Odds: I bet you’re a Democrat …

October 18, 2017

… if your parents were Democrats.

And, I bet if your parents were Republicans, then you’re a Republican.

According to Smithsonian.com

“The party affiliation of someone’s parents can predict the child’s political leanings about around 70 percent of the time.”

That’s pretty good, but “new research suggests ideological differences between partisans may reflect distinct neural processes.”


More specifically, researchers say that they can predict who’s right and who’s left of center politically with 82.9 % accuracy.

Here’s the study and its implications …

Read the rest of this entry »

What’s the most common job in the majority of states?

October 17, 2017

Hint #1: 40 years ago, it was “secretary”.

Hint#2: It’s one of the most dangerous jobs in the U.S.


Census data was crunched by NPR analysts.

Don’t squint for the labels … just glance at the states’ color coding and make your guess.




And, the answer is ….

Read the rest of this entry »

How much does “healthcare” really matter?

October 16, 2017

For a long time I’ve railed that politicos and pundits confuse “healthcare” with “health insurance” – trying to fix health insurance (by throwing money at it) … rather than getting to the efficacy and efficiency roots of healthcare delivery.

Here’s another twist to the story.

I stumbled on a report from the Kaiser Foundation: Beyond Health Care: The Role of Social Determinants.

It’s punch line:

“Though health care is essential to health, research demonstrates that it is a relatively weak health determinant.”

More specifically, Kaiser concludes that healthcare has only about a 10% impact on the risk of premature death … dwarfed by genetics (30%) and individual behavior (40%).

Said differently, health behaviors, such as smoking and diet and exercise, are the most important determinants of premature death


And, as the title of the article’s title suggest, there’s a social component (20%) that’s double the impact of healthcare per se …

Read the rest of this entry »

Fun fact: another apparent partisan divide …

October 13, 2017

Yesterday, we posted a Pew survey finding:

“Each party has become more ideologically homogeneous, and more hostile toward the opinions of members of the other party.”

Oh, my.

On a slightly lighter side, the nation is even divided on housing preferences:

“Overall, Americans are equally divided between wanting to live in a community with larger houses farther apart, where schools, shops and restaurants are not nearby (48%), and those who want to live in smaller houses closer together but within walking distance to schools and shops (47%).”


Now, one might expect that housing preferences wouldn’t be a political flashpoint, right?

Read the rest of this entry »

Pew: Even more divided now … moderates need not apply.

October 12, 2017

It’s no great secret that America is increasingly polarized politically.

For a revealing animated infographic, see America’s political polarization in 3 charts …

According to Pew surveys: (1) there was a political divide in the Clinton years, but also a sizeable overlapping middle (2) there was a slight convergence to the middle in the post 9-11 Bush years, and (3) there was a widening divide and shrinking middle during the Obama years.


Fast forward to today.

Read the rest of this entry »

College: Making Freshman year (almost) free …

October 11, 2017

Let more students earn AP credits by putting “boilerplate” courses online and beefing-up certification testing.


A article posted on Real Clear Politics caught my eye.

The author Steven Klinsky, is credentialed as a businessman and education reformer, chairman of Harvard’s Public Education Policy Group and founder of the Modern States Education Alliance (MSEA).

He observes that (1) traditional brick & mortar colleges are increasingly unaffordable, (2) that “the tuition cost for many online courses has been set every bit as high (or sometimes higher!) than for the same course delivered in the physical classroom” and (3) that increasingly popular MOOCs can deliver quality content but no college credits—just “certificates of completion”.

So, as a private citizen and philanthropist, Mr. Klinsky has been trying to “square the circle” with MSEA’s “Freshman Year for Free” program.


How does Klinsky and MSEA plan to do it?

Read the rest of this entry »

What do Americans fear the most?

October 10, 2017

The answer may surprise you …


Chapman University does an annual survey of Americans’ fears

Here’s some quick background ….

The study queries on 11 “Domains of Fear”:



The study deep dives into specific fears within each domain:



OK, make your pick from the above list. 

What do Americans fear the most?

Read the rest of this entry »

Amazon is cornering another market … MBAs.

October 9, 2017

“Flooding the zone” to land the best & brightest.


Now that Amazon has staked out territory the grocery business, it’s time for them to move on to another front.

According to the WSJ: “Another Thing Amazon Is Disrupting: Business-School Recruiting”


Let’s put that in perspective:

In the past year, Amazon has hired some 1,000 newly minted M.B.A.s in the past year

Amazon is now the top MBA recruiter at Carnegie Mellon, Duke and Cal-Berkeley.

It hires the most first-year M.B.A.s at Michigan, MIT, Dartmouth College and Duke.

Last year, Amazon took in more interns from the University of Chicago than either Bain or McKinsey & Co., which were until recently the school’s top hirers of interns.


How do they do it?

Read the rest of this entry »

Score higher on the SATs … GUARANTEED!

October 6, 2017

Just make sure that your parents went to college.


The College Board publishes a “Total Group Profile Report” on college-bound seniors …

One set of numbers caught my eye:

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


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

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

And, the performance differentials are substantial between the groups …

Read the rest of this entry »

Some “interesting” SAT results …

October 5, 2017

The College Board publishes a “Total Group Profile Report” college-bound seniors.

A couple of sets of numbers caught my eye ….

Let’s start with math scores/

Two big takeaways:

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

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



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

Read the rest of this entry »

Are you addicted to, err, cookies?

