Air fares: Public weighs in …

May 28, 2015

According to a YouGov.com survey reported by  NBC News  …

Survey says: 4 in 10 Americans  wouldn’t mind being publicly weighed at the airport.

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Source

The results suggest that a once-unthinkable concept of differential fares based on size could become a fact of life for fliers.

Here are some verbatims:

Read the rest of this entry »

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

May 27, 2015

Over the weekend, a  friend got squeezed on a flight from BWI to LAX.

Not “bumped” … “squeezed” … by a plump plus-sizer overflowing the adjacent seat.

My trim, yoga-inclined friend suggested that I reprise my posts about airlines’ pricing … hoping that the airlines would get the message this time around.

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It started awhile back when I posted  Why don’t airlines charge more for these bags?

Specifically, I suggested that airlines charge passengers by weight: a base ticket price for the first 175 pounds and then $75 for each 50 pounds (or portion thereof) over the limit.

I  thought I was on safe ground since a  survey done for the travel website Skyscanner reported that 76% of travelers said airlines should charge overweight passengers more if they didn’t fit in a seat.

But, the idea went over like a lead-butted balloon.

Turns out that, as usual,  we were just a bit ahead of the times.

Later, we reported that Samoa Air became the first airline to start charging by the pound.

For details, see Samoa Air: Pricing by weight is the ‘concept of the future’

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Now, even politically correcct academicians are hopping on the scale.  A Norwegian economist has suggested — in a prestigious academic journal —  a “pay what you weigh” pricing plan that “would bring health, financial and environmental dividends.”

Here’s the skinny on his program …

Read the rest of this entry »

What are your chances of dying from ___ ?

May 26, 2015

OK, here’s a test for you  …

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Rank the the following by the odds that somebody who is in the group or who is exposed to the risk is likely to die.

Make #1 the highest risk of dying in the next year; make #7 the lowest risk circumstance

  • For women giving birth
  • For anyone thirty-five to forty-four years old
  • From asbestos in schools
  • For anyone for any reason
  • From lightning
  • For police on the job
  • From airplane crashes

And the answer is …

Read the rest of this entry »

Cellphones: “Biggest threat to your cybersecurity”

May 22, 2015

We’re not talking NSA tracking, we’re talking ordinary old cyber-criminals intercepting messages, seizing account numbers and passwords, and taking remote control of cell phones.

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According to Knowledge @ Wharton

Nowadays, more Americans are expected to access the Internet through a mobile device than a PC.

And,  45% of surveyed users do not see cybersecurity on their mobile devices as a threat in the same way as they see it on their computers.

The 55% couldn’t be more wrong.

Here’s why …

Read the rest of this entry »

Shocker: Murder rate spikes up in Baltimore.

May 21, 2015

As Gomer Pyle would say: “Surprise, surprise, surprise”.

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The Baltimore Sun reports that Baltimore has logged 96 homicides so far this year … a 30% increase over last year.

To put that number in perspective:

Last year, Baltimore’s murder rate was 5th in the country … a rate higher than Chicago’s; trailing only Detroit, New Orleans, Newark and St. Louis.

During the same period, New York City logged 54 murders.

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Here’s a rhetorical question: What’s behind the surge?

Read the rest of this entry »

WP: Conservatives give better commencement speeches …

May 20, 2015

According to the Washington Post: Conservatives give better commencement addresses than liberals.

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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 »

Hack Alert: That Grande Latte may cost you even more than you thought …

May 19, 2015

Hackers have figured out that anybody who is willing to shell out 5 bucks for a cup of coffee have money to burn.

So, shouldn’t be a big surprise that hackers are going right after Starbucks frequenters.

 

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Here’s the scoop on the hack  …

Read the rest of this entry »

MH370: Remember my favorite conspiracy theories?

May 18, 2015

At least one of them —  which I tagged “hack & Done” — probably doesn’t sound as far-fetched today as they did a year ago. (The original post is reprised below)

Why?

Because sources have reported that:

Hacker controls plane

Here’s the scoop …

Read the rest of this entry »

Amazing infographic: Life inside Baltimore’s jails …

May 15, 2015

Since Baltimore has been in the news, here’s a flashback from the you can’t make this stuff up file …

There’s a notorious gang – the Black Guerrilla Family (BGF) —  that is, one could say, well represented in the Baltimore prison population.

