September 17, 2014

Super Military Sentry


Awesome robotic sentry being deployed by South Korea along the DMZ.

Ubergizmo reports that the Samsung SGR-A1 costs just $200,000 and supports all weather detection, a 5.56 mm machine gun, grenade launcher, surface to air missiles, and has an illuminator, laser range finder, heat infrared and motion detection, and can track multiple targets. 

Moreover, the human operator remains safe at a remote command location, while this robot at the front line targets the enemy at over 2 miles away. 


I would think this needs to be augmented with a bunker, camouflage, and/or additional sophisticated anti-air defense system to protect these stationary devices or perhaps add some mobility to these. 

Can you think of other countries that could benefit in protecting their borders from terrorists and military incursions with such a robot? ;-)
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September 16, 2014

Decide To Win

This was an interesting sign + sticker in Washington, D.C.

It asks to Stop Fighting Congress or perhaps stop the fighting in Congress.

The point is to come together and collaborate for a better decision, rather than have bad decisions made by just one side or have indecision altogether.

The New York Times had an Op-Ed over the weekend called The Great Unraveling about how we are living amidst hatred, fighting, disintegration, disease, and disorientation. 

And we are watching it as if dazed and confused--paralyzed as a nation taking maybe a baby step here or there, but with seemingly no solid committment to do anything to really change, improve, better, or win. 

Scared by lost lives and treasure since 9/11...we cannot bear to lose or waiver in our resolve because of weariness or despair.

Their is a lot to get done...for ourselves and future generations.

We've got to stop fighting our demons and each other and instead face up, man up, to the myriad of global problems that confront us. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 15, 2014

Just About Says It All



Story of human civilization in 2 minutes by Joe Bush

History majors can probably add some, but overall completely awesome!

Maybe this is a glimpse of what it's like to have a G-d's eye view of the world--where time and space are inconsequential. 

Looking at this, are we almost at the end or are we just on the verge of a new beginning?  ;-)
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Doctor In Context

I took this photo in the doctor's office. 

No, this is not my doctor, but a statue of one on the countertop.  

What's funny to me is how he looks in context of the bottles and anatomical models all around him.  

Either the doctor has shrunk or the other things are really huge.

My dad used to tell me that doctors only know what G-d tells them, so we should pray that G-d gives them the wisdom to help us. 

And my grandfather used to say in German that "G-d is my doctor."

Maybe that's why the image of the doctor is looking up--to get the guidance from the one above to help us. 

That's the intersection of medicine and faith--where truly big things can happen. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 14, 2014

Who Can Resist

It's the age old image of an angle sitting over one shoulder telling you to control yourself and do what's right and a little devil hanging over the other telling you to indulge and do whatever you want. 

The New York Times says that regardless of the push and pull of these two forces in our lives, we can learn to show restraint and stay goal-oriented.

By seeing the long-term rewards of good behavior, we can avoid pigging out in the moment. 

With Kids, it's called the Marshmallow Test--those who can resist eating a marshmallow for 15 minutes, get two marshmallows to enjoy later!

For adults, it may be that those who avoid the cake and ice cream today will live healthier and longer in the future. 

In Yiddish, there is the term sitzfleisch that refers to our ability to sit still and get our work done. 

The point is that if we can distract and distance ourselves from the indulgences of the moment, we can focus on the important things we really want to achieve with our lives. 

Of course, this is always easier said than done, because the two forces are both powerful and can be convincing.

For example, how many times can you hear, "Enjoy life a little, you aren't going to live forever" or "You've worked so hard, you deserve a little break", or "Come on, no one is perfect"...before you give in to a little excess? 

We are all tested in life, and we must try our best to pass as many as we can with flying colors--probably success is a healthy balance between living a little today in the here and now and working and saving abundantly for tomorrow's marshmallows.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 13, 2014

6 D's Of Cyberwar

Popular Science had a interesting article that spelled out the six D's of Cyberwar:

On the offensive side, you want to destroy, deny, degrade, disrupt, and deceive.

"Unlike World War II code breaking, cyber attacks offer the potential to not just read the enemy's radio, but to seize control of the radio itself."

- Step 1: Infiltrate the enemy's networks and communications and gather/exfiltrate information.

- Step 2:  Compromise the enemy's information either by:

1) Corrupting the enemy's information, planting misinformation, sewing erroneous reports, and causing poor decision-making. 
2) Taking control of their networks, disabling or jamming them, and disrupting their command and control or harming their critical infrastructure and causing mass confusion, destruction, and death.

