Deciding? Check your mindset …

August 1, 2014

In Decisive, the authors (Heath Brothers) observe that people often approach problems from two radically different mindsets: “promotion” and “prevention”.

 

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The mindset one adopts can bias the way solutions are considered and selected.

Read the rest of this entry »

Dilemma: The case of the lost concert tickets …

July 31, 2014

 

A classic “framing” question from Kahneman’s Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow

Here’s the situation:

A woman has bought two $80 tickets to the theater.

When she arrives at the theater, she opens her wallet and discovers that the tickets are missing.

$80 tickets are still available at the box office.

Will she buy two more tickets to see the play?

 

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Most (but, not all) survey respondents answer that the woman will go home without seeing the show.

Let’s try another situation …

Read the rest of this entry »

She’s back … now, with money to burn.

July 30, 2014

We’re talking Sandra Fluke today.

You know, the Georgetown law student who couldn’t afford $3,000 for birth control pills while going to law school.

 

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Not to worry, we’re not taking sides on the ObamaCare contraceptives issue … this is all about money — freakonomics.

Still, since it’s critical background, here’s an excerpt of her infamous Congressional testimony:

My name is Sandra Fluke, and I’m a third-year student at Georgetown Law School.

I attend a Jesuit law school that does not provide contraceptive coverage in its student health plan.

We students have faced financial, emotional and medical burdens as a result.

When I look around my campus, I see the faces of the women affected by this lack of contraceptive coverage …

On a daily basis, I hear from yet another woman from Georgetown or from another school … and they tell me that they have suffered financially, emotionally and medically, because of this lack of coverage.

Without insurance coverage, contraception, as you know, can cost a woman over $3,000 during law school.

For a lot of students who, like me, are on public interest scholarships, that’s practically an entire summer’s salary.

Forty percent of the female students at Georgetown Law reported to us that they’ve struggled financially as a result of this policy.

Click for full unedited transcript

OK, I understand.

Sandra is cash-strapped because of the high cost of attending Georgetown and she wants other folks to pay for her contraceptives.

But now, there’s a strange twist to her “poor me” story.

Read the rest of this entry »

Gains, losses, the endowment effect … and ObamaCare

July 29, 2014

Behavioral theorists have long observed that most people are risk adverse and, due in part to an “endowment effect”, they “value” losses greater than gains.

Endowment Effect: People tend to ascribe a higher value to things that they already own than to comparable things that they don’t own. For example, a car-seller might think his sleek machine is “worth” $10,000 even though credible appraisers say it’s worth $7,500. Sometimes the difference is due to information asymmetry (e.g. the owner knows more about the car’s fine points), but usually it’s just a cognitive bias – the Endowment Effect.

The chart below illustrates the gains & losses concept.

  • Note that the “value line” is steeper on the losses side of the chart than on the gains side.
  • L & G are equivalently sized changes from a current position.
  • The gain (G) generates an increase in value equal to X.
  • The loss (L) generates a decrease in value that is generally found to be 2 to 3 times an equivalently sized gain

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For example, would you take any of these coin flip gambles?

  1. Heads: win $100; Tails: lose $100
  2. Heads: win $150; Tails: lose $100
  3. Heads: win $200; Tails: lose $100
  4. Heads: win $300; Tails: lose $100

Most people pass on #1 and #2, but would hop on #3 and #4.

OK, now let’s show how all of this relates to ObamaCare.

Read the rest of this entry »

Buyer’s remorse, post-purchase cognitive dissonance, and the 2012 election …

July 28, 2014

First, a definition lifted from Wiki:

Buyer’s remorse is the sense of regret after having made a purchase. It is frequently associated with the purchase of a big ticket item such as a car or house.

It may stem from fear of making the wrong choice, guilt over extravagance, or a suspicion of having been overly influenced by the seller.

Buyer’s remorse is thought to stem from the post-decision cognitive dissonance that arises when a person makes a difficult decision.

Factors that affect buyer’s remorse include resources invested, the involvement of the purchaser, whether the purchase is compatible with the purchaser’s goals, and what positive or negative evidence the purchaser encounters post-purchase that confirms or denies the purchase as a good idea.

 

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= = = = =

Bet you can guess where this one is going.

Remember the 2012 election when Obama squared off against Romney?

