November 30, 2016

An Ironic Cabinet Lineup {humorous}

[Please only read this with a sense of political humor.]

Here are some funny ideas for domestic and foreign picks for a fantasy Cabinet team:

Department of Defense - (Oh no) Russian President Vladimir Putin because he knows how to fight and win wherever he wants. 

Department of State - (Oh no) Julian Assange because he has so may of the cables anyway.

Department of Treasury - (Oh no) President Barack Obama because he doubled the national debt to $20 trillion and it's no problem.

Department of Commerce - Chinese President Xi Jinping because he has most of the world's manufacturing and the biggest trade surplus. 

Department of Justice - (Oh no) James Comey (with all due respect) because he could investigate Hillary Clinton and deem her "extremely careless" with national security and yet also do the job of the prosecutors and recommend that "no reasonable" one would bring such a case. 

Department of Education - (What if) Sergey Brin and Larry Page because they made Google the most valuable company in the world by organizing all the world's information and making it universally accessible and useful. 

Department of Labor - (What if) Ken Jennings who was beaten in Jeopardy by IBM's Watson, and understands that artificial intelligence, automation, and robotics will soon be eating people's lunch. 

Department of Homeland Security - (Oh no) Edward Snowden because he already knows all about surveillance--how we conduct it, how to evade it, as well as the vulnerabilities in our security. 

Department of Transportation - (What if) Elon Musk because of his leadership in electronic vehicles here on earth as well as rockets to even get us to Mars. 

Department of Energy - (Oh no) Iranian President Hassan Rouhani because he knows how to get his nukes while ridding his country of sanctions and getting $150 billion to continue global terror

Department of Agriculture - (Oh no) Any of the notorious drug kingpins because they know how to grow it, distribute it, and make lots of money doing it. 

Department of Interior - (Oh no) North Korean leader Kim Jong Un because he manages one of the most remote (Isolationist) nations on Earth and does it with virtually complete self-sufficiency. 

Department of Veterans Affairs - (Oh no) Bowe Bergdahl because he was charged with desertion and still managed to get honored in a White House ceremony.

Environmental Protection Agency - (Oh no) Former CEO of BP John Browne because he knows the ramifications of being responsible for one of the worst polluting industrial accidents in history in the Gulf of Mexico.

Housing and Urban Development - (What if) Ivanka Trump because she is an absolute class act and helps run one of the greatest brands in building and managing real estate worldwide. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal via National Geographic)

November 29, 2016

A Failed Presidency?

Every day we are reminded about the dysfunctional state of our national affairs.

The dictum of the Hippocratic Oath of" first do no harm" that medical students are taught is the very minimum expectation, but has even this been met?

The Promise vs. The Delivery

1) Promised reset with Russia - Delivered a resurgent Russia in Ukraine, Syria, the Baltics, cybersecurity, and more.

2) Promised red lines in Syria - Delivered more than 5-year and counting deadly civil war with chemical weapons, more than 500,000 dead, and millions wounded, displaced, and fleeing as refugees.

3) Promised end of war in Iraq and Afghanistan - Delivered continued troops and war in both with not an end in sight. 

4) Promised good deal with a moderating Iran - Delivered bad deal with continued aggressive Iran violating the agreement and on the path to reaching nuclear weapons.

5) Promised easing of ties with an opening of Cuba - Delivered one-sided deal and a continued hard-line communist Cuba abusing political opponents and human rights.

6) Promised defeat of ISIS terrorism - Delivered continued ISIS global terror (and it's not workplace violence).

7) Promised closing of GITMO - Delivered GIMTO still open for business with dozens of dangerous terrorists. 

8) Promised a more unified America - Delivered a more divisive nation with raging inner city violence and civilian and police shootings.

9) Promised Obamacare affordable health insurance - Delivered unsustainable double digit premium growth and pending repeal and replacement.

10) Promised Dodd-Frank improved accountability financial reform - Delivered burdensome highly-regulated financial system stifling banking and lending leading to either significant scale back or complete repeal and replacement. 

11) Promised peace in the Middle East--Delivered a barrage of missiles, terror tunnels, shootings, stabbings, vehicular attacks, and arson for our friend and ally, Israel.

