29 September 2007

Dollar Cost Trading

Link: Dollar Cost Trading

We've all heard of Dollar Cost Averaging but Steve Navra has a trick called Dollar Cost Trading. Basically, he screens out horrible firms from the ASX200 and then uses a secret algorithm to buy stocks when prices do down heaps and sell stocks when prices go up heaps. The traditional buy-and-hold strategy relies on long-term rises in stock prices, but Dollar Cost Trading allows you to make money even when there is a gradual decline in prices. The profits come from exploiting short-term volatility. There is a tendency for humans to sell when stock prices go down heaps and to buy when stock prices go up heaps. DCT profits from exploiting these people's losses. This strategy then requires enough irrational or panicky people around. Once people start to realize that money can be made from a contrarian approach to investing, the profits from contrarian investing will diminish.

Looking at the graph above, it seems pretty simple what is happening. Even though I'm sure Navra will not release the algorithm, you can pretty much construct your own. Buy if stock prices go down at rate x and buy if stock prices go up at rate y.

What really impressed me were the fair fees: "NavraInvest is unique within the funds management industry in their approach to fees: they only charge fees if they perform! The basic goal of their funds is to provide performance significantly above the ASX200 index (for the Blue Chip Australian Funds). Indeed, if they fail to perform better than this index, they will not charge any fees at all. Most other fund managers will charge a fee regardless of their performance (or lack thereof), but NavraInvest are so confident in their ability to perform that they are willing to commit to maximising the returns of investors by only charging for out performance."

Review of The Retail Investor

Link: The Retail Investor

There is a lot of shoddy investment advice on the Internet and on television, and this site tries to give readers sane advice. Some interesting lessons is that real estate doesn't go up that much in value. Recently in the United States there has been a property boom but who is to say this will continue forever? Historically, property prices in America have been all over the place, but property seems capable of beating inflation.

26 September 2007

Howard Government's Internet Filter Very Good

When it comes to free protection from Internet nasties, I have always recommended people use K9 Web Protection. The Australian Government however has been promoting some other Internet filters. They provide three internet filters for anyone in Australia to download for free. If you don't want to waste bandwidth you can even have CDs sent to your home for free. The program I tried was Optenet Web Filter PC 9.6. It's like K9 but seems to have more features, such as the ability to set how many hours per week someone can use the Internet. By default the filter blocks nasties like pornography, violence, racism, and some other peculiar things like Anonymizers.

Are Borders Established by God?

Christianity is very confusing. What does God say about national borders? Are they made by man or are they made by God?

Acts 17:26 says, "And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation."

All people are made of one blood and they are divided into nations. God has determined where they will be. He has set the "bounds of their habitation." This is the reason why illegal immigrantion is immoral because a migrant is moving into someone else's boundary. According to GotQuestions.org, "Illegal immigration is the breaking of a governmental law... Therefore, it is a sin, rebellion against God, to illegally immigrate into another country." The article goes on to say the following: "What should the United States government do with all the illegal immigrants that are currently in the country? For the most part, this is not a Biblical question. The Bible does not command how governments should respond to every type of illegal action." But what about this line from Leviticus 19:33? "When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong."

Of course, you would think that if God has established borders and nations then nations like those of Saddam Hussein are established by God and we must observe them and not interfere with Saddam's government. Romans 13:1-7 states, "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong." Therefore, if you dare say mean things against Saddam Hussein, you are rebelling against God. Since God established Iraq and put Saddam in power, that must mean that the War on Iraq was immoral. In the same way that illegal immigrants from Mexico going into the United States are not respecting national borders, so too the American Military's invasion of Saddam's Iraq is disrepect toward's Saddam's Iraqi government. Yet Conservative Christians are the biggest backers of the Iraq War!
Of the major religious groups in the United States, evangelical Christians are the biggest backers of Israel and Washington's planned war against Iraq, says a new survey released here Wednesday by a politically potent group of fundamentalist Christians and Jews.

Some 69 percent of conservative Christians favor military action against Baghdad; 10 percentage points more than the U.S. adult population as a whole.

