October 31, 2015

Is He A Man Or A Mouse?

Often at home, we'd look at what's going on in the world, the sad state of affairs, when people act bad, and the lack of leadership, and my dad would say, "When there's no man, you be the man."

He was right!!!

These days, the question has morphed into, "Is he a man or a mouse?"

We are so chasing our tails out there.

Today after 4 1/2 years of civil war in Syria--hundreds of thousands dead, 14 million displaced, chemical weapons and barrel bombs dropped on civilians, crossed red lines and empty vows of "No boots on the ground"--and now we sending up to 50 special forces as a token force to "advise and assist" in Syria after the recent $500 million military training program for "4 or 5" moderate rebels in Iraq was a total bust!

Of course, we're going to Syria not to actually engage the enemy, but more to dare Russia whose deployed there with planes, tanks, ships, artillery, and Spetsnaz special forces to hit us. 

Similarly, after Russia's incursion into Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, we conduct a training exercise with 3,000 troops in the Baltics and put together a NATO rapid reaction force in Europe and call it day, as if that will deter the "Great Bear."

Oh, and don't forget that we sent a single battle ship within 12 nautical miles of the South China Sea artificial islands--again, daring them to try something. 

Well what if one of these days Russia or China actually took up the dare?

Already this week, Russia flew two fighter jets within a mile of the Ronald Reagan Aircraft Carrier--endangering the 6,000 personnel and all those valuable Navy assets. What did we do? We had 4 fighters escort them away--after what couldn't been a significant attack on our Navy.

If we did that to Russia, what do you think they would've done--our fighters would've been shot down so fast, we wouldn't have known what hit us--like when they did the Blitzkrieg into Ukraine and recently into Syria--we're taken off guard again and again. 

Also recently, Russia maneuvered a military satellite between two of U.S. Intelsat satellites, 50 of which are used by our military for communications and drone missions. Moreover, Russian subs and ships are hovering around major global data cable lines posing a threat to the backbone of the Internet.

How about with Iran--we make a deal easing sanctions on them and releasing hundreds of billions of dollars--and what do they do? Conduct long-range ballistic missile test, convict a Washington Post reporter, arrest a U.S. business executive, and continue to threatens America and Israel

When we are afraid and our enemies are not--when they act with impunity--we are more mouse than man. 

We may get some cheese, but the mouse is dead rodent meat unless it gets with it.

This is not a game of cat and mouse--but the lives of hundreds of millions that hang in the geopolitical balance--and there is no mousey hole to hide in. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 30, 2015

Who's Getting The Attention Now?

I took this photo of this couple online in Starbucks this morning. 

It was very hard not to notice this guy's sneakers and socks (on the left). 

Hot pink sneakers with matching Homer Simpson pink socks. 

I thought to myself that you've got to be pretty bold to go out and wear that. 

It's funny how people love attention, and often it seems like they will say, wear, and act any which way they have to in order to get it. 

Maybe (good) attention is like currency:

- It's valuable when your noticed (you become instantaneously cool, one to follow, maybe gets into the school or job you always wanted, oh and don't forget all the likes on Facebook or the paparazzi).

- It feels good to have some (who wants to be ignored or looked down on? Positive attention is like an addictive drug to many people).

- You can trade attention with others (they give you some and you give them some--it's like rubbing each others backs, but in this case it's your egos instead). 

- Perhaps, you can even save some up in the (memory) bank (where people remember what a great gal or guy you are). 

Think about what do you do to get attention and is it something you are proud of or are you acting a little mischievous, naughty, and outlandish to get it? 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 29, 2015

A Blooper With Our Blimps

Oops, so this is one for the books...

The multi-billion dollar Raytheon-built military JLENS surveillance blimps are pictured above.

They are supposed to sense and alert us to a possible devastating surprise cruise missile attack on the U.S. eastern seaboard.

However, one of them lost its tethering and went sailing into the skies and had to itself be tracked by NORAD and two scrambled F-16 fighter jets. 

What was designed to surveil instead needed surveillance. 

The JLENS crashed landed in Amish country, Pennsylvania and took out the power to 20,000 people.

We need a strong, capable, and ready military!

If we are trying to improve our posturing with the Russians, Chinese, and Iranians--this is not the way to put our best blimp forward. ;-)

(Source photo: here with attribution to Bill Dickinson)
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October 28, 2015

Indians and Palestinians

September 4, 1886, Geronimo, the last American Indian warrior surrenders to the United States and later after some time in prison, Geronimo converts and becomes a successful farmer. 

November 29, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly votes 33-13 in favor of a partition from what was land prior under the control of Britain leading to the establishment of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948 at which time the surrounding Arab nations attacked and were defeated, and this replayed many times in 1956, 1967, 1973, 1982 and subsequent Intifadas.

