Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Book Review: Code 7- Cracking the Code for an Epic Life

Code 7-Cracking the Code for an Epic Life, by Bryan R. Johnson, is a charming book with seven vignettes that propose situations whereby an elementary, or a middle  school, child could learn, discuss, and articulate actual real life issues they may be presented with in school, and among their friends. They get to see and experience the possible outcomes of choices made by their peers. Moreover, to go along with this intriguing book, there is a website complete with a discussion of the issues presented in theses stories, and a challenge in which any child would like to participate.

If you are looking for a way to connect with your child, or broach subjects of an ethical and moral import, this book is definitely a nice way to begin. It is gentle, easy, and a wholesome way for any child to be led into a discussion over issues that can effect their choices throughout their lives.

Code 7 is the brain child of self-made millionaire and entrepreneur Bryan Johnson, whose personal foundation hopes to

"inspire youth to architect pro-social aspirations and a shared responsibility of our future."

Bryan, himself, attempts to lead a positive and forward looking life. The creativity of his tech company is dedicated to inventors and scientists who aim to benefit humanity through quantum leap discoveries at the operating system, or OS, level.

This book has testimonials from Kirkus Review and Charles BestCEO of Donor's Choose.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Music- Chained to the Rhythm

As I said before, you need to stop and listen to the music...

And Yes this one has been around since February, but I like it.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Wonder Woman...a resounding YES

I will be honest and let everyone know I have not seen any of the comicbook/superhero movies. I was not a fan of the Bat Man movies, even the George Clooney ones, and I had no desire to see any of the updated Superman movies. Christopher Reeve was and will always be Superman to me. I have not really seen either the DC or Marvel films. I may have glimpsed some of them when they were replayed in my house, by the male members of the family, but I really had no desire to see any of them. I will say however, that I have watched the TV show Marvel Agents of Shield and I do enjoy the show Legends of Tomorrow, probably because of the time jumping. So I come to this review as an outsider, someone with very little expectations and very little knowledge about this film genre.

Well let me tell you.! And I don't mean great in the sense that it is highbrow dialogue or tells an involved mystery. It is not an art house film, where you are left talking about the movie for days trying to figure out all the nuances and underlying meaning of every movement or action. This is not an Ingmar Bergman film. I think it is so much more.

Not only is the female lead a strong, intelligent, sweet, and gentle person, but she packs quite a good right hook as well. She is beautiful and powerful. She is kind and she is tough. She has a moral and ethical underpinning, and is not afraid to fight for what is right, good, and best for humanity. Yes, this is the role model you want for your daughters. This is also the role model of a woman you want to show your sons. In fact, all the women in this movie are strong in their own way, whether they are Amazons, or they are women living in the very patriarchal world of WWI England (there is a quick mention of suffragettes and the misogyny of the men is very apparent). Each woman survives in her own way, and brings a selfawareness about who they are and their purpose in life.

What we also see in this movie is the concept of the hero. Not just of Diana, but the simple selfless heroism of the average everyday human being. Here, not only is the superhuman, demiGod the hero, which would be an easy reach for someone with extraordinary power, but those frail and fallible human beings are shown to do great things if they need to. That is after all what being a hero is all about, and why to this day our nations gives out medals and honors to those who go beyond what we think of as our limits as human beings. Bravery above and beyond the call of duty.

It reminds me of those that still serve, and answer when their nation calls. I am reminded of those that do right and good and put themselves into harms way for others. We are reminded that humanity, while there can be darkness, there can also be so much light.

Now I do want to answer some rather idiotic kvetches about the movie. Let me start by saying there are some women who simply need to branch out beyond their own echo chamber. When you can't enjoy a film without having a political meltdown, or fixating on armpit hair, you are doing life wrong.

First they complained about how Wonder Woman is dressed. There are those who are annoyed that she is dressed in armor, and grieves, basically in very classical battle dress. Apparently, these faux-feminists have never seen the pictures of the Amazons drawn on ancient greek pottery. They are dressed in very few clothes, as all soldiers were dressed in the ancient world.

Historically, Amazons first really appear in the story the Iliad. They come to the aide of Troy. They are mentioned as warrior women from the "mountains." Many historians believe that Amazons really existed, and lived near the Black Sea. This would have made them if not Greek/Macedonian, then Serb or Slav.

