February 11, 2016

You're Wealthy Nuts

So Bloomberg Businessweek has a really funny article about all the wealthy people that need to go see shrinks. 

Get this--overall wealthy people are cursed with "Affluenza" (not influenza silly) and have "elevated levels of depression, anxiety, psychosomatic issues (physical symptoms from stress), and self-mutilation."

Some specific reasons they go for mental health help:

- Why Me--A trying issue to deal with is their guilt feelings about being so darn rich, while others are starving, homeless, and can't make ends meet. 

- Feeling A Little Lonely (And Hated)--They can't help thinking that perhaps people only like them for their money.

- Aimless In Life--What's the purpose of their lives if they are living on easy street, don't have to work, and can buy their way out of trouble. 

- Money To Mess You Up--Some people have so much money, they can squander it on bad investments, but also on alcohol, drugs, sex, and so on.  

- Fear Of Losing It All--Terrible thing about having so much money is you have to worry about losing so much money.  

So next time you are thinking about protesting against the top .1% who have as much as the bottom 90%, have a heart because the wealthy have a lot of problems too. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Chris Goldberg)
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February 10, 2016

Hate, Discrimination, and Violence...But We're One

As we live day-to-day in near endless and escalating cycles of hate, discrimination and violence along national, religious, racial, gender and other divides...

It is nice and refreshing to see someone wearing a t-shirt this morning that says:

"One World, One Dream"

I don't know what the Asian characters above it say...but hopefully, it's more hopefullness!

Unfortunately, without a common enemy--whether disasters, plague or alien invasion--what divides us normally seems stronger than what holds us together.

Hence, routine murders, maimings, abductions, rapes, enslavement, and harrassment of one neighbor against the other. 

We behave like little children fighting for the toys in the sandbox except with consequences that can elevate all the way to genocide or WMD. 

As we squabble with each other, perhaps there are moments when we can have the self-awareness and strength of character to actually look in the mirror with some shame for how low we'll stoop to get our share in a world of divine comedy. 

Wouldn't it be nice for humanity to change ways and instead have compassion on each other (children of G-d), share the toys, and end the miserable hate. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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February 9, 2016

Cybersecurity Lost In Unknowns

Today unveiled is a new Cybersecurity National Action Plan

This in the wake of another Federal data breach on Sunday at the Department of Justice where hackers stole and published online the contact information for 9,000 DHS and 20,000 FBI personnel

And this coming on the heels of the breach at OPM that stole sensitive personnel and security files for 21 million employees as well as 5.6 million fingerprints.

While it is nice that cybersecurity is getting attention with more money, expertise, public/private poartnerships, and centers of excellence. 

What is so scary is that despite our utter reliance on everything cyber and digital, we still have virtually no security!

See the #1 definition for security--"the state of being free from danger or threat."

This is nowhere near where we are now facing threats every moment of every day as hackers, cybercriminals, cyber spies, and hostile nation states rapidly cycle to new ways to steal our secrets and intellectual property, commit identity theft, and disable or destroy our nation's critical infrastructure for everything from communications, transportation, energy, finance, commerce, defense, and more. 

Unlike with kinetic national security issues--where we regularly innovate and build more stealthy, speedy, and deadly planes, ships, tanks, surveillance and weapons systems--in cyber, we are still scratching our heads lost in unkowns and still searching for the cybersecurity grail:

- Let's share more information

- Let's throw more money and people at the problem.

- Let's seek out "answers to these complex challenges"

These have come up over and over again in plansreviewsinitiatives, and laws for cybersecurity.

The bottom line is that today it's cyber insecurity that is prevailing, since we cannot reliably protect cyber assets and lives as we desperately race against the clock searching for real world solutions to cyber threats. 

Three priorities here...

1) Build an incredibly effective intrusion protection system
2) Be able to positively tag and identify the cyber attackers 
3) Wield a powerful and credible offensive deterrent to any threats ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 7, 2016

Cloud Pleasing

Technology vendors have wised-up and are rushing to the cloud to give customers what they want. 

You want cloud?  

You got cloud!

Cloud Computing with the virtually infinite promise for flexible, cost-effective, on-demand computing--all centrally managed by the vendor--you can sleep easy at night, oh baby. 

CIOs love it. 

