Sunday, 13 August 2017

The Half-Glass Crowd

"The glass is either half empty or half full."

With over thirty-five years associated with the military in some fashion.....I've heard this glass-talk about a thousand times.  At some point, I worked with a Captain who gave the glass-chat at least twice a month as part of his 'you need to get with the plan' agenda.

At some point about twenty years ago...I sat and paused over the half-glass topic and pondered upon the reason why it had to be HALF.  Couldn't it be three-quarters empty or full?  Could it be 90-percent full or empty?

At some point, some junior airman made the observation to me one day....what if this container were paper or plastic....would it make any real difference.  A Lieutenant listening to the conversation wanted to add Einstein-like wisdom by suggesting that the paper-cup would begin to leak within twelve hours after you filled it with liquid.

Some folks would take this whole discussion and ask the question....how did the glass get half empty or full?  Did you just have that much whiskey to put in the cup?  Did you allow it to sit so long....that it evaporated half the glass?  Did the glass have a hole in the bottom?  Did you guzzle down the whiskey or half-glass in three big swigs?  Does it come served this way to start with?  Do women prefer the half-empty glass as to men preferring the half-full glass?  Did your buddy drink the first half while you were in the latrine?  Is this buttermilk and thus you don't care if it's half-full or half-empty?

Half of this whole discussion is about the glass itself....but the other half is the stupidity of making this a Plato-or-Socrates-like discussion on philosophy.  We've fallen as a civilization to the point where we need to think in this comparison about some half-truth or half-fraud.

You could bring up this comparison with CNN, and suggest that they are a half-truth or half-fraud news organization.

You could bring up this topic with Congress....suggesting that they are half-way working for you, or half-way working against you.

You could bring up the subject with the government wisely spending half the money it taxes off you.....or unwisely spending half the money it taxes off you.

If you brought Aristotle into the conversation?  He'd eventually get around to asking how you filled it in the first place, and if the original container is the one that really matters in this whole case....not the stupid glass that you keep monitoring to see if it's half-full or half-empty.

Brief History over Maryland

I tend to point oddball pieces of history which high-school history and university history professors kinda skip over....and give you a different prospective of reality.

In this essay....a brief talk on Maryland.

Today, Maryland is made up of six million people, and one of the titles often given to the state is the 'free state' of Maryland. Most folks would travel around the state and make the observation that it's highly urbanized, and has a problem with crime (drugs, thugs, gangs, etc).

So, you go back and review the real history of the state.

While the Pilgrims did arrive in the New World in 1619....it's not until 1634 that folks start to arrive in Maryland.  Two small vessels arrived in the early spring of 1634 (the Ark and the Dove).  It's safe to say that this crowd was different from the Plymouth episode....in that most of this group was Catholic.

This arrival group?  Well, it's always referred in an odd way....seventeen 'gentlemen' and their wives. Gentlemen?  It's a term that was never used in Plymouth talk or history.  So you have to assume that these were distinguished guys and probably not the rough-and-tough type guys.

But you come to this other footnote about this group of 34 men and women....there were two-hundred 'others' listed.  Their purpose in life?  To support the seventeen men, and their wives.  The term 'indentured' servant often gets used at this point.  This is a person who got into legal trouble and to avoid debt-prison.....you became a servant for a period of time.  No one says that all two-hundred were indentured, but it's likely that more than half of them fell into this category.  You more or less were given some option to pack up and leave some debt-prison....ride on a ship for six to eight weeks.....and then do some pretty heavy work.

This group upon arrival....did something that you wouldn't have expected.  They met up with the local Indians, and made a transaction to 'buy' the local property.  One might perceive this moment as simply working out a deal that some stretch of land was agreeable to live upon.

Once this was set and the Indian deal was done....then the general running of the new colony took place and some folks probably were a bit unnerved.  The rule of the community?  It's basically taking a step back into the 1000 to 1400 era of feudalistic operations....meaning that the community existed around the running of the land....rather than a capitalistic form of work and trade.  It took basically a year for folks to figure out that this wasn't exactly what they'd signed up for.  Yes, by 1635....roughly 12 months later....there's friction going on.

It takes about three years for folks to calm down, and set their mind upon using standard laws of England in this colony.

Oddly, from 1638....for about a decade, there is friction with neighbor colony areas...mostly because there is no real line drawn where one's little empire begins and ends.  There's also religious conflict going on because no one wants to say one single religion per colony but it's forming up that way.  Maryland?  It's basically becoming the Catholic colony of the New World....unlike all of it's neighbors.

