About the Dems’ groundswell for impeachment…

October 21, 2019

Reuters / IPSOS: Support for impeachment cools.
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Speaker Pelosi has said repeated;y that impeachment requires public support that is broad and deep.

Her dream: Americans would be appalled by Trump’s asking the Ukrainian president to investigate 2016 election meddling and “look into” Hunter Biden’s lucrative set on a Ukrainian energy company’s board  –despite zero experience in energy and no obvious ties to the Ukraine, save for his father’s political influence.

Surely, Adam Schiff’s secret interrogations would uncover a string of “bombshells” that would doom Trump’s presidency, right?

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Well, the groundswell of public support seems to be sputtering…

Read the rest of this entry »

Last week on the HomaFiles

October 20, 2019

What’s the impact of declining birthrates on future college enrollments?
Schools will need to adjust their business model … or close their doors.

Why some millennials are fleeing the cities…
Workers with mobile jobs trying to improve their quality of life.

“Making dishwashers great again”
DOE drafting regs to shorten cycle times and get dishes clean

Move over FitBit …
Counting steps is passé … now, count your prayers!

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Move over FitBit …

October 18, 2019

Counting steps is passé … now, count your prayers!
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Given the the success of Fitbit (and its imitators) — counting steps, recording sleep patterns, nudging butts off couches — you just had to see this one coming:

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Here’s the scoop…

Read the rest of this entry »

“Making dishwashers great again”

October 17, 2019

For years, my wife has been justifiably complaining about how  dishwasher performance has gotten way worse because of goofy environmental rules enacted by the Feds.

Ostensibly, DOE rules were put in place to reduce energy and water consumption.

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While well-intended (maybe) , from the get-go, consumers started complaining that dishwashers made under the new rules don’t clean very well — dishes come out dirty and smelly … and take forever to run … often requiring follow-on runs to finish the job.

DOE itself has acknowledged this is caused by its regulations, saying: “To help compensate for the negative impact on cleaning performance associated with decreasing water use and water temperature, manufacturers will typically increase the cycle time.” Source

The news: help may be on the way….

Read the rest of this entry »

Why some millennials are fleeing the cities…

October 16, 2019

In a prior post, we reported  that census numbers are showing signs that urban millennials are starting to flee to the suburbs … and beyond.

According to the WSJ …

For the fourth consecutive year, U.S. census figures have shown that thousands of millennials and younger Gen Xers are leaving big cities.

Since 2014 an average of about 30,000 residents between 25 and 39 have left big cities annually.

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Not exactly a groundswell … but, perhaps, an early indicator of the “next new trend for workers with mobile jobs: moving to a small town to improve our quality of life.”

A commentary in the weekend WSJ breathed some life into the trend…

Read the rest of this entry »

What’s the impact of declining birthrates on future college enrollments?

October 15, 2019

And, how should colleges brace for the changes?
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According to Nathan Grawe, a professor of social sciences at Minnesota’s Carleton College …

A declining birthrate means the currently typical college-going population could decline by more than 15 percent starting about 2026.

The impact: schools will need to tightened their cost belts, aggressively recruit students and do a better job retaining and graduating their enrollees … or close down.

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Let’s unpack Grawe’s argument…

Read the rest of this entry »

Annapolis: Very high tide…

October 14, 2019

What do you get when you mix seasonal high tides, a full moon and a tropical storm stalled off the eastern seaboard?

Answer: Flooding in the streets of historic Annapolis.

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P.S. It’s rare confluence of factors, but it has happened before.

So … no, it’s not proof of climate change.

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How’s your mental health?

October 11, 2019

Recent study finds that the prevalence of mental health symptoms is much higher than thought.
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MindShare Partners recently issued its 2019 report on mental health in the workplace.

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Specifically, MindShare  asked 1,500 working individuals if they had experienced any of the following symptoms in the year…

Read the rest of this entry »

Why Johnny can’t write …

October 10, 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 …

Read the rest of this entry »

Ethics: Is mathematics racist?

