Trump Bump: 10 pt. swing in CNN poll … leads by 3

July 25, 2016

Latest CNN poll has Trump leading Clinton 48 to 45 …  Trump up 6 from pre-convention … Clinton down 4 … a 10 point swing according the CNN.



Some details …

Read the rest of this entry »

“Comey” : Now a part of speech …

July 25, 2016

He ‘pulled a Comey’ on us”.

Responding to Cruz’s convention speech, star-rising Kentucky State Senator Ralph Alvarado cut to the chase.

OMG … an FBI Director has become a part of speech.



You know, like Xerox is not just a company … it‘s a noun synonymous with “ copy”. … and a verb, as in “go Xerox this”.

What did Alvarado mean?


Basically, Cruz seemed to be laying out a case supportive of Trump, then he took a turn with “vote your conscience”.

Alarado coined it a “Comey”

Now, Comey’s dictionary legacy will be:

(1) Comey, noun … an illogical or counterfactual conclusion drawn from a compelling body of evidence .. e.g. “to pull a Comey”

(2) Comey, adjective …  an illogical or counterfactual conclusion drawn from a compelling body of evidence   … e.g. “that’s Comey logic”

(3) Comey, verb … to draw an illogical or counterfactual conclusion from a compelling body of evidence.


Comey wanted to go down in the history books  as a fair, just, apolitical FBI Director.

Instead, he may have planted his legacy in the Urban Dictionary.



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Another line from Melania’s speech to scrutinize …

July 24, 2016

A couple of common words … plagiarism?

Melania said:

On July 28th, 2006, I was very proud to become a citizen of the United States – the greatest privilege on planet Earth.”




In 2008, Michelle said:

“For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country.”



Both proud of being Americans … for about the same length of time … Melamia for a little longer.

Wonder why the mainstream media didn’t make a plagiaristic cause celebre out of this one?

Too nuanced, perhaps?

Or, too sharp of a contrast?



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Wish Pence & Kaine were top-of-tickets …

July 23, 2016

Both seem rational & hard-working  with some degree of moderation …  history of working across the aisle.


Sure, they’re boring … and my favorite (Pence) would probably lose …  but I’d sure feel better about the election.




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Ivanka: Champion for working women … especially mothers.

July 22, 2016

“As the mother of 3 children, I know that all working mothers should have access to affordable childcare. I will be their voice.”


More notable snippets:

Read the rest of this entry »

Pence: “You can’t fake good kids” …

July 22, 2016

The Trump kids emerged as Donald’s not-so-secret weapons.


What to expect?

Read the rest of this entry »

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

July 22, 2016

Trump’s speech last night had some clear takeaways: (1) law & order  (2) anti-terrorism  (3) outreach to both LGBTQs and Evangelicals (4) dignity and economic hope for the working class.

The speech was civilized .. which was probably disappointing those folks who were rooting for a crash & burn.

My opinion: he came across as a credible “blue-collar billionaire” …  has genuine empathy for the working class …. still, a bit rough around the edges.

 Breaking: CNN “snap poll” reports that 74% of viewers had a favorable reaction to Trump’s speech.

The speech reminded me of a 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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Cruz: “Because I’m a man of my word” … oh, really?

July 21, 2016

Why did Ted Cruz give the kind of speech he did at the RNC convention … and refuse to endorse Trump?

In a news conference Thursday, Cruz asserted that he it was because he’s “a man of principle who keeps his word.”


Remember that pesky pledge that all of the GOP candidates signed saying that they’d support the party’s nominee?

That was an not-so-clever ploy to keep Trump from running as a 3rd party candidate.

Never did the 15 losers think that the tables would turn and they’d be signing a commitment to support Trump.




Cruz got a chance to clarify during the Fox News debate:

BAIER: Senator Cruz, yes or no, you will support Donald Trump is he’s the nominee?

CRUZ: Yes, because I gave my word that I would.

Oops again.

So Ted, you’re a man of your word unless …

Now, tell me again why we should ever believe a word you say?


For the record, I was a Rubio fan … with Cruz and Kasich my runners-up.

I really did think that they were me of their word.

Not so much any more.


I don’t think so.



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Remember that masterful GM bailout that saved the US auto industry?

July 21, 2016

Election time, so some politicos are back to touting how the Feds “saved the US auto industry”, so I thought it was time to do a quick retrospective on the bailout.

Let’s put a stake in the ground: Ford didn’t take any Federal bailout money.

Since share price is a measure of financial performance, how has Ford stock performed?

Simple answer: At par with the S&P 500 when measured from pre-financial crisis levels …  better than the S&P if measured from the financial crisis trough. (Ford is the thin green line on the chart, S&P is the blue).



