If you don’t understand Trump’s broad appeal, take the “bubble quiz” ….

May 6, 2016

Charles Murray, a political scientist and author observed – long before Campaign 2016 started – that there exists a new upper class that’s completely disconnected from the average American and American culture at large.




In his 2012 book Coming Apart, Murray presented a 25 question self-diagnostic to determine how connected or disconnected you are from average Americans … that is, whether or not you live in a bubble.

Read the rest of this entry »

Let’s build a cabinet ….

May 5, 2016

Now that Trump is presumptive, pundits are imagining his cabinet …

As usual, the HomaFiles was months ahead of the paid pundits.

Timing seems right for a flashback.


December 10, 2015
Let’s build a cabinet 

During this week’s GOP debate, the obvious became clear to me.

Like many (most?) people, I have trouble envisioning any of the candidates sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office (or standing at a podium in front of the desk).

But, there’s premium lemonade that can be squeezed from the cast of characters.




Specifically, if these boys and girl can modify their behavior to swallow their egos and play nice-nice with one another, I think a powerful cabinet can be put together .

Here’s the team I’d put on the field …

Read the rest of this entry »

In praise of tough teachers …

May 4, 2016

My students are likely to cringe at this post which kinda legitimizes my teaching style.

Uh-oh …


According to a recent WSJ article:

The latest findings in fields from music to math to medicine lead to a single, startling conclusion: It’s time to revive old-fashioned education.

Not just traditional but old-fashioned in the sense that so many of us knew as kids, with strict discipline and unyielding demands.


Because here’s the thing: It works.




Of course, that conclusion flies in the face of the kinder, gentler philosophy that has dominated American education over the past few decades.

The conventional wisdom holds that teachers are supposed to tease knowledge out of students, rather than pound it into their heads.

Projects and collaborative learning are applauded; traditional methods like lecturing and memorization — derided as “drill and kill” — are frowned upon, dismissed as a surefire way to suck young minds dry of creativity and motivation.

But the conventional wisdom is wrong.

And the following eight principles explain why …

Read the rest of this entry »

When can you “trust your gut”?

May 3, 2016

I teach problem-solving in my courses and preach that intuition is a good thing – not flying by the seat of your pants — but rather, sub-consciously tapping into your cognitive storehouse of education, experiences and emotions.

The more you learn, the more you practice and the more you discipline yourself mentally … the better you get as a problem-solver.



Digging deeper, I came across an interesting article in Inc., positing that intuition is evident in 4 distinct types of “thinking preferences” which are naturally intuitive in different ways…

Read the rest of this entry »

Dog Tales: Getting vetted to be an adopter …

May 2, 2016

Flashback to many years ago …

We drove around, spotted a “free puppies” sign … said “we’ll take that one” … guy hands us a puppy … dog & adopters lived happily ever after.

Fast forward to the process for our recent adoption of cute little Daisy…



After 13 years, we had to say good-by to our family dog Skipper … though he’s irreplaceable, we decided to get a puppy.

Things have sure changed.  Here are some highlights of what to expect if you plan to adopt a dog …

Read the rest of this entry »

Nums: 94% of profs rate themselves above average … but, don’t we all?

April 29, 2016

According to LiveScience.com

Since psychological studies first began, people have given themselves top marks for most positive traits.

While most people do well at assessing others, they are wildly positive about their own abilities.

The phenomenon is known as illusory superiority.


Illusory superiority is everywhere

  • In studies, most people overestimate their IQ. For instance, in a classic 1977 study, 94 percent of professors rated themselves above their peer group average.
  • In another study, 32 percent of the employees of a software company said they performed in the top 5%.
  • Drivers consistently rate themselves as better than average — even when a test of their hazard perception reveals them to be below par.

Ironically, the most incompetent are also the most likely to overestimate their skills, while the ace performers are more likely to underrate themselves.

Psychologists say the illusory superiority happens for several reasons:

Read the rest of this entry »

More Millennials than Baby Boomers … bad news for capitalism.

