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Archive for December, 2018

2018 GOVERNMENT REPORT CARD

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 28, 2018

BRYCE ON POLITICS

– How I graded our federal government this year.

Click for AUDIO VERSION.
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

As 2018 comes to a close, I thought I would grade how our federal government did this past year, and ask if we truly got our money’s worth:

115th Congress – Grade=D – Blew it due to weak leadership; should have done much more. The Brett Kavanaugh hearing was an embarrassing political nightmare we didn’t need. Congress let the country down on immigration reform, health care and financial responsibility. Then again, what’s new? Now it’s the Democrats’ turn to show their incompetence. As Will Rogers said, “We all joke about Congress but we can’t improve on them. Have you noticed that no matter who we elect, he is just as bad as the one he replaces?”

President – Grade=A – Did great considering he had to work under extreme pressure from an incompetent Congress, a resistance movement delaying his every move, and a news media bent on his destruction. Mr. Trump proved to be a worthy adversary to push back against his detractors, something few presidents knew how to do. The Mueller investigation proved itself to be a witch hunt and that we were investigating the wrong people. President Trump persevered and made inroads in appointing judges, a Supreme Court justice and new appointments for his administration, revising trade agreements and stoking the economy, and keeping his campaign promises, something he received little credit for.

Supreme Court – Grade=A – Finally back to a full court, but remains somewhat partisan, always will be. They ruled on such things as the Presidential Travel Ban, Immigration, Internet Sales Taxes, Voting Rights, Gay Rights and Religion, Sports Betting and more. Nothing earth-shattering, but they did their job without much fanfare.

News Media – Grade=F – as in “F”ake News. The “F”ourth Estate has let the American people down due to their partisanship and hatred of the president. Americans no longer trust the press and desperately seek information from other sources, including social media. As in 2016, the political polls again let us down and were incapable of predicting accurate results. For those concerned with collusion, start with the relationship between the news media and polls.

Happy New Year and let us hope 2019 is better. Frankly, I am not holding my breath as we will likely experience two years of Congressional gridlock, as the Democrats continue to resist the President. God only knows when the government will reopen.

Bottom-line: No, I do not believe the country got it’s money’s worth from the government this year. Our political polarity is preventing us from achieving greatness. The time is rapidly approaching when we must morally decide what interpretation of America is proper, left or right.

Again, quoting Will Rogers, “Last year we said, ‘Things can’t go on like this’, and they didn’t, they got worse.”

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2018 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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2018 YEAR-END WRAP-UP

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 20, 2018

BRYCE ON BRYCE

– My most popular columns and audio segments this year.

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To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

This is my last column for the year as I prepare to enjoy the holidays and rest up for 2019. As has become customary, I’m using this opportunity to review my top essays from the past year.

As you know, I write on a variety of subjects, such as management, systems, technology, social issues, politics, and observations of our changing world. Sometimes my work is instructional and informative, other times it is controversial or humorous. I certainly hope it isn’t boring. By the number of subscribers I have, their comments, and the hits I have on my web site alone, I do not believe this is the case.

Since this was an election year, most of my top articles were political in nature. What follows is based on my “hits” by my readers.

My top columns for the year were:

1. THE ELEMENTS OF SOCIALIZATION (May 3) – This was far and away my most popular column, not just in America but overseas as well, particularly in India and, No, it wasn’t political in nature.

2. 2018: AS FLORIDA GOES, SO GOES THE COUNTRY (Nov 5) – This was published the day before the midterm elections, which perhaps explains its popularity.

3. 2018 AMENDMENTS TO THE FLORIDA CONSTITUTION (Sep 13) – This was one of the few articles available which attempted to clearly explain the Florida legislation. It was heavily referenced during election time.

4. CHINKS APPEAR IN THE DEMOCRATS’ ARMOR (Sep 26) – Unlike the main stream media, this column was one of the few to note the weaknesses in the Democrats prior to the election.

5. FAREWELL TAMPA BAY TIMES (Apr 10) – This explained my rationale for cancelling my subscription to “Florida’s Best Newspaper.”

6. WHY ARE THE DEMOCRATS TURNING TO SOCIALISM? (Jul 10) – Discussed how the party had turned even further left than before, going well beyond “Progressives.”

7. THE POLITICAL EPIPHANY OF #WalkAway (Jul 19) – Described a new movement of people turning away from the Democrats as it is believed the party betrayed their trust.

8. THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LOSERS (Aug 21) – A sports piece describing problems with the NFL.

9. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO VOTE FOR THE DEMOCRATS IN NOVEMBER? (Oct 4) – describes the dangers involved with voting for the Democrats.

10. A NEW DIGITAL DIVIDE (Aug 7) – Discusses the adverse effects of technology on reading and writing.

HONORABLE MENTION

ARE DEMOCRATS EVIL? (Oct 10) – raises an area of concern by Democrats concerned with how they are depicted.

THE 2018 ELECTIONS ARE OVER, NOW WHAT? (Nov 8) – Some predictions following the 2018 midterms.

SAYONARA HUFFINGTON POST (Feb 5) – describes why I left the publication.

AUDIO SEGMENTS ON YOUTUBE

I provide an audio version of most of my columns for those people on the go, courtesy of YouTube. I would like to believe people listen to me at the gym or beach, but more realistically, people tend to tune in while they are traveling or at work. Interestingly, the popularity of my audio segments is not the same as my written columns.

1. THE POLITICAL EPIPHANY OF #WalkAway (Jul 19) – this was very popular among members of the movement, hence its high rating here.

2. PRIDE RENEWAL TOUR (Apr 25) – I was particularly glad to see this become popular as it was based on a seminar I gave regarding morality earlier this year. Highlights from the program are included.

3. IN PRAISE OF POLKA MUSIC (May 17) – I was pleased to see this off-beat column get recognition. It was just plain fun to do.

4. CHINKS APPEAR IN THE DEMOCRATS’ ARMOR (Sep 26) – this segment, like the written version, did very well. Unlike the main stream media, this was one of the few to note the weaknesses in the Democrats prior to the election.

5. MAYHEM IN THE WHITE HOUSE? (Sep 12) – Provides an explanation of why the Democrats attack President Trump.

6. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO VOTE FOR THE DEMOCRATS IN NOVEMBER? (Oct 4) – This did equally well as the written version. It describes the dangers involved with voting for the Democrats.

7. THE BOSTON GLOBE CALLS FOR WAR AGAINST TRUMP (Aug 15) – Describes the campaign created by the Boston Globe to have the main stream media attack President Trump.

8. WHAT OTHER FRATERNITIES CAN TEACH FREEMASONRY (Feb 9) – An unusual piece aimed at making suggestions for improving Freemasonry.

9. TIME TO END THE MUELLER INVESTIGATION (Dec 4) – A recent segment urging an end to this colossal waste of time.

10. WHY ARE THE DEMOCRATS TURNING TO SOCIALISM? (Jul 10) – Another segment which complemented the written version. It discusses how the party had turned even further left than before, going well beyond “Progressives.”

HONORABLE MENTION

CNN’S JIM ACOSTA BUTTS HEADS WITH THE PRESIDENT (Nov 9) – Discussed the incident which caused Acosta being banned from the White House.

I will be on sabbatical for awhile until I am ready to get back in the saddle.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2018 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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CHASING APRONS

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 19, 2018

BRYCE ON NONPROFITS

– What is more important, the institution or our vanity?

Click for AUDIO VERSION.
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

As a follow-up to my recent column on “Do Just One Thing,” I want to describe another problem involving nonprofit organizations, and that is “Chasing Aprons.” This is an expression derived from Freemasonry, the ancient fraternity. For those unfamiliar with the Craft, it is customary for Masons to wear a plain white leather apron at our meetings, symbolizing the aprons worn by workmen years ago. We are admonished there is nothing more ancient or honorable than the plain white apron, yet there are other more decorative aprons awarded as gifts to Masonic officers. Over the years, such aprons have become coveted as a means of identifying a Mason of influence. Unfortunately, some Masons desperately pursue these ornate aprons only to denote their authority, not for accomplishing anything of substance, hence the expression “Chasing Aprons.”

The Masons are not alone in this regards as I have seen similar situations in other nonprofit groups. For example, I remember attending a party when I moved into my neighborhood and a man approached me with some swagger saying, “Hi, I’m John Doe, President of the homeowner association” (it was kind of like, “Hi, I’m the Head Raccoon”). He winked at me, then turned away to glad hand someone else. Frankly, I burst out laughing as he thought he was impressing me. In reality, this same gentleman ran the homeowner association right into the ground and nearly bankrupted it.

At some of the I.T. related associations I was involved in, there would be the usual officer titles, such as President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer, but then there are higher titles such as “Division Director” as you now oversaw several chapters as opposed to just one. There are other names for this, such as “District Deputy” or “Inspector,” but you get the idea. Such titles denote a loftier position and are either given to people to perform a legitimate responsibility or awarded as gifts to cronies.