And, how has the Fed-saved GM done?

Read the rest of this entry »

2016: Revenge of the unintelligensia?

July 20, 2016

Will “uneducated” voters determine the 2016 Presidential election?


The most recent Washington Post poll – showing Hillary leading Donald by a couple of points — provides some very interesting drill down data … it’s worth some browsing time.

Buried in the numbers is some interesting data…..


MSM headlines frequently stereotype Trump’s supporters as non-college degreed whites … and often, the label is shorthanded as a more pejorative “uneducated”, i.e. mind-numbed dummies.

According to the WaPo poll, it’s true that Trump is favored by “white non-college” almost 2-to-1 … 60% to 33%



No surprise there …

But, here are some findings that did surprise me a bit since they never gets spotlighted in the mainstream media…

Read the rest of this entry »

Trump’s Wealth: Fact-checking the fact-checkers …

July 19, 2016

Bottom line: The “fact-checkers” get 4 Pinocchios … based on their “facts” and some simple arithmetic.

Chatting with one of my liberal friends over the weekend (<= note that I didn’t say “My one liberal friend”), he dished the Dem talking point that Trump is not an accomplished business man … he could have grown his wealth more by simply investing in an S&P index fund.



Let’s pull some “facts” from the liberal “fact-checkers” (WaPo and Tampa Bay Times) and do some simple math…

Read the rest of this entry »

Quiz time: Are YOU a low-information voter?

July 18, 2016

Everybody knows that Trump supporters are uninformed Neanderthals, right?

Well, Pew has devised a 12-question quiz to measure News IQ.

So …

If you’re a Trump supporter, take the quiz to see if the critics are right.

If you’re a No-Trumper, take the quiz to see if the uninformed shoe fits you, too.



Take the quiz … and then come back to this HomaFiles post for some interesting summary data.

Click to take the Pew News IQ Quiz.

Read the rest of this entry »

It’s time to get serious …

July 15, 2016

The horrific attack in Nice yesterday was hardly an isolated event.

So far, during 2016, there have been 1,268 Islamic terror attacks in 50 countries, in which 11,664 people were killed and 14087 injured.

And, that’s only counting attacks for which ISIS and other Islamic terrorist groups have claimed credit.

Below are the most recent … click the chart to see the full list for 2016 and other post 9/11 years.

click to see full list



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Smoking Gun: Have you read the Benghazi Report?

July 14, 2016

Apparently the FBI didn’t since the Benghazi Report provides a detailed case-relevant linkage to the damage sowed by Clinton’s email “carelessness”.

In previous posts, I concluded that Comey ruled illogically because he didn’t want to tilt a potentially historic election.

For months, left-leaners were crying “foul” … asserting that the DOJ shouldn’t get involved in cases involving high profile candidates in election years … especially if the charges are as trivial as carelessly giving our enemies a backdoor into our nation’s top secret information.

What if that classified information led to the death of an American ambassador and 3 members of his “off-the-books” security detail?

Still just trivial oversight?


Just in case you haven’t had a chance to read the Benghazi Report …

Neither the left- nor right-leaning media echo chambers seem to have landed on what, in my opinion, may be the case study that best demonstrates why Hillary Clinton’s email “carelessness” was a big deal … a life or death situation.

Note to left-leaning readers: This post will be more balanced than you might expect.



I’ll provide some details and  links below …. for now, the bottom line:

Though Clinton was hawkish on US involvement in Libya (to oust Gadaffi), she lost the argument and was relegated to implementing Obama’s “lead from behind” and “no boots on the ground” policies.

Accordingly, the State Department under-protected the diplomats (e.g. Ambassador Stevens) who were tasked to “connect” with the anti-Gadaffi rebels.

Said differently, the Presidential Policy disallowed any overt military security for the diplomats … i.e. no marines deployed before or during the attack.

My take: Clinton – who I hold in very low regard – was just implementing the Administration’s “no boots” policy.

She argued the contrary to Obama, but lost the argument … she could have resigned, but that would have been politically inopportune for the Dems in the run-up to the 2012 election.  Instead, she dutifully implemented.

Following the attack, Clinton tried to provide air cover for her boss, pitching the fraudulent video defense ad nauseam.

Of course, politicos lying to the American public isn’t exactly new news…

So, again, I’ll give her a pass for being a good team player.

Here’s where things go off-track for Clinton.

According to the Benghazi Report …

There were numerous emails on her home-brew email system that spoke explicitly to the lack of military security for the diplomats and provided details re: the diplomats travel schedules – when and where the diplomats would be, and how little protection they’d have.

