Life: E + R = O

November 25, 2015

OK, I.m a control freak.

There, I said it.

Along the way, somebody passed along a memorable observations:

“You can’t control everything that happens to you, but you can always control the the way you respond to it.”

Fast forward.

I’m an Ohio State football fan. Last weekend, I was watching the Buckeyes play Michigan State..

The announcers said that Urban Meyer – OSU’s head coach —   preaches the E+R=O principle to his players … even has them wear wristbands.


Say, what?

I ran and googled E+R=O

Answer: Event + Response = Outcome


Hmmmm … sounds familiar.

And, there’s more …

Read the rest of this entry »

How much do Congressmen get paid?

November 24, 2015

With the constant political mess in Congress, I started to wonder (again): why do these guys work so hard to get elected?  Is it worth it?

Since Congress is gridlocked  … and, since the President is end-running  Congress on most matters … the fulfillment can’t be “having an impact”.

So, it must be something else.

Money, maybe?

Raises the question: how much dough gets thrown into the pot?



 Here’s the scoop…

Read the rest of this entry »

What’s the most prevalent undergrad major these days?

November 23, 2015

The WaPo published some education statistics extracted from the National Center for Education Statistics.

Note: The source –  ”Digest of Education Statistics” – is a veritable treasure trove of education statistics

One dissected data series was the distribution of undergrad degrees granted.

I was a bit surprised to see that roughly 1 in 5 undergraduate degrees granted are in business.

Note: The gray lines are at the 10% and 20%

Here are a few other points that caught my eye …

Read the rest of this entry »

Women & children, widows & orphans … a week of mumbo jumbo.

November 20, 2015

We’re all used to politicians and government officials saying dumb stuff, but still, this week stands out, doesn’t it?

First, President Obama declares confidently he has ISIS contained.

A few hours later, ISIS radicals kill 129 innocent people in Paris.


Contained where? To the face of the earth?


Then, to show sympathy to the French, he declares the murderers’ rampage to be a “minor setback” in the non-war on terror.

Minor setback?

Tell that to the families of the 129.


When asked about the Paris massacres, Hillary refused to even call the perps “radical Islamic terrorists”, for fear that their feeling might get hurt.

Say, what?

Then she declared that “we’re not at war with Islam, we’re fighting jihadists, not radical Islamic terrorists”.

Memo to Mrs. Clinton from Merriam-Webster:



In other words, a jihadist is a radical Islamic terrorist, you knucklehead.

And, it doesn’t end there.

Read the rest of this entry »

Millennials: Poets or Quants?

November 19, 2015

Not so fast.

According to the Washington Post, ETS (the College Board folks) analyzed the results of a test given by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The test was meant to assess adult skill levels in 3 areas: problem-solving, literacy and “numeracy”..

ETS broke out the numbers for U.S. millennials, defined as people 16 to 34 years old..

The vast majority of American test-takers lacked a high school degree

The bottom line: in problem solving, U.S. millennials second from the bottom … edging out Poland,


* * * * * *

Of course, problem solving is a blend of quant skills (numeracy) and language skills (literacy).

How did our millennials stack up as poets and quants?

Read the rest of this entry »

Clipping the “long tail” … vive la blockbuster.

November 18, 2015

Current & former students:  Remember Dewey the Cat?

Sure, you do … a blockbuster cat book that tried to ride the long tail to riches.

Anita Elberse, the HBS prof who wrote the Dewey case has a new book out called “Blockbusters”.



Here are a few snippets from a WSJ review of the book…

Read the rest of this entry »

Taco Bell: “Don’t say our beef isn’t beef …”

November 17, 2015

A couple of weeks ago we posted a Business Week report titled “Keeping the Mystery Out of China’s Meat”

The essence of the article was that some Chinese retailers were selling donkey meat that was diluted with fox meat. If you don’t understand why that’s a show-stopper, see Tainted donkey meat … say, what?

Fearing that I might inadvertently get stuck with some bad donkey meat, I’ve been alert to mystery meat stories.

Right on cue, here comes Taco Bell.


C’mon, admit it … when you bite into a TB taco don’t you wonder if you’re really eating beef?

Read the rest of this entry »

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

November 16, 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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Amazon and the “power of free” …

November 13, 2015

Yesterday in class, I mentioned some work by Chris Anderson of Wired on the “Power of Free”

Free: How Today’s Smartest Businesses Profit by Giving Something for Nothing

Here’s a real life example of the power of free.


