Archive for August, 2011

After a TechCrunch article writer by Sarah Lacy posted August 22, 2011

A few months ago Sarah Lacy, a TechCrunch.com writerwas giving a talk in her hometown of Memphis, TN, and someone asked what the city could do to ignite more entrepreneurship among inner city kids. Her immediate answer was to teach coding– even basic app building skills– along with English and Math in every public school. She was surprised that her brother– an engineer who worked for many years in Silicon Valley before relocating to the Midwest– didn’t necessarily agree.

The thing is that while this is a first level issue of who gets the jobs needed in coding – foreign or domestic coders, it occurred to me that we are in the 30th year or so of serious code writing and it has had some unanticipated consequences.  The changes in the world that have been brought about by the Internet and technology have changed what is done by people.  Now, more and more what is done is done by software applied to different technologies.  The world of TechCrunch and other quasi-geek clusters are alive and well due to the prevalence of algorithms.  They are the workers in a mired of different ways today.

They paint the cars, cut the steel, do the book binding, print the content, answer the phone and a zillion other things that we all used to do.  In a cumulative way the jobs that were are now being done by technology just like was the case when ol’ Ned Lud (see emphatic published accounts for the most favorite spelling…) brought to mythical status between 1779 and 1812 that changes in British textile practices were coming to a screeching halt.

No, I am not being Luddite here.  I am simply pointing out that, when all the talking heads whine and moan about this political union or that political union not producing jobs for the reconstitution of the economy, they should take note; the jobs in the past that went away aren’t coming back.   Many of them aren’t coming back due to being  long overdue to be absorbed before the downturn and no one – or not many, took notice.

Instead of asking for someone else to provide jobs, it is time to create jobs based on that uncomfortable situation that we find ourselves in every 70-90 years.  Change has overtaken the status quo.  Now we need to create jobs that machines can’t do – yet.  That is, jobs involving organizing communities, infrastructure, law, education and human-care… for children, for families in transition, for elders and for soldiers who are brought back and deposited on the steps of America.  They were taught how to do what was necessary to what they had to do to survive.  Nowhere is the training they get any better for that purpose.  Now however, they have done that under duress, for double tours, etc. etc. etc.  To be spit out by those that trained them as worn out and disposable civilians with defects without the slightest bit of care on how to survive reestablish domestic values, is despicable.  Software and algorithms can’t pull that off.  We can if we stop waiting for someone else to do something we favor or don’t find dogmatically repugnant.

HP’s decision to go big and purchase the U.K.’s Autonomy Corp., and probably other players doesn’t seem so ridiculous under a ‘software good – hardware sad’ scenario, does it.

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Guest Writer Ron Williams again… Attorney, Businessman and Citizen

It is clear to even the most casual observer that the sole political agenda of the Republican Party is to prevent the reelection of Pres. Barack Obama. It is equally clear that it is the absolute, single-minded focus of the Far Right of the Republican Party to prevent the reelection of a Black Man, any black, as President of the United States.

Thus, for nearly two years, as the President negotiated health-care with the Republican Party, those negotiations were futile, because no matter what would have been offered by this President the answer from this Republican Party would have been “no”. It is clear that no matter what initiative this President put forward, the Republican Party answer would always have been “no.”

And today, we see the Republican Party, and in particular the Far Right portion of that party, deciding to attach items on their political agenda to the debt ceiling bill as a means to further weaken the president and as a means to move their political agenda forward. As a political strategy, the move is almost brilliant. They were able to attack Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security (three programs that the Republican Party has been attempting to repeal sent each of them were first adopted) while at the same time further demonstrating the weakness of this President.

The mistake President Obama continues to make is to attempt to negotiate substantive programs with a group of people whose agenda is not to negotiate on those programs, but to attack the man himself. They will never negotiate to yes until they have used the so-called negotiations to attack the President (demonstrating his weakness) and until they have also gotten what concessions they otherwise wanted.

I predicted when this whole debt limit “crisis” began that the Republican Party would string this out until the end of July, after they had extracted significant concessions from the President and the Democratic Party, that is they had gotten as much as they could based on the time limit left. I am being somewhat facetious when I suggest that if these negotiations continued much longer, President Obama would eventually have negotiated away the entire Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid programs.

