Heiko Bleher reports on an environmental disaster in the Amazon region that he says is far worse than we have been led to believe.
10 Obsolete Jobs We Love
By Rachel Farrell, special to CareerBuilder
We looked at jobs that are obsolete or on their way out. Here are 10 of our favorites:
1. Elevator operator
Once upon a time, elevators were operated manually and someone had to “drive” them. The operator chose the floors to stop on and had to get the doors to land as close to floor level as possible. Eventually, push-button controls were invented, yet elevators were able to take passengers only on individual trips, so they needed operators to take the most efficient routes. Today, elevators are automatic, lessening the need for operators, but a few work in tourist buildings and some apartment buildings.
2. File clerk
File clerks — and clerical jobs in general — are being phased out. More files are being stored online and on computers, diminishing the need for people to do the work manually. The occupation is expected to shrink by nearly a quarter in the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Before electric refrigerators, people stored their food in iceboxes. To keep the iceboxes stocked, icemen delivered 25- to 100-pound ice blocks to homes several times a week. Nowadays, we have freezers, most of which come with automatic ice dispensers. Today’s icemen deliver only to schools, restaurants and catering companies.
4. Inspectors, testers, samplers, sorters and weighers
These are quality-control inspectors. They make sure your car runs smoothly, your chip bag is sealed and your pants won’t split the first time you wear them. But, as with many manufacturing jobs, these positions are declining slowly because of machines that automatically inspect goods and assembly workers who monitor the safety of goods as they are made on the line. The occupation is expected to decline by 4 percent by 2018, according to the BLS.
5. News vendors, street vendors and door-to-door salesmen
Although street vendors are more common in big cities, the times of people trying to sell you things on the sidewalk are passing. These days, every sales pitch comes with an ad or marketing campaign. And now that you can market and sell everything online, there is less of a need to sell goods in person. These positions are expected to decline rapidly through 2018.
6. Machine feeders and offbearers
True to their job titles, machine feeders and offbearers insert materials into and take materials out of machines to speed up the production line. But as automation continues to take over in the manufacturing industry, people will be needed less and less and these occupations will continue to be phased out. About 22 percent of these jobs are expected to be lost, according to the BLS.
Milkmen used to make dairy deliveries to homes every week. Almost 30 percent of consumers had milk delivered, according to a 1963 survey by the Agriculture Department. But as time went on, it became more convenient for consumers to buy milk at groceries. By 1975, only 7 percent of people got milk deliveries and in 2005, it was less than 0.5 percent. Interestingly enough, today there’s an increasing number of vendors that are delivering more than just milk — they deliver entire grocery orders.
8. Paper goods machine setters, operators and tenders
These people set up, operate or tend paper goods machines. These machines perform a variety of functions, including converting, banding, wrapping, boxing, stitching and sealing paper into products — pretty much anything humans can do to paper. But the world doesn’t run on paper anymore (at least not as much), and when this job does need to be done, a machine can do it. By 2018, the BLS predicts this occupation will lose 21.5 percent of its jobs.
9. Switchboard operators
Switchboard operators used a “cord board” to connect callers by plugging incoming lines and metal pegs into the corresponding hole on the board to connect with the correct caller. Long-distance callers were routed through operators, but with only a limited number of lines. If all circuits were busy, operators took callers’ number and called them back when a line was available. Now, with the advancement of technology, cell phones and long-distance plans, the need for these operators has diminished.
Before computers and word processors became common, typists — most of them women — wrote up office documents using typewriters. If they performed well enough, they usually got promoted to secretary (another dying position). Nowadays, most professionals type their own documents, and those who don’t employ an executive assistant.
A teacher from Primary School asks her students to write an essay about what they would like God to do for them. At the end of the day while marking the essays, she read one that made her very emotional.
Her husband, who had just walked in, saw her crying and asked her, “What happened?” She answered, “Read this. It’s one of my students’ essay.”
