Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

“Confirmed cases” skyrocketed … how many were false positives?

September 16, 2020

One answer to why there wasn’t a commensurate high spike in deaths.
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COVID tests yielding “false positive” results have been hitting the news again.

A couple of weeks ago, Ohio governor Mike DeWine tested positive, missed an event with President Trump and was subsequently re-tested (twice) and found to be negative.

See Ohio Gov. DeWine tests negative … after testing positive.

This week, it was reported that several nursing homes have experienced numerous cases of false positives.

False-positive test results are a particularly significant risk in nursing homes, because a resident wrongly believed to have Covid-19 could be placed in an area dedicated to infected patients, potentially exposing an uninfected person to the coronavirus.

And, there is a growing number of reports that re-opened schools are being shut-down when a single student or faculty member tested positive.  Locally, I know of 3 such instances.

Bottom line: false positives are very likely and have significant consequences to patients and institutions.

The IHME estimates that less than 1% of Americans are currently infected.

Given the low prevalence of COVID (i.e. percentage currently infected) … and low but statistically significant testing errors … the likelihood of false positives is very high!

Here’s my logic…

In my strategic business analytics course, I used to teach something called Bayesian Inference … a way to calculate probabilities by combining contextual information (called “base rates” or “priors”) with case-specific observations (think: testing or witnessing).

Today, we’ll apply Bayesian Inference to the COVID testing situation…

(more…)

Nums: A historical perspective on race relations in the U.S….

September 1, 2020

Controversial topic, so let’s just follow the data “follow the data”
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Biden says that he and Obama eased the racial divide … and that Trump is blew the gap wide open.

What do the numbers day?

click graph to enlarge
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Well, according to Gallup, that’s only partially right…

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The “summer slide” meets the coronavirus…

July 30, 2020

How much “dislearning” have children experienced during the schools’ shut down?
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In his 2008 bestseller Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell popularized the notion of an educational “summer slide”.

Referencing a tracking study of Baltimore City Public School students, Gladwell highlighted evidence that students’ standardized test scores in the fall were generally lower than their scores in the prior spring.

His observation: “Between school years, students’ accumulated learning is diminished”.

In other words, there is a statistically significant “forget factor” if learning isn’t reinforced and edged forward with summer enrichment activities (think: summer school, educational camps, field trips, parental tutoring).

The summer slide is most pronounced for poor students who lack summer enrichment opportunities … and for all students in math. 

The black line below illustrates the math score drop-off for typical 3rd, 4th and 5th graders. On average, the typical summer slide in math skills is about 2%.  That is, students are 2% less proficient in math after their summer vacations.

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Source: WSJ

To make matters worse, note the red line on the chart … it illustrates the projected drop-off due to this year’s virus-induced school closings.

It’s estimated that students will be about 5% less proficient in math than they were when the schools closed … the combined effect of lesser learning during the schools’ shut-down period and an extended summer slide (with many schools declaring no mas in early June) .

More specifically…

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“Confirmed cases” are skyrocketing … how many are false positives?

July 28, 2020

The answer is likely to surprise you!
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In my strategic business analytics course, I used to teach something called Bayesian Inference … a way to calculate probabilities by combining contextual information (called “base rates” or “priors”) with case-specific observations (think: testing or witnessing).

Today, we’ll apply Bayesian Inference to the COVID testing situation…

(more…)

Why is COVID testing still so haphazard?

July 27, 2020

Test results come too late for therapeutic decisions … and “the science” still can’t answer basic questions.
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Let’s dig into some numbers today…

Based on some back-of-the envelop arithmetic, I estimate that about 13 million Covid tests have been administered in the 3 weeks ending July 13

Note: The time period is strictly arbitrary.  And, since I don’t have all of the daily data series, I just derived rough estimates off the charts. I doubt conclusions would change much with a different time period or more precise numbers 

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Now, let’s drill down on those numbers….

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Happy 4th of July !

July 4, 2020

Take a moment to remember how lucky we are …

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June 22: C-19 Key NATIONAL Data

June 22, 2020

263 Daily New Deaths Worldometer
> 7-day average 628
> Peaked on April 21

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Cumulative Deaths 
122,246 Worldometer
186,258 by Oct 4 @ current 7-day M.A.

