January 31, 2016

Truly My Love

So this is the graffiti on the wall of the ladies bathroom in Barnes and Noble. 

My wife said to make sure everyone knows that she took the photo and not me (uh, that would be awkward). 

I can't make out all the graffiti on the wall, but the one in the center says:

"True love isn't something made up in stories or books. It exists truly, if you believe truly, and truly fight for it. Real love is magic."

Another one talks about "Gonzales" who is the most beautiful man.

And yet one more...

"I wish I knew how to tell my boyfriend I love him."

Let me just be frank that the Graffiti in men's bathrooms is nothing, nothing like this. 

It's more obscene, uses lots of 4 letter words, and has women's first names and phone numbers. 

Why do women write and profess their love for men on bathroom walls, while men seem to think and express themselves in far more graphic terms--and why do this while in the stinkin' bathroom?

I think this may make for some interesting gender studies for someone out there. 

From a technology perspective, I think if people are going to insist on thinking and fantasizing in the public bathroom, perhaps we need some white boards or monitors that you can write and erase from--that way at least we can make room for the next guy/gal to write their truly's next. ;-)

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)

January 30, 2016

What's Cool Is Being Oppressed

So we were having this discussion with this lady in synagogue who prides herself as an activist and participates in numerous groups for social justice.

What was most striking to learn is how these days everyone is vying for the title of most oppressed. 

It's no longer "cool" or "in" to be part of the elite privileged rich, strong, and powerful.

If you are any of these, you are part of the corrupt 1%--that have more wealth now than the other 99% of society combined--and you are leeches that feed off of the legitimate working, middle class society. 

The privileged are the bullies, the racists, the occupiers, the unjust, the thieves, and the liars. 

Today, people and groups are arguing to be put on the pedestal for who is underprivileged:

- The poorest in society

- The ones with the greatest inequality

- The most discriminated against and oppressed

- The smallest of the minorities

The prize for those that attain the marks of distinction for worst status can hope to achieve:

- Sympathy (protests, petitions, and actions for boycotts, divestitures, and sanctions)

- Economic Assistance (donations, grants, loans, scholarships, and advanced technology)

- Preferential treatment (college placement, training programs, hiring, promotion, business awards, and board seats)

- Votes (elections, laws, resolutions, decisions, and court awards)

The super underdog has it way up over the superpower. 

Discontent by the masses, supercharged by social media, is leading to an overturning of society from the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street.  

Socialism even for presidential candidates is no longer a dirty word in Democratic America and terrorists around the world are now "freedom fighters." 

Regimes such as Iran that sponsor terrorism, abuse human rights, and build weapons of mass destruction now just need to be "opened up" to the outside world and sanctions and non-proliferation is just more western bullying and infidel occupation.  

Other countries like Syria that are ruled by tyrannical leaders that besiege their own cities, starve and torture their people, drop barrel bombs indiscriminately, and use chemical weapons are no longer crossing a "red line", but are simply in need of a political settlement and even can enjoy two or more years of continued rule. 

Small but flourishing Democratic countries like Israel--the size of New Jersey and the only Jewish state in a world of 50 majority Muslim countries--is demonized as Apartheid oppressors of the Palestinians--those very people who are sworn to their destruction and to throwing them into the Sea--just 70 years after the Jewish Holocaust. 

Back in the United States and in Europe, waves of mass immigration across borders is perfectly fine and perhaps even desired to file the ranks of needed employees, obtain desired future voters, and alleviate the aggrieved hearts of those that committed past atrocities or closed their doors to refugees in the past, while those that speak of vetting, border control, and homeland security are Nazi fascists.

Moreover increases in taxes and spending is in vogue, while general fiscal disciple, paring the national deficit and debt, and sequestration are lunatic concepts by those seeking to suppress the middle class and destroy America. 

Don't get me wrong, we as a country can and should go a long way to decreasing inequality and improving the lives of everyone with a living wage, universal healthcare, paid maternity/paternity leave, free or reasonably-priced advanced education, and decent retirement benefits.

However, when we call everything and anything discrimination, racism, and inequality, take away individual accountability, make every grievance into a revolution and opportunity for a lynching or guillotine, things have gone from one insanity to just another. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

January 29, 2016

Responding To Foolish Holocaust Denial

So I just watched a video where the radical Muslim speaker tries to explain how it is not the Earth that rotates around the Sun, but rather how really the Earth is fixed in space, and it is the Sun which rotates around it. 

