In praise of gridlock …

July 14, 2017

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

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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

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

Read the rest of this entry »

Will liberal arts majors inherit the world?

July 13, 2017

A strong argument … but the data contradicts.

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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.

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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 …

Read the rest of this entry »

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 …

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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?

Read the rest of this entry »

Should chess be taught in schools?

July 11, 2017

Chess players are smarter – DNA or training?

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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?

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Here’s what the researchers found …

Read the rest of this entry »

Want to estimate somebody’s IQ?

July 10, 2017

Ask them what their college major was.

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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.

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Let’s drill down on the findings …

Read the rest of this entry »

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

July 7, 2017

Might induce some genuine empathy and motivate some constructive action.

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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 …

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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.

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So, what’s the answer?

Read the rest of this entry »

Mastering math … or anything else.

July 6, 2017

Some insights on the science & practice of learning.

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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’.

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Here are a few snippets from the article …

Read the rest of this entry »

Latest honor: The Budweiser ‘Good Sport’ Award

July 5, 2017

Here it is on the Washington Nationals’ Jumbotron …

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

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Happy 4th of July !

July 3, 2017

Take a moment to remember how lucky we are …

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Killer chart: OC’s middle class crunch …

June 30, 2017

Yesterday’s post recapped articles from the NYT and WSJ that made a common, largely unrecognized point:

The expansion of “free” and near-free healthcare to approximately 15 million currently uninsureds (out of about 45 million uninsured citizens) is – to a large extent – being funded by the working middle class.

Case in point: the net insurance premiums paid after subsidies on the Obama Exchanges.

Using the Kaiser Foundation subsidy calculator , I picked off the net premiums for single, non-smoking 25 year olds across a range of incomes … and calculated the net premium as a percentage of income.

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Here are the fundamental takeaways …

Read the rest of this entry »

Flashback: Even the NYT admitted that ObamaCare had losers, too …

June 29, 2017

And, those folks reside in the middle class !

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Since healthcare (err, make that “health insurance”) is front and center again, I thought I’d dust this one off:

Way back in 2013, the NY Times published an argument defining article titled; Don’t Dare Call the Health Law ‘Redistribution’

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I assumed that it would be a typical NYT pro-Obama pitch about how ObamaCare wasn’t a redistribution of wealth … that it was simply a well-intended effort to improve the wasn’t a redistribution of wealth … that it was simply a well-intended effort to improve the health care system by providing universal insurance coverage.

To the contrary.

The article put in black & white the “truth” that, at it’s core, ObamaCare is a wealth distribution scheme with both winners and losers.

OMG, they said it.

Not “like it, keep it with lower premiums” but “winners & losers”

Here are the killer quotes ….

Read the rest of this entry »

Has ObamaCare provided more healthcare?

June 28, 2017

Not really: it just covered more people with health insurance?

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In my consulting / problem-solving class, I emphasize asking the right question before starting to gather data, doing analyses, drawing conclusions and making recommendations.

Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Then, would someone please explain to me why the politcos (on both sides) obsess over health insurance coverage (how many people are covered) and largely ignore the quantity & quality healthcare that Americans are getting?

 

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Source: AAMC

My conclusion: More Americans now have health insurance, but healthcare hasn’t increased … it has just been re-distributed.

Read the rest of this entry »

One way to alleviate the shortage of doctors…

June 27, 2017

Grant med school grads provisional licenses.

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Very interesting idea reported by the Heritage Foundation

It widely accepted that the U.S. has a current shortage of doctors that is expected to balloon as the demand increases (aging population, expanded Medicaid, etc.).

Current estimates put the 2030 shortage between 40,000 and 105,000.

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Each year, US med schools crank out about 18,000 medical degrees. Source

Dictated by the AMA, before getting licensed, these grads need to go through formal residency programs at teaching hospitals.

Here’s the rub.

The residency programs are largely government funded, and there are spending caps.

Spending caps translate to enrollment caps.

So, each year, about 5,000 of the med school grads — more than 25%) — don’t get a residency slot.

No residency, no license.

Reportedly, these non-residentially certified med school grads either land in non-patient treating medical jobs (think “pharma”) or leave healthcare all together.

The usual response: just throw more tax dollars at the problem.

But, there are other options…

Addressing the problem, a few states have implemented a program that Heritage is now touting: provisional licenses.

Read the rest of this entry »

Is there another Y2K on the horizon?

June 26, 2017

Oregon goes “non-binary”.

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Let’s connect a couple of dots today …

First, the White House recently announced  that it would eliminate dozens of paperwork requirements for federal agencies.