Examples are "not merely to destroy the enemy's tanks, but to make them drive in circles--or even attack each other" or to cyber attack an enemies control systems for electricity, dams, transportation, banking, and so on. 

With the ability to steal information, sow misinformation, seize control, or even stop the information flow altogether, cyberwar is not just another weapon in our arsenal, but "a tool to help achieve the goals of any given operation."

On the flip side, you want to defend against the enemy's use of cyberspace to hurt us.

We need to continue to get serious about cyberwarfare and cybersecurity and become the masters in the information domain, and quickly. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 12, 2014

Vitamins R Good 4 U

I like this advertisement for Vitamin Water. 

It is on the side of a dispensing machine. 

The colors, the flavors, the energy brands...all very appealing. 

Their "Zero" drink is especially good for the calorie conscious of us. 

My desk draw is full of these...chug a lug. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 11, 2014

Got Flashed

Crazy day...true story.

I was going out to lunch in Washington D.C. today minding my own business...

When two young women were coming down the block in the opposite direction.

As they got closer, they started to giggle...

And then all of a sudden, at point blank range, one of them lifts up her skirt.

Both of them crack up and run off. 

I am not often left speechless, but this was definitely a new one on me. 

Let's just say, my wife told me that I have some "splaining" to do this evening! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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9/11 Remembrance

"Never Forget Project" - 13 years after the tragic events of 9/11.

2,977 American flags at local university in Washington, D.C. 

Question: With all the weighty terror threats aroud the world, including the latest and largest from ISIS--is never forgetting the same as doing everything possible to make sure it doesn't happen again?  

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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Okay For A Drive By

So, having grown up in New York, I've definitely heard of a drive by shooting, but never a "drive by meeting". 

Until a colleague asked me, "Okay for a drive by?"

A little taken aback, but I was available (and figured not in any imminent danger by his type of "drive by"), so I agreed to meet for a few minutes. 

The meeting was quick, like a car whizzing by, but we discussed what was needed and accomplished the immediate goal. 

Personally, I prefer when someone is driving the meeting, rather than having a drive by meeting, but we all need to be agile to whatever the day brings. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 10, 2014

G-d, Thinking Of You

I saw this on the side of a car and liked it--simple and to the point:

"Praise G-d"

My father used to tell me that "There are no atheists in a foxhole"--basically every one shits their pants when that tank rolls overhead.

There is a tendency to turn to G-d when we feel we need him--when times are bad--but then sort of forget about him when things are okay again, and we feel like we have it all under control.

Even when things are bleak, it can be easy to lose faith in anger and despair. 

So challenge #1 is to remember him in good times and bad--we are in his hands, always. 

In terms of how we praise G-d?

Some do it in prayer, others in deed.

That leads to challenge #2--to speak and act with consistency and sincerity. ;-) 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 9, 2014

Head Ripped

Took this photo today in Washington, D.C.

Someone drew this funny face on a USPS Priority Postal Sticker. 

But the top was ripped off...ouch!

And so it ends up looking like he's screaming that somebody ripped off/open the top of his peabrain head. 

I love a little creativity...where's my fix? ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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Ebola On The Move

Watching this video of an ebola patient escaping quarantine and the panic in Liberia, it is hard not to be concerned about it coming here. 

Additionally, with a third American infected with Ebola overseas coming back home for treatment, and the CDC retesting a Miami patient negative for Ebola after having shown some symptoms, the stakes seem to be going up with this deadly disease. 

Just last Friday, GovExec reported that Ebola has a 18% chance of reaching the U.S. in September.

Moreover, if the outbreak is not contained the risk of it coming here is said to "increase consistently."

My daughter asked me the other day why commercial flights to/from the infected countries (not including aid delvieries) have not been cut off for now to help prevent the spread of the disease and save lives.

Unfortunately, I did not have a good answer to this, except that certainly there are economic and social implications to those countries in the short-term, but what are the potential costs to countless other global citizens if we do not do everything we can to adequately contain this outbreak?  

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 8, 2014

I Drive This Way (NOT)

I took this photo in downtown Washington, D.C. 

Unlike the Google Car, which is purported to drive itself...this one let's the rider sit on top (that's a joke people)!

Doesn't matter if you bend the roof with your butt. 

The view is much better from on high, and it's oh so comfortable on the white aluminum with your pants bottom shining it up. 

Maybe this is a give-a-way for the next carathon or something equally prizeworthy. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 7, 2014

That 70's Chandelier

So what can I say...I like this crazy pink 70's chandelier. 

It is not traditional, certainly.

But it is colorful, cool, and happy.