His logic and proofs include things like the following:

- If the Earth was really moving, and you tried to fly to China, the plane shouldn't have to move, since China would just come to the plane. 

- Also, if the Earth was moving in the same direction as the plane, and you were flying to China, then you would never get there, because you'd just be chasing a moving China. 

This is how people's inner darkness, ignorance, and evil can attempt to extinguish the light. 

Similarly, this past week, the "leader" of Iran took the opportunity on International Holocaust Remembrance Day (Jan. 27)--of all days --to once again express his vile denial of the Holocaust.

Khamenei declaring: "It's not clear if the Holocaust is a reality or not."

And calling for the "dear people of Iran" to "stand up to the ignorance" of the West.

Wow, who is calling whom ignorant and trying to brainwash the good people of Iran. 

It's funny, but there are so many nice people from Iran that I've had the opportunity to meet and befriend, and one of them is an elderly man who is a swimming buddy of mine-- and he is such a nice person--I really enjoy talking with him (despite some of our differences of opinion). 

The point is that when the leadership is corrupt, evil, and insecure, then they try to extinguish the good in the masses of the people, so that the people stay in the dark, blinded by scare tactics, scapegoats, and hatred--this is how they stay in power

When it comes to Holocaust denial though, I think this is definitely going way too far, and I imagine the souls of the Six Million righteous who perished in the Holocaust--under the worst genocide the world has ever known--that they are watching and they are listening. 

And Khamenei and his cohorts of evil doers will most certainly have to contend with all these very real martyred righteous souls. 

So in their warped ignorance, foolishness, and hatred--where the sun rotates around the earth and with utter darkness they attempt to extinguish the light of the good people--I imagine with the strongest and most vivid of images and sounds that certainly Heaven does not await them...but a very fiery Hell of their own making indeed. 

(Source Photo: here with attribution to slgckgc)

January 28, 2016

Suicide Office To-Dos

So at times, organizations send out notices to their staff with self help suggestions or organizational resources that are available.

One such case is for suicide prevention. 

For example, if you are thinking about suicide, perhaps you should contract the employee assistance program.

It's a good idea to reach out to employees when the messaging is done in a way that makes employees feel they are genuinely cared about and needed, and substantial help is available to them.

People contemplating suicide are in a desperate state of mind and proper handling is nothing less than a life or death situation.

Going to the extreme to make a point for a moment, office reminders about suicide prevention should never be selfish or cavalier, such as:

- Remember to turn the lights out.

- Set your out of office message on.

- Have you done a knowledge transfer to ensure a smooth transition?

If employees are coming away feeling like the organization is just sending out a form message or treating their feelings and situation lightly or in their own interests (such as to remove/reduce liability) that is apt to make things worse and not better.

Please treat employees with genuine dignity, respect, caring, and humanity, and offer them substantive help when they need it.

There are families depending on them and they love and need them. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Jason Kuffer)

January 27, 2016

Iran Man

Today, Iran warns a U.S. Navy ship and fighter jet to stay away from military exercises they were conducting.

And what did we, the Superpower, do? 

We hightailed it out of there. 

Yet, presumably we were in international waters this time, so it's curious why the U.S. military would take it's orders from Iran if we were legitimately there. 

This is just...

- A little more than 2 weeks after Iran seized 2 U.S. Navy ships and 10 sailors and put them execution style on their knees and broadcast this to world.

- And less than a month after Iran fired missiles within 1.3 km of the U.S. aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman.

Wonder why did Iran warn us this time and not last month with the aircraft carrier--should we be "thankful" again to them, this time for warning us.

- And just less than 2 weeks ago, Iraq-based Shiite terror militias (alleged proxies for Iran) abducted 3 more Americans (almost simultaneously with their prisoner swap with us--refilling their human cache).  

- All this, plus the 2 ballistic missile tests (those capable of carrying nukes) that Iran conducted in October and again in December in violation of U.N. resolutions, and what do we have? 

A new "Iran Man" (not Iron Man) in town--with over $100+ billion to spend on global terrorism while chanting "Death To America"--and he most certainly isn't a superhero. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


January 26, 2016

Plastic Pigs

So you've probably heard about this mammoth island of plastic garbage in the Pacific Ocean.

It's between the West Coast and Hawaii. 

And it's called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. 

Get this...

It's about twice the size of Texas.

Now researchers are predicting that by 2050, our oceans will hold more plastic than fish!

