Frat boys party more, study less and earn more … say, what?

April 20, 2018

Fraternities get a lot of press.

You know: Heavy drinking, hazing tragedies and pure goofiness.

Why would anybody want their sons to join one?

Well, a couple of economists at Union College did a study that makes joining a fraternity look like a very rational decision.

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Here’s the scoop …

Read the rest of this entry »

As if forgetting stuff wasn’t bad enough …

April 19, 2018

Study: Half of people “remember” events that never happened

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According to a recent study, once a person hears that a fictional event happened, there’s a 50/50 chance that they will believe that it took place and start to embellish it with details, even if the imaginary event is of a personal nature.

For example, researchers “primed” subjects with fake (but relatively harmless) memories, such as taking a childhood hot-air balloon ride or pulling a prank on a friend.

Researchers intimated that the imaginary events  were real.

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And, the result …

Read the rest of this entry »

Taxes: In total, how much do Americans pay in taxes? For what? To whom?.

April 18, 2018

Since yesterday was tax day, I thought you might like to see a recap of how much dough (some) Americans fork over to the government …

Americans pay a tad over $5 trillion in taxes to the Feds, States and Local Governments.

Technical note: In government parlance, the taxes are called “revenue”.

By taxing authority

Drilling down, the $5 trillion is split roughly 50%-30%-20% to the Feds, States and Locals, respectively

Here’s more detail …

Read the rest of this entry »

Uh-oh: Comey’s interview drew less than half of Stormy’s audience.

April 17, 2018

But,  he did have one bombshell revelation …
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According to media sources, Stormy’s 60 Minutes interview drew over 20 million viewer’s … Comey drew less than 10.

And, the day-after reviews have been, well, not so good.

I’ve switched across cable stations Monday morning for the commentary re: Comey’s interview.

The anchors on CNN and MSNBC were acting like like they got coal in their Christmas stockings.

They kept trying to bait their panels, but even reliable liberals were using words like “beneath his (former) office” … “self-serving” … “narcissistic” … and most damning of all, “petty”.

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I think the most replayed segment was Comey’s observations about Trump’s appearance:

From the official ABC transcript:

COMEY: He looked slightly orange up close with small white — half moons under his eyes, which I assume are from tanning googles.

Keen, mature insight from the former FBI Director, right?

No commentator mentioned what stuck me as the most ironic aspect of Comey’s dis …

Has Comey looked in a mirror recently?

Geez, don’t throw those stones, Jimmy … until you get some sleep and sun.

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But, Comey did put one issue to rest, once and for all.

Read the rest of this entry »

More great moments in facial recognition …

April 16, 2018

Chinese snap jaywalkers … then shame or fine them.
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Previously, we reported on on how the Chinese gov’t is using facial recognition to control toilet paper usage at tourist spots. See the post for gory details

Building on that success, the Chinese gov’t is now using facial recognition to ID jaywalkers … and then either shame them or fine them.

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Here are the details …

Read the rest of this entry »

Walking the talk …

April 13, 2018

How about housing a homeless family … in YOUR backyard?
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I always grimace when my liberal friends want to raise my taxes, but not their’s.

Evidence : the blue states’ whining about the cap on state & local tax deductions.

Or, when they advocate for mass migration of refugees and immigrants … to other folks zip codes.

And so on …

But, there may now be a counter-case:

LA County is launching an initiative to provide housing the homeless …


KPCC Photo

The idea: LA county will provide loans and grants to homeowners to build HGTV-style mini-homes in their backyards … provided that the new tiny homes get inhabited to currently homeless folks.

Here’s how the plan works …

Read the rest of this entry »

All of the info I’ve collected says I’m right … so there!

April 12, 2018

Dan Lovallo, a professor and decision-making researcher says, “Confirmation bias is probably the single biggest problem in business, because even the most sophisticated people get it wrong. People go out and they’re collecting the data, and they don’t realize they’re cooking the books.”

What’s this “confirmation bias” that Lovello is talking about?

No surprise, people tend to seek out information that supports their existing beliefs.

You know, liberals watch MSNBC, read the NY Times listen to BBC podcasts; conservatives watch FOX, read the WSJ and listen to Rush.

Behavioral psychologists call the he dynamic “confirmation bias”.

 

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In socio-politics, the confirmation bias tends to harden polarized positions. People just gather debate fodder rather than probing both sides of issues.