It needs the right furniture and wall accessories so as not to look cheap.

Feminine trendy and hippie nostalgia come together to light up the place.

Definitely not for everyone, but it's distinctive and makes you look--and that's the point. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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Handbag All Alone

I took this photo of this neglected bag in Starbucks today.

Someone just left their handbag on a chair and went off to line up for coffee with their significant others.

I'm not sure they needed to save the table given that the place was fairly empty this morning.

However, it did strike me that this bag was all alone, far from pretty much anyone, and no one was watching it!

Also, not only was this handbag left unattended, it was also completely open at the top, sort of inviting double trouble. 

As you can see, no one else seems to be paying much attention...so if someone wanted, I think this large, full handbag could've been a crime statistic in a moment. 

Trust is nice, but this handbag is crying out for company. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 6, 2014

Chocolate Putin and Lemon ISIS


Ok, so Chocolate Putin and Lemon ISIS are a true recipe for global disaster. 

GLOBAL THREATS: With Chocolate Putin, we have the old Cold War back again (or maybe it was never really gone) with nation states facing off and state-of-the-art weapons galore such as thermonuclear ICBMs onshore, offshore, and aloft. And with Lemon ISIS, we have extremists posing a new level of terrorist threats such that we have never seen before with beheadings, crucifixions, and mass killings, and the potential for (very) dirty bombs. 

PSYCHOLOGICAL INTIMIDATION: While Chocolate Putin still denies his troops are even in Ukraine or that they all along wanted to harbor Snowden, Lemon ISIS tells the whole world they seek to establish a caliphate across the Middle East. Either way the psychological impact is to confuse and scare.

OPPRESSION OF THE PEOPLE: Both Chocolate Putin and Lemon ISIS declare that the people (along with their territory) in their sights are really wanting it--Ukrainians, Georgians, the Baltic States and Poland want to be Russian and maybe really are, while ISIS declares that good Muslims really want to live under strict Sharia law. The victims are not victims, they are willing participants in their own takeover. 

RULING BY AUTOCRACY: Chocolate Putin and Lemon ISIS rule by dictatorship with a supreme leader or all powerful president, the people must follow or be put in the gulag or hung by a tree limb. Either way, you will obey, freedoms begone, and the collective will be better off for it. 

The list of ingredients and description for world chaos and terror can go on and on here...but the point is that we are facing enemies that are digging in to inflict serious metabolic harm on us. 

While some may like chocolate Putin or Lemon ISIS, the results of closing our eyes to the calorie count will be catastrophic to a peaceful world order. 

(Source Photo for Lemon ISIS is Andy Blumenthal and for Chocolate Putin is here with attribution to jlib)
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September 5, 2014

Respect NOT Rape

BBC reports that already by age 20, 1 in 10 girls have been raped or secually assaulted. 

That equates to 120 MILLION girls globally. 

Many are then brutally murdered and shamed as we have been reading about, now with all too much frequency, in India for example, with young women being raped, killed, and then hung from trees etc. 

What is wrong with this world???

Women are our mothers, wives, and daughters--they are often amongst the most compassionate and caring of us.

This is how we treat them?

Unfortunately, rape and abuse is also a crime against many young boys. 

It is time to take a serious ethical pause and stop the violence against our children and against other adults. 

The screams and scars of those abused hang in the air as an indictment against those committing the crime as well as those that do nothing to speak out. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 4, 2014

Bicycle Star Of David

So not sure this is the most respectful place to put a Star of David.

But with the traditional colors--white and blue--of the flag of Israel, I think I see the effect they were trying to get here. 

Also, notice the blue and white rims of the wheels and handlebars.

Interesting portrayal on a bicycle--chalk one up for creativity. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 3, 2014

Who Would Advertise This?

Check out this license plate...for real. 

"LOW IQ" 

Who would pay to advertise this on their car? 

And perhaps more importantly, do they mean that they have a low IQ or perhaps the whole state of Virginia (no offense to all my friends and colleagues there).  

From a technology and creativity standpoint...Silicon Valley or Metro Washington, D.C., Silicon Valley or Metro Washington, D.C., Silicon Valley or Metro Washington D.C.--I get it! ;-)

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)
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September 2, 2014

On The Ropes

This seemed like a funny photo today.

I guess the carpet was too big for the elevator. 

So heave-ho it's off to the ropes we go. 

Not sure where the safety devices are for this thing...are there any?

Maybe another way to think of Ali Baba and the Flying Carpet. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy and Dannielle Blumenthal)
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September 1, 2014

You're Probably Not A 10

There is a review online for nearly everything...from sources such as Amazon to Yelp, Angie's List, IMDb, and more. 