Obama won the election with 51% of the popular vote.

My, how things have changed.

Read the rest of this entry »

Fed are raking in the dough … and still spending more than they get.

July 25, 2014

The WH-OMB estimates that, in FY 2014, the federal government will collect a record amount in inflation-adjusted tax revenues (i.e. taxes) while still running a deficit,


Source: CNS; See the Monthly Treasury Statement. for details

 

More specifically …

Read the rest of this entry »

Part-time nation: Even on college faculties …

July 24, 2014

interesting factoid from Quartz.com “ What universities have in common with record labels” …

Used to be that the majority of college faculty were on the tenure track … with less than 1 in 3 being non-tenure track “part-timers”.

 

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Source: Quartz.com

With the cost pressures that universities face these days, those numbers have completely reversed.

Now, the majority of university faculty s part-timers … and about 1 in 3 are on the tenure track.

And, Quartz points out that there’s increasing separation between content producing “marquee”  profs and “average” profs.

“The ranks of professors will quickly diverge into the 1% and everyone else.”

As the original Grandma Homa used to say; “It’s easy to be good, hard to be great.”

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Test your intuition: Can you tell a book by its cover?

July 23, 2014

Here’s a classic test of intuitive skills excepted from Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow

As you consider this question, please assume that Steve – the subject — was selected at random from a representative sample.

Steve has been described by a neighbor as follows: “Steve is very shy and withdrawn, invariably helpful but with little interest in people or in the world of reality. A meek and tidy soul, he has a need for order and structure, and a passion for detail .”

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* * * * *

Is Steve more likely to be a librarian or a farmer?
Read the rest of this entry »

Cognitive Biases: Which is more painful?

July 22, 2014

Interesting study on cognitive biases from Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow

Patients undergoing a painful medical procedure – think, colonoscopy without anesthesia – recorded their pain levels during the procedure on a range from no pain (zero) to excruciating (10).

Some of the procedures were short in duration … others were longer.

Below is the pain chart for 2 representative patients.

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The patients were asked – after the fact—how painful the procedure was.

What’s your bet?  Which patient claimed to have undergone the more painful procedure?

Read the rest of this entry »

Decision Making: Beware the villains …

July 21, 2014

According to Chip & Dan Heath in Rotman Management article “The 4 Villains of Decision Making” …

“Research in Psychology over the last 40 years has identified a broad set of biases in our thinking that doom our decision making. If we aspire to make better choices, we must learn how these biases work and how to fight them.”

 

Confused man

 

According to the Heath Brothers – academics & popular authors – there are 4 decision making villains that have to be confronted

Read the rest of this entry »

He cares about me, but …

July 18, 2014

Recent Pew Poll …

Slim majority of folks agree that President Obama “cares about people like me”.

There are still believes: 51-49 on “trustworthiness”

But, less than half agree that he’s a “strong leader”  who is “able to get things done”.

 

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Source: Pew

* * * * *

Poll didn’t ask”faithfully executes laws” or “able to raise big money for political campaigns”

 

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Oops: Plagiarism discovered in the Journal of

July 18, 2014

Academic and Business Ethics.

Yesterday, the Washington Post  reported  that an academic journal —  had to retract 60 research articles had to be retracted because its peer review process had been compromised.

Apparently, the Journal of Vibration and Control (JVC) —  no, I didn’t make that title up —  fell victim to a “peer review ring”.  A close knit group started cloning their electronic identities as experts.

So, while the journal thought that it was sending candidate articles to a broad sample of experts —  they were really sending them to a small handful of cronies.

In fact, because of the law of averages, on at least one occasion, an author got to peer review his own paper.

Oops

When the fraud was discovered, the journal ‘fessed up , retracted the compromised articles and allowed the senior editor to resign.

But, will the Journal of Vibration and Control (JVC) ever be able to restore its good name?

The incident reminded me of my absolute favorite academic journal scandal…

 

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Awhile ago, I got an email from the Executive Director of the Academic and Business Research Institute:

Read the rest of this entry »

What would your boss say if your project estimates were off by a factor of 3 or 4?

July 17, 2014

Probable Answer: “You’re fired!”

Not so in ObamaLand …

There, bossman would be ordering pizza for the victory celebration.