October 4, 2017

Sounds like a “dog ate homework” excuse, but you may eat too many cookies – not because you’re a fundamentally bad person – but, because you’re addicted to them andmay want to enroll in Cookies Anonymous.

In some ground-breaking research to be present at a Society for Neuroscience conference next month,  a Connecticut College study concluded that Oreos are just as addictive as drugs.



Here’s the skinny on the research findings …

Read the rest of this entry »

Memo to Michelin: Shove your stars …

October 3, 2017

3-star chef wants out of the rankings


According to the NY Times

Sébastien Bras, one of France’s most celebrated chefs, has stunned the French culinary world with an unlikely plea: Take my three Michelin stars away.

Mr. Bras is fed up with the pressure of maintaining those stars. He says he is seeking nothing less than culinary “liberation” and “a new meaning to my life.”

While the stars confer cachet and financial security, Mr. Bras’s audacious move is also reflective of a new generation of chefs, some of whom are eager to escape from the punishing strain of unpredictable rankings and malicious food critics.

“Three stars mean that everything must be perfect, at any time, in every plate. One must be passionate, a genius, but mostly a workaholic, because you have to be working in your restaurant from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day, nonstop.”

There’s also an economic angle …

Read the rest of this entry »

Want a good night’s sleep?

October 2, 2017

Mayo Clinic says Fido can help.


“Most people assume having pets in the bedroom is a disruption,” says Lois Krahn, a sleep medicine specialist at the Center for Sleep Medicine on Mayo Clinic’s Arizona campus.

To test that pivotal assumption, Dr. Krahn and her team conducted a study on The Effect of Dogs on Human Sleep in the Home Sleep Environment.


And, the results may surprise you …

Read the rest of this entry »

Red Dye #40 makes a triumphant return.

September 28, 2017

To put it mildly, the dogs stopped eating the dog food.

As reported in the WSJ

In early 2015 General Mills reformulated iconic Trix cereal to make it all-natural – replacing Red Dye #40, Blue Dye #1 and Yellow Dye #6 with radishes, purple carrots and turmeric.


Besides producing a bland color, the juices and extracts gave the cereal a different taste.

Natural-ingredient haters flooded the company with calls, emails and social-media posts:

“I genuinely feel bad that my kids will never got to experience the old Trix cereal.”

“My kids think the color of the new Trix cereal quite depressing.”

“It’s basically a salad now.”

“My childhood fading away with the colors of Trix cereal.”

“Americans’ love affair with processed foods is enduring, however, despite a decade of finger-wagging from nutritionists, influential celebrities and trendy grocery chains.”

So, General Mills has decided to reintroduce Classic Trix, artificial flavorings and all, and will start selling it on supermarket shelves alongside the more wholesome version in October.

Here’s what other brands are doing …

Read the rest of this entry »

iGens: “What, me read?”

September 27, 2017

In a couple of prior posts, we featured iGen – a recent book by Jean Twenge – a psychology prof specializing in “generational research”.

She says that Millennials  are yesterday’s news.

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

See Disruptive innovation: How the iPhone has shaped a new generation
the self-diagnostic How much of an “iGen” are you? and iGens: What makes them tick?

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

One of the “bads” hits one of my hot buttons: reading habits.

Amazon link


One behavioral trend that Prof Twenge observes is that “iGen’ers also come to college with much less experience (than prior generations) reading books or even long magazine articles.”

Read the rest of this entry »

iGens: What makes them tick?

September 26, 2017

10 defining characteristics driving cultural trends.


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

Last week, we intro’ed  iGen – a recent book by Jean Twenge – a psychology prof specializing in “generational research”.

She says that Millennials  are yesterday’s news.

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

See Disruptive innovation: How the iPhone has shaped a new generation
and the self-diagnostic How much of an “iGen” are you?

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

Amazon link

More specifically, Prof. Twenge identified ten core “I” characteristics that shape iGen’ers …

Read the rest of this entry »

Answer: Are you smarter than a 10th grader?

September 25, 2017

Here’s the ANSWER to to last week’s math challenge


Last week, we touted Chicago’s Noble Network of Charter Schools … specifically, its intensive math curriculum

And, we presented a challenge question (taken from the 10th grade curriculum) …


Noble Charter HS – Math Challenge Question

The rectangle shown below is divided into four green squares, seven gold squares, four orange squares, and one blue rectangle.

If the perimeter of the blue rectangle is 20 cm, what is the perimeter of the larger rectangle?

Explain your reasoning.

         Recommended: click to download and print PDF


Here’s the answer …. and a method for get it.

Read the rest of this entry »

Question: Are you smarter than a 10th grader?

September 22, 2017

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


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.


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.


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.

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.


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”.

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.


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 …


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.




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


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.



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


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.


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.”


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 …


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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.


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.




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.


Interesting piece that I spotted on the DailyMail


Everybody tries to act smart, right?

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



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..


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?


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…


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?



Need a hint ?

The bubbles are color-coded based on region:



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


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.


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.


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”.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


click to view



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.


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.


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.


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



Follow on Twitter @KenHoma            >> Latest Posts


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

August 25, 2017

Hillary is dishing why  she lost … except the obvious.


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. 


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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?


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?



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.


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.


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:



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.


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


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.”


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.”



What’s going on?

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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?


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”

computer hacker

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?


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.


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.


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.



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…


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.



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.


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.



Here is the complete stress-reduction policy ….

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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.


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.


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

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