12) Promised government transparency to the American people - Delivered obscurity to the "media echo chamber" and devastating political email scandal and Benghazi fiasco. 

13) Promised fiscal and budgetary responsibility via Sequestration - Delivered a doubling of the national debt in 8 years to 20 trillion dollars! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal via USA Today)


November 28, 2016

Who You Gonna Trust?

We start out life as innocent children with inherent trust in those that care for us. 

It is nice to feel safe, loved, and cared for by people who dote over your every gurgle, smirk, fart, and spaghetti sauce smear on the face. 

As people grow older and have negative experiences however, they become more guarded and jaded by what they learn about other people's motives and agendas and how vulnerable and hurt they can get. 

Unfortunately, these days kids have to fear from pedophiles, parents that are addicts and wildly abusive, and teachers that let out their emotional problems on children that look up to them for guidance and education. 

As we get older, there are bullies in school and thugs on the street. 

And even in the office, there are those that abuse their positions of power and can make life miserable for the regular hard-working Joes not looking for any problems.

In relationships, spouses that cheat on one another and the resulting breakups have heart-wrenching effects on families. 

But perhaps, what is even worse than individual people that can hurt us are when the very institutions that are the bedrock of our society become corrupt and abusive of their authority and result in our loss of trust in them.

Already in 2010, trust in government was reaching new lows of 19%.

By 2014, trust in corporate America had eroded to just 36%.

Similarly, in 2016, trust in the news media fell to all time lows of 32%.

Reading about the clutching unto power of Fidel Castro's dictatorship for half a century in Cuba did not seem that far a stretch after seeing the powerful and dangerous political machine here in our own U.S.A. working to keep people in the seat of power almost at any cost to the country and the people. 

What was good for people was clearly last place to what was good for the ruling elites not just in Cuba anymore!

Similarly, the notion of a fair and balanced media went out the window with this last election, where investigative journalism became an oxymoronic term and idea. 

As for corporate America, outsourcing, shoddy goods, inflated advertising, short-term profiteering, rigged governance, and oversized pay packages to the C-suite left a handful of socially-conscious corporations stranded on a desert island of greed and raw capitalism.

Neither children nor adults are victims or sheep to be bullied or manipulated by abusers and manipulators in society. 

A free press so needed to keep corruption in check in the rest of public and private sector society has itself been infected by the bug of bias, bigotry, and personal agendas. 

Who can we trust when evil can overtake good temporarily to break bodies and souls of it's victims?

Ultimately, the people have the final say in keeping the wrongs in society from taking deep root and not letting nasty "big brothers" do the really bad things and take us down the wrong paths.

There are good people with integrity that we can trust, maybe just not everyone we'd like to. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


November 27, 2016

Escalating Iranian Threat To World Peace

Iran is spreading it's caliphate ambitions across the Middle from Iran to Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and more. 

As the #1 world sponsor of terrorism and abuser of human rights, there is reason to be concerned and afraid of Iran's intentions and actions. 

The ISIS terror and caliphate may end up paling in comparison to the threat of a dangerous fundamentalist Iran with emerging nukes, ballistic missiles, and a fearsome spreading caliphate of their own. 

Now Iran conveniently claims that radiological material, Iridium, was stolen, and where it ends up exploding no one yet knows, but we can guess the likely targets.

What wonderful plausible deniability for a suitcase WMD bomb horrifically placed and detonated by Iran, themselves. 

As Israel is burning, Aleppo is being flattened, Mosul fighting is raging street by street, and terrorists are plotting ever greater strikes into our heartlands, we are sitting here dumb and dumber. 

Please G-d, he will restore peace to our lands and people.

May He grant our leaders the wisdom to act as necessary, with due speed and agility to defeat our enemies whether ISIS or Iran and not be fooled by agreements not worth the ridiculous paper they are written on. 

(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)

November 26, 2016

The Nature of Charisma

So what's with charisma?

Is it like they say, either you have it or you don't?

The power of personality, your energy, your aura, your chemistry, your strength in connecting with others, your ability to influence people and to move them in thought and deed.

Truly, for some people, you would follow them into the battlefield or the boardroom.

And for others, you know they're no good and you'd probably just as soon do the opposite of what they say since you don't believe in them and what they stand for.

