk-taking appetite for something like this...

But I haven't greenlighted her in any way shape or form. I'd have to crunch some more numbers and really think hard about this. Believe me, there's nothing I'd like more than a break from my kids; and there's nothing she'd like more than a break from the grind and the opportunity to spend time homeschooling the Prince and Princess. There's no doubt in my mind that I would become a whole lot more productive with this website and my incipient one if I had, I don't know....more than a hour or so each day at my PC!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Chess Chronicles - 'Old Coot' Jabroni Annihilation

Readers of this blog already know that sparked by introducing my youngsters the game, that I myself have developed a newfound interest in chess.

I've warred with my 97 year old grandfather.  See - En Passant.

I've avenged my humiliating loss to that 11 year old prodigy.

And I've been studying - if you can call it that - a handful of chess books.

Yesterday I took my incipient confidence down to my old golf course in South Philadelphia and was soundly defeated (3 times) by an 82 year old jabroni. True to his ethnicity, he walloped me with what's known as the Sicilian Defense. Taunts and ball-breaking, well, they sort of go with the territory down there.

CaptiousNut - I'll get you next time.

OldCootJabroni - Haha [uproarious, hyperbolic laughter]

CaptiousNut - I'll study up...


And in a way he's right. I mean it's not 'too late' for me to surpass him in chess competence by any stretch. I'd wager that within a year I can crush him.

But it is true that I needed to start playing chess seriously when I was younger. Y'all should see how easily the game comes to the supple mind of my 6.41 year old son. There's no doubt in my mind that I would have been one heck of a chess player had I devoted even a fraction of the time and energy to it that I put into math competitions.

I insisted that I'd beat him next time and fired back, "YOU STILL HIT A MILLION BALLS ON THE RANGE....GUESS WHAT, IT'S *TOO LATE* FOR YOUR GOLF GAME.  IT'S TOO LATE!"

YouTube is an ambitious auto-didact's best friend:

Given the bounty of free chess videos and instruction on the web these days....the suggestion that someone should *hire a tutor/coach* is ludicrous.

Marginalizing My Little Bad Back

Here's an inspirational video posted by 'good guy' Eric Holmlund whose brother was relegated to a wheelchair several years ago. In fact his brother composed the song:

If any of y'all are interested in the *make money online* racket I highly recommend you check out Eric's Tips. Believe me, I've researched a ton of these hucksters and he's not only one of the best and most helpful, he's also one of the few out there teeming with integrity.

And thanks to Paul Mitchell for tipping me off to Eric several months ago.

Entitlement Bombs, Everywhere

That's the balance sheet of the Port Washington Library here on Long Island. It's perhaps one the most well-funded libraries in the country with a $6.5 million budget but you can see it's *retirement benefits* line is exploding.

In just the past 3 years it's projected to jump from 237k to 516k!

How much of the operational budget are these entitled 'old coots' and 'old bags' going to be usurping in say 5 years? In 10 years?

How much expertise is required to shelve books anyway?

Rightfully, these places should be run by volunteer high school-age kids...

The question is, "How long after the internet and e-readers like Kindle make libraries obsolete will they and the people who used to work in them continue to be funded by spineless property tax payers?"

The Status is *Quo*

Click graphic to enlarge.

Of course in fairness, most of the *change* comes from pre-existing problems, policies, and institutions that B. Hussein Obama inherited.

But still, they will continue to destroy this country unless and until a POTUS stands up to that abominable Congress.

And, not for nuthin' but imagine the Big Media backlash a President NOT FROM THIS PARTY would be suffering in this economic environment..

Title credit - Bill Belichick!

1 Of Your 4 Body Hours...

I did just watch the entire hour-long clip AND I almost never watch any of these YouTube videos if they're longer than 5-6 minutes.

Again, the book is awesome. I keep re-consulting it as it contains an almost endless supply of resources and actionable.

Monday, April 18, 2011

There's Your *School Socialization*!

