Sharing news and commentary about education, careers, investing, and life.

Sharing news and commentary about education, careers, investing, and life.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Chris Yeh posted on my blog!

OK, I thought this was so cool:

Chris Yeh said...
I haven't been blogging as much (been pretty busy), but I'm glad that you like the thoughts I share with Ben!

So most of you probably don't know who Chris Yeh is... and that's important for understanding why this was so cool. Dude is like entrepreneur extraordinaire and a great thinker; I can't figure out for the life of me why someone hasn't added a Wikipedia post on him yet.

Anyways, I make an offhand comment about him on my last post and he writes a comment on our blog! At first I thought "Is Chris Yeh God? How did he find us?" but then I realized he probably does what I do... set up a Google Alert with his name, puts the setting to daily, and then reads what people write about him (in case it's slanderous). I could be wrong, but that's my theory on how he found us.

So my question to our readers: do you use Google Alerts? They're very useful for keeping track of any topics you're interested in, so I encourage you to go set them up at or by clicking here.

P.S. Oh and here's to Chris posting more and more often. Here's his great blog.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Augusta Views: On Music

I'll be honest. I want to write a post on music, but I can't decide what to write about. Should I offer some evidence in the debate of how music enhances education? Perhaps I could explore the claims that music contributes to health? Or is it really the impact of music on my daily life that I wish to discuss? Is it the amazing way in which music expresses the inexpressible or the way it shapes the world that I'm interested in?

The truth is that I'd love to write about all of the above topics related to music. I'm constantly fascinated by its effects, the list of which is endless. I know how to spell "ambassadors" because of a song. I understand something about the impact of Buddy Holly's death through the lyrics of "American Pie." I have felt less alone in my struggles by hearing other people sing about going through similar trials. Sometimes it's just a melody and its ability to convey so much that has me in awe. And I could go on and on about how it feels to play music, whether alone or as a part of a group.

I guess that's my point. Music is incredible! What else can have so broad an impact? I know it's an invaluable part of my life, one that I didn't realize that I was missing until it made its way back into my routine.

I apologize for my abstract ramblings. Perhaps I'd do better to put my thoughts to music, but that'll have to wait until I have an instrument in my possession again! In the meantime, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Short Leash vs. Long Leash

I don't always agree with Ben, but this post on short leash vs. long leash parents was fantastic. And I 90% agree with him, except I think there are always exceptions to the rule that he doesn't "allow for" in his post. Perhaps I misinterpreted what he meant... but regardless, go check out the post!

As a side note, I've actually noticed the more interesting of Ben's posts usually start as discussions via Chris Yeh, a friend of Ben. I'm making a note to read Chris Yeh as well.

Book Review: "Ender's Game"

A fantastic book! I was recommended Ender's Game by my little brother, who usually reads these types of books, and it actually was a great recommendation (goes to teach you that even things you may not like can end up surprising you).

Ender's Game is set in the future (Wikipedia tells me it's the year 2135) and is about a genius boy named Ender Wiggin who has been chosen to go to Battleschool. Battleschool is where chosen children go to train for the upcoming invasion of the Buggers, an alien race that everyone on earth has battled previously.

I could go on about the story, but part of the fun was not knowing a) anything about the book and thus b) not knowing what to expect. If you don't traditionally like sci-fi (and I didn't, before this book) you should still give this a shot; Ender's Game will not disappoint, is very cheap, and is a very quick read. Enjoy!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Book Review: "Eat, Pray, Love"

The book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert has gotten a lot of praise and reached NY Times Best Seller status. Usually I don't check out many best sellers, but since the book was sitting around my parent's home over Thanksgiving break, I figured I might as well give the book a shot.

Eat, Pray, Love is divided into three sections: Italy, India, and Indonesia (specifically Bali). The story begins with a bit of background on the author's life and then quickly jumps into the Italy portion of the story. The relevant bit of background: she's depressed, her marriage has fallen apart, and she's always wanted to learn Italian.

Well, the Italian part is interesting but certainly not the best part of her story. After traveling around Italy, and eating too much in Rome, she travels to India to work and pray in an ashram. From here, the story takes many interesting spiritual and religious turns and you quickly find out why the book became a best seller. Nothing she tells you is new, sure, but it's the way she tells you about religion, praying, meditation, and other aspects of life that hooks the reader deeper and deeper into the novel.

I wish I could say more, but then I'd start ruining the novel. My best advice is to pick up a copy of the book (or borrow it from a friend) and have a quick read. Then go back through the book and take more time reading through the novel. There's plenty of depth here for multiple reads. Put simply, this is a good book that entertains and also makes you think.

