April 18, 2014

Jewish is Super

So with the shooting at the Jewish Community Center in Oakland Park, Kansas this week right before Passover, and the near simultaneous "grotesque" targeting of Jews by pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine, we are reminded that while Jews are no longer slaves in Egypt (thank G-d), we are still unfortunately targeted by evil people around the world. 

In the Kansas City incident, I read how the white supremacist shooter went right up to a lady visiting her mother at the old-age home and asked her "Are you Jewish?" And when she replied in the affirmative (even though she was not), he shoot her dead on the spot. 

It turns out this lady was an occupational therapist that helped blind children...what kind of monster would just murder someone (anyone) like this? 

Similarly in eastern Ukraine, leaflets are being handed out demanding that Jews register in the government office, pay special taxes, and declare their property or face deportation. Here too, we witness the devilish markings of some that are repetitive of their deplorable past as Nazi collaborators, concentration camp guards, and murders.  

I read yesterday, that not only Jews, but Christians are being targeted in the Middle East with churches burned, those of faith being driven from their homes and ruthlessly murdered, except in Israel where the Christian population is actually increasing and thriving. 

While Superman may not be Jewish (I know of no Jews on planet Krypton), being Jewish is super--and for that matter being any person of faith and dignity is super!  Hate mongers and murders of today, like the evil oppressors of yesteryear--know that truth and justice and the 10 plagues of Egypt are just a {pow!} and {bam!} away--believe it! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

April 17, 2014

You're Not All That

So they say that all sin is rooted in arrogance. 

We get too big for our britches and think we can do whatever we want including stepping on others and defying our maker. 

An interesting article in Harvard Business Review reminds us to beware of narcissism and hubris. 

Narcissism is a character disorder where because of feelings of inadequancy from childhood, people have to self-promote themselves every which way toSunday--they are "insufferably self-centered."

Hubris is a reactive disorder where due to past success and accolades from others, we become overconfidant, until the luck changes "toppling from their pedestals" and shrinking their ego back down to size."

I like the reminders from HBR cautioning about these:

- "Have more than thou showest; speak less than thou knowest." - Shakespear

- "Humble pie should be the only dessert served."

It's one thing to have decent self-esteem anchored in your knowing right from wrong and acting accordingly, and it's another to think and act like you have all the answers--none of us do. 

If your showing it off, it's likely a turn off. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Jampa)
Share/Save/Bookmark

April 15, 2014

Futuristic Highway


Some really great ideas here for the highway of the future.

These are the inspiration of interactive artist Daan Roosegaarde.

To save energy and increase safety, there are four concepts presented:

- Glow in the dark road markings (i.e. lane dividers) with photo-luminescent paint that charges during the day and lights up at night.

- Weather symbols on the road with temperature-responsive paint, so for example, when the temperature falls below a certain level, the roads show snowflake symbols to indicate that they may be icy. 

- Motion-interactive lights on the highway that light up when cars approach and are powered by the draft of the moving cars. 

- Induction lanes that can charge car batteries as they run along them and reenergize the cars for further travel. 

Already, there is a 500 meter stretch of road in Oss, Netherlands with the glow-in-the-dark road markings--these are almost radioactive green in color and give a futuristic Tron look to the roads.

Now the question is when can we get these high-tech upgrades for I-495? 

What an awesome high-tech display befitting our nation's capital and maybe it would help with traffic as well!  ;-)
Share/Save/Bookmark

April 14, 2014

NYC at Passover

I love this picture of NYC. 

My daughter, Michelle, took this photo while visiting there for Passover. 

The skyscrapers, taxis, people -- all the hustle and bustle. 

New York, NY - it's a helluva town. ;-)

(Source Photo: Michelle Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

How Do You Kill A Pothole?

With a pothole killer, of course. 

This is a funny truck roaming around Washington, D.C. 

Even the phone number tells the story...dial 1-877-Fix Road. 

All American too - red, white, and blue with the stars and stripes.

Bang, Bang. Pothole Dead. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

April 12, 2014

Pain Pain Go Away

Pain Pain Go Away, Don't Come Back Another Day.

I saw this ad about controlling back pain. 

The wincing face on the back was very effective. 

Given that back pain is  so common, I am sure many people can empathize with this.

For almost a year, I have been suffering with some arthritic pain although not back-related that has been horrible.

I never realized what this even was!

I'm at the point, where I feel surgery, with G-d's help, is the only answer. 

Of course, I am not keen to have surgery and keep thinking how I may be able to put it off. 

And then the inflammation flare-up and pain comes back and I rethink this again that I have to go forward and just take care of this. 

I feel that I am too young for these problems, but life does not ask when or what.

Certainly, I am thankful it is nothing worse--and there are so many things worse.

And I appreciate that there are modern treatments these days that probably didn't really exist just 20-years ago. 

Not sure exactly, what people did "in the olden days" when they had these things and just had to live (or die) with them. 

I just want to be pain free and completely healthy again, so I can fully enjoy all the things that I always did. 

