Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Social Security Shortfall versus Taxing the Rich

A recent report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, DC included the following graph, which has become quite the splash:

[Click image to enlarge]

Source: Ruffing, R & Van de Water, Paul N (2010, August 13), What the 2010 Trustees’ Report Shows about Social Security, Washington, DC: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Art and Science of Data Enjoined

Check out this fascinating talk by data journalist David McCandless. The art and science of data are increasingly being enjoined by technology.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Well Said...

"Interfaces keep things tidy, but don’t accelerate growth: Functions do."

~ Prof Alan Jay Perlis, Epigrams on Programming (1982)

Prof Alan Jay Perlis (1922-1990)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Well Said...

"The theory of struggle is the only theory that is pragmatic. It therefore, joins the virtues of a theory, definition, and finiteness, to the virtues of historical things: reality and infinity."

~ Dr Emanuel Lasker, Undisputed World Champion of Chess (1894-1921)

Dr Emanuel Lasker (1868-1941)

Friday, August 20, 2010

US Jobs Recovery to Take Years

According to the The Hamilton Project at Brookings (2010, August 20), the US economy will have to create 11.6 million new jobs in order to return to pre-economic crisis employment levels. Moreover, the US economy is still shedding jobs, which means that the nation's unemployment wounds will fester into the indefinite future. Even after employment levels begin to increase in the US, Brookings reports that a full jobs recovery could take upwards of 5-12 years with the longer scenario being more likely.
The US economy will need more robust growth to close this gap. If future job creation reaches about 208,000 jobs per month, the average monthly job creation for the best year for job creation in the 2000’s, it will take almost 140 months (about 11.5 years) to reach pre-recession employment levels. In a more optimistic scenario with 321,000 jobs created per month, the average monthly job creation for the best year in the 1990’s, it will take 59 months (almost 5 years).
The chart below shows the amount of time necessary to close the employment gap for different rates of job creation based on experience data from the decade beginning in 2000.

[Click image to enlarge]

The US is now enduring the worst unemployment crisis since the Great Depression. Currently, more than 15.1 million Americans are unemployed, which compares to 12.8 million Americans at the peak of the Great Depression in 1933.

Source: Greenstone, M & Looney, A (2010, August 20), The Long Road Back to Full Employment: How the Great Recession Compares to Previous US Recessions, Brookings.

Related Posts:

US Inflation-Adjusted Pay Increases

Human Suffering is Absolute

Main Street Depression Imploding America

Percentage Employed in US Continues Slide

Unemployed Should Consider Emigration

Lingering Job Losses Worst Since World War II

Tame versus Wicked Business Intelligence Problems

I recently commented on a post in a business intelligence forum, and I wanted to share that comment here for others to consider. The forum was discussing the challenges of implementing business intelligence and analytics:

One of the concerns I have with automating business intelligence is that many problems that I am confronted with from my clients are simply not "tame" (in other words, problems we understand, and in which ample data is available). Solving "tame" problems is much different than solving "wicked" problems (in which we have little understanding of the variables or conceptual framework, and in which little pertinent or valid data is available). Clearly, "tame" problems should be automated as much as possible. However, "wicked" problems are often the "writ large" of business intelligence requirements. Not all problems can or should be automated as the first step in solving the problem at hand. Also, automated business intelligence must be transparent enough that validation and reliability testing can be performed manually. Business intelligence is a vital growth area for enterprise in the 21st century, but we must still take care to do the job right in accordance with best research practices.

Well Said...

"Some problems are so complex that you have to be highly intelligent and well informed just to be undecided about them."

~ Dr Laurence J Peter, co-author of The Peter Principle

Dr Laurence J Peter (1919-1990)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Well Said...

"Inspiration is needed in geometry, just as much as in poetry."

~ Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin

Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin (1799-1837)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

US Inflation-Adjusted Pay Increases 2000-2009

According to a report in USA Today (2010, August 17), “After adjusting for inflation, military compensation rose 84% from 2000 through 2009. Compensation grew 37% for federal civilian workers and 9% for private-sector employees...” USA Today based the report on data provided by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). The chart below compares the inflation-adjusted pay increases for military personnel, Federal civilians, and private sector employees for the period 2000-2009.

[Click image to enlarge]

Source: Cauchon, D (2010, August 17), Military Towns Enjoy Big Booms, USA Today.

Well Said...

"A work of morality, politics, criticism will be more elegant, other things being equal, if it is shaped by the hand of geometry."

~ Bernard de Fontenelle, Preface sur l'Utilité des Mathématiques et de la Physique (1729)

Bernard de Fontenelle (1657-1757)

Monday, August 16, 2010

On Algorithmic Thinking

As the 20th century closed and the human race entered the third millenium, Dr David Berlinski (2000) wrote about two great ideas that have most shaped the technological progress of Western civilization:
The first is the calculus, the second the algorithm. The calculus and the rich body of mathematical analysis to which it gave rise made modern science possible; but it has been the algorithm that has made possible the modern world.... The great era of mathematical physics is now over. The three-hundred-year effort to represent the material world in mathematical terms has exhausted itself. The understanding that it was to provide is infinitely closer than it was when Isaac Newton wrote in the late seventeenth century, but it is still infinitely far away.... The algorithm has come to occupy a central place in our imagination. It is the second great scientific idea of the West. There is no third. (pp. xv-xvi)
The advent of the algorithm is fundamental to any understanding of how (and why) the post-modern economy produces and allocates value. Said another way, the algorithm is what differentiates the post-modern economy from the industrial period, which is all but over.