In the realm of decision making, confirmation bias has a dysfunctional effect: it leads to bad decisions.

Read the rest of this entry »

Nums: What percentage of Americans prepare their own taxes? How many of them like it?

April 11, 2018

Since we’re heading down the homestretch towards the tax filing deadline … …

Pew Research says that overall, 33% of Americans say they do their own taxes while 56% say someone else prepares their taxes.

  • Note 1: 11% don’t know who does their taxes or were befuddled by the question
  • Note 2: The folks in the 11% get to vote in Presidential elections (ouch!)

A majority of Americans (56%) have a negative reaction to doing their income taxes 1 in 4  say they hate doing them.

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Among those who dislike or hate doing their taxes, most cite the hassles of the process or the amount of time it takes:

About a third (34%) say they either like (29%) or love (5%) doing their taxes.

Here are some details re: the “likers” and lovers … 

Read the rest of this entry »

Dilemma: The case of the lost concert tickets …

April 10, 2018

Here’s 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 »

What’s the fundamental difference between baseball and basketball?

April 9, 2018

The NCAAs are in the books and the NBA is (finally) heading to the playoffs.

Except for some snow challenges, the MLB season is off and running.

Which reminded me of a study re: a common characteristic shared by good baseball players.

Gerald Hall, the director of a youth baseball program in Washington, says:

“Baseball is a game taught by fathers, while basketball and football are more often taught by peers in pickup games.”

So what?

Read the rest of this entry »

Score higher on the SATs … GUARANTEED!

April 6, 2018

Just make sure that your parents went to college.

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The College Board has just released it’s “Total Group Profile Report” for recent college-bound seniors …

One set of numbers caught my eye:

SAT scores by the student’s parents level of educational attainment.

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Note that about 2/3’s of the college-bound seniors taking the SAT came from homes with a degreed parent – either associate, bachelor or graduate.

Only about 1/3 came from homes with parents having only a high school education or less.

And, the performance differentials are substantial between the groups …

Read the rest of this entry »

Some “interesting” SAT results …

April 5, 2018

The College Board has just released it’s “Total Group Profile Report” for  college-bound seniors.

A couple of sets of numbers caught my eye ….

Let’s start with math scores/

Two big takeaways:

(1) The gap between boys and girls narrowed from the 40 point difference in the 1970s to about 25 points … but has remained fairly constant at that level for about the past 20 years

(2) Scores for both boys and girls have been falling for the past dozen years or so.

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OK, boys outscore girls in math, but girls do better on the verbal part of the SATs, right?

Read the rest of this entry »

One way to alleviate the shortage of doctors…

April 4, 2018

Grant med school grads provisional licenses.

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Very interesting idea reported by the Heritage Foundation

It widely accepted that the U.S. has a current shortage of doctors that is expected to balloon as the demand increases (aging population, expanded Medicaid, etc.).

Current estimates put the 2030 shortage between 40,000 and 105,000.

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Each year, US med schools crank out about 18,000 medical degrees. Source

Dictated by the AMA, before getting licensed, these grads need to go through formal residency programs at teaching hospitals.

Here’s the rub.

The residency programs are largely government funded, and there are spending caps.

Spending caps translate to enrollment caps.

So, each year, about 5,000 of the med school grads — more than 25%) — don’t get a residency slot.

No residency, no license.

Reportedly, these non-residentially certified med school grads either land in non-patient treating medical jobs (think “pharma”) or leave healthcare all together.

The usual response: just throw more tax dollars at the problem.

But, there are other options…

Addressing the problem, a few states have implemented a program that Heritage is now touting: provisional licenses.

Read the rest of this entry »

Digital amnesia: Is Google dulling your memory?

April 3, 2018

First, some background …

The tests I give my students always include some questions that can reasonably be tagged “memorization”.

Some students are repulsed by them and shout the cultural refrain: “Don’t memorize anything that you can look up.”

The apparent thinking: You’ve only got a limited amount of space in your brain, so don’t clog it with an overload of information … only store the stuff you can’t look-up.

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What’s wrong with that argument?

Read the rest of this entry »

Students push back on ‘common sense’ safety measures

April 2, 2018

… because they “infringe on our rights”
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According to the NY TImes

Since the Florida school shootings, the state and local school district have taken some steps to provide enhanced security:

The state “set aside $8.5 million for the school district to pay for at least one armed police officer at each school starting in the fall” … and, supplemental Florida Highway Patrol troopers will be deployed to “on alert” schools.

