Actual From Abstract

A colleague’s daughter drew this. 


At first glance, I wasn’t sure what I was looking at. 


Do you see what it is?


At first, I was thinking something a little alien perhaps. 


But there it is right in front of you.


It’s the head, ears, nose, and tusks of an elephant. 


I really like the abstractness of this art. 


All from simple circles, and voila you have an elephant. 


Look carefully at what you think you see, and let your mind put the whole picture together. 


That’s how you come to the actual from the abstract! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Nitpicking To Death

It’s funny some people go straight for the kill when they don’t like something. 


Others may nitpick you to death. 


Always! looking for something to henpeck at.


It comes out as you’re stupid, lazy, incompetent, and even worthless.


Why can’t you do anything right (read: the way I would do it)?


If only you would change this, that, or the other thing then it would all be better!


But even when you do manage to change this, that or the other thing–guess what? That just sparks the next round of destructive criticism and never being satisfied.


Hey, since when are you so (f*ckin) perfect?  


Or as the old saying goes, “Who died and made you G-d?”


It should not be about grabbing some sadistic pleasure out of torturing other people with narcissism, judgmentalism, endless criticism and naysaying.


Instead of tearing down, let’s focus on the big picture and what success looks like.


How can everyone contribute to that vision and effort?


Customer service doesn’t mean personal servitude. 


There is such a thing as being a team player, identifying when good is good enough, and driving forward rather than seeking to derail or even go backward. 


Competency is not just for service providers, but for the customers. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Need Some Money

Monopoly

Big banner advertising Money!


A Monopoly sweepstakes by McDonalds to draw customers. 


Sort of ironic a low-cost fast food provider “giving” money away.


But who doesn’t need money? 


I remember the song as a child, “Money makes the world go round…”


Always distasteful at the focus in the world on money, instead of on being good decent people with a bigger picture on issues, suffering, and tikkun olam. 


Really, it’s the tug of war between people’s personal selfishness and the ability to exhibit selfless giving to others. 


Does a person need a certain amount of financial stability and security to be a better giver?


I guess that makes sense–if you have more and don’t feel financially burdened and threatened at every turn in life, you can be more charitable with your own giving–not feeling pinched and vulnerable. 


Still, I think it’s important to remember that money can certainly be at “the root of all evil” when it becomes the end rather than the means to a life of purpose, understanding, and compassion that goes way beyond our own little desires and selves. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Reach Out To Lead

Shake On It
The New York Times today had an editorial called “Our Unrealistic Hopes for Presidents.”



In this piece, Brendan Nyhan lowers the bar on all leadership, and most importantly on the President of the United States. 



He advocates for us to “give up on the idea of a leader who will magically bring consensus and unity to our politics.”



While I agree that there is no “magic” in leadership or politics, it is precisely a leader’s job to see to the vetting of ideas, compromise and consensus, and a way forward for the people, organization, and/or nation.



The leader, especially the president, establishes the vision, motivates and inspires, so that we are elevated from being focused on our own selfish motives  to being “One nation under G-d with liberty and justice for all.” (Pledge of Allegiance)



Or as JFK stated:



“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

This is the type of greatness that our leaders can raise us to and it defies race, party, or creed.



Certainly it wasn’t easy for the founding fathers of this nation to come together and write the Constitution and Bill of Rights that is not geared to the right or left, but is just plain brilliant and correct!



Yes, this is precisely what leadership is–not blame, finger pointing, go it alone, or defeatism–and that is why NOT everyone is cut out for the “top job” and why we seek the the 1 in 311 million for the job!



Nyhan writes “At election time, candidates seduce us with promises to bring America together, but inevitably fall short and end up leaving office with the country more polarized than when they arrived.”



In plain English…this is called broken promises and failed leadership!



A leader, absolutely, must bridge the divide, create an overall unity, a sense of purpose, bring the commitment of the hearts and minds–whether to feed the hungry, land a man on the moon, or win the war whether against fascism or terrorism.



Nyhan states disparagingly about us that “The public and the news media still want someone…a uniting figure who works across the aisle to build support”—Uh YES, how else will we ever get anything big and meaningful really done?



He tells us to “stop asking who can achieve the unity,” that times have changed, and that instead we should accept the “norm of polarization,” conflict, and disharmony in our nation. 



Sure, there are times of urgency and crisis, when a leader must decide and act in lifesaving haste; however, in most usual cases, decisions and actions can come about by joining together rather than tearing asunder. 



No, we should never stop demanding great leadership–those who can overcome both the petty divides as well as the more substantial differences, to see through to a greater good, common purpose, and a better future for us all. 



We can’t do this as Nyhan proposes by giving up on working together, and trying to go it along, without anyone who thinks differently than us, and “govern well without their support.” 



In corporate America or politics, leadership by decree is known as dictatorship, and that is not what this democracy or for that matter real success is about. 



