December 31, 2011
December 30, 2011
December 29, 2011
December 28, 2011
Yet, as we all know, people can also do horrible things. It's strange that when people do such things, we call them inhumane acts--I guess that helps to divorce us from their behavior, which we cannot understand or accept.
In Hebrew School we learned that it's as if there is a good angel over one shoulder telling you to do the "right" thing, and a "bad" angel over the other shoulder telling you to do the base and corrupt thing.
We were told that we all have free choice--to choose good over evil--some succeed and some do not. Unfortunately, there are way too many instances of the latter.
- Last week, I followed in horror the news story out of New York, where an elderly women in an elevator was cornered by a man who proceeded to douse her with gasoline and set her afire with a Molotov cocktail. This woman didn't have a fighting chance. She died a gruesome and senseless death.
- This week, I watched "To Catch a Predator" on Dateline with Chris Hansen. After many sessions airing, it is unbelievable that dozens upon dozens of sexual predators keep coming out of the woodwork and descending upon those who they believe are young teens home alone for what they think will be a "good time." This week, they caught a married man with 3 children of his own, someone who worked for Nickelodeon, and even a doctor!
What is remarkable about the Dateline series is that most of the predators know exactly what they are doing is wrong--they openly acknowledge it--yet they seem helpless to stop or control themselves. Many pursued the children even when they suspected it was a sting operation and they would get caught. The bad angel must really have their ears and consciences!
Of course, these examples are just that--snapshots of scary, bad things that people do every day, every moment in time. The flip side is that there are also good people doing extraordinarily good things too. The "CNN Heroes" series is a great example highlighting people feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, healing the sick, and protecting the downtrodden. These are just but some of these admirable and giving actions of decent people in our society.
Sometimes even it's the simple things that no one knows about or sees, but you know you did good. For example, the other day, there was some trash on the staircase going down to the metro. Someone could have easily slid, tripped, and fallen down the stairs. But after seeing numerous people just walk by it and pretend it wasn't even there, one person stopped and took the time to move it and prevent anyone from getting hurt. A simple thing, yet a small good deed in time.
Regardless of how we choose to live our live, the point is really that every choice/action we make can be a pivotal one--like our actions on a scale of justice--that can throw the world (our individual world or literally the entire world) into judgement for good or bad, and therefore we should choose wisely.
In the Torah, where G-d's angels are sent to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham tries to negotiate for the cities by whether their are 50, 20, 10 and so on good people there. Good people and their deeds count.
So what's inside people that really counts--it's potential. People have the potential to do the greatest acts of love, kindness, and self-sacrifice. But they also have the ability to do the unthinkable and inhumane.
It's challenging to know who and exactly what we are dealing with every day.
Maybe that's where the expression comes from: to hope for the best, but expect the worst. Judge everyone as if their intentions are good, but don't be too surprised when they are not.
While hope and expectations are part of our daily interaction with others, they are not enough. We need to be demanding of good choices of ourselves. Maybe even harder yet, we need to have the courage and strength to stand up to those who choose to listen to the demons that drive them.
(Source Photo: here)
Although the article doesn't use the term user-centric government, this is exactly the point and continuously driving forward with advanced technologies can help us make the leap.
December 26, 2011
In a way it's a paradox for some that they have a holiday party with the same bosses that treat them otherwise badly the rest of year!
This reminds of some of the worst traits a boss can exhibit--here's a “top 10”:
1) Selfishness: Every day it's all about the boss--their power trip, their ego, their next promotion--instead of about the mission and the customers.
2) Amoral: To some, integrity and business do not go together.
3) Discrimination: They tolerate or in too many cases, even exhibit blatant discrimination themselves.
4) Disrespect: This can be overtly or implicitly, hurting the employee professionally and personally as well.
5) Inconsistency: Flip-flopping is not just something that bothers people about politics, but it makes for a bipolar work environment, where employees are damned if they do and if they don't, but the boss can always say, “I told you so (and the opposite).”
6) Favoritism: Plays favorites instead of judging employees only on the true factor, merit. This causes workers to become demoralized as they see people hired and promoted for all the wrong reasons.
7) Insecurity: They are threatened by seemingly everyone and everything--can't give anyone else credit or recognize the good around them--a one-person team who sees anybody else’s success as implying their own failure.
8) Competitive: They have to be the smartest person in the room, and innovation and objectivity is squelched--no risk is worth the wrath of “boss Khan.”
9) Stealing: If someone else does have something of value to contribute, this boss just steals it and presents it as their own (attribution or recognition, what for?)