Included was an obscure rule that requires agencies to continue providing updates on their preparedness for a bug that afflicted many computer systems when the calendar turned on January 1, 2000 – more than 16 years ago.

Tech note: In the 1900’s, to save tape and disk space, most computer programs coded years in 2-digits, e.g. ‘1988’= ’88’.

But, coding ‘2000’ as ‘00’ would cause many problems since computers would think the ‘00’ would mean 1900, e.g  a baby born on January 1, 2000 would be 100 years old at birth.

Date-dependent programs were affected, and the fixes were both costly and time-consuming. But, the job got done!

 

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Seven of the 50 paperwork requirements that were eliminated dealt with the Y2K bug.

OMB estimates that the changes could save tens of thousands of man-hours across the federal government.

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The second story comes from the state of Oregon:

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Oregon became the first state to allow residents to identify as “nonbinary,” neither male nor female, on their driver licenses and identification cards.Beginning July 1, Oregonians will be able to choose “X” for sex Instead of “F” or “M” on their licenses and identification cards.

Most Oregonians favored the change.

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So, what’s the problem?

Read the rest of this entry »

Dilbert asks: “Who wants a dangerous man in the White House?”

June 23, 2017

Well, not actually Dilbert … rather Dilbert’s author Scott Adams.

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With all of the MSM “Trump is a bad person” hysteria … coupled with the Dems 4th straight special elections loss … I was reminded of a prior (and once again timely) post.

During the Presidential campaign, Adams hit the nail on the head on his Dilbert blog, …

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Adams observed that, during the campaign, , Hillary’s constant refrain that we can’t have a loose cannon in the White House.

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Adam’s cut to the chase on on “Dangerous Trump”:

Read the rest of this entry »

Will Mueller give Comey immunity?

June 22, 2017

May not be as wild as it sounds.

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Let’s connect some dots today …

MSM has been buzzing about Trump reportedly considering pardons for some of his “satellites” termination of Mueller as special investigator … and, Mueller shining a spotlight on the alleged obstruction of justice charges that Comey kinda lobbed into the mix.

Keep in mind that — well after the fact —  Comey provided sworn testimony that that his investigation had not been subjected to any obstruction. Period.

Then, after getting canned, he leaked his ‘file-to-the-memo’ to the New York Times.

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Strikes me, that Comey – as usual – was trying to be too cute by half and got himself into a bit of a bind.

Read the rest of this entry »

Re: Comey … WSJ got it right … in 2013!

June 21, 2017

Comey never has been a political….

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Prior to last July, Comey was branded as independent, high integrity and apolitical.

Apolitical?

While people seemed shocked these days, his stripes were clear years ago.

 

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The Wall Street Journal had the guy pegged right all along.

Read the rest of this entry »

Great moments in education … really

June 20, 2017

DC public school “graduates” pre-schoolers.

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Yes, I’m a doting grandfather.

My granddaughter Maddie has been attending pre-school at Hyde-Addison Elementary — a DC public school.

Not a a typical DC school since it’s located in Georgetown …

Evidence: Last week, a highly supportive parents’ group arranged for Maddie’s pre-school class to “graduate” in caps & gowns.

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My first reaction: It seems like a bit of overkill … but she sure looks cute.

Upon reflection, I think the parents at Hyde-Addison School have hit on a brilliant idea…

Read the rest of this entry »

Recap: The 10 reasons why I’m lukewarm to climate change…

June 19, 2017

I’m neither a denier nor a zealot …  so, according to British writer (& phrase-coiner) Matt Ridley, I’m a “lukewarmer”.

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For the record, here are the 10 reasons that I’m a lukewarmer … with links to the prior posts:

  1.   Unsettling science   From “Ice Age” to  “Global Warming”  to “18-year Pause” to“Climate Change”.

2.   Expired doomsday predictions   By 2016, NYC would be swamped, Polar bears would be extinct, etc.

3.  The “97% of scientists” baloney   Oft-repeated doesn’t make it true – here’s the real story

4.  Dinking with the data   Temperature data “adjusted” by the NOAA eliminated the 18-year pause and bolstered the global warming case

5.  Temperature readings – plus or minus   Bottom line: thermometers weren’t very precise in the old days … and still have wide variances

6.  What’s the earth’s temperature?   It depends on the mix of reporting locations and an array of factors at each of them

7.  The Climategate Emails   Climate scientists were exposed hiding exculpatory data for political purposes

8.  Low on American’s worry list   Folks will nod that it’s probably getting warmer, but have more urgent matters to worry about (like keeping their jobs or getting healthcare)

9.  Seen a Volt recently?   Obama vowed a million EVs by now – where are the “believers”?

10. Letting the perps walk   For all practical purposes, the Paris Accords gave the world’s worst polluters – India & China – a free pass.

