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

August 13, 2019

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

Everybody knows that Obama’s words eased the racial divide … and that Trump’s words are blowing the gap wide open



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

Read the rest of this entry »

Is the middle class vanishing up or down?

August 12, 2019

Analyzing Census Bureau data, economist Mark Perry concludes:

The “middle-class is disappearing” as we hear all the time, but it’s because middle-income households in the US are gradually moving up to higher-income groups, and not down into lower-income groups.


That conclusion is way different than we’ve been hearing from Dem Presidential candidates … and the mainstream media.

So, let’s dig a little deeper…

Read the rest of this entry »

Did Trump spur a Baltimore clean-up?

August 9, 2019

Last week — following Trump’s tweet calling out Baltimore — we reminded readers that:  Once upon a time, Baltimore was thriving…

Noting former mayor William Donald Schaefer’s positive leadership and attention to detail, concluded:

imagine a mega-initiative to clean-up the inner city — haul away the garbage (and maybe some of the rats).

Hire Baltimore’s notorious squeegee boys (and other unemployed residents) to attack the problem.

It wouldn’t fix all of Baltimore’s problems, but it would be a conspicuous step forward.


Well, the city administration didn’t rally the notorious squeegee boys (nor anybody else, as near as we can tell).

But, some people did step up…

Read the rest of this entry »

What’s the biggest middle class tax break?

August 8, 2019

Hint: Medicare For All would eliminate it and nobody seems to be talking about it.


Anybody remember the Simpson-Bowles Report?


It was commissioned by President Obama shortly after he was first elected … reported out in 2010 …  and trash-canned shortly thereafter … since it predictably recommended spending cuts and  tax increases.

According to Simpson-Bowles, the “biggest“Federal tax break” is ….

Read the rest of this entry »

The (personal) economics of Medicare premiums

August 7, 2019

After paying Medicare taxes for years, weren’t the benefits supposed to be free?

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.


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


Read the rest of this entry »

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 !


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.



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

Read the rest of this entry »

Ouch: The (personal) economics of Medicare.

August 5, 2019

Over the years, I’ve anteed about $250,000 into the Medicare tax kitty.

And, you may have  thrown in more than you think!

Motivated by Medicare for All hype coming from far-left-leaning Dems presidential candidates, I finally took a serious look at the buckos that I’ve thrown into the Medicare kitty over the years.


I’d like to say that I was surprised, but I really wasn’t.

Here are the details…

Read the rest of this entry »

Once upon a time, Baltimore was thriving…

August 2, 2019

Anybody remember Mayor William Donald Schaefer?  Tom Peters does…


Baltimore has gotten a lot of attention this week … with Pres. Trump indelicately singling the city out as a poster child of inner-city blight and political malfeasance.

It wasn’t always so.

We lived in suburban Baltimore County for 10 years … starting in 1990.

The city had its issues, but they seemed to be under control.


“Excellence” guru Tom Peters credits the leadership of a William Donald Schaefer.

click to view


Read the rest of this entry »

Joe was more sleepy than mean…

August 1, 2019

But, this time,  it was Kamala that got Kamala-ed.


On balance the debate was pretty boring and uninformative.

The gang of many tried to pile on Biden

Joe was wobbly and a bit tired … but fended off the punches … often by putting up his strategic ObamaShield … saying implicitly: “If you attack me, you’re attacking Barack”.

For example, did you notice how Joe hung with “ObamaCare” … but other candidates kept referring to the “Affordable Care Act”?

I expect that’ll be Biden’s go forward strategy: wrap himself with an Obama cloak … and trade on borrowed adulation.

click to view

Basically, I think Biden played to a tie.

The bigger story last night was Tulsi Gabbard taking Kamala Harris to the hoop…

Read the rest of this entry »

Which will show up: Sleepy Joe or Mean Joe?

July 31, 2019

Anybody remember his debate against Paul Ryan?


Most (all?) pundits seem to agree that Kamala Harris got the best of Joe Biden in the first debate … by getting in his face on busing and, in doing so, hit him with a veiled accusation of racism.

Biden’s response was weak …  truncated by his throwing in the towel with “I see that my time is up.”


On the campaign trail, Biden has been telling supporters (and fat cat donors) that he’s going to up his game in the second debates.:


His chest-pounding is eliciting a lot of “yeah, right” reactions….

Read the rest of this entry »

2020 Dem candidates are starting to trash Obama’s legacy … say, what?

July 30, 2019

A politically expedient strategy to neutralize a potential Biden advantage.


According to the far-left leaning Daily Beast

The idea that the Obama legacy would be anything other than a massive positive for Biden … has been treated as indisputable within Democratic circles.

