Pinterest Page for My Favorite Thriller Book Authors

Who are your favorite Thriller Book Authors?

All month long in February I will be adding Pins to my new Pinterest Board where I am going to catalog all the thriller book authors of novels I have been reading these last few years. I don't think anyone has ever created a collage of Authors this way. Most of the time, I see books getting posted and book covers. But not the authors themselves.

As well, I am going to try to stave of Alzheimers and push my memory to the limits to see if I can recall the first time I encountered each of these offers. If my brain doesn't explode, this might be fun.

My first Pinterest Thriller Books Board

The first book related Pinterest Board is for Book Thriller Authors:

For book reviews, I'll be updating over the next few months as well.

Here are some of the best authors I have ever read. And this list will be growing.

  • Ken Follett
  • Lee Child
  • Mickey Spillane
  • Robert Ludlum


Favorite Dishes at Los Angeles Kosher Restaurants

Here are my favoritate dishes at local kosher restaurants and bakeries in Los Angeles

  1. LA Gondola:


    1. Duck Salad
    2. Bar B Que Ribs
    3. Maple Bacon (fake of course)
  2. Jeff's Gourmet Sausages


    1. Veal Knockwurst (its got its own special bun too)
  3. Mexi Kosher


    1. The hamburger special. only a few days per week. It's made from 3 types of meat (e.g. prime rib). They don't bother with lettuce and tomato. Its a fantastic bun. A huge double burger. And fries. and they roll on crushed onions fried in duck fat.
  4. Pats


    1. The Baca Grande is a gigantic steak for two. only a few nights per week
  5. Nagila Pizza


    1. A slice with fried eggplant. i could eat this every day.
  6. Eilat Bakery


    1. The Eilat salad. its got cranberrys, lettuce, pears, feta cheese …
    2. The blueberry danish. sometimes you have to go old school.
  7. Delice Bakery


    1. Just a plain chocolate croissant. We traveled all over Paris and this was still better.
  8. Ditmas


    1. the food is all fine but the Brownie for desert is heavenly.
  9. Got Kosher


    1. Veggie burger is the best I have ever eaten. and the fries are top notch too
  10. Pico Kosher Deli


    1. The Turkey Club sandwich. its a double decker on white toast with fried pastrami and turkey. ask for grilled onions to be shoved inside. best deli sandwich i ever ate. only eat it 2x per year.
  11. Shilos


    1. TBD. i know the bbq sandwich is good. and so are the fries. but i am trying to go to the next level.
  12. The Fish Grill


    1. Fish and chips. why the heck not.

Did Trump Really Lose The Healthcare Vote? A Contrarian’s Long-term View

I wish I had an eidetic memory where I could recall things I read more easily. People who know me well, can tell you that they always see me with a book, even when walking on the street. Not sure why I read so much since I forget most of it soon thereafter. I think though the reason I keep going is that some things stick and they inform my perspectives. I don’t ever proclaim to be really good with the details and fine points and tend to stick to the big picture. I write all this by way of introducing a somewhat controversial position – that this Healthcare Bill vote/non-vote on Friday was a win-win for Trump.

Let me explain why.

The first step is understanding what Trump means when he says he’s an “excellent negotiator” who is going to negotiate a great deal for America. The newspapers and news channels will try to impose their editorial analysis on their readers/viewers and attempt to pigeonhole Trump into a corner by writing about “events” in a vacuum as if each event is its own negotiation. It’s a big mistake if you fall for this.

Negotiations are about a series of events that lead to a big event. The vote on Friday is in my view just another micro-event in the larger negotiation to reform Obamacare.

The first flaw in going down the rabbit hole of trusting the media, is forgetting that the media’s #1 goal is to make money. This imposes a bias on the media to spin the facts in the best way it can to sell ads. I don’t want to sound so negative and depressing. But ultimately the media will always look to spark a controversy because nothing spells the doom of media like boring news. Once you accept that you have to read and watch the news thru this “bias filter” it really changes how you interpret what you are reading and watching.

Here’s an example from the last two weeks with Jason Greenblatt who is the US Special Envoy to Israel. To be clear I knew Jason as a kid. I knew him in college. His brother was my counselor. I even knew him before he went by Jason and used his Hebrew name. We go way back. But I didn’t need to know him to know that the media was misrepresenting his recent trip to Israel. Here’s what I mean.

Did you see all the big headlines that Greenblatt is an enemy of Israel and he’s bringing back the two-State solution? If you carefully read the articles and applied the bias filter, you could see that the correspondents and professional “opinionators” were stoking fires and twisting facts to suit their agendas to grab attention and sell ads. The media took the fact that he visited with Abbas as a vote of confidence in a two-state solution. Greenblatt never said he was supporting a one-state or two-state solution.

Trump of course – as he has said numerous times during his candidacy – is not signaling his intentions yet (and this is where I am going with this article btw). And yet the media was quick to pounce on Greenblatt with their own interpretations they tried to ram down our throats that his meetings “clearly indicate his and the Administration’s re-awakening of a two-state solution.” I wake up some days and wonder if people understand that the media is often just a big hoax preying on the fears, concerns and frustrations of people.

So let’s get back to Trump and his current failure to overturn Obamacare.

If you look at all the media coverage, it looks like Trump is going down the toilet. If you talk to friends who absorb this media coverage as naturally as a member of a Kiddush club downs a nice shot of 16 year old Balvenie, then it also looks like Trump’s first 100 days are a disaster. How quickly people forget that during the entire negotiation of running for President and winning the Job (biggest negotiation ever) the Media was totally embarrassed election night as all the polls and surveys and confidence numbers were just flat out wrong.