In Broward County, “all schools … will have single points of entry by early 2019.”

“Students and staff will be issued identification badges, which they will be required to wear at all times while in school.”

My POV: This is a good first step, which can eventually beefed up with scannable IDs … or, better yet, RFID trackers.

So far, so good.

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Here’s where the rub comes in …

Read the rest of this entry »

A nice time to take a break and reflect…

March 30, 2018

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Hacked: Identity thieves target Millennials …

March 29, 2018

The Facebook brouhaha reminded me that it has been awhile since we’ve posted about identity theft.

Obviously, the problem hasn’t gone away, so it’s time for a booster shot.

According to a Javelin Strategy Identity Fraud report, thieves stole $16 billion from 12.7 million U.S. consumers in 2014.

With a new identity fraud victim every two seconds, there is still significant risk to consumers.

The FTC reports that Americans age 20-29 make up 15% of identity theft complaints.

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Javelin agrees that millennials are particularly ripe targets for identity thieves.

Read the rest of this entry »

Why I think that the Facebook brouhaha re: privacy will fade.

March 28, 2018

According to Pew, teens don’t care (and, they’re in control now, right?)
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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 …

Read the rest of this entry »

Pew: 3/4 of adults are on the internet daily …

March 27, 2018

Over 25% say that they are on the internet “constantly”

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According to a 2018 Pew Research Center survey, 88% of American adults use the internet … and about 90% of the users are online daily.

26% of American adults are constantly online … and another 43% go online several times a day.

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                             Source: Pew Research

The profile of heavy users (constantly online) follows conventional wisdom … with a notable exception.

Read the rest of this entry »

Facebook’s addictive dopamine hits “exploit a vulnerability in human psychology."

March 26, 2018

Co-founder admits: ‘God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains’

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Loyal readers know that I’m not a big fan of Facebook.

Besides the obvious privacy issues, I’ve been swayed by the mounting evidence that mental health deteriorates with heavy Facebook “engagement” … and that heavy Facebook engagement is becoming the norm … especially among teens.

So, I wasn’t surprised — but, I was shocked — when Sean Parker – one of Facebook’s co-founders – “unloaded on Facebook” … confirming many suspicions and bluntly admitting that it was all part of a master plan that may have “created a monster”.

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Here are some highlights of Parker’s catharsis (and a link to the chilling video) …

Read the rest of this entry »

Happy? Sad? Excited? … Facebook can tell.

March 23, 2018

And, has been caught doing just that.

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The recent Facebook brouhaha reminded me …

It always amazes me what people post on Facebook. Their daily activities, their deepest emotions – you name it.

By now, every Facebook user should know that FB sifts through their content – posts, pictures, links, emojis – to determine, for example, what topics are hot; what people are doing; which brands people are buying, recommending, trashing or considering; whether users are feeling happy, sad, scared, excited.

The latter is called “sentiment analysis” using computer algorithms to take users’ “emotional pulse”.

Of course, FB promises that they’ll protect users’ privacy and would never even consider divulging that information to outsiders, say, advertisers or political campaigns.

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Bad news for believers: FB was caught “sharing” sentiment analysis data.

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According to USA Today

Documents leaked to a newspaper, The Australian, indicate that Facebook executives prepared a report for one of the country’s top banks.

The report described how Facebook gleans psychological insights into the mood shifts of millions of young people in Australia and New Zealand by monitoring their status updates and photos.

The 23-page report showed Facebook’s ability to detect when users as young as 14 are feeling emotions such as defeat, stress, anxiety or being overwhelmed … and. other information on young people’s emotional well-being such as when they exhibit “nervous-excitement” are “conquering fears“.

FB claimed that it can track how emotions fluctuate during the week.

Anticipatory emotions are more likely to be expressed early in the week.

Reflective emotions increase on the weekend.

Monday-Thursday is about building confidence.

The weekend is for broadcasting achievements.

At a relatively benign level, advertisers can use that information to target ads to certain age groups … and they can time them to run on a certain day.

That’s apparently what FB got caught doing – revealing anonymous and aggregated data – to a potential advertising client.

