Thursday, May 31, 2012

Well Said...

"Depressions, runaway inflation, or civil war can make a country poor, but only productivity growth can make it rich."

~ Paul Krugman

Prof Paul Robin Krugman (1953- )

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Monday, May 28, 2012

Venice in a Day


Too Big to Fail...

"Too big to fail" means "too big to manage," "too big to regulate," and therefore, "too big to keep around..."

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James Malcolm McKibbin: An American Hero

Remembered on this Memorial Day...

General Orders No 21, WD, 1919

McKibbin, James M
Captain (Medical Corps), US Army
306th Machine-Gun Battalion (Attached), 77th Division, AEF

Date of Action: October 14, 1918

Citation: The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to James M McKibbin, Captain (Medical Corps), US Army, for extraordinary heroism in action near Chevieres, France, October 14, 1918. During a very heavy artillery barrage, which lasted for approximately two hours, Captain McKibbin displayed great coolness and courage in dressing and administering first aid to the wounded. Informed that a sergeant had been wounded and was lying between our lines and the enemy's line, he went to administer first aid to him. While in the performance of these duties under intense fire, he was wounded by machine-gun fire and later died from the effects of the wound.

Hometown: Buck Valley, PA

The Distinguished Service Cross, US Army

Dr James Malcolm McKibbin, my great-uncle, graduated in 1896 from Pennsylvania State University, and earned his medical degree in 1899 from the University of Pennsylvania. He is buried in a military cemetery near Cheviers, France. Rest in peace...

Source: US Army Medical Department Regiment

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Cast Iron Grilling

My condominium association has a wacky rule that outlaws "cooking" (i.e., "grilling") on our balconies. To be honest, the grilling prohibition has really crimped my cooking style; outdoor grilling is one of my passions and joys. However, my cooking skills have now leaped forward into cast iron grilling (i.e., "blackening") for the many meats and vegetables I enjoy.

Of course, cast iron cooking and cookery are nothing new in kitchens. My mother cooked everything from bacon and eggs to fried chicken in her cast iron skillets, and my mother's cooking was always delicious. According to Sebrina Zerkus Smith:
Cast iron has been around for hundreds of years. Before fancy teflon cookware was even a notion, cast iron was the standard for good cooks everywhere. Dependable, that’s what cast iron is. It will last for centuries if properly cared for, and it has a natural non-stick surface that’s eco-friendly. You can bake a pan of cornbread, scramble some eggs, make your favorite vegetarian black bean chili or sear a perfect steak. Cast iron cookware is the definition of all-purpose.

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I had a New York strip steak with fresh green beans yesterday from my cast iron "grill." Perhaps the anti-grilling regulation imposed by my homeowner's association has been a good thing afterall. The steaks and vegetables from my kitchen are still the best!

Source: Smith, S Z (2012), 5 Reasons Why Cast Iron Is The Greenest Choice For Cooking, RecycleBank.

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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Well Said...

"The fact that I'm right is grossly overshadowed by my approach."

~ Robert Downey, Jr

Robert John Downey, Jr (1965- )

Source: Fussman, C (2012, May), Robert Downey Junior, Esquire, 82-89.

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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Paul Woodruff: The Ajax Dilemma

According Prof Paul Woodruff in The Ajax Dilemma: Justice, Fairness, and Rewards (2011):
Respect is due to everyone who belongs to a community. Losing respect can be humiliating to an individual. A community damages its own fabric if it excludes people by denying them respect. For all that, respect cannot be handed out equally to everyone; treating everyone teh same blocks our ability to respect people as individuals. Respect for a person is appreciation of that person's value, accompanied by appropriate feelings, and expressed in appropriate behavior.
The Ajax Dilemma carries an important reminder for society about why justice, fairness, and rewards are incremental concepts. Prof Woodruff challenges our perceptions of justice, compassion, and wisdom with a cogent message for leaders.

Follow the link below to preview Prof Woodruff's book.

Source: Woodruff, P (2011), The Ajax Dilemma: Justice, Fairness, and Rewards, New York: Oxford University Press.

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Friday, May 25, 2012

Well Said...

