Category Archives: In the News

Corporate governance reform – By what right?

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This past week Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, clearly the most persistent and articulate advocate in this generation for the reform of corporate governance and social responsibility, has outlined in a recent Wall Street Journal opinion (behind a paywall) a series of proposals that both need to be taken seriously and will undoubtedly raise fierce opposition from the business community. Matthew Yglesias… Read more »

Rain events, the sand pile effect and climate change

I spent a lot of grandmother-visiting time in my youth, and went to university for a time, in the far-northern Michigan town of Houghton, located on the Keweenaw Peninsula protruding like a thumb into Lake Superior. This place regularly gets over 200 inches of “lake effect” snowfall each winter, but it has rarely been hit with up to seven inches… Read more »

Humpty Dumpty words: socialism and capitalism – part 2

In Part One of this series, I dissected the “socialism” versus “capitalism” labels to demonstrate that four major governmental programs with long-standing conservative support are “community” endeavors, and lean more toward a classically-socialist approach than a classically-capitalist one, even though conservatives detest the “S” word. In this second part of the series, I will do a deeper dive into a… Read more »

Humpty Dumpty words: socialism and capitalism – part 1

I wrote in a post back in March about the concept of “Humpty Dumpty words,” a reference to Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, where Humpty Dumpty engages Alice (of Wonderland fame) in a “war of words” in which he gets to define the meanings. [1] This is what I see in the voluminous writing happening as we speak on… Read more »

The advertising funnel, probability, and you

Why do I keep getting these “Nigerian millionaire” emails? And why do I keep getting “phishing” emails purportedly from my bank? How did millions of Britons fall for categorically false messages on Brexit, and how did millions more Americans abandon their lifelong principles to vote for Trump? This is a story about a very old marketing concept, called the advertising… Read more »

Believe because it is absurd?

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“Oceania was at war with Eurasia: therefore Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia.” … “The past was alterable. The past never had been altered. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia.” – George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four In a series of recent posts, I looked at the process of how a large percentage of… Read more »

Non-profit organizations and expanded political power

I wrote recently about how “creative accounting shenanigans” can enable people to get rich while avoiding taxes using 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organizations in ways outside of their intended purpose. Now we learn that the IRS has decided to reduce regulations on a related form of not-for-profit entity called a 501(c)(4), making it much easier to hide millions of dollars of “dark… Read more »

Blind spots and political third parties

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Two recurring themes of this blog are that you need a realistic understanding of how probability works in this world, and that evolution happens to you whether you believe in it or not. Political third parties are my example today of people who suffer because they don’t understand the math of probability, nor understand how the unintended effects of cultural… Read more »

Non-profit accounting for fun and profit

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I had an accounting professor many years ago who would teach the various “creative accounting” shenanigans that clever accountants could use to cover up nefarious business practices. However, he would always precede the lecture with the disclaimer, “Only those of you planning to become auditors should listen to this. The rest of you, close your ears.” I hereby give you… Read more »

Is Iowa government decentralization a fantasy?

Note: This is a cross-post of a story that first ran yesterday in the great Iowa blog Bleeding Heartland. I have lived in Iowa for almost 20 years of my life in total, over several tenures, and for the life of me, I still can’t understand why the voters of the state allow the degree of governmental centralization that exists… Read more »