But in recent weeks, the Democratic frontrunner has had that legacy used against him, with his competitors pointing the to shortcomings of the last Democratic administration.


On issues ranging from immigration to health care and foreign policy, the 2020 candidates have been increasingly critical in their public assessments of the Obama administration.

More specifically….

Read the rest of this entry »

OMG: I finally agree with Thomas Freidman on something…

July 29, 2019

Prior to Round 2 of the debates, he says: Dems may be handing Trump his re-election.


Back in 2005, Thomas Friedman’s book “The World is Flat” did much to legitimize and promote globalization.

For better or for worse, the book had undeniable impact … becoming a bible of sorts and playbook for globalization.


Since “Flat World”, Friedman veered far left and didn’t say much that I agreed with.

That is, until last week…


In an NY Times opinion piece, Friedman observed:

“A lot of Americans were shocked by some of the things they heard (during the recent democratic presidential debates). I was shocked, too.

What shocked him?

I was shocked that so many candidates in the party whose nominee I was planning to support want to get rid of the private health insurance covering some 250 million Americans and have “Medicare for all” instead. I think we should strengthen Obamacare and eventually add a public option.

I was shocked that so many were ready to decriminalize illegal entry into our country. I think people should have to ring the doorbell before they enter my house or my country.

I was shocked at all those hands raised in support of providing comprehensive health coverage to undocumented immigrants. I think promises we’ve made to our fellow Americans should take priority, like to veterans in need of better health care.

And I was shocked by front-runner Joe Biden’s feeble response to the attack from Kamala Harris — and to the more extreme ideas promoted by those to his left.

Couldn’t have said it better myself, Tommy.

And, what does Friedman conclude?

A racist, divisive, climate-change-denying, woman-abusing jerk who is our president is going to get re-elected


And his remedy for the Dems:

Dear Democrats:

This is not complicated! Just nominate a decent, sane person, one committed to reunifying the country and creating more good jobs.


Ironic that the guy who championed the migration of “good” American jobs to low cost labor markets is now championing the creation of good jobs.

As Forrest Gump would say: “What goes around, comes around.”


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So, if Mueller didn’t run the investigation, who did?

July 26, 2019

… and, what are the implications?


I think that it was clear to any reasonably objective person that Mueller was testifying under what’s called “diminished capacity.”


For the record my mother fought a 20 year battle against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, so I’m both sympathetic and — while I have no medical credentials whatsoever — I’m reasonably well-versed in the symptomology and terminology.

Said differently, I’m sympathetic to Mueller and not just trying to take a cheap shot.

In my opinion, his symptoms weren’t a spontaneous response to the stress of testifying, but more likely, reflected an accumulative progression over time. 

If I’m right, that conclusion raises major questions and implications…

Read the rest of this entry »

“I’m not familiar with FusionGPS” … say, what?

July 25, 2019

Yep, being retired, I watched most of Mueller’s testimony live yesterday.

I agree with David Axlerod’s assessment: painful.

This morning, I flipped between CNN and MSNBC.

Their storyline: Great fodder for the impeachment cannon … poor optics … Republicans were disrespectful to Viet Nam war vet.

But, even they were admitting that Dems – who were reportedly aware of Mueller’s “challenges – share “some” blame for contriving yesterday’s sad spectacle.


Here are my morning after takeaways…

Read the rest of this entry »

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

July 24, 2019

Reason #16: Pretending that the 1930s didn’t exist.
For the record: I’m neither a denier nor a zealot …  so, according to British writer (& phrase-coiner) Matt Ridley, I’m a “lukewarmer”.

During a recent DC heatwave, we did some historical data-digging.

Among the conclusions that we drew was that it was pretty damn hot during the 1930s … when SUVs didn’t roam the earth and factories were Great Depression levels

Heatwaves in the 1930s lasted longer in the 1930s (over 10 days then vs. less than 7 recently) … and hit higher temperatures (101 degrees then vs. 99 degrees recently).

And, based on a WeatherFacts analysis, “19 (38%) of the 50 U.S. states recorded their (current standing) hottest temperatures in the 1930s.”

More broadly, only 13 states have recorded their highest temperatures since 1940 … and, only South Carolina has set its record in this decade.



So, is the globe really warming?

I guess it depends on:

(1) What’s your starting point

(2) What parts of history you flat out ignore

(3) How much you dink with the data … See Dinking with the data  

(4) Where you take your temperature readings and how you combine them into a “global metric” … See What’s the earth’s temperature?

