Obama’s CIA chief says that Trump is naive about Russia …

January 17, 2017

Wonder if the guy watched the 2012 Presidential debates when Obama mocked Romney and declared the cold war to be over …

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 On the Sunday talk shows, outgoing CIA Director John Brennan had some sharp criticism and warnings for President-elect Trump.

Brennan said  that Trump is a bit naive and doesn’t have a “full understanding” of Russia’s power and the threat to the world posed by Russia’s aggressive actions.

Brennan failed to mention that — up to a couple of months ago — President Obama didn’t consider Russia to be much of a threat.

I wish the shows’ anchors had asked Brennan if he remembered the 2012 Presidential debates?

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

The clip is a classic …  try to stay calm when you.watch it

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

Read the rest of this entry »

Maybe we’re just not that smart …

January 13, 2017

Yesterday, we reported that the U.S. is, on average, #40 in the world in mathematics.

Usual punditry is that schools are bad … blame it on the teachers.

But, I wondered: is it a bad production process (the schools) … or could it be the raw material going into the process (i.e. innate brain power).

So, the question of the day: how does the U.S. rank on IQ versus other countries?

Read the rest of this entry »

Ouch: U.S. math scores continue to drop

January 12, 2017

U.S. now trails 39 countries …

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

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

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

 

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Digging a bit deeper into the numbers ….

Read the rest of this entry »

There are 3 Americas (not 2) … thanks to Obamacare.

January 11, 2017

ObamaCare is front & center on the legislative agenda again, so …

Last week, we reported that — according to Gallup — ObamaCare is under water by 7 points (51% to 44%) … and that 29% think their families have been hurt by ObamaCare versus 18% who think that their families have been helped).

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In other words, the disapproval is grounded in the program’s fundamentals.

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Cutting to the chase, an article in the WSJ quoted David Cutler, a Harvard health-care economist:

Obamacare may be “a story of three Americas.”

One group, the rich, can afford health care easily.

The poor can access public assistance.

But for lower middle- to middle-income Americans, “the income struggles and the health-care struggles together are a really potent issue.”

No kidding, Dr. Cutler …

HomaFiles was all over this one back in June:

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

We concluded that in 2016, employees will pay $11,000 out-of-pocket … up $2,500 since 2012.

“Employees” … you know the working class … the middle class.

Here’s the essence of our original post …. worth re-reading …. glad others are catching up to it.

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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.

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

Read the rest of this entry »

Flash: Presidential campaigns were hacked by the Chinese.

January 10, 2017

More precisely, I should have said “flashback” to 2008.

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Lots of attention on the alleged Russian hacking of the DNC and Clinton campaign.

Less attention on the Intelligence Community’s assessment that the RNC was hacked, too.

More surprising, there have been no references by Intelligence Agencies or the MSM to China’s hacking of the 2008 Presidential campaigns.

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So, let’s take a stroll down memory lane …

Read the rest of this entry »

Intel Report: Like a typical Chinese meal …

January 9, 2017

Fortune cookie was the best part … and I’m hungry again.

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Over the weekend, we posted : Intel Report on Russian hacking … my take.

Now that the dust has settled, I’m getting that “where’s the beef feeling”?

Best I can do is:

Key points: Russians were more #NeverHillary than pro-Trump … no evidence that the election was impacted …  none of the purloined emails were fakes or forgeries … Russians held back some of the juicier information-bombs to drop during Clinton’s expected presidency (and, they still have those morsels stockpiled).

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click to view report

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My questions:

1) How were the sleuths able to able to find cyber-prints in this case but came up empty on the Clinton server (though the FBI reported that there was a high probability the enemy agents hacked that server, too)?

2) Wasn’t there any evidence of other foreign forces hacking into the same information bases, say the Chinese or North Koreans? Or, did our spies succumb to “fixation bias” (with a little “confirmation bias” thrown in) and only looked at a Russian connection? Maybe the problem is bigger and broader than reported.

By the way, what’s up with the Feds failing to haul in the suspect computers & servers and analyzing them for clues and evidence? Geez, on every episode of American Greed, the cops haul off the perp’s computer …

3) What info are the Russians holding in storage, waiting for an opportune time to cause some real havoc? Hmm. Maybe they have some of the classified material that was held safe (?) on Clinton’s and Weiner’s computers. Isn’t anybody worried about that?