Today, I was expecting to see a special chabad Rabbi in Florida, but they were up in NY--I missed them having not seen them for many months.

I was disappointed, even though I really enjoyed the other people and the services that I attended. 

Some people...there is a magic to them...a genuineness, a warmth, a centeredness, with certain integrity, and driven to something greater. 

We need people like this in our life.  

Of course, we have G-d, always.

But we also need other human beings that move us.

People with charisma often make awesome leaders. 

It not about them remember, but rather about the mission they and we are on together. 

And being a mensch to other people. 

A real smile, a warm embrace, a kind word, a caring nature, a giving soul, a person with belief, someone who can inspire and motivate.

These people are rare, but when you find them, they are gems.

They are a blessing among us.

The last thing we need though is a false messiah, but rather the real McCoy to work with us to reach new heights of greatness, achievement, and happiness in life.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


November 25, 2016

What Is Peace + Happiness?

I loved this piece of art work with the colorful Buddhas.

It got me thinking about peace and happiness--is it the same for everyone?

To one person, career, achievement, and money seems to make happy--as one of my friends told me about one of his extremely successful bosses who heads a large corporation and has not 1, not 2, not 3, but 4 mansions on the water, in the mountains, and overlooking Central Park in NYC.

To another person, it's being able to do what they want to in life--doing what makes you emotionally happy instead of what you have to do; the freedom to choose and to be passionate about what you do and how you spend you time every day--whether it's a profession, an activity or sport, or even exploration and travel.

Yet others, find peace and satisfaction in spiritual and religious pursuits--joining the clergy or learning about G-d and philosophy, doing G-d's commandments or helping his creations by doing good deeds. 

Many of course, find peace and get nachas from their families, the loves of their life, their beautiful children and grandchildren, and helping the next generation to grow and prosper after us. 

That can also extend to friends, community, and even colleagues--when we surround ourselves with other good people, those who we enjoy their company and have things in common, then we can find happiness with each other.

Being here in Florida for the holidays, I'm reminded of all the sun, beauty, and body-worshippers, those people who love their physique and good health, working out, looking good, being with others that look good, and even designing and making things that are beautiful. 

And at the other end of the spectrum again are the intellectual nerdy nerds who get their energy from being brainiacs like one of my friend's nephews who is one of silicon valley's serial innovators.

Whatever you love, have, and do that makes you happy is something to be extremely grateful for.

Nothing is forever, and nothing is owed to us.

Use the gifts that G-d has given you with the wisdom to reach enlightenment by being good and generous to others and so that you truly merit these beautiful things and thank the creator who blessed you. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


November 24, 2016

Appreciating Employees @ Holiday Time

So before the holidays, like Thanksgiving, many nice organizations try to do a little something for their employees and let them go home a little early.

It’s a small something that let’s people know they are appreciated, and on top of it, they get to “beat the traffic.”

I heard from someone that one organization was stopping this long time practice, saying that only the very head(s) of the chain of command, could do this for the people…but they didn’t.

Sort of “penny wise and dollar foolish” to take away that little spot-on giving to one’s staff. 

It’s goodwill, appreciation, and kindness that is especially appropriate before the holidays for hardworking and good people. 

One manager told me how their people especially looked forward to this little gesture, and often came to asking about it with such joy.

So the manager told me that they just said before holiday times, “I’m not looking what time you leave today.”

To me that sounded like genuine leadership, where people are not just treated as “human resources,” but instead “human capital”—something to invest in and not just something to use `willy nilly. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


November 23, 2016

The Political Spectrum

(Click to Enlarge Graphic)

Even though the election is over...divisiveness in America is as high as ever, if not at all time highs.

We're seeing it hurtfully in terms of bias, bigotry, and hate all around us:

- Protests, outright hostility, and violence (some sponsored) between left and right.

- Murders of police officers and African Americans betwixt the rise of Black Lives Matter.

- Calls for justice to "Lock her up" and defiant calls of "Not my President!"

- Labeling of people as bigots and racists amidst calls to "Make America Great Again."

- Conspiracy theories of links with Russia juxtaposed with Wikileaks of collusion against Bernie Sanders

- Powerful political machines, operatives, media handlers, fundraising, advertising, and big data to "get out the vote" for your candidate. 

