Friday, March 11, 2016

Statemanship, Friendship and Civility

I started getting comments (verbal, text and other) from people who saw my recent editorial in the Indian Hill Community Press.  Here is what was published:

Where is Statesmanship today?  Classic examples from the past include- Thomas Jefferson’s admiration and respect for John Adams; Ronald Reagan’s congeniality with Tip O’Niell.  The recent loss of the Honorable Supreme Court Justice Scalia adds to this historical list. His friendship with Honorable Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg might be the final blow to the lost virtue of statesmanship in America.  What was the mystical ingredient for these esteemed historical relationships? – Friendship and Civility.

Aristotle described Friendship as the highest virtue – even above justice.  Psychologists include the following traits in describing a good friendship– congeniality, caring and respect.  It is respect, moral good and how we view others that develops our own virtue and character.  How did Honorable Justice Scalia see himself through the friendship eyes of Justice Ginsburg?  "What only her colleagues know is that her suggestions improve the opinions the rest of us write, and that she is a source of collegiality and good judgment in all our work." And how did Justice Ginsburg reflect her view of Justice Scalia? “It was my great good fortune to have known him as working colleague and treasured friend.” Both of these Justices deserve the title Honorable.

Today’s Statesmanship is a sad state of affairs when I read editorial after editorial by guest columnists who use vitriolic demagoguery to describe their opponents political views.  The use of “Shock Jock” journalism to persuade or defend ones views is the new form of “intelligent” and acceptable political discussion. Add to this style, the ability to distort or change facts under the guise of opinions – A Reader Beware clause – and you get a world of mass misinformation.    The media under the pressure of free internet publishing and mass technology distribution, cave to the temptation of publication.  After all, these guest columnists do provide a view of the world and entertainment.  So the media hides under the veil of consumer ratings thereby justifying the editorial value of publishing any opinion. 

What suffers?  Society sees this reflection clearly – and the embarrassment of this reflection diminishes with each generation.  Respect for differences of opinion has been lost inside the media and technology veil of face to face intimacy - Tweet anything, Facebook bully pulpit, editorial comments of hate.  Even television has become a debate of rude interruptions, shouting matches and finger pointing. The root of Civility is the word civis – or citizen. As Civility declines so do American citizens. 

Where is Statesmanship today? Where is it acceptable to denigrate, ridicule, and exaggerate (to the point of dishonesty) others point of views?  Statesmanship suffers as friendship declines. I am glad that our Supreme Court Justices have (and had) the highest virtue – Friendship.  Maybe the next selection of Justice Scalia’s replacement should be based on the highest virtues of Friendship and Civility.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Leap February

Well - my best intentions to keep routinely blogging resulted in a first - Leap February (or should I say leap right over February).  There is no blog entry for the entire month of February.

People miss speak of this as a Leap Year - meaning an extra day in February.  The precise term should be that this year has a Leap Day in it. Why they call the extra day a Leap Day vs "Extra Day", I have no clue.  Our next Leap Day is Feb. 29, 2020 (on the every four year cycle).  Something I did not realize is that there is also a 100 year "Leap Year" cycle which ignores the 4 year cycle of Leap Day (our last one was 1900 and the next will be 2100).  In the case of these two years, Feb. 29 is leaped over (e.g. ignored). But why not 2000?  Because it is divisible by 400. Hmmmm

Somehow, I had missed the significance of the Year 2000 (Leap Year exception) as I was focused on all the other Information Technology conversion issues related to programs that were coded without foresight of still being executed in the year 2000.  As a programmer we were never really worried about the 100 year "Leap Year" exceptions.

So what economic significance is there for a Leap Day?  It depends.  For some businesses (like Accenture) a Leap Day could be an extra day of revenue with no real cost for salaried worker ( an automatic 0.02% increase in annual gross margin). But you can't automatically assume a Leap Day adds an extra workday in the year.

The real question of how many workdays  there are in a year which depends BOTH on whether there is a Leap Day falling on a weekday AND on how weekends fall in any given year AND on the number federal holidays.  Is your head spinning yet? 
Here is the calculation of workdays for the next few years:
2016 - 251 days (Leap Day)
2017 - 250 days
2018 - 251 days
2019 - 251 days
2020 - 252 days (Leap Day)

So look for a gross margin increase for consulting firms (without doing anything) not this year - but in 2020.  Be careful next year as the number of workdays goes down - better work a billable Saturday to make it up. 

PS - Want to spin your head more -  What happens to 24/7 businesses when daylight savings time kicks in next week.

PPS -  Couldn't resist looking to see if I had "productively" entered a blog on the last Leap Day (Feb. 29, 2012).  Amazing. - it is my top read blog - "Four Hole Buick".