10) Micromanagement: Looking over your shoulder every minute, redoing your work, not trusting you, they are control freaks, a complete nightmare to work for.
Bosses come in all shapes and sizes. I’ve been fortunate to work for some of the best, and I hope that I do them justice with my own employees over the course of my career.
Here’s hoping that at your holiday party, you were able to raise your glass with a boss who makes you feel valued and respected--that's a holiday party to really celebrate!
(Source Photo: here)
December 25, 2011
Swarms are powerful forces that we see in our society today in everything from the worldwide riots of 2011 to crowdsourcing on the Internet--to put it simply as they say, "there is power in numbers."
And swarms and their immense power dates back to the Bible, where the 8th plague sent on Egypt in Deuteronomy 10:14-15 was the plague of locusts:
"And the locusts went up over all the land of Egypt...for they covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; and they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees..."
This past year, we saw the power of swarms in the riots around the globe--from Tahir Square to Occupy Wall Street. In the case of Egypt, Mubarak was deposed after ruling for 30 years and in the case of Wall Street, the Occupy movement sparked protests around the globe lasting for many months.
Similarly, swarms are being put to the test in multiple military applications from the Army's Future Combat System (since renamed) that envision brigades of manned and unmanned combat vehicles linked via an ultra-fast network creating a highly coordinated and maneuverable fighting force to DARPA's iRobot Swarm Project creating a mesh network of mobile robots with sensors that can coordinate and perform surveillance and reconnaissance gaining dominance over the battlefield.
The power of the swarm is not just a physical phenomenon, but also a virtual one where crowdsourcing is used online to do everything from building incredible sources of knowledge like Wikipedia to soliciting citizens ideas for solving national problems such as on Challenge.gov.
Traditionally, the power behind the swarm (in nature whether bees, ants, or locusts) was the collective behavior of so many to attack an enemy, build a colony, or ravage the landscape. Today however, the swarm is powerful because of its collective intelligence--whether in pooling information, vetting ideas, or just coordinating activities with such sophistication that the group can outwit and outmaneuver its opponents.
Wired Magazine has an article for the new year (January 2012) called "Crowd Control" in which the riots of 2011 are viewed as both "dangerous and magnificent"--they represent a disconnected group getting connected, a mega-underground casting off its invisibility to embody itself, formidably, in physical space."
"Today's protest, revolts, and riots are self-organizing [and] hyper-networked"--and just like a swarm, individuals deindividuate and base their ideas and actions on the shared identify of the group and therein, a social psychology takes hold and with basic communication and social technology today, they can spontaneously form potent flash mobs, "flash robs," or worse.
The age old phenomenon of swarming behavior is intersecting with the 21st century technology such as smartphones and social media to create the ability of individuals to gather, act decisively, disperse into the crowds, and then reconvene elsewhere to act again.
The power of this modern swarm is no longer about "sheer numbers," but about being interconnected through messaging, tweets, videos,and more.
Many today are finding the power of the swarm with both friends and foes. Friends are using swarming to try to accomplish new social and scientific feats. While foes such as Al Qaeda are utilizing swarming for hit and run terrorism--moving agilely between safe havens and targeting their victims with tools of terror such as IEDs, car bombs, and other flash attacks.
Swarming is not just a behavior found in the animal kingdom any longer, today it is a fundamental source for both social order and disorder.
Swarming is now a strategy and a tactic--we need to wise up and gain the edge with social swarming behavior and technology to "outwit, outlast, and outplay" those who want to threaten society, and instead use it to improve and secure it.
(Source Photo: here)
December 24, 2011
I am very excited by this new assistive technology for personal mobility coming out of Japan that can be used to help the aged or handicapped.
Rather than have to buy a separate electric scooter for longer distances that is heavy and can be challenging for people with certain disabilities to use, the WHILL is a simple add-on that can be attached to and removed from a regular wheelchair and can be steered, like a Segway, simply by leaning in the direction you want to go.
The WHILL is high-tech looking--like a futurist headphone that you place over the wheels of the chair and according to Gizmodo, it turns the wheels with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that powers the chair up to 12 mph for 19 miles and then recharges in under 2 hours.
While pricing information is not yet available, my assumption is that this add-on will be significantly cheaper than a full-out electronic scooter.
One concern that I have about the WHILL is how someone who is wheelchair-bound will be able to attach/remove the drive-train device without the help of an aide or nurse. Perhaps an even more futuristic version will have the U-shaped WHILL built with push-button retractable arms, so that the attachment can simply "open up" rather than have to be removed.