Let’s look at the facts …

Flashback to March 2010, when Obamacare was being steam-rolled though Congress.

At that time, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected that Obamacare would cost $938 billion over a decade, that the Federal deficit would shrink and 19 million uninsured people would be insured as of 2014.

As a frame of reference, those estimates work out to be about $5,000 in annual cost per newly insured person … about par for private market medical insurance.

 

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* * * * *

Unfortunately, but predictably, those estimates were wildly off the mark …

Read the rest of this entry »

Let’s go bowling … say, what?

July 16, 2014

According to Business Week

There was a growth spurt in bowling alleys after World War II. The U.S. added 2,000 bowling alleys between the end of World War II and 1958.

In 1958, the American Society of Planning Officials reported that “the bowling alley is fast becoming one of the most important—if not the most important—local center of participant sport and recreation.”

But, the bowling craze peaked and started to fade as folks found other ways to spend their spare time.

The U.S. had 4,061 bowling centers in 2012, down 25 percent from a high water mark in 1998.

 

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* * * * *

To counter the downward trend, bowling alleys are rebranding themselves as “bowling centers”, spiffing up the facilities, and adding ancillary entertainment (e.g. rock music, gaming arcades).

Following the industry lead,  “the exclusive bowling lanes reserved for White House employees and their guests are getting an upgrade.”  Read the rest of this entry »

What do universities have in common with record labels?

July 15, 2014

Interesting article on Quartz.com tracking how “the internet’s power to unbundle content sparked a rapid transformation of the music industry’ and arguing that”and it’s doing the same thing to higher education today.

Let’s start with the recorded music industry.

It’s no surprise that

The unbundling of albums in favor of individual songs was one of the biggest causes of the music industry’s decline.

It cannibalized the revenue of record labels as 99-cent songs gained popularity over $20 albums.

What did surprise me us that recording industry revenues have dropped by half from the $14 billion in 2000.

QZ Chart 1

The eroding revenues and and internet dynamics have “changed the way music labels had to operate in order to maintain profitability.

The traditional services of labels: identifying artists; investing in them; recording, publishing, and distributing their work; and marketing them—are now increasingly offered a la carte.”

And, talk about the top 1%  and distribution of riches …

Being a recording artist these days is a hard gig …

Pressure from labels then had downstream effects on content creators, specifically artists.

The top one 1% of artists now take home 77% of revenue, and the rest is spread across an increasing number of artists.

The pain of the record labels is forced on artists through smaller royalty payments.

Ouch.

Now, what’s the parallel to higher education?

Read the rest of this entry »

More on “liberation from the burden of work” … say what?.

July 14, 2014

Last week, we pointed out that the 288,000 jobs gain in June wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be since full-time employment declined by over 500,000 and part-time employment increased by almost 800,000.

For details see: Last week’s employment report in 4 charts …

I thought the spike in part-time employment was a bad thing … a drift to a part-timer economy.

Silly me.

Liberal economist Dean Baker hset me straight in a HuffPost article:
“The Good News About Obamacare in the June Jobs Report”

Here’s Mr. Baker’s spin …

Read the rest of this entry »

Muslims like him; Mormons, not so much…

July 11, 2014

A recent Gallup poll reports that 72% of Muslims approve of the job that President Obama is doing.

78% of Mormons dis-approve …

More generally, the President is under-water with Christians …  above water with non-Christians and atheists … and still has Jewish support.

Hmmm.

 

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8 Rules for Healthy Living

July 11, 2014

Forwarded by a friend …  cuts to the chase.

==== =

Thanks to KZ for feeding the lead.

#HomaFiles

Follow on Twitter @KenHoma            >> Latest Posts

Metrics: How effective is your decision making?

July 10, 2014

Interesting cut at measuring decision making effectiveness from Bain.

Bain says that:

One thing that sets great companies apart is the ability to make high-quality decisions.

But it isn’t just decision quality—the top performers also make those decisions quickly and execute them effectively. And they don’t spend too much or too little effort in the process.

 

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Source: Bain Decide & Deliver

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In other words, evaluate decision making along 4 dimensions:

Read the rest of this entry »

Who really benefits from increases in the minimum wage ?

July 9, 2014

An article in the WSJ this week is causing a bit of a stir.