If one is able to apply the bias filter and look at current events through a telescope that give you access to seeing the big picture instead of a microscope that focuses on each event at a cellular level in a vacuum (I thank my Dad for this wonderful analogy), a very different picture emerges. Sort of like the difference between taking a digital photo and a Polaroid Snap. Instead of the instant image you see with a digital photo, the reemergence of the Polaroid snap gives you time to watch the picture develop. It gives you some time to see the colors and images unfold. In the real world the analogy is like taking the time to think about the context of each event (what came before and what might come after). Once you pause and pull out your telescope, all of a sudden the microscopic and biased media analysis becomes much less relevant and compelling.

If you think about Trump’s most important issues in terms of “change”, clearly Obamacare is a big ticket item. But so is the Wall in Mexico (and immigration overall), tax reform, the Middle East, and in general just cleaning up Washington. Even Kasich was on CNN today in the most animated I’ve ever seen him, ranting about how we are not a Parliament and that Democrats need to cross the isle and start working with Republicans. And if you paid attention to Trump during the campaign, he said over and over, “I am not going to tell you my strategy the way the Armed Forces would pre-announce its intention to bomb certain cities in Iraq.” He basically said again and again, “you will not see me coming” and that’s how a great negotiation is conducted. You do the unexpected and strike where people aren’t looking. And this is why the Media is always in a frenzy because they can’t put him in a box.

On a related note, if you talk to Doctors and other people knowledgeable about Obamacare, they all agree that this Bill to overturn Obamacare was too hastily written, and premature. So if you take away the political angle, the fact is the healthcare Bill was not yet ready for prime time. But now let’s add in the politics and see what this really means for Trump.

I have two thoughts.

First, using Ryan to introduce and play with the Bill, gave Donald Trump an opportunity to see who his friends are and who are not his friends. In different arenas this is called “Testing the waters” – and this has become a term of art in the investment world lately with crowd funding. Yes, Trump appears from a media standpoint to have sacrificed some political capital in order to go through this process but look at what he accomplished from a NEGOTIATING standpoint. He can still re-introduce a Bill a month from now and even two months from now or more. And just like he did with the Travel Ban, he ultimately got what he wanted. And isn’t it funny that airlines are banning electronic devices from the same countries and yet no one is freaking out. Amazing how a double standard can work isn’t it.

As a self-proclaimed great negotiator, Trump knows that ultimately no one ever remembers the negotiations. They just remember the deal. And in case you forget, his book is called the Art of the Deal. Right now, the Bill to reform Obamacare that failed on Friday is simply a stepping stone to the larger negotiation that Trump is still conducting to ultimately overturn Obamacare.

And if he doesn’t ultimately even affect Obamacare RIGHT NOW, now he has leverage on one of his next agenda items (e.g. the Wall or tax reform …) that are coming down the pike.

Don’t get fooled by the media.

If you watch it, just admit to yourself that you are doing it for the enjoyment’s sake. And, like I did today, to gain a sort of personal access to celebrity politicians and pundits where you can see them live in the flesh or in print. I enjoyed watching Kasich on TV today. But I didn’t get fooled either into forgetting that this is all staged for my attention so that CNN can sell me ads and Kasich can get his name out there. Bernie Sanders was waiting in the wings too btw on the same show. All for my entertainment.

News can be fun. Just don’t treat it like Gospel. Think of it as something more like your mother-in-law talking to you. Sometimes there are kernels of truth in there but sometimes there’s a woman overprotecting her daughter who’s married to you. (And I like my mother-in-law so don’t read too deep into this).

Btw I started this micro-rant with the idea that the healthcare Bill on Friday was a win-win. I have tried to describe the first win (that Trump knows his friends/enemies more clearly now) which Trump will use in future negotiations. What about the 2nd win? That’s easier actually. Had the Bill been introduced and passed, clearly that would have been a win.

Btw, I am not going to pretend that anything I am writing about Trump is because I know he is this great tactician. The problem is that we’ll never know because he’s never going to admit it. There’s no upside as a negotiator to ever open the kimono without exacting a payment in return. And that’s ultimately my point.  What we do have is the opportunity to believe he might be. And maybe that’s enough to put some cheer in my day.

As this Uber driver told me in New Orleans a month ago. If Trump fails, we all lose. We are all on the same plane now and just because some people have a beef with the pilot does not mean we should be trying to crash the plane.

I prefer in my own small world of mostly ignorance to consider that Trump is surrounding himself with a team that will execute LONG-RANGE tactics to negotiate a great deal for America. Much better than the alternative.

If you really want insight though on Trumpcare, then read my friend Harry Nelson’s book featured in this blog post.

Enjoy your day.


P.S. My brother Ivan writes these kind of long posts each month. Good thing the gene pool fizzled out after him. I just felt cathartic today writing this. Now I have to go look for a telescope.

P.S. #2: If you'd like to comment on this, just email my partner Michael from our Digital Marketing company at He loves when I stir up the pot.

What is it about Donald Trump that gets people so riled up?

Rolling Stone and the Guardian had two extensive articles recently on the wonder of Trump's campaign and why he is appealing to so many different segments of constituents.

I wanted to write a short essay from the perspective of an everyman (that's me) who is a businessman ( but still does not read the papers, does not habitually watch the news, and is not even so politically sensitive to all the nuances of what it means to be a Republican or a Democrat. I do get a lot of my news from Robin Quivers though at least 3 days a week.

Despite my apparent shortcomings though in regards to political awareness, I do have a few things to bring to the discussion which I felt inspired me enough to be qualified to write today's short article.

First, some preliminary observations.

1. The media's job is to sell advertising and make money for the media company owners. This is not to say that reporters and broadcasters and writers lack a moral compass or lack a desire to convey truthful analyses of events. But it is fair to say that sound bites sell, sensationalism sells and distorting the perception of events by creatively cutting dialogues where they "play" better are all tactics shared by the bulk of media oriented businesses. And as Seinfeld would say " there's nothing wrong with this" too.

