Is financial stress making Americans dumber?

September 12, 2017

Connecting some research “dots” suggests that may be the case.


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


That’s a problem since most Americans (63%) don’t have enough budget-cushion or savings to cover an unexpected $1,000 expense (think, medical bill, house or car repair).

According to the poll, only 37% said they would be able to take the money directly from savings; the rest said they would try to cut expenses (24%), use their credit cards (15%) or borrow money from friends & family (15%). About 1 in 10 had no idea what they’d do.

Predictably, those with higher incomes were most likely to say they would be able to tap savings for emergencies or divert some discretionary spending.

75% of people in households making less than $50,000 a year and 2/3s of those making between $50,000 and $100,000 would have difficulty coming up with $1,000 to cover an unexpected bill.

Even for the wealthiest 20% — households making more than $100,000 a year — more than 1 in 3 say they would have  some difficulty coming up with $1,000. Source


Obviously, the threat of a large, unexpected expense is emotionally daunting to most Americans.

“It definitely adds stress to everyday life. It hangs over you.”

To make matters worse, there is some evidence that the financial stress may impair “cognitive functioning” – that is, dent a person’s IQ.

Read the rest of this entry »

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

September 11, 2017

Classical educators argued that these disciplines are the building blocks of reasoning, problem-solving and critical thinking.


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

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




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

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

Read the rest of this entry »

There are 5 clues of “authentic” intelligence …

September 8, 2017

For openers, high IQ and bilingual aren’t on the list.


Interesting piece that I spotted on the DailyMail


Everybody tries to act smart, right?

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



Psyche researchers dismiss most of these antics as shallow fakery and have identified 5 behavioral traits that authentically mark true intelligence.

Test yourself ….and start using the markers to smoke out faux-smarties.

Read the rest of this entry »

Quick: how many 3’s in the block of numbers?

September 7, 2017

Let’s test our cognitive skills today..


This summer, I’ve been reading up on storytelling and data visualization.

Hit pay dirt with a book called  Storytelling with Data: A Data Visualization Guide for Business Professionals.

One of the topics is how to leverage pre-attentive attributes – visual cues that can influence what information catches a reader’s eye on a slide or chart … think: “shiny objects”.

To demonstrate the concept of pre-attentive attributes: Observe the block of numbers below … how many 3’s are there in this block of numbers?


And, the answer is …

Read the rest of this entry »

Global IQ: What are the 10 most populated countries?

September 6, 2017

Today, a lesson in world geography and data visualization…


Below is a great visual from Tableau … countries are displayed as as bubbles … with each bubble proportionate based on each country’s population.

The 10 most populated countries are numbered.

OK, name them … in order.

Should be easy for well-educated, news-following, world travelers … right?



Need a hint ?

The bubbles are color-coded based on region:



Ready to check your answer?

Read the rest of this entry »

Evidence? Who needs evidence?

September 5, 2017

Comey intended to let Clinton walk before interviewing her or 16 other key witnesses


With all of the attention directed at Charlottesville and Hurricane Harvey, you might have missed this one.

According to the Washington Post and multiple other MSM sources …

The Office of the Special Prosecutor (Mueller) turned over to the Senate Judiciary Committee (Grassley) transcripts of interviews with a couple of Comey’s key lieutenants: James Rybicki, Comey’s chief of staff, and Trisha Anderson, the bureau’s principal deputy general counsel for national security and cyberlaw.

The pair gave corroborating testimony that Comey was planning to exonerate Clinton long before the FBI had completed its investigation.

Specifically, three or four months before Comey’s infamous July 2016 press conference, he drafted and circulated an outline of what he eventually said.

That’s before the FBI interviewed Clinton (a session that Comey didn’t even bother to attend) or 16 other key witnesses – -some of whom were granted immunity for their testimony and allowed to trash their own electronic devices without the FBI taking a peek at them.


There are several curious aspects to this revelation ….

Read the rest of this entry »

Digital amnesia: Is Google dulling your memory?

September 1, 2017

First, some background …

The tests I give my students always include some questions that can reasonably be tagged “memorization”.