Titled “Who Really Gets the Minimum Wage”, the report concluded that Minimum wages are ineffective at helping poor families because such a small share of the benefits flow to them.

Specifically, “Obama’s $10.10 target would steer only 18% of the benefits to poor families; 29% would go to families with incomes three times the poverty level.”

Hmmm.

How does that happen?

 

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The essence of the dynamic: counter-intuitively, low-wage workers and low-income (i.e. “poor”) families are not the same folks.

According to the article, data from the U.S. Census Bureau show that there is only a weak relationship between being a low-wage worker and being poor.

Three reasons for that:.

  1. Many low-wage workers are in higher-income families—workers who are not the primary breadwinners and often contribute a small share of their family’s income.
  2. Some workers in poor families earn higher wages but don’t work enough hours (and have hours cut when the minimum wage goes up)
  3. About half of poor families have no workers, in which case a higher minimum wage does no good. This is simple descriptive evidence and is not disputed by economists.

Bottom line: Not much help to the well-intended anti-poverty movement.

There’s another “non-poor” group that benefits when the minimum wage is raised..

Glance at the picture above and see if you can guess who that is.

Read the rest of this entry »

Ah, to be a Federal employee …

July 8, 2014

Interesting piece in the NY Post titled “Federal worker gravy train” … 

It’s not new news, but the Post points out that firing a federal worker is almost impossible, and making a termination stick, is even less likely.

Data published in the Federal Times supports the Post’s claim. (and common wisdom)

Federal Firings
Source

Think about it: 1 in about 200 get culled each year.

Hardly Jack Welch’s “bottom 10%” program.

More generally, data from the Office of Personnel Management indicate that it is five times as hard to get fired from a federal job as from a private-sector one.

It’s commonly claimed that federal workers settle for lower pay in exchange for job ­security.

The Post says: Don’t believe it.

Read the rest of this entry »

Last week’s employment report in 4 charts …

July 7, 2014

Lots of hoopla last week that the unemployment employment rate dropped to 6.1% as employers added 288,000 jobs

Yep, 288k jobs added … which continues a year-over-year running rate growth in employment of slightly less than 2% …  a little less than real GDP year-over-year growth.

FRED Total Employment  June 2014

But, there’s more to the story.

Let’s dissect that 288,000 …

Read the rest of this entry »

Biases: The favorite-long shot bias …

July 3, 2014

In gambling and economics, there’s an observed phenomenon favorite-long shot bias.

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Here’s how it works …

 

Read the rest of this entry »

Decisions: How often do corp execs make the right call?

July 2, 2014

I often confess to my students that I thought about 51% of the business decisions were correct … and that was despite my analytical pre-disposition and the benefit of a highly proficient team of managers and analysts.

Apparently, my record was about on par.

 

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According to decision scientists Chip & Dan Heath in Decisive: How to Make Better Choices …

Read the rest of this entry »

Hacked: What I learned when I was credit hacked …

July 1, 2014

Last year around this time, I told the said story about how some bad guys tried to steal my identity and open up credit cards and car loans in my name.

Bottom line: An ordeal that burned up a bunch of my time and caused plenty of angst … but, no serious damage (that I know of).

A friend just got had his identity hacked.  Somebody filed an IRS 1040 under his name and social security number, hoping to bag a refund check.  Fortunately, the IRS flagged the return as suspicious and didn’t pay-off against the fraudulent return.

 

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Now, as a public service, here’s what I learned that may help you …

Read the rest of this entry »

The Lerner emails: Interesting twist …

June 30, 2014

 

First, some background on a group called Judicial Watch …Judicial Watch is a non-partisan conservative organization whose motto is “Because no one is above the law”.

To achieve this goal,” Judicial Watch uses the open records or freedom of information laws and other tools to investigate and uncover misconduct by government officials and litigation to hold to account politicians and public officials who engage in corrupt activities.” Source

For example, when the White House was claiming (a) that it had no involvement in the development of Susan Rice’s infamous “it was the video’s fault, not terrorists” talking points, and (b) that all emails had been turned over to Congressional committees … it was Judicial Watch that worked the courts using the Freedom of Information Act to get a copy of the smoking gun emails that put tied the talking to Ben Rhodes – the White House Deputy Strategic Communications Adviser at the time. Source

Somehow, Judicial Watch’s courts actions seem to get better access to sensitive government info than the Congressional Committees.

