Question: Are you smarter than a 10th grader?

September 22, 2017

A math success story … and a challenge (for you).

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Earlier in the week, we posted results of a report ranking U.S. high school students #40 in math literacy among developed nations.

A friend reminded me that those are averages … and there are some bright lights.

One such bright light is shining at Chicago’s Noble Network of Charter Schools.

Noble is comprised of a growing network of high quality public high schools located in Chicago’s communities of greatest need.

Noble has 18 campuses educating 12,000 students.

True to its mission, 98% of the students are minorities and 89% low income.

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Here’s the kicker …

According to Stanford’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes:

Students at The Noble Network of Charter Schools receive the equivalent of nearly two years’ worth of math in each single year. Source

What kind of math are they working on?

Here’s a problem from the 10th grade curriculum …. try it.

Read the rest of this entry »

How much of an “iGen” are you?

September 21, 2017

There’s a whole new generation out there, folks.

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In yesterday’s post, we highlighted iGen – a recent book by Jean Twenge – a psychology prof specializing in “generational research”.

Millennials  are yesterday’s news.

The new generation is iGen – born after the introduction of the Internet … and now living connected to their iPhones.

Prof. Twenge observes that the cultural and personal impacts of the “i” technology revolution are a mixed bag – some good and some bad.

More on that in later posts.

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Amazon link

Today, let’s take a short quiz to determine, putting age aside, how connected you are with the iGen ….

Read the rest of this entry »

Disruptive innovation: How the iPhone has shaped a new generation.

September 20, 2017

A new book says that not all of the “shaping” has been good.

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A week or so ago, when Apple celebrated the 10th Anniversary of the iPhone and launch of iPhone X, CEO Tim Cook boasted:

Having sold over one billion units and enabling millions of apps that have become essential to people’s daily routine …

The iPhone redefined how consumers live, work, communicate, and entertain.

I chalked it up as marketing hype, but then …

I started reading a recently released book (coincidence?) called iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy–and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood.

The author is Jean Twenge, a psychology prof with a specialty in “generational differences” who is credited with coining the newest generation “iGen”.

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mazon link

Prof Twenge agrees with Cook’s basic claim that the iPhone has redefined life.

But, she argues, not all of the redefinition is positive … specifically highlighting the decline in in-person social interaction and a sharp rise in mental health issues among iGens.

Let’s start at the beginning ….

Read the rest of this entry »

More distressing news on the math front …

September 19, 2017

Last week, we praised algebra, logic and Latin as basic learning skills.

In praise of math, logic, and Latin … say, what?

Yesterday, we reported that U.S. high schoolers math scores are continuing to drop … and that the U.S. now ranks #40 among developed countries.

Ouch: U.S. math scores continue to drop

Now there’s discouraging news out of California: Algebra is under siege.

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In 2009, the California Community Colleges system began requiring demonstrated math competency at the level “typically known as Intermediate Algebra … or another mathematics course at the same level, with the same rigor.”

What was the result, and what do educators plan to do about it?

Read the rest of this entry »

Ouch: U.S. math scores continue to drop

September 18, 2017

U.S. now trails 39 countries …

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The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) recently released its 2015 survey results for math “literacy” … and, the results aren’t pretty.

The average for 15-year-old U.S. students slipped to 470 on the PISA scale … down about 3.5% from 2009 … ranking the U.S. #40 among developed nations (see list at end of this post) … 20 points lower than the average of the 35 OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries.

The scores differential versus the OECD countries is roughly equal for the average, 25th percentile and 90th percentile … refuting claims that “our” best are head-to-head competitive with the the rest of the world’s best.

 

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Digging a bit deeper into the numbers ….

Read the rest of this entry »

Do you carry your iPhone in your pocket?

September 15, 2017

Frequently causes a problem  … with an easy fix

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I was at near-panic stage a couple of night’s ago.

I tried to insert my battery charger into the lightning connector port (pictured below) like I always do … but it wouldn’t go in all the way and the phone wouldn’t charge.

 

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Oh no.

What to do?

First I tried another charger cable … figured that might be the problem since I sometimes buy accessories from OEMs instead of Apple.

No luck.

Then started to wonder where to take it for repairs:  Verizon (where I bought it)? Apple store (since it’s a iPhone)?

Concluded that it would be an out-of-warranty repair at the Apple store.

That can’t be good.

Then I decided to Google the problem …

Read the rest of this entry »

Free college for all?

September 14, 2017

Idea falls flat with voters

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Interesting article in left-leaning Politico: Teflon Don confounds Democrats

Based on research, conducted by private firms and for Democratic campaign arms, Politico analysts have concluded:

Democrats tried attacking Donald Trump as unfit for the presidency. They’ve made the case that he’s ineffective. They’ve argued that Trump is using the presidency to enrich himself. They repeatedly claim that his campaign was in cahoots with Russia. None of it is working.

