Startups are the latest craze in the business world. Creating new technologies and new industries, startup companies are leading the way to the future in the arenas of business and technology. But all that glitters is not gold and for all of the shiny new-ness of startups, there is a downside.

Author and journalist Dan Lyons has been writing about the technology sector for nearly three decades. Like many traditional industries, journalism has been changed, mostly by the internet. That means for many, including Mr. Lyons, the loss of his job.

In his early fifties and married with two growing children at home, he had to find employment. After loosing his job at Newsweek, he was offered a job at the Hubspot, a startup marketing firm. It seemed like the ideal position for a man with his background and experience. What he found was a company filled with employees who were half his age, colleagues who acted more like fraternity brothers than adults working in a professional office and company owners whose business philosophy was akin to throwing caution to the wind and hoping it would add to the bottom line.

I found this book to be fascinating. It was fascinating because it revealed the true state of not just business, but the economy in America. Employees over a certain age (and in Mr. Lyon’s age bracket more specifically), regardless of the years of experience they have, often face job discrimination. Companies are opened with lofty goals and products and rely on investors to keep the doors open, but rarely see a decent profit. Unlike decades ago, when employees were guaranteed decent salary and benefits in return for their loyalty and hard work, employees are fired at the turn of a dime.

I recommend it.

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A Royal Night Out Movie Review

No one goes through life without at least one youthful rebellion to call their own. Not even royalty.

In the 2015 film, A Royal Night Out, World War II has just ended. The British people have taken to the streets, elated that the war is over.

Inside Buckingham Palace, Princess Elizabeth (Sarah Gadon) and Princess Margaret (Bel Powley) are eager to join in the celebration. But their parents, the King and Queen of England (Rupert Everett and Emily Watson) would prefer that their daughters celebrate within the castle walls. With a little bit of coaxing from the girls, permission is granted by the King And Queen. But there are a few caveats: the girls must stay with the soldiers who have been assigned to chaperone them, attend only approved events and be home by a certain time.

The exact opposite occurs. Combining the elements of adventure, the potential of young romance and a little youthful rebellion, this film introduces audiences of a certain age to a new side of Queen Elizabeth II: young, eager for adventure and willing to take a few risks.

What I like about this film is that it speaks to all us. We have all, in own unique ways, rebelled against the constrictions placed upon by our elders. There is a danger and an excitement to that rebellion, regardless of the details of the rebellion.

I recommend it.

A Royal Night Out is on DVD.

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Women’s Equality Day

Yesterday was Women’s Equality Day.

Ratified in 1971 by Congress, the idea of the Women’s Equality Day was started by the late, great Bella Abzug.

American women and women around the world have come very far, compared to where we were only two generations ago.

But the fight must continue. For every battle we have won, there are many more that must be won. There are still parts of the world where women are second class citizens who are denied the right to vote, to work, to marry whom they want to, etc.

Thanks Bella, wherever you are. You got the ball rolling, it is up to us to keep it rolling.

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Flashback Friday-Real Women Have Curves (2002)

The average American women is a size 12. Most of us look more like Marilyn Monroe than the waif-thin model walking the runway. But that does not mean that the pressure to look a certain way or wear a certain size does not affect us.

In the 2002 movie, Real Women Have Curves, Ana Garcia (American Ferrera) is caught between a rock and a hard place. The daughter of Mexican immigrants living in Los Angeles, Ana is the lucky recipient of a full scholarship to attend Columbia University in New York City. The problem is that her parents feel that their daughter should stay in California and earn a living first. Can Ana reconcile her dreams with her parent’s wishes and the traditional life that is expected of her?

I like this movie for two reasons: the first is that anyone who is a first generation American can relate to Ana’s struggle. The children of immigrants are often caught between the old world that their families still cling to and their own desires that does not always mesh well with the old world traditions and the old world rules. The other reason I like this movie is because Ana is a young woman who is not only trying to find her own way in the world, but also dealing with the pressure to be a certain size.

I recommend it.

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RIP Aaliyah

Yesterday marked the 15th anniversary of the death of Aaliyah.

She died at the young age of 22 in a plane crash, returning from filming a music video.

Some people are destined to live to see their golden years. Aaliyah was not among them.

A gifted performer, her breakthrough album, Age Aint Nothing But A Number, hit the charts in 1994. She released two more albums before hitting the big screen. Starring in two movies, Romeo Must Die (2000) and Queen Of The Damned (2002), Aaliyah’s star was on the rise when she was tragically killed.

I remember when I heard about her passing. It the beginning of my junior year of college, I had just moved into my dorm and the news was all over the internet.

Unlike other performers, she was humble and down to earth. She was ambitious without being greedy or manipulative. She knew she had talent, but also knew that talent will only get you so far.

In honor of her memory, I present to you a brief retrospective of her career.

RIP Aaliyah. Your body may be gone, but your spirit, your work and the impression you left on family, friends, colleagues and fans will forever live on.

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Throwback Thursday-Jawbreaker (1999)

Movies set in high school can be pretty cliché sometimes. Those films can get really boring really fast. Then there are the ones that are not so boring.

Jawbreaker (1999) is one of them.

The prom queen is dead. She was killed by her “best friends”, Courtney (Rose McGowan), Julie (Rebecca Gayheart) and Marcie (Julie Benz) during a kidnapping gone wrong. The only witness to the crime is Fern (Judy Greer), who basically fades in the social background in school. To make sure that Fern never spills the means, Courtney transforms her into Vylette, the new girl in school. With Fern is re-introduced to her classmates as Vylette, Julie is having second thoughts and the detectives closing in, will the truth be brought to light?

The best thing about this movie is its biting satire. It has all of the hallmarks of a high school movie in terms of narrative and plot, but ups the ante with a surreal view of high school and the true to life reveal of the social pecking order in high school.