"More than 8 million tons of plastics end up entering our oceans each year." 

And we're dumping the equivalent of one garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute.  

Just 5% of plastic waste gets recycled. 

So far there is a 165 million tons of plastic trash in the ocean right now. 

The plastic pieces can survive hundreds of years. 

We are making a darn mess of this planet. 

The 5 cent surcharge for plastic bags is a joke in this respect. 

Maybe ISIS actually won't be the end of Western civilization, but plastic will be. 

Who's paying off whom to keep this plastic money wagon going to poison our planet?  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

January 25, 2016

Stack Theory Doesn't Stack Up

Christopher Mims' article in the Wall Street Journal today on why big companies get disrupted by others doesn't make a lot of sense to me. 

He discusses the "Stack Fallacy" of Anshu Sharma a venture capitalist that it "is the mistaken belief that it is trivial to build the layers above yours."

Mims explains that the stack is like a "layer cake of technology"--where one layer is built on another.

Similar to the OSI technology model where there are architecture layers for physical, data, network, application and so on. 

Basically, Mims explains that tech companies can only invent at a single layer of technology (or below). 

But when companies try to invent up the stack, they fail.

Here's why...

Mims says that companies despite their size and resources can't innovate up the stack because they don't understand the users there. 

But this doesn't stack up to me. 

Companies can and do use their resources to study and understand what users want up the food chain and what they can't easily build, they can acquire. 

Apple successfully went from a iPod and iTunes music player and song store to producing a highly sophisticated and integrated iPhone and Apps store where music is just an afterthought.

Similarly, IBM went from being primarily a mainframe and desktop company to being a top-tier consulting firm with expertise in cloud, mobile, social, artificial intelligence, and analytics computing. 

But it isn't easy for a company to change. 

And to me, it's not because they can't understand what users want and need. 

Rather, it is because of something we've all heard of called specialization. 

Like human beings, even extraordinary ones, companies are specialized and good at what they are good at, but they aren't good at everything. 

A great example of this was when NBA superstar, Michael Jordan, tried to take his basketball talents and apply it to baseball...he was "bobbling easy flies and swatting at bad pitches" in the minor leagues. 

As even kindergarteners are taught that "Everyone is good at something, but no one is good at everything."

Companies have a specific culture, a specific niche, a specific specialization and expertise.

And to go beyond that is very, very difficult...as IBM learned, it requires nothing less than a transformation of epic proportions. 

So I think Mims is wrong that companies can't understand what users want in areas up the innovation stack, but rather it's a monumental change management challenge for companies that are specialized in one thing and not another. 

So welcome to the world of Apple after Steve Jobs and his iPhone and to the the recent 25% decline in their stock price with investors and customers anxiously waiting for the possible but not certain next move up the technology stack. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


January 24, 2016

The Need For Speed

In the gym this morning, I watched Joel Osteen giving his Sunday sermon on the monitor. 

The guy is a genius--always on message, always inspiring hope, always uplifting the masses. 

Today, he spoke about acceleration. 

The idea was that no matter how deeply bad our situation in life (e.g. illness, debt, demoted) and no matter how many months or years it would normally take us to recover or get out of it, G-d can accelerate things so that we are healed, solvent, or promoted tomorrow. 

He didn't say this, but as I understand it, G-d is above time and space, and so he can move you faster out of your funk then anyone would normally think.

Osteen gave the analogy of a bow an arrow, and the further back you are pulled--the more pressure and tension you are under in life--then the further and faster, G-d can propel you forward. 

To me it's interesting that when we are enjoying a wonderful moment in life, that we wish time would slow or completely stop, so we could savor the good times that much longer or just "stay in the moment forever."

And at other times, when we are down and suffering, the days of despair and defeat can drag on and on, and it seems like the hours and days just don't pass fast enough...it's almost like torture in that it seem to go on forever. And that is when, we hope and pray for a speedy resolution to whatever ails us--we just want to be free from the problems, the illness, the suffering--and so if only, we could leap forward in time and this "would all be over." 

If you are happy, life is too short.  But if you are in pain and suffering, every moment can be torture.

So if we are worthy, time can magnify and be an accelerant for prolonging the good times and getting out of the bad times (or G-d forbid, it can work in reverse as well--shortening the good times in life and extending out the bad ones). 

Similarly, long life can be a blessing if we are healthy and able to enjoy a real quality of life or it can be grueling for those in pain and suffering. 