The only problem as everyone moves to the cloud is the promise of the cloud continues to fall short

Now how unpopular a thing to say is that? 

Take out the guillotine...

Seriously though, it was supposed to be flexible, but it isn't so much as vendors contract with customers for multi-year deals and customers find switching vendors not quite so easy...anyone hear of vendor lock-in?

Also, cloud was supposed to be more cost-effective, but vendors still need to make their margins, so longer commitments, service bundling, minimum fixed costs, and variable month-to-month pricing--sure helps things add BIG DOLLARS for the cloud vendor. 

Then you have vendors that simply call everything cloud...ah, "cloud washing" that is.  If you think you are getting cloud (even if it ain't so much so), yippee are you happy...you have drunk the cool-aid and it is sweet.

Technology leaders swooping into a new job want to come in with a bang..."Hey, look what I did to modernize, transform, reinvent, revolutionize...and save money too--thank G-d, they hired me."

So cloud, cloud, cloud...it sounds so CLOUD PLEASING, I mean crowd-pleasing. 

Whether in the specific situation it's better or not, that's not the point, stupid. 

At least, it's out of our hair--let the vendor worry about it!

One, two, three...everyone say "CLOUD!" ;-)

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 6, 2016

What does 600613 Spell?

As per my previous blogs on the mystical number 613 (corresponding to the G-d's commandments in the Torah), today we have a technological twist.

Recently, Google paid an award to a former employee of $6,006.13.

The amount is special in two ways as you can see:

First of all, Google saw that, if you look closely, this number spells Google. 

Secondly, it has the number mystical number 613 in it. 

613 is a winner and so is Google, which is now the the most valuable company in the U.S. (worth more than Apple) at $554 billion!

If you use simple Gematria, where each letter is a number (A=1, B=2, C=3...Z=26), then Guess what other successful technology companies has the mystical 613 in their names:















(Also, see which amazing technology company has 613 twice in their name!)

In contrast, some ailing technology companies that do not have 613:

- Yahoo

- Twitter

- LinkedIn

613 is a reminder of G-d's benevolence to mankind in that he G-d us the commandments as a roadmap to live by.  613 is a symbol of faith in G-d almighty and in his holy Torah (Bible). 

For those that keep His charge, we believe that Hashem will bless them and keep them. 

Indeed, technology used for the good of mankind is a blessing to us all.  ;-)

(Source Graphics: Andy and Dossy Blumenthal)
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February 5, 2016

Even Our Water

So I was in a meeting yesterday. 

And someone had a bottle of what looked like very dirty water. 

I said to the guy sad-jokingly, "Where's that from--Flint, Michigan?"

He sadly smiles back and says, "No, I just filled the bottle with iced tea!"

But everyone around the table sighed at the tragic state of affairs with the filthy, contaminated water in Flint. 

The high levels of lead in the water has allegedly resulted in "skin lessons, hair loss, high levels of lead in the blood, vision loss, memory loss, depression and anxiety."

It's unbelievable that in an American city with a population around 100,000 that they cannot safely shower or drink their water. 

To make things even worse, now banks are hunkering down and don't want to give mortgages to people in Flint until they can prove that their water is safe

What's amazing is that this miserable situation in our cities is not the exception, but the rule. 

As of 2003 already, The American Society for Civil Engineering gives us a hideous grade of D on our infrastructure that is aged and in disrepair.

This includes our:
- Energy
- Transportation
- Ports
- Aviation
- Levees
- Dams
- Schools
- Roads
- Inland Waterways
- Wastewater
- Hazardous Waste
- Parks and Recreation
- Rail
- Bridges
- Solid Waste
- Drinking Water

They estimate we need at least $3.6 trillion of investment for infrastructure renewal just by 2020. 

Interestingly enough, the useless decade-long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan costs us over $4 trillion and the lives of almost 14,000 American military and contractor personnel.

What would you rather have a destabilized Middle East now swarming with ISIS, the Taliban, and a resurgent $100 billion richer and nuclear- and terror-determined Iran or a proper country here for us to live in with an actual strategy-driven national security and good schools and clean drinking water? 

(Source Photo: here with attribution to B1ue5sky)
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February 4, 2016

Stupid Stupid Ties

So ties are an unfortunate part of a man's wardrobe. 

But while some ties may look nice (in a feminine type of way), for the most part they are nothing but a pain in the neck.