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And, many of the proposals Democrats are pushing fall flat in focus groups and polling.

Many of the ideas party leaders have latched on to in an attempt to appeal to their lost voters — free college tuition, raising the minimum wage to $15, even Medicaid for all — test poorly among voters outside the base.

Of course, the results re: free college tuition caught my eye …

Read the rest of this entry »

#11 – Why I’m lukewarm to climate change…

September 13, 2017

Reason #11 – Celebs who “never let a serious crisis go to waste.”

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For the record: I’m neither a denier nor a zealot …  so, according to British writer (& phrase-coiner) Matt Ridley, I’m a “lukewarmer”.

And, I’ve personally had the eyes of 2 hurricanes literally pass right over my house, so I’m aware of their devastating potential.

I have friends and family in Houston and scattered around Florida. They and other hurricane victims have my deepest sympathy.

Moving on …

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Earlier in the summer, I posted a series The 10 reasons why I’m lukewarm to climate change…

Last night’s celebrity phone-a-thon for Harvey & Irma victims prompts me to add to the list.

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Reason #11- Celebs who ““Never let a serious crisis go to waste.”

The quote is generally attributed to Rahm Emmanuel – former of Obama chief-of-staff and currently Mayor of murder- riddled Chicago.

Last night, the credo was put into action.

At 8 o’clock, I tuned in the see the semi-finals of my favorite TV show: America’s Got Talent.

Imagine my disappointment when I saw that the show was being delayed (to past my bed time) for a celebrity fund-raiser.

OK, I figured … let’s watch an hour of pros sing and dance.

Cue the first act: Little Stevie Wonder … err, I mean Stevie Wonder … err again, I mean Steven Wonder … whatever.

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Pre-ambling his ditty, Mr. Wonder preached:

“It just loves. As we should begin to love and value our planet.”

So far, so good.

Then the pivot:

Anyone who believes that there is no such thing as global warming must be blind or unintelligent.”

He made a lightning-fast pivot from the hurricane disasters to climate change.

Conveniently, ignoring a few facts …

Read the rest of this entry »

Is financial stress making Americans dumber?

September 12, 2017

Connecting some research “dots” suggests that may be the case.

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A recent Bankrate.com survey says that 40% of respondents or their immediate family ran into a major unexpected expense last year.

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That’s a problem since most Americans (63%) don’t have enough budget-cushion or savings to cover an unexpected $1,000 expense (think, medical bill, house or car repair).

According to the poll, only 37% said they would be able to take the money directly from savings; the rest said they would try to cut expenses (24%), use their credit cards (15%) or borrow money from friends & family (15%). About 1 in 10 had no idea what they’d do.

Predictably, those with higher incomes were most likely to say they would be able to tap savings for emergencies or divert some discretionary spending.

75% of people in households making less than $50,000 a year and 2/3s of those making between $50,000 and $100,000 would have difficulty coming up with $1,000 to cover an unexpected bill.

Even for the wealthiest 20% — households making more than $100,000 a year — more than 1 in 3 say they would have  some difficulty coming up with $1,000. Source

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Obviously, the threat of a large, unexpected expense is emotionally daunting to most Americans.

“It definitely adds stress to everyday life. It hangs over you.”

To make matters worse, there is some evidence that the financial stress may impair “cognitive functioning” – that is, dent a person’s IQ.

Read the rest of this entry »

In praise of math, logic, and Latin … say, what?

September 11, 2017

Classical educators argued that these disciplines are the building blocks of reasoning, problem-solving and critical thinking.

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The courses that I teach contain a heavy dose of problem-solving skills.

Early on, I assert my belief that that problem-solving skills can be taught – and, more importantly, learned – and set about to prove the point.

 

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I’ve been doing some summer reading on the topic of reasoning & problem-solving and learned:

“For twenty-six hundred years many philosophers and educators have been confident that reasoning could be taught.”

Read the rest of this entry »

There are 5 clues of “authentic” intelligence …

September 8, 2017

For openers, high IQ and bilingual aren’t on the list.

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Interesting piece that I spotted on the DailyMail

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Everybody tries to act smart, right?

You know … long words, dramatic pauses, furled brows, grasped chins.

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Psyche researchers dismiss most of these antics as shallow fakery and have identified 5 behavioral traits that authentically mark true intelligence.

Test yourself ….and start using the markers to smoke out faux-smarties.

Read the rest of this entry »

Quick: how many 3’s in the block of numbers?