- The blue wall falling in the election as working-class whites abandoned the party they felt abandoned them.

- Gender glass ceilings, pay differentials, and inequality going up against the hope of a first female President of the United States. 

- Growing income and wealth inequality of the elites and trade imbalances with other nations amidst Occupy Wall Street and a nostalgia to return our manufacturing, jobs, and main street to America. 

Divisiveness of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, wealth and more are showing up in the positioning of people along the broad political spectrum. 

This spectrum spans from ultimate control and dictatorship to outright chaos and anarchy, and with lots of options in between. 

So where do you fall on the political spectrum yesterday, today, and how about tomorrow? ;-)

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

November 22, 2016

Good IT Gone Bad

So over and over again, good IT goes bad in a flawed decision-making process. 

Even with the best laid plans and governance processes in place, somehow decisions get politicized, go bad, and projects fail. 

Here are some of the popular reasons why this happens:

1) Someone has something to prove - Often their is a person incoming to power who wants to show off what they can do. Instead of focusing on what is best for the organization's mission and people, they put themselves first. IT becomes not a tool for efficiency and effectiveness, but rather as some project rushed through for someone's resume and narcissist career progression. Time to add another notch on your IT belt!

2) Someone used it, saw it, or heard of it someplace else - So why follow a structured decision-making and vetting process for new technology, when Joe Schmoe already has the answer of what we can use and what we should do. Perhaps, Joe Schmoe used the technology in another place and for another reason, but that's what he knows and instantaneously, he's the maven, subject matter expert. Or maybe, Joe Schmoe attended a vendor conference or read a trade mag on the airplane and now he is guess what, the all-knowing on the topic. Get ready to pull out your wallets to pay for the wrong thing for your needs and organization, but it's okay becuase Joe Schmoe assured you it's great!

3) Someone wants to use technology like a Swiss army utility knife - Let's just buy this amazing tool; it can slice, dice, chop, mince, or Julienne; actually there is nothing this IT tool can't do. Buy it and use it for all your technology projects and needs. Why buy specialized tools, when you can have one that does everything--it will be your data warehouse, cloud provider, handle all your transactions, and be your artificial intelligence all in one.  Don't worry about the complexity, integration, training, support or how good it does any specific thing--just trust us!

In general, it shouldn't be so easy for leadership to get sold and fooled by the wrong people with the wrong agendas. Yet, these things seem to take off like a speeding locomotive, and if anyone tries to step in front of it, career splat for some unfortunate well-meaning character!

Some leaders and organizations only seem to learn by making the same IT mistakes again and again--it's costly to their mission and to their stakeholders, but someone is making out like a bandit and it's on their dime. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

November 21, 2016

You Can Take This Niqab And...

So here is the quote of the day (compliments of the Wall Street Journal)...

From a woman fleeing the inhumane treatment in Mosul by ISIS religious terrorists:

"I want to take this niqab and stuff it down the throat of ISIS."

I've now read over and over again how one of the first things the women do, who get away from these ruthless fanatics, is to remove their confining "religious"-mandated garb that covers them so fully and put on normal clothes and be free human beings again.

While I certainly and highly respect women who freely and modestly cover up--especially in marriage--it is abhorrent to violently force women to dress a certain way or make them in any way lessor than or subservient to men. 

The women under ISIS are taught to be ashamed, when they have nothing to be ashamed about!

ISIS and these other radical Islamists that force their distorted version of religion on others goes like this when it comes to women:

"It is permitted to buy her, sell her, and give her away as a gift. They are just a possession and you can do whatever you want with them."  In their FAQS, they even ask, "Can I have sex with a slave who hasn't reached puberty?"

Yet, while they are having sex with abducted pubescent and pre-pubescent girls, they force women to stay at home, and they are not allowed to go out unless accompanied by a man (forget education, working, driving or traveling). 

Even at home, "Woman are cautioned to stay away from rooftops, balconies, and windows so they wouldn't be seen by outsiders."

And should a women be accused of sex outside of marriage--even when the women are the ones forcibly (gang) raped--they are the ones subject to death by public stoning for their being licentious. 