I have seen people “Chasing Aprons” in just about every nonprofit group I’ve been involved in, be it fraternal, political, professional, educational, even in sports clubs, such as those related to baseball, softball, football and soccer.

I have found people who covet such titles tend to be more consumed with the title, and less about the responsibility associated with it. This is essentially no different than in business where people yearn for a job title for political reasons as it will look good on a resume. I tend to see such people as rather shallow. They never accomplished anything of substance in their life, so the appeal for recognition through titles and aprons is irresistible to them. Whenever I run into people like this, who obviously don’t know what they are doing, I tell others to give the person the title or apron and get them out of the way as they will only inhibit progress.

As an aside, I wonder how many people would volunteer their service if there wasn’t a title or apron involved? It would be an interesting experiment to see if people care more about the institution they belong to or are in it for themselves.

Obviously, this is all about the human ego. In Freemasonry, we are taught the importance of the title of “Brother” as it is a fraternity, a Brotherhood. There are many other impressive sounding titles associated with the Masons, but nothing more important than the simple designation of “Brother” and the plain white leather apron.

Just remember, being called a “thoroughbred” doesn’t change the fact that a jackass is a jackass.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2018 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

Posted in Life, Management, Social Issues | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

DO JUST ONE THING

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 18, 2018

BRYCE ON NONPROFITS

– What can be done to rebuild declining nonprofit institutions?

Click for AUDIO VERSION.
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

When I travel around town these days, I often run into old friends and neighbors who know my background regarding nonprofit organizations (I served on +50 board of directors over the years), and they like to unload their frustrations on me. For example:

* The president of a homeowner association complained he had to serve a second term simply because they couldn’t find anyone interested in serving on the board and perform some relatively simple tasks. Consequently, they were forced to hire a management company to perform these tasks and the annual dues skyrocketed. Operating an HOA is certainly not rocket science, but if nobody is willing to perform these simple tasks, then they have to be delegated to an outside contractor.

* A local club for a major political party is also having problems attracting people to their Board of Directors. Further, not long ago, participation in parades was well attended and gave the club visibility in the community. This year, they could only attract four people to walk in the Xmas parade, an embarrassingly low number.

* Masonic lodges continue to shrink in size in my area. Instead of addressing the root cause of their problems, membership continues to diminish, and Lodge funds are being drained to maintain aging building structures. It’s just a matter of time before they disappear just like the Odd Fellows did in our area.

* Information Technology related associations for adults have disappeared. Back in the day, professional trade groups enjoyed a major presence in cities, such as the Association for Systems Management (ASM), the Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP; formerly DPMA), and the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). Today, these groups are non-existent in the Tampa Bay area (as well as my old stomping grounds in Cincinnati). ACM does maintain student related chapters, but nothing for adults in my area. Other trade groups are experiencing similar problems.

* Attendance at local churches are down. So much so, some have been running in the red for quite a while and are faced with tough decisions for cutting costs, including the firing of pastors. Further, due to lack of participation, the elders have to serve multiple terms.

* Volunteers for public schools are hard to come by these days, not only for general school activities, but for local Parent Teacher Associations (PTA), and School Advisory Councils (SAC).

* Little League programs have shrunk noticeably. In my area alone, children participating have dropped over 50% over the last few years.

It kind of sounds contagious, doesn’t it? So many different nonprofit organizations with similar problems.

In many cases, nonprofits are run by well meaning people who have some time on their hands, yet haven’t a clue as to how to run a business. Consequently, the execution of simple procedures are neglected, e.g.; the preparation of meeting agendas and budgets, issuing routine treasurer reports, auditing finances, or keeping accurate minutes and membership records. For a list of tasks, see my earlier article, “Managing a Nonprofit Organization.”

I guess I have become somewhat of a therapist on such problems as people continue to confide in me. I try to advise them accordingly, but the sad truth is the people running these organizations are frustrated and exhausted. They desperately want to hand the baton off to others, but there is nobody there.

Now and then in nonprofits, someone with a business background comes in, takes the bull by the horns, and does a good job with an assignment. The problem is, it is assumed the person will do it again next year, and possibly for eternity. With rare exception, this is not what people signed up for. To overcome this problem, ask the person to document the steps they used while they were in charge, perhaps through checklists, thereby documenting the procedure for future reference. The person thereby passes this knowledge on to the group overall, and someone else can perform the responsibility. Bottom-line, execution is fairly easy assuming planning is competently performed.

From my perspective, there are three fundamental problems facing nonprofits:

1. Apathy by both the officers and membership who genuinely do not believe a problem exists. The old maxim applies: “You cannot treat a patient if he doesn’t know he is sick.” Such apathy suggests incompetent leadership from the Board of Directors.