April 28, 2016

Let’s connect a couple of dots today.

Noticed the headline: “Millennials overtake Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation.”

That’s right, Millennials (ages 18 to 34) have surpassed Baby Boomers (ages 51 to 69) as the nation’s largest living generation, according to population estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Baby Boomer generation peaked at 78.8 million in 1999.

The Millennial generation – which now numbers 83.1 million — continues to grow as young immigrants expand its ranks.



So, what’s that demographic shift have to do with capitalism?

Read the rest of this entry »

Gotcha: Geez, you can’t even trust used car salesmen …

April 27, 2016

Few things are more attractive than those that are unavailable or in scarce supply.

Tell someone that they can’t have something, and they will be much more likely to desire it.


Here’s the way at least one used car salesman plays the scarcity game …

Read the rest of this entry »

Gotcha: “I paid more, so it must be better …”

April 26, 2016

One of my favorite sports’ movie scenes is from “Major League”

Newly hired manager Lou Brown is chatting with the Indians’ general manager.

One of the team’s players –Roger Dorn – pulls up in a fancy ride, hops out and unloads his golf clubs.

Brown says to the GM: “I thought you didn’t have any high-priced talent.”

The GM shoots back: “Forget about Dorn, he’s just high priced.”


Lou Brown almost fell for a common trap …

Sometimes people do perceive that higher priced products are better – even when they’re not.

They’re subconsciously using price as a “quality cue”.

Here’s some research that supports the dynamic …

Read the rest of this entry »

Which is better: taking notes by hand or on a laptop?

April 25, 2016

The idea of taking class notes by hand just seems old-fashioned to many students today.



But, according to NPR , it turns out there are still advantages to doing things the old-fashioned way …

Read the rest of this entry »

Quick Test: The “majority illusion” …

April 22, 2016

Adapted from the Washington Post WonkBlog:

The below chart represents a network of the entire population of a fictional and very small town.

Each circle represents a person. Two people who know each other are connected by a line. People who are not connected by a line have never met.

The day’s political issue: whether baseball caps are fashionable. Each circle is colored to indicate that person’s stance on the issue. Blue circles think caps are fashionable. Orange circles think that caps are not fashionable. (On this issue, everyone has an opinion.)

The town will be voting on whether to officially consider baseball caps fashionable.

A polling firm recently asked whether each person thought that the town would vote to deem baseball caps fashionable.

Assume each person polled based their prediction solely on how the majority of people they know felt about baseball caps (excluding his or her own view).

Did the polling firm find the measure was expected to pass or fail?

Read the rest of this entry »

Decision Making: Beware the villains …

April 21, 2016

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 »

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

April 20, 2016

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”.




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 »

Why do students surf the internet (or doze off) in class?

April 19, 2016

In his book Brain Rules, author John Medina reports on empirical observations of student’s classroom attentiveness.

What did he find?

Student’s attention level “naturally” takes a dive approximately 10 minutes into a class session.

This is “natural occurrence” that is linked, in part to body chemistry … and to “mental habits” developed by the current generation of web and channel surfers.



OK, that’s the problem … what’s the solution?

Read the rest of this entry »

Happy Tax Day … and, about the 47%.

April 18, 2016

Infographic from CNBC cuts to the chase re: the “money comes in, money goes out.”



More interesting: What’s up with Mitt Romney’s infamous 47%?

Read the rest of this entry »

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

April 15, 2016

Since we’re heading down the home stretch to Monday’s filing deadline …

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.


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 »

Do better looking students get better grades?

April 14, 2016

You bet they do …



Prof Robert Kaplan of San Diego State University conducted an experiment:

Faculty subjects were asked to grade an essay written by a student.

A photograph of the student was attached to the essay.

The grade given for the essay correlated strongly with a subjective attractiveness scale evaluated by other judges.

What is interesting is that all the subjects received the exact same essay, and the photograph attached to it was randomly assigned.

Bottom line: physical attractiveness causes graders to give essay writers better scores on their essays.

Here’s what’s going on …

Read the rest of this entry »

“Going to hell in a handbasket” … say, what?