September 7, 2017

Let’s test our cognitive skills today..

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This summer, I’ve been reading up on storytelling and data visualization.

Hit pay dirt with a book called  Storytelling with Data: A Data Visualization Guide for Business Professionals.

One of the topics is how to leverage pre-attentive attributes – visual cues that can influence what information catches a reader’s eye on a slide or chart … think: “shiny objects”.

To demonstrate the concept of pre-attentive attributes: Observe the block of numbers below … how many 3’s are there in this block of numbers?

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And, the answer is …

Read the rest of this entry »

Global IQ: What are the 10 most populated countries?

September 6, 2017

Today, a lesson in world geography and data visualization…

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Below is a great visual from Tableau … countries are displayed as as bubbles … with each bubble proportionate based on each country’s population.

The 10 most populated countries are numbered.

OK, name them … in order.

Should be easy for well-educated, news-following, world travelers … right?

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Need a hint ?

The bubbles are color-coded based on region:

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Ready to check your answer?

Read the rest of this entry »

Evidence? Who needs evidence?

September 5, 2017

Comey intended to let Clinton walk before interviewing her or 16 other key witnesses

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With all of the attention directed at Charlottesville and Hurricane Harvey, you might have missed this one.

According to the Washington Post and multiple other MSM sources …

The Office of the Special Prosecutor (Mueller) turned over to the Senate Judiciary Committee (Grassley) transcripts of interviews with a couple of Comey’s key lieutenants: James Rybicki, Comey’s chief of staff, and Trisha Anderson, the bureau’s principal deputy general counsel for national security and cyberlaw.

The pair gave corroborating testimony that Comey was planning to exonerate Clinton long before the FBI had completed its investigation.

Specifically, three or four months before Comey’s infamous July 2016 press conference, he drafted and circulated an outline of what he eventually said.

That’s before the FBI interviewed Clinton (a session that Comey didn’t even bother to attend) or 16 other key witnesses – -some of whom were granted immunity for their testimony and allowed to trash their own electronic devices without the FBI taking a peek at them.

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There are several curious aspects to this revelation ….

Read the rest of this entry »

Digital amnesia: Is Google dulling your memory?

September 1, 2017

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 »

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

August 31, 2017

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

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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 »

Please stop coughing on the back of my neck.

August 30, 2017

News flash: The way that airlines board planes spreads diseases.

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This spring, on a long flight from Cabo to DC, I had a prime aisle seat in the 2nd last row of the plane.

There was a guy in the last row who coughed a few times before take-off.

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Once in the air, it was 5 solid hours of coughing, wheezing and sneezing. Some of the sneezes literally landed on the back of my neck..

I thought my relatively dependable immune system would protect me.

Not so, lucky.

For more than 2 weeks, I had one of my worst colds in decades.

I was hacked at the guy for flying sick.

And, I wondered if the airlines could do more to protect passengers (like me) from disease-spreaders.

Well, a research team at Arizona State has partially answered that question to the affirmative.

Read the rest of this entry »

Why is the Navy suddenly accident prone?

August 29, 2017

Maybe Romney was right about more than Russia.

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A friend and I were chatting about the rash of naval accidents – 3 collisions and a ‘ran aground’.

How can that happen?

Conspiracy theorists wonder if the collisions were intentional acts of terror (remember the USS Cole bombing?) … or the result of computer hacking (military computer systems haven’t been immune from).

So far there hasn’t been any evidence of either terrorism or cyber-attacks.

Regarding the latter, there are back-up systems.

You know, sailors eyes – watching out for ships in the vicinity.

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So, what the heck is going on?

Read the rest of this entry »

Maybe Romney was right about more than Russia.

August 28, 2017

He warned about military readiness, and Obama mocked him.

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Remember the 2012 Presidential debates?

Former President Obama mocked Romney for highlighting Russia as a major geo-political risk.

Governor, the 1980’s are calling.

They want their foreign policy back.

The Cold War is over!

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click to view

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And, when Romney observed that our military strength had been depleted, especially with hot spots developing around the globe, Obama took him to the hoop again.

Romney said; “’Our Navy is smaller now than at any time since 1917.’

Obama quipped::

Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed.

We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them.

We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.

And so the question is not a game of Battleship, where we’re counting ships.

The mainstream press and other Obama supporters took the opportunity to portray Romney as old-fashioned and clueless about modern warfare.

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Memo to former President Obama:

FYI:  bayonets are still standard issue for marines … and all branches train recruits on hand-to-hand combat and knife wielding – a close cousin of bayonets – is a part of the training.

And, while horses aren’t a primary means of troop transport, special forces are sometimes forced to use horses to reach some of the tough terrain parts of Afghanistan.