As an aside, I tend to believe our excessive use of personal technology shares part of the blame in terms of apathy as people are more imbued with their technology and are losing socialization skills, including volunteering their services.

2. Organizations are stuck in a rut of repetition. They have been doing it wrong for so long, they believe it is right. Instead of making the programs meaningful and interesting, there is little or no imagination to adapt and improve. Again, this suggests incompetence by the Board of Directors.

3. Failure to recruit and train people to succeed the current administration. People today are less inclined to volunteer as in the past. Now, is the time to personally ask for assistance, indoctrinate them in one aspect, and empower them to conquer problems. Start by asking people to serve on committees. To get the ball rolling, simply make a list of committees and tasks, and get everyone’s name on it. To gain their commitment, have them sign their name.

As to this last point of recruiting support, during my talks to such groups I generally admonish all of the attendees to “Do just one thing.” This is derived from Billy Crystal’s movie, “City Slickers,” whereby Curley (Jack Palance) tells Billy’s character the meaning of life involves “Just One Thing” which we must all figure out for ourselves. In terms of nonprofit organizations, I think I have an answer:

If all members did “Just One Thing” for their club, it would be a better place. I am not suggesting we do anything extremely labor intensive; perhaps it is something as simple as being a greeter at the door, preparing name tags, attending a meeting or social function, helping to write letters, or just helping out in some simple way. If we all did “Just One Thing,” the institution overall would be a better place.

Something that might help is the creation of a “Member of the Year” competition based on points for service, and award prizes or special recognition at the end of the year for their service. It sounds trivial, but people react to such competitions. Simply devise a list of activities with related points, and have people notify an officer of their activities.

Where is it written the club Officers must do all of the work? Sure, they have many responsibilities, but it is the job of the officers to formulate objectives and set the membership to work towards some goals. I am amazed by those members who come to such clubs and are not happy with this or that. For example, how often have you seen a member criticize the club, yet make no attempt to lift a finger to help out? We have developed into a generation of “takers” as opposed to “givers,” and this has to stop. Before you criticize next time, figure out how YOU are going to help solve the problem. Do not be part of the problem, be part of the solution.

I guess the following quote sums it up:

“People can be divided into three groups: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened.” – John W. Newbern

It is up to the membership, not just the Board of Directors, to each share in the responsibility of making our clubs successful. If we all did “JUST ONE THING,” be it large or small, think how far ahead we will be.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2018 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

Posted in Life, Social Issues | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

WHY POLITICAL POLARITY?

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 17, 2018

BRYCE ON POLITICS

– The irresistible force versus the immovable object.

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To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

In the political polarity of America today, neither side trusts the other, Left or Right, thus making it impossible to compromise or reason together, leaving us with more than just a Congress in gridlock, but the whole country as well. The two perspectives of America are truly incompatible and requires some explanation.

Liberals are at a complete loss as to why anyone would support President Trump. As one reader recently wrote to me, “I want to know if any of the crimes Trump is alleged to have committed, the factual information coming forth, the involvement of his family and the blatant lies he told and continues to tell has any bearing on your unwavering support of the man?”

Conversely, conservatives do not understand why others do not support the President. As another reader wrote, “The American voters that voted for the Communist Democrats are the traitors to our country, and the rest of us true Americans.”

The polarity of the two sides is such that neither understands the other, nor cares to.

As another example, on December 11th (2018), President Trump and Vice President Pence met with Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer in the White House to discuss a Congressional spending bill to include $5 billion in funding to accelerate building of the southern wall. Both Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer steadfastly refused to agree to it in front of television cameras. In fact, they felt awkward discussing it in such a venue. The President made it clear he would unashamedly close the federal government if he doesn’t get the money to tighten border security. The Democrats tried to browbeat the President by making the point that Mr. Trump would be solely responsible for the shutdown, not the Democrats. The President readily conceded the point with the caveat he would be doing so to protect our border and the citizens of this country, something his Congressional opponents are not willing to do.

Afterwards, Republicans applauded the president’s handling of the meeting by seeking “transparency” in front of the cameras, something the Democrats obviously felt uncomfortable doing. The Right saw the president on top of his game and outfoxed his opponents as any other businessman would do.

Liberals didn’t see it this way. Instead, the President was characterized as a bully throwing an indignant temper tantrum. His character and intelligence was again questioned, and he was described as a megalomaniac, as well as all the other usual derogatory adjectives du jour.