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And, my advice to climate change advocates:

(1) “Re-brand” the cause to fighting pollution — people can relate to that and it gets to the same end-point

(2)  Stop the incredible (i.e. not credible) scare tactics

(3)  Walk-the-talk … dampen the hypocricy

(4)  Show some respect for the opinions of lukewarmers (or even skeptics)

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#10 – Why I’m lukewarm to climate change…

June 19, 2017

Reason #10- Letting the perps walk

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I’m neither a denier nor a zealot …  so, according to British writer (& phrase-coiner) Matt Ridley, I’m a “lukewarmer”.

In a prior posts, I covered: (1) Unsettling science (2) Expired doomsday predictions (3) The “97% of scientists” baloney  (4) Dinking with the data  (5) Temperature readings – plus or minus (6) What’s the earth’s temperature? (7) The Climategate Emails (8) Low on American’s worry list and (9) Seen a Volt recently?

Let’s move on…

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Reason #10 – Letting the perps walk

This one is pretty straightforward …

China has reached record-breaking levels of air pollution that the monitoring equipment can no longer keep track.

Unfortunately, air pollution isn’t just affecting China. Greenpeace states that India is now the world’s worst when it comes to air pollution.

The average India citizen is exposed to 5x as much air pollution as the average Chinese citizen. Source

Ouch!

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And, the revered Paris Accords won’t make things better any time soon…

Read the rest of this entry »

#9 – Why I’m lukewarm to climate change…

June 16, 2017

Reason #9 – Seen a Volt lately?

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I’m neither a denier nor a zealot …  so, according to British writer (& phrase-coiner) Matt Ridley, I’m a “lukewarmer”.

In a prior posts, I covered: (1) Unsettling science (2) Expired doomsday predictions (3) The “97% of scientists” baloney  (4) Dinking with the data  (5) Temperature readings – plus or minus (6) What’s the earth’s temperature? (7) The Climategate Emails and (8) Low on American’s worry list

Let’s move on…

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Reason #9 – Seen a Volt lately?

In a prior post, we presented some survey data indicating that climate change is far down the list of things concerning average Americans.

Survey data is always subject to some interpretation, and surveys often contradict one another.

So, let’s look at some hard data.

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Flashback to 2008: former President Barack Obama set a goal of getting one million plug-in electric vehicles on the roads by 2015.

So, how’s it going?

Read the rest of this entry »

#8 – Why I’m lukewarm to climate change…

June 15, 2017

Reason #8 – Low on American’s worry list

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I’m neither a denier nor a zealot …  so, according to British writer (& phrase-coiner) Matt Ridley, I’m a “lukewarmer”.

In a prior posts, I covered: (1) Unsettling science (2) Expired doomsday predictions (3) The “97% of scientists” baloney  (4) Dinking with the data  (5) Temperature readings – plus or minus (6) What’s the earth’s temperature? and (7) The Climategate emails

Let’s move on…

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Reason #8: Climate change is low on American’s worry list

According to a survey reported by tleft-leaning Brookings:

About 2/3’s of Americans think that they’ve read or heard solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been getting warmer.

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OK, they say that they think the earth is getting warmer.

But here’s the rub:

Even if folks agree  that they’ve read or heard that the earth is warming, they don’t seem to care much.

Read the rest of this entry »

#7 – Why I’m lukewarm to climate change …

June 14, 2017

Reason #7: The Climategate emails

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I’m neither a denier nor a zealot …  so, according to British writer (& phrase-coiner) Matt Ridley, I’m a “lukewarmer”.

In a prior posts, I covered: (1) Unsettling science (2) Expired doomsday predictions (3) The “97% of scientists” baloney  (4) Dinking with the data  (5) Temperature readings – plus or minus and (6) What’s the earth’s temperature?

Let’s move on…

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Reason #7: The Climategate emails

“Climategate” was a scandal involving the hacking of servers at the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia and subsequent public release of thousands of emails among scientists working to prove that humans are causing a global warming crisis.

Of course, climate zealots thought the scandal was the hacking.

Climate skeptics thought the scandal was the content of the emails.

Sound familiar?

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click for Amazon link

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The leaked emails were quite revealing…

Read the rest of this entry »

#6 – Why I’m lukewarm to climate change…

June 13, 2017

Reason #6: What’s the earth’s temperature?