Are these "religious" fanatics with guns so weak that they fear sexual temptation more than they trust in the bonds of family, personal righteousness, and the ability of people to freely choose right from wrong? they abduct and enslave women and children, rape them, sell them, and force them into bogus marriages, starve and torture them, these people actually think they are religious. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

November 20, 2016

Tiny House Capsule

We enjoy watching Tiny House Hunters on HGTV, but this is even better!

The Ecocapsule is an awesome 88-feet of pod living

Haul it on a simple 4-wheel trailer and plunk it down. 

It has a solar roof and wind turbine that powers up its battery for up to 4 days.

Plus a rainwater filtration system feeds your faucets, toilet, and shower. 

There is a bed for 2 as well as a cooktop, work desk, and modest storage space. 

It's minimalist living at it sleekest and best. 

Only $86K from Slovakia and you're off the grid and living free.

Can't you just see these while eggshells dotting the landscape?

When everything in the world goes to hell, these little pods could be providing sustainable living to survivors. 

All we need is some cool defense gadgets and this could work! ;-)

November 19, 2016

The Softer Side of Trump

So Trump has gotten a lot of flack. 

Some of it is deserved for saying the wrong things or saying them too harshly. 

Some of it is because of the biased Media and the political machine that would seek to bury any opponent with truth or lies, it doesn't really matter when it comes to power!

But with Trump, one question that people are asking--which is a fair one--is why doesn't he soften it up now...especially since he has overcome all the odds, the media, the elite, and Hillary's potent political machine?

Peggy Noonan asks today, why doesn't Trump "go to a series of schools, bring the press, and speak to children, telling them that he has nothing in his heart but the desire to do good and help people"?

Others, like the editorial board of the New York Times have called for Trump to "denounce the hate...[and] unequivocally repudiate...racist, sexist, xenophobic, Anti-Semitic, and homophobic insults, threats, and attacks."

While in my mind, I do not believe that Trump is those things--I think he has been misunderstood, mischaracterized, taken out of context, and even demonized; yet, I ask myself why doesn't he come out and simply build on his 60-minutes interview where he told people, "Don't be afraid. We are going to bring America back. But certainly, don't be afraid."

It's a simple thing to go further from this and tell people that he is understanding and compassionate to everyone, that he harbors no ill will to anyone, and that he wants to advance the country for all our benefits.

So I am sure, the haters on the left are saying, that Trump doesn't do this because obviously he really is all those bad things, and means bad by all those people, and therefore, he doesn't say those coexistence and loving things, because that's not what's in his heart!

But I am not convinced.

I think Trump is hard, because he has learned to be hard. That's his idea of what it takes to win. He is a fighter. He believes in winning. He doesn't apologize or grovel. He represents as his slogan, "Peace through strength!"

In fighting, Trump will do what it takes to "Make America Great Again,"--he will take down his enemies and ours, wherever they come at us from, but I believe always with an eye on the benefits to this country and for us. 

If he goes after good people (and those here legally) that would certainly be the time to call him out, and to do it in no uncertain terms. 

Bias, bigotry, and hate have NO place in this country (or the world)!

The left needs to stop denouncing Trump and all his supporters as racist, deplorables, irredeemables, etc. It is simply not true; it is biased and hateful itself, and counterproductive to moving this country forward. 

Crying wolf only dilutes the message of denouncing extremism, bigoty, and hate from when it is genuinely founded, and moreover, as in labeling theory, hate only begets hate. 

I say give Trump a genuine chance, even though I doubt many of the extremists on the left will give him anything near as much as the endless slack it gave Obama who could essentially do no wrong, ever (and regardless of how many things were falling apart in this country and around the globe). 

Still I agree that Trump should soften up--even as a fighter--he needs to show Ying and Yang and that the fight is ultimately one founded in integrity and not just winning. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

November 18, 2016

Telling The Next Guy

This was one for the books today.

Obama tells Trump that he needs to stand up to Putin (i.e. don't wimp out)!

Uh, who's the guy who has been in office the last 8 years? 

An during those years, our standing and national security has suffered from disengagement and utter weakness at virtually every turn of the globe. 

- We let red lines be violated in Syria and watched our Ambassador murdered in Libya

- Russia expanded into Georgia, Ukraine, and Syria, and now it's looking to Cuba and Vietnam.

- China has been rapidly militarizing into the South China Sea and expanding it's economic influence in Africa.