Recently, I had a conversation with a lady who is a Lacota Indian and who happens to be a proud supporter of the State of Israel.

This is what she told me: 

"The Indians and Palestinians have a lot in common in that we both have to share land."

But, what is different is that we [American Indians] don't act like some [extremist] Palestinians teaching endless cycles of hatred and violence.

We don't go around knifing people, throwing stones, shooting, or blowing people up."

I had understood many people think this, but I had never heard anyone actually come out and say it--let alone a Native American Indian. 

Even now-a-days, I think we must admit that American Indians live in a challenging state in this country and certainly they deserve more and their standard of living should be vastly improved, but at the same time, they manage to live with all the immigrants that came to the United States from all over the world, and they do this in peace.  

Perhaps, in Israel, where there is tacit agreement towards an even better scenario--a two-state solution--with the real potential of peace, prosperity, and security for both Jews and Palestinians--the cycle of hatred and violence can end and should end. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Maryland GovPics) 

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October 27, 2015

The Millennial Workplace

So a colleague from a law enforcement agency told a funny story the other day.

When he was an agent-in-training he said they told them, "Keep your eyes open and your mouths shut."

Basically, you are new--so watch and learn before you do something stupid and potentially get yourselves or someone else in trouble. 

But now as someone who been there for decades and is a supervisor, he was interviewing someone right out of school, and in the interview the kid says, "I want to be in charge!"

The difference from Generation X and the new Millennials couldn't have been starker. 

But what did this guy do, he didn't show the candidate to the door by his earlobes, but rather he ended up hiring him. 

Times have changed--not only with all the technology we use--but also in terms of people's expectations from the job.

What do people want these days--aside from good compensation and comprehensive benefits?

- Engagement through challenging and meaningful work that has tangible outcomes from day one

- Innovating and creating versus pushing paper and doing routine, repetitive work

- Using current and cutting-edge technology

- Opportunities to stay and advance or building the resume to "move out to move up"

- Lots of feedback, teamwork, sharing, and transparency

- Considerable work-life balance 

The bottom line is don't be surprised by the kid who wants to be in charge from the get-go, instead relish their gusto and unleash their talent in your organization--with guidance, they can do amazing things. 

It's not your fathers workplace anymore. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to g Tarded)
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October 26, 2015

A Volcano Of Our Own Making

So I saw this cool volcano making kit in the store. 

Kids typically do this cool experiment where they make a mock volcano erupt and the hot lava spills out in all directions and makes a big stinkin' mess. 

But when I saw this volcano game kit, I couldn't help connect this with all the real-world mess going on today with the endless and increasingly savage terrorism we are witnessing from brutal acts of terror to full blown religious civil wars, Arab Spring, and building of Caliphates across the region. 

Now we have religiously-inspired murders and maimings of millions of people with countless more displaced and refugees streaming across Europe. 

The problem here though is that this is caused by crazy adults, and not playful and learning children. 

Most recently today, I watched a video of ISIS killing a bound prisoner (see starting in video link at 1:55) by rolling over him with a tank {extremely brutal and gory}.

The unbelievable savagery is taking place with knifings, shootings, stonings, suicide bombings, beheadings, burnings, crucifixions, abductions, enslavement, gang rape, and more.

This is the Middle East today erupting and the adults are playing politics, personal and religious biases, and sick gamesmanship with millions of people's lives.

Unfortunately, what happens over there tends to come here in the West...and this eruption is a doing of our own head-in-the-sand making. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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October 25, 2015

Footsies at Comfort One

So lately my feet have been hurting me. 

My wife tells me, "Go to Comfort One for new shoes."

I say, "But I don't want to go get nerdy shoes there."

Like in most arguments, my wife wins and in I march, reluctantly, to the store. 

First, they take this scan of my feet (something that looks like the picture above) to show me where my foot is getting pressure (and pain).

Okay, well I already know this, but when you see all the red on the picture, I guess it helps to scare you to getting an expensive new pair of orthopedic-like shoes. 

But first, they sell me on some arch supports that slides into the shoe...they seem to feel pretty good, and in fact, after walking around in them for a little while, I actually miss them when I finally take them off. 

Give me back those darn arch supports, will ya?

Next, we see these amazing Mephisto shoes (with "soft-air technology")...made in Europe...the salesman says, their built like a tank. 

My wife says, "Oh, my aunt told me to get those too!" We now have a bona fide endorsement. 

I pick up the shoe on display and it look like it is pretty rugged with all the right support for walking around...maybe I got to get over that it looks to me like old people shoes (from Haband). 