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I’m neither a denier nor a zealot …  so, according to British writer (& phrase-coiner) Matt Ridley, I’m a “lukewarmer”.

In a prior posts, I covered: (1) Unsettling science (2) Expired doomsday predictions (3) The “97% of scientists” baloney (4) Dinking with the data  and (5) Temperature readings – plus or minus

Let’s move on…

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Reason #6: What’s the earth’s temperature?

Climate “scientists” are confidently forecasting temperatures to to fractional degrees … 50 or 100 years out.

Contrast that to a local DC TV station which promotes a 3-degree forecast guarantee for the next day’s high temperature.

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That is, if the next day’s high temperature at a specific measurement location (think, Reagan Airport) falls within a specified 6-degree band (the forecast plus or minus 3 degrees), the weatherman lays claim to another successful forecast.

The success rate is about 90% … or conversely:

The weather guy misses about 10% of the time on a next day temperature forecast … despite a robust 6-degree forecast range.

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The Washington Post took an interesting swipe at the 3-degree guarantee:

Read the rest of this entry »

#5 – Why I’m lukewarm to climate change…

June 12, 2017

Reason #5: Temperature readings – plus or minus.

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I’m neither a denier nor a zealot …  so, according to British writer (& phrase-coiner) Matt Ridley, I’m a “lukewarmer”.

In a prior posts, I covered: (1) Unsettling science (2) Expired doomsday predictions (3) The “97% of scientists” baloney and (4) Dinking with the data .

Let’s move on…

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Reason #5: Temperature readings – plus or minus.

Let’s start with a personal story….

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Last week I had an air conditioning problem that I isolated to the thermostat … specifically, the themometer’s digital thermometer.

For openers, I showed the HVAC repair guy my handy portable digital thermometer that was reading 73 degrees … and pointed to the thermostat which was reading 76 degrees.

He reached into his bag and pulled out “truth” … a fancy electronic gadget that measures temperatures precisely (or so the guy said).

Guess what … “truth” read 74 degrees.

OK, so which was the real temperature?

The guy’s response: “Best we hope for is getting these things within a couple of degrees of each other.”

Really?

We couldn’t get a $1,000 space-age thermostat, a personal digital thermometer (reading temps out to 1 decimal place) … and, of course, the HVAC guys “truth” meter to agree.

Hmmm.

Climate zealots are confidently reporting temperatures for back 100 years ago (when digital thermometers didn’t even exist).

And, they’re confidently forecasting temperatures out a hundred years from now within 1 degree Centigrade.

Think about that for a second …

Read the rest of this entry »

#4 – Why I’m lukewarm to climate change…

June 9, 2017

Reason #4: Dinking with the data

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I’m neither a denier nor a zealot …  so, according to British writer (& phrase-coiner) Matt Ridley, I’m a “lukewarmer”.

In a prior posts, I covered:

Reason #1Unsettling Science … I’ve gotten  cognitive whiplash from “Ice Age” u-turning to  “Global Warming”  …  which was slowed by an “18-year Pause” … and then wrapped in a catch-all “Climate Change”.

Reason #2Al Gore and his doomsday prediction …  in 2016 we passed his point of no return towards a true planetary emergency  … without the planet melting or exploding … and with Manhattan still above water (I think).

Reason #3The “97% of scientists” baloney … an oft-repeated claim based on bad data science: a very small,  hand-picked sample of climate change papers, not a projectable sample of scientists … which literally put words into authors’ mouths … i.e. bad data science.

Let’s move on…

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Reason #4: Dinking with the data

Here’s a case in point:

Remember the 18-year “”Global Warming “Pause”?

Raw recorded temperature data slowed that temperatures had flattened out for a recent 18 year period.

English translation: no evidence of global warming.

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Well, in 2015,  a team of scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Centers for Environmental Information* (NCEI) made some “adjustments” to global surface temperature data. Source

English translation: they dinked with the data.

Among the results:  the 18-year pause that was evident in the raw data went away (chart above).

More broadly, the revised (i.e. manually manipulated) data reversed an 80-year cooling trend evident in the raw data … and validated a warming trend that was not  evident until the temperature data was revised. Source

As Gomer Pyle would say: “Surprise, surprise, surprise.”

Scientists that I know wouldn’t think of manually “adjusting” their data when they didn’t get the results they expected.

That would be bad science, right?

But, it doesn’t seem to deter the climate scientists.

Maybe the adjustments are legit … I don’t know.

Nonetheless, they seem pretty fishy to me.

And, gives me another reason to be lukewarm.