Everybody knows that Amazon’s free shipping program has been a resounding success.

So much so. that the company has announced that it will be moving the minimum qualifying order up from $25 to $35 … inducing shoppers to fill  their carts fuller or switch to the highly profitable Amazon Prime program.

The free shipping program’s success was highly predictable based an an apparently inadvertent “matched market test” that Amazon did.



Here’s the skinny on the Amazon’s inadvertent market test …

Read the rest of this entry »

GOP Debate: 2 zingers worth highlighting …

November 12, 2015

I watched most of Tuesday’s debate and listened to the rest driving home.

Here are the two zingers that I thought were noteworthy.



The first was Ted Cruz on illegal immigration

After ranting about how insulted he was that some folks say he’s anti-immigrant, he quipped:

“When the mainstream media covers illegal immigration they do not see it as an economic issue, but I can tell that for millions of Americans watching this [debate] at home it is a very personal economic issue.

Things would be reported differently if the jobs being threatened by illegal immigration were those that hit a little closer to the pocketbooks of disinterested parties.

I will say, the politics of it would be very, very different if a bunch of lawyers or bankers were crossing the Rio Grande.

Or if a bunch of people with journalism degrees were coming over and driving down the wages in the press.

Then we would see stories about the economic calamity that is befalling our nation.”

Nicely put, Ted

But, my overall favorite was from Rand Paul.

Read the rest of this entry »

Does playing basketball make you taller?

November 11, 2015

Of course not … that’s silly.

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


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 »

What do colleges have in common with Kohl’s?

November 10, 2015

I oft say that anybody who pays sticker price at Kohl’s should look over their shoulder to make sure that Darwin isn’t chasing them.

Maybe the same should be said of parents who pay list price tuition to fund their kiddies through college.

Lots of talk re: how college costs are soaring.

According to the WSJ

Published tuition rates have soared in the last decade, but only a small percentage of families actually pays full freight.

Between grants to needy students and merit scholarships to entice other desirable candidates, schools these days are giving back nearly 50% of gross tuition revenue in the form of aid and awards.

In other words, list prices are going up, but more stuff is being sold at sale prices.




Increasingly, colleges are using pricing methods previously the domain of airlines and discount retailers …

Read the rest of this entry »

Gotcha: This is an unrecognized computer …

November 9, 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.


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 »

Nums: Which professions contribute the most (and least) to society?

November 6, 2015

According to a recent Pew poll, folks perceive that …

Military and teachers contribute the most to society … with doctors, scientists & engineers in the hunt.

Lawyers and business execs contribute the least … with less than 1 in 5 people perceiving that lawyers contribute to society’s well-being.



Here are some of the details that caught my eye …

Read the rest of this entry »

Base Rates: How often do Derby & Preakness winners nail the Triple Crown?

November 5, 2015

Two coinciding events …

In my Strategic Business Analytics course, we’re dealing with “base rates” — the likelihood of something occurring given prior results in relatively similar situations.

And,  a couple of weeks ago, Triple Crown winner American Pharoah won the Breeder’s Cup.

So, I thought it would be a good time to flashback to last May, when American Pharoah was heading into the Belmont as the odds-on favorite to win the Triple Crown … a case study in base rates.

Originally posted May, 2014

On Saturday, American Pharoah will try to win the Belmont — capping off his Derby & Preakness wins to capture the oft-elusive Triple Crown.

Based on Triple Crown history, what are his chances?

The simple – but very deceiving answer is 35%.

31 horses have won both the Kentucky Derby & the Preakness …

11 of them have won the Belmont and the Triple Crown.

35% … about 1 out of 3.

That’s not bad, right?


Let’s slice the numbers a little finer …

Read the rest of this entry »

Bloomberg: There’s a gender gap in MBA pay … and, it’s a big deal!

November 4, 2015

Biennially, Bloomberg (Business Week) ranks MBA schools based, in part, on surveys of employers, current students, and alumni.

This year, they used the alumni sample to assess career progression – how well MBAs are doing (and getting paid) a few years after their b-school graduation.

The general finding: “The data shows that 6 to 8 years after graduation, the typical alum makes $169,000 … triple their pre-MBA compensation.”

That’s pretty good, right?

But, there’s a big divide.

“Within a few years of graduation, women with MBAs earn lower salaries, manage fewer people, and are less pleased with their progress than men with the same degree.”



What the heck is going on?

Read the rest of this entry »

Business Week: 2015 MBA Rankings … new process, new results.