Another question that I have is what safety features will be built in for example for automatic cut-off should someone using it get ill and keel over unto the device causing it to drive/spin out of control. I am thinking a weight-sensor on the WHILL that detects if too much of a person's body weight is leaning on it and then cause a safety shutdown.
Overall, I am encouraged by what WHILL will soon be bringing to help people in need to get around more easily in the future.
December 23, 2011
History is full of examples of tyrants, dictators, and monarchs (this goes for some bosses at work too) who take "the throne" putting anyone who opposes them to either be put to death or be "reeducated."
On one hand, the sword is straightforward though it comes in a thousand varieties--where those who oppose the ruler die:
- in open opposition on the battle field
- in public display in front of a firing squad, by hanging, or even by guillotine
- in more surreptitious ways such as with a knife in a back alley somewhere, languishing in a dungeon of old, thrown in a van from the streets with a hood over your head, or taken in the middle of the night never to be seen or heard from again, or even assassinated by anything from a well-placed bullet to a vial of radioactive poisoning
The sword of the dictator knows no mercy.
On the other hand, the pen is more shady and comes in but one form--where those who disagree with the power(s) that be are convinced to think otherwise. There are many examples from the gulag to the labor camp where reeducation, indoctrination, propaganda, brainwashing, hypnosis and other, harsher forms of mind control are employed.
As a child of Holocaust survivors, who lived through the Hitler rein of terror, I am keenly aware of the devastating impact that dictators can have by sword and by pen. Hitler (may his soul be cursed forever) used both to achieve and hold power, sending millions to die in concentration camps and brainwashing a generation of Germans into believing his rhetoric of hatred, superiority, and megalomaniac ideals for world domination.
This week, watching power pass in North Korea from father to son, now for a third generation gripping unto the leadership mantle there, the potential for abuse is certainly present, but there is certainly also the opportunity for positive change. It remains to be seen who this new leader really is and what he will stand for--especially since he is so young--only age 28 or 29.
Previously, I had read about the sword being used to hold unto power in that country with horrifying prison camps, such as the infamous Camp 22 with 50,000 prisoners (many of them political opponents) living under the most inhumane conditions.
This week, I watched on the news and YouTube, citizens apparently wailing over the death of their leader there--and I wondered with the people starving and living in one of the poorest and most isolated nations in the world, are they really that brainwashed to believe in the absolute greatness (almost like a deity) of their leader or was this whole display staged?
In 2010, the son, was given the rank of a 4-Star General--yet supposedly he doesn't have any military experience.
This week, in the son's first week in power, he was given the title "Outstanding Leader"--even before having the chance to lead.
Today, I read in the Wall Street Journal (23 December 2011) how the "Propaganda and Agitation" department there is working to "quickly bolster [the] new leader's legitimacy." According to the article, their responsibility is "for filing North Koreans' minds with awe, devotion, and unswerving respect for the dictatorial dynasty."
While propaganda and force can create yet another generation whose will is bent to serve its leader, my hope and prayer is that we have a possibility for a new way of thinking and leadership in North Korea, and in many other countries around the world today.
Wielding power can be an opportunity to show benevolence, encourage freedom, and win people over through the power of ideas rather than by physical or mental coercion.
(All opinions my own)
December 21, 2011
Beware of your words, they become your actions.
Beware of your actions, they become your habits.
Beware of your habits, they become your character.
Beware of your character, it becomes your destiny.”
To me it just makes so much sense--and it's how we can either get ourselves on a track for successful living or potentially into some pretty big trouble:
Utter the thought (in word) and it begins to take form--blah, blah, blah.
Put that thought into action, and now--boy oh boy--what have you done?
Repeat once, twice, three times, and you have a habit--or in Jewish tradition a "Chazakah," something firm or established--think of it as, you're hooked.
Habits sure as heck breed character--and don't pretend otherwise...
And your character is your calling card with others and ultimately with G-d.
The good thing is that we have 5 steps to intervene--to gain control over where we are going with our lives.
And we can turn things around, at any time.
- Clean up your mouthpiece.
- Act with kindness.
- Repeat only the things you want to ingrain.
- Guard your character through regular monitoring and course correction.
(Source Photo: here)
December 19, 2011
Unbelievable video of Nick Vujicic coaching people to believe in themselves.
The catch is that Nick himself is missing all four limbs.
Yet he shows how he can--without arms and legs--run, boat, dive, fish, water slide, play soccer, golf, and much more.
I love when he says with conviction:
- "Forget about what you don't have. Be grateful for what you do have."
- Don't be angry at your life and at others.