Well, court documents have been filed in a massive racketeering case accusing 13 female corrections officers of colluding with the BGF — seven male inmates and several outside gang members.

Colluding may be a gross understatement.

Corrections officers allegedly smuggled  contraband such as cellphones, drugs, and weapons to BGFers, and turned a blind eye on the BGF leaders running the outside gang from prison.

You know, garden variety collusion between guards and prisoners.

But, it turns out that several of the guards are also accused of being literally “in bed” with the BGF inmates.

Four of the officers became pregnant with prison gang leader Tavon White’s baby.

One of them got pregnant twice.

Say, what?

The web of relationships got sufficiently complicated that the Baltimore Sun developed an extraordinary infographic.

Don’t squint, below I’ll walk you through it and give you the link.

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OK, here’s a key to the info graphic …

Read the rest of this entry »

NFL schemes to take some ‘foot’ out of football … say what?

May 14, 2015

Back in the very old days, the Cleveland Browns had a placekicker named Lou “The Toe” Groza.

He didn’t kick soccer-style.  He  was an overweight “toe kicker” who played tackle when he wasn’t kicking.

Despite all of that, he earned another nickname: “Mr. Automatic” by rarely missing an extra point.

You see, kicking an extra point wasn’t a gimme in those days.

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These days, every NFL kicker is Mr. Automatic.

In 2014, NFL kickers converted 99.3% of all extra point attempts.

NFL owners are looking to change that … to put some excitement back into the extra point.

Read the rest of this entry »

Question: Why the NFL rule that allows teams to BYOB?

May 13, 2015

Of course, in this case, BYOB means Bring Your Own Balls

Yesterday, I posed the question: Why didn’t the NFL take the deflategate opportunity to ditch its wacky rule that allows each team to bring & use it’s own balls.

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My argument, simply stated: The rule is nuts.

MLB pitchers don’t bring their own balls.

NBA shooters don’t call for their favorite balls when they step to the line.

The NFL rule is what nuns call an occasion to sin.

Put mere mortals in those situations, and guess what they’re gonna do.

You got it: SIN.

So, eliminate the temptation, right?

I got curious and searched for some background on the BYOB rule …

Read the rest of this entry »

Brady: “Maybe those guys gotta study the rule book and figure it out”

May 12, 2015

In the words of Yahoo Sports:

 

The NFL took deflate-gate very seriously, hammering the New England Patriots with unheard of punishment in the matter of deflated footballs.

The league announced Monday that quarterback Tom Brady was suspended four games, the team was fined $1 million and will lose its 2016 first-round draft pick and a fourth-round pick in 2017.

That’s a huge punishment considering there was no evidence Brady was directly involved and the Patriots’ ownership and coach Bill Belichick weren’t involved.

Say, what?

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Here’s why I think the punishment fits the crime (or, is maybe a tad on the light side) …

Read the rest of this entry »

What do companies look for in new hires?

May 11, 2015

Her are the top %, according to the National Center for Education Studies

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Since my courses center on problem solving, I’m glad to see that it tops the list.

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Follow on Twitter @KenHoma            >> Latest Posts

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More educated women having babies, but …

May 8, 2015

Pew just published an interesting study on birth rates and family size.

Here’s one of Pew’s spotlight charts.

The data seems to support the headline …

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But, there’s a more compelling takeaway …

Read the rest of this entry »

Fix: How do you feel about public boarding schools?

May 7, 2015

I’ve long opined that disadvantaged kids from tough homes and neighborhoods would benefit from boarding schools that dislocate them from their challenging environments and provide them with a constructive, comprehensive learning and social experience.

What I didn’t know was that this education model is already in place in a few locales and is slowly being spread to others.

Click to view photo essay
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One of the pioneering public boarding schools is DC’s SEED Foundation Charter School …

Read the rest of this entry »

Baltimore Fix: How about more Jesuit high schools?

May 6, 2015

Yesterday, we looked at the numbers re: Baltimore City school’s spending …

Summary: Over $16,000 per student …  top 4 (or higher, depending on the study) in the country … with a  student to teacher ratio of about 15 to 1 … and a student to “adult” ratio of about 8 to 1.

Not bad.

While researching the post, I stumbled on an article in Business Insider:

How a Baltimore school that only accepts poor students has a 100% college acceptance rate.