See all 16 Reasons why I’m lukewarm on climate change …

Follow on Twitter @KenHoma

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Recap: 16 Reasons why I’m lukewarm on climate change …

July 24, 2019

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


For the record, here are 16 reasons that I’m a lukewarmer … with links to the prior posts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11. Celebs who “Never let a serious crisis go to waste.”   In the aftermath of a flood or hurricane, you can count on celebrities coming forth to bellow “I told you so”  …. even if the facts and the science say otherwise.  You see, science – and its relevance – is always malleable to the cause..

12. When is weather “climate”… and when is it just “weather”?   The short answer: hot spells are “climate”; cold spells are just dismissed as “weather”.

13. The “moral license” that “believers” carry in their wallets.  A rationale for the classic “do as I say, not as I do”

14. Climate change zealots are piss-poor marketers.  “The promotional efforts of the climate catastrophists have lacked the cornerstones of effective persuasion: clarity, credibility, and empathy.”

15. Did Paris just pull out of the “Paris Accords”? Macron enacted a gas tax … then retreated when the mass of working folks objected.

16. Pretending that the 1930s didn’t exist … even though heatwaves were worse then and many states recorded all-time high temperatures in the 1930s


And, my advice to climate change advocates:

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

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

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

(4)  Keep an open mind … sorry guys, the science isn’t really settled yet

Follow on Twitter @KenHoma

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Heatwaves: More historical perspective…

July 23, 2019

Good thing we’re not living in the 1930s


Yesterday, we posted the 10 hottest days recorded in my locale — Washington, DC.

The key conclusions: (1) last weekend’s 99 degree reading doesn’t come close to making the list (2) no days since 2012 made the list (3) it was pretty damn hot in the 1930s.

Here’s some more confirming evidence on that last point from WeatherFacts:

In the 1930s, there were more heatwaves and, on average, each heatwave lasted for a historically long duration.

In the 1930s, heatwaves lasted over 10 days …. nowadays, they’re less than a week.

“Yeah Ken, but heatwaves these days are way hotter than the were a hundred years ago.”

Not so, mes amies…

Read the rest of this entry »

Before you hyperventilate over the weekend temperatures…

July 22, 2019

Put them in a historical context.


No denying it … it was really hot his weekend.

High temperatures hit 97 on Friday and 99 on Sunday Source

So predictably, I’ve been hearing that the weekend temps prove that there’s global warming.


Before jumping to that conclusion, it helps to resort to data and put the weekend heat in a historical perspective….

Read the rest of this entry »

$$$: What’s the impact of lower mortgage interest deductions on house prices?

July 19, 2019

Worst case answer: About $50,000.


First, a couple of disclaimers …

1) I’m not a tax accountant or lawyer … so, nothing I say should be construed to be financial or tax advice.

2) Philosophically, I’ve always thought the income tax deduction for mortgage interest should be shelved.

Note: That philosophical principle certainly never stopped me from claiming my allowed tax deductions for my home mortgages.

Mortgae - Interest Rate GRAPH

OK, let’s get started…

Read the rest of this entry »

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

July 18, 2019

Since Joe Biden is hanging his hat (for now) on expanding ObamaCare (rather than signing up for the other candidates’ Medicare for All (MFA), let’s flashback to a prior post and inject some facts.

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


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.



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

Read the rest of this entry »

Biden: “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.”

July 17, 2019

Where have I heard that one before?


Joe Biden’s first presidential run in 1988 cratered amid multiple instances of plagiarism. Source

So, you’d think that he would have learned his lesson and stayed squeaky clean in the 2020 campaign.


Not so …

Countering the ultra-liberals Medicare for All (MFA), decided to reprise Obama’s infamous healthcare line.

So, what’s the rub?

Read the rest of this entry »

Trump versus “The Squad”

July 16, 2019

Unforced error or political brilliance?

These days — with the S&P over 3,000 and all politicians proving to be incompetent idiots — I’m finding politics decreasingly interesting, save for its entertainment value.

And, there’s plenty of that, for sue.

Cue Trump’s shocking (?) weekend tweet … and the nationally televised press conference by the self-named “Squad”.


Let’s run through that …

Read the rest of this entry »

Remember the ‘Miracle on Ice’?

July 15, 2019

After a week of World Cup celebration, let’s shift gears and take a walk down down memory lane … to another USA sports achievement.

In 1980, the US men’s Olympic hockey team clawed its way towards a gold medal with a game against the heavily-favored Soviet Union.

The Soviet team had won gold medals in each of the the four previous Winter Olympics.

In a “friendly” game a few days before the start of the Olympics, the Soviets manhandled the U.S.A. team 10-3.

Suffice it to say that things didn’t look good for the Americans.


