The Gloves, They Go Boom!

Don’t worry if you don’t understand that title. If the majority of people could understand it, chances are Donald Trump wouldn’t be President.

Or maybe he would. Who knows.

Anyway, this post is about Donald Trump as POTUS, President Of The United States. It’s been about a week as I write this. If you’re reading this before the end of January 2017, you’re one of my Patreon supporters. I plan on republishing it on our Politics blog at the end of February 2017 with additional comments, if any.

The timeline for this post starts back in January 2016. I was having lunch with some friends and was asked if I thought Trump had a chance at the Presidency. I was asked because my company, NextStage Evolution, has correctly predicted electoral outcomes and their margins since 2004.

My real concern, I said, was that at some point Trump would realize he really could win and would start putting serious effort into it.

So why did he win? Campaign effort aside, Trump won for the same reason Obama won back in 2008; he’s radically different from everything else out there so he’s got to be better than anything else out there.

Back in 2008, Barack Obama was a young black guy going for an historically white man’s office. He made statements (not sure if I’d qualify them as promises) about hope, prosperity and American values.

Back in 2008, the United States was on the brink of collapse because of the Eight Years of Idiocy it’d just gone through. We were in the eighth year of a war that was suppose to last only six weeks, any common folk who’d made investments witnessed them crash and burn while those who did the crashing and burning were rewarded because things weren’t worse (brings a tear to your eye, doesn’t it?), our homes were either worthless or too expensive to keep and there were no jobs to be had because companies had moved everything overseas.

Heck, the US military had outsourced packaging MREs for the battlefront!

So now Trump’s in office. Because he’s different from everything else out there. As a nation, we tried one kind of different (Obama) and didn’t get the immediate fix we wanted so let’s go for another kind of different (Trump) and see if that works.

Trump and his policies scare me.

But then I have to wonder, maybe that’s the point? Anybody remember The Tick? A great line from The Tick is “And isn’t sanity really just a one-trick pony, anyway? I mean, all you get is one trick, rational thinking. But when you’re good and crazy, ooh ooh ooh, the sky’s the limit.”

Now put yourself in North Korea’s shoes, in ISIS’ shoes, in Putin’s shoes, in the EU’s shoes, China’s, Mexico’s, take your pick, designer or off the shelf, it doesn’t matter.

The US’s got The Tick in office. You can’t predict what this guy’s going to do. He doesn’t play the game the way everybody else does. And he’s got the biggest ball on the court.

Screw that, he owns the court! And his ball’s not only big, it’s bigger than you, all your players and all your balls and courts put together.

Maybe the Electoral College got it right?

I mean, the gloves, they go boom, right?

I’ll be posting this to the Politics blog at the end of February 2017.

If we’re still here.


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Why #Hillary Won’t Be Getting Our Vote – And No One Else Will, Either

On Wednesday, 7 Jan 2016, I tweeted about some #Hillary campaigners who blew it big time with us.

These were two young people (early 20s, I’d guess). They came to the door, asked for Susan, she wasn’t home, I said that, they said “Thank you”, turned around and walked away.

I said, “That’s it? I’m a guy so my opinion doesn’t matter? My vote doesn’t count?”

The literally shook their heads as if the concept of campaigning to a man was unknown to them, as if they had to shake loose existing ideas to make room for “Man is interested” in their crania.

After a moment’s hesitation and fugue, one said, “Oh, would you like to vote for Hillary Clinton?”

I waved them away, disgusted, shaking my head in disbelief at their lack of training and closed the door.

These people were not prepped and/or trained well, and if they’re what #Hillary is sending around on the eve of the NH Primary, me thinks her camp is in trouble nationally.

But Today (Saturday, 9 Jan 2016)…

A tall, thin, white-haired, mature looking fellow came to our door, #Hillary paraphernalia bedecking his jacket like a tribal chief’s regalia, and asked for Susan.

She was in the living room, sitting on the couch, watching Selma (and if there’s not irony in that, there’s not irony anywhere), and called out “Not interested.”

He took some flyers out of a notebook he was carrying. “Could I leave you these to give to her?”

No, thank you. Not interested.

“Well, then I’ll just leave them in your door,” and he proceeded to ram them into our doorjamb.