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Let’s go a step further…

According to the article: “Facebook has also come under heavy scrutiny in the past for secretly conducting research that manipulated the emotions of users by altering what they see in their News Feed without their consent.”

So, it doesn’t take much creativity to imagine the collection and dissemination of individuals’ sentiment data that could be used to target advertising to specific individuals at specific times – say, when they’re feeling down and are vulnerable to buying certain products geared to giving them a pick-me-up, say, some new clothes, a fancy car or miracle drug.

Pretty unnerving, right?

Of course, FB assures users that it would never consider divulging that sort of data.

Yeah, right.

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Connecting dots

In a prior post, we reported on a study that concluded time on Facebook can be hazardous to your mental health.

For details see Studies: More time on Facebook … and it’s not good for you.

So, being on Facebook can make you emotionally vulnerable.

Facebook can determine when you’re vulnerable.

Facebook can sell that info to advertisers.

But, FB assures us that it won’t sell that data.

Whew … that’s a relief.

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Studies: More time on Facebook … and it’s not good for you.

March 22, 2018

“Negatively associated with overall well-being … particularly mental health”.

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In light of the recent Facebook brouhaha, let’s connect a couple of recently reported studies …

First, the BLS periodically reports how Americans spend their leisure time.

According to the NYT, channeling the most recent BLS report:

The average time that users spend on Facebook is nearing an hour.

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Putting that hour of Facebook in perspective:

That’s more than any other leisure activity surveyed … with the exception of watching television programs and movies (an average per day of 2.8 hours).

It’s more time than people spend reading (19 minutes); participating in sports or exercise (17 minutes); or social events (four minutes).

It’s almost as much time as people spend eating and drinking (1.07 hours). NYT

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And, a recent study published by the Harvard Business Review indicates that all that Facebook time is unhealthy.

Read the rest of this entry »

Facebook: Has the storm passed already?

March 21, 2018

A fast trip from ‘hair on fire’ to ‘whatever’

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The follow up to the Facebook story can be summarized in a couple of headlines.

The Washington Post started walking back the Trump angle:

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Of course, one had to read to the bottom couple of paragraphs for the revelation of who the “more” were.

Read the rest of this entry »

OMG: Your private Facebook info isn’t so private …

March 20, 2018

And, to boot, there’s some clear evidence of collusion.
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Loyal readers know that I’m not a big fan of Facebook.

I’m amazed by the amount of sensitive information that people post and, for most, the  lack of interest (or sophistication) in protecting the privacy of that information.

So, I wasn’t surprised when yesterday’s “shocking” headlines started rolling about FB’s massive data breach.

By mid-day, the previous “no big news” climate shifted to near market hysteria

Why?

Bang … a Trump connection headlined in the NY Times:

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In a nutshell, a data outfit called Cambridge Analytica “harvested” the personal information of more than 50 million Facebook users … and fed the information to Trump digital campaigners.

OK, data breaches are bad … it’s horrible to have your private info fall into the wrong hands (i.e. Trump’s)

Hmmm.

But, Trump and his supporters are all Neaderthals, right?

How did they do it … and where did they get the idea?

Read the rest of this entry »

Uh-oh: Did McCabe inadvertently out Comey for lying (under oath)?

March 19, 2018

According to middle-of-the-road law professor Jonathon Turley (GWU)…

The answer is: Yes.

After he was fired, McCabe issued a statement saying that his firing was politically motivated, unfounded and unjust.

OK, it’s his right to fight back … no issue with that

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But, according to Prof. Turley, McCabe may have also opened a Pandora’s box …

Read the rest of this entry »

Hey, McCabe: You’re fired !

March 17, 2018

Here’s what you need to know …
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Last might, around 10 p.m., AG Sessions issued a press release indicating that Andrew McCabe was being fired.

Here’s Session’s statement (with my emphasis added):

After an extensive and fair investigation and according to Department of Justice procedure, the Department’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) provided its report on allegations of misconduct by Andrew McCabe to the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR).

The FBI’s OPR then reviewed the report and underlying documents and issued a disciplinary proposal recommending the dismissal of Mr. McCabe.  Both the OIG and FBI OPR reports concluded that Mr. McCabe had made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor − including under oath − on multiple occasions.

The FBI expects every employee to adhere to the highest standards of honesty, integrity, and accountability.  As the OPR proposal stated, ‘all FBI employees know that lacking candor under oath results in dismissal and that our integrity is our brand.’