Go figure.

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Well, now Judicial Watch is targeting Lois Lerner’s missing emails … (pun intended)

Here’s the scoop …

Read the rest of this entry »

Problem Solving Tips: Patterning, framing and the astronaut’s pen …

June 27, 2014

Excerpted from Think Better

Among the many discoveries NASA made when it began sending people into space was that the astronauts’ pens did not work well in zero gravity.

The ink wouldn’t flow properly. You can simulate the effect at home by trying to write with the business end of your pen pointing up.

Pretty soon, the ink stops flowing and the pen won’t write.

 

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The solution – giving astronaut’s a way to write upside down —  depends on how you frame the problem …

Read the rest of this entry »

Hiring: Don’t trust your gut……

June 26, 2014

According to an HBR article “In Hiring, Algorithms Beat Instinct” …

Studies of applicant evaluations shows that a simple equation outperforms human decisions by at least 25%.

And, the effect holds in any situation with a large number of candidates, regardless of whether the job is on the front line, in middle management, or (yes) inthe C~suite.

 

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Why is that?

Read the rest of this entry »

Stop right there, professor … proof of citizenship, please !

June 25, 2014

Unfortunately, this has become an annual event.  A summer initiation of sorts.

Once again, I was detained for questioning by government officials.

This year was unusually unnerving.

No, it wasn’t by rogue IRS agents in Cincinnati targeting an alleged conservative blogger.

 

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I was suspected of crossing a border to illegally access government-provided services.

Here’s the story …

Read the rest of this entry »

What are the odds of 7 specific IRS hard drives crashing?

June 24, 2014

Here’s why I think there’s a cover-up happening in the IRS targeting scandal …

Lois Lerner is at the heart of the investigation.  She exercised her 5th amendment right to not self-incriminate and didn’t testify to Congress.

Then, it’s “discovered” that 10 days after the scandal inquiry kicked off, her PC hard drive – which contained the only permanent copies of emails she sent to folks outside the IRS – crashed … and all data – including the subpoenaed emails – was lost forever.

Hmmm.

 

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Then it was revealed that the hard drives of 6 other IRS “persons of interest” had also crashed (after the investigation was kicked off.

Double hmmm.

Got me to wondering: What are the odds of that happening?

Let’s do some arithmetic …

Read the rest of this entry »

My View: IRS targeting Lerner emails, next steps

June 23, 2014

Some semi-random thoughts on the IRS fiasco…

First, I don’t think any reasonable person can deny that persons within the IRS targeted conservative groups for harassment during the run-up to the 2012 Presidential election.

One interesting aspect is that the IRS actions had nothing to do with REVENUE since the organizations don’t operate for a profit. The organizations spend everything that they take in – i.e. expenses consume revenues, so profits are zero and there are no taxes to collect.

So, it’s reasonable to conclude that the harassment was done simply for political reasons, right?

 

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That’s the why, what about the “who”?

Read the rest of this entry »

Problem Solving: A matter of perspective …

June 20, 2014

According to ChinaSmack.com, most Hong Kong elementary school applicants are able to answer this admissions test question in the allotted 20 seconds.

Can you?

Psst: It’s ok to use scratch paper and a pen or pencil.

 

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Stumped?  Here’s the answer and the teaching point …

Read the rest of this entry »

Who supported going into Iraq in the first place?

June 19, 2014

Answer: A compelling, bi-partisan majority of U.S. politicians and citizens.

The question aroused my interest since it’s commonly implied that only Bush, Cheney and a handful of Neocons were on board with the invasion decision.

First, let’s look at the blowhard politicians.

The 2002 Iraq War Resolution passed the House 296 (68%) to 133 (31%) … with 81 Democrats voting for it.

In the Senate, the vote was 77 to 23 … with 29 of 50 Democrats voting for it …. Among the notable Dems voting yes: Biden, Clinton, Kerry, Hagel … Side note: Obama wasn’t in the Senate yet.

Below is a summary of the vote … click for details re: how each Senator & Congressional Rep voted.

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Now the bigger question: Did Congress vote the will of the people?