- You are worthwhile and you are beautiful.
- You have the strength to conquer.
I am inspired--no, I am amazed--by this human being.
Sometimes, like now, when I see such courage and strength, I wonder how people do it!
Life is so challenging even when we have all our limbs and faculties...
I think that G-d must give a special gift to these people so they can inspire others and be role models for us.
So that when times are tough, we can remember them and be elevated to break our own barriers and limitations.
December 18, 2011
Customer service reins supreme and that's not just good business, it's good corporate values.
But reading about the Indian version of the Four Seasons called the Taj--it seems like they have taken customer service to a whole new level.
The Taj which has been operating for more than 100 years (opened in 1903) has 108 hotels in 12 countries, including of course India, but also Australia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and even America (Boston, New York, and San Francisco).
Harvard Business Review (December 2011) describes not just the routine day-to-day service provided at the Taj, but rather how they behaved under one of the most trying events, a terrorist attack.
On November 26, 2008, there began a coordinated 10 attacks across India's largest city Mumbai than killed at least 159 and gravely wounded more than 200. The attack now referred to as 26/11 (i.e. 26th of November) included the luxury hotel, the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower (i.e. the Taj Mumbai).
The Taj Mumbai suffered at least 6 blasts and "stayed ablaze for two days and three nights" engulfing the beautiful domes and spires of this structure.
But while the hotel suffered significant damage resulting in months of rebuilding, the spirit of service by the workers at the Taj was tested to the extreme and thrived.
HBR describes how Taj staff, hearing the blasts and automatic weapons, safeguarded their guests during the attack going so far as "insisting that husbands and wives separate to reduce the risk to families, offering water and asking people if they needed anything,...[and] evacuating the guests first."
The Taj staff did not run out screaming--everyman and woman for themselves, but they not only stayed calm and helpful, but they actually put their guests lives above their own.
This is sort of reminiscent of the firefighters, police, and other emergency first responders on 9-11, who ran up the stairs on the burning World Trade Center to save people--but in this case at the Taj, these were not trained rescuers, they were hotel staff.
In another instance at the hotel, according to the article, hotel employees even "form[ed] a human cordon" around the guests.
This again sounds more like the Secret Service protecting the President of the United States, then waiters and waitresses serving guests.
This is not to say that culture is the driving factor here, for example just this December 9, ABC News reports on how a fire broke out in an Indian hospital and killed at least 89 residents, while the "staff flees" and 6 administrators are subsequently arrested.
So if national culture is not the difference in how organizations and its people treat customers--what is?
HBR explains that it's really a recipe for customer service and user-centricity.
Starting with a "values-driven recruitment system" where the hotel looks for employees with character traits such as respect for elders, cheerfulness, and neediness (this reminds me of a boss I had that used to say she likes to hire employees "who are hungry.").
The Taj follows up their recruitment with a commitment to training and mentoring and empowering employees fully to do whatever it takes to meet the needs of its customers at what it calls "moments of truth."
The values of the Taj go so far toward serving its customers, that they insist that employees actually put customer needs ahead of the company and this is reinforced with a recognition system for those who strive and act for making happy customers.
Is this user-centric orientation limited to just the Taj Mumbai?
Apparently not, when a Tsunami struck at 9:30 AM on December 26, 2004 and killed 185,000 people, the Taj on the Maldives Island affected "rushed to every room and escorted them [the guests] to high ground" and still managed to serve lunch to survivors by 1:00 PM.
Talking about setting the bar high for customer service--how can you beat that?
(Source Photo: here)
December 17, 2011
This one is not for the modest or privacy-conscious.
The app is available for download for both the iPhone and Android.
Essentially, people are going out and using location-based services (i.e. GPS) and self-identifying their love-making--act by act. We're up to 194,000+ already!
Not to be gross, but the app lets people not only report on doing the act and where, but also using check boxes with icons, you can identify the details such as the context: couch, indoor and outdoor, as well as how: 5 top positions--which is way more information than I care to hear about.
In our often hedonistic society, there are of course, other services such as Four-Square that lets you broadcast where you fulfill other bodily pleasures like eating, drinking, and shopping.
Personally, I don't care to know what people are doing or where--too intrusive for my liking. But I can see why others may want to use FourSquare type apps (not IJML or who knows) with friends and family who may want to connect in this way--like to meet for Happy Hour at Old Town.
And certainly, marketers are interested in capturing valuable personal information on what you are doing, where and with whom, and using it to drive their sales and profits. Maybe you get a coupon out of it. :-)
With the love app, it seems like some people want to brag, appear the Don Juan, raise their "macho" social status, or just perhaps enjoy being exhibitionists.