IHME Model Cume US Death Projection:
201,129 by Oct 1 UP 12,239 on June 15

Nums: A historical perspective on race relations in the U.S….

June 4, 2020

Controversial topic, so we’ll stick to the numbers…

Everybody knows that Obama eased the racial divide … and that Trump is blowing the gap wide open

Right?

click graph to enlarge
image

Well, according to Gallup, that’s only partially right…

(more…)

MUST READ: How will we know when we’ve turned the COVID-19 corner?

May 26, 2020

Stay focused on the number of Daily New Deaths!
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Cutting to the chase, I’ve concluded that the most reliable number being reported is the number of COVID-19 related “Daily New Deaths”.

According to Worldometers – the best data aggregation site that I’ve found so far – there have been almost 100,000 COVID-19  related deaths in the U.S. so far.

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Keep in mind that “COVID-related” means “COVID present”, not necessarily “COVID caused” … and that, along the way, “present” was redefined from “confirmed” to “presumed”

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From an analytical perspective, the chart of total deaths will, by definition, never crest and turn down. It’s rate of growth will eventually slow down, though, but that’s hard to read that from a chart.

So, I think it’s more useful to look at “Daily New Deaths” …. if that number keeps going up then, by definition, we haven’t turned the corner.

When Daily New Deaths start trending down then, by definition, we have turned the corner.

Here’s our charting of what Worldometers has reported since the first coronavirus cases were identified.

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The dotted line is the 7-day moving average which smooths some of the day-to-day “noise” in the data.

Based on the 7-day moving average, it appears that the rate of growth of COVID-19 deaths trended downward since about April 21.

Bottom line: If you want to know if we’re starting to turn the corner, keep your eye on the number of COVID-19 related “Daily New Deaths”.

Choose the level of aggregation based on your specific interest … world, nation or state.

Note: I’ll be focusing on the U.S. national number … and the national number less the 3 state hot spots: NY, NJ, CT

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More specifically, why “Daily New Deaths”?

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On this Memorial Day …

May 25, 2020

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

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#HomaFiles

Follow on Twitter @KenHoma            >> Latest Posts

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A very weird data point…

May 3, 2020

Below is the current list of the Top 10 HomaFiles posts.

WordPress — the blogging platform that I use — auto-generates the list based on total views since posting and which posts are trending.

Which is the goose among the ducks?

  1. $$$: How much house can you buy for $1,000 per month?
  2. May 2: C-19 Key NATIONAL Data
  3. May 2: C-19 Key STATES Data
  4. May 3: C-19 Key NATIONAL Data
  5. How long do you wait in line to checkout at the supermarket?
  6. How many doctors are there in the U.S.?
  7. Help Wanted: Vice President of Contact Tracing & Testing
  8. How will we know when we’ve turned the COVID-19 corner?
  9. About that forecast of 60,000 coronavirus deaths…
  10. State-by-state COVID19 Deaths – Total and Per Capita

Yep, #1, the “How much house?” post.

It’s the all-time leader in cumulative views (by a lot), so it’s a near-permanent topic in the top 10 … but it’s usually buried in the middle of the list.

My hypothesis: The post gets a lot of “over the transom” views from folks who don’t follow the HomaFiles … mostly because the question in the title of the post sorts high on Google searches.

Over time, I’ve noticed that the housing post sorts higher on the list when the housing market heats up (e.g. when there’s a significant cut in mortgage rates). That makes sense.

Maybe the current coronavirus situation (i.e. some spots are particularly hot; everybody spending more time at home) has a lot of folks thinking about moving.

Hmmm.

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P.S. You can click on the links above if you’ve missed any of the trending posts.

Let’s make COVID testing actionable…

April 21, 2020

We might be testing the wrong people.
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An earlier version was posted on March 22 

COVID-19 testing has been getting a lot of attention recently since availability of test kits has been late and slow.

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  • TV pundit-doctors complain that they can’t get tests done on their patients.
  • Some people are anxious to know if they have been infected.
  • Scientists are dismayed that they don’t have enough data to accurately calibrate the problem.