For more, check out Elizabeth Gilbert's official website.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Have You Seen Goog-411?

If you haven't, read here for more information. I tried out the service the other day and I was pleasantly surprised. Add to the fact that I didn't need to pay extra for it (unlike the regular 411) and I am a fan! Google is doing some non-core amazing things, thanks to their advertising/search engine money making machine.

I'll be back tomorrow with some book reviews, thanks to the multiple books I read over the Thanksgiving break. What a great way to recharge the ol' batteries!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving from India!

Today is Saturday, November 24, and I celebrated Thanksgiving 2007 in India. Two days ago we commemorated our most wonderful of American holidays with turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn on the cob, and rack of lamb.

"Now Rizwan," you might be saying. "Just hang on a second there. How did you get all of those things in India? Surely you can't just get turkey of all things in the Motherland!"

Well, let me tell you about this little shindig we had Thursday night. First of all, the food was all prepared by one of the best chefs in Bangalore. Although the chef's attempt at pumpkin pie was less than sub-par, the rest of the food was superb. And as for the turkeys: imported from Delhi, and I’m sure that even then they were imported from overseas. The turkeys alone cost Rs 250 per kilogram, or approximately $13.75 per pound. They ordered 20 kilograms, which is a grand total of Rs 5000, or about $125. That’s quite a bit of money for just turkey, especially in India.

But the fact that we had this fantastic food in India is not even the best part. The kicker was that we had all of this for free. Our Human Resources department put the entire program together, which was really fantastic. [Considering how incompetent and useless the department has been over the past four months, this seemed to be a reconciliatory move on their part, and it was much appreciated.]

Certainly a memorable way to celebrate Turkey Day in India!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Great News In My Family!

My cousin Pablo Larrazabal (24) recently made it into the European PGA Tour - he's the talk of the town (or, well, the family) and it's simply great news. I've had trouble digging up articles in English (since he's from Spain all the coverage I've found has been in Spanish) but here were the final standings for the Q-School and you can see him on the list.

A cool quote about the European PGA Tour, more of which you can read here:

"It is beyond dispute that the European Tour is the second most important tour in men's golf, behind the PGA Tour and well ahead of all the others."

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Becker on Wealth, Education, Etc.

Becker had a great post on billionaires that you can read here. My favorite quote:

Still, there is pressure in most countries to tax heavily the very wealthy. One possible reason to do so would be to prevent their children and other descendants from having large advantages over descendants from financially modest families. But to help in equalizing opportunities, taxes should be on inheritances, not as in the US and many other countries, on estates. Even inheritance taxes, however, do not reduce the advantages from growing up in very wealthy environments, nor do they affect the huge head start from being raised in educated households that are not wealthy. From the perspective of getting a better education and higher earning power, having educated parents is considerably more advantageous than having very wealthy parents.

We'll be off for most, if not all, of Thanksgiving. At the latest we'll be back blogging next week - until then, Happy Thanksgiving!

Pressure to "Succeed"

I've talked about my ups and downs with Penelope's blogging before, but this post really struck home when I read it over the weekend. The reason it made me think so much is I have a friend who recently (I suspect) took the wrong job because of some reasons Penelope lays out in the post. While this friend isn't particularly close, it really made me think that in a year or two this particular friend is going to be quite unhappy in the job they're planning to accept.

I know that paragraph was pretty vague, but I have to protect identities, especially on a blog. Do you ever feel the pressure to do what your parents want? If you're working full time, do you like your job and/or find it fulfilling?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

India: how I'll miss thee.

I have two months to go before I leave India, hopefully for good, and I've been reflecting today on my time here so far. And all this time I should have been studying for that exam I have tomorrow. Oh well.

One thing is for sure: I will not miss this country. Everything, every place, and everyone has its ups and downs, its pros and cons. Today we're talking about India, the Motherland, the Bharat, Hindustan. The land of my ancestors, the land I never knew until 4 months ago, and the land to which I will most likely never return.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not writing this with a bitter tongue. There are a number of good things to say about India, and I'll mention those in just a bit. But to help you understand where I'm coming from and why I feel the way I do, allow me to quickly recap the past four months:
  1. I am constantly harassed by 10-year-olds holding their baby siblings asking for money.

  2. There's nothing like seeing grown men, little children and sometimes the occasional woman all urinating or defecating in public. Really.