Dr David Berlinski (1942- )

Source: Berlinski, D (2000). The Advent of the Algorithm: The 300-Year Journey from an Idea to the Computer. San Diego, CA: Harcourt.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Well said...

"Forget safety.
Live where you fear to live.
Destroy your reputation.
Be notorious."

~ Mawlānā Jalāl-ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī (1207-1273)

Shrine of Rumi, Konya, Turkey

Friday, August 13, 2010


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

~ William Ernest Henley

William Ernest Henley (1849–1903)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Human Suffering is Absolute

The expanding Main Street Depression in the US is now accelerating, and in absolute terms, the level of human suffering reached to date surpasses that of the Great Depression of the 1930's. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 15.1 million Americans were unemployed as of July 2010. In contrast, 12.8 million Americans were unemployed at the peak of the Great Depression in 1933.

[Click image to expand]

I personally refuse to marginalize human suffering using ratio analysis, and I would urge our fiscal and monetary policy-makers to do the same. When historians study wars, they count casualties in absolute numbers of souls rather than as percentages of some given population. Likewise, economists must learn to study depressions using the absolute numbers of people effected. The Main Street Depression now imploding America is a horrific event in our nation's history that needs to be understood in absolute terms and numbers that make it real rather than abstract. Said another way, economists must learn that human suffering is absolute.

Related Posts:

Main Street Depression Imploding America

Percentage Employed in US Continues Slide

Unemployed Should Consider Emigration

Depressions Past and Present

Main Street USA in Economic Depression

On Entrepreneurship

Seth Kravitz (2010) offers the following list of questions that every perspective entrepreneur should ask themselves before embarking on an enterprise of their own:
  1. I am willing to lose everything.
  2. I embrace failure.
  3. I am always willing to do tedious work.
  4. I can handle watching my dreams fall apart.
  5. Even if I am puking my guts out with the flu and my mother passed away last week, there is nothing that will keep me from being ready to work.
  6. My relationship/marriage is so strong, nothing work related could ever damage it.
  7. My family doesn’t need an income.
  8. This is a connected world and I don’t need alone time. I want to be reachable 24/7 by my employees, customers, and business partners.
  9. I like instability and I live for uncertainty.
  10. I don’t need a vacation for years at a time.
  11. I accept that not everyone likes my ideas and that it’s quite likely that many of my ideas are garbage.
  12. If I go into business with friends or family, I am OK with losing that relationship forever if things end badly.
  13. I don’t have existing anxiety issues and I handle stress with ease.
  14. I am willing to fire or layoff anyone no matter what how good of a friend they are, if they are my own sibling, if they just had a baby, if they have worked with me for 20 years, if their spouse also just lost their job, if I know they might end up homeless, if they have cancer but no outside medical insurance, or any other horrible scenario millions of bosses and HR people have faced countless times.
  15. I am OK with being socially cut-off and walking away from my friends when work beckons.
  16. I love naysayers and I won’t explode or give-up when a family member, friend, customer, business associate, partner, or anyone for that matter tells me my idea, product, or service is a terrible idea, a waste of time, will never work, or that I must be a moron.
  17. I accept the fact that I can do everything right, can work 70 hours a week for years, can hire all the right people, can arrange amazing business deals, and still lose everything in a flash because of something out of my control.
  18. I accept that I may hire people that are much better at my job than I am and I will get out of their way.
  19. I realize and accept that I am wrong ten times more than I am right.
  20. I am willing to walk away if it doesn’t work out.
My personal experiences with being my own boss over the past 18 years causes me to endorse all of the above questions as pertinent considerations. In the mean time, I have no regrets with my decision back in 1992 to go out on my own. You can learn all about what I do in private practice by clicking here.

Source: Kravitz, S (2010, February 25), Part 7: Is this Worth It? (Updated), SecondCityCEO.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Will Baidu Replace Google in China?

With Google sidelined in Hong Kong, will Baidu now replace Google as the most popular search engine in China? Click on the Baidu logo below to visit this uniquely Chinese search engine...

You can also visit the English version of the Baidu corporate website by clicking here.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Well Said...

So in the Libyan fable it is told
That once an eagle, stricken with a dart,
Said, when he saw the fashion of the shaft,
"With our own feathers, not by others' hands,
Are we now smitten."

~ Aeschylus

Aeschylus (525-456 BC)

Related Posts

Friday, August 06, 2010


Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.

But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

~ Max Ehrmann (1927)

Max Ehrmann (1872-1945)

US Employment to Population Ratio Dismal

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics released new data today that shows the US employment to population ratio is continuing to plummet. As of July 2010, the employment to population ratio stood at 58.9%, down from 59.5% last month.

[Click to Expand]

Many economists believe that reporting the number employed as a percentage of the civilian population provides a more accurate description of the current state of employment than conjecturing the number of "unemployed" in a population. Since 2000, employment in the US has declined from 64.4% to 58.9% as a percentage of the civilian noninstitutional population, its lowest level since 1982.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Related Posts:

Percentage Employed in US Continues Slide

Unemployed Should Consider Emigration

Depressions Past and Present

Main Street USA in Economic Depression

Thursday, August 05, 2010

The Expertise Continuum

The graphic below posits three distinct degrees of self-acclaim along the expertise continuum. Those claiming to be experts can locate their proper placement along the continuum via the labeling. The graphic is otherwise self-explanatory.

[Click to Expand]

Source: Wardley, S (2008, April 16), The Three Stages of Expertise, Bits or Pieces?

What are Skills...?

Skills are a resource.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Sunday, August 01, 2010

The Best Investment Ever...

Investing in myself is the best investment decision I have ever made...

To learn more about how I started my business back in 2001, follow the link below...

Start Your Business