Those are the questions that I’d like to see answered.

I’m not holding my breath …

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Though it was generally superficial and disappointing, I did ID one useful part of the report (seriously) …

Read the rest of this entry »

Intel Report on Russian hacking … my take.

January 7, 2017

Some interesting assertions … that raise some interesting questions.

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Here’s my take:

First, the non-classified report isn’t very compelling.

For openers, the 25-page report isn’t really 25 pages of report … it has a 3-page summary of a 5-page report … with 17 pages of filler on the front and back (the media “annex”).

Hope my students don’t get a whiff of that report-writing strategy.

And, the report contains mostly top-line assertions with virtually no new news or supporting data.

That’s understandable since the evidence is classified and can’t be revealed to us minions.

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click to view report

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Despite the above, I stipulate that the Russians hacked the DNC and John Podesta’s emails … and fed the info to WikiLeaks and RT media.

Here’s my take on the key points (and the questions that the report leaves unanswered):

Read the rest of this entry »

Reports: “All 17 intelligence agencies agree that Russia hacked Podesta and the DNC”

January 6, 2017

Am I the only one wondering why there are 17 spy agencies?

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I’ve been amused at the way the phrase slides off the tongues of the news readers: “All 17 intelligence agencies…”

Certainly aroused my curiosity.

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Sure enough, the U.S. intelligence “community” is officially the composite of 17 overt organizations (more on them later) … but, according to a Washington Post investigation, they’re just the tip of the iceberg.

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Among WaPo’s findings:

  • Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.
  • An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances.
  • In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings – about 17 million square feet of space.
  • Many security and intelligence agencies do the same work, creating redundancy and waste. For example, 51 federal organizations and military commands, operating in 15 U.S. cities, track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks.
  • Analysts who make sense of documents and conversations obtained by foreign and domestic spying share their judgment by publishing 50,000 intelligence reports each year – a volume so large that many are routinely ignored.

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Back on point, here’s a list of the 17 agencies that make up the U.S. spy network …

Read the rest of this entry »

“Most Americans support ObamaCare” … say, what?

January 5, 2017

18% say the law has helped their families; 29% say it has hurt them

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ObamaCare is front-and-center again as the GOP controlled Congress starts the process of repealing and replacing.

A repeated Dem talking point yesterday was how the majority of Americans support ObamaCare.

Sorry, Charlie, but the data doesn’t seem to support the claim.

Gallup has been tracking public sentiment towards ObamaCare for the past couple of years.

Bottom line:

More people have disapproved of ObamaCare since its inception … for most of the past 4 years, a majority has disapproved … most recently, the there has been a 7 point gap – 51% disapproving to 44% approving.

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Why the majority disapproval ?

Read the rest of this entry »

What if Trump governs like Obama?

January 4, 2017

President Obama seems determined to leave office ungracefully … spending his lame duck time igniting a steam of transitional stink bombs to welcome the President-elect.

Or, as pundits like to say (when somebody other than Obama is doing it): “taking unprecedented unilateral action”.

Those who are gleefully cheering him on, should keep in mind that what goes around, comes around.

Some day, Trump may be in a lame duck period with a Dem president-elect ready to launch.

When he starts complicating life for the president-to-come, today’s cheer squad will have no legitimacy to whine.

Obama’s recent power plays reminded me of a  “must read” opinion piece in the Washington Post archives.

The article was penned by left-leaning GWU law professor Jonathan Turley

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Turley has long been warning that Dems may think it is clever and appropriate when Obama circumvents the Congress and courts to implement his partisan policies, but that they should be forewarned that what goes around, come around.

Specifically, he says:

Democrats have supported President Obama’s claims of unchecked authority in a variety of areas.

Obama has been particularly aggressive in his unilateral actions.

From health care to immigration to the environment, he has set out to order changes long refused by Congress.

Thrilled by those changes, supporters have ignored the obvious danger that they could be planting a deeply unfortunate precedent if the next president proves to be a Cruz or Trump rather than a Clinton.

While the policies may not carry over to the next president, the powers will.

The Obama model will be attractive to successors who, although they may have a different agenda, have the same appetite for unilateral decisions.

