Scripts are a great way to learn. We get scripts from our parents and our peers. We repeat, internalize and refine. Kids with Asperger’s couldn’t function without scripts. But if you’re going to tell employees to read verbatim from a script, you might as well automate the whole process. Because rather than pay a person to use a computer, you’re paying him to be a computer.
Most corporate customer service departments seem to have been reduced to call scripts of apologies with no power whatsoever to actually address the problems they encounter. That’s the conclusion I’m left with after dealing with three business bureaucracies this year: Comcast, Verizon, and American Airlines.
The only reason to talk to a person is that a person can solve problems that a machine can’t. Generalized scripts are great: These are your options, this is what I can do, here are some alternatives. Then the general script gets translated into human-speak: open, immediate, smart, honest, and informal. It starts as a script and a person makes it human. And even if the problem can’t be solved to the customer’s satisfaction, most customers – not all, but most – will walk away from the call feeling better for having touched someone.
It’s not because they’re smarter. It’s because they’re more compliant. Which serves them well in school, but perhaps not as well in life. Fewer girls flame out. Fewer also become rock stars. Larry Summers is an asshole, but when he offended most of Harvard he was onto something.
I’m about to launch a survey on marketing automation and this idea is very relevant. As in, if you’re not working for the machines now, you will be soon.
In a way it’s more insidious than SkyNet – at least you can blow up SkyNet, or you could if it weren’t distributed.
We were talking about this last night at a professional meeting, though not exactly in these terms. You go to a website. A box pops up and asks if you found what you’re looking for. If you say no, it tries to get you to chat with customer service. If you say yes, it sends you to Amazon or Yelp and tries to get you to leave a positive review.
As a customer, you end up feeling manipulated, violated and turned off. Just because you can automate something doesn’t mean you should. Especially when you’re talking to people with choices, people you don’t want to alienate, like customers.
If it’s employees that you’re manipulating, you’ve got more power. But that still doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. The effects may not be visible in the short term. Employees will grit their teeth and go through the motions. But when the revolution comes, you know where the guns will be aimed.
It’s amazing the number of prominent artists who taught at or passed through the Art Students League on West 57th Street. It’s not a particularly prestigious school. Anyone can take classes. My father did in the 1940s, when the Upper West Side was an Irish slum. But just look at this list: everyone from Frederic Remington, Winslow Homer and Norman Rockwell to Georgia O’Keefe, Louise Nevelson, Isamu Noguchi and Maurice Sendak. (I didn’t compile this, just counted it. The source is Wikipedia.)
The Art Students League has a big edge because it has been around since the 1880s. Lots of time to accumulate artists, especially early in their careers. It’s part of the New York art cluster (hello, Richard Florida). And anyone can take or teach a class. But what strikes me is how much the U.S. art world has not been centered on New York. You’ve got to go down to No. 8 to find another New York school – Parsons – and the next one, NYU’s well-endowed Tisch, doesn’t come up until No. 13.
Are Wikipedia entries the best way to gauge an artist’s prominence? Sure, as long as you don’t confuse prominence (which you can measure) with quality (which you can’t). The best thing about Wikipedia entries is that you can count them.
A few years ago – in 2006, to be exact – I wrote a scraper to crawl Amazon.com’s affinity links for The Economist. Think of affinity links as the basis for Amazon.com’s recommendation engine. They’re the links at the bottom of each page with headings like “People who subscribe to The Economist also subscribe to…” These links give you a recommendation: If you like The Economist, you’re also likely to be interested in, say, Foreign Affairs or The New Yorker rather than Guns & Ammo or Mother Earth News.
I wrote the spider in Perl (though since then I’ve moved on to Python, executing my scrapers on the great ScraperWiki site). Once I had the data, I put it into Pajek – a wonderful network visualization program out of Slovenia’s University of Ljubljana – and gave the resulting diagram to an artist over at The Economist.
The board of directors over at The Economist loved this diagram because it showed their magazine as a bridge among high-end specialist publications. (Just avert your eyes from Wired, which has a similar claim.) It’s exactly what a sophisticated general interest newsweekly should be.
