Beach Week …

June 17, 2019

Taking a break … back next week.

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Bethany Beach, Delaware

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Words really do matter … especially in a kid’s early years.

June 14, 2019

Interesting study reported in The Atlantic

A pair of psychologists – Betty Hart and Todd Risley –  got curious about why some 3 and 4 year old kids are more academically ready than others.

“They devised a novel (and exhaustive) methodology: for more than three years, they sampled the actual words spoken to young children from 42 families at 3 different socioeconomic levels: (1) welfare homes, (2) working-class homes, and (3) professionals’ homes. Then they tallied the quantity and quality of the words spoken to the kids. “

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The results were – in the words of the researchers – “astounding”…

Read the rest of this entry »

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

June 13, 2019

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

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With all of the MSM “Trump is a wild & crazy guy” hysteria … fever-pitched during the Mexican “play or pay” negotiations … 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.  Of course, Dems and the MSM have kept that notion front-burnered for the past 2-1/2 years.

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

Read the rest of this entry »

Life in the digital age …

June 12, 2019

Quick: Name the last book you read.

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That’s the simple question Jimmy Kimmel asked people on the street.

The results are predictable … most choked on the question.

You can view the 2-minute clip below … or just take my word for it.

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What  the heck is going on?

Read the rest of this entry »

Americans are decreasingly willing )or able) to move … “mobility” in sharp decline.

June 11, 2019

According to NextGov:

Mobility in the United States has fallen to record lows.

In 1985, nearly 20 percent of Americans had changed their residence within the preceding 12 months, but by 2018, fewer than ten percent had.

That’s the lowest level since 1948, when the Census Bureau first started tracking mobility.

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What’s going on?

Read the rest of this entry »

With Mexican agreement Trump gets the last laugh … again.

June 10, 2019

Pelosi spews silly-talk; GOP Senators outted as border-indifferent.

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OK, Trumps threatens Mexico with tariffs unless they help with the border crisis.

Think “wallets” and you’ve variant of a Teddy Roosevelt negotiating principle: “If you’ve got them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow.”

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Mainsteam media made fun and lambasted (“won’t work”)  Dems cried foul (”abuse of power”); some GOP Senators jumped ship (opting to side with corporate donors).

But, within a week, an agreement is reached with Mexico agreeing to militarize its southern border and hold asylum seekers in Mexico.

Not a bad week, right?

But, there were some losers…

Read the rest of this entry »

Mastering math … or anything else.

June 7, 2019

Some insights on the science & practice of learning.

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Interesting article buried in a 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 »

Star gazing: How reliable are online user ratings?

June 6, 2019

When we’re buying something on Amazon, we all glance at the user ratings, right?

5-stars, it’s a keeper … 1 star it’s a bummer.

Real reviews from real users.

What could be more accurate?

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Some researchers tried to answer that question.

Since Consumer Reports has been in the quality testing business for decades with a reputation for rigor, objectivity and impartiality … So, to test the reliability of user ratings, the researchers took the Consumer Reports’ scores for 1,272 products and compared them to more than 300,000 Amazon ratings for the same items.

Their findings may surprise you …

Read the rest of this entry »

Shocker: IHOP is staying IHOP.

June 5, 2019

And now, I’ve got a beef with IHOP !

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Last summer. IHOP shocked the world by announcing that they were changing their name from IHOP to IHOB … from P is for pancakes to B is for burgers.

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At the time, we posted: IHOP changing name to IHOB … or are they?

We argued that changing the name chainwide would be pure folly since (1) IHOP is an iconic brand that “owns” the pancake niche. (2) “IHOP” — the name — has “stretchability” … since not all folks are even aware the IHOP “P” stands for pancakes (3)  The battlefield is strewn with the bodies of companies who have tried to do battle with the burger chains (4) Changing a brand name is a very expensive process … it costs a lot to change the signs, menus, letterheads etc.

At the time our bet was that the publicized name change was just a marketing ploy … aimed at generating mucho publicity for the non-pancake part of the menu … for getting more lunch and dinnertime business.