I said, “No, please don’t. We’re not interested.”

He looked down at me and said, “I came to see Susan.”

She got up off the couch, walked to the door and said, “We are not interested. I am not interested. You didn’t do what we asked, you belligerent mucus, why should we have any interest in doing what you ask?”

Okay, I edited her response a bit.

But she did close the door in his face. Which was probably lucky for him. This is the woman that horses and other assorted large livestock fear. She doesn’t tolerate much from anything or anybody.

But again, doesn’t anybody train these people on how to negotiate a yes? Or at least leave people with a willingness to talk with a follow-up campaigner walking up the drive?

What we really want to know is…

I also tweeted about a #Trump supporter who didn’t have enough sense to get his nose out of his phone and his body out of the road, running the risk of personal injury and traffic problems.

These folks were merely the latest. What we really want to know is, are the campaigners this year worse than in previous years? It seems so. It definitely seems nobody is training these people properly. Are the stakes that high this year and nobody told us? Or if this is how you go about telling us, is it possible you’re not campaigning for the names on your armbands?

Now that would make sense.

But Back to Susan…

She printed the following out. It’s up on our front door. And I can already hear the doorbell ringing again…


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Je Suis Charlie: The CyberWar is now MainStream

The Washington Post recently published Anonymous hacks terror website in retaliation for Charlie Hebdo attack.

It’s a fascinating read on so many levels.

The cyberattack wasn’t on a nuclear station, a power grid, a military base, an operations center, an intelligence command depot.

The cyberattack was on an idea, a belief, a way of doing things.

I remember an IRA member talking about an extremist attack on the London subway system. He said, “Those people are f?cking nuts. They’re not doing this right. We’re getting out of the terrorist business.”

And when was the last time you heard about an IRA attack? They may still be happening, we’re just not hearing about them.

And I’m not condoning the cyberattack, only recognizing it as a new level of warfare and a new type of warfare, a Censorship warfare. Or maybe not censorship as in “I won’t let you get your message out”, more like “I don’t care what you say, just don’t act on what you say…at least not in a way that’s going to hurt people.”

I don’t know where to place this, really.

Thoughts, everyone?


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“Predicting Election Outcomes via NextStage’s TargetTrack” or “Why Dean Led, Kerry was Droll and Lieberman Foundered in 2004”


Note: This post was originally published as “An Evolution Technology Prediction Markets Case Study”

Background

NextStage was approached late in September of 2003 by the Lieberman Presidential Campaign camp. At that time, Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT) was running in the democratic Presidential primaries against a very large field, although the main contenders at the time boiled down to Senator Lieberman, Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and Howard Dean (ex-governor, D-VT).

The question we were asked was whether or not NextStage’s Evolution Technology™ could help the Lieberman camp improve their standing. The first part of meeting this request involved determining if the Lieberman camp’s current efforts would be successful in the long run, and I won’t keep you in suspense; we determined they would not be successful and history has borne us out.

However, to demonstrate the first and second stage predictive capabilities NextStage’s TargetTrack™ was able to provide [[(as documented in Working with Prediction Markets via NextStage’s Evolution Technology and Reading Virtual Minds Volume 1: Science and History. Readers who’d like the entire NextStage 2004 campaign analysis should contact NextStage directly)]], this case study shows a competitive analysis of similar web pages from the Dean, Kerry and Lieberman websites. These pages evaluated included the Home page, some Issues pages and pages profiling (or “About”) the candidates. The goal was to use Evolution Technology™ to determine which audiences the candidates were targeting and capturing via their online media, and to determine likely outcomes based on the material being used.

The content used was from Monday, 28 Sept 2003. The information presented on the following pages constitutes a summary of Evolution Technology‘s assessment of these website pages and was our opinion. While not a case for why one candidate’s website or candidate his or herself might be outperforming another, the information contained herein was useful for that type of analysis. No suggestions for modifying any sites were contained herein.

Gender Capture

First, we looked at what the targeted demographics for the web content were. The first category, “Gender Capture” shown below, indicates the Percentages of overall gender that the combined web pages targeted (Male v. Female).