Some students are repulsed by them and shout the cultural refrain: “Don’t memorize anything that you can look up.”

The apparent thinking: You’ve only got a limited amount of space in your brain, so don’t clog it with an overload of information … only store the stuff you can’t look-up.


What’s wrong with that argument?

Read the rest of this entry »

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

August 31, 2017

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


Let’s connect a couple of recently reported studies …

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

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

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


Putting that hour of Facebook in perspective:

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

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

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


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

Read the rest of this entry »

Please stop coughing on the back of my neck.

August 30, 2017

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


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

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


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

I thought my relatively dependable immune system would protect me.

Not so, lucky.

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

I was hacked at the guy for flying sick.

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

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

Read the rest of this entry »

Why is the Navy suddenly accident prone?

August 29, 2017

Maybe Romney was right about more than Russia.


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

How can that happen?

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

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

Regarding the latter, there are back-up systems.

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


So, what the heck is going on?

Read the rest of this entry »

Maybe Romney was right about more than Russia.

August 28, 2017

He warned about military readiness, and Obama mocked him.


Remember the 2012 Presidential debates?

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

Governor, the 1980’s are calling.

They want their foreign policy back.

The Cold War is over!


click to view



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

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

Obama quipped::

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

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

We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.

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

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


Memo to former President Obama:

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

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


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

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

We’ll address that in our next post.


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



Follow on Twitter @KenHoma            >> Latest Posts


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

August 25, 2017

Hillary is dishing why  she lost … except the obvious.


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

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


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

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

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

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


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

Read the rest of this entry »

You’re not paying attention !

August 24, 2017

Busting students using facial recognition software.


I always walk around the classroom when I teach.

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

The latter is the the acid test of attentiveness.


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

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

That’s pretty straightforward in the classroom.

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

Read the rest of this entry »

What makes a good teacher?

August 23, 2017

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


Interesting article in the Journal of Economic Perspectives

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

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



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

Read the rest of this entry »

Test your nuke-knowledge …

August 22, 2017

Which countries currently have nuclear weapons?


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

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

Be honest: Did you know that?

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

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

Yes or no?



You get the point.

Now it’s your turn.

No Googling or peeking !

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

What 9 countries currently have nuclear weapons?

Read the rest of this entry »

America’s political polarization in 3 charts …

August 21, 2017

Interesting analysis from NBC’s Chuck Todd.


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

As Meet the Press host Chuck Todd puts it:

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

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

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


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

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

Here’s where we stand today:



What the chart means …

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

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

That’s where we are today.

How did we get here?

Read the rest of this entry »

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

August 21, 2017

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


Let’s connect a couple of recently reported studies …

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

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

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


Putting that hour of Facebook in perspective:

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

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

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


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

Read the rest of this entry »

The two most dangerous words in the English language today …

August 18, 2017

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


According to Andy Kessler, writing in the WSJ

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

For example:

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

They successfully replicated only 39 of the 100 psychology experiments.

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



What’s going on?

Read the rest of this entry »

It takes more than a swig of ‘tussin …

August 17, 2017

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

Chris Rock is a very funny guy.

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

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

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



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

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

Here’s a glimpse at his recipe for success …

Read the rest of this entry »

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

August 16, 2017

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


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

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

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

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

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

computer hacker

Oh really?

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

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

Her are the (frightening) results …


Read the rest of this entry »

Does anybody remember blockbuster?

August 15, 2017

Are movie theaters heading for the same junk heap?


According to the WSJ

Movie theaters are reeling from a very disappointing summer season.

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

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


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

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

Read the rest of this entry »

Who’s paying for the Medicaid expansion?

August 14, 2017

It’s a microcosm of a messy system.


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

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

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



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

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

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

So, who picks up the bill?

Read the rest of this entry »

Teachers with conservative views don’t make the cut.

August 11, 2017

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


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

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

In many instances, conservatives and libertarians need not apply.



