Terrified Of Terrorism

Terrorism

Sure there are terrorism scares that are just hoaxes, and generally-speaking, we feel quite protected by our nation’s values, wealth, and entrepreneurial spirit, by Homeland Security, and by being surrounded with the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and our friendly neighbors Mexico and Canada. 

So we can be very assured–no fear, right?  That’s what we need and want to function normally in every day life.

But perhaps behind the veil of daily bravado is a not-so subtle fear about something really bad happening again–whether a 9/11 or a San Bernardino or a Boston Bombing or anything in between or even possibly more extreme, including attacks on our critical infrastructure (via kinetic means, cyber attacks, or EMP weapons) or even attacks with WMD (from anthrax to nukes in suitcases)–there is certainly plenty of attack vectors, means, and bad actors. 

It was interesting-scary, the other day, there was a video circulating on Facebook of a “radical Muslim”-like character with a turban or something distinctive (I can’t really remember) and carrying a backpack. In scene after scene, the character goes up to innocent bystanders and throws his backpack in their direction. The people didn’t know him or what was in the backpack or why he was throwing it in their direction. Yet, over and over again, the people jumped up hysterically in fear running for cover like there was very possibly no tomorrow. 

Similarly, we watch on the news almost daily of terrorist attacks around the world–school attacks, beach attacks, restaurants and cafe attacks, theater attacks, grocery store attacks, house of worship attacks, funeral attacks, ambulance attacks…and there literally is no end to this list of what and who is considered a legitimate target by terrorists–we all are.

In the last couple of weeks, there was surveillance captured of Muslim women visiting a number of synagogues in Miami around the same time and asking questions suspiciously–could they have been staking these out for possible future attack, similar to the attack on a Jerusalem synagogue with butcher knives, axes, and guns that massacred people praying and in devotion to their maker?

In the last half a year, we have seen terrorism morph in Israel from volleys of missiles indiscriminately shot at cities, tunnels to attack and abduct, and suicide/homicide bombings to become up close and personal butcher knife attacks in the throat, chest, and back of victims old, young, man, women. Everyone who is available to kill is being called to martyrdom, even the most little children being indoctrinated to slash and thrust a knife into any unsuspecting victim. 

So as we listen and watch the goings-on in the world and we say to ourselves those attacks happen in Paris and London and Turkey and Ukraine and Libya and Tunisia and Nigeria and Yemen and Lebanon and Syria and Iraq and Kuwait and Pakistan and Afghanistan and India and Indonesia and and and…but not [so much] over here. 

We say it, and we hope it, and we pray it, but in the back of our minds we instinctively fear otherwise. 

So while panic is certainly not helpful, perhaps phony bravado is not what is really needed either, but rather a renewed focus, investment, and commitment to our security–with more gates, guns, guards, intelligence, and advances in technology to stop the next attack(s). 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Irina Slutsky)

Welcome Ebola To America!

Ambulance Patient
While our self-declared intelligentsia has decided to keep the commercial flights open to Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, experts are predicting that new ebola cases will reach 10,000 per week by December!


Moreover, the United Nations has warned that if Ebola is not controlled within the next 60 days, “the world faces an ‘unprecedented situation’ for which there is no plan.”

But by the time, we get our political will and act together, who knows…


What isn’t helping are publications like Bloomberg Businessweek, with another classic asinine article this time by Charles Kenny who writes–get this–that “A Travel Ban Is a Terrible Idea.”


While Kenny acknowledges “Travel restrictions have a long history as a tool against spreading infection” dating back already to the Middle Ages, Kenny is concerned about the “trade-offs” of quarantining the source countries–“because the benefits of contact outweigh the risks”–i.e. “People want to travel to see family and friends, visits places, work, or invest.”


Well Mr. Kenny, how about that people want to live and not die because of the irresponsible spread of this deadly virus? Two-thirds of the public, as well as many in Congress, and the media have already called for a common sense temporary travel ban. 


