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Call it what it is

If the US were not a nation made up by a diverse set of people, we would be well down the road that Germany traveled when it became a Nazi state. Sure, when we started out we were dominated by “white” (hate that designation, but..) Europeans. However, those white folks were fundamentally diverse in the religion that they practiced. We have separation of church and state because those that created the “state” of the US did not want one of their religions franchised at the expense of the other. The two main choices were the Protestants of New England vs the Episcopals of Virginia and it’s surroundings. So, the diversity was still within the white world, but it was a fundamental schism that assured that we would be different than Europe in which the religion and the state were tied to each other. We also precluded a King or Emperor and the developing separation between congress and Trump is illustrating that division. (Trump’s advisers think his base will pressure the congress to toe the line, but the base is not enough votes to survive the battle.)

That diversity, created within the white folks and the relatively wealthy folks, but surely those solidly within the “franchise” of how things would run, may not have anticipated how far the created divisions would reach at the time of creation. After all, only male landowners could vote, so it is understandable that the breadth of the franchise could not be anticipated to include women, Catholics, brown people, etc. (Aside, the Jews already had a big inroad that few recognized at the time. The Dutch East India company owned a lot of New York and it was largely a Jewish run company, since every other country in Europe had kicked out or run off the Jews. The Netherlands did not, and that is where the Jews could safely carry out business (and pay taxes).) Now a days, everyone has a voice in the franchise, even though those with big money and a PAC have a much louder voice, but still.

The people that are now the “Alt-Right” see themselves decedent of the creators of this country, but they would likely not have been recognized as such at the time. The working laborer was not part of the franchise at that time. They had no right to vote and no voice. They fought, but that is because England, with a King, was more objectionable than the land owning businessmen who wanted to create a meritocracy as a new way to govern. None the less, the Alt-Right is who elected Trump. Yes, that is probably 25% of America that will never be disenchanted with/by Trump, unless he truly calls them out and he is unlikely so to do. The AR wants a meritocracy, but they want it to favor them because they think “they” (read: their people) created the meritocracy and they are now excluded from it. That is not true on both points, but unless you are able to discern reality from perception, it is lost.

The AR is who organized the Charlottesville invasion this weekend. They are organizing one for Boston next, at least that is what I hear on TV. The AR is Steve Bannon, the guy who came on once Trump was done with the Republicans and had only Hillary to face. The AR got the unfranchised white folks to vote for the Trump franchise, thinking he was one of them. Heck, he looks down his nose at all of them, just look at his history. He likes rich folks, of any color, not poor white folks. Here’s an illustration, in financial terms that might be understood, between the Trumps of the white world and the laborers of the white world:

The laborers might drive a full size pickup truck. Probably one that is 10 years old and has over 100,000 miles on it. They buy it used, then they use it. The Trumpers might drive a Cadillac Escalade, or even a big pick up. They buy it new and they don’t use it to haul stuff, except maybe floats to the Country Club swimming pool. However, look at the license plate of their vehicle and you may discover it has a “Farm” plate. Seriously, go to a place where only rich people go, the Country Club, the Boat Club, the exclusive restaurant, etc. and look for Farm plates on big SUVs and Trucks. They won’t have any mud on them and the inside won’t have tools or file folders on the seat. Why then do they exist you might ask. Well, they are tied to a piece of property that satisfies a section in the US Tax Code that allows the buyer of such a vehicle to amortize its cost (a direct offset to income) over 2 or 3 years. It is deemed to be used in furtherance of “farming” because it falls within the language of the tax code, which was a gift from law makers to rich folks and to the car companies that wanted to sell more of those big environmentally burdensome vehicles upon which there is a very nice “margin” of return.

So, poor white guy, you are supporting a sect of society that does not want you in their club, but smiles and puts their arm around you when they want your vote. Just try to get in their gated community some time, in your old pickup. No go, unless you are there to do landscaping or other manual labor, but never on Saturday night!

So, when trump “denounced” the KKK, and other named groups, he expressly left out the Alt Right by name. That was a key omission by his handlers and was not called out by the news people. Why not? That is the true crux of the matter. The AR is emboldened by Bannon – Breitbart – Trump. The AR is Trump’s base. The AR hoped that the US would toe the line under Trump and convert itself accordingly.

Fortunately, we are diverse enough to not let them sneak up on us, but they will always be there and it will take more and more of them showing their heads above the foxholes in which they have resided before the spades can be called spades, but in this time of increased communication curtesy of the internet, it will be harder for them to have it both ways. (It is my understanding that some faces showing up on the internet got fired by employers who recognized them. How could they not see that coming?)

Last thought – for those that want to protest and confront the AR. Don’t use violence or loud shouting. That is what they want, plays right into their hand, what they expect and what they feed off. Here is my suggestion. Form up, don’t say a thing, don’t carry a thing, but wait for them to march or talk. When they do, turn your back as one. If you really want to make a statement, then MOON THEM.

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Holy Cow, how Silly does it have to get?

It is stunning to me the level of bare-ass idiocy exercised by the Trump Card (and his folks, to be fair). Not that he could do it, but that he (they) would do it. And, it continues to take steps down paths that it should have avoided. Excluding Transgender people from services in the armed forces, when “they” are already there (forgive the pronoun in reference to diverse people grouped together by a label, but which are each individuals).

How about the diversion that there is a Russian team that was also working to discredit Trump. Isn’t every sophisticated player in politics aware that you play both sides, cause you never know. Who cares? Or So what! Is the response to that “argument”.

Trump made, maybe 10-25%, of the populace happy with the silly move, because they, at true heart, believe this is against their particular religion, mostly Christian. However, anyone that is practical on his side of the fence (wall for now) knows that this is silly at best. Combining such a silly step with the other silly steps lead to the conclusion that eventually more and more people will see that the Emperor walks paths that appeal to one certain segment of the voting populace. To get elected, everyone on Trump’s side had a pet subject upon which he won them over. He would say anything then and a lot of people were whispering in his ear. He laughed and gave each one the story they wanted to hear. He knew that once elected, he could do what he want. That is because he only ever answered to Directors, many of whom were somehow beholden to him. He has no experience in the Dance in which he is now immersed.

He believes that he can name the tune of any Dance he is in. He has been largely successful in business getting the other sides to dance to the music he named. Some out danced him, but many were worn down by their unfamiliarity with the tune. They paid a tuition for the education they got from contracting with him the first time. Every commercial litigation lawyer has seen the Trump Card type party representative. Once seen, though, you can avoid them getting to the orchestra, he only controls the music once on anyone as the tune he plays is easy to change in the contracting stage, because you don’t do the work without contract terms that do the opposite of enabling his behavior. He only knows one tune.

A President, if he is good, can influence the tune being played, but only if he finds the Rhythm. The Card’s silliness will eventually show his true position, or lack of position, on the myriad limited issues that attract a pocket of voters of maybe 2-15%, each, of the voting populace. As a group sees that their desire is not met (because there was a competing desire The Card had not accounted for). He has pissed on the backs of many people and told them it was merely raining. Eventually the input of the ears is superseded by the input of the nose.

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.