But what you may not realize is that the knife cuts both ways...you are not only the reviewer, but the subject of reviews.

And if you're not all that...then everyone can know it!

The New York Times has an opinion piece by Delia Ephron about how reports cards are no longer just for kids, and that they are "for the rest of my life...[and] this is going on your permanent record."

From cabbies that won't pick you up because you've been rated a bad fare to your therapist that says you can't stop obsessing, restaurants that complain you refused to pay for the chopped liver, and the department store says you wasted their salesperson's time and then bought online, and even your Rabbi says you haven't been giving enough to the synagogue lately. 

People hear things, post things, and can access their records online...your life is not private, and who you are at least in other peoples opinion is just an easy search away. 

In Tweets, Blogs, on Facebook, and even in companies customer records, you have a personal review and rating waiting for discovery.

Your review might be good, but then again...you are not always at your finest moments and these get captured in databases and on social media.

Data mining or exfiltration of your personal information is your public enemy #1.

Of course, you'd like to think (or wish) that you're brand is a 10, but not everyone loves you that way your mother does.  

Too bad you can't tell them, "If I want your opinion, I'll ask for it"--either way, your gonna hear what people think of you loud and clear. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 31, 2014

Flower In Water

I love this photo from today. 

There was a flower floating in the pool.

I couldn't help noticing how unbelievably beautiful it was. 

The white petals, the pink center, and the shaded blue water around it. 

You can even see the ripples in the water immediately around the flower petals. 

This is somehow magical and amazing. 

Thank you G-d for showing this to us on this wonderful day. 

(Source Photo: Andy and Dannielle Blumenthal)
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August 30, 2014

Erase Me Not

So in the war between good and evil, the battlefield has become a war of words as much as that of guns and bombs. 

If you can't exterminate a people physically, then why not try to do it historically? 

With despots like former Iranian president Ahmadinejad as a exemplar for Holocaust denial, history revisionists now make fair game of rewriting the past, so that it plays their way.

How convenient--if you don't like how something turns out, simply change it in the history books so it never even happened. 

I was surprised recently to see how far this method of verbal warfare has gone, when I happened to look up some information online about the Jewish Exodus from slavery in Egypt and trek to the Promised Land of Israel, only to find that in Wikipedia, this has now been deemed a "Charter Myth."

I wondered how both the thousands year old Jewish Torah and the Christian Old Testament that records my people's hundreds of years of slavery and redemption in the Biblical book of Exodus was now just recorded in the most prominent online encyclopedia on the web as a false belief!

Ah, maybe those pyramids in Giza just showed up one day--and my people didn't build them with straw, mortar, and dead Jewish slave bodies.

Forget about how convenient calling this a myth is to the terrorists who don't want to acknowledge that the Land of Israel was given by G-d to the Jewish people and instead want to believe in Jihad against all "infidels."

My daughter asked me on a recent walk why they hate us? 

And I answered and said, if another people--i.e. the existence of the Jews and their homeland, Israel--is a refutation of their hate-filled "religious" beliefs, then maybe we can understand why they want to get rid of us, the inconvenient evidence.

This same story is playing out in the fighting between Israel and Hamas, where despite incredible destruction to Hamas in Gaza, they are claiming victory on social media. 

The Jewish people are small in numbers, and if millions of religious militants wants to write us off in the history books and on the web, they can certainly try. 

But what Jewish people do that is smarter than trying to erase something bad from history is that we force ourselves to remember it--to learn lessons from it and become better despite what happened. 

That is why we celebrate Passover to remember the Exodus from many thousands of years ago. The same with Yom Hashoah to memorialize the murder of six million Jews in the Holocaust, and Tisha B'Av to remember the destruction of the two Jewish temples. 

Even we the commandment to blot of the remembrance of the evil that Amalek did in attacking the our infirm and elderly among us in the dessert in Exodus, we remember this annually!

The Jews are a people of the book--we remember, we study, we learn, we grow. 

In the Bible, there are plenty of people that did bad things, but we would never think to rewrite it or any portion of it. It is sacred and most valuable to learn from--the good and the bad. 

While damning the memory of someone bad is not uncommon among all cultures, it is really more a remembrance of what they did bad, rather than forgetting they ever did it. 

It is far more courageous to remember history and learn from it, then try fledglingly to rewrite the parts that you don't like or are inconvenient to you. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 29, 2014

From Holocaust To Nation State

This is a really beautiful representation of the historical developments of the Jewish nation.