From my perspective, the main pro of this app is to promote the concept (not the act itself) of love over things like war, hate, discrimination, etc.
Even with that being said, it seems like some things are just better off left as intimate moments between you and your special other.
Interesting to me, this topic of disclosure came up big time in the Orthodox Jewish world with the publication in the Yeshiva University Beacon (5 December 2011) of a much written-about article entitled "How Do I Even Begin To Explain This," where a frum Jewish girl from Stern College discloses her story of illicit rendezvous in a hotel room with a gentlemen and at the same time the "walk of shame the day after."
The dichotomy between her "Orthodox" beliefs and her "secular" actions and her publication of this article in a Yeshiva newspaper and her explicit description of sexual deeds is a perfect example of the tear in our society between privacy and social probity on one hand, and the desire or need to share and be "free" of all constraints on the other.
As a social commentary, we are at a point where it seems that nothing is real unless we share it with others, and that can be good or bad--it can lead to greater wisdom and societal advancement or it can lead us to do things we shouldn't do, are sorry we did, and where we feel shame afterwards.
December 16, 2011
Initially, the word coming out was it was a mishap, an accident, but the Iranians claimed otherwise--that they brought it down.
Who believed that they could actually do that?
Then there was word that the craft being displayed by the Iranians was a fake, a mock-up, only to reversed with a confirmation, as reported in Christian Science Monitor, that the drone "is almostly certainly the one lost by U.S. forces."
Well now, InformationWeek is reporting (16 December 2011) that Iran really did bring down the stealth drone as well as how they claim to have done it.
First they jammed the communications of the RQ-170 Sentinel, so that with its command, control, and communications (C3) no longer intact, it was forced to go into autopilot and rely on GPS signals to find its way.
Then, the Iranians spoofed the GPS signal making the Sentinel think it was landing at a U.S. base rather than right into hostile territory.
If this is true, then not only is all the captured sensitive technology aboard the craft (such as radar, fuselage, coating, and electronics) in jeopardy of being comprised by reverse engineering, but also as the article states, the Iranians may have demonstrated the means to be able to literally "divert any GPS-guided missiles launched at targets inside its borders."
Quite a scary thought when according to Reuters reports, Iran is less than a year from going nuclear!
So what is the truth and what is misinformation (PsyOps) to confuse or outwit the enemy and how much does any of that really matter if the Iranians have possession of our advanced technology along with the time and the nefarious partners to study it and use it against us?
Or perhaps, this is a great ruse by us and we intended for the Iranians to get the drone--tick, tick, tick... ;-)
We live in a new sophisticated world of electronic and cyber warfare and that combined with nukes makes for some truly dangerous scenarios.
Finally, we should never underestimate the capabilities or intent of our adversaries--surprise may be the the most potent enemy of them all.
(Source Photo: here)
December 14, 2011
Some of you may have watched the HBO series called Six Feet Under that ran from about 2000-2005 about a family that owned a funeral home, and every episode opened with a freakish death scene.
The series, which ran for 63 episodes, evoked a recognition that life is most precious, too short, and can end in both horrible and unpredictable ways.
This week, I was reminded of this in all too many ways:
First, Brett Stephens wrote a beautiful piece in the Wall Street Journal yesterday about the graceful death of his father from a horrible brain tumor. Brett describes in vivid terms the operations, loss of sight, debilitating bouts of chemo and radiation, agonizing shingles, loss of memory, mobility, sight, ability to eat, and more. Brett writes: "cancer is a heist culminating in murder."
Then today, all over the news were reports of of a horrible accident in New York, where a woman was killed in an elevator accident when it shot up while she was still only about half way on and she was crushed between the elevator and the shaft in a 25 story office building on Madison Avenue.
Third, I learned from a colleague about a wonderful gentlemen, who served his country in the armed forces and was an athlete in incredible shape, when one day in the gym, he suffered a massive heart, which deprived of oxygen for too long, and he was left horribly crippled for life.
Unfortunately, similar to Six feet Under, in real life, there are countless of stories of life's fortunes and misfortunes, death and the aftermath (adapted from the show's synopsis--I really liked how this was said). Yet, in the end, we are left with the completely heart wrenching feeling of how it is to be without and sorely miss the people we love so dearly.
In the Talmud, I remember learning this saying that to the Angel of Death it does not whether his intended is here or there--when a person's time is up, death shows up and no matter how peaceful or painful, it is never convenient and always deeply traumatic in so many ways.