April 13, 2016

In yesterday’s post, I again used the expression “going to hell in a handbasket” ….  and got a couple of emails re: its origin and meaning.

So, today we’re reprising a post from the archives …


This week, a poll finally asked a question that really cuts to the chase:

Which better describes how you feel about the way things are going in the world these days?

  • a) Things are going to hell in a handbasket
  • b) Everything will be alright
  • c) Don’t know





Started me wondering:

What’s up with a goofy idiom like “going to hell in a handbasket”?

Read the rest of this entry »

Survey: Over 2/3’s of employees are motivated and satisfied with their jobs …

April 12, 2016

Yesterday, we posted a survey that reported half of all employees would tell friends and family not to come work from their employer.



I got curious and dug a little deeper …

Read the rest of this entry »

Study: “Don’t come here to work !”

April 11, 2016

A recently reported study of 1,015 LinkedIn users “sought insights into how organizations attract, engage, motivate as well as retain workers and build the kind of workplace that employees promote.”

The headline conclusion: “About half of workers wouldn’t recommend their organization to a friend or family member searching for a job.”


What’s their beef?

Read the rest of this entry »

Buying your airplane seat “by the inch”…

April 8, 2016

Loyal readers know that I’ve been a long-standing fan of airlines charging by the pound rather than having a flat fare that is applied to all passengers – small, big and supersized.

Here are some ‘greatest hits’ posts on the topic.

Prices: Why don’t airlines charge more for these bags?

Norwegian economics professor jumps on the scale … endorses “pay what you weigh”

Air fares: Public weighs in …

Tipping the scales: Airline starts weighing all passengers …

Airlines weigh-in on cost-cutting ……

Let’s continue the dialogue.

According to The Economist ….

The average American man bulked up from from 166lb in 1960 to 190lb today, while the average woman jumped from 140lb to 166lb.

Note: That today’s average woman weighs about the same as an average man in the 1960s.  Whoa, Nellie!

While Americans were ballooning, airline seats’ widths were constricting —   from 18 inches in 1960 to 16.5 inches today.

To address the obvious issue, Congressman Steve Cohen proposed a law  mandating a minimum amount of seat space for air passengers.

The measure failed.


Very clever cartoon from The Economist


Not to worry, airlines are on the case.

We’ve previously reported on airline programs to charge passengers by-the-pound.

Now, there’s a new tactic being pursued …

Read the rest of this entry »

Warning: The gentleman’s C is dead … long live the gentleman’s A

April 7, 2016

Yep, grade inflation is alive and well.

The Washington Post reported findings from a 70-year retrospective analysis of college grades.

The central conclusion:

“Across the country, wherever and whatever they study, mediocre students are increasingly likely to receive supposedly superlative grades.”

In other words, these days, A is the new “average”.

Now, almost half of all grades given are A’s … triple the percentage from a few decades ago.

C’s – the old “average” – is dying a slow, steady death … and, there’s a higher likelihood of a student being struck by lightning than getting hit with an F.




Here are some explanatory snippets and my take …

Read the rest of this entry »

Test your nuke-knowledge …

April 6, 2016

Last week President Obama hosted a nuclear containment summit and Candidate Trump expressed support for letting countries like Japan develop nuclear weapons.

In casual conversations, I opined that the nuclear gaffe (if it was one), would hurt Trump because the average American voter has no idea which countries do and do not have nuclear weapons now.

I think that I and my fellow discussants are usually “in the know” on current political topics.

Still, we traded comments and questions like:

  • “I was surprised that Japan didn’t have nukes”
  • “Do France or the UK have them?”
  • “What about Israel?”



You get the point.

Now it’s your turn.

No Googling or peeking !

I’ll even state the question to give you a hint:

What 9 countries currently have nuclear weapons?

Read the rest of this entry »

Did Hillary throw Donald a life line?

April 5, 2016

Given that both Donald & Hillary are polling unfavorable among women, it didn’t surprise me that Chris Matthews introduced abortion into the 2016 election … by drilling Trump on the topic.