Kenny then goes on to exaggerate and talk about how laughable it is that we would “completely seal off the U.S. from the rest of the world” even though what we are talking about are just the countries where this deadly infection is currently raging. 


Further, Kenny is concerned not about containing the disease and protecting the more than 300,000,000 people in this country, but about the possibility that a ban on commercial flights “will deter people from volunteering to work in the region”–here again, Kenny ignores that specialized, trained people from the military, World Health Organization, Doctors Without Borders, and more are already being deployed–although too little too late. 


Incredibly, Kenny even compares Ebola to the common flu, and intimates that since we don’t quarantine for the seasonal flu, why should we do it for Ebola–uh, Mr. Kenny have you heard that Ebola has a 70% mortality rate!


Finally, Kenny says in his defeatist way, “We live in a global disease pool. In the end, once a disease begins to spread, there’s no escaping an infection.”


Hello Mr. Kenny, we have a responsibility to prevent and protect our people–there is no place for your throwing in the towel on all of us–what a shame that Bloomberg makes this dangerous rhetoric the Opening Remarks for their magazine. 


There is long established protocol of quarantine to stop the spread of infection–not that it would necessarily be 100% successful, but at least it would help contain and control the spread from getting worse, and we would learn to improve as we go along, and live to fight and save more lives now and in the future.


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Smart Electronic Skin

Bug
I liked this concept reported on in BBC Technology about using swarms of sensors to create a type of electronic or “smart skin.”



Like nerves in our human skin, multitudes of sensors placed on anything that we want to monitor, could create a sensing/feeling and reporting mechanism for evaluating the health or condition of that thing. 



Rather than wait for something to fail or break, we could actively collect information on changes in “temperature, strain, and movement” and other environmental impacts to analyze and predict any issues and proactively address them with countermeasures, maintenance, or fixes. 



As human beings, we are architected with regular monitoring and self-healing biological systems to protect ourselves from daily dangers around us, we can develop homes, factories, transport, robots, and everything important around us with similar properties to be more durable, last longer and be more productive.  



When we emulate in our own development efforts what G-d has created for the good in the world, we are on the right track. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Have You Ever Seen A Shark With Cancer?

Have You Ever Seen A Shark With Cancer

For a long time people have learned from the animal kingdom.

We learn how to fly from birds, how to swim from fish, how to fight from lions and tigers, and so on.

But an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal gave this new and expanded meaning to me.

Researchers are now looking at animals to learn how to ward off some of the worst diseases known to man.

For example, apparently Sharks do not get cancer, but more than that even when scientists spent 10 years trying to induce cancer in sharks, they couldn’t!

Shark have compounds that actually kill tumors–WOW!–If we could learn how to mimic that in humans, imagine the death and suffering that could be prevented, and the extension and perhaps quality of life that could be gained.

Similarly, grizzly bears, which can weigh 1,000 pounds, and can eat 58,000 calories a day, put on 100 pounds or more in the weeks right before they hibernate for the winter, yet bears don’t suffer from routine ailments of obesity, such as diabetes, heart attacks, and strokes.

Not that any of us want to be 1,000 pounds, but imagine if heavy people did not get all sorts of diseases from clogged arteries and the like.

While heart disease and cancer each accounts for 1 out of every 4 deaths in the U.S. and are the top two leading causes of death–how amazing would it be if we could not only “talk to the animals, walk with the animals…” but also fight disease like the animals? 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Nasty Flu Shot

Nasty Flu Shot

I took my daughter for a flu shot last evening.

We went through the typical drawn-out paperwork and long wait to get something so routine.

When the medical practitioner finally arrived with the flu shot, there was a little baggy with all the acoutrements including alcohol wipe, band-aid, cotton, etc.

As the lady starts taking out the items to get ready for giving the shot, she drops the cotton on the floor.

She picks it up quickly, and pretending we didn’t see, she quickly throws it back on the medical tray.

Now I am watching…

She open the band-aid and places it at the ready on the side.

Then she get the syringe AND the cotton that had just fallen on the floor, ready in hand.

