Archive for August, 2017

Studies: More time on Facebook … and it’s not good for you.

August 31, 2017

“Negatively associated with overall well-being … particularly mental health”.

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Let’s connect a couple of recently reported studies …

First, the BLS periodically reports how Americans spend their leisure time.

According to the NYT, channeling the most recent BLS report:

The average time that users spend on Facebook is nearing an hour.

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Putting that hour of Facebook in perspective:

That’s more than any other leisure activity surveyed … with the exception of watching television programs and movies (an average per day of 2.8 hours).

It’s more time than people spend reading (19 minutes); participating in sports or exercise (17 minutes); or social events (four minutes).

It’s almost as much time as people spend eating and drinking (1.07 hours). NYT

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And, a recent study published by the Harvard Business Review indicates that all that Facebook time is unhealthy.

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Please stop coughing on the back of my neck.

August 30, 2017

News flash: The way that airlines board planes spreads diseases.

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This spring, on a long flight from Cabo to DC, I had a prime aisle seat in the 2nd last row of the plane.

There was a guy in the last row who coughed a few times before take-off.

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Once in the air, it was 5 solid hours of coughing, wheezing and sneezing. Some of the sneezes literally landed on the back of my neck..

I thought my relatively dependable immune system would protect me.

Not so, lucky.

For more than 2 weeks, I had one of my worst colds in decades.

I was hacked at the guy for flying sick.

And, I wondered if the airlines could do more to protect passengers (like me) from disease-spreaders.

Well, a research team at Arizona State has partially answered that question to the affirmative.

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Why is the Navy suddenly accident prone?

August 29, 2017

Maybe Romney was right about more than Russia.

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A friend and I were chatting about the rash of naval accidents – 3 collisions and a ‘ran aground’.

How can that happen?

Conspiracy theorists wonder if the collisions were intentional acts of terror (remember the USS Cole bombing?) … or the result of computer hacking (military computer systems haven’t been immune from).

So far there hasn’t been any evidence of either terrorism or cyber-attacks.

Regarding the latter, there are back-up systems.

You know, sailors eyes – watching out for ships in the vicinity.

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So, what the heck is going on?

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Maybe Romney was right about more than Russia.

August 28, 2017

He warned about military readiness, and Obama mocked him.

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Remember the 2012 Presidential debates?

Former President Obama mocked Romney for highlighting Russia as a major geo-political risk.

Governor, the 1980’s are calling.

They want their foreign policy back.

The Cold War is over!

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click to view

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And, when Romney observed that our military strength had been depleted, especially with hot spots developing around the globe, Obama took him to the hoop again.

Romney said; “’Our Navy is smaller now than at any time since 1917.’

Obama quipped::

Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed.

We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them.

We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.

And so the question is not a game of Battleship, where we’re counting ships.

The mainstream press and other Obama supporters took the opportunity to portray Romney as old-fashioned and clueless about modern warfare.

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Memo to former President Obama:

FYI:  bayonets are still standard issue for marines … and all branches train recruits on hand-to-hand combat and knife wielding – a close cousin of bayonets – is a part of the training.

And, while horses aren’t a primary means of troop transport, special forces are sometimes forced to use horses to reach some of the tough terrain parts of Afghanistan.

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The bigger issue is the size of the Navy’s fleet.

Who’s right on that one: Obama or Romney?

We’ll address that in our next post.

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

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Follow on Twitter @KenHoma            >> Latest Posts

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

August 25, 2017

Hillary is dishing why  she lost … except the obvious.

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She’s on a pre-release tour laying the groundwork for 2 books that come out this fall.

Earlier this summer, she  perched on a faux-throne at CodeCon and the Javits Center …spilling the beans on why she lost. 

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This week she released some self-narrated excerpts from the audio version of the first book “What Happened?”

Of course, there are the usual villains: Comey, the Russians, WikiLeaks, deplorables, etc.

But, she’s also starting to turn on her support base: the DNC (bad data, no money, no ground game), mainstream media (for disclosing that she had classified docs on her server), women (both suburban and rural, urbans were ok), and low-information voters (her base !).

My personal favorite: “content farms in Macedonia” … apparently there’s an army of tech savvy social media writers based in Macedonia who turned their cannons on her.

Really?

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Here’s a current list of culprits and ill-wishers …

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You’re not paying attention !

August 24, 2017

Busting students using facial recognition software.