  3. Severe lack of communication, both within my company and without, makes for a very difficult and uncertain life.

  4. No order at all. The word "line" - which is very commonly known here as a "queue" [ahh, the remnants of British colonialism still manifest themselves in the most subtle of ways] - is absolutely ignored. Try to behave civilly when placing a food order and you will undoubtedly be shoved, pushed and ignored out of the way.

  5. India claims that officially, English is its business medium. All transactions must be conducted in the colonizers' native tongue [as I like to call it], and my company specifically mandates that at all times English will be spoken on campus and in all business dealings. Unfortunately, in order for this to truly work at the global level, the Indian education system [see my previous post], particularly with respect to how English is taught, needs a critical overhaul, because in its current state, the English spoken by native Indians around me is shoddy at best and abysmal at worst.
Now, onto the good stuff. The exchange rate is incredibly favorable to us while we're here in India, although when we leave this country the rate will hurt [after all, remember we're getting paid while we're here]. The current [and fairly stable] exchange rate is Rs 40 to USD 1, which effectively means that every day I can have breakfast, lunch and dinner for about USD 5, and that's in the moderately pricey range of the spectrum.

Better examples come from the clothing industry. Tailors abound in India, even in dinky little Mysore where I've been for the past 4 months. I found one tailor here in particular who has been tremendously helpful - very well-educated, actually used to work for my company himself for a short bit before he and his brother decided to open up their own clothing and tailoring shop. Now he's very successful and enjoys what he does.

But I digress. If you've ever been to Tommy Hilfiger in the summer months and come across their white linen pants, which retail for about USD 70, you are about to appreciate what I have to say. Remember that the Tommy pants are pre-made somewhere on the other side of the world, and the price you pay goes not towards the stitching but to the corporation. Sometimes it's worth it to do that, but sometimes you can get fantastic deals if you're in, say, a country like India. I've had FOUR pairs of such pants made - not off the rack but tailored to my body - at about USD 25 for each pair. And when I say tailored I do mean tailored. I mean the tailor takes about 7 different measurements around my lower half, then cuts the requisite amount of linen material, then tells me to come back in a few days when he will have them ready. And every one of them fits me exceptionally well. In fact as I type this post I'm wearing my black pair.

In short, clothing here is fantastic. So is any kind of travel, compared to the US. Flying from Bangalore to Delhi and back again [about a 3-hour flight each way] set me back Rs 8000, or approximately USD 200. Try finding that kind of deal in the States.

And if you think I'm having a financial blast here, imagine how my UK counterparts feel. The exchange rate for them is approximately Rs 80 to the British pound, so their quid stretches even further than the dollar!

However, even with all of these great things here, I know deep down that this is not home, nor will it ever be. No matter how much I love the fantastic deals and the cheap food and inexpensive travel, I will never get used to the extreme poverty, the terrible infrastructure [driving on even nicely paved roads here is akin to rollerblading on gravel] and the cultural nuances that truly make me appreciate how good we have it in the States. I will cherish this six-month experience for the rest of my life, but I don't think I could do it all over again if I was given the option.

Soon, in two months' time, I will be saying NAMASTE to India and HELLO to the US. Until then, I'm counting down.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Everything Investing: Moats

Well, it's not quite that easy to invest like Mark, but follow through this link to get to the excellent speech. While we disagree with a few of Mark's points, this one certainly rang true:

The way I see it, there are really only four sources of economic moats that are hard to duplicate, and thus, long-lasting. One source would be economies of scale and scope. Wal-Mart is an example of this, as is Cintas in the uniform rental business or Procter & Gamble or Home Depot or Lowe's. Another source is the network effect, a la eBay or Mastercard or Visa or American Express. A third would be intellectual property rights such as patents, trademarks, regulatory approvals, or customer goodwill. Disney, Nike, or Genentech would be good examples here. A fourth and final type of moat would be high customer switching costs. Paychex and Microsoft are great examples of companies that benefit from high customer switching costs.

That passage is an excellent example of the types of companies you should be looking to invest in and yet something is missing: the fact that you need to identify these companies, and their moats, before others if you plan on making an excellent investment.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Augusta Views: Medical School Bytes

As I'm currently studying for a massive test next week, I think it's a great time to share some of the more interesting tidbits that I've learned thus far.

The first one is interactive: lay your hand on a flat surface & lift your thumb upwards and away from your other fingers. Do you see the dimple that appears just above the wrist? This region is referred to as the anatomical snuffbox. Apparently, some early anatomists saw it as a convenient place to put a little whatever and snuff it out! It's important clinically, too. The radial artery lies in the floor of the snuffbox & is vulnerable to injury there.