And almost two-thirds of evangelical Christians say they support Israeli actions towards ''Palestinian terrorism'', compared with 54 percent of the general population, according to the survey, which was released by Stand For Israel, a six-month-old spin-off of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ).
Another puzzle is if borders are established by God and not men then why are borders always changing and why is there differences in opinion over whether a border exists or not. For example, during the Korean War the border between South Korea and North Korea changed back and forth. Does Taiwan belong to China or not? It depends who you ask. If God established the national borders, we have to ask ourselves, how do we perceive national borders? We perceive national borders from maps. Who drew these maps? Men drew these maps. Were they inspired by God? Borders change all the time after war. Just as the winner writes history, the winner draws the borders. Border then seem to be the product of men. Which man has more power writes the border. Virtually all warring sides believe God is on their side.

To sum up, the bible says many things. Many, many people are Christians. Rulers want people to support them in war. With enough time, these rulers should be able to cherry-pick lines from the bible to convine any unquestioning Christian about the morality of a particular policy. The lesson here is to always ask questions and to always be skeptical of authority.

23 September 2007

Will Christianity Help China?

I've stumbled across Bibles for China. If you're wondering why there are so many Chinese Christians around, remember that China has a huge population and that Christian missionaries are trying to tap into emerging markets. According to Bibles for China, the cost of the paper used in one bible is $1, which means that if you donate $20 to the American Bible Society you will provide bibles for 20 Chinese people. The website claims that the Chinese are "hungry" for bibles.

Of course, will spreading Christianity in China help them? Many agree that the Chinese people are oppressed by the Communist leaders, but the bible's teaching that everyone must submit themselves to the authorities means that Chinese people should not even fight Communism. One of my friends believes that giving bibles to China will help their economy grow more. Why would the Chinese want that? The Chinese Central Bank is trying to slow down growth because of fears the economy is overheating. Furthermore, how do Christian values promote economic growth? Wouldn't libertarian values do a better job? Christian values teaches that you should give money to others and Matthew's gospel says you should not worry about worldly possessions but instead focus on spiritual wealth. On the other hand, philosophies like Objectivism teach that greed and selfishness are good. Of course, does greed help the economy?

Either way, 60 per cent of China is atheist while probably 80 per cent of Americans are Christians, and these two countries will be the two major superpowers of the 21st Century, so rising Christianity in China might help create compatibility in moral values between the two superpowers. But what if atheism is rising in America faster than Christianity is rising in China? That will only speed up compatibility in moral values between the two superpowers. China is highly regulated. Sinful things like pornography is banned on the Internet by Chinese officials. On the other hand, pornography is rife in America. American evangelist Ted Haggard who spent his whole life going on about the evils of homosexuality was caught having sex with a gay prostitute. News from China is not easily obtained, so citing stories here and there is not wise because of availability bias.

21 September 2007

Female Subordination and Biblical Communism

I was told in a sermon that in a Christian household the man is to rule. It is the man who makes the decisions. When I asked the pastor why this was so he pointed to the bible, which says that the woman should not speak against the man. Just as the church submits to Christ so too the woman submits to the man. The pastor then told me that the reason why the man must rule is because if the female has equal power then there would be chaos. If any group of humans wish to behave well then someone must be in charge. Wouldn't this then mean that Communism is a superior political system to democracy? Democracy in the household means everyone has a say in how the house is run, including the woman. Communism implies centralized control by the man. Therefore, is communism supported by biblical teaching?

16 September 2007

Using Freedom to Predict Share Market Returns

Most people invest in the country they live in. For someone in a small economy like Australia this can be worrying because of fears of lack of diversification. If you are going to invest outside Australia then where should you invest? One educated guess that comes to my mind is that countries that are economically free are better. If I can find a country that is economically free but has experienced low growth then I can buy shares in that country and expect lots of growth.

A measure of freedom is the Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom, and in Chapter 4 of the 2007 Report they go on and go about how the index of economic freedom correlates to per capita GDP. So far so good. This means I can use the index of economic freedom to predict per capita GDP. However, just because the people are rich it doesn't mean there will be any share market growth. Unfortunately for me, Raymond da Silva Rosa from the University of Western Australia claims that the two are unrelated: "As it happens, the theory and evidence on the association between changes in share market prices and the economy do not support such an inference. There are at least three reasons why there is not a strong association between share market prices and economic growth: competition, market efficiency or rather inefficiency, and alternative sources of capital."

