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Footwork

Look at the number of times that LeBron James takes “steps” when on a breakaway and you will see another reason why he is tired near the end of the game. His foot work is not as elegant as is the footwork of Curry, Thompson and KD of GS. Having good footwork does more than make you look quicker, it saves you energy. LB spends a lot of energy by powering through bad footwork, meaning at the end of the game he has less energy. That includes less mental energy.

Watch the Thompson footwork when defending the smaller (and quicker?) Irving. LB makes up for the footwork he never had to learn as a kid because he was bigger and stronger, because he is still big and strong. Note, Thompson and Curry learned it because their dads were pros and they were not merely big guys with talent. I would bet KD learned it because he was skinny as a kid (ask him?).

However, at the top level, the exercise catches up with you. LB is strong, but not elegant.

I know this because I was a skinny baller as a kid. Now, I understand the application of this principle in business. If you have good footwork at the start of a negotiating effort you will have saved steps and energy by the time the exercise ends. You can make decisions better (the footwork of negotiation) because you don’t spend yourself in the missteps earlier in the dance.

LeBron Getting Faster?

Dan LeBatard played a post-game interview piece by a Toronto Raptor that started with the concept that LeBron was a little quicker than he had been in the past. LeBatard then wondered, aloud, whether the compliment was really a (passive aggressive) suggestion that steroids were in play. It is an honest question that has to be asked, but there is another explanation for his perceived quickness improvement.

LeBron has shown that he is an intuitive learner of the first degree. He had childhood coaching and high school coaching. From my personal experience, those coaches taught the average kid on the team and let LeBron alone because his physical talent was so much advanced from everyone else that he did not have to have great mechanics. The average kids got drilled on the mechanics, but LeBron did not appear to have been exposed to them as others his age might have been had he not been so talented. Skipping college meant that his footwork when he came to the NBA left him flatfooted against those he faced.

His footwork kept him back his first 4 or so years. In the one early playoff with Boston, near the end of the game there is a jump ball and Paul Pierce out steps him on the circle to get the ball and seal the game. LeBron had size on Pierce, but did not even see the need for the move – most likely because he had never been shown it. Pierce schooled him that night.

LeBron had to learn all of his footstep correction by playing at the highest level. I think Olajuwon taught him offensive foot work one summer, but he has, apparently, learned his defensive footwork through his personal failures. (I always thought he should have hooked up with Rasheed Wallace for work on his defensive footwork.) The Championship won by Dallas had two games ended by a Nowitzki drive and with LeBron never seeing or moving from his weak side position until it was too late to step right. His feet (and head) were wrong and he never made a move to help.

Here’s the thing. LeBron is faster now because he doesn’t make the missteps he used to make. He has intuitively learned as he was exposed to the footwork of the best in the world and he now has a big book of knowledge. He also doesn’t have to think, though, about what he is doing, so he avoids the “lag” that thinking can create. When you are really balling you don’t want to be thinking, just doing. LeBron may get even faster over the next couple of years.

The Joke is on us.

There is a line from The Outlaw Josey Wales, not from Josey, “Don’t piss on my back and tell me it is raining.”

Why doesn’t the voting public “see” what went on last week in Washington. All of the participants in the process know it was a joke. There is no way that “Bill” will survive the Senate or see the light of day on Trump’s desk. They all know that, the “signing” was a show and a big misdirection of valuable time that could have been spent on something real. The proponents of the event know that they put a headline out, but the follow up headlines started immediately, so the news world and those who advertise through the news world were all happy to talk about it.

However, no one cares to call Bullshit overtly.

When the Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act (Obama Care for the public), they knew it was not finished. That is why parts did not come into play until years after its creation. They knew that the courts would have a say and they allowed for it. However, they were staring into more than 20 years of nothing being done on health care, and they got a bill passed. It was not perfect, but it did bring relief to millions. Now that they have seen health care, they want it even more, but they have been listening to those who take lobbying money with a contrary target.

Upon the passage of the ACA some neo conservative caucus (can’t remember its name) immediately started bellowing about how the ACA had to be repealed. Their audience bought that without much thinking about it. (Some of them became strong Trump supporters eventually, but that is another story.) Anyway, they raised a stink from the get go. They also waisted years of time putting up votes in the House that they knew did nothing but cement a voting block that liked the show. That is what the public has become – non thinking watchers of a show that is ultimately pissing on their back while telling them it is raining. Yep, I said it.

Did you notice that the Democrats are just letting things unfold? They may have smartened up. They may see that those currently promoting the Republican way of doing things will be hoist on their own petard. The Dems don’t have to point out how silly this week’s actions are, the Repubs will have to face the reality, which will see a major overhaul of the Bill by the Senate, and by the public. It will unfold by inertia now that the ball has rolled out of the House, but the story will take a long time to appear, and a waste of a lot of time and money, and misdirection of effort will occur in the process. Why does the public put up with this? Well, watching the show takes less thought and effort than getting up to change the channel, or even turn off the TV.