Please G-d. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

April 11, 2014

We're Not Deadbeats

Good book review in the Wall Street Journal on America's Fiscal Constitution by Bill White.

The main idea is that we have gone from a nation where fiscal discipline and paying off ones debts was a valued tradition to one now where excess rules and profligate borrowing runs through our veins. 

Both personal and national debt were viewed as a means of last resort and not something to be proud of, but rather as something done out of necessity to get through tough times. 

On a personal level, we only borrowed what we needed and we payed it back on time or even early.  Poverty was just one step away or even akin to servitude.  

Similarly, on a national level, public debt was viewed as a safety net to preserve the union (i.e. war), territorial integrity (e.g. Louisiana Purchase), or in a severe recession (i.e. to maintain the government's ability to spend in the short term). 

The best option was seen as "pay as you go," with the alternative, under limited circumstances, to "pay as soon as you can."

However, the value placed on self and national discipline and sufficiency was replaced with elements of entitlement, greed, and waste. 

The problem is once you have inequity in the system, then people feel the unfairness of it all, and give up caring about the system itself and just want to get what they see as their fair share. 

Some politicians cater to these feelings of relative deprivation and are no longer viewed positively for fiscal constraint and ensuring our economic security, but rather "politicians gain favor by spending money without having to raise unpopular taxes."

In essence, the government can give people more now, and they don't have to pay for it until future generations--hence the ability to buy citizen's political consent and even win elections by increasing the treasure chest even temporarily. 

No, this is not China raising the fortunes of the middle class to keep the Communist Party in power, but rather this is us in the U.S. of A racking up tens of trillions of dollars in debt to keep people happy now (forget the future generations, let them fend for themselves). 

Shake hands, kiss babies, and hand out dollar bills--give me, give me give me! 

What has happened to us fighting hard and driving into the future on our own feet--together in strength and not as a debtor nation getting handouts from anyone that will lend us. 

Soon, the Fed will be raising interest rates, and with a greater and greater national deficit to pay on, interest payments have the real potential to spiral out of control and leave our economy in shambles. 

Like a credit card with interest payments that eclipse the principle borrowed, soon you are in over your head and there is nowhere to go but Chapter 11. 

We're not an inherently debtor nation, and we sure don't want to be a deadbeat nation--isn't it better to have what we really have financially and be who we really are and value?   

Let's leave our children and grandchildren economic and national security and not a towering pile of shameless debt, from mom and dad with love.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

April 10, 2014

Which Part of "Men's Room" Don't You Understand?

So after my swim, I'm in the men's locker room

There are dozens of folks showering and changing. 

All of a sudden in strolls a lady.

First she walks one way through the locker room--looking up and down the aisles.

Then she walks the other way through again--glancing this way and that way. 

The men are looking at each other like what in G-d's name is she doing. 

Some of the men start yelling at her to get out (maybe the others are sort of glad she's there)!

She sort of nods at them, turns unapologetically and strolls back out. 

The men are bantering back and forth now--like what was that all about?  Is she nuts or something?

On the way out of the facility, I stop by the front desk and ask innocently, "Do you know that their is a women walking around the men's locker room?"

One supervisor goes, "Oh, that happens. The men do that too--going into the lady's locker room."

Oh really--is this a professional swim club or a Roman orgy?

The other supervisor, a little more reasonable here, says if someone can point her out, he'll have a talk with her. 

The kid behind the desk says, "Thanks for letting us know."

The funny thing is there is a sign in the locker room that prohibits photos and videos--but, I guess in-person viewing is permissible--good to know. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

You Mess At Your Own Risk

This guy is obviously pretty serious about not messing with his car. 

"Touch this car again. You are laser sighted. You will be shot in the face!!!"


I remember in NY, people messed with the cars all the time--nasty stuff like backing or plowing into your bumpers when trying to park, keying cars, slashing tires, knocking off the mirrors, egging the cars, and one guy I remember even had his car stolen and the couple actually had sex in his back seat!


The stupid steering wheels locks to the brakes were a joke for security, the noisy annoying car alarms were so routine no one looked or cared, and LoJack helps you find the clunker again although you may never want to drive it anyway after what the crooks would do to it.


Not sure this sign will help ward off all the crap that people do--somehow they always find another way to be jerks with someone else's stuff.


Aside from James Bond's car that would explode if you tried to mess with it, does anyone else have any good ideas for car protection?  ;-)


(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)

Share/Save/Bookmark

April 9, 2014

Hey Abrham!

Thanks Starbucks for writing Abrham on my breakfast purchase this morning. 

Apparently, religious sterotypes are alive and well with you. 

How about a little sensitivity training for your staff or do you guess biblical names for all your customers?

Don't worry though, it turns out that is my Hebrew name (and I'm Jewish and proud of it), although it's spelled like this: Avraham. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

April 8, 2014

Say It Loud

I'm not sure this guy had a lot to say.

But he was sure saying it loud. 

Cluck, cluck, cluck...hello, can you hear me???

One megaphone in each hand and another slung over his shoulder - that's three.

And he may actually have a fourth on the other shoulder - I couldn't see. 

