And life flows on, within you and without you…On turning 70

And life flows on, within you and without you…On turning 70

And still being a productive member of society.  Today is my 70th birthday, and I don’t feel a day over 69!  Today was a day much like any other.  Wake up at 5:10AM, dress, eat breakfast (after feeding the owner), leave for work and arrive at 6:00 on the dot.  Do my normal job, fend off dozens of emails, place some orders…  We have a “birthday meeting” in our department, and the birthday person gets their choice of sweets.  We had my favorite pineapple, and 2-bite cupcakes.  And nobody sang Happy Birthday.  Well, not until after work, when we went to a great local Chinese restaurant for Happy (birthday) Hour.  That was fun, and my boss, and her boss both came.

I simply can’t imagine being retired, and not earning my keep.  I love my work, and I learn something every day.  I help solve problems, and keep the company running.  It just feels great to be valued.  I don’t want to stop working, and have to live off others, even if I’ve earned it.  I like making my own decisions, and having something to get up for in the morning.  I’m on the Clint Eastwood Retirement Plan.  He is over 90, and still working at his trade, directing and starring in movies.  When he retires, maybe I’ll think about it.

Or, maybe I’ll continue on the Rabbi Daniel Lapin Retirement Program.  Don’t.

Want to join my Network on LinkedIn? No Mainland Chinese Citizens Accepted.

China.Is.A.Communist.Country.

I do not voluntarily deal with those who live in Communist, totalitarian, countries.  I refuse to buy a product of a Chinese company.  I won’t buy a Volvo car (Volvo is owned by Chinese company Geely).  I would not buy a Chinese-branded phone (Xiaomi or Oppo).  I currently have a long-term-care insurance policy from Genworth.  There is a Chinese company trying to buy them, and if they succeed, I will seriously consider dropping my policy that I have paid into for nearly 20 years.  I will never visit China, for any reason, no matter how beautiful it might be.  I am well aware of the total social control emerging in China, with facial-recognition systems deployed everywhere.  China denies its people access to the world-wide Internet; maintaining its Great Firewall of China. And no matter how strenuously the managers at Huawei deny that they would never use their Internet-backbone products to spy on another country, I know that to be a lie.  Any company in China is required to allow the Communist Party access to its products.

I don’t deal with countries who kidnap their people abroad and take them back to China to prison.  I don’t deal with countries who arrest booksellers.  I don’t deal with countries who murder their own people for speaking their minds.  No matter how economically prosperous China might seem, it is still a Communist country, with a state-planned economy.  China should never have been admitted to the World Trade Organization, and I advocate their immediate expulsion.  China has a world-domination agenda, and I believe they should be strenuously combated everywhere.

I only joined LinkedIn in the first place because I was constantly being hounded by out-of-work friends (even though my own company was not hiring).  And, funny thing, I get requests regularly from people all over the world wanting to “join my network”.  It’s nice to be thought of as having a valuable network, but I pay little attention to LinkedIn.  And I wish they had a “Refuse” button to go along with the “Accept” button.  But there is none, and I simply delete requests by those who I have no interest in knowing.  That includes every request from anyone in China.

Dispatches from the NW Loony Bin, AKA Seattle

Dispatches from the NW Loony Bin, AKA Seattle

Sometimes it seems like the residents of Seattle are completely detached from reality.  While those of us in the real world are hard at work at our jobs, Seattleites are rallying in the streets, protesting Chase Bank’s “Alleged Fossil-Fuel Investments“.  Please enlighten me.  Why, pray tell, would anyone give a rat’s ass whether a bank has fossil-fuel investments?  The said bank isn’t even headquartered in Seattle!  Maybe what they’re really protesting is the bankruptcy of the Seattle institution, Washington Mutual, in the 2008 financial crisis.  Chase bought WaMu out of bankruptcy, and the locals have never quite forgiven them for it.  But ANY institution with any kind of “fossil-fuel” ties gets protested around here.

And then, there’s the story of employees at Seattle’s second-largest employer, Amazon.com, who are irked by Amazon’s “growing ties to the oil industry“.  Just like with the Google employees’ protesting their employer’s work for the US Military, Amazon employees think it’s actually their business whether Amazon works with the oil industry!  These inmates seem to think they run the asylum.  I sure hope Amazon management lets them know that they do not, and it’s really none of their business who Amazon customers are.  They are just acting like the spoiled brats they are.