My wife told me about this news item from a couple of days ago, where a guy won the lottery, but shortly after was murdered--his life cut short--in a home invasion (this "lucky" guy never got to enjoy his winnings).

G-d who controls time (and space) has quite a lot of leeway to test us or meet out justice--just speed things up or slow things down and the experience and feelings are magnified accordingly. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to spitfirelas)

January 23, 2016

Snowpocalypse, 6 Hours Later...Cooped Up & Going Nuts


Snowpocalypse 2016!

It's never too cold or snowy to wear shorts and water shoes. 

Even a good day for some air conditioning. 

When you got hot blood and a big smile, it's never really cold outside. ;-)

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)

January 22, 2016

Poor Decision-Making Inc.

(Click the image for larger size)

There is a funny Organization Chart of Indecision by Corter Consulting circulating on the Social Media. 

This graphic (above) by me can be thought of as the corollary for Poor Decision-Making.

It is headed by the Chief, Bad Decisions.

Supporting the Chief is the EVP of Strong-Arming.

Reporting to the Chief are 6 VPs of:

- Haste

- Intuition

- Incompetence

- Misinformation

- Narcissism

- Corruption

Followed by 16 Directors of:

- Get It Over With
- It's Too Hard

- Feelings
- Myths
- I Just Don't Know

- Ignorance
- Ineptitude

- Lack of Data
- Bad Data
- Misinterpretation

- What's In It For Me (WIIFM)
- Legacy
- Arrogance

- Fraud
- Waste
- Abuse

Hope you enjoy this Org Chart of Poor Decision-Making and I look forward to your comments on it. 

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

January 21, 2016

I Think I'll Just Take A Snooze--Right Over Here

This was a funny photo in the mall this weekend. 

We are passing by this mattress store. 

The sign over the bed says:

"See and feel how a Sleep Number bed adjusts to you"

This family is apparently trying out the new mattress. 

They have made themselves quite comfortable--and they sort of just continue to lay there and lay there.

The guy looks like he's watching TV and the mom and daughter are playing something. 

We take a stroll around the mall and eventually (maybe 20 minutes later) pass back by this store.

Guess what? These people are still laying on the mattress, and they haven't budged an inch. 

They don't look homeless or anything. 

Not sure if this Sleep Number is adjusting to them or they are still adjusting to the Sleep Number.

Honey, can you pass the cover. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

January 20, 2016

Why Would ANYONE Close Gitmo?

So over and over again, we read about the desire and promise by some to close Guantanamo Bay ("Gitmo")--the prison for terrorists against the U.S. 

What are the reasons given and do they make any sense?

1) It's costly--Yeah, it's costly to house prisoners, especially incredibly dangerous ones like terrorists who commit mass murder like in 9/11, but what is the cost of letting them go free, especially when the known recidivism rate of the released detainees is close to 29%!

2) It inspires other terrorists--Really, since when does imprisoning bad apples inspire other bad apples. Isn't one of the well-recognized and intended purposes of incarceration is to dissuade and deter bad behavior, as well as to rehabilitate. Even according to those who question the effectivenss of the deterrent capability of prison, studies show that it should be used to "incapacitate offendors (particularly, those of a chronic, higer risk nature)." In other words, we need to take and keep the terrorists off the battlefield!

Can an argument be made to bring the terrorists into prisons on American soil? Sure, but it makes a lot more common sense not to bring terrorists into the American heartland and risk further violence and danger to our citizens from known terrorists and their jihadist associates. 

Additionally, after 9/11 and the loss of almost 3,000 people, our brave U.S. serviceman and women spent a lot of time and hard work and risked their own lives to capture these dangerous terrorists...why would we want to release the terrorists endangering our military and our citizens all over again (especially when the threat has not abated--see below)?

Has the threat of terrorism gone away that we can say the war on terror is over and so let's send the terrorists home (the question itself almost sounds ludicrous for anyone living in the age of ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Boko Haram, and more)?  Well, according to the RAND research experts, "there has been an INCREASE in the number of Salafi-Jihadist groups, fighters, and attacks." 

And after the recent attacks in Paris, San Bernardino, the downing of the Russia airliner, and many other terror strikes, it is no surpurse that "Americans name terrorism as the No. 1 U.S. problem."

