Strange Leggings

Leggings
Took this photo in the mall of this very strange looking pair of leggings.ย 



Sort of an ancient Egyptian style complete with princess, gold, and a cast of phony “G-ds”–sun, falcon, tiger, and more. ย 



Not sure who would actually wear these, but all the power to them.ย 



They are made so you “Walk like An Egyptian“–Go Bangles!



Can you hear me sing it? ย ๐Ÿ˜‰



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Exodus Hollywood Style 2014


Very excited about the new Exodus movie coming next month.ย 



Looks high budget action and with great special effects.



Hopefully, not a disappointment like Noah (2014 film)–I don’t think it will be.ย 



Good wins over evil–well, we all know that already from the Bible!



According to the Passover Haggadah, we are supposed to retell every year, from generation to generation, our story of going from the cruel enslavement by evil dictators to the redemption by the merciful Almighty G-d.



It’s timeless and our history! ย ๐Ÿ˜‰



(Note: Full movie name is Exodus G-ds and Kings, but there is only one G-d.)

Another Day In The Middle East

Another Day In The Middle East

It can be hard for a regular person to understand the course of events in the Middle East–I certainly don’t!

I recognize that I don’t know what I don’t know, but with all due respect, it would be great if we could all better understand where we are going there.

– On the 9/11, we were attacked by Al Qaeda hijackers, 15 of 19 of whom were Saudi Arabian, yet after 9/11, we didn’t go after Saudi Arabia, but instead overthrew Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

– However, early in the 1980’s Iran-Iraq War, we supported Iraq against Iran and permitted the sale of American arms to Hussein.

– By overthrowing Saddam, in effect we established a Shiite-lead Iraq, right next to a fundamentalist Shiite Iran with a history of conflict with America.

– In subsequent conflicts, it is not clear whether we are supporting the secularists or the fundamentalists:

a) In Syria, we have beenย supporting “moderate” Sunni’s (although often seen aligned to Al Qaeda) against Bashar al-Assad, and what is considered the “secular Ba’ath party.”

b) In Egypt, we withheld military and economic support after the overthrew of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose aims include establishing a state ruled by Sharia law, and an organization that is aligned with Hamas and Hezbollah, both listed as terrorist organizations.

– In Iran, in an attempt to move towards peaceful nuclear disarmament, we are relaxing sanctions on a country that former President George W. Bush, in his State of the Union, declared part of the Axis of Evil (2002), and with an agreement that is viewed as not better than having a 50-50 chance of success.

If you find this a lot to take in, you are not alone. ๐Ÿ˜‰

All opinions my own.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Gaming to Get More Bricks and Mortar

Gaming to Get More Bricks and Mortar

Farhad Manjoo has an interesting piece in the Wall Street Journal on the gamification of the workplace.

In office gamification, employees are treated like gamers–they are measured, given points, and recognized/rewarded for meeting objectives as if you are playing an arcade game or Angry Birds.

The problem is that this is really nothing new and also not very motivating to the workforce.

Already in the Bible the Egyptians oppressed the Israelites by giving them ever crushing quotas for gathering straw and building the great pyramids.

And if they didn’t measure up, the Bible tells us that, “They made their lives bitter with harsh labor…the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly.”(Deut. 1:14)

You see while measuring performance is a good and important part to managing and maturing processes and the workforce, tracking people in real life with plus ups for every good thing and minuses for every mistake or failure treats this whole thing as one big game, but it’s not.

A mature adult workforce doesn’t need points and bonus time for doing their jobs, and shouldn’t be made to fear losing their jobs for not meeting their daily numbers.

Even Manjoo admits that he dreads working in a work environment where everything is measured and monitored to the nth-degree.

He says that even in a field like Journalism, he feels undue pressure to produce and that “every time I write a story that doesn’t make the paper’s most-popular list, I consider it a tiny failure. If I do that too many times in a row, I begin to wonder if I should look for a new line of work.”

Now perhaps, many of you are saying, that if you can’t perform at expectations, maybe you should be looking for another job, but the point is that performance measurement should be humane–working toward the long-term benefit of the company and the development of the employees–and not one miss and it’s “Game Over!”

Gamification software, like Badgeville, that gives points for everything from creating a sales lead to responding to a lead and converting a lead to sales opportunities is nothing short of childish micromanagement.