Hey, what do you want Andy--to feel good on your feet or to look like your 18 again. 

Okay, I try them on...with the arch supports inserted...and what do you know, I am walking a heck of a lot better.

Well, what about the price...holy crap, I can get 3 pairs of cool shoes at REI for one of these nerdy pairs. 

Oh darn it, I have no choice...I am walking better, especially with the hip surgeries from last year still looming behind me. 

I get the shoes, I get the arches...I pay the money--too much money!

I feel nerdy or so nerdy, but maybe I'm going for the healing power, G-d willing, of a good pair of supportive shoes. 

My wife was right again, and I hate to admit it, but please don't tell her I said so--it's bad for her ego and mine. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 24, 2015

Where's The Value?

So I don't know how I feel about this or maybe I do. 

The Wall Street Journal reports today that from the 10 largest companies by market capitalization:

1) The top 3 are technology companies

- Apple $679B
- Alphabet (Google's Parent) $489B
- Microsoft $422B

2) Moreover, a full 5 (half) of the top 10 are technology companies

That includes the 3 above and the other 2 below:

- Facebook $288B
- Amazon $280B

As a technology person, I am thrilled at the impact that IT has on our society. 

We are no longer the same thanks to our Apple iPhones, Google Search, Microsoft's business tools like Outlook, Office and SharePoint, Facebook's social networking, and Amazon's online shopping. 

But to think that these information capabilities outweigh by value everything else in society that we need as people is somewhat astounding.

For example, the other 5 of the top 10 companies are:

- Exxon Mobil (Oil and Gas) $346B 
- Berkshire Hathaway (Insurance, Utilities, Clothing, Building Products, Retail, Flight Services) $340B
- General Electric (Power and Water, Oil and Gas, Energy Management, Aviation, Healthcare, Transportation) $298B
- Wells Fargo (World's Largest Bank) $280B
- Johnson and Johnson (Pharmaceuticals) $278B

So when you add these behemoths up--this is what we have:

The 5 top technology companies are worth $2.158T

Vs.

The top 5 traditional companies from all the other industries combined are worth only $1.542T

Net it out:

The largest representative IT companies are worth $616B or 40% more than the other major companies combined.

(In fact, just the top 3 IT companies at $1.56T are worth more than the top 5 other companies at $1.542T.) 

Sure IT growth has been on a tear for the last couple of decades and we love everything futuristic it brings us. 

But isn't it a little scary to think that the companies that meet all our other needs from food, clothing, shelter, medicine, transportation, energy, finance, retail, etc. isn't worth more to us than just the IT alone. 

Perhaps adding it up from a value perspective just doesn't add up in a real life perspective. 

I love technology and want more and more of it, but man does not live by technology alone. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 23, 2015

Does Every Problem Have A Solution?

So someone said something interesting to me yesterday.

They were going off about this and that problem in the world. 

Then seemingly exasperated by the current and desperate state of affairs, they go "You know what? Not every problem has a solution."

And that really took me aback.

As a student and then a professional, I have always prided myself on looking for a solution to every problem. 

Sometimes we get it right and sometimes we don't, but I was always taught to try!

Now someone says to me this earth-shattering news that maybe there is not a good solution out there for every catastrophic problem.

So this got me thinking...

Maybe some problems are just too big or too complex for our mortal minds to even understand or our supercomputers to really solve. 

Or perhaps sometimes things have gone too far or are too far gone, and we can't always easily just turn back the clock.

Are there some things that we can't really make right what we did so wrong for so long, despite the best intentions now. 

And in life are some things just a catch-22 or a zero-sum game--where every way forward is another dead end or it has consequences which are too painful or otherwise unacceptable. 

This sort of reminds me of the sick brutal Nazi in the Holocaust who took a women with two beautiful young children to the side and said, "Choose!"

"Choose what?" she innocently replies.

And the sadistic Nazi pulling out his gun says, "Choose which of your children will live and which will die, you have 30 seconds or I kill them both!"

Indeed, some problems have no good solution as hard as that is for me to hear or accept.  

All we can do is our best, and even when we can't satisfactorily solve those completely vexing problems to us (because some things are not in the realm of the possible for mere mortals), we have to continue to go forward in life because there really is no going back. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 22, 2015

Measured {Leadership + Management} + Staff = Success!

So I heard from a colleague this week an argument about:

Too much leadership dilutes good management. 

AND [similarly]

Too much management dilutes good leadership.

What is this a tug of war (without the showy skirts please!)?

Or 

Can you ever have too much of a good thing? 


Typically, leaders provide the vision and managers the execution.

I don't see how it is really possible to have one without the other and have anything useful at the end of the day.

A vision without delivered execution is just another big idea.