Perhaps, this helps us understand why Congress is blocking the closing of Gitmo, and why none of us should be able to understand why violent, dangerous terrorist detainees are continuing to be released to hurt U.S. citizens again.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to JBrazito)

January 19, 2016

Iran Outsmarts And Humiliates

Iran so far continues to outsmart us at every turn...

Take just last week:

We released 7 Iranians for 5 Americans hostages plus a $1.7 billion settlement to Iran, even though our victims of terrorism haven't received their settlement money from Iran. 

Good deal?

Well after Iran released the 5 Americans, the Shitte militias in Iraq "whose funding and direction come from Iran" immediately took 3 new Americans hostage.

Oh well.

How about with the nuke deal with Iran?

We got short-term commitments from the Iranians to restrain their nuke program in return for $100+ billion and a removal of sanctions.

Good deal?

Well after Iran agreed to this, they immediately tested 2 ballistic missiles capable of carrying nukes in violation of UN resolutions, and then Iran threatens to pull out of the deal if we impose any new sanctions

Oh well. 

Then again, what about our naval vessels seized?

Iran took 2 US naval vessels and 10 American servicemen/women and after releasing them, we profusely thank Iran. 

Good deal?

Well after we thank them, Iran broadcasts humiliating images of the Americans on their knees captured, and it is reported that Iran kept SIM cards from the sailors handheld satellite phones presumably to hack these communications in the future. 

Oh well. 

They win some and win some more--AND--we lose some and lose some more. 

Ready for the next humiliating round? ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Scott Joseph)

January 18, 2016

The Science Of The Interview

Job interviews seem to have evolved into elaborate psychosocial and behavioral tests.

Almost as if there is an exact science behind trying to pick "the winners" from "the losers." {hate those harsh terms about people]

Many questions look at how quickly the interviewee thinks on their feet, how prepared they are for the interview, and how well they present themselves for the job.

However, my question is whether these things are truly determinant of the fit between the person and the job, the culture, and the supervisor and team, as well as indicative of integrity of the person, their work ethic, or how well they would actually perform in said job. 

The interviewer proudly blurts out from his or her script:


- A time that you came from from work and said "I completely nailed it--a home run out of the park!"


-  A time that you came from work and said "Oh shit, I completely screwed everything up."

Ah, like work--or life for that matter--is generally that black and white.

Are we forgetting about the 99% of the time that people go in the office, put in a solid day's work for a solid day's pay--and did a good job, made a decent contribution, and got along with the team. 

Also, let's face it, the vast majority of people are not the Einsteins or Steve Jobs of this world. 

They don't come to the interview having invented the driverless car or negotiated the end to World War II.

How about this question...

"Why do you want to work here?"

I heard someone actually asked this question about a job working in mining regulation--yeah right, your and everyone else's dream job. 

What an incredibly narcissistic question, where the interviewer is looking to hear about how great their organization is or their department is, how superb a leader he/she is known to be, and why the person just will fit in perfectly to a place that alas they probably really know very little about from an insider's perspective.

Okay, let's try another one...

"Where do you see yourself in 5-years?"

Let's see I want to be kissing your ass in 5-years and actually until the day I die or maybe better what your really afraid of hearing is that I'm gunning for your and would like to take your job and show this company what a real XYZ can do to improve things around here. 

Here's another one a colleague told me about recently...

Pretend your David Ogilvy and sell me on one of your ideas. You have 15-minutes to prepare. 

Ok let's put the pressure on, because the candidate coming in today for the job interview with a mortgage and two kids at home to feed isn't enough.  Do these conditions really demonstrate what the person could do with amble time and preparation and for something they really believe in?

Let's not forget to give an IQ and personality test to the person, so we can peg their intelligence and Myers Briggs or perhaps we should give them some puzzles and let them really sweat with the pieces. 

Let's face it we've all had some people wow on the interview and on paper and turn out to be duds on the specific jobs, and others that you weren't so sure about that turned out superbly.  

Assessing people is hard and many people are great at the poker game of landing the offer. 

It's the interviewers job to look beyond the playbook and the acting, and try to see the real person sitting in front of them.

Yes, presentation is important, but even more so can we get down to the work ethic and the integrity of the person?  What they are good at and where do they have weaknesses? Are they able and willing to learn and grow?  What do they like to work on and what do they recoil from?  How do they relate to others and can they get along?  When they face problems, challenges, and conflicts, can they and are they willing to work through it? 

