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Archive for August, 2013

Another war?? Are you kidding me?

August 28th, 2013

37 Comments »

Wow.  Just wow.

The US seems as though they are going to start some kind of a war with Syria.  Of course they won’t call it that and will use some term like “military action”, but it’s really the same thing.  They are going to be dropping bombs on the country.

I can’t believe it!  Except for the unfortunate fact that, “I can totally believe it”.  This is what the US does all the time.  They are always in other people’s business and think they are kicking ass as the “good guys” and the “world’s police”.  It makes me sick, but I’d like to get all of your thoughts on this…

I love sharing and discussing these international topics with you guys – a highly intelligent international audience :)  I could really see that on the comments of the last several blog posts.  Great stuff!  Please keep sharing your ideas  (And please help share these articles with at least a couple of your friends.  Email them this and see what they think.  ”Send it to your smarter and more interesting friends please”.  It’s better having a high level audience on here.  Anyway……..

Here is what I know.. (At least what I hear and read from the media, and I read A LOT)

There is a civil war going on in Syria.  (A civil war is when one country is having a war with itself.  2 groups within the same country are at war)

One of the groups used “chemical weapons” against several civilians.  That is a terrible thing to do of course.  Civilians are just regular innocent people in a country.  And “chemical weapons” are weapons that put poisonous gas into the air and make people sick or dead.

About a year ago, Obama said in some speech that the use of chemical weapons would be a “red line”, and if crossed, then the US would intervene.  That means that if the Syrian government used chemical weapons against it’s own people (which they did) then the US would do something with their military.  It was a threat by Obama.  He was trying to scare the Syrian government and make them not use the chemical weapons.  The problem was, that the Syrian government didn’t listen.  They used the chemical weapons anyway.

… Just so you know, if you cross a “red line” that means that you have gone too far, and something must be done in retaliation if you cross a “red line”.

Imagine you are in a relationship with your girlfriend and she says that it’s a “red line” for you to go to the bar until 3 am.  Now imagine that you did go to the bar until 3 am.   Well, that means that she will do something, like “break up” for example.  I think you get the idea…

Now Obama needs to make a decision for what he’s going to do.  He could do nothing, but then he’d be embarrassed because he already promised he’d do something if the Syrian’s crossed his stupid “red line”.  I personally don’t care at all if the US government is embarrassed, but they certainly do.

So it looks like now they are going to use some military force.  All their news says they are doing it because they care so much about the innocent people in Syria who got hurt, sick, or killed by the use of chemical weapons.  That sounds kind, but it’s total bullshit!  They care about their own interests only.  They want to be a super strong “boss/police of the world”.  They want everyone else to respect and fear them.  No country likes to hear that innocent people are killed in other countries, but it doesn’t mean they need to get involved with their own military.  Other innocent people will die anyway.  It always happens in any war type situation.  It’s simply impossible to avoid.

Another problem with the US doing something with their military is the fear of “blowback”.  Blowback is any negative thing that happens later because of what some country did that made other’s angry.  If they do something in Syria, it will certainly make a lot of people and countries in the area hate the US even more.  They might try to attack them or do something negative to the US at a later time.  Then there will be more war.  Sounds terrible, but it’s good news for the companies who sell weapons and all the stuff for the US military.  I heard just yesterday that the US military spent over 30 MILLION dollars in one year just on language training for their soldiers.  I’m sure that most soldiers can hardly speak any other languages at all.  It’s just amazing how much money is spent, and how companies selling stuff to them can make enormous profits……  And that’s just language training software.  Imagine the size of the contracts for the top weapons and fighter airplanes?

….  Ok, so you guys are living in many different parts of the world.  What do you think about this whole situation?  Should the US do anything in this situation?  Should they stay home and just let the government in Syria kill it’s own people?  What does the media in your country say about this?  Are they just trying to get more power in the region and earn more money from war?

By the way, in addition to our many awesome documentaries and communication platform, we are now starting to add writing practice into our VIP community.  Improve your writing with our writing assignments and we’ll give you guys some personal tips to improve. It’s all in here.  Try it for a month and see :)  You’ll love it and benefit and improve a lot.

 

University and College Education TODAY

August 25th, 2013

24 Comments »

I was born in 1979.

When I was growing up, I remember everyone around me saying that I NEED a university education if I don’t want to have a terrible life.  I believed it.  Almost everyone I knew believed it too.

At that time, university wasn’t SOOO expensive.  Students could pay for school with a good part time job.  They didn’t graduate with a huge debt and crazy student loans.

Things are very different now.  University is unbelievably expensive, and more and more students are going to school.  It seems that everyone believes that having a university degree will somehow just “magically” give them a good job when they graduate.  Well, with so many people having degrees, the “good jobs” are getting harder and harder to find.  Students in the US are paying an average of $27 000 USD per YEAR just to go to school.  Some students are paying a lot more.  When they graduate, they have an insane amount of pressure to pay back a crazy student loan, and it’s harder and harder to find a high paying job just by showing people your degree.  A lot of employers now realize that A) too many people have the same thing, and B) It’s really just a “fancy” piece of paper.

With technology changing so fast as well, colleges and universities aren’t really able to “keep up” with it all, and really prepare students with the proper knowledge they will need for the jobs of the future.

Chinese students have been going to the US in HUGE numbers over the past 10 years or so.  They are growing so fast.  I just read in a really interesting article from the Wall Street Journal that about 70% of them return to China after graduating to find a job, and less and less of them can find a good job.  They’ve almost “wasted” their parent’s hard earned money, and it’s not their fault either.

The price of education is going up fast, the quality is going down fast, and more and more people are joining the workforce with the same degree, the same piece of paper.

They have a huge debt/loan to pay off.  It’s almost like they have a mortgage, but NO HOUSE!

Students in America owe a total of over 1 trillion dollars in student loans.  That is $1 000 000 000 000.  Insane.  Thousands and thousands of students in the US owe more money just in student loans, than the price of a pretty decent house!  I’m not joking.

REAL skills (like learning high level English, computers/internet, and networking) are becoming more important (and not expensive)

Anyway……  Do I think that it’s a terrible idea to get a university education?  Of course not!  But I absolutely think that you should really think about this carefully, and don’t just be a sheep and think that your insanely expensive piece of paper will just magically help you.  You need to think ahead and think “smarter” than most of the other people who just believe whatever they are told by society.

I’d love to know where you are from, how old you are, and what your thoughts are about this topic.  Please share your thoughts about this important topic in the comments below.

I also just watched an AWESOME documentary about this situation and I put that video and the article about international students studying in China here in the VIP community for you guys to enjoy.  You will love both.  There is a lot of great stuff in there that is both really interesting AND will help your English.  I spend so much of my time looking for this kind of stuff for you guys.  I’m sure you’ll love it :)

Again, please let me know your situation, and your exact opinion on this.  If you completely agree or totally disagree with me, that’s totally fine.  It’s great practice for your English to get your thoughts down in writing, and it’s great for all of us (including me) to learn and think about different perspectives.  We can all learn from each other.

Money and Psychology

August 23rd, 2013

10 Comments »

Many, well actually most, economists use theories that suggest that all people are 100% “rational” or “logical” when making decisions about money.

The truth is that all people are 100% logical with money when it comes to relatively simple choices.

If you ask someone, “would you prefer I gave you $25 or $100″?  everyone would simply take the $100.  Even a total fool would know that a hundred bucks is better than less than that.  But that’s too obvious.  It’s too easy.

There are many times when people make “stupid” decisions involving money too.  They act ‘emotionally’ instead of ‘logically’.

For example, people buy different foods if they go shopping at the grocery story when they are hungry.  They are more likely to buy high calorie junk food, even if they don’t plan on eating it right away.  That’s an emotional decision.

There are also many scientific studies showing that people spend more money when they are sad.  If you show a group of people a sad scene from a movie and then ask them how much they would spend on some item, they will say MORE money than if they didn’t watch the sad movie clip first.

Marketers and advertisers take advantage of all of this human psychology when they do marketing.  They will make people feel emotional about their product, which makes them spend more money on their product than they otherwise would.

I love to believe that advertising tricks don’t work on me because I study them.  The annoying fact is that they totally do!  I’m just as much of a sucker for good advertising as anyone else.

Last night I watched a really really interesting 1 hour documentary about how psychology affects people’s decisions about spending money.  It also spoke a lot of the economic housing crash that happened in 2008.

An “economic crash” is when the economy suddenly gets very bad, very quickly.  An example is the “housing bubble”.  People believed that house prices would keep getting higher and higher, and that they would never come down.  People were buying houses like crazy and pushing the home prices up super high.  Then one day in 2008, thousands of people couldn’t sell their homes and there were suddenly no more buyers.  Home prices fell very quickly and many many people who owned homes could no longer afford to pay the banks back.  Many people, including me, believe that we are in another bubble right now and that one day within the next couple of years we’ll see another HUGE crash.  I’m not sure exactly when, but I think it’s coming.

The USA has a debt of over 17 trillion dollars!  That is over: $17 000 000 000 000 USD.  That is INSANE.  They are borrowing the money from countries all over the world (China is the biggest lender).  The US government will never be able to pay this money back, and when countries start demanding that they get their money back, we are going to see economic problems like we’ve never seen.

Some people will make a lot of money from the crash.  And people who don’t work on their skills and make sure they are in a good position to get a good job, will likely lose their jobs and be lucky if they can find a job at MacDonald’s.  So……  Another great reason to be focussing on your English (I always like to give you guys extra motivation) but I really do think this will happen.

What do you think about all of this?  Do you think marketing affects people’s financial decisions?  Do you think the world is borrowing FAR too much money and this will cause huge problems in the near future?  Do you believe that now is more important than ever to do what you can to make yourself more competitive in today’s job market?  Please share your ideas and opinions below.

I decided to put the full documentary video here in the VIP community for you guys.  I think you’ll really enjoy it.  I loved it :)

The 1 %

August 12th, 2013

15 Comments »

If you watch any political or financial news, or news in general, you’ll often hear about “The One Percent”.

“The 1 %” is a relatively new and very popular term to refer to the richest 1% of the people in society. So, for example, if you had a small town of 1000 people, “the 1 %” of that town would be the richest 10 people.

This term is used a lot when talking about “rich people” in general, or people who should be paying more in taxes, or when talking about the “wealth gap”. That is, the large and growing difference between rich and poor people.

A “gap” is a space. I could say, “She went to the dentist to fix the large gap between her two front teeth. She looks much prettier now”.

So when we hear something like, “The wealth gap is getting a lot bigger.” That means that the rich people are getting richer and the poor people are getting poorer.

“The one percent” are the rich people. They also want to stay rich. Many of them will influence politicians (law makers) to make laws that help them keep their money (low taxes) and help them keep earning more of it easily.

They have been very successful in the USA over the last 30 years. The top 1% of the people in the US now own about 25% of all of the money. (In the 1970′s, the top 1% had only 9% of the money.)

The situation is getting more and more severe as well. Life is amazingly easy financially for the top 1% of the people, and it’s very hard for the bottom 25% of the people. Those people have a hard time buying enough healthy food for their families and clothes for their kids.

Many, but not all, people in the 1% make the argument that poor people are lazy and shouldn’t get any help from the government. They believe they already pay more than enough money in taxes. They believe that if the poor people want more money, they can just work harder for it. No one is stopping them.

I am personally somewhere in the middle. I do believe that people who work hard should be allowed to have a much better stuff than people who sit around doing nothing. I also believe that many poor people are in fact very lazy and believe that they should get free stuff for doing nothing.

But I don’t believe that the rules of the game are reasonable. It’s possible to work for 60 hours a week (ie. not lazy) and still not be able to feed your family healthy food and pay for health care and pay for your kids to play sports and have an education. I think that’s a bit ridiculous.

An economic system that allows for rich people to have their own private air planes and also allow for millions of poor people to not be able to afford a tomato sandwich and a visit to the doctor seems stupid.

I’d like to see economists work towards a new system that allows for a very large and healthy middle class. There would still be some rich and poor people, but the difference wouldn’t be as insane as it is now.

BUT…… Guess what. I really can’t imagine that happening. It seems like we’re in a world where greed is #1. The richest people have so much control of everything and they will do anything to make it stay that way.

So, no matter what you think or hope is true, we’re living in a world where it is important to try to get ahead and earn money. No one is going to take care of you, you need to take care of yourself. The difference between rich and poor is huge, and it is getting bigger every year. Having a good job will pay a lot of money, and getting a terrible job will pay almost nothing, even if you are working hard in both jobs. You need to be more competitive. You need to improve your chances to get a high paying job by doing anything you can. Your hard work now will make your life much better in the future, and your family’s as well.

If that isn’t an amazing reason to start getting more serious about learning English right now (so you can be more competitive and earn more money) I really don’t know what is.

Love to hear your thoughts below.

For the best ways to improve your English fast, join us in the VIP, AND in our high level community. These places are for people who really want to get ahead in life.