Pursuant to Department Order 1202, and based on the report of the Inspector General, the findings of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility, and the recommendation of the Department’s senior career official, I have terminated the employment of Andrew McCabe effective immediately.

The key points:

1) Inspector General Horowitz – applauded by all (before last nite) as a straight arrow – found that McCabe committed serious transgressions.

2) The IG forwarded some of his conclusions to the OPR – an internal watchdog group with a reputation for cutting transgressors a lot of slack.

3) The OPR recommended to AG Sessions that McCabe be fired for his transgressions.

4) Sessions  – acting on the OPR’s recommendation – fired McCabe.

Note:  It was the OPR that recommended that Sessions recuse himself from the Russia probe.

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I flipped between Fox ,CNN and online news sites when the announcement came down.

Talk about different worlds and different views …

A couple of headlines tell the story:

Read the rest of this entry »

McCabe’s pension: How much are we talking about?

March 16, 2018

Earlier this week, the FBI’s disciplinary forces recommended that Andrew McCabe be fired for ethical violations that include lying to FBI investigators.

Note: That’s the “crime”  that Mueller is charging most often these days.

Most news sources were reporting that Andrew McCabe was at FBI headquarters yesterday pleading that he be able to retire before getting fired.

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Why would McCabe put up such a big fight?

Simple math … retirement benefits … starting with his government pension.

Read the rest of this entry »

Trump doesn’t need to fire Mueller …

March 15, 2018

But he does need to fire Sessions … and may have his chance.
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Let’s connect a couple of dots today…

1) AG Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation … putting control in the hands of Obama holdover Rod Rosenstein.

2) Trump – and about half the country – thinks that the Mueller investigation has gone on too long and strayed far off course without scoring a significant direct hit on the original charter “Russian collusion”.  (Of course, the Trump-haters and “resisters” think that Mueller is doing a dandy job.)

3) A DOJ “disciplinary office” has recommended to AG Sessions that Andrew McCabe be fired.

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4) It’s widely reported that Trump may replace Sessions with Scott Pruitt – current EPA head (and former Oklahoma AG).

OK, let’s put these pieces together …

Read the rest of this entry »

What percentage of Americans prepare their own taxes? How many of them like it?

March 14, 2018

Since we’re heading to tax filing deadlines …

According to Pew Research:

Overall, 33% of Americans say they do their own taxes while 56% say someone else prepares their taxes.

  • Note 1: 11% don’t know who does their taxes or were befuddled by the question
  • Note 2: The folks in the 11% get to vote in Presidential elections (ouch!)

A majority of Americans (56%) have a negative reaction to doing their income taxes 1 in 4  say they hate doing them.

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Among those who dislike or hate doing their taxes, most cite the hassles of the process or the amount of time it takes:

About a third (34%) say they either like (29%) or love (5%) doing their taxes.

Here are some details re: the “likers” and lovers … 

Read the rest of this entry »

What if the undocumented 12 million were Russian … instead of Hispanic ?

March 13, 2018

Would everyone keep their same views re: immigration?  I think not.
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When President Trump said “take away the guns (from the mentally ill) and worry about due process later” … the MSM had a field day.

“What if President Obama had said that? Everybody on the right would be screaming that he’s coming for our guns.”

Maybe so, but that’s not the point.

I love playing what I call the “Control H” game … tech talk for replacing one word for another.

You know, substitute Obama (or Clinton) for Trump and ask: “would the press be as outraged?”

Usually the answer is “no.”

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I recently played a variation of the Control-H game with a buddy who was spewing all of the left-leaners’ talking points about DACA, Sanctuary cities and immigration laws  in general…

Read the rest of this entry »

“We ain’t got no chicken”

March 12, 2018

Finally, I can tell one of my favorite stories.
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A couple of weeks ago, due to a “supply chain issue”, KFC ran short of chicken at many of it’s UK stores.

That’s a problem since:

1) The UK is KFC’s 5th biggest market – accounting for about 6% of company sales.

2) KFC is shorthand for Kentucky Fried CHICKEN !!!

That’s a big problem.

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OK, here’s my story ….

Read the rest of this entry »

America’s safest school …

March 9, 2018

Yesterday, we highlighted some of the techno-security innovations at Disney World.