Democrats are quick to accuse the President of improprieties resulting from the Mueller investigation, regardless if it is true or not. Republicans see the investigation as a frivolous political distraction since nothing of substance has yet to be produced. Democrats want the investigation to continue unabated for as long as possible. Republicans have had enough and want it shut down.

Again, both sides simply do not understand the position of the other, nor wants to.

So, why the difference?

First, Democrats are more inclined to accept the news emanating from the media. Regardless if it is right or wrong, it is embraced as unbiased and factual, and is parroted as such, except that resulting from Fox News which is perceived as fallacious. The Republicans, on the other hand, are more skeptical and do not trust the news media at all, least of all print journalism, which is all perceived as an organ of the Democrats, certainly not fair and balanced. They believe the media is following a political agenda, which involves spinning the news, not accurately reporting it. Consequently, the only news they believe in is that which they see or hear themselves first-hand.

Second, Democrats have become past masters of Identity Politics. If you do not agree with their position on an issue, you are vilified as either a racist, xenophobe, homophobe, Fascist, or just not smart enough to understand what is really happening in the world. In turn, Republicans see their opposites as anti-patriotic anarchists bent on destroying the country. They consider the members of the Left as the true racists who will cheat at all costs to win an election.

And third, the platforms of Left and Right are as different as night and day. Ultimately, it is based on our interpretation of morality; what is right and what is wrong:

Left versus Right –

* Anti-Capitalists versus anti-Socialists.
* Agnostic versus Religious.
* Control of rights (e.g., free speech and guns) versus protecting the Bill of Rights.
* Free entitlements versus prosperity through hard work.
* Big government versus small government.
* Globalization versus Nationalism.
* Political correctness versus Results orientation.

Yes, our differences are based on our fundamental belief of morality; always has been. As fervently strong as Democrats believe in their interpretation of America, Republicans feel equally strong. Neither side is willing to acknowledge they are wrong, nor apologize for it; they are absolutely convinced they are correct, not their opposition. This belief in right versus wrong explains why there can never be any compromise.

It is this fundamental sense of morality which is responsible for the irresistible force versus immovable object in American culture today, as well as in the world. Unless one side conquers the other, we will have gridlock for many more years to come, assuming we do not kill ourselves first.

Just remember, in a contest of stubbornness, man will beat the jackass every time.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2018 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

WE LIVE IN A PROGRAMMER’S WORLD

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 13, 2018

BRYCE ON TECHNOLOGY

– Their perspective affects us all greatly.

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To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Recently, I was putting up some outdoor Christmas lights and, wanting to schedule when they would turn on and off at night, I tried to adjust a timer to suit my needs. I didn’t have an instruction booklet, just the timer. I had worked with many timers over the years, but this one gave me fits in trying to set it. What I believed to be On/Off switches, of course, didn’t work. Then I noticed the lights went on and off mysteriously. I tried many variations of the settings, but nothing seemed to work. Feeling stumped, I thought back to something my father told me years ago, “You have to remember, this was designed by programmers, and they don’t think like the rest of us do.” I then applied reverse logic to the settings and “Voila!” it worked perfectly.

I had a similar problem with a new TV remote control which appeared to be simple in layout but wasn’t intuitive to use, requiring a learning curve for both my wife and myself. We have had it for a few months now but still do not understand its full functionality, but we limp along with what we’ve got.

Then there is the problem with my wireless PC printer. Not long ago, the Internet network in our neighborhood was recently knocked out. After service was restored, my main printer failed to recognize my wireless network. To solve the problem I pulled out the original installation CD and ran it. During the process, it couldn’t find our wireless network. Following the instructions, I tried to enter the data myself (with great precision I might add), but to no avail. The only way I could get it to work was to re-attach an old USB printer cable directly to my PC which remains there to this day. I thought this was incredibly odd as my network was working fine and communicating with other devices, but not my printer. This was something that should have taken a couple of minutes to correct, but turned into a two hour headache.

There are many other stories I’m sure you can relate to, but I think you get the point.

What these situations demonstrate is that we live in a programmer’s world. Devices that should be intuitive to use are complicated, seemingly by design. Having worked in the Information Technology sector for over thirty years, I have learned programmers will typically do what is easiest for them to program, not what is best for the end-user. This ultimately means humans are the ones truly being programmed, not the technology, as we have to adapt to awkward devices, not the other way around.

Many years ago I wrote a paper titled, “Theory P: The Philosophy of Managing Programmers” which attempted to explain how programmers think and how to manage them in the process. This ignited a tempest of protests from the programming community accusing me of defamation of character. In re-reading the column today, I stand by my observations and believe they are correct.