Where the Jewish people went from the fiery depths of the Holocaust to the rise of a modern democratic nation state of Israel. 

We are the same sons and daughters of Israel, but no longer exiled from the Holy Land and paraded like sheep to the slaughter from the hate mongers de jour. 

On the right are represented generations, who with the rise of every crazy demagogue that needed to blame their religious, political, social, and economic problems on a scapegoat, the Jewish people suffered at their bloody hands, discriminatory expropriation and expulsion, tax and torture, rape, pogrom, and slaughter.

On the left are shown the Jews from a free democratic State of Israel who are proud to seek a life of peace and security from persecution and who can chart their own course for their people and be a light unto nations for doing what is right and moral and contributing to the world in every significant development and advance of humankind. 

As the Jews went from slavery to freedom many thousands of years ago with the Exodus from Egypt and settlement of the land of Israel, so too today, we can count on the miraculous transition from exile to promised homeland and from persecution to self-determination. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Eliyokim Cohen)
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August 28, 2014

Talent = f {Intelligence, Energy, Integrity Squared}

I really like this quote from Warren Buffet. 

Three traits to look for in recruiting the best people:

  1. Intelligence
  2. Energy
  3. Integrity

But what good are the first two without the third one?

So Integrity first (or squared for emphasis)...then intelligence plus the energy to use it plentifully and you have yourself an organizational winner!

Related to this, I saw someone on the train today with a tee shirt (from Sweet Green...not sure why this is their slogan) that said:

Passion 

   X

Purpose

This seemed like a good motto to me define the energy (#2) in Buffet's top 3 items for recruiting. 

With a clear intent plus the compelling feeling to achieve it, you got energy to apply.

The resulting function: 

Talent = f {Intelligence, Energy (or Passion x Purpose), Integrity Squared}

Now that's a recruiting formula we can all follow--thank you Mr. Buffet. ;-)

(Source Photo: LinkedIn)
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August 27, 2014

The Cello And The Horse

So this was a funny picture I took today at Foggy Bottom. 

This guy in a shirt and tie is playing this awesome looking cello...

And sitting next to him is this other guy wearing a horse mask, rolling his head, and staring intently at the people passing by. 

Behind them is a farmers market and in front to the left is someone selling beautiful flowers. 

Overall, just another weird scene in the Nation's capital.

Next up, the guy in the horse head plays the cello and everyone sings along and neighs. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 26, 2014

Confronting The New



As the kids are starting a new school year, I thought these welcome messages in chalk on the sidewalk were interesting and hopeful. 

Everyone needs support when they are starting at a new place or doing something they haven't done before. 

Doing something new means opportunity for a fresh beginning and the chance to learn and grow, but it also presents changes and challenges. 

The messages the kids drew help to confront these head on asking the other students:

- What is exciting to them and playing up the positives of the new experience.

- Encouraging people to make new friends to help make the adjustment. 

- Offer emotional support with "Free Hugs" and camaraderie.

At times, we all end up in new situations and places.

We may be looking for discovery, adventure, or a chance to do something different or perhaps change our fortunes.

At other times, we may just get thrown into something and may not even be certain exactly how we got there. 

But either way, it definitely helps when we reach out to others and realize that while we are individuals, we are not alone as we go through it. 

People need each other...some more, some less...but no man is an island. ;-)

(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 25, 2014

Who Can Resist?

So this food truck in downtown Washington D.C. is plastered with this Mac Attack signage. 

The noodles are sticking up and out of everything (including the "A" in Attack).

And the gooey cheese is dropping off the noodles and letters. 

While I didn't see anyone around the truck buying early in the day, I have a feeling the line forms at lunchtime. 

Really now, who can resist the temptation of a good mac and cheese? ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 24, 2014

To The Holy Land


My youngest daughter, Rebecca, left for The Holy Land today.

I am so proud of her courage, love, and determination to visit there and learn more about her Judaism and Israel. 


Rebecca, you are going on an amazing journey, and we are all so happy for you and thinking of you. 


We all wish you nothing but the best time, lots of learning and meaning, new friends, and of course G-d's endless blessings and protection.


May you go in peace and return in peace--all our love. ;-)


(Source Photo: Rebecca Blumenthal)

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August 23, 2014

Can You Love A Robot?

Pew Research reports that by 2025, "Robotic sex partners will be commonplace."

While I certainly understand loving (new helpful) technology, actually making love to a machine is taking things a little too far.

Even with great advances in artificial intelligence (AI), a robot can be nothing more than an artificial partner...a humanoid is not a human!

