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Showing posts from October, 2017

Godliness & Forced Religion -- They Cannot Coexist

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As an emanation of holiness our souls are naturally tied to God and long to be one with His oneness.

It therefore follows that we do not need to be compelled to bathe in His light.

In fact, it's just the opposite.

We innately seek out His presence.

Without God in our lives, we fall into depression. Despair.

Without a higher presence overseeing all that goes on, the suffering of this world is incomprehensible.

Without the knowledge that there is an end to all of it, that justice will eventually occur, how can one even function?

The answer is this: Without God, all there is, is nothingness. As it says in Genesis, before God created the world it was "without form," meaning that no physical thing was distinguishable from any other thing. It was also "void," meaning that there was no substance to it, no meaning in it -- nothing.

Many years ago I went to the Lubavitcher Rebbe for a blessing. I was the type of person people called "intense," and while that …

10 Reasons I Continue To Strongly Support President Trump

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Believes sincerely in God and that his Presidency is a service of faith first.Affirms that life begins at conception and will work to end unrestricted abortion rights.Patriotism and respect for our Nation, its history and values.Speaks truth to power, being an independent President, bowing before no man, not playing Washington, DC's internal games; targeting corruption, speaking out about those who abuse public office for private gain.Is decimating ISIS, promoting national defense, symbolizing strength and resolve.Seeks at all times unity despite our differences, working across the aisle to achieve results.Is achieving economic growth, bringing jobs back to the USA, emphasizing manufacturing and middle-class prosperity; emphasizing tax reform.Promotes block grants to the states for healthcare, rather than inserting the federal government into the equation unnecessarily.Is actively and visibly going after after human traffickers, child sex traffickers, and pedophiles, including ped…

Some Reflections On Jewish Love & Marriage

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I graduated Bruriah High School, a religious yeshiva for girls, in 1987. Some of the graduating seniors got married right away. To me it was sort of a marvel, how quickly they sealed up their lives.

A lot of girls went to seminary for a year. That wasn't my plan; I wanted to get to college and out of the petri dish that was my insular little world. They used to joke that I took "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" because I loved New York City so much, and in particular Greenwich Village. And would go there as much as I could.

In my mind I was a feminist. Ask anyone who went to high school with me and they will tell you that I talked about Gloria Steinem all the time. For me, that was feminism.

As a feminist I did not want to get married. I believed, when I was young, that marriage -- or traditional marriage anyway -- singularly destroys women. That was the message I got, overtly and covertly, from any sort of feminist media.

But it is your unconscious mind that guides you. A…

“The Walking Dead” Premiere: Communicating Through Uncertainty

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I've been watching The Walking Dead for many years. After the season premiere last night, I was prompted to think about leadership. More specifically, how leaders talk to the people during times of uncertainty. Sheriff Rick and the crew were clearly outgunned and outnumbered, by the terrifying Negan and his gang. Sure, they had a plan to fight -- but no way of knowing if they would make it.In real life, sometimes leaders think -- because they're paid to have or get the answers -- that if you don't know what's going on, or if you can't take control of it, then better to just keep quiet.But having been a child of uncertainty -- my dad is an IT consultant, and we moved every year for a decade -- I can tell you that *not talking about things* rarely is a good strategy. Children are by nature helpless, and so they watch their parents for cues. If they don't get the needed information, they will make something up in their heads. When something goes wrong, in the absen…

If Rapists Rape Anyway, Why Be Modest?

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The deadly gang MS-13 uses the slogan "Kill, Rape, Control."

ISIS, a gang of terrorists that promotes murdering "unbelievers," also helped itself to sex slaves.

In the war in Bosnia in the early '90s, Muslim girls were taken as sex slaves en masse.

During the Holocaust, Jewish women were raped in the camps -- gang-raped, their bodies ripped to shreds inside and out.

Rape happens to 12 year old girls in strict religious communities.

It also happens to totally sheltered boys.

It happens to homeless kids.

It happens to movie stars.

It happens to toddlers and it happens to infants. The FBI just rescued a 3 month old and a 5 year old  sold for sex for a total of $600.

Why do rapists rape? Lots of reasons, but the short answer is because they want to and they can.

They know their victims, and they do it over and over again.

Modesty does not deter them.

So why be modest, then?

Not to prevent rape.

For a Jew, modesty is part and parcel of our value system.

It's abou…

8 Key Points About Agency Messaging

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This morning, October 17, 2017, I attended an excellent lecture by Prof. Lara Shane, a faculty member at American University. Prof. Shane is a top-caliber professional -- an alumnus of the Department of Homeland Security, CBS News, and the Partnership for Public Service, which cosponsored the event with the Federal Communicators Network.

The point of the lecture was to help communicators understand the concept of messaging. Although I think most of us know what that is by now, even to the point of excess, it is helpful to have a very seasoned, qualified and intelligent federal communicator break it down in a logical and step-by-step manner.

Prof. Shane incorporated concepts from Chip and Dan Heath's book Made to Stick, and she used a live example of dense government-style writing to show what many of us do wrong.

Professor Shane's Most Important Quotes
"Helping the American public is our ultimate goal.""Just because we're communicating doesn't mean we do it…

#MeToo: "Isn't It Enough Already?"

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I think the worst thing about my most recent experience of sexual harassment was the shock.

I mean, I was literally just sitting there.

I thought we were talking about a report.

Until the words rang out in the air: "I think that you should lay it out like a Playboy."

Before that my colleague noticed something a bit off in the superior's behavior.