And, we said: If that’s the case, then the headfake is a brilliant marketing move … garnering  a lot of buzz around some new burgers on its menu.

OK, that was then, this is now … so let’s update….

Read the rest of this entry »

Why did the (former) Jeopardy champion end his streak with a meager $1,399 wager?

June 4, 2019

Answer: Pure game theory … perfectly executed..

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Well, it finally ended.

James Holzhauer– the 34-year-old professional sports gambler — was dethroned by librarian Emma Boettcher.

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Boettcher was quick on the buzzer (and James seemed uncharacteristically late-triggered), she answered all of her questions correctly and she she had some luck — hitting both Daily Doubles in the double Jeopardy round.

Bottom line: she deserved to win.

A major conversation piece from the game was Holzhauer’s measly $1,399 wager in Final Jeopardy.

I can explain that…

Read the rest of this entry »

The legal gospels according to St. Robert and St. James … behavior or intent?

June 3, 2019

Mueller & Comey seem to have their own rules of jurisprudence.

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A couple of decades ago, Pres. Jimmy Carter — a very religious guy — was interviewed by Playboy.

Say, what?

One of the questions was: “Have you ever been unfaithful to your wife?”

Paraphrasing, Carter answered: “No, but I have lusted in my heart (for other women), so I am a sinner.”

In other words, Carter believed that fantastical intent was the moral equivalent of behavior.

Hmmm.

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Apparently, Mueller & Comey were impressed by by Carter’s thinking.

Let me explain…

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Which prevails legally: behavior or intent?

Let’s start with the Comey – Clinton case.

In his July 2016 public statement, Comey made clear that Clinton’s use of a personal server to store and transmit classified government information violated criminal statutes.

But, he said that there was no evidence that she intended to break the law, so no charges would be brought.

Ditto re: the destruction of 30,000 subpoenaed emails … and the Bleach-Bitting of her computer.

Yep, she did it … but there was no evidence that she intended to break the law.

Curious reasoning at best.

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Now fast forward to Mueller – Trump.

Mueller reported 10 anecdotes about situations that “might” indicate obstruction of justice.

The headline story was telling the White House attorney to “get rid of” Mueller.

Note: Since Mueller was technically one of Trump’s employees, he (Trump) had the right to fire him (Mueller).

Bottom line: Mueller didn’t get fired.

After the WH attorney slow-rolled the execution, Trump let the idea go.

Since there was no action that obstructed justice, Mueller flipped the logic.

Applying Jimmy Carter’s logic, Mueller argues that presumed intent without action is sufficient cause to deem obstruction.

Hmmm.

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So, action without provable intent gets a pass.

But, presumed intent without consequential action is criminal.

Does that make any sense at all?

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The legal gospels according to St. Robert and St. James … GUPI

May 31, 2019

Mueller & Comey seem to have their own rules of jurisprudence.

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Here’s an example that should leave you scratching your head.

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GUPI is an acronym that I coined and oft-used in my courses.

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GUPI

For example, I’d assert that – in business turnaround situations – all costs should be considered GUPI – Guilty Until Proven Innocent.

I thought GUPI was a cute(and potentially memorable) play on the legal principle of Innocent Until Proven Guilty.

Never – not for a moment – did I think that GUPI would become foundation to American law as exercised by Special Counsel Mueller … who was explicitly granted prosecutorial; authority.

‘’Prosecution’ – not ‘exoneration’ -’is what prosecutors do.

Otherwise, they’d be called ‘exonerators’ … not prosecutors.

Apparently, Mueller missed that class in law school/

By stating that he didn’t have sufficient evidence to exonerate Trump of obstruction of justice, tossed a critical legal principle.

Now, defendants must prove their innocence … otherwise, they should be presumed guilty … subject to public criminal branding … until they prove their innocence beyond the shadow of a reasonable doubt.

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Come to think about it, GUPI is kinda how traffic court works.

Maybe Mueller was just elevating the principle to a higher level.

Think about the implications … some day, you may be on the hot seat.

How might you feel if the judge compels you to prove your innocence beyond a reasonable doubt?

That might be a high bar that you wouldn’t want to face.

