Category Archives: Creative Writing

Cars That Drive Themselves

Highway 101 in Silicon Valley is no stranger to headless drivers, that is, cars that drive themselves. Google is experimenting with driverless cars that will eventually do just about everything but donate themselves to Kars for Kids when it’s time to buy the next, newer model. Auto manufacturers are sitting up and paying attention and drawing plans for their own prototypes of these automated cars.

Those of us who don’t live in the Valley, however, may find the concept of driverless cars hard to take in, while those responsible for coming up with the technology behind these wonders are beginning to think about how these cars will change the city they know and love. For example, imagine what will happen when you have to fly out of town. You won’t need to worry about getting from the long term parking lot to the airport entrance with your luggage. Maybe your driverless car will drop you off at the airport entrance and park on its own.  Or perhaps there will be some kind of automated system to cart away all the vehicles at once and deposit them into parking spaces.

Schlepping In Heels

Ditto for finding parking spots in the crowded city—your driverless car will receive input about available spaces. It can drop you off where you need to be and go park. When you’re ready, you can summon your car by remote control, or maybe by phone, and your driverless car will come to you so you don’t have to schlep in high heels a long distance away to where your car is parked.

Traffic lights will become redundant since sophisticated sensors located in cars and streets will manage traffic without them. Parking tickets will be phased out since driverless cars will know better than to park where they have no right to be. The sightless will be able to go anywhere they please on their own driverless steam.

Engineers and city planners are trying to envision how city spaces will change as driverless cars become the norm. But a spokesman at Audi says we still have a decade to figure it all out. And even after that, there are still other details that must be ironed out in advance of city planning, such as regulatory issues, for instance.

Way Ahead

Still, California is way ahead of the, um, curve. As early as last year, California governor Jerry Brown signed legislation allowing for driverless car traffic on state roads. Federal agencies are also beginning to issue policy regarding these cars, in an effort to encourage cities to begin testing autonomous vehicles. In general, driverless cars are thought of as a positive and timely innovation. There seems to be no doubt that driving will become a thing of the past.

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Filed under Creative Writing, Education, Electric Vehicles, News and Views

When You Can Make the News Your Story, You Master Public Relations

Starbuck’s cups say “Come Together”

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz demonstrated marketing genius this week.  He took his common drink of choice for millions of Americans and turned it into the news of the day.

The biggest obstacle to generating consistent publicity for any brand is the often aggressive attack of current events that consumes the media. When war in Israel breaks out or a massacre at a shopping mall or school occurs, news channels develop heartfelt collages choreographed to a stirring musical theme to begin and end each commercial break and that item becomes the only news angle of the day, week or even month.  Take the fiscal cliff, and see how Starbucks made it their story.  (Read more here)

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Filed under Creative Writing, Crisis Management, Media, News and Views, Politics

See Sam Robert’s “A Neighborhood Through Time”

Sam Roberts of the New York Times offered readers the Lower East Side in pictures as seen through the lens of photographer Danny Stein.  It’s a warm reminder a my home for 43 years.

Schmulke Bernstein's on Essex. Debra and I had our engagement party there in 1989.

Schmulke Bernstein’s on Essex. Debra and I had our engagement party there in 1989.
(Courtesy: Danny Stein)

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Filed under Creative Writing, Juda Engelmayer, Lower East Side

And the Winner is: A Deafening Silence that Shames us all

Just a shout out to my father, Shammai (Sheldon) David Engelmayer for his recent win of The American Jewish Press Association’s Simon Rockower Awards for Excellence in Jewish Journalism.  The award was in its Category 4:

Award for Excellence in Editorial Writing – Division A. Newspapers over 15,000 circulation and all Magazines/Websites.

First Place
Jewish Standard, Teaneck, NJ

A Deafening Silence” by Shammai Engelmayer and Larry Yudelson

Comments: A stirring pair of editorials denouncing the silence by both American Jews and Israeli officials in the face of unacceptable violence by ultra-orthodox Jews against Jewish school children in the town of Beit Shemesh.

See the Editorial here

or read below:

Editorial

Published: 13 October 2011
Imagine this scene: A Jewish girls’ school opened in a town that serves as a suburb of the capital of Country Y. The neighbors were not pleased. To begin with, they wanted the building for their own children. In addition, they objected to the religious persuasion of the school and its students.

So every day, from the second day of school, mobs of neighbors protested, screaming “sluts” and other unconscionable epithets as the girls exited the building in the afternoon. Some of the protesters threw eggs and bags of excrement at the girls and at the school, to punctuate their points.

How do you think world Jewry would react?

How should we in America react? Should we call upon the Anti-Defamation League or the Simon Wiesenthal Center to demand intervention from the White House? Should we lobby the U.S. State Department to publicly condemn the behavior of Country Y and to insist that Jewish human rights be observed there?

