Cracking Heads–In War and Work

Thought this was an amazing painting of the medieval battlefield.


The warrior in the center is using his war hammer to literally split heads open.


Not only for physical fighting (i.e. life and death), I’ve heard this term in the past used in the office setting:

“Cracking heads” to get things done. 

While war is war, I don’t think that getting to progress in the office ever merits cracking anyone’s head–let along with a battle hammer. 


Yes, people can be stubborn and occasionally pose obstacles to moving forward, but that is what communication skills and persuasion are for.


You have to seriously question the leadership and sanity of anyone who thinks and talks about hurting people at work. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Everything Else Is Anticlimactic

VeteransDay
We went to a Veterans Day Concert yesterday, and it was quite moving.



Before the music–60’s and 70’s (and some dancing)–started, there were a number of heartfelt speeches by distinguished veterans of the Vietnam War.



One lady was a nurse in Saigon working 16 hour days tending to the wounded and dying from the battlefield. She joined the army after 8 of her high school friends from her small hometown were killed in the war. The nurse told us how on the flight to Nam, they were told to look to the person on the immediate right and left of you, becuase one of you will not be coming home.



Another speaker was a special forces Army Ranger who was fighting in North Vietnam on very dangerous covert missions. He led many draftees, who he said had only minimal training, yet fought bravely on missions with bullets flying overhead and mortars and rockets pounding their positions. He described one situation where he knelt down to look at a map with one of his troops, and as they were in that psition half a dozen bullets hit into the tree right above their heads–if they had not been crouched down looking at the map, they would’ve both been dead. 



A third speaker was a veteran who had been been hit by a “million dollar shot” from the enemy–one that didn’t kill or cripple him, but that had him sent him to a hospital for 4-6 weeks and then ultimately home from the war zone. He told of his ongoing activities in the veterans community all these years, and even routinely washing the Veteran’s Wall Memorial in Washington D.C. 



Aside from the bravery and fortitude of all these veterans, what was fascinating was how, as the veterans reflected, EVERYTHING else in their lives was anticlimactic after fighting in the war. The nurse for example read us a poem about the ladies in hell (referring to the nurses caring for the wounded) and how they never talked about the patients in Nam because it was too painful, and when they returned home, they had the classic symptoms of PTSD including the hellish nightmares of being back there. 



Indeed, these veterans went through hell, and it seems that it was the defining moment in (many if not most of) their lives, and they are reliving it in one way or another every moment of every day. 



Frankly, I don’t know how they did it being dropped on the other side of the world with, as the special forces Vet explained, maps that only told you in very general terms wherer you even where, and carrying supplies for at least 3 days at a time of C-rations, water, ammo, and more–and with the enemy all around you (“there were no enemy lines in this war; if you stepped out of your units area, it was almost all ‘unfriendly.'”). One Vet said that if you were a 2nd Lt., like she was, your average lifespan over there was 20 minutes. 



The big question before we go to war and put our troops in harms way is what are we fighting for and is it absolutely necessary. For the troops being sent to the battlezone, everything else is just anticlimactic–they have been to hell. 



(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)

From Pepper Spray to Champagne

From Pepper Spray to Champagne

Shhh! This is the story of drones.

Drones continue to go from battlefield to backyard.

Initially, developed for advanced persistent surveillance and later weaponized for targeting terrorists, we heard the like of Jeff Bezos promise drones for Amazon delivery.

Once again, the double-edge of drones continues…

This week we saw the introduction of scary, “Riot Control Drones” developed by Desert Wolf (a military contractor) that can shoot 4,000 rounds of pepper spray, paint balls, and non-lethal plastic projectiles, employs bright strobe lights and blinding lasers, and issues commands and warnings through loud speakers, and monitors crowds of protesters by high-definition and thermal vision cameras.

At the same time, we saw drones being used as Flying Bel Hops in the luxury Casa Madrona hotel and spa in California for delivering champagne, treats, toys, and even sunglasses to their $10,000 a night guests on their guest deck or even to a boat out on the bay.

And we are still only at the beginning, with drones, and robotics in general, moving to revolutionize our world.

Robots will surveil, they will attack and kill, and they will serve people everywhere from restaurants and retail to hospitals and homes.

You can’t shush the robots, they are on the march and they will have the means to help and hurt people–it won’t be simple, but it definitely will be completely invasive. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

From Flat Tires To Wounded Warriors

Totally awesome new technology breakthrough for treating hemorraging patients from the battlefield to the obstetrics ward.

