Friday, August 30, 2013

Potty Past

Ancient Rome  and Egypt had a sewer systems but after the fall of the empires human kind returned to chamber pots and out houses for centuries. As a historian, I battle my natural girlish inclination to romanticize the past because the academic training required a grounding in facts. So as much as I'd like a time capsule to take me back to my favorite eras: Tutor England, Wild West America, when it comes to plumbing I'm a modernist. 

Linguistically, the origin of the word toilet is only a few hundred years old. From the French toilette, the porcelain pot found in modern homes only a portion of the dressing ritual. English speakers incorporated the word and restricted the meaning exclusively to the pot. 

Toilet became vulgar to the English ear so two other euphemisms came to have the same meaning. The first, 'lavatory' came from the Latin word meaning wash basin but euphemistically came to mean the entire restroom operation. The second, 'loo' was English slang for the French 'garde l'eau' which loosely translates as 'WATCH OUT FOR THE WATER!'

Scattered across America are the remnants of remnants of our past, which are sometime better left alone. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

One Room School House

While traveling around looking for interesting historical sites, a one room school house came into view. The sign nearly as large as the building itself was a testament to an era of no nonsense lessons and learning. 

The wood siding painted red for the tourists was once white wash. The bell hung from a hook attached to the rafter. A well worn rope attached to the clapper swayed in the breeze. 

Through a dusty window beside the door four desks stood. The four could accommodate up to eight students. The front of the class was a one step podium for the teacher who with a blackboard, lectern and a stove was charged with the education of the area's student population. Only the essentials could be toted to and from school were required. The rest of the process was between the students and the teacher. 

McGuffy's readers were standard material, passed down through each family fortunate enough to allow school time to their children. The readers were primary material from pre-reader to college level material. Arithmetic and handwriting practice were primarily on hand held chalk boards. 

The day was a great success with discussions of the era of increased literacy as well as the implementation of new educational testing systems which documents the decline of US student achievement. Perhaps the solution to the budgetary short fall as well as declining scores is in relationships rather than testing material. 


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Happy Anniversary Oz

August 15, 1939 the Wizard of Oz premiered at Grauman’s Theater in Hollywood California. The film cost a little over $2 million to create pumping money into the local economy by employing extra craftsmen and actors to create the full color world of Oz. In its initial release the film made $3 million but became a classic with its re-release in 1949 and continued product branding. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Pooh-style business

Many issues / struggles of society could be solved by following the example of the AA Milne characters in Winnie-the –Pooh. Take business for example: the contraction of the economy was inevitable because some basic Pooh wisdom was ignored for years.

Basic Pooh wisdom found through the actions and dialogue between Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends in the original The House at Pooh Corner and When We Were Very Young offer points of reference to build character and to ease social situations. In the 100 acre wood, Gopher gives the formula for a successful business. This same formula works for real life if the business owner is interested in an honest, in-the-black, business.

For the business owner who really is interested in making a profit rather than the in-vogue business men who are into shenanigans of derivative accounting, insider trading and other unscrupulous meanings of extracting money from red ink, gopher offers a capitalistic formula for simple profit.
The set-up: Pooh has stayed too long at Rabbit’s house. Pooh has eaten himself into a new size. The size is too large to get through the rabbit’s doorway. He gets stuck. Rabbit tries to push Pooh out. The friends try to pull Pooh out. Finally, Owl calls in a professional, Gopher.

Gopher’s estimate to remove the bear gives the formula to a modest income for a professional business.

Cost of Materials + Labor + Overhead + 10%

The reader might say, ‘That’s easy enough,’ then wonder what’s up with the stock market and business take-overs, buy-outs and outright skullduggery. Well, somewhere along the way true accountants were shoved over to make room for algebraic financial collapse. When two negatives make a positive on a spread sheet, losses are recorded as profits; it’s the makings of a mess.
The sad part is when the new accountants move on the scene, they play with the numbers   to make pluses out of minuses. But in real life they’re keeping a failing business open creating a vacuuming money pit.

Since the financial collapse of the 1880-90s (yes, 19th century), financial business men, bankers and politicians have all known the cost to real lives that the monkey business in the money business causes. Standard accounting practice, utilizing addition & subtraction, absolutely no algebra, produces correct balances sheets.

If a financial portfolio includes companies using derivative accounting or penny stocks, dump them. Ethical economists declare the under $1 stock as a breeding ground for fraud. Penny stocks are removed from the stock exchange because there is nothing but fraudulent intent, if not action in the plans of the participants. There can't be anything else or they'd have closed shop a long time ago. Unsound financing is bad for business as a whole and if you’re not the manipulator, you will lose your money and maybe your shirt too.