But much more came out of this exercise than a flattering diagram for The Economist. How is Martha Stewart Living connected to Soldier of Fortune? You’ll have to talk to me to find out. Or maybe dig a little through the older posts of this blog.
The other day on a Dutch blog I saw an offhand statement about the Republican candidates being a bunch of plutocrats. It made me curious about who the rich presidents – and presidential candidates – really were.
An annual income of about $380,000 puts you in the 1% nationally. In Washington, where most of these guys live, it’s more: about $520,000 per year, says the New York Times.
Of course it’s dangerous to conflate net worth and income. But the net worth data is easier to get. A site called 24/7 Wall Street has gathered the data and adjusted every president’s net worth to its equivalent in 2010 dollars. (Because a number of early presidents made and lost fortunes, net worth is measured at its peak.) And a few Google searches yield the same information for recent presidential candidates like McCain, Kerry and Gore.
The result? Look at all the blue in the chart. Leaving aside the Virginia land barons like Washington and Jefferson, the Democrats have an edge in raw wealth. The richest Republican aside from Romney was Teddy Roosevelt, who wasn’t exactly a Tea Partier. Back then, the Democrats were corrupt and the Republicans were the reformers. The next richest Republican? Herbert Hoover, with about $70 million.
The 15 presidents not on the chart had a net worth of close to zero. Lincoln, Grant, Coolidge, Truman, Taft – all frugal civil servants.
In general, though, forget about the parties. The presidency is a rich man’s game – no matter what party you’re from.
I love the 2×2 matrix: a scatter plot with a four-square grid imposed over it. But as a visual metaphor, the matrix is overused. It’s also laden with jargon. Each square gets its own catchy phrase, like “cash cows” or “problem children.”
Instead of revenue growth vs market share, try pineapples vs seedless grapes. I’ll take easy and tasty. From xkcd, courtesy the heroic and hilarious Barry Ritholtz.
The 2×2 matrix: Popularized by Bible salesman turned management consultant Bruce Henderson, founder of Boston Consulting Group.
There’s a lot of talk in the world of university endowments about the “David Swenson’s “Yale Model.” It worked pretty well from 1999 to 2009, yielding annual growth of almost 12%. In 2010 the value of Yale’s endowment fell off a cliff. After that horrific year, Yale dropped into the bottom half of its peers (as the scatter chart below shows).
Swenson’s insights were twofold. One, expand the definition of asset classes and diversify broadly across them. So it’s not just a mix of large cap, small cap and bonds; instead, spread your bets across the Wild West of real estate, private equity and hedge funds. Two, long-term investors shouldn’t embrace liquidity. They should avoid it. On average, the more illiquid the asset class, the higher the return. Nobody gets rich buying T-bills.
What went wrong in 2010? Couple of things. When markets go south, everyone runs for the exit at once. A balanced portfolio won’t help you when the correlation across asset classes approaches one. Second, as more money flows into alternative investments, it becomes harder for them to outperform. Hedge funds fell 9% last year when the S&P 500 was flat. The managers still do well – “Where are the customers’ yachts?” as the saying goes – but for many, their days are numbered.
Any system that outperforms the market will eventually be arbitraged back to the mean. That’s the ultimate problem with the Yale Model. In fact, that’s the problem with modern portfolio theory. Fortunately, it’s a very long-term problem. A friend of mine is busy scouting out companies in Cambodia for private equity investments. Want to diversify? Maybe it’s time to look in Cambodia.
This blobby cartogram showing the 2008 changes in GDP by country is a bit dated, but it’s still striking how much Africa dominates the world in terms of explosive growth. Talk about regional differences: The entire North American continent pales before Burkina Faso, Equatorial Guinea or mighty Djibouti (not to mention zombie economies like Cuba and North Korea, if the economic data can be believed). Or course, there’s growth and there’s growth: Djibouti’s economy is roughly the size of the GDP of Fort Lee, New Jersey, while Equatorial Guinea is more like Roanoke or Green Bay. In dollar terms, Djibouti’s 5.8% growth rate is roughly the equivalent of, say, a new shopping mall opening in Fort Lee – monster growth for a tiny country but a mere blip for an economy the size of New Jersey’s.
