Archive for October, 2019

Before climate change, there was the “Population Bomb”.

October 31, 2019

And, there are remarkable similarities.
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Recently, in one of her articulated streams of consciousness, AOC warned that we all would be toast in 12 years if global warming wasn’t arrested.

Time to metal-cube our SUVs and mass-slaughter the bovine-methane creatures, right?

Well, not so fast.

While AOC’s warning may come to fruition, I’m betting the over on the 12 years … in part, because it fits a pattern of hysterical unrealized doomsday predictions.

For example, circa. 1970, Prof. Paul Ehrlich  (Stanford University) wrote Malthusian-inspired book: The Population Bomb. The book became a runaway “scientific” best-seller.

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Smithonian.com

Ehrlich warned that because of unchecked population growth:

The battle to feed all of humanity is over.

Hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death.

All of us will face mass starvation on a dying planet.

While their were some deniers, demographers agreed almost unanimously with Ehrlich’s doomsday prediction ….

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How do the rich get richer ..

October 30, 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?

October 29, 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?

October 28, 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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Blame it on a Macedonian “content farm” … say, what?

October 25, 2019

Hillary is back … outing imagined Russian “assets”and rationalizing why  she lost.

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So, let’s flash back to her first book launch…

Remember when HRC perched on a faux-throne at CodeCon and the Javits Center … spilled 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 …

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Gotcha: Soon, speed cams will be so yesterday …

October 24, 2019

Speed cams are bad … AAA has done audits revealing that 1 in 10 tickets issued by them are in error … with drivers having little recourse since only  the cameras are are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Yep, they’re bad, but …

Imagine all speed limits being tightly enforced … 24 X 7.

Scary thought, right?

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Here’s what will replace the speed cam … and disrupt our lives.

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New evidence: Screen time makes you grow older faster…

October 23, 2019

For sure if you’re a fly… quite possibly if you’re a human.
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Excerpted from Fast Company

You probably already know that staring at the blue light beaming from a smartphone or computer screen might damage your eyesight.

Here’s some worse news…

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A new study suggests that long exposure to blue light could be doing some more fundamental damage: making you age faster.

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Decline in MBA applications accelerates…

October 22, 2019

Schools pressured to innovate programs and tighten cost belts.

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According to data collected by the WSJ

Applications to American M.B.A. programs fell for the fifth straight year … down by 9.1% last year to just over 135,000.

Elite schools — except for Chicago (my alma mater) – are experiencing declines and being forced to dig deeper into their still formidable pile of applications … i.e. increase their acceptance rates.

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What’s going on?

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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…

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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…

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“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….

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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 …

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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?

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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”…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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