"Above all else, show the data."

~ Edward Tufte

Prof Edward Rolf Tufte (1942- )

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Charles Ferguson: Predator Nation

According to Dr Charles Ferguson (2012):
It is no exaggeration to say that since the 1980s, much of the American (and global) financial sector has become criminalized, creating an industry culture that tolerates or even encourages systematic fraud. The behavior that caused the mortgage bubble and financial crisis was a natural outcome and continuation of this pattern, rather than some kind of economic accident.

Dr Charles Henry Ferguson (1955- )

Follow the link below to learn more about Dr Ferguson's new book.

Predator Nation

Source: Ferguson, C (2012, How Financial Criminalization Crashed the Economy, and the Culprits Got Off Scot-Free, Huffington Post.

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Horizontal Drilling Boosts Pennsylvania’s Natural Gas Production

Between 2009 and 2011, Pennsylvania's natural gas production more than quadrupled due to expanded horizontal drilling combined with hydraulic fracturing. This drilling activity, which is concentrated in shale formations that cover a broad swath of the state, mirrors trends seen in the Barnett shale formation in Texas.

The animation illustrates Pennsylvania's relatively recent transition from conventional vertical wells (black diamonds) to horizontal wells (red diamonds), drilled mostly in sections of the Marcellus, Utica, and Geneseo/Burket shale formations located in the northeast and southwest portions of the state. The animation also shows that as horizontal drilling increased, the number of vertical wells—which are typically less productive—fell, resulting in an overall decline in the state's new well count.

Historically, natural gas exploration and development activity in Pennsylvania was relatively steady, with operators drilling a few thousand conventional (vertical) wells annually. Prior to 2009, these wells produced about 400 to 500 million cubic feet per day of natural gas. With the shift to and increase in horizontal wells, however, Pennsylvania's natural gas production more than quadrupled since 2009, averaging nearly 3.5 billion cubic feet per day in 2011. Natural gas wells accounted for virtually all (99%) of the horizontal wells started over this period.

Drilling programs in Pennsylvania's shale formations, like those in other, more established plays such as the Barnett and Eagle Ford in Texas, are migrating to more liquids-rich areas due to the price premium of crude oil and natural gas liquids. The effect of low natural gas prices is apparent in Pennsylvania's 2012 well count for the first third of the year. From January through April, drilling began on 618 new natural gas wells; over 700 new natural gas wells were started over the same period in 2011. In contrast, 263 new oil and "combination" (oil and natural gas) wells were started in Pennsylvania from January through April 2012, well above the 164 new wells that began drilling during the corresponding period in 2011.

Source: US Energy Information Administration (2012, May 23).

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The State of Business Intelligence (BI) Platforms

According to Gartner (2012):
Business intelligence (BI) platforms enable all types of users — from IT staff to consultants to business users — to build applications that help organizations learn about and understand their business. Gartner defines a BI platform as a software platform that delivers the 14 capabilities listed below. These capabilities are organized into three categories of functionality: integration, information delivery and analysis. Information delivery is the core focus of most BI projects today, but we are seeing an increased interest in deployments of analysis to discover new insights, and in integration to implement those insights.
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Oracle and MicroStrategy have taken the lead from Microsoft since 2011.

Source: Hagerty, J, Sallam, R L, & Richardson, J (2012, February 6), Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms, Gartner.

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Well Said...

"Make your surroundings a metaphor for who you are."

~ George Lois

George Lois (1931- )

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Well Said...

"The courage to create only superb work,
through thick and thin, and fight to protect it at all cost,
is not generated in the head...
it comes from your very heart and soul."

~ George Lois

George Lois (1931- )

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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Americans to be Fed Propaganda

According to Michael Hastings at BuzzFeed (2012, May 18):
An amendment that would legalize the use of propaganda on American audiences is being inserted into the latest defense authorization bill.... The amendment would “strike the current ban on domestic dissemination” of propaganda material produced by the State Department and the Pentagon, according to the summary of the law at the House Rules Committee's official website.
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Source: Hastings, M (2012, May 18), Congressmen Seek to Lift Propaganda Ban, BuzzFeed.