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I always walk around the classroom when I teach.

Couple of reasons: it  burns off some nervous energy and it lets me peek at students’ computer screens.

The latter is the the acid test of attentiveness.

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If I see one or two students checking email or sports scores, I figure it’s their problem and they move to the front of the queue for cold call questions.

If I see a lot of students “digitally distracted”, I figure that it’s my problem and I’ve got to adjust … e.g. shift out of lecture mode and into discussion mode.

That’s pretty straightforward in the classroom.

But, how to know if students are paying attention when they’re being beamed material online?

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What makes a good teacher?

August 23, 2017

Short answer: It’s anybody’s guess, until you see them in action.

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Interesting article in the Journal of Economic Perspectives

A couple of economic researchers chased after a Holy Grail: “Searching for Effective Teachers”.

They reviewed a stack of studies, conducted a few new ones and drew conclusions about teacher recruitment in public schools.

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Some of their conclusions are conventional, and some may surprise you …

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Test your nuke-knowledge …

August 22, 2017

Which countries currently have nuclear weapons?

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Thanks to North Korea, nuclear weapons have been in the news a lot lately.

After President Trump’s Afghan speech last night, many pundits observed that calling out Pakistan and India was a bit risky since both were nuclear powers.

Be honest: Did you know that?

My bet:  most Americans have no idea which countries do and do not have nuclear weapons now.

For example, what about France, Germany, Israel, Japan and the UK?

Yes or no?

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You get the point.

Now it’s your turn.

No Googling or peeking !

I’ll even state the question to give you a hint:

What 9 countries currently have nuclear weapons?

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America’s political polarization in 3 charts …

August 21, 2017

Interesting analysis from NBC’s Chuck Todd.

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It’s no secret that American politics has become increasingly – and maybe, irreversibly – polarized.

As Meet the Press host Chuck Todd puts it:

Polarization is no longer just polluting the system — it’s paralyzing it.

The deepening divide between the right and the left has largely hollowed out the center of American politics.

Gone are the politicians who once occupied the large “middle” and the voters who once gravitated to them.

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The Pew Research Center has tracked party identity and ideology for decades.

One way they do it is by scoring the Republicans and Democrats on a 10-item scale of political values.

Here’s where we stand today:

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What the chart means …

Democrats cluster to the left, Republicans cluster to the right.

There is less than 10% in each party leaning ideologically to the left (or right) of the other party’s median.

That’s where we are today.

How did we get here?

(more…)

Studies: More time on Facebook … and it’s not good for you.

August 21, 2017

“Negatively associated with overall well-being … particularly mental health”.

=========

Let’s connect a couple of recently reported studies …

First, the BLS periodically reports how Americans spend their leisure time.

According to the NYT, channeling the most recent BLS report:

The average time that users spend on Facebook is nearing an hour.

clip_image002

Putting that hour of Facebook in perspective:

That’s more than any other leisure activity surveyed … with the exception of watching television programs and movies (an average per day of 2.8 hours).

It’s more time than people spend reading (19 minutes); participating in sports or exercise (17 minutes); or social events (four minutes).

It’s almost as much time as people spend eating and drinking (1.07 hours). NYT

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And, a recent study published by the Harvard Business Review indicates that all that Facebook time is unhealthy.

(more…)

The two most dangerous words in the English language today …

August 18, 2017

When it comes to human behavior, “studies show” are becoming “the two most dangerous words in the English language today.”

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According to Andy Kessler, writing in the WSJ

Many of the cited studies on human behavior are pure bunk.

For example:

The 270 researchers working under the auspices of the Center for Open Science spent four years trying to reproduce 100 leading psychology experiments.

They successfully replicated only 39 of the 100 psychology experiments.

A survey of 1,576 scientists published in Nature reported that “more than 70% of researchers have tried and failed to reproduce another scientist’s experiments … and more than half are unable to reproduce their own experiments.”

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What’s going on?

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It takes more than a swig of ‘tussin …

August 17, 2017

There was a comedian on America’s Got Talent this week that reminded me of Chris Rock.

Chris Rock is a very funny guy.

His routine on the many uses of Robitussin (‘tussin, for short) is a comedy classic.

The ‘tussin skit sets the context for the rest of this post.

If you haven’t seen it – or want a refresher — click to view it now.

 

 

I always assumed that Rock was a naturally funny guy who just stoked up and unleashed a stream of top-of-mind consciousness on stage.