I don't know any supervisor that hasn't hit the jackpot on some hires and made mistakes on others...those that claim they've made an actual science out of bringing on the absolute talent--I wonder how well they do in their next interview. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

January 17, 2016

Love 'em OR Leave 'em

An age old question, "Love 'em or leave 'em?"

I heard one young man say, "I love her...but I'm not in love with her."

So what's the difference?

He's been seeing two girls, one is steady and stable, earns a good income, and is head over heels for him--when he is sick, she makes the chicken soup. 

Then there is this other girl, foreign, cool accent, good-looking, intelligent, has similar interests, but no serious income--however, there is some serious hots there. 

What do you do?

Girl #1 or #2.

Who's the better bet--Ms. I love her or Gal I'm in love with her?

One women said that years ago, mothers would tell their daughters, "If they bring home a paycheck and look better than a baboon, marry them!"

Back then, marriages were often arranged by the parents or the village elders ("Matchmaker matchmaker, make me a match, find me a find, catch me a catch...").

These days, there is much more a sense of the need for compatibility, chemistry, and passion--I can't live without him/her.

Without the mutual respect and passion, it might as well be in the bedroom like, "Let's just get this over with" or something pathetic like that.  

In some ultra religious circles, I've heard some women sadly simply referred to as "baby machines."

Yet on the flip side, I remember hearing this story when I was young about this famous model (it could have been about Bo Derek, but I can't remember for sure), and they interviewed her husband who was known to have married her for her unbelievable gorgeous looks, and they asked him, "What would you do, if she had a terrible car accident, and was horribly disfigured?" And his cold, hard response was, "I would leave her!"

Ok, so looks are skin deep, and passion is important but doesn't replace shared values, genuine commitment, and selfless giving to one another. 

Maybe the answer is it's not 1 or 2, but 1 and 2--we need someone that will make the chicken soup when we are sick, but who we also find hot in the sack. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

January 16, 2016

Wanting It Too Much

It's funny how we all dream about something...

Money, honor, success, piety, large families, health, beauty, popularity, big houses, fancy cars, exciting vacations, and so on. 

Some people even dream of technology and big data, and wanting to either come up with "the next big thing" or simply have all the answers to everything. 

In the election session now, Saturday Night Live (SNL) frequently makes fun of some candidates at how much they desperately want to be president. 

I wonder though between the connection of wanting something so much and actually getting it. 

Does wanting it...led you to actually get it. 


Perhaps, it actually can push it further away. 

One women who I was talking with told me that the more you want something, the less likely you are to get it, period.

You want it too much (you're greedy, narcissistic, or think you are somehow ultimately deserving and the world just owes it to you)!

The universe just won't let you have it when you are desperate for it. 

You have to be ready for it...cool with it...and most importantly, at peace with yourself, and then you can get where you want to be. 

There is something that rings so true about that. 

Desperation and success do not make good bedfellows. 

In fact, the more you know somebody wants something, isn't that just such a huge turn-off (you start questioning their motives and everything) and in a way you want to recoil and not give it to them. 

Sure, knowing what you want helps. 

Hard work helps. 

But being okay with whatever G-d decides for you is critical. 

You can't go with your head through the door!

G-d will either open or close the path to you...and all the kings horses and all the kings men won't make the difference in the end. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

January 15, 2016

It's Not About The Regrets

So a teacher recently gave her students a scenario with the following moral dilemma:

An important and talented surgeon who has saved many lives in the past and will surely save many more in the future runs across an old man who has slipped and fallen under the cracking ice into a lake after trying unsuccessfully to save his puppy from drowning.  

The old man is trapped and will freeze to death in short order.

Should the surgeon walk across the breaking ice and risk his own life to try and save the old man?

The vast majority of students' responded...that the surgeon should try and save the old man.

When asked why they thought that, most said because otherwise he would feel guilty afterwards. 

Thinking about that it seems like a funny reason to do something dangerous, heroic, and maybe utterly stupid...so as not to feel guilty. 

I guess that I would've thought people who would advocate for trying to save the old man would say something like

- Every life is valuable!
- Saving one person is like saving the world.
- Helping people even at our own risk or peril is what we do for our fellow human beings.
- We would want others to help us if we were in trouble, so we should do that for them. 

While we can't judge someone else for how they react in situations of genuine moral conflict, we can teach the younger generation that doing something good for others is about more than just not feeling bad or guilty afterwards (for being lazy, selfish, or making the wrong call in the situation).