The current answer: Prioritize diagnostic testing to sick people who have COVID symptoms (and want to be tested)… 

My question: Is that the right answer?

I think not…

(more…)

The power of anecdotes…

March 24, 2020

Trump & Cuomo have jumped aboard the Hydroxychloroquine train, spurred on by pop-docs like Dr. Oz.

Dr. Fauci is “hesitant” because there haven’t been scientifically-pure randomized controlled clinical studies …  just “anecdotal evidence”.

Memo to Dr. Fauci: Don’t underestimate the “power of anecdotes” in shaping decision-making and public opinion.

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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 …

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Trump: “Maybe I shoulda been a doctor”

March 9, 2020

Let’s start the week on a high note.

Last week, President Trump visited the CDC in Atlanta.

Answering reporters’ questions, he felt the need to substantiate his credentials to be overseeing the COVID-19 response.

His answer — paraphrased above — is classic Trump … this 1-minute video is a ‘must see’.

For skeptics:  His Uncle John Trump was a professor at the MIT,  a recipient of U.S. President Reagan’s National Medal of Science and a member of the National Academy of Engineering.  Uncle John was noted for developing rotational radiation therapy. He was the paternal uncle of Donald Trump, the 45th president of the United States. Source

Logical inference: This science stuff is just in his genes.

Case closed.

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P.S. But, I’m not ready to have the guy operate on me.

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Follow on Twitter @KenHoma

>> Latest Posts

#HomaFiles

The day the music died for Sen. Warren ….

March 6, 2020

Welp, she called it a day … declaring some victory of sorts and pulling out of the presidential race.

She insinuates gender bias, some pundits opine that she was totally inauthentic – having been caught in a couple of whoppers, and some say that her policy ideas were just too radical for mainstream America.

In my opinion, the demise of Warren’s campaign can be traced to a single incident that went viral…

(more…)

Has ObamaCare provided more healthcare?

February 19, 2020

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

Since Dems are making ObamaCare an election issue, let’s flashback to a prior post and inject some facts…

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

Makes sense, doesn’t it?

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

 

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Source: AAMC

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

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Remember how healthcare costs were going to drop by $2,500 for every family?

February 18, 2020

The Dem presidential candidates are making a big deal out of “fixing the healthcare system” … and “cutting healthcare costs”.

That’s noble, but raises a question that’s been bugging me …

Wasn’t Obamacare supposed to do that?

Specifically, Obama — who never lied according to the MSM — told us that every family’s healthcare costs would go down by $2,500.

So what happened?

In 2016 (Obama’s last year in office), employees paid $11,000 out-of-pocket for healthcare … up $2,500 since 2012.

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Milliman – a well-regarded actuarial consulting” firm – has published an annual recap of healthcare spending since 2001.

The Milliman Medical Index tracks the total costs of providing health care to an average family of four covered by an employer-sponsored “preferred provider plan” … that’s about 155 million employees and their dependents.

The total includes the health insurance premiums paid by both the employer and the employee, as well as the actual expenditures for health care paid by the insurance plan and out of pocket by the insured family.

The big news: In 2016, the average healthcare costs for a family of 4 surpassed $25,000 for the first time … the $25,826 is triple the cost to provide health care for the same family in 2001 … and up about $5,000 since 2012.

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The bad(est) news is the increased proportion of the healthcare costs being shouldered by individual employees …

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Reprise: How Beef-Loving Voters Can End Up WithTofu

February 7, 2020

Was Biden a victim of the process or simply an awful candidate?
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This is from the HomaFiles archives – one of my favs.

The original WSJ article was inspired by Clinton’s win over elder Bush (the Perot factor), younger Bush’s win over Gore (the Nader factor), and Jesse Ventura’s gov win in Minnesota.

But, the analysis has current relevancy given the Iowa (partial) results.

Let’s look at how election processes influence results…

(more…)

Reading minds to discern intentions…

January 30, 2020

OK, Trump delayed aid to Ukraine and encouraged Zelensky to look into the Biden’s million dollar fauz-job scheme.