Despite portrayals in the movie Her (2013) of a nerdy writer who falls in love with his life-like operating system, the reality of human and machine love is more a desperate call for companionship and understanding than a real connection of equals--physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. 

While a computer may be programmed to say the things you want to hear, to laugh at your jokes, and even to succumb to your advances, love cannot be programmed or even artificially learned. 

The complex dynamics between two real people locked-in the emotional roller coaster of life with its ups and downs, pulling together and pushing apart, of shared experiences, challenges, and conflicts, can only be met head on with a best friend, soulmate, diametric opposite, and at the same time congruent equal. 

Only another human being can love you and be your love.

A machine, however beautiful designed, charming, and learning of you, can be just a poor surrogate for the sad person screaming out for connection in a large lonely world. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 22, 2014

Smart Electronic Skin

I liked this concept reported on in BBC Technology about using swarms of sensors to create a type of electronic or "smart skin."

Like nerves in our human skin, multitudes of sensors placed on anything that we want to monitor, could create a sensing/feeling and reporting mechanism for evaluating the health or condition of that thing. 

Rather than wait for something to fail or break, we could actively collect information on changes in "temperature, strain, and movement" and other environmental impacts to analyze and predict any issues and proactively address them with countermeasures, maintenance, or fixes. 

As human beings, we are architected with regular monitoring and self-healing biological systems to protect ourselves from daily dangers around us, we can develop homes, factories, transport, robots, and everything important around us with similar properties to be more durable, last longer and be more productive.  

When we emulate in our own development efforts what G-d has created for the good in the world, we are on the right track. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 21, 2014

We Need More Rabbit

This was a funny scene down at Foggy Bottom today.

The Nesquik rabbit was giving out chocolate milk bottle samples.

On a warm August day today, this was nice. 

But also, it was refreshing to see a little light-heartedness downtown. 

We all--adults and kids--need more of this--to enjoy life.

It was interesting how we are so going in the opposite direction these days.

Not only with all the bad news around the world...

But even with how hard we have to work just to keep up (24/7) and with a world where our kids are having to work and miss out on what is supposed to be some more or less carefree exploratory years to find themselves. 

Now it's SAT prep, AP classes, internships, volunteer opportunities, and extracurricular activities--all the time. 

In this regard, in the Wall Street Journal today, there was a review of a book called Excellent Sheep.

The book's author explains how "For many students, rising to the absolute top means being consumed by the system...[where they] sacrifice health, relationships, exploration, [and] activities...[those things] essential for developing souls and hearts."

The kids are often working so hard that they are anxious, depressed, and often miserable. 

When getting ahead and becoming wealthy (a priority for 80%!) becomes the prime reason for our young adults' existence, maybe we have missed the boat in terms of finding true meaning and joy in life. 

Hard work and striving for success is a good thing, but worshipping the proverbial "golden calf" is not productive. 

Like the rabbit, I would give a thumbs up to those for whom a more well-balanced life rules the day--where success, meaning, and joy all play an important part, and we can drink some chocolate milk and not take everything so darn serious. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 20, 2014

Bittersweet Green

So lately, passing by Sweet Greens in the morning has not been so sweet.

The tables outside are being used by those unfortunately with no place to sleep. 

When I see the homeless people under the Sweet Green awning lying on the tables wrapped in ripped clothes and blankets trying to get some much needed sleep, it is completely heart breaking. 

At the same time, I wonder about the health and safety for people who come later to eat on those tables that only hours earlier were somebody's bed for the night.

Not a good situation all around...and can never understand why a wealthy society such as ours can't feed, cloth, and shelter ALL its citizens--so they don't have to sleep at Sweet Greens anymore. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 19, 2014

Panic, Technology To Rescue

Who us panic?

- ISIS is threatening the West with "dangerous new extremism"

- Syria's death toll tops 170,000 with more than 10,000 believed tortured to death. 
- Boko Haram is still abducting young girls (and boys).
- Iran says no deal on nukes
- Ebola is "out of control."
- China is emergent as the U.S. pivots east and space becomes militarized with anti-satellite weapons. 
- Russia is resurgent (Crimea is history to Ukraine).
- The national deficit only hints at the true extent of our unfunded liabilities from entitelements.
- The economy is bubbling over the top again, warns Robert Shiller.
- Racial and income inequality continues to divide America (case in point, Ferguson MO).
- Nearly 1 in 3 American adults has an arrest record.
- Almost half the world--3 billion people--live in poverty on less then $2.50 a day. 

Ah, if only technology could solve all our global problems--and this is a big list and not by any means comprehensive.


