October 25, 2016

Countdown To Nukesville

So I keep reading and hearing about Russia preparations for nuclear confrontation with the West and the overall risk rising greatly:

- Investing in new advanced nuclear weapons, such as stealth nukes that can destroy an area the size of Texas or France

- Adding hundreds of new warheads

- Moving nukes to the European doorstep of Poland and Lithuania

- Flying Russian bombers within 40 miles of California coast

- Pulling out of non-proliferation agreements, including producing new intermediate range nuclear cruise missiles 

- Violating security pacts to destroy plutonium stockpiles

- Skipping the nuclear security summit

- Conducting massive civil defense drills

- Threatening asymmetrical and painful actions against the West, including first strike

- Building new bases in Ukraine, Syria, and now eyeing Cuba and Vietnam

- Building dozens of new underground bunkers

- Entering a new arms race with the U.S. 

Well perhaps this is all just saber-rattling bluster and party-rallying political rhetoric.

The real question is if this is all talk, then why all the costly actions being made?

Self defense experts always say never pull out a weapon unless you seriously intend to use it, so are Russia's intentions to simply counter the West or is it going to go way beyond that. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

October 24, 2016

Money Makes The World Go Round

I remember from years ago hearing this song called, "Money makes the world go around."

It's an unfortunate song. 

"The clinking clanking clunking sound."

Then this week, I saw this sign in someone's office. 

It was hung under a framed dollar bill, and said:


It doesn't say G-d first, or family, or integrity, or compassion, or anything meaningful and good. 

No, instead just money. 

What is wrong with people?

Yes, we all need money to live.

Life isn't free. 

There are bills to pay and money to be saved for a rainy day.

But, "money first"???

"Very important!"

There is definitely something wrong with some people's values.

They think:

To hell with doing the right thing if you can make lots of money.

To hell with being honest in business if you can make more money.

To hell with earning a decent day's pay for an honest day's work.

No, to some misguided people, it's simply money first. 

And money also means power.

More, more, more...at almost any cost that is. 

Sell your souls to the devil for a buck fifty.

Is the temporary satisfaction that money can buy you really worth it.

No, money is not first, and never should be. 

Money is a means to an end, but never an end in itself.

Money is not the root of all evil, but perhaps underlying greed is. 

Take that awful sign down and the dollar bill in the shiny frame at the very top of the wall too! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Greatest Danger Is Still Man

Season 7 of "The Walking Dead" kicked off last night, and it was an absolutely devastating storyline

This was the long awaited episode to see what happens after Rick and cohorts are captured and literally put down on their knees in the gravel by the evil and ruthless Negan and his army. 

The killings of Glenn and Abraham by getting their skulls brutally bashed in was one of the most horrific things I have ever seen. 

And forcing Rick to nearly cut off his own child's arm and all the other mental torture and physical abuse he endured left the show's leader and hero, a completely broken man. 

All that they had overcome and survived was now just a shattered history. 

They were overcome, they were defeated, they were wholly broken.

What is amazing is that they could handle the Walking Dead zombies (even hordes of them), but ultimately, it was the evilness of man himself that they could not win against. 

Zombies are dangerous and scary, but man is the most dangerous and brutal predator out there, and the horrific things they can do to each makes everything else pale by comparison. 

Especially, when Negan kills and destroys, he does it with such completele evil joy that it leaves one questioning, how can this whole evil thing exist in a universe created and maintained by a good and merciful G-d. 

My wife said to me that this was a small reminder of what the Holocaust must've been like--with the Nazi's holding a stranglehold of power and committing the most heinous atrocities and genocide against 6 million starving and enslaved Jews held in notorious concentration death camps.

After the show, watching "Talking Dead," viewers indicated that this was the turning point in the whole show, and there was no going back for Rick and his group.

Yet, I am most certain that even if it can no longer be Rick who regains his strength and leadership mantle, there will be another who will rise up and overcome the evil Negan. 

It's a dog eat dog world, and there is always another younger, leaner, and meaner dog in town--hence, every dog has it's day.

Ultimately is that justice?

While perhaps we all wish to see good triumph over evil every time, there are certainly moments when good takes a good walloping. 

And then G-d sends a savior to restore good to it's rightful dominant place in the universe.