- We made the "worst deal in history" in Iran that allows them to eventually go nuclear!

- North Korea continues to expand it's nuclear arsenal and ballistic missile technology. 

- The Philippines told the President to "go to h*ll" and threatens to break from the U.S. militarily. 

- U.S. backed off support for democracy in Egypt after the military coup that overthrew Morsi

- Venezuela expelled our top diplomat and 2 other embassy officials ratcheting up hostilities with the U.S. 

- Cyberattacks have plagued the U.S. and we haven't been able to defend ourselves. 

- ISIS has demonstrated success and our strategy has not made them less dangerous and lethal. 

- After years of mounting terrorism, our leaders still refuse to even say the words, "radical Islam."

I'm not sure why people are so tempted to give advice and preach to others, when they themselves have so many failings. 

I think it's certainly okay to humbly share our experiences and lessons learned if we have any. 

But perhaps when you don't have the best record on something, as they old saying goes, you should refrain from throwing large stones in your very fragile glass houses!

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

November 17, 2016

Getting Past The Political Blame Game

Really liked this Japanese bowl and cup set--so cute. 

The head is the bowl, and the cup which holds all the water and has the handle is the body. 

The head is much bigger than the body, like people's egos are bigger than their sense of responsibility. 

Today, I read again about some leaders blaming others for the world problems:

"Obama said Trump's election and the U.K.'s vote to leave the EU were spawned by world leaders' mishandling of globalization."

Note, he blames these unspecified "world leaders," with no attribution or responsibility to himself

To be clear, he is resolute that his policies and way of governing had no impact on the rise of President-elect Trump, his diametric opposite!

This is similar to Hillary Clinton blaming her election loss on the FBI Director investigating her, and not taking responsibility for her own lengthy history of scandals.

Again on Sunday, the New York Times blamed the gender-based, glass ceiling on Hillary's defeat, rather than acknowledging the impact of the "corruption ceiling" that may have prevented her winning. 

And there is a long pattern of this blaming in politics whether for gridlock, the deficit, healthcare, divisiveness, violence in inner cities, terrorism, improprieties, distrust of government, and more. 

In the extreme, some leaders even blamed the U.S. people themselves for the suffering caused by radical Islamic terrorism!

Even in the recent election, some blamed their own constituents for insulting and ruining their legacy if they don't go out and vote for his DNC hand-picked successor. 

Yet despite the endless blame game, Obama attacked Trump for whining and blaming rigged elections, saying that this demonstrated a lack of leadership or toughness to be president. 

But at the same time, he takes credit for everything good that happens: for ending Iraq war, for killing Bin Laden, for saving the world economy, for reforming our schools, for "stamping out" Ebola, for $2 gas, and even for the success of Fox news!

How wonderful (NOT) is this philosophy and practice of leadership:

If something good happens, you take the credit; If something bad happens, you blame someone else. 

That's a very big head on top of that very narrow body. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

November 16, 2016

To MARS and Beyond

So excited about the new show called MARS (and yeah, it's on National Geographic). 

I watched the season premier and it was awesome!

They did this cool combination flipping between the non-fiction of the here and now on Earth in 2016 with all the plans and advances being made to go to settle Mars someday, and the fictionalized future 2033 actual voyage and colonization there. 

The spaceship, rovers, colony are all pretty amazing and it seems so real like we're practically there!

Elon Musk (SpaceX) does a nice job explaining the vision and the reusable rockets they are focused on to get us cost-effectively to the Red Planet and beyond. 

The imperative is clear for us becoming a true multi-planetary species, so that we drastically reduce (hopefully to zero) the risk of an extinction level event to humanity.

There was a good quote that I remember, something like:

"We go into the dark, so others can follow the light."

The leap forward of us actually making it to and colonizing Mars is so mid-boggling great that just about everything else literally pales in comparison. 

Mars is just the first real step...after that the possibilities are truly endless. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to NASA Jet Propulsion Lab)


Make People and Time Count

So there was an article in Slate about how kids think these days.

And it's a reflection of the adults, of course. 

When 10,000 middle and high school students from 33 schools across the country were asked, what's more important--80% chose high achievement or happiness as their top priority vs just 20% who picked caring for others.

