Sunday, June 17, 2012

Difference between Past Simple and Present Perfect

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Star Trek Replicator Becoming a Reality?

      I recently came across an article about a technology called "3d printing," a confusing name for a technology that more closely resembles the Star Trek replicator.  The technology can be used to scan objects then "copy" them using a special powder heated by lasers.  Although most of us have never heard of this, the technology has been used by industry for over 20 years.
      The recent excitement over 3d printing is due to the fact that prices for these machines has plummeted in the past couple years.  Now affordable consumer models are starting to make their appearance. The Makerbot Replicator costs 1,749 dollars and can be used to "Make shower curtain rings, bath plugs, door knobs, or create custom gifts for special occasions."  Another company, Z Corporation, has a machine the size of a refrigerator that can copy and build tools, such as this wrench.
       I've found YouTube videos of a "3d printed" bicycle, a skateboard and even a car that gets 200 miles per gallon on the highway.
       There are quite a few implications of this technology becoming widespread.  One is reduced dependence on imports from low cost countries such as China and Vietnam.  Why import when you can build your own stuff at home?  Another is that it will be possible for people to copy their toys the way we already do with illegal file sharing.  One father actually built his own Legos using 3d printing.  

Monday, April 9, 2012

Crazy Ghost Cities in China- Housing Crash Coming?

Housing prices dropped in China for the seventh straight month in March as the government took measures to cool the market. Industry insiders such as Anton Eilers of Richard Ellis are confidently proclaiming that prices will not crash, but others, such as billionaire Hedge fund investor Jim Chanos disagree.

  If you have yet to see pictures of one of China's ghost cities, it's absolutely incredible that so much money could be poured into such a massive project. The Kangbashi district of Ordos, Inner Mongolia is absolutely gorgeous, with enough housing to accommodate over 1 million people . There's only one problem- no one lives there. The city was built and sold off to property investors, who have subsequently seen their property values drop.
This has some parallels to a property boom in Florida in the 1920's. Out of state investors bought properties in Florida only to see their investments go belly up in 1925. The expression "if you believe that, I have some swamp land in Florida for you" is a remnant of that housing crash. The Chinese may soon have a similar expression "if you believe that I have a house in Inner Mongolia for you."

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Education Funding Crisis and Online Education

Education budgets have been subjected to substantial cuts during the recent economic crisis while tuition rates have climbed, making higher education less affordable and leading to widespread teacher layoffs at the Primary and Secondary level.
Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett recently cut the Pennsylvania school budget 900 million dollars and state University budget another 600 million. Similarly, according to the Jackson Clarion Ledger, Mississippi schools have been underfunded "by 230 to 250 million per year" under what the law requires. Student protests on California university campuses to protest California 750 million dollars in budget cuts have been raging in recent weeks.
Meanwhile, a quiet revolution in education is taking place through websites such as the which make education tutorials available totally free in subjects such as math, art history and banking. Washington Monthly claims that new developments in online education could be 'great for students and catastrophic for universities.'
Online courses are becoming more widely available and accepted. According to the Babson Research Group's 2011 report on online education, 31% of US students are taking at least one online course. Read more here:
Stanford Professor Sebastian Thrun made history last fall when more than 160,000 students signed up for his class on Artificial Intelligence. Courses such as this are offered for free and some for a small fee at and at
So this brings up a couple of important questions: Why spend thousands of dollars and go heavily into debt for something that can be found for free or very cheaply online? Will the cutbacks in education funding combined with tuition hikes be the death knell of the traditional university system? Either way, students should carefully weigh the costs and benefits of traditional education platforms and decide carefully whether 15,000 dollars or more per year is really worth it.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

How did Costa Rica get so expensive?

One of the first things I noticed when I arrived in San Jose five days ago was how much prices have risen since 2008, when I last came here. I paid 28 dollars for a hotel room that would have cost 15-20 dollars then. A veggie burger at a restaurant next to Mall San Pedro ran 8 dollars.
According to an article in the Tico Times published in February 2011, Costa Rica has had the highest inflation rate in Central America the past few years.
An article written during the summer of last year, however, says that despite San Jose being the most expensive city in Latin-America, Costa Rica's inflation had fallen below that of it's Central American neighbors.
For travelers on a budget looking to enjoy tropical beaches at a lower price, try Nicaragua and El Salvador.