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

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

Here are a couple of highlight snippets from the article … Read the rest of this entry »

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

August 10, 2017

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


According to Inside Higher Education

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

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



Here is the complete stress-reduction policy ….

Read the rest of this entry »

GE’s Immelt on leadership …

August 9, 2017

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


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

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

At GE, I never stopped learning.


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

Read the rest of this entry »

How many medical schools are there?

August 8, 2017

… and how many medical degrees are granted each year?


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.



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 …

Read the rest of this entry »

Polygraphs won’t catch leakers … say, what?

August 7, 2017

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


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.



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 …

Read the rest of this entry »

How many doctors are women?

August 4, 2017

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


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 ….


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”.




How do the numbers break out by gender?

Read the rest of this entry »

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”.


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?



Not so fast, mes amis.

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

Read the rest of this entry »

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

August 2, 2017

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


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 ….

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.


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


Read the rest of this entry »

President acts Russian … names more than 30 “Czars”

August 1, 2017

Why hasn’t this gotten any attention recently?


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.




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….

Read the rest of this entry »

Trump threatens to make Congress live by the laws they pass ….

July 31, 2017

Starting with Congressional ObamaCare carve-outs.


It’s no secret that I get annoyed every time Congress passes legislation that provides that it doesn’t apply to them.

See Should lawmakers (and regulators) have to eat their own cooking?

So, I was delighted when President Trump tweeted over the weekend:

“If a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly … BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon!”


Here’s the back story …

Read the rest of this entry »

Laughs: AGT presents the “Singing Trump”

July 28, 2017

You have to trust me on this one …


Yeah, I’m still watching America’s Got Talent .

I watch it so that you don’t have to … except for the highlights that I dish to loyal readers.

Here’s a hilarious one for you, whether you’re pro-Trump or anti-Trump …


The back story:

When the Singing Trump walked on stage for his first audition, the crowd booed loudly … remember, it is an NBC show.

Australian “Mel B.” – former Spice Girl and now an AGT judge – joined the booing and gave him a disqualifying ‘red X’ as soon as he started his act.  Politically motivated?

The other judges passed him on to the next round.

This time, crowd was friendlier and Mel B. said

“I have to eat my words and apologize. You’re just like ‘him’ and you entertained us with the best 2 Backstreet Boys songs ever.”

End the week with a smile (and maybe a laugh).


click to view




Follow on Twitter @KenHoma            >> Latest Posts


To fix healthcare, the GOP has to nuke the legislative filibuster …

July 27, 2017

The past couple of weeks of Repeal & Replace has been annoying along several dimensions.

Foremost, all of the chatter has been about health insurance, not healthcare … just fiddling with who is going to get stuck paying … moving nickels around.

Woefully little talk about how to improve healthcare delivery.

That’s not surprising since the Senate’s fillibuster rules require 60 votes to pass any legislative action.

Keep in mind that Obama had 60 Senate votes in 2009 and 2010 … thanks to the DOJ sidelining Ted Stevens and Al Franken pulling a narrow upset in a disputed election.

Today, there are 48 Dems who reliably vote in lemming-like lockstep against anything the GOP proposes.

Even if centrist Dems were to band together with moderate GOPs,  the middle-of-the-roaders wouldn’t have enough votes to get a sensible proposal enacted.  It would be squashed by either the ultra-conservatives or the ultra-liberals.


So, the GOP-controlled Senate has its hands tied … it has to work through the “reconciliation” process which, by definition, just moves nickels around.

I think its time for McConnell to go nuclear…

Read the rest of this entry »

Technology throws educators another curve ball …

July 26, 2017

Now, students can access an inventory of exam answers.


In a prior post Why Johnny can’t write … we reported that high school teachers are assigning fewer writing assignments … in part, because many students simply Google the topic and plagiarize much of their work.

And, they can do so with a high degree of impunity, knowing that teachers and administrators will look the other way rather than go through the aggravation of prosecuting a case of academic dishonesty.

OK, that’s essays and term papers.

But, tests that students take should be relatively clean, right?


Not so fast, cheating on tests has always been around, but now it’s going high tech …


Forever, teachers have provided students will sample test questions and libraried past exams.