Any reasonable person would consider those nuggets to be classified information … even if they weren’t “marked classified at the time that I sent or received them”.

Assuming that the non-secure email system was compromised (a fair assumption, I think) … then the diplomats were sitting ducks.

But,  there wasn’t any direct evidence uncovered that Hillary intended to make them sitting ducks … so, harm, but no foul, right?


Here’s some detail from the Benghazi Report that’s worth reading for “texture” and context….

Read the rest of this entry »

Here’s a historical precedent that Comey might have considered…

July 13, 2016

My conclusion is that Comey ruled illogically because he didn’t want to be responsible for  tilting a potentially historic election.

For months, many left-leaners were crying “foul” … asserting that the DOJ shouldn’t get involved in cases involving high profile candidates in election years … especially if the charges are as “trivial” as carelessly handling  our nation’s top secret information.

Say, what?

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

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

Well, the DOJ didn’t indict Sen. John McCain for anything … or, overtly pave the way for Obama’s election …. but  the DOJ did tilt the scales in a defining way.

Who did they indict?



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

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

Read the rest of this entry »

Do Americans agree with Comey’s decision?

July 12, 2016

Short answer: A majority disagree with Comey’s decision  not to indict Secretary Clinton.


Two recent polls queried  public opinion on Comey’s decision to let Hillary off the hook.

The right-leaning Rasmussen Reportl headlined:

Most voters disagree with FBI Director James Comey’s decision not to seek a criminal indictment of Hillary Clinton.”

Specifically, 54% of likely U.S. voters disagree with the FBI’s decision and believe that the FBI should have sought a criminal indictment of Clinton … 27% agree with Comey and 10%) are undecided.

Said differently, 2/3’s of the people with an opinion disagreed.

The Rasmussen results are consistent with those of the left-leaning Washington Post / ABC poll which put the split at 56% disagree to 35% agree.



Digging deeper, the details – “internals” in research jargon – are directionally predictable, but interesting…

Read the rest of this entry »

Friendly fire: Team Hillary blasts Comey.

July 11, 2016

Comey probably expected to be attacked from the right for his illogical decision – amassing a pile of evidence that he then summarily dismissed by parsing words (“extremely careless” vs. “gross negligence”), inserting criminal intent as a criteria (apparently never hearing of, say, negligent homicide) and channeling George Castanza: “Perjury? Is that wrong?”


But, since he slipped Hillary a stay-out-of-jail-free card, I doubt that he was expecting to be attacked from the left.

Silly boy.

Quickly, Team Hillary moved from defense to offense …



First, the Washington Post ran an op-ed by Matthew Miller – a former director of DOJ’s public affairs office under Eric Holder.

Title of the piece was James Comey’s abuse of power.

I was expecting the guy to point out that Comey should have simply presented the evidence and let the prosecutors do the prosecuting.


Miller’s central premise was that Comey – since he let Hillary off the hook – had no right to present a litany of  half-baked circumstantial evidence.

How would you feel if you were innocent of any wrong-doing and a sloppy, indiscriminate fact-finder started airing your inconsequential dirty laundry.

Shame on you, Mr. Comey.


Piling on, Team Hillary started reprising their original talking points.

Facts be damned, there were no emails that were specifically marked classified at the time that they were sent or received.

Don’t throw arcane classification symbols at us, Mr. Comey … show us the word “classified” on the documents.

No reasonable person would expect the Secretary of State to know all of the classification symbols.

And, disregard that document she signed saying that she understood the law re: handling classified material … and the legal consequences.

She had to sign so many things that she couldn’t possibly read them all.  Get serious, Mr. Comey.

Say, what?


Finally, when Wolf Blitzer – CNN’s journalistic attack dog (<= sarcasm)– sheepishly asked Hillary about Comey’s ruling, she asserted: Mr. Comey made many assertions that are based on solely on supposition.

“My record as Secretary of State demonstrates that protected classified information and the security of the country”.

English translation: There is no direct evidence that any of the information from my emails is in the hands of enemy agents. You said yourself, Mr. FBI Director.

So, Mr. Comey, prove it … or STFU.



Comey probably didn’t expect that the proverbial dog would eat the hand that fed it the stay-out-of-jail card.

But, it did.

Comey tried to give everybody half-a-loaf.

He may have ndicted Hillary  politically by airing her carelessness and lies, but he let her off the legal hook.

As the saying goes, he might have been “too clever by half”… and simply angered both sides.

Comey said that his 2 life priorities are his family and his reputation.

Now, he might want to just focus on his family …



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Is Princess Elsa an anti-Semite?

July 10, 2016

She looks very innocent ….


But, Team Trump had to raise the controversial question…

Read the rest of this entry »

Is Hillary a woman of destiny?