‘O God, tonight I ask you something very special: Make me into a television. I want to take its place. Live like the TV in my house. Have my own special place, and have my family around ME. To be taken seriously when I talk…. I want to be the centre of attention and be heard without interruptions or questions. I want to receive the same special care that the TV receives when it is not working. Have the company of my dad when he arrives home from work, even when he is tired. And I want my mom to want me when she is sad and upset, instead of ignoring me… And… I want my brothers to fight to be with me… I want to feel that family just leaves everything aside, every now and then, just to spend some time with me. And last but not least make it that I can make them all happy and entertain them… Lord I don’t ask you for much… I just want to live like every TV.’
At that moment the husband said, “My God, poor kid! What horrible parents!”
She looked up at him and said, “That essay is our son’s!”
Lesson – Spend more quality time with your kids
By David A. Kaplan, contributorAugust 24, 2010: 5:53 AM ET
FORTUNE — Sal Khan, you can count Bill Gates as your newest fan. Gates is a voracious consumer of online education. This past spring a colleague at his small think tank, bgC3, e-mailed him about the nonprofit khanacademy.org, a vast digital trove of free mini-lectures all narrated by Khan, an ebullient, articulate Harvard MBA and former hedge fund manager. Gates replied within minutes. “This guy is amazing,” he wrote. “It is awesome how much he has done with very little in the way of resources.” Gates and his 11-year-old son, Rory, began soaking up videos, from algebra to biology. Then, several weeks ago, at the Aspen Ideas Festival in front of 2,000 people, Gates gave the 33-year-old Khan a shout-out that any entrepreneur would kill for. Ruminating on what he called the “mind-blowing misallocation” of resources away from education, Gates touted the “unbelievable” 10- to 15-minute Khan Academy tutorials “I’ve been using with my kids.” With admiration and surprise, the world’s second-richest person noted that Khan “was a hedge fund guy making lots of money.” Now, Gates said, “I’d say we’ve moved about 160 IQ points from the hedge fund category to the teaching-many-people-in-a-leveraged-way category. It was a good day his wife let him quit his job.” Khan wasn’t even there — he learned of Gates’ praise through a YouTube video. “It was really cool,” Khan says.
In an undistinguished ranch house off the main freeway of Silicon Valley, in a converted walk-in closet filled with a few hundred dollars’ worth of video equipment and bookshelves and his toddler’s red Elmo underfoot, is the epicenter of the educational earthquake that has captivated Gates and others. It is here that Salman Khan produces online lessons on math, science, and a range of other subjects that have made him a web sensation.
Khan Academy, with Khan as the only teacher, appears on YouTube and elsewhere and is by any measure the most popular educational site on the web. Khan’s playlist of 1,630 tutorials (at last count) are now seen an average of 70,000 times a day — nearly double the student body at Harvard and Stanford combined. Since he began his tutorials in late 2006, Khan Academy has received 18 million page views worldwide, including from the Gates progeny. Most page views come from the U.S., followed by Canada, England, Australia, and India. In any given month, Khan says, he’s reached about 200,000 students. “There’s no reason it shouldn’t be 20 million.”
His low-tech, conversational tutorials — Khan’s face never appears, and viewers see only his unadorned step-by-step doodles and diagrams on an electronic blackboard — are more than merely another example of viral media distributed at negligible cost to the universe. Khan Academy holds the promise of a virtual school: an educational transformation that de-emphasizes classrooms, campus and administrative infrastructure, and even brand-name instructors.
Quick, free, and easy to understand
Distance learning and correspondence courses have been around since the invention of mail. And private, for-profit schools flourish; the University of Phoenix has half a million students enrolled, most of them online. Other private operations, like the Teaching Co., specialize in amalgamating “great courses” from nationally known teachers: the 12-hour Game Theory in Life, Business, and Beyond, from one academic star, costs $254.95 on DVD.
What’s remarkable about Khan Academy, aside from its nonpareil word of mouth and burgeoning growth, is that it’s free and prizes brevity. Remember your mumbling macroeconomics teacher whose 50-minute monologue in a large auditorium could bore the dead? That isn’t Khan. He rarely cracks wise — if you want shtick, check out Darth Vader trying to teach Euclidean geometry on YouTube (“The Pythagorean theorem is your destiny!”) — but in less than 15 minutes Khan gets to the essence of the topics he’s carved out.