November 3, 2015

Bloomberg (Business Week) changed the way it compiles its MBA rankings “with a sharper focus on what people most hope to get after business school.”


Specifically, BW beefed up its emphasis on alumni feedback to calibrate how they’re doing,  what they’re earning and how happy they’re feeling.

And, BW says “Older elements of our ranking, including a tally of faculty research, have been scrapped because they don’t get at our fundamental question: How well does this business school channel its graduates into good jobs?”

Here is the revised list of metrics for scoring MBA programs.

  • Employer Survey (35 percent of total score):  recruiter feedback on the skills they look for in MBAs, and which programs best equip their students with those skills
  • Alumni Survey (30 percent):  feedback from the classes of 2007, 2008, and 2009 on how their MBAs have affected their careers, their compensation change over time, and their midcareer job satisfaction
  • Student Survey (15 percent):  the class of 2015’s take on academics, career services, campus climate, and more
  • Job Placement Rate (10 percent):  the most recent data on how many MBAs seeking full-time jobs get them within three months of graduation
  • Starting Salary (10 percent):  most recent data on how much MBAs make in their first jobs after graduation, adjusted for industry and regional variation


Here are the 2015 rankings …

Read the rest of this entry »

How badly did the CNBC moderators shoot themselves (and their network) in the foot?

November 2, 2015

My view: the debate debacle was career-limiting for the moderators, a serious blow to CNBC’s brand image and competitive standing, and a financial hit to NBC.

There seems to be a broad consensus across the political spectrum that the CNBC debate was a disaster.

Even a leaked internal CNBC email called it a train wreck.

NBC execs admonished “news” folks at NBS, MSNBC and CNBC not to “pile on”.



Let’s do a quick damage assessment …

Read the rest of this entry »

A bad week for standardized testing … and bad results from standardized tests.

October 30, 2015

This week, for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) exam.

The results weren’t pretty: “Results from national math and reading tests show slipping or stagnant scores for the nation’s schoolkids.”



And, it’s even worse than it sounds.

Let’s cut to the chase …

Read the rest of this entry »

Here’s some good news for Chuck E. Cheese …

October 29, 2015

Let’s make this pizza week …

Chuck E. Cheese has been struggling of late.

Same store sales have been declining over the past couple of years.



What’s ailing the Chuckster … and what will get him healthy again?

Read the rest of this entry »

Oh no, last week it was Oreos, today it’s pizza …

October 28, 2015

Yesterday we posted about a study concluding that Oreos are addicting.

Not to be out-done , a study by University of Michigan researchers — published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine — concludes that pizza is at the top of the most addictive food list.

cheese pizza


So, scientifically speaking, what is it that makes pizza so addictive?

Read the rest of this entry »

More: Is the high cost of childcare coaxing women out of the workforce?

October 27, 2015

In a prior post, we dissected  the declining labor force participation rates in the U.S. …

Splitting the population by gender revealed some interesting differences  in LFPR trends…

Note that from 1965 to about 1999, men (blue line) were steadily leaving the labor force.

But, during that period women (red line) were entering at a faster clip than the men were dropping out … so total LFPR (black line) continued to inch up.

Around 1999, women’s LFPR flattened out … but men continued to leave the workforce … so the total LFPR peaked and started to creep down.

Since 2008, both men and women have been leaving the work force, so the total LFPR has steepened its decline.

But, men are leaving at a slightly faster rate than women.


And, we posted the results of a study indicating that women’s LFPR in the U.S. is low relative to other countries … and declining at a time that it’s increasing in other countries.

Pundits attribute the higher LFPRs in other countries to more flexible work hours and government subsidized childcare.

Let’s look into things a bit deeper … Read the rest of this entry »

Is the high cost of childcare coaxing women out of the workforce?

October 26, 2015

One of the biz show pundits made an off-hand remark that he thought much of the recent decline in labor force participation rates was at least partially traceable to women dropping out of the workforce because of the high cost of childcare.

Plausible explanation that piqued my trust but verify interest, so I did a little digging.

Let’s start with the big picture : The total labor force participation rate (LFPR).


Some takeaways ….

Note that the history breaks into roughly 3 distinct eras.

From 1965 (as far back as I looked) until about 1990, the LFPR  increased by about 8 percentage … almost a straight line, trending up.

Then, coincident to the 1990 recession, the LFPR essentially flat-lined with some bouncing around between 66% and 67%.