July 9, 2016

First, let’s establish a basic point:

The killing of 5 police officers in Dallas is a horrific tragedy to their families, to the city and to the country,

The massacre may go down as a defining moment in American history.

Time will tell/


That said, can you imagine the likely bipolar reaction at Hillary’s campaign headquarters?

One one hand, I’m sure that they shared the heartfelt shock and grief that most Americans felt.


On the other hand …

Can you imagine the sigh of relief when there was nary a word about the Comey hearings on the news yesterday?

Nothing yesterday … probably won’t be anything today or tomorrow or the next day or the day after that.

A tragedy of monumental proportions has shifted the spotlight off of Hillary at a very opportune time.

I’ll skip the obvious tasteless cliche and just say:

For better or worse, maybe Hillary is a woman of destiny.

Think about it …



Follow on Twitter @KenHoma            >> Latest Posts


Comey’s Testimony: Cutting to the chase ….

July 8, 2016

I watched the bulk of the Comey hearings yesterday.

First, I commend the Comey for showing up, for his 5-hour mental-physical stamina, for his recall of specifics and, with a couple of exceptions, his apparent forthrightness.

Second, too bad that Chaffetz and Gowdy couldn’t have all the GOP time for questions. They provided the most revealing moments.



Specifically, here are my takeaways.

Read the rest of this entry »

I was wrong, very wrong … but somebody had it right.

July 7, 2016

A very loyal reader sent me an email reminding me of a post from last December when the GOP Presidential primary race was heating up.

My nomination for President … experience, integrity, leadership.

Who was my pick?

You guessed it: James Comey.



Among Comey’s  qualities that I lauded were:

· High Integrity: Consistently praised by both ends of the political spectrum — not for being bi-partisan, but for being non-partisan

· Apolitical: He’s clearly “in the game” for the right reasons – to serve the country and its people.

· Independent: Earned enough FU-money in his real world jobs that he can’t be bought or swayed.

I thought that I was on safe ground since I had even fact-checked with somebody very, very close to Comey who assured me that the Director was the real deal.


I got it wrong … but somebody had the guy pegged right all along.

Read the rest of this entry »

Why did Comey choke on the biggest decision of his career?

July 6, 2016

Short answer: He didn’t have the stones to make a historic decision.

Image from The Drudge Report


A weird turn of events put Comey under a particularly bright spotlight.

Before the events of the past week, the way I expected things to work out:

  1. Comey reads the 1st 14 minutes of his his speech laying out the body of evidence, concluding with a recommendation to indict.
  2. AG Lynch immediately puts the kabosh on the recommendation, refusing to indict.
  3. Or, AG Lynch green lights an indictment and President Obama quickly steps in to pardon Hillary “for the good of the country”.
  4. Hillary continues her campaign to become the first woman president.

Comey would have drawn the correct legal opinion based on the evidence, but the course of history wouldn’t have changed.

But, things didn’t work out that way, and Comey found himself in a much brighter spotlight … and, when the story ends, it won’t be pretty for Comey

Read the rest of this entry »

Comey folds!

July 5, 2016

FBI Director Comey spent 14 minutes laying out the case against Hillary Clinton:

Extremely careless handling of classified material (a felony) that in high likelihood has fallen into the hands of sophisticated enemies of the state.



Then, he spent less than 1 minute explaining that since there was no direct evidence of wrongful intent, the FBI is recommending that no criminal charges be brought against Clinton.

A total non sequitur.

The last honest man just lost his title.


Next time you’re stopped for doing 70 in a 55, jest tell the cop that you didn’t intend to speed.

Surely, he’ll let you off since he would have no direct evidence of your intent to speed.

Let me know how it goes.


P.S. We called this one … See our prior post AG Lynch: “Depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is …”


Click for a transcript of Comey’s remearks


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AG Lynch: “Depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is …”

July 5, 2016

A lesson in word parsification.


OK, AG Lynch didn’t parse the word “is” … Bill Clinton did.

And, he didn’t parse it during his private plane chat with AG Loretta Lynch.

After all,  she said that their conversation was “primarily about grandchildren and golf.”




Today’s lesson is on how to say nothing by parsing your words ….

Read the rest of this entry »

Digital amnesia: Is Google dulling your memory?

July 1, 2016

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 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 »

Health: Get skinny by sleeping more …

June 30, 2016

The Daily Mail reports that scientists have discovered that sleep deprivation increases cravings for junk food:

  • Sleep deprivation impairs activity in the brain’s frontal lobe
  • The frontal lobe is the part of the brain responsible for complex decision making
  • Lack of sleep increases activity in the centers that respond to rewards
  • This means sleep deprived people are more likely to choose junk food



Here’s the skinny on the study…

Read the rest of this entry »

How to think like a rich guy …

June 29, 2016

Steve Siebold, author of “How Rich People Think,” spent nearly three decades interviewing millionaires around the world to find out what separates them from everyone else.