2. I watched The Apprentice for years which I feel has given me more insight into the Donald's actual decision making process than what most people can intuit from the sound bites they are witnessing on TV during the campaign. Tragically, the takeaway from the Apprentice is that Donald appeared to flip from week to week and fire people for opposite reasons without reservation. I mention this because on one hand you could infer that he lacked conviction to specific theories of employment while just as easily you could say he adapted to situations week after week which required seemingly contradictory resolutions.

3. I know one of his employees for over 30 years and have heard anecdotally that Trump is a wonderful employer regardless of race, gender or religion. Of course don't try to steal his spotlight like the woman did on Apprentice, but that didnt really bother me much.

4. I own one of Trump's books about business though I don't recall reading it. But i know substantively the art of the deal is about negotiating and knowing the strengths and weaknesses of both sides and how far you can push.

Here's my analysis of the campaign so far which supports a logical understanding of why he is beating his fellow candidates – which is not to say he is also winning the hearts of America at the same time. this remains to be seen.

One of my favorite books of all time is Mickey Spillane's "My Gun Is Quick" which starts like a Tale of Two Cities. In short, Spillane writes in a very long opening paragaph that the world is an Arena filled with Gladiators and if your gun isn't quick, you are dead. I have always remembered this book because it informs my actions when I perceive that I am in an Arena that requires a serious fight amongst competitors.

The Republican race for the candidacy is simply an Arena filled with Gladiators. This is not Rome though where dirty and illegal tricks will prevail. The rules suggest though that to be victorious means using whatever tactics are available in your arsenal of psychology, finance, oratory and other arrows in your quiver.

Rolling Stone suggested that Trump is simply more adept than his peers in manipulating the Press to fight his battles for him on their dollar. And he won two very large battles simply by marginalizing two of his competitors with aggressive name calling tactics. By calling Bush, low energy, and by referring to Rubio as little Rubio, he transformed both of these qualified candidates into substandard victims. Verbal abuse is dangerous for example when its immoral or illegal or hurting a relationship like Parents and Children or Workers and their employees. But here, the only meaningful relationship that exists at the end of this race is that of Victor and the Vanquished.

My father once told me that in one of his first campaign speeches he was in his twenties running for city council against an incumbant who had been in office for over a decade; and, who was a wealthy banker to boot. My dad walked up the podium in front of hundreds of senior citizens (this was Miami Beach in the 60's mind you) and instead of talking about issues or himself, he channeled some righteous indignation and bellowed out "Do you want a banker running this city?" My dad was laying the ground work for Trump type of campaigning over 40 years ago. And that stuff worked then and it works now too.

I did a lot of informal poling recently to ask people why they are so angry about Trump. And many of the answers I received SEEMED to reflect the same type of thinking that enabled my dad to win an election against a more qualified opponent. Just as my Dad tapped into people's feelings, Trump is doing the same thing.

Creflo Dollar, a preacher in the South, with a tv show called CHANGING YOUR WORLD, teaches that EMOTIONS move one away from the RIGHTEOUS PATH. Emotions actually comes from two latin concepts – the letter "e" means away and "motion" means movement. Emotions technically move you away from where you know your religious belief wants you to be. And even for the nonreligious, there is a path you want to be on and emotions can deter you from the course you have accepted for yourself. And when we use emotions to make decisions, those decisions lead to actions which lead to habits which lead to destiny.

Emotional responses are a large catalyst which drive positive and negative reactions to Trump more than most candidates.

Here are some of the responses I have been cataloguing since asking people their opinions of Trump and the campaign.

1. I don't like how he insults women.
2. I don't like how he is abusive.
3. I don't like the way he talks about Mexicans.
4. He is divisive and does not bring people together.

I consider many of these responses to be emotionally driven because they sound like they are based on sound bites the media portrays over and over.

Even now, as of March 13th, the ongoing messaging coming out of the media is trying to portray Trump as a Mussolini character by blowing up out of proportion these protesters at rallies and how Trump is saying to beat them up and I'll cover your legal bills. Trump's issueless grandstanding is easy fodder for the media to take him out of context and sensationalize him to sell more ad spots. Sure people came up to me this weekend at Synagogue and said that i sounded like the people in blinders in the 30's when similar hate-filled speeches ruled the day. I think the difference is that in the 30's those speeches were clear from all angles about the intent of those demagogues. But Trump does not sound this way without some distortion and splicing (to me at least).

It doesn't matter if the media causes harm and distracts voters from the issues because a week from now there will something else the media trumpets to gain attention again and sell more ad time.

This is not to say that I am against the media. Quite the opposite. The media, combined with live feeds online has given more people more access to the election process than has ever existed before. The idea that a YouTube video from Saturday Night Live can reach millions of people in hours, or a YouTuber can post a status update that teases 15 million followers to like, share and retweet the post is quite mystifying when I still remember what it was like to take a quarter with me to the mall to use a pay phone to call my mom to pick me up.

We are all tethered like Sheep to the mass Shepherd of the Media and despite its flaws, the benefits fulfill so many of our voyeuristic fantasies that delude us into thinking we are part of the action simply because we see it up close.

The challenge for the modern person is to sift through the media noise and find the beating heart within our own consciousness that can override the instinctive emotional responses clamoring for online attention. We have to flex our muscles and hone in on the consistent thinking that is strong enough to withstand the criticisms and protests we are bound to experience as we share questionable views with our friends and peers – just like I am doing with this article.

To complete my thought here, I am still not decided on a candidate – though in California I feel as if my vote doesn't count for much. What I am determined to do though is to at least educate myself enough to not be blind to the power of emotions and the power of the Media to sway my opinions too far from my own internal base of operations. And to find the strength to engage in dialogues that might inform better decisions on my part.

And my prediction is that after the Florida primaries, we will find Trump spending more time on actual issues as the playing field levels with less candidates to knock out of the race. To this point, the rules in the Arena dictated psychological tactics such as have been highlighed above. The next phase of the race will be more focused on substance rather than form. I hope I am right.