Here's the gist of a conversation last night between my first wife and my firstborn, homeschooled 6.42 year old Prince:

Prince - Mom how come when I go up to other kids, and say hello they don't want to play with me?

MyFirstWife - Well...

Prince - I'm always real nice....I say my name is 'John' but no one wants to play with me.

MyFirstWife - Not everyone is...


It is true - I see my son's playground and ballfield overtures spurned all the time (80%?). We, or at least I, don't do *playdates*. I think it's much better to take them to parks and have them play with random kids. So in clement weather, a few times per week we drop in on these playgrounds and my kids dash out and try to make friends. My son is particularly aggressive on this front - he ABSOLUTELY LOVES playing with other kids - a trait he clearly inherited from his paternal grandfather.

This spurning has been going on for sometime, beginning the instant his peers reached *school* age, and it's getting worse as they get older and arrive in cliques sans parents. My wife actually heard some 6 or 7 year old child rebuff ours recently with, "I don't know you."

My thoughts?

Well, this is the world we live in. There's nothing to do about it except adjust - although one shouldn't ever permit the shortcomings of others to adulterate their own character. Like living in Boston where everyone is as rude as a's easy to submit to that environment and holster your own friendliness.

Heck if I went up to grown adults (with graduate degrees!) and tried to conversationally engage them with the frequency my son does, I'd be shot down with the same regularity (80%). (Of course down South it's a different story!  Not as many graduate degrees...)

I've said this more than a few times before and I'll say it again:


Please don't mistake this for the chauvinistic propaganda of a homeschooler either.

My wife, despite living amongst the millions of people in New York....she didn't have a single friend outside of her 16,000 person town growing up. NOT A SINGLE ONE.

And I can't tell you how many parks, playgrounds, and sports leagues I participated in as a youth without EVER thinking for a second about talking to another kid that wasn't on my team or wasn't a friend of a friend. Strangers and out-of-my-towners may as well have been aliens, hostile ones at that.

So when I see these other kids flick away my son like a fingertip booger, sure I'm sensitive to my son's disappointment, but I also see myself in these other kids. Personally it's taken me years to undo my own anti-social school-induced ignorance.

And I'm even more thankful that I came across that John Gatto essay 4.75 years ago, started thinking, did my research, mustered the stones to tear apart my own *credentials*, and decided to keep my children miles away from that instrument of dehumanization.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Most Ride Bikes Anyway


From the article:

Women and gay men are likely to be the worst drivers, a new study has shown.

Psychologists at Queen Mary, University of London, who conducted the study, believe the findings mean driving in a strange environment would be more difficult for gay men and women than for straight male motorists.
Both tend to rely on local landmarks to get around, and are also slower to take in spatial information.

The computer-based tests were carried out on 140 volunteers, and demonstrated that gay men, straight women and lesbians navigated in a similar way, sharing the same weaknesses.

You know one of my older stock jokes touches on the idea that in the driving world, there is no racism, classism, or chauvinism. Poll a group of humans on who they think are the absolute worst drivers and the answers will span: men, women, teenagers, 'old coots', 'old bags', Asians, blacks, Hispanics, contractors, minivan moms, rich BMW weavers, or ghetto people with the seat bent back 150 degrees.

And I do agree with all of those answers!

Yesterday, and I don't know why - perhaps because I was just cut off by a Suburu Forester? - but I was wondering about the reputation of invert drivers...

All I had to do was Google and I found out right fast.

When I come to think about urban-dwelling, perpetually-single male cousin has built up a bit of a *bad driving* reputation for himself. In fact he almost lost his license for repeated moving violations. YES he drives a hybrid. YES he's a bicycler too. Just saying...

Captious Shrugged

I read the book in 1996 or 1997 when I had just graduated from college and started trading options.

It didn't resonate with me at all - of course fresh off 16 years of *school* I was profoundly ignorant in the ways of the world, the lessons of history, and even the fundamentals of empirical economics.

For sure I'm a libertarian in the sense that I believe Big Government should ideally be halved in size and scope. I just hope this movie doesn't create an unhelpful caricature of me and my ilk.

