Beautiful Virus, Huh?

So this is an image of the Tobacco Mosaic Virus.


Yeah, I never heard of it either. 


It is a virus that attacks and destroys tobacco and other plants. 


Viruses are ugly and evil in that they hurt and kill other living things


Yet in looking at this molecular image, I seriously hate to say it, but it is also beautiful in a way. 


The shape, color, complexity–the design and wisdom embedded in it–what can I say, but even this too is a miracle. 


Sure, it would be better in a mortal sense if there were no viruses to make us suffer and literally eat away at us. 


Yet, surely G-d has a plan even for these nasty virus molecules.  


Do they help us gain immunity to even worse diseases?


Do they help us to use ingenuity to discover, fight, and evolve to withstand their attacks and progress our society in larger ways?


Do they help us learn however horribly to turn to G-d, strengthen ourselves, and somehow try to cope with suffering and loss in life and death.


All sickness is unbelievably horrible and the suffering it causes is truly impossible to understand, and G-d should please, please have mercy on us. 


Yet, looking at this molecular image of even this virus, there is something comforting in the supreme intelligent design and creation of it all.  😉


(Source Andy’s photo of image by Visual Molecular Dynamics)

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My First Article in the TOI – The Samson Dilemma

My first article in The Times of Israel.


“The Samson Dilemma”

I was struggling with what to say.  


And then the words came pouring to me when I awoke at 4 am. 


It comes from my heart, and I am grateful to G-d for bringing me to this time. 


Hope you enjoy the article. 


Andy 


(Source Photo of Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Make The Right Move To Agile Education

So, unfortunately, our education system in this country is highly troubled


Generally, we teach by strict curriculum forcing children to learn what we consider “the fundamentals”.


But they are anything but that and kids come out not knowing how to do the very basics or survive in life. 


Test scores have not been improving–that’s not the student’s fault, but the education system, which cannot force feed what students minds are rejecting as “old school” and out of touch.


Not only don’t we fish for them, but we don’t even teach them to fish. 


We throw at them esoteric subjects to memorize, spit back, and forget. 


Wash, rinse, repeat. 


We waste years of their life and the productivity and creativity of society. 


Ever really wonder why GDP growth is only around 2% despite all the rapid technology that we are rolling out. 


It is just not drones that we are rolling off the assembly line, but human automatons as well. 


This is where agile education comes into aspect. 


Like with software development, we can gather requirements and build, and then show the customer, and then refine again and again. 


We let the development grow and mature naturally as the code takes shape. 


No more years of development and voila here’s something for you, and with the customer exclaiming loudly, “What the F*** is that!”


So too with education, we need to follow the spirit and train of thought naturally. 


Where we let the students guide the teacher to what their questions are, what they are interested in learning about, where their creative juices take them, and what is relevant. 


Rigidity in the education system leaves our students as dead ends, and not as critical thinkers and innovators.


We have a dearth of leaders we can look up to and a plethora of people that couldn’t survive the Spring without their Visa/Mastercard.  


Ever wonder why so many of our great innovators are college dropouts who built their companies in their garages instead of occupying a seat in a classroom and filling their heads with teacher rhetoric. 


Most people learn by seeing, internalizing, and doing useful things for themselves, not by listening and violently rejecting the irrelevant in their lives. 


Let us release the choking reigns of our education system. 


Teachers should be able to follow the questions and interests and natural evolution of thought and creativity and wonderment with their students. 


The mark of learning is not the answers on a standardized test, but the light bulb of critical thinking and innovation from our progeny. 


Exploration and discovery and skills to be self-sufficient and survive are far more beneficial than what we are giving our children today.


We owe them a better education, but we are not delivering because we are the automatons of yesteryear. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Rocky Says

A quote from my role model Rocky: 

It’s not about how hard you hit.
It’s about how hard you get hit.
And keep moving on.
That’s how winning is done.

Go Rocky!