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The bigger issue is the size of the Navy’s fleet.

Who’s right on that one: Obama or Romney?

We’ll address that in our next post.

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click to view Romney’s remarks and Obama’s mocking rebuke

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#HomaFiles

Follow on Twitter @KenHoma            >> Latest Posts

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Blame it on a Macedonian “content farm” … say, what?

August 25, 2017

Hillary is dishing why  she lost … except the obvious.

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She’s on a pre-release tour laying the groundwork for 2 books that come out this fall.

Earlier this summer, she  perched on a faux-throne at CodeCon and the Javits Center …spilling the beans on why she lost. 

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This week she released some self-narrated excerpts from the audio version of the first book “What Happened?”

Of course, there are the usual villains: Comey, the Russians, WikiLeaks, deplorables, etc.

But, she’s also starting to turn on her support base: the DNC (bad data, no money, no ground game), mainstream media (for disclosing that she had classified docs on her server), women (both suburban and rural, urbans were ok), and low-information voters (her base !).

My personal favorite: “content farms in Macedonia” … apparently there’s an army of tech savvy social media writers based in Macedonia who turned their cannons on her.

Really?

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Here’s a current list of culprits and ill-wishers …

Read the rest of this entry »

You’re not paying attention !

August 24, 2017

Busting students using facial recognition software.

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I always walk around the classroom when I teach.

Couple of reasons: it  burns off some nervous energy and it lets me peek at students’ computer screens.

The latter is the the acid test of attentiveness.

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If I see one or two students checking email or sports scores, I figure it’s their problem and they move to the front of the queue for cold call questions.

If I see a lot of students “digitally distracted”, I figure that it’s my problem and I’ve got to adjust … e.g. shift out of lecture mode and into discussion mode.

That’s pretty straightforward in the classroom.

But, how to know if students are paying attention when they’re being beamed material online?

Read the rest of this entry »

What makes a good teacher?

August 23, 2017

Short answer: It’s anybody’s guess, until you see them in action.

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Interesting article in the Journal of Economic Perspectives

A couple of economic researchers chased after a Holy Grail: “Searching for Effective Teachers”.

They reviewed a stack of studies, conducted a few new ones and drew conclusions about teacher recruitment in public schools.

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Some of their conclusions are conventional, and some may surprise you …

Read the rest of this entry »

Test your nuke-knowledge …

August 22, 2017

Which countries currently have nuclear weapons?

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Thanks to North Korea, nuclear weapons have been in the news a lot lately.

After President Trump’s Afghan speech last night, many pundits observed that calling out Pakistan and India was a bit risky since both were nuclear powers.

Be honest: Did you know that?

My bet:  most Americans have no idea which countries do and do not have nuclear weapons now.

For example, what about France, Germany, Israel, Japan and the UK?

Yes or no?

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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 »

America’s political polarization in 3 charts …

August 21, 2017

Interesting analysis from NBC’s Chuck Todd.

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It’s no secret that American politics has become increasingly – and maybe, irreversibly – polarized.

As Meet the Press host Chuck Todd puts it:

Polarization is no longer just polluting the system — it’s paralyzing it.

The deepening divide between the right and the left has largely hollowed out the center of American politics.

Gone are the politicians who once occupied the large “middle” and the voters who once gravitated to them.

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The Pew Research Center has tracked party identity and ideology for decades.

One way they do it is by scoring the Republicans and Democrats on a 10-item scale of political values.

Here’s where we stand today:

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What the chart means …

Democrats cluster to the left, Republicans cluster to the right.

There is less than 10% in each party leaning ideologically to the left (or right) of the other party’s median.

That’s where we are today.

How did we get here?

Read the rest of this entry »

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

August 21, 2017

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

=========

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 »

The two most dangerous words in the English language today …

August 18, 2017

When it comes to human behavior, “studies show” are becoming “the two most dangerous words in the English language today.”

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According to Andy Kessler, writing in the WSJ

Many of the cited studies on human behavior are pure bunk.

For example:

The 270 researchers working under the auspices of the Center for Open Science spent four years trying to reproduce 100 leading psychology experiments.

They successfully replicated only 39 of the 100 psychology experiments.

A survey of 1,576 scientists published in Nature reported that “more than 70% of researchers have tried and failed to reproduce another scientist’s experiments … and more than half are unable to reproduce their own experiments.”

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What’s going on?

Read the rest of this entry »

It takes more than a swig of ‘tussin …

August 17, 2017

There was a comedian on America’s Got Talent this week that reminded me of Chris Rock.

Chris Rock is a very funny guy.