Nevertheless, many of the OECD countries would have been lucky to get even that. Look at the map and see if you can find Japan. See if you can find Ireland. It’s easier to find Sri Lanka. Good thing we have a long way to fall, because we’re definitely headed in the wrong direction.
It’s not a problem when Survivor contestants are narcissists. Nobody’s going to live or die because Richard Hatch has an inflated view of himself. Actors are narcissists; reality-show participants, even more so.
Narcissistic CEOs are different. They surround themselves with sycophants. They spurn tell-it-like-it-is advisers. Instead of trying for incremental improvements, they make dramatic decisions in line with their showboat personas.
And their actions have consequences. Not only for their direct reports, but for shareholders, employees and others in their extended orbits. In the case of narcissists like Bernie Madoff, their behavior can shake up industries and governments, destroy trust within communities and drive followers to suicide.
Let’s create the CEO Narcissism Index. We’ll go on Edgar and troll through the annual reports. How big is the CEO’s footprint? How many times is his name mentioned? How many photos and how big are they? Take it even farther: Count the number of amendments to CEO employment agreements – as documented over the years by Michelle Leder over at footnoted.org – and add up the perks that the CEO has accumulated for himself. Weigh, mix and try to validate against CEOs who we KNOW are narcissists (Steve Jobs, anyone?). Then, of course, we test it against the stock price.
Yet another project for which there aren’t enough hours in the day.
Lots of New Year’s resolutions posts and tweets out there. As a serial resolver, I looked over the landscape and compiled this long, redundant and often contradictory list of ways to keep your resolutions. Gretchen Rubin‘s are the most thoughtful, and with her book, charts, groups and site, she’s also probably more responsible for more resolutions being kept than anyone out there.
1. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
2. One step at a time.
3. Ask yourself: Am I being overoptimistic?
4. Can it be measured?
5. Schedule multiple resolutions over time.
7. Make changes that feel good.
8. Allow for slipping and sliding.
9. Consider 17 days in a row a success.
10. Write it down.
11. Go public. Tell others.
12. Ask: “What would make me happier?” More of something good, less of something bad.
13. Keep it concrete, not abstract.
14. Follow the one-minute rule.
15. Ask: “Am I starting small enough?” Underestimate, don’t overestimate.
16. What is the smallest action you can take in the direction of the resolution?
17. Frame your resolution in concrete actions.
18. Keep a chart
19. Carry resolutions with you. Review. Score. Constantly.
20. Join a group.
21. Work towards something big.
22. Think small. Look close to home for ways to improve and grow.
23. Ask for help.
24. Consider making only pleasant resolutions.
25. Consider giving up a resolution.
26. Keep the resolution every day. It’s easier to do something daily than every few days.
27. Set a deadline, but don’t give up if something interferes with your deadline.
28. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Clean your desk, not the whole house.
29. Keep the list short.
30. If you falter, let it go and try again,
31. Stay humble. Overestimating resolve leads to failure.
32. Remove temptations.
33. Post reminders everywhere.
34. Reward yourself for successes.
35. Recalibrate resolutions when conditions change.
36. Choose resolutions carefully (for instance, those with the greatest impact).
37. Create bite-sized portions.
38. Create a time-frame and use it to plot progress and measure success.
39. Take notes.
40. Take responsibility. Put yourself in charge.
41. Keep goals Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time based (SMART).
42. Remind yourself of the benefits of achieving your goals.
43. Try just one resolution.
44. Try a new resolution rather than revisiting an old, failed resolution.
45. Make the resolution a reflection of you, not the crowd.
Searches are cyclical. Just type words like “cupid” or “chocolate” into Google Trends and watch the spikes spring up every year around February 14. “Earnings” yields quarterly peaks, and the word “bored” – which for some reason is most popular in Australia – jumps every year around Christmas.