Well, at least that is the realization that jumps out at me.

A Good Adrenaline Rush!

As I get out of my car at the parking lot of my bank, a guy comes in after me and takes a spot next to a car that was stopped right in the middle of the lot blocking the spot closest to the door. The car at issue could have had the spot if it had bother to just make one right turn instead of stopping ½ through the spot and blocking half of the walk to the door.

So, he pulls in, gets out and stoops down a bit to look into the wrecked car, bad light, mirror, dents, etc., sees a woman in the passenger seat and starts walking in. Another car comes and pulls into a handicap slot.

Two young punks come out of the door abruptly, a couple of steps away from the old guy. (He’s over six ft and over sixty, for sure in both instances, and pushing 225. ). As they take their first step (one is maybe 5’8”, the other less than 5’6”, maybe 140 each) and he asks them:

“I am curious what you were thinking when you left your car there.”

“What,”

“I am just curious as to what process you went through to come to the conclusion that leaving your car there was a good idea.”

“I was only in there for a little while” (Little guy and driver).

“What?” (from the bigger of the two ner do wells.)

Big guy turns to bigger punk and says, “I was just trying to figure out what was going through his head.”

“I don’t care.”

“Oh, I understand now”

“I don’t care” (again, and he backs up a step and squares a bit for for a right handed punch from down low headed up (based on his stance).

Old guys eyes flicker there, acknowledging the threat, he smiles but also veers eyes to the right to get a read on the little guy, who was just standing there. I am standing behind the punks and the car seeing the old guy front on from about 15 feet.

Old guy asks, “So, do you want to play fuck the rules with me?”

“What?

“Well, you don’t care, so I am asking if you want to play fuck the rules with me. There are cameras here and before I play fuck the rules I always ask.  Wait, if you have a gun, I won’t play fuck the rules, but otherwise, do you want to play?” (Yep, I flashed to The Warriors, “Come out and plaaay”)

That’s when the lady left sitting in the handicap car stands up on the far side of the car, on the floor board and, looking over, yells to have everybody to calm down, and her son comes out of the bank to yell at the two punks that that was his mom.

Well, the old guy was laughing and the punks got in their car and off they went.

Followed the old guy into the bank. He had his deposit all made out and handed it to the teller as if nothing was amiss (even though I am pretty sure they heard a lot of what went on). His hand was shaking. He looked at me and said, “Nothing much better than a good adrenaline rush.”

Ceding Decision Making

I have a good friend that has clued me into the big discussion about robots taking over for laborers. Clearly, such a takeover is a decision that is made “for” the people affected, not by the people affected. I have discovered, within my weird head, a situation in which the analogy is extended (a ceding of decision making from humans to circuits), in a sense.

With robots, industry gets a “being” that does what it is told. The robots ability to make a decision is limited to yes or no on a series of choices. The device can be programmed to decide specific issues and move its “arms” and “fingers” to a given place in three dimensions. Maybe, it can move those to a proximate location relative to the object of its attention, or the object is placed in such away so as to do away with the need for any proximal adjustment. In any event, the adjustment that a human might make when performing the task is removed from the equation. That removal assures that there is no grave mistake made, so long as the rules are followed. If however, a series of rules, for whatever reason, break down, then the move that might appear immediately to a human will not appear at all to the device because there is no room to anticipate the need by those in charge of generating the program by which the yes/no arise. It is a rare situation that a “new/unique” decision would need to be made, and the people currently in charge accept that anomaly at the expense of the alternative. That is probably ok in that manufacturing environment, but there is a place of diminishing returns in situations in which a slight adjustment recognized by a “pro” human observance saves a misstep. It can be a very minor misstep at the time taken, but the resultant path will show up as an error when it is too late to correct easily.

OK, so decision making is taken away in the above example. Here is something, though, that is happening and cannot most likely be stopped: the general public, including the lower 80% of decision makers, are ceding their decision making to the yes/no question by relying on devices. Heck, a self driven car? The people that pay attention when they drive will always be better than a self driven car, but the general population may well benefit because they are not paying attention such that they could make a valued decision. By so ceding the decision, they admit, on some level that the people that write the algorithms make the decisions better than them. They at least cede the choices involved to such people through reliance upon the device, without even knowing that they have ceded to the device, it is just accepted. As we move further down the path, the “trust” placed in the devices will become even more less thought out. (Not a double negative but an amplified negative.)

Here is where that path CAN lead: nefarious employment of the leverage owned by those that control the choices made. That nefariousness can happen either on purpose or by accident. The accidental “one” is perhaps the scariest, as good people involved in the chain of creation of the devices may be able to seek out the purposeful one. A nefarious misstep that leads to a path that is not recognized is the worst case scenario I can see.

Roller Ball?