In your kidneys, there is a structure called the proximal convoluted tubule. Actually, there are a few million of them. They're small, but very busy! Together, the proximal convoluted tubules resorb 3 pounds of salt each day! Next time you're in the grocery store, check out the salt. 3 pounds is a LOT of salt.

Anatomists love giving names to regions. A favorite of mine is the Danger Triangle of the Face. It sounds so dastardly! If you were to draw a triangle with a corner between your eyes and one at each corner of your nose, you'd have the danger triangle. It gets its name because there are veins in that area which drain into the cavernous sinus in the cranial vault and thus provide a route for infections to spread. This relationship is why you aren't supposed to pop zits inside the danger triangle. It's extremely unlikely that an infected pustule will pack enough punch to create a problem, but it's definitely possible. (My dad always told me about this, but I didn't believe him and continued to squeeze away. Now I avoid the danger triangle, just in case!)

Lastly, we recently learned that they have developed a procedure for a "no scar" appendectomy. Instead of making a small incision in the abdomen to go grab it out, surgeons can now feed all their fancy laproscopic equipment down the esophagus and into the stomach to access the infected appendix. It's really quite remarkable, but a necessary consequence is that they drag the thing out through your mouth! Protective tube or no, I think I'd rather have the inch-long scar than have to think about my appendix having ever been in my mouth! Still cool, though.

There are PLENTY more interesting facts that I've learned in the first 3 months of medical school, but most of them are either awesome in an incredibly nerdy way or not exactly G-rated! Thus, I decided not to share.

Until next week,

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Book Review: "Let My People Go Surfing"

CK Book Reviews: We read 'em so you can pick 'em...

In Let My People Go Surfing, by Yvon Chouinard, each reader gets a sense of what it really means to strike out on one's own. The book is a poignant portrait of his life, from humble (very humble) roots to his ongoing success as a "reluctant" businessman. It's a quick read and I was amazed at how Yvon just did whatever made him happy (and yet was ultimately "successful" as measured by his and other people's standards). The reason I'm doing this book review now is that a conversation I had in Baltimore/Philadelphia over this weekend made me think about what we're trying to do here at College Knowledge, and so this book I recently read popped back up in my head.

Oh and for those that didn't know, Yvon is the founder of Patagonia, an outdoor clothing and supplies company. They are a values led company, which to me is incredibly exciting (think Clif Bar, something we've talked about here) and something to strive towards.

Even if you're not an entrepreneur (or ever plan on being one) the book is an entertaining, interesting read. It's definitely worth a look.

Well, the book itself makes a very interesting read mostly because Yvon's voice really comes through and you can tell he's being honest throughout the book. In fact, the quote that sticks out to me is the same quoted in the Amazon book review: The Lee Iacoccas, Donald Trumps, and Jack Welches of the business world are heroes to no one except other businessmen with similar values. I wanted to be a fur trapper when I grew up.

The book is quick, easy to understand and follow, and certainly provides a new perspective on business and even life. Is it as good as Raising the Bar? No... but it's an entertaining read that only takes a few hours to get through. Go check it out, but after reading Raising the Bar.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Everything Investing: Volatility Inspired Opportunity

Now this is something we've been onto for some time regarding our investing style. It's good to see there are people out there who can keep a level head when everyone else is panicking. One more distinction we'd like to add: not every market drop is a prime opportunity to invest. Sometimes a company's fundamentals really are deteriorating, in which case a plummeting stock price would not present a prime investing opportunity. In those situations, it's like trying to catch a falling knife.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Comments on the Indian education system.

This post is from our newest guest blogger, Rizwan. He will be posting regularly on Saturdays from now on... Enjoy!

I’ve become disillusioned with the manner in which classes are conducted here in India. Granted, I’ve never sat in on an engineering or computer science class at an Indian college or university, but it's safe to say that an instructor here at the company is a product of his/her intellectual and academic atmosphere.

My mates and I are sitting in class and an instructor is teaching us on subject ABC. Behind the instructor is a projected PowerPoint slide with 5 or 6 bullet-pointed sentences. Across the top of the slide is a big question: "Why ABC?" And each sentence on the slide is one facet to answering this question. Clearly then, the answers to the question are right there in front of us.

The instructor asks, "So why ABC?"

And then waits.

And waits some more.

He wants an answer!

Sir, I want to say. The answers are right there. We can see them.

