Wow, Good Enough To Eat

Wow, the chocolate and poppy pastry rolls look pretty awesome. 


Salivating to take a serious bite. 


But don’t advise for that before taking a drug test.


I heard the poppy seeds may give a false positive.  😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Donuts With Syringe

So I never actually saw donuts being sold with the syringe. 


I get that they use the syringe to put the custard, jelly, and other fillings inside.


But leaving the syringe hanging out of the donuts like that conjures up images of addicts and junkies.


DESPITE that, these incredibly rich and overflowing donuts with gobs of toppings were some of the finest I’ve ever seen. 


Takes more than a good dose of willpower to resist and not become an addict of these carbohydrate powerhouses. 


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Choosing Good Over Vice

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel, called “Choosing Good Over Vice.”

But yet, if everyone would just act out on each other based on their unbridled wants and desires, oy vey what a truly terrible world that would be…From uncontrolled desires for food, drugs, alcohol, gambling, honor, money, power, sex, and more–it seems like everyone has their little secret fetish. Whether it’s coming from their head, their heart, or down below…the key questions is how much can they control themselves.


However, inside us, our soul, like the Ten Commandments in the Holy Ark, guide us so that we aren’t just animals chasing game or tail, but are human beings trying to become angels.


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Border Security – The Facts

So in this longest of U.S. government shutdowns, one thing that is missing from the debate are an articulation of the facts. 


All I hear day-in and -out is that President Trump wants to build a wall or barrier on the Southern border because there is a crisis. And the Democrats in turn say it’s not necessary, it’s a waste of money, and even that it’s immoral, and that they will resist Trump!


But this is not a reasoned debate!


Who cares who wants what and who hates who in politics.


We need to be presented with a solid communication of facts, figures, and why should we support a position or not. 


Yes, an endorsement by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection is helpful, but the opposition can just claim partisan politics. 


So here are some simple facts to inform the discussion:


Gun Trafficking:

– Over 253,000 guns annually cross the border from the U.S. to Mexico.


Drug Trafficking:

– Cartels send $64,000,000,000 of drugs annually from Mexico to U.S. 


Human Trafficking:

– Between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked annually into the U.S. 


Gang Members:

– Almost 6,000 gang members in 2018 were deported by ICE.


Illegal Immigrants:

– The U.S. and Customer and Border Protection apprehended more than 500,000 illegals trying to enter in 2008, and there are between 12 to 22 million illegals in the U.S, today


Looking at these numbers, I am not sure how anyone can say that the current border situation is secure–it isn’t. 


So whatever we are doing with agents, sensors, surveillance, intelligence, inspection, and interdiction –no matter how good it is–it is not enough. 


Certainly a request for Border Wall funding for $5 billion out of a $4.4 trillion dollar budget and placing barriers on hundreds of miles out of a 2,000 mile border, does not seem at all extreme!


While I do not like to be on a government shutdown, I certainly don’t see why this can’t be resolved with some reasoned border security funding that includes among the other security measures, a wall/barrier. 


A strategically-placed border barrier only stands to reason in a layered defense/system of systems approach to security. 


For some of those that don’t want the wall, and only want votes from a broken immigration system, this is a fight for power, rather than a genuine argument on how to help secure the country. 


(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

Trump Is Right On The Border Wall

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “We Need To Stand Strong On The Wall.

By themselves, walls do not work to fill us spiritually or protect us physically. Rather, they are a necessary component in a normal and healthy toolbox for living our lives. Spiritually, we need to not just pray toward the holy wall in Jerusalem, but we must augment this with following G-d commandments–doing good in our service to Hashem and in how we treat others. Likewise with protecting us physically, we need a strong mix of “gates, guards, and guns.” A wall is a critical component of our overall spiritual and physical well-being and protection.

 
Until Mashiach comes and the temple is rebuilt and there is peace on earth, we need to pray to the Western Wall (Kotel) for our spiritual well-being and have border walls to protect us physically.
 
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Trace Amounts of Cocaine

So this is a funny story from today.


I had a wonderful opportunity to tour a couple of labs at NIST today.