- Feels like a noose

- Looks like a dog collar

- Enforced as the yoke of oppression

- Constraining since a tie ties 

- Costs as much as $385 at Nordstrom

- Klutzy when oops!! it hangs out your fly

- Hazardous when caught in an office shredder. 

- Filthy when eating soup, spaghetti, etc. 

- Disgusting when bending over and it flops into the toilet

Some day fashion will grow up and ties will go the way of The Waltons, and even Goodwill will throw them unabashedly into the trash where they most rightfully belong.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to bark)
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February 3, 2016

Bodega D.C.

This little deli and grocery in downtown D.C. always reminds me of the spanish bodegas back in NYC. 

The smallish store has just a couple of aisles of stuffed shelves of all sort of fast food eatsies. 

Usually not very organized, but more like you see something from all the grab it type foods and drinks and just go for it. 

Signs are handwritten and taped on to shelves, doors, and counters. 

Food packages jut out from shelves into the aisles and frequently get knocked down by customers on to the floors of the narrower aisles. 

Pour your own cup of coffee or softdrink.

Sandwiches in the back are freshly made while you wait and come heaping with toppings and the price written with a black marker on the celaphane wrapping. 

The store is laidback and informal with the proprietor at the counter reading from his newspaper as people come by to check out and he looks up between paragraphs.

Very working class and for students in the area, the lines can get long to the door at lunch hour. 

A little unkept and no place to sit and dawdle--this is a get in and get out little neighborhood store. 

A big contrast with the cookie-cutter chain stores and franchises--this is mom and pop style. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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February 2, 2016

Boardroom B.S.

So I had the opportunity to attend a board meeting recently and to see firsthand why most decisions are so flawed. 

- No Diversity--The board members were all from a single age group and color, and this clearly impacted their thought processes and decisions. For example, when others attending the meeting asked about updating some technology, the board members blankly felt that was not important even after almost a decade of the same thing. 

- Self-Interest--The board only entertained issues that they were interested in for themselves. For example, when someone stood up to talk about issues they didn't feel were important to them, the board members tuned out, interrupted the speakers, actually scrowled at them, or just shut them down altogether. 

- Getting Personal--Board members frequently changed the discussion from substantive discussion to personal attacks. When one person questioned a recent decision, a board member started yelling about being called names (which never happened that I saw) or telling the speakers that they didn't know what they were talking about. 

- Information Poor--Board members made decisions or committees recommended decisions first, and then put it up for discussion later (like at a subsequent meeting). Moreover, the board members referred to decisions being made over and over based on anecdotes of people telling them this, that, or the other thing (none of which could be verified) and not on facts or surveys of those impacted by the decisions. 

- Transparency Lacking--Board members made decisions without explanation for the reason or justification, and even without necessarily evaluating all the alternatives. When questioned, the board wasn't able to identify costs of alternatives or even fully explore the other viable options. 

- Intimidating The Opposition--The board members actually seemed to challenge and turn to intimidation to stem alternate views from their own. Some people that had supported other voices in the room where turned or told that they hadn't understood the issues properly to begin with. 

Despite some nice people personally and one or two that didn't seem to go along with the shinanigans, overall it was a very disppointing show of decision-making, governance, communication, and leadership. 

No wonder people get turned off by the process, don't participate, and lose confidence in those at the top. Maybe time for people to be leaders with heart and not megalomaniacs with gavels. 

(Source Photo: here with attribution to CJ Sorg)
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January 31, 2016

Truly My Love

So this is the graffiti on the wall of the ladies bathroom in Barnes and Noble. 

My wife said to make sure everyone knows that she took the photo and not me (uh, that would be awkward). 

I can't make out all the graffiti on the wall, but the one in the center says:

"True love isn't something made up in stories or books. It exists truly, if you believe truly, and truly fight for it. Real love is magic."

Another one talks about "Gonzales" who is the most beautiful man.

And yet one more...

"I wish I knew how to tell my boyfriend I love him."

Let me just be frank that the Graffiti in men's bathrooms is nothing, nothing like this. 

It's more obscene, uses lots of 4 letter words, and has women's first names and phone numbers. 

Why do women write and profess their love for men on bathroom walls, while men seem to think and express themselves in far more graphic terms--and why do this while in the stinkin' bathroom?