Here's a *top comment* from YouTube:

If any of you see it please let me know what you think. Thanks.

'Old Coots' Enslaving Their Grandchildren

Alright, watch the first two minutes of this:

Ms. Palin - A pension is a promise that must be kept...

A pension is a *promise*?

That's a bull$hit metaphor if I ever heard one.

Alright it was a promise in the sense that our lazy ancestors voted for politicians who PROMISED to steal their retirement funds from the next working generation...

If I was giving such a speech to a hypothetical, enlightened, younger crowd I'd be bellowing, "A pension is a CONFISCATION..."

The 'old coots' and 'old bags' that effectively run the government are of course over-simplifying the argument.

Just because they paid-in....that doesn't mean they didn't do a whole slew of other negative things (e.g. elect corrupt, wasteful pols) to cancel out, if I can channel Colonel Jessup, "...what they think they are ENTITLED TO."

They built this country?

Oh really?

Did they ever work past 6pm? Did they work weekends?

Did any of these 'old coots' ever have to jet all over the globe to earn their paycheck?

Were any of them permanently tethered to the grind via Blackberry?

The notion that they even worked hard is sketchy at best.

And whatever it was they did build - the 'worst generation' - well they're doing a heck of demo job on it now with their self-serving politics.

So the bleep what if Grandma took you to McDonalds...

She and her 'old coot' jabronis plan on confiscating half of your lifetime wages!

Realize that pension-pandering is hardly the sin of just one organized political party. And it's only going to get worse from here on.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Offending Magic Johnson...

But how do you reconcile that with these:

Note the photoshopping above at 0:56...

I Wish I Was There!

Although in that case the embarrassment might have been familial. Our son the Prince is a bit of a prolific up-chucker.

In fact he can pretty much do it on demand. Make him eat a green weed (i.e. veggie) and he'll strategically hurl up his whole dinner in protest.

The last musical I attended was Aida in NYC some years ago. There were two drunk Korean tourists behind us passed out, drunk and snoring louder than the Elton John music. And they smelled like some nasty foreign alcohol (Fish Vodka?) to boot.

That was at least 8 years ago and I haven't been back. Musicals just aren't my thing.  They ain't cheap either.

I'll bet Kobe Bryant doesn't attend many...

From Counting To Algebra - A Simple Recipe

Now more than ever people keep asking me for advice on teaching/helping their kids get going with math.

Recently someone remarked to my advice that *I just don't see how you do it*...

So I did my best to summarize it quickly:

john was just over 3.5 when he started *tracing numbers* - the first kumon math book. we just did workbook pages every day until he exhausted them. got through grade 6 math and into algebra in 1.5 years.

the path is very easy, just do the books one after another. you'll have to sit down with them and put in the time because they can't really press forward each step on their own. but obviously it's an investment that pays off. need discipline too. if you take a week off the kids lose momentum and may decide to put up a fight when you start up again. i've learned to never take days off - and to NEVER give in to their protests. even if you just do 10-15 minutes on a busy day it keeps you moving forward.

you can see the books here:

80 pages a piece.

after that you have these:

i think they are 73 pages each.

i deferred the *word problem* books until much later.

i skipped the grade 1 books.

16*73 + 14*80 = 2,288 pages

$hit....that's the first time i added them up.

that's 1,525 per year, 127 per month, or just over 4 per day for a 1.5 year time period.

i'm going to have to write this up as a post for my blog. thanks for stimulating me!
Note the Kumon books can be found at your local Big Box bookseller or on Amazon for about $7 a piece.

Oh, and make sure you math-interested people check out Math Rider. I have my daughter on it for around 40 minutes a day and she (and I!) are cruising with it. It's more than a little brutal teaching kids the math facts and this program will really help.

BTW, if you make your child do 4 pages a day of math, every day, they'll come to expect it as normal and won't put up a fight. PLUS daily work begets daily progress....and that begets pride and self-confidence.

Don't just think about it, DO IT.

My New Brew?