But I remain silent.

The instructor continues waiting. No one answers - it seems an exercise in futility, as we would simply be reading the answers off the slide.

Enduring silence.

Finally the instructor speaks. Turning around to glance at the slide, he simply ticks off the answers on the slide, which were there in front of us the entire time.

The ludicrous and gratuitous simplicity of the situation begs the question: why does the instructor ask us such simple questions with very obvious answers? If he is testing our ability to think critically, then there is no need to do so with the answers right there in front of us.

This is the way in which classes are taught everyday at my company. And again, while I haven't been to an Indian university, the instructors at the front of the class and my Indian counterparts all around me - indeed, all of us - are products of their academic and intellectual environments. Therefore I feel it's safe to assume that this is how classes are taught at Indian universities as well. If you ask simple questions that require no thought or foresight at all to answer, then you are robbing your students of two things:
  1. The spirit of inquiry and the thirst for knowledge, which have guided and advanced our species over the past 3000 years, and

  2. The ability to think critically, which as a software engineer working for a global IT services company is crucial to say the least.
The other concern I have with instructors here is their lack of focus on the entire class. We’re sitting in a classroom that has 4 rows of tables and chairs, split down the middle of the room to create a sort of aisle from the front of the room to the back. It just so happens that whenever real, substantial questions are asked, answers tend to come from my side of the classroom. I’ve been watching my instructors and they all exhibit the same behavioral patterns. This one in particular, standing in front of us right now, is looking almost exclusively at my half the classroom, thereby effectively ignoring 50% of his listening constituency. Moreover, he directs all of his questions and remarks to those who have already answered one of his previous questions and/or those who make sustained direct eye contact with him lasting more than 5 seconds.

Sir, I want to say. You need to focus on the rest of your audience too. They’re just as important. Pay them some attention as well - it will enrich their learning experience.

When it comes to Indian methods of teaching, the word ineffective automatically comes to mind, but it doesn't do justice to the system. It barely scratches the surface.


Hmm. That's a little better.

Not conducive to the pursuit of knowledge.

I like that one best.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Augusta Views: Splurgerific!

Today there are countless things to spend your money on! How should you choose? For advice about investing & such, check out CK's Everything Investing series on the blog. This isn't that kind of post!

I am a firm believer that there are some things in life that are always worth the money. Here's a few of the things that I'll splurge on & why I think they're worth it:
  • Shoes- it's all about comfort! Don't believe me? Try it! (Cue the obligatory clever reference to walking a mile in one's shoes...)
  • Sudafed & Tylenol (v. store brand)- I enjoy the coating & despise the lack thereof enough to spend the extra $1.50!
  • My favorite candy- those green frogs with marshmallow on the bottom; they're rare enough to remain a novelty even though I buy them every time!
  • Presents for others- if it's a really great gift, I can't resist!
  • Dessert- particularly at fancy restaurants, but even in general, it's hard to beat a delicious ending!
  • High-quality socks- my lovely roommate Sarah once said if she were a millionaire she'd buy enough socks to have a new pair for every day! I completely agree! (I got these fantastic ones from Timberland...)
  • Fresh flowers- flowers are simply amazing to me & having fresh, beautiful ones to come home to just makes me so happy!
See a pattern? These are things from which I derive such pleasure and happiness that the money becomes no object. Of course, your list would different greatly from mine, particularly if you aren't such a nerd when it comes to socks! The moral of the story, however, is that there are things in life that, for whatever reason, are worth the money to each of us. I'd love to hear from y'all: What do you deem to be splurgerific?

And if you say a great real estate investment, you've missed the point. Go talk to CK! ;-)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Innovation (and Innovative Management)

Another great article from McKinsey on innovation (and more precisely innovative management). Check it out here and following is a telling excerpt:

Throughout history, technological innovation has always preceded organizational and management innovation. Think back to the end of the 17th century, when muskets started to be introduced into European warfare. At the time, battle formations were very deep, very square, with the archers in the middle of the formation shooting over the heads of the archers in front of them.

Eventually, those formations changed in size and scope to better reflect the capabilities of muskets. But it took almost 100 years for this to happen. Why? Because a couple of generations of generals had to die off before military planners were able to use this new weapon in a productive way.

It won’t take 100 years this time.

Strategy, Life, Etc.

Today I read a fantastic interview covering strategy (in the McKinsey Quarterly) that actually not only applies to business but also to life. An excerpt:

The Quarterly: Shifting gears a bit, Richard, can you tell us about your research on diversification and focus?