I think this may make for some interesting gender studies for someone out there. 

From a technology perspective, I think if people are going to insist on thinking and fantasizing in the public bathroom, perhaps we need some white boards or monitors that you can write and erase from--that way at least we can make room for the next guy/gal to write their truly's next. ;-)

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)
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January 30, 2016

What's Cool Is Being Oppressed

So we were having this discussion with this lady in synagogue who prides herself as an activist and participates in numerous groups for social justice.

What was most striking to learn is how these days everyone is vying for the title of most oppressed. 

It's no longer "cool" or "in" to be part of the elite privileged rich, strong, and powerful.

If you are any of these, you are part of the corrupt 1%--that have more wealth now than the other 99% of society combined--and you are leeches that feed off of the legitimate working, middle class society. 

The privileged are the bullies, the racists, the occupiers, the unjust, the thieves, and the liars. 

Today, people and groups are arguing to be put on the pedestal for who is underprivileged:

- The poorest in society

- The ones with the greatest inequality

- The most discriminated against and oppressed

- The smallest of the minorities

The prize for those that attain the marks of distinction for worst status can hope to achieve:

- Sympathy (protests, petitions, and actions for boycotts, divestitures, and sanctions)

- Economic Assistance (donations, grants, loans, scholarships, and advanced technology)

- Preferential treatment (college placement, training programs, hiring, promotion, business awards, and board seats)

- Votes (elections, laws, resolutions, decisions, and court awards)

The super underdog has it way up over the superpower. 

Discontent by the masses, supercharged by social media, is leading to an overturning of society from the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street.  

Socialism even for presidential candidates is no longer a dirty word in Democratic America and terrorists around the world are now "freedom fighters." 

Regimes such as Iran that sponsor terrorism, abuse human rights, and build weapons of mass destruction now just need to be "opened up" to the outside world and sanctions and non-proliferation is just more western bullying and infidel occupation.  

Other countries like Syria that are ruled by tyrannical leaders that besiege their own cities, starve and torture their people, drop barrel bombs indiscriminately, and use chemical weapons are no longer crossing a "red line", but are simply in need of a political settlement and even can enjoy two or more years of continued rule. 

Small but flourishing Democratic countries like Israel--the size of New Jersey and the only Jewish state in a world of 50 majority Muslim countries--is demonized as Apartheid oppressors of the Palestinians--those very people who are sworn to their destruction and to throwing them into the Sea--just 70 years after the Jewish Holocaust. 

Back in the United States and in Europe, waves of mass immigration across borders is perfectly fine and perhaps even desired to file the ranks of needed employees, obtain desired future voters, and alleviate the aggrieved hearts of those that committed past atrocities or closed their doors to refugees in the past, while those that speak of vetting, border control, and homeland security are Nazi fascists.

Moreover increases in taxes and spending is in vogue, while general fiscal disciple, paring the national deficit and debt, and sequestration are lunatic concepts by those seeking to suppress the middle class and destroy America. 

Don't get me wrong, we as a country can and should go a long way to decreasing inequality and improving the lives of everyone with a living wage, universal healthcare, paid maternity/paternity leave, free or reasonably-priced advanced education, and decent retirement benefits.

However, when we call everything and anything discrimination, racism, and inequality, take away individual accountability, make every grievance into a revolution and opportunity for a lynching or guillotine, things have gone from one insanity to just another. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 29, 2016

Responding To Foolish Holocaust Denial

So I just watched a video where the radical Muslim speaker tries to explain how it is not the Earth that rotates around the Sun, but rather how really the Earth is fixed in space, and it is the Sun which rotates around it. 

His logic and proofs include things like the following:

- If the Earth was really moving, and you tried to fly to China, the plane shouldn't have to move, since China would just come to the plane. 

- Also, if the Earth was moving in the same direction as the plane, and you were flying to China, then you would never get there, because you'd just be chasing a moving China. 

This is how people's inner darkness, ignorance, and evil can attempt to extinguish the light. 

Similarly, this past week, the "leader" of Iran took the opportunity on International Holocaust Remembrance Day (Jan. 27)--of all days --to once again express his vile denial of the Holocaust.

Khamenei declaring: "It's not clear if the Holocaust is a reality or not."