Students have passed the word to fellow students about tests – how hard? what topics? what questions?

Now there’s a high tech turbo-charger.

In the old days, students might try to slip a note to a fellow test-taker with answers.

Not a prevalent problem since the process was easily detected with documented evidence – the captured note.

Teachers now report that some students will use their cell phones to take a photo of their answers and instant message them to a classmate across the room.

Hit delete and the electronic evidence is gone.

Try to ban cell phones and hear a chorus of “But, it’s my calculator, I need it.”

Now it’s not just a few renegades in class sharing answers.

The process is escalating thanks to technology.

For example, there’s company called QEDed .”

“QEDed is a mobile app that allows you to share your questions and answers from same name courses such as Econ 101, Calculus 101 with schoolmates and new friends around the world.”

Sounds innocuous enough, right?

Here’s a nightmare scenario for teachers:

In real-time student test takers access a QEDed-like site and search for a similar question.


Of course, a defense mechanism might be having students surrender their electronic devices as they enter the test room.

Yeah, right.

Let me know how that goes …



Follow on Twitter @KenHoma            >> Latest Posts


Pareto is alive and well … and haunting the U.S. healthcare system.

July 25, 2017

According to the National Health Care Management Association analysis of  2008 healthcare spending:

  • The top 1 percent of the population was responsible for 20.2 percent of spending.
  • The top 5 percent of the population accounted for almost half (47.5 percent) of all health care spending.
  • ABout 60% of the top 5 percent (and top 1 percent) are 55 and older; about 40% is 65 and over
  • The top 10 percent of the population accounted for 63.6 percent of all spending.
  • 15.6 percent of the civilian, non-institutionalized population had no health care spending at all in 2008
  • The half of the population with the lowest spending accounted for only 3.1 percent of all expenditures.


>> Latest Posts

Wonder why it’s so hard to untangle ObamaCare?

July 24, 2017

Here’s a (scary) chart that puts the program in context.


Seriously, here’s a graphic of the ObamaCare organization structure and processes …


Here’s a link to enlarged version and another to a summary that decodes the chart and lists some of the bill’s key provisions.


Take a quick glance at the flowchart and ask yourself: ”Think this will work?”

The bill’s laundry list special interest provisions caught my eye…

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In praise of the “child’s mind” …

July 21, 2017

One of my current summer reads is “Presentation Zen” …

Theme of the book is that great slide presentations contain appropriate content arranged in the most efficient, graceful manner without superfluous decoration.

In Zen-speak, the key principles are: Restraint in preparation. Simplicity in design. Naturalness in delivery.

Now, to today’s point …


Recently, one friend said of another friend : He’s like an “infant-adult”.

Nothing derogatory intended.

Just observing that the guys seemed to derive a “wow” from practically every experience.

That makes life a lot more enjoyable (I think).

And, it’s very Zen-like.

According to the book, Zen teachings often speak of the “beginner’s mind” or “child’s mind.”

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Why Johnny can’t write …

July 20, 2017

Chatting with faculty colleagues, there seems to be a consensus that writing skills among MBA students have been declining.

I’m not talking about flowery prose and precise grammar.

I’m talking about logical argumentation … being able to explain why something is happening and what to do about it.

My hypothesis was that colleges aren’t requiring students to take courses (or demonstrate proficiency) in, say, critical thinking or logic … and that college students today aren’t required to write many papers that hone their thinking and writing skills.


Testing my hypothesis on a middle school math teacher-friend, I got a rude awakening …

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Remember how we got into this ObamaCare mess?

July 19, 2017

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 … nor did it overtly pave the way for Obama’s election.

But  the DOJ did tilt the legislative 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?

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If you’re one of the 155 million people on employee-based health insurance plans …

July 18, 2017

Here’s the main reason why YOUR health insurance premiums have gone up.


All the repeal & replace attention seems to be on the 20 million people who are getting insurance via Extended Medicaid or ObamaCare Exchanges.

Virtually no light is being shined on the vast majority of folks who are covered by employer plans.