In the Dubious Distinction category, Seattle has made the list of the most drunken driving cities.  Maybe the drivers in Seattle get really tired of all the traffic congestion, due to city government’s efforts to get them out of their cars and into government transportation, so they just get drunk.

And, finally, in the Entitled Inmates Thinking They Own the Asylum category, residents of one of the “tiny house villages” for the homeless in Seattle locked out workers from the City government, and employees of the contractor who runs the Village.  These residents think they OWN the place, when they are really living there at the expense of the taxpayers of the city of Seattle.  Oh, I actually think the City Council forgets they are spending the taxpayers’ money, and not their own!

Are you worried about how Facebook and Google use data they collect about you?

Are you worried about how Facebook and Google use data they collect about you?

That will seem like elementary school, compared to the new tie-up between two financial-data providers.  Be afraid, be VERY afraid.  You voluntarily sign up for a Facebook account, and you make a conscious decision to use Google products, like internet search, Gmail, and YouTube.  You can decline to use Facebook, and there are alternate search engines (I only use DuckDuckGo now).

But you, as a consumer, have NO say in how your bank, credit union, or credit card companies report your intimate financial data to the Big Three Credit Bureaus.  In fact, I’d hazard a guess that most Americans don’t even know that there are three, or what their names are.  I’d also hazard a guess that most people paid very little attention to the huge data-breach at one of those credit bureaus a couple of years ago.  Unbeknownst to most of the victims whose financial data were stolen, Equifax mostly notified big financial institutions, and did not suffer much reputational damage.  I read the Wall Street Journal religiously, so I was able to follow the story closely.  I’ll bet you didn’t.

Every time you apply for any kind of credit, from a department store, to an oil company or credit card company; to a bank for a mortgage or auto loan; those companies pull your “credit report” from one or all three of the big credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, or Experian).  And do they ask you if you want them to pull your report?  Or do they tell you that your information is provided to the bureaus, and retrieved from them, without your knowledge or consent?  Of course they don’t.

Those three companies are the biggest repositories of data about you, that you have never heard of, and probably don’t pay much attention to.  Well, just recently, two companies, Equifax and Fair-Isaac (the company that invented the FICO score, which determines credit-worthiness), have teamed up to SELL CONSUMER DATA TO BANKS.  Yes, that is you that they are selling to banks.  And did they bother to ask you if you wanted them to sell you?  Nope.

Because you are not their customer.  You aren’t even the end user.  You are just the product.  Now, do you have any information about the security of all this data they are selling about you?  Are you aware of any protections they offer, for your valuable financial data?  Nope, because they don’t offer any.  In this age of constant exposure of you, your family, your friends, and your accounts on social media, most people don’t give any thought to the potential repercussions from cyber-thieves getting ahold of all this information about you.  After the big Equifax breach in 2017, the company offered free “credit-watch” services for awhile, but didn’t contact everyone whose data were stolen, and the worst effect they suffered was their CEO finally resigned, months later.  Personally, I am alarmed at the offhanded way these companies play fast and loose with your data, and make lots of money off of selling you to all their real customers.  Why should I have to go through all the conniptions to freeze my credit files, and all the effort to correct errors in a file I had NO say in at all?

So it might behoove you to get more informed about who has your data, and why.  Ask who determines your fitness to be granted credit, and how.  Ask what data your bank reports to the credit bureaus, and if you can see it.  Pull your own credit score from EACH of the big three at least once a year, and make them correct any errors you find.  Just keep your eyes open, and take care with your credit, because no one else will.

I believe Islam is Evil…

I believe Islam is Evil…

…but I find myself in sympathy with a particular group of Muslims, whose culture is facing extinction.  Over the last year, I have been reading in the Wall Street Journal about how China is closely observing all its people, placing cameras equipped with cutting-edge facial-recognition software, wherever the people are.  China is building a ubiquitous “social credit” system for ALL its people, where they are continually observed at every activity, work and play, and judged for worthiness.  Those deemed unworthy are denied jobs, the ability to travel, and other benefits of life.  This horrifies me.

But the group who has been feeling these effects the most are the Uighurs, a Muslim group that lives in Western China’s Xinjiang Province.  The Communist Han Chinese government deeply fears these Muslims, and thinks of them as terrorists.  So many Uighurs have been literally placed in concentration camps; removed from their homes and detained against their will.  Their mosques that haven’t been torn down, have been abandoned, and they are not permitted to communicate with friends or family outside (and even inside) China.  The malevolent Chinese Communists call these camps “vocational education centers“.  Ha!  Uighur neighborhoods are still and silent, and the people left there are afraid to worship, or venture very far from home.