Since the 2008 financial crisis and the LFPR has dropped around 4 percentage points … not quite half of the 1965 to 1990 gain.


Splitting the chart by gender is where things start to get interesting.

Read the rest of this entry »

Clinton Testimony: Let’s sum it up …

October 23, 2015

Glutton for punishment, I watched a  lot of the Clinton testimony yesterday … or, at least had it on in background when I was working.

For what it’s worth, here are my takeaways ….

In general, Clinton was well-prepared, had plausible cover stories and maintained a disciplined demeanor.

For anybody who watched a couple of hours of the testimony (and wasn’t very informed about the issues), she put on a winning performance.

Attorneys would label her a “good witness”.




But, there were a couple of red flags in the testimony …

Read the rest of this entry »

Are you addicted to, err, cookies?

October 22, 2015

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 »

Dude, so like what’s a “dude” anyway?

October 21, 2015

A while ago, we posted The Dude Factor about two recent virals centered on the word “dude”.

  • ·On The Voice – Italy, rapper Jay-Ax told contestant Sister Kristina: “We’d be a perfect team. You’re the holy water, I’m the Dude”
  • ·On Fox’s Special Report, former Obama NSC point man Tommy Vietor said of the Benghazi murders: “Dude, that was like 2 years ago”

Curiosity got the best of me re: the origins and use of the expression “dude”.

First, directly from the Urban Dictionary:




Here’s a brief history of the term …

Read the rest of this entry »

Would your boss fire you if your project underperformed plan by 50% ?

October 20, 2015

Answer: Apparently not if your boss is President Obama …  and your project was ObamaCare.

In a conference call with reporters last week, HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell said “We believe 10 million is a strong and realistic goal” for 2016 enrollment in ObamaCare Exchanges.  That represents an increase not significantly different from zero.


Let’s put that number in context … and show how performance against plan is even worse than it initially appears.

Read the rest of this entry »

Polar Opposites: I’m OK, but I’m not so sure about you …

October 19, 2015

Since the political  environment is heating up for the Presidential race …

Here’s an interesting infographic from Pew calibrating something that everybody knows …

Democrats are becoming more liberal Republicans are getting more conservative … and the moderate middle-ground between the parties is getting smaller, and smaller and smaller …




About 40% of Democrats think that Republicans are destroying the country … and, about 40% of Republicans think that Democrats are destroying the country.

Here’s the finding that I found most interesting …

Read the rest of this entry »

Walmart: The economic cost of social wage hikes …

October 16, 2015

Earlier this year, CNN reported (and editorialized):

Retail workers have just scored an unprecedented win against a retail giant.

Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, announced that it will raise the wages of approximately 500,000 of its employees by lifting its base wage to $10 by 2016.

To be sure, Walmart’s announcement is an impressive development in the fight for better wages.

It’s a step in the right direction, but not enough.



Let’s fast-forward to this week …

Read the rest of this entry »

Hiring: Don’t trust your gut……

October 15, 2015

According to an HBR article “In Hiring, Algorithms Beat Instinct” …

Studies of applicant evaluations shows that a simple equation outperforms human decisions by at least 25%.

And, the effect holds in any situation with a large number of candidates, regardless of whether the job is on the front line, in middle management, or (yes) inthe C~suite.




Why is that?

Read the rest of this entry »

College: Nobody pays retail anymore …

October 14, 2015

Lots of talk these days re: skyrocketing college tuition prices.

That’s certainly true of list prices, but these prices are becoming more and more like new car sticker prices – maybe even worse.

According to the latest annual studies done by NACUBO (National Association of College and University Business Officers), approximately 89 % of first-time, full-time freshmen at institutions surveyed received institutional grant aid.

English translation: in most cases, “institutional grant aid” is simply a discount from the tuition’s list price.

And, the discounts aren’t trivial amounts … they are approaching 50%.

Think, half-off sales at Kohl’s



So, who is paying retail any more?

Read the rest of this entry »

Quick Test: The “majority illusion” …

October 13, 2015

Adapted from the Washington Post WonkBlog:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the rest of this entry »

Alert: Mickey is reaching for your wallet …

October 12, 2015

I’m conflicted on this one.

On one hand, I teach pricing strategy in some of my courses.

The explicit strategic goal: increase revenue and profits with aggressive pricing tactics.

On the other hand, I always feel sorry for “average” parents who get creamed financially when they take their kids to a ball game or amusement park.