So I put in the word “marathon.” No particular marathon – just the word. And while the New York Marathon certainly shows up every November (sometimes as a double-peak with Chicago), it’s nothing compared to Boston in April – despite the fact that Boston has fewer participants because (1) you have to qualify to run and (2) it’s not a particularly fast or easy course.
What to conclude? Boston attracts more popular interest. And marathons like Berlin and London aren’t even registering in the public consciousness.
When one guy takes up three seats because he can’t keep his legs together, it’s your duty to push back. If he’s obese, that’s one thing – he probably feels like a misfit, and it’s not as though he can drop 50 pounds on the spot. But when he’s small or skinny, that’s different. One man, one seat. That’s the rule. And you’re the enforcer.
On Thursday I put this belief to the test when sitting next to an elderly man at the opening of a play. The theater was filling up, and his left leg was splayed all over the last seat in the row. I asked if the seat was taken, sat down, put my leg up against his and kept it there in a polite but insistent way. There was a silent struggle for a minute or two until he withdrew to his own territory. He intruded a couple of times during the first act, but I stood my ground. After the intermission my wife and I moved to better seats when the folks in front of us left.
After the play I mentioned this epic struggle to my wife. And she said, “Did you notice that you were sitting next to Ian McKellen?I looked up and there he was, coming out of the theater. Gandolf. Magneto. The new Number Two. I felt a chill. Even without his staff, he could have summoned lightning with a single thought. Thank God it wasn’t Saruman or Professor Xavier who was trying to take up two seats. I wouldn’t be here to write this.
He’s Walter Zable, a former player for the New York Giants, and you can see him way out on the right tail of this gorgeous normal distribution created with Google Charts. Along the horizontal axis are the ages of all of the Russell 3,000 CEOs – youngest is 31, oldest 94 – and the vertical axis shows how many CEOs there are for each age.
Walter’s an anomaly in ways other than his age. As you might guess, he started the company that he runs (Cubic Corp), still owns a big piece of it, and won’t let go until the keys to the executive washroom are pried from his cold dead hands.
Google Visualization API Sample
Meanwhile, the youngest CEO, 31-year-old Iranian-born Sardar Biglari, is a turnaround investor who started his first company at 14 for $15,000 and sold it at 22 for over $1m. Biglari looks for strong brands that have lost their way (indolent boards, inefficient operations and a general lack of direction). His first project was Friendly’s Ice Cream, which worked out well; now he’s running Steak n’ Shake, a magnet for the folks you see on the “People of Wal-Mart” site.
It’s hard not to like a CEO who, a la Warren Buffet, quotes from John Maynard Keynes, Isaiah Berlin and Charles Darwin in his most recent letter to shareholders. And Sadar is like Warren in another way: He has used the cashflow from Steak ‘n Shake to buy a 10% stake in a much larger firm, Fremont Michigain Insurance.
The median age of CEOs is 59. Thank goodness I still have a few years left to climb through the last 10 layers of management.
How is today different from all other days? This morning the scale was 30 pounds below what it was in August. Nobody has noticed that I look like a stalk of bamboo. And whether the weight will stay off, I don’t know. Still, 30 pounds in 80 days – not bad.
I owe it all to public humiliation. Not that anyone reads this blog. But the act of weighing, tracking and displaying has psychological power. Every few days I input my weight into a Google spreadsheet and update the annotated timeline. When it goes down, the world smiles. When it goes up, imaginary fingers wag. The result has been surprisingly effective.
Until my mid-40s, I didn’t have to work to get skinny. My weight would creep up to 210 or 215 pounds. I’d go out and start running again. Make a token sacrifice like quitting soft drinks. Soon I’d be back to the low 180s again, with the belt a couple of notches tighter.
But that era is over. It became impossible to burn enough calories to offset those Coca-Colas and Dipsy Doodles, and I’m too old (and too heavy) to run even 30 miles a week without getting injured.
Here are the rules that worked for me.
The Good Stuff
Breakfast is free. Eat a good one. No Cinnabon, but don’t worry about oatmeal, bacon, eggs and buttered toast.
There’s nothing wrong with half-and-half in your coffee. Or heavy cream, for that matter.