October 9, 2019

Seattle Board of Education thinks so.
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According to the Daily Caller (and numerous other sources)…

Seattle Public Schools are now offering a course for K-12 students titled “Math Ethnic Studies.”

The permeating theme: mathematics is fundamentally racist.

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Say, what?

Read the rest of this entry »

Brokerage firms leveraging the “compelling power of free”…

October 8, 2019

I oft preached in class about the “compelling power of free”.

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Consumers just can’t resist free stuff … whether they need it or not.

So, “free” is consistently reported to be the most powerful word in advertising. It draws attention … and provokes action.

And, in terms of market response, there’s a big difference between “free” and “almost free”…

Read the rest of this entry »

Want to win a bar bet?

October 7, 2019

Whose approval numbers were higher – Trump’s or Obama’s?
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Well, at this stage of their presidencies, Trump and Obama had approval ratings that were statistically equal.

Can’t be right … can it?

Below is the composite chart from RealClearPolitics — the bible of poll-of-polls aggregation.

Trump’s numbers are the bolder lines  – black for approval, red for disapproval.  Obama’s are the fainter lines – same color scheme.

Focus on the end-points — where the black lines converge.

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That may be a little hard to read, so let’s zoom in to the summary box at the top…

Read the rest of this entry »

The perils of long-term financial planning…

October 4, 2019

Frugal savers bulls-eyed as Congress move to end “stretch” IRAs.

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According to a WSJ recap…

Conventional financial planning wisdom has been to put as much money as possible into IRAs and 401Ks … starting early, maxing plan contributions, benefiting from company matches, growing accounts tax-free … and, if you don’t end up spending all of the dough in retirement, pass anything left in the pot to heirs.

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While that basic logic still holds, Congress is moving to throw a monkey wrench into the works by substantially increasing the tax burden on heirs.

Here’s what’s going on…

Read the rest of this entry »

What if Warren wins?

October 3, 2019

“Resist” may be alive and well … with the tables turned

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Yesterday we ran through a couple of scenarios if Trump did end up getting bounced from office.

The scenarios assumed that Trump would still run in 2020, probably against Warren, maybe with a “moderate” independent jumping in.

My bet: Trump would be be re-elected.

Why?

Largely because Trump supporters would turn out in droves, angry that their votes were overturned by flimsy political machinations … and because:

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“In recent interviews of several big-money Democratic donors and fundraisers in the business community, CNBC has found that this opinion is becoming widely shared as Warren surges against Joe Biden.”

Specifically, big bank executives and hedge fund managers that electing Warren would be tantamount to “shutting down their industry.”

And, oh yeah, there’s that wealth tax that she has been proposing.

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Even while pulling back their support, some Wall Streeters are strategizing for a possible life under President Warren…

Read the rest of this entry »

NY Times: Schiff aid advised whistleblower … and tipped Schiff.

October 2, 2019

Big new from today’s New York Times

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Here are my takeaways (with emphasis added):

The Democratic head of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, learned about the outlines of a C.I.A. officer’s concerns that President Trump had abused his power days before the officer filed a whistle-blower complaint.

The C.I.A. officer approached a House Intelligence Committee aide with his concerns about Mr. Trump.

The House staff member, following the committee’s procedures, suggested the officer find a lawyer to advise him and file a whistle-blower complaint. The aide shared some of what the officer conveyed to Mr. Schiff.

The early account explains how Mr. Schiff knew to press for the complaint when the Trump administration initially blocked lawmakers from seeing it.

The whistle-blower’s decision to offer what amounted to an early warning to the intelligence committee’s Democrats is sure to thrust Mr. Schiff even more forcefully into the center of the controversy.

Note:: Schiff had said publicly (on tape)that neither he nor his staff “have spoken directly to the whistleblower” before the complaint was made public.

Oops.

The entire NYT article is worth reading … especially since it’s from the Trump-adverse New York Times.

Draw your  own conclusions.

Ah, the plot thickens.