He probably expected Donald to give an idiotic answer (mission accomplished!) … and to elevate the issue so that Hillary would have reason to burnish her pro-abortion bona fides when she appeared on sister network NBC’s Meet the Press.

I wasn’t surprised to see Donald trip on his schlong (<= his word not mine), but was surprised that Hillary countered with a gaffe of her own.



In case you missed Hillary on Meet the Press …

Read the rest of this entry »

Hasnas: Teachers with conservative views don’t make the cut.

April 4, 2016

GREAT article in the WSJ from our own John Hasnas – MSB Professor of Policy & Ethics: The One Kind of Diversity Colleges Avoid

His central point: When recruiting faculty, universities seek diversity by gender, race and nationality … but, not ideology.

In many instances, conservatives and libertarians need not apply.




That conclusion probably doesn’t surprise many of you who already see the elephant in the middle of the room.

But, Prof. Hasnas provides some texture and “inside scoop”

Here are a couple of highlight snippets from the article … Read the rest of this entry »

The economics of oil … continued.

April 1, 2016

A couple of week’s ago, I posted The economics of oil …  suggesting that countries such as Saudi Arabia were operating below breakeven with oil @ $40 per barrel.




While technically correct, several loyal readers schooled me on the difference between “economic breakeven” and “fiscal breakeven”.

Read the rest of this entry »

Ebola contained … What if terrorism were treated like a disease?

March 31, 2016

The following headline caught my eye:



More specifically, the WHO said:

“Ebola transmission … no longer constitutes an extraordinary event, the risk of international spread is now low, and countries currently have the capacity to respond rapidly to new emergences.”


Now, re-read the WHO statement, substituting the words “radical Islamic terrorism” for “Ebola transmission”.

Let’s connect a couple of more dots …

Read the rest of this entry »

So, did Apple win or lose?

March 30, 2016

In case you haven’t been paying attention …

The FBI snagged the government-owned cell phone that was being used by one of the San Bernardino killer-terrorists … but, couldn’t get at the data because of Apple’s security and encryption technology … which vaporizes the data if you enter a wrong password 10 times.

So, the FBI asked Apple to to provide a custom-cobbled hack to get at the data.

Apple said “no”, ostensibly to protect the privacy and security of its users.

So, the FBI sued Apple, and the case was working its way through the courts.

That is, until yesterday when the FBI withdrew its law suit.

Victory to Apple, right?



Not so fast.

Here’s why the FBI withdrew its law suit ….

Read the rest of this entry »

Hourly earnings up, but household income down … say, what?

March 29, 2016

Great analysis by Prof. Mark Perry (AEI Scholar) … entire analysis is worth reading … here’s the essence of the argument.


Question: It’s oft-reported that household income has been falling … but, digging into the data, hourly earnings have been increasing.

How can that be?



According to Prof. Perry’s analysis, the answer lies in “mix” – the composition of households ….

Read the rest of this entry »

If it hadn’t been such a tragic week, this stuff would be (damn) funny …

March 28, 2016

The Brussels terrorists’ attacks were were an immense tragedy … to be taken seriously.

You wouldn’t know it, given some of the past week’s noteworthy dumb & dumber happenings.

Let’s start with the UK’s response to the bombings.

Did the Brits make any notable raids to crack the terrorists’ network of killer cells.

Nope, instead of going for the jugular, UK authorities went for the capillaries and arrested some dude for for making an inappropriate, potentially anti-Islamic tweet:



The charges were eventually dropped, but please tell me, how does law enforcement prioritize chasing insensitive tweeters over cold-blooded killers?

Maybe it has to do with the UK police patrolling with 1 bullet less than Barney Fife.

Tweeters are probably “safe stops” … cold-blooded killers, not so easy.

Or, maybe the world is just going completely wacky.  A couple of more examples …

Read the rest of this entry »

Pascal’s Wager … appled to the ISIS threat.

March 25, 2016

One of the few things I remember from Philosophy 101 is Pascal’s Wager.