And

Execution without a meaningful vision is just chasing your tail.

Too much leadership with grandiose vision after vision overwhelms the ability to manage a successful execution.

Too much management of the devils-in-the-details and even the best leadership vision isn't going to see the light of day.

So the conclusion:

Great leaders need to set the goal posts high but doable and then get out of the way so that talented managers can make sure to get the job done and done right.

And don't forget that it's a diverse and skilled staff that actually does the heavy lifting and need to be respected and appreciated.

Tug of war over! ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Jamie McCaffrey)
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October 21, 2015

The Times and Events Of Gog And Magog

So I have never ever heard so much talk about doomsday as I am these days. 

Earlier in the year (January 2015) the Doomsday Clock moved up to 3 minutes to midnight--that was a full 2 minute move or 40% advance to the end of times. 

The cited reasons by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists:

- "Unchecked climate change"

- "Nuclear arms race"

Essentially, these "pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity."

But on a daily level now--

Islamic extremism showing through post 9/11 mounting turmoil and unbelievable terror in the Middle East, including seeming non-ending ISIS brutality, Iran's march towards nuclear weapons and advanced ballistic missiles, the Sunni vs. Shiite war for dominion centering (lately) in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen but with much larger geopolitcal overtones towards a return of a powerful caliphate to challenge the West, fighting between Muslims and Christians in countries like Nigeria, ongoing terror threats to the democratic State of Israel, and a rising tide death, casualties, and refugees.

Russian aggression in multiple countries and regions including Georgia, Ukraine, and Syria, air and naval military incursions and encroachment towards Turkey, the countries in the Baltic Sea region, the Arctic, and even a Russian military satellite parking itself between 2 U.S. satellites yesterday. 

China's militarization including greater military spending on advanced weapons, Island/posts building in the South China Sea, and ongoing threatening overtures toward Taiwan and other neighbors, and cyber warfare conducted against the U.S.government and the private sector. 

Frightening new military capabilities are coming online with advances in weapons of mass destruction--nuclear, chemical, biological, and radiological--colonization and militarization of space, laser weapons, satellite killers, swarms of drones, armies of robots, and cyberwar.

The drumbeat of climate change and environmental deterioration (unsustainable practices of deforestation, overfishing, pollution, and the extinction of countless species) is being felt in changing weather patterns, global warming, glacier meltdown, alternating threats of flooding and drought in various part of the world, major storms and lightening patterns, and an uptick in natural disasters (tsunamis, hurricanes, and tornadoes), and an overall trend towards shortage and conflict. 

An ailing global economy after 2 major recessions in the 21st century so far, booming national debts, stalling economies, slowing innovation, and scarcity of stable, good paying, full time jobs in an outsourcing, short-term, freelance, contractor culture, and automaton and robotization advances. 

Dysfunctional political systems that are bogged down with endless indecision, infighting, bickering, finger-pointing, stalemates, shutdowns, pork barrel spending, catering to special interest groups, short-term wins at the expense of long-term goals, corruption, and a lack of strong capable leadership at the helm. 

An article I read recently from Russian Times, I believe, said how the U.S. teeters just steps from potential collapse by just relatively easy societal interruptions (presumably that they could facilitate) and that with farms/food production far from major metropolitan areas, people hooked on drugs that they could not get supplies for, and other severe disruptions in our critical care needs, we would be in big trouble--the message was clearly watch out, you are extremely vulnerable. 

That these tactic threats and overtures are already being made explicit is not a good sign. Just politicians and countries throwing around their weight or jockeying for position on the world stage--who knows?

But people are frail, countries are vulnerable, budgets are limited, and bad things can and do happen if we are not careful in a world ticking closer to very dangerous times and events.

The coming realization of the prophecy of a devastating world war--of Gog and Magog--is what people are saying to me.  

In conversation about deteriorating world events, my wife innocently asked someone this week--"Can we avoid a major world war?" Their unequivocal response, "No, it's inevitable!" ;-) 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 20, 2015

The Cup Runneth Over

I took this photo today in Washington, D.C. near the Capital. 

It's a really nice fountain...actually 3 double-fountains in a row. 

The top fountains run over into the bottom ones, which in turn runs over into the larger pool basin at the bottom. 

I like the contrast between the grey and white stone, the gold fountain, and the pewter basin with the water overflowing between them. 

As the water (a symbolism of life) continues unabated to run over in the fountain, so too, I pray that our good fortune is abundant and overflowing, and that we have more than we than enough for our needs, and plenty extra to share with others. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 19, 2015

Washington Like The Powerful Great Falls

We went to Great Falls on the Virginia side yesterday. 

It started to rain a little as we got off the highway, and so we started to turn back disappointed. 