But, did he delay aid it because (1) he didn’t think other countries — more dependent on peace in Ukraine — were paying their fair share, or (2) he thought that a VP taking a million dollar bribe — albeit disguised — was corrupt, or (3) he was shaking at the prospects of facing Sleepy Joe in the election and wanted to kneecap him, or (4)  some combination of the above.

The question boils down to how can you discern a person’s intentions?

An opinion piece by Sharyl Attkisson in The Hill titled “Democrats can read minds” crystalized something that’s been bothering me for awhile.

Remember when IG Horowitz outlined 17 (or more) mega-errors in the FBI FISA process.

Though all of the miscues were material and in the direction of securing warrants to surveil Trump campaigners, Horowitz asserted that he didn’t have testimonial or evidential proof (i.e. “smoking guns”) that the “mistakes” were the result of political bias.

Said differently, Horowitz refused to draw a conclusion re: motivation because “I can’t read minds”.

Fair enough.

The  FBI / FISA situation was reminiscent of Comey’s press conference re: Hillary’s transgressions…

(more…)

Psych 101: The one thing that I remember…

January 10, 2020

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…

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

January 9, 2020

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.

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

January 8, 2020

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

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Last night, Jeopardy stated running a special tournament head-to-head matching former super-champs Ken Jennings (longest winning streak – 74 games), Brad Rutter (most winnings including special tournaments) and James Holzhauer.

James Holzhauer – a professional gambler –  won $2,714,416 in his 33 appearances. His $82,255 average daily winnings uber-eclipsed other Jeopardy contestants.

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 daily 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 won more than $100,000 five times  … 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.

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The perils of long-term financial planning…

December 24, 2019

A couple of months ago, we alerted readers that Congress was targeting frugal estate planner by considering an end to so-called “stretch” IRAs.

Well they did it.

While folks were fixated on a shiny object, Congress passed a massive spending bill … with some of the outrageous spending being funded by limiting IRA benefits..

Why’s that important?

Here’s our original post, in case your memory needs a jogging…

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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…

(more…)

Ken’s UEI (Ultimate Economic Indicator) … the real gauge of the economy.

December 16, 2019

Recently, I placed an Amazon order for a pair of shoes … checked ‘free shipping’ (not Prime) … and it took 10 days for the order to arrive on my doorstep.

Why is that important”

There are a lot of indicators bandied about to ‘prove’ how well or poorly the economy is doing.

There’s GDP, unemployment, CPI, and many, many other metrics.

Sometimes they provide a consistent view of the economy … sometimes they contradict.

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Well, I now rely on my Ultimate Economic Indicator (UEI). An indisputable measure of economic activity …

(more…)

Happy Thanksgiving !

November 27, 2019

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* * * * * 
Follow on Twitter @KenHoma

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Flashback: Obama schools Romney that “Russia isn’t a threat”

November 25, 2019

Watching the Impeachment Inquiry last week I was struck by Dem witnesses’ hyperbolic concern about Russia.

Just a minute guys…

Remember the 2012 Presidential debates?

A key moment was when President Obama ridiculed Gov. Romney’s knowledge of foreign affairs.

Given the current hysteria over Russia, the clip is a classic …  try to stay calm when you watch it

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Here’s more that’ll should make you scream …

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

November 21, 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.

image
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 ….

(more…)

More: Have colleges watered down their curriculums?

November 15, 2019

A survey of 700 schools answers the question.
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In a prior post, we outlined the criteria and method that the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) used to assess whether students are learning the “essential skills and knowledge” for work and for life.

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In a nutshell, ACTA researchers culled through over 700 schools’ course catalogs and web sites to determine what courses were being offered and, more important, which courses were required of all students.

Specifically, they investigated whether undergraduates are gaining a reasonable college-level introduction in seven core subject areas:

  1. Composition & argumentation
  2. Literature and critical thinking
  3. Foreign language & culture
  4. U.S. government & history
  5. Economics: Macro, micro, behavioral
  6. Mathematics, logic & computer science
  7. Science & scientific experimentation.

Here’s what they found …

(more…)

Have colleges watered down their curriculums?

November 14, 2019

A survey seeks to  answer that question.
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In a prior  post, we reported that employers think that most college graduates are poorly prepared for the work force in such areas as critical thinking, communication and problem solving.