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About the 2020 Presidential election…

October 2, 2019

Impeachment imbroglio raises some very interesting scenarios.

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Over the weekend, mused about possible outcomes for the Dems impeachment offensive and the impact on the 2020 election.

My current bet:

  • House will approve articles of impeachment on a straight party line vote (regardless of any evidence or legal logic) … a couple of GOP reps jump ship, allowing Pelosi to position the vote as bi-partisan.
  • A majority of Senators will vote to remove Trump from office but the vote won’t be close to the 2/3s threshold that’s needed, so Trump survives.
  • Biden will be toast, so it’ll be Warren versus Trump … and maybe an Indie will jump in.
  • It’ll be Nixon vs. McGovern 2.0 … as pro-Trumpsters come out of the woodwork in droves … and Dem fat cats reject Warren’s brand of socialism.

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But, there are a couple of other interesting “what if” scenarios…

Read the rest of this entry »

Ouch: Employer health plans now cost over $20,000 per family.

September 30, 2019

How long until employers jump on the Medicare-for-All bandwagon?

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According to a Kaiser Foundation survey reported in the WSJ, annual health insurance premiums rose 5% in 2019 to hit $20,576 for an employer-provided family plan.

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Drilling down on the increase….

Read the rest of this entry »

Millennials going suburban?

September 27, 2019

That’s what the WSJ concludes based on recently released census data.

Specifically …

“Large U.S. cities lost tens of thousands of millennial and younger Gen X residents last year.

The sustained declines signal a sharp reversal from the beginning of the decade, when young adults flooded into cities and helped lead an urban revival.

New York, Chicago, Houston, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Washington and Portland, Ore., were among those losing large numbers of residents in the 25 to 39 age group.”

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So, what’s going on?

Read the rest of this entry »

Do brain training games work?

September 26, 2019

These days many online games and apps claim to improve memory, brain processing speed, and overall problem-solving skills … and to postpone the onset of age-related memory loss.

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So, do these games work?

Read the rest of this entry »

Does music make you smarter … longer?

September 25, 2019

More from my summer reading on brains …

There seems to be scientific evidence that music can, in fact, make you smarter and keep your brain sharp longer as you age.

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“Basically, findings on how music affects the brain indicate that musical training—and perhaps even habitual engagement with listening to and appreciating music—can help the brain enhance its natural neuroplasticity (i.e. build “neural networks”) and improve countless abilities and cognitive skills.” Source

More specifically…

Read the rest of this entry »

Is your GPS dulling your brain?

September 24, 2019

Last week, we posted Digital amnesia: Is Google dulling your memory?

We argued that persistent reliance on Google searching for routine information foregoes opportunities to strengthen your brain’s memory muscles … and,  minimizes the amount of memory “dots” that you have stored — lowering the likelihood of your being able to mentally connect-the-dots to draw insights.

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Today. let’s consider another technological advance — our indispensable GPS navigation devices — and their impact on our mental dexterity.

Read the rest of this entry »

Is Wile E. Coyote is alive and well … and working for the Dems?

September 23, 2019

Russiagate, the Mueller fail … and now the Ukrainian whistleblower fiasco bring back memories of legendary cartoon character Wile E. Coyote.

First, some background for younger readers.

Back in the olden days, there was a cartoon series called Looney Tunes.  One of the main characters was a clever, ground-running bird named Road Runner.

Road Runner’s nemesis was a wannabe clever coyote named Wile E. Coyote (get it?).

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Wile E. spent every waking hour crafting devious plots to “get” and eat the Road Runner.

Invariably, the plots failed … and often boomeranged … inflicting deserved pain and anguish on Wile E. Coyote.

For 3 minutes of flashback entertainment, see “Wile E. Coyotes Top 10 Fails”

Looks to me like Wile E. is on the Dems payroll these days.

Evidence: the unraveling of the Ukrainian “bombshell”…

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Using Federal whistleblower statute for cover, an “intelligence officer” files a workplace complaint that President Trump threatened to cut off foreign aid to the Ukraine if the Uke Prez didn’t restart an investigation into corrupt activities by Hunter Biden — Sleepy Joe’s son.