Online critics question whether he amounts to a dilettante who’s turning learning into pedagogical McNuggets. But while you obviously don’t learn calculus in one session — the subject is divided into 191 parts, which doesn’t include 32 more in precalc — Khan’s components seem to hit the sweet spot of length and substance. And he covers an astonishing array. There are the core subjects in math — arithmetic, geometry, algebra, trigonometry, calculus, and statistics — and the de rigueur science offerings, like biology, chemistry, and physics. But Khan also gives lessons in Economics of a Cupcake Factory, the Napoleonic Wars, and the Alien Abduction Brain Teaser.
The seeds of education
Like so many entrepreneurial epiphanies, Khan’s came by accident. Born and raised in New Orleans — the son of immigrants from India and what’s now Bangladesh — Khan was long an academic star. With his MBA from Harvard, he has three degrees from MIT: a BS in math and a BS and a master’s in electrical engineering and computer science. He also was the president of his MIT class and did volunteer teaching in nearby Brookline for talented children, as well as developed software to teach children with ADHD. What he doesn’t know he picks up from endless reading and cogitation: His gift, like that of many teachers, is being able to reduce the complex. “Part of the beauty of what he does is his consistency,” says Gates. Of Khan’s capacity to teach, Gates, who says he spends considerable time trying to help his three kids learn the basics of math and science, tells Fortune, “I kind of envy him.”
Khan continued to work for the small hedge fund he had joined after Harvard, Wohl Capital Management. He said he took away “under $1 million” before the Silicon Valley-based hedge fund wound down, and briefly started his own fund in mid-2008, which didn’t really get off the ground because of the financial crisis. (“I called it Khan Capital,” he says, “but it never got much beyond ‘Khan’s Capital.’”) He used his nest egg to buy a house with his wife, Umamia, a rheumatology fellow at Stanford Medical School, and as a reserve when he gave up his investment career. On a typical day he tapes a few tutorials, answers posts from students, calls experts when he’s stuck on how best to explicate a concept, and fields queries from curious potential backers.
He maintains he has no interest in monetizing the operation by charging subscriptions or selling ads. “I already have a beautiful wife, a hilarious son, two Hondas, and a decent house,” he declares on his website. But that hasn’t stopped the inquiries, the most notable from John Doerr, the Silicon Valley venture capitalist, and his wife, Ann. Not long ago a PayPal donation on Khan’s site came in for $10,000 (a typical gift is $100). Khan e-mailed the donor. Her name was Ann Doerr. He knew of a John Doerr but just assumed the name was more popular than he realized. He e-mailed her to say thanks. She suggested lunch.
When they met, Ann Doerr told him she couldn’t believe hers was the largest donation. “This is, like, criminal,” she said. “I love what you’re doing.” When he got home, he found a message from her: “There’s $100,000 in the mail.”
Khan is using that money to pay himself a salary. Later, he met John Doerr and has since relied on both Doerrs for entrée to others in the philanthropic establishment. After Gates mentioned Khan in Aspen, John tweeted it to his Silicon Valley legions. In July the academy received another $100,000 — from John McCall MacBain, a Canadian entrepreneur who made a fortune in publishing. “If I had a million dollars,” Khan says, he’d fund software development of more automated problem sets and extensive translations of his videos. Gates, whose foundation spends $700 million a year on U.S. education, plans to talk to Khan soon as well.
An academy or a library?
Khan has his skeptics in the education business. They don’t doubt he means well and is helping students, but they question the broad impact of any tutorial that doesn’t test performance or allow student-teacher discussion. “It’s a solid supplemental resource, particularly for motivated students,” says Jeffrey Leeds, president of Leeds Equity Partners, the largest U.S. private equity firm specializing in for-profit education. “But it’s not an academy — it’s more of a library.”
But Khan intends nothing less than “tens of thousands” of tutorials offering the “first free, world-class virtual school where anyone can learn anything.” The advances envisioned by Leeds and others wouldn’t hurt either. The education industry can use all the innovation it can find.
Dubai: A recent survey by a credit counselling and debt management company reveals 85 per cent of UAE residents are in debt and landing many in prison.
