In The Mood….

We are ensconced in our new home in Florida for the Xmas season. If current forecasts hold true it will be 83 on Christmas Day. A little difficult to dream of sugar plums lest they melt all over my bald head. A blazing hearth? Not exactly.

Version 2We do have a glorious tree in the main club house. We put wreaths on our front door and our palm trees are festooned with little white lights. Our house tree, albeit fake, is sitting pretty in the window. The local tree lots are under tents and I can only picture it being a little hot and steamy in there. So what are we to do?

A couple of things strike me. Let’s concentrate on singing and giving. We had a “Bring a Gift” dinner at the club last week replete with the Jensen Beach High School Glee Club. Now JB is not what you would call a booming metropolis so the fact that they could garner 30-40 teens for the fete is somewhat remarkable. The fact they were so good was downright amazing.

The guys were outnumbered 3 to 1 but they made up for it with their spunk. They came in wearing white tie and tails of a sort. The young ladies were dressed in long gowns. There were three or four soloists who sang form the heart and were awesome. As I watched the kids I just saw friendship and a song so sweet. Their director did a masterful job and the ensuing bravos and ovations were more than deserved. How does this goodness happen in our crazy world or is the converse the way it should be?

Kathy was treated to a performance of a different sort. She was one of the ringleaders to assemble gift bags for the Hope Rural School in Indiantown about twenty miles and light years away from us. The big red bags of gifts donated by our members were brought to our garage over a week or so. Then some staff and members brought them by truck to their destination on Wednesday.

The Hope School is amazing, accounting for education of both kids and parents in what can best be described as a migrant town of sorts. The parents work in the fields and their kids are left to two nuns who make this thing work, They cover the three R’s but also family nutrition and a little bit of social graces thrown in. th-2They put on a show for Kathy and her crew and each child and parent came up and said thank you with those dark eyes looking straight into hers as they shook hands. When she got home she was on cloud nine as to what she had witnessed. And that’s a good thing.

Our community is probably considered upper crust by many but not by ourselves. We take charity seriously and in addition to this effort we raise money for a bunch of things from United Way to Hospice to Safe Place, a home for battered women. It really blows you away as to the number of people that not only write checks but get involved as volunteer workers and board members. Who cares whether we are the 1% or 10% it is more than a sometime thing and pretty neat to be part of. I am not trying to brag but we just don’t hear enough about this side of the coin very often.

This whole giving thing is downright rewarding. Since our kids are not here you really don’t have much to do on the shopping lists side. Thank God the Divine Miss K has no real interest in jewelry. Of course one of my daughters will give you,”No Bling No Ring” What can I say? But you do think about little things you can do for people. I looked up generosity and it involves the spirit of giving. The synonyms are generous, ,magnanimous, unselfish, unsparing. Very cool. Antonyms: cheap, parsimonious, penurious, stingy, tight, tightfisted. I guess that pretty much sums it up.

Long story short is that it is really contagious. At first people will look at you with a wary stare with arms tightly folded tightly. “Buzz off TTG. My charity is my own private business.” Then they slowly warm to the idea and say, “What the hell?” Soon after they are in the thick of it and loving it. It is that simple.

There you have it. This year’s message: Music and Charity. Pretty simple The results: Priceless. I am now in the mood.

Merry Christmas to all!!!

As always
Ted The Great45d504c1fc2a39ed4693f084554e5628--christmas-vinyl-plaid-christmas

Factoids:

There were wreaths placed on over 1.5 million deceased soldiers graves this year. The wreaths themselves were to a large part assembled and packed by volunteers. Truck drivers, many working on their own time brought them to cemeteries all over the country.

In 2014 Americans gave over $360 billon to charity. Roughly 3/4 of that was given by individuals. Approximately 25% of the population volunteers their time. 20% more women than men. The highest incidence of helping comes from 35-44 years olds. The more education you have the more you are prone to volunteer.

There are choirs, glee clubs and singing groups in every community throughout the US. I once took a course at University of Denver called, “Find Your Voice”. Way out of my league it was still a ball. I even had to sing solo in the middle of the class. I survived.

th-4Singing is good for you. It releases endorphins, battles depression, anxiety and loneliness. The average shower stall has perfect acoustics to produce a reverb effect that will make you sound great. Enjoy.

 

 

Left To Our Own Designs…

I have a sore back. Nothing drastic but it will require me to be out of commission for a few days. That get’s dangerous for me and as I sat on the back patio smoking a fat one my mind got to wandering. I thought about our quest for perfection in all things and led me to think about now and the future.

510674920We have created Artificial Intelligence(AI), Virtual Reality(VR) and some strange things called BOTs. AI is simply programming computers to act like humans. Algorithms are dreamed up for just about everything to achieve optimal results. We now have portfolios that run automatically. The stock markets today are controlled by machines 90% of the time. They pick up on words, financial results or announcements and act accordingly. Some do very well.

