I took this photo of a sign in Florida advertising a “Dog Psychology Center.”
I think my dad would say that anyone taking their dog there should have their head examined!
Apparently, Cesar Millan is a fairly well-known “Dog Behaviorist” who works with especially aggressive dogs to rehabilitate them–soothing the savage beast!
There are enough people with mental problems that don’t get the help they need that it seems somewhat excessive to have dogs going to the psychologist, but people are still homeless and in rags on the streets of our cities.
At Country Inn Pet Resort your dog can be “mastering the walk,” be socialized, get obedience training, and even learn to swim.
Sounds nice to send your pet to a “resort,” but do they really need a psychologist or do you just want to ignore your pet the same way you ignore your children? 😉
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
These shoes are called Kangoo Jumps.
They provide the high-tech bounce for dancing, running, or other exercise.
This video is from their 2014 International Festival in Florida that I had the opportunity to watch.
Amazing what the participants were able to do and the fun they had.
I’d like a pair and to be able to kick up my heels like that too. 😉
(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)
This last week was another week for gross social injustice.
As it has now been widely reported, a wealthy drunken teen stole 2 cases of beer and then plowed into a stranded motorist and 3 bystanders who were trying to help–and killed them all.
The teen was 3x over the alcohol limit!
What an irony: 3 people stop to help a stranger in need and they are killed by someone who cares nothing for human life.
And the flagrant injustice of it all is that the kid was let off on 5 years probation and will attend a $450,000 a year private school rather than going to prison.
On the news this week, they interviewed the husband and father of 2 of the dead, killed by this teen. He is broken.
The defense teen argued “Affluenza” — like a disease, the kid should be let off the hook because…he is unbelievably wealthy and therefore was not given proper parental supervision–in effect, he is a victim of having too much–too many things, too much opportunity, but too little parenting as well.
I guess I never realized that justice meant if you had too much you could murder 4 people and walk!
While others that have too little–education, jobs, money, 2-parent families, and so on–must take the rap and go away for their crimes.
Too much–you can buy your way free.
Too little–you get sent up the river without a paddle.
Wouldn’t you think it should be the other way around–if you have more, then more is expected of you. While if you have less, your challenges are greater and so we take into account extenuating circumstances?
But no, money talks, and the guilty walks.
It is a shame on our society–and what we inappropriately call a justice system.
Whether the money buys you a top-rated defense attorney, paying off some officials or jurors, or provide alternatives to the the same punishment and rehabilitation that others must face, there is no denying that money influences the outcome.
Sort of reminds me of the infamous O.J. trial–another travesty of justice. How many more?
Funny, how art imitates life and life imitates art–in Season 2 of Homeland, the son of the V.P. drinks and drives and also kills someone and gets off with nothing but a slap on the wrist.
You see it’s not whether you’re black or white or yellow or whatever, it’s plain hard !!power!! and $$cash$$.
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
CNN has a video out today on this amazing new technology for paraplegics.
It is a miraculous robotic exoskeleton called the ReWalk by Argo Medical Technologies in Israel.
The inventor, Dr. Amit Goffer, is himself quadriplegic and asked a simple question, “Why is a wheelchair the only answer for those with spinal injuries?”
He challenged the status quo and now there is a way for paralyzed people to stand and walk again.
I choose this video for the blog, because I found it so immensely inspiring to see someone previously wheelchair-bound participating in a marathon in Tel Aviv this year.
The ReWalk is strapped on and has motorized joints and sensors and a battery pack.
When combined with some braces, a person has mobility again on their feet!
I cried when I saw the patient, Radi Kaiuf go over the finish line after walking 10 kilometers with the ReWalk and everyone, including the children on the sidelines, cheering for him.
Congratulation to all the researchers from the Technion University who helped make this a reality–hopefully people around the world, who are in are in need, will be able to benefit in the future and walk again.
Truly, mobility is life! 😉
I love the direction DARPA is going in with robotic exoskeletons for our warfighters.
Helping soldiers perform their jobs easier, more capably, and with less injury using human augmentation is good sense.
Military men and women often carry weight in excess of 100 pounds for long distances and perform other tasks that challenge human physical endurance.
Creating a durable “soft, lightweight under[or over]suit that would help reduce injuries and fatigue and improve soldiers ability to efficiently perform their missions” is an smart and achievable goal, and one that would give us great advantage in the battlefield.
The timeframe of 2012-2016 is an aggressive deadline to form the mix of core technologies, integrate them, and develop a wearable prototype.
I think the goal of having this be “potentially wearable by 90% of the U.S. Army population” is notable as not something that is for just special forces or unique missions, but rather something that can medically protect and make for a superior fighting force for all of our men and women.
This is really only the beginning of human augmentation with sensors, storage, processors, and robotics to make our warriors fight with the best that both man and machine has to offer. It’s not a fight of man versus machine, but of man and machine.