Gender Capture Comparison for Lieberman, Kerry and Dean on 28 Sept 03

Lieberman was reaching out to a largely (63%) Male audience. Dean was almost 50/50. None of the candidates were targeting the “Women” voters. What this indicated was that Dean was doing an excellent job of getting his message across to both men and women.

Age Group Capture

Next we evaluated the age groups that would best respond to the web site messages over all web pages combined (shown below).

Age Capture for Lieberman, Kerry and Dean on 28 Sept 03

This chart shows that the material in Lieberman’s site was reaching out to a primarily middle-aged demographic. Kerry had a larger portion of the younger age groups, while Dean had the largest demographic coverage, including a larger part of the “senior citizens” demographic. Ages under 15 are not included in these charts because of their insignificance in the election process.

Based on just these two charts alone, NextStage was able to determine that on 28 Sept 03 Lieberman was going to remain third man if this was the race.

Age Group Comprehension

Thus far we determined that Dean was communicating best of all the candidates’ websites we were analyzing.

However, appealing to the broadest audience means nothing if that audience can’t understand what you’re telling them. Answering that was done by determining which age groups could best comprehend or understand each candidate’s message as presented on their websites.

The chart below shows which age groups would most likely understand and respond to the candidates messages as of 28 Sept 03. Kerry and Lieberman’s content was understandable by a younger age group (lower education level) while Dean’s messages were designed for both a more mature and much broader audience. One way to look at this is that Lieberman’s and Kerry’s messages were stated much more simply than Dean’s.

Which Age Groups could best understand each candidate's messages?

Generally, Comprehension Capture numbers should be close to Age Capture numbers, indicating that the messages are more likely to be hitting their targeted audience. In mass marketing efforts such as politics, however, the goal is to be understood by the largest audience possible and this often means aiming for a lower education requirement on the part of your target. There is a problem in aiming for a lower education requirement, however. Too simple a message can come across as off-putting and patronizing.

Dean’s message, while requiring a higher degree of sophistication to understand, was very well targeted to the age groups he was capturing. This could partially explain his ability as an internet fund-raiser.

Message Strengths

Whether you’re a political candidate or a business promoting a product, unless you can get that message out in a way that makes sense for what you’re selling you’re not getting things done.

All politicians are good orators; it’s part of their job. But the goal is to be good at talking about what’s on the minds of people when you meet them. Lieberman had many strengths but they weren’t strengths people were interested in during the 2003-2004 primary season.

Message Strengths – 1 (below) shows that Lieberman’s strengths were his ability to show (Visual) people Comparisons (his ability as a debater and in confronting issues). Kerry was good at communicating who he was (Identity) and that he has a Process in Place to solve the problems he talks about. Even if he didn’t communicate the process specifically, he was giving the message that he knew what the process was. If you add this to the fact that his messages require the least education to understand (Age Group Comprehension above ), this adds up to a good market penetration.

Liebeman's strengths were his ability to show comparisons. Kerry's strength was that he had a process in place.

Dean was a successful fundraiser because he grabbed the broadest age demographic (Age Group Capture on page ) and had the most even gender capture (Gender Capture above). He was also communicating his ability to provide Order and Structure (as shown in Message Strengths – 2 below) way above the others. This strongly appealed to voters’ economic and national security issues at that time.

Dean's strength was his ability to communicate structure and order to a concerned, anxious nation

Perhaps the final blow to Lieberman in this three horse race was that both Dean and Kerry both were indicating they had a greater ability to move Toward and Upward, which translates as their ability to get the nation to a better place (literally, “higher ground”) as shown in the Message Strengths – 3 chart below.

Both Kerry and Dean were better able to communicate their ability to improve things

Summary

NextStage’s Evolution Technology demonstrated its ability to function as both a stage 1 and stage 2 Prediction Market during the 2003-2004 Democratic Presidential Primaries and again during the 2004 Presidential elections [[ and we continue to do so via our Politics blog]].

The first stage of a true prediction market is to determine what a likely outcome will be. The second stage, and usually the more important stage — is being able to explain why the outcome will be what is predicted and to suggest ways to alter undesired outcomes into desired outcomes.


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Ego


Over the past three months I’ve had the good (?) fortune to spend some time with world leaders. Presidents, heads of billion dollar industries and down. Access came about quite by chance; I asked one such person if I could. Okay, I wrote one such person asking if I could. A while ago, actually. Evidently my background was being checked.