Google et al take a look at your buying but also your thinking patterns. They constantly bombard you with what you like whether is is a pair of socks or a new TV. The news you receive is prioritized as to whether you are liberal, conservative or God forbid moderate. In a sense you are cast in stone. Efficient to say the least but also with a dash of scary thrown in.

IBM’s Watson has revolutionized many things and most interestingly the world of medicine. He or she can can scan thousands of highly technical treatises and digest them into salient bullet points. All in a matter of moments. We now have diagnoses being made and test results scanned with more accuracy than MD’s. It is said in the not too distant future you will walk through a portal in your home every day and it will catch any abnormalities exist. In my case that could really get dangerous.

Taken to its logical end we will have sensors that a doctor or perhaps a machine will analyze and tell you what is wrong with you and how they are going to fix it. A boon for rural medicine and the impoverished. They will send your meds via Amazon or CVS and presto you back on your way to goof health.

 

480894322VR is really out of a Star Wars movie. You put on this headset in which there is created a whole new environment. You won’t have to travel to faraway places because you can experience the Taj Mahal or the Louvre right in your living room. You can watch a football game as if you are right in the huddle. Sunbathing on the French Riviera is a matter of bringing it up on line. You may even smell the ocean breezes or hear the rustling of the palms in your four story walkup in Brooklyn.

In the business world there will no longer be a need for travel. Visiting the grandkids? We can do that without the aggravation of a long car or plane ride. If they bug you, feel free to just cut them off and take it up again at a later date. You don’t have to landscape your property or keep your neighborhood clean because you can project perfection inside your own house. Pick you temperature. Pick your location. Pick your friends. It its going to be great.

 

Lastly are these BOT things. Basically they are robots that play a script based on your reactions. Siri and Alexa are just the beginning. They will be able to smile at you and offer advice. I hope mine looks at me in the mirror and says, “Man you are looking fine today, Mister Ted”
TTG may have to fall by the wayside as my moniker, in that I will just be one of the crowd. Sad but true.

I can see my new environs quite clearly. I will live in a hermetically sealed abode. I won’t need furniture because it is all virtual. I will eat nutritionally perfect meals so I won’t have to worry about my weight. Booze will be out of the question in that as they always say, it is just empty calories. Won’t need a car even if it is electric because I have no need to go out. Won’t play golf as it will all be on a simulator, I won’t workout because those electrodes I am attached to will take care of everything.

There will be no need for human interaction because that too will be passe. Think of it, no flu or sexually transmitted disease. Sexual harassment? A thing of the past. Speaking of sex that is not necessary.  You will be perfectly happy and if you want a kid you just order one to your specifications. Amazon will handle that too. Free shipping included. You will know you have gone over the line When Alexa or Alex as the case may be, starts to look good.

Now if all this sounds depressing we have a BOT for that. Tell me Ted, what is on your mind? Depending on my response I will get canned psychoanalysis. I can’t complain about my golf game because it will all be in my mind’s eye and predetermined. I won’t even have to write my blog. Just pick a topic and away whomever will reel it off. Stop cheering!

There is one major problem. Let’s say a hacker gets on line and wipes out our power grid so my electronic Major Dome shuts down. Even better some rogue nation takes out all the satellites with lasers and we come to a screeching halt,608516150 Or maybe the VR, AI and BOTS all team up and decide they and decide they want to run things.

Crazy? Maybe yes. Maybe no. I just get the feeling all this is like many of the things we take for granted or as pablum served up to us, has to be looked at more carefully. I am sure there are think tanks but at this breakneck speed we may never be able to get in front of it. Then again things will be so good we will probably not know what hit us.

As always
Ted The Great

Factoids;

Facebook announced that their AI can ‘accurately reproduce’ the personalities and behaviours of 85% of their customers. Why do you think they make you type some random letters in to prove are human?

In January 2015, Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and dozens of Artificial Intelligence experts signed an open letter on AI, calling for research on the societal impacts and urging researchers not to create something which cannot be controlled.There is a “Singularity Institute” dedicated to the creation of safe Artificial Intelligence

First time users of Virtual Reality have reported problems related to motion sickness and headaches. This is apparently because their minds are believing that they are moving around, while they are sitting static in a chair or a couch. It is fact that old people in nursing homes love VR. It takes the where they can’t go.

BOTS can be developed to deliver Fake News. They can create whole scenarios out of thin air and have you believing they are true. Just look at “The Donald”.

Power Trips….

I have been off for a couple of weeks and at least a few of you noticed. I have been working on a project here in LaLa Land but it is irrelevant to the conversation. I have written a couple of missives but was not terribly  pleased

sweet-dome-cream-filling-hazelnuts-89906407with the result. With so much going on for topics, I am not sure if I am swimming in a pool of sewage or that I have an array of Godiva chocolates in front of me. Here goes..