The survey, carried out by the International Swiss Debt Management (ISDM) Consultancy, also ranks residents from India and Philippines as the highest in terms of total debt. Pakistani and South African nationals follow.
“I am not surprised with this result. Indians, and especially Filipinos, go absolutely crazy with borrowing enormous amounts compared to the salary they earn,” Steve Gregory, managing partner, Holborn Assets, a financial advisory firm in Dubai told Gulf News.
It is not unusual to meet a Filipino with a salary of Dh15,000 and over Dh250,000 in debt.
Charities and other organisations are engaged in trying to fly them home after they are released from prison, he added.
The reason for this behaviour has been the salary raises over the past years encouraging employees to borrow more as banks raised the stakes accordingly.
“It’s a huge mess. Individuals, even on low salaries of Dh6,000, were able to get eight credit cards from different banks, including platinum, and max them out.
Banks don’t check using outside companies to sell them, three months salary statement is enough to get a card,” Gregory said.
In addition, he said the Indian and Filipino community, more than others perhaps, are willing to guarantee each other.
And when one or two lose their jobs a domino effect kicks in.
ISDM’s managing director, Yohannes Mazeingia, equally blamed the lack of stringent credit ratings polices and the culture of consumerism for the creation of huge bad debts in the Emirates.
“Banks haven’t been very wise and neither was the government allowing them to lend indiscriminately.
“It is putting a huge stress on the police, prisons and the judicial system, which the government is paying for,” alerted Gregory.
Emcredit, which allows banks to share the credit history of clients and prospective clients, has been around since the end of 2006 but not all banks have become members.
“I doubt that half of the banks in the UAE have signed up, maybe because they have to pay for membership and a fee for each inquiry,” said Gregory.
According to ISDM, 75 per cent of debtors are male and the remaining 25 per cent female.
Gregory said he knew of 120 women currently locked up in the Bur Dubai holding cells alone because of cheque fraud.
According to United Nations, flood deadly effect 13 million Pakistanis. The U.N. estimated Saturday that some 13 million people were affected, though it didn’t specify exactly what that meant. It said rescuers were using army helicopters, heavy trucks and boats to try reaching flood-hit areas, but noted thousands of homes and roads were destroyed, and at least 45 bridges across the northwest damaged.
PESHAWAR City Rescuers trying to reach thousands of Pakistani flood victims were hampered by deluged roads and damaged bridges Saturday, though there were signs waters were receding in parts of the country. Floods killed more than 430 people this week, left some 400,000 people stranded in far-flung villages, and severely damaged the nation,s already-weak infrastructure.
In the northwest, the hardest-hit region, it was the worst flooding since 1929, a point hammered home by TV footage of people clinging to fences and each other as water gushed over their heads. Scores of men, women and children sat on their roofs as they waited for help.
(Reuters) – The United Arab Emirates will suspend use of Blackberry services in October, citing concerns about security risks, the state news agency said on Sunday.
The iPad rush was all over the Silicon Valley when iPad arrived in the Apple stores on Saturday. Within a day, sales reached to a 700,000 units.
Apple’s iPad hits store shelves on Saturday after months of intense buzz, giving shoppers their first chance to decide whether the tablet device is worth all the breathless buildup. Apple store is perfectly set up for fans, some of whom waited in lines throughout the night to get their hands on the highly coveted tablet.
A number of Apple lovers experienced the thrill of holding a new shiny object: They got a serendipitous jolt of tech royalty. RBC Capital Markets reports
“Survey data showing significant initial demand (greater than original iPhone) along with increased built data and extended iPad pre-order delivery times, point to strong first weekend following the April 3rd launch. We preliminarily expect Apple to ship 300,000 to 400,000 units first weekend and 1.5 – 2.0 million during the [June quarter]”.
Some in the tech industry question whether the iPad, and competing gadgets to be rolled out in coming months, will ever be more than a niche product. Others, though, see the mouse-less slender slab as an inflection point that could redefine the portable computer industry. The device, with its sensitive multi touch screen, allows users to access videos, book catalogs, newspapers and all that is on the Web with a swipe of a fingertip.