Friday, 15 September 2017

First Relative in the New World

My first relative to arrive in the Americas (to stay) was named Job.  Oddly enough....his father....John (1611 born) had been to America on a number of occasions....as a ship's purser or cargo-master.  They'd land....release passengers and cargo....take in more passengers returning with goods to transport, and they'd leave.  I doubt if they ever remained on American soil for more than two weeks.

Around 1666...in the spring, Job would be nineteen years old, living in London, and facing some challenges. His mother had been dead for around 15 years.

At this point, in the 1660s....London was considered the most populated city in the UK, with almost a half-million-residents.  Most of the structures were wood, and streets were haphazardly laid out.  In terms of urbanization....no one had ever suggested that things needed to be organized.  It didn't matter how one viewed the situation....it was all standing ready for some massive fire to occur.

Who lived in the midst of London?  Mostly the working class or common folks.  If you had a title or any wealth.....you lived beyond the streets of London.....pretty far out beyond the city itself.

If you were measuring things on health aspects...it'd probably max down near a one (as bad as it could go) in the heart of the city. At some point in 1655....the Bubonic Plague started up. Bodies were picked up daily on each block and just buried at random.  Staying in London didn't make a lot of sense.

So in the spring, around March of 1666....Job went accepted up a deal.  He signed a contract to go off to America for a period of two to three years (different folks argue the period).  You were basically signing up a deal to be tobacco farm labor for a unknown family....working six days a week.  Sundays were an off-day but you could generally find families that had extra work that needed to be done and you could hire yourself out for a day and be paid in something that had swapable value.

At the end of that period....Job was free of the contract....stayed, and reportedly ended up owning two farms and lived to the age of 70.

Entry into the new world? Likely Baltimore.  The farm that he ended up upon was located in Rappahannock, VA....roughly eighty miles to the southwest of Baltimore.

It would be a year or two after this....that Job's dad would settle up affairs in London....take up a new wife, and leave for the same region of Rapahannock, VA.  He would end up being the second of the family in the new world.

If Job had stayed in London?  This gets to being interesting.  As fall arrived (2 September)....a fire started up and went through the mid-section of London for roughly three days.  It's safe to say that Job was a lot better off having taken this big step.

The 'Visiting Fellow' Story

UPDATE:  Well....at 3AM on the east coast....Harvard put out a statement to say the 'visiting fellow' invitation to Chelsea Manning was a mistake.  End of story.

Original essay:

University operations often run with a gimmick.  Sometimes, it's NCAA football.  Sometimes, it's some science department with professors standing in the shadow of Einstein.  Sometimes, it's about some radical program with no grades and no tests....just pass/fail (Evergreen College).

I noticed this morning that Harvard University came out yesterday and announced that Chelsea Manning (former Army....convicted felon....commuted sentence from President Obama) will now be a 'visiting fellow' with Harvard (for one academic year).

What is a 'visiting fellow'?

The general meaning is that a university operation will desire to have a educated guy....usually a professor, a noted scholar, a well-known political figure....to visit the university and either lecture (meaning one single night or a series of nights) or do research at the university in connection with some program they are running.

While not always the case....you might find some deep pockets individual who comes up occasionally and donates to the college's program.....will have some individual that they want covered under the college's 'umbrella' for a year, and only because of that request....you get 'visiting fellow' status.

Pay during this academic year?  Yes and no.  If you are a professor just on 'loan', then you have pay still coming in from the original job and you don't get any additional pay.  Most colleges will provide accommodations....like a on-site apartment or a cottage deal.  If you have no incoming pay, there probably will be some pay-scale set up for a person of your caliber.

In the case of Manning? I'm guessing that some donor came up and made the case that it would be nice to have Manning around for a year, and some pay-deal (probably in the $40k a year range) was set up, with on-campus accommodation.

As for what Manning will do?  Unknown for the most part.  Harvard hasn't said much.  There is some talk by the University that Manning  will speak on "technological, social and economic ramifications of A-I".  Maybe there will be a lecture or  two.

Negativity on this decision?  More than a few have commented on this.  Most will note that Manning is a convicted individual......never pardoned by President Obama, just commuted.

Manning's expert status on "technological, social and economic ramifications of A-I?  This is an individual who spent three brief years of enlisted duty with the Army....in military intelligence, with daily interaction with databases.  Presently, I'd say there are probably over two million individuals from the Army, Navy and Air Force with the same background, same minimum years at the job, and same education level.  If you went looking for the same individuals with a university degree....probably over 200,000 exist.

Some expert status with bringing Manning to Harvard?  No.  This was simply a gimmick.  They don't have a NCAA program that draws folks.  They usually produce lawyers.  It's something to draw attention and get some front-page news.  PR-work mostly.

The idea that some Harvard student might challenge Manning in some lecture or public forum?  Well....it's best not to bring that up.  My guess is that a quarter of the student population will be amused by the 'fellow' action and even more amused that the college gave status to Manning as some 'expert'.

Who knows....maybe one day....even I will get invited over to Harvard to be a 'Visiting Fellow' for a year.  As long as they provide accommodations....a free breakfast each day (coffee, waffles, and bacon) and free cable TV....I'm up to give a lecture or two on social, technological, and economic ramifications of A-I.

The Thing About Information

I sat this morning and read through a piece from the University of Pennsylvania.  They had some graduate students working on a poll with regular people....seeing how informed they were about important things.

So the questions came out and the poll survey team found that a fair amount of people didn't know much about Constitutional rights.

The numbers say.....37 percent could not name any of the First Amendment five rights.  Freedom of Speech?  Well....that was pretty dismal with almost half the people unable to connect that to the First Amendment.

There are a fair number of people....mostly intellectuals...who walk around and have this idea that everyone should know 88,421 facts on a minute-by-minute basis.  In 1968, if you'd asked folks around Detroit who the Vice-President was....it was a 50-50 chance that they'd know the guy's name.  If you asked about the two Senators from Michigan....it was probably a 33-percent chance that they'd remember his name.  But if you brought up the Detroit Tigers and ten pitchers listed on the team....most guys could name the bulk of the pitching staff.

In the 1970s, if you asked most people how to make French Toast....they'd give you the three-line description.  Today?  Most would say they pull out the toast from the freezer and just heat it up.

People just don't remember things like the experts think.  If you asked about the components to a car, most folks can name the simple things like brakes but if you asked about catalytic converter....they'd have no idea what it does.  If you asked the difference between AM and FM....maybe 50-percent of people would know the difference.  If you asked how a toilet works, with the float....probably only 50-percent can describe this in detail.

Is it important to know the rights?  Sadly, after you finish school....it really doesn't matter.  In fact, for most of us...90-percent of the information we were grilled upon in high school....has no real basis for the next sixty years of our life.  Most of us....would like to keep it that way.