“It had little to do with money itself, he told Business Insider. It was about their mentality.”


Here are my favorites from his 21 Ways that Rich People Think Differently ….

Read the rest of this entry »

So, who Herman van Rompuy?

June 28, 2016

I wish all of the talking-head bloviators had been forced to answer the question (correctly) before being allowed to pontificate about Brexit over the weekend.

Of course,  Herman van Rompuy is the President of the European Union.

Everybody knows that, right?


Nigel Farage – a Brit member of the European Parliament and leader of the Brexit campaign –  made that point colorfully clear in a classic takedown on the floor of the EP.



Among the caustic jabs that Farage landed …

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Google: “What is the EU?”

June 27, 2016

Amid the Brexit hysteria over the weekend, Google reported that – in Britain – the most googled questions were:

(1) How will Brexit effect me?”, and

(2) “What is the EU?”

Worldwide – and, probably among pontificating blowhard pundits — it was simply “What is the EU?”.

As a service to loyal readers, here are some key EU statistics.


Some facts worth noting:

Total GDP for the 28 EU countries is only about 10% more than the U.S. GDP ($18.5 trillion to $16.8)

The Top 5 EU economies – Germany, UK, France, Italy, Spain – account for more than 70% of the EU’s GDP.

Together,, the UK and Germany account for almost 40% of EU GDP

Specifically, the UK’s GDP is roughly 16% …. but, the UK only got 8% of the votes in the EP (European Parliament)

And, there’s more …

Read the rest of this entry »

Brexit in 2 charts …

June 24, 2016

For sure, yesterday’s vote in the UK to leave the EU was a jolt to the Establishment – the world financiers, political elites and open border aficionados.

Cutting to the chase, the vote of the people appears to have swung on one issue: immigration.

According to Bloomberg, immigration  surpassed the economy as voters’ major concern.



And, since immigration into the UK is now essentially regulated (or unregulated) by EU whims, 75% of voters with immigration concerns logically opted to to pull the “Leave” lever.



My take: Some implications for the U.S. election…

Obviously, the Establishment lost … and immigration emerged as a determining issue.

Hmmm …

The world economy is likely to take a short-term hit …. with some derived damage to the already weakening US economy … during the run-up to the election.

Double hmmm.

Imagine: what if Donald J. stops saying dumb stuff …



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Odds: I bet you’re a Democrat …

June 23, 2016

… if your parents were Democrats.

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

According to

“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 »

High tuitions … and “Baumol’s Cost Disease”

June 22, 2016

Previously, we posted What do high healthcare costs and high tuitions have in common?

A loyal reader reminded me of the connection between high tuitions and “Baumol’s cost disease”

To that point …

The NY Times ran a piece by Harvard Prof Greg Mankiew summarizing his views re: high and increasing college tuitions.

One of Mankiw’s identified causes is “Baumol’s Cost Disease”

Many years ago, the economist William Baumol noted that for many services — haircuts as well as string quartet performances — productivity barely advances over time.

Yet as overall productivity rises in the economy, wages increase, so the cost of producing these services increases as well.



Education is a case in point …

Read the rest of this entry »

IQ scores are rising … here’s why.

June 21, 2016

Simple hypothesis: more folks are reading the Homa Files.

A more complex answer is offered by James Flynn is his book “Are We Getting Smarter? Rising IQ in the 21st Century”.


What’s his explanation?

Read the rest of this entry »

Shocker: Women are brighter and more clever than men …

June 20, 2016

According to UK’s Daily Mail

Recent IQ research indicates that women are brighter than men … more clever … and better at multi-tasking.

Since IQ testing began a century ago, women have been as much as five points behind.


But that gap has been narrowing in recent years and this year women have moved ahead.

In the last 100 years the IQ scores of both  men and women have risen but women’s have risen faster.’

Women are cleverer than men.

One indication: they’re better at multi-tasking.


I’ve often said that the Lord shouldn’t have taken that 7th day off … she still had some work to do designing us guys.

>> Latest Posts

Howard Stern’s rant … a turning point in the gun control debate?

June 17, 2016

Let the sheep defend themselves from the wolves …


Talk about contrasts.

Yesterday, President Obama gave an uninspiring blah-blah speech to Orlando survivors and their families.

His focus wasn’t on the terrorist threat or Islamic homophobia.

Nope, he flashed his favorite shiny object: gun control.