But before we got back on the highway, the rain stopped and we continued our "Sunday Funday" trip. 

With 3 beautiful overlooks of the Potomac River--even on a cloudy, chilly Fall day--it was marvelous. 

Because of the changing weather, it wasn't too crowded and we were able to get right up on the overlooks for some spectacular views and photos. 

At one point a (rescue?) helicopter suddenly pulled up from nowhere beneath the cliffs and was like right there up close in our faces, but we had already started to pull back to the trail and I missed a cool photo that I would've like to capture. 

The current of the water is really strong at Great Falls and an average of 7 people die a year there. 

Also, sometimes there is such enormous flooding that the water crests above the high overlooks--75 feet up!--and overflows onto the park's grounds. 

We watched some climbers scampering along down on the rocks by the water (on the left) as they got close, but not too close to the water's edge. 

As I think about it, living in Washington, D.C., the capital and superpower political hotbed of the world, the symbolism of being on the edge is not lost. 

Some people wade too far and get overcome by the rising water and powerful currents, and others may be too apathetic or fearful to even get close enough to dip their toe in the muddle. 

Even for those that sincerely care and want to try to make a difference in the direction and future of where we are going--technologically and success-wise--it's water, water everywhere.

Like Great Falls, DC runs with a powerful current--a lot of it simply running nowhere, much is hidden beneath the surface, but overall with enough force to shape our country's destiny for better or for worse. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 18, 2015

The United Nations -- As Silent As It Is Anti-Semitic


Another truly lovely (not) rally of hatred and violence by our "peace partners" in the Middle East. 

Check out the size of this guys' butcher knives for killing Jews with. 


Where is the United Nations? 


According to the UN Charter, the #1 purpose for its existence is: "To maintain international peace and security." 


But of the 193 member countries in the United Nations--more than a quarter of them--50 are majority-Muslim nations, comprising 1.6 billion people! 


But there is only 1 Jewish Country, Israel, the size of New Jersey


Knowing the historical anti-Semitism of the UN, it's probably about time for another anti-Israel resolution


Incredibly, there were 20 of these just last year alone (versus 3 on the rest of the world)!


Yet, the United Nations is consistently deadly silent in the daily face of:


- Knifings, 

- Shootings, 
- Bombings, 
- Abductions, 
- Terrorizing, 
- Destruction of Jewish holy sites and places of worship, and 
- Threats of annihilation to Jews. 

Only 70 years since the Holocaust wiped 6 million Jews--a sick and evil genocide of a full third of the world's Jewish population--blind hatred, discrimination, and violence against Jews is okay by UN standards. 


What a wholesome failure and disgrace on the United Nations--a body that is supposed to represent peace, security, and justice.


Where is the peace, security, and justice from the UN for the small, minority Jewish people, numbering just 14 million men, women, and children?


The United Nations--as silent as it is Anti-Semitic. ;-)

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October 17, 2015

Living In The Dark Ages--Of Hate, Violence, and Endless Excuses

Despite the enlightenment of everything technology has to offer, we are as a global society, in many senses, living back in the Dark Ages again.

Unbelievable terror and killings have become routine and yet we have become deaf and desensitized to it. 


- Using chemical weapons...what red line? 


- Dropping barrel bombs...heck, at least it's not more chemical weapons. 


Besieging of cities...how about a short truce to let in some much needed humanitarian aid?


Beheadings on YouTube...already so cliche. 


Burning people alive in cages or crucifying them...grotesque, but what were they doing there anyway? 


Stoning women for being victims of rape or simply for some trumped up charges...sluts, they must've deserved it!


Mass abductions, selling, enslavement, and gang rape of women and children...nice photo op for Bring Our Daughters Home.


Raining missiles down on cities and digging terror tunnels under borders...well their aim isn't so good and the tunnels took them a lot of hard work.


Bombing and shooting up pizzerias, cafes, clubs, hotels, stores, buses, weddings, funerals, and houses of worship...what can you do--it's a cycle of violence!


Hacking off limbs, axing and stabbing attacks... of course, a legitimate airing of grievances.


Flying airplanes into skyscrapers...it was a plot for the Crusaders to invade our lands.


- Building nukes and other weapons of mass destruction along with ballistic missiles, drones, and suitcase bombs to deliver the payload...well, you can't put the knowledge back in the bottle!


More excuses from the political peanut gallery:


Are we just war-weary, being lazy, fearful, hiding out and putting our heads in the sand for a while, focused on other pressing domestic issues, pivoting east, in need of a better strategy, rooting for and helping the other (wrong/evil) side, a little delusional as to our own national and homeland security here, or perhaps, have some seriously gone off the (rational) deep end? 