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#3 – Why I’m lukewarm to climate change…

June 8, 2017

Reason #3: The “97% of scientists” baloney

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I’m neither a denier nor a zealot …  so, according to British writer (& phrase-coiner) Matt Ridley, I’m a “lukewarmer”.

In a prior posts, I covered:

Reason #1Unsettling Science … I’ve gotten  cognitive whiplash from “Ice Age” u-turning to  “Global Warming”  …  which was slowed by an “18-year Pause” … and then wrapped in a catch-all “Climate Change”.

Reason #2Al Gore and his doomsday prediction …  in 2016 we passed his point of no return towards a true planetary emergency  … without the planet melting or exploding … and with Manhattan still above water (I think).

Let’s move on…

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My 3rd reason: The “97% of scientists” baloney.

This claim really gained traction when former President Obama tweeted:

“97% percent of scientists agree: #climate change is real, man-made and dangerous.”

Case closed, right?

Hot so fast …

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Let’s start with a simple smell test:

Can you think of any issue that garners 97% agreement?

My bet is that 97%% of “scientists” don’t even agree that smoking causes cancer.

Pick your issue … 97% … really?

Doesn’t smell right to me, but maybe climate change the exception to the rule.

So, let’s deep dive the claim…

Read the rest of this entry »

#2 – Why I’m lukewarm to climate change …

June 7, 2017

Reason #2: Al Gore and his his Doomsday Predictions

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I’m neither a denier nor a zealot …  so, according to British writer (& phrase-coiner) Matt Ridley, I’m a “lukewarmer”.

In a prior post, I covered reason #1 … Unsettling Science  … I’ve gotten  cognitive whiplash from “Ice Age” u-turning to  “Global Warming”  …  which was slowed by an “18-year Pause” … and then wrapped in a catch-all “Climate Change”.

Sorry, but this just doesn’t strike me as settled science.

Let’s move on…

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My 2nd reason: Al Gore and his doomsday predictions .

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Let me be unscientifically caddy for a moment.

I think Al Gore is a complete dufass who has raked millions preaching on behalf of climate change.

I personally don’t believe a thing that the dude says.  Period.

As a recovering marketer, I think the zealots would be better off with PeeWee Herman as their front-man.

OK, with that out of the way, let’s get specific ….

Read the rest of this entry »

Why I’m a “lukewarmer” … ambivalent to climate change.

June 6, 2017

Reason #1: From “The Coming Ice Age” … to “Global Warming” … to “18 year Pause” … to “Climate Change”

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Amid the hysteria over President Trump’s ditching of the Paris Accords, I had a long talk with myself.

“Self,” I asked “Why are you so apathetic to the pending Apocalypse?”

My first reason: the wide swings in the “branding” of the impending disaster that “scientists” anticipate.

For example, back in the late 1950s (yes, I was alive then), scientists were already touting the next ice age.

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That crisis scenario caught traction for a couple of decades…

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Prime Minister May talks tough…

June 5, 2017

Pre-election rhetoric or the real deal?

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Practically all of the news readers started by saying “There has been another …”

That alone speaks legions.

When the death toll stayed in single digits, I sensed a sign of relief among the newswers.

Almost like, “Whew. No big deal. Chicago probably had a worse weekend.”

Then while working out, PM May came on the telly live with her morning after remarks.

She was all business.

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I was impressed by the sharpness of her well-honed remarks … especially some (not all) of her prescriptions.

Read the rest of this entry »

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

June 2, 2017

Hillary is dishing why  she lost … except the obvious.

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click for an updated version of this post

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Original post:

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

The last 2 days, she has been perched on a faux-throne at CodeCon and the Javits Center …spilling the beans on why she lost.

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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 … Read the rest of this entry »

About the hyperventilation over Russia…

June 1, 2017

Some key points are being overlooked.

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Fueled by rumors and “secret intel assessment”, election-deniers are having a field day blaming Queen Hillary’s loss on the Russians and alleging that Trump is in Putin’s back pocket.

Beyond the hypocrisy of the Dems hissy fit over Trump’s  refusal (in debate #3) to commit to accepting the election results if they seemed tainted (<= ironic, isn’t it?), the deniers seem to be overlooking a couple of key points.

Read the rest of this entry »

USAA: “Just kidding”… u-turns back to Fox.

May 31, 2017

Here’s the letter they sent to veterans who threatened to move their insurance business.