It’s alleged that Hunter’s firm rallied some dough from the Chinese, laundered it, and plopped it into Uke energy companies.

When the Ukes started poking around, then VP Biden stepped in and threatened to pull the plug on a billion dollar loan guarantee for the Ukes unless they called off the investigative dogs who were nipping at Hunter’s heels.  They did.

Want evidence?

In a classic video appearance:

Joe Biden brags about how he threatened to pull $1 billion in loan guarantees from Ukraine if it didn’t immediately fire Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin.

The prosecutor, who was fired, was leading a corruption investigation into a company that employed Biden’s son, Hunter.

Trump admits that he told the Uke Prez — in a top-to-top classified phone call — to re-open the probe.

The whistleblower toots to an Inspector General that Trump pulled a no-no and the impeachment lobby rallied to the cause.

But, the case seems to be unraveling.

Some reports say that the alleged incident isn’t even covered by Fed whistleblower statutes, so the process is compromised.

But, Trump offered an illegal quid pro quo … that’s a big deal and needs spotlighting, right?

Well, some folks who were listening in on the call are saying that Trump didn’t offer a quid pro quo or threaten the Uke Prez.

Did you notice the nuance?

That’s what folks who were listening in report.

Turns out that the whistleblower wasn’t even on the call.

He was simply blowing his whistle on the basis of a rumor that he heard.

Say, what?

Oh, and did I mention that the whistleblower is alleged to be a Democratic political hack?

Or, maybe it’s Wile E. Coyote.

I guess we’ll eventually find out.

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Digital amnesia: Is Google dulling your memory?

September 20, 2019

First, some background …

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

Some students were repulsed by them and oft-shoutdc the cultural refrain: “Don’t memorize anything that you can look up.”

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

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What’s wrong with that argument?

Read the rest of this entry »

Diets: KETO vs. MIND

September 19, 2019

Earlier this week we posted that the MIND Diet is being promoted for brain-friendly nutrition.

A loyal reader asked: “I’ve been hearing a lot about the KETO diet.  How does the MIND diet compare?”

Good question.

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With the disclaimer that I’m not a nutritionist, here’s what I found…

Read the rest of this entry »

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

September 18, 2019

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

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In a yesterday’s post, I 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?

September 17, 2019

Continuing on the subject of mental health, I’ve oft noticed that I seem to do my best thinking when I’m asleep.

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

When I mention that to folks, the revelation initially gets some chuckles … then some start 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 »

Brain health: The MIND diet.

September 16, 2019

In prior posts, we’ve addressed how intermittent fasting can improve (and prolong) brain health.

See: Can fasting make you smarter? and Is breakfast over-rated?

A logical question is: “So, what to eat when not fasting?”

Image result for image mind diet

The answer: The MIND Diet.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mental toughness: 13 things not to do!

September 13, 2019

Recent article on CNBC caught my eye.

Summarized from a book 13 Things Mentally Strong Women Don’t Do

The premise: Recognizing unhealthy habits is the first step in creating positive change so you can move forward toward reaching your greatest potential.

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Gender-neutralized, here’s the author’s list of 13 things to do if you want to build constructive mental toughness…

Read the rest of this entry »

Can fasting make you smarter?

September 12, 2019

Let’s connect a couple of topics today…

Earlier this week, we posted how aeorobic exercise can stimulate neurogenesis — the growth of new brain cells.

And, last month, we posted that recent research suggests that intermittent fasting (e.g constrain daily eating to 8 hours – fasting for the other 16 hours) may be a better route to weight loss and improved health.

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Among the health benefits cited is lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

Read the rest of this entry »

More: Exercise for a stronger, sharper brain…

September 11, 2019

Yesterday we posted that you should Exercise to keep your brain alive and well…

Specifically, we reported studies demonstrating that aerobic exercise stimulates the development of new brain cells … a process called neurogenesis.