And calling for the "dear people of Iran" to "stand up to the ignorance" of the West.

Wow, who is calling whom ignorant and trying to brainwash the good people of Iran. 

It's funny, but there are so many nice people from Iran that I've had the opportunity to meet and befriend, and one of them is an elderly man who is a swimming buddy of mine-- and he is such a nice person--I really enjoy talking with him (despite some of our differences of opinion). 

The point is that when the leadership is corrupt, evil, and insecure, then they try to extinguish the good in the masses of the people, so that the people stay in the dark, blinded by scare tactics, scapegoats, and hatred--this is how they stay in power

When it comes to Holocaust denial though, I think this is definitely going way too far, and I imagine the souls of the Six Million righteous who perished in the Holocaust--under the worst genocide the world has ever known--that they are watching and they are listening. 

And Khamenei and his cohorts of evil doers will most certainly have to contend with all these very real martyred righteous souls. 

So in their warped ignorance, foolishness, and hatred--where the sun rotates around the earth and with utter darkness they attempt to extinguish the light of the good people--I imagine with the strongest and most vivid of images and sounds that certainly Heaven does not await them...but a very fiery Hell of their own making indeed. 

(Source Photo: here with attribution to slgckgc)
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January 28, 2016

Suicide Office To-Dos

So at times, organizations send out notices to their staff with self help suggestions or organizational resources that are available.

One such case is for suicide prevention. 

For example, if you are thinking about suicide, perhaps you should contract the employee assistance program.

It's a good idea to reach out to employees when the messaging is done in a way that makes employees feel they are genuinely cared about and needed, and substantial help is available to them.

People contemplating suicide are in a desperate state of mind and proper handling is nothing less than a life or death situation.

Going to the extreme to make a point for a moment, office reminders about suicide prevention should never be selfish or cavalier, such as:

- Remember to turn the lights out.

- Set your out of office message on.

- Have you done a knowledge transfer to ensure a smooth transition?

If employees are coming away feeling like the organization is just sending out a form message or treating their feelings and situation lightly or in their own interests (such as to remove/reduce liability) that is apt to make things worse and not better.

Please treat employees with genuine dignity, respect, caring, and humanity, and offer them substantive help when they need it.

There are families depending on them and they love and need them. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Jason Kuffer)
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January 27, 2016

Iran Man

Today, Iran warns a U.S. Navy ship and fighter jet to stay away from military exercises they were conducting.

And what did we, the Superpower, do? 


We hightailed it out of there. 


Yet, presumably we were in international waters this time, so it's curious why the U.S. military would take it's orders from Iran if we were legitimately there. 


This is just...


- A little more than 2 weeks after Iran seized 2 U.S. Navy ships and 10 sailors and put them execution style on their knees and broadcast this to world.

- And less than a month after Iran fired missiles within 1.3 km of the U.S. aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman.


Wonder why did Iran warn us this time and not last month with the aircraft carrier--should we be "thankful" again to them, this time for warning us.


- And just less than 2 weeks ago, Iraq-based Shiite terror militias (alleged proxies for Iran) abducted 3 more Americans (almost simultaneously with their prisoner swap with us--refilling their human cache).  


- All this, plus the 2 ballistic missile tests (those capable of carrying nukes) that Iran conducted in October and again in December in violation of U.N. resolutions, and what do we have? 


A new "Iran Man" (not Iron Man) in town--with over $100+ billion to spend on global terrorism while chanting "Death To America"--and he most certainly isn't a superhero. ;-)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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January 26, 2016

Plastic Pigs

So you've probably heard about this mammoth island of plastic garbage in the Pacific Ocean.

It's between the West Coast and Hawaii. 

And it's called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. 

Get this...

It's about twice the size of Texas.

Now researchers are predicting that by 2050, our oceans will hold more plastic than fish!

"More than 8 million tons of plastics end up entering our oceans each year." 

And we're dumping the equivalent of one garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute.  

Just 5% of plastic waste gets recycled. 

So far there is a 165 million tons of plastic trash in the ocean right now. 

The plastic pieces can survive hundreds of years. 

We are making a darn mess of this planet. 

The 5 cent surcharge for plastic bags is a joke in this respect. 

Maybe ISIS actually won't be the end of Western civilization, but plastic will be. 