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Knime for Business Intelligence

For business analysts and firms seeking to expand their skills and capabilities from localized analytics into the broader realm of business intelligence processes and solutions, check out Knime. According to Knime's website:
Knime (Konstanz Information Miner) is a user-friendly and comprehensive open-source data integration, processing, analysis, and exploration platform. From day one, Knime has been developed using rigorous software engineering practices and is used by professionals in both industry and academia in over 60 countries.
Knime delivers robust features that encompass the full spectrum of business intelligence production requirements, including tools for: a) integrating multi-source data via open database connectivity (ODBC) and real-time processes; b) diverse analytic tools for data mining such as clustering, decision trees, rule induction, neural networks, association rules, scoring, meta-analysis, and more; and c) state-of-the-art presentation tools that easily integrate with existing ad-hoc reporting, automated dashboard, and systems actuation platforms. Knime is also actively supported by third-party extensions that integate Knime with R (Project R), Excel (Microsoft), and other widely-used integration, analytics, and presentation platforms.

Knime is the missing application that analysts have long-sought to enable self-service production of business intelligence. Anyone seeking to understand and manage the entire business intelligence production process will find Knime to be didactically useful.

Follow the link below to learn more.


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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Well Said...

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

~ Martin Luther King, Jr

Rev Dr Martin Luther King, Jr (1929-1968)

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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Breaking Free of the 19th-Century Factory-Model Education System

According to the Atlantic (2012):
The Information Age has facilitated a reinvention of nearly every industry except for education. It's time to unhinge ourselves from many of the assumptions that undergird how we deliver instruction and begin to design new models that are better able to leverage talent, time, and technology to best meet the unique needs of each student. In doing so, we can put [Horace] Mann's [1796-1859] innovation in its proper context: as the foundation for our commitment to a public education but not as the blueprint for how to deliver it.
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The former Downingtown Junior-Senior High School, Pennsylvania [photo by George G Chiodo]

The photograph above depicts the former Downingtown Junior-Senior High School in Pennsylvania where I attended grades seven through nine during the late 1960's. My recollections from the period include memories of teachers regularly disciplining students in the hallways with wooden paddles. Although corporal punishment is no longer permitted in public schools, modern-day primary and secondary education remains deeply grounded in 19th and 20th-century institutional precepts.

The school building shown above was opened at the peak of the Great Depression in 1933, and remains a functioning Pennsylvania school to this day.

Source: How to Break Free of Our 19th-Century Factory-Model Education System (May 9, 2012), Atlantic.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2012

The Worries of Society

Please participate in this one question public poll:

Thank you in advance for participating...

Well Said...

"Never, never be afraid to do what's right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society's punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way."

~ Martin Luther King, Jr

Rev Dr Martin Luther King, Jr (1929-1968)

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Sunday, May 06, 2012

"Supermoon" 2012

The "supermoon" phenomenon as seen in State College, Pennsylvania last night...

More "Supermoon" Photos

Friday, May 04, 2012

US Employment to Population Ratio Improves

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the US employment to population ratio* for April 2012 rose to 58.5%, up from from 58.3% the previous month, and 58.4% a year ago. The US employment to population ratio has been trending downwards since 2000.

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. The US employment to population ratio reached an historical peak of 64.4% on an annual basis in 2000.

*The BLS defines employment and population (civilian noninstitutional) as follows:
Employment consists of all persons who, during the reference week (the calendar week including the twelfth day of the month), (a) did any work at all (at least 1 hour) as paid employees, worked in their own business or profession or on their own farm, or worked 15 hours or more as unpaid workers in an enterprise operated by a member of the family, or (b) were not working but had jobs or businesses from which they were temporarily absent because of vacation, illness, bad weather, childcare problems, maternity or paternity leave, labor-management dispute, job training, or other family or personal reasons, whether or not they were paid for the time off or were seeking other jobs.... The civilian noninstitutional population consists of persons 16 years of age and older residing in the 50 States and the District of Columbia who are not inmates of institutions (for example, penal and mental facilities and homes for the aged) and who are not on active duty in the Armed Forces.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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