Then, yesterday afternoon, I spotted this on the wires:

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A team of German scientists concluded that improving physical fitness leads to improved cognitive ability, including elevated memory retention and superior problem solving

Specifically…

Read the rest of this entry »

Exercise to keep your brain alive and well…

September 10, 2019

I’ve always been interested in the brain … mostly job-related … trying to understand how students learn.

These days, my focus has become more personal: keeping my brain alive and well in retirement … dodging the dementia bullet.

Specifically, I’ve been reading up on neurogenesis (how to stimulate growth of new brain cells) and neuroplasticity (how to “rewire” your brain by building new neural pathways).

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One of my first conclusions: exercise really matters!

Read the rest of this entry »

Gotcha: You probably paid too much … especially if you’re bad at math.

September 9, 2019

Awhile ago, we reported a study that found when offered two deals on loose coffee beans: 33% extra free or 33% off the price, shoppers almost invariably picked  the “extra free” option.

Wrong answer.

Most shoppers considered the offers equivalent although the discount is by far the better proposition … it would take a 50% increase in the “free” quantity for the offers to be equivalent.

The researchers concluded that

Shoppers are generally bad at math … and easily succumb to the “power of free”.

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More generally, consumers are notoriously bad at spotting real values. 

According to the Atlantic ….

  • First: Consumers don’t know what the heck anything should cost, so we rely on parts of our brains that aren’t strictly quantitative.
  • Second: Although humans spend in numbered dollars, we make decisions based on clues and half-thinking that amount to innumeracy.

More specifically, here are some more ways consumers end up paying too much …

Read the rest of this entry »

Screen time: Seniors complain about youngsters, but…

September 6, 2019

Nielsen study upends conventional wisdom.

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Many parents and grandparents fret that  today’s youth (i.e. their kids) are screen-obsessed.

But, according to a Nielsen study channeled by The Economist, when all screens are accounted for, it’s older folk who seem most addicted.

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Let’s break down the numbers…

Read the rest of this entry »

Parents: Stash your cell phones !

September 5, 2019

New studies raise concerns re: “distracted parenting”.

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Lots written lately re: kids spending too much “screen time” on iPads, computers and cellphones … and too little time reading, exploring and conversing.

All true … and much concerning.

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A recent analysis in The Atlantic stipulates to the cognitive development dangers of kids spending too much time glued to screens … but concludes that “When it comes to children’s development, parents should worry less about kids’ screen time—and more about their own.”

Here’s the essence of the argument…

Read the rest of this entry »

For climate change zealots: More perspective on China…

September 4, 2019

As the tariff war escalates, it’s a good time to dig into the archives for some climate change perspective.

Loyal readers are familiar with the 16 Reasons why I’m lukewarm on climate change …

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

One of my reasons is particularly relevant in our current dealings with China:

Reason #10 that I’m lukewarm on climate change – 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 »

Flashback: My dumbest post ever … with a mea culpa.

September 3, 2019

Some may disagree … arguing that I’ve made some posts that were even dumber … but, in light of last week’s DOJ-IG report, I nominate my Dec. 21, 2015 post:

My nomination for President … experience, integrity, leadership.

OK, I’m ready to declare my pick for the top spot.

It’s a long-shot, especially since he’s not a declared candidate.

But I can dream, can’t I ?

I hoping that since the current field – on both sides – doesn’t have a president-ready candidate, that this guy will ride in on a white horse … or, be dragged in …. I don’t really care.

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Here’s his top line bio:

Education: William & Mary, University of Chicago Law School (doubt that he studied under Prof. Obama)

Gov’t experience: DOJ under both GOP and Dem administrations

Business experience: Worked in both the defense sector and the financial sector (not just a political hack)

Proven track record: Has been demonstrably successful in everything he has done

High Integrity: Consistently praised by both ends of the political spectrum  — not for being bi-partisan, but for being non-partisan

Apolitical: He’s clearly “in the game” for the right reasons – to serve the country and its people.