Here are some specifics that he cites:

Read the rest of this entry »

They didn’t get Michelle O’s memo on hopelessness …

January 3, 2017

Majority of Americans expect 2017 to be better than 2016.

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FLOTUS Michelle Obama chatted with slimmed-down Oprah recently, lauding her hubbies accomplishments (and fretting that the era of hope & change is ending, replaced by pervasive (and justified) melancholy.

She asserted that her husband had succeeded in keeping his campaign promise of fostering hope.

And, she opined: “The U.S. is entering a time of hopelessness  We are feeling what not having hope feels like. We can feel the difference now.”

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Worry not, Michelle.

Polling firm GFK conducted a survey for the AP that asked people how 2016 was for them personally and what their expectations are for 2017.

Here’s what they found …

Read the rest of this entry »

Merry Christmas … 45 Lessons in Life

December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and HAPPY NEW YEAR  to all !

This short video was sent to me by a friend a couple of years ago

It really resonated with me, so I like to share it at Christmas time.

 … back with you after the New Year

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       click picture  to launch ( best with audio on)
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Have business gurus (and business schools) lost touch?

December 23, 2016

Some pillars of management theory are weakening.

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Interesting article in The Economist asserts that “business gurus have lost touch with the world they seek to rule” and that “management theory is ripe for a reformation, especially at Business schools — the cathedrals of capitalism.”

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More specifically, the author argues that: “Management theories are organized around four basic ideas, repeated ad nauseam in every business book you read or business conference you attend, that bear almost no relation to reality.”

Here are some snippets on those four disputable basic ideas …

Read the rest of this entry »

About the fake news flap …

December 22, 2016

 Maybe folks should consider the source.

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Big frenzy these days about fake news.

Though Facebook CEO Zuckerberg says that less than 1% of news postings are fake, the company is setting up a special truth-checking squad.

I find that interesting in a couple of respects.

First, getting one’s news via Facebook.

Really?

I find that scary.

But, not surprising since The WaPo reports a  recent poll that “more than one in 10 young adults (ages 18-29) say they rely on “The Daily Show” or its now-departed spinoff, “The Colbert Report” for news about what’s going on in the world.”

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Pew Research reports similar findings … right around 10%.

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This raises as obvious questions …

Read the rest of this entry »

Where do you get your news?

December 21, 2016

Your answer says a lot about you.

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Before you look at the chart below, jot down the 3 or 4 web pages or channels/shows that you trust as your primary sources for news.

No cheating.

Done?

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OK, now check where your news sources fall along this ideological continuum crafted by Pew Research.

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Your news sources align with your political ideology, right?

It’s a psychological dynamic called “confirmation bias” … soliciting and internalizing information that is consistent with one’s current beliefs.

Said differently, confirmation bias is a natural stress-reduction tendency to avoid or resist any information that is contrary to or inconsistent with one’s current thinking.

One of the major solidifiers of our current political polarization is the “echo chamber effect” … we all tend to consult sources and hang with people who share, reinforce and exaggerate our ideological leanings.

So what to do?

Read the rest of this entry »

Obama the job creator … say, what?

December 20, 2016

According to his economists, the trillion dollar stimulus program was a bust!

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Lots of MSM headlines these days about the strong economy that Obama is handing Trump … with a strong suggestion that Trump will have a hard time matching Obama’s stellar performance as a job creator.

Really?

On the plus side, the reported unemployment rate has dropped from the financial crisis highs.

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For today, we’ll push aside the facts that (a) American’s who have been economically crushed largely voted the Dems out of office; and (2) the labor force participation rate has dropped precipitously – giving the unemployment rate a faux boost.

But, let’s dig a little deeper into the numbers … using the Administration’s own analyses.

Read the rest of this entry »

About the alleged Russian email hack …

December 19, 2016

Some key points are being overlooked.

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Fueled by a “secret CIA assessment”, election-deniers are having a field day blaming Queen Hillary’s loss on the Russians.

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Beyond the hypocrisy of their post-debate-3 hyperventilation over Trump’s refusal to commit to accepting the election results if they seemed tainted, the deniers seem to be overlooking a couple of key points.

Read the rest of this entry »

Maybe Hillary should run for governor of California … here’s why.