Employees shouldn’t treated like children working for points and prizes and titles like “Super Converter” or “Super Dealer” (like in the demo video), but rather should be treated as professionals, who work for the mission and based on an ethos of excellence, where they are committed to doing their best for the organization, and the organization is committed to developing them and making them a ever better and satisfied workforce–not making them feel like they are coming to a surveillance, tracking, and fear-inspired workplace.

Can gamification have a place in creating some healthy workplace competition and fun? Sure, but when it’s masquerading as a serious tool to engineer people to do their jobs and have a meaningful career, then someone in the C-suite has been playing Farmville a little too long.

My father used to tell me, “You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar,” and employees will be far more motivated if they know you are working with them as a team to “get to the next level” rather than infantilizing and prodding them with ridiculous amounts of workplace surveillance to force them to collect more straw and build more pyramids. ๐Ÿ˜‰

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

12 Years A Slave, But Not Anybody’s Property

12 Years A Slave, But Not Anybody's Property

I saw the movie “12 Years A Slave.”

I have seen other movies on slavery, such as Amistad and Glory, but none were as potent and realistic as this was.

I came out with my head full of feelings of pain and injustice, as if I had just lived through those 12 years as a slave myself.

I literally felt sick to my stomach and the room felt as if it was spinning and I could hardly breathe.

My wife said to me, “You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t feel bad.”

And I responded to her, “I feel bad that they (the slave owners and traders) weren’t human.”

I cannot tell the story of Solomon Northup or of the horrors of slavery any better than the movie in fact did.

But what I can convey is my shear disgust for how anybody could enslave and mistreat others the way the Black people and others throughout history were.

As a Jewish person, my own people have a history of 400 years of slavery in Egypt, and this took on a whole new meaning.

As great actors as Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner were, The movie, The Ten Commandments, did not show the depths of Hell of slavery as much as the breadth of Heaven of redemption.

And while the Pyramids of Egypt were built not with massively powered Caterpillar earth movers and construction equipment, but with the flesh and blood of my people under the whip of servitude 3,500 years ago, similarly the Capitol of the United States and The White House were built with Black people in chains and hung by the noose.

In the movie today, the plantation owners said they could do what they wanted to the slaves and without fear of retribution or sin, because the slaves were their property.

What is unbelievable is that anyone can believe that anybody can be the property of anyone other than G-d, the Master of the Universe, him/herself.

The slave trader in the movie, tearing apart a family and selling the mother and her children separately, when questioned on his ability to commit such atrocity, says matter-of-factly,”my sentimentality extends the length of a coin.”

For a buck, what will a person not do?

In history, we have seen individuals and whole societies cheat, steal, rape, enslave, torture, murder, and commit every treachery and treason…for a buck or even just because they could.

What is the lesson for all of us?

People can do great good in this world, but unfettered by faith, conscience, reason, or fear of justice, they can do great, great evil–and for that we can never let our guard down.

Choosing Between Democracy and Freedom

Choosing Between Democracy and Freedom

This is a photo I took in the Metro in Washington D.C.

It is an advertisement for a cessation of hostilities in Syria where estimates are over 100,000 people killed in civil war, so far.

Now in Egypt, you have about 1,000 killed in the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood and violence continues there as well.

What is really confusing is that in both cases you have terrorists and extremists fighting more secular societies–yet, we do not unequivocally support the secularists in their battle again Jihadists.

At the same time, we went to war for a decade in Iraq and Afghanistan to fight a “war on terror” and to this day it continues with somewhat regular drone attacks.

While I understand that as a Democracy we need to support fair and free elections, does this mean we have to buttress up fundamentalists, extremists, and terrorists–just because they got voted in.

Sometimes, people don’t know or understand what they are voting for until its too late, which seems to be what happened in Egypt when the people elected the Muslim Brotherhood.

Similarly, the Nazi party in Germany in the 1930’s won many seats in the Reichstag, and we know the ten of millions murdered and the destruction that this led to.

Democracy, does not mean good always prevails, but when evil is rightfully elected what are we to do–simply support free elections or support good over evil?

Perhaps, the notion of good and evil is a little simplistic (especially when neither side may be very good), but the idea is the same, are we fighting for free elections or the better candidate in terms of overall freedom, human rights, and world peace.

Can we really afford to straddle the fence here? ๐Ÿ˜‰

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)