15 September 2007

Is 7-Zip Encryption Safe?

Instead of using Winzip, which costs money, I use 7-zip, which is free and better. 7-Zip can create and open zip files but its own 7z file format gets better compression and is faster as well. Plus during encryption it uses AES256, which is safe enough for the United States Defense Agencies.

Over at Computer Forensics World, someone is trying to break a 7-Zip file because he suspects that there might be child pornography inside. Unfortunately for him but fortunately for the reliability of 7-zip encryption, he doesn't seem too successful.

11 September 2007

Conspiracy Files: Oklahoma City Bombings

The official story says that Timothy McVeigh worked alone to blow up a government building, killing hundreds of people including children who were in a nearby daycare center. Some people, however, believe that although the government didn't actually blow up the building (as conspiracy theorists say they did for the 9/11 incident) they knew that McVeigh and his neo-Nazi friends were up to something but didn't do enough to stop the bombings, and so there was a coverup. The video is below. It's about one hour long.

Shares or Property?

Link: Shares or Property: What's the Better Investment?

The site above is excellent at giving the pros and cons of shares and property. Really for diversification you should invest in both. Shares really are the winner in everything except lower borrowing costs. If you have property you can borrow cheaper. I know that you can use a house to secure a loan but what I want to know is whether putting units in a property trust is as good or whether I need to put down the title to an actual house.

Further Reading:
Residential investment property or listed property trusts?
Property Trusts or Residential Property?

How Housewives Encourage Sexism

Based on observation of the labor market, it seems as if women have a tendency to drop work and spend time taking care of the children, cleaning the house, etc.

If women have a bias towards these traditional tasks, their work will suffer. This can be seen in statistics showing that women get paid less than men. However, it's worse then that. Because women are more likely to quit, firms will discriminate against them because they are worried about whether the woman is dedicated to the job.

For example, suppose I have a man and woman applying for a job. Both we'll assume are equal in everything like experience and education. But the man simply by being a man is less likely to become a housewife and quit to have babies. Therefore, for the sake of avoiding the inconvenience of having to hire maternity replacements, firms will discriminate against women.

Discriminating against women is fair if women as a whole choose to become submissive housewives. By choosing to be housewives, women voluntarily sacrifice higher wages. But what doesn't sit well with me is the effect this discrimination is having on innocent women who don't want to live traditionally. What about the females who are dedicated to their careers? Unfortunately, employers cannot ask a woman to sign a contract forbidding her from having a baby (because of anti-discrimination laws). Therefore, the employer cannot distinguish between career woman and housewife woman. What happens then is that employers will discriminate against all women. The selfishness of the housewife has encouraged employer sexism and has dragged down the innocent career woman in the process.

09 September 2007

Is George Bush an Idiot?

The guys at MSNBC talk about Bush's problems with expressing himself and whether this suggests that the President is just plain dumb. Being inarticulate may not be the same thing as being dumb.

Review of Bush Family Fortunes (2003)

Link: Bush Family Fortunes (2003)

This is an hour-long documentary from Greg Palast about the wealthy Bush family, a family whose interests in politics is driven by their business interests. They use their money to buy their way into politics and once in politics they use their political connections to further their business interests.

If this documentary is true, then there is a lot of corruption in America at the moment.

08 September 2007

The Problem with Australian Shares

I invest in Vanguard and have all my money in the Australian shares index fund that tracks the S&P/ASX 300. I am worried that I am underdiversified because the top Australian companies tend to be resource and finance companies.

Bogle says you should invest only in American firms, but that is tantamount to a religious person believing only his religion is right because he was born and bred that way. It's emotional reasoning based on instincts of trust and familiarity. I remember reading an article at DFA (Dimensional Funds Advisors) by Eugene Fama that claims that if indexers were serious about applying correct weights they would invest 60 per cent of their wealth overseas and 40 per cent in America, but most people irrationally invest in their own country. Investing in your own country can be rational if investing in a foreign country is more expensive, but more on average it is not and if it is the costs differences are negligible.