Suffice it to say that I was unconvinced by his rhetoric.


In contrast, Howard Stern went off on gun control with a compelling riff that has started to go viral.



Here’s the essence of Stern’s commentary  …

Read the rest of this entry »

Stop right there, professor … proof of citizenship, please !

June 16, 2016

Unfortunately, this has become an annual event.  A summer initiation of sorts.

Once again, I was detained for questioning by government officials.

This year was unusually unnerving.

No, it wasn’t by rogue TSA agents targeting an alleged conservative blogger.


Once again. I was suspected of crossing a border to illegally access government-provided services.

Here’s the story …

Yes, your (usually) mild-mannered man of the classroom … stood up on suspicion of unlawful conduct.

An intimidating officer of the state demanded to see a photo ID — proof of citizenship – and my car’s registration.

Really !

OK, it wasn’t the U.S.- Mexico border … it was the Maryland-Virginia border.

The services that I was allegedly attempting to use illegally: use of the “Anne Arundel County landfill and recycling center” (a.k.a. the local dump).

That’s right.  In order to throw an old desk chair into the landfill dumpster, I had to show my driver’s license and to produce proof of Anne Arundel County, Maryland residency.  Fortunately, I may be the only person in Maryland driving around with paid real estate tax bills in my glove compartment.

Think about it.

Maryland is a state that – for example – reportedly looks the other way when it comes to admitting illegal immigrants into public schools and allows them to pay in-state tuitions at colleges.  No harm, no foul.

Photo ID to vote in Maryland?

No way !!!


But, the line gets drawn in the sand at the local dump.

I didn’t really mind showing my ID docs, but the situation certainly did make me scratch my head (again) …

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Flashback: Remember when Target caused a stir by ID’ing moms-to-be?

June 15, 2016

Now, researchers are trolling your web searches to auto-detect diseases.

The Washington Post recently channeled a study done by Microsoft — published in the Journal of Oncology Practice …

The essence: Microsoft’s big data analysts ID’ed folks who were querying questions like “how to treat pancreatic cancer” — hypothesizing that they might have been diagnosed with the disease.

Then, the researchers backtracked thru the prior searches done by those folks and detected a pattern of precedent queries that revolved around symptoms, e.g. abdominal swelling.

Bottom line:  the researchers were able to use the inferred pattern of symptoms to early-predict a disease diagnosis for a statistically significant number people who queried symptoms.

That’s potentially big news in disease diagnosis, though doctors caution that for many diseases, the onset of patient-queried symptoms may be too late-stage for effective treatment.



The Microsoft query- disease analysis reminded me of how Target created some Big Data buzz for analyzing purchase patterns to ID moms-to-be. 

Read the rest of this entry »

Buy now (at list price) or you may regret it … say, what?

June 14, 2016

There are two basic retailer pricing strategies:

· Everyday Low Prices. Think Walmart with relatively constant prices and few sales

· High-Low Prices. Think Kohl’s with very high “regular” prices and frequent deep discounts.


Which strategy works better?

Read the rest of this entry »

What do high healthcare costs and high tuitions have in common?

June 13, 2016

Let’s connect a couple of dots today …

A recent NY Times article explored “Why the Economic Payoff From Technology Is So Elusive”.

One example:

Look at this disconnect is in the doctor’s office.

Dr. Peter Sutherland, a family physician in Tennessee, made the shift to computerized patient records from paper in the last few years.

There are benefits to using electronic health records, Dr. Sutherland says, but grappling with the software and new reporting requirements has slowed him down.

Dr. Sutherland bemoans the countless data fields he must fill in to comply with government-mandated reporting rules…

He sees fewer patients, and his income has slipped.

The bottom line: over the years, due legal compliance and technology complexity, administrators (think: bureaucrats) have been added at a far faster rate than healthcare providers (think: doctors and nurses) …




Wonder why healthcare costs are so high …

What’s the link to college tuitions?

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Newsflash: Virgin brides are less likely to get divorced … but, are an endangered species.

June 10, 2016

Yep, that’s one conclusion reported in a recent Family Studies research brief.

Focusing on the most current data – the yellow line — only about 1 in 20 virgin brides end up getting divorced … rates are substantially higher for non-virgin brides.



The interpretation of the rest of the data reported by Family Studies is downright wacky, so let’s dig a little deeper…

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Are you a “producer” or a performer?

June 9, 2016

Prior posts have channeled some work by PwC identifying traits that mark self-made billionaires.

Broadly speaking, the PwC study sorts business folks as “producers” or “performers”.

Producers are skilled at conceiving new ideas and bringing them to market.

Performers: They know how to optimize the known systems and products of an organization, and how to make the most of existing practices.