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For those who were busy celebrating Memorial Day, here’s the story in a nutshell:

  • Fox ran a story about a DNC staffer who was victim of an unsolved murder … alleging that he (not the Russians) leaked the DNC memos to WikiLeaks
  • Media Matters – a very leftist news tracking service – called for a boycott of FoxNews (for trying to derail the Trump-Russia narrative) … especially the Sean Hannity Show.
  • Several advertisers joined together in the boycott, including Ring.com (home security), Casper.com (matresses) … and USAA (insurance for military families)
  • Many USAA customers – who like Fox’s pro-military opining –complained that USAA’s action was strictly political.
  • USAA said that its policy is not to advertise on opinion shows – but it was proven that they advertise extensively on MSNBC
  • USAA announced that it was pulling ads from MSNBC (to prove that its actions weren’t political
  • Media Matters and other left-leaning groups started to whine
  • So, USAA closed the circle by announcing that it will advertise on both Fox and MSNBC “until it concludes a review of its advertising policies”

Here’s a HomaFiles exclusive: the letter that USAA sent to its veteran-customers who threatened a retaliatory boycott on USAA…

Read the rest of this entry »

Branding: Would you rather travel to Iceland or Greenland?

May 30, 2017

Some friends & family recently tripped to Iceland.

They loved it, but remarked “it was pretty cold”.

I asserted that you waive you right to carp about chilliness when you choose to go to a place called “Iceland”.

After chuckling, I said “sounds to me like a  branding issue” … and, my friends said “that’s right … and there’s a story about the naming of Iceland and Greenland.”

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Digging a bit, here’s the story that I’ve been able to piece together …

Read the rest of this entry »

On this Memorial Day …

May 29, 2017

 Remember all who gave their lives on our behalf
   … and thank those who are serving us now. 

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#HomaFiles

Follow on Twitter @KenHoma            >> Latest Posts

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USAA sends active military and veterans an insulting Memorial Day card.

May 27, 2017

A couple of friends – veterans all – alerted me that USAA – the insurance company that caters to military veterans and their families has announced – on the run-up to <e,orial Day — that it’s joining with progressives and pulling ads from some Fox News programs.

Sure enough.

According to the Washington Post:

Financial services firm USAA is adding itself to the list of companies that have pulled advertising from Fox News Channel shows.

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According to USAA, its actions are completely unrelated to the progressives’ Fox boycott:

“Our policy is to run ads on news programs. There was an error which led to our ads running during opinion-based programs, and as soon as that was discovered, the error was corrected.”

Unfortunately (for USAA), there’s a major flaw in their storyline…

Read the rest of this entry »

Will Comey ask Mueller for immunity?

May 26, 2017

May not be as wild as it sounds.

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Let’s connect some dots today …

Couple of weeks ago, there was aleak that Comey had a file memo documenting that Trump had privately told him (Comey) that he (Trump) hoped that he (Comey) could make the Flynn investigation go away quickly.

Left-leaning media started screaming “obstruction” … and right-leaning news outlets countered by looping later sworn testimony by Comey that his investigation had not been subjected to any obstruction. Period.

A Congressional oversight committee invited Comey to testify – to clear up the apparent contradiction … Comey agreed.

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Then, Comey postponed (cancelled?) his  Congressional committee appearance. source

Instead, he met with Rep. Chaffetz who has said that if more information were made public, then folks would cut Comey more slack on his handling of the Clinton email fiasco.

Hmmm.

And, it was reported that — before any Congressional appearances – Comey wanted to meet with Special Investigative Counselor Robert Mueller. source

Double hmmm.

What’s that all about?

Read the rest of this entry »

Mastering math … or anything else.

May 25, 2017

Some insights on the science & practice of learning.

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Interesting article buried in the weekend edition of 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’.

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Here are a few snippets from the article …

Read the rest of this entry »

Salute: High praise for garbagemen … really!

May 24, 2017

Remember when Nancy Pelosi was lauding how ObamaCare was “liberating millions of Americans from the burden of working at jobs they don’t like.”

Simple thesis: just hang on the couch and let taxpayers foot the bill for your food, phone and, now, health insurance.

Why work?

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The issue is front & center again.

According to the Washington Post:

“Making (able-bodied) low-income Americans work to qualify for so-called welfare programs is a key theme of the Trump budget proposal … imposing more stringent work requirements — similar to those in effect in Maine and other states.”

Of course, WaPo thinks that’s a bad thing.

Evidence: a couple of heart-wrenching anecdotes of genuinely destitute folks who the Post asserts (wrongly) would be thrown out in the cold.

Memo to WaPo: The plural of “anecdotes” in not “data”.

Right when I  was about to get terminally discouraged (again), I headed out to run some errands.

On the road, my faith in the American spirit was refreshed.

Read the rest of this entry »

America’s political polarization in 3 charts …

May 23, 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?