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About those pesky robocalls …

May 30, 2019

There’s a simple, low cost solution.
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Yesterday, we whined about the high and increasing number of nuisance calls – most using robocall technology.

According to YouMail – a company that tracks robocall activity – Americans are now getting almost 3.5 billion (with a “b”) robocalls each month … “equaling roughly 10.4 calls per person affected”.

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What to do besides yelling at the phone?

Read the rest of this entry »

Shocker: Number of robocalls annoyingly high (and still increasing)…

May 29, 2019

Which calls annoy you the most? “Sally from cardholder services”, “Selected for a free vacation”, “Detected a virus on your computer”, “Clean your air ducts” … or, something else.

Hard not to notice that the “do not call list” is an emasculated relic.

According to YouMail – a company that tracks robocall activity – Americans are now getting almost 3.5 billion (with a “b”) robocalls each month … “equaling roughly 10.4 calls per person affected”.

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Why the surging numbers?

Read the rest of this entry »

Is Mickey positioned to walk all over Netflix?

May 28, 2019

Is the “disrupter” now going to get disrupted?

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Interesting opinion piece by investor Stephen McBride in Forbes and channeled through the Daily Wire

With 150 million subscribers, Netflix is the undisputed king of streaming … at least for now.

Netflix understands that content is the name of the game … and has invested more than $12 billion in orignal content … and gets high marks from viewers for having the best original content.

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But Netflix has largely financed the new content development with debt … now owing creditors more than  $10 billion … and faces a formidable threat from cash-rich Amazon and recently announced streaming services from  Disney…

Read the rest of this entry »

On this Memorial Day …

May 27, 2019

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

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Jeopardy is taking a financial drubbing … or is it?

May 24, 2019

Let’s look at he economics of the current champ’s winning streak.

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Jeopardy wunderkind James Holzhauer extended his winning streak to 26 games and upped his total haul to $1,991,135.

Note: Last night, Holzhauer was off his game, but won in a nail-biter.  He was slow with the buzzer (despite a relatively easy set of questions) and faced a formidable competitor who would have mopped-up  ‘normal’  competitors..

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Today, let’s take another angle: Financially speaking, is Holzhauer’s winning streak good or bad for the Jeopardy show?

Read the rest of this entry »

Jeopardy Math: What’s the most money that the a contestant can win on one show?

May 23, 2019

Here’s the solution to yesterday’s question.

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Note: Refer back to yesterdays post if you need a refresher on the question and the Jeopardy game essentials

See Jeopardy Math: What’s the most money that a contestant can win on one show?

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OK, let’s get started with the Jeopardy round’s gameboard:

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For starters, assume that our contestant first-buzzes and correctly answers all of the gameboard’s questions.

Each category has questions totaling $3,000 … and there are 6 categories … so the gameboard has an “displayed total value” of $18,000.

That’s not the most that a contestant can win in that round because it doesn’t consider the impact of the hidden Daily Double square.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jeopardy Math: What’s the most money that a contestant can win on one show?

May 22, 2019

You don’t need to be a Jeopardy fan to solve this math problem.  Try it!

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Current Jeopardy champ James Holzhauer – a professional gambler – has now won 24 consecutive games and amassed over $1,867,142 in winnings

See our prior post How a “professional sports gambler” is disrupting Jeopardy for a recap of his strategy

 

I was chatting with a friend who is a Jeopardy fan and former insurance industry exec.  The question on the table was whether Jeopardy has an insurance policy to cover a runaway winner like Holzhauer.  If yes, what’s the insurance risk?

Analytically, that led to today’s math problem: What’s the most that a contestant can win on one show?

For reference, Holzhauer has won more than $100,000 five times (so far) … his best day ($131,127) is an all time Jeopardy record. A typical Jeopardy winner hauls in about $25,000 per show.

Today, I’ll set-up the problem.  Again, you don’t have to be a Jeopardy fan or know the rules.  I’ll tell you all that you need to know to solve the problem.

Read the rest of this entry »

Reprise: How a “professional sports gambler” is disrupting Jeopardy…

May 21, 2019

Current champ has now won almost $1.8 million in 23 consecutive wins.