All park attendees (10s of thousands each day) are screened at the entry gate, bag-checked and digitally-fingerprinted.

Guests wear identity-linked Magic Bands that contain RFID chips … allowing their every movement around the park to be real-time tracked.

Cameras are everywhere … and thousands of pictures are snapped by cute Disney characters …  (for facial recognition probably.)

Beneath the terrain is an army of well-armed former SWATs and SEALs … ready to deploy instantaneously if a security event arises.

That’s the state-of-the-art at amusement parks.

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Here’s the state-of-the-art for schools …

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Southwestern High School in Shelbyville, Indiana is oft-cited as “the safest school in America” Source

The core components in the SHS security system:

1) Cameras mounted throughout the school providing real-time video feeds to the local law enforcement offices (think: casino video rooms)

2) All teachers have emergency fobs that can be used to set off a school wide alarm and simultaneous alert law enforcement… who rush to the school and ask questions later.

3) If an active shooter is suspected, “students barricade themselves in a corner out of view of a potential shooter who might be looking through the windows of a locked, bullet-proof classroom doors.” (think: submarine compartments)

4) An electronic device in each classroom enables a teacher to signal if students are safe or to signal if medical assistance is needed.tell law enforcement their classroom is safe, signal if they need medical aid or ask for help if they’ve seen the suspect.

5) If a shooter is pinpointed on the real-time videos, the the area can be sealed off and, if appropriate, smoke cannons can be activated to limit the shooter’s visibility.

6) Local law enforcement has clear protocols that direct first-responders to enter the school and “neutralize” the shooter.  Police do regular practice runs “just in case”. (think: not Broward County Sheriff’s department)

Click to view a video of the safest school in America

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See, Say. Hear, DO !
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Forget TSA, why not outsource school security to Disney?

March 8, 2018

Disney’s technology applications are impressive (and effective)
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This is a flashback post from the HomaFiles that I think provides timely “inspiration” given the current discussions re: school safety.

Later posts will reference back to some of these ideas.

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Last year, I took a  fact-finding trip (aka. family vacation) to Disney World.

I was blown away by the park’s technology and security operations ….

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No surprise, there was a huge rush of “guests” entering the Magic Kingdom when the gates opened at 8 a.m.

The crowd measured into the thousands … all needing to be security-screened.

All bags and strollers had to be hand-checked … all kids – big & little – had to be ushered through metal detectors.

Nightmare, right?

Maybe at the airport, but not at Disney.

Our wait & processing time: less than 10 minutes.

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Then came the good part…

Read the rest of this entry »

There’s a common thread through mass murders …

March 7, 2018

And, it seems to be much overlooked
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Kentucky’s  Gov. Matt Bevin has been vociferously opining that mass shootings are a “cultural problem.”

Bevin says: “We have become desensitized to death, we have become desensitized to killing, we have become desensitized to empathy for our fellow man … we have got to look at the root causes of this.”

During Trump’s televised Governor’s conference, Bevin’s remarks were met with a resounding:

“Yeah, whatever.”

And, the conversation shifted back to an easier topic, gun control. (<=sarcasm) 

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But, to Bevin’s point, one researcher has looked at the “Deadliest Mass Shootings in Modern U.S. History” … and identified a common thread …

Read the rest of this entry »

Almost everybody agrees that the mentally ill shouldn’t own guns …

March 6, 2018

But, the issue isn’t nearly as straightforward as it seems.
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Everybody agrees that the Florida school-shooter shouldn’t have been allowed to buy a gun … and, that there was a strong case to take his rifle away from him.

More broadly, a Pew poll taken in March-April 2017 indicates that almost 9 in 10 Americans agree that “the mentally ill should be prevented from purchasing guns”.

That’s the highest level of agreement re: discussed changes to gun laws.

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Since there’s overwhelming support, this one should be a slam dunk, right?

Not so fast …

Read the rest of this entry »

Gun ownership in the U.S.

March 5, 2018

A couple of charts provide some statistical context.
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Pew conducted an extensive survey in March-April 2017.

Here are some of the key findings.

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Roughly 1 in 3 American adults currently own a gun.

40% live in a household that has at least one gun owner.

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In addition to the 30% of American adults who own a gun, 36% “could see owning a gun in the future”.

Said differently, about 2 of 3 Americans are inclined towards gun ownership.

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Digging a bit deeper …

Read the rest of this entry »

Seriously, is this good marketing?

March 2, 2018

Here’s the answer to yesterday/s question
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Yesterday, we posted that several companies have announced that they are cutting any ties that they had with the NRA.

We argued that the the number of gun owners and NRA-supporters was sufficiently large that the move might backfire.

Well, the first results are in.

Left-leaning Morning Consult polled 2,200 adults and asked them whether they view companies favorably or unfavorably … both before they split with the NRA … and after.

Gotta believe that Morning Consult (MC) expected a groundswell in favor of the companies that ditched the NRA.

To MC’s credit, they published the results … which are exactly the opposite.

Specifically, MC calculated each company’s “net favorability” …  the percentage rating the company favorably, less those who rated the company unfavorably.

All of the companies experienced a drop in net favorability.

The biggest loser: Enterprise Rent-A-Car:

“Enterprise Rent-A-Car’s favorability rating slid from 61% to 50% , while its unfavorability rating jumped from 12% to 25%.

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So, I ask again: “Seriously, is this good marketing.”

Rarely does it pay to tell half of your customers that you don’t want their business.””

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See, Say.   Hear, DO !
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Seriously, is this good marketing?

March 1, 2018

This week, a handful of companies ended co-branding arrangements with the NRA (think: NRA-brand credit cards) … or stopped offering discounts to NRA members.

Companies include airlines (United and Delta); car rental agencies (Hertz, Enterprise, Alamo), insurance companies (Met Life & Chubb).

I understand the current level of hysteria and pressure being brought to bear on the companies

But, the country is pretty evenly spilt on the guns issue.

So, I scratch my head wondering why the companies would explicitly carve tens of millions of NRA-supporters out of their market.

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One company that specifically caught my eye is SimpliSafe … the internet-based home monitoring system.

Read the rest of this entry »

Seriously, do you want ME packing heat?

February 28, 2018

In yesterday’’s post, I advocated posting this sign at all schools ASAP.

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Why?

It sends a clear message that students’ safety is important … it might deter one or more potential school shooters … and it cleverly ducks the question of whether school personnel can (or do) pack heat.

How many school personnel are authorized?

Maybe all … or some … or none.

That’s a policy question that needs to be resolved …. but sign-interpretation is in the eyes of the beholders.

Maybe a potential shooter or two will be deterred.

That’s enough to justify the signs.

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OK, so what about the policy question?

Read the rest of this entry »

School safety: Here’s something that can be done today …

February 27, 2018

There’s a rationale and some evidence – albeit spotty and disputable  — that the following types of signs deter most burglars:

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So, here’s the sign that I’d post at all schools starting today…

Read the rest of this entry »

The sheriff’s BIG mistake …

February 26, 2018

During last week’s CNN-staged “Town Hall”, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel attacked NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch.

Israel told Loesch that she wasn’t standing up for the students:

“You just told this group of people that you are standing up for them. You’re not standing up for them, until you say I want less weapons.”

The hand-picked CNN crowd erupted in support.

Hmmm.

He was the hero of the moment, but may rue his attack.

Predictably, the NRA struck back:

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Does the NRA have a point?

Read the rest of this entry »

“See something, Say something.” isn’t good enough.

February 23, 2018

There were chilling social media threats.

A hard tip to the FBI.

39 welfare calls to local police.

The school’s armed security officer “stood outside the building where the shooting occurred rather than going in” Source

The first 3 first-responders (sheriff’s deputies) stayed outside waiting for SWAT to arrive.

Why say something if an alert (1) puts you at risk of a defamation suit and (2) isn’t likely to result in any preventative action?

The egregious miss by the FBI, local police, social services and school officials seems to have already vanished from the post-mortem discussion.

Here’s the bumper sticker I want to see.

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And, can we please stop talking about having a “conversation”.

Let’s have a plan … and start implementing it!

Amen.

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All 17 intelligence agencies agree that Russia “meddled & sowed” …

February 22, 2018

Am I the only one wondering why there are 17 spy agencies?

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I’ve been amused at the way the phrase slides off the tongues of the news readers: “All 17 intelligence agencies…”

Certainly aroused my curiosity.

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Sure enough, the U.S. intelligence “community” is officially the composite of 17 overt organizations (more on them later) … but, according to a Washington Post investigation, they’re just the tip of the iceberg.

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Among WaPo’s findings:

  • Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.
  • An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances.
  • In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings – about 17 million square feet of space.
  • Many security and intelligence agencies do the same work, creating redundancy and waste. For example, 51 federal organizations and military commands, operating in 15 U.S. cities, track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks.
  • Analysts who make sense of documents and conversations obtained by foreign and domestic spying share their judgment by publishing 50,000 intelligence reports each year – a volume so large that many are routinely ignored.

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Back on point, here’s a list of the 17 agencies that make up the U.S. spy network …

Read the rest of this entry »

Yum, those burgers looks good …

February 21, 2018

Adding visuals to menus (and reports) creates interest and boosts credibility.

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Studies have shown that adding  icons and photos to restaurant menus increase sales up to 30% for the featured items.

The visuals draw attention to the items … if done well, they stimulate diners’ senses.

OK, we’ve all be menu-enticed … that’s not news.

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But, did you know that simply adding a visual – a graph or chart  or formula — to a report can boost the credibility of a conclusion by 50% or more?

Read the rest of this entry »

Russia’s very bad week continues …

February 20, 2018

As if “meddling” and “sowing discord” weren’t bad enough.
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Now, Olympic officials are threatening to strip a a Russian curler – and his mixed-doubles partner wife –  of their bronze medals.

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This is noteworthy in a couple of respects.

First, it’s CURLING !

I find that amusing, to say the least.

Read the rest of this entry »

Macedonian bot farms sigh relief …

February 19, 2018

Feds nail Boris & Natasha for trolling the internet.
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Seriously, this is like something out of Rocky & Bullwinkle.

Friday was a very, very bad day for the DOJ / FBI.

First, it was disclosed that they failed to act on a very hard tip that the Florida school killer was literally locked, loaded and intending carnage.

Then, in an apparent attempt to deflect attention away from that egregious miss, the DOJ / Special Investigator held a spur-of-the-moment press conference to announce that a handful of Russian companies and individuals were being indicted for “sowing discord” and “meddling” in the Presidential election.

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Rather than just taking the talking heads at face value, I decided to read the indictment.

Honestly, it brought back memories … of Dudley Do-Right foiling the feeble plots of Boris and Natasha on Rocky & Bullwinkle.

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Let’s go through some of the details …

Read the rest of this entry »

Uh-oh: CDs go the way of the 8-track …

February 16, 2018

Millennials have had years of fun mocking boomers and their caches of 8-track cartridges and cassette tapes.

Well, what goes around, comes around.

Now, “their” stacks of teen-years’ music CDs approaching laughing stock status.

Just ask Best Buy,  which is reportedly planning to quit selling music CDs at its stores this summer.

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Source

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Some music enthusiasts lament that CDs will be missed since they offer high quality reproduced sound that can’t be matched by digital streaming.

Gee, wasn’t the same thing said of vinyl records when they were dislodged by CDs?

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More part-timers finding full-time jobs …

February 15, 2018

One of the benefits of the current low unemployment rate is that many people who were previously working part-time “for economic reasons” (i.e. had their hours reduced to part-time status or couldn’t find a full-time job) are now employed full-time.

By the numbers …

Approximately 127 million workers are now employed full-time …. that’s an all-time high … up 16 million from the financial crisis low point …  and up 5 million from the pre-crisis high.

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Here’s the interesting part …

Read the rest of this entry »

Finding college-caliber disadvantaged high-schoolers …

February 14, 2018

Universal SAT / ACT testing  “finds” talented low-income college candidates
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Interesting study reported by Brookings

Entrance exams (ACT or SAT ) are required for admission to virtually all selective colleges in the US.

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For low-income students, that’s a hurdle to overcome.

Students have to register and pay for these tests, and then travel to a testing center on a weekend to take them.

This is straightforward, if you have internet access, a computer, a credit card, and a car.

If you are missing any of these resources, it’s a lot more challenging.

The nearest testing center may be in a suburb that is unreachable by public transportation early on a Saturday morning.

To overcome these hurdles, several states are now giving the ACT or SAT exams in school, for free, on a school day during school hours.

The benefits are two-fold …

Read the rest of this entry »

One of these things is not like the others …

February 13, 2018

In the musical words of Sesame Street’s Ernie:

One Of These Things (Is Not Like The Others)
One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn’t belong,
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?

 

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Source: National Gallery

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