Vanguard Australia offers LifeStrategy Funds that invest in multiple areas. The High Growth Fund invests in about 40% Australian shares, 20% International Shares, 20% property trusts, 3% emerging markets, and so on. The fees are slightly higher if you are investing under $100,000 but over that the fees are no different to those funds that track only Australian shares. What I want to know is whether these LifeStrategy Funds are in the spirit of Bogleism. They are better diversified, but the 40% invested in Australian shares is arbitrary and selected by the experts at Vanguard. This then is similar to active investing. The whole point of indexing is to remove human judgment of stock selection and market timing and to establish rule of law instead. However, these LifeStrategy funds seem to encourage human judgment in how much to assign to different indexes, e.g. how much should you put into emerging markets? How is this any different to stock picking, which is active management? If indexing is to be taken to the logical extreme then wouldn't we have to index the whole world?

I have asked this question at Wisebread.

Investing in Emerging Markets for Charity

Like many people, I like to help others who are less fortunate. However, I am worried about giving money to aid organizations. Firstly, I have doubts as to whether most of the money is going to the poor and if the money does go to the poor whether it goes into something useful. There is a saying that if you give a man a fish you'll feed him for a day or two, and if you teach a man to fish, you'll feed him for a lifetime. How do I teach poor people to fish? I believe that helping poor people doesn't necessarily require sacrifice from me. Take China for example. The Chinese economy is growing at around 10 per year, compared with the growth of most developed economies at 3 per cent. The Chinese are getting richer and richer. The size of the middle class in China (and even India) is so large now that companies are desperate to get in. Foreign investments in China certainly help the Chinese but are these foreign investors investing in China for charity, to help the Chinese? Certainly not. These foreign investors put money into China or India with the expectation of making more money. Investing can be a win-win game. This is why I believe that if you want to help the world's poor, instead of putting aside 4 per cent of your income to aid organizations, instead put aside 4 per cent of your income and invest that into emerging market funds. Investing any more than 4 per cent might be too risky. The Vanguard LifeStrategy High Growth Index Fund invests 3 per cent in emerging markets. Once I have $100,000 I will put all my money into this fund.

An emerging market is simply defined as a country with a per capita GDP under $10,000 that is undergoing economic change. It is emerging, opening up, and integrating into the world economy. The existence of emerging market funds I think is a powerful incentive for governments who want more money coming into their countries to open up the economy. By opening up the economy they increase opportunities for citizens' wealth to increase.

07 September 2007

Do Pretty People Earn More?

Do Pretty People Earn More?
Kate Lorenz, CareerBuilder.com

Studies show attractive students get more attention and higher evaluations from their teachers, good-looking patients get more personalized care from their doctors, and handsome criminals receive lighter sentences than less attractive convicts. But how much do looks matter at work?

The ugly truth, according to economics professors Daniel Hamermesh of the University of Texas and Jeff Biddle of Michigan State University, is that plain people earn 5 to 10 percent less than people of average looks, who in turn earn 3 to 8 percent less than those deemed good-looking.

These findings concur with other research that shows the penalty for being homely exceeds the premium for beauty and that across all occupations, the effects are greater for men than women.

A London Guildhall University survey of 11,000 33-year-olds found that unattractive men earned 15 percent less than those deemed attractive, while plain women earned 11 percent less than their prettier counterparts. In their report "Beauty, Productivity and Discrimination: Lawyers', Looks and Lucre," Hamermesh and Biddle found that the probability of a male attorney attaining early partnership directly correlates with how handsome he is.

Size matters, too. A study released last year by two professors at the University of Florida and the University of North Carolina found that tall people earn considerably more money throughout their careers than their shorter coworkers, with each inch adding about $789 a year in pay.

Read more at http://www.careerbuilder.com/...x_g_attractive_peopl...

The Corruption of the Corruption Peceptions Index

According to Wikipedia, the "Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) [orders] the countries of the world according to 'the degree to which corruption is perceived to exist among public officials and politicians'. The organization defines corruption as 'the abuse of public office for private gain.'"