One of them does work in contraband detection.


The scientist asks if anyone has any money in their wallet.


I pull out a dollar and hand it to him.


I ask him what happens if he finds any traces of bad stuff on the money from me.


He says, “A cage will fall from the ceiling” and I’ll be in big trouble.


Uh, we all laugh a little.


He unfolds the money and puts it into the machine that looks for the contraband.


Oh sh*t, it comes up in the “red”–positive for cocaine.


Someone else says jokingly, “A little leftover from the weekend?”


I joke back, “Na, It’s from this morning before work!”


Ha, ha, I think. 


It turns out the scientist explains that 90% of our currency actually tests positive for cocaine


I’m wondering whether this is a commentary on drug use and even the opioid epidemic in America.


The lab director explains a theory that the automated money counters spread traces of the drugs from bills and contaminates the other currency.


Aside from this little experiment today, I got to learn so much about creating standards for contraband detection systems and equipment and in another lab about magnetism. 


It is unbelievable how smart these scientists are–they are so unique and of the best in the world.


I am so happy to be able to learn from them even if it’s contraband on money. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Amazon + Teva = A Marriage Made In Heaven

Amazon+Teva.jpeg

Amazon has upended so many industries–and you can basically buy almost anything there.


And yes, what you can’t buy today, you will be able to buy tomorrow. 


What started as books and DVDs is now virtually synonymous with e-Commerce itself!

Next up for Amazon is pharmaceuticals!


Some people may think that Whole Foods gives Amazon the footprint it needs to sell these and dominate.


But what people aren’t considering is that Amazon can sell the pharmaceuticals online.


Amazon can do what other online drug distributors can’t.


Why?


Because Amazon has the most unbelievable distribution network in the world. 


Currently, people can order drugs through the mail, but these tend to be for regular reoccurring prescriptions that have lead time. 


However, Amazon can outdo these mail order pharma companies, because they can get you the drugs you need when and where you need it. 


– You don’t feel well and can’t make it to CVS, Amazon will deliver to your door. 


– Need same-day delivery, no problem. 


– Plus do all your shopping together in one fell timesaving swoop. 


My prediction: 

Amazon the low cost, efficient online seller of everything to everywhere is going to partner with Teva Pharmaceuticals, the #1 world leader in low cost generic drugs.


Teva already produces 120 billion tablets and capsules every year, operates in 80 countries, and currently fills 1 in 6 generic prescriptions in the U.S. 

Together, Amazon and Teva can make beautiful music, that is medicine + money!


Who needs CVS when pharmaceuticals perhaps soon can be gotten at Whole Foods or at your Trusty Amazon.com.  


One more time, I see some radical disruption–and this time it will bring you cheaper and more convenient drugs–make a l’chaim to your health. 😉


(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)


(Endnote: I am a big fan + investor in Teva, and of course, all opinions here are my own.)

The Excuses We Make

Poverty.jpeg

So on the way to the airport, I am talking with the Uber driver. 


“There is such a discrepancy between the rich and the poor here,” I say.


“Yeah,” she says, “When I drive and stop at the lights, there are many poor people that come up to the car looking for a handout.”


She continues, “I usually have a few dollars here” pointing to the little cubby hole under the parking break. 


“But my friends make fun of me saying, they [the panhandlers] are just going to go out and buy a beer!”


Excuse #1 not to give poor people–they’ll misuse our charity and buy alcohol, drugs, or prostitutes. 


The driver says, “But so what…if I were in their shoes, I’d buy a beer too.”


I’m thinking, hey this is nice…she’s fighting the bad inclination and her friends pressure and still wants to give–this is great!


Sure enough, we stop at a red light, and a really poor man starts walking up to the window to ask for help.


This person is dressed in dirty battered rags of an undershirt, and has sores on their arms and body.


The driver says, “Yeah, if I gave him, he’d probably just switch his shirt inside out later [as if the other side would be magically less dirty and ripped] and go home to his Rolls Royce!”


Wow, when excuse #1 doesn’t hold…


Excuse #2–the poor people are just faking it…really they aren’t poor, but rather they are fantastically rich and trying to pocket some more money for free.