Uh, how do you hold/use that many megaphones at one time--plus he's doing it balancing on the bicycle.

Hey, watch that foot, it's touching the ground. 

I think he's saying something like--serious noise pollution. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

Hydrant Hat

Yeah, a fire hydrant with a hat on.

What if all fire hydrants "wore" hats of different colors and styles (baseball cap, top hat, stetson, more)? 

Keeps the water warm in winter and serves as a stylish accoutrement to an important fire protection device. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Share/Save/Bookmark

April 6, 2014

New York Deli Bread


No it's not my diet, just my impromptu spoofing of a song by Awkwafina. 

We took a hike to the local Kosher deli and it just sort of happened. 

Enjoying a beautiful, sunny Spring day and got a little inspired to try my hand at something new and fun. ;-) 
Share/Save/Bookmark

Not Bias, Just Plain Old Hatred

I read a book review in the Wall Street Journal on Profiles in Denial by William Storr about David Irving the notorious Holocaust denier. 

He is a "'revisionist' of all things World War II," but apparently is particularly keen on Holocaust denial, as someone who according to Wikipedia is an "anti-semite, and racist who...promotes neo-Nazism."


The Holocaust denial goes deep for Irving and even upon visiting Poland's Majdanek concentration camp, he tells his group "This is a mock-up of a gas chamber. Those cylinders are carbon dioxide not carbon monoxide...There are handles on the inside of these doors," so the prisoners could let themselves out. 


Actually, the door was locked with huge bolts right on the outside and was sealed airtight, but to Irving it's as if these didn't exist. 


The book discusses how cognitive biases such as confirmation biases help people "find confirming evidence for our beliefs, ignoring or rationalizing away all discriminating evidence."


But I think this is really beyond the point with someone like Irving, who according to The Guardian is a discredited British historian and Nazi apologist" and was actually jailed for a "three-year prison sentence in Vienna for denying the Holocaust and the gas chambers of Auschwitz."


The State Prosecutor said of Irving "He's not a historian, he's a falsifier of history...this is about abuse of freedom of speech."


Judge Peter Liebtreau called Irving "a racist, an anti-semite, and a liar."


So this is no simple bias or mind game for Irving, but apparently a convenient way for him to pursue his hatreds under the guise that everything was and is really okay. 


So rather than "Never forget," is is far more beneficial for those that would wish it to happen again that they lull people to believe that it never even was to begin with. 


Interesting that another famous Holocaust denier is no less than Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who claimed the Holocaust, in which six million Jews were murdered, was a "myth" (Washington Post). 


By the way, Ahmadinejad also said "9/11 was an inside job."


People like Irving and Ahmadinejad are not about confirmation bias, but rather about distortion of truth to further their own evil destructive aims.


In the case of Ahmadinejad, it's that he wishes to see Israel be "wiped off the map" (New York Times).


And in the case of Irving, he has said, "there will...probably be another holocaust in the next thirty years...oh, and if the Jews are lucky, there will be a David Irving or Adolf Hitler [may their names be obliterated] to protect them" (The Independent).


Oh, G-d forbid! 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Share/Save/Bookmark

April 5, 2014

Archaic Federal Hiring Practices

So the Federal government has some archaic hiring practices.

Some common critiques of the system:

- While gone are the dreaded KSAs (knowledge, Skills, and ability essays), in it's place are what many could consider meaningless multiple choice questions that enable applicants to game the system and answer what they think or know is the right answer just to get the highest points. 

- Also, there is always the potential (however infrequently) that there is a favorite candidate of someone or someone who knows someone, but knowing doesn't necessarily mean best qualified, but rather well-networked or connected. 

To be fair, there are protections in the hiring system to include an oath of truthfulness on the application as well as security clearances which are used to help ensure accuracy. Additionally, there are the Merit System Principles that prohibit favoritism and nepotism of any sort.

However, when it comes to hiring, what you can't really do in the government is just plain and simple see and recognize talent and bring someone on board. 

Anyway, this came to mind today, when we ran again into this amazing lady at Starbucks. She works there right out of college. 

She's a barista and has the most amazing customer service skills I've seen in 25 years of professional experience. 

She remembers us every time we come in and recalls what we talked about on our last visit. She regularly asks about things like my kids talking their SATs, visiting colleges, and more. 

But she doesn't just do this with me, but with all her customers.  

She has a big welcoming hello, and smile for all of them, and doesn't just take their orders, but engages them as human beings. 

I tell you this young lady would be terrific as a customer service representative in my IT shop or any other...and if I were in the private sector or had my own company, yes, I'd conduct a more thorough interview and background on her, but then I'd probably shake hands on the spot and offer her a job. 

I can see her interacting with my customers, capturing their requirements, problem-solving, as well as routine troubleshooting through engagement with the customer and the subject matter experts.  

Why?

Because she is a natural with people and intuitively understands how to work with them, engage, and establish trust and good service ethos. 

However, if she applied on USAJOBS in the current system of hiring, I think she'd never make "the cert" (the list of qualified applicants that gets referred to the hiring manager), because she's currently working in a coffee shop. 