Have you seen the recent episode of the Donald Sterling Digital Lynch Mob?

Since my first post on this topic, I've engaged in quite a few conversations in the non-digital world to gauge people's perspectives on the variety of issues which were put into play following the release of the taped Donald Sterling conversations. I thought I would share a few responses and some of my observations and take this opportunity to clarify my feelings on the matter in case there might have been confusion. Before doing so i also want to clarify that if you look me up online you will see almost nothing published about political or legal viewpoints. My writing is almost exclusively about business related stuff or just fun things to share. The reason I picked this issue and decided to step up to the plate is because my business with LA Dezign ( is very much connected to the Internet space and the comunication strategies we employ for reputation management – both for protecting people's reputations and for enhancing them with search engine marketing and social media marketing campaigns. And part of what my team does in charting out a campaign is to look at the landscape from the perspective of the public eye. Not just what our customers want to say but more importantly, what does the audience want to hear and look for.

In this whole situation with Donald Sterling, much of what is happening by him and to him is a result of the speed at which communication happens now. There's almost no distinction between thinking something, writing it down and having it distributed en masse to the whole world. You sneeze and the world hears it. And this causes me to have a bit of a pause here because as I witness the volcanic eruption surrounding this one man over the release of a private communication behind closed doors, it makes me think about more carefully what our own communication strategies. If the privacy that we keep sacrificing willingly (through our social media declaration) has no limits to its de-evolution then it really puts a considerable strain on where a line can be drawn in the future on how i feel about things and how I act about them because now it seems even the thoughts of the mind are a captive prisoner to the will and whims of the people.

So let's sum up some responses that I heard this last week:
1. He's a scumbag and deserves everything that's happened.
2. The charity money should not have been returned.
3. Since the NBA knew about all this before, it's clear they were just trying to avoid a strike and business is business.
4. It's a mob scene and that bothers me.
5. He didn't consent to have these conversations revealed. Behind a closed door a person should not be punished for having a private conversation
6. Even if he said what I heard, it still bothers me because first of all sounded a bit rambling and secondly, it's clear she goaded him and therefore it's just not fair to judge him based on pieces of the conversation.

So let's talk about my observations and see if they have changed since last week.

First of all, something strange happened to me this weekend. My glasses broke. With my much older spare pair in hand I realized that I could see in the distance but could not see things up close. So in synagogue as I was reading from the Torah (scriptures) for the congregation I had to get my face into the scroll literally 6 inches away to see the words. This induced a very confusing experience. I could only see 3 lines at a time. This meant I kept losing my place in my head in terms of the notes and grammer because I lacked the context of the whole paragraph and sometimes just knowing where I am by referencnig the whole helps me remember the individual details. Even though I had spent a few hours during the week learning the cantillation notes and memorizing all the vowels (since they are not printed in the scrolls), because I had to embrace each verse independently, it was just far more difficult to recite them than I had been expecting.

This frustration got me thinking about the Donald Sterling hoopla because my original contention has been that the taped conversations were like verses of a much larger conversation. And, many of the people opining about the NBA's reaction have justified it by going outside the verses so to say and talking about other things like the lawsuits that have been filed against him in the past for racist renting policies. So it just bothered me that in our courts of law we are not allowed to admit prior bad acts except in specific situations but in the court of public opinion there not only seem to be no exceptions but people are willing to trample on protected rights and reward bad deeds.

The old school version of these United States also had two versions of what we would think of as courts of law. One version was the building filled with judges and lawyers and legislators connected with the written will of the people (the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and all the laws that emanated from those two documents). The other version was the one outside the building that expressed the unwritten will of the people or what I would refer to as the law of the jungle. The rules of law didn't matter in this other habitat because it was kill or be killed essentially. And the evolution of our culture and our democracy which in part has been fueled by advances in communication (think newspapers, radio, tv, and ultimately Internet and instant messaging) which reduce ignorance and also cut down the time between something happening and people learning about it (and seeing that it really happened) also served to annihilate where possible this other court of law – where the laws of nature not nurture were more likely being observed.

My point here is that in the modern democratic state that has evolved – or is supposed to have been evolved – we are supposed to avoid mob hysteria and replace it with a timely process that induces fairness not feelings, justice not corruption. Just this morning I was studying the Jewish law of written contracts and there was a law at least 1,800 years old which required a bill of divorce to be written on a document where every 2 or 3 sentences were folded over on the parchment so that the full bill of divorce required maybe 8-10 folds before it could be signed and witnessed. The tradition suggests that the reason for this was to cool the hot tempered priest who might divorce his wife too quickly. So each fold was a delaying tactic to give him time to cool down and think things through because for the priestly class, a divorce meant no return. The priest was prohibited from remarrying the same woman again.

With the advances in instant communications comes greater responsibility to sometimes slow things down. Rather than cite a pithy quote about the reasoned mind, I would just as easily submit that it's simply too easy to hit Like or Dislike without reasoning through something and just thinking about the pros and cons. Actually there is a good quote from Andrew Jackson, "Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in." My whole issue with the Sterling affair is that the speed of response we are witnessing is so fast that it puts into question whether anyone has been thinking about and considering the issues not to the point of committee but at least to the point of just spending time reasoning through things. Passion is one thing. But blind passion is another thing.

Now a word about context and nuance. Through my various conversations in the last few days, I have realized that even my own words might get misconstrued. Let's be clear, I am not defending Donald Sterling. My thoughts were about the larger issues related to privacy concerns and how the media and the people who read and watch it, are so quick to reward the bad act of this woman who released something that had no permission seeing the light of the day. And the consequences of this bad act are having very many repercussions that people are simply not thinking about because they are looking at verses instead of chapters.

Here are some facts on the ground.