Who's paying off whom to keep this plastic money wagon going to poison our planet?  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 25, 2016

Stack Theory Doesn't Stack Up

Christopher Mims' article in the Wall Street Journal today on why big companies get disrupted by others doesn't make a lot of sense to me. 

He discusses the "Stack Fallacy" of Anshu Sharma a venture capitalist that it "is the mistaken belief that it is trivial to build the layers above yours."

Mims explains that the stack is like a "layer cake of technology"--where one layer is built on another.

Similar to the OSI technology model where there are architecture layers for physical, data, network, application and so on. 

Basically, Mims explains that tech companies can only invent at a single layer of technology (or below). 

But when companies try to invent up the stack, they fail.

Here's why...

Mims says that companies despite their size and resources can't innovate up the stack because they don't understand the users there. 

But this doesn't stack up to me. 

Companies can and do use their resources to study and understand what users want up the food chain and what they can't easily build, they can acquire. 

Apple successfully went from a iPod and iTunes music player and song store to producing a highly sophisticated and integrated iPhone and Apps store where music is just an afterthought.

Similarly, IBM went from being primarily a mainframe and desktop company to being a top-tier consulting firm with expertise in cloud, mobile, social, artificial intelligence, and analytics computing. 

But it isn't easy for a company to change. 

And to me, it's not because they can't understand what users want and need. 

Rather, it is because of something we've all heard of called specialization. 

Like human beings, even extraordinary ones, companies are specialized and good at what they are good at, but they aren't good at everything. 

A great example of this was when NBA superstar, Michael Jordan, tried to take his basketball talents and apply it to baseball...he was "bobbling easy flies and swatting at bad pitches" in the minor leagues. 

As even kindergarteners are taught that "Everyone is good at something, but no one is good at everything."

Companies have a specific culture, a specific niche, a specific specialization and expertise.

And to go beyond that is very, very difficult...as IBM learned, it requires nothing less than a transformation of epic proportions. 

So I think Mims is wrong that companies can't understand what users want in areas up the innovation stack, but rather it's a monumental change management challenge for companies that are specialized in one thing and not another. 

So welcome to the world of Apple after Steve Jobs and his iPhone and to the the recent 25% decline in their stock price with investors and customers anxiously waiting for the possible but not certain next move up the technology stack. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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January 24, 2016

The Need For Speed

In the gym this morning, I watched Joel Osteen giving his Sunday sermon on the monitor. 

The guy is a genius--always on message, always inspiring hope, always uplifting the masses. 

Today, he spoke about acceleration. 

The idea was that no matter how deeply bad our situation in life (e.g. illness, debt, demoted) and no matter how many months or years it would normally take us to recover or get out of it, G-d can accelerate things so that we are healed, solvent, or promoted tomorrow. 

He didn't say this, but as I understand it, G-d is above time and space, and so he can move you faster out of your funk then anyone would normally think.

Osteen gave the analogy of a bow an arrow, and the further back you are pulled--the more pressure and tension you are under in life--then the further and faster, G-d can propel you forward. 

To me it's interesting that when we are enjoying a wonderful moment in life, that we wish time would slow or completely stop, so we could savor the good times that much longer or just "stay in the moment forever."

And at other times, when we are down and suffering, the days of despair and defeat can drag on and on, and it seems like the hours and days just don't pass fast enough...it's almost like torture in that it seem to go on forever. And that is when, we hope and pray for a speedy resolution to whatever ails us--we just want to be free from the problems, the illness, the suffering--and so if only, we could leap forward in time and this "would all be over." 

If you are happy, life is too short.  But if you are in pain and suffering, every moment can be torture.

So if we are worthy, time can magnify and be an accelerant for prolonging the good times and getting out of the bad times (or G-d forbid, it can work in reverse as well--shortening the good times in life and extending out the bad ones). 

Similarly, long life can be a blessing if we are healthy and able to enjoy a real quality of life or it can be grueling for those in pain and suffering. 

My wife told me about this news item from a couple of days ago, where a guy won the lottery, but shortly after was murdered--his life cut short--in a home invasion (this "lucky" guy never got to enjoy his winnings).

G-d who controls time (and space) has quite a lot of leeway to test us or meet out justice--just speed things up or slow things down and the experience and feelings are magnified accordingly. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to spitfirelas)
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January 23, 2016

Snowpocalypse, 6 Hours Later...Cooped Up & Going Nuts


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Snowpocalypse 2016!

