Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The inverse logic of vaccination fear

When a person is vaccinated, he or she will build up an immunity to various forms of infection, meaning the immune system will be prepared for battle more readily than for people who are not vaccinated.

This does not mean the person who is vaccinated does not have the virus. The person may very well have the virus in large quantities on areas on the body where the immune system cannot reach it, or where it cannot cause symptoms, such as on the surface of the skin, hair, clothes, cell phone, keys, water bottle, credit cards, money, any surface on which a virus may survive.

The danger isn't to those who were vaccinated, but to those who are not vaccinated; those whose immune systems are not prepared to fight off the infection, not the reverse where everyone seems to fear getting infections from non-vaccinated people. They will show symptoms much faster and most likely be isolated sooner than people who are vaccinated, still have the virus on them, but show no symptoms.

The phenomenon of inverse logic was prevalent during the 1980's AIDS crisis. The lack of public information about HIV/AIDS created a legacy of rumors and misconceptions which often become conceptual templates for other forms of infection.

The fear of people who are not vaccinated should in reality be a fear for people who are not vaccinated. Parents who don't want to vaccinate their children, but still send them to public schools should be aware that their own child will suffer more than the students who are vaccinated.

The mandatory vaccination law signed by the California governor had nothing to do with public health, but all to do with profits for the providers of the vaccines.

Monday, June 15, 2015

A Sign of Things to Come

When I look at economic news, many sources in the main-stream are are ambiguous to my frustration. I want to point at a news report and say "See, this is why the minimum wage should rise to meet inflation!"

Just take a look at today's Reuters ( 06/16/2015 ), for example:
It seems like things are doing about average, doesn't it? The Pope is talking climate change, Greek default fears are affecting Asia, Hillary is getting tough on trade, oh, and Gap is closing 175 stores. Well, that happens from time to time. It must be a problem at Gap, right? Nope.

If the market took to heart the idea that consumers must earn more money to spend more money, and the market kept wages pegged to inflation, it wouldn't be too late now.

There is no longer a margin that will allow for the delay between a wage increase and a following increase of consumer spending.

Austerity as a solution is a complete failure. Closing stores, laying off employees, cutting government spending, all have one result: Less consumer spending.

If the minimum wage were to increase to the inflation adjusted $22 per hour, consumers are so conditioned by the way the market treated them as employees that their first instinct will be to sock away their money in their savings and checking accounts.

Consumers  have been so conditioned to be miserly after 30 years of Reaganomics, the flow of cash will bottleneck in consumers wallets, banks, and debt relief, before finally reaching any discretionary outlays,

See for yourself what Reaganomics has wrought:

Weak Consumer Spending: The Canary In The Bear Market Coal Mine

Will Weak Consumer Spending Deflate Stock Markets?

When will the consumer spending surge finally happen?

Gap is closing 175 stores and firing a bunch of people

Sears Extends Losses as Sales Declines Accelerate

Kmart's sales have fallen off a gigantic cliff

Canada’s factory sales drop four times more than expected

Hyundai, Kia cut output in South Korea after sales decline

Existing-Home Sales Decline 3.3% in April

Audi China car sales drop for first time in over two years in May

McDonald's Sees Global May Sales Decline, One Region Shines

Arrium flags asset sales, declining earnings

Single-family home sales down in May
1st dip for metro Toledo since 2014

Tata Motors Hits 52-Week Low as JLR May Sales Decline

J. Crew to lay off 10% of headquarters after horrific sales decline

Kors Shares Plunge 19% On Weak Outlook And Same-Store Sales Decline

First time in 20 Years, Indian mobile phone sales drop

Jaguar Land Rover Profit Falls Most in Two Years on China

Staples reports 39% decline in profit as sales dip

Ford F-150 Sales Tank in May

PC sales in Middle East, Africa region dropped 9.6%

U.S. Industrial Production Falls on Weak Demand, Strong Dollar--Update

Factories Meet New Hurdle in U.S. Consumer Spending Slowdown

At this point I just gave up and posted the Google Search links.

---- Google Search Link: "consumer spending weak"

---- Google Search Link: "sales decline"

---- Google Search Link: "stores closing"

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Convenient Politically Fuzzy Economics of Government Agencies

Data at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reveals that the legal definition of full-time appears to have been surreptitiously reduced to 35 hours for the benefit of making economic statistics conveniently, politically appealing. By lowering the bar of what is considered "full-time" to 35 hours, the BLS could easily report a higher percentage of alleged "full-time" employment.
Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey page: http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat08.htm

According to Wikipedia, "the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not define full-time employment or part-time employment," However, according to People's World: "On October 24, 1940, the 40 hour work week went into effect under the FLSA. The new law had been signed by President Roosevelt in 1938."