It is telling that the Republican Party started these negotiations stating that there could be no revenue increasing tax changes that would affect the wealthy. And that exactly where they ended. How can you have negotiations when one side gives up nothing in the other side makes all the concessions? That because their whole purpose of the Republican Party was to use the debt ceiling issue as a means of moving their political agenda forward with demonstrating their basic weakness of President Obama. And the Democratic Party and this President let them.

What Barack Obama should have said to the first overture from the Far Right that they would not agree to raise the debt ceiling unless there were major cuts to the various social programs, was “no.” He should have simply stated that he would veto any legislation that came across his desk that did anything other than simply raise the debt ceiling. And then stopped negotiating. Whenever they said “well let’s talk about this,” his response should have been “there is nothing to talk about.”

The President should have said, “I’ve told you my position. Congress, you do what you feel you need to do. If you want to pass legislation that has provisions other than raising the national debt attached to it, do so. I will veto it. And if you choose to then put the full faith and credit of the United States government at risk because you want to attach non-relevant politically motivated subject matter on what should be otherwise routine legislation, do so, but I will not be a party to this game-playing”.

If he had said that from day one, and then stuck to his guns,, this so-called crisis would’ve gone way. Then should he want to discuss modification of Medicare, Medicaid and/or Social Security that could have been done in conversation along with tax code changes.

The president has got to learn to stand up. If he doesn’t he will be a one term president. As it is, he is losing his base and maybe a one term president in any event. It may already be too late.

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With all the hyped and real charisma that can be mustered concerning a NFL Hall of Fame enshrinement, two of my favorites were inducted last week.   Yes, some of the presentations were better than others but it may be that way based on which player was your favorite person to follow or scorn.   You saw it all on TV.  You were treated to the stories, the emotions, the commitments and sometimes the confessions that came forth.  Almost to a person, each claimed that they were who was now standing in front of that elite group, family, friends and invited quests due to the hardships they experienced and overcame along the way.

Here are some of the statements from Deion Sanders:

“I made a pledge to myself.  I don’t care what it takes.  I’m not going to do anything illegal.  But my mama is never going to have to work another day of her life someday.”

“When you told me what I couldn’t do; when you told me what I didn’t do; when you told me what I’d never be, I saw …”

There were equally compelling statements by Shannon Sharp and sometimes even poetic descriptions of living in poverty in a leaking cinderblock house in Glennville, Georgia, where his existence was hard, unforgiving and marginalized:

“I didn’t want my kids to live one hour in the life that I had, let alone a day.  … [I] got them to a life they never would’ve enjoyed had it not been for that” [the costs to his family…]

No, there was going to be no country cooked raccoon, opossum, squirrel and turtle. He committed then and there that…

“I’m not gonna have to eat that when I become an adult.”

And he didn’t.  He committed at an early age that his family would never have a reason to endure that level of despair and poverty.  And they didn’t ever have to.  Both these heroes of mine made millions and provided for mothers, grandmothers, sisters, wives, brothers and friends in ways that made certain those individuals would not have to do what he did… to experience the elevated status that both were now experiencing.

But the power of consequences of those commitments was lost on their self-congratulation and entitlement.  I was hoping they heard their own voices but the lights were bright and those sitting there on folding chairs may not have sensed their missed opportunity, not of experiencing poverty but of commitment and dedication.

Each person in the audience that was provided for by these athletes would never know the thrill of victory or the despair from a loss.  No one wants to have that poverty and no one wants their children or family to struggle against all odds.
They hadn’t been ‘robbed’ by being provided for but in most ways their chance at learning and achieving great success was ‘short-circuited’.    There they were, Deion and Shannon, the pillars of self-reliance and perseverance having learned, struggled, and found success now entitling others to watch rather than start doing early and do what they did to succeed. Not necessarily football but anything…

Experiencing the consequences of commitment, focus and dedication is what the Hall of Fame members in all sports share.  Deion got the closest to describing the formula for his success by providing the components for “Prime.”  But, the $1500 plane ride to hear someone talk about how they prevailed is transitory and is known to induce a stupor similar to that of being stoned.

It was how Deion and Shannon handled the consequences of their struggles, their focus and their perseverance that got them there and nothing else.  It is what they did…  It would have been nice to know both understood that and to hear them say it loud so the fans that idolize them could hear it clearly that nothing is free and everything each of us values comes with a price.     Maybe next year.


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