Among my comments, I contended, “There is also the problem that programmers tend to be somewhat faddish. It is not uncommon for them to recommend a solution that is technically fashionable, not necessarily what’s practical. An elegant solution to the wrong problem solves nothing.”

We have to remember, programmers are detailists consumed with their small part of a much larger puzzle. As such, they will not necessarily devise something to the end-user’s satisfaction, just their own. This explains why they require proper direction, or they will inevitably invent a devise that will either be difficult to use or cause the human to change to adapt to it, thereby causing strange operating habits or social foibles, such as our dependencies to answer smart phones like Pavlov’s dog or while driving around town, thereby creating a traffic hazard. Whichever it is, I resent having to apply reverse logic to get something to work.

I think my father was right, programmers really do not think like the rest of us do. Unfortunately, we’re stuck in their world, and we have allowed them to call the shots.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2018 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

Posted in Technology | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

MY TALK ON CITIZENSHIP REDUX

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 11, 2018

BRYCE ON POLITICS

– Some thoughts on how to promote citizenship in America.

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To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

This is an updated version of a column I wrote some time ago. There’s a book recommendation at the end which would make a great holiday gift for a young person in High School or College.

I was recently asked to give a lecture on “Citizenship” at a local Masonic Lodge. Drawing from a couple of my past columns, I assembled the following short talk:

My biggest concern regarding citizenship pertains to how we teach history and civics in this country. In some High Schools, “American History” runs from World War II to the present. This means students are not learning such things as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and Bill of Rights, the Civil War, the Louisiana Purchase, Lewis and Clark, Prohibition, the League of Nations, and much more. In other words, they only discuss the last 77 years, and not the events leading up to the founding of our country and the turmoils we had to endure. As an aside “World History” is now just World War I to the present. So much for the ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Romans, Marco Polo, the Magna Carta, Ferdinand Magellan, Alexander the Great, et al. I presume they had no bearing on our civilization.

Such ignorance of our history caused famed historian David McCullough to observe, “We are raising a generation that is historically illiterate and have a very sketchy, thin knowledge of the system on which our entire civilization is based on. It is regrettable and dangerous.”

We are also not educating youth properly in terms of “Civics”; understanding our responsibilities as citizens, such as voting, serving on a jury, how legislation is enacted, or what is included in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. No wonder young people do not grasp the significance of such things as the Electoral College, the structure of our government, or what their rights are.

Naivety and ignorance leads to apathy at the ballot box. In the 2016 elections, only 57.9% of the citizens voted (over 90 million didn’t vote at all). This is a pitiful figure when you compare it to other democracies like Australia, India, and the Scandinavian countries. Surprisingly, this was the highest voting percentage in the United States since 1968 (60.8%). The highest in recent history was in 1960 (63.1%) for the Kennedy/Nixon election. Even though Millennials (ages 18-35) are now the largest potential voting block, they continue to have the lowest voter turnout of any age group.

It is sad when legal immigrants understand the workings of the government and history better than native born Americans. Maybe all citizens should take the same oath naturalized citizens do. Since 1778, immigrants coming to this country have had to pass a test and take an oath swearing their allegiance to the United States. The current oath is as follows:

“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”

Not surprising, immigrants coming through this program tend to appreciate this country and are more loyal than native born Americans. Another cause for this could be because there is less emphasis on teaching American government and history in the schools than in years past. As such, the importance of being a citizen has not been impressed upon our youth.

So, as a proposal, how about administering a modified version of the immigration oath to all native born Americans, perhaps on July 4th? Better yet, how about Constitution/Citizenship Day on September 17th? All that is necessary is to simply modify the first sentence of the Immigration Oath; to wit:

“I hereby declare, on oath, that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”

Parents could give the oath to their children, thereby turning it into a family tradition; civic organizations and local governments could administer it in public group settings, or perhaps some other venue. Maybe even the media could get involved and administer it over the airwaves or Internet. It should be administered in some solemn way with a right hand raised and the left hand placed on either a copy of the U.S. Constitution or perhaps a holy book such as a Bible, Torah, or Koran.

The oath is certainly not the same as the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag, this is instead a reaffirmation of our commitment to our country and would help promote citizenship and voting. Maybe this is something that should be given routinely as opposed to just one time; to remind people of their allegiance to this country. I cannot help but believe this simple gesture would have nothing but beneficial effects.