For one the elevator opens and closes normally and brings a person to their destination floor, and to another the door may close on them, never at all, or the elevator may shift right beneath their feet.
We can never really be prepared emotionally or otherwise for the devastation brought by accident, illness, and death--and while it is hard to be optimistic sometimes, we can try to maintain faith that The Almighty is guiding the events of our lives, and that he knows what he is doing, even if we cannot always understand the bigger picture.
May G-d have mercy.
(Source Photo: here with attribution to Chris McKenna)
December 12, 2011
This is a great video on the power of words, but also on the caring of one for another.
We can make a difference with our words!
Words can help and can hurt, they can pursuade and they can punish, but the most important thing is that we are responsible for how we use them.
While we can say we're sorry for hurtful words, they can never really be taken back (i.e. unspoken).
And just the opposite holds true as well--when we use words constructively, the impact for good reverberates.
I still hear the words of the most important people in my life guiding me, always.
Use your words with care, deference, ingenuity, and most important with kindness for others.
December 11, 2011
One more very impressive act on this Sunday afternoon.
10 illusions in less than 5 minutes.
Hans Klok is amazing--especially impressive to me is how he does the following:
1) Moves so fast--more than 1 illusion every 30 seconds!
2) Actually remembers all 10 illusions--I can't remember what I ate for breakfast this morning ;-)
3) Pulls all the illusions off without a single glitch
4) Changes positions with the roaring lady with his hand sticking out of a locked box at :30.
5) Has the women's legs (just her legs!) pushing a cart across the stage at 2:40--are those legs robotic?
6) Moves the guys head from his shoulders to his belly and back again at 2:50--the guys head falls almost like from a guillotine!
While I am not usually terribly wowed by magic acts, this one has quite a lot going for it including speed, action, humor, and some pretty good accompanying music.
Thank G-d for the Internet and Youtube, which enables us to share and enjoy all this great stuff--anytime, anywhere.
(Also, thanks Cousin Betty for sharing this.)
This is a terrific performance by Laserman.
He seems to break all the laws of physics and manipulates laser light beams as if it is both a vapor and a solid.
He stops and redirects it, yet at the same time he pushes and twirls it--huh?
While I am not a fan of the movie Tron--I think I actually fell asleep in the theater (and more than once), this performance more than makes up for it.
My favorite piece is at 1:39 when Laserman picks the laser light up out of the stage--people start yelling as no one can believe it!--and he starts twirling it around like a baton now.
Then at 1:48, he breaks the light beam in two and starts twirling both and sticking them back in the stage only to start bending the light again.
To me, this performance is really cool and inspiring--it makes me think of a bright future for all of us--one that is agile, high-tech, heart-pounding, and where natural laws are almost made to be broken.
Someone please tell me how he does this...I promise, I won't tell ;-)
December 10, 2011
Unfortunately, I think many of the ones coming out recently are too jumbled, long and complex and read more like a "Megilla" (no disrespect intended).
I was a little surprised to find a infographic on Nuclear Weapons online, but then again it's not a "cookbook" and hopefully those are not being posted.
This one was interesting to me, not only because of the topic of weapons of mass destruction, but also because in 11 factoids, the graphics takes you through a pretty clear and simple overview of the subject matter.
No, its not getting into the physics and nuclear engineering depths of the whole thing, but at the same time, you have starting with the Manhattan Projects in the 30's, some nice history on the following:
- Types, both fission and fusion
- Inventories, although based on recent articles on the 3,000 miles of Chines tunnels in the Wall Street Journal (25 October 2011) and Washington Post (30 November 2011), the Chinese number may be way too low--the WSJ based on Chinese media reports has it as high as 3,500!
- Even numbers "lost and not recovered"--11!--not comforting, who would've thought?
In the graphic, it would be interesting to see a breakdown by land-, bomber-, and submarine-based, (some nice graphics available for that) but perhaps a number 12 item on the infographic would've been getting too much in the weeds.
Also, a similar graphic for chemical and biological weapons while interesting, would be scary indeed.
(Source Graphic: here)
So you work hard and play hard.
You're always in "on mode".
Of course, it's a 24 x 7 world.
Welcome to the 21st century.
Well it's time to stop!
Take a time out.
Some time to think.
Enjoy life again.
Become a human being.
Here is your test: Go to Do Nothing for 2 Minutes.
- Your only goal for the next 2 minutes is to look at the ocean, listen to the waves and the birds, and relax--really.
- If you touch the mouse or keyboard, you fail and have to start over again.
See if you can do it.
See if you can calm your mind.