He is smart and calculating. Is that cheating?
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I posted this a couple of weeks ago.  Now that the 2-week Teachers Tournament is over and “regular” Jeopardy has resumed, I’m updating the post to remind regular Jeopardy watchers of what’s going on … and provide some background to new watchers who have been caught by the PR blitz around the champ’s success.
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Though I’m not particularly strong at trivia, I enjoy watching Jeopardy

In part as a daily test of whether I can hang in there with the contestants (Answer: not in most categories) … and, largely because – in my stint as a teacher – I became a student f how people think … how they store, combine, and retrieve information. Think: connect the dots.

The current Jeopardy champ — James Holzhauer– is a professional sports bettor … and, he’s  setting records.

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Holzhauer has won 23 straight games … that’s the 2nd most on the all-time list … the record is 74 by a “normal” guy named Ken Jennings … the average Jeopardy champ only wins 2 or 3 games..

Most impressive is that Holzhauer has already won almost $1.8 million about 2/3s of the way towards Jenning’s haul of $2.5 million. Working the arithmetic, Holzhauer has been winning about $75,000 per day … which is more than double Jenning’s daily take.  His biggest day’s winnings were $131,127 … and he already has marked the best 12 days in Jeopardy history.

How Holzhauer is doing it is raising eye-brows in the Jeopardy community. Part astonishment and part calls of “foul”.

So how exactly is Holzhauer doing it?

Read the rest of this entry »

What’s the “magic number” that makes you wealthy?

May 20, 2019

Several years ago I asked a colleague “What do you need to retire?”

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His answer: “$5 million and playmates.”

Playmates?

What he meant was having enough leisure-time folks to hang out with during the day.

So, about the  “magic number” …

Read the rest of this entry »

Test: How many border apprehensions this year?

May 17, 2019

Before you keep reading or glance at the chart, take this current events test…

About how many people do you think will be caught trying to enter through the southern border this year?

A variant of that question was asked in the April Harvard-Harris Poll.  Specifically, the survey asked:

About how many people do you think are caught trying to enter through the southern border each year?

Here are the results:

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Source (p.156)

Note that about half of respondents think the number is less than 100,000; only 12% peg it at more than 500,000.

So, how accurate are people’s perception?

Read the rest of this entry »

The Chinese cyber-threat…

May 16, 2019

Yesterday, we channeled Michael Pillsbury’s warning that It’s not Russia that we should be worrying about … it’s China!

Today, let’s dive down on a specific … the Chinese cyber-threat..

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Michael Pillsbury nails the point in his book The Hundred Year Marathon: China’s Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower

Read the rest of this entry »

It’s not Russia that we should be worrying about … it’s China!

May 15, 2019

Keep that in mind during the emerging tariff war … there’s a higher purpose. 

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One of my summer reads has been The Hundred Year Marathon: China’s Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower by Michael Pillsbury.

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Pillsbury is a bona fide China expert, having served 8 administrations in a variety of high-level positions in the state and defense departments and having worked for heralded think tanks, including RAND and the Hudson Institute.

Note: To me, guy seems very credible since (a) he footnotes every major point with compelling source documentation, and (b) he is very self-effacing – often pointing out the mistakes that he had made in his China analyses.

As the title indicates, Pillsbury concludes that China is about midway through a 100-year strategy to replace the U.S. as the global superpower…

Read the rest of this entry »

The worm may have turned…

May 14, 2019

DOJ focus shifts to counterintelligence effort that Barr called ‘spying’

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According to the NY Times…

AG Barr has assigned a top federal prosecutor in Connecticut to examine the origins of the Russia investigation.

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John Durham, the US attorney in Connecticut, has a history of serving as a special prosecutor investigating potential wrongdoing among national security officials.

Opening a DOJ investigation is “a move that President Trump has long called for but that could anger law enforcement officials who insist that scrutiny of the Trump campaign was lawful.”

Now, there are 3 related investigations…

Read the rest of this entry »

Nadler calls off Mueller testimony … hmmm.