His routine on the many uses of Robitussin (‘tussin, for short) is a comedy classic.

The ‘tussin skit sets the context for the rest of this post.

If you haven’t seen it – or want a refresher — click to view it now.

 

 

I always assumed that Rock was a naturally funny guy who just stoked up and unleashed a stream of top-of-mind consciousness on stage.

I was surprised to learn that Rock takes his craft very seriously and toils long and hard to test and fine-tune his material.

Here’s a glimpse at his recipe for success …

Read the rest of this entry »

NIST’s new password security rules beg a question …..

August 16, 2017

How long does it take to hack a 16-character password?

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Last week, NIST ((the National Institute of Standards and Technology) issued new guidelines for password security.

After a review, NIST concluded that its former rules — passwords to include upper and lower case letters, numbers, special characters — made logins more complicated but didn’t materially improve online security.

Now, NIST is recommending using long, easy-to-remember phrases instead of relatively short strings of mixed letters, numbers and characters.

The rationale: the longer the string, the harder it is to crack.

For example some researchers concluded that it would only take 3 days to crack a password like “Tr0ub4dor&3” —  but over  550 years to crack the password “CorrectHorseBatteryStaple”

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Oh really?

The story reminded me of a prior HomaFiles post that reported on a hacking test.

Hackers were given 1 hour to crack more than 16,000 cryptographically hashed passwords.

Her are the (frightening) results …

 

Read the rest of this entry »

Does anybody remember blockbuster?

August 15, 2017

Are movie theaters heading for the same junk heap?

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According to the WSJ

Movie theaters are reeling from a very disappointing summer season.

The summer 2017 season has been defined by big-budget movies that failed to live up to their massive marketing campaigns.

A steady stream of lackluster major releases …  has depressed moviegoing in the U.S. and Canada, where admissions are down about 5% so far this year. Revenues are down 2.9%, with slightly higher ticket prices making up for some of the attendance drop.

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Theater chain execs attribute the decline to the lackluster movie releases.

But, investors are starting to wonder if the industry is being fundamentally disrupted …

Read the rest of this entry »

Who’s paying for the Medicaid expansion?

August 14, 2017

It’s a microcosm of a messy system.

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Let’s pit the question in context with a budget recap from the WSJ

As ObamaCare came on stream in 2014, spending on Medicaid in exploded.

Annual federal Medicaid outlays rose from $265 billion in 2013 to an estimated $378 billion this year, and they are expected to keep climbing to $439 billion on current trend by 2020.

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But, the projections above are premised “on the current trend.”

The CBO underestimated the “power of free” and enrollments continue to soar way past initial projections.

Further, the Medicaid blowout is likely to accelerate, as states that have so far refused the federal freebie accept that the expansion is here to stay and sign on.

So, who picks up the bill?

Read the rest of this entry »

Teachers with conservative views don’t make the cut.

August 11, 2017

Topic came up in recent chats, prompting this HomaFiles flashback…

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GREAT article in the WSJ from MSB’s 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.

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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 »

If you’re stressed out by your grade, just change it … say, what?

August 10, 2017

Here’s one from the “great moments in higher education” file.

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According to Inside Higher Education

Rick Watson — a business professor at the University of Georgia’s Terry School of Business — included a “stress-reduction policy” in his course syllabus. syllabus

Under the policy, students could change their grades if they felt “unduly stressed” by the one they received, and leave group work at any time, without any explanation, if they felt stressed by the situation.

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Here is the complete stress-reduction policy ….

Read the rest of this entry »

GE’s Immelt on leadership …

August 9, 2017

On his last day as GE’s CEO, Jeff Immelt sent a message to all GE employees.

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Here’s my key points extract from Immelt’s remarks

Learning is a part of the DNA for all good leaders.

At GE, I never stopped learning.

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Here are some of the lessons Immelt said that he learned:

Read the rest of this entry »

How many medical schools are there?

August 8, 2017

… and how many medical degrees are granted each year?

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Let’s start with the last question first…

Currently, U.S. medical schools graduate almost 19,000 students each year.

Most healthcare pundits agree that – while the number has been increasing over recent years – too few are being graduated to forestall an anticipated doctor shortage.

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Note that since 1960, there have been 3 distinct periods: growth from 1960 to 1982, flatline from 1982 and resumed growth from 2006.

Here’s a short history of medical school openings and admissions …

Read the rest of this entry »

Polygraphs won’t catch leakers … say, what?

August 7, 2017

Last week, AG Sessions announced a stepped-up effort to catch and prosecute leakers.

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The ACLU quickly hit the presses, arguing action against leakers was a threat against free speech and freedom of the press.

Say, what?

We’re talking about classified government information, boys.