December 16, 2016

She landslided California, but lost the combined popular vote in the other 49 states (& DC).

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Dems are still carping that Trump’s ascendency is illegitimate since Hillary won the popular vote.

And, everybody knows that Hillary won big in California.

But, I was a bit surprised by how big her California win was … and its implications.

Bottom line: Clinton won the national popular vote by 2.8 million votes … buoyed by a 4.3 million edge in California.

Think about that for a second.

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Yes, Clinton won California big time … but, Trump won the combined popular vote  of the other 49 states (& DC)

The MSM repeatedly observes that Trump followers drag their knuckles … and that Hillary dominated among the intelligensia.

So was Clinton’s success in California simply explained by Californians being smarter than the rest of the country?

Quick quiz: how does the average Californian’s IQ rack up against residents of other states?

The answer may surprise you ….

Read the rest of this entry »

Remember the Russian “reset” button?

December 15, 2016

Lessons in diplomacy …

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Of course, the current Russia hysteria has 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.

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So, how did that all work out?

Read the rest of this entry »

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

December 14, 2016

Remember the 2012 Presidential debates?

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

Given the current hysteria over Russia, the clip is a classic …  try to stay calm when you.watch it

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

Read the rest of this entry »

Maybe the Russians didn’t hack the DNC …

December 13, 2016

I’ve got an alternative scenario for you.

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Last week, focus shifted from fake news to Russian hacking intended to help Trump get elected.

There’s hand-wringing and outrage that the Russians might have tried to impact a U.S. election by revealing Hillary’s emails..

President Obama has ordered that an investigation be done and a report on his desk by the time he leaves office (i.e. right before President-elect Trump gets sworn in).

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Most recently, U.S. intelligence officials fingered the Russians but have conceded that (1) they are basing their views on deductive circumstantial reasoning and not conclusive evidence and (2) they are uncertain as to motive. Source

I’ve got an alternative deduced scenario for you.  Let’s connect some dots on this one …

Read the rest of this entry »

Trump slammed for skipping daily security briefings …

December 12, 2016

Flashback: Current POTUS skips more than half of his (while President).

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The MSM is blasting President-elect Trump for not having security briefings every day.

Keep in mind that Trump is President-elect, not President.

So, the briefings can be a learning experience, but there’s nothing actionable that he can do until January 20.

Putting that fact aside …

Flashback to a study done by Government Accountability Institute re: Obama’s briefing practices.

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At the time, security folks were concerned that Obama was frequently skipping his Presidential Daily Briefings (PDBs).

Here’s what the GAI found …

Read the rest of this entry »

Yum, those burgers looks good …

December 9, 2016

Adding visuals to menus (and reports) creates interest and boosts credibility.

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Studies have shown that adding  icons and photos to restaurant menus increase sales up to 30% for the featured items.

The visuals draw attention to the items … if done well, they stimulate diners’ senses.

OK, we’ve all be menu-enticed … that’s not news.

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But, did you know that simply adding a visual – a graph or chart  or formula — to a report can boost the credibility of a conclusion by 50% or more?

Read the rest of this entry »

What do tenured profs & Federal judges have in common?

December 8, 2016

“A permanent job with good benefits is (now) beyond reach for most American workers … only federal judges and tenured professors are insulated from the forces of workforce transformation”

That’s according to the authors of the book Working Scared (Or Not at All): The Lost Decade, Great Recession, and Restoring the Shattered American Dream

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The book Working Scared is focused on the ways that the American workplace has changed in the past 50 or so years … and the implications on American workers (and non-workers).

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The central premise of the book is that globalization (out-sourcing & off-shoring); de-industrialization (towards more services and knowledge-based); technology-intensity (computers, internet, robots); and de-unionization have shattered the American Dream for tens of millions of working adults who are struggling or poor … “despite working hard and playing by the rules.”

More specifically …

Read the rest of this entry »

What has happened to workers who lost their jobs during the recession?

December 7, 2016

After last week’s employment numbers, Administration reps emphasized that over 12 million jobs have been added … recovering the number of jobs lost, plus a few to spare.

Predictably, conservative pundits countered that that the “mix” of jobs has deteriorated … well-paying full-time jobs have been replaced with lower paying full-time jobs and involuntary part-time jobs … with many of the added jobs going to immigrants – some legal, some not.

