There is a Place for Border Walls

There is a place for border walls. 


Walls are not bad. 


And neither are all people.


But some people are bad.


And we have the right to be protected from them. 


Walls help to manage the flow. 


Not everyone can just go whatever, whenever, wherever. 


Surely, some people need to move to and fro. 


But we must decide who and when and where. 


Walls define spaces and ownership.


Not every place and thing is everyone’s.


People have property rights as do sovereign nations.


Not everything is strictly defined.


There is the commons that we share. 


But also there is a mine and a yours. 


That’s how economics functions and how people give and take. 


Walls help separate and secure. 


Bridges help connect and transport. 


They are not mutually exclusive. 


I’ve never seen a house, company, organization, or government without walls. 


And neither have you. 😉


(Credit Photo: Michelle Blumenthal)

Mankind’s Endless And Elusive Pursuit Of Happiness

Happiness

So I took this photo yesterday of a lady on the Metro reading The Happiness Project.


The book is a multi-year bestseller about the pursuit of happiness and how the author, Grethen Rubin, took a year and made a project of getting happy.


She did this through a “methodical” project with “measurable goals” and working to “build on them cumulatively.”


Now happiness is being described not as a goal or project, but as a “movement.”


Why is happiness such an elusive pursuit to so many throughout the times?


In fact, in looking for how to achieve happiness throughout the ages, we can’t even agree on what it is or how to do it.


Carl Cederstrom in the New York Times provides an overview where the how-to for achieving happiness has changed more times than some people change their underwear.


Here’s to the rainbow of finding happiness:


– The Greeks/Aristotle – Be a good person, live ethically, cultivate one’s virtues. 


– Hedonists/Epicureans – Pursuit whatever brings you pleasure


– Stoics – Happiness is achievable even when experiencing hardship, suffering, and pain


– Christianity – Happiness is not achieved on Earth, but rather in the afterlife/in divine union.


– Renaissance/Enlightenment/Thomas Jefferson – Happiness is an unalienable right, and related to property rights.


– Today – Achieve authenticity and be narcissistic, express true inner selves, get in touch with inner feeling, worship our bodies, and productivity through work


I believe that the relentless pursuit of happiness is due to man’s inability to truly reconcile being/feeling happy with what he experiences on an almost daily basis on a spectrum of unhappiness:


– Disappointment


– Failure


– Unacceptance


– Rejection


– Bullying


– Abuse


– Injustice


– Suffering


– Poverty


– War


– Disability


– Disease


The result of man’s expectation of happiness yet its continued elusiveness to him manifests in people running around like a chicken with their heads cut off (something my mom told me about that she saw as a little girl):


– Changing, leaving, coming back, or clinging to religion.


– Disenfranchisement with government, politics, political parties, and politicians.


– Entering into and dissolving marriages and relationships.


– Migration to different parts of the country or even moving abroad and traveling here, there, and everywhere.


– Cycling your money and investments in real estate, material goods, and a host of investments (stocks, bonds, hedge funds, etc.).


– Trying out a series of different educational pursuits, careers, and hobbies–surely one will be my passion, provide some meaning, or make me happy!


– Trying to squeeze more and more “things” into and out of a 24-hour day. 


– Looking for a quick fix through partying, pornography, sex, drugs, alcohol, and rock & roll. 


What’s the trend in happiness now?


A relentless pursuit of innovation and transformation through technology, robotics, everything autonomous, self-healing, self-reproducing, searching for new (and perhaps better) worlds, and even time travel. 


Oh, and let’s not forget pursuing a longer life (or the holy grail of immortality), so we have more time to try and be happy. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Disease Of The Ordinary

Disease Of The Ordinary

Wow, I love these glasses–red, big, and with wings!

I asked the store owner about them, and he said he gets these mostly for (window) display purposes.

But one lady actually bought a pair similar to this for a big event she was going to.

I think these would certainly make a statement (however crazy) when someone walks into the room wearing these.

Maybe that’s the point for many people–to stand out!

People want to be noticed, special, and be thought of as something or as somebodies.

Being 1 of 7 billion people is not very satisfying–so how do we differentiate ourselves?

  • The fancy house and cars we have
  • The clothing and accessories we wear and carry
  • The trophy wife or husband that hangs on us
  • Our own physical good looks, fitness, and skills
  • The prestigious university we went to and the degrees we possess
  • Climbing the career ladder and our titles and offices
  • Our pedigree from kings, clergy, hollywood, rich, or otherwise famous or successful people
  • The children (and grandchildren) that we rear to be smart, successful, well-integrated, etc.?
  • How religious we are, how much charity we give, the kindness we show others?