I like it for its taste and *low impact* - whether that's calories or something else in it (not in it) I have no idea.

This is officially replacing my old beer.

It's hard to find at bars though...

LOL At My FW (First Wife)

The other night while she wasting away on my wife asked me what *LMAO* meant.

At that I just about demonstrated ROTFLMAO!

I made her Google it and get this....she said, "It must be new."

Yeah, "As old as *LOL*!", I lectured, "Anything more than a decade old is most certainly NOT NEW."

(LOL is actually from the 80s.)

A Rare Good Motion Picture For The Kids?

From a critic:

It's rare to find a teen-geared film that doesn't rely on crudity or titillation in order to entertain. What's more, there are positive messages about family and faith, two ingredients often left out of movies aimed at a young demographic. With their fully realized portrayals, AnnaSophia Robb and Dennis Quaid bring honor to Bethany and her father. Director Sean McNamara has used CGI with standout results, using effects to aid the story, not become it. And on top of that, this film will undoubtedly begin a dialogue between believers and those who don't understand what people like Bethany Hamilton have found, despite what they've lost.
No doubt many of y'all already saw the ads for this flick.

But I had to read about it online since I don't really watch color TV - AND, if I do, there's no way I'm going to break my string of 10+ years of skipping commercials via the DVR.

In fact we still don't have a TV in the house outside of the Zenith in our old bedroom which is now the guest room. No TV in the living room or in any other common rooms - a terrific tactic to keep away loafing houseguests! I'm trying to wean the family entirely off the idiot box and I've almost succeeded. The only junk that gets watched is really my sports (golf and basketball). But my wife keeps nagging me, hard actually, to buy a flat screen and hang it in our bedroom so she can watch 7 minutes of Desperate Housewives or some other crap before conking out. I've fought her as long as I could but she's getting pissed at me now and I may have to surrender. I've basically proved to her that she doesn't need one and that it can dangerously keep one if not both of us up later than we should be. But, a typical stubborn first wife....she doesn't care.

Last week I saw forty-something inch flat screens at Target for less than $350. Any suggestions?

I'm thinking I may need to get an idiot box that can stream Netflix or something. I really have no idea what's out there spec-wise or what I should buy. At least I waited long enough for the prices to crash - now I can buy 2-3 idiot boxes for what some Morons paid for a single one not long ago.

Friday, April 15, 2011


Sorry y'all for the recent blogging silence. I've been all tied up with assorted BS like yard work, endless kid chauffeuring, house guests, taxes, and also with worthy diversions like golf and Manhattan boozing.

I'll be back at the grind tomorrow.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Brightest Bulbs Skipping College

I played golf yesterday with some random guy. He has a daughter attending her 5th year of undergraduate studies at some no-name school in Ohio. Tuition with room and board is $48,000 per year and she's majoring in....drum roll....ENGLISH LITERATURE!

$200,000+ for that? You've got to be kidding me.

(There were no student loans, this was a full-boat, cash-out-of-pocket situation from a guy who lamented that he was one of the *poorer* people in his neighborhood - Great Neck, NY - and that there were *two Hondas* in his driveway.)

I flat out told him it wasn't worth it.

Self-JustifyingWaster - I think that you can't get anywhere without a degree...

CaptiousNut - What about Bill Gates, Michael Dell, and Steve Jobs?

Self-JustifyingWaster - But that was a different time. Nowadays you can't do that.

Really? With the explosion of the internet and the globalization of the economy....does he really think that aristocratic credentialism reigns?

Of course he does. Without believing such a fable he couldn't bring himself to write those tuition checks.

Deeply skeptical of the overall merits of *higher education*, PayPal Billionaire Peter Thiel is launching a small guerrilla attack on the edu-establishment:

Thiel’s solution to opening the minds of those who can’t easily go to Harvard? Poke a small but solid hole in this Ivy League bubble by convincing some of the most talented kids to stop out of school and try another path. The idea of the successful drop out has been well documented in technology entrepreneurship circles. But Thiel and Founders Fund managing partner Luke Nosek wanted to fund something less one-off, so they came up with the idea of the "20 Under 20" program last September, announcing it just days later at San Francisco Disrupt. The idea was simple: Pick the best twenty kids he could find under 20 years of age and pay them $100,000 over two years to leave school and start a company instead.

