Archive for March, 2008

“double life”

Monday, March 24th, 2008

If someone is leading a “double life” it means that in one area of their life they act a certain way and portray a certain image, whereas in another area of their life they act and behave completely differently; hence the term “double life”. Usually the reason that the person needs to portray two different characters is that they have some secret part of their life that they don’t want other people to know about.

As an example, imagine a really nice mother who is a great wife, takes great care of her kids and has a nice job. Everyone thinks she perfect. Secretly however, she dates several men behind her husband’s back and tells no one about it. This woman is leading a double life.

Sometimes teens lead “double lives” because their parents won’t allow them to do certain things that their friends do. They seem like perfect kids in front of their parents, but do all sorts of “bad” things behind their parent’s backs.

Eliot Spitzer is a man who got caught leading a double life. Read about his story here. Eliot Spitzer’s story

Your comments are always appreciated.


Your thoughts on Eliot Spitzer’s situation

Monday, March 24th, 2008

Governor Eliot Spitzer was well known for working to eliminate wall street wrongdoings as well as helping to bust several prostitution rings. He was thought of as an “upstanding member of society” with a high moral code.

Recently he was caught on a federal wiretap where he was arranging to meet with a high-priced prostitute (several thousand dollars) in a Washington hotel. He has since confessed his “double life”, publicly apologized to his wife, family, and the general public. Then he stepped down from his position as governor.

Helpful vocab:

Upstanding member of society: An upstanding member of society is a person who has high morals, tries to do what is right, and doesn’t do illegal things.

Wiretap: A wiretap is a way of secretly listening into other people’s phone calls. If you were a suspect of a crime, the police could “tap into” your phone conversations, (ie. listen to them without you knowing) to see if they could get evidence for your crimes.

Double life:  Click here to read my blog about it.

Stepped down: If someone “steps down” from a job or a position, it means they resign (quit). Often people do this to avoid having to get fired or making a big court case out of it.

I’d love to hear your opinions on this situation. Do you think Eliot Spitzer’s wife should divorce him? Do you think he is a terrible person?

Go here to the discussion forum to share your ideas: Eliot Spitzer discussion


Manic depression

Friday, March 21st, 2008

Manic depression is a type of mental or psychological disorder. A person with manic depression has very large mood swings. The person is sometimes incredibly happy and confident (the manic state) and other times they are completely depressed and upset. This disease is also called bipolar disorder. (“Bi” means 2 and “pole” means ends). In other words the person’s mood can easily range between the two extremes. People who have this disease often take medicine to help stabilize their mood.

Everyone’s mood changes from time to time but manic depression is a very extreme case. Sometimes you will hear this word used lightly in conversation. You might hear someone describe themselves as being “bipolar” or “manic depressed”. You should note that sometimes people say these terms to exaggerate someone’s behavior even though the person may not actually have this disease.

Your comments are always appreciated.


The law of diminishing returns

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

The law of diminishing returns is a classic law of economics. The economics definition might be a little confusing so I’ll do my best in explaining the basic idea of it. Essentially it means that as you continue to add more of the same thing, the added benefit becomes less and less.

Here are a few real life examples which should help to clear up the meaning:

1. Imagine a student who is studying to take an easy test. Let’s assume that he can learn everything in about 10 hours of study. The first 10 hours of studying will have a much greater impact on his test score than his second 10 hours of studying. After a certain point, any extra studying will be a waste of time because he already knows the material.

2. Imagine now that you are going to clean your messy bedroom. The first hour of cleaning will make the most difference, the second hour should make less difference than the first hour, and eventually, if you continue cleaning your room, your extra time spent cleaning won’t make much difference at all because your room will already be clean.

3. How much money someone has works the same way. The first million dollars you earn makes a much bigger difference on the quality of your life than the second million dollars. After a certain point, extra money doesn’t make any difference in your lifestyle at all. In terms of lifestyle, there is not much difference between 30 billion and 60 billion dollars.

Let me know if you have any questions.


Opportunity Cost

Monday, March 17th, 2008

Here is an important term that you will often hear used in business, economics, and the news.

Everyone knows what the “cost” of something is. If I told you that going to a certain university as a full-time student for 4 years cost $10,000 per year, you would know that the total cost of the 4-year program is $40,000.

The opportunity cost is different. The opportunity cost also includes what else you are “giving up” by making that decision. The opportunity cost can be applied when you are making a decision between doing two or more things.

In our simple example, let’s say that you are considering doing one of two things:
a:)go to school for 4 years or
b:)not go to school and working instead.

Let’s assume that if you didn’t go to school you would be able to earn $30 000 per year during that time. That would be $120,000 that you wouldn’t have if you had instead chose to go to school. In this case we say that the opportunity cost of going to school is the $40,000 of tuition + the $120,000 that you would have earned if you chose to work instead. Therefore the opportunity cost of going to school would be $160,000. That sounds quite expensive. We could even complicate this further by including the money that you would have earned on investments during the time you were working.

Basically, the point of the opportunity cost is to help you evaluate the “real” costs of choosing one option instead of another.
It doesn’t only have to be about money either. For example, imagine that you have a girlfriend (or boyfriend) and you are deciding whether or not you will move to another country without her. You have decided that if you do move, you will break-up. That means that your girlfriend is an opportunity cost of moving because you will be losing her if you go away.

I hope this explanation was clear and you will be able to use this term confidently. Let me know if you have any questions.