Roughly sixteen years into this colony business....Maryland now has a curious development to occur.  It's now become one of the chief areas for debt-prison members and regular jail population folks.  An 'HR-like' guy would show up in a British prison....look over the crowd for healthy members....and then select folks for New World participation.  In debt-prison....you had some ways to grasp the deal and at least discuss the matter.  In a regular prison...there was no real discussion.   It was the rough-and-tough crowd who helped make Baltimore and the state of Maryland....into what it is today.

These internal Puritan versus Catholic revolts?  From the 1650 era....for about two decades....these two religious groups required continual enforcement by the British government to prevent all-out warfare.  It was a pretty harsh environment....religious warfare and prison-population members as members of the community.  In some ways, I'm guessing the Indian population sat back and were mostly amused at the new neighbors who'd arrived and were fairly uncivilized.

What's happened in 300 years?  Well...yeah, it's still mostly warfare....just urbanized....some meth and heroin mixed into the situation.  The religious warfare?  Mostly replaced by social justice warfare.

The Soda Tax Discussion

Weeks ago, I sat trying to grasp this Chicago soda tax thing.  It's a tax strictly on sodas...NOT beer or wine, or fruit-juice.  Being a former soda-drinker....I had some interest in this.

First, there's the regular sales tax at work....it doesn't go away.

So you pile up on a single can of soda....one cent for each ounce (12 ounces....12 cents) of special soda tax.  Normally, a 24-pack of Cokes would cost you in the range of $13.50.  Maybe at some military commissary....you might still be able to get them for $9.50.

If you do the math....the 24-pack will cost you in Chicago soda tax $2.88....on top of the sales tax.

Legal?  Some folks have pointed out that the state has a law that says you can't tax on top of a tax.  But so far, no one has challenged this part of the law.

What's likely to occur in this case?  If I lived in Chicago....I'd probably go out every six weeks, and go beyond the county-line, and buy six to eight 24-packs of soda.  Maybe I'd even go a hundred miles to find a real discount sale going on, and buy twenty-five 24-packs of soda and just store them in the garage.

This is silly, if you start to think about the tax, and the odds of people buying bulk to avoid the local tax.

Success rate of this soda tax?  I'd give it less than 10-percent chance of still being around in three years.

The Zuckerberg Candidacy

For a couple of weeks now....I've observed bits and pieces of news that indicate that Facebook's CEO....Mark Zuckerberg is going to run for President in 2020.  It's NOT guaranteed and simply that he's done three or four things that would put him into the Democratic Primary.

The odds of this occurring?  If I were betting....less than 25-percent chance.

There are two negative factors on Zuckerberg.  First, he can't handle criticism to any degree....this has been seen in several interviews over the past five years.  Second, in a debate forum....he's shown that he's prepared to just say one single message.  If the opposition debate person were to challenge or force a comeback....Zuckerberg doesn't have the debate skills to actually engage or come back.

All of this considered, there are the two positive factors....he's got easily $400 million of his own capital that he could put into the Primary.  He also has name-brand recognition that most Democrats can't talk about.  If you walk onto any campus today.....at least ninety-percent know Zuckerberg.  Course, the other negative is that if you walked into any rural area of the south and said 'Zuckerberg'....fewer than forty-percent would be able to identify him.

In the 1990s...I worked in a particular career field within the Air Force that had nothing to do with technology or computers. At some point, an introduction phase was occurring and I ended being pushed into the trend as a trainer for software applications. This meant that I had to interact with the engineers, geeks, nerds, and techies. I had no trouble in fitting into this new trainer situation and relating applications to actual users. But when it came time to sit down and engage with the hardware/software engineers...I came to regard them as juvenile, fairly incapable of making rational decisions beyond their trade, and living mostly within a ‘bubble’.

I retired in 2013 and regard that twenty-year period of interaction with the engineers and geeks as a stimulating period. As long as you can keep them focused on a precise trail within their capability...they are a benefit to the organization. Beyond that, you really don’t want them in a leadership position, or a situation of authority. This suggestion in the past month that Zuckerberg (the Facebook guru) thinking of a run for Presidency.....has me a bit amused and worried. If you went looking for a hundred skill-sets that a President ought to have, I doubt that you will find more than three sets (of a hundred) that he might presently have.

What most of these geeks or computer-engineer guys need?  Somewhere in that college period....they need to be pushed off to some real work environment to interact with real people.  A canoe-rental operation, a bartender job, a grocery clerk job, or spend couple hours a week on some farm.   In essence, they need to understand there is a whole big world out there beyond the one-direction mentality that they tend to use in the lab or developmental stage.

Without people-skills....they can't connect.  In this Zuckerberg situation?  I see him walking into Iowa and discovering that he really can't connect with the general public (course, Hillary had the same problem there).  Maybe he could pep up the intellectual crowd and the university kids....but with the working-class folks?  It would be a joke.