It is axiomatic, at least to some, that history repeats itself. For instance, some people point to Rome as an example of what we have become here in the US. They also point to the rise of the Third Reich with respect to the people who are now running the US.

Here is a thought: It seems apparent to some that the people in power (read Bannon) are using the example of the English with respect to Northern Ireland in manipulating the general public in support of the last election and as we proceed down the road, all in support their quest to promote the ultra rich at the expense of two different segments of the “poor”. “What?”, you say. Though not generally acknowledged or recognized outside of academia, here is what the English did in Northern Ireland:

At one time, the working people of Northern Ireland were generally Scottish heritage Protestants and Irish heritage Catholics. (The Gaelic language or dialect, I believe, was embraced by both, but that is an aside.) The property was largely owned by English rich folks, and the Scotts and Irish, who were sometimes even referred to collectively as “Scotts Irish”, were the laborers, shopkeepers, etc. Well, they had employment/payment issues with the land owners and those land owners came up with the idea of starting a spat between the two different folks that collectively gave them indigestion and the “fight” that began between the two heritages/religions was on. By pitting these two groups against each other, who were otherwise economically aligned with each other, the English land owners were able to divert the attack against the rich to an attack back and forth between to subsets of the poor. The situation is beginning to abate, but how long has it taken? (Recall that the Irish joined the Scotts in fights against the English prior to the period in question, again solidifying the fact that those two groups had much common ground with each other.)

How does this apply to what is taking place in America? The people now in power promoted the distinction between the really, and perhaps not working, poor and the bottom of the economic ladder but still earning wages, poor. This second group is who was largely responsible for the last presidential election. They used to be “covered” by the Democrats, but the economy had cut deeply into their lifestyle and they were enticed by the possibility that the greatness of economic status they once had might be reborn. Never mind that the rich have gotten dramatically richer in a relative sense, let’s not look in their direction to level that monetary distribution, let’s focus on those needy people (below us) that are just taking from us. The Dems looked in the direction of the big money, the English land owners if you will, but the big money looked to the lower classes and ask, “What could we put in their left hand such that they would ignore what they held in the right hand?”. In the end, the fight is a diversion and the hope of the Rich is that they will proceed unimpeded. Here is one question that is begged: Will the advance of communication arising from the existence of the internet allow for the two poor groups to overcome the propaganda flowing from the ultra rich? Numbers are on the size of the poor, but can numbers outlast or quell money and the power that goes with it? (One other note of alignment relating back to the Northern Ireland example. In that case, there was a religious differential that was highlighted. In the current situation, there is the “entitlement” aspect as a divider, but also in many senses a race distinction that is added in, along with religous distinction as well. A whole bunch of possible “dislike” feeders!)

Oh, one last thought: Putin is an extremely rich person such that even if he is not promoting Russian interests may well be promoting the Ultra Rich Peoples’ Interest, also noting that there are more billionaires in Shanghai (or Beijing) than there are in New York. Perhaps we are moving to the world in which the original Roller Ball movie existed!

LIVING LIFE

Today started out to be as much of a drag as was yesterday, and others before it, because of what is taking place in Washington. The behavior exhibited, and the rationalizing of it afterwards in a manner that is totally superficial as to full logic extension of the answer, is just frustrating. I will tell you that the beauty of owning a knack at good cross examination in a courtroom breaks you from ever accepting BS that is clearly one step down, and not near the truth of, the path upon which the step is taken.

I will tell you that we should all hope that the new SC Justice is the guy from Western PA. Why, because the steel industry caused honesty to rule in the mill and that concept is the best we can hope for in any judge picked by the Trump Card. If he is from a steel mill town he may have gotten honesty while growing up – over the dinner table, on the playground and at school. If he is honest, then the Court will bring out the best in him whether he likes it or not.

This is what saved the day for me, a bit. I had a job at the house that needed to be addressed, replacing 100 year old brick mortar in a brick wall behind which I had run wire for a light, GFI and controlling switch. The job required me to think about it such that my brain moved away from the thinking devoted to bad behavior, as perceived by me. I sometimes fell like the Tommy Lee Jones Character in Lonesome Dove.

Anyway, the wall is on a porch, so not exposed to direct rain, but I am thinking that it needs to be done as if it is, why not? I filled the spaces with foam, then I cut back the foam giving myself about ½ inch of fill space. Mixing cement with some of the dust and pieces of the old stuff gave me a more particle appearance and a little bit better tint for matching. One thing learned, if you are coloring mortar/cement, put the color component in at the end. (By the way, this is a good metaphor for timing in an argument or negotiation.) My tools of choice turned out to be too big for the spaces and the viscosity of mix. I left the bucket sit in order to go find the other putty knife and it stiffened up while I was gone. Turned out to be good and when I came back, I found out that the best application tool was my finger(s). (Get those levels of metaphor?) Nice result, a sense of accomplishment, what a day.

Tomorrow, I go down to my local ACLU office and see if they could make use of a volunteer.