Please drink, gamble and fornicate responsibly

Sunday, February 27, 2011

'Global Credit Warfare': China Preparing for a Treasury Bond Sell-Off?

See my "Seeking Alpha" exclusive here.

INVESTMENT DISCLOSURE: None. Still in cash, and missing all those day-trading opportunities.DISCLAIMER: Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog.

Friday, February 18, 2011

People are a problem

The traditional European education systems are brutally exclusive. Students (except children of the rich) are not allowed to progress unless they can perform at the necessary level.

This puts pressure on students.

The US education system (and the English one for the past 30 years) is inclusive. Very little expense or effort is spared to have every student reach their 'full potential'.

This puts pressure on the teachers and the rest of the system.

The US and English systems should be producing a better 'yield' of the STEM (Science, technology, engineering and mathematics) people that we need, yet they are not.

A possible reason is above.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Could the Dow hit 4,500?

Read my exclusive on Seeking Alpha. Some of the reactions are bordering on the hysterical. How quickly we forget recent events.

INVESTMENT DISCLOSURE: None. Still in cash, and missing all those day-trading opportunities.DISCLAIMER: Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Mathematics Education

The end of a very frustrating day in academia. It's mostly off-topic (not dealing directly with the storm to come), but shines some light on why it is coming at all.

Below is an edited version of an email which I sent to a colleague in our college of education.

I am also rather distressed by your comment:

"A PhD is a terminal degree which means we are capable of self-teaching material we are unfamiliar with".

I know a great deal of mathematics, computer science, statistics, engineering and physics. I would still have much trouble teaching something like Abstract Algebra, and I have had several courses in the subject. It's not all 'just math'.

The problem, which is very close to that of our meeting today, is that mathematics is one of the most tiered subjects there is. As one of my administrative superiors told me, many subjects have an 'Intro' course, after which one can take any number of courses. This just isn't true for our discipline, until about the senior level. That is why we take the issue of prerequisites and previous material so seriously.

It is also upsetting to experts in other fields (especially education) that success at one level of mathematics is no guarantee that one will ever succeed at higher levels. A previous administrative superior couldn't understand it at all, which is one of the reasons why he publically stated that learning algebra was unnecessary 'for anyone'.

In (not so) short, this is why I take the problem of training future mathematics and science teachers so seriously. With all too many school administrators having the idea (as another administrative superior told me) that 'anyone can teach math', no wonder that we have the problems that we do.

I have been party to many discussions on mathematics education on usenet and elsewhere. Every single time, my honorable opponent criticizes how the subject is taught. They then either offer no ideas at all, or ones which have already been shown to fail elsewhere.

Ponder this: Mathematics has been taught as a discipline in its own right for about 2,500 years. The subject itself lends itself to brutal editing and revision, so that only the most robust facts and proofs survive. Given those millions of man-years of developing and teaching the subject, isn't it reasonable to suppose that we are doing some of it correctly, or at least we might know better than outsiders?

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

USA housing fraud summarised



Hat-tip: Karl Denninger

INVESTMENT DISCLOSURE: None. Still in cash, and missing all those day-trading opportunities.

DISCLAIMER: Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

News items for UK investors

Catch up pension contributions from previous years!

From the new tax year starting 6 April 2011, you should be able to catch-up on unused pension contribution allowances from the previous 3 years, according to this business briefing - so long as you have a pension plan already in force that could have taken those contributions.

Inflation-linked savings

Birmingham Midshires are offering a 5-year fixed-term savings product that will grow by the rate of inflation (plus a bit). Please see here for details. Unfortunately it's not an ISA, so taxpayers will have to pay tax on the growth according to their tax rate and allowances - but it's an interesting proposition for non-taxpayers who just want to preserve the value of their savings. Closing date for the first issue of this plan is 10 March.

Have you given up smoking for at least a year so far?

If you have, then are you still paying your life assurance premiums as though you're a smoker? Rewriting your cover, or simply informing your insurance company (with evidence as appropriate), could save you money - see this article for details.

State Pension mix-up - check you're still on target!

There's been another computerised mess, this time with National Insurance Contributions, stretching back years, as this article explains. HMRC may not necessarily inform you if you're affected. I'd suggest you ask for an updated State Pension Forecast to be sure that you're not heading for a shortfall - click on this link to get one!

INVESTMENT DISCLOSURE: None. Still in cash, and missing all those day-trading opportunities.

DISCLAIMER: Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog.

Folding a T-shirt in two moves

Saw this at a conference yesterday, I don't think I'll be able to resist trying it:

Monday, February 07, 2011

New "Seeking Alpha" article on liquidity and market breakdown

"Seeking Alpha" has just published my latest post on QE, debt and the economy, which I can't reproduce here for commercial contractual reasons - but please click on the link below to read it there:

http://seekingalpha.com/article/251137-this-liquidity-will-soak-us-all

INVESTMENT DISCLOSURE: None. Still in cash, and missing all those day-trading opportunities.DISCLAIMER: Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog.