Brain Teaser – Time


Astronomical Clock

Image by simpologist via Flickr

The questions in this week’s brainteasers all concern some aspect of time.  Need help? Use Credo Reference.

1. How many years are there in a decade?

2. The globe is divided into how many time zones: twelve, twenty-four, or forty?

3. How many years are there in a millennium?

4. In the 1952 Western film ‘High Noon”. who played the marshal deserted by all his fellow townsfolk as he awaited a returning desperado?

5. The letters “p.m.” mean “after noon”. What Latin phrase are they short for?

6. Who wrote the novel “The Time Machine”, published in 1895?

7. In talking about time, what does “GMT” stand for?

8. Which Christian festival falls on the Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox?

9. Who wrote the 1944 novel “Time Must Have a Stop”?

10. A nanosecond is a unit of time equal to what part of a second?

Questions set by Tony Augarde (www.augardebooks.co.uk)

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World Holidays – January


Holidays provide a great way to learn about the culture and history of a country. Observe a world holiday by  researching the holiday’s origins or learn more about a particular aspect of the country in CultureGrams.

Featured Observance: Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night is celebrated in England and other parts of Europe the night before Epiphany (January 6, a holiday that commemorates two events in the life of Christ: the visit of the three wise men and Christ’s baptism) and marks the end of the Christmas season. Festivities reflect anticipation for the new year. Twelfth Night cake is usually served. A bean and a pea are baked into the cake, and the two guests who find them in their slices of cake are considered the king and queen of the night.

World Holidays Featured This Month

Cuba – Cuba Liberation Day – January 1
Commemorates the overthrow of Fulgencio Batista’s military government in 1959.

Switzerland – Berchtold’s Day – January 2
Celebrated mainly by children, this holiday centers around nuts, which are collected, played with, and eaten as part of the festivities.

India – Lohri – January 14
Celebrates the end of winter and the return of longer days in the Northern Hemisphere.

United States – Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday – January 15
Commemorates the birthday of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. A day that highlights African-American history and the civil rights movement.

Japan – Seijin-no-Hi (Adults Day, or Coming of Age Day) – Second Monday in January
A national holiday to honor people who turned 20 during the previous year.

Australia – Australia Day – January 26
Commemorates the founding of the first British settlement in Australia, in 1788.

Breaking News – Newspaper MicroFilm Goes Digital!


Microfilm newspapers are now going digital, which means you can now access back issues of three major newspapers – The Las Vegas Review Journal, The LA Times and The New York Times from anywhere with your library card and PIN!

The ProQuest Digital Microfilm Newspapers is now available on Databases A-Z and also on Topic Search under Newspapers and Current Events and Resources for Middle/High School Grades.

It currently contains the following newspapers but please note the delay times :

  • The Las Vegas Review Journal – starting with the year 2009 to the present but runs about 6 months behind.
  • The LA Times – starting with year 2008 to the present but runs about 3 months behind.
  • The New York Times – starting with year 2008 to the present but runs about 2 months behind.

To use :

  1. Select the Confirm Authenication link
  2. Click Select and select a newspaper title
  3. Select a Year
  4. Select a Month
  5. Select a Day – usually it will start loading the newspaper at this point, if not then
  6. Select a Page

Once the paper loads, use the thumbnails at the bottom of the screen to scroll through the paper. When you find a page you want to view click on it. It will appear in the large window. Hint: To enlarge, click the “Fill Window icon on the tool bar (see below).

Note: as ofDecember 14, 2010, it has been noted this database fails using FireFox 3.6.13, when you try to select a thumbnail. We are investigating the issue with Proquest.

Investment Tip of the Month


Morningstar Investment Research Center’s Picks for Inflation Protection

by Christine Benz, Director of Personal Finance

If there’s a small silver lining amid the current economic malaise, it’s that inflation has been pretty muted.

But investors ignore inflation at their own peril. Even if massive amounts of government stimulus don’t prompt inflation, there’s the possibility of price spikes here in the United States as a result of still-red-hot economic growth in emerging markets. Widespread rising prices, in turn, could amount to erosion in the purchasing power of any assets you’ve managed to save or invest. By the time you start tapping your portfolio to meet your income needs, those dollars could be worth a lot more than they are right now.

That’s why it’s so important to ensure that your portfolio is adequately protected against inflation. Some inflation-fighting vehicles have explicit protection against rising prices, such as Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities. Others, such as stocks, protect against inflation indirectly.

Here’s an overview of the key vehicles with inflation-fighting attributes, as well as some of Morningstar’s top picks in those groups.

Inflation-Protected Bonds
The Thesis
For holders of nominal (that is, not inflation-protected) bonds, inflation is a natural enemy, right up there with rising interest rates. If an investment is delivering a fixed payout, inflation will reduce the value of that payout accordingly. That’s where inflation-protected bonds come into play. There are two main varieties: I-Bonds and inflation-protected bonds. The former are bonds for individual investors issued by the Treasury Department; their yields adjust upward to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index. Inflation-protected bonds, such as TIPS, are similar, but the inflation adjustment comes at the principal level, not in the bond’s yield.

Best Bets
There are no funds composed of I-Bonds, but there are a number of offerings that focus on inflation-protected bonds. For plain-vanilla TIPS exposure, it’s tough to beat the low-cost Vanguard Inflation-Protected Securities VIPSX; for ETF enthusiasts, iShares Barclays TIPS Bond TIP is another low-cost, no-nonsense choice. The PIMCO-managed Harbor Real Return HARRX, meanwhile, has successfully employed a broader toolkit that encompasses non-U.S. inflation-protected bonds and the use of forward contracts to obtain TIPS exposure. While SPDR DB International Government Inflation-Protected Bond WIP isn’t an official ETF Analyst Pick, it provides both inflation protection and diversification away from the U.S. dollar.

Bank Loans
The Thesis
Unlike inflation-protected bonds, bank loans don’t include an explicit mechanism to ward against inflation. But they stand to be fairly hardy when inflation is on the move. That’s because bank-loan payouts fluctuate in line with the London Interbank Offered Rate–the rate that banks charge one another to borrow money. When the LIBOR heads up, which is often the case during inflationary environments, so do bank-loan coupon payments.

Best Bets
Bank-loan funds might seem to have it all: imperviousness to rising interest rates plus some inflation-fighting characteristics. But investors should tread with caution in this varied category. As a result of credit sensitivity and forced bank-loan selling from institutional investors, the average bank-loan fund lost 29% in 2008. Morningstar’s favorite fund here is one of the group’s slow and steady options, Fidelity Floating Rate High Income FFRHX, where manager Christine McConnell assiduously avoids the market’s riskiest loans.

Commodities/Metals Funds
The Thesis
The premise behind owning commodities investments for inflation protection is straightforward: If the prices of goods are going up, an investment that captures price changes in food, energy, and basic-materials costs will thrive at the same time.

Best Bets
Although the case for commodities for inflation protection is straightforward, the implementation isn’t. Owning the stocks of commodities companies, as with an offering like T. Rowe Price New Era PRNEX, provides indirect exposure to the prices of stuff. And while commodities futures-based funds aim to provide broad and direct exposure to the prices of goods, in practice they haven’t been perfect trackers of commodity prices as a result of a situation called contango. Morningstar’s open-end fund team doesn’t currently include any commodities offerings among its Analyst Picks. Our exchange-traded fund team, meanwhile, has a few commodities picks, including iPath DJ-UBS Commodity Index DJP.

Stocks
The Thesis
Stocks are another indirect way to gird your portfolio against the threat of inflation. Their returns are variable, in contrast with fixed-rate investments, giving them the potential for higher returns than bonds. That means that inflation could take a smaller bite, in percentage terms, out of your future purchasing power.

Best Bets
Not all stocks will thrive in an inflationary environment, and some companies may even see their profitability flag. To help identify companies with a strong history of profitability through a variety of economic environments, screening for firms with high returns on equity is a good starting point. Morningstar Investment Research Center’s preset Wealth Creators screen can help you identify such firms, and layering on an additional screen for wide moats will further winnow down the universe to companies with long-term competitive advantages. Fund investors have a few top options, including Vanguard Dividend Growth VDIGX and T. Rowe Price Dividend Growth PRDGX (traditional actively managed funds) and the index fund Vanguard Dividend Appreciation (available as a conventional mutual fund VDAIX and exchange-traded fund VIG).

A version of this article appeared on Morningstar.com on Dec. 9, 2010.

Types of Governments – Lesson Plan


law & governmentView and Discuss The Five Types of Government Explained

Discussion Guide

Video Response – Lesson 1

Objective: The students will view the video (from discussion guide) and complete the attached worksheet.

Worksheet

Political Cartoons — Lesson Plan 2

Objective: Students will research to find political cartoons and create political cartoons about several types of government

Project Expectations

The Best Way to Run a Country — Lesson Plan 3

Objective: Students will create a poster/ paper and presentation on what they feel is the best form of government.

Project Expectations

Additional Activities:

  • Have class work in groups to label a world map indicating what type of government they have.  Place map on wall and refer to during class discussions
  • Have students interpret the following quote, “Without law there can be no freedom.”
  • As a review activity, put students into groups and play charades.  Having each group act out a type of government and allowing the audience to guess what it is
  • Hunt through newspapers for a week or two and collect all articles discussing types of government.  Analyze the media’s bias, who is presented in a better light?  Who is frowned upon?

21st Century Core Content
World Languages
Economics
History
Government and Civics
Geography

21st Century Themes
Global Awareness
Financial, Economic, Business and Entrepreneurial Literacy
Civic Literacy

21st Century Skills
Reason Effectively
Communicate Clearly
Access and Evaluate Information
Analyze Media
Create Media Products
Be Self-directed Learners
Produce Results


Library Resources:

Additional Resources:

Additional Resources for Global Issues in Context Subscribers:

Democracy Imperiled: Did the Foreign Diplomacy of the Nixon Administration Violate Democratic Principles?, from History in Dispute: Cold War
Communism, from International Encyclopedia of Social Sciences
Winston Churchill on Liberalism and Socialism, from Governments, Politics and Protests: Essential Primary Sources
Dictatorship of the Proletariat, from Encyclopedia of Russian History
Oligarchy, from International Encyclopedia of Social Sciences