I was surprised to learn that Rock takes his craft very seriously and toils long and hard to test and fine-tune his material.

Here’s a glimpse at his recipe for success …

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NIST’s new password security rules beg a question …..

August 16, 2017

How long does it take to hack a 16-character password?

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Last week, NIST ((the National Institute of Standards and Technology) issued new guidelines for password security.

After a review, NIST concluded that its former rules — passwords to include upper and lower case letters, numbers, special characters — made logins more complicated but didn’t materially improve online security.

Now, NIST is recommending using long, easy-to-remember phrases instead of relatively short strings of mixed letters, numbers and characters.

The rationale: the longer the string, the harder it is to crack.

For example some researchers concluded that it would only take 3 days to crack a password like “Tr0ub4dor&3” —  but over  550 years to crack the password “CorrectHorseBatteryStaple”

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Oh really?

The story reminded me of a prior HomaFiles post that reported on a hacking test.

Hackers were given 1 hour to crack more than 16,000 cryptographically hashed passwords.

Her are the (frightening) results …

 

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Does anybody remember blockbuster?

August 15, 2017

Are movie theaters heading for the same junk heap?

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According to the WSJ

Movie theaters are reeling from a very disappointing summer season.

The summer 2017 season has been defined by big-budget movies that failed to live up to their massive marketing campaigns.

A steady stream of lackluster major releases …  has depressed moviegoing in the U.S. and Canada, where admissions are down about 5% so far this year. Revenues are down 2.9%, with slightly higher ticket prices making up for some of the attendance drop.

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Theater chain execs attribute the decline to the lackluster movie releases.

But, investors are starting to wonder if the industry is being fundamentally disrupted …

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Who’s paying for the Medicaid expansion?

August 14, 2017

It’s a microcosm of a messy system.

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Let’s pit the question in context with a budget recap from the WSJ

As ObamaCare came on stream in 2014, spending on Medicaid in exploded.

Annual federal Medicaid outlays rose from $265 billion in 2013 to an estimated $378 billion this year, and they are expected to keep climbing to $439 billion on current trend by 2020.

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But, the projections above are premised “on the current trend.”

The CBO underestimated the “power of free” and enrollments continue to soar way past initial projections.

Further, the Medicaid blowout is likely to accelerate, as states that have so far refused the federal freebie accept that the expansion is here to stay and sign on.

So, who picks up the bill?

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Teachers with conservative views don’t make the cut.

August 11, 2017

Topic came up in recent chats, prompting this HomaFiles flashback…

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GREAT article in the WSJ from MSB’s own John Hasnas – MSB Professor of Policy & Ethics: The One Kind of Diversity Colleges Avoid

His central point: When recruiting faculty, universities seek diversity by gender, race and nationality … but, not ideology.

In many instances, conservatives and libertarians need not apply.

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That conclusion probably doesn’t surprise many of you who already see the elephant in the middle of the room.

But, Prof. Hasnas provides some texture and “inside scoop”

Here are a couple of highlight snippets from the article … (more…)

If you’re stressed out by your grade, just change it … say, what?

August 10, 2017

Here’s one from the “great moments in higher education” file.

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According to Inside Higher Education

Rick Watson — a business professor at the University of Georgia’s Terry School of Business — included a “stress-reduction policy” in his course syllabus. syllabus

Under the policy, students could change their grades if they felt “unduly stressed” by the one they received, and leave group work at any time, without any explanation, if they felt stressed by the situation.

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Here is the complete stress-reduction policy ….

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GE’s Immelt on leadership …

August 9, 2017

On his last day as GE’s CEO, Jeff Immelt sent a message to all GE employees.

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Here’s my key points extract from Immelt’s remarks

Learning is a part of the DNA for all good leaders.

At GE, I never stopped learning.

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

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How many medical schools are there?

August 8, 2017

… and how many medical degrees are granted each year?

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Let’s start with the last question first…

Currently, U.S. medical schools graduate almost 19,000 students each year.

Most healthcare pundits agree that – while the number has been increasing over recent years – too few are being graduated to forestall an anticipated doctor shortage.

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Note that since 1960, there have been 3 distinct periods: growth from 1960 to 1982, flatline from 1982 and resumed growth from 2006.

Here’s a short history of medical school openings and admissions …

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Polygraphs won’t catch leakers … say, what?