In the process though, lives and souls can be shattered and never be the same again. 

Watching the eternal battle between good and evil is what totally tests our faith and gives us the free choice on which side to be on. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

October 23, 2016

Your Score Is Your Life

Absolutely fascinating article in the Washington Post

China is working on a plan to use big data to score people on their social behavior. 

Every interaction you make in life either increments or decrements your social score. 

You social score determines how trustworthy you are. 

The social score would vacuum up data from the "courts, police, banking, tax, and employment records."

People in service professions like teacher, doctors, and business could be scored for their professionalism. 

Doing positive social actions like caring for the elderly earn you added points and doing negative social actions like DUI or running a red light subtracts points from your score. 

As the score includes more and more data feeds over time, you could eventually be scored for doing your homework, chores in the home, how you treat your wife and children, the community service you do, how hard you perform at work, how you treat people socially and on dates, whether you are fair in your business dealings and treat others well, whether you do your religious duties, and so on. 

People can get rated for just about everything they do.

And these rating get aggregated into your social score. 

The score is immediately available to everyone and so they know how good or bad you are on the scale of 1 to a 1,000.

If you think people are stressed out now, can you imagine having to worry about everything you do and how you will be rated for it and how it can affect your score and your future. 

If you have a bad score, say goodbye to opportunities for education, employment, loans, friends, and marriage prospects. 

Imagine people held hostage by others threatening to give you a bad score because they don't like you, are racist, or for blackmail. 

What about society abusing this power to get you to not only follow positive social norms, but to enforce on you certain political leanings, religious followings, or policy endorsements. 

Social scores could end up meaning the ultimate in social control. 

Personal scores can manipulate your behavior by being rewarding or punitive and rehabilitative to whatever end the scoring authorities dictate. 

Moreover, hackers or the people who control the big data machinery could destroy your life in a matter of milliseconds. 

So this is what it comes down to: You are your score!

Play along and do what you are told to do...you are the Borg and you will follow. 

Conform or you are dead by number!

Transparency is everywhere. 

Pluses and minuses every day. 

What is my score today? 

Today, I am desirable and successful, and tomorrow, I am disregarded and a loser. 

Please don't kill my score.

Please don't destroy me. 

Please, I will be socially good. 

Please, I will not resist. ;-)

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)


Awesome Drumbeat of Life

Just thought this was such an awesome drum. 

On the top of the drum was a painting of a drummer. 

And on the side was a picture of a beautiful lady dancing. 

It was so simple, yet so eloquently done.

There is something amazing when you can literally feel the art come so alive.

Almost like seeing and feeling the vision of the artist as if looking directly through his eyes.

Our experience her on earth is that of our soul moving and acting in a surreal physical world.

But in so interacting, we leave behind and impact this world with artifacts, and deeds to others, that last beyond ourselves and the moment. 

What a wonderful world G-d has placed us in to experience his wonders and to learn and grow.

I can feel the drumming of my heart and the dancing of my feet all along the way.

And even though I don't comprehend everything I am experiencing or the decisions that I must make, in it contains not only deep intrigue, but also genuine surprise and challenge, and ultimately meaning, every step  along the marvelous path of G-d's garden. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

October 22, 2016

Wouldn't You Like To Be A Govie Too

Some people have a negative perception of government workers ("govies").  

They think that it's just a cushy job with a lot of free time and benefits. 

Sort of like the photo above with the lady streched out over her laptop, eyes half shut, and with the lightbulb above her head--thinking up great ideas for running the government and regulating the people. 

Ah, no--it's not like that at all. 

Okay, maybe a little for some people. 

Having been in both the private and public sectors about 40-60 of my career, I can tell you that there is plenty of unproductiveness (i.e. dead weight) wherever you go. 

But there is also a lot of hardworking (some super hardworking) and really smart people too. 

Yes, there are meetings (lots of them) and paperwork (piled high), but there is also a good amount of out-of-the-box thinking and trying to figure out how to do more with the same or less.  

There is also some really big thinking like how to win the next Big One (i.e. war), how to protect the country from deadly terrorism, disasters, weapons of mass destruction, and cyber attack, how to partner with others around the world to achieve big ambitious projects and peace, how to colonize outer space, protect the environment, and improve the economy, healthcare, education, and so much more. 