My generation grew up with the assumption that full-time was 9am to 5pm Monday through Friday. At least until 1979 when the war on Unions and deregulation gained momentum. See these articles:

The Number of Salaried Workers Guaranteed Overtime Pay Has Plummeted Since 1979

The expanding role of temporary help services from 1990 to 2008, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Tian Luo, Amar Mann, and Richard Holden; August 2010

There Are A Lot Of Part-Time Workers In Post-Financial Crisis America, Business Insider, Doug Shourt, Advisor Perspectives; November 10, 2014 -- http://www.businessinsider.com/ratio-of-part-time-employed-remains-substantially-higher-than-the-pre-recession-level-2014-11

Why The 40-Hour Workweek Is Dying, Forbes, Jayson DeMers; May 15, 2015 -- http://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2015/05/15/why-the-40-hour-workweek-is-dying/

The Full-Time Job Is Dead, BackChannel, Kevin Maney; June 4, 2015 -- https://medium.com/backchannel/the-full-time-job-is-dead-b9528bda1c87

Saturday, June 06, 2015

The Cardinal Rules of Microsoft Access and Excel

Originally posted elsewhere on January 22, 2009, this post was inspired by my temporary assignment to Horace Mann Insurance in Springfield, Illinois. They encourage a cutthroat competitive culture and we temps had two managers. Can you guess where this is going?

The lead manager assigned me and another temp to retrieve service numbers from all the old PCs, so the data could be transferred to brand new PCs. Instead of backing up the data, replacing the old PC and then installing the old data on the new PC on an individual basis, they decided to retrieve everyone's data first, bulk load the data on new PCs in another part of the building, then at night bring carts loaded with PCs up to the offices and replace them.

The trick is knowing exactly which PC goes to which employee's desk. Knowing the exact location of a specific employee's old PC hinged on a Microsoft Excel database held on a Dell laptop with a bar code scanner. We had to scan hundreds of PCs service tags, and getting to those service tags often required climbing under desks or shutting down and undocking laptops.

Scanning issues:

We did the scanning during the day when employees were present, yet we replaced the PCs at night. We had to verify the employees information for the database. Some moved to different areas within the building, others were out for the day or left the company.

Then one day the lead manager decided to take two weeks off. The second manager decided he wanted me and my associate to do other things for him instead of completing the scanning, so we kept getting pulled away from our primary task.

I finally insisted that I needed to complete my primary task, but because I defied him in favor of the lead manager's instructions (while the lead manager was away on his vacation) Express Temporary Professionals called me one morning and told me that they were told I was a bad worker and didn't want me back.

In the beginning of the assignment, the lead manager led me to an unoccupied desk in a storage area where I was to lock away the laptop while it wasn't in use. The key was kept somewhere else at the office so other employees could gain access to it. I later got a call from Express asking if I had stolen the laptop. I had to explain where it was so they could find it. I don't know what happened to my associate who knew where the laptop was located.

Now, finally, the original post that dealt with the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet we used:

The Cardinal Rules of Microsoft Access and Excel
January 22, 2009 at 12:59pm

I had a temp job once going around taking inventory. I was given a laptop with Microsoft Excel on it with an inventory list. I was to enter the numbers in the cells. I had a difficult time with it because the person who made up the spreadsheet broke every single one of the following Cardinal Rules.

I. If it can be subdivided it must be subdivided.
a. The more you subdivide information into separate columns, the more
versatile your database will be in the future when you want to develop
charts for presentations, interactive maps, and other codependent
documents like mail merge or XML.

II. Be specific when using column headers.
a. Make sure you can wake up the next morning and know exactly what
should go in a column by its header description. If need be, you can use
the “Insert Comment” to further describe the content requirements.

III. Never a full name in one cell.
a. A first middle and last name are three different things. Use three different

IV. Never first names first.
a. Why always start with last names first? I’m not sure. The reasoning might
be cultural in origin, but it is the official standard of phone books,
libraries, and the government.

V. If you must use nicknames, give them a separate column.
a. If you substitute someone’s formal first name with a nickname, later you
will never find Rick no matter how hard you search for Richard or Dick.

VI. Dividing punctuation requires dividing columns.
a. If you have a comma or semicolon in several cells, you’re in trouble. If
you know you will need three or more items as part of a record, for
example, the identity of multiple printers a person must access, then set a
limit of five and create five columns.

VII. Special requirements need special paperwork.
a. Create an external document reference column.

VIII. Three dimensions require three columns.

IX. Pick one way to describe something and stick with it.

X. Pick one column order and stick with it.

XI. Keep comments to the far right.
a. Columns labeled “Comments,” or “Reason,” are regularly ignored.

XII. Use complete dates.
a. Be sure to include the year, month, and day every time you use a date.

XIII. Keep time out of the date column.
a. The time and date format in Excel is too long to effectively sort and will
cause problems down the road.

XIV. Get all the names before you start.
a. Make sure you know exactly what you need before you start. If rows need
to be added in the process of data collection, you will add hours to the
process of reconciling the remote database with the central database.

XV. Keep a column for sequential record numbers
a. If you want to import your Excel spreadsheet into an Access database, you
will need a “Key” field. Each record should have a record number field
because you won’t be able to import the row number from Excel as your
key field in Access.

XVI. There will always be more rules, write them down as you discover them.