August 7, 2017

Last week, AG Sessions announced a stepped-up effort to catch and prosecute leakers.

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The ACLU quickly hit the presses, arguing action against leakers was a threat against free speech and freedom of the press.

Say, what?

We’re talking about classified government information, boys.

Then, things heated up when Kelly Ann Conway hinted that suspected leakers might be subjected to polygraph testing.

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Conway’s remarks unleashed a rash of anti-polygraph rants:

  • It won’t work … other Presidents have tried and leaks continued
  • It’s not admissible in court … so the DOJ won’t be able to prosecute.
  • It’s bad HR policy … destroys the employer-employee bond on trust

Here are some things for the critics to consider …

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How many doctors are women?

August 4, 2017

…. and, how old is the pool of active doctors?

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Even though Congress is punting on healthcare (or maybe because Congress is punting on healthcare), I decided to to get better informed on the topic.

Of course, I like to start with the numbers.

Where better to start, than with the “ 2016 Census of Actively Licensed Physicians in the United States”

Note: Unless noted to the contrary, all data reported below is from this census .

Today, let’s look at physician demographics ….

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An aging pool of doctors

The average age Active Licensed Physicians is just a bit over 50 years old.

Older doctors (over 60 years old) are the biggest age group … and their percentage of the overall mix has been increasing.

Bottom line: the pool of doctors is aging as baby boomer doctors “mature”.

 

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How do the numbers break out by gender?

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CNN: “Speaking English” limits immigration to people from Great Britain & Australia … say, what?

August 3, 2017

Let’s connect a couple of dots today …

In case you missed it, abrasive Trump policy wonk Stephen Miller got into a heated exchange with CNN’s Jim Acosta.

Miller was briefing the press on President Trump’s RAISE Act, which would move critical skills immigrants to the head of the line and require that immigrants learn English before they come to the United States.

Acosta challenged the English language requirement and asked:

“Are we just going to bring in people from Great Britain and Australia?”

Miller’s response:

“I have to honestly say, I am shocked at your statement that you think that only people from Great Britain and Australia would know English”.

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The 2nd dot:

I’m into infographics these days and, earlier this week, a friend sent me a great one.

Initially, I was just intrigued by the infograhic’s structure and style.

Suddenly, its content has taken on a higher relevance.

Below is a the featured component of the infographic — a cool pie chart that proportionately depicts the “world’s most spoken languages”.

English is the modestly sized yellow section in the top left corner.

Point to CNN’s Acosta, right?

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Not so fast, mes amis.

Let’s look at a couple of other parts of the full  infographic ….

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How many doctors are there in the U.S.?

August 2, 2017

… and how many got their degrees from U.S. schools?

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Even though Congress is punting on healthcare (or maybe because Congress is punting on healthcare), I decided to to get better informed on the topic.

Of course, I like to start with the numbers.

Where better to start, than with the “ 2016 Census of Actively Licensed Physicians in the United States”

Note: Unless noted to the contrary, all data reported below is from this census.

Here are some of my takeaways ….

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There are about 950,000 active licensed physicians (ALPs) in the U.S.

Doing the arithmetic, that works out to about 350 people per doctor … or, reversing the stat, about 295 doctors per 100,000 of population.

The number of doctors per 100,000 of population is relative even across states, with one glaring exception … that might explain our crack Congress is content dragging their heels on real healthcare reform.


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Let’s dig a little deeper into the numbers ….

 

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President acts Russian … names more than 30 “Czars”

August 1, 2017

Why hasn’t this gotten any attention recently?

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Dems and their media buddies keep hammering Trump for being too cozy with Russia.

The slightest innuendo or chance encounter (think: Trump chats with Putin at formal G20 dinner”) gets blown up into a faux cause celebre that quickly evaporates.

Imagine for a moment if President Trump were to circumvent the Senate’s “advise & consent” rules by appointing people to his administration who play high-level cabinet-like roles … but aren’t subject to Senate approval.

The screaming would be deafening.

And, imagine if Trump were to call the process-circumventing appointees “Czars”.

Russia !  Russia !!!  Russia !!!!

Clear evidence of collusion: Impeach for treason.

 

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Only problem with the story: Trump hasn’t done it, but Obama did … to a gleeful, encouraging press that argued “he had no choice but to do it.”

For a trip down memory lane, here’s a list of Obama’s Czars….

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