Not all the big thinking is good thinking--some of it is unrealistic, biased towards this or that constituency, counterproductive, or even corrupt. 

But many govies really do want to do a great job and save the world!

If you think there isn't plenty of hard work, passion, dedication--you're wrong.

If you think, everyone is doing the right thing for the right reasons--your delusional.

Like with people all over the world, there's a mix of good and some not so good, but overall, there is lots of opportunity to lead, problem solve, and do good and great things with real effect, nationally and globally. 

And if for that alone, being a govie is an amazing career move where you can have an influence on matters of tremendous importance and lasting impact. 

Wild perceptions and pictures can be deceiving--instead think about the hero that you can and want to be. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

October 21, 2016

Integrity is Priority #1

So I was speaking with some leaders about what is most important to them in their organization. 

And what was fascinating to me is that they didn't describe the usual things...

- Leadership 

- Innovation 

- Emotional Intelligence

- Technical skills

And so on. 

Instead and in all seriousness, they spoke with me about integrity.

Integrity is what I call, doing the right thing, always!

And I was so impressed how these leaders understood that integrity is integral to their organizational culture, and is the cornerstone to it's ultimate success in everything else it does. 

If everyone does the right thing, then the organization will do the right thing!

In the bible, we repeatedly learn the importance of following one's moral compass. 

- In Ecclesiastes (7:1), "A good name is better than fine perfume." 

- In Proverbs (22:1), "A good name is more desired than great wealth."

And as in the photo above from a local synagogue, "A good name endures forever."

What is new here though is that a good name and the integrity it takes to build that name for yourself is not just critical to your self development, but ultimately is really congruent and even synonymous with your organization's success. 

If unfortunately some are not doing "the right thing," we need to know about it, so we can course correct.

What we do matters not only to ourselves, but to the larger organization and community that we live in. 

Good is contagious, and it inspires more good, and this is what we want to be successful. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

October 20, 2016

Election Disillusionment

So invariably you hear these days from those that dislike one or the other candidate running for President, that if he/she wins, they are moving out of this country. 

That is apparently how strong people feel in terms of dislike for the candidates--in fact, the most disliked candidates in American history!

Well, I ran into this couple in the Metro.

They were from New Jersey and visiting Washington, D.C. with their daughter. 

They were wearing matching t-shirts that said:
"Election 2016Time To Move To Mars"

Now moving from the USA is not far enough away for people to get from the horrible politics and/or politicians that they can't seem to stand...so next stop is Mars!

As a big time proponents for colonization of other planets, I think this may actually be one of the best things to come out of this election cycle. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

October 19, 2016

Sukkah Surprise

I'm in Washington D.C. and I look towards the World Health Organization (WHO) a specialized agency of the United Nations. 

And lo' and behold, what do I see? 

It looks like a sukkah!

A sukkah is a small temporary hut that is put up on the Jewish holiday of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles or Booths) which we are celebrating now. 

The sukkah commemorates when the Jewish people left Egypt and journeyed through the desert for 40 years until they reached the promised land of Israel. 

Sukkot is traditionally one of three times a year of historical pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem, and this was fascinating to see this in DC just as the UNjust UNESCO failed history by erroneously declaring the Temple Mount in Jerusalem only sacred to Muslims. 

So while I'm thinking how cool is it that the WHO has a sukkah for the celebration--I've never seen a sukkah in Washington DC before.--I'm realizing this is something much more.

As I get closer, I see there are pictures of impoverished people with names of diseases like chagas and elephantiasis caused by parasites. 

As I then learn, this is not like any traditional sukkah--usually decorated, happy, and celebratory for the redemption from slavery and the founding of Jewish nationhood. 

I stop by some people outside and ask what this structure is and they tell me it's a favela (like a shanty town hut from Brazil).

The WHO had this put up as a display for an important meeting of public health officials, and they said I am welcome to take a look. 

So what is to some a sukkah for celebrating the holiday of redemption to another is a favela for learning about critical health conditions around the world. 

People are so connected all over the world in more ways than we normally realize. 

Either way, this temporary shelter is no place to call home, even though seeing it from a distance made me feel just that way.

