Monthly Archives: January, 2016

Inside Outside (The Election – Not the Movie)

January 27th, 2016 Posted by Susan's Musings 13 comments

 

Donald_Trump

A concept in ancient Jewish wisdom speaks positively of one whose, “tocho k’varo;” whose inside reflects his outside demeanor. This motto reflects reality. In general, people tend to put on a pleasant, sometimes false, face to the world. Leaving aside extreme examples such as the mass murderer who is the neighborhood Boy Scout leader and who won the ‘husband of the year’ award from his church, most of us have had the experience of exhibiting patience in public while losing it in private or using a tone of voice to our spouse that we wouldn’t use with the mailman.

Is it possible that politicians fall into two groups? Those who speak of high-minded ideals and those who practice them. 

Is anyone shocked when that self-proclaimed champion of women, Hillary Clinton, turns out to pay her female staff less than her male staff? Or when Al Gore lives in an energy guzzling mansion while pontificating about how others should care for the environment? President Obama can denounce schoolyard bullying all day long, but his own actions reveal that he thinks having the bully pulpit means that he should be the nation’s chief bully using government resources to carry out his wishes. Republican politicians who trumpet family values while carrying on affairs are, sadly, too frequently found. 

Donald Trump is the opposite. My guess is that Mr. Trump hires the best people he can—period. Male, female; Black, Hispanic; Olympic athlete or handicapped. Whoever can get the job done best gets the job. Yet his public statements make him sound like a bigoted, racist cad. Or rather, like a ten year old schoolboy. That schoolboy will pick on any feature that he can to ridicule someone he dislikes and whom he wants to make lose his cool. His best friend may have braces, but the bully will call the nerd who annoys him ‘metal mouth.’ ‘Four-eyes,’ ‘teacher’s pet,’ ‘fatso,’ and other puerile barbs spring from his lips while those he likes who wear glasses, are good students or overweight receive affection and protection.  

Personally, I prefer not to have a ten-year-old schoolboy as President. However that is preferable to a politically correct hypocrite whose actions belie his or her words. Donald Trump’s gift to the country has been his fearless exposure of those who speak one way and act another. Unafraid of the Clinton’s, he challenged Hillary on her public defense of women despite having trashed women her husband likely abused. We needed that. He exposes those who  want to let potentially violent refugees into the country while personally living in gated estates with armed security guards. We needed that.  He has served warning that even liberals’ actions are open to scrutiny whether or not the New York Times wants to talk about them. Along with that, he has coarsened the debate and encouraged adults stuck in ten-year-old bodies to tweet, post and shout.

Despite his welcome lack of timidity, Mr. Trump’s own proclamations often don’t match his past actions. There are numerous valid reasons to oppose his candidacy. Yet, every one who is not a ‘cause-of-the-month-liberal’ should be grateful for his laying to rest the idea that Republicans should be timid, scared of the Clintons et al., and apologetic about expressing ideas in a forthright manner. 

Give Your Children a Head Start on Learning God’s Language

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Should our son be in the family business?

January 27th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet

Question:

As the mother of a son and daughter, I greatly enjoyed your podcast of 8/22/15, in which you discussed father-son businesses. My son is currently employed in my husband’s law firm. My son’s background has not been stellar. He flunked out of the first year of a 3rd tier law school and had to take the bar exam 4 times to pass both sections. Consequently, he has been working at the family law firm for 2 years and only able to do anything court related since September 2015. Needless to say he spent much of his time surfing the internet because there wasn’t any work my husband could give him to do besides administrative work which my son felt beneath him to do. 

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No Skill Needed

January 21st, 2016 Posted by Susan's Musings 6 comments

A year ago, I converted to Mac. Even the language of ‘converting’ implies that this type of change involves more angst than switching detergents. Over the course of learning to use my new computer, I spent a fair bit of time at the Apple store as well as exchanging numerous phone calls with Apple support. I must give a shout out to the help at both venues–what a pleasure! During one of my orientations, an enthusiastic employee shared her excitement with the GarageBand app. I assumed that I could ignore this information. Chances of my wanting to record music seemed to be only slightly higher than my suddenly deciding to take up extreme sports.

What did I know? Fast forward to this past Fall, when I met Sarah Mazor in Jerusalem. Sarah had contacted our office, asking if we had ever thought of publishing children’s books and offering to show us some of the ones she authored. Sarah’s letter intrigued my right-hand woman, Crystol, and she  forwarded it to me. It languished in my email pile until, months later, I clicked on the link to one of Sarah’s books and noticed that she knew Hebrew. I contacted Sarah, telling her that we published for adults, but I wanted to speak to her and would be in touch when I was back in the States, as my husband and I were spending the month of holidays in Jerusalem.

 “I’m going to Jerusalem for the holidays too,” she wrote. 

“Maybe we can meet for a quick cup of coffee,” I responded, telling her the neighborhood where we would be. 

“I’m staying right near there,” Sarah replied, and agreed to be in touch once we were both overseas. 

Our ‘quick cup of coffee’ turned into a three hour chat as Sarah’s story captivated me. My husband and I told her the type of book that we thought would benefit our audience and by the end of the morning we signed Sarah on to write our first children’s book. 