If the CPI is based on perception, then whose perception is it referring to? According to the Wikipedia article, "'In the past, the experts surveyed in the CPI sources were often business people from industrialized countries; the viewpoint of less developed countries was underrepresented. This has changed over time, giving increasingly voice to respondents from emerging market economies.'" So basically the CPI is measuring corruption based on viewpoints from businesspeople.

Corruption by its nature is hidden. Some corruption is overt, but different people respond differently to corruption. For example, in many industrialized countries rich people are more successful in the legal system because they can afford to pay the legal fees. Some consider this just an unfortunate reality and that's it. Others consider it corruption.

Furthermore, most people judge countries by the people they recognize on the news who represent that country. For example, your average person might associate George Bush with America or Steve Irwin with Australia. To what extent does the attractiveness of the representative make a difference in corruption perceptions? Dr Gordon Patzer says the following: "Good-looking men and women are generally judged to be more talented, kind, honest and intelligent than their less attractive counterparts." If you ask a businessperson whether they think America or Britain is more corrupt, he might think of America and then think of a beautiful woman like Reese Witherspoon and through hardwiring will think that Reese and therefore America is not corrupt. However, when he thinks about Britain he might think of Prince Charles.

The reason why I am talking about this is because I have noticed some people who look at the Corruption Perceptions Index and then say, "Well, Country X has a high CPI and therefore that country must be very corrupt." Who is to say that the index itself is not corrupt?

Who Says Property Only Goes Up?

One of the main problems with property I think is the lack of diversification. If you buy only one house, you are only looking at one geographic location and one asset class. I have noticed property investors tend not to think about concepts like diversification. They usually just throw around cool words like "equity" and "deworsification." To get more diversification I suggest only putting a portion, say 30% of your money into property. I read the following at Vanguard:
Home sweet debt

Equity in your home is one of the most valuable assets that Australians have.
Around 60% of the average Australian's wealth is tied to the value of their home so it is incredibly important in terms of the average person's financial security.

And in recent years products have been developed to help put that asset to work - mortgages offering revolving lines of credit have become commonplace while new products like reverse mortgages offer new ways of unlocking the capital in your home.

But the collapse on the US sub-prime mortgage market raises some interesting questions about the use of home equity.

One of the underlying beliefs in using your home equity is that the value of the home will continue - over time - to rise. So leveraging the capital tied up in your house can be a very effective way of building wealth using a competitive borrowing interest rate and the potential for the growth of the assets bought with the home equity funds.

But as the US mortgage crisis - and subsequent fall in house prices across most major US cities reminds us - at times markets can fall sharply and turn conventional wisdom on its head and that is when the underlying assumptions that justified the borrowing decision is shown to be flawed.

More at http://www.vanguard.com.au/.../Home_sweet_debt/...

06 September 2007

Melbourne University Student Union Elections 2007

At Uni today the student politicians were out trying to get students to vote for a particular party. One left-wing guy came up to me near the library and told me not to vote for the right-wing party because they were pro-war and were racists. I told him whether he thought that the left-right political spectrum was too simplistic. He said no it wasn't. If you're pro-war and racist then you're right wing, he said. But then I asked him, "What if you're a racist who is anti-war? Would you be described as left-wing or right-wing?" He thought I was being silly and so just walked away.

Some right-wing guy came up to me and told me to vote because his party was an "apolitical party." I asked him how in the world a student political party can be apolitical. By definition a student political party is political since it is involved in student politics. To label his party an apolitical party is like saying that you can have a non-spherical sphere. He corrected himself and said, "We don't care about things like the Iraq war and racism." I was disturbed about the fact that he didn't care about racism. What if a gang of Nazi thugs start raping Jewish girls on campus? The guy claimed that his party will focus on giving students rebates on textbooks. The whole project smells of voter bribery. It is surprising to see a right-wing party giving subsidies. I fear that if the plan to give textbook subsidies goes ahead and textbook prices go down by 25 per cent then quite simply people will buy the cheaper textbooks in the bookshop and then sell it on Ebay, Amazon, or elsewhere for a higher price. They will pocket the difference in price. All this arbitrage will create a shortage of textbooks in the university and students will be forced to look outside the university for textbooks. The price will be the same but now students don't have the convenience of buying from the University's bookshop. This sort of centralized control in the university will generate shortages in the same way that Communist Russia created shortages of food. Yet the people who are establishing this policy are right-wing people who slur against their opposing parties by calling them Communists! Simply stupid.