Those who are offended by how Diana is dressed in the film, have no real background in ancient history, battle garb, nor weaponry. That the movie version may be a little sexier than say, a real life gladiator, well I am sure that in Troy Eric Bana, and Brad Pitt had a little sexified armor as well. In fact, the lack of clothing in Troy on the male stars, was one of the reasons most women I know liked the film. We won't even get into the lack of clothing in the movie 300 with Gerard Butler. And by the way, the Spartans really did wear next to nothing.

Then there is the nonsense, that faux-feminists were insulted that apparently Diana wouldn't want to save the world without having a romantic relationship with a man. The movie played the romance up really sweetly. It was innocent, and it was gentle. It was respectful. It was a new idea and experience for Diana. There was nothing wrong with it. Her innocence was refreshing and his respect for her lovely. The entire movie was about Diana's love for humanity and her hopes for humanity's future. Love becomes her ultimate strength.

Is it not the love that we have for our families, and especially our children that propels us to do extraordinary things so their world will be better? (Some complained that she was overjoyed to see a baby, too. They have no babies on her island.) Do we not fight for those we love, so that they may live the lives of joy and happiness that they are entitled to live? Diana, because she had no experience with the world of mankind, needed romance to understand ultimately what it is to be human. She needed to understand what humanity fights for, and what ultimately gives us the strength to fight another day.

And yes, if there is a movie with Chris Pines in it, there has to be a romantic angle. We may all like strong women characters, but let's be honest, we strong women, also like really cute men.

If you want to see a thoroughly enjoyable movie, that has a nice message, and shows a strong woman character this is the movie for you.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

On Memorial Day: Remind Your Children That Brave Patriots Died to Defend Freedom, Not the Cowards Right to Punch Someone Withwhom They Disagree

Well, society seems to continue to diminish itself in the era of Trump. Apparently, a republican candidate for Congress from Montana decided that he did not like the questions a reporter from The Guardian was asking him and decided to respond by body-slamming the reporter, and then proceeding to punch him once he was down on the ground. Our illustrious President responded the next day, when the criminally charged GOPer won his race, to congratulate him on his win without any mention of the felonious incident.

You could actually say that Trump's job as head of the Republican Party is to unify every GOPer and to promote those that win their House seats. On the other hand, he is also the head of the country and somehow it just seems disgusting that he did not mention the attack. It is immaterial that the republican apologized the next day. Of course he apologized, he is facing jail time. Hopefully he will spend some time in prison before heading to Capital Hill. On the other hand, if he thinks being a bully is how to get things done, then he is going to meet his match in Congress. In fact, I would hazard a guess that he is going to be a little bully in a very big bully pond.

Of course, a few days before the GOPer body-slamming show, the thugs who call themselves bodyguards of the President of Turkey, also attacked peaceful protestors outside the Turkish embassy and Trump also said and did nothing. In fact, he greeted Erdogan with aplomb and his State Department never even mentioned the incident or took action against Turkey. In most cases, the ambassador would have been brought it and given a dressing down or asked to remove himself from the country until there was an apology or financial compensation to the victims. I remind you that Turkey removed it's ambassador from Israel after the Mavi Marmara incident and refused to send him back until Israel paid compensation. That those on board were terrorists, or terror supporters, trying to break the blockade of Hamas controlled Gaza, didn't seem to matter much, not to Turkey or to the Obama administration. Israel, at the behest of the Obama administration, ended up paying compensation. Now we found out last month that one of those compensated was arrested on terrorism charges in the UK. So much for Israel being wrong in protecting it's boarder.

But the point of the matter is that there are international norms that should be followed and when someone steps outside those norms in another country, diplomatic immunity or not, there are ways for the offended nation to air it's grievance. But apparently the Trump administration feels it's just fine if peaceful US protestors are violently attacked, and if reporters, exercising their first amendment rights are assaulted as well.

But what does this mean for our children? How do we explain to our autistic children, who have issues with social norms to begin with, that someone elected to public office thinks it's ok to punch another person or that the President of the USA turns a blind eye, and that they are still in their offices, at their jobs, and people elected them despite their illegal actions.