1. Charities who received money from Mr. Sterling have given back money. Now no one suggested that he stole money from anyone. So they are not giving back "bad" money, just responding to a public outcry that is judging a man without any due process. And those charities are losing serious amounts of money that could help many people. At this rate, charities should then start giving back money to people who violate other ethical codes like cheating on their spouses, taking hard drugs, not paying taxes. Once that slipppery slope starts sliding, where does one draw the line? This is really a tough situation because there's no right answer. The closest thing is to use the law as a guideline and if someone breaks the law like Ivan Boesky did then that's a line that's been crossed. is that line comparable to a private conversation regardless of how reprehensible it might be.

2. The LA Times will likely lose millions of dollars now in ad revenues that could seriously impact their business and this will affect many people's jobs.

3. There are many religious viewpoints that talk about not casting the first stone until you walk a mile in someonee else's shoes or at  least look at youu own backyard first. Again, I think about the law as a guideline. Sure someone can just say I don't want do business with someone who espouses certain views (whether or not he believes in them). But to castigate someone for those views publicly and start messing with other people's lives because it makes you feel better is a very different thing.

I am not suggesting that because we all might have our skeletons in our closet it means we should forgive someone else's questionable deeds.

And maybe this leads to the crux of what I did find myself coming to understand in this last week.

That likely there is no difference between someone who is a racist and someone who acts like a racist. It's quite possible that Sterling is not a racist in his heart. And yet, at the same time, it's clear that he has been acting like a racist. The tapes support both views. While at one time he says I dont have problems with black people (read that personally) he then says "don't come to my games and take pictures with them either". (Btw, i would say African American to be PC but on the tapes they use the word black, so I just want to be sensitive to the reference points).

I can't for the life of me understand why he would think that it helps his business reputation to have her avoid being seen with black people at the games. And yet when I hear the tapes, I don't get the sense that he is being terribly cogent in his dialogue. So without saying that it sounds like the ramblings of a man on diazepam, it also doesn't sound like he makes a whole lot of sense – except to his own way of thinking, warped though it may appear to me.

So I'll close this writing with a suggestion for Mr Sterling that might give him a way out of this mess, and restore a balance that could lead to a much better outcome than what I see happening now. Mr Sterling, come out now like Jimmy Swaggart did many years ago and take a stand. If on a personal level you really are not racist, and if you really felt that society wasn't ready to change its perceptions, then admit you were mistaken. Admit that you acted against your beliefs because you misjudged the situation. Argue then you were misunderstood. It's likely no one after hearing those tapes will believe you anyway. But you know what. People have short term memories. Michael Vick went to jail and resurrected his career. You may not have to go to jail but you can resurrect yourself to by making a change.

Your actions going forward can be your legacy. Just as quickly as the world pounced on you, inspire them to withdraw. Rouse your naysayors to maybe not embrace you but at least support you in your efforts to make up for the mistakes in your past. Instead of inciting anger and hatred, galvanize your media team to deliver a new message that can make a lasting change and use your mountains of wealth to fight the battle against racism and invasions of privacy not in the courts of law but in the streets that have no name.

Pax Vobiscum

Is He A Racist? Wondering About the Real Donald Sterling

So as I was driving back from a Provisors meeting in Costa Mesa today and whiling away the time listening to a Sirius XM repeat broadcast of the Howard Stern show, I was fortunate enough to stumble upon some replays of the now infamous Donald Sterling non-sex tapes. I say this because truly aren't the only tapes one ever hears about "sex tapes" these days?

Anyway, as I was cruising through traffic shortcuts courtesy of my Waze app, I finally had a chance to listen to some of the tapes. I had been hearing about the sensational headlines that characterized Mr. Sterling as a rabid racist but I had never actually heard the tapes. I thought to myself, it's really better to go to the source rather than to pass judgement based on reviews. Sort of like rating a movie based on Rotten Tomatoes rather than actually watching the movie.

So I decided to not pass judgment on Don Sterling until after listening to the tapes – and even then maybe still not pass judgment because I haven't walked a mile in his shoes. And as any loyal Howard Stern fan would tell you, there's nothing like listening to the tapes (ala Benjy of course).

So I started to listen to them. And you know what, I was kind of surprised. I didn't hear all of the surreptitious recordings, but I heard enough to at least write this post today.

Here are some of my observations.

I think it's pretty horrific that a person inside someone's circle of trust revealed, let alone secretly recorded for public consumption, private conversations. In the Google economy we now live in where our privacy expectations have been flattened by the voluntary offerings to the gods of Facebook, Twitter and personal WordPress blogs, I think there's still a remnant of human decency that suggests that I should have the right to keep oral conversations private when they happen in private. I am sure there is an Amendment to this effect actually. And what this misguided (this is my kind term for her) woman did is not something that should be rewarded. Now I know me writing this is in some sense rewarding her but I have not mentioned her name so at least she can't get any mileage out of this post. So as best as I can say this, the journalists should not have sensationalized and publicized this unauthorized rape of Mr Sterling's sense of emotional self. It concerns me that the media is clapping itself on the shoulders for essentially violating Donald's rights to self-autonomy when it comes to his private conversations. A taped 911 call is a totally different thing and that's why I am concerned about how easy it is to record someone with a cell-phone and how this impinges even more on what's left of my privacy expectations.