The article profiles Baltimore’s Cristo Rey High School  which has achieved a 100% college acceptance rate among graduates despite taking only students from disadvantaged neighborhoods

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How does Cristo Rey do it?

Read the rest of this entry »

Baltimore Fix: More spending on education … say, what?

May 5, 2015

A largely unchallenged claim in the past week is that the way to fix many of Baltimore’s inner city problems is to spend more on education.

Makes sense until you look at the numbers.

Based on 2010 Census numbers, Baltimore City spent almost $16, 000 per student … more recent analyses peg the number even higher.

That spending level ranks Baltimore City 4th among school districts with at least 40,000 students …  more recent data reflecting an infusion of additional Fed funds pushes the ranking up to #2, trailing only NYC.

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Let’s put those numbers into context …

Read the rest of this entry »

Big Question Will the Apple Watch blend?

May 4, 2015

All the hoopla surrounding the Apple Watch launch reminded me of an ad campaign run by a company called  Blendtec.

According to George Parker of  AdScam ….

At a conference a couple of years ago. GE and their agency, BBDO, made a presentation of their new “Imagination” campaign.

After showing some nice TV spots and explaining that they’d spent $300 million on media over the last year, they proudly declared that brand awareness had increased substantially.

This generated polite applause.

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Next up was the Marketing Director of blender manufacturer Blendtec who proceeded to blend:

  • a brick
  • some ball bearings
  • an 8 ft garden rake
  • an iPhone

He then put up a single slide showing that every time they posted a self-produced, ten dollar video on YouTube in their long-running “Will It Blend” campaign (which to-date has had more than 220 million views,) sales went up by an accurately measurable percentage.

Understandably, the crowd went nuts.  

The point being, GE spent hundreds of millions and couldn’t quantify with any certainty what they had achieved for all that money.

Blendtec spent pennies and achieved consistently significant and measurable results.

Below is the links to the Blendtec iPhone videos…  worth watching.

Read the rest of this entry »

Baltimore chaos reminded me of Michelle’s commencement speech …

May 1, 2015

A couple of year’s ago, I wrote a post that probably stunned loyal readers.

The post praised Obama — Michelle that is.

She gave the kick ass speech that I was hoping the Obamas would deliver everywhere, all the time.

Ironically, the speech was given at Bowie State University … a few miles from Baltimore.

Unfortunately, Mrs. O decided a war on Twinlies was more important than cultural leadership.

Still the speech is worth a listen.

Here’s a flashback…

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I haven’t been a big Michelle Obama fan.

Never recovered from her “first time I’m proud to be an American” snit … and totally turned off by her hypocritical  lifestyle of the rich & famous routine.

Biggest deal: I’ve oft said that she and her husband have squandered an opportunity to talk frankly to black kids in a way that only they can.

They’ve got the cred to push family values, individual responsibility and the importance of education.

Except for a few lines in a few speeches, they’ve come up prtetty empty.

That is, until last week when the First Lady gave a great commencement address at Bowie State University.

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She  encouraged the graduates  to promote the importance of education in the black community.

According to the Washington Post, she layered a tough-love cultural commentary with statistics …  one in three African American students drop out of high school  … only one in five African Americans between the ages of 25 and 29 have a college degree.

Here are a couple of the high impact sound bites from her speech:

Read the rest of this entry »

How much does IQ influence business success?

April 30, 2015

According to the latest research, IQ accounts for what portion of career success?

a. 50 to 60 percent

b. 35 to 45 percent

c. 23 to 29 percent

d. 15 to 20 percent

 

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The answer …

Read the rest of this entry »

$$$: How much do MBA interns get paid?

April 29, 2015

According to Business Week, top school MBAs haul in an average of about $1,750 per week for their summer internships.

At HBS, the median is $7,000 per month … that’s about $1,650 per week … which annualizes to about $90k.

Of course, there’s wide variation based on the school and the industry.

Note that Kellogg –- a general management and marketing school – tops the list

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Follow on Twitter @KenHoma            >> Latest Posts

Nums: A world of battling algorithms

April 28, 2015

In my Strategic Business Analytics course, we were covering decision rules .. specifically, the current day importance of decision-making algorithms.

Reminded me to flashback a cool 15 minute TED Talk.

Tech entrepreneur Kevin Slavin tells how algorithms have reached across industries and into every day life.