One last observation, during this past year, the talking heads on television recommended avoiding any talk of politics at the dinner table, particularly during Thanksgiving, Christmas and other holidays. I disagree. We do not do enough talking at the table in a calm and reasonable manner. Instead of leaving citizenship to the school educators and the media, parents should spend more time discussing it around the dinner table, not in a dictatorial manner, but in a frank and open discussion. I believe our youth would better understand the virtue of the Electoral College if it came from their parents as opposed to an entertainer or athlete.

Maybe then, youth will appreciate the need for “Citizenship.”

P.S. – Here are some reading resources that should be useful:

“Elementary Catechism of the Constitution of the United States” (1828) by Arthur J. Stansbury – for many years, school children learned this catechism. It is just as relevant today as it was nearly 200 years ago. It is available free of charge as a PDF file on the Internet.

Also on the Internet, the U.S. Citizenship and Naturalization Service has a page describing “Constitution Day and Citizenship Day,” along with links to other free resources.

My favorite book for young people is, “The 5000 Year Leap: A Miracle that Changed the World” by W. Cleon Skousen. It sells for about $16-$18 and is available from Barnes and Noble, and Amazon. This makes an excellent holiday gift suitable for students in High School and College. In my humble opinion, all young people should be given a copy of this book as it describes the mechanics of our government. Think of it as a crash course in Civics. Enjoy!

Remember, education is the key to our political future.

Originally published: March 8, 2017

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2018 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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BABY, IT’S POLITICALLY CORRECT OUTSIDE

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 6, 2018

BRYCE ON POLITICS

– Attacking holiday programming.

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Tis the season, not for Christmas or any other religious holiday, but for political correctness. It appears the holidays have triggered a wave of criticism over audio/video classics as heard and seen for years over our airwaves. This is just another example of political correctness running amok.

First there was the TV special, “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,” which originally aired in 1973 and won an Emmy Award. For 45 years, it was a beloved holiday classic, but not in 2018 when it was accused of racism. It was recently pointed out that at the dinner-table scene, Franklin, the lone black character, sat on one side of the table alone in a lawn chair, while the other white characters were on the opposite side sitting in regular chairs. Critics today claim this is a very racist scene. To his credit, Charles M. Schulz, created Franklin in 1968, making him one of the first cartoonists to incorporate a black character in his strip. Schulz later claimed he created Franklin after being inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. So instead of applauding Schulz’s efforts, he is criticized by the PC police in 2018.

Next, we have the 1964 Christmas Classic, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” narrated by the late great Burl Ives. For 54 years, this film was cherished by children, but not in 2018 where critics today declare it “disturbing.” Santa is accused of racism for not accepting Rudolph due to his red nose, Hermey the Elf is described as a “Sadistic Psychopath,” the elves are accused of inbreeding, and Yukon Cornelius is considered “Mentally Unstable.” I wonder how we overlooked all of this for over 50 years?

In 1969, “Frosty the Snowman” was brought to television and narrated by the late Jimmy Durante with his marvelous gravelly voice. It was inspired by the popular song sung in 1950 by the legendary cowboy-singer Gene Autry. For 49 years the show was enjoyed by millions of children, but again, as with the others, it is not acceptable in 2018. Frosty’s melting scene is now said to give children nightmares as he is “viciously murdered” by an evil magician who wants Frosty’s magic hat. Santa returns to bring Frosty back to life, but it is now being claimed this scene traumatizes young people. Having grown up in the north, and made many a snowman in my day, we all knew they were not real and what would happen when the Spring thaw came, but to be traumatized by this in 2018, it makes you wonder what they are putting in kid’s cereals these days.

Finally, we come to WDOK-FM 102.1 (aka, Star 102) in Cleveland who recently banned the song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” as it could be construed as promoting male predatory tactics of women, something of keen interest to the #metoo movement (anyone remember the Justice Brett Kavanaugh hearings?). Although it is not a true Christmas song, it was written in 1944 and played around the holidays. It is primarily sung as a duet between a man and a women. In its 74 year history, there have been dozens of renditions by a variety of artists, including: Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan, Esther Williams and Ricardo Montalbán, Vanessa Williams and Bobby Caldwell, Lee Ann Womack and Harry Connick Jr., Anne Murray and Michael Bublé, Martina McBride and Dean Martin, and many others. Great music, but you won’t hear it anytime soon in Cleveland.

WDOK-FM ran a poll on their Facebook page asking listeners what holiday song should be omitted from their playlist, and out of 600 responses, 94% (564 votes) were in favor of it, but only 6% (36 votes) were against it. So, thanks to a meager 36 people, the radio station dumped the tune. Who-da-thunk-it?