See if you can get off the treadmill.
See if you can free yourself from anxiety and pain.
When you can just do this--for 2 minutes, you'll realize what you've been missing.
Now try Calm--no time limit this go around--you've earned it.
You'll are better for it and your family, friends, and colleagues notice the difference.
It's not a new you, just a rediscovered you.
Find and enjoy peace!
December 9, 2011
December 4, 2011
Like the 6 days of creation and then G-d rested, this picture illuminates in 6 panes of shades of black and white, the cycle of life of man and woman, and then stops (rests).
From carefree children to growing young adults, love and marriage, old age together, loss and loneliness, and finally together again--returned to the earth and I believe in the after-world.
The tree on the left overhands and follows the path of the couple; it grows, matures, and seems to whither along with them--this is mother earth clearly sheltering and closely intertwined with its children.
The connection between people and earth, between one person and another, and between this world and the next...the whole of life's existence and purpose seems to be expressed here.
The meaning and purpose is inherent in the cycle itself--throughout our growth, we experience trials and tribulation--and our mettle is tested and proven until it ends or perhaps begins again.
The overall story is of time marching on, and we but mortals experiencing so much--growth and decline, connection and separation, pleasure and pain--yet never escaping time's grasp.
This is the cycle of life and G-d is ever at the helm.
To me, this picture brings perspective, understanding, fear, and peace all at the same time.
(Source Photo: here)
This was my introduction to Wingsuit Flying.
It's an extension of death-defying BASE jumping off of Buildings, Antennas, Spans (bridges), and Earth (cliffs) with the added feature of soaring like a bird over the most beautiful terrains.
The wingsuits are bat-like jumpsuits with material stretching between the legs and under the arms enabling a user to glide through the sky, rather than free-falling straight down to the ground.
Essentially the wingsuit gives the human body the extra surface area to get the lift to fly through the sky without any mechanical devices at all or with the addition of small jet engines strapped to the feet for added thrust.
I am amazed at the fearlessness of these wingsuit fliers who jump virtually head first from unbelievable heights, fly close to the ground over extremely dangerous terrain, and only then release their parachutes toward the very end, near landing.
The other thing that impresses me about this is the beauty of this sport--the stunning places they jump from in Norway, Greenland, France and so on, the amazing, intricate colorful fly suits, the choreography of the stunts--alone and in groups--the spectacular filming of the events, and even the great heart-pounding accompanying music.
The talent, beauty, and courage of these sports enthusiasts combine to inspire me and hopefully you to go out and do great things (although hopefully not anything near as dangerous) with our lives--because these guys make it seem like almost anything is possible.
(Source Photo: here)
December 3, 2011
With water, when you drop, say a rock, into a pond, the water ripples outward in waves extending seemingly endlessly beyond the original point of impact in the water.
Similarly, with people, the way you treat someone, impacts them and others way beyond the original act of kindness or meanness.
I was reminded of this the other day by a colleague who told me about workers she knows that are so mistreated and they themselves suffer not only emotionally, but also in terms of health effects and so on. But more than that she told me, how when these people go home at night from work, it affects their relationships with their spouses who they fight with, with their children who they act abusively to, and even to their pets, as the old saying goes about going home and "kicking the dog."
But like the waves in the Ripple Effect, it doesn't end there, because then the spouse perhaps goes out and abuses drugs or alcohol, the kids get in a fight in school, and the dog goes and bites the neighbor, and so on.
While this is not a new concept, I think it's something we don't always have in mind when we interact with others, at work or otherwise.
We get so caught up in the moment, of whose right and wrong, of our own ambitions and honor, of the use and abuse of power, and so forth that we act out on others without listening to them, really empathizing with them, or generally giving a hoot what affect our actions have on them and those around them.
Too many people act like it's the old paleolithic "us versus them" world, and in that world, where only one person walks away from a confrontation, people make sure that it is them and not the other guy.
But we are not cavemen any longer, and while there is nothing wrong with a little competition or managing a fair performance management system, we need to do it with a kind heart to others, being constructive, making sure others are really okay, and generally with respect and gratitude.
Nobody is perfect--not our staffs and not us, and the way we treat them may not seem all that important in the realm of the mission and our success, but it really is incredibly important because feeding people with good comes back many times over in terms of their loyalty, hard work, improved performance and how they in turn treat others.
Please don't think that I am lecturing from a soap box, but I really see this as a struggle, especially for people in the workplace, where politics and power play an important role every day.
(Source Photo: here by Sergiu Bacioiu)
December 2, 2011
November 28, 2011
There is "more than one way to skin a cat" and there are those who take the high road, and others who take the low road to get to where they are going.