In a nutshell, it says that God may or may not exist … and we all have the choice to live righteously or sinfully.

Naturally, that creates a 2 X 2 matrix …

If you choose to live on the wild side and God exists … uh oh.

If you choose to live a clean life, you score big if God exists … and don’t have much downside if she doesn’t.

I often find Pascal’s Wager to be a practical decision-making prop.



Let’s apply Pascal’s Wager to the current ISIS mess?

Read the rest of this entry »

Why don’t Europeans want to protect themselves more?

March 24, 2016

Once the horror of Brussels sank in, some pundits observed how unprepared Belgium seemed to be … and some pointed to Europeans minimal spending on intelligence, defense, and homeland security (their homelands not our’s).

That prompted me to finally read the Atlantic article on the “Obama Doctrine”.

I thought the article would just make me chuckle …  turned out that I found myself agreeing with some of Obama’s basic tenets …. and it helped explain why Europeans don’t want to protect themselves more.

Obama complains privately to friends and advisers that America’s allies in the Middle East are frustrating, high-maintenance countries,  that seek to exploit American “muscle” for their own narrow and sectarian ends.

“Free riders aggravate me. Europeans and the Arab states want to hold our coats while we do all the fighting.”

Recently, Obama warned that Great Britain would no longer be able to claim a “special relationship” with the United States if it did not commit to spending at least 2 percent of its GDP on defense. “You have to pay your fair share,” Obama told David Cameron.

Given its proximity to Libya, Obama expected the UK to step-up and take a lead role there. But, in a stunning development, the British Parliament denied David Cameron its blessing for an attack. John Kerry’s reaction: “Oops.”

Let’s look at some numbers ….


True, the UK is only spending about 2% on defense (after all, it has to support its universal healthcare system) … but, it’s looks downright militaristic when compared to its European cronies.  Look down the list to find Belgium.

Let’s cut the numbers a couple of more ways …

Read the rest of this entry »

Even if manufacturing may be coming back … manufacturing JOBS, not so much.

March 23, 2016

Interesting analysis from Nate Silver’s  535.com titled Manufacturing Jobs Are Never Coming Back

There’s no mystery why candidates love to focus on manufacturing and trade.

“It’s understandable that voters are angry about trade. The U.S. has lost more than 4.5 million manufacturing jobs since NAFTA took effect in 1994. And, there’s mounting evidence that U.S. trade policy, particularly with China, has caused lasting harm to many American workers.”

“Manufacturing in particular embodies something that seems to be disappearing in today’s economy: jobs with decent pay and benefits available to workers without a college degree. The average factory worker earns more than $25 an hour before overtime; the typical retail worker makes less than $18 an hour.”

“In 1994 there were 3.5 million more Americans working in manufacturing than in retail. Today, those numbers have almost exactly reversed, and the gap is widening. More than 80 percent of all private jobs are now in the service sector.”



How can that be?  Aren’t we hearing a lot about “re-shoring” and foreign capital investing in U.S. based manufacturing plants?

Read the rest of this entry »

Michael Goodwin: It’s time for Trump …

March 22, 2016

Michael Goodwin is a NY Post writer … says that he’s a Democrat who voted for Obama in 2008.

Over the weekend, he wrote an editorial titled Why it’s time for a Trump revolution .



I think that Goodwin does a poignant job cutting to the chase.

His basic tenet: “Contempt for Trump reflects contempt for his working-class white support.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Huff Post: How Paul Ryan Will Pick the Next President.

March 21, 2016

Over the weekend, the Huffington Post ran an article: How Paul Ryan Will Pick the Next President.

Writers Chris LaTondresse and Adam Phillips claim credit for conceiving a scenario that would place an establishment Republican into the White House even if Trump is the GOP nominee.

Sorry guys, you’re a bout a month late.

Loyal HomaFiles reader would recognize the plot from our Feb. 29 post:

The GOP can still get a “true” Republican elected … here’s how.

Since it’s timely (and getting jacked without attribution), I thought I’d reprise it today.