Unfortunately, the UN does not duly recognize and respect the Jewish homeland, it's ancestry and religious connections to G-d, the Temple, and the Holy Land.

To the unfortunate bigoted and hateful UNESCO, I'm sure a sukkah is just another favela--that is the disease so prominent in their hearts and minds. 

But with hopefulness, perhaps even they can be miraculously redeemed like the symbolism we get from the sukkah. 

(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

October 18, 2016

Keeping Organized

So I'm in this clothing store...

And behind the cash register is this closet. 

The cashier goes to the closet to get something and leaves the door open. 

The closet, especially compared with the rest of the upscale clothing store, is really a mess. 

But at the top, hanging is a yellow sticky note.

And the note says, "Keep Organized".

The first shelf with some binders isn't too bad.

But then as you get further away form the reminder to keep organized, it gets worse and worse. 

Office supplies, hand creams, napkins, sprayers, and more, all sort of thrown in there. 

I was surprised not to see someone's leftovers from lunch. (lol)

And then on the door itself are all these taped up reminder papers and old used tape with papers long torn off still hanging there.

I don't think this is the image or brand this store wants to convey. 

The funny thing is that out on the floor, the salespeople were working on all the fancy displays and using these corporate design books that show them exactly what to lay out, where, and how. 

Then again, what's visible and skin deep doesn't always represent what's beneath the surface. 

Like politics, if you knew how the sausage was made, you'd probably never eat it. 

Maybe some things are better left behind closed doors. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

October 17, 2016

From Cocoa Trees To Honey Pizza

Had a chance to take in the United States Botanic Garden. 

Loved going in the greenhouse. 

The air was fresh and the flowers beautiful. 

The 2nd to last photo is a cocoa tree, which I had never seen before. 

It was incredible to me that those pods hold the amazing stuff that gives us chocolate. 

G-d's creations are so amazing. 

Also, we went for dinner and my daughter had this amazing pizza with cheese, figs, spinach, and honey. 

I couldn't have the dough because of my Paleo diet, but I just tasted the toppings, and it was literally like heaven. 

I was glad that the taste didn't show up on the scale this morning. 

To me the wonderment is how our senses can literally indulge in so many wonderful things almost like the Garden of Eden. 

Thank you G-d for giving us life and the ability to enjoy your amazing creations. ;-)

(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

October 16, 2016

Help Find Missing Children

Coming out of the mall into the parking lot, I saw this poster lying on the ground. 

It was a flyer to help find a missing child. 

Every time, I see something like this, I just have to take a big gulp and deep breath, as this seems like one of the scariest things that can happen to a child and their parents.

A child is dependent on it's parents, and when they go missing G-d forbid, the fear of in whose hands they might fall and what may be done to them is unthinkable. 

The goal is to get the word and pictures out to find the child as quickly as possible. 

From 2002, statistics show about 800,000 children go missing every year (or about 2,000 per day)--that is unbelievable!

Of those, about 204,000 were family abductions, 58,000 were non-family abductions, a 115 were taken by a stranger, and the rest were mostly run-aways.

About 1 in 5 runaways are considered likely victims of child sex trafficking. 

A 1997 study showed only 5% of non-family abductions even get reported to police and entered in the FBI's National Crime Information Center (NCIC)--many may not enter a report when a child is gone just a few days or it may get filed under other categories like homicides or sexual assaults. 

In the 1972 and 1981, there were tragic cases of missing children Etan Patz and Adam Walsh, both killed at age 6, with Etan's remains supposedly thrown in the garbage in Soho (he was never found) and Adam's located in a drainage canal in Florida. 

Etan was the first missing child whose pictures were put on the back of milk carton. 

In 1983, the anniversary of Etan's disappearance, May 25, was designated National Missing Children's Day.

In 1984, the Walshes and other child advocates established the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) "to help find missing children and prevent child victimization"--shockingly before this there was no coordinated federal and state mechanism for search efforts.

- NCMEC tip hotline (1-800-The Lost) has received over 4.3 million calls in the last 32 years and they have facilitated the return of 227,000 missing children.

In 1996, America's Missing Broadcast Emergency Response (AMBER) was set up as a a child abduction emergency alert system; it was named after Amber Hagerman, a 9-year old abducted and murdered in Texas. 