Independent: Earned enough FU-money in his real world jobs that he can’t be bought or swayed.

Orientation: “Gets it” regarding the war on terror … realistic, aggressive

Strong leadership: When the guy talks, I think he’s telling the truth and glad that he’s got a hand on the tiller (think, the polar opposite to Obama’s speech after San Bernardino.)

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Pretty solid, right?

So, who’s my pick?

Read the rest of this entry »

Happy Labor Day !

September 2, 2019

Time to reflect…

The unemployment rate is below 4%.

Black and Hispanic unemployment are at an all time lows

Wages have started  to creep up.

And, according to a recent Harris poll, blue collar job satisfaction is over 80%.

Thanks to all who do the heavy lifting so that I can sit back and enjoy my retirement.

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China adopts “calm attitude”…

August 30, 2019

This week, we’ve been highlighting China’s 9 Principles for Replacing America as the Global Superpower

  1. Don’t provoke a powerful adversary.
  2. Turn your opponent’s house on itself.
  3. Be patient to achieve victory.
  4. Steal your opponent’s ideas and technology.
  5. Target an enemy’s weak points rather than relying on an accumulation of brute strength.
  6. Beware political states that have a dominant influence or authority over others.
  7. Deceive others into doing your bidding for you.
  8. Establish and employ metrics for measuring your status relative to other potential challengers.
  9. Maintain a deeply ingrained sense of paranoia.These principles are excerpted from a book titled  The Hundred Year Marathon: China’s Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower by Michael Pillsbury.

Principle #1 – Don’t provoke a powerful adversary – was evident this week in the apparent escalation in the tariff dispute.

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Let’s recap the bidding….

Read the rest of this entry »

China: Playing the long game in tariff war…

August 29, 2019

This week, we’ve been highlighting China’s 9 Principles for Replacing America as the Global Superpower

  1. Don’t provoke a powerful adversary.
  2. Turn your opponent’s house on itself.
  3. Be patient to achieve victory.
  4. Steal your opponent’s ideas and technology.
  5. Target an enemy’s weak points rather than relying on an accumulation of brute strength.
  6. Beware political states that have a dominant influence or authority over others.
  7. Deceive others into doing your bidding for you.
  8. Establish and employ metrics for measuring your status relative to other potential challengers.
  9. Maintain a deeply ingrained sense of paranoia.

Note these principles are excerpted from a book titled  The Hundred Year Marathon: China’s Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower by Michael Pillsbury.

Quite an appropriate title given CNBC’s observation regarding the current escalation in the tariff dispute.

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Let’s dig a little deeper…

Read the rest of this entry »

The Chinese theft of Intellectual Property…

August 28, 2019

Earlier this week, we outlined China’s 9 Principles for Replacing America as the Global Superpower

  1. Don’t provoke a powerful adversary.
  2. Turn your opponent’s house on itself.
  3. Be patient to achieve victory.
  4. Steal your opponent’s ideas and technology.
  5. Target an enemy’s weak points rather than relying on an accumulation of brute strength.
  6. Beware political states that have a dominant influence or authority over others.
  7. Deceive others into doing your bidding for you.
  8. Establish and employ metrics for measuring your status relative to other potential challengers.
  9. Maintain a deeply ingrained sense of paranoia.

Excerpted from The Hundred Year Marathon: China’s Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower by Michael Pillsbury.

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Today, let’s focus on #4 — Steal your opponent’s ideas and technology — and drill down on … the Chinese theft of intellectual property..

Read the rest of this entry »

The Chinese cyber-threat…

August 27, 2019

Yesterday, we outlined China’s 9 Principles for Replacing America as the Global Superpower … excerpted from The Hundred Year Marathon: China’s Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower by Michael Pillsbury.