Something is wrong that we can't easily bring in young or old, talented people from the private sector or out of school, and grow them into federal service, even if they don't have the perfect checklist answers. 

Unfortunately, this is a problem in many bureaucratic-driven organizations, where if it's not checklist-driven, then it's usually not at all. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

April 4, 2014

For The Love Of Animals

I read this incredible story in the Jerusalem Post about Denmark prohibiting Shechita (the Jewish kosher way to slaughter animals for food). 

What is amazing about this is:


1) Shechita is known as one of the most humane ways to slaughter animals for food. It involves a single rapid uninterrupted stroke across the throat with a super sharp knife. One of the reasons this method is used is precisely so that the animal does not feel any pain. This is unlike other common practices for slaughtering animals which include clubbing, electrifying, shooting, suffocation, and more. 


2) Denmark while prohibiting Shechita, permits bestiality/Zoophilia (human sex with animals). So bestiality, a very pagan-like practice, is legal in Denmark, even though it is prohibited under the penalty of death (for the person and the animal) in the Bible


So animal rape is okay in Denmark. And Judeo Christian laws and beliefs are not, especially when they actually protect the animals. Uh, something is rotten in the barn here. Or put another way:


Animals in the bedroom--Oh, no, no, no.

Animals ritually slaughtered for dinner--moo, moo, moo.  ;-)


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Ed Schipul)

Share/Save/Bookmark

April 3, 2014

Liking My New Computer Tie


Funny..."Load Your Preferences." ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

Records Manager Appreciation Day!


Records Management is not about 45s, 33s, or 8-track music collections, but managing key document and electronic records. 

It's critically important for an organization to be able to archive and access needed information for managing their business, and enabling transparency and accountability. 

Managing records saves us time and money in the long run.

Moreover, as information workers in an information economy, information is power! And we need to be able to get to information, whenever and wherever we need it. 

While records may not be sexy unless you're Lady Gaga or Madonna, information is the lifeblood of the 21st century, so say thank you to your records management and information access professionals today! ;-)
Share/Save/Bookmark

April 2, 2014

Leadership Training, Where?


Rapid Learning Institute (RLI) has toilet training for leaders.

No, not toilet training, but T.O.I.L.E.T. training:

Time
Optimized
Intensive 
Learning
Experience
Technology

People are short on time for training, so this combines productive training with some downtime that "every worker engages in."

The kiosk incorporates an "eye-level WIFI-enabled tablet" which launches 6-10 minute rapid learning modules. 

This is a lot better than the Reader's Digest moment of yesteryear. 

So don't be fooled by the toilet in the video, this is rapid learning in quick chunks on important leadership topics such as employee engagement, communications, performance management, and more. 

The funny video is a neat advertising mechanism to drive the point home. ;-)
Share/Save/Bookmark

April 1, 2014

$5 to Plop Someone In the Face



Everyone in Washington, D.C. is Spring Crazy today. 

Outside, kids raising money for Strike Out Illiteracy. 

For $5 donation, you get to plop a plate full of whipped cream and chocolate syrup in someone's face. 

That's worth it! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

Why Do People Take The Cheese Off?

So my question of the day is why do people feel it's okay to take the cheese off the delicious macaronic AND cheese?

While I understand that it is the best part, isn't just a little bit of antisocial behavior that would drive people do something like this and leave everyone else with just the noodles underneath...


Anyway on the way back, one of my colleagues stopped me in the street to tell me some philosophy of life about how love makes the world go around, but revenge is the axis it turns on. Ouch@!


Perhaps this is April fools day making people a little snappy today. 


One last thought is from episode last week on The Vikings (great show on the History Channel)--excellent battle scene, but also memorable when the one of the characters says "Bad news travels a great deal slower than good news."


Maybe that's why no one told me before about the missing cheese on the macaroni today? ;-)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Share/Save/Bookmark

March 30, 2014

Corporate Dictators Gone Wild

Interesting book review in the Wall Street Journal on Moments of Impact--corporate strategy meetings. 

The authors, Ertel and Solomon, see strategy meetings as critical for "to confront radical challenges" "cope with fast-changing threats", and confront competition.


It is an opportunity to:


- Look at the big picture, including industry trends.


- Hear different points of view from as broad array of perspectives as possible (instead of the usual "fences and silos" that prevail in corporate life).


- Decide to change ("Creative Adaptation") or to stay with tried and true strategies ("stick to their knitting").


The book reviewer, Adrian Woolridge, though has a much more skeptical view of these strategy sessions calling them "dull, unstructured time-sucks" and "more often than not, [they're] a huge waste of time":


Why?


- They produce "airy-fairy nonsense."


- Rather than abandoning the corporate hierarchy, the sessions anchor in "status hierarchy."


- Outside strategy "experts" brought in "are nothing more than cliche-mongers."


- The "games" are silly and non-impactful.


- Often rather than strategic conversations, we get "lazy consensus," where decisions are driven by senior managers with a bone to pick or a reorganization in mind.