- AMBER Alerts, between 1997 and 2015, were credited with the safe recovery of 723 children. 

My heart goes out to these children and their families! 

Anything that each of us can do to help with the desperate situation of missing children and their safe recovery is worth not only our attention, but our utmost vigilance and helpful tips. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

October 15, 2016

Peace Through Strength

So this is what I've learned about conflict management...

Obviously, we are better off without conflict and to simply all get along--that's the ideal!

Now unfortunately, in real life there may be situations where we may have fundamental differences of opinions and goals, and at times these may seriously clash. 

What's good for you, may be bad for me (or vice versa)...that's called a win-lose situation. 

And when we don't see eye to eye and can't get along, then either we can try to work it out and that's where diplomacy comes in or at other times, we may have no choice but to take up arms and go to war.

Our first choice is diplomacy. Here, we sit down to listen and try genuinely to understand each other, and have empathy on others...life is not easy for anyone. 

Still we need to mesh what others want with what we need for our own wellbeing and progress, and that's where negotiation, compromise, and de-escalation come into play. 

Best case scenario, we come up with a win-win situation, where we can both walk away from the table with a respectable enough amount of what we each want and our egos still intact, so that that we can all go our merry ways and pursue our lives and live within our values and amidst security.  

However, in some cases, some may be so unreasonable, intractable, and their actions so aggressive, egregious, and dangerous as to threaten, harm, and violate the lives of others, that it's intolerable for it to continue any longer.

What's left when we can't put up and shut up, and when talk is exhausted, is to fight for what we believe in, for who we are, and for our right to live and prosper. 

Once, twice, three times and you're out of time and luck--we are seriously headed for a clash of persons and/or civilizations. 

Peace is better won without firing a shot, but when it's time to pull out the guns, they better be damn big and deadly ones. 

That is called peace through strength...where we have the guts and means to back up our position with force, if necessary. 

None of this bullshit of bringing a knife to a gunfight; instead, when we have no choice but to fight, we fight to win and everything is on the table. 

Peace is the preference, but if war is the only answer, then the other side may have unleashed hell, and that is what they will get from peace through strength delivered! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

October 14, 2016

Jerusalem's Absolutely Jewish Temple Mount

So the Nazi's tried to make the world Judenrein--free of Jews--meaning dead, as in Holocaust and genocide!

The Babylonians tried. 

The Assyrians tried.

The Greeks tried.

The Romans tried.

The Persians tried. 

And more...

...but they all failed. 

Empires came and went with their anti-Semitism, hatred, racism, discrimination, and bigotry. 

Now the UNjust United Nations, heralded by demagogues, dictators, and human rights abusers from around the world come together against Israel.

The latest yesterday, by the corrupt UNESCO, which drafted yet another resolution against the Jewish State declaring that the Holy Temple Mount in Jerusalem where the Jews worship at the Western Wall of their twice destroyed temple (Beit HaMikdash) is not Jewish.

The First Temple: 
1 Kings 6: "In the 480th year after the Israelites came out of Egypt, in the 4th year of Solomon's reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, the second month, he began to build the temple of the L-rd. 

The Second Temple:
Ezra 1-3: "In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia...the L-rd stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia...thus says Cyrus king of Persia...whoever among you of all his people, may his G-d be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of the L-rd, the G-d of Israel--he is the G-d who is in Jerusalem."

The anti-Semitic UN and it's farcical subagencies like UNESCO can make earthly resolutions--false and worthless--all they want. 

But there is a heavenly G-d, and only He/She reigns supreme and whose resolution is truth and will endure. 

Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel and the Temple Mount is the holy site of the Jewish people, and if the UN has a problem with the word of G-d then they have a very BIG problem indeed. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal; The beautiful painting by Penina Flamm)

October 13, 2016

Feminism For Our Mothers and Daughters

In any language feminism should mean empowerment, equality, and respect for women. 

What's going on with the election though seems wrong--feminism is not for sale for votes!

Neither gender nor any other demographic factor such as race, religion, color, sexual orientation and so forth, should be used to garner votes. 

In this election, the mud slinging has run the gamut with accusations of "racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobia, you name it."

It would be nice if people would stay focused on the issues and the future of the country and our people. 