Appeasement, disengagement, and withdrawal...vice leadership.


How do we explain this type of insane, immoral world to our children and is this really the type of sick and treacherous world we want to leave to them?


Oh yes, it's so comfortable and cushy where we are--there is nothing for us to worry about--or is there? ;-)


(Source Photo: Facebook)

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October 16, 2015

I'm That Jew Too


I'm a Jew, you're a Jew, we're all (pretty) good Jews, and we're proud! ;-)
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Wild Advertising Art

I took this photo of an ad for Milagro Tequila on the side of a tour bus in Washington, D.C.

Milagro ("Miracle") is a company that prides itself on it's collaboration with artists to create cool murals to advertise it's liquor. 

Tequila is made from the sweet, fruity, blue agave plant from northwest Mexico, hence the writing over the mural saying, "Agave Expressionism."

It must be challenging to look out the windows of this tour bus covered in this very blue mural and messaging. 

Why is this ad effective? 

First, it is intense and exciting--the vibrant colors, the big mask with the bulging eyes, and the skulls with the green leafy stuff growing out of the head. 

Second, it really is a work of art, and you wouldn't expect to see this on a regular tour bus shlepping around town. 

Third, the cultural contrast between the Mexican artistic expressionism and the rest of the comparatively humdrum city life is standout. 

Fourth, after a long hard day at work, people are tired, thirsty, and ready for some fun--so this is a welcome message.

Overall, this has the creativity and connection with the people to hit the mark--pretty neat. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 15, 2015

Dress It Up With Your Blanket?

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

This woman is waiting in line for coffee wrapped in a sheik light blue blanket covered with Minions and the UK flag. 

Apparently, this is a new fashion trend that is catching on--as I saw a second young women in the street "wearing" a blanket (not a coat) and walking with what looked like her boyfriend. 

This fashion statement is a little weird in light of the homeless people around town that frequent the street when it gets cold wrapped in these horrible dirty wool grey blankets.

But the blankets these young women are wearing are not shawls, sweaters, coats, and are far from grungy, but rather they are sort of colorful and playful.  

The blankets give the impression of course, as someone still in their PJs, just getting in or out of bed or just casually lounging around because they can.  

Depending on how you look at it--cool, relaxed, and fun or lazy and time to turn yourself over and go back to sleep.  

You never know what sparks the next fashion craze--it could be like SpongeBob says, I want my blankie! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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The Kardashian Ball-Busters

So despite the immense beauty, fame, and fortune associated with the Kardashian women...if you are a man, you may want to stay far far far away. 

It seems like in the end, nothing good ever turns out for the Kardashian men--who BTW are often ballplayers and even Olympic athletes. 

Kris's husbands:

- Robert Kardashian (1st husband) - divorced in 1991 after Kris's affair and lavish lifestyle spending, remained close friends, and died of esophageal cancer in 2003.

- Bruce Jenner (2nd husband) - divorced in 2014, and revealed "excruciatingly painful" transgender crisis and transformation to Caitlyn Jenner. 

Kim's husbands: 

- Damon Thomas (1st husband) - Messy divorce in 2004.

- Chris Humphries (2nd husband) - Filed for divorce after 1 year, 7 months and divorce completed in 2013.

- Kanye West (3rd husband) - Marriage issues and divorce rumors abound from frustration over Kim's weight gain to the two sleeping apart

Chloe's husband:

Lamar Odom (1st husband) - Signed divorce paper in 2015, and now in coma after drug overdose in brothel

Kourtney's partner: 

- Scott Disick (Ex partner) - Broke up in 2015 and continues struggling with drugs and alcohol addiction.

What about brother, Rob Kardashian?


Anyway, it all starts with Kris Jenner, the controlling family matriarch who has been said to be "testy, demanding, manipulative," and generally narcissistic.  

And how about the Kardashian daughters--who are they as people?--as they air their freewheeling "have it all" lifestyles on the show, Keeping Up With The Kardashians?

Even though they call it a reality show, maybe the real reality--like for most of humankind--is not so "all that" and glamorous after all? ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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October 14, 2015

Getting Your Message Out With Impact

There is an old Jewish parable about the body parts arguing which is most important. 

Each makes it's case that without that part, we just couldn't function. (No jokes here now!)

But in the end, the tongue that harnesses the power of speech demonstrates that it is most important, because it is through our words that we may live or die. 

- Say the right thing--something smart and influence the masses--and you can change or even save the world.

- Say the wrong thing--something stupid, inflammatory, and damaging--and it can literally mean your or someone else's life.

From an early age, we come to recognize that communication is so important to our success. 

Hey, I need a bottle or diaper changed...please!