Read the rest of this entry »

Will President Trump get a Nobel Peace Prize?

May 22, 2017

That’s the thought that was running through my mind.

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It must have been an unbearable weekend for Trump-haters.

He got an enthusiastic, lavish red carpet welcome in Saudi Arabia.

He wasn’t boorish, crude, moronic, Islamophobic … or worse.

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He delivered a powerful speech to the leaders of 50 Muslim countries emphasizing:

  • There’s a fundamental difference between good and evil
  • Terrorists are evil and need to be eradicated from the earth.
  • Iran represents ground zero in the fight against terrorism.
  • Muslim-majority nations need to step-up and lead the fight.
  • America will help and will be dependable, because it’s in our self-interest.

Then, he participated in the ceremonial opening of a center intended to monitor and counter-act extremist ideologies.

Seriously, how can anybody think that those are bad ideas?

So, back to the opening question: will Trump get a Nobel Peace Prize … just like Obama did 8 years ago?

Obviously, he’s got a few things working against him….

Read the rest of this entry »

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

May 19, 2017

Classical educators argued that these disciplines 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 »

Are Comey’s memos stored in Pandora’s box?

May 18, 2017

The ‘Resistance’ has gotten what it wanted … and may rue the day.

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Let’s keep this simple.

1) Democrats have been hollering for a special prosecutor, and

2) Comey reportedly wrote a memo-for-the-file – a practice that he’s known to have always done routinely – that says Trump hoped the Flynn investigation would go away … obstruction of justice? smoking gun?

3)  So, Robert Mueller got appointed Special Counsel to the FBI:

Mueller is authorized to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump,”  as well as “other matters that may arise directly from the investigation”.

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OK, so Comey routinely wrote contemporaneous file memos documenting his interactions with his superiors … not just Trump … prior Presidents and DOJ bosses as well.

By definition, those memos are government property since they were created in direct connection to his job.

Mueller -– who has bi-partisan support as the last honest man – is authorized to pursue “other matters”.

Here’s where the Dems may be sorry that they got what they wished for …

Read the rest of this entry »

I do my best thinking when I sleep … another scientific rationale.

May 17, 2017

 By default, your brain “defragments” when you sleep.

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In a prior post, we reported some scientific evidence that most people really do think when they sleep.

For details, see: I do my best thinking when I’m sleeping … say, what?

Let’s take the science a step further…

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First, an analogy…

Have you ever defragmented your computer’s hard drive?

Just in case your answer is “no” – or, you’ve never heard of defragmentation – here’s a short course:

When you save a file on your computer (think: Word, Powerpoint, Excel), the file isn’t stored in one piece.

Rather, it’s automatically broken into smaller pieces … and each piece is stashed in the first place that the computer finds an open space on the hard drive.

Since the file is stored in scattered pieces, the computer has to reassemble it when you subsequently re-open the file.

That takes time … and slows the process.

There’s a process called “defragmentation” that sorts through a computer’s hard drive, eliminates “dead links” and reassembles “live” files into contiguous pieces … making the save & open processes more efficient.

Well, it turns out that your brain comes with a process analogous to defragmentation … it’s called “synaptic pruning” … and it happens automatically when you sleep.

Here’s how it works …

Read the rest of this entry »

Happy? Sad? Excited? … Facebook can tell.

May 16, 2017

And, has been caught doing just that.

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It always amazes me what people post on Facebook. Their daily activities, their deepest emotions – you name it.

By now, every Facebook user should know that FB sifts through their content – posts, pictures, links, emojis – to determine, for example, what topics are hot; what people are doing; which brands people are buying, recommending, trashing or considering; whether users are feeling happy, sad, scared, excited.

The latter is called “sentiment analysis” using computer algorithms to take users’ “emotional pulse”.

Of course, FB promises that they’ll protect users’ privacy and would never even consider divulging that information to outsiders, say, advertisers or political campaigns.

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Bad news for believers: FB was caught “sharing” sentiment analysis data.

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According to USA Today

Documents leaked to a newspaper, The Australian, indicate that Facebook executives prepared a report for one of the country’s top banks.

The report described how Facebook gleans psychological insights into the mood shifts of millions of young people in Australia and New Zealand by monitoring their status updates and photos.

The 23-page report showed Facebook’s ability to detect when users as young as 14 are feeling emotions such as defeat, stress, anxiety or being overwhelmed … and. other information on young people’s emotional well-being such as when they exhibit “nervous-excitement” are “conquering fears“.

FB claimed that it can track how emotions fluctuate during the week.

Anticipatory emotions are more likely to be expressed early in the week.