Perhaps we should demand that the United Nations investigate. Perhaps, too, we should stage a massive demonstration in Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza.

We would do just those things if the country in question were Belgium, or Belaraus, or Bahrain. As we report on page 14, however, the country is Israel, which may explain why we have heard and read precious little from those only too quick to condemn even a hint of anti-Semitism anywhere else in the world.

The flashpoint is a school for girls in Beit Shemesh, a town near Jerusalem. The town’s rigidly Orthodox charedi community objects to the presence of a modern Orthodox school in their neighborhood. Is it because this is a Jew vs. Jew conflict — or worse, an Orthodox vs. Orthodox conflict — that there has been so pronounced a silence from the organized Jewish world?

It is not acceptable that little girls are being screamed at by grown men.

It is not acceptable that little girls must pass through a gauntlet of angry men who are armed with bags of excrement.

It is not acceptable that Jewish leaders both here and in Israel remain silent about this disgrace.

American Jewry needs to let the Israeli leadership know that our concern for Jewish schoolchildren extends to Israel — just as we would protest if the harassment took place in Moscow or Marrakesh.

Israel’s leaders need to understand that by tolerating charedi violence, the State of Israel is undercutting the Zionist rationale of providing a secure homeland for the Jewish people.

The pride we take in the high level of aliyah from our own community turns sour when we see former neighbors of ours, such as Englewood native Esther Boylan Wolfson and her family, being subjected to what can only be called anti-Semitism in their new Israeli homes. “It’s a confrontation with a kind of evil that frankly I’ve never experienced,” she told The Jewish Standard. That is not why the Moriah graduate and her family moved to Israel 14 years ago.

Protecting nine-year-olds from assault should not be the sole responsibility of the parents and the neighbors.

Where is the Israeli government in this?

When it came time to integrate schools in the American South, it was clear which side President Dwight D. Eisenhower was on. Where does Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stand in the Beit Shemesh case?

Only Israel’s Ministry of Education has acted with any sense of justice and equity. The charedi mayor of Beit Shemesh suggested that the violence would end if the school moved somewhere else and the building was handed over to the charedi community. We applaud the ministry’s rejection of that offer, which is nothing less than extortion.

We would applaud even louder if the deputy minister of education — a representative of the charedi Agudath Israel party — would join the parents in protecting the schoolchildren and condemning the violence. He will not do so, however, because charedi leaders say they do not want to identify with what they see as anti-charedi elements. Translated, that means the modern Orthodox.

Would we accept that as an excuse for refusing to denounce anti-Semitism anywhere else in the world?

In America, as in Israel, the leadership of the charedi community needs to be called upon to declare on whose side they stand: with the hooligans, or with the girls?

A spokesman for Agudath Israel of America, Rabbi Avi Shafran, when questioned by The Jewish Standard on Tuesday, condemned the harassment as inappropriate and a violation of Jewish law.

Yet he defended the silence: “I do not believe that a decision to not condemn behavior necessarily implies tolerance of said behavior,” he said.

We disagree, taking the Talmud’s word that “Silence is like assent.”

 This article was reprinted from the Jewish Standard where it first appeared.

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Filed under anti-Semitism, Creative Writing, Judasim, Media, News and Views, Religion

Syria Slaughters, Hamas Terrorizes: Public Relations Firms Advance their Cause

By: Ronn Torossian, February 12th 2012

Asam Al-Assad in VogueIn recent days, we have seen an intensification of the Syrian regime’s attacks on its own people. If reports are correct, more than 5,000 Syrian civilians have been slaughtered on President Bashar al-Assad’s command since the effort to bring the so-called Arab spring to Syria began late last spring. The dead include hundreds of women and children, people who just wanted freedom from a tyrannical regime. Supply lines have been cut; medical supplies are running out, and the United Nations admits that it can neither provide a reliable accounting of the number of dead, nor stop the killing.

This regime is the extension of one begun in 1970, when Hafez al-Assad seized power and which was responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Syrian, including one of the most gruesome massacres in Middle East history, the destruction of the Sunni rebel stronghold of Hama, in which between 10,000 and 20,000 people were killed by government forces. Bashir al-Assad has ruled since his father’s death on 2000 and has been able to maintain his stranglehold on Syria’s people largely because of world indifference, lack of commercial resources, and because of its proximity to Israel.

Read the rest in The Cutting Edge News

Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, one of the 25 largest PR Agencies in the US, and author of “For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations.”

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Filed under anti-Semitism, BDS, Creative Writing, Crisis Management, Cutting Edge News, Israel, News and Views, War against Israel

BDS Movement at University of Pennsylvania only Invite Media who Shill for Them

Juda Engelmayer February 5th 2012

Cutting Edge News Contributor

Israel Topics - BDS_Israel

A Boycott Divest Sanction (BDS) effort organized by students at the Ivy League University of Pennsylvania actively uninvited a reporter of the local newspaper, the Exponent, from attending their forum. Last week, the Jewish Exponent published an article reporting that organizers of the National BDS Conference had barred the paper from covering the weekend conference, but the organizer denied the claim.