Case-in-point: the soaring premiums being paid by employees … hardly the $2,500 reduction that was promised.

Here’s one of the reasons that premiums have gone up not down …


Most people – probably bordering on all – would agree that people with pre-existing conditions should be able to get health insurance.

I accept that as a non-debatable point.

But, I got curious about the economics of so-called “guaranteed coverage”… i.e. how much does it cost, and who pays for it?

Specifically, for folks covered by employer plans, how much of their increase in health insurance premiums over the past couple of years is attributable to guaranteed coverage?


Let’s take a whack at the numbers …

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Finally, I can answer my cell without carrying it around the house.

July 17, 2017

Link-2-cell may be America’s best kept secret.


For years, I’ve wondered why somebody hadn’t invented a way for my charging cell phone to ring in distant points of my home.

I was willing to sprint to the phone to answer it … but I didn’t want to carry it around … and I couldn’t hear the ring tone when I was in rooms across the house.

When I whined to a tech-savvy friend, he told me that I wasn’t thinking boldly enough  … that a technology called Link-2-Cell was already in the market … and it did more than just ring across the house.




Here’s the scoop …


I finally chucked my landline.

Make that: I kinda chucked my landline … porting from a classic Verizon copper line to an Xfinity VOIP connection.

I know: that’s no big deal … and it’s still old school to maintain any kind of landline.

Stay tuned … here’s where the story gets interesting.


I also bought a Panasonic Link-2-cell phone system (base station plus 5 handsets on sale at Costco for $85).

It looks like a standard Panasonic cordless phone set-up.

Of course, I can plug my Xfinity VOIP line into the base station … and it works just like an old fashioned landline system

But, it’s much more than that..


Here’s the cool part:

I can link my cell phone (and my wife’s) to the base station via Bluetooth … just like they connect to our cars’ hands-free systems.

As long as the cells are within Bluetooth range of the base station, any incoming cell phone calls get routed to all 5 of the handsets.

Our ring tones play through the remote handsets (so we know which phone is getting the call)

… and we can simply pick up any of the handsets to answer the call.

When we’re at home, we can just charge our cells in their usual place … and our house phone system magically transforms to a cell-based distributed phone system.

That is quite cool.


P.S.  A landline isn’t required … the system can be used as just a cell call router.



Follow on Twitter @KenHoma            >> Latest Posts


In praise of gridlock …

July 14, 2017

And, why I don’t care if Trump gets impeached.


I had a few very interesting conversations over the past week or two.

They revolved around a couple of linked topics:

1) Buyer’s remose

2) Congressional gridlock

3) Impeachment


For what it’s worth, here’s how I come out on these topics …

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Will liberal arts majors inherit the world?

July 13, 2017

A strong argument … but the data contradicts.


One of my summer reads is a book called “The fuzzy and the techie” by Scott Hartley –formerly of Google & Facebook, now a venture capitalist.


Hartley’s basic premise is that, almost by definition, liberal arts majors acquire fundamental thinking and communication skills, such as critical thinking, logical argumentation, and complex problem solving.

Sounds good, but here’s the rub …

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Why Right Brainers Will Rule the World …

July 12, 2017

Casually chatting with a friend about the benefits (and liabilities) of a liberal arts degree, I  mentioned  a book called A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the World.

As a hard core left-brainer, I take this one personally.

But, to be fair & balanced …



Here’s the crux of the book …

The last few decades have belonged to a certain kind of person with a certain kind of mind — computer programmers who could crank code, lawyers who could craft contracts, MBAs who could crunch numbers.

But, the future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind — creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers, and meaning makers.

We are moving from an economy and a society built on the logical, linear, computerlike capabilities of the Information Age …

… to an economy and a society built on the inventive, empathic, big-picture capabilities of what’s rising in its place, the Conceptual Age.

Why the shift?

Because any kind of work that be reduced to repeatable rules and defined processes can be automated or shipped off-shore – even so-called knowledge work

Survival in the Conceptual Age requires thinking skills utilizing the right-side of the brain.