Then, things heated up when Kelly Ann Conway hinted that suspected leakers might be subjected to polygraph testing.

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Conway’s remarks unleashed a rash of anti-polygraph rants:

  • It won’t work … other Presidents have tried and leaks continued
  • It’s not admissible in court … so the DOJ won’t be able to prosecute.
  • It’s bad HR policy … destroys the employer-employee bond on trust

Here are some things for the critics to consider …

Read the rest of this entry »

How many doctors are women?

August 4, 2017

…. and, how old is the pool of active doctors?

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Even though Congress is punting on healthcare (or maybe because Congress is punting on healthcare), I decided to to get better informed on the topic.

Of course, I like to start with the numbers.

Where better to start, than with the “ 2016 Census of Actively Licensed Physicians in the United States”

Note: Unless noted to the contrary, all data reported below is from this census .

Today, let’s look at physician demographics ….

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An aging pool of doctors

The average age Active Licensed Physicians is just a bit over 50 years old.

Older doctors (over 60 years old) are the biggest age group … and their percentage of the overall mix has been increasing.

Bottom line: the pool of doctors is aging as baby boomer doctors “mature”.

 

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How do the numbers break out by gender?

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CNN: “Speaking English” limits immigration to people from Great Britain & Australia … say, what?

August 3, 2017

Let’s connect a couple of dots today …

In case you missed it, abrasive Trump policy wonk Stephen Miller got into a heated exchange with CNN’s Jim Acosta.

Miller was briefing the press on President Trump’s RAISE Act, which would move critical skills immigrants to the head of the line and require that immigrants learn English before they come to the United States.

Acosta challenged the English language requirement and asked:

“Are we just going to bring in people from Great Britain and Australia?”

Miller’s response:

“I have to honestly say, I am shocked at your statement that you think that only people from Great Britain and Australia would know English”.

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The 2nd dot:

I’m into infographics these days and, earlier this week, a friend sent me a great one.

Initially, I was just intrigued by the infograhic’s structure and style.

Suddenly, its content has taken on a higher relevance.

Below is a the featured component of the infographic — a cool pie chart that proportionately depicts the “world’s most spoken languages”.

English is the modestly sized yellow section in the top left corner.

Point to CNN’s Acosta, right?

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Not so fast, mes amis.

Let’s look at a couple of other parts of the full  infographic ….

Read the rest of this entry »

How many doctors are there in the U.S.?

August 2, 2017

… and how many got their degrees from U.S. schools?

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Even though Congress is punting on healthcare (or maybe because Congress is punting on healthcare), I decided to to get better informed on the topic.

Of course, I like to start with the numbers.

Where better to start, than with the “ 2016 Census of Actively Licensed Physicians in the United States”

Note: Unless noted to the contrary, all data reported below is from this census.

Here are some of my takeaways ….

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There are about 950,000 active licensed physicians (ALPs) in the U.S.

Doing the arithmetic, that works out to about 350 people per doctor … or, reversing the stat, about 295 doctors per 100,000 of population.

The number of doctors per 100,000 of population is relative even across states, with one glaring exception … that might explain our crack Congress is content dragging their heels on real healthcare reform.


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Let’s dig a little deeper into the numbers ….

 

Read the rest of this entry »

President acts Russian … names more than 30 “Czars”

August 1, 2017

Why hasn’t this gotten any attention recently?

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Dems and their media buddies keep hammering Trump for being too cozy with Russia.

The slightest innuendo or chance encounter (think: Trump chats with Putin at formal G20 dinner”) gets blown up into a faux cause celebre that quickly evaporates.

Imagine for a moment if President Trump were to circumvent the Senate’s “advise & consent” rules by appointing people to his administration who play high-level cabinet-like roles … but aren’t subject to Senate approval.

The screaming would be deafening.

And, imagine if Trump were to call the process-circumventing appointees “Czars”.

Russia !  Russia !!!  Russia !!!!

Clear evidence of collusion: Impeach for treason.

 

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Only problem with the story: Trump hasn’t done it, but Obama did … to a gleeful, encouraging press that argued “he had no choice but to do it.”

For a trip down memory lane, here’s a list of Obama’s Czars….

Read the rest of this entry »

Trump threatens to make Congress live by the laws they pass ….

July 31, 2017

Starting with Congressional ObamaCare carve-outs.

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It’s no secret that I get annoyed every time Congress passes legislation that provides that it doesn’t apply to them.

See Should lawmakers (and regulators) have to eat their own cooking?

So, I was delighted when President Trump tweeted over the weekend:

“If a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly … BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon!”