A couple of lines caught my attention:

  • There are more than 2,000 physicists working on Wall Street developing operational algorithms
  • Massive scale speed trading is dependent on millisecond read & respond rates …
  • So, firms are physically literally locating right next to internet routing hubs to cut transmission times
  • And, of course, there isn’t time for human intervention and control
  • “We may be building whole worlds we don’t really understand, and can’t control.”

Obviously, Slavin comes down on the side of the quants.

Worth listening to this pitch … a very engaging geek who may be onto something big.

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What do universities have in common with record labels?

April 27, 2015

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

Let’s start with the recorded music industry.

It’s no surprise that

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

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

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

QZ Chart 1

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

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

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

Being a recording artist these days is a hard gig …

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

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

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

Ouch.

Now, what’s the parallel to higher education?

Read the rest of this entry »

Gotcha: Using your own genes against you …

April 24, 2015

 NPR says …

“Getting the results of a genetic test can be a bit like opening Pandora’s box … you might learn that you’re likely to develop an incurable disease later on in life.”

There’s a federal law that’s supposed to protect people from having their own genes used against them, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, or GINA.

Under GINA, it’s illegal for health insurers to raise rates or to deny coverage because of someone’s genetic code.

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But the law has a loophole: It only applies to health insurance.

Some insurance can be denied or priced high because of a person’s DNA.

Here’s an example … and a prediction.

Read the rest of this entry »

Do better looking students get better grades?

April 23, 2015

You bet they do …

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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 »

Booming business: Debt collections …

April 22, 2015

According to an Urban Institute study, more than 35 percent of Americans have debts and unpaid bills that have been handed over to collection agencies.

The unpaid bills include credit cards, hospital bills, mortgages, auto loans, student loans, gym membership fees or cellphone contracts.

 

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Here are some interesting factoids …

Read the rest of this entry »

“The single biggest problem in business …”

April 21, 2015

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

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

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

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

Behavioral psychologists call the he dynamic “confirmation bias”.

 

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

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

Read the rest of this entry »

Math Trix: The case of the gifted stock-picker…

April 20, 2015

I’ve been reading a book called How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking by Jordan Ellenberg

The author recounts a classic stock advisor scam that goes like this …

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One day, you receive an unsolicited newsletter from an investment advisor, containing a tip that a certain stock is due for a big rise.

A week passes, and just as the Investment advisor predicted, the stock goes up.

The next week, you get a new edition of the newsletter, and this time, the tip is about a stock whose price the adviser thinks is going to fall.

And indeed, the stock craters.

That’s good, but it gets even better …

Read the rest of this entry »

Time-saving tech tips …

April 17, 2015

Cool TED pitch by a dude named David Pogue … demonstrating 10 handy tech tips.

For example, how to skip by cell phone voicemail greetings (Hi.  This Ken.  I’m not able … blah, blah) and get straight to leaving a message.

For Verizon, just press the star sign (*) … for AT&T, press the # sign.

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What to do when a web page’s text is too small to read?

Read the rest of this entry »

Your tax dollars at work …

April 16, 2015

According to WashPost

Government records show that tens of thousands of federal workers are being kept on paid leave for at least a month — and often for longer stretches that can reach a year or more — while they wait to be punished for (or cleared of ) misbehavior or are disputing a demotion.

While disputing a demotion?

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Here are some details that’ll make you cringe …

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Nums: Who pays taxes? Who benefits?

April 15, 2015

Since it’s tax day, I thought I’d flashback to a drill down I did on the tax system —  who pays in, where does it go and who benefits …

In a prior post, we drilled down on taxes … or, as my Dem friends would say government “revenues”.

We posted that in 2012 Americans paid a tad over $5 trillion in taxes to the Feds, States and Local Governments.

Drilling down, the $5 trillion is split roughly 50%-30%-20% to the Feds, States and Locals, respectively. Note that the Federal portion is just under $2.5 trillion.

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If these are “revenues” there must be matching services provided, right?

I found a study by the non-partisan Tax Foundation that analyzes taxes paid and benefits received.

The study is old – using 2004 data – but, in my opinion is a good starting point to calibrate the answer.

Read the rest of this entry »

What privacy? Apparently teens don’t care …

April 14, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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Here are the Pew results …

Read the rest of this entry »

Biases: The “halo effect” … rock on, sister!

