The Knowable and Unknowable

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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)

Nation In Denial

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We are a nation in utter denial over our problems.


Just to name a few…


Whether from the threat of North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un, who smiled while displaying a video yesterday of nuclear missiles destroying the USA.


To the shooting death of three in Fresno, CA yesterday by a man shouting “Allahu Akbar” that was deemed not a terrorist attack.


To our national debt of $20 trillion which quadrupled in just the last 15 years under the administration of both political parties.  


Unfortunately, denial is still alive and well, while smiling photos of the North Korean dictator adorn the light poles outside the capital of the USA.


We don’t like to admit our problems be it from despots threatening us with WMD to global terrorism that gives us no peace, and a mammoth debt that is sinking our national economic sustainability.


Smile for the camera!


Don’t worry about big problem-solving. 


What we don’t admit can’t hurt us or can it?  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The UNITED States of America

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Continuing the theme of unity…

I really liked this amazing American flag.

Instead of stars, it has the abbreviations for all 50 states.

Imagine what we can accomplish if we all learn to love each other and band together again.

And know for sure what will happen it this hate and infighting continues.

Unfortunately, there seems to be selfish forces of corruption and evil at play.

Put the country first.

By all means disagree and constructively criticize.

Influence things for the good.

Work together and solve problems.

And let’s try to be the UNITED States once again!

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Sleepy Education USA

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Education is fundamental to learning, development and preparation for career and life. 

We’ve always believed that if you invest in anything, invest in education!

However, despite initiatives like No Child Left Behind and Every Child Succeeds Act, scores in the fundamentals like reading, math, and science all lag behind other advanced industrialized nations.

As of 2015, the U.S. ranked a stinking 38 out of 71 nations in K-12 education

Yet, it is seemingly the complete opposite, with college education, the U.S. has about 75% of the top 25 schools. 

However, the comparison is flawed because university rankings are based not on student academic performance, but rather on research performance, including things like journal articles published and Noble Prize winners. 

When academic proficiency is tested for American adults, the rankings again lag and are at best mediocre. 

While there are many dedicated and good teachers, still too many teachers and unions continue to fight testing and reform so that progress of our education system continues to fail our children and our nation.

We need to end education by memorization, and focus instead on hands-on learning (by doing), critical thinking and problem-solving.

Sleeping through a lecture may not mean a student is missing squat in the current failed education system. 

(Source Photo: The Blumenthals)

2017 Year Of The Customer

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So here’s a resolution for all of us for 2017…


How about this year be the year of the customer!


– Where we care more about doing a good job for someone than we do about what time we get off from work.


– Where we talk to and treat customers with respect, dignity, and ultimately to solve their needs, rather than it escalating to a yelling match and oh, did I accidentally hang up the phone on you?


– Where we make the customer feel good about dealing with us and our organization, rather than wanting to beg for a supervisor or cyanide please!


– Where the customer isn’t lied to, manipulated, and taken advantage of just so someone can make another quick buck!


– Where the quality and value is #1 and it’s not just a shinny veneer on a car that accelerates on it’s own and with fake emissions test results or smartphone batteries that light up on fire and explode


– Where we don’t cross-sell and up-sell customers, like phony bank accounts or other things they don’t want, need, and never asked for just to make our sales quotas, and accrue the fine bonuses and stock options that go with them. 


– Where we don’t oversell the capability of a product, like fraudulent blood testing devices and medical results, and instead deliver what’s really doable and as promised. 


– Where there’s no error in the charge to the customer or it’s in the customer’s favor, rather than always an overcharge in the seller’s favor, and the price from the beginning is fair and reasonable and not hiked up 400% like on critical medicine that people’s lives depend on. 


– Where items arrive on time and work the first time, rather than having delays, making excuses, and causing endless customer returns of defective items or those that didn’t fit, look, or work as advertised. 


– Where the customer is happy to come back to and where they feel trust in the people, products, and services offered–not another Home Shopping Network or QVC shoddy experience of “It slices, it dices…the only tears you’ll shed are tears of joy!”


– Where we solve genuine customer needs or problems and not just “build it and they will come.”


– Where rather than a pure what’s in it for me (WIIFM) mentality, we suspend our self-interest and greed for the moment and we do for others, because it’s not just a job and we actually have a work ethic and care about what we do. 

 

– Where we delight! and wow!, rather than disengage and disappoint, and we put the customer first, and like first responders, we run to help and not run away. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

One Nasty Election

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This is one nasty election. 


Forget about getting any real answers to questions of the economy, national security, healthcare, education, the environment, and so on. 


No, instead we have candidates down in the dirty disparaging each other, fighting about what they said about the former Miss Universe and the like. 


This is beyond utterly ridiculous!


While integrity and character of the utmost importance in choosing our elected officials and leaders, I think we need to differentiate between the life of reality television and an election. 


The level of smear campaign, pulling out all the stops, seems to have never been greater. 


The greed and lust for power has taken over all sensibilities, and the people of this country see it and are disgusted by it. 


And to the rest of world, we must look like a complete bunch of imbeciles here.


Power has infected and corrupted our leaders and system putting them above the people and nation they govern rather than for them. 


As to whether there is the slightest genuine concern for the welfare and future of the citizens of this great country–that is a complete roar of utter laughter and despair. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Left or Right?

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This sign from yesterday reminded me of the debates last night. 


Arguments, attacks, and counterpunchs between the candidates (and the parties they represent).


But in the end, the sign is pointing us in the wrong direction anyway. 


While we keep hitting each other up for getting and maintaining the awesome scepter of American power, our competitors on the international stage are moving on with their personal and national agendas, and we are in seemingly perpetual gridlock. 


The big problems that we face are not going away, and declaring who is the winner of the showtime debates, daily rallies, and witty sound bites, may feel good from the standpoint of whether our candidate is winning or not, but frankly is not solving any of our problems either.


A good fight is spectacular to watch, but we can be our own worst enemies as we are lost in shallow policy and rhetoric debates amidst leadership confusion, indecision, and (un)popularity contests, and even the winner may take home nothing but the rights to hoist another upside down sign.


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)