And by the way, you should hit pretty (i.e. very) hard also. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 

Jack Of All Trades

I saw this quote hanging on the wall. 


It’s by science fiction writer, Robert Anson Heinlein.

“A human being should be able to:

  • Change a diaper
  • Plan an invasion
  • Butcher a hog
  • Conn [control] a ship
  • Design a building
  • Write a sonnet
  • Balance account
  • Build a wall
  • Set a bone
  • Comfort the dying
  • Take orders
  • Give orders
  • Cooperate
  • Act alone
  • Solve equations
  • Analyze a new problem
  • Pitch manure
  • Program a computer
  • Cook a tasty meal
  • Fight efficiently
  • Die Gallantly

Specialization is for insects.”

It’s sort of fascinating all the things that are expected of people to be able to do. 

And this is a short list–I’m sure you can think of many, many more things that people have to be able to do to survive, to live, to thrive. 

What complex and magnificent creations of G-d we are! 

Not only in terms of our physiology, but also in terms of our cognitive, emotional, social, and spiritual capacities and desires. 

We are flesh and blood, but with a breath of life from the living G-d, and we are capable and can do so much. 

At the same time, we are imperfect, limited, fallible, and mortal. 

– Jack of all trades, and master of none. 

Expect the best, but plan for plenty of mistakes and disasters along the way. 

Live well, and return to the creator a better person. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Got Skills

I thought this was a very telling sign right off the highway in Washington, D.C. 


“Does your child have life skills?”


And then it lists things like:

“Cooking, budgets, sewing, ironing, time managment, communication, and fun”


The classes are offered by ActualLifeSkills.com.


I took a look online at what a typical 6-week class offered on Sundays for 3-hours at a time and at a cost of $345. 


It even covered things like:

“Handshakes, eye contact, and conversation starters
Voice projection and confidence
Party/guest etiquette, gifts and thank you notes”


And of course, aside from the cooking and budgeting already mentioned, there were more of the foundations such as laundry, cleaning, and grocery shopping.


I would suggest adding things like computer basics, child rearing, human relations, home maintenance, car mechanics, hunting, fishing, gardening, first-aid, fitness, and even self-defense. 


Since, we spend so much time teaching book skills, I have often thought why we don’t spend more time teaching these fundamental life skills. 


We are raising a generation of kids that can score 1500+ on the SATs, but they don’t know sh*t about real life and couldn’t survive a week without electricity, Internet, or mom and dad taking care of them. 


Back to basics. 


Back to life skills. 


Back to survival. 


Back to being self-sufficient. 


There is no reason that we can’t add these items to our broken school curriculums. 


You shouldn’t have to go to special classes to learn to live life. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Controlling The World, Really?

So, unfortunately, there is a lot of discrimination and hate out there. 


Often, I see, hear, or read lots of anti-Semitism. 


People don’t like what I write in my blog, that I eat Kosher, Keep Shabbat, or that I wear a head covering or whatever. 


I get things like “Dirty Jew!”


Sometimes, “Get out! Go back to Israel!”


Or when I try to express myself, “Uh, the Jews control the world,”


The funny thing is if Jews control the world, why do I feel like I don’t control anything!


I feel so small and insignificant in a way in the realm of G-d’s great universe. 


Where I am but a speck of dust.


I see tall skyscrapers.


Huge mountain ranges. 


The deep oceans.


The rolling plains. 


The infinite stars in the sky. 


I see a world with hundreds of countries. 


And billions of people. 


And I see me, and I am just a person. 


And I see the Jewish people–a tiny minority.


One that has been subject of pogroms, inquisitions, exiles, destruction, and genocide–over and over again. 


I grew up pretty poor and watching my parents work so hard trying their best to support the family. 


I think Jews don’t control the world. 


I certainly don’t think I control even my day. 


The reality is only G-d is in control. 


And for that, I am most humble and grateful to the L-rd above. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)