The Wall Street Journal (28 November 2011) has two articles this morning on how how reverse is the new forward.
"Reverse Mentoring Cracks Workplace" is about how "Top managers get advice on social media, workplace issues from young workers." It's a reverse on the traditional mentoring model where older, experienced workers mentor younger workers; now younger technology savants are teaching their older colleagues some new tricks.
According to the article, Jack Welch championed reverse mentoring as head of GE when "he ordered 500 top executives to reach out to people below them to learn how to use the Internet...fast forward a decade and mentors are teaching theirmentees about Facebook and Twitter.
Really this phenomen of learning from the young is not all that odd, when you think that many, if not most, of technology's greatest advancements of the last 35 years came from college kids or dropouts working out their garages and growing whole new technologies, industries, and ways of doing business.
Another article called "Great Scott! Dunder Mifflin Morphs Into Real-Life Brand of Copy Paper" describes how Staples and Quill have teamed up to market a new brand of copy paper called none other than Dunder Mifflin (from the TV show "The Office" now in its 8th season).
Here again, we are in going forward in reverse. "For decades, marketers worked to embed their [real] brands in the plots of TV shows and movies. Nowadays, they are seeing value in bringing to life fictional brands that are already part of pop culture."
This reminds me of when I started seeing Wonka chocolate bars--originally from the movie, Willie Wonker and The Chocolate Factory--showing up on store shelves.
Whether the young mentoring the old or fictional brands showing up in real life, changes that are the reverse of what we are used too, are not something to "bristle at", but rather are the new normal.
There are many ways to success and we will find them through creativity, innovation, and entreprenuership--any and every way forward.
November 27, 2011
November 26, 2011
Good guys and bad guys are tracking your movements, rants and raves, photos, and more online.
For example, The Atlantic reported on 4 November 2011 in an article titled How the CIA Uses Social Media to Track How People Feel that "analysts are tracking millions of tweets, blog posts, and Facebook updates around the world."
Further, in January 2009, "DHS established a Social Networking Monitoring Center (SNMC) to monitor social networking sites for 'items of interest.'"
And even more recently in August 2011, DARPA invited proposals for "memetracking" to identify themes and sentiments online and potentially use this for predictive analysis.
The thinking is that if you can use online information to predict stock market movements as some have attempted, why not criminal and terrorist activity?
Similarly, The Guardian reported on 16 March 2010 FBI using Facebook in fight against crime and cautions that "criminals dumb enough to brag about their exploits on social networking sites have now been warned: the next Facebook 'friend' who contacts you may be an FBI agent."
This is reminescent of the work of private sector, Dateline NBC in using Internet chat rooms to catch sexual predators online by luring them to a house where the predators believed they were going to meet up with a underage girl for a tryst.
While these efforts are notable and even praiseworthy by the good guys--assuming you can get over the privacy implications in favor of the potential to have a safer society to live in--these activities should be carefully safeguarded, so as not to infringe on the rights and freedoms of those who behave legally and ethically.
But the good guys are not the only ones using the tools of the trade for monitoring and analyzing social networking activities--the bad guys too recognize the implicit information treasure trove available and have you in their crosshairs.
For example, in the last years Arab Spring, we have nation states tracking their citizens political activities and using their power over the Internet to shut off access and otherwise surpress democracy and human rights. Further, we have seen their use for cyberspying and testing offensive cyber attack capabilities--only the most recent of which was the alleged infiltration of a SCADA system for a Illinois water plant.
Moreover, this past week, Forbes (21 November 2011) reported in The Spy Who Liked Me that "your social network friends might not be all that friendly."
From corporate espionage to market intelligence, there are those online who "steadfastly follows competitors' executives and employees on Twitter and LinkedIn."
In fact, the notion of online monitoring is so strong now that the article openly states that "if you're not monitoring your competitors activity on social media, you may be missing out on delicious tidbits" and warns that "it's easy to forget that some may not have your best intersts at heart."
Additionally, while you may not think your posts online give that much away, when your information is aggregated with other peoples posts as well as public information, it's possible to put together a pretty good sketch of what organizations and individuals are doing.
Forbes lists the following sites as examples of the "Web Spy Manual" with lots of information to pull from: Slideshare, Glassdoor.com, Quora, iSpionage, Youtube as well as job postings and customer support forums.
When you are on your computer in what you believe to be the privacy of your own home, office, or wherever, do not be deceived, when you are logged on, you are basically as open book for all the world to see--good guys and bad guys alike.