Making moral judgements is about choosing in every situation to try your best to do what's right, help people, be a good influence, take responsibility, and generally act selflessly, but not recklessly. 

Regret stinks (and can be truly painful), but missing opportunities to live a good, meaningful life is much worse. ;-)

(Source Photo: The Blumenthals)

January 14, 2016

Refugees or Terrorists--How Do You Really Know?

The news about the refugee crisis is truly heartwrenching.  

My own parents and grandparents were refugees from the Holocaust who came to this beautiful country to start fresh and live in freedom and peace.  

So one one hand, I like so many others want to do the right thing from a humanitarian perspective and help people in need.  

But on the other hand, with this new wave of refugees something seems vastly different...

- 18 of 31 people identified so far in mass New Year's Eve attacks (sexual molesting, raping, and robbing) of over 500 women in German...were refugees that had already applied for asylum.

- At least one of the Paris terrorists who killed more than 130 people in November is alleged to have been a Syrian refugee. 

- At least 3 refugees resettled in the U.S. since 9/11 (from Iraq and Uzbek) have been arrested on terrorism charges and there have been dozens of other counter-terrorism investigations for those resettled here. 

- The ISIS suicide bomber that killed 10 German tourists in Istanbul this week was registered as a Syrian refugee "without setting off security alerts."

- And again this week, a group of refugees with rocks, bats, knives, attack a Frenchman

- ISIS is already asserting that they will use the refugee crisis to get attackers into the West and are bragging that already thousands have successfully infiltrated

Surely, no refugee vetting process is going to be ironclad--processing mistakes, system errors, and errors of judgement are bound to happen.

Some have also suggested that politics is playing a larger role here in wanting to get as many refugees and immigrants as possible into the country for the purpose of simply getting their cold hard votes...so this is a possible darker side of DC. 

In the end, we need to put politics aside, and figure out how do we help those that really need help and are good people seeking to live peacefully and productively among us, and how do we prevent the next wave of terror from some really bad apples? 

Until we can answer this question substantively, and not by an emotional response of it "is just not who we are," we need to take this one step at a time and not act rashly and recklessly. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Luis C. Araujo)

January 13, 2016

Rose-Colored Glasses Make Everything...More Rosey

Yesterday, Iran detains 2 U.S. naval vessels...

And 10 of our brave military men and wome (from the world's superpower) are literally on their knees held captive and broadcast for all the world to see.

Yet the truly unbeleivable response is "We don't see this as hostile intent."

However, Iran's most unfriendly overtures to the U.S. also include:

- Taking 60+ Americans taken hostage for 444 long days. 

- Bombing Marine barracks, through Hezbollah proxy, killing 241 American servicemen and women in Beirut

- Shooting live missiles within just 1,500 yards of  our aircraft carriers

Blowing up a replica of a U.S. warship

Testing multiple ballistic missiles capable of carrying nukes

Continuing to hold 4 Americans hostage

Threatening genocide against the Holy Land

- Regularly chanting "Death to America" and burning our flag

What do we do?

A deal to release $100+ billion dollar to the world's #1 sponsor of terrorism and remove sanctions.

Funny thing is we've seen this story before...

- ISIS attacking and threatening American cities with a new 9/11 attack and seeking to build a dangerous Caliphate

- North Korea testing an H-bomb and ballistic missiles with nukes to hit the U.S.  

- Russia annexing Crimea and settling into Syria to bolster Assad

- Syria continuing to use chemical weapons, laying seige and starving tens of thousands of their own people, and killing, wounding, and displacing millions to be absorbed by the West

But we open our hearts and borders and seek to take in more refugees with a questionabe vetting process, not even use the term "radical Islamist," and to whiteout any red lines that we've drawn to protect our national security. 

Surely, our sworn enemies of the Axis of Evil don't want to hurt us...perhaps, kill and destroy are more accurate terms. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Jim Simonson)

January 12, 2016

Burning The Evidence

This is a brillant funny advertisement that was displayed on the Metro in Washington, D.C.

"If I burn the evidence, those donuts never happened."

This as astute marketing for a fitness facility.  

Burn baby, burn (calories that is)!

But in Washington, D.C. (and at times for fiduicary duty bound Wall Street), where transparency is supposed to rule the day--but often doesn't as we know--this resonates in a whole other way for a class of political and wealthy elites as well as for a host of criminals. 

Bad things (fraud, waste, abuse, and stupid mistakes)--uh, they never happened if there is no evidence to prove it.  