Know what’s nice before bed? A big spoon of peanut butter.
Weigh yourself every day at the same time. (Cheating is OK. Just be consistent about it.)
Make a chart. Look at it. Obsessively.
If you weigh less than the day before, no need to do anything. You’re golden.
If you weigh more, keep that thought in the back of your mind during the day. Be careful about portions. Walk home from work. Spend more time hungry than full.
Eat a little, see how you feel, then eat a little more. No seconds without a wait.
Eat until you’re 80% full. Don’t eat again until you’re 80% empty.
Eating and Avoiding
Eat: Oatmeal, apples, salads, diet soda, rice, any kind of meat, poultry or fish.
Avoid: Potatoes, sodas, desserts, anything with Bisquick.
Living in Manhattan requires a good bit of walking. I took a two-day bike trip, a few long walks and short runs, and had to fast for a day before a colonoscopy. But that’s pretty much it. Once I got momentum, it wasn’t that hard.
One habit I had to break: scarfing down cereal and peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches late at night. The solution: that heaping tablespoon of peanut butter before bedtime.
But the key to the change was measuring, displaying and reacting. I could have used a spreadsheet, but the visualization gadget was more fun. And the results weren’t bad at all.
When I was in junior high school my father got very excited about buying this house, which was on the market for about $30,000. It was part of the plantation called Elizabeth’s Delight, on the site of a land grant dating from the late 1600s (though the house was built around 1850, replacing a log [...]
A year or so ago my son and I were watching a History Channel show on how researchers had reconstructed the original topography of Manhattan, before developers flattened most of the hills south of 96th Street. One segment focused on a couple of geographers who used GPS to find original markers from the Commissioners’ Plan [...]
I see on Google Analytics that my bounce rate is about 80%, which means that 80% of the people who arrive on this page immediately leave. I think I know the reason: They’ve all come to see the only post that has ever gotten much traffic, Barack Obama Embellishes His Resume. If that’s what you’re [...]
Psychologists and political scientists tell us that extremists are happier than moderates. Maybe certainty makes people happy, while a life of questioning brings misery. But what about the certainty that the world is headed for disaster? Are people with “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention” bumper stickers happier than the rest of us? [...]
She doesn’t look blackish. In fact, she’s a blond. Her mother is Swedish, and she has a bunch of second cousins in Jonkoping. But it turns out that her grandmother, Jane Helm of Drake, Missouri, was passing all her life. And she carried the secret to her deathbed. Suddenly it all made sense. The face [...]
What comes to mind when you think of the Democratic presidential candidates? Bill Richardson and Chris Dodd haven’t been pegged yet, as far as I know. But here’s my list for the rest: Edwards’s $400 haircut and 28,000 square foot home Obama’s palmed cigarette Biden’s plagiarism Kucinich’s UFO sighting There are so many possibilities for [...]
From Will Fitzgerald’s blog at the NY Times: The number of words spoken at the last Democratic ebate correlates precisely with each candidate’s poll numbers. Hillary is on top (25% of the words) and Joe Biden at the bottom (7% of the words). The exception is Chris Dodd, who talked himself within shouting distance of [...]
From Statistical Modeling and Social Science: Rich people in red states tend to vote Republican. But in blue states there’s no strong link between income and party affiliation. The well-off are no more likely than anyone else to embrace the elephant. This blog is an aspirational read for me, since the statistics are usually over [...]
Popular bloggers may disable the comment function or delete the missives of their attackers. Not me. I feel like a kid so starved for attention that he’s grateful for any notice, no matter how negative. And the surprising thing is – for someone as thin-skinned as I imagine myself to be – that there’s a [...]
Today the New York Times quoted from my blog on my memories of Barack Obama. Suddenly I’ve got more traffic – and comments – than in the previous five years. The Times reporter, Janny Scott, talked to me for an hour or so about six weeks ago. I was already familiar with her work from [...]