That is, until the miracle happened…

Read the rest of this entry »

Facial recognition: This could be a big idea…

July 12, 2019

Yesterday, we posted how it may be possible to create a facial image  (called a phenotype) from DNA … and bounce it against DMV photo files to ID suspects and witnesses.

And, we’ve previously posted how facial recognition has been gaining traction at airports, in some schools, on Chinese streets and even in some amusement parks.

Recently, NY Gov. Cuomo announced that cameras with facial recognition software were being installed to spot criminals in some of the state’s traffic tunnels, bridges and other choke points.



More specifically…


Gov. Cuomo revealed that facial-recognition cameras were already in place at  bridge and tunnel toll plazas across the state.

The cameras scan drivers’ faces and feed them into databases to catch suspected criminals.

“We are now moving to facial-recognition technology which takes it to a whole new level, where it can see the face of the person in the car and run that technology against databases.”

When a match is made, an alarm is triggered for follow-up by law enforcement.

In China, images are posted to real-time digital billboards to shame perps.

See More great moments in facial recognition

My hunch: This is less of a tool to nab petty offenders … more intended to deter or snag terrorists.

That would make it a big idea.


Of course, civil libertarians oppose the use of facial recognition as an invasion of privacy … and claim that facial recognition is unreliable for children and “persons of color”.

The former is true since kids’ facial structures change rapidly as they age and grow … but, kids don’t drive, right?

The claim that facial recognition isn’t accurate for persons of color is a headscratcher.

Think about it for a minute or two…


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Facial recognition: From DNA to DMV … to jail?

July 11, 2019

Police have long had access to fingerprint and DNA data bases … usually ‘populated’ by criminals and suspects.

On occasion, crime scene DNA samples have been matched to genealogical traits directly or indirectly — by honing in on family member DNA profiles.

See DNA search used to nab Golden State Killer

Increasingly, facial recognition is being used to track down suspects and potential witnesses.

imageSource: Parabon Nanolabs

There have 2 recently revealed advances on the facial recognition front that have moved the technology to a higher and more controversial level.

Read the rest of this entry »

When was the last time that you went to a pro soccer game?

July 10, 2019

That’s the question that I posed to a few friends recently … prompted by the World’s Cup excitement and bruhaha over player pay.

I set the over-under at 1 … and, if you had bet the under, you would have won.


Assuming that I drew a bad, non-projectible sample, I checked out attendance numbers for the U.S. pro soccer leagues.

Some surprised me…

Read the rest of this entry »

So, how much did each U.S. player earn for winning the World’s Cup?

July 9, 2019

Lots of chatter about soccer’s gender gap in earnings … most of the analyses I’ve read are pretty confusing … lots of apples being compared to oranges.

So, let’s step back and ask a more basic question: how much did each of the women players earn for winning Le Coupe du Monde Femme?


Let’s work through the numbers…

Read the rest of this entry »

WaPo: Trump approval at highest point ever…

July 8, 2019

5 point surge in past couple of months.


If it were Rasmussen, we’d have to dismiss it as right-side bias, but this is an ABC-Washington Post Survey that’s reporting that despite a constant barrage of negative media coverage and a majority feeling that he acts unpresidential:

Aided by a strong economy and perceptions that he has dealt with it effectively, President Trump’s approval rating has risen to the highest point of his presidency.


Specifically, his approval has gone from 42% in April to 47% in July … a 5-point gain.

He’s still underwater by 3 points — 47% to 50% … but that gap has closed from the 12 point deficit in April) 42% to 54%).

How can this possibly be?

Read the rest of this entry »

Happy 4th of July !

July 4, 2019

Take a moment to remember how lucky we are …




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I’m hacked at Fox News …

July 3, 2019

For disrespecting a veteran’s organization.


First, a bit of background.

I don’t trust most charities — especially the larger ones that invariably waste money on executive perks or glitzy marketing campaigns instead of their primary missions.

So these days, I channel the bulk of my donations to healthcare organizations run by well-intentioned nuns and small veteran’s groups run by true believers.

One of my current favorites is the Catch A Lift Fund (officially,the Christopher Coffland Memorial Fund, 27-3901149).


In their words: “The Catch A Lift Fund has helped thousands of post 9/11 combat wounded veterans regain their mental and physical health through gym memberships, in home gym equipment, personalized fitness and nutrition programs and a peer support network.”

Over 90% on donations go directly to support CAL’s mission, which has a track record on undeniable success helping to rehabilitate injured vets.

So, what’s my beef with Fox News?

Read the rest of this entry »

Did the Dem candidates jump the shark with this one?