Like the tree that falls in the woods that no one hears...it's as if it never fell. 

Also, is there a habit of perhaps punishing the innocent in order to protect those that are really guilty? -- That never happens too, right? 

But G-d knows what really happened, and often somehow, someway the truth does get exposed (whether by savy investigative journalists, Congressional or court inquiry, brave innocents that come forward, or some bad people getting caught up in their own jumble of lies and deceit).  

As Judge Judy says, "If it doesn't make sense, it's usually not true." 

Or more in line with the ad, "Where there's smoke, there's fire." ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

January 11, 2016

Powerball Powers Past

I suppose the makers of the Powerball lottery never envisioned a $1.3 billion jackpot. 

As you can see the sign only goes up to $999 million. 

Yeah, stupid planning from the people that run the odds (where winning is 1 in 292 million), but they can't figure the odds of the lottery going this high, ever.

Anyway, win it or lose it, someone stands to walk way with a lump-sum payment of $806 million, and after federal, state, and local taxes you're looking at maybe half or less of that. 

Either way, not a bad take-away from a $2 lottery ticket. 

Lots of needy people to help and good deeds to do. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

January 10, 2016

Enterprise Architecture - Make The Leap

Another good depiction of enterprise architecture.

What we are, the divide, and what we want to be.

We have to make the leap, but only with good planning and decision-making governance. 

Otherwise, it's a long fall down the project failure abyss. 

Faith is always important, but so it doing your credible part. ;-)

(Source Photo: Via Instagram)

January 9, 2016

10 Commandments, 10 Plagues--What's The Connection?

-- Click on the image to read in large graphic --


It occurred to me while listening to the Rabbi's speech at Magen David Synagogue today that there is nothing random in the Torah (Bible).

Since this weeks's Torah reading in Exodus was about the ten plagues in Egypt, I realized that this must be connected to the later ten commandments in a subsequent reading. 

This table explains how the commandments to the Jews (and all mankind) and the plagues on the Egyptians are connected one for one.

(Source Table: Andy Blumenthal)


January 8, 2016

We Just Keep Giving It All Away

How do these things keep happening to us?

We lost a high-tech Hellfire air-to- ground missile, accidentally sending it to Cuba, likely compromising critical sensor and GPS targeting technology to China, Russia, and/or North Korea. 

But it's not all that different from how many other examples, such as: 

- Chinese cyber espionage snared critical design secrets to the 5th generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

- Iran captured and purportedly decoded an RQ-170 Sentinel high-altitude reconnaissance drone.

- Russian spies stole U.S. nuclear secrets helping them to build their first atomic bomb.

We are the innovator for high-tech bar none, which is beautiful and a huge competitive advantage. 

But what good is it when we can't protect our intellectual property and national security secrets. 

The U.S. feeds the world not only with our agricultural, but with our knowledge.

Knowledge Management should be a mindful exercise that rewards our allies and friends and protects us from our enemies--and not a free-for-all where we we can't responsibly control our information. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to James Emery)

January 7, 2016

Clash Of Civilizations

Things are looking a little less rosy today in the world...

Clash of Civilizations - Tensions continuing to heat up in Middle East as Saudia Arabia is accused of bombing Iran's embassy in Yemen after the Saudi embassy in Iran was ransacked. 

Weapons of Mass Destruction - North Korea conducts H-Bomb test threating major escalation of WMD in Asia, and Iran unveils nuke capable carrying ballistic missiles at 2nd site, and claims surface that ISIS (similar to Syria) is now using chemical weapons

Wold Economy - Yesterday, China had to again halt trading (after only 30 minutes) when their stock market dropped another 10%, and the World Bank cuts global growth forecast to just 2.9% for 2016 (down another .4%). 

Violence From Immigration Crisis - Dozens and dozens of women were sexually attacked by alleged gangs of immigrants in multiple cities in Germany after Germany opens its border to 1.1 million immigrants from Syria, Afghanistan, etc. just last year.

Terrorist Attacks -- After multiple terror attacks in Paris, San Bernardino, and on a Russian airliner flying out from Egypt last year, another attack was thwarted just yesterday in Paris on the 1-year anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo killings

We may not want to say the words "clash of civilizations," except that we are desperately trying to avoid it, but it seems to be happening and with all it's effects anyway. 

The question is what happens when the proverbial politically "acceptable losses" rise to the point of being completely unacceptable disasters? ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Guio Gloor Modjib)