All of these shows and music range in age from 49 to 74 years old, and introduced in the 1940’s, 50’s, the turbulent 60’s, and early 70’s. One cannot help but wonder where was the outrage back then? Were we really so naive and clueless not to see the hidden meanings? Is it possible we were socially mal-adjusted or is there something wrong with today’s sense of right and wrong? Frankly, I think there is something in the water causing this distortion of reality. These classics may not have been the most brilliant artistically, but I do not believe they were deliberately designed to embarrass anyone.

The criticisms of the old television classics appear to be coming from Millennial writers who seem to be making mountains out of mole hills. They either want to create something controversial to boost their readership, or they honestly believe the nonsense they write. Unfortunately, their badgering will likely cause the mainstream media to abandon these holiday classics. I just wonder what they propose to replace them with, perhaps titles such as, “A Charlie Brown LGBT Thanksgiving,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Wussy,” “Frosty the Snowflake,” and “Baby, Get Your Ass Out of Here, Can’t You See I’m Texting?”

The far left is confounded by President Trump who is an ardent proponent of Christmas. The fact he likes to say “Merry Christmas” this time of year, as opposed to “Happy Holidays” or “Season Greetings,” drives them crazy. Since there appears to be a resurgence in Christmas, the left is attacking the peripheral aspects of the holidays, hence the attacks on Rudolph, Frosty, et al. They will not be happy until organized religion, particularly Christianity, is removed from our culture. The reality though is this will never happen.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2018 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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TIME TO END THE MUELLER INVESTIGATION

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 4, 2018

BRYCE ON POLITICS

– But not for the reason you may think.

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It’s time to wrap-up the Mueller Investigation, not because they haven’t found anything of substance yet, but because it is simply out of control with no end in sight. Allow me to explain.

I have been a management consultant in the Information Technology field for over forty years and I have met several consultants along the way. Ethical consultants have no problem defining the deliverables for a project, produce a reliable estimate of costs, and calculate a schedule which is all reviewed and agreed upon by the customer before embarking on the project. Unethical consultants are just the antithesis of this; they define no deliverables, they are not held accountable for costs, and fail to produce a reliable timetable of events. This latter type of project, or “boondoggle” I should say, is a gravy train for the consultant. I find it rather remarkable companies still allow such shenanigans to occur.

To illustrate, years ago I had a client in the New York City area who had a bad experience with a “Big 8” consulting firm (which has since been merged down to the “Big 4”). The consultant promised delivery of a new state-of-the-art system, but hedged at giving the customer a scheduled end date. Interestingly, they had no problem producing a monthly invoice like clockwork. This went on for two years where nothing of substance was produced. After much cajoling by the client, the consultant’s project manager finally announced triumphantly to the customer, “We have just finished Phase 1… now we start Phase 2.” “Phase 2?” the customer asked, “How many phases are there?” No answer was forthcoming from the consultant.

This is the same scenario being played out by the Mueller investigation. We have no idea where this investigation is going, how much it is costing, and when it will be completed. From a business perspective, this type of donnybrook is simply unacceptable.

The investigation was initiated by Order Number 3915-2017 from the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, Rod J. Rosenstein. Its prime purpose was to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump”. Robert S. Mueller III was appointed Special Counsel for the U.S. Department of Justice, and the order was signed May 17th, 2017.

One year and seven months later, the investigation shows no signs of abating and has turned into a distracting political football. As part of Mueller’s investigation, he took over several FBI investigations involving peripheral subjects. Paul Manaford, Michael Flynn, Rick Gates, George Papadopoulos, W. Samuel Patten, Richard Pinedo, et al faced a variety of charges in the hopes it would squeeze them to become cooperative witnesses for investigators. So far, we have learned nothing from this tactic.

Now that the midterm elections are over and a new year beckons, it is time to either reorganize this boondoggle, or put it to bed. This reminds me of another client I had in Rochester, New York who had hired another “Big 8” firm to design and develop a new manufacturing system for the company. A team of consultants were assembled and given use of a meeting room where they brainstormed for several months and tacked several poster boards around the room with various ideas drawn up on them. This went on for months with no end in sight. We were contracted to come in, examine the project and make some recommendations. After instructing their systems management how to tackle such an assignment, the systems manager re-assembled the “Big 8” team in the meeting room, he then walked slowly around the room tearing up and discarding the posters. At the end, he said, “Gentlemen, let’s get down to business.”

It’s time for the Mueller investigation to either “get down to business” or get off the pot. Unless, of course, there are parties who do not want it to end as it serves other purposes. Hmm…

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2018 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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