I recommend it.

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A Noble Masquerade Book Review

Society often forces us to act in ways that goes against our innate sense of self. As hard as it is, it is sometimes easier to go with the flow than rebel and deal with the consequences.

In the new Regency romance novel, A Nobel Masquerade, by Kristi Ann Hunter, Lady Miranda Hawthorne lives like the daughter and a sister of a Duke should live, at least externally. But internally, she is screaming to rebel. Her only release from the internal tension are letters that she writes (which are never to be mailed), to an old friend of her brother whom she knows by name only.

At the same time, a new servant has entered the servant’s wing. Marlow is the new valet to Miranda’s brother. Despite the wide social gulf between them, Miranda finds herself starts to fall in love with Marlow. Then Miranda receives a letter from the man who she has been writing privately to for years. But Marlow is not what he seems to be. Neither is the man who is responding to Miranda’s letters. The only thing that is clear in this mess is that Miranda’s future is not the only one at stake, especially when secrets are brought into the light.

I thought the concept of this story was interesting. However, I’ve read enough of the genre to know that this particular story was merely mediocre. Neither the hero or the heroine were particularly inspiring or thrilling and the narrative could have used some punching up. Adding to that was the use of modern language which felt out-of-place in the Regency era. I understand that this is Ms. Hunter’s first novel and the use of modern linguistic terms could be dismissed as a rookie mistake. However, I will say that when writing and researching a historical novel, it is important to get all of the details right about the period that the story takes place in. That detail includes language.

Do I recommend it? I think I am leaning toward no.

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Viking Warrior Rising Book Review

The romance genre used to consist of a standard narrative: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gains girl. It is standard but boring. Thankfully, a new genre of romance novels have elevated this very standard narrative. The niche genre of paranormal romance brings in new characters and new narratives to what is a very tried and true, but cliché story.

In Asa Maria Bradley’s new paranormal romance, Viking Warrior Rising, Naya Brisbane is a fugitive super soldier. Her one goal is to not only keep her brother safe, but return him to full health.

That plan gets derailed when Naya saves Leif Skarsganger, the leader of a band of immortal Viking g-ds. After Naya saves Leif, Leif’s warrior spirit is not shy about wanting Naya. The problem is that Naya has a past and that past is catching up with her. She does not want or need a relationship, but the more time Naya spends with Leif, the more she starts to see a future with him.

This book is very interesting for a number of reasons. First is that the author has woven in Nordic myth, pseudo-scientific language, and every day modern life. The second is that Naya and all of the female characters are not the standard “someday my prince will come” heroine that is usually specific to the genre. Naya is a badass who, when we meet her, is not looking for a relationship. She just saves a guy who she sees in trouble.

That being said, I have three problems with this narrative: the first is that the climax of the story is not really the climax and the villain of the story is a no-show. He is spoken of and certain sends his minions to do his dirty work, but he is not seen or heard. The second problem is outside of the building relationship between Naya and Leif, I really was not interested in any of the other characters. The third and final problem is that the dialogue was a bit dry for my taste.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Indignation Movie Review

College, from my experience, at least, is a transitional period in our lives. We are not children anymore, but we are not adults yet either. It is that strange place when we are starting to figure out who we are and what we want out of life.

The new film, Indignation, based on the 2008 book of the same name by respected writer Philip Roth, takes place in 1951.

Marcus Messner (Logan Lerman) is a young man of Jewish descent from Newark, New Jersey. He spends his days working with his father, Max (Danny Burstein) at the butcher shop that bears the family name. Life is about to change for Marcus. He is about to start college at Winesburg College in Winesburg, Ohio.

The first person in his immediate family to attend college, Marcus is looking forward to not just the educational opportunities, but also the distance between college and his father, who is becoming irrational about many things, his son included.

Marcus develops a crush and has a date with Olivia Hutton (Sarah Gadon), one of his classmates. Olivia may appear to be healthy and normal, but underneath, she is dealing with a host of complicated issues. Marcus continues to spend time with Olivia, despite the concerns of his classmates and even his own mother, Esther (Linda Emond).

Set in a time of repression and the expectation to fit in, this film is the story of a young man trying to find his own way. While certain sections of the narrative seemed a little slow, the ending was completely out of left field. I walked out of the movie theater with the thought that my mind was blown.

I recommend it.

Indignation is presently in theaters.

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Omran Daqneesh, The War In Syria And The Real Human Rights Tradgedy

This past week, an image flew around the world.

It’s no secret that the war in Syria has created a massive refugee crisis. 250,000 innocent civilians have been killed. Millions more fled Syria, hoping to rebuild their lives in Europe, America and other Middle Eastern countries.

Omran Daqneesh’s family chose to stay, instead of fleeing with their neighbors and friends. This week, this little boy’s home was bombed. While the family survived physically, emotionally, they may never been the same.

The image of this little boy sitting in the ambulance is heartbreaking. Covered in dust and blood, his eyes are emotionless.

My heart breaks for this child. While the physical wounds will heal, the emotional wounds may never heal. This boy did nothing to either the Syrian government or the rebels, but he and his family must suffer the consequences of this senseless war.

The question I have to ask is where are the protests against the Syrian government? Where are the demands for either side to back down and come to the table peacefully? There are none.

While this child and his family are the true face of the senseless violence and the cost of war, the vitriol and the fake accusations against Israel continue unabated.

The BDS movement takes pleasure in promoting falsehoods and breaking down Israel, while ignoring the facts and the true human rights tragedy of our time.

Did I mention that Syrian refugees who cross the border into Israel are being treated at Israeli hospitals? Did I also mention that Israeli Arabs have full rights under the Israeli government and are treated no differently than citizens of other faiths?

Maybe it’s time we looked at the facts before we opened our mouths.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

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