It's never too cold or snowy to wear shorts and water shoes. 

Even a good day for some air conditioning. 

When you got hot blood and a big smile, it's never really cold outside. ;-)

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)
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January 22, 2016

Poor Decision-Making Inc.


(Click the image for larger size)
___________________________

There is a funny Organization Chart of Indecision by Corter Consulting circulating on the Social Media. 

This graphic (above) by me can be thought of as the corollary for Poor Decision-Making.

It is headed by the Chief, Bad Decisions.

Supporting the Chief is the EVP of Strong-Arming.

Reporting to the Chief are 6 VPs of:

- Haste

- Intuition

- Incompetence

- Misinformation

- Narcissism

- Corruption

Followed by 16 Directors of:

- Get It Over With
- It's Too Hard

- Feelings
- Myths
- I Just Don't Know

- Ignorance
- Ineptitude

- Lack of Data
- Bad Data
- Misinterpretation

- What's In It For Me (WIIFM)
- Legacy
- Arrogance

- Fraud
- Waste
- Abuse

Hope you enjoy this Org Chart of Poor Decision-Making and I look forward to your comments on it. 

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 21, 2016

I Think I'll Just Take A Snooze--Right Over Here

This was a funny photo in the mall this weekend. 

We are passing by this mattress store. 

The sign over the bed says:

"See and feel how a Sleep Number bed adjusts to you"

This family is apparently trying out the new mattress. 

They have made themselves quite comfortable--and they sort of just continue to lay there and lay there.

The guy looks like he's watching TV and the mom and daughter are playing something. 

We take a stroll around the mall and eventually (maybe 20 minutes later) pass back by this store.

Guess what? These people are still laying on the mattress, and they haven't budged an inch. 

They don't look homeless or anything. 

Not sure if this Sleep Number is adjusting to them or they are still adjusting to the Sleep Number.

Honey, can you pass the cover. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 20, 2016

Why Would ANYONE Close Gitmo?

So over and over again, we read about the desire and promise by some to close Guantanamo Bay ("Gitmo")--the prison for terrorists against the U.S. 

What are the reasons given and do they make any sense?

1) It's costly--Yeah, it's costly to house prisoners, especially incredibly dangerous ones like terrorists who commit mass murder like in 9/11, but what is the cost of letting them go free, especially when the known recidivism rate of the released detainees is close to 29%!

2) It inspires other terrorists--Really, since when does imprisoning bad apples inspire other bad apples. Isn't one of the well-recognized and intended purposes of incarceration is to dissuade and deter bad behavior, as well as to rehabilitate. Even according to those who question the effectivenss of the deterrent capability of prison, studies show that it should be used to "incapacitate offendors (particularly, those of a chronic, higer risk nature)." In other words, we need to take and keep the terrorists off the battlefield!

Can an argument be made to bring the terrorists into prisons on American soil? Sure, but it makes a lot more common sense not to bring terrorists into the American heartland and risk further violence and danger to our citizens from known terrorists and their jihadist associates. 

Additionally, after 9/11 and the loss of almost 3,000 people, our brave U.S. serviceman and women spent a lot of time and hard work and risked their own lives to capture these dangerous terrorists...why would we want to release the terrorists endangering our military and our citizens all over again (especially when the threat has not abated--see below)?

Has the threat of terrorism gone away that we can say the war on terror is over and so let's send the terrorists home (the question itself almost sounds ludicrous for anyone living in the age of ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Boko Haram, and more)?  Well, according to the RAND research experts, "there has been an INCREASE in the number of Salafi-Jihadist groups, fighters, and attacks." 

And after the recent attacks in Paris, San Bernardino, the downing of the Russia airliner, and many other terror strikes, it is no surpurse that "Americans name terrorism as the No. 1 U.S. problem."

Perhaps, this helps us understand why Congress is blocking the closing of Gitmo, and why none of us should be able to understand why violent, dangerous terrorist detainees are continuing to be released to hurt U.S. citizens again.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to JBrazito)
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January 19, 2016

Iran Outsmarts And Humiliates

Iran so far continues to outsmart us at every turn...