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Coincidentally, I started reading a book titled Working Scared (Or Not at All) … about the plight of the American worker … both old-timers who worked hard and played by the rules and newbies who are graduating with high college debt and disappointing career prospects.

The authors cut to the chase by researching the core issue: have the workers who lost their jobs bounced back?

Read the rest of this entry »

What are “prime age men” who aren’t in the labor force doing with their time ?

December 6, 2016

Yesterday, we looked at the falling labor force participation rate (LFPR) among so-called prime age males … aged 24 to 54 … a range that outboards most students and retirees.

About 10 million men fall into that category – unemployed but not looking for work.

One hypothesis is that the LFPR  among prime age males has dropped because – as women have entered the workforce – the men have stayed home to care for family members and do household chores.

According to the Fed’s latest American Time Use Survey, there’s some evidence to support that hypothesis.

In fact, “non-participating prime-age men” spend about 1/2 hour per day more on “household activities & services” than do prime age males who are in the labor force.

 

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But, that’s only a small  part of the story ….

Read the rest of this entry »

Unemployment rate falls to 4.6%, but …

December 5, 2016

More able-bodied men are sitting on their duffs …

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The November jobs report in a nutshell: 160k jobs added, but … the adult population increased by 219k and the civilian labor force contracted by 226k … so, the labor force participation rate dropped again.

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It’s no secret that the Labor Force Participation — the % of able bodied adults who are employed or looking for work —  has dropped about 4-1/2 percentage points from pre-financial crisis levels … and continues to fall.

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The economy-is-doing-just-fine crowd chalks the declining rate to demographics – old-timers retiring.

In prior posts I’ve attributed about 1/3 to retirees … the rest to slackers.

To that point, let’s cut the data a different way …

Read the rest of this entry »

Forget cow tipping … there’s a new sport.

December 2, 2016

Since the election is over, the T-Day conversation at our house shifted to “cow tipping”.

So, let’s dip into the HomaFiles archive for the definitive explanation … with a twist.

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A news story caught my eye yesterday.

But, first some context …

Have you ever heard of “cow tipping?

It’s a ritual where drunk farm boys  sneak up on cows and tip them over.

Technical note: I have no idea why they have to be drunk, but it’s always stated that way.

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Last year , Modern Farmer magazine published a scientific study on cow tipping.

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Basically, Modern Farmer debunked the rural legend:

 Cow tipping, at least as popularly imagined, does not exist.

Drunk young men do not, on any regular basis, sneak into cow pastures and put a hard shoulder into a cow taking a standing snooze, thus tipping the poor animal over.

While in the history of the world there have surely been a few unlucky cows shoved to their side by gang of boozed-up morons, we feel confident in saying this happens at a rate roughly equivalent to the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series.

The evidence against cow tipping is immense, and backed up by both farmers and the laws of physics

Ignore the cheap shot at my favorite Cubbies … focus on the “boozed up morons” and the “laws of physics”.

The Modern Farmer study was provocative  enough that it was picked up by Slate.com with the following headline:

 

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Uh-oh, this is where things get really interesting …

Read the rest of this entry »

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

December 1, 2016

They are the building blocks of reasoning, problem-solving and critical thinking.

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

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

 

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

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

Read the rest of this entry »

I do my best thinking when I’m sleeping … say, what?

November 30, 2016

Discussing creativity in class, I casually mentioned that I seem to do my best thinking when I’m asleep.

Specifically, I reported that I like to get to work as soon as I jump out of bed (literally) … and that I often find myself doing a brain dump of thoughts that weren’t top of mind before I’d gone nite-nite.

The revelation initially got some chuckles … then some folks started nodding and chiming in with “me, too” variants on the story.

Of course, some remained unconvinced.

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For the skeptics, here some science …

Read the rest of this entry »

The art of storytelling and the “power of the narrative”

November 29, 2016

Trump mastered a “central truth of persuasion” … Hillary didn’t.

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In my courses, I emphasize that pitches (think: Powerpoint decks) should be organized around storylines with smooth-flowing logic that is sufficiently compelling to lead the audience to an inescapable conclusion.

For many students, that notion doesn’t come naturally, especially since we typically think about stories in a cultural frame (movies, books, music) … not business communications..