"You should be looking at her, not me," he said. "After all, it's her report."

I noticed that I was getting yelled at quite a lot, but I thought maybe it's because I'm annoying.

After the comment, I was literally stunned.

I stumbled out into the hallway, and, one at a time, I told people.

Nobody suggested I report it.

I, myself, had no desire for any trouble.

The injustice of it all burned in my cheeks, in my ears. It coursed throughout my entire body.

A couple of weeks went by and I still had to work on the report.

One day I received an email.

It contained a message highly critical of my work th…

The Sad Subtext of "Menashe"

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This isn't a movie review, because you can read that elsewhere. These are just a couple of thoughts on an outstanding film that I feel personally connected to, having grown up around some elements of the plot and the characters.

Briefly, Menashe tells the story of a Hasid from Williamsburg who is estranged from his son by the community, following on the death of his wife. That decision was made by a rabbi (the "Ruv") to whom everyone goes for advice, encouragement, support and leadership, and to settle conflicts as they occur.

The luminosity of this movie is that you are plunged right into the world of this community. The downside is that you aren't getting a total and complete picture, because some of the negative elements are downsized, minimized, or eliminated altogether.

Not that it is the responsibility of the moviemaker to produce a documentary. Not that he has to make you love or hate them.

I feel love for this community. I love the ideal of putting God first…

Hollywood Has A Human Trafficking Problem

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The Hollywood problem is not Jewish men, it is not gay men, it is not opportunistic immodest women. It is human trafficking.

Over the past few days, a picture of Hollywood has emerged as the result of countless actors stepping forward. We see an organized network of people, seeking financial gain, who use the lure of work to defraud other people--women, men, and minors--into sexual activity. 
Here's how the scam seems to work: Invite the victim, typically through an agent or assistant, to a location where they will "discuss" a project;Possibly, provide alcohol or other inebriating substance;Lure the victim from a public to an isolated space;Initiate a verbal and/or physical attack;Issue some kind of coercive threat to keep the victim silent--bodily harm, harm to one's career, legal difficulties, etc.;Bring into the discussion the idea of a network, e.g. "if you cross me, you'll never work in this town again;Possibly, engage an agent to "continue the con…

On The Belief That Some Women Deserve It

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I don't have to look very far to find victims, or the people who think they deserved it.

Many of them seem to think so, too.

There's the girl I knew who was taken from the playground and "something happened" to her. She disappeared from school, never to be heard from again.

No, she was just a kid.

There's the one who was sitting at home when the doorbell rang. The guy said he was "from the power company." 

She opened the door and he lunged. 

Should have checked his ID under the door. 

Should have called the power company.

Shouldn't have answered the door at all.

Another one had a dinner party and one guest stayed after the other people had left.

She knew him, he was "a nice guy."

But he overcame her.

Shouldn't have had a guy over to her home.

Shouldn't have been there with him alone.

Having a male in your home, when you're female, is an invitation to have sex.

Yet another person joined the military.

The only girl in the unit.

Attacked when she …

How Poor Government Communication Strategy Fuels Paranoia

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By and large, Americans in 2017 have a fairly negative perception of government–and things are far worse than they were 20 years ago. The government's failure to adapt its communication approach to reality is only making things worse.

Let's take a look at some data.

A Pew Research Center survey of 1,501 adults age 18+ nationwide, conducted April 5-11, 2017, asked people to pick one of three words that "best describes" their feelings about the government--"basically content," "frustrated," or "angry." To enable a comparison of data over time, Pew has repeated this survey annually.

Since 1997, the likelihood of describing oneself as "frustrated" has remained pretty much static, at slightly more than half (55% now, 56% then). But the likelihood of calling oneself "basically content" with the government is statistically much lower, with 29% choosing this word in 1997 versus only 19% in 2017. Meanwhile, the level of anger has…

Updated: Donald Trump and Harvey Weinstein: Are They Really So Different?

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On October 5, 2017,The New York Times published an in-depth investigation of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, with a focus on his alleged sexual harassment of young women over a period of many years, and "at least" eight settlements reached, presumably at the cost of the victims' silence.

The article features an interview with superstar Ashley Judd, who says he tricked her into a breakfast meeting that quickly turned into a protracted verbal tussle. How about a massage? Would she watch him take a shower?

“I said no, a lot of ways, a lot of times, and he always came back at me with some new ask," said Judd of the encounter.

Weinstein promptly fired back, positioning himself as essentially a good guy who has been stabbed in the back by a troubled friend. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, he deftly:

Calls her crazy: Brings up Judd's history of prior sexual abuse and "brutal" life story -- i.e., she's confusing a friend with an enemy.Cal…

The 10 Elements of Free Speech on Campus

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The purpose of this post is to highlight the main points of the University of Chicago’s 2012 “Statement Of Principles On Free Inquiry,” later published as its “Statement Of Principles On Free Expression.” Vision: The purpose of a university is “free and open inquiry in all matters.”Mission: Therefore “it guarantees all members of the University community the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge and learn.”Limits: This is not an “absolute” right.Common sense: Exceptions may include “expression, for example, that violates the law, is threatening, harassing, or defamatory, or invades substantial privacy or confidentiality interests.”Operations: “Moreover, the University may reasonably regulate the time, place and manner of expression to ensure that it does not disrupt the ordinary activities of the University.”No Paternalism: Despite the need for some restrictions, “the University is committed to the principle that it may not restrict debate or deliberation becau…