Lately I’ve been reading books that were on my father’s bookshelf when I was growing up. One category he enjoyed was first-person historical narratives. Bernal Diaz’s The Conquest of New Spain is the story of how Cortez and 400 soldiers fought and bluffed their way into the command center of Mexico, where they took Montezuma [...]
As sites are increasingly built with Ajax and Flash, page views stop making sense as a metric. When all of the navigation occurs within a single URL, the use of page views severely undercounts traffic. “Ajax shatters the metaphor of a web ‘page’ upon which much of web publishing and advertising is based,” [says TechWeb's [...]
Yesterday my son was late to school and hadn’t eaten breakfast. I tell him to walk ahead while I run into the Dunkin’ Donuts on 105th Street to buy him a bagel. About a half-second ahead of me into the door is a middle-aged, unshaven guy in a porkpie hat who blocks my way as [...]
Back when I worked at the Globecon Group – a personality-driven boutique that trained wholesale bankers – one of my jobs was to come up with keywords for the thousands of books, articles and PowerPoints that comprised our library of training material. Some people didn’t like the keywords I chose; they wanted new ones that [...]
The Long Tail was just released this month. It seems like it has been out forever. The seminal article in Wired appeared almost two years ago. The ideas have been publicized almost daily on Chris Anderson’s blog. And yet the book is well worth reading: Gladwell-esque in its energy and clarity, with details that haven’t [...]
The Washington Post’s Adrian Holovaty on web programming as journalism: The way I see it, there are three basic tasks that journalists do: 1. Gathering information. This involves talking to sources, examining documents, taking photographs, etc. It’s reporting. 2. Distilling information. This involves applying editorial judgment to decide what parts of the gathered information are [...]
Last night I learned about the capricious and nasty treatment that Neil Gunton, who runs the CrazyGuyonaBike touring site, received at the hands of a Wikipedia administrator. CrazyGuyonaBike is a six-year open-source labor of love built by Neil for the bicycle touring community. It’s got trip journals, discussion boards, touring partners, equipment tips – everything [...]
My wife and I don’t own a car anymore. But we’re still hunters at heart – always sensitive to the signs of movement that indicate spaces are opening up. The purposefully striding pedestrian reaching for keys; the sound of doors slamming; the changing of doormen’s shifts. Here are the rules that we’ve come up with [...]
Amazon’s “Customers who bought X also bought Y” function displays thousands of paths through hundreds of demographic niches of America’s magazines. You don’t need Amazon to tell you that readers of ‘Guns & Ammo’ are more likely to buy ‘Handguns’ than ‘PETA News.’ But what Amazon can tell you is which magazines Dale Gribble and [...]
From Slashdot: “Fortunately for all you Americans, I believe this jackass was born in Canada which would disqualify him from running for president. “Unfortunately for us Canadians, his being a jackass makes him perfectly qualified for running Canada.” According to Slate, Edgar Jr. has been designated Hollywood’s official idiot.
Now that the Dutch have adopted rules for euthanizing babies, I hope they’ll apply them sensibly. It’s so annoying when those babies start crying in the airplane cabin. You can’t exactly get up and leave the room. I also don’t like it when two-year-olds sit in the handicapped seats on the subway. They claim that [...]
Andrew Lee writes in the Financial Times that the misogynistic mix of cuteness, violence and perversion prevalent in manga and anime “…must send many tourists running, their ‘Fujiyama’ image of Japan tainted for life.” Andy, I’ve got news for you: After seeing a reproduction of Makoto Aida’s “Harakiri Schoolgirls” (detail below), I’m ready start my [...]
Don’t get me wrong – I’m a fan of Barack Obama, the Illinois freshman senator and hot young Democratic Party star. But after reading his autobiography, I have to say that Barack engages in some serious exaggeration when he describes a job that he held in the mid-1980s.I know because I sat down the hall [...]
A letter to the FT depicts the medieval Christian church as an early regulator rooting out creative accounting practices: The medieval Christian view was highly sympathetic to risk capital formation. The key was the word “risk”. What was objectionable to the medieval mind (and Mohammed confirmed that this was far from exclusively a Christian view) [...]