In the business world I inhabit daily where my company designs and promotes websites, we always talk to our clients about Context. When Google spiders visit websites, each page has to deliver some sort of message within the context of a larger theme. Without context, it's hard to tell if a page entitled Riding is about Horseback riding or Bike riding. Context is everything when it comes to achieving higher conversions and higher search engine rankings. In the case of the Sterling tapes, it's clear this mendacious woman coaxed Donald into saying things that simply lacked the context of a larger conversation. And therefore, the sound bites being published are moments in time rather than episodes in time. It's like watching your first episode of 24 mid-season and then learning that there is a whole season of chaos that takes place in a lengthy 24 hour time frame. So my feeling here is that our ability to really assess the value of the conversation in the tapes is dramatically affected by two things. First, it sounds like he was extemely agitated and saying things without thinking them through. And as Kirk Douglas said about himself as an older man that he wouldn't trust any decision he made at 14 years old, I would not trust the words of an octogenarian when he sounded the way this man sounded on the tapes. The second problem is that the conversations were clearly being manipulated and this ultimately just frustrates me because the man is being judged on the basis of snippets. The whole notion of innocent till proven guilty which is the American way has been tossed out with his civil rights. And no one seems to care that the NBA caved to social pressure and just banned a guy for life without any sense of due process. Now I know the NBA is not required to abide by the laws of due process but nevertheless there is a standard of reasonableness and organizations of the size, stature and history of the NBA should not kowtow to mood swings. They should be resisting this tendency to cave and hold themselves to a higher standard.

Here's likely the most important thing. Now to preface my words, I want to repeat that I only listened to a few tapes so it's possible that other tapes may have suggested a different conclusion than I reached. So here's what I think I heard.

She kept asking him about his opinion of race. And each time she tried to reframe the question, he stuck to his original position early on in the conversation. He said towards the beginning that "there's nothing wrong with black people" and he didn't vary from this statement. What she tried to do though was twist his response to conform to her own agenda. And here's what I saw happening.

He continued to expand on his thoughts by describing the CULTURE we live in and how it has rules for the society that govern it. Now to be clear, my role is not to pass a ruling on the veracity of his opinion but rather to simply interpret what he was trying to say. And here's what I think he kept trying to drive home.

His opinion is that the world is racist, or anti-semitic or simply very opinionated about the backgrounds of peoples and habits attributed to them (whether rightly or not). He did not say in any of the tapes that I heard that this was HIS shared opinion. In fact, when she asked him about why he would not take a stand to change this state of affairs, he said very matter of factly that he did not feel he could make a change. And therefore, in order to live in this world, in a matter in which he had become accustomed over so many years, he made a choice to not try to change the world view. This is like exercising your right not to vote. Sure we have the right to vote, and far too many people do not vote in elections. Isn't there choosing not to vote a demonstration of their feeling of powerlessness to make a change? Is Mr. Sterling to be judged differently because he has more money than the next person? Isn't everyone's vote supposed to be counted equally in this country?

And once I came to the conclusion that he was taking an approach of INACTION or possibly even avoidance, the rest of the conversations I heard on the tapes got filtered through a different lense.

No longer were his comments about black people or hispanics per se. But rather, they were about his concern that he would be stoking fires in a conversation he simply wanted to avoid – and not because he was racist but rather because he wanted to continue living a vanilla life in a rainbow world that so far had given him lots more ups than downs.

Now let's be clear. I think what he said sucks because no one should ever feel powerless in this country to think we can't effect change. But at the same time, rich people and poor people all need therapy for their own particular issues. Howard Stern loves to talk about all the days in the week he goes to therapy. It's hard for me to relate to in all honesty because I put him up on so many pedestals for things he's done in his life. At the same time though, there's so many gaps in his pursuit of happiness that it sort of does make sense why he can't find a way to cope with the world and extract all the goodness from it instead of getting bogged down by all the distractions.

Well just because Mr Sterling is a public figure and a wealthy one at that does not mean that life is easy for him. We all face challenges of getting along in this world and finding our way. It's called the pursuit of happiness in our heritage because it simply isn't easy. But it is our right to pursue it in any way we see fit and in the privacy of our own homes and as long as we don't impinge on the rights of others.

And this is ultimately why I felt compelled to write this brief siloloquy (because how many people will really read this current monlogue). I may not like very many things and yet I hope that if I share my dislikes privately with a trusted person that those dislikes don't end up being broadcast on the front pages of the newspapers (sorry for this soon to be antiquated reference point). And if they do get broadcasted I think it's shameful for people to reward the perpetrators of these violations of one's inalienable rights to privacy. And most importantly, if my views are not impinging on other people's liberties or rights, then those same views are simply protected and should not be subject to anyone's assessment without my volunteering my views for others' review. If Mr Sterling, or anyone for that matter, is looking to live in this world and find a way to cope with the demands and pressures and judgments (whether real or assumed) then we owe it to each other to respect personal and private opinions (again, so long as they do not impinge on other people's rights or liberties) and hold our privacy laws to a very, very high standard.

Now I will conclude with this final thought. As this now newsworthy distraction from larger issues in the world tragically gains more traction and attention, it appears that Mr. Sterling has previously made comments on numerous occasions that suggest he has a racist perspective on the world. And that he may actually exhibit racist tendencies too. I am not a fan of such actions if they be true. I have not read more articles on Donald Sterling because honestly I have more compelling and interesting things to do like play with my new rescue dog Meatball (ok, the kids call her Lacey), rough it up with the kids or listen to another replay of the Sirius XM town hall with Billy Joel yesterday.

My point is that from the tapes I heard, Donald Sterling got shafted. He has been judged unfairly and readers should consider that this episode should be reframed as a battle cry for help from Donald's friend that the perceptions of the world should be challenged. Despite the fact that we've elected a non-white President, is Mr Sterling right that we still live in a racially charged society where even people of wealth feel that they have to hide their true feelings and just submit to the will of the People.

I ask you this based on my analysis of the tapes:

Is it possible that Donald Sterling really is not a racist and was too chicken to say otherwise even in the privacy of his own residence?

And if so, is this not a sorrier state of affairs than his alleged racist comments?

I reserve my final opinion for the moment as i know there are more tapes to hear. But at the same time, an episode of something on Netlfix is calling me. Priorities priorities.