Not only are storylines important in business communications, they are critical in political campaigns.

Just ask Mark McKinnon.

He’s a former Bush marketing adviser who followed around all of the candidates for a Showtime series called (appropriately) “The Circus”.

After 18 months on the campaign trail, McKinnon concluded:

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More specifically, McKinnon says:

Voters are attracted to candidates who lay out a storyline.

Losing campaigns communicate unconnected streams of information, ideas, and speeches.

Winning campaigns create a narrative architecture that ties it all together into something meaningful and coherent.

Trump told a story.

Hillary didn’t.

So, how to tell a good story?

Read the rest of this entry »

Flashback: A “horrifying” assault on democracy.

November 28, 2016

Apparently, “horrification” depends on who is doing the assaulting.

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Let’s loop back to the N.Y. Times coverage of the 3rd Presidential debate …

In a remarkable statement that seemed to cast doubt on American democracy, Donald J. Trump said that he might not accept the results of next month’s election if he felt it was rigged against him.

Hillary Clinton blasted that stand as “horrifying” at their final and caustic debate.

The horror became a cause celebre among Dems and the MSM.

Now, let’s fast forward …

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The details according to the WaPo:

Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign has been quietly exploring whether there was any “outside interference” in the election results and will participate in the election recount in Wisconsin initiated by Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein.

And if Stein makes good on efforts to prompt similar processes in Pennsylvania and Michigan  the Clinton campaign said it would do so there, as well.

Trump’s response:

The people have spoken and the election is over.

Hillary Clinton herself said on election night, in addition to her conceding by congratulating me, ‘We must accept this result and then look to the future.’

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P.S. We scoured both the Washington Post and N.Y. Times articles on Clinton’s apparent refusal to accept the certified election results.

Looking for the word “horrifying” and the phrase “American Democracy” in combination with the phrases “cast doubt on” or “attack on”, we got a “no results” message.

Shocker.

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Happy Thanksgiving !

November 24, 2016

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Apple might make some iPhones in the U.S.

November 23, 2016

“Trump Effect” or security concerns?

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Let’s connect a couple of dots today …

Last week, the NY Times ran a story exposing a secret feature on some cellphones: a backdoor that sends all text messages to China.

 

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According to the Times:

Cyber-security firms recently discovered pre-installed software on some Android phones that monitors where users go, whom they talk to and what they write in text messages.

The software transmits the full contents of text messages, contact lists, call logs, location information and other data to a Chinese server every 72 hours.

The code comes preinstalled on phones and the surveillance is not disclosed to users,

International customers and users of disposable or prepaid phones are the people most affected by the software.

This technological “vulnerability” shows how companies throughout the technology supply chain can compromise privacy, with or without the knowledge of manufacturers or customers.

It is not clear whether this represents secretive data mining for advertising purposes or a Chinese government effort to collect intelligence.

But, it reveals one way that Chinese companies — and by extension the government — can monitor cellphone behavior

My initial reaction: not a shocker … wonder if any Apple (or somebody else) will bring some manufacturing back to the U.S. to avoid security-threatening practices like this cellphone breach.

The next day, a seemingly unrelated story hit the wires …

Read the rest of this entry »

College: Making Freshman year (almost) free …

November 22, 2016

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

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A recent 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.

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How does Klinsky and MSEA plan to do it?

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City elites ask: what’s up with those rural bumpkins?

November 21, 2016

One of the big divides in the Presidential election was the urban-rural split.

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Rural communities have over 95% of the land mass; cities have more than 60% of the population.

Clinton carried the cities by 31 points; Trump carried the rural areas by 29 points; the suburbs were a push

According to The Daily Beast:

“Rural counties now deliver lopsided totals for Republicans that approach Democratic tallies in African-American neighborhoods.”

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What the heck is going on?

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A view from the North …

November 18, 2016

Canadians considering a wall on their southern border.

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According to Canadian news reports …

The flood of Trump-fearing American liberals sneaking across the border into Canada has reached a fever pitch since the election.

Canadian border residents say it’s not uncommon to see dozens of sociology professors, liberal arts majors, global-warming activists, and “green” energy proponents crossing their fields at night.

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There has been an escalating exodus of left-leaning Americans who fear that they’ll soon be required to pray, pay taxes, live according to the Constitution and maybe even hunt.