For the past few months I’ve been teaching myself to write spiders – little Perl programs that crunch through URLs and download data. In the spirit of learning by doing, my first project was to grab 5,000 health inspection reports for Manhattan restaurants from the NYC Department of Health website. The reports list a lot [...]
I’ve written about fraud among the Mormons before. Here’s another angle, from a social networking thread on Slashdot: Salt Lake City is the smallest city to have its own SEC office, and the state suffers from a high rate for people getting ripped off by people they know. This has been attributed by the close [...]
Interesting conversation on Slashdot about Hollywood Math and Science Consulting, which helps screenwriters portray math and science accurately in their scripts. The company’s first client was the TV show Numb3rs, about a mathematician who solves crimes via pattern-recognition techniques. It’s a fascinating idea, and I love the eccentric professor played by Dragonslayer’s Peter MacNicol. Unfortunately, [...]
I’ve held investments through both TIAA-CREF and Merrill Lynch, and I can’t imagine two more different companies. TIAA-CREF has always been like a big old family-run business – cheap, paternalistic and a bit backwards, but also old-fashioned in its commitment to the educators who comprise its customers. In contrast, Merrill Lynch – like many full-service [...]
You may be a great performer on your own. But how much do you help your team? The metric de jour of the NBA – the plus-minus statistic – goes beyond so-called “glory statistics” like points or rebounds to measure a player’s total contribution to victory. Refined by Dan Rosenbaum, an economist at UNC Greensboro, [...]
PWC and KPMG say that 90-95% of business spreadsheets have errors, that each error costs a business $10,000 to $100,000, and that complex spreadsheets (more than 100 columns or rows) have a probability of error approaching 100%. Gee, do you think the folks at PWC or KPMG know anyone who might be able to audit [...]
Also from the recent PRMIA meeting on liquidity risk: Ken Winston, CRO of Morgan Stanley Investment Management, threw out the following idea on how to hedge against market illiquidity: sell off-the-run Treasuries and buy on-the-run issues. As liquidity disappears, the on-the-run bonds gain relative to the off-the-run issues. You could offer the hedge to a [...]
Went to the liquidity risk discussion at PRMIA‘s New York chapter a few months back, shortly before GM was downgraded to junk status. I had meant to write about it at the time, but computer problems and the hassles of moving from Blogger to Moveable Type and then WordPress interfered. In hindsight, though, here’s what [...]
The Body Mass Index of presidents is the subject of a chart in Sunday’s New York Times. (Unfortunately, only the accompanying article is available online.) The article points out that BMI is meaningless by itself. Our 6-foot 194-pound president, who regularly runs 6:30 miles at the age of 58, has a BMI of 26.3 – [...]
A small Utah-based lender, the Bank of Ephraim, collapsed after discovering that 90% of its loan portfolio consisted of loans to a doomsday sect of fundamentalist Mormons. Sect members, believing that the end of the world was imminent, took an oath several years ago to drain the bank of money before doomsday. They borrowed $18 [...]
LoanPerformance, which sells retail credit analytics to mortgage lenders, says text mining can boost the accuracy of default models. If a customer uses any of these words when talking to a call center rep, the software flags the customer as more likely to default: Rental Renter Rent Roommate Hazard Debris Fraud Death Marital Problem, Divorce [...]
Follow this link to try the Autism Quotient test. After taking it, I’m ready to believe that autism is just a special case of being a guy. The average score is 16.5, and 80% of those diagnosed with autism scored 32 or more. Your score appears to depend mainly on (1) your comfort in social [...]
OK, not really, because it’s all about golf. But just listen to the rest. The job title is Data Analyst, but it could also be called Database Journalist. The PGA wants someone to mine and analyze data from ShotLink (the PGA scoring system) to “create a depth of analysis, insight and entertaining information never before [...]
I just love PlasticBag.org. Like Andrew Sullivan (before he went bonkers), but techie and profane. In this post, Tom Coates creates visualizations of his last five years of posts, showing, for example, how his writing style deteriorated as posts become longer and less frequent. There’s also a reference to a Perl module that calculates Flesch-Kincaid.