Which are you, a producer or a performer?


Here’s a 9-question categorization quiz from Strategy + Business:

Click to take the producer-performer quiz


S+B observes:

You might have to fill both roles at different times.

“After all, anyone who can launch a new product must have some ability as a performer. Similarly, most skilled performers also have some producer talent.”

But it’s rare for one person to excel as both a producer and a performer.

So if you’re aware of what you do best, you can more easily establish yourself in the most suitable environment, with the right complementary people, and map out your ideal role.

You’ll also know when to ask for help.



Follow on Twitter @KenHoma            >> Latest Posts


How do self-made billionaires self-make their billions?

June 8, 2016

Yesterday, we posted that there are about 1,800 billionaires in the world and that about 2/3s of them are self-made … not just born lucky.

According to a PwC study, the self-made billionaires usually started at a big company, some were fired from the big companies, and most became serial entrepreneurs.

Usually they got on the map with their first or second venture, but built their wealth through a series of successive (and highly successful) ventures.



The PwC study also identified 5 traits that were relatively common across the self-made billionaires.



Broadly speaking, PwC says concludes that most business managers are “performers” – linear logicians who are good at execution .

The self-made billionaires are “producers” who  look at the world from different angles — allowing them to spot opportunities and to turn good ideas into great businesses.

More specifically, the PxC team concluded that “most self-made billionaires – the “producers” –practice five habits of mind — ways of thinking and acting that generate uncommonly effective ideas and approaches to leadership.”

The 5 traits:

1. Ideas: Empathetic Imagination

The producers typically worked in their field long enough to have an awareness of critical trends, empathy for customers, and knowledge of existing practices.  Then, they added a healthy dose of imagination to change the game.

2. Time: Patient Urgency

“The creation of massive value in an industry does not happen overnight. The billion-dollar idea often comes after years, even decades, of commitment to a market space. Skilled producers learn to be patient. They know how to wait for the right idea at the right time. But once they hit on a compelling idea, they have a bias toward action that compels them to take urgent steps.

3. Action: Inventive Execution

Many executives take product design and go-to-market strategies as givens. “The business model, pricing, functions, sales pitch, and deal structure are treated as inherited, predefined by the models, costs, and pricing that already exist in the company and industry.“

Producers redesign opportunities everywhere – both in the product – broadly defined – and the implementation.

4. Risk: Relative, Not Absolute

“Producers, in general, are distinguished not by the level of risk they take, but by their attitude about risk. Most people measure risk in absolute terms: Will this business succeed or fail? Producers view risk in relative terms: Which option presents the greatest opportunity? If the opportunity is right in a risky venture, they’ll look for ways to mitigate risk”

5. Leadership: Teaming with Performers

“The idea of the solo genius is so pervasive in the way people talk about and think about extraordinary success that it obscures the real story of how good ideas become great businesses. Self-made billionaires are not alone. Producers have the ability to see beyond the parameters of what exists today to imagine new opportunities. Performers, in turn, have the ability to optimize and achieve within known parameters. Value creation requires both.”

Producers surround themselves with producers …


Bottom line:

Yeah, wealth distribution is skewed. No argument there.

But, it’s wildly misleading to characterize the richest of the rich as folks who were just born lucky.

The majority of the made their own luck … and earned their wealth.

Sorry, if the facts don’t match the popular narrative …


Tomorrow, take the Producer Quiz …



Follow on Twitter @KenHoma            >> Latest Posts


How many billionaires are there? How many are self-made?

June 7, 2016

With all of the vitriol now being cast at rich people, and with all of the broad-brush policy proposals to redistribute their wealth … you’re probably guessing a pretty big number, right?


Well, Forbes reports about 1,800 billionaires worldwide  … holding $7 trillion…   or roughly 7% of the total global gross domestic product.

1.800 isn’t a particularly big number, right?

But, even I concede, they skew the distribution of wealth.

The billionaires always seem to get caricatured as Saudi princes, one of Sam Walton’s descendants  or Paris Hilton – all just lucky by birth and clearly undeserving.

Well, PwC’s think tank dug deeper into the numbers and uncovered some facts that tend to disrupt the popular narrative …

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The Challenger disaster: A tragic lesson in data analysis …

June 6, 2016

Well-intended engineers correctly interpreted the wrong data.

Excerpted from Everydata: The Misinformation Hidden in the Little Data You Consume Every Day


I’m sure all baby-boomers have a vivid recollection, but for younger readers, here’s some background …

“On the morning of 28 January 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger, mission 51– L, rose into the cold blue sky over the Cape. To exuberant spectators and breathless flight controllers, the launch appeared normal. Within 73 seconds after liftoff, however, the external tank ruptured, its liquid fuel exploded, and Challenger broke apart.”