What the truth...as usual, somewhere in between these 2 states of idealism and cynicism.


We can choose to take planning seriously to bring people together to solve problems creatively and gain consensus and commitment or we can use strategy as bogus cheerleading sessions and to manipulate the sheep to do what the seniors already know they want.


If we really work as a team to press forward then we can accomplish great things through our diversity and strength, but if strategy is nothing but corporate dictators gone wild, then the cause is already lost to the competition.


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Share/Save/Bookmark

March 29, 2014

Will You Take The Next Exit Or Not?

I'm not really into the psychic stuff. 

First, I learned in Yeshiva that we are not supposed to divine the future. 

Second, I don't think we're supposed to know what we're not supposed to know--it take the edge of the challenge in life (almost like trying to gain an unfair advantage in going through life's ups and downs, which is how we learn and grow). 

Third, I think there are a lot of charlatans out there (not everyone, but a lot). 

But one idea recently, from Sylvia Brown, has got me thinking. 

The idea is that we each have Exit Points in our lives--"precise times and ways when we'll leave here and go Home again." 

Brown says we each have 5 of these exits planned in our lives--"and we can use any one of the five we want, as we go along, depending on whether or not we feel we've accomplished enough of what we wanted from this lifetime to begin with."

Thinking back to my own life, I can clearly see times when it seemed like my number was up.

Each occurrence was dramatic and looking back now, sort of surreal. 

During these exit points, I know that I was just inches from death and that G-d brought me back. 

This is where I differ from Brown, I don't think it was my choice to live or die, but I think it was a time of judgement, when G-d decided whether to let me live on (although, perhaps, I had some input as far as G-d is concerned).

The exit points are not escape hatches like from the Matrix, where we can choose to stop or "exit program," but rather times in our lives when we are given the opportunity to go on or not. 

Also, I think the decision of whether we stay or go is based in part on whether we've accomplished our mission, but also on those around us who will be impacted--that's why it takes G-d to figure out all the combinations and permutations to make the call. 

Bad things happen and people die suddenly and violently or even excruciatingly slow and painful deaths--and in other cases people survive to die another day--we really don't know what is going to happen. 

Part of not knowing tests us--sometimes to our limits and perhaps for some even beyond (although I was taught in Yeshiva that G-d never gives us more than we can handle). 

We live, we die, and perhaps we live again i.e. through reincarnation--a mechanism of ultimate justice and learning. 

Will G-d permit us to continue as ourselves in this go around, to come back as another in a future spiral, or is it really "game over"?

I thank G-d for letting me live to continue my journey--I still have so much to learn here and now--what the future brings, only the merciful Almighty knows. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

March 28, 2014

So It Really Is A Popularity Contest

Good, Sue Shellenbarger in the Wall Street Journal finally said it..."likability matters more than ever at work."

Yes, you also need to know your subject matter and be able to perform like a pro, but just that alone is not enough.


If your a card or a jerk, no one wants to know you.


The old Jewish thinking about being a mensche, first and foremost, still holds true.  


"Likable people are more apt to be hired, get help at work, get useful information from others, and have mistakes forgiven."


Employees also track employees likability on social networks and recruit those who can well represent them and make transformative changes. 


What contributes to likability:


1. Be Authentic - an ounce of sincerity is worth more than a boatload of of b.s. -- people see right through it.


2. Use Positive Cues - eye contact, smiling naturally, and a warm, varying, and enthusiastic tone make you approachable and believable.


3. Show interest in others - selfishness, narcissism, and I, I, I will get you no friends; show genuine interest in the other person--be cognizant of what's in it for them--give a damn!


4. Listen - 2 ears, 1 mouth; close the mouth and listen to the other person--don't just hear them, understand them, empathize, feel something!


5. Find common ground - look for shared interests or commonalities; we can all relate to others with whom we can identify.


Short and sweet, treat others as you would want to be treated (Golden Rule) and it doesn't pay to be a ass! ;-)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Share/Save/Bookmark

March 27, 2014

10 Keys To Influencing And Selling Anything


Brilliant video by Kendra Eash for McSweeney's Internet Tendency.

It is made entirely with stock footage from Dissolve.

What is amazing is how with some great video, nice background music, and a soothing confidant voiceover--we can sell, or be sold on, just about anything.

The 10 Keys to influencing and selling anything, including B.S.:

1. Vague words that show progress (innovation, hope, motherhod, and apple pie--I'll have some of that)

2. Beautiful footage and sound (who wouldn't want to be there type?)

3. High-technology and science (we can solve the world's problems and make money, yippee)

4. Research and development (we're investing in the future and you should invest in us)

5. Global and U.S. (we're beyond borders, but still "made in...", headquartered, or otherwise a U.S. entity)

6. Environmentally conscious (clean water, breathable, air, lush forests, who can argue with that?)

7. High-speed (movers and shakers, we don't stand still, join us or be left behind)

8. Attractive people (this is for real human beings, human kind, we care about you!)

9. Diversity and equality (we love and help everyone--including you and your family)

10. Inspiring (we're thinking big and bringing positive change--buy from us, support our cause)

Throw/superimpose any company, product, country, person, or cause on this video--and poof, you've got an awesome brand--whether you deserve it or not!