  1. Don’t provoke a powerful adversary.
  2. Turn your opponent’s house on itself.
  3. Be patient to achieve victory.
  4. Steal your opponent’s ideas and technology.
  5. Target an enemy’s weak points rather than relying on an accumulation of brute strength.
  6. Beware political states that have a dominant influence or authority over others.
  7. Deceive others into doing your bidding for you.
  8. Establish and employ metrics for measuring your status relative to other potential challengers.
  9. Maintain a deeply ingrained sense of paranoia.

Today, let’s focus on #5 and drill down on  the Chinese cyber-threat.

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Michael Pillsbury nails the point in his book …

Read the rest of this entry »

China’s 9 Principles for Replacing America as the Global Superpower

August 26, 2019

Keep that in mind during the escalating 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, the 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…

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How do the rich get richer ..

August 23, 2019

… while others seem to just tread water?

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Interesting study reported in the NY Times

The rich really are getting richer …  growing net worth faster than those on lower wealth rungs.

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… and, there’s a logical reason why.

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So, how many “rich” folks are there?

August 22, 2019

Yesterday we reported survey results from Schwab and the WSJ that pegged the threshold for being classified as “rich” or “wealthy” at about $2.5 million.

Just being a millionaire doesn’t make the cut any more.

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

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Source: NY Times

OK, so how many households do make the cut?

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

August 21, 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” …

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Shouldn’t Trump be eyeing Iceland instead of Greenland?

August 20, 2019

Recent reports are that Trump is mulling the idea of the U.S. buying Greenland from Denmark.

Rationale: Strategic military locale, rich resources, historical legacy.

True or illusory, got me wondering whether Trump has his eye on the wrong target.

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 …

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Is breakfast over-rated?

August 19, 2019

Recent studies indicate benefits from fasting … and, breakfast may be on the chopping block.

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From the WSJ

For years, conventional wisdom has been “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and supper like a pauper.”

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But, recent research suggests that intermittent fasting (aka.  time-restricted eating) may be a better route to weight loss and improved health .

Specifically, some doctors are advising patients to omit either dinner or breakfast, so that they don’t ingest any food for at least 14 hours at a stretch.

Here’s why…

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“Making dishwashers great again”

August 16, 2019

For years, my wife has been justifiably complaining about how  dishwasher performance has gotten way worse because of goofy environmental rules enacted by the Feds.

Ostensibly, DOE rules were put in place to reduce energy and water consumption.

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While well-intended (maybe) , from the get-go, consumers started complaining that dishwashers made under the new rules don’t clean very well — dishes come out dirty and smelly … and take forever to run … often requiring follow-on runs to finish the job.

DOE itself has acknowledged this is caused by its regulations, saying: “To help compensate for the negative impact on cleaning performance associated with decreasing water use and water temperature, manufacturers will typically increase the cycle time.” Source

The news: help may be on the way….

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$$$: What’s the impact of the Tax Cut & Jobs Act on house prices?

August 15, 2019

Answer: For sure, the TCJA put downward pressure on home values … how much depends on a home’s value before deduction caps were put in place.

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In a prior post, we started thinking about this question (since nobody else seems to have landed on the issue) … and took a stab at estimating the isolated impact of the TCJA’s cap on the mortgage interest deduction.

A couple of readers asked (1) What about the impact of the SALT deductions cap?, and (2) Can you work through a example from start to finish … as simply as possible?

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Always aiming to please my loyal readers, here’s a try at answering both inquiries with a simple(?) example….

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All the Olive Garden you can eat … for life!

August 14, 2019

For 2 years, I’ve been “punishing” Olive Garden for sleazy practice of adding $2 to my bill for the tablet computer that was on our table — even though we didn’t use it!

For the gory details (and a great read), see these prior posts:

I ended my personal boycott because I had the taste for Olive Garden bread sticks, not because the restaurant chain just announced a special promotion: the Olive Garden ““Lifetime Pasta Pass”.

The deal: Shell out $400 and you’re entitled to “a lifetime of unlimited servings of pastas, sauces, and toppings. Plus unlimited soup or salad and breadsticks.”

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Of course, there are some small print restrictions and and plenty of fodder for belly laughs …

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