Popular Science reports how a pocket-size syringe filled with sponges can stop bleeding in seconds.

Instead of having to apply wads of gauze and apply pressure”that doesn’t always work…[and] medic must pull out all the gauze and start over again,” the injection of sponges into the wound “boosts survival and spares injured soldiers from additional pain.”

This same technology developed by RevMedx for the military is being adapted for postpartum hemmorages, and I would imagine could eventually be used in other serious bleeding cases whether caused by accident, trauma, in surgery, or other medical necessity.

The sponges are about 1-centimeter circles and are coated with a blood-clotting, antimicrobial substance.

Once injected, the sponges expand to about 20 times their size to fill the wound, apply enough pressure to stop the bleending, and clings to moist surfaces, so they aren’t forced out by gushing blood.

The sponges have X-shaped markers on each that are visible on an x-ray image to ensure none are left inside.

The solution is sterile, biocompatible and in the future may be biodegradable so they don’t have to be removed from the body.

And to think that the inspiration was Fix-a-Flat foam for emergency tire repair. 😉

The Guardian of Israel

“The Guardian of Israel neither slumbers or sleeps.” (Psalms 121:4)

Much is being celebrated about Israel’s new Iron Dome missile defense system with approximately 90% success rate for shooting down incoming missiles threatening populated areas and critical infrastructure.

However, Foreign Policy Magazine (20 November 2012) is touting another amazing advance by Israel, this time in robotic weapons systems.

It is called The Guardian Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV), and it is made by G-NIUS.

It’s a fully armored vehicle with 660 pounds of electronic sensors and weapons.

The Guardian can autonomously “run patrol of predetermined routes” or it can be controlled via remote or mobile command center.

– It can run at 50 miles per hour, has powerful off-road capability, and an robust obstacle detection and avoidance system.

– Guardian can carry 1.2 tons of ammunition and supplies.

– The robotic vehicle is outfitted with all-weather video and thermal cameras, microphones, loudspeakers, and electronic countermeasures.

– It alerts to suspicious activity, identifies sources of fire, and by human operator can open fire with “auto-taret acquisition”.

This versatile weaponized robot can be used for force protection or to guard strategic assets, it can be used for perimeter, border or convey security, and for combat or logistical support missions.

It is easy to see how UGVs like this, especially in concert with UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) can take on the enemy and help keep the troops out of harm’s way.

For the future of UGVs and UAVs, think of a swarm, with masses of robots managing the battlefield both with and without human operators, and the vision of Star Wars on the ground and in space is just generations of robots away.

Kamikaze UAVs

Check out the new AeroVironment’s Switchblade–a weaponized Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)–demoed at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI).
The Switchblade is a backpack-sized, portable drone that can be launched by our soldiers on the battlefield to locate the enemy and take them out.
The Switchblades are weaponized drones–they are easily deployed from their launch tunes and then piloted remotely or autonomously to recon enemy positions.
Once the enemy is located, the operator can arm the drone and quietly send it in on a suicide bombing run–flying straight into the enemy target.
Popular Science and MSNBC is reporting that the U.S. Army has made a multi-million dollar order for these little kamikazes. 
The video demonstrates how soldiers under attack quickly and effectively use the Swichblade drones to safely counter and strike against enemy attackers.
Instead of calling in for reinforcements, our troops will now have the capability to deploy their own aerial support–anytime, anywhere.
Self-sufficiency is a great thing, especially when the enemy thinks they have you pinned down–and then boom! 😉

Robot Fighters Coming Soon

Maars
I love keeping up with the latest in robotics, especially when it comes to battlefield versions.
The Wall Street Journal (19 August 2011) featured QinetiQ’s Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System (MAARS) today as “America’s Newest Soldiers.”
MAARS features tank treads, days and night vision cameras, a 4-barrel 40mm high-explosive grenade launcher, and a M240B 7.62mm machine gun.
“It can stand sentry at a checkpoint and warn people away with a police style hailer, a nonblinding laser, tear gas or smoke grenades.  As a last resort, it can fire lethal rounds.”
Watching this thing, I imagine the D Day landings in Normandy would’ve looked a lot different with a swarm of these fellows landing on those bullet-riddled beaches.
The nature of the fight is changing and whoever stands in front of one of these armed robots (and even better next generation versions to come) better be prepared to say “bye bye, it was nice knowing you.”  😉
(Source Photo: here)