April 12, 2015

We’ve covering the Halo Effect in class this week, so it’s time to dust off one of my favorite posts …

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I’ll explain the picture later, but first, the back story.

A couple of interesting dots got connected last week.

 

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First, I started watching The Voice.

I liked the talent and the bantering among the coaches, but wondered why they used the turning chairs gimmick.  You know, judges can’t see the the performers, they can just hear them.

Became apparent when Usher turned his chair and was surprised to see that the high-pitched soul singer was a big white guy.

Hmmm.

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Second, for the course I’m currently teaching, I’ve been reading a book called The Art of Thinking Clearly — a series of short essays on cognitive biases – those sneaky psychological effects that impair our decision-making.

Read the rest of this entry »

Great moments in Presidential sports …

April 10, 2015

This was a big week: Easter, NCAA Finals, and baseball’s opening day ….

Let’s play off those events and flashback for some yucks.

First, W and O throwing out opening day pitches.

One of them throws a strike, one of them doesn’t.

Guess …

click to view
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OK, I know what you’re thinking: “He’s just picking on Obama.  Everybody knows that hoops is his game”.

Hmmm.

Remember the Easter eggs festivities at the Whitehouse in 2013?

Read the rest of this entry »

Taxes: The only thing to love about the AMT …

April 9, 2015

Just finished this year’s taxes.

One interesting twist ….

In 2012, like a lot of folks, I sold a bunch of stocks to beat Obama’s hike in the capital gains tax …  from 15% to 23.8% (including the 3.8% ObamaCare surcharge)

As a result, my state tax bill paid in 2013 was higher than usual … Virginia’s share of the capital gains.

At first I was delighted this year.

Why?

Because, on my Federal return,  I could deduct the higher-than-normal taxes that I paid to Virginia.

Unfortunately, the thrill was short-lived.

I’d forgotten about the AMT … you know, the Alternative Minimum Tax.

I’d forgotten, but TurboTax hadn’t.

Bottom line: My VA tax deduction got wiped away by the AMT calculation.

Like many folks, I had internalized that state income taxes are annoying, but no big deal since they get written off at the Federal level.

Not so if you’re among the millions of Americans who get snared in the AMT trap.

Oh, well.

At least there is one small delight I get from the AMT …

Read the rest of this entry »

Nums: More folks saying: “Why work?”

April 8, 2015

It’s not new news that the Labor Force Participation Rate has been falling .

What struck me in March’s  employment stats was that the LFPR is still dropping

LFPR - March 2015

Many economists  say it’s simply demographics — it’s old folks retiring.

Partially true, but certainly not the whole story.

Read the rest of this entry »

Nums: 2 charts say a lot about the March employment numbers …

April 7, 2015

Last Friday, the President was spinning the 126,000 jobs gain as a continuation of the longest consecutive period of (meager) monthly jobs gains.

OK, I added the meager part …

And, he touted how he’d added 12 million jobs to the economy since he took office.

Not to nit-pick, but it’s 10 million since he took office … 12 million since the slide bottomed out.

 

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OK, so 2 million more people are working since the worst recession since the depression.

That’s pretty good, right?

Read the rest of this entry »

Nums: Do you see a pattern in the March employment report?

April 6, 2015

Last Friday, the BLS  reported that the U.S. economy added 126,000 jobs.

That’s about  half of the consensus forecast (which was about the prior 12 months average).

 

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Look at the chart and tell me if your see a pattern …

Read the rest of this entry »

Banned substance: Red ink is,well, threatening …

April 3, 2015

I once worked for a CEO who wouldn’t stand for lemon in his water or red ink.

That is, both the red ink on a financial statement and red ink on a document.

Apparently, he was onto something with the latter.

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In the UK, hundreds of schools have banned their teachers from marking in red ink.

Here’s why …

Read the rest of this entry »

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

April 2, 2015

Since, I started preparing my taxes this weekend, I got curious …

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the rest of this entry »

Hacked: File early to beat crooks to your tax refund …

March 31, 2015

A couple of years ago I jumped on the bandwagon and e-filed my first ever tax return.

 

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A couple of weeks later I was an identity theft victim.

Coincidence?

I can’t prove the connection … I also can’t shake the suspicion.

Now, crooks have a new online hack: filing online returns that claim other folks refunds.

I good friend just got burned on this specific new tax hack.

Here’s what’s going on …

Read the rest of this entry »

For POTUS: One of Fortune’s “World’s Greatest Leaders” is a U.S. woman …

March 30, 2015

No, it’s not Hillary Clinton.

Fortune just released it’s list of the World’s Greatest Leaders.

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The highest ranked woman snagged the #6 spot on the list …

Read the rest of this entry »

Does playing basketball make you taller?

March 27, 2015

Of course not … that’s silly.

OK let’s try a variant of the question: Does education make you smarter?

 

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I bet a lot of you would bet the over on that one.

Here’s what the researchers say …

Read the rest of this entry »

Gotcha: This is an unrecognized computer …

March 26, 2015

If you do any banking online, you’ve probably gotten that message at one time or another.

Maybe it was when you got a new computer … or, when you used a friend’s computer to pay a bill.

You probably didn’t think much of it.

You just answered the security questions and paid your bill.

Bet you didn’t stop to wonder: How did Bank of Boise know that this wasn’t my usual computer?

Better yet, ask: How does the bank know when I am on my regular computer?

Well, now that I’ve aroused you curiosity, the answer is ….

Your computer has its own distinctive “device fingerprints” that make it identifiable on the Net as your computer.

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I worry about stuff like this.  So, I’d thought about this one.

And, my thinking was wrong.

Here’s what’s going on …

Read the rest of this entry »

College basketball is hurting … oh,really?

March 25, 2015

Driving into school yesterday, I was listening to a sportstalk show that was chatting about the tough times these days in college basketball.

Have to admit, that I hadn’t noticed.

 

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But, apparently there is a lot of trash-talk going on.

According to RealClear Sports:

“The doomsayers cite a plodding pace, lower scoring (67.1 points per team per game this season, compared with 77.7 in 1972), and seven consecutive years of decreased Division I attendance.”

Here are the fixes that the pundits propose … and my ideas.

Read the rest of this entry »

About those late night emails …

March 24, 2015

A couple of weeks ago, there was a local bruhaha.

One lady sent a snitty email late at night to a club mailing list.

One of the recipients – who had been sipping wine all night – took offense, and shot back a nuclear-rated reply… to the whole list, of course.

A major cat-fight broke out … wasn’t pretty.

.Got me thinking more generally about about late night emails …

 

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And, by coincidence, the Harvard Business Review just published an article on the topic.

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The will to win …

March 23, 2015

Watching March Madness games this weekend, an old quote scrolled across the screen and caught my eye.

It was attributed to legendary – albeit controversial old-school basketball coach Bobby Knight …

 

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Kinda sums things up pretty well these days, doesn’t it?

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

March 20, 2015

Recently, 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

 

 

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Started me wondering:

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

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Uh-oh: Hold the mac & cheese …

March 19, 2015

You probably heard that Kraft is recalling it’s Mac & Cheese.

When I heard the headline, I assumed that it was because somebody finally figured out what the orange stuff was.

Not so, apparently some metal shavings got mixed with the goop …  not exactly the way to add iron to the foodstuff.

The recall gave me a flashback to a post from last year … very much on topic … so I dug it up for a replay.

At the time, consumer groups were a bit concerned about the Mac & Cheese ingredients.

Uh-oh: Consumer mavens dissing Kraft’s dayglow mac & cheese …

Talk about a timely news item.

In class Tuesday, we were talking about food taste & quality.

My teaching point: when the food buyer isn’t the food eater, the buyer may be less sensitive to taste & quality.

My example: millions of mothers serve their little kiddies  mac & cheese that glows in the dark.

A veiled reference to Kraft’s legendary mac & cheese … and, that odd color of orange that happens when those mysterious dry ingredients are stirred into the pasta.

Well, apparently the neon dish also caught the eye of a couple food crusaders who have embarked on a campaign against two of the dyes that Kraft uses to create its trademark color.

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Here’s their rip and Kraft’s response …

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Feds make $125 billion in “improper payments” … whoa, Nellie.

March 18, 2015

In these days of Moneyball and Team Obama’s campaign technology apparatus that could pin down the ice cream flavor that somebody eats, this shouldn’t happen.

But, it does.

The GAO just issued a report saying that the Feds made an estimated $125 billion (that’s billion with a “b”) in so-called “improper payments” in 2014

 

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 Here are some of the ugly details …

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