Or answer the (interview) questions well, and you can land yourself in the best schools and jobs and even with the best ladies. :-)

Those that succeed with communication, can we make themselves and their positions heard, understood, and accepted.

What are some common communication strategies people employ?

Well as we've all learned, it's not always the one who is the boldest, screams the loudest, or repeats themselves the most that wins the argument--although at times, that too can work when force of debate, undeterred passion, and a little crazy can hammer the points home. 

Having the best laid out and most rationale argument--some people will rightfully be influenced by logic and common sense. 

Sincerity, integrity, honesty, and appealing to people's gut and emotions--this certainly goes a long way as many people are driven by their feelings as well as their instincts and genuine character assessment of others. 

Making people confront what scares the hell out of them--fear is a big motivator for action and everyone is afraid of something and usually many things. 

Oh, of course, the religious argument that "It's what G-d wants" and there will be fire and brimstone if you don't do it that way--well reward and punishment, heaven and hell, divine justice--that certainly will move masses. 

"The pen is mightier than the sword."

For those who can effectively harness the power of their speech and intellect, the sky is the limit. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 13, 2015

Rescue Yourself


This is an awesome potential lifesaving solution for getting out of a burning multi-story building. 

In an emergency...

Put on and fasten the SkySaver Rescue Device..

Attach it securely to a pre-installed anchor.

Now for this next part, you need some guts...exit and lower safely via an automatic mechanical breaking system for a controlled descent (hope this works). 

Carries up to 300 lbs from as high as 260 feet (and apparently a story is approx. 10 feet although this varies). 

I am not endorsing any vendor or product or giving advice on how to survive in an emergency like this, but I really like the thinking behind this product:

Self-Help

Portable 

Compact

Life-saving

Great idea! ;-)
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Fantastic Drone Capabilities Coming


Exciting video by Futurism on what drones can and will do. 

Swarming.

Wall landings.

Acrobatics.

Drone on drone landings.

Playing catch.

Juggling.

Building a rope bridge. 

These little drones are so versatile and dexterous that perhaps what they can do is only limited by our imagination. 

Soon drones will do everything from caring for people's personal needs to building our cities, fighting diseases from within our very bodies, and conducting open warfare on the battlefield and behind enemy lines. 

Small and many is big and powerful! ;-)
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October 12, 2015

Terrorism Knows No Boundaries

Another stabbing in Jerusalem--right in the back of the head!

So far 18 terror stabbings in Israel in less than 10 days.

You never know when it's coming until the blade sears through the air and into the head, neck, chest, or back of the victim.

In an apartment, at a shopping center, riding a bus, on the way to prayer--no one is safe!

Today, one 13-year old boy is in critical condition after being stabbed nearly a dozen times while riding his bicycle in Jerusalem.

The stabbing attacks are coming on top of shootings, stonings, bombings, molotov cocktails, and vehicular hit and runs.

The call for a third Intifada to terrorize and kill Jews in Israel is underway.

This on top of last year's Gaza War when thousands of rockets where fired targeting Israeli cities and critical infrastructure as well as terror tunnels coming under the border to murder and abduct Israelis.

But Israel is not alone in fighting a wave of global terror--it is engulfing the Middle East and farther--from Libya to Syria, Yemen to Turkey, Iraq to Afghanistan--and hundreds of thousands of refugees are streaming to Europe.

Bombing of markets, weddings, funerals, houses of worship, and even peace rallies.

Chemical weapons, beheadings, hacking off limbs, crucifixions, burning victims alive, abductions of women and children, slavery, and gang rape, are now virtually accepted items in the International news, and on a daily basis. 

Next in the mix--maybe some suitcase or missile-tipped nukes delivered by impassioned Jihadists?

For now, we are watching from our perch of safety and security here and in Europe, but what when what we witness happening "over there" eventually comes over here...

Have we become so used to and callous to all the terrorism that we barely even blink an eye anymore when we read, hear, or see it?

While terrorism knows no physical boundaries, perhaps with an ever-increasing tempo of sickeningly outrageous and barbaric terrorist acts, it knows no boundaries to our soul anymore either.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Facebook via Documenting Anti-Semitism)
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October 11, 2015

Imagining The Unimaginable

So today, I am imagining the unimaginable, and thinking the unthinkable. 

What if extremists in Iran stopped hating Israel and the United States, and instead liked or even loved us?

Not because of the recent agreement on nukes and lifting of sanctions, but actually in spite of it--because as the Ayatollah has said, he prohibits any further negotiations and often refers to the U.S. as it's enemy (the only thing missing is the usual Iranian chants of "Death to America!").

But today, I saw the Iranian family again the I referred to in a Sept. 27 blog post, where the father had a stroke and the son comes on the weekends from Texas to help his father with physical and occupational therapy to recuperate. 