This is how we're manipulated one brand at a time, hundreds of brands a day. ;-)
Share/Save/Bookmark

March 25, 2014

Top 100 Most Social CIOs



Thank you Huffington Post--article here on Top 100 Most Social CIOs. 

I never thought that an introvert like me could end up in a list like this. ;-)

Share/Save/Bookmark

March 23, 2014

Six Internet Creepoids To Beware Of

There are a lot of basket cases out there--both in the physical world and in the virtual one.

The New York Times today has an article by Henry Alford about people who act or are mainly just perceived as creepy online. 

He gives examples of people who take out their smartphones (with cameras) in the locker room, who show their online photos and whoops there's an indecent doozie, who mistakenly send a critical email to the wrong person or distribution list, who say the wrong thing online because of autocorrect or autofill, and who act the detective looking up too much information about others. 

At the end, Alford calls for "more tolerance toward the gaffe-makers." 

And while we should be good people and forgive genuine mistakes, some things are not accidents and deserve the seal of "ick!"

Here's the list of 6 Internet Creepoids to seriously beware of:

1) Overly Cyber Friendly or Familiar:  People who chat, text, email, or comment in a way that portrays an inappropriate knowing or intimacy with others.

2) Cyber Stalkers: Those who unsolicitedly and unwanted or obsessively follow, friend, monitor, or harass others on the Internet.

3) Internet Trolls: Individuals who giddily sow discord with argumentative, inflammatory or extraneous messages online narcissistically or just to be jerks.

4) Cyber Exhibitionists or Voyeurs: People who inappropriately or compulsively expose themselves or watch others naked or engaged in sexual activity online. 

5) Cyber Impersonators or Identity Thieves:  Those who falsify their identities by exaggerating or masking their true selves, pretend to be someone else, or otherwise steal someone's online identity.

6) Cyber Freaks: Individuals who behave online in extreme unusual, unexpected, and frightening ways.

So while some things are innocent or accidentally creepy from otherwise nice and decent people, other actions are genuinely such from the real online creepoids. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

March 22, 2014

The Bigger Smaller Navy

So our Navy is shrinking for real, but growing on the books.

Steve Cohen writes in the Wall Street Journal how the "U.S. Navy is stretched too thin."

And we are down to just 283 ships, but for reporting purposes it's 293--that is--because we now include hospital ships, small coastal patrol vessels ("lightly armed [with machine guns]...and not true oceangoing"), and a high-speed transport in the calculus.

Moreover, "only 35% of the U.S. Navy's entire fleet is deployed, fewer than 100 ships, including just 3 aircraft carriers."

According to the Heritage Foundation, gone is the promise of a mighty U.S. with a formidable 600-ship navy, and instead "U.S. naval leaders are struggling to find ways to meet a new requirement of around 300 ships...with "predictions [that] show current funding levels would reduce the fleet to [just] 263 ships."

Sure, today's fleet is comprised of ships more capable than predecessors, but our enemies are also not resting on their laurels. 

China is now building its 2nd aircraft carrier, and Russia has formally secured Crimea home to it's Black Sea fleet. 

The function for military readiness includes not only capability of each, but numbers available to fight. 

There are times that less is more, but less can also be less. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Jon Olav)
Share/Save/Bookmark

March 21, 2014

Safely Detonate That Malware


I like the potential of the FireEye Malware Protection System (MPS).

Unlike traditional signature-based malware protections like antivirus, firewalls, and intrusion prevention systems (IPS), FireEye is an additional security layer that uses a dynamic Multi-Vector Virtual Execution (MVX) engine to detonate even zero-day attacks from suspicious files, web pages, and email attachments. 

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Target's implementation of FireEye detected the malware attack on Nov 30, 2013 and it alerted security officials, but allegedly "Target stood by as as 40 million credit card numbers--and 70 million addresses, phone numbers, and other pieces of personal information--gushed out of its mainframes"over two weeks!

In fact, FireEye could've been set to "automatically delete [the] malware as it's detected" without human intervention, but "Target's team apparently "turned that function off."

FireEye works by "creating a parallel computer network on virtual machines," and before data reaches its endpoint, they pass through FireEye's technology.  Here they are "fooled into thinking they're in real computers," and the files can be scanned, and attacks spotted in safe "detonation chambers."

Target may have been way off target in the way they bungled their security breach, but using FireEye properly, it is good to know that attacks like this potentially can be thwarted in the future. ;-)

[Note: this is not an endorsement of any product or vendor]
Share/Save/Bookmark

March 20, 2014

Fighting Someone Who Doesn't Care

Today, an editorial by Daniel Henninger in the Wall Street Journal said it outright about Putin's land grab of Crimea and his view of others' reactions to it, "He doesn't care what they think."

This comes to the point of the whole matter, which is how do you fight an adversary that just doesn't give a [you know what]?