Reflective emotions increase on the weekend.

Monday-Thursday is about building confidence.

The weekend is for broadcasting achievements.

At a relatively benign level, advertisers can use that information to target ads to certain age groups … and they can time them to run on a certain day.

That’s apparently what FB got caught doing – revealing anonymous and aggregated data – to a potential advertising client.

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Let’s go a step further…

According to the article: “Facebook has also come under heavy scrutiny in the past for secretly conducting research that manipulated the emotions of users by altering what they see in their News Feed without their consent.”

So, it doesn’t take much creativity to imagine the collection and dissemination of individuals’ sentiment data that could be used to target advertising to specific individuals at specific times – say, when they’re feeling down and are vulnerable to buying certain products geared to giving them a pick-me-up, say, some new clothes, a fancy car or miracle drug.

Pretty unnerving, right?

Of course, FB assures users that it would never consider divulging that sort of data.

Yeah, right.

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Connecting dots

In a prior post, we reported on a study that concluded time on Facebook can be hazardous to your mental health.

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

So, being on Facebook can make you emotionally vulnerable.

Facebook can determine when you’re vulnerable.

Facebook can sell that info to advertisers.

But, FB assures us that it won’t sell that data.

Whew … that’s a relief.

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Follow on Twitter @KenHoma            >> Latest Posts

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Here’s my nomination for FBI Director…

May 15, 2017

Pundits have been throwing around names of possible Comey replacements.

For example, the NY Times list includes:

Andrew G. McCabe, the acting director of the F.B.I.;

Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas;

Judge Michael J. Garcia of the New York State Court of Appeals and the former United States attorney for the Southern District of New York;

Alice Fisher, a former top Justice Department official who would be the first woman to run the agency.

Mike Rogers,  the former chairman of the powerful House Intelligence Committee, who represented Michigan and once served as an agent in the bureau.

One person strikes me as a perfect choice … but I haven’t heard his name mentioned.

Here are his qualifications:

  • Considered by all to be squeaky clean
  • Holds a JD from Harvard (Obama’s alma mater).
  • Has a track record turning around big organizations
  • Was an outspoken Trump critic during the campaign
  • ID’ed the Russian threat before it became fashionable

So, who’s my pick?

Read the rest of this entry »

NBC: Majority think Comey shouldn’t have been fired.

May 12, 2017

But, the numbers are, shall we say, curious at best.

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NBC has been trumpeting results of a Survey Monkey poll that it conducted in association with Survey Monkey:

“A majority of Americans — 54 percent — think that President Donald Trump’s abrupt dismissal of FBI Director James Comey was not appropriate”.

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Color me skeptical on this one.

Here’s why …

Read the rest of this entry »

NYT: “Acting F.B.I. director McCabe contradicts White House”

May 12, 2017

P.S. He also contradicted Comey, the Democrat’s main talking point and, oh yeah, himself.

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Yesterday, Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe testified before a Senate oversight committee.

McCabe was Comey’s second-in-command … previously best known for having a wife who ran for office in Virginia with mucho financial backing from the Democratic party and Gov. Terry McAuliffe – a longstanding Clintonista.

The connection raised obvious questions about conflict of interests during the Clinton email investigation.

Point: he’s certainly not a shill for the GOP.

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The mainstream media, led by the NY Times, took to headlining that:

Mr. McCabe rejected the White House’s assertion that Mr. Comey had lost the backing of rank-and-file F.B.I. agents.

“Director Comey enjoyed broad support within the F.B.I. and still does to this day.”

Hmmm.

Let’s dig a little deeper …

Read the rest of this entry »

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

May 11, 2017

Given Comey’s firing and the to-be-expected blow back, let’s flashback to our analysis last July — the day after he gave Hillary her stay-out-of-jail free card.

Saw this one coming …

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Image from The Drudge Report

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

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

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

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

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

Read the rest of this entry »

More reasons to be wary of restaurants’ table top touchscreens…

May 10, 2017

Olive Garden’s unauthorized “table game fee” opened a can of worms.

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In yesterday’s post, I whined about Olive Garden’s “profit scheme”: tacking an unauthorized “table game fee” to my bill .

For the gory details and the sleazy marketing “principles” underlying the practice, see Gotcha: Why I won’t go back to Olive Garden …

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When I googled “Ziosk” – what Olive Garden calls its devices – I was served links like Restaurant guests sour on Ziosk’s “touch it and you’re charged”  and Olive Garden servers are getting shorted on tips   … they exposed the  dirty underbelly of table top touchscreens.

Read the rest of this entry »