Let’s start with some basic assumptions:

(1) Trump hijacks the GOP and wins the nomination … much to the dismay of the GOP “establishment”.

(2) Trump and Hillary fight a tightly contested toss-up race.


So, how can the establishment get a “true” – or at least “truer” Republican elected.

It wouldn’t be easy, but it’s possible.

Let’s connect a couple of dots.

Dot #1: Politico is reporting that some big GOP donors are researching ballot-access requirements for independent candidates in case Trump wraps up the GOP nomination.

Dot #2: The electoral map and the quirks of the electoral college process.

There’s an out-of-the box way to make a “true” Republican president … really.


Electoral Map


You won’t hear this any place else, so let me explain …

Read the rest of this entry »

Trump’s appeal among the “precariat”…

March 18, 2016

From a very interesting election analysis in the Orange County Register by Joel Kotkin – Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University …

Disclaimer: I’m not a Trump fan because of his incivility (bad role model for kids), unpredictability (I have no idea where he really stands on any issue except “the wall” – and I’m betting the under on that one), and temperament (though I wonder why the U.S. should be the only country that doesn’t have a wild man with their finger on the nuclear button – why not round out the roster?).

That said, I’ll fill in his circle on the scantron ballot if it’s Trump vs. Hillary in Novemeber.


I have much sympathy for his constituency of victims: lower and middle class working class folks … with emphasis on “working”.

You know,  the folks that the press likes to brutally characterize as “brain dead, mindless zombies”.



In his article, Mr. Kotkin more charitably coins them as the “precariat” — people who are working, many part time or on short-term gigs, but lacking long-term security.

Read the rest of this entry »

WP: Conservatives give better commencement speeches …

March 17, 2016

It’s that time of the year when university officials are picking commencement speakers.

Perhaps they should heed to words of the Washington Post: Conservatives give better commencement addresses than liberals.


Drawing on a sample of 48 speeches — 30 by conservatives, 18 by liberals — the Post concludes that the right-leaning speakers stand out for five reasons …

Read the rest of this entry »

Mar-a-Lago: Here’s a grand irony for you …

March 16, 2016

NY Times decided to take a shot at Trump’s opulence in a piece titled: A King in His Castle

Here’s an excerpt to set the context …

Everything seemed to sparkle at the Mar-a-Lago estate here on a recent afternoon.

The sun glinted off the pool and the black Secret Service S.U.V.s in the circular driveway.

Palm trees rustled in a warm breeze, croquet balls clicked and a security guard stood at the entrance to Donald J. Trump’s private living quarters.

You can always tell when the king is here.

Mar-a-Lago is where Mr. Trump comes to escape, entertain and luxuriate in a Mediterranean-style manse.  

The king was returning that day to his Versailles, a 118-room snowbird’s paradise that will become a winter White House if he is elected president.




Mar-a-Lago was built 90 years ago by the cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post.

Here’s where the grand irony comes in …

Read the rest of this entry »

Hacked: Are periodic password changes worth the trouble?

March 15, 2016

Cyber-security folks always advise us to use different passwords for all accounts and to regularly change them.

Intuitively, that makes sense.

And, many organizations now force employees, as a matter of policy, to change their passwords every couple of months.


But, a recent study by the FTC’s chief technologist, suggests that the security benefits of changing passwords may be more apparent than real … and, may do more harm than good.



According to the Washington Post

“The longstanding IT security practice is based on the idea that flushing out old passwords will cut off access for bad guys who may have figured them out.”

But according to the Federal Trade Commission’s chief technologist, Lorrie Cranor, the strategy has some major holes.

“Unless there is reason to believe a password has been compromised or shared, requiring regular password changes may actually do more harm than good in some cases.”


“Because forcing people to keep changing their passwords can result in workers coming up with, well, bad passwords.”


Some evidence …

A study at the University of North Carolina looked at a data set of thousands of old passwords belonging to former students, faculty and staff at the university who had to change their password every three months.