What happened?

“The specific failure,” noted the Report of the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident, “was the destruction of the seals that are intended to prevent hot gases from leaking.…”

Investigators quickly focused their attention on a key part of the seals— the rubber O-rings that went in between two sections of the solid rocket motor— the “tang” and the “clevis.”

The O-rings on the Challenger needed to be flexible enough to compress and expand, sometimes within milliseconds.

But O-ring resiliency “is directly related to its temperature… a warm O-ring will follow the opening of the tang-to-clevis gap. A cold O-ring may not.”

In fact, investigators found that a compressed O-ring is five times more responsive at 75 degrees Fahrenheit than at 30 degrees Fahrenheit.

The air temperature at launch was 36 degrees Fahrenheit.

The commission’s report found “it is probable” that the O-rings were not compressing and expanding as needed.

The resulting gap allowed the gases to escape, destroying the Challenger.


So why didn’t engineers stop the launch, given the cold temperatures?

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Remember the Russian “reset” button?

June 3, 2016

Yesterday, Secretary Clinton delivered a major foreign policy speech.

Of course, it prompted flashbacks of the infamous Russian Reset …

Back in March 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presented Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov with a small green box with a ribbon.

Inside was a red button with the Russian word “peregruzka” printed on it.

Clinton offered that pushing it would “reset our relationship” … ostensibly, for the better.


So, how did that all work out?

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No grades below C and no written exams … say, what?

June 2, 2016

Those are the student demands at Ohio’s Oberlin College


Students at Oberlin College are asking the school to put academics on the back burner so they can put more time and energy into political activism.

No kidding …



According to The Week, channeling a New Yorker article:

“More than 1,300 students at the Midwestern liberal arts college signed a petition asking that the college get rid of any grade below a C … and some students are requesting alternatives to the standard written examinations, such as a conversation with a professor in lieu of an essay.”

The students say that between their activism work and their heavy course load, “A lot of us are suffering academically … finding success within the usual grading parameters is increasingly difficult.”

So, just forget about Ds and Fs and Incompletes … just go with As, Bs and Cs.

Might work …


“You know, we’re paying for a service. We’re paying for our attendance here. We need to be able to get what we need in a way that we can actually consume it.”

Because I’m dealing with other stuff, I can’t produce the work that they want me to do. But I understand the material, and I can give it to you in different ways.”

Like, one-on-one “conversations” with professors in lieu of written exams.



Sounds pretty preposterous, right?

But, students point out that there are historical precedents.

Read the rest of this entry »

Remember how healthcare costs were going to drop by $2,500 for every family?

June 1, 2016

In 2016, employees will pay $11,000 out-of-pocket … up $2,500 since 2012.


Milliman – a well-regarded actuarial consulting” firm – has published an annual recap of healthcare spending since 2001.

The Milliman Medical Index tracks the total costs of providing health care to an average family of four covered by an employer-sponsored “preferred provider plan” … that’s about 155 million employees and their dependents.

The total includes the health insurance premiums paid by both the employer and the employee, as well as the actual expenditures for health care paid by the insurance plan and out of pocket by the insured family.

The big news: In 2016, the average healthcare costs for a family of 4 surpassed $25,000 for the first time … the $25,826 is triple the cost to provide health care for the same family in 2001 … and up about $5,000 since 2012.



The bad(est) news is the increased proportion of the healthcare costs being shouldered by individual employees …

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Name game: Some names are deadlier than others

May 31, 2016

Female-named hurricanes cause “significantly more deaths”


Researchers analyzed over six decades of death rates from U.S. hurricanes and concluded that a severe hurricane with a female name is likely to have a death toll triple that of an equally severe hurricane with a male name.

Say, what?


No, it’s not gender bias … it’s a cognitive bias induced by “Incidental stimuli”.

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

May 27, 2016

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.”

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Why Hillary won’t pick Warren for V.P.

May 26, 2016

Elizabeth Warren went on the warpath yesterday against Donald Trump …

“In a speech at the Center for Popular Democracy’s annual gala, the progressive stalwart took aim at Trump’s business record and populist rhetoric during a 10-minute invective.” CNN

Warren prompted pundits to elevate the prospects of a Clinton-Warren ticket.

Add some charisma and excitement to the ticket. Check!

Successful audition as an attack dog against the other party’s Presidential candidate. Check!

Lasso in some (most? all?) of Bernie’s supporters. Check!

Create a dramatic, historical all-female ticket. Check!



All good reasons why to do it.

But, there are also reasons against Hillary picking Warren …

Read the rest of this entry »


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