Specifically, “high concept” involves the capacity to:

  • detect patterns and opportunities
  • create artistic and emotional beauty
  • craft a satisfying narrative

…. and to combine seemingly unrelated ideas into something new and distinctive.

Amazon link

What’s required to to succeed in Conceptual Age?

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Should chess be taught in schools?

July 11, 2017

Chess players are smarter – DNA or training?


Interesting article from the American Council of Science and Health …

A group of researchers examined people who do and do not play chess.

The question: are chess players smarter than non-chess players?


Here’s what the researchers found …

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Want to estimate somebody’s IQ?

July 10, 2017

Ask them what their college major was.


As the American Council of Science and Health puts it:

Though we don’t like to admit it, intelligence and IQ matter.

Creative people tend to have higher IQs.

Expertise, in any area, generally requires a higher IQ.

One research study concluded that a degree in math or physics takes an IQ of at least 120.

Taking the converse of that last point a step further, an analysis by Quartz indicates that a person’s college major serves as a good proxy for intellectual aptitude.

The Quartz analysis wasn’t able to determine the average IQ by college major, but it was able to triangulate from several cognitive metrics that all converged on a similar pattern.

So, extrapolating to IQ from a metric like SAT or GRE scores isn’t a big leap.


Let’s drill down on the findings …

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Should lawmakers (and regulators) have to eat their own cooking?

July 7, 2017

Might induce some genuine empathy and motivate some constructive action.


According to The Atlantic …

As a presidential candidate, Jimmy Carter criticized “exclusive private schools that allow the children of the political and economic elite to avoid public schools that are considered dangerous or inferior.”

When he assumed office in 1977, he did something remarkable:

He enrolled his 9-year-old daughter, Amy, in a predominantly black Washington, D.C., public school.

Amy became the first child of a sitting U.S. president to attend a public school since 1906.

She still is.

Gotta give the man credit for walking the talk.

Former President Obama?

Not so much …


A Dept. of Education study found that students in the nation’s capital that were provided with vouchers allowing them to attend private school made “statistically significant gains in achievement.”

Despite that finding, then President Obama curtailed the program … and turned around and enrolled his daughters in Sidwell Friends – the swank private school of choice for the DC elite.

So, it wasn’t at all surprising that several sources found that many of the Democratic Senators who voted against school voucher advocate Betsy DeVos –- opt out of the public school system and send their off-spring to private schools.

OK, maybe they really thought that DeVos wasn’t as qualified as Obama’s basketball buddy, Arne Duncan, who presided for 7 years over declining test scores and “failing schools” headlines.

Or, maybe their pro-choice inclinations don’t really extend beyond their family & friends when it comes to education.

As the USN&WR opined:

Education politics are big business in America, often pitting institutionalized interests like the NEA against parents and kids.

And, equally unfortunately, there are far too many people who are in a position to right the wrongs who are taking advantage of their ability to opt out of the discussion, at least as far as their own children are concerned.

Where education is concerned there’s one America for the elites, like members of Congress and the President, who send their children to private schools.

And, there’s one for everyone else, the regular people who are seeing the educational dreams they have for their children shattered on the altar of politics.


So, what’s the answer?

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Mastering math … or anything else.

July 6, 2017

Some insights on the science & practice of learning.


Interesting article buried in the  WSJ: “How a Polymath Mastered Math—and So Can You”

The subject polymath (a person of wide-ranging knowledge or learning) is Prof. Barbara Oakley.

To make her long story short, she was a self-proclaimed horrible math student in high school, dove back into math in her mid-20s, and is now an engineering professor..

“Her progression from desultory student to respected scholar led her to a sideline in the study of learning itself.”

She is the author of ‘A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even if You Flunked Algebra)’ and ‘Mindshift: Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential’.


Here are a few snippets from the article …

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Latest honor: The Budweiser ‘Good Sport’ Award

July 5, 2017

Here it is on the Washington Nationals’ Jumbotron …


And, besides being flashed to the crowd, here’s the bundle of loot that I got …

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