Read the rest of this entry »

Are emergency rooms required to treat all patients?

June 18, 2014

More specifically, the question that a friend and I were discussing after yesterday’s post was:

“Are emergency rooms required to treat all patients? … whether or not they have insurance?”

I said “yes” but decided to fact-check my answer.

 

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Here’s what I found…

Read the rest of this entry »

More patients flocking to ERs…

June 17, 2014

According to the Louisville Courier-Journal:

One of ObamaCare’s goals was to reduce pressure on emergency rooms by expanding Medicaid and giving poor people better access to primary care.

Instead, many hospitals across the nation are seeing a surge of those newly insured Medicaid patients walking into emergency rooms.

Nationally, nearly half of ER doctors responding to a recent poll by the American College of Emergency Physicians said they’ve seen more visits since Jan. 1.

That’s a problem since an average ER visit costs $580 more than a trip to the doctor’s office.

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Why’s this happening?

Read the rest of this entry »

Polar Opposites: I’m OK, but I’m not so sure about you …

June 16, 2014

Interesting infographic from Pew calibrating something that everybody knows …

Democrats are becoming more liberal Republicans are getting more conservative … and the moderate middle-ground between the parties is getting smaller, and smaller and smaller …

 

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About 40% of Democrats think that Republicans are destroying the country … and, about 40% of Republicans think that Democrats are destroying the country.

Here’s the finding that I found most interesting …

Read the rest of this entry »

Undeniable Proof of God … #SisterAx

June 13, 2014

We’ve previously posted about Sister Cristina Scuccia, the nun whose performances on the Italian version of “The Voice” went viral.

Well, there by the grace of God, she won it all!

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According to ABC.com

During the finals broadcast , the nun — dressed in her traditional habit, crucifix and plain black shoes — appeared surprised when she advanced to the final two, along with Giacomo Voli.

Sister Cristina — who was coached by Italian rapper J-Ax was overjoyed when the show’s host announced that she was the winner, taking  62.3 percent of the vote.

In the audience, her fellow nuns applauded, and cheering supporters waved T-shirts bearing her image and the hashtag #SisterAx.

The clincher: Sister Cristina performed a high-energy version “What a Feeling” from of Flashdance, complete with Madonna-like back-up dancers on stage  … and her fellow nuns dancing in the aisles.

 click to view
sister kristina what a feeling

 

Sister Cristina said she was inspired to audition for “The Voice” by the words of Pope Francis who called upon clergy to “get out onto the streets.”

She told the judges and audience “I have been given a gift and I am giving it to you”.

Rock on Sister.

=====

P.S. If you need an upper today, here’s a greatest hits compilation of Sister Cristina’s performances, including “Hero” and “Living on a Prayer”…

 

Thanks to MM for feeding the lead re: the win in the finals

#HomaFiles                #SisterAx             #SuorCristina

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Analogy Test: Cleveland Clinic is to VA Hospitals … as Apple is to what?

June 12, 2014

It’s a simple analogy … and, apparently, the Cleveland Clinic’s CEO got it right.

Answer: JC Penney

VA-JCP logos

 

 

Here’s my logic …

Read the rest of this entry »

The Taliban-5, Benghazi … and my friend’s daughter.

June 11, 2014

Last week, one the Administration’s talking points was “not to worry, the 5 Taliban leaders being released won’t be allowed back in Afghanistan for a year … and by then practically all troops will be out of the country … so the odds of Americans being killed are relatively low.”

Are you kidding me?

In a prior post, I posed a simple over-under bet: Do you think that the number of Americans who will be killed — either directly or indirectly – by the Taliban-5 will be under 1 or over 1?

I’m taking the over and haven’t gotten many takers for the under.

 

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Today, let’s connect a couple of dots and personalize the situation…

Read the rest of this entry »

What’s the value of an American life?

June 10, 2014

Don’t worry, I’m not going deeply philosophical on you …  I’m just going to pose a simple wager.

Last week, one the Administration’s talking points was “not to worry, the 5 Taliban leaders being released won’t be allowed back in Afghanistan for a year … and by then practically all troops will be out of the country … so the odds of Americans being killed are relatively low.”

Are you kidding me?

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Let’s reduce this argument to a simple bet …

Read the rest of this entry »

All the jobs are back … please, hold your applause.