I knew that I wanted to share Sarah’s story with you and the amazing surprise we had when we met. Instead of writing it down in a Musing, I thought it would be fun to record an interview with her, which we proceeded to do. Alas, when I listened to the interview, it was unusable. Perhaps I was holding the microphone too far from Sarah or maybe her voice is much quieter than mine, but you could barely hear her. Combine that with the times each of us wanted a “do-over” and said the same idea twice, along with a fair bit of “ums” and pauses, and the interview was long, disjointed and unusable. 

Enter memories of GarageBand and its ability to edit and enhance audio.  A number of video tutorials later as well as an amazingly helpful assistant at the Apple store and I had two interviews ready to upload. They’re not perfect and occasionally I cut off part of a word, but I am pretty impressed with myself. In fact, I’m looking forward to having more audio to play with and trying to add intro music this time. Having gone way out of my comfort zone to learn a new technology, I am once again amazed at what power we have at our fingertips today.

If you’d like to hear the interviews (no coercion!) here are the links:

First interview

Second interview

I hope you enjoy meeting Sarah as much as I did. 

Share the result of our collaboration with a child in your life

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Should we use plastic bottles?

January 21st, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet

Question:

My daughter is off to college and came home talking about how plastic water bottles, when left out in the sun (like, she said so many markets do) causes the plastic to release cancer causing chemicals. Her answer to this was more stringent regulation against super markets. How would you answered her question on how to handle that?
 
Thanks! I love your podcast and just finished the first 5 chapters of your book (love it) Thou Shall Prosper.

∼ Darryl J.

Answer:

Dear Darryl,
You have a great opportunity to help broaden your daughter’s outlook and help her be a concerned, informed and thoughtful citizen. The downside (or upside, depending on your attitude) of this is that it will take time and effort on your part.

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The windmills of your mind

January 20th, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

You’ll remember how, as children, we sent what we fondly believed to be securely encrypted messages to our friends. The trick was using numbers or symbols in place of letters. Thus, “Dear Joe nice to have seen you yesterday. Are you getting a present for Anne?” could be written something like this: “23 11 4 7   15 19 11   3 22 8 11   14 19 55 4 66 11,” and so on.

We quickly learned how to decode this kind of message. In most English writing, the letter ‘e’ occurs far more frequently than, say, the letters ‘p’ or ‘y’. In my example above, out of 61 letters, the letter ‘e’ shows up a disproportionate 13 times. By substituting an ‘e’ for the most frequently occurring symbol, the message starts to reveal its meaning. The next most frequently found letter in English is T, followed by A. With a few more substitutions the message can be decoded. (more…)

Make Meetings Matter

January 16th, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

In early January we tend to focus on the future. Yet, while New Year’s resolutions are not about reexamining last year’s failures, it is important to remember that there is no moving forward if we fail to integrate our past realities with our future plans. Our past realities shouldn’t haunt us and hinder us. But we do well to recognize them, adjust for them where necessary and reject the notion that they have the power to keep us anchored in an unchangeable present.

What is one of the most powerful tools for moving forward? Make meetings matter. (more…)

Zipper Fashion

January 14th, 2016 Posted by Susan's Musings 15 comments

 

This past weekend, my husband and I had the pleasure of hosting long-time friends who came to our neighborhood to meet the parents of their soon-to-be daughter-in-law. Sharon and I have been friends since first grade, while my husband and David’s close relationship goes back to 1978. The sensitive among you will refrain from examining the math too closely to discover exactly how many years have gone by. Suffice it to say, our conversations range far and wide. 

When we were out walking on Sunday, Sharon and I chatted about needing to buy clothing to adjust to east coast winters.  The topic arose of how zippers on women’s clothing used to be hidden. In fact,  learning how to insert invisible zippers was the bane of sixth grade sewing class. We observed that nowadays zippers feature prominently as integral parts of clothing design. When we concurred that the fashion industry constantly changes, thereby encouraging women to buy new clothing every year, it became clear that the men were listening to our conversation.

“It’s sweet how naive you are,” one of them said while the other nodded his head.  

If you asked me to name four adjectives that describe me, I don’t think that naive would be among my choices. There is much, like profanity, that I choose not to allow into my life, but I’m aware that many things of which I disapprove exist in our society and are rampant. Yet, I had no idea that zippers could present a hidden message that completely eluded me. 

During our friends’ visit, David, who is a passionate  music lover, explained sonata form to us. While my husband and I may enjoy listening to classical music, David ‘gets it’ on an entirely different level. Similarly, he recently shared a video analyzing the artist Vermeer’s masterpieces in a way that completely magnified my appreciation of the painter and his work. Now, it seemed that I also needed him to help me take a deeper look at women’s fashion as well. 