Two weeks ago, Thiel quietly invited 45 finalists to San Francisco for interviews. Everyone who was invited attended– no hysterical parents in sight. Thiel and crew have started to winnow the finalists down to the final 20. They’ll be announced in the next few weeks.

While a controversial program for many in the press, plenty of students, their parents and people in tech have been wildly supportive. Thiel received more than 400 applications and most were from very high-end schools, including about seventeen applicants from Stanford. And more than 100 people in his network have signed up to be mentors to them.

Thiel thinks there’s been a sea-change in the last three years, as debt has mounted and the economy has faltered. "This wouldn’t have been feasible in 2007," he says. "Parents see kids moving back home after college and they’re thinking, ‘Something is not working. This was not part of the deal.’ We got surprisingly little pushback from parents." Thiel notes a handful of students told him that whether they were selected or not, they were leaving school to start a company. Many more built tight relationships with competing applicants during the brief Silicon Valley retreat– a sort of support group of like-minded restless students.

Of course, if the problem Thiel sees with the higher education bubble is elitism, why were so many of the invitees Ivy League kids? Where were the smart inner-city kids let down by economic blight and a failing education system of a city like Detroit; the kids who need to be lifted up the most? Thiel notes it wasn’t all elites. Many of the applicants came from other countries, some from remote villages in emerging markets.

But the program has a clear bias towards talent, and like it or not, talent tends to be found in private universities. Besides, he’s not advocating that stopping out of school is for everyone any more than he’s arguing everyone should be an entrepreneur. But to start a new aspirational example– an alternative path– it makes sense to start with the people who have all the options. "Everyone thinks kids in inner-city Detroit should do something else," Thiel says. "We’re saying maybe people at Harvard need to be doing something else. We have to reset what the bar is at the top."

That hints at another interesting distinction between the housing bubble and the education bubble: Class. The housing bubble was mostly a middle-class phenomenon. Even as much of the nation was wrapped up in it, there was a counter narrative on programs like CNBC and in papers like the Wall Street Journal pooh-poohing the dumb people buying all those condos in Florida. But with education, there’s barely any counter-narrative at all, because it is rooted in the most elite echelons of the upper class.

Thiel assumes this is why his relatively modest plan to get 20 kids to stop out of school for a few years is so threatening to a lot of the people who have the biggest megaphones to scream about it. "The people who are the most critical of this program are the ones who are most complacent with where the country is right now," he says.
There's not much to disagree with in there - though there're certainly a few little points where Thiel is slightly off.

Of course *homeschooling parents* are already doing this and their kids are far more advanced than the crop that decides to opt-out of Big Education when they are 18-19.

Add Peter Thiel to that ever-growing list of famous self-unconscious homeschooling advocates.

While Some Think A Stock Market Crash Is THE END...

Did y'all know that the world was going to end on May 21st, 2011?

Well the world isn't really ending, but on that date somehow Jesus will be returning to Earth according to one 'popular' guy I recently heard on the radio.

Here is his reasoning:

A commonly cited proof in favor of the May 21st date is:According to Camping, the number five equals "atonement", the number ten equals "completeness", and the number seventeen equals "heaven".
  • Christ is said to have hung on the cross on April 1, 33 AD. The time between April 1, 33 AD and April 1, 2011 is 1,978 years.
  • If 1,978 is multiplied by 365.2422 days (the number of days in a solar year, not to be confused with the lunar year), the result is 722,449.
  • The time between April 1 and May 21st is 51 days.
  • 51 added to 722,449 is 722,500.
  • (5 x 10 x 17)2 or (atonement x completeness x heaven)2 also equals 722,500.
Thus, Camping concludes that 5 x 10 x 17 is telling us a "story from the time Christ made payment for our sins until we're completely saved."
If that's true I'm going to have to do my best presentation and hope for *partial credit*.