June 9, 2014

According to the Feds, the economy added 217,000 jobs in May … that’s good.

Big deal made of the fact that the economy has regained all of the jobs lost in the finance-induced recession.

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But, save the high fives …that’s only part of the story.

The rest of the story doesn’t look nearly as rosy.

Read the rest of this entry »

Which city is the U.S. “Murder Capital”?

June 9, 2014

Well, it depends on your metric.

In terms or raw number of murders, Chicago has led the league for the past 2 years … with 412 murders in 2013 alone.

As should be expected, big cities dominate the top 10 list … partly a matter of sheer population size.

 

 

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Source: Daily Beast

* * * * *

To be statistically fair, let’s adjust the numbers to reflect population size.

Which U.S. city has the highest per capita murder rate?

Read the rest of this entry »

What’s in your wallet?

June 6, 2014

A couple of interesting charts from the Fed’s Triennial Payments Study…

If you’re like most Americans, there both debit and credit cards in your wallet …. both debit and credit card usage is increasing … with debit card usage increasing by leaps and bounds..

 

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That said, cash is still king …

Read the rest of this entry »

POTUS says: “When veterans do get into the system, they get great healthcare” … oh, really?

June 5, 2014

When Obama finally commented on the VA scandal, he gave the usual “outraged, will investigate and hold accountable” … then asserted that “when veterans do get into the system, they get great healthcare”.

No questions from the media.  Not much follow-up.

Must be true since the President said it, right?

Of course, my BS detector started screeching.

Fortunately, the WSJ started to dig and found “significantly higher rates of mortality and dangerous infections at some VA hospitals compared with others” … and compared to private hospitals.

For example, the Boston area VA hospital is rated 5-stars … the embattled Phoenix VA draws a single star.

 

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The WSJ concluded that the Phoenix VA doesn’t appear to be an outlier.   

Here’s where things get interesting …

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More: The doctor will see you … eventually

June 4, 2014

Last year, I needed to see an eye surgeon, when I called, I was given an appointment within 2 weeks.

This year, I called the same doctor and was told the the first open slot was in 8 weeks.

Hmmm.

Can’t project off one observation, right?

 

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Last week, the VA waiting times were revealed to be 115 days … almost 4 months.

That got me to wondering: What are waiting times in some other countries often cited as ObamaCare models .

Here’s a sampling …

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Another look: Is a college degree is worth it?

June 3, 2014

Lots has been written recently re: the economic value of a college degree.

Let’s boil it down to 3 key charts …

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First, the cost side of the equation …

Sky-rocketing tuitions are loading students with an enormous amount of post-graduation debt.

While other forms of consumer debt have held relatively constant for the past 10 years, student loans have soared from “only” $200 million in 2004 to over $1 trillion today.

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That’s the cost.

What about the benefits side?

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WSJ: “How to Fix the Veterans Affairs Mess” … say, what?

June 2, 2014

Last week, the WSJ ran an opinion piece How to Fix the Veterans Affairs Mess by Anthony Principi who served as secretary of Veterans Affairs from 2001-05.

I expected a practical roadmap for attacking the current problems.

Instead, the author delivered a potpourri of declarations … some of which surprised me, and many of which made me sigh “oh my”.

 

 

Here are some of the points that caught my attention.

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What privacy? Apparently teens don’t care …

May 30, 2014

 

Thanks to social media, today’s teens are the first to have a complete record of their whole lives — their thoughts, their actions, and  their friends.

Eric Schmidt — Google chairman and ex-CEO — worries, however, that they’ll be the first who’ll never be allowed to forget their mistakes.

Schmidt says:  “People are now sharing too much.”

More specifically, privacy pundits say that it just takes your name, zip code and birth date to ID you and start linking your online and offline personal data … forever.

Now, Pew has published a research study re: teen’s online habits .

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Here are the Pew results …

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The doctor will see you … eventually

May 29, 2014

Yesterday, VA Hospitals’ Inspector General released an interim investigative report on patient wait times.

 

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Here are the headline findings …

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From The Numerati … the biology of personality

May 27, 2014

Ken’s Take:  Don’t blame me ! My personality is derived from my body chemistry.

DNA Helix

Here’s the scoop …

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