According to the men in our lives, Sharon and I were naive for not recognizing that wide, prominent zippers on women’s clothing send a message to men saying, “Unzip here.” While this may not be meant to be taken literally, subconsciously men’s imaginations are being directed to think of whatever is beneath the impossible-to-miss zip. Certainly, the fashion industry wants women to wear this season’s clothes and tries to make those clothes easily identifiable. That is why different seasons feature different colors, lengths, styles and patterns. I knew that clothes portray an image, whether the sophisticated and feminine look of Kate Middleton or the, masculine look of women’s power suits in the 1980s, and that the styles match the times. Was I completely missing more subtle clues and messages? 

I have long been mystified by the woman who wears a cleavage-revealing top while asserting that she wants to be judged by her mind. The balance between dressing in an attractive vs. seductive manner is one that leads some women to look frumpy while others err in the opposite direction. Yet, if men, who know more about men’s reactions than I do are right, there’s messaging going on that I hadn’t even begun to consider.  Are they right? 

Many other hidden messages are being given all the time. Right now, you can save money while  learning to recognize the messages of socialism disguised as compassion and fairness. Find it all in ancient Jewish wisdom’s exploration of nine verses of Genesis.

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Why are Jews so liberal?

January 14th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet

Question:

Rabbi, my wife and I have been enjoying your Blaze podcasts, and have bought some of your products. Thank you and Susan both for the high quality of the content.
My question is about Jews and liberalism. You are obviously an independent thinker, and appear to hold conservative values. How is it that most Jews seem to be staunch liberals? How can they support liberal agendas if they have been exposed to Ancient Jewish Wisdom?

∼ Robert P.

Answer:

Dear Robert,

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Auf Wiedersehen, Deutschland

January 13th, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Have you ever found yourself pursuing a self-destructive course of action as if propelled by some invisible malignant force? Maybe it was an out of control shopping spree you could ill afford. Or perhaps you lost your temper with a child, threatening draconian penalties that you could never enforce. What of the business professional focused on his needless lawsuit who is more concerned with dominating his foe than in the welfare of his company and its people? What demented determination drives us to follow harmful paths?

You might well ask the same question to the governments of the United Kingdom, Sweden and Germany, to name just three of many European countries that have relentlessly increased the number of disaffected young Muslim men within their borders. Despite colossal increases in the rates of muggings and murders, rapes, robberies and riots, not to mention terrorism committed disproportionately by Moslem migrants, the respective governments strenuously cling to the policies that brought their countries to the very edge of calamity. What mad mood suffuses these governments to make them destroy their societies and ignore their citizens’ best interests? (more…)

DINOs (Democrats in Name Only)

January 7th, 2016 Posted by Susan's Musings 21 comments

We’ve all read a great deal about RINOs. Whether the term is always accurately or judiciously applied, the acronym for Republicans in Name Only has become an oft-used one. Yet, I have never heard of DINOs, though I have met many of them in the past year. 

Who are the Democrats in Name Only whose paths have crossed mine? They are more the mirror image rather than the counterparts of their Republican brethren. While the most basic definition of a RINO might be “a politician, pundit or establishment leader who frequently betrays conservatism and the conservative base,” the DINOs I know are in no way connected to the leadership of the Democrat Party. Instead, they are registered Democrats who ideologically side with the Tea Party more than they do with President Obama or Nancy Pelosi. 

These voters reside in cities and or states that are painted a deep, relentless blue on the electoral map. Despite anomalies such as Republican Larry Hogan’s election as governor of Maryland, these citizens feel that their only chance to influence local elections is to vote in the Democrat primary. They reluctantly and somewhat embarrassedly register with that party, while consistently supporting Republicans and voting for them in November. That is, unless they are dispirited by the supremacy of RINOs in the Republican Party and consequently stay home.

Therein lies the rub. I have no idea how many DINOs exist across the country. I doubt that they rival soccer moms or immigrants in numbers. However, the more that Republican Party poobahs  demand that the party lurch to the left because so many localities fall into the Democrat Party’s column, the less likely conservatives are to attract these voters’ enthusiasm and support. 

Enthusiasm breeds enthusiasm. Even the most ardent RINO surely would admit that support for Mitt Romney was muted. One defining characteristic of a completely out-of-touch Republican today would be someone who thinks the antidote to Jeb Bush’s appalling poll numbers is to recruit Mr. Romney to the race. 

DINOs have relatives, friends and co-workers whose insurance premiums have skyrocketed as their choices of doctors has shrunk, who are disgusted with the Iran deal and the inability of President Obama to acknowledge Islamic terrorism, who think that allowing sixteen-year-old high school boys to declare themselves female and shower with the girls is outrageous. They can’t imagine themselves as anything but Democrat, but many of them even believe that increased gun control is an idea that only those who can afford personal, armed security guards should love. These friends, relatives and co-workers could vote for the Republican candidate in 2016. They could be encouraged to do so by DINOs who are excited about the race. DINO excitement is predicated on a candidate who actually believes in, articulates and is proud of conservative principles. A candidate who will not shrink from attacking the Democrat candidate and who won’t be embarrassed by the Republican base. What a shame if the underground presence of these DINOs contributes to nominating someone in the image of John McCain or Mitt Romney, men whose personalities and candidacies depress conservative eagerness and suppress conservative willingness to openly and vocally support the Republican nominee.  

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