May 13, 2019

GOP gambit makes Mueller’s testimony less appealing (to Dems)
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After weeks of hyperventilating about the need for Special Counsel Robert Mueller to testify, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler abruptly cancelled this week’s planned inquisition.

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Note: The story isn’t that Trump wouldn’t let Mueller testify – he said it was up to Barr and Mueller.

So, why did Nadler suddenly back off?

Read the rest of this entry »

Psych 101: The one thing that I remember…

May 10, 2019

Long ago, one of my students  observed that students  remember, at most,  one or two things from any course they take.

At the time, I would have bet the over on that one … at least for my courses!

Over time, I’ve concluded that he was more right than wrong and that I would have lost the bet.

Partial evidence: I sometimes self-test on what I remember from courses that I took long ago in college and grad school.

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Fast forward to today.

One of my friend’s daughters is graduating today with an degree in psychology.

That prompted me to think back to my undergrad Psychology 101 course.

Here’s what’s stored in my long-term memory…

Read the rest of this entry »

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

May 9, 2019

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

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At the risk of piling on during FB’s stock “correction” (single day drop of 20%), let’s connect a couple of recently reported studies …

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

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

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

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Putting that hour of Facebook in perspective:

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

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

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

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

Read the rest of this entry »

Miranda 2019: Your DNA can and will be used against you.

May 8, 2019

You know the drill …

CSI techs find some DNA at the crime scene … they run it through the criminal database … and BAM … they got a match and the perp is arrested.

Only problem: the police database of DNA profiles is relatively limited to criminals.

What about bad guys who don’t have a criminal record?

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Well, it seems the police have come up with a clever way to to expand their DNA files … by a lot.

Read the rest of this entry »

Study: Chances of dying are greater if your doctor is over 60.

May 7, 2019

And, some advice for hedging your bets.
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Researchers at Harvard scoured the records of 730,000 patients treated between 2011 and 2014 by more than 18,800 hospital-based internists (now called “hospitalists”).

The results were originally published in the BMJ (British Medical Journal) and recapped in StudyFinds:

Patients are 1.3% more likely to die when treated by doctors over the age of 60, than if they’re treated by doctors under 40.

That translates to one additional death for every 77 patients under the care of a doctor over 60.

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What’s going on?

Read the rest of this entry »

How a “professional sports gambler” is disrupting Jeopardy…

May 6, 2019

Current champ is smart and calculating. Is that cheating?
==================

Though I’m not particularly strong at trivia, I enjoy watching Jeopardy

In part as a daily test of whether I can hang in there with the contestants (Answer: not in most categories) … and, largely because – in my stint as a teacher – I became a student f how people think … how they store, combine, and retrieve information. Think: connect the dots.

The current Jeopardy champ — James Holzhauer– is a professional sports bettor … and, he’s  setting records.

clip_image001

Holzhauer has won 22 straight games … that’s the 2nd most on the all-time list … the record is 74 by a “normal” guy named Ken Jennings … the average Jeopardy champ only wins 2 or 3 games..

Most impressive is that Holzhauer has already won over $1.6 million about 2/3s of the way towards Jenning’s haul of $2.5 million. Working the arithmetic, Holzhauer has been winning about $75,000 per day … which is more than double Jenning’s daily take.

How Holzhauer is doing it is raising eye-brows in the Jeopardy community. Part astonishment and part calls of “foul”.

So how exactly is Holzhauer doing it?

Read the rest of this entry »

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

May 3, 2019

 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 »

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

May 2, 2019

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

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

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

Of course, some remained unconvinced.

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For the skeptics, here some science …

Read the rest of this entry »

Cancer ads: The power of anecdotes over hard data ……

May 1, 2019

Yesterday, we channeled the results of a study that found that patients facing major health challenges often select their course of treatment based on isolated success stories they might hear rather than hard data.

Specifically, the study found that when a success story was used to “validate” a low success rate treatment, patients would ignore or dismiss the hard scientific data and be swayed by the anecdote – even if the case history was a remote outlier, not a general case.

Deep in selective attention mode, my eye caught an opinion piece in the WSJ:

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The author’s punch line:

“The multibillion-dollar cancer treatment industry appeals to emotion in misleading ads … mounting  less a war on cancer than a war on truth —and on vulnerable consumers.”