Well today, I saw the daughter too, and both she and the son where in the pool trying to help the father in every way to move and walk again. They swarmed around him in such loving-kindness, I couldn't believe the amazing display of love and devotion to any parent or disabled person. They were all there for him!

And my heart opened up, and I couldn't help thinking what if the Iranian leadership could be moderated by average normal people who just want to care for their families, earn a living, and worship and live in freedom? 

What if the Iranian leadership could learn to forgive and love again those who they have hated for so long and so much--the USA and Israel?

If the U.S. can forgive Iran for the hostage crisis that took 52 American diplomats and citizens hostage for 444 long days and the bombing of the Beirut barracks that killed 241 marines, and Israel can forgive the endless Hezbollah terror attacks, the bombing of the Argentinian Jewish Center that killed 29 and wounded 250, the Holocaust denial, and threats of maniacal genocide...then surely, Iran can forgive the U.S.'s role in the 1953 coup that brought the Shah to power and can forgive Israel for merely existing!

As a son of Holocaust survivors, I am a die-hard for the defense and security of the Jewish people, so maybe today I am just being naive, foolish, or letting my imagination run wild. 

But I feel that Hashem is putting the words on the screen through my fingertips...what if Esau can stop hating Jacob? What if Iran can stop hating the USA and Israel and there can be peace and not war?

This is a fantasy, but perhaps it can become a reality.

Instead of the cycle of hate, the sponsorship of terror, the secret building of nukes, and aggression escalating until ultimately major devastating military strikes...instead imagine abandoning the old hateful and belligerent ways...imagine forgiveness for the past transgressions and affronts...imagine peace!

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 10, 2015

David And Goliath - It's Biblical!



There are 22 Arab Countries versus 1 Jewish State of Israel.

The Arabs Countries far outnumber Israel with 64 times as many people, 760 times as much land, and 10 times as much GDP. 

Overall the world's Muslim population is even so much larger with 50 majority-Muslim countries and 1.6 billion Muslims. 

Some moderate Muslim or Arab countries are friendlier and have peace treaties with Israel, such as Egypt and Jordan, and others like Saudi Arabia are cooperating with Israel against a common Iranian threat. 

However, it is no secret that many other Arab nations and especially Iran would like to see Israel wiped off the map with a total genocide of the Jewish people (just 70 years since the Holocaust).

This last week alone in Israel there were over 150 terrorist attacks (including shootings, stabbings, stonings, firebombs, and more)!

To the west, just last year in 2014, there were over 4,500 missiles fired by Hamas-controlled Gaza indiscriminately into Israel. 

To the north, Hezbollah is estimated to have 100,000 rockets pointed at Israel. 

To the northeast, ISIS is menacing Israel with possible chemical weapons and even nukes if they get their hands on them. 

To the east, Iran is threatening Israel with ongoing development of nukes and ballistic missiles.

Many Christians and Jews clearly see the Biblical underpinnings for the threats to Israel and want to protect the Holy Land. 

One Central American, Christian lady told me today that she and all the people in her church love Israel and want it to be protected. 

She said many, many people are dissatisfied with the current state of pullback from the Middle East and what was always the iron-clad support for Israel. 

Further, the United Nations has been swayed by the numbers against Israel for decades--just last year alone, there were 20 resolutions singling out Israel versus 1 resolution against Syria, even though the war in Syria in the last 4 years has killed more than 10 times the number of those killed in the entire Israel-Palestinian conflict.

While many extremists falsely try to portray themselves as the underdog in this fight against Israel, the facts speak for themselves, and the Bible is clear--in the end, David does beat Goliath. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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October 9, 2015

It Doesn't Get Better Than This



This video was composed and produced by one of my very talented colleagues, David Ausman (2015). 

I was really impressed by the skill and creativity of this music video as well as the vivid portrayal of a fantasy vacation to Havana, Cuba. 

He recorded it in his own voice and used Garageband and his digital piano to jazz it up. 

When I asked him how he got the idea for this, he said that his associates overhead and told him a friendly conversation they overhead that went like this:

"Bob: Bill! I haven't see you in ages. How have you been?

Bill: Bob, you old sob! How ya doing?

Bob: I'm doing great, especially since I'm no longer posted in [edited out].

Bill: I know, I know. So how are you liking it back home?

Bob: (pointing his finger at Bill) It doesn't get better than this!

Bill: (pointing back) Yeah, it doesn't get better than this!"

Now that he shared this funny story with me, I also can't stop thinking about some fantasy fun trip somewhere. 

And most important that when we appreciate everyone and everything we have in our lives then "It [truly] doesn't get better than this!" ;-)
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