See A bigger college scandal than the recent admissions bruhaha…

Let’s dig a little deeper on that sentiment.

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The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) conducted a survey of “Core Requirements at our Nation’s Colleges and Universities” to determine what students are really learning in college.

Specifically, the ACTA survey focused on the courses that a student is required to take outside the major.

These courses — commonly called general education classes or the school’s core curriculum — are, according to the ACTA, “ the foundation of a school’s academic program”.

They are the courses “generally  designed to equip students with essential skills and knowledge” for work and for life.

Here is specifically what ACTA was looking for…

(more…)

More: Have colleges watered down their curriculums?

November 12, 2019

A survey of 700 schools answers the question.
===============

In a prior post, we outlined the criteria and method that the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) used to assess whether students are learning the “essential skills and knowledge” for work and for life.

image

In a nutshell, ACTA researchers culled through over 700 schools’ course catalogs and web sites to determine what courses were being offered and, more important, which courses were required of all students.

Specifically, they investigated whether undergraduates are gaining a reasonable college-level introduction in seven core subject areas:

  1. Composition & argumentation
  2. Literature and critical thinking
  3. Foreign language & culture
  4. U.S. government & history
  5. Economics: Macro, micro, behavioral
  6. Mathematics, logic & computer science
  7. Science & scientific experimentation.

Here’s what they found …

(more…)

What are your chances of dying from ___ ?

November 8, 2019

Yesterday, we posted that men are 9 times more likely than women to be attacked by sharks … and 6 times more likely to be struck by lightning.

Continuing in that vein, here’s a test for you  …

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Rank the the following by the odds that somebody who is in the group or who is exposed to the risk is likely to die.

Make #1 the highest risk of dying in the next year; make #7 the lowest risk circumstance

  • For women giving birth
  • For anyone thirty-five to forty-four years old
  • From asbestos in schools
  • For anyone for any reason
  • From lightning
  • For police on the job
  • From airplane crashes

And the answer is …

(more…)

The degree-earning gender gap…

November 6, 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…

(more…)

Do students really learn what’s taught?

November 5, 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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“Half of all U.S. colleges to close or go bankrupt in the next decade”

November 1, 2019

That’s the gloomy prediction of disruption guru Clayton Christensen
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And, it’s not just the tidal wave of online programs or ballooning college tuitions.

Moreso, Christensen’s prediction is on track, according to a WSJ recap of economist Nathan Grawe’s “Demographics and the Demand for Higher Education.”

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Grawe’s central thesis: Birthrates have plunged 13% since the Great Recession … and that “birth dearth” will cost America 450,000 fewer college applicants in the 2020s.

Here are some of the specifics….

(more…)

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.

image
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 ….

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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” …

(more…)

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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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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Follow on Twitter @KenHoma

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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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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 …

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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…

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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?

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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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Follow on Twitter @KenHoma

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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 …

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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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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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The (personal) economics of Medicare premiums

August 7, 2019

After paying Medicare taxes for years, weren’t the benefits supposed to be free?
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Yesterday, we argued that Medicare’s payroll taxes can thought of as a mega-joining fee … or, as prepaid premiums that amortize to the equivalent of $10,000 per year over a retiree’s post-65 life span.

See Ouch: The (personal) economics of Medicare payroll taxes

And, we pointed out that the prepaid premiums are just the tip of the iceberg.

Once retired, the Feds collects additional annual Medicare premiums.

This may surprise pre-retirement folks who think that they pay in during their working years, but then get “free” healthcare insurance when they retire.

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Today, let’s take a look at Medicare premiums…

 

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Trump: Inspired by the 1972 Cuban Olympic boxing team?

August 5, 2019

Last week the WSJ ran a piece calling him “Trump: A Brawler for Democracy” .

That calls for a reprise of a HomaFiles post from August 2015 … way ahead of its time !

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Trump: Inspired by the 1972 Cuban Olympic boxing team?

Many of you may be too young to have witnessed and remember, but…

In the 1972 Olympics, the polished U.S. boxing team was predicted to sweep the competition.

But, something happened on the way to the medals’ platform that shocked the sporting world.

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Here’s the story and why Trump’s first days in office jogged my memory of the 1972 Olympics …

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