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Here’s the back story …

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Laughs: AGT presents the “Singing Trump”

July 28, 2017

You have to trust me on this one …

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Yeah, I’m still watching America’s Got Talent .

I watch it so that you don’t have to … except for the highlights that I dish to loyal readers.

Here’s a hilarious one for you, whether you’re pro-Trump or anti-Trump …

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The back story:

When the Singing Trump walked on stage for his first audition, the crowd booed loudly … remember, it is an NBC show.

Australian “Mel B.” – former Spice Girl and now an AGT judge – joined the booing and gave him a disqualifying ‘red X’ as soon as he started his act.  Politically motivated?

The other judges passed him on to the next round.

This time, crowd was friendlier and Mel B. said

“I have to eat my words and apologize. You’re just like ‘him’ and you entertained us with the best 2 Backstreet Boys songs ever.”

End the week with a smile (and maybe a laugh).

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click to view

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To fix healthcare, the GOP has to nuke the legislative filibuster …

July 27, 2017

The past couple of weeks of Repeal & Replace has been annoying along several dimensions.

Foremost, all of the chatter has been about health insurance, not healthcare … just fiddling with who is going to get stuck paying … moving nickels around.

Woefully little talk about how to improve healthcare delivery.

That’s not surprising since the Senate’s fillibuster rules require 60 votes to pass any legislative action.

Keep in mind that Obama had 60 Senate votes in 2009 and 2010 … thanks to the DOJ sidelining Ted Stevens and Al Franken pulling a narrow upset in a disputed election.

Today, there are 48 Dems who reliably vote in lemming-like lockstep against anything the GOP proposes.

Even if centrist Dems were to band together with moderate GOPs,  the middle-of-the-roaders wouldn’t have enough votes to get a sensible proposal enacted.  It would be squashed by either the ultra-conservatives or the ultra-liberals.

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So, the GOP-controlled Senate has its hands tied … it has to work through the “reconciliation” process which, by definition, just moves nickels around.

I think its time for McConnell to go nuclear…

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Technology throws educators another curve ball …

July 26, 2017

Now, students can access an inventory of exam answers.

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In a prior post Why Johnny can’t write … we reported that high school teachers are assigning fewer writing assignments … in part, because many students simply Google the topic and plagiarize much of their work.

And, they can do so with a high degree of impunity, knowing that teachers and administrators will look the other way rather than go through the aggravation of prosecuting a case of academic dishonesty.

OK, that’s essays and term papers.

But, tests that students take should be relatively clean, right?

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Not so fast, cheating on tests has always been around, but now it’s going high tech …

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Forever, teachers have provided students will sample test questions and libraried past exams.

Students have passed the word to fellow students about tests – how hard? what topics? what questions?

Now there’s a high tech turbo-charger.

In the old days, students might try to slip a note to a fellow test-taker with answers.

Not a prevalent problem since the process was easily detected with documented evidence – the captured note.

Teachers now report that some students will use their cell phones to take a photo of their answers and instant message them to a classmate across the room.

Hit delete and the electronic evidence is gone.

Try to ban cell phones and hear a chorus of “But, it’s my calculator, I need it.”

Now it’s not just a few renegades in class sharing answers.

The process is escalating thanks to technology.

For example, there’s company called QEDed .”

“QEDed is a mobile app that allows you to share your questions and answers from same name courses such as Econ 101, Calculus 101 with schoolmates and new friends around the world.”

Sounds innocuous enough, right?

Here’s a nightmare scenario for teachers:

In real-time student test takers access a QEDed-like site and search for a similar question.

Ouch.

Of course, a defense mechanism might be having students surrender their electronic devices as they enter the test room.

Yeah, right.

Let me know how that goes …

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Pareto is alive and well … and haunting the U.S. healthcare system.

July 25, 2017

According to the National Health Care Management Association analysis of  2008 healthcare spending:

  • The top 1 percent of the population was responsible for 20.2 percent of spending.
  • The top 5 percent of the population accounted for almost half (47.5 percent) of all health care spending.
  • ABout 60% of the top 5 percent (and top 1 percent) are 55 and older; about 40% is 65 and over
  • The top 10 percent of the population accounted for 63.6 percent of all spending.
  • 15.6 percent of the civilian, non-institutionalized population had no health care spending at all in 2008
  • The half of the population with the lowest spending accounted for only 3.1 percent of all expenditures.

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Wonder why it’s so hard to untangle ObamaCare?

July 24, 2017

Here’s a (scary) chart that puts the program in context.

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Seriously, here’s a graphic of the ObamaCare organization structure and processes …

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Here’s a link to enlarged version and another to a summary that decodes the chart and lists some of the bill’s key provisions.

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Take a quick glance at the flowchart and ask yourself: ”Think this will work?”