As she is about to give the shot, I say, “You’re not going to use the cotton on my daughter that just fell on the floor, are you?”

Her eyes look askance and she throws the cotton back down on the tray, and says, “Oh, of course not.”

I spoke with my daughter afterwards about this as it was hard to understand how a medical practitioner could on one hand, be administering a helpful medicine to a patient, and at the same time, was about to use a dirty cotton on the wound afterwards.

What happened to people actually caring about people and taking pride in the jobs they do, rather than just being in it for the paycheck only?

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Sun Dazed)

The Iranian Gambit

The Iranian Gambit

Important developments going on with Iranian Nuclear Crisis…

According to the Jerusalem Post, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is asking for a deal that dismantles Iran’s ability to prepare fissile material, the core of a nuclear bomb–which Iran has threatened to use to annihilate the State of Israel.

This is in stark contrast to a mere suspension of enrichment activity or reduction of stockpiles that still leaves this dangerous nuclear capability in the hands of the radical Islamic Republic.

After coming out of the Holocaust Museum, Yad Vashem, in Jerusalem with French President Hollande, Netanyahu said to Hollande:

“You said when you came out that the experience of the Holocaust places a very special responsibility on all of us. Francios, I want to tell you the burden it places on me. It is my duty to prevent anyone who credibly threatens to execute another Holocaust against the Jewish people. That is my obligation, but our common obligation for mankind and for our common future.”

Further, Prime Minister Netanyahu stated:

“We live here. We know something about this region. We know a great deal about Iran and its plans. Its worthwhile to pay attention to what we say.”

Less than 70 year after the Holocaust of six million Jews at the sadistic hands of the Nazi murders, there is no room for error with the Mullahs in Iran.

It seems like we are coming to a conclusion on this soon, as the Jewish people have learned it is better to live by taking your best shot, than die by going like sheep to the slaughter.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to marsmet546)

Insuring Against Cyber Attacks

Insuring Against Cyber Attacks

More and more, our technology is at risk of a cyber attack.

In fact, just today the Wall Street Journal reported that Iran has hacked into the Navy’s unclassified network.

While we can fix the computers that were attacked, the damage done in terms of data exfiltration and malware infiltration is another matter.

To fix the computers, we can wipe them, swap out the drives, or actually replace the whole system.

But the security breaches still often impose lasting damage, since you can’t get the lost data or privacy information back or as they say “put the genie back in the bottle.”

Also, you aren’t always aware of hidden malware that can lie dormant, like a trojan horse, nor can you immediately contain the damage of a spreading computer virus, such as a zero-day attack.

According to Federal Times, on top of more traditional IT security precautions (firewalls, antivirus, network scanning tools, security settings, etc.), many organizations are taking out cybersecurity insurance policies.

With insurance coverage, you transfer the risk of cybersecurity penetrations to cover the costs of compromised data and provide for things like “breach notification to victims, legal costs and forensics, and investigative costs to remedy the breach.”

Unfortunately, because there is little actuarial data for calculating risks, catastrophic events such as “cyber espionage and attacks against SCADA industrial controls systems are usually not covered.

DHS has a section on their website that promotes cybersecurity insurance where they state that the Department of Commerce views cybersecurity insurance as an “effective, market-driven way of increasing cybersecurity,” because it promotes preventive measures and best practices in order to lower insurance premiums and limits company losses from an attack.

Moreover, according to the DHS Cybersecurity Insurance Workshop Readout Report (November 2012) cybersecurity insurance or risk transfer is the fourth leg of a comprehensive risk management framework that starts with risk acceptance, risk mitigation, and risk avoidance.

I really like the idea of cybersecurity insurance to help protect organizations from the impact of cybersecurity attacks and for promoting sound cybersecurity practices to begin with.

With cyber attacks, like with other catastrophes (fire, flood, accident, illness, and so on), we will never be able to fully eliminate the risks, but we can prepare ourselves by taking out insurance to help cover the costs of reconstituting and recovery.

Buying insurance for cybersecurity is not capitulating our security, but rather adding one more layer of constructive defense. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)