While the candidates and campaigners claim that "when they go low, we go high," the truth is we see things daily going low, low, and lower bringing out tapes and accusers just weeks before the election.

This doesn't seem to be about true feminism, but about destroying candidates and untold greed for the seat of government power.

In the meantime, while we scare everyone into believing the worst about the candidates, the rest of the world's issues from national security to the economy is lost in the translation.

Feminism is a truly critical for the fair and proper treatment of our wives, daughters, mothers, sisters, and grandmothers.

What we still see in many countries around the world today is horrifying and abhorrent where women are not only treated completely subservient to men but are abducted, sold, prostituted, gang raped, abused and undergo lashings, stonings, and honor killings. 

But if we let people misappropriate feminism for electioneering, then what will be left for the women that really need freedom, equality, and protection under the law.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 

October 12, 2016

Losing Patience With Tech Progress

We're so close yet so far...that's my feeling as I grow ever impatient with the pace of technological progress. 

We have cloud computing, but still everyone has their own private computing setups everywhere. 

We have mobile computing, but still can't get get reliable service in the Metro and all the other "dead zones."

We have social computing, but still people are so cliquey and nasty and troll and bully each other online and off. 

We have the Internet of Things, but still things don't really talk to each other regularly (except our smart meters).

We have robots, but still they're relegated to factory assembly lines. 

We have natural language processing, but still can't get a meaningful conversation going with Siri.

We have 3-D printing, but still can't get dinner or a pair of Nikes to appear from the Star Trek like "Replicator."

We have augmented and virtual reality headsets, but still can't go anywhere with them without getting motion sickness.

We have biometrics, but still have to sign the check.

We have driverless cars, but still there is a driver inside. 

We have networks of information, but still it's subject to hacking, malware, identity and data theft, and even big time EMP knockouts. 

We have immunotherapy, but still haven't beaten cancer. 

We have nanotechnology, but still we travel through life loaded down with material possessions.

We have food and biotechnology, but still one in eight people are going hungry. 

We have space shuttles and stations, but still can't get a colony going on Mars.

We have big data, but still information is corrupted by personal biases and politics. 

We have knowledge management, but still more than 780 million adults are illiterate. 

We have artificial intelligence, but still it's devoid of emotional intelligence. 

We have bigger, deadlier, and more sophisticated weapons systems and smart bombs to "protect us", but still are no closer to living in peace and brotherhood. 

All this technology and advancement is great, except that we're left hungrier than ever for the realization of the promised technology land, and are really only halfway there, maybe. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

October 11, 2016

On the Lookout To Managing Risk

So risk management is one of the most important skills for leadership. 

Risk is a function of threats, vulnerabilities, probabilities, and countermeasures. 

If we don't manage risk by mitigating it, avoiding it, accepting it, or transferring it, we "risk" being overcome by the potentially catastrophic losses from it.

My father used to teach me when it comes to managing the risks in this world that "You can't have enough eyes!"

And that, "If you don't open your eyes, you open your wallet."

This is a truly good sound advice when it comes to risk management and I still follow it today. 

Essentially, it is always critical to have a backup or backout plan for contingencies.

Plan A, B, and C keeps us from being left in the proverbial dark when faced with challenge and crisis. 

In enterprise architecture, I often teach of how if you fail to plan, you might as well plan to fail. 

This is truth--so keep your eyes wide open and manage risks and not just hide your head in the sand of endless and foolhardy optimism for dummies. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

October 10, 2016

Visiting My Parents

We went to visit my parent's graves yesterday. 

Now, between the Jewish high holy days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, it is customary to visit and remember our blessed loved ones. 

We went to spend time with them, tell them how much we miss and love them, and how hard it is without them. 

I was so moved by how beautiful my daughters spoke out loud to my parents in heaven--their words and tears were so full of sincerity for how they miss and love their dear Oma and Opa. 

They could articulate what was so hard for me to say, but which weighs so heavy always on my heart. 

We sat on the ground at the base of their headstone feeling their presence and hearing their words in memory and through my wife who has a special ability to somehow reach them.

My wife told me how she could see my mother literally dancing in heaven, and my dad always worrying about us and looking out for and telling us to be more religious...always, more religious. 