The bill’s laundry list special interest provisions caught my eye…

Read the rest of this entry »

In praise of the “child’s mind” …

July 21, 2017

One of my current summer reads is “Presentation Zen” …

Theme of the book is that great slide presentations contain appropriate content arranged in the most efficient, graceful manner without superfluous decoration.

In Zen-speak, the key principles are: Restraint in preparation. Simplicity in design. Naturalness in delivery.

Now, to today’s point …

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Recently, one friend said of another friend : He’s like an “infant-adult”.

Nothing derogatory intended.

Just observing that the guys seemed to derive a “wow” from practically every experience.

That makes life a lot more enjoyable (I think).

And, it’s very Zen-like.

According to the book, Zen teachings often speak of the “beginner’s mind” or “child’s mind.”

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Why Johnny can’t write …

July 20, 2017

Chatting with faculty colleagues, there seems to be a consensus that writing skills among MBA students have been declining.

I’m not talking about flowery prose and precise grammar.

I’m talking about logical argumentation … being able to explain why something is happening and what to do about it.

My hypothesis was that colleges aren’t requiring students to take courses (or demonstrate proficiency) in, say, critical thinking or logic … and that college students today aren’t required to write many papers that hone their thinking and writing skills.

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Testing my hypothesis on a middle school math teacher-friend, I got a rude awakening …

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Remember how we got into this ObamaCare mess?

July 19, 2017

It was DOJ action that changed the course of our nation in 2008 — giving us, for example, ObamaCare.

Flashback to 2008 … you know, the year that Barack Obama was elected.

Well, the DOJ didn’t indict Sen. John McCain for anything … nor did it overtly pave the way for Obama’s election.

But  the DOJ did tilt the legislative scales in a defining way.

Who did they indict?

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The DOJ indicted Alaska’s Ted Stevens, the longest-serving Republican Senator in U.S. history. He was indicted during his 2008 re-election campaign.

What were the charges, what were the implications, and how was the case ultimately resolved?

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If you’re one of the 155 million people on employee-based health insurance plans …

July 18, 2017

Here’s the main reason why YOUR health insurance premiums have gone up.

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All the repeal & replace attention seems to be on the 20 million people who are getting insurance via Extended Medicaid or ObamaCare Exchanges.

Virtually no light is being shined on the vast majority of folks who are covered by employer plans.

Case-in-point: the soaring premiums being paid by employees … hardly the $2,500 reduction that was promised.

Here’s one of the reasons that premiums have gone up not down …

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Most people – probably bordering on all – would agree that people with pre-existing conditions should be able to get health insurance.

I accept that as a non-debatable point.

But, I got curious about the economics of so-called “guaranteed coverage”… i.e. how much does it cost, and who pays for it?

Specifically, for folks covered by employer plans, how much of their increase in health insurance premiums over the past couple of years is attributable to guaranteed coverage?

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Let’s take a whack at the numbers …

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Finally, I can answer my cell without carrying it around the house.

July 17, 2017

Link-2-cell may be America’s best kept secret.

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For years, I’ve wondered why somebody hadn’t invented a way for my charging cell phone to ring in distant points of my home.

I was willing to sprint to the phone to answer it … but I didn’t want to carry it around … and I couldn’t hear the ring tone when I was in rooms across the house.

When I whined to a tech-savvy friend, he told me that I wasn’t thinking boldly enough  … that a technology called Link-2-Cell was already in the market … and it did more than just ring across the house.

 

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Here’s the scoop …

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I finally chucked my landline.

Make that: I kinda chucked my landline … porting from a classic Verizon copper line to an Xfinity VOIP connection.

I know: that’s no big deal … and it’s still old school to maintain any kind of landline.

Stay tuned … here’s where the story gets interesting.

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I also bought a Panasonic Link-2-cell phone system (base station plus 5 handsets on sale at Costco for $85).

It looks like a standard Panasonic cordless phone set-up.

Of course, I can plug my Xfinity VOIP line into the base station … and it works just like an old fashioned landline system

But, it’s much more than that..

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Here’s the cool part:

I can link my cell phone (and my wife’s) to the base station via Bluetooth … just like they connect to our cars’ hands-free systems.

As long as the cells are within Bluetooth range of the base station, any incoming cell phone calls get routed to all 5 of the handsets.

Our ring tones play through the remote handsets (so we know which phone is getting the call)

… and we can simply pick up any of the handsets to answer the call.

When we’re at home, we can just charge our cells in their usual place … and our house phone system magically transforms to a cell-based distributed phone system.

That is quite cool.

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P.S.  A landline isn’t required … the system can be used as just a cell call router.

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