They found that users often followed patterns that linked old passwords to new passwords — such as swapping the order of meaningful numbers and letters, replacing a letter with a common number or symbol substitute (think changing an E into a 3), or adding or removing special characters like exclamation marks.

Using a tool they designed to predict those type of changes, the researchers could predict how users would change their passwords for 41 percent of the accounts in less than three seconds using a relatively low-powered computer.

The researchers also determined passwords for 17 percent of the accounts in fewer than five guesses.


My take:

The problem isn’t periodic password changes … it’s benign neglect or passive aggressive behavior by folks who are annoyed by policies that attempt to save them from themselves.

Passwords should be strong … and they should be changed periodically … and, they should be varied across accounts. Period.


Heck no … but improves the odds.

And, whenever possible, use a 2-step process (e.g. challenge questions) for your most sensitive accounts.

Trust me, it’s less hassle than getting hacked.



Follow on Twitter @KenHoma            >> Latest Posts


Forget smartphones, dumb phones are making a comeback …

March 14, 2016

No, it’s not because Apple may be forced to break the encryption in the terrorist’s iPhone.

There are plenty of other reasons.

According to the Financial Times

“There is a busy market for phones that are simple and cheap at a time when smartphones are becoming ever more complex and expensive.”

Strategy Analytics, a research group, estimates that 44 million “basic phones” were sold in 2015.




What’s driving the retro interest in dumb phones?

Read the rest of this entry »

In the air: Why are the cabin attendants smiling?

March 11, 2016

Let me give you a couple of choices:

(a) Smiling is dictated by employer

(b) Fundamentally happy with job & pay

(c) Something else

According to a survey of 718 British cabin attendants by UK The Telegraph, the answer is (c) – something else.

The survey asked the cabin attendants if they had ever broken any of the airlines’ rules.

9 out of 10 answered to the affirmative.




Most of the violations were relatively minor – e.g. accepting tips.

But, some were doozies.

Read the rest of this entry »

The economics of oil …

March 10, 2016

In light of the oil glut, Exxon has announced that it’s moth-balling some rigs and cutting capital expenditures.

That fits a bigger trend … supply high, demand slow, prices down, production down.




From a supply side, the economics of the business raise some interesting questions …

Read the rest of this entry »

Reprise: How Beef-Loving Voters Can Get Tofu (aka Trump) for President

March 9, 2016

This is from the HomaFiles archives – one of my favs.

The original WSJ article was inspired by Clinton’s win over elder Bush (the Perot factor), younger Bush’s win over Gore (the Nader factor), and Jesse Ventura’s gov win in Minnesota.

trump rubio cruz kasich

The analysis has relevancy these days, given the way that the not-Trump vote is being carved thin among the array of GOP presidential contenders.

Let’s see how Iowa turns out tonight …

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What if Trump gets elected and acts like Obama?

March 8, 2016

Now that it looks like Trump will be the GOP candidate. it’s time to reprise a “must read” opinion piece that appeared in the Washington Post a couple of months ago.

The article was penned by left-leaning GWU law professor Jonathan Turley


Turley has long been warning that Dems may think it is clever and appropriate when Obama circumvents the Congress and courts to implement his partisan policies, that they should be forewarned that what goes around, come around.

Specifically, he says:

Democrats have supported President Obama’s claims of unchecked authority in a variety of areas.

Obama has been particularly aggressive in his unilateral actions.

From health care to immigration to the environment, he has set out to order changes long refused by Congress.

Thrilled by those changes, supporters have ignored the obvious danger that they could be planting a deeply unfortunate precedent if the next president proves to be a Cruz rather than a Clinton.

While the policies may not carry over to the next president, the powers will.

The Obama model will be attractive to successors who, although they may have a different agenda, have the same appetite for unilateral decisions.

Here are some specifics that he cites:

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About February’s great jobs report …

March 7, 2016

Reading the headlines, it’s happy days again.

In February, employers added 242,000 jobs.

Pretty good, right?