Read the rest of this entry »

When it comes to your health, don’t bet on long shots …

April 30, 2019

… unless you’re out of options.
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In my Business Analytics course, I had students read a couple of excerpts from a book called Think Twice: The Power of Counter-intuition by Michael Mauboussin.

In a chapter called “The Outside View” the author reports findings from a medical study that investigated the relative importance of hard data and anecdotal evidence when patients select from among treatment options for serious health conditions.

Patients were given the hard scientific data about a treatment‘s success rates and an anecdote about a case history.

Some anecdotes were positive (the treatment was a success), some were negative (the treatment failed or had complications), and some were neutral (neither a clear success nor a dramatic failure).

Below is an extract of the study’s results summarizing the percentage of respondents selecting a treatment given the hard data on its success rate and a related anecdote of a specific case’s outcome.

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Let’s drill down …

Read the rest of this entry »

Cognitive biases: Falling for false expertise …

April 29, 2019

People don’t naturally know who they should listen to.
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Worse yet, in a majority of instances when a reliable expert is identified, people end up following somebody else’s advice.

That’s what Univ. of Utah’s management professor Bryan Bonner concludes.

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Bonner observes that rather than identifying advisers with actual competence, people habitually fall for spurious “proxies of expertise”.

Read the rest of this entry »

Great moments in recycling.

April 26, 2019

Been wondering what to do with your banana peels?
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I just received a flash alert from my well-intended (I think) county recycling folks.

In essence,the county authorities suggest that I  should be more ecologically sensitive and start bagging my spent banana peels along with other food waste (not in a plastic bag, of course) and drive my peels and grounds over to a recycling center and, god forbid, don’t even consider putting ihe stuff in my recycling can or my yard waste can or my garbage can for curbside pick-up.).

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Think about that for a moment….

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The aforementioned recycling center is about 15 miles away from my home.

Note: The flyer cautioned against just piling food waste in a distant corner of my backyard in an old fashioned compost heap

That’s 30 miles round trip … or about 1.5 gallons of gas in my garbage-hauling SUV.

That means increasing my fossil fuel consumption and carbon footprint to throw my peels on the community garbage pile.

Multiply that by a couple of thousand county residents and ask yourself:

Does that make any sense at all?

Not to me!

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On a related matter, there were news flashes this week that  Philippine President Duarte directed Canadians to stop shipping their trash (banana peels?) to the Philippines.

Say, what?

Made me wonder if my banana peels are being shipped from my community recycling center to some far off port.

You know, it wouldn’t surprise me.

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Vital Friends: The People You Can’t Afford To Live Without.

April 25, 2019

From the summer reading pile.  I read ’em so you don’t have to …

Rath argues that “vital friends” play one or more of 8 roles.

Which of the role(s) do you play?  Which do each of your vital friends play?

Read the rest of this entry »

“68% say they paid the same taxes or more”

April 24, 2019

Shocker … or just fuzzy math?
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For the record, I’m for tax cuts since the Feds waste so much of OUR money … but, as I’ve posted previously, I would have done them differently than DJT did.

And, I predicted that most American’s wouldn’t recognize the benefits of the tax cuts because (1) they don’t understand basic economics (e.g. the corporate cuts boosted the economy) … and hopelessly confuse ‘taxes paid’ with ‘refunds received’.

Still, I’m surprised when I see shock-intending headlines like this one.

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Let’s dig a little deeper into that claim…

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Re: Mueller Report … the Washington Post nailed it.

April 22, 2019

I rarely quote from the far left-leaning Washington Post – which has trumpeted the Russia Collusion narrative for about 2 years, day-in-day-out.

But, I think an article appearing on WaPo’s editorial page last week got it right:

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Quoting from the opinion piece …

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It’s not your imagination, people are really getting dumber.

April 19, 2019

That’s the conclusion from a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The researchers that the  increase in population intelligence observed throughout the 20th century has peaked and has now gone into reverse.

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More specifically…

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Why Johnny can’t write …

April 18, 2019

Faculty colleagues and I often bemoaned that 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.