But realize that if Jesus does return to Earth in about 6 weeks....then some of y'all are REALLY SCREWED!!!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Quit Drinking

Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) orders a Coke Classic at a strip joint in Beverly Hills Cop 2...

The bartender demands, "SEVEN DOLLARS" and Eddie spits the drink out, protesting, "SEVEN DOLLARS? I CAN GET BLOWN FOR SEVEN DOLLARS!!!"

While it's not that bad yet, the other day some fast food place charged me $3 for a fountain soda.

Guess what...I'm not that thirsty. That's ridiculous considering the drink costs them probably less than a dime.

All businesses today are hurting and looking to soak their best customers. So be on your guard. ATM fees have gone from $2 to $3 in my area. Annual fees for my credit card have finally been made *non-negotiable*. I also got hit with a $1,300 ambulance bill recently - and it's only a 3 mile drive!

I now keep a case of water bottles in the car along with juice boxes for the kids. And if we go out for a quick lunch we'll maybe share a single lemonade or something.

I can certainly afford to buy drinks at these struggling restaurants - and I will selfishly spend $7 per beer in Manhattan....but there's just something off-putting about these egregious profit grabs.

Not for nothin' but these restaurants are doomed in this high oil/high commodity price environment.

Kettlebell Chronicles - Pavel

Alright I read that book - Enter The Kettlebell - last week. Thankfully my library network had it, saving me some $$$$.

It's written by some Russian dude, Pavel, who's kind of credited with popularizing kettlebells outside of the former Soviet Union.

He preaches that *strength is a skill* not a genetic gift; that the key to building muscle lies in proper form and technique. Are you buying that?

Well I might be. I'm at least open to the hypothesis for the time being. To that end I've been reading up on lifting kettlebells with proper form and technique.

I've never felt so strong in my entire life as I do now - almost like I'm on steroids or something. And that's only from do a wee bit of kettlebell lifting.

Personally I don't think the exercises are that complicated. I don't think you really need to work with a certified kettlebell (RKC) instructor. Just borrow a book and pay attention to the YouTube clips. Heck you can watch someone on YouTube and learn from the critics in the comment thread!

While Tim Ferriss introduced me to them, there's a good amount of instruction out there on the web especially on YouTube. There are websites specializing in the subject; Pavel's site is Dragon Door. And there books like the one above.

Kettlebells are heavy (no $hit!) so you're better off NOT ORDERING them online. Your local Big Box sporting goods store will have them. Craigslist is probably fresh out these days but check anyway because you may get lucky. However the best bet may be to do in-store pickup at Walmart. You order from and they will deliver it for free to your local store or Fedex/Kinkos. That's what I did for my little one (30 lbs) - my first wife's Valentine's Day present.

Women should start at 15-25 lbs. Men should start at 25-45 lbs. Once you move up you can use the original one for one-handed exercises.

While Tim Ferris essentially just recommends *the two-handed swing*, there's also *the clean*, *the clean and press*, *the Turkish get-up*, and *the snatch*. Today was a pretty light day but I managed to do them all as it takes NEGLIGIBLE TIME to do so.

Here's a few clips for visual consumption:

I know most people want to go to yoga, join a fancy gym, hire a personal trainer, try a trendy diet, run, and just stick with the workouts they've done in the past.

It's just that none of that stuff really works - nothing targets the all-important midriff like dangling a heavy kettlebell between your legs does.

Furthermore, the kettlebell swing REALLY helps your posture. See my prior post for more on that. Essentially, perfect posture (i.e. standing TALL, not straight), perfect kinesthetic bending, sleeping, sitting, and walking will actually tone your stomach and hind-quarters. Ever notice that all the beautiful people have terrific posture? Consider that maybe beauty is a *function* proper spine stacking.

And it turns out that *pulling* exercises like the swing really, really help in that endeavor. That's not just my own hypothesis/intuition - Pavel discusses it in his book as well.