Some case studies reported by Canadian residents are downright shocking …

Read the rest of this entry »

Did data analytics miss the forest for the trees?

November 17, 2016

Team Clinton’s GOTV effort got out a lot of votes … for Trump

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According to the Huffington Post:

As the post-election day hangover wears off, an examination of the mechanics behind the Clinton’s get out the vote efforts ― reaching out to Clinton voters in key states at the door, on the phone or by text messages ― reveals evidence of what appears to be a pretty shocking truth.

Clinton volunteers were inadvertently turning out Trump voters.

Possibly in significant numbers.

What went wrong? Read the rest of this entry »

Ouch: 2016 MBA Rankings

November 16, 2016

MSB down 8 slots to #34

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Here are the top 10 … and MSB … with ranking details.

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Shocker: NFL to revamp scoring system …

November 16, 2016

Total net yards gained to determine game winners – not TDs, FGs and PATs.

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You may have missed this last week in the emotional aftermath of the election, but amid a sharp drop in TV ratings …

The NFL rules committee voted to fundamentally change the game’s scoring rules …. the ones that determine the winners and losers of games.

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In a nutshell, the team that gains the most yardage during a game will be declared the winner.

All yards gained will be counted – passing, rushing, kick & interception returns.

Penalty yardage will be deducted from a team’s total.

Team’s will get 10 bonus yards for each “classic” point scored … 60 yards for a TD, 30 yards for a FG, etc.

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Here’s how Commissioner Roger Goodell defended the rules change …

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Peggy Noonan denies it, but she saw it coming …

November 15, 2016

She grabs the pulse of America and lays it out there for all to read.

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Loyal readers know that I’m a big Peggy Noonan fan.

She sees things that other people don’t see … until it’s too late.

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Here’s what Noonan had to say in her post-election column: What Comes After the Uprising

Donald Trump said he had a movement and he did.

This is how you know.

His presidential campaign was bad—disorganized, unprofessional, chaotic, ad hoc.

There was no state-of-the-art get-out-the-vote effort—his voters got themselves out.

There was no high-class, high-tech identifying of supporters — they identified themselves.

They weren’t swayed by the barrage of brilliantly produced ads — those ads hardly materialized.

This was not a triumph of modern campaign modes and ways.

The people did this. As individuals within a movement.

Trump supporters are overwhelmingly citizens of good will and patriotic intent who never deserved to be deplored as racist, sexist, thuggish.

It was a natural, self-driven eruption.

Which makes it all the more impressive and moving.

And it somehow makes it more beautiful that few saw it coming.

While says modestly that she didn’t see it coming, I beg to differ.

Here’s the proof …

Read the rest of this entry »

New normal: More able-bodied men sitting on their duffs …

November 13, 2016

Forget ‘Labor Force Participation Rate’ …  here’s the indicator to watch

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It’s no secret that the Labor Force Participation — the % of able bodied adults who are employed or looking for work —  has dropped about 4-1/2 percentage points .

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The economy-is-doing-just-fine crowd chalks the declining rate to demographics – old-timers retiring.

In prior posts I’ve attributed about 1/3 to retirees … the rest to slackers.

To that point, let’s cut the data a different way …

Read the rest of this entry »

Score one for the Little Sisters of the Poor …

November 12, 2016

Remember when the Obama DOJ decided to go after the Little Sisters of the Poor?

We posted about the law suit in January 2014:  Let’s have a little fun with the nuns …

Looking back, it may have been a defining moment for some folks.

Sicking the IRS on the Tea Party was one thing …

Going after the Little Sisters, though, was a visible, and mobilizing metaphor.

Let’s flashback ….

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When I heard the news report, I thought it was a joke.

The full force of the DOJ is being thrown at, believe it or not …

THE LITTLE SISTERS OF THE POOR.

Not just nuns, “little” nuns.

Not just little nuns, little nuns who dedicate their lives to God and spend every waking hour praying or caring for the poor.

Not just little nuns who care for the poor, little poor-caring nuns who are, on average, probably about a hundred years old.

These are the nuns who are literally icons for the helpless.

So much so that weak sports teams – like those on Georgetown’s early season basketball schedule — have forever been referred to as representing The Little Sisters of the Poor.