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

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More Disney: How does Mickey fingerprint me?

April 17, 2019

The tech behind biometric fingerprints

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In prior posts, I gushed over the technology applications at Disney World … and recounted the plausible explanations for why Mickey digitally records guests’ fingerprints when then enter the park.

Ostensibly, the purpose is fraud protection – keeping folks from passing along their partially used tickets for reuse.

Of course, there are other sorts of uses for digital fingerprints (e.g. catching bad guys) … and ways that the information can be misused.

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With my curiosity aroused, I did some digging re: digital fingerprints.

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More Disney: Why is Mickey fingerprinting me?

April 16, 2019

A plausible “why” and a very interesting “how”.
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In a prior post Seriously, why not outsource TSA ops to Disney? , I gushed over the technology applications at Disney World … the Magic Bands than let me into my hotel room & the park, Fast-Passed me to the front of lines, and “personalized” my family’s experience with real-time greetings and photos.

I noted that I was digitally fingerprinted when I entered the park and asked if anybody could tell me why.

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A couple of loyal readers clued me and provoked some digging.

Here’s what I learned …

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Seriously, why not outsource TSA ops to Disney?

April 15, 2019

Disney’s technology applications are impressive (and effective)
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Last week, I took a  fact-finding trip (aka. family vacation) to Disney World.

Once again, I was blown away by the park’s technology and security operations ….

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No surprise, there was a huge rush of “guests” entering the Magic Kingdom when the gates opened at 8 a.m.

The crowd measured into the thousands … all needing to be security-screened.

All bags and strollers had to be hand-checked … all kids – big & little – had to be ushered through metal detectors.

Nightmare, right?

Maybe at the airport, but not at Disney.

Our wait & processing time: less than 10 minutes.

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Then came the good part…

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Do students really learn what’s taught?

April 11, 2019

Though I’ve retired from the practice, I’m still very engaged on education issues … especially whether our students (at all levels) are being adequately schooled to compete in the real world.

So, one of my summer reads is “What Schools Could Be” by Ted Dinterersmith – a well credentialed, experience-deep educator.

In a nutshell, author Ted Dintersmith spent a year visiting schools across the nation to identify outstanding teachers and catalog their secret sauces.

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One of the anecdotes that he recounts in the book hit one of my longstanding questions: Do students really learn what they’re being taught?

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How much “learning” is lost during summer vacation?

April 10, 2019

In his book Outliers, one of the topics that Malcolm Gladwell explored was the academic achievement gap between kids from low income families and kids from higher incomes families … even for kids attending the same schools.

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Malcolm uncovered  a learning dynamic that he coined the “summer slide”.

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The degree-earning gender gap…

April 9, 2019

An interesting analysis done by economist Mark Perry concludes:

Since 1982, women have earned 13 million more college degrees than men.

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Let’s drill down on those numbers…

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What do colleges have in common with Kohl’s?

April 8, 2019

I oft say that anybody who pays sticker price at Kohl’s should look over their shoulder to make sure that Darwin isn’t chasing them.

Maybe the same should be said of parents who pay list price tuition to fund their kiddies through college.

Lots of talk re: how college costs are soaring.

According to the WSJ

Published tuition rates have soared in the last decade, but only a small percentage of families actually pays full freight.

Between grants to needy students and merit scholarships to entice other desirable candidates, schools these days are giving back nearly 50% of gross tuition revenue in the form of aid and awards.

In other words, list prices are going up, but more stuff is being sold at sale prices.

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Increasingly, colleges are using pricing methods previously the domain of airlines and discount retailers …

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So, what explains student loan defaults?

April 5, 2019

Prompted by ideas being floated  to make colleges underwrite their their students’ loans, I’ve been doing some digging.

The most headlined explanations of student loan defaults report that over half of for-profit college students and over half of black students default on their loans.

The numbers may be true, but they’re more emotionally-charged than they are instructive.

So,  the left-leaning Brookings Institution drilled deeper on the headlined conclusions to understand what accounts for gaps in student loan defaults.

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Here are some of the more interesting conclusions from the “Evidence Speaks Report”…

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