The All-Knowing (Not)

Knowing.jpeg

Check out this guy’s shirt:

“Those who think they know EVERYthing
annoy those of us who do.”


What would make this grown man put this handwritten sign on his shirt like this?  


It’s funny some people really do think they know everything. 


And they are the hardest and most annoying people to listen to, because their pompous arrogance blinds them to what others think, feel, and have to say. 


The only way to really know many different things is to learn from others and then incorporate that into your brain matter. 


Progress (societal and self), including thinking, is incremental–that’s why education is so important!


No one (except G-d, of course) knows everything, but everyone knows something. 


So we can learn from everyone!


Don’t fear other’s people knowledge, skills, and abilities–we are a community and we really only work well when we function together. 


It’s like on most of the survival shows I’ve seen–one or two people (even those highly trained) fail miserably at long- (or short-) term surviving, because “it takes a village!”


Overall, I like my father’s humble version on life much better:

“I know nothing and I can prove it.” 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 

The Knowable and Unknowable

Hole.JPEG

So as we all do, I often come across challenging and perplexing issues or problems in life. 


And my nature is to try to understand them, solve them, fix them–is it survival or the challenge or both?


But then we come across some things that are just beyond our [mere mortal] understanding or ability to simply fix them. 


I remember as a youngster learning in Yeshiva about when it says in the Bible that G-d hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that he continued to refuse to let the Jews go from their enslavement in Egypt.


And the classic mind-bending question is how could G-d harden his heart if Pharaoh retained free will which we all have to choose good or evil.


Did G-d harden his heart or did he have free will–which is it?  And if G-d hardened his heart, then how could Pharaoh and the Egyptians be punished for something they didn’t fully control? 


One explanation is that by facing the punishing plagues, Pharoah was losing his free will to decide what to do with the Israelites, so by hardening his heart, G-d was actually restoring his free will to choose once again…interesting. 


Of course in life, there is also the philosophical dimensions of so many seeming contradictions such as the cliche about what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object.


Which wins out if one is unstoppable and the other is unmovable?


No, I don’t think these are just riddles, but the testing of the abilities of our human minds to understand further and further into the mysteries of G-d, creation, and the universe. 


So what do we do in life when confronted by things that are seemingly or really beyond our human capacities? 


– We ponder these weighty matters and sometimes we get frustrated and rip our little-left hair out or laugh at ourselves as to why we can’t just get it.


– We look to understand the deeper spiritual meanings of these challenges in the context of our earthly lives. 


– We try to solve and fix what we can within the confines of our spaghetti brain matter and flesh and bone bodies. 


– At the end of the day, we acknowledge our human limitations, and look to the Heavens for answers or at least for Divine guidance and protection along the way.


While we cannot understand everything or always reach our destination that we set for ourselves that should never prevent us from trying our hardest and going as far as we can on our journeys–and letting the next person, and the next person pick up the torch and carry it forward. 


In the Jewish prayers, we say that the matters of the earth are for our exploration and striving, but the ultimate secrets of the Heaven are for G-d alone. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

All American Chair

All American Chair.jpeg

Got to love this all American chair. 

Red, white, and blue. 

And stars and stripes everywhere. 

The only thing that I seriously wonder about is whether this chair was manufactured in the U.S. 

With the U.S. losing 35% of it’s manufacturing employment between 1998 and 2010 (from 17.6M to 11.5M), due in large part to outsourcing, there is a good chance this chair was made overseas. 

Now manufacturing makes up less than 9% of total U.S. employment

Also noteworthy is the loss of 51,000 manufacturing plants or 12.5% between 1998-2008.  

Together, agriculture and industry make up only approximately 20% of the entire U.S. economy

Manufacturing are agriculture are strategic capabilities for this country and any country. 

It’s not just what you know, but what you make!

Sure we can make things faster and easier with automation, but at this point there is a serious skills shortage (with millions of jobs going unfilled), and we need to safeguard the strategic knowledge, skills, capability, and capacity to make things vital to our thriving existence.

We need to be a more self-sufficient nation again and not a one-trick service pony. 

We need to use information to be better innovators, creators, developers, and builders. 

Information is great, but you can’t live by information alone. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Wanting It Too Much

Data

It’s funny how we all dream about something…


Money, honor, success, 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. 


OR


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)

The Wrong Way To Test

Test
As educators are pushed to improve students’ test scores, sometimes they run afoul.



In Atlanta, 8 former public school educators were sentenced to prison–three were sentenced to as long as seven years–for a conspiracy inflating student scores by “changing answers” to the tests. 



Interestingly, in another article today, we see that not only are students put to the test, but so are job applicants



In fact, “Eight of the top 10 U.S. private employers now administrator pre-hire tests in their job applications.”



While testing can certainly show some things, they can also miss the point completely. 



I know some people that test wonderfully–straight A students, 100+ on all exams, 4.0 GPAs–and for the most part, they are wonderful at memorizing and prepping for the test…but sometimes, not much else. 



Some of them have no practical knowledge, little critical thinking or creativity, and are even sort of jerky. 



And others who test poorly may be well thought, articulate, hands-on, and good with people–I’d take a million of them. 



“Failing the test” is not necessarily getting it wrong…it may just be errant to the current prevailing educational and professional testing system that values memorization and spitting back over insight, innovation, and practical skills. 



The challenge is how do we compare and contrast students and professionals competing for schools and career advancement, if we don’t easily have something standardized like a test to rally around. 



Maybe there is no getting away from more holistic assessments–where we look at bona fide life and career experience, a wide range of recommendations from teachers, coaches, and supervisors, hard and soft skills (including communications and interpersonal), professional and personal ethics, genuine interest in the pursuit, and the motivation to work hard and contribute.  



Tests–students cheat, educators game the system, memorization and robotic answers are the name of the game to get the A, and boring homogeneity–but it’s often the easy way out to evaluating candidates for a phony success. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

A Bunch Of Dummies

Dummies
Took a photo from this children’s book that someone left in the kosher Chinese restaurant–and it was sort of priceless.



There is a drawing of a ventriloquist with his puppet.



And it says, “All my friends are dummies,”



Often, it’s tempting to think that we’re so smart and “we’re all that”, but everyone else is just a dummy.



But we need to remember that in a way, really we’re all just a bunch of dummies–now you didn’t think I was going to say that, did you?



We are human, frail, mortal…and no one knows everything (hey, not even close).



My father used to joke saying, “I know nothing, and I can prove it!”



The truth is that all we really know is what G-d wants us to know; we say, what G-d permits our tongues to speak, and ultimately, we do, what G-d commands of us–there is no escaping it. 



In the big picture, we are but puppets and dummies in the hands of the omniscient creator.



For those with mega size egos (and usually nasty to match)…what G-d gives, he can easily take away, so don’t be a real dummy. 😉



(Source Photo: The Blumenthals)

For Everyone That Loves Reading

Books
I thought this was a great picture for everyone that loves reading.



Whether you read from traditional paper books, newspapers, magazines, and journals, or you prefer reading from a tablet, smartphone, eReader, or browser. 



Reading expands our mind, challenges our thinking, and builds on our knowledge. 



Here’s to reading…just about everything you can get your hands on. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)