This is something that we all struggle with as human beings–what is a life of purpose, meaning and how do we know that we’ve achieved it?

I think the problem for many is that we measure ourselves by what we have and not who we are. Perhaps, this is a clear mistaken case of quantity over quality.

Down in Florida, I see so many “haves” and “have nots”–but it’s not enough for the haves to have, but if they aren’t showing it off, getting stares, having people talk about them, then they seem to feel uncomfortably ordinary.

What is this disease of the ordinary that people must ever run to escape from–and even with the reddest, wildest, wing glasses or whatever–will they ever feel truly happy and satisfied inside?

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

You Mess At Your Own Risk

You Mess At Your Own Risk

This guy is obviously pretty serious about not messing with his car.

“Touch this car again. You are laser sighted. You will be shot in the face!!!”

I remember in NY, people messed with the cars all the time–nasty stuff like backing or plowing into your bumpers when trying to park, keying cars, slashing tires, knocking off the mirrors, egging the cars, and one guy I remember even had his car stolen and the couple actually had sex in his back seat!

The stupid steering wheels locks to the brakes were a joke for security, the noisy annoying car alarms were so routine no one looked or cared, and LoJack helps you find the clunker again although you may never want to drive it anyway after what the crooks would do to it.

Not sure this sign will help ward off all the crap that people do–somehow they always find another way to be jerks with someone else’s stuff.

Aside from James Bond’s car that would explode if you tried to mess with it, does anyone else have any good ideas for car protection? 😉

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)

For Somebody Who Has Everything

For Somebody Who Has Everything

What do you get somebody who has everything?

Well check this out…

You can actually buy acreage on the moon through The Lunar Registry, “Earth’s leading lunar real estate agency.”

Based on The Outer Space Treaty, no country can own a celestial resource such as the moon, planet, or asteroid, but this doesn’t preclude private entities and individuals from purchasing a “lunar land claim.”

The Space Settlement Institute, which “promotes the human colonization and settlement of outer space” is lobbying for the U.S. to recognize these space land claims (PopSci).

According to their website, when you purchase real estate through the lunar registry, “your property ownership is permanently registered by the International Lunar Lands Registry in its annual publication, which is copyrighted and deposited in the United States Library of Congress and with international patent and trademark offices.”

You can view available properties here, from the Sea of Vapors (“moon on a budget” for $18.95 per acre–near Crater Manilius) to Lake of Dreams (“most popular” for $34.25 per acre and a special “Sweathearts package with 2 acres side-by-side).

Properties can be viewed at The Full Moon Atlas through The Luna Society.

I found Lake of Dreams by its reference in sector B-4, although I couldn’t really tell from the atlas whether this was a place that I’d like to settle down or not.

In real estate, they alway say “location, location, location”–when you’re buying on the moon, who the heck knows? 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Never Worn, But Not For The Reason You Think

Never Worn, But Not For The Reason You Think

I remember learning for my MBA about people’s shopping addiction (aka compulsive shopping) and how it consumes their time and money and fuels their self-esteem.

Like a high gotten from alcohol, drugs, and sex, shopping can give people a relief from the everyday stresses that engulf them.

An interesting article in the Wall Street Journal (18 April 2013) called “A Closet Filled With Regrets” chronicles how people buy stuff they never wear and are sorry they bought it.

In fact, the article states, “Only about 20% of clothes in the average person’s closet are worn on a regular basis.”

One example given is a Pulitzer Prize -winning author who spent $587,000 on Gucci items between 2010-2012, before seeking treatment for his addiction.

A related disorder is shopper’s remorse that occurs, because people second guess themselves and feel maybe an alternative would’ve been a better choice (i.e. they made a bad choice), they didn’t really need the item to begin with (i.e. it was just impulsive), or that they spent too much (i.e. they got a bad deal).

For me, as a child of Holocaust survivors, I find that when I purchase something nice (not extravagant), I put away and also never wear it.

The difference for me is not that I have shoppers remorse, an addiction to shopping, or that I am unhappy with my purchase, but rather that I cannot wear it because I feel as a child of survivors that I have to save it–just in case.

No, it’s not rational–even though I am a very practical and rational person in just about every other way.

It’s just that having seen what can happen when times are bad–and people have nothing–I cannot bear to grant myself the luxury of actually wearing or using something really good.

Perhaps also, I look at my parent’s generation, who suffered so much, and think why am I deserving of this?

They sacrificed and survived, so we (their children) could have it better–what every parent wants for their children, or should.

But still, in my heart, I know that I am the one who has had it easy compared to their lives, and so those purchases are going to stay right where they are–never worn until I donate them to Goodwill.

I never really considered them mine anyway. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)