Take just last week:

We released 7 Iranians for 5 Americans hostages plus a $1.7 billion settlement to Iran, even though our victims of terrorism haven't received their settlement money from Iran. 

Good deal?

Well after Iran released the 5 Americans, the Shitte militias in Iraq "whose funding and direction come from Iran" immediately took 3 new Americans hostage.

Oh well.

How about with the nuke deal with Iran?

We got short-term commitments from the Iranians to restrain their nuke program in return for $100+ billion and a removal of sanctions.

Good deal?

Well after Iran agreed to this, they immediately tested 2 ballistic missiles capable of carrying nukes in violation of UN resolutions, and then Iran threatens to pull out of the deal if we impose any new sanctions

Oh well. 

Then again, what about our naval vessels seized?

Iran took 2 US naval vessels and 10 American servicemen/women and after releasing them, we profusely thank Iran. 

Good deal?

Well after we thank them, Iran broadcasts humiliating images of the Americans on their knees captured, and it is reported that Iran kept SIM cards from the sailors handheld satellite phones presumably to hack these communications in the future. 

Oh well. 

They win some and win some more--AND--we lose some and lose some more. 

Ready for the next humiliating round? ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Scott Joseph)
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January 18, 2016

The Science Of The Interview

Job interviews seem to have evolved into elaborate psychosocial and behavioral tests.

Almost as if there is an exact science behind trying to pick "the winners" from "the losers." {hate those harsh terms about people]

Many questions look at how quickly the interviewee thinks on their feet, how prepared they are for the interview, and how well they present themselves for the job.

However, my question is whether these things are truly determinant of the fit between the person and the job, the culture, and the supervisor and team, as well as indicative of integrity of the person, their work ethic, or how well they would actually perform in said job. 

The interviewer proudly blurts out from his or her script:

TELL ME ABOUT...

- A time that you came from from work and said "I completely nailed it--a home run out of the park!"

Or

-  A time that you came from work and said "Oh shit, I completely screwed everything up."

Ah, like work--or life for that matter--is generally that black and white.

Are we forgetting about the 99% of the time that people go in the office, put in a solid day's work for a solid day's pay--and did a good job, made a decent contribution, and got along with the team. 

Also, let's face it, the vast majority of people are not the Einsteins or Steve Jobs of this world. 

They don't come to the interview having invented the driverless car or negotiated the end to World War II.

How about this question...

"Why do you want to work here?"

I heard someone actually asked this question about a job working in mining regulation--yeah right, your and everyone else's dream job. 

What an incredibly narcissistic question, where the interviewer is looking to hear about how great their organization is or their department is, how superb a leader he/she is known to be, and why the person just will fit in perfectly to a place that alas they probably really know very little about from an insider's perspective.

Okay, let's try another one...

"Where do you see yourself in 5-years?"

Let's see I want to be kissing your ass in 5-years and actually until the day I die or maybe better what your really afraid of hearing is that I'm gunning for your and would like to take your job and show this company what a real XYZ can do to improve things around here. 

Here's another one a colleague told me about recently...

Pretend your David Ogilvy and sell me on one of your ideas. You have 15-minutes to prepare. 

Ok let's put the pressure on, because the candidate coming in today for the job interview with a mortgage and two kids at home to feed isn't enough.  Do these conditions really demonstrate what the person could do with amble time and preparation and for something they really believe in?

Let's not forget to give an IQ and personality test to the person, so we can peg their intelligence and Myers Briggs or perhaps we should give them some puzzles and let them really sweat with the pieces. 

Let's face it we've all had some people wow on the interview and on paper and turn out to be duds on the specific jobs, and others that you weren't so sure about that turned out superbly.  

Assessing people is hard and many people are great at the poker game of landing the offer. 

It's the interviewers job to look beyond the playbook and the acting, and try to see the real person sitting in front of them.

Yes, presentation is important, but even more so can we get down to the work ethic and the integrity of the person?  What they are good at and where do they have weaknesses? Are they able and willing to learn and grow?  What do they like to work on and what do they recoil from?  How do they relate to others and can they get along?  When they face problems, challenges, and conflicts, can they and are they willing to work through it? 

I don't know any supervisor that hasn't hit the jackpot on some hires and made mistakes on others...those that claim they've made an actual science out of bringing on the absolute talent--I wonder how well they do in their next interview. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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