Eulogy for Yale Harlow Delivered by Jason Ciment on April 13th 2014

Yale was an avid reader. We shared a lot of books together that we both enjoyed and loved to talk about. I’d like to read a short excerpt from one of his favorite authors Daniel Silva as a way of introducing you to the core of the man I came to know and admire.

It was the Rembrandt painting that solved the mystery once and for all. The man’s neighbors would chide themselves for having missed the telltale signs, and they would share a good natured laugh at some of their outlandish theories about the true nature of his work. In their wildest dreams, there was not one among them who ever considered the possibility that the TACITURN man was an art restorer, and an Israeli undercover agent.

Yale may not have been Gabriel Allon, Israeli super spy but he was one of the most reserved people I’ve ever known. And yet, in his quietness, resided a deep reservoir of knowledge, compassion and most of all displacement of his self in favor of those around him. It is rare to have met such a selfless person as Yale.

Near the end of the Torah in Devarim there is a phrase which reads “Eish da'at, The fiery law.” The Midrash Tanhuma in Breishit says that this phrase is talking about how the Torah is written "black fire on white fire."

There are the black letters which form the words we read and then there’s the parchment with all the white space around the letters which the Rabbis call the white fire.

Yale was the white fire.

He let others do most of the talking. He was a man of actions, and mostly selfless actions.

I don’t think I ever heard him say anything critical about anyone. You didn’t’ come to Yale if you wanted his opinion. Far be it from him to tell you what to do. You came to Yale to tell yourself what to do.

Coming to Yale for advice was like going to a therapist. You would have to do most of the talking because he generally appeared to trust you to make the best decision on your own. He didn’t need to interject his advice. He just needed to be there to help you reason things out and then support you in your choices. You grew up real quickly in Yale’s house because you were treated like an adult and given your independence early on.

Unlike most of us whose reaction might be to give a suggestion or to give advice. That wasn’t Yale. Rather he’d let you consider your own thoughts and wait for you to come to your own resolution. And he was always happy with your choice. It’s a trait that has been inherited for sure.

Even yesterday when we told Gideon the news and Sari asked are you sad, in his innocence he exclaimed I’m not sad Mommy, I am always happy. Why should I be sad?

Yale was always happy too.

And you know where he was happiest in these last few years. It was in front of his computer. That was his black fire. Nothing stoked his fires like browsing the Internet to find the most obscure pieces of information and then sending out these videos, articles and blog postings to people all over the world. And people listened and looked forward to his messages.

If he had wanted a second career as a research analyst he would have had no parallel. His letters to the editor were often published because he knew what to say and how to say it.

It’s no wonder that his name resides on a plaque at Hastings law school where he was the winner of the first moot court in law school.

Yale Harlow was an extremely intelligent and accomplished person. He had the black fire when he needed it as he proved at Hastings and yet he never really let on how smart he was because his humility was like the music of Miles Davis. They say about Miles that his genius was in the silence between the notes. Yale too was a musician who played the trombone. And in living his life, he definitely knew something about the silence between the notes.

Yale put aside the parlor tricks of words and opinions and instead demonstrated the real power of the white fire by choosing to express himself with acts of kindness and compassion.

I think that to live righteously and make good honest choices in life, we are ultimately judged by the things we say and the things we do. Kohelet says that a good name is better than the best oil. Yale’s mandate as a man living a Jewish valued life was never motivated by the more pedestrian things like money, fame and honor.

His prime directive was to commit himself to his family, his friendships, his community and his fellow man. And you are all here because you have seen this commitment in him at all times.

It’s no coincidence that Yale returned to our creator on Shabbat Hagadol right before Passover.

In the moments of his passing yesterday I was in Shul reading the Haftorah which describes how Elijah was prophesying how in Messianic times the hearts of the children would be connected with the hearts of their parents. Family was everything for Yale and for Michele too.

They also redefined what it means to be included in their family. There are many people here who consider both Yale and Michele to have been something like foster parents to them. It really didn’t matter what you needed, he was always there whether you were related to him or not. It was just how he defined himself by meeting the needs of others.

I asked my kids on Shabbat to tell me things they remembered most about Zaide.

He drove me to my acting classes in Santa Monica every week.
He took me to ballet.
He took us to the airport whenever we on vacation.

My favorite is something Michele told me years ago. Jason, I’ve never filled a gas tank because Yale always filled the tanks.

I am not suggesting that he felt his purpose was to be a Chauffer. Rather, these examples just highlight how Yale simply lived to be the white fire around other the black fire of other people’s needs and desires.

I’d like to say one last thing about Yale because this is something that many of us in the family have already integrated into our lives and it’s an easy custom to emulate.

If you knew Yale on the Sabbath or Holidays, you’d relish in knowing that his favorite moments in all of the blessings he would recite was when he would thrill us all in Kiddush with a loud and pregnant pause as he would practically scream BOHRAY Peri Hagafen. It seems that for all these years, he’s been trying to get the attention of his creator.

Well he’s finally going to meet him now.

He won’t be there tomorrow night at the Seder or in the future to give us those momentary thrill rides but Sari and I and the rest of our family for sure will be remembering him as we look at all the kids around the table and recognize that his legacy does live on and that his life made a difference and was valued and that the doors are wide open upstairs waiting for him with a brand new virus-free laptop and free wifi.


Communications Strategy for Customer Engagement

Websites need to talk to their customers — more often and more intelligently.

More often because you don't want them to forget about you as they are deluged with offers from other sources.

More intelligently because you need to figure out a way to stand apart from a barrage of other communications.

If you want someone to "see your message" and act on it, you may have to send it up to 29 times. It's called the Rule of 29. The number of messages isn't important here. Rather, it's the idea of meaningful repetition.

The Rule of 29 applies to someone who opts in to receive messages. juwt like a good shampoo, you need to Rinse and Repeat. The key is to reinforce your message to your clientbase. Guide them down the path you want them to follow. Lead them to the sale.