The 9/11 Conspiracy Theories

Below is a documentary from BBC about the 9/11 conspiracies. It it interesting because it gives us a glimpse into the psychology of conspiracy theories. People like to believe that someone else is to blame especially when the explanation given doesn't please them. News reports can be spun and then once it spreads it takes on a new form. What really surprised me was how a simple news report from the Jerusalem Post that 4000 Israelis were around the area at the time led to a story that 4000 Jews (not all Israelis are Jews) took the day off because they were tipped off by Mossad. This idea spread very quickly in the Middle East. In fact, nine percent of those who died when the towers fell were Jewish, which is in line with the proportion of Jews who commute to New York City.

04 September 2007

Morals Decline Linked to Belief in Evolution

I'm an evolutionist myself. Evolution seems more probable in my opinion, but this idea that belief in evolution leads to moral decline (that is, decline in Christian morals) doesn't surprise me. If you really did believe in evolution then you'd realize that the only purpose for your existence is to spread your genes to the next generation. Hence, grab as many females as possible and start having sex. Evolution not only lays the philosophical framework for sexually permissive behavior but it also suggests that rape is a natural reproductive strategy. Many evolutionists who hold Christian morals try to deny this.
Morals decline linked to belief in evolution

by David Catchpoole, AiG–Australia

5 July 2000

For years, many people have scoffed at any suggestion that the evils in society could be linked with the teaching of the theory of evolution. But new research has confirmed what Bible-believers have known all along—that the rising acceptance of Darwin’s theory is related to declining morality in the community.

The research survey of 1535 people, conducted by the Australian National University, revealed that belief in evolution is associated with moral permissiveness. Darwin himself apparently feared that belief in evolution by the common man would lead to social decay. The survey showed that people who believed in evolution were more likely to be in favour of premarital sex than those who rejected Darwin’s theory. Another issue which highlighted the contrast between the effect of evolutionary ideas and that of biblical principles was that Darwinians were reported to be ‘especially tolerant’ of abortion.

In identifying the primary factors determining these differences in community attitudes, the author of the research report, Dr Jonathan Kelley, said: ‘The single most important influence after church attendance is the theory of evolution.’
Source: http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs2/4340Relevance7-5-2000.asp

Diana Conspiracy Theory

Below is part one of a documentary from the BBC about how Diana died. I am always skeptical of conspiracy theories simply because an elaborate story that seems to fit doesn't make it true. Anyone can construct a model for why it happens and rig it so that it explains everything that has happened, but that doesn't mean it's true. Some believe there was a plot by the Royal Family to kill Diana. These conspiracy theories remind me of some of the 9/11 conspiracy theories popular in the Middle East, such as the idea that the Bush Administration was responsible for the collapse of the World Trade Center or that the Jews were behind it.

Gamers Find Gaps in China's Anti-Addiction Efforts

by Louisa Lim

Imagine this: You're playing your favorite Internet game and, suddenly, a warning flashes onto the screen. You've been playing for three hours, it says, so it's time to get some exercise. If you ignore it, the total points you've won in the past three hours will be halved. After five hours of uninterrupted play, your points will be wiped out.

That's the scenario in China, where anti-addiction software is supposed to protect gamers under the age of 18. But it hasn't been an unqualified success.

One weekday night, about 30 anxious parents sit on plastic chairs in a hall, listening intently to a speaker. She's introducing a weeklong camp designed to wean their children off Internet games.

"If I restrict him, he only plays games for two or three hours a day. If I let him do what he wants, he'd play from the morning until night," says one mother, describing her struggle to control her 14-year-old son's game-playing time.

China's one-child policy has indirectly led to this problem – spawning a generation of spoiled, but lonely, only children. The burden of parental expectation upon these children is often intense – as was once the case with another mother and her 18-year-old son. He now plays games for 10 hours a day.
From NPR. More at http://www.npr.org/...php?storyId=13897858

A Student's Perspective on Love

On the 30th August 2007 I went into the library and sat down at a desk to do some study. On the desk was the following student graffiti:

"Love is nothing but chemistry in our body to ensure humankind won't become extinct."