The kids who chose their happiness and achievement over helping others tended to score low on empathy and were at greater risk of being "cruel, disrespectful, and dishonest."

Bottom line is that these are our values that we impart when we recognize and reward our children for things like good grades and extra-curriculars, but not for helping or caring about others. 

Pretty much, I think parents worry that their kids should be able to support and care for themselves, because that's what's considered our primary responsibility as parents--to make sure the next generation survives and can go on physically and materially once we are gone. 

In a way, it's Darwinism and survival of the species and of the fittest. 

The problem is survival of our physical manifestation is not equivalent to the thriving of the spiritual being inside all of us. 

It's not enough to live, but we have to live a good and descent life.

Our bodies wither and die, but our souls learn, grow, and go on to the afterlife. 

Yesterday, I had this freakish accident, going through the turnstiles on the Metro in Washington, DC.

The person before me went right through the gates as they opened, but when I put my pass down and went through, the gates had a glitz and closed suddenly right on my legs (and my artificial hips) and I went tumbling forward hard to the floor. 

Amazingly, two wonderful bystanders (not the Metro employees who didn't even flinch or care) came rushing over to me, and literally lifted me up by the arms and handed me my wallet and glasses which had fallen to the side. 

One of the people that helped was especially nice to me, and he asked me how I was and really seemed to care that I was alright--imagine that a complete stranger in the Metro! 

The two people who stopped to help could've literally hopped right over me to rush for the train at the end of the day like everyone else, but they didn't.

To them, caring was more important than their own time. 

Maybe I got the 20% yesterday, but it made me realize AGAIN how terrific some people are and they truly make time count--by making people count--like unfortunately many others may never ever bother to. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 

November 15, 2016

Why Can't We Keep Our Secrets

Well after the now notorious email scandal and other information security mishaps galore, this advertisement in Washington, DC is really quite the rage. 
"Keeps classified data classified."

As parents tell their children about keeping private things private:
"If you can't keep it a secret, then how do you expect the other kids to keep it to themselves?"

There are lots of secrets in DC, but there are also a lot of big mouths, security negligence, and even corruption. 

This gives our adversaries the opportunities they need to get our countries vital information. 

We work too hard to develop the best intellectual property for national security and our economy as well as the critical policies for advancing human rights and democracy around the world to let it just be easy fodder for others to help themselves too. 

Technology won't solve the gap in certain big mouths and sloppy Joes around town. 

Only vigilant, smart people can protect the nations vital information that is the fuel for our success and survival. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

November 14, 2016

Beautiful Rise and Fall

Just wanted to share this beautiful Fall scene in Maryland.

While we are about to embark on a major infrastructure spending spree to make this country great again--and we need it to fix all the rot in our roads, bridges, trains, airports, marine ports, schools, utilities, and more--at the same time, we need to keep in mind the safeguarding of the beauty of our natural outdoor spaces and resources.

I heard President-elect Trump on 60 Minutes last night speak about the $6 trillion that we have spent in the Middle East fighting terrorism since 9/11, and that with that money, we could've rebuilt our infrastructure twice over.

While the amount is seen on the high end, the point is that while other nations are investing in their infrastructure, people, and future, we are wasting large sums of blood and treasure in a fight that in over 15 years, we haven't won, and many question whether we are significantly even any safer.

We need to fight smarter, spend more strategically, and take care of America first.

BTW, what did we get from the prior investment from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus spending of $831 billion in 2009...where did all that money go (uh, down the special interest drain)?

While the beautiful outdoors needs to stay pristine, our country needs to seriously rebuild with clear project expectations and results and at the same time wipe out the terror threats against us--no more dabbling, PC, Mr. Nice Guy (of course, we need to be nice to those that are nice to us, but also we need to fight for this country like we mean it)!

That's a big agenda, but for under $6 trillion, we ought to be able to get some decent return on our investment please, ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

November 13, 2016

U-Haul Rental Truck Terrorism

So true story...

This week I was walking in Downtown, D.C.

I see something strange, not usually there. 

There is a U-Haul van parked in front of the GW University School of Science and Engineering. 

Literally in front of the main doors.

A couple of it's wheels are actually sloppily on the sidewalk and it is in front of a fire hydrant in front of the very doors to the school.