Whether in the boardroom or the Oval Office, we need to demand leadership that explains their point of view, listens to other perspectives, and is able to form compromise and win-win scenarios.



When one side feels ignored or that they’ve been worked around instead of with, then the result is sure to be bitterness and prolonged fighting to overturn the “my way or the highway” decision or to poke the other side right back in the eye when they have the chance. 



We don’t need excuses, but strong leaders who know how to “work the room” or “reach across the aisle”– to bring facts to the table, and sentiment to touch people’s hearts, to give clear vision to help us see “the bigger picture” of what can be done, if we only can act deliberately as one.



(Source Photo: here with attribution to Niels Linneberg)

The Elevator and The Bigger Picture

 Some of you may have watched the HBO series called Six Feet Under that ran from about 2000-2005 about a family that owned a funeral home, and every episode opened with a freakish death scene.

In fact, the father who was the funeral director dies an untimely death himself and bequeaths the funeral home to his two sons.

The series, which ran for 63 episodes, evoked a recognition that life is most precious, too short, and can end in both horrible and unpredictable ways.

This week, I was reminded of this in all too many ways:

First, Brett Stephens wrote a beautiful piece in the Wall Street Journal yesterday about the graceful death of his father from a horrible brain tumor. Brett describes in vivid terms the operations, loss of sight, debilitating bouts of chemo and radiation, agonizing shingles, loss of memory, mobility, sight, ability to eat, and more. Brett writes: “cancer is a heist culminating in murder.”

Then today, all over the news were reports of of a horrible accident in New York, where a woman was killed in an elevator accident when it shot up while she was still only about half way on and she was crushed between the elevator and the shaft in a 25 story office building on Madison Avenue.

Third, I learned from a colleague about a wonderful gentlemen, who served his country in the armed forces and was an athlete in incredible shape, when one day in the gym, he suffered a massive heart, which deprived of oxygen for too long, and he was left horribly crippled for life.

Unfortunately, similar to Six feet Under, in real life, there are countless of stories of life’s fortunes and misfortunes, death and the aftermath (adapted from the show’s synopsis–I really liked how this was said). Yet, in the end, we are left with the completely heart wrenching feeling of how it is to be without and sorely miss the people we love so dearly.

In the Talmud, I remember learning this saying that to the Angel of Death it does not whether his intended is here or there–when a person’s time is up, death shows up and no matter how peaceful or painful, it is never convenient and always deeply traumatic in so many ways.

For one the elevator opens and closes normally and brings a person to their destination floor, and to another the door may close on them, never at all, or the elevator may shift right beneath their feet.

We can never really be prepared emotionally or otherwise for the devastation brought by accident, illness, and death–and while it is hard to be optimistic sometimes, we can try to maintain faith that The Almighty is guiding the events of our lives, and that he knows what he is doing, even if we cannot always understand the bigger picture.

May G-d have mercy.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Chris McKenna)

>Mapping Our Social Future

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Social-network-map

I came across this interesting Social Network Map (Credit: Flowtown).

We are all part of and participants in social networking, and are genuinely hooked on it.

(Even going so far as the guy who was tweeting about his Continental flight plane crash in Denver in 2008.)

But sometimes it is hard to figure out what is going with all the social networking tools out there.

Hence, I find this 2010 map a very interesting visualization that sort of sums it all up.

The social lands are sized by number of users–hence Facebook looking like the goliath out there with 500 million users (now up to 600 million already!) surrounded on either side by Friendster and Twitter (with approximately 115 million users each).

Beneath Facebook are the “Volcanic Islands of iPhone Apps” (and add to that the Android Apps)–and with their explosive growth these are truly volcanic.

On top, you have the land of defunct social networks like a bunch of fallen Yahoo properties, along with the “Receding Glaciers of AOL and Windows Live” as well as the “Former Kingdom of MySpace”–together these are essentially the equivalent of the Siberia of the social map.

On the bottom, you have the “Empire of Google” (sounds a little foreboding with a ring of Darth Vader to it) plus there is what was then the up and comer, the “Rising Island of Google Buzz”.

Near the “Sea of Desperation” is Match.com–that’s funny.

Then there is a pretty sizable Island for YouTube with the “YouTube Triangle of Viral Videos”–plenty of those and now they are competing with the Networks and Cable.

And on the Right is LinkedIn for professional networking and a whole “United Territories of Wikipedia”–hey, the Encyclopedia of the web deserves it!

There are many more familiar sites like Digg, Flikr, and don’t forget Blogger— a personal favorite. 🙂

The Strait of Bing is another one that is apropos since search is still Google pretty much all the way.

Finally, in the center under Facebook is the “Sea of Personal Information“–something we should all be concerned about; our privacy is important and shouldn’t be overlooked, even as we open up and share of ourselves more publicly than ever before.

There really is something about a picture being worth a thousand words–I like the Map and how it portrays this activity and I am interested in seeing how this evolves as well as in how this might be applied to other social issues including everything from alternative energy to the spread of democracy and human rights.