And checked and checked and checked. My original thinking was that this kind of access would help both me and NextStage understand political thinking so we could evaluate it and compare it against voter thinking more accurately. As we’ve correctly predicted political outcomes in local, state and federal elections since 2004, sometimes months ahead of larger organizations1, you have to wonder what “more accurately” really means.

Basically, it means “better than before”. We’re NextStage. We’re nits about things like that.

It started with one person and, like the old shampoo commercial, that person told two friends and they told two friends and they told two friends and…

I asked one person why she agreed to give me access. Framed in her office window overlooking a busy metropolitan street, she was silhouetted by the afternoon sun as she stood behind her desk, focusing on the papers spread out there, pen in hand, perhaps deciding which to sign. A smile crossed her face, visible even in silhouette and there was a small, quiet chuckle as she lifted one paper for closer inspection. “Whatever your thoughts of us as a whole, we’re pretty smart people. We learn a lot when you study us.”

She was talking about “Digital Divisivity“. Specifically, some leaders are aware that digital divisivity is slowing things down and not helping anybody. Add that to no leaders taking the time to interact with other leaders outside of the leadership environment and you get the current worldwide industrial/governmental morass. People who once depended on their ability to quickly read (aka “size up”) their opposition have lost that skill and desperately need it back. Considering how short some of these “meetings” are, the need to communicate and be understood multidimensionally is a necessity. NextStage has been teaching such things since 1990, although we called it “cultural anthropology” back then.

But there was something more in her smile. “Anything else?”

“You’re valuable but harmless.” I had the impression that she and her peers had discussed that exact question and she was sharing the consensus opinion.

“Valuable but harmless?”

“What you do is valuable to people like me but your own rules2 stop you from doing anything to harm us. You’re valuable but harmless.”

“I could decide to break my own rules. I could betray a confidence, though. Don’t you folks do that? Constitutions, rights, charters, laws, … you don’t hold to them if you can get away with it.”

She evaluated me for a moment. It wasn’t hesitation, I could feel myself being weighed in a balance, then, “You know neuroscience, you know why you put those Principles up for the world to see. You won’t violate them.” A pause followed by a shrug as her eyes returned to the papers on her desk. “Besides, I’m a politician, you’re not.”

It’s good to know one’s position in life. I’m valued by a certain class because I have different values than members of that class. “When I’m not kissing babies, I’m stealing their lollipops,” I said. She nodded without looking at me.

So for about an hour a day I get to listen and watch the process of government, big and small, and industry ditto. Sometimes together, sometimes not.

My big takeaway has to do with ego.

I wrote in Humor

Only people with incredible egos will self-identify as being able to govern others because the definition of government is to know what is best for the majority even when that majority disagrees with or fails to recognize what is best (Georgia’s Lyman Hall supposedly said “They did not elect me to do what they think is best. They elected me to do what I think is best.”). Self-identifying as being able to lead and make decisions for others indicates a belief in some form of superiority to them.

I still believe that. The past three months has also taught me that people at the highest levels of anything must believe their decision is the best one both at the time they make it and for the foreseeable future.

I’m not writing about maniacs who get into power (although my revelation also applies to them), I’m thinking about people dedicated to the best for their country/state/municipality/society/community/… It takes a phenomenal ego (not to mention tremendous discipline) to have the best advice available from all sides, measure it against your personal experience, your learning, your education, etc., and possibly make a decision which no one will favor yet you believe in your core is the right one.

I use the term “right” advisedly. Right and wrong are moral absolutes. Even atheists in power resort to god-imagery and language when the decisions become binary (yes/no, black/white, on/off).

In Humor I wrote of ego in the negative sense. Here I write of ego in the positive sense.

My personal takeaway is that I have a different kind of respect for all people in authority. Even the ones I disagree with. Especially the ones I like as individuals while disagreeing with them.

They are making decisions they know will affect large numbers of people and believing their decisions will be the best possible for the largest number of people both now and in the future.

That’s a kind of ego I don’t want to have. Without an amazingly accurate crystal ball, anyway.


1 – You can read about our accuracy in Reading Virtual Minds V1: Science and History

2NextStage’s Principles


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