Richard Rumelt: Well, my first research on corporate strategy showed that somewhat diversified but relatively focused companies tend to outperform highly diversified companies. And that finding has held up fairly consistently over the decades. Financial theory would say that companies diversify to reduce risk, but in the business world diversification is done not to hedge risk but to sustain top-line growth. The riskiest companies—the start-ups and early-stage companies—are intensely focused. Companies begin thinking about diversification only when their growth has plateaued and opportunities for expansion in the original business have been depleted. Suddenly, they have more cash flow than they know what to do with.

The Quarterly: Why are the highly diversified companies less profitable?

Richard Rumelt: It seems that the more complex an organization gets, the more likely it is that inefficient and unproductive businesses accumulate in the nooks and crannies and back alleys—and sometimes right up there in center aisle. These businesses are subsidized by their cousin, brother, and sister businesses that are doing well, and they stick around for too long because there’s a bias against shutting things down. Often we’ll find that these are pet projects of senior management and cutting them would cause a huge ego blow. It’s extremely unrewarding to a person’s career to weed the garden inside a company. It is much easier and more popular politically to grow the company than it is to go around and disrupt everybody’s neighborhood.

One of the things we see happening in private equity is highly incentivized people assuming this very unpleasant task of taking a company private, weeding its garden, and then taking it public again. It hasn’t happened with highly diversified companies yet, but we see that, essentially, something like that is happening as relatively complex organizations are cycling through private equity.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

What I'm Reading...

... or better yet, what I consistently read is such:

- The Wall Street Journal (daily)
- The Economist (every Friday it arrives, I finish it by the weekend)
- National Geographic (monthly)
- GQ (not my subscription, but it's entertainment)

Then I read (or used to read) 2-3 books a week. For the past month, it's been an average of 1-2 books per week.

It's not so important what I read (or what you read), but rather that I read a variety of newspapers, magazines, and books consistently. I also suggest reading blogs from time to time, for interesting, more up to date information and perspectives. If you expose yourself to a lot of knowledge and perspectives, you're able to make more informed decisions and capitalize on the experiences of others.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Movie Review: "An Inconvenient Truth"

This documentary was an excellent movie and something I'd rate 8 out of 10 stars. I didn't want to see the movie when it came out for two reasons: I didn't have the time and I didn't want to get caught up in the "hoopla". Now that it's been months since the movie came out, I decided it needed to jump to the top of my Netflix queue.

The movie starts off with a bit of over-the-top drama from Al Gore but then segways nicely into a lecture he's giving on a variety of global warming topics: historical facts about the world, graphs and charts on global warming in the present day, the effects we're having on the earth, etc. I think he does a pretty good job overall of raising awareness about the topic... but even though he starts to get into solutions, I think he could have done more in this department. Granted I had high expectations going into this movie because of all the awards and praise he's won thanks to the film.

So what's the final verdict? It's definitely a movie worth checking out, particularly if you like documentaries. I can certainly see why it won 2 academy awards. Overall, the movie does a good job of blending his lectures with some personal stories and though the political jokes get a bit cheesy, it's a quality film.

Book Review (Addition): "The Little Book That Makes You Rich"

Remember the most recent book review we did on The Little Book That Makes You Rich? If not, click here for a refresher. Anyways, we just stumbled across an excellent chapter by chapter quick summary of the book. This is an excellent way of getting about 70% of the benefit of reading the book for about 5% of the time it'll take for you to read the book.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Augusta Views: On Teachers & Politics

This article from yesterday's edition of Today's Links prompted me to investigate a topic that my grandfather and I have discussed on a few occasions: Are college professors as a group predominantly liberal? And, more pertinently, how (if at all) does it impact those being taught?

I never believed him when he told me that there had been surveys which confirmed that the majority of college faculty members characterized themselves as "liberal" versus "conservative." Apparently, there have been. This article from The Washington Post is a bit old, but it proves me wrong all the same. I particularly like this quote:

"It's hard to see that these liberal views cut very deeply into the education of students. In fact, a number of studies show the core values that students bring into the university are not very much altered by being in college."

I would be interested to know how the conservative K-12 teachers figure into this picture. It makes since that college-aged students are less influenced by their professors' political opinions, but does that hold true for younger learners? According to some (again, borrowing a link from yesterday, I apologize), Gen Y is "inherently conservative." Is this because we were taught in grade school by conservative teachers?

I don't know that I can really draw any conclusions on the matter, but it's intriguing. What are your thoughts?