If one side is arguing what's right based on international laws, mores, and the ethics of human rights and freedom, how does that stack up with an adversary that disseminates misinformation [oh, are those our troops on the ground?] and thumbs their nose at the world to get what they want?


Maybe fighting fair is wonderful from a legal standpoint, but it sure looks challenging on the ground. 


Putin is daring anyone to do anything...heck, he's got thermonuclear ICBMs and a veto at the U.N. Security Council. 


BTW, if a security council member is the one doing something wrong, why in those matters, do they still get a veto???


Anyway, this is a very dangerous game of cat and mouse, and if everyone fought this way, the doomsday clock would be ticking very close to midnight, indeed.


Many times in history, a Goliath has swung a big ugly sword, but even a David--and we are not a David, but a world superpower--came to the fight with a sligshot and still won. 


Notice though, David still came to the fight!


We can win by doing the right thing, but we cannot run away, because as Hitler showed us--appeasement does not work!


Give a finger and next goes the hand, arm, and torso.


Now already are reports that Putin is threatening to derail the P5+1 negotiations with Iran as well. 

Yesterday, I read in Businessweek about overspending, that it's better to get a haircut now, than have a beheading later.


Perhaps, this applies to national security matters as well?


We can't be the policeman/woman of the world, but Snowden is snug in "Mother Russia" and now so is Crimea. 


(Source Photo: here)

Share/Save/Bookmark

March 17, 2014

Time To Spread The Magic

So I'm not the biggest fan of Disney theme parks -- maybe that is not a popular thing to write.

But to me, the rides alternate between fake or nauseating (when they're not broken down), the characters are outdated, the parks are hot, overcrowded, and the lines and wait times are long, and the ticket prices are sort of crazy for what you're getting (not). 

Let's see, a day at Disney or day at the beach--uh, I'll take the beach any day!

But Disney is doing something magical these days. 

Bloomberg Businessweek reports how Disney's new MagicBands are using technology to make the theme park experience more convenient, even if not more fun. 

The MagicBands are like an all-in-one electronic link between you and Disney:

- No need for an admission ticket, because the MagicBand does that.

- Reserve your favorite rides, use your wrist band. 

- Hotel room keys, that's right the band unlocks your door.

- Shopping at Disney kingdom, the band functions as your debit/credit card. 

- Being greeted by name or wished a happy birthday, the bands make your experience more personal.

What's more Disney uses the bands for "big data" analytics--for capturing your likes and preferences for rides, restaurants, food, and souvenirs--and this adds up to customer service enhancements like restocking shelves, opening up reservations, expedited queues, and even targeted mail and text messaging/advertising. 

The bands have radio frequency identification tag/chips (RFID) as well as GPS sensors, so Disney knows who you are, where you are, and even much of what you're doing. 

Spooky from a privacy standpoint--sure, you are really sitting there exposed in just about every way. 

But this technology has arrived, not just at Disney, but via embedded RFID in your smartphones or your body someday soon. 

The synthesis of man and machine...the mystery is gone in the magic kingdom, but maybe the service gets better. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

March 16, 2014

There's No Line In Online

I loved the article in the Wall Street Journal By Andy Kessler. 

Kessler's point is that technology is all about convenience. 


The way I put it is that online, there is no line!


With technology, we can do things proverbially--better, faster, cheaper.


But so much of technology really is about doing things with the utmost convenience--that means that rather then spend time hunting or gathering, searching or shopping, traveling or transacting, gaming or gambling, we can go online and in Internet speed it's done!


The beauty of the Internet and technology is that there is no queue, no lines, no waiting--just lots of convenience mainly with point and click.  


I couldn't hate lines more--hate wasting time--hate doing stupid things that have no real meaning-->time is absolutely precious! 


We are mortal and one day, time stops for all of us, so we better use what we have well--use it wisely, not wastefully. 


When we have convenience from technology, we have to spend less time on the mundane and have more time to do the things we really enjoy or that can grow us.


So get the doldrums done quickly online, and spend more time with family and friends, on fitness, pursing spiritual matters, and even learning the secrets of the universe--and then blogging about them. 


Technology is a convenience and a true G-dsend. ;-)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Share/Save/Bookmark

March 15, 2014

U.S. To Give Up U.S.?

This is just ridiculous already...I mean why do we even bother to try, if as a nation we are just resigned to give up.

1. Russia takes Crimea and the U.S. has "no options," instead of considering a variety of meaningful options--will Putin stop with Crimea, Georgia, Chechnya if there is virtually nothing standing in his way?

2. Syrian civil war goes on for almost 3 years and takes 150,000 lives and the U.S. has "few options," while Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, Saudi Arabia seem to have and be exploiting lots of options.

3. "U.S. to give up Web oversight" since other governments have complained over our "unique influence"--well darn it, we invented the Internet, why shouldn't we capitalize on it?

4. Serious "deficit reduction is dead" even though the national deficit continues to grow and threaten the national security of this country, but there are few acknowledged options for politicians that want to get re/elected, except to continue the runaway gravy train.