The best way to learn is often by trial and error. Until you get your hands dirty and start "testing" your abilities, it's a long-distance relationship — and we know how unsatisfying long-distance love can be. Case studies are the second-best way to learn (at least, that's what they told us in law school). So, I submit for your review a case study and primer on client communications developed at my first company by its first communications director, Vanessa.

Her first step was to develop a format that would be consistent in all communications to customers.

Here's what we've adopted when we launched this previously.

  • New products being offered and which products were no longer going to be available. This tells customers our catalog is constantly changing and enables them to make certain their needs are in sync with ours.
  • Cut-and-paste featured offer. This offer is usually for the most popular or most profitable product.
  • Category killers. We offer 12 product categories. It's difficult to predict which categories will interest individual affiliates. So, we provide links to specially designed pages devoted to each category.
  • A feedback link. This link requests input from customers on how we can improve our program. We include a quote or testimonial from a customer to make it seem real and participatory. As important as it is to enage customers, you need to listen, too. Affiliates and your customers are the best barometers for how your business can be improved.
  • A viral tell-a-friend link. This link forwards the newsletter, or portions of it, to people who may become new customers.
  • A time-sensitive incentive. The incentive can stand alone or be applied to any of the above items. An extra commission or freebie will incentivize customers to take advantage of particular offers or provide feedback. Customers love giveaways, and salespeople (i.e., affiliates) love them even more. They'll demonstrate that love right into your bank account. Any incentive should be for a limited time, or human nature will take over and they won't act.

Keep one thing in mind before you set a communications strategy: spoon feeding. Assume your customers just woke up and don't have a clue how to proceed.

Make your call to action simple and easy to implement. I try to lay out my propositions step by step in this column. Do the same for your customers. If you don't want to use valuable space in an email message, put the longer, more detailed step-by-step scenario on a Web page and link to it from the newsletter. Your customers will appreciate the effort you've made to show them how it should be done.

If you're interested in a 12-month communications plan or tactics that have worked for other companies, drop me a line. If you have comments on the above, which, as with anything else on the Web, is a work in progress, please share them, and I will update the program in a future article.

Search Engine Optimization and Marketing Services

Search Engine Optimization

Having top search engine listings is important for any company who sells a product or service that people search for online.

A first page search engine listing will position your website to attract targeted visitors who you can covert to leads and sales!

It's fair to say that if you fail to achieve website listings in the first 20 positions on the major search engines, you will not see impressive results for your lead generation efforts.

This is why companies with websites spend considerable marketing dollars on promoting their websites with Search Engine Optimization and Pay-per-Click advertising campaigns.

In my capacity as co-founder of LADezign I have spent six years sharing tactics and strategies that create more sales for businesses. My partner Michael and I with our team have spent more hours than we can keep track of in perfecting our techniques to drive more traffic through broader and more comprehensive and ultimately higher search engine rankings.

And because funding these campaigns is a moving target, our search engine optimization services can be modifed to support the right service for every reasonable budget.

Are you currently paying for search engine rankings? It pays to do a review and see how you are really doing. Don't just pay the monthly retainer. Make sure you have an expert review your results at least twice per year.

Consider selfishly that our search engine optimization services may actually increase traffic and cut down on your website promotion cost at the same time!

Here are services you can get help with

  • Natural Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Paid Inclusion (PPC) Bid Management & Tracking
  • Paid Search
  • Shopping Site Promotions

Website Design Services Overview

Is your website hitting the mark?
Are visitors connecting with your goals?
Bottom line: Are you converting visits into leads or sales?

How your website looks and reads is a leading indicator of how well it will perform to drive visitors through your sales funnel. Just like the old adage you are how you look, the same can be said about a high performance website.

I've been selling things online since 1997. I've written for the main marketing journals like SearchEngineLand and ClickZ. I can name drop with the best of them. But really who gives a hoot about things I've done when what really matters is what can be done for you going forward.

This website is all about your future and your sustainability. If you want to survive you need more than a me too website. You don't need to be ahead of the curve or cutting edge. Instead you just need to abide by 3 time-tested, proven principles that come right out of debate team:

Tell 'em what you do.
Do it.
Then, tell them that you did it.

This is the formula.

I'm going to save you money on your car insurance.
Here's how I am going to do it.
Here's how i did it for Mr "X" just last week.

If you are believable, you will be believed.

All you need is to tell your story with good copy, strong headlines, nice graphics and an overall intuitive design and you will close more business.

it's really that simple.

if you want to take the dramatic first step and achieve the growth you are pining for then just drop me a line and let's talk = for real.

I am not going to distract you will sales copy about the highest quality website design at affordable prices because you do't need affordable. You need to win. If it costs more to be victorious then make the wager and invest in yourself to be a leader not a follower.

If you are starting a new project from scratch or having a current website re-designed, I will guide you and direct you to get the job done.

Think of my as your website architect. I have the information and development resources here to help you organize what you might need. I will be glad to design and/or oversee a complete strategy for the entire site design and development process.

Just to recap:

Still wondering what makes for a terrific Website?

Attractive graphics are appealing but great Web sites are designed at the intersection of your brand message, what your customers are trying to accomplish and what you want them to do. Based on this information and analyzing these factors, the right overall design and technologies can be created and implemented.

With every project, I will help you integrate a balanced blend of your customers' needs with your business requirements, while at the same time providing a measurable return on investment and encompassing your interactive goals. Now if you understand what i Just wrote you can be obliged to tell me because I don't even understand it.

Let's try again in plain english:

If you want a website that will drive dollars to your bottom line, then let's talk.
If you just want a second opinion on your website project, then let's talk.
If you aren't sure what you want but you know you need to make a change, then let's talk.

Anyone else with a different agenda? let's not talk. You are probably not the right fit for my website services.

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