July 2, 2019

They dropped a couple of doozies during last weeks debate…


I went cool turkey (<= that’s not quite “cold turkey”, but pretty close) away from cable news while at the beach.

On return, I jumped off the wagon by watching parts of the Democratic debates.

I was expecting entertainment value … and I wasn’t disappointed.

Reminded me of the old Happy Days tv series that – among other things – coined the the phrase “jumping the shark”.


Ratings were slipping, so they had Fonzie (Henry Winkler) jump a shark while water skiing … hoping (but failing) to generate some ratings-boosting buzz.

So now, according to Wikipedia:

Jumping the shark is the moment when something that was once popular that no longer warrants the attention it previously received makes an attempt at publicity, which only serves to highlight its irrelevance..

How does that apply to the Dem debates?

Read the rest of this entry »

What I learned at the beach…

July 1, 2019

Easing back into the “real” world with a couple of takeaways from beach week…

1) While a dying breed, there are still families.  It’s fun being with your’s … and fun watching other families have fun … especially multi-generational families (<= grandparent bias).

2) Kids grow up quickly.

Read the rest of this entry »

Beach Week …

June 17, 2019

Taking a break … back next week.


Bethany Beach, Delaware


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

June 14, 2019

Interesting study reported in The Atlantic

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

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


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

Read the rest of this entry »

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

June 13, 2019

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


With all of the MSM “Trump is a wild & crazy guy” hysteria … fever-pitched during the Mexican “play or pay” negotiations … I was reminded of a prior (and once again timely) post.

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


Adams observed that, during the campaign, , Hillary’s constant refrain that we can’t have a loose cannon in the White House.  Of course, Dems and the MSM have kept that notion front-burnered for the past 2-1/2 years.



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

Read the rest of this entry »

Life in the digital age …

June 12, 2019

Quick: Name the last book you read.


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

The results are predictable … most choked on the question.

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


What  the heck is going on?

Read the rest of this entry »

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

June 11, 2019

According to NextGov:

Mobility in the United States has fallen to record lows.

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

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


What’s going on?

Read the rest of this entry »

With Mexican agreement Trump gets the last laugh … again.

June 10, 2019

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


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

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


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

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

Not a bad week, right?

But, there were some losers…

Read the rest of this entry »

Mastering math … or anything else.

June 7, 2019

Some insights on the science & practice of learning.


Interesting article buried in a weekend edition of the WSJ: “How a Polymath Mastered Math—and So Can You”

The subject polymath (a person of wide-ranging knowledge or learning) is Prof. Barbara Oakley.

To make her long story short, she was a self-proclaimed horrible math student in high school, dove back into math in her mid-20s, and is now an engineering professor..

“Her progression from desultory student to respected scholar led her to a sideline in the study of learning itself.”

She is the author of ‘A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even if You Flunked Algebra)’ and ‘Mindshift: Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential’.


Here are a few snippets from the article …

Read the rest of this entry »

Star gazing: How reliable are online user ratings?

June 6, 2019

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

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

Real reviews from real users.

What could be more accurate?



Some researchers tried to answer that question.

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

Their findings may surprise you …

Read the rest of this entry »

Shocker: IHOP is staying IHOP.

June 5, 2019

And now, I’ve got a beef with IHOP !


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

June 4, 2019

Answer: Pure game theory … perfectly executed..


Well, it finally ended.

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


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

Bottom line: she deserved to win.

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

I can explain that…

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

June 3, 2019

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


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

Say, what?

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

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

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



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

Let me explain…


Which prevails legally: behavior or intent?

Let’s start with the Comey – Clinton case.

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

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

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

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

Curious reasoning at best.


Now fast forward to Mueller – Trump.

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

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

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

Bottom line: Mueller didn’t get fired.

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

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

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



So, action without provable intent gets a pass.

But, presumed intent without consequential action is criminal.

Does that make any sense at all?


Follow on Twitter @KenHoma

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

May 31, 2019

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


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


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



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

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

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

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

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

Apparently, Mueller missed that class in law school/

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


Follow on Twitter @KenHoma

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About those pesky robocalls …

May 30, 2019

There’s a simple, low cost solution.

Yesterday, we whined about the high and increasing number of nuisance calls – most using robocall technology.

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



What to do besides yelling at the phone?

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

May 29, 2019

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

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

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


Why the surging numbers?

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Is Mickey positioned to walk all over Netflix?

May 28, 2019

Is the “disrupter” now going to get disrupted?


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

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

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


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

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On this Memorial Day …

May 27, 2019

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




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Jeopardy is taking a financial drubbing … or is it?

May 24, 2019

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


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

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


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

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

May 23, 2019

Here’s the solution to yesterday’s question.


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?


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


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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