As I have mentioned before, Trump is the example of DO NOT for our children. It is sad really when you think about it. The President is someone you are supposed to teach your child to respect. You don't have to agree with him, but you should respect him. Well if not him, at least the Office of the President of the United States. Unfortunately, even respecting that office is becoming a hard thing to do. That a Congressperson is a jerk, like the new one from Montana, isn't really going to effect anything. Congress has a 9% favorable rating at the moment. They really don't have much farther down to go.

Of course the real question is, after this incident, how did anyone actually vote for the  person with anger management issues? Heck, if you punched someone at your job, not only would they call the police, but you can bet, you would loose your position, not be given a raise. In fact, autistic children as young as 5, who assault people in school, have been arrested. Parents are taken into family court and even threatened with loosing custody of their children, if a child is such a miscreant that the police need to be called to school. So how does anyone in society vote a violent person into Congress?

One person actually answered ..."who hasn't made a mistake?" It brings to mind when Jesus asked, "who here is without sin, let them cast the first stone." Now to point out the obvious, but neither the newly elected congressman from Montana nor the jackass that voted for him are Jesus. In fact, I would actually have to think that Jesus might not have voted for the violent guy, but would have sought the more peaceful inner reflective person as his representative. But hey, I'm Jewish so what do I know?

The truth of the matter is that we need people in Congress who have the ability to negotiate, and deal with the press. We have a right to have the press give them a hard time. They do not have the right to skirt answers, refuse to comply, nor do they have a right to ignore the Bill of Rights. If those elected to Congress cannot function in the limelight to which they have aspired, then they have no right to that position.  No one asked that man to run. We do not need another jerk in Congress. But perhaps he is more emblematic of those that elected him, and that is why so much of what we hold dear in this country is in danger.

Whether it is the right or the left that is acting, violence seems to be the way most people are handling political discourse in today's day and age. Whether it is the Leftist students attacking speakers, as what happened in Middlebury College or the riots of the antiFa crowd at Berkley or during the Presidential inauguration,  regressive leftists have decided that they have a right to be violent if they are displeased. We also saw riots in Ferguson, Missouri, which people decided to excuse, rather than hold them up to the standard of MLK. (P.S. don't say that I don't support the concept of Black Lives Matter. I do. What I don't support is the violence, and the antisemitism of their platform. Moreover, the civil rights protestors of the 1960s had it unthinkably worse than today and they never devolved into violence. Those ignoble actions were left up to the race-haters. But riots (Watts, Detroit, DC) did occur and society did not excuse them. Society attempted to address the issues presented, but people were held to account for their actions.)

Now what did the world think was going to happen in the longrun when it excused the violent actions of the Regressive Left? Did they think that the Left was going to continue to attack people and that the Right was not going to do the same? Simply because you decide that you have a right to #punchnazis doesn't mean you do, and doesn't mean in the USA, with freedom of speech, that you have a right to curtail anyone else's speech. The way civilized nations behave, when faced with political challenge, is to argue, and debate. If you have the need to hit someone because of how they think, then you automatically loose by your actions. You never even have to say a word. And remember, we do not have laws in the US that prevent someone from speaking their mind, no matter how hateful or stupid. Freedom of speech is not for the coward nor for the light of heart. Stand by your convictions. Shout at the top of your lungs so others can hear you. That is how it is done. Being afraid of words and challenging those words is how you stop hate. Laws curtailing speech is not how to fight hate. When you send hate underground eventually it does rise to the top. The history of the 20th century is replete with those examples.

So what are we to do in a world that have both extremes deciding that they get to be violent? What do we do in a world where the President thinks its ok to behave like a fascist goon? What do we do in a world that has decided that those without any modicum of civility are the people to follow?

Honestly, on a worldwide scale, not very much. You can't control the actions of the world, you can only control what you do and what you teach your children. Teach your children to speak their mind. To stand by their convictions and above all, make certain they read the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

This Memorial Day remind your children that those that died, died to protect their right to speak their mind and to defend their convictions. Our American Patriots died for :

Freedom of religion
Freedom of speech
Right to assembly
Right to petition the government
Freedom of the press

No American patriot died so that the President or Congresspersons can attack these rights. Remind your children who they are and where they come from. Remind them of the sacrifices of past generations. Remind them that they owe it to the future, to ensure that democratic norms remain and that a leader who disdains decency is a blip on the radar, not a harbinger of the future.

Memorial Day

We sleep well at night because rough men [and women] stand ready to do violence in our name…George Orwell