It's a race of the "world is exploding all over" with technology trying to make it better with more and better information, innovation, productivity, security, and cures.


Almost like the war of good over evil--we may lose the battle, but hopefully (let's pray) in the end, we will win the war. ;-)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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August 18, 2014

Fell, Jumped, Or Pushed

Maybe the jury is still out on whether Humpty Dumpty fell, jumped, or was pushed. 

Of course, it's very easy to say affirmatively any one of these, but that doesn't necessarily make it true (even when there is a children's rhyme or bumper sticker that goes with it). 

I think the point is that this is what investigations, witnesses, evidence, and a trial is for...to figure out the truth. 

He says, she says...or as Judge Judy says, "It's a lot of who shot John!"

It's good not to jump to conclusions, especially when opinions may be subjective, biased, or have hidden agendas. 

Heck, even if Humpty Dumpty was pushed, they still couldn't put him back together again, but at least someone should pay for the bad yoke. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 17, 2014

Reflections

We did a little kayaking at Lake Needwood today.

I couldn't believe they open at 6:30 in the morning already to rent boats on a Sunday.

In the boathouse, there was a huge spider on the floor crawling around, and the boat attendant came with a thingamajig to grab it and throw it back in the lake.

As he took the spider away, he made sure to tell us that is was POISONOUS!

On the lake, I took this photo of the gorgeous trees and greenery and it's reflection on the water...a perfect mirror image.

Thank you G-d for the amazing world you have created and allow us to enjoy. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 16, 2014

Best Dancers With Projection Effects





I just love Blue Journey and hope they win the season!
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Technology Easy Sell

Technology is not like buying a time share, thank G-d. 

We examine the costs and the benefits, and it either works and provides us a tangible competitive benefit or it doesn't.

"You can't be competitive without modern technology, you'll simply be out of business."

At the end of the day, you don't want to be sold a worthless bag of goods from a no good (not genuine) salesperson. 

Read about it here in my new article in Public CIO. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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Vote to Have A Say

People vote to get representation in political office for what they believe or want. 

- Gun Rights
- Abortion Rights
- Civil Rights
- Social Entitlements
- International Engagement
- Strong Defense
- Low Taxes 
- Etc. Etc. Etc.

But now, cities like Los Angeles that are looking to boost voter turnout want to offer cash prizes

The cash prize "might include a prize as high as $50,000."

Nice (not!)--head to the polls like you do to buy a Powerball ticket. 

Votes, like love, is not something that should be bought.

For those fortunate enough to live in a free country, voting is a special right where everyone can have a say and influence the world around them. 

Instead of focusing on handing out rides or money to go and vote, maybe instead we should create awareness of what a great opportunity it is to live in a  democracy and be able to chart our own course rather than live like so many around the globe under the rule of dictators and tyrants.

Voting is a great privilege for those who care to stand up and make a difference by going to the polls, voting is not an ATM machine. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 15, 2014

The Ebola Bomb {^}

Ebola is the "one of the most virulent microbes" to mankind--there is no known cure and it has a 90% mortality rate. 

The death toll from the current outbreak of ebola in West Africa has now hit 1,145.


And according to the U.N. Health Agency, the number of deaths are "vastly underestimated."


Already, as of two weeks ago, more than 100 health workers had been infected. So who is going to care for the infected and sick, when the medical professionals themselves are sick and dead? 


According to the World Health Organization, Ebola is spread by "direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs, or other bodily fluids of infected people, and indirect contact with environments infected with such fluids."


However, as frightening and deadly as ebola is as a disease that spreads and must be contained, what is even more terrifying is that there are those who believe that terrorists may try to harness it into a dirty bomb.


CBS reports that a disease expert from Cambridge University says that "A bigger and more serious risk is that a [terrorist] group manages to harness the virus as a power, then explode it in a bomb in a highly populated area."


A biological bomb like this "could cause a large number of horrific deaths," and would further spread the disease--and until it stops, no one knows. 


Visiting any number of local doctors offices, emergency rooms, or hospitals that are already filled with patients and with lengthy wait times to be treated, I cannot imagine what an Ebola (type) outbreak would look like.


I hope and pray we never find out the suffering, death, and havoc something a virus like this would cause--whether transmitted through human-to-human contact or by one of the dirtiest, sickest bombs you could imagine. 


(Source Screenshot: here with attribution to Unicef)

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August 14, 2014

Double Take


Cousin Betty sent me a series of funny photo's titled, "It's Called The Right Angle" (via Yehudis Steen). 

These were too funny, and there is certainly no offense intended. 