Those Little Sisters of the Poor.

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What’s the government’s beef?

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Flashback: Over 100 million “hard workers” are now jobless or “working scared”.

November 11, 2016

Trump’s target constituency was identified by 2 liberal academics … who laid out the case, but drew the wrong conclusion.

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Bottom line: Roughly 75% of the U.S. labor force (i.e. 100 million people) have been personally affected by or deeply concerned about joblessness:

Originally posted on May 15, 2016 titled “What do tenured profs & Federal judges have in common?“

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A permanent job with good benefits is (now) beyond reach for most American workers … only federal judges and tenured professors are insulated from the forces of workforce transformation”

That’s according to the authors of the book Working Scared (Or Not at All): The Lost Decade, Great Recession, and Restoring the Shattered American Dream

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The book Working Scared is focused on the ways that the American workplace has changed in the past 50 or so years … and the implications on American workers (and non-workers).

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The central premise of the book is that globalization (out-sourcing & off-shoring); de-industrialization (towards more services and knowledge-based); technology-intensity (computers, internet, robots); and de-unionization have shattered the American Dream for tens of millions of working adults who are struggling or poor … “despite working hard and playing by the rules.”

More specifically …

Read the rest of this entry »

The issues that divided the electorate …

November 11, 2016

Trump supporters: Illegal immigration, terrorism and job opportunities.

Clinton supporters: Gun violence, income inequality, college affordability and climate change.

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Flashback: Revenge of the unintelligensia?

November 11, 2016

Will “uneducated” voters determine the 2016 Presidential election?

Originally posted July 20, 2016

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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…..

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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%

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No surprise there …

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

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Flashback: Trump’s appeal among the “precariat”…

November 10, 2016

And, there are over 100 million of them.

Originally posted March 1, 2016

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From a very interesting election analysis in the Orange County Register by Joel Kotkin – Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University …

Disclaimer: I’m not a Trump fan because of his incivility (bad role model for kids), unpredictability (I have no idea where he really stands on any issue except “the wall” – and I’m betting the under on that one), and temperament (though I wonder why the U.S. should be the only country that doesn’t have a wild man with their finger on the nuclear button – why not round out the roster?).

That said, I’ll fill in his circle on the scantron ballot if it’s Trump vs. Hillary in Novemeber.

Why?

I have much sympathy for his constituency of victims: lower and middle class working class folks … with emphasis on “working”.

You know,  the folks that the press likes to brutally characterize as “brain dead, mindless zombies”.

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In his article, Mr. Kotkin more charitably coins them as the “precariat” — people who are working, many part time or on short-term gigs, but lacking long-term security.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sea of red: the county by county electoral map …

November 10, 2016

Trump won a majority of votes in the vast majority of counties.

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Flashback: What if Trump gets elected and acts like Obama?

November 10, 2016

What goes around, comes around.

Here’s what we posted March 8, 2016:

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There was a “must read” opinion piece in the Washington Post .

The article was penned by left-leaning GWU law professor Jonathan Turley

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Turley has long been warning that Dems may think it is clever and appropriate when Obama circumvents the Congress and courts to implement his partisan policies, but that they should be forewarned that what goes around, come around.

Specifically, he says:

Democrats have supported President Obama’s claims of unchecked authority in a variety of areas.

Obama has been particularly aggressive in his unilateral actions.

From health care to immigration to the environment, he has set out to order changes long refused by Congress.

Thrilled by those changes, supporters have ignored the obvious danger that they could be planting a deeply unfortunate precedent if the next president proves to be a Cruz rather than a Clinton.

While the policies may not carry over to the next president, the powers will.

The Obama model will be attractive to successors who, although they may have a different agenda, have the same appetite for unilateral decisions.

Here are some specifics that he cites:

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Flashback: Was Trump inspired by the 1972 Cuban Olympic boxing team?

November 9, 2016

Originally posted August 19, 2015 … a bit ahead of its time.

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Many of you may be too young to have witnessed and remember, but…

In the 1972 Olympics, the polished U.S. boxing team was predicted to sweep the competition.

But, something happened on the way to the medals’ platform that shocked the sporting world.

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Here’s the story and why Trump jogged my memory of the 1972 Olympics …

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