This is an expression of nihilism.

02 September 2007

Hijacking Alice Day

Alice Day is a day made up by pedophiles. The anti-pedophiles have allegedly hijacked the day and turned it into something else. The video above is about a bunch of pedophiles. These videos from the anti-pedophiles seem very weird. What is with the stick figures?

Interview with Lindsay Ashford

Below is an interview with pro-pedophile advocate Lindsay Ashford. It is part 1 of 5. In this interview Ashford gives his views about age of consent, America, and other issues.

01 September 2007

Australia's Ivy League

The Ivy League is a collection of American universities that compete with each other in football. Today they are recognized as premier universities in America and the world, and usually membership into an Ivy League gives prestige and status. Here in Australia the equivalent is the Group of Eight universities. Since most Australians watch American TV, it's likely that your average Australian will not know anything about the Group of Eight yet know what the Ivy League is. Some people believe that Australian GO8 universities are not up there with the Ivy League universities, but according to the 2006 THES rankings, ANU in Camberra in 2006 was ranked 16th globally and Melbourne University was ranked 22nd globally. These two Australian universities, ANU and Melbourne, are consistently ranked in the global top 25. In fact, if you take the top global universities and mark those that belong to the Ivy League, many Australian universities are up there with the Ivy Leagues. This is illustrated in the figure above.

Below is a piece from Encarta questioning the value of Ivy League universities.
Is the Ivy League "Worth It"?

by Donald Asher

Right now, all over the country, high school students and their parents are scheming to get into the Ivy League. Young people are groomed practically from birth to be attractive to mysterious and all-powerful admissions committees guarding the gates of the eight universities that comprise the Ivies. Articles and books are written on packaging strategies, which classes and activities are "in" and which are now "passé," which provide an edge, and which might harm a student's chances.

There is even a psychological malady known as The Yale Syndrome, a sort of obsession with college admission that creates an unusually proximate time horizon for a young person, the moment of college admission. Students who suffer from this affliction do not develop a plan for success in college, or in any aspect of their lives, beyond the arrival of that "fat envelope" detailing their acceptance. Oddly, they share many of the same concepts of time as terminally ill cancer patients.

Parents view admission to one of these schools as a high grade on their parenting skills, and correspondingly view rejection as a low or failing grade. There is a great gnashing of teeth about the whole endeavor. But seldom does anyone really ask the question: Is the Ivy League "worth it"?

More from http://encarta.msn.com/encnet/Departments/...

Unlisted Property Trusts

I have spoken with a friend Ella who has bought a house. She claims that she bought a house last year for $140,000 and according to her, the house's value has gone up by $20,000. To most people who loudly preach about the virtues of property investments (including my dad) simply saying that an investment yields a large amount of money is enough to get them excited. But any good businessman will tell you that running a business isn't about keeping an eye on how much money is going into the cash register. It's also about costs.

Making $20,000 from $140,000 sounds impressive, but that was achieved because the investor has $140,000 in the first place, and she obtained this money from a loan. This means that although the investor has made $20,000, she looses money because she has to pay back more money to the bank. She has to pay off her interest. Borrowing to invest is called "gearing" in the personal finance literature, and with gearing comes another cost, which is added risk.

Making $20,000 from $140,000 is equivalent to making 14.3 per cent. Had this investor borrowed the same amount of money to invest in Australian shares, she would have made more than 20 per cent, or more than $28,000. Some argue that shares are more volatile while property is not. But if you are so worried about volatility, why invest in property? Why not invest in bonds? Furthermore, if the investor is so worried about risk then why borrow to invest, which only increases risk?

All this leads to the issue of unlisted property trusts. If you are comfortable with the risk-return of property, then a way you can get into the property market without having to bother about picking the best house (because how can you know which house is best unless you are a psychic) is to invest in unlisted property trusts. I am worried that listed property trusts may be too volatile.

A Google search of unlisted property trusts is a good way to start.