So pictures can be deceiving, especially if you don't pay attention to the details of who's who and who's sitting on what. ;-)

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August 13, 2014

Electrical Cataclysm

Warning from the former director of CIA in the Wall Street Journal...

We are grossly unprepared for an EMP attack on this country!

Dire reports from the EMP Commission from 2004 and 2008 have been "much neglected"!

The threat comes from nation states and terrorist organizations who can detonate a nuclear device above our skies by ICBM, SCUD missile (for example from a freighter near our shores), a space-launched vehicle that lifts satelittes into orbit, and even from low-yield nuclear weapons closer to home. 

Russia and China "have considered limited nuclear-attack options that...employ EMP as the primary or sole means of attack."

North Korea in 2012 orbited a satellite compatible with such a small nuclear warhead "for the delviery of a surprise nuclear EMP attack against the U.S."

Here's the clincher on the damage this could do to us:

"Within 12 months of a nationwide blackout, up to 90% of the U.S. population could possibly perish from starvation, disease, and social breakdown."

But for roughly $2 billion dollars we could protect the national electrical grid with surge arrestors, faraday cages and more. 

However, the bills to authorize this and protect us are stalled.

This is a known threat that our enemies are preparing for and what are we doing sitting on our hands, again? 

Or as the comedian Lewis Black says, "If we're going nowhere as a country, why can't we get there faster?"  ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Wil C. Fry)
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August 10, 2014

Why Innovation Is On The Decline

You've experienced it firsthand, innovation is slowing down (and yes, it's quite disappointing!).  

Do you feel compelled to get a new smartphone, TV, or just about anything else...or do you already basically have the latest and greatest technology, even if it's a couple of years old now?


But imagine, if something great and new did come out...we'd all be dancing in the streets and eager to buy. 


That's right, innovation is not what it was...according to the Wall Street Journal, there is "An Innovation Slowdown At The Tech Giants."


The question is why is this happening?


No, the tech companies are not copying Washington politics (sleepy, sleepy...)! 


But instead, we may have become our own worst enemies to our ability to innovate anew. 


The New York Times today explains that our minds have a toggle switch between being focused on a task and being free to let your mind wonder and innovate. 


You can't do both at the same time, no you can't.


And these days, we have so flooded ourselves with information overload with everything from 24/7 work and "big data," email/texting, social media, and thousands of cable stations and billions of YouTube videos, and more that we are forever engaged in the what's now, and are not allowing ourselves to rest, recuperate, and think about the potential for what's new. 


If we want more from the future (innovation, creative problem solving, and sound decision making), then we need to allow some space for our minds to restore itself.


Whether that means daily downtimes, weekly walks in the park, monthly mediations, or semiannual vacations...we need to stop the diminishing returns of constant work and information arousal, and take a little mind breather. 


Instead of chugging along our insane nonstop routines of endless activities and firehose information engagement, we will do ourselves and our children and grandchildren a great service by pulling the train over for some rest and relaxation...and only then will real innovation begin again. ;-)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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August 9, 2014

Robots, Who's Telling Whom What To Do

There was an interesting quote about jobs of the future by Tom Preston-Werner in Bloomberg Businessweek:

"In the future, there's potentially two types of jobs: where you tell a machine what to do, programming a computer, or a machine is going to tell you what to do. You're either the one that creates the automation or you're going to get automated."

Already, we've seen manufacturing get outsourced by the millions of job to cheaper labor oversees or automated in factories by machines and robotics.

Similarly, agriculture has seen a large decrease in small family-owned farms, in lieu of mega farms run by multinationals and run by automated farm equipment with GPS and drones. 

The military is moving quickly to warfare by drones, robotics, and people geared-up in high-tech exoskeletons. 

Now in the sacrosanct service sector, where it has been said that it could never be done by anyone by local people within their communities, services are moving in the direction of robots. 

Perhaps we can ask if even in government, can there be a future where robots can govern better than we can--and get things done speedily and efficiently!

In one Sci fi hit after another, from Star Trek to Battlestar Galactica to Terminator, a future of humanity embattled by cyborgs predominates. 

Like in the show, Lost in Space, where the robot in wont to say, "Crush, Kill, Destroy," perhaps we can understand this as not jsut a physical threat as people's lives, but also to their ability to earn a living in a world where automation challenges us with the children reframe:

"Everything you can do, I can do better. I can do everything better than you. Yes you can, no you can't..."

At this point, I am not sure it is really a debate anymore, and that Preston-Werner is predominantly right...technology is the future--whether we are end up being eaten alive by it or are its earthly masters. ;-)
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