Based on recent announcements, Disney – Mickey’s parent company – is rolling some pricing tactics to fatten Mickey’s wallet and flatten your’s …

Read the rest of this entry »

Georgetown: A bunch of pretty faces (and much more) …

October 9, 2015

No, it’s not your imagination if, when strolling around the Georgetown campus, you find yourself saying to yourself:

“Holy smokes, there are a lot of good looking  students walking around this place.”

It’s certifiably true: – a trendy college selection site – scores Georgetown an A+ for “Most Attractive – Girls & Guys”




But, good looks are just part of the story.

Niche gives Georgetown an overall A+.

Here’s the drill down on the factor scores that underlie Georgetown’s well-deserved overall A+ ….

Read the rest of this entry »

Decision Making: Beware the villains …

October 8, 2015

According to Chip & Dan Heath in Rotman Management article “The 4 Villains of Decision Making” …

“Research in Psychology over the last 40 years has identified a broad set of biases in our thinking that doom our decision making. If we aspire to make better choices, we must learn how these biases work and how to fight them.”


Confused man


According to the Heath Brothers – academics & popular authors – there are 4 decision making villains that have to be confronted

Read the rest of this entry »

Hacked: Identity thieves target Millennials …

October 7, 2015

It has been awhile since we’ve posted about identity theft.

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

According to the Javelin Strategy 2015 Identity Fraud report, thieves stole $16 billion from 12.7 million U.S. consumers in 2014.

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

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


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

Read the rest of this entry »

Obama: Against mumbo jumbo … say, what?

October 6, 2015

During last Friday’s press conference, President Obama criticized opponents to his policies as having “half-baked ideas” and speaking “mumbo jumbo” …  and, he said that Congress should tighten gun control laws because “the polling says the majority of Americans understand we should be changing these laws “ and “Congress should act on behalf of the majority”  Source

Yesterday, we commented on the majority rule part of the teaching moment …. pointing out that “acting on behalf of the majority” didn’t seem to be important for ObamaCare or the Iran Deal.

Perhaps the President has had a change of heart re: the will of the majority.

Or he, himself, may be spewing some mumbo jumbo.



Today, let’s dig a little deeper on the basic premise behind his call for action on stricter gun laws:  a majority of Americans favor such a move.

Read the rest of this entry »

Obama: For majority rule, against mumbo jumbo …

October 5, 2015

Say, what?

During last Friday’s press conference, President Obama criticized opponents to his policies as having “half-baked ideas” and speaking “mumbo jumbo” …  and, he said that Congress should tighten gun control laws because “the polling says the majority of Americans understand we should be changing these laws “ and “Congress should act on behalf of the majority”  Source

Today, we’ll just deal with the last part: acting on behalf of the majority.

First, I was pleased to hear the President come out in favor of majority rule.

A couple of notable examples suggest that it’s a change of heart.

Let’s start with his Iran Deal.

What does the polling say?


According to a Quinnipiac University poll ….

American voters oppose  57% to 28%,  the nuclear pact negotiated with Iran …. 58% say the nuclear pact will make the world less safe.”


Looks like a majority to me.  A sizable majority.

But, full steam ahead…

Or, how about my predictable, favorite example ….

Read the rest of this entry »

Dear Sir or Madam: I’m the perfect candidate for the job … oh no, you’re not.

October 2, 2015

US News & World Report says to keep these 10 catch phrases off your cover letter:

1. “I meet the requirements for the position.”Explain why you’re an excellent candidate, not just an adequate one.

2. “I’m hard-working and a great communicator.” These are cliches that cause hiring managers’ eyes to glaze over …and don’t convey anything of substance.


3. “I’m a visionary leader.”  Proclaiming this about yourself comes across as, well, weird. Show accomplishments.

4. “You won’t find a candidate better qualified than me.”  This comes off as needlessly cocky hyperbole — and it’s generally inaccurate..

5. “Dear sir or madam.” In most industries, this will come across as an antiquated, stuffy salutation. If you know the hiring manager’s name, use it … if not, simply writing “dear hiring manager” is fine.

Read on for the rest of the top 10 …

Read the rest of this entry »

Flashback: Obama schools Romney that “Russia isn’t a threat”

October 1, 2015

With Russia now propping up the Assad regime, “requesting” that the U.S. pull all troops and planes from Syria, and clearly establishing its sway in in the Middle East, I think a flashback is in order.

Remember the 2012 Presidential debates?

A key moment was when President Obama ridiculed Gov. Romney’s knowledge of foreign affairs.