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that Matt Berkman, a BDS conference organizer and graduate student at Penn, argued that a writer for the Exponent had published biased articles against the BDS effort to “bring an end to Israel’s system of oppression, segregation and dispossession,” through calls for boycotts and divestment of Israel and Israeli products. Due to the alleged biased reporting, the Penn BDS group ininvited the reporter. They did say that another Jewish Exponent reporter, whose coverage he felt had been fairer, may be able to attend.

Lisa Hostein, the paper’s executive editor, wrote in an article, “It is ironic that a group that purports to be interested in open dialogue, is operating under the cover of free speech and insists it is not anti-Semitic is barring the only Jewish news outlet in town from covering the conference.”

Berkman had emailed the reporter in question saying that organizers were “disinviting” him, because they felt his earlier article titled “BDS Reveals its Real Agenda,” was biased.

Hostein felt the alternate invite was “totally disingenuous,” citing that Berkman knew the other reporter was out of town, but that “nobody has the right to tell a news outlet who should or should not cover an event.”

Berkman told the JTA that “They [The Exponent] have not proposed an alternative, and if they do we will discuss it.”

As an observation; for a movement that claims it is fair and balanced in covering the situation in the Middle East and Israel, and therefore promotes its cause as just, it would seem that choosing to remove a journalist for not agreeing is as controlling and unjust as it purports Israel to be. From a purely public relations perspective, it shows the BDS movement, in particular the one lead by the students at Penn, to be disingenuous at the very least.

Juda Engelmayer is an executive with the NY PR agency, 5W Public Relations and a contributor to the Cutting Edge News.

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Filed under BDS, Creative Writing, Crisis Management, Cutting Edge News, Israel, Juda Engelmayer

Sam LaHood, Son of U.S. Transportation Secretary, Barred from Leaving Egypt

Juda Engelmayer January 27th 2012

The Cutting Edge News Contributor

Egypt - Sam LaHood
Sam LaHood

Ten Americans working for nongovernmental organizations in Egypt have been barred from leaving the country.  Among them is is a son of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Sam LaHood.

Mr. LaHood is director of the Washington-based International Republican Institute’s Egyptian office, an organization that seeks to promote democracy in Egypt.  Mr. LaHood reported that when he showed his passport to the immigration official at the airport on January 21, 2012, he was told to stand aside. He was then told that he could not leave the country, but was given no reason as to why.

Recently, Egypt’s military council has been suggesting that the United States is trying to destabilize Egypt by non-profit human rights groups and these democracy-building agencies.  Upon learning the news of the ban, Washington officials said that Egypt was “endangering American lives.”  Egypt referred to the travel ban as a “de facto detention.”

In December, LaHood’s organizational office in Egypt was raided and police took everything: computers, documents, furniture, and the office was sealed and remains so for the past six weeks. Prior to this ban, the American Embassy had been working hard to get the property back, but nothing has been returned or explained. Lorne W. Craner, President of the International Republican Institute, said that the Egyptian government had promised to close the investigation and return the seized property, but nothing has happened. “Here we are all these weeks later and all these assurances later, and things are getting worse,” Craner said.

Mr. LaHood reported that he complied with investigators, signed a statement on a copy of his passport and pledged to be available for his next “interrogation”. 17 members of LaHood’s staff had been interrogated and three called back for a second session.

President Obama called Egyptian Field Marshal Tantawi to reaffirm the close partnership between the United States and Egypt and to underscore the United States’ support for Egypt’s transition to democracy. The President emphasized that non-governmental organizations should be able to operate freely.

The Obama administration has just unambiguously threatened to withhold its annual aid to the Egyptian military. Michael H. Posner, an assistant secretary of state responsible for human rights issues, said, “It is the prerogative of Congress to say that our future military aid is going to be conditioned on a democratic transition.”

Senator John McCain said statement released by his office Thursday, “This crisis has taken a new and disturbing turn with reports that the Egyptian government is prohibiting employees of these NGOs, including American citizens, from leaving the country.”

“It is worrying enough that Sam and his fellow NGO workers have been singled out by name in Egyptian state-owned media,” McCain said, adding, “it is outrageous that these individuals would be held against their will by Egyptian authorities and prohibited from leaving the country.” He added that action must be taken immediately “for the safety of all of the employees of these NGOs — Americans, Egyptians and others, especially those who have been barred from leaving the country.”

The White House and LaHood have not commented further on negotiations to end the travel ban.

Juda Engelmayer is an executive with the NY PR agency,5W Public Relations and a contributor to the Cutting Edge News.

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Filed under Creative Writing, Egypt, Juda Engelmayer