I wiped the dust off that had settled on the stone over the last months, and wished that I could somehow magically, with whatever spiritual energy I could muster, raise them up and bring them back to us.

The thought of years or decades of going on and not being able to see and speak with them again, in person, is forever impossible for me to imagine. 

The loss of my parents over the last few years has left an emptiness in my heart and keeps me asking myself, will I really be able to see them and be reunited with them again some day in heaven. 

My daughter reassured me that energy, including our personal energy, never disappears, it only transforms, and my wife said that she could feel that they were okay and happy!

I recounted the joke my dad used to tell about not wanting to be buried at the edge of the cemetery, because that's where the water runs down, and he didn't want to get rheumatism. 

I know how much they loved us and I could feel it sitting at their graves with the warmth of the sun over us and the cool breeze blowing against us. 

I will live out my days, trying my best to emulate in my own way my father, who was a servant to the L-rd in all that he did, and who taught us strict right from wrong, and as my mother who took care of us no matter what challenges or suffering were faced. 

Finally, we asked for their forgiveness for any wrongs we committed and for their blessing for what is to come. 

I am grateful to them and G-d for every blessed moment with my family and to experience the beauty and learning of the world, until it is my turn to be gathered to my family and the L-rd in the after. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

October 9, 2016

Losing All Political Perspective

So here we go again into our politicians pants to uncover every locker-room lewd remark they have made. 

Yes, it's abhorrent and criminal for our politicians, religious leaders, coaches or anyone for that matter to rape or inappropriately sexually touch someone else against their will. 

The problem is that we are losing all common sense and perspective. 

When we are focusing almost exclusively at this point on getting that next verbal sexual gotcha on a hot mic from people running for office, instead of on what they've actually done (good and bad) in their lives, then we are being lead astray by powerful elites fighting for and to keep the power they most greedily worship.

Words do have meaning, don't get me wrong, especially when we hurt someone with them or when they demonstrate true moral lapses in the person.

But when words are taken out of context, exaggerated, or dug up from decades ago just to sling dirt then we have a powerful political machine that is working to hurt and not help our political process. 

What's even worse is that we are becoming the laughing stock in the world in the process of the mud fest. 

An article yesterday in China mocks the chaotic U.S. political system as a highly flawed "political show."

If we and the media remain gripped in people's political pants here, then the real and potentially catastrophic issues will continue to not be on the table or our lips. 

The effect is that rather than being able to effect positive change at home and in the world, we are heads down in the sand, as for example:

Russia deploys nuclear-capable missiles on Poland's (and NATO's) doorstep

ISIS continues it's global reign of terror and remains strong and determined

War crimes are being committed and "red lines" crossed daily in Syria

- Iran and North Korea continue their nuclear hated-filled march on the U.S. and western allies

- Bioterrorism is an increasingly dangerous threat as agents are "relatively inexpensive, easy to produce, conceal and transport" 

- Cyberwarfare is now being considered an existential threat, even as our democratic elections themselves are under attack by the latests hacks from Guccifer 2.0 and DC Leaks. 

Our national debt has increased $9 trillion (almost doubled) in the last 8 years and is threatening key pillars of our social entitlement system, including social security and medicare. 

The global economy is on the rocks as the impact from easy credit sputters and future growth is stunted.

As these and other risks increase to the U.S., our leadership remains in a narcissistic fugue with their desire for power and sham legacies, and politics have become grotesquely about killing off the opposition by actual death or by a thousand cuts of verbal mutilation.  

Sex sells and has us mesmerized, but we are missing out on all the real world drama, danger, and any meaningful dialogue. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

October 8, 2016

Content Filtering - Should We Restrain Ourselves?

So the Rabbi today spoke about thinking before you speak, and not letting your emotions overcome your logic. 

He mentioned, for example, how some people have so much rage--road rage, email rage, etc.--and you can't let your rage dictate your actions. 

People can certainly get under your skin--just look at the candidates for President doing that to each other.

But rather than just react and blurt out stupid or horrible things in a tit-for-tat, we need to stop and think.

The Rabbi recounted the old advice of counting to ten before saying or doing something rash that you will regret. 