It’s easy to pick sexual harassment. As they say everybody’s doing it. Yet I settled in on power as the personification of all this. it is simply the ability to influence or in worst casecoerce people into doing what you want. We need powerful people to get things done.Otherwise we would wander around our desert of life without a Moses in sight.

We have benevolent dictators and ruthless ones. Some take on the mantle of responsibility because it is the right thing to do. Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Abe Lincoln and George Washington come to mind. Even a present day Bill Gates or Warren Buffett fit the mold. Then there are the Trumps, the Clintons, Weinsteins, Lauers and even archbishops who take a turn for the worse. Why? Good question.

How do we ascend to power? As kids there was always a team captain or a lead singer. They probably put the group together. Everyone said ,”Sure,Go for it.” It really comes down to someone coming to the fore. I was going to say it takes balls to step out but I don’t think that would be cool in today’s environment. The debate is endless as to whether leadership is an ingrained trait or an acquired taste.It’s just that certain something that gets people to follow

business-leadership-attributes-features-literature-leader-traits-characteristics-education-mastering-concept-stack-52684724People expert power in different ways.One could earn the respect of their peers and seek consensus. On the other hand you could just bury the opposition unmercifully.Never let’em up for air. Perhaps become the leader from hell and get what you want by bluster and bravado. Lastly you could be a hulking figure either physically or financially that assumes the acquiescence of all. But the real deal is when you get there and how you handle yourself.

Power can be intoxicating. As you climb the ranks people start to hold you in some sort of awe. People are kissing your ass. They are kissing your feet. You start to believe your press releases. You begin to distance yourself from the everyday hoi polloi. You know better. After all if you weren’t so smart how could you have gotten here? Even if your word isn’t gospel nobody is going to stand up to you. That trait I hate so much called arrogance, becomes your persona. You speak for your department and then your company. Before long it is your industry and you are the fide king or queen of the hill.

It is said that power is liberating. No longer having to conform you are now calling the shots. The rules don’t apply you. You are forming your own brand of ethics. The air of invincibility is fueled by the huzzahs of sycophants. As you become more and more withdrawn from the real world your perspective completely changes. You embrace the literati and cognoscenti. You, your spouse, and your children are above it all. Dalliances? Why not? Your subjects are mere pawns to serve you faithfully. Cheating on taxes? C’mon TTG, it is merely creative accounting. Besides you have minions of lawyers and pr people to deflect any corrective action.

Am I overstating my point? I dunno. This last election had the Left and East Coast thinking they had it all figured out. What does Middle America know? The Ins have a clear sense of everything and the public be damned. You see it not only in Washington and state capitals but in everyday life from city councils to HOA’s. We even have it in our own families where a mom or dad is all powerful or all hail the patriarch. Do as I say not as I do.

corruption-concept-business-man-take-stack-money-envelo-envelope-37264618People have gotten away with sexual harassment and political chicanery for years if not centuries. Bullies and blowhards can prevail until someone speaks up. Therein lies the counterbalance. People are compliant until they feel they have been pushed too far or God forbid they start doing their homework.Ignorance is bliss and also a subtle form of submission. We shrug our shoulders and feign indifference or impassivity. The tyrants dazzle you with bullshit. You and I are at fault. We have all seen things amiss and looked the other way.

 

If you dig deep and understand your world you can argue effectively. As you dwell upon a concept, ideas and structures appear in your mind and if well thought out will appeal to some but not all. Then an amalgam of credos creates a more sensible approach that works for most. I think that is the way democracy is supposed to work.

We then demand transparency beyond closed doors. A scary concept called accountability keeps most if not everyone honest. This is for senators, corporate suits, pastors and school principals. Society can’t exist without constraints. Left to their own designs at the public trough of whatever sort, people are going to overindulge. That is the folly of man but no one says we have to accept it as a given.

We need leaders but we don’t need egomaniacs. How do we put up with this without even a whimper? Go ahead. Don’t get involved. Don’t read beyond the comics or sports pages. Look the other way. Don’t rock the boat. Tons of people know about the slugs and say nothing. Is this a watershed? Probably not although it should be. Spare time and stock markets have a way of numbing people’s minds and their consciences.

As always
Ted The Great

Factoids:

restraining-order-document-name-98661684 In heterosexual relationships, most abuse happens to women by their male partners. Emotional abuse, like physical abuse, is used to control, demean, harm or punish a woman. While the forms of abuse may vary, the end result is the same – a woman is fearful of her partner and changes her behaviour to please him or be safe from harm.

On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime

On a trip I had a discussion with the Inspector General for Health and Human Services. I marveled at his statistics. I cringed at his conclusion:” The greatest danger to our civilization is corruption!”

People do not speak up because:They don’t feel their opinion is valued, they fear ridicule or recrimination or because they feel it doesn’t do any good.

On more than one occasion in our soon to be 47 years of marriage my wife has fired back at me,”Don’t give me orders. I am not one of your men” Good Point!