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The Communist Chinese are pretty good at this sort of thing.  Remember the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s?  Where children turned in their parents to the authorities, and intellectuals were sent to collective farms in the countryside for “re-education”.  An entire generation of Chinese was subjected to stunted development.  And how about Tibet?  Since being conquered by China, it has become a shadow of its former self, its people subjugated, their culture denied.

All in all, the Chinese Uighurs have actually been pretty peaceful, and not nearly as bloodthirsty as their Arab co-religionists.  But the ChiComs can have NO hint of difference or rebellion inside their borders, so they ruthlessly destroy the millennium-old culture of its smaller ethnic groups.  Han Chinese move into and take over the homelands of the Uighur, leaving their cities nearly unrecognizable.

I still think that Islam is Evil, but what the Chinese are doing to their Muslim minority is purely criminal, and Evil in itself.  Many in the modern world think of China as the world’s biggest market for exports, or as an exotic vacation destination.  Knowing what I do about how China treats its own people, I would never, ever go to China, for any reason.  They should not get any Western tourist dollars, which just help perpetuate the evil.  They certainly won’t be getting any of my dollars.

I LOVE this Ricochet Post, so I’m re-blogging it here. “Insulting Jews Everywhere, a Call to Congress”

I LOVE this Ricochet Post, so I’m re-blogging it here.  “Insulting Jews Everywhere, a Call to Congress”

Last week’s wimpy resolution against “hate” brought this excellent response from a Jewish friend.  I 100% agree.  Do you?

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Dear Members of Congress,

You should be embarrassed by your lack of courage regarding the anti-Semitism resolution that has been proposed, and apologize to Jews everywhere. How could you even think of changing the resolution to include every single group discriminated against? I am insulted and disgusted by your decisions to consider these changes, since you are either politically stupid or historically uneducated. Let me explain why:

First, to equate anti-Semitism with any other group that is discriminated against is ludicrous. We are not just talking about discrimination: we are talking about centuries of murder, torture, isolation, hatred, marginalizing and rejecting the Jews. Centuries. Every other group in America pales historically in comparison in several ways. Tell me about the centuries of hatred against LGBTQ communities; explain how blacks in this country were victims of hatred in the United States more than 500 years ago (since they weren’t a slave population in this country before then).

Second, Judaism is one basis of the founding of this country. Its values, morals and ethics have become the basis of Christianity and Islam. Isn’t it finally due some public support in our times by condemning those who would destroy or marginalize us?

Third, anti-Semitism is alive and well in almost every country in the world, whether you are talking about Europe, Asia or Africa. Jews have often been the scapegoat of choice for 4,000 years, by nearly every religion and every civilization. Unlike many other groups, I speak as a Jew who refuses to speak about being victimized; instead, I speak the truth. I acknowledge the anti-Semitism I’ve experienced, and I choose to rise above it, rather than blame all of society for this treatment. I don’t expect special favors, reparations, or any kind of compensation. I will take care of myself, thank you.

But when societies begin to show signs (including the U.S.) of increased anti-Semitic activity, I become concerned. Individual anti-Semitic acts are one thing; organized groups determined to spew their hatred on Jews, just because they are Jews. must be called out. These other groups that have been named have plenty of advocates, at political, cultural and educational levels. Where are the champions of the Jews?

I was comforted and proud that the U.S. was going to make a stand against anti-Semitism, as we see growing polarization, groups segregating themselves and aligning against Jews in particular. I understand that the resolution has no legal power. At the same time, we would be making a statement not just to Americans but to the world that we will not stand for anti-Semitism. Other groups have already spoken out for their constituency. Who will speak out for Jews?

I still hope that when the resolution is finalized and announced, politics are put aside. That extremists are discredited. And that wisdom, justice and compassion reign. That we condemn only anti-Semitism for this resolution.

Please don’t disappoint me.

P.S. Don’t bother to mention Ms. Omar; just censure her and remove her from committees. I don’t want her scapegoated in this resolution and thus make her a martyr.

Some of the many Jewish members of Congress halfheartedly opposed this watered-down denunciation of bigotry, but still added their names to it.  Like I have said many times, modern Jews are Liberals first, and everything else, even Jewish, later.