The joke was about the one guy bullying another, and the victim counts to ten like he's supposed to, but then rather than take things down a notch or two, he surprises the bully when he hits ten by punching him right in the nose! (lol)

Another cute idea the Rabbi put out there was for marriage counseling--that husbands and wives should drink this "special water" that they hold in their mouth--this way when they are fighting, they have to pause and can't say anything provocative and aggressive to each other. 

The speak then turned high-tech to some of the new apps for content filtering that help you not to send emails or texts that you are sorry for afterwards. 

And I leaned over to my neighbor in synagogue and said that is so funny, because I just saw this 16-year Indian old girl on Shark Tank who developed this app called ReThink that does just that. 

When you write something negative like ugly or stupid etc., a pop up box comes up and ask whether you really want to say that--it gives you pause to rethink what you are saying and doing. 

She notes from her studies of adolescents that when given the opportunity from this pause, "93% of the time, [they] decide not to post an offensive message on social media."

I remember one colleague at work used to recommend, "write what you want [with all your emotions], but then delete it, and write what will be constructive to the situation [with your logic]."

Getting back to the election, a lot of what the candidates are saying now and from decades ago is stupid or shameful--"locker room banter"--maybe we need to have a filter on our mouths even when we think other people aren't listening. 

Realistically, we can't and shouldn't have to go around filtering every word we say and holding back on every deed we do--there is something to be said for simply following your moral compass in the moment and reacting naturally, talking and doing from the heart and based on instinct, inner belief, and passion. 

But if you are getting angry, then it is best to hit the pause button and filter yourself before someone else has to count to ten and pop you one in your big dumb coconut face. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 

October 6, 2016

Preventing Cyber Disaster

So I liked this ad from Palo Alto Networks on the side of the bus, over the windows:
"Dinosaurs react.
Professionals prevent."

That's some very good marketing for a cyber security company.

It's almost a daily occurrence now to hear about the infiltrations into our networks and exfiltrations or manipulations of data that is taking place across government and industry.

Just today again, another NSA contractor accused of stealing highly classified computer code.

The day before Guccifer 2.0 and Wikileaks releases trove of stolen documents from the Clinton Foundation

And again, J&J reveals that it's insulin pump is vulnerable to hacking following allegations in August that St. Jude heart devices were subject to life-threatening hacking. 

Certainly, we can't afford to sit back and wait to react to the next attack...damage control and remediation is much harder than getting out in front of the problem in the first place. 

Prevention and deterrence is really the only solution...keep the hackers out and make sure they know that if they mess with us and our systems that we can identify who they are, find them, and take them out. 

These are the capabilities we need and must employ to dominate the cyber realm. 

In the presidential debates, candidates struggled to articulate how to deal with cybersecurity

But this is not a game of cyberopoly, rather national security, critical infrastructure, vital intellectual property, and our economy is at risk. 

Giving away Internet control and trying to plug leaks after the fact on a sinking cyber ship is no way to manage our vital technology resources.

It's high time for the equivalent Cold War determination and investment that ensures we win a free and safe cyberspace with all our networks and data intact. 

This is the only way that we don't go the way of the dinosaurs. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

October 5, 2016

A Matter Of Hair

I saw these ladies crossing the street in downtown DC.

The standout here was obviously the hair!

The girl on the left had Barbie pink hair. 

The one on the right had blond dyed hair with the roots showing. 

And the lady in the middle had two-tone hair, with brown on one side and blond on the other (now that was really different). 

This reminded me of the hippies' hairstyle in terms of the perhaps rebellious nature of the style. 

In Judaism, I remember learning that hair is like the crown on a person's head, and for modesty, the custom is for married women to cover their beautiful hair--it is only something that gets shown/shared with her husband as part of their intimacy. 

Hair can say a lot, especially if you are fortunate enough to still have some (lol). 

It can be uncombed and messy like a mad professor's, finely brushed and cared for like Trump's, or even transplanted to cover the onset of unwanted bald spots.

Like a horse's or lion's mane, hair frame's a person and can make the plain or even unsightly, more attractive and desirable; at the same time, if not properly cared for and groomed, it can make a person look disheveled and even crazy.

Of course, hair is just what tops off the person and is only skin deep, so looks (including hair) can be defining or oh, so deceiving.

Hair or hairless, groomed or gross--it's a reflection and a statement of how we're looking to each other. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)