5. Space exploration to other planets--NASA shelves it--"Space, the final frontier...to boldly go where no man has gone before," but we're not really going!

6. Defense cuts threaten U.S. military as the "U.S. faces a more volatile, more unpredictable world," and even as China ramps up its military budget by 12.2%.

7. Despite the potentially catastrophic impact that a serious cyber attack would have on the U.S. national security and economy, "the U.S. military is not prepared for cyber warfare"-why are we waiting for the proverbial lights to go out?

8. Outsourcing jobs outside the U.S. has already become cliche--with top U.S. Corporations sending more than 2.4 million American jobs overseas between 2002-2011--as our own labor force participation is now at a 30-year low!

I don't understand what has happened to our national resolve to succeed, to lead, to be a good example in the world.

Why are we in global retreat--instead of steadfastly protecting and growing our national strategic interests in every domain?

We are innovators, entrepreneurs, skilled in every worldly affair, and lovers of freedom and human rights for all, yet we have become gun shy, afraid, and reticent to be ourselves and do what we do best--which is to do what's right, what needs to be done, and to be global leaders in progress toward the future.

If we can't do this, if we have just given up, if we have become ostriches with our heads in the sand--then we haven't just given up on this or that or the other thing--but we have given up on being the U.S. of A.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

It Can Happen To Anyone

Life is unpredictable. 

Today, at the pool, someone collapsed. 

Looks like a heart attack or something serious.

Most of the people at the pool are in amazing physical condition. 

The young folks on the swim team are fast as hell. 

The older people, many seem like they never aged and can do still perform adroitly.

I find the whole crew generally quite competitive and if you can't keep up...you may even get shove to the side. 

When I heard the whistle blow this morning, it was unlike the usual stop running or horsing around--this time is was long and shrill. 

Everyone stopped and pulled to the ends. 

Instead of splashing water, you could hear a pin drop. 

Lifeguards started running. One ran back to the control center and I could see him through the glass window dialing quickly on the phone for help. 

Another young women was getting help from the pool supervisor--the young one ran, the older one strode sternly to ascertain the situation. 

People started swimming in the main pool again, while the collapsed man was out of sight around the corner in another pool area.

The floating lady water runners were kibbutzing about what happened and is he going to be okay.

Eventually the swimming continued, but even then, people were looking around and had those worried faces on.

There was a realization that even with the dozens of people there, this person could've been anyone--any of us. 

The ambulance and fire truck rescue came, the stretcher was brought in.

I asked the lifeguard with concern what had happened to the man and he said in a monotone, almost practiced voice, "The ambulance is here; everything is okay."

It sort of sounded like don't anyone panic and shut the heck up. 

Anyway, it was upsetting to see someone up early, getting themselves to the pool, trying to stay healthy and fit, and struck down at the scene, while trying their best. 

I'm a little shaken and am still hearing the whistle in my head. :-0

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Share/Save/Bookmark

March 14, 2014

Guns And Roses

This was an interesting student portrayal showing decision on whether someone is a friend or foe--I like it!

On the face of it, is a computer screen "head" with pictures of a drone for surveillance and a fighter jet for carrying out battle. 

In the right hand is a rose for the friend, and in the left hand is a gun for the foe. 

On the bottom, it says "You Decide" with little pieces of hanging paper marked "Friend"or "Foe" and you pick one.

To me, the kid that designed this is pretty smart--smarter than a lot of adults today,

Why? 

To many people, everything is black or white--for example, liberals may default to everyone as good and trustworthy until shown otherwise, while conservatives may take the alternate track where they assume people are bad and we should be cautious with them and be prepared to defend ourselves. 

Neither is simply right or wrong--it's just how we approach things--although for me, it's definitely you have to earn trust, and still it's important to verify!

The kid that made the friend or foe robot apparently realizes that we have to discriminate between those people that are friends and those that are enemies--and act accordingly. 

Surveillance is a good thing and being ready to defend ourselves is a very good thing. 

Sometimes, those that masquerade as friends are really foes, and those that challenge us may really be our best friends. 

We must be very discriminating in determining who is who--and be ready with both rose and gun. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

March 12, 2014

Terrorism - Is it Going Away?

Going on 13 years since 9/11...

- Ukraine invaded by Russia seeking to annex Crimea

- Malaysia Airline with 239 aboard missing and still a mystery

- Sochi, suspected hijacker tries to divert plane, F-16s scrambled

- Syria aided by Hezbollah fighters, estimates of more than 150,000 dead

- Iran ships medium range missiles to Hamas in the Gaza Strip

- Iraq Suicide bombing a somewhat regular occurrence

- Pakistan death toll in war on terror estimated at 49,000

- Saudi Arabia concerned about Muslim Brotherhood and 
Hezbollah

- Lebanon, twin suicide car bombings in capital

- Egypt, terror attack on tourist bus in Red Sea resort

- Somalia, car bombing at national intelligence headquarters

- North Korea accused by South of "reign of terror" 

Where are we in the war on terror--are we really any safer? 

All opinions my own. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark