July 29, 2015

Funnier In Yiddish

Yiddish is a language with words derived primarily from German, Hebrew, and Aramaic.

When someone wants to know if you speak Yiddish, sometimes, they just say, "Do you speak Jewish?" 

Many of the Yiddish words are popular and have become commonplace in our communications now-a-day. 

One of my friends used to say, "Jokes are always funnier in Yiddish."

And sure enough, there is something about Yiddish words, pronunciations, and nuances that make getting a point across very potent and at the same time, quite humorous. 

Take the words on this eduational Yiddish poster--it's like the Yiddish words just sound like and makes perfect sense for what it is (see how many you recognize):

- Bagel - Bagel 

- Chazar - Pig

- Chootspah (chutzpah) - Gall 

- Gonif - Thief

- Imglick - Luck

- Klutz - Clumsy

- Kvitch (kvetch)- Complainer

- Macher - Big shot

- Mishugina (mashugana) - Crazy

- Noodnik - Annoying

- Pipik - Belly Button

- Shlep - Lug 

- Shmootz - Dirt

- Shnops (schnapps) - Liquor

- Shvigger - Mother-in-law

- Trafe - Unkosher

- Tsooris - Problems

- Yenta - Talker

- Zoftig - Fat

There is one more word not on the list here that is probably recongizable and that is a "shmuck," which refers to a contemptable person, but literally refers to a man's private parts--ah, maybe that's why it's not on the picture poster. ;-)

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

July 28, 2015

When Your Pants Are Down

Yesterday in the news was how a drone was used to fly over and take pictures at a nude beach

So at a nude beach, even those that advertise privacy protections, let's face it your walking around in the buff. But still, the use of the drone with a camera was a violation of people's expectations not to be photographed and by those outside the facility.


And about a week earlier, a five year old finds a camera phone in the lady's bathroom in a Starbucks


Yesteday, I had a similar lesson about people's warped sensibilities or perversions (but without the drone or smartphone--this was the low tech version). 


I'm at the pool for a swim after work. 


There are 2 locker rooms for men and women, of course.


But at one point, I see this LADY get out of the pool and head straight for the MEN'S locker room--she actually proceeds to go in one side--through and past the bathrooms, showers, sauna, and lockers--and out the other side to exit the facility. 


So trying to give her the benefit of the doubt, when I get out of the pool, thinking maybe the locker room wasn't clearly marked, I check it--and there is a big sign with a picture (the symbol for men) and you couldn't miss it!


Also, this lady was clearly not new as she gestured a friendly hello to the lifeguard, and she wasn't the slightest bit confused (she had actually made some small talk with me in the pool)   


When she left, as she headed into the men's room, she didn't hesitate, knock on the door or anything, and obviously didn't care whether anyone was in there--dressed or naked.


Perhaps, because the men's locker room is closer to the exit, she was just taking a shortcut--for her, how convenient!


Then again maybe she was a true perv and this was her way of getting some cheap thrills regardless of other people's right to privacy and safety, including those of children. 


In a sense, this is more than just about generalized privacy (such as with information), but even extends to your very privates!


We live in an age when it is a balancing act between sharing and privacy, between openness and modesty, and between doing what's right and pure self-gratification. 


Unfortunately, to put in bluntly, some people just don't seem to give a sh*t about respect for other people's decency or rights, and they will do what they want regardless of the social balancing act or the necessity to use common sense good judgement in public and private.  


The lesson is that when your pants are down, as creepy as it sounds, it's best to assume that someone is always looking or at least may be on the prowl, so be careful out there. ;-)


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

July 27, 2015

Fish Mish



I took this video in the aquarium store. 

Just found it so relaxing to watch these fish--swimming this way and that with their fish pals in the nice cool water. 

In the background is the sound of a little waterfall running into the makeshift pond.

Ah, the life of a fish--if you can avoid the nets and the bigger fish--it's probably not too shabby. 

I remember when my mom used to make gefilte fish for Shabbos, especially the sweet kind in a sliced up roll, and it was delicious. 

For some reason, I remember calling it fish mish--I think because the fish is ground up--and then boiled or baked. 

A nice appetizer--pass the tartar sauce please. ;-)

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

July 26, 2015

What's So Funny About Non-Proliferation?



Here's what they are saying online in some satire on the Iranian Nuke WMD Deal.

The Spanish comedian is talking about something else (I don't know what), but the subtitles were dubbed to make the points about the issues with this deal. 

No disrespect intended to anyone, but the points illustrated are well made. 

Is this how we want the world to view us? 


We are hoping and praying for a real and verifiable peace.
Share/Save/Bookmark

Five Types Of Managers

Grumpy


Big Mouth


Showman


Inattentive


The Snake


(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

Share/Save/Bookmark

July 25, 2015

The Mullahs With The Bomb...Tick, Tick, Tock!


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Share/Save/Bookmark

July 24, 2015

Actions Speak Louder Than Deals


Similar to the Movie, "The Stoning of Soraya M."--only this is real life footage. 

Highly graphic...beware.

A 17-year old girl ambushed by crowd of men, savagely kicked and beaten, and stoned to death with a large cinderblock finally slammed onto her head. 

All the while, the men are taking photos and videos with their smartphones. 

And playing with her skirt up and down in some perverted way while the blood is gushing out of her skull. 

Supposedly for loving the "wrong" boy.

Who does something like this?

Can some people be so religiously brainwashed as to think this can be "right"?

Where are people's inner conscience and moral compass? 

As ISIS beheads and burns alive their opponents, Boko Haram hacks off people's limbs and takes young girls as sex slaves, Al Qaeda conducts countless suicide bombings, Syria gases their own people, and Iran outmaneuvers the West toward a nuclear bomb to annihilate their enemies...we had better take very seriously what we are dealing with. 

Shouldn't any deal we make seek to genuinely change these behaviors rather than make a deal for deal's sake? 

We need to wake up before the warnings that we are witnessing from afar become lessons here at home.  

We need a genuine and verifiable peace--oh G-d let it be!
Share/Save/Bookmark

July 23, 2015

Taking The Spin Off Things

Ok, so here is what I learned over the years about communication...

Question everything, believe nothing (except in G-d).

It's not just that a lot of people out there are full of sh*t--yes, that is true too. 

But also that many powerful people are experts at manipulation and spin. 

Take just some recent some examples:

- We didn't just give America and Israel-hating "suicidal, apocalypse-seeking" Iran a clear path to the bomb and in just half a generations' time (along with hundreds of billions to continue funding global terror and a lifting of the weapons and ballistic missile embargo), instead we have a "comprehensive long term deal with Iran that will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon."

- With the hackers who not only showed how to take wireless control of a moving Jeep Cherokee, but also released information on how to do it, they didn't put another tool in the toolkit of the cyber attackers and terrorists out there, instead "they are bringing atttention to an issue auto makers have for too long ignored."

Could go on and on to issue after issue...

The point is that from a young age we are primed to respect, listen, and automatically believe figures of authority and experts--when our parents, teachers, spiritual leaders or a policeman or fireman says something, we naturally believe them, who they are, and in them. 

This is what politicians and executives and other people in power prey on--that we will believe them over everyone else or any other facts to the contrary. They have the title, the uniform, the badge, or whatever, and so they must be good, honest, and trustworthy.

However, good parents and teachers make sure to tell children not just to take people or what they say at face value. For example, if someone comes to the door and says they are delivering a package, don't just open the door.  Look through the peephole, ask for identification, or have them come with a neighbor, etc. 

I remember in the very first movie of "Death Wish" with Charles Bronson, where his wife and daughter answer the door expecting a simple delivery from the supermarket that they were just at and instead they get a brutal gang that murders the wife and rapes the daughter. 

Similarly, in cases where women get pulled over, attacked, and raped by someone with flashing lights, siren, and even a fake uniform/badge--even as you believe you are obeying the law, others are taking advantage and fooling you.

As comforting as our beliefs are and perhaps even that we just want to believe--things often are not as they appear or what we want or expect them to be--what goes on behind the scenes and the spin that comes out in front are designed to intoxicate the masses. ;-)

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

July 22, 2015

Broken Arm, Broken Metro

So I spoke to a lady on the D.C. Metro yesterday.

Not old, not young--she was sitting in a handicapped seat. 


What happened to her?


She told me how this last year as she was riding the train, it had suddenly and ferociously jerked forward, and then backwards.


The fierceness of jerking motion breaking the top of her arm--the humerus--vertically right down the middle in a horrible break. 


As she was talking her eyes glazed over remembering what happened.


She found herself on the floor of the train lying in excruciating pain.


One kind lady stayed with her as the paramedics were on their way.


She overheard others on the train actually complaining in earshot that they were being delayed "because of her!"


She was taken to the ER, and ended up spending 2 1/2 months in the hospital and rehabilitation center. 


As explained, they couldn't cast this type of break, and she wasn't allowed to sleep laying down--she had to sleep in a chair--again she said how the pain was so bad and unlike anything she ever experienced, incuding childbirth and bypass heart surgery. 


Professionally, she was a lawyer for the government, but ended up not suing Metro, shaking her head that it just wasn't worth it. 


In her wallet, she showed me her Metro disability card that they gave her so she could sit in the special seats now and get a reduced rate riding the train.


Shaking her head, she exclaimed that even though she is mostly healed now, she never stands on a moving train anymore, always making sure she is sitting and nestled next to something.


I could see the emotional pain on her face as she told me her story, and she seemed generally afraid of ever going through anything like that again. 


At the same time that she was talking to me, in eyesight was a younger man hanging out by the center doors on the metro, overfident and not holding on--actually leaning way back on his backback against the doors, almost daydreaming. 


Not everyone heard this lady's story...maybe they should. 


Overall, Metro seems chronically underfunded or mismanaged and in desperate need of major repairs and replacements--train, tracks, escalators, elevators, everything. 


The system is a mess and it needs urgent attention. 


Why does it always take a tragedy to finally get action? 


Coincidentally, I saw today that Metro (WMATA) is advertising in the Wall Street Journal for a new General Manager and Chief Executive Officer--yep, good luck to that person, they will definitely need it and a lot more!  ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Christian).

Share/Save/Bookmark

July 21, 2015

The Merkava IV With Anti-Missile System




I came across this video and photo online of the Israeli Mekava IV Tank with the Trophy Anti-Missile System. 

This tank looks so cool--a little fortress on treads. 

And with the Trophy system it can track and take out incoming missiles with a shotgun like blast. 

For a small country like Israel in the middle of a pretty bad and dangerous neighborhood--this is a necessity. 

Great for defending the Holy Land! ;-)

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

A Dumb Dumb World

So I took this photo on the Metro in Washington, D.C.

One person is on their "smart" phone, and the other is reading a book called "Our Dumb World."

This is a contrast supreme. and I was intrigued. 

I couldn't exactly ask what the man was doing on his smartphone... but presumably email, texting, news, a video, maybe even some gaming.

The other person reading about the dumb world--what's that all about?

So I looked this book up, and apparently the satarists at The Onion make some laughing-stock fun in their "fake" atlas of the world. 

So stupidity is out there every day...

But stupid isn't the worst part of it..."stupid is as stupid does"-- not sure you can blame someone for doing dumb things when they're done innocently and by accident.  

But what is really bad is when dumb things are done with intent and malice--for power or to get what you want when you want it.

Leadership often treats the masses as the dumb people who can be fooled some, if not all, of the time. 

But people are smarter than you think, eventually seeing through the amalgam of lies, deceit, and spin--thrown at them through the old world media as well as in social media. 

That type of dumb becomes a foolish legacy--not a laughing matter. 

Real, ongoing passion and care for the people and the progress of our nation within the larger world context...we can see it in the eyes, hear it in the words, feel it in our bones--it's tangible and it lifts us to achieve greatness.

Those things are smart--and what we need more of in the "real" world atlas. ;-)

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

July 20, 2015

The Fisherman

I took this photo yesterday of this man standing on the bank and fishing. 

I was out in the water in a kayak enjoying the beautiful surroundings. 

I paddled over near to the fisherman, but not so close as to scare away his catch. 

It was hot and very sunny out on the water--there was only a little shade near the bank of the pond--and I frequently had to wipe my forehead beading with sweat under the open sun.

But it was nice to just be out there--on the water, surrounded by the greenery, the sun overhead, some birds and frogs about, and a even a little breeze shimmering over the the water. 

Even better than paddling itself, is just stopping, sort of sitting back, and just listening to the silence, breathing in the nature, and letting everything else just go for a little while. 

One with nature, one with G-d, and feeling integrated myself. ;-)

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

July 19, 2015

Come Back In A Month!

This is the crux of the problem with the verification clause in the Iran Nuclear WMD Deal.

In a nutshell:

"Can I check your suspected site for dangerous nuclear WMD?"

"No!"

"Ok, I'll come back in 24 days."

"Great, thank you--have a nice day."

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Chaim Haberfeld, Facebook)
Share/Save/Bookmark

Hippie Bus Menorah

I took this photo today of a Menorah made on the top of a VW Bus. 

Inside, the bus still had the seats, and outside it had these cute Hippie flower pedals. 

It was unique, fun, colorful, nostalgic and it rolls. 

Plus you can fulfill the commandment (mitzvah) of lighting candles at Chanukah time. 

What a novel piece of Judaica--love it! ;-)

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

That's Good Cookin'

This was a funny picture when we were out west. 

This guy is standing on the corner dancing around in his apron and chef's hat. 

He's also got a big fat fake mustache on top of his real one and big round glasses/googles on his face. 

He is working hard to attract people to come into his restaurant. 

This "chef" calls over to us jumping around--doing anything to get our attention. 

So we had already eaten lunch, but he did get us to stop and say hello--this picture captures the moment. ;-)

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

July 18, 2015

The "Real" Reason Behind The Iran Deal

So I've been giving this a lot of thought...

Why would the United States make a bad deal with Iran?

- Where Iran gets to keep their nuke infrastructure.

- Where they get restrictions for a mere 10-15 years and then presumably get the coveted BOMB.

- Where "managed access" for inspections has a ridiculous 24 days waiting time.

- Where the arms and ballistic missile embargo is lifted.

- Where Iran gets a windfall of $150 billion released to them for which they acknowledge they will tap for use to support terror worldwide. 

- Where Iran's leadership continues to chant "Death To America," burn our flag and President in effigy, hold Americans hostage, threaten us, and insist that their hatred and fight against us will go on. 

Are we going crazy?

No, there is actually a rational reason for all this.

So what's the reason--let me explain from my simple-minded thinking about all this (follow carefully)?

Iran is a Shiite nation. 

Shiite's make up only a small percentage of the Islamic world around 15% (or 200 million).

However, the Sunnis make up the other 1 billion Muslims.

The Sunnis are moving through terrorist movements such as ISIS, Al Qaeda,  Boko Haram, Hamas and more to create a Sunni Caliphate throughout the Middle East and North Africa (and maybe beyond). 

The Western world fears the terror and destruction that can come about from a Sunni Caliphate

Also, on 9/11, The U.S. was attacked by Al Qaeda (Sunnis) and where 15 of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia (a Sunni Country). 

The answer is the enemy of my enemy is my friend...Iran. 

Iran is the largest Shiite Country with it's own ambitions for a Shiite Caliphate. 

Arming and funding Iran is a bulwark against the predominant Sunnis and their ambitions for power and hegemony. 

Notably, guess what?  Iraq is another country with a large Shiite population, like Iran. 

Hence, this is why the U.S. went into Iraq to dethrone Saddam Hussein, a Sunni, who was holding power over the Shiite population--now the Shiites there are in power. 

Voila, Shiites in Iran and neighboring Iraq empowered to fight Sunnis.

They mostly terrorize and murder each other instead of seriously battling the West.

Since 9/11, there has not been a major terrorist attack on the U.S.

And if Iran is on the road to the Bomb, and this sparks a nuclear arms race in the Middle East with Saudi Arabia etc., perhaps the thinking...maybe that's not such a bad thing after all.

Unfortunately, Israel who is threatened by a nuclear-armed Iran who explicitly wants to "annihilate" them is caught in the middle of all this.

But the West is more concerned with the Sunnis and Shiites battling it out, then with the fate of Israel, who we figure can be placated with some "compensation" armaments to protect themselves. 

But is that enough for a country where one nuclear missile hit can mean a second Holocaust? 

I am not a conspiracy theorist and never have been.

But this seems too easy. ;-)

(All Opinions My Own)

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

July 17, 2015

Work-Family Is A Word

This week I learned something about "work-family."

Yes, work is not family--it's your job.

But on the job we meet people that influence us, change us, and sometimes inspire us. 

Not everyone has a positive impact on us--some people we work with are bad, unbalanced, selfish, biased, and abusive--they bring their personal craziness into the office. 

But some are truly good people out there--and they leave a lasting impact. 

This week was the first time I experienced someone in my group passing away suddenly. 

She was at work Monday and Tuesday--we had talked and joked.

I remember she wore pink on Tuesday and it matched a pink stuffed animal on her desk--she looked happy or at peace. 

By early Wednesday morning, I was getting texts then calls that she had passed away (I simultaneously let my boss know). 

One day she was there in the office (and had been for some 30 years) and the next day she was gone.

But there was something special about this lady and how she interacted with the team. 

She seemed to touch people far and wide with her outreach, caring for others, joking around, and good spirit despite whatever challenges she herself may have been going through.

When she passed this week, people were in my office and the halls crying--they loved this lady, their coworker and friend.

At 9 AM, I gathered the broader team to announce her passing. "One of our own has passed." I spoke and then went around offering others to say a few words, which some surely did. 

At 10 AM, I sent a notification of the passing to the people in the entire building (and others associated).

Later in the day, there was a toast to her and more speeches from up and down the chain to remember this good lady as well as to pull together as a team to support each other.

By the next day, things had quickly moved to care for the family, packing her office things and memorializing her, as well as provisions for some grief counseling. 

[Note: I am blessed with an extraordinary high-performance team, and this passing was not only a shock but added to the intensity of the work we do and how much of it there is.]

Once we have all the funeral arrangements, then next up is sending out an broader department-wide notice--and a large attendance for her is expected. 

What I learned is that while work itself can be productive and meaningful, through doing good to others and sincere personal interactions on the job, there can be bonds formed that can have a personal impact on people and bring tears to their eyes. ;-)

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

July 16, 2015

B&N Chairs Are The Pits

So if you ever go to Barnes and Nobles, you'll see that they have the most horribly hard wooden chairs. 

They are so  uncomfortable--many people seem to rather sprawl out on the floor to browse the magazines and books, rather then get a butt bender in those darn chairs. 

Some other people that I've seen now have resorted to placing cushy stuffed animals on the chairs to ease the discomfit on the arse!

I took this picture of someone's chair by the window with 2 stuffed animals left over after what must've been a much needed cushion liner on the the bare wood. 

[BTW, sorry for whoever buys those sat on, smelled on stuffed animals afterwards--ew!]

The question is why invite people in to browse and sit--if you are only going to make them so uncomfortable.

Ok, I get the implicit message, "You can read for a few minutes, but otherwise buy something or get the h*ck out!"

And not that they are wrong (they aren't), but why resort to making people physically uncomfortable and forcing them to leave instead of making everything welcoming and encouraging shopping and sales.

Barnes and Nobles--a nice place to visit for 20 minutes as long as you have some stuffed animals for your butt--but Amazon will reign bookstore supreme. ;-)

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

July 15, 2015

The World's Most Dangerous Game Of Chicken


Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal does a nice job explaining in simple terms why Iran can't be allowed to get the bomb--not now and not in 10-15 years. 

Iran is not playing by the same rules as the West!

And like when playing chicken, the one who is the chicken and tries to simply avoid confrontation through appeasement and concessions--they end up driving off the road and are the losers.

And one who is the hawk--willing to not only keep on pursuing their goals, but also to actually either use it or to stop it's use by any and all means--chances to be the winner. 

However, the problem with nukes is that when someone is crazy enough to actually use them, then millions of decent, peaceful-loving people are the real losers. 

And like with Hitler (may his name be cursed) who made known in "Mein Kampf" his crazed ambitions for world domination and blatantly murdered millions...

Iran, the world's leading state-sponsor of terrorism and human rights offender today, continues to boldly chant "Death to America" and threatens to "annihilate" the State of Israel, while pursuing nukes, ballistic missiles, and a Shiite Caliphate. 

This is perhaps the world's most dangerous "game" of chicken, and the cost of being wrong, never higher. 
Share/Save/Bookmark

Your Bowling Help Desk At Your Service

This was the sign in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building Bowling Ally that I mentioned in a post yesterday.

[Note: I've removed the phone number so don't try calling.] 

Yeah, I've heard about a help desk for a lot of things, especially for Information Technology, but for bowling???

Thinking about calling a help desk for trouble with bowling [equipment], I couldn't help imaging how this may go and chuckling a little:

"Hello, this is the bowling help desk at your service--what is the nature of your bowling emergency?"

Or

"Press 1 if your bowling shoes are too tight.

Press 2 if you've dropped the bowling ball on your foot.

Press 3 if you've bowled 2 or more gutter balls in a row.

Press 4 if the bowling machine is in a frustratingly stuck position.

Press 5 if you've lost your bowling ball or need a replacement.

Press 6 if you need additional scoring sheets.

Press 7 if you're a lousey bowler and need bumpers to help your game. 

Press 8 if your fingers are caught in the ball and you can't get them out. 

Press 9 if you'd just rather be ice skating or going to the movies. 

Press the # key, if you need to speak to a bowling representative."

Lastly, I wonder if they open a help desk ticket for the bowling challenged and what their response time is. 

Yep, help is only a call away when you've got a bowling problem in the works. 

Now, if only they could fix the highly troubled DC Metro system--there should definitely be a robust help desk for that!  ;-)

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

July 14, 2015

Bowling With The Prez

Tonight, we went bowling at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

It is just to the West of the White House and is occupied by the Executive Office of the President.

It was very exciting to go there and be surrounded by all the action. 

The bowling is in the basement--just 2 lanes and a lot of beat of balls and smelly shoes. 

There was a weird sign that said "For trouble with bowling equipment, please call the GSA Help desk"--whose ever heard of a help desk for bowling (that really is service!)? 

There were pictures of many of the presidents bowling, including Obama, Bush, and even Nixon. 

It was funny that the bowling ally is called the Harry S. Truman Bowling Ally even though it is in the Eisenhower building.

I learned that AMF Bowling company donated the lanes to the Federal government. 

There are also a couple of lanes in the White House as well. 

Well back to my game--no gutter balls please. ;-)

(Thank you National Institute of Standards and Technology and Dannielle Blumenthal for a terrific evening.)

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

Fun Summer Fashion

Sharing this "fashion" photo that I took in Washington, D.C. this week. 

This Summer dress is colorful, happy, and cool. 

It makes a bold statement with an almost tie-dye like design and flowing colors almost wrapping the woman in the brilliant spiraling motif. 

While it is casual, it is also relatively modest through it floor length.

In a fairly busy city, this dress was a stand out and IMHO was a Summer fashion yes. ;-)

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

July 13, 2015

Turtle Tank

I took this photo while kayaking yesterday in Maryland. 

Turtles are one of my favorite creatures. 

The challenge in photographing them while they sun tan on the tree trunk is that when you get to close they simply dive into the water. 

This one turtle was a little older and larger, and was basically fearless. 

We paddled right up to him and  he held steady there.

So awesome--turtles live in and by the beautiful water, have a tank-like protective armor, and are basically peaceful loving.

While I never got into the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I think the real ones are all that. ;-)

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

Customers Gone Stinkin' Wild

I took this photo yesterday in a Home Goods store. 

This is the aisle for rugs and mats. 

And it is a disaster zone!

I asked the clerk (with the orange apron on) knelling on the floor at the end of the aisle if the customers did this.

And he said, "Oh yes!" and he had to clean it all up. 

My G-d, what gets into people? 

It's one thing to shop--pick things up and put them down--but throwing everything all over and trashing the place--stuff on the floors and literally left dangling off the shelves. 

And forgetting for a moment what this does to other people's shopping experience and the potential loss of sales for the store...

How about we think for a moment about the poor guy working in the store to earn a few bucks for his family who now has to go on and his knees to clean up this pigfest? 

Is this really shopping or for some people perhaps it's is a way of venting their anger by choosing to sh*t on the innocent next guy.

Gee whiz folks--can you have a heart? ;-)

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

July 12, 2015

The "Real" OPM Data Breach

A lot has been made and should be made of the theft of over 21 million federal employees' sensitive personnel records and security clearances. 

Everyone rightly, although somewhat selfishly, is worried about identity theft and the compromised privacy of their information.

The government is worried about hostile nation states using the pilfered information to bribe or coerce military, intelligence, high-level politicals, and others to turn and work for them or otherwise to use against them. 

But what is grossly missing in this discussion is not what information presumably the Chinese stole and how they will use it against us, but rather what information they inserted, altered, or otherwise compromised into the OPM personnel and security databases when they got root access to it.

Imagine for a moment what could hostile nations or terrorists can do to this crown jewel database of personnel and security information:

- They could insert phony records for spies, moles, or other dangerous persons into the database--voila, these people are now "federal employees" and perhaps with stellar performance records and high level security clearances able to penetrate the depths of the federal government with impunity or even as superstars!

- They could alter personnel or security records taking prominent or good government employees and sabotaging them to have questionable histories, contacts, financial, drug or criminal problems and thereby frame or take-down key government figures or divert attention from the real bad guys out there and tie our homeland security and law enforcement establishment in knots chasing after phony leads and false wrongdoers and villains.

Given that the timeline of the hack of OPM goes back to March and December 2014, this was more than enough time for our adversary to not only do to our data what they want, but also for the backup tapes to be affected by the corrupt data entering the system. 

The damage done to U.S. national security is unimaginable. As is typically the case with these things, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Instead of investing in security, now we can invest in "credit monitoring and identity theft protection" for a very sparse three years, while federal employees will go a lifetime in information jeopardy, and the federal government will be literally chasing its tail on personnel security for decades to come. 

With the price so low to our adversaries in attacking our systems, it truly is like stealing and much more. ;-)

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

July 11, 2015

Dancing With The Devil

In negotiating an agreement with the West, Iran is masterfully eking out concessions, while we are threatened with the potential for another Holocaust: 

- No more answering questions about their past nuclear WMD activities.

- No more gradual sanctions relief.

- No more giving up all their spinning centrifuges.

- No more anywhere, anytime inspections of suspicious military sites.

Actually, this is all quite amazing!

And at the same time as Iran doesn't give a real inch toward what the West wants, their negotiators are now throwing in yet more of what they want and that includes doubling their oil sales immediately and the removal of the arms and ballistic missile embargo.

Hey, if you are the Iranians in the negotiations--ask and ye shall receive. 

But what about what we should be asking for, but are not:

1) Iran needs to give up and dismantle their infrastructure for producing nuclear weapons--ALL of it, period.  Isn't it obvious that Iran having nukes is inevitable if they are allowed to continue to be permitted to have some nuke capability in plain sight and the rest conducted in hiding out of our limited inspections purview?

2) Iran must cease being the leading state sponsor of terrorism world-wide or for that matter any sponsor of terrorism--that is not how civilized nations behave! How can Iran be trusted on any nuke agreement as long as they continue to murder and terrorize innocents just as part of what they do. Just as an example, does anyone remember the 242 U.S. Marines killed in the Beirut barracks bombing. What happened to "We don't negotiate with terrorists"?

3) Iran cannot continue their overt hatred of the West, while pretending to negotiate an end to sanctions. Chanting "Death to America" (and Israel), burning our flag and our President in effigy, calling us their worst enemy, and threatening to attack and annihilate them is not in spirit of negotiating an agreement, is it? Again, where is foundation for trust here to even make an agreement?

4) Iran can't deny the truth of the Holocaust and the murder of six million innocent Jewish people in the most cruel ways just 70 years ago and simultaneously sit at the table today with world leaders in suits and ties and smiles, pretending to make a verifiable agreement that means anything. 

While we all want true world peace, this leopard has not at all changed its stripes. 

The words "Never Again" are not just an empty saying, but rather they are a commitment that all good and decent people must take upon themselves to ensure that hatred, terror, and evil are no longer permitted in the league of civilized nations. 

The devil always presents himself in an appealing way, but as history has shown over and over again, he never fails to hurt those who try to appease him.

May G-d guide the leaders of this great nation with wisdom and to see those with whom they negotiate for who they really are--and may a true peace reign in our times. 

(All opinions my own.) 

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

July 10, 2015

Helpless And Helping

The following is all true.

So I dreamed last night a scary dream...

I was lying prone in a horizontal but bent position.

My clothes were tattered rags and my legs bare.

I could see my legs, but could not move them--at all. 

The bottom of the legs by the ankles were completely skinny, diseased and bright sore red (like burnt), and the skin was falling off them.

I knew I was in immense pain, but could not feel anything.

My legs completely useless, in hopelessness, I looked upward and called out:

"Father! Father! Father!" 

I was looking for my dad (who I know deeply loved me and vice versa), and hoping for him to come and help me somehow. 

Then, my voice turned and called:

"Father that art in heaven" and repeated this again. 

I was turning to G-d as the only one who could help me when everything else was stripped away. 

Then I awoke, and I was very afraid and yet somehow comforted--I had turned heavenward and found G-d. 

Later this morning, I went to the pool for a swim and as part of my post surgery rehabilitation. 

As I was swimming, I saw an old somewhat hunchback lady come to the pool.

I recognized her from other days when she does a little self-defined exercise routine against the side of the pool. 

But today, her lane at the sides were taken. 

Seeing that she was upset and couldn't do her exercise in the center of the pool, I stopped swimming and went over to her.

I said, "Why don't you share with me (there is plenty of room)?"

She hesitated and I could see maybe she needed help getting under the swim rope that divides the lanes, so I lifted it for her and told her reassuringly, "It's no problem."

And then she went under and did her exercise thing--and we shared.

It was such a small thing for me, but yet I could see it was a big deal for her--she was old and I could tell that she needed her routine.

Sort of funny but, when I offered to help, I could practically here the angels of heaven let out a little song of joy--seriously, I did. 

And I thought to myself...Andy, you can learn!  ;-)

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

July 8, 2015

Seriously Big And Out Of Order

I took this photo in Washington, D.C., and I don't know about you, but I hate when things are out of order.

We count on everything to be in normal working condition, and for life in general to function with at least a modicum of structure, process, and according to basic laws of nature. 

But these days, the world is seriously off-kilter and here are just a few examples:

- Russia, post the Cold War Soviet Union, isn't supposed to do a blitkreig and just take over Crimea and fight an undeclared war in sovereign nation, Ukraine. Additionally, our vital economic partner, China, presumably wouldn't have near unfetterd access to our industrial and government secrets, including the personnel records of the entire Federal workforce. 

- The major world powers comprising the P5+1 normally wouldn't treat Iran deferentially and as a negotiating equal or even more than than that with near open negotiations and crucial concessions, especially when dealing with no less than the proliferation of nuclear weapons of mass destruction. 

- Terrorist organizations such as ISIS, Hezbollah, Hamas, Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda, and more wouldn't be taking over swathes of the Middle-East, Africa, and Asia, and we are not sure what our strategy even is or whether we have one yet. 

- Advanced industrialized nations wouldn't be polluting themselves and the rest of the world towards the environmental catastrophic brink all the while denying that our lifestyle is not sustainable and that global warming even exists. 

- Smart democratized nations wouldn't be living incessantly beyond their means and borrowing themselves into national debt oblivion--from Greece to Spain, Portugal, and Italy, and right here in the United States of America. 

- The Center for Disease Control doesn't handle deadly biological pathogens callously and negligently with the potential for a massive lethal outbreak, while admitting to a serious pattern of safety lapses.