But that's not all. 

All around the vehicle are oddly taped on posters as you see above. 

On some of the posters are antagonistic words about DOJ (the Department of Justice) and some even use the word "terrorist."

Well, after the devastating terror attack in 1995 against the Oklahoma City Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building with a massive homemade bomb concealed in a rental truck that killed 168 people and wounded almost 700, I decided it's probably a good idea to call the police. 

In the time that it took them to come, I was able to walk to the market place and to coffee...I know they are busy, but it seemed like forever. 

Finally, two patrol cars pull up...that's good. 

I go outside to meet them. 

The officer after briefly looking around (and not in) the vehicle looks at me as I walk over to him. 

I said, "I called you about this suspicious vehicle."

He goes sternly, "Well, what's suspicious about it?"

I described the it was parked with wheels on the sidewalk, at a fire hydrant, right in front of the main doors to the school, and with all those (crazy) posters all around it and uses the word "terrorist".

Surprisingly to me, the officer responds, "That's not suspicious!" Then he concedes, "but I will give it a ticket."

He must've seen my face go into this contorted questioning look, but I thought the better of the situation and said with deference to him, "Well Sir, you're the expert!"

I thank him for coming out and walk away feeling disheartened at this security response just 15 years after 9/11 and when we are still fighting a gruesome war with ISIS and against global terrorism. 

Then just a few days later, look at the article I came across with a homeland security warning:

"ISIS Guide: Rent a U-Haul As A Weapon, Target Thanksgiving Day Parade or Political Rallies."

In the ISIS instructions, there is a picture of a U-Haul truck with the caption, "An Affordable Weapon" and the statement that "low security" gatherings "are fair game and more devastating to Crusader nations."

With all due respect for our esteemed law enforcement, perhaps we need to take these terrorist warnings more seriously, and frankly even without the explicit warning, a suspicious U-Haul in downtown DC in front of a major university probably deserves more than just a parking ticket! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


November 12, 2016

New York Times' Credibility Is In The Toilet

Now that the election is over, a lot of people are saying that the media and polls failed us

They predicted one thing, but were completely wrong. 

However, it wasn't only their predictions of a sweeping Trump loss that were incorrect, but also that their biased, schlock journalism was professionally and ethically wrong!

Over and over again, I read the harshest of criticisms of Donald Trump, especially from the New York Times--endless rantings about him week after week:

From Nicholas Kristof:

- Trump's actions are heinous

- Trump is a misogynist and sexual predator

- Trump is a charlatan

- Trump is a crackpot

- Trump is a shallow egoist who uses people

- Trump is for pariahs like ISIS, North Korea, and KKK

- Trump is mean

- Trump is a liar

- Trump is a racist

From Frank Bruni: 

Trump rants

Trump makes corrosive conspiracy theories

Trump is sickening

Trump and his people are pathetic

Trump is a narcissist

Trump is irredeemably sexually perverse

Trump is crude

Trump is unfit

Trump is unpatriotic

Trump is hot-tempered 

Does the New York Times really call this journalism, and do they expect people to pay for this one-sided nonsense?

It used to be we could go to an esteemed newspaper like the New York Times and get real investigative journalism, and a real analytical and balanced approach to issues--we could learn something and be better off for it. 

But unfortunately it seems that the New York Times became exactly what it feared the most--it became biased, bigoted, and hateful. 

The articles over and over again were full of shameful name-calling, insinuations, and coaxing people that they needed to vote for one candidate over another. 

It wasn't just an endorsement before the election, it was a barrage of months of superficial and venomous, hate-filled spew and characterizations by liberal journalists against a conservative party candidate--irrespective of what his true capabilities were and hope that he could bring to reinvigorate this nation. 

Of course, candidates should always be condemned for any bias or stupid things they may explicitly or implicitly do or say, but that is an opportunity to set the record and candidate straight, not unilaterally take them out back and shoot them, while giving the other candidate a free ride on corruption, collusion, and lies. 

Over time, people saw right through it, and it became clear that the media was absolutely biased, divisive, and trying to fix the election results for one candidate

The damage to the credibility of the media is done, and before readers renew their next subscriptions, they need to vote with their wallets with the same internal deliberation and soul searching as for their candidate. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)