Well, unfortunately, there’s a rub …

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Forget the issues, Trump promises to man-up …

March 4, 2016

I’m a political junkie, and even I got bored during the debate last night …

Yesterday, Romney (who I still think would have made a great President), Rubio (a smart policy wonk who looks like a Latino Doogie Howswer and will never shake the ‘Gang of 8’ goo off of his shoe), Cruz (who holds deep conservative principles that include cheating to win)  took their best shots at Trump and the Donald swatted them all back at them in short order.

Bottom line: Nobody cares that Trump is shallow on policy, used Trump U. to swindle some folks, sprinkled money to practically all politicians as a cost of business, or is ambivalent about Planned Parenthood.

After years of watching Obama get pushed around by loose-cannon world leaders and ISIS, many Americans just want a President who will “man-up”.  Out-bully the bullies who are taking our lunch money …

That’s the Donald.


During the debate, I was reminded of a poll taken a couple of years ago.

The question: Who is the stronger leader:  Putin or Obama ?

YouGov polled Americans on that very question. asking folks to to rate Obama and Putin – whether they are strong or weak leaders.

How would you have rated each of them: very strong, somewhat strong, somewhat weak, or very weak?



And the survey said …

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Trump: “Christie is a complete tool”

March 3, 2016

OK, he didn’t really say it … but, he might as well have.

Granted, it was a masterful coup by the Donald.

Little Marco made him squirm during the debate.

12 hours later, Trump takes all of the wind out of Rubio’s sail by rolling out (<= pun intended) Gov. Christie with an endorsement.

A clever play by Trump … a moment of reclamation for Christie?



Err, not so fast …

Did you notice how quickly Christie got banished … by Trump … by the media … and by his now-former supporters?

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It’s hard to stop bullying if the bullies keep winning …

March 2, 2016

Years ago, my sons’ high school headmaster (aka. “principal”) launched a program aimed at civility.

He was concerned that kids were becoming disrespectful to adults … and to each other.

Most parents thought the idea was a bit quirky… students had no idea what he was talking about.

The guy eventually got canned when he allowed police into the school to arrest some kids who were peddling drugs … a rather uncivil behavior. (Parents thought that letting police into the school was uncivil …)

My take: the guy was a couple of decades ahead of his time.

Fast forward to today.

As near as I can tell, the anti-bullying campaigns and rhetoric have been largely pushed to the back burner … only being cameoed when there is a teen tragedy directly linked to bullying.

Why is that happening?


The bullies keep emerging as winners … and winning beats losing.



Case in point: Donald J. Trump.

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So far, the best line of the campaign …

March 1, 2016

When Trump is ridiculing, he’s just mean-spirited.

My beef: he doesn’t make me laugh.

I think the new Marco delivers some pretty funny lines … with great timing and cadence.

Of course, most of his material is cooked up by his writers.

A comedian’s true meddle is tested extemporaneously.

My view: Marco scored in a recent Virginia rally.


A heckler was shouting that Rubio was an empty suit.

“At least it’s not a Trump suit that’s made in China.”

Not bad …

When the heckler continued, Rubio hit him with a haymaker:

“Ladies and gentlemen, meet the valedictorian from Trump University.”

Great line. Great timing.

click to view



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Trump’s appeal among the “precariat”…

March 1, 2016

From a very interesting election analysis in the Orange County Register by Joel Kotkin – Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University …

Disclaimer: I’m not a Trump fan because of his incivility (bad role model for kids), unpredictability (I have no idea where he really stands on any issue except “the wall” – and I’m betting the under on that one), and temperament (though I wonder why the U.S. should be the only country that doesn’t have a wild man with their finger on the nuclear button – why not round out the roster?).

That said, I’ll fill in his circle on the scantron ballot if it’s Trump vs. Hillary in Novemeber.


I have much sympathy for his constituency of victims: lower and middle class working class folks … with emphasis on “working”.

You know,  the folks that the press likes to brutally characterize as “brain dead, mindless zombies”.



In his article, Mr. Kotkin more charitably coins them as the “precariat” — people who are working, many part time or on short-term gigs, but lacking long-term security.

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