- Medicine isn't just another "business and medical treatments for the sick shouldn't cost $250,000 a year for a regiment of one or two pills a day, medical professionals don't simply extend quantity of life without weighing it's quality, and those in hopeless cases with severe pain and suffering wouldn't be forced to go on "living."

- The richest 1% of the world can't truly hold more than 50% of the world's wealth, live in mega mansions and drive fleets of cars, yachts, and planes, while masses of people are malnourished, diseased, homeless or in substandard living conditions.

No life is not perfect and certainly, even those perfectionists among us wouldn't expect everything is be in 100% working order all the time--things break down, accidents and mistakes occur, and sh*t happens--but when life is getting shamelessly more out of order than in order than we need to be asking ourselves some serious and potentially life-altering questions, like what the heck is going on around here? ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Share/Save/Bookmark

July 7, 2015

A Deal Of Dread

I would imagine that very soon there will be ATA-boys, pats on the back and high-fives, photo ops, more gushing smiles, and of course the coveted Noble Peace Prize. 

But as we move ever closer to a deal with Iran on Nuclear Weapons Of Mass Destruction all I feel is complete dread.

I wish I could be happy--really I do--because we had a strong and verifiable deal that protected us all, but instead...

I am afraid for the State of Israel--holy to Jews, Christians, and Muslims around the world--as a nuclear capable Iran and their terrorist proxies renew vows to annihilate Israel--only 70 years after the Holocaust that erased 6 million Jewish lives, their souls rising in the billowing smoke of the furnaces of the Nazi crematoria. 

Further, I am afraid for the dimming prospects of true world peace based on the tacit acceptance of an eventual nuclear-armed Iranian regime, still the leading state sponsor of world-wide terrorism

Every day, we are bombarded by a cacophony of what seems an unending litany of concessions to Iran:

1) Today, the latest is that Iran wants a complete lifting of the U.N. arms embargo including ballistic missiles. 

2) Yesterday, it was that Iran wants an immediate doubling of oil exports.


3) Last week, it was that rather than gradual sanctions relief for compliance, instead now Iran would get a $150 billion signing bonus  - that is 25 times the annual budget of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard and could be used to finance and carry out yet more global terrorism. 


4) And that for vital inspections for nuke compliance, "anytime, anywhere, unimpeded" of suspicious military sites would now only be a highly watered down "managed access" of inspections.


5) Three weeks ago, the U.S. said that Iran no longer needs to account for the past nuclear weapons research that world representatives from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), had been trying to pry out of them for than a decade. 


6) In March, as part of the framework deal, we learned that Iran's freeze on sensitive nuclear activities would only be 10 years, and even that Iran was calling "unaceptable."


7) Moreover in March, we learned that despite any agreement, Iran was continuing to pursue banned items for nukes and the missiles to deliver them


In April, we were reminded of the dangers of failed nuclear agreements when China warned about North Korea's ever expanding nuke arsenal, which critics have pointed out mimics that of the deal with Iran


Aside from the dangerous weaknesses in the emerging deal, Iran's hatred for the United States is unmitigated as a general in Iran said just last week that the U.S. remains "our worst, most vicious enemy."


Moreover, as Iran's Parlimant bans access to its military sites, they continue unabated their generational old chant of "death to America."


In these fateful times, when our decisions now will affect the lives of untold millions in the future, let us pray for G-d's mercy.


May the L-rd above bestow the strength of good character, wisdom of our ancestors, and the fortitude of our great heros to ensure a good deal--or no deal at all--with our avowed and undetered enemy--and may he bring a true peace to us all.


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Share/Save/Bookmark

July 6, 2015

A Beauty In The Downtown

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

Right between the limbs of this tree trunk was this amazing yellow flower almost popping up out of nowhere. 

It was like "Here I am, enjoy me!"

The more nature we put back into our cities the nicer and friendlier they are. 

Nature sooths man's inner beast--and we definitely need more of that. ;-)

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

July 5, 2015

Big Data, Small Moments

There is a definite rhythm to our lives. 

And by analyzing the peak times of Google search terms, we can get a good picture of what it is (as Seth Stephens-Davidowitz notes in the New York Times Sunday Review).

- From starting a new day to taking care of bathroom business, looking for healing, and even goofing off. 

- Midday is some personal time for shopping, travel plans, and a news update. 

- The evening is a nice dinner and maybe some sexual intimacy.

- The night time is scariest with anxiety about health, leading to panic and thoughts of suicide, and easing off with drugs and pornography. 

- As we roll towards the early hours of the next day, we have a philosophical reawakening with contemplation about the meaning of life and our place in it. 

If we can get all this just from some data analytics of Google search terms, can you imagine what else we can learn about the masses and YOU, the individuals that make it up. ;-)

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

Share/Save/Bookmark