Given recent events in the Ukraine, the clip is a classic …  try to stay calm when it


Here’s more that’ll make make you scream …

Read the rest of this entry »

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

September 30, 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 …



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 »

School “misbehavior” can be lucrative long-run … say, what?

September 29, 2015

Talk about a potential license to kill …

That was my first thought, but the article reporting a study by a Johns Hopkins prof turned out to be more nuanced than the headline … and, in my opinion, very misleading.



The summary conclusion: some students who misbehave in school learn less (as measured by conventional scoring) but end up earning more over their lifetime.

Here are the details and my take …

Read the rest of this entry »

How much do Congressmen get paid?

September 28, 2015

With the Boehner resignation, I started to wonder (again): why do these guys work so hard to get elected?  Is it worth it?

Since Congress is gridlocked  … and, since the President is end-running  Congress on most matters … the fulfillment can’t be “having an impact”.

So, it must be something else.

Money, maybe?

Raises the question: how much dough gets thrown into the pot?



 Here’s the scoop…

Read the rest of this entry »

Papal Visit: Little Sisters call in Big Papa…

September 25, 2015

Everybody must have their favorite moments from the Pope’s visit.

Here are my top 2 in reverse order:

#2  Obama was late getting to Andrew’s Air Force Base, so the Pope’s plane was put in a holding pattern over North Carolina to blow some time and arrive concurrently with the President.  Source

Pope's flight path

I got a kick out of this one since the men — who were totally in sympatico re: climate change change — didn’t flinch at the notion of burning a couple of hundred gallons of jet fuel.

The symbolism was awesome..


What could possibly beat that ?

Read the rest of this entry »

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

September 24, 2015

Two coinciding events this week: I’m prepping my fall course in business analytics — with some emphasis on decision biases — and, AGT is over (finally) and The Voice’s new season started.

So, it’s time to dust off one of my favorite posts …


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

A couple of interesting dots got connected last week.



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.



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.

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Trumpspeak: It’s all about the way he talks …

September 23, 2015

Great piece in the Washington Post by Barton Swaim author of “The Speechwriter: A Brief Education in Politics.”

His basic conclusion: “The most distinctive about Trump … is the structure of his language.”



Swain says that Trump — nnlike most politicians –doesn’t speak in political rhetoric; he speaks in punchlines – short jabs, not convoluted passages.

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OECD : Over-use of computers is detrimental to education.

September 23, 2015

The Organization for Economic Co-operation Development (OECD) recently issued a report on the impact of technology – think, of computers in the classroom -– on fundamental learning.



The bottom line:

“Students who use computers very frequently at school do much worse [in reading, science and math], even after accounting for social background and student demographics.”

More specifically …

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Fed Watch: What’s the impact of 1/4 of 1% interest rate increase on you (and me)?

September 22, 2015

Last week’s Federal Reserve action (err, make that inaction) caused a stir in the financial markets.

Common view was: ” geez, is the economy so bad that it can’t absorb a measly 25 bps increase in interest rates?”


In yesterday’s post, I put the number in context, illustrating that the economic cost of a measly .25%  just on servicing the national debt is about $45 billion ( .25% times $18 trillion) ….  equivalent to roughly half of the Federal government’s annual cost for ObamaCare.


Today, let’s take a couple of more views of the 1/4 of 1 % …. the impact on household incomes.

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Fed Watch: Is 1/4 of 1 percent a big number or a little number ?

September 21, 2015

Last week’s Federal Reserve action (err, make that inaction) caused a stir in the financial markets.

Common view was: ” geez, is the economy so bad that it can’t absorb a measly 25 bps increase in interest rates?”

Obviously, .25% isn’t enough to sway many corporate investment decisions … most corporate investments are projected to return mucho above the firm’s cost of capital …  not mere quarters of a point.  Reality is that firms have hurdle rates way above their cost of capital, reflecting implicit risk and organizations’ limited implementation capacity.

So, what’s going on with the Fed’s decision?

Some pundits are arguing that the Fed is just trying to prop up the stock market with low rates that force investment into higher risk intruments (i.e. stocks)..

That may be true, but it doesn’t seem to have done the trick last week.



I think that there’s something else going on … something that I haven’t heard from any on-air pundits …

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Are you your worst enemy?

September 18, 2015

Interesting recap article in Business Insider

Basic premise: People fall for predictable psychological traps that can  sabotage their own career success.



Here are 7 of these potentially limiting psychological traps …

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