It’s like the evil inclination sitting on one shoulder telling us “don’t give,”  even as the good inclination is sitting over our other shoulder beseeching us to have mercy and “give, give, give.”


In this case, the evil inclination won out. 


I reached for my wallet and wanted to open my window, but honestly this person looked scary–dirty and maybe sick–I was afraid of this person. 


I hope G-d forgives me, because I feel it wasn’t my evil inclination making excuses, but this time it was genuine for me. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Building An Appropriate Wall

Border

Ok, let’s be honest, Trump is right about the border.  

And no, I do not believe that he is fascist and evil like the social engineers in politics would like you to believe for their own motives. 

Let’s face it, the border needs to be appropriately secured once and for all from illegal immigration. 

We need to support our law enforcement agents such as the Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement in protecting this great country. 

Why all the argument about “illegal” Immigration…it’s illegal!

By all means, provide amble and robust ways for peaceful-loving people to come to this country legally, especially for family, refuge, asylum, and to escape violence, persecution, and war.  

But if someone is here illegally, then Trump is right, we need to see that valid moral law and order is reestablished and not permit violence, crime, and chaos to continue by edict, closing our eyes to it, or even tacit permission. 

Whoever calls this fascism is either a liar or possibly some sort of anarchist and dangerous to a civilized way of life, plain and simple. 

How do any of our politicians who take the oath of office and swear to uphold our constitution try to get around this?

Here are some statistics relevant to the issue of secure borders:

Human Trafficking: There are 29.8 people in the world trapped in modern slavery or 1 out of every 236!  And there are 60,000 victims reported in the United States of America.  

Drug Trafficking: Drug trafficking in Mexico is a $50 billion business, and as of 2009, 23.5 million people in the U.S. age 12 and over needed treatment for illicit drug or alcohol abuse. 

Deadly Terrorism: The deadly toll of Terrorism has increased 800% since 2010 with an average of 30,000 people killed annually. “More attacks are happening and they tend to be deadlier than ever.”

Violent Crime and Murders:  In the five states of California, Texas, Arizona, Florida, and New York, illegal aliens accounted for 38% of all murder convictions, equating to over 7,000 of the murders. 

Economic Effects:  While undocumented workers do obviously help perform work particularly in some important lower wage jobs for us, there are also many negative economic effects of illegal aliens to consider such as undercutting wages or taking jobs from other who are legally entitled to the work. Additionally, the cost for their healthcare and education that is covered by the American people contributes to the overall staggering national debt. 

Overall, while “who we are” and want to be is a compassionate and generous people, there is no reason to circumvent the law and to let people into the country who have not duly applied and been permitted entry and stay.  

Shenanigans of “catch and release” or not to deport illegal immigrants “who don’t have a criminal record”–is completely nonsensical since being illegal is criminal!

We need to secure our country from human trafficking, drug trafficking, terrorism, murders, as well as the negative economic effects of illegal immigration, while at the same time opening our hearts and the process for vetted legal immigrants to make their way here and become productive citizens. 

We are and should be good people, but that doesn’t mean we need to be stupid and irresponsible and put at risk our nation’s security through unnecessarily reckless open and porous borders. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Big Data, Small Moments

Days Of Our Lives

There is a definite rhythm to our lives. 

And by analyzing the peak times of Google search terms, we can get a good picture of what it is (as Seth Stephens-Davidowitz notes in the New York Times Sunday Review).

– From starting a new day to taking care of bathroom business, looking for healing, and even goofing off. 

– Midday is some personal time for shopping, travel plans, and a news update. 

– The evening is a nice dinner and maybe some sexual intimacy.

– The night time is scariest with anxiety about health, leading to panic and thoughts of suicide, and easing off with drugs and pornography. 

– As we roll towards the early hours of the next day, we have a philosophical reawakening with contemplation about the meaning of life and our place in it. 

If we can get all this just from some data analytics of Google search terms, can you imagine what else we can learn about the masses and YOU, the individuals that make it up. 😉

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)