Seeing and hearing farther and with more clarity, connecting and communicating timely and under all conditions, processing loads of data into actionable information, fighting and performing mission with superior skills (strength, speed, dexterity, and endurance) and integrated weapon systems, guiding warriors to their targets and home safely–these are goals that man-machine augmentation can bring to reality.
And of course, the sheer medical and rehabilitative benefits of these technologies in caring for the sick and disabled in society is enough to “pedal to metal” drive these efforts alone.
Like on the prescient show from the 70’s, The Six Million Dollar Man, “We can rebuild him. We have the technology…Better than he was before. Better…stronger…faster.”
And I would add healthier and more deadly! 😉
(Source Photo: here with attribution to DARPA and Boston Dynamics)
As the hour approaches for a punishing U.S. attack on Syria, here are some thought on why or why not to do it:
Reasons Not To Attack Syria:
War-weary–The U.S. has been fighting back since 9/11 2001, how much more blood and treasure should we spend in a war that has brought limited results with over 5K dead and over 50K wounded Americans and costing almost $1.5 trillion dollars so far.
World policeman–No country alone, including the U.S. can be the policeman for the world. We cannot get involved in every war and skirmish: we can’t afford it; it is a distraction from our full slate of pressing domestic issues, and we ourselves are not perfect.
International Discord–Russia and China, two other U.N. Security Council members are not on board with us in punishing Syria for use of chemical weapons or for ending the conflict there. Even the U.K backed out of the operation.
Potential backlash–Syria, Hezbollah, or Iran may lash out at American interests, including neighboring Israel, embassies/posts worldwide, oil infrastructure, and more.
Limited strike, limited benefits–With all the media and lack of secrecy on this operation, the Syrians have had the notice and time to vacate suspected target attack sites and move critical equipment out. Also, we have already ruled out attacking the chemical weapons themselves due to fear of collateral damage. Plus, we have already said that we are not going to try and unseat Assad or end the fighting. So will hitting some empty buildings in a civil war that has already been going for more than 2 years have anything but symbolic impact?
Reasons To Attack Syria:
Morality–We can’t stand idly by while Assad indiscriminately is killing civilians (including women and children).
Norms of War–We must send a message that use of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) is horrific and a precedent that is unacceptable.
Red Line–We drew a red line and now we must adhere to it; our words and deeds must be consistent or else we lose credibility.
Punish bad behavior–The Syrian civil war has cost over 100,000 lives so far and displaced millions, torturing and executing civilians and using chemical weapons is bad nation state behavior and must be punished to mete out justice, as a deterrent, as a rehabilitative action, and to reimpose some equality back in the fight.
Protect Ourselves–Being clear and sending a global message that use of WMD is unacceptable helps in the end to protect us from being victims of such a dastardly deed as well. It is in our own national self-interest.
Axis of Evil–Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah are working together to spread Anti-American and Anti-Israel hatred, terrorism, and to develop WMD (including Nukes) to threaten us and establish a greater stranglehold on the Middle-East as well as Europe. This is a war that is not desired by us, but one that has been thrust upon us by adversaries seeking our destruction.
If we do it, then we should do it right.
“Sending a message,” in Syria rather than fighting to win something strategically meaningful and tangible continues to leave us vulnerable and just having to fight another day.
We can’t straddle issues of morality, norms of war, and defense of our nation and way of life–either take out Assad, end the bloodshed, and establish a peaceful, democratic government or what is the point?
Obviously, there are arguments to be made on either side.
But what is frustrating is that making a decision after we’ve concluded wrongdoing, and doing something positive is seeming to take too long, and strong leadership is required to bring resolution and greater good.
Moreover, we need to look at the greater threat picture, so while sending Tomahawk missiles to Syria for their chemical weapons use, what about doing a full stopover in Iran with some Bunker Busters to put an end to their menacing and blatantly genocidal nuclear WMD program?
Wishy washy isn’t going to make us any righter or safer, definitive results-oriented action can.
(Source Photo: here with attribution to zennie62)
I remember learning for my MBA about people’s shopping addiction (aka compulsive shopping) and how it consumes their time and money and fuels their self-esteem.
Like a high gotten from alcohol, drugs, and sex, shopping can give people a relief from the everyday stresses that engulf them.
An interesting article in the Wall Street Journal (18 April 2013) called “A Closet Filled With Regrets” chronicles how people buy stuff they never wear and are sorry they bought it.
In fact, the article states, “Only about 20% of clothes in the average person’s closet are worn on a regular basis.”
One example given is a Pulitzer Prize -winning author who spent $587,000 on Gucci items between 2010-2012, before seeking treatment for his addiction.
A related disorder is shopper’s remorse that occurs, because people second guess themselves and feel maybe an alternative would’ve been a better choice (i.e. they made a bad choice), they didn’t really need the item to begin with (i.e. it was just impulsive), or that they spent too much (i.e. they got a bad deal).
For me, as a child of Holocaust survivors, I find that when I purchase something nice (not extravagant), I put away and also never wear it.
The difference for me is not that I have shoppers remorse, an addiction to shopping, or that I am unhappy with my purchase, but rather that I cannot wear it because I feel as a child of survivors that I have to save it–just in case.
No, it’s not rational–even though I am a very practical and rational person in just about every other way.
It’s just that having seen what can happen when times are bad–and people have nothing–I cannot bear to grant myself the luxury of actually wearing or using something really good.
Perhaps also, I look at my parent’s generation, who suffered so much, and think why am I deserving of this?
They sacrificed and survived, so we (their children) could have it better–what every parent wants for their children, or should.
But still, in my heart, I know that I am the one who has had it easy compared to their lives, and so those purchases are going to stay right where they are–never worn until I donate them to Goodwill.
I never really considered them mine anyway. 😉
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Berkeley Bionics (now Ekso Bionics) has done miracles here in helping the disabled to walk again.
Based on the Human Universal Load Carrier (HULC) from Lockheed Martin that was developed for the warfighter to carry 200 pounds of weight at 10 mph, Berkeley has adapted this technology for medical rehabilitation.
I first watched this eLEGS technology on a National Geographic special called “Make Me Superhuman.”
This woman literally walks for the first time in18 years after a skiing accident, and I was literally crying for her.
She wobbled and would’ve fallen if not for the safety harness, but after a few times retraining her muscles to walk again, she was able to take steps and turn using the eLEGS exoskeleton technology.
Over and over again, she says how grateful she is to be able to stand, be normal height, walk again, and get out of her wheelchair.
This technology can really bring hope to the disabled, especially as it gets refined, more compact, and cheaper.
The vision is that paralyzed people will one day get up in the morning, put on the eLEGS, get in the car, and then walk around all day just like you and I.
Oh, what a great day that will be. 😉
We’ve all had the feeling of being alone, abandoned, and feeling down and out.
As social animals, we crave being with others–even the biggest introverts out there have got to have social interaction.
Sometimes, when young people live alone–before finding their significant others or old people live alone–after losing their significant others, there is a deep pain of being isolated in the world…almost as if there is no meaning itself in being alive.
Yet, others seem to adjust in a way to living alone, as long as they can reach out and get social interaction in other ways–family, friends, colleagues, classmates, at clubs, religious institutions, and more.
Either way–“No man is an island,” as John Donne wrote in 2003.
Being alone is torture.
The Wilson Quarterly (Spring 2012) in an article entitled “The Torture of Solitary,” by Stephanie E. Griest is about the purpose and effects of solitary confinement as rehabilitation and as a punishment.
Coming out of the Middle Ages, where physical torture was common–dungeons instead of jails, cages instead of cells, racks and rippers instead of rehabilitation and yard recess–the Philadelphia Quakers in the 18th century, had the idea that solitary confinement was humanitarian.
They believed that “what these prisoners needs…was a spiritual renovation. Give a man ample time and quiet space to reflect upon his misdeeds, and he will recover his bond with G-d. He will grieve. He will repent. He will walk away a rehabilitated man.”
And so prisons (like the 1829 Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia) were built with entirely isolated cellblocks and prisoners were engulfed in silence and aloneness.
Any rejection of the mental torture of isolation through any form of communication–such as pipe clanging or shouting through flushing toilet pipes–could lead to yet again physical tortures–such as “strapped inmates into chairs for days at a stretch, until their legs ballooned” or even putting their tongues in “iron gags.”
The article concludes from the effects of solitary that “the physical pain of these tortures–common in many prisons at the time-paled beside the mental anguish of solitude.”
From the horror-mangled looks on the faces of the prisoners, Dickens wrote: “I hold this slow and daily tampering with the mysteries of the brain, to be immeasurably worse than any torture of the body.”
I cannot imagine the pain and horror of these tortures by design–physical and mental. In all cases, the scars of the flesh and soul are probably indescribable and outright haunting to even the imagination.
Eventually the horrible effects of solitary and the high-cost of prison cells housing individual inmates, resulted in Eastern State Penitentiary being converted into a museum in 1971 with the “The crucible of good intention” finally shuttered.
From the Supreme Court, Justice Samuel Miller, we read:
“A considerable number of prisoners fell, even after a short confinement, into a semi-fatuous condition from which it was next to impossible to arouse them, and others became violently insane; others, still committed suicide; while those who stood the ordeal better were not generally reformed, and in most cases did not recover sufficient mental activity to be of any subsequent service to the community.”
“In 1980, the U.S. Supreme Court nearlydeclared the punishment unconstitutional;” it is now used mostly for “short-term punishment for exceedingly bad behavior.”
Currently, there are more than 60 prisons across the country with solitary cells housing up to 25,000 prisoners.
This is a puzzle–what do you do with offenders that are too dangerous to be with others, but as human beings too fragile to be alone?
What is striking to me is how something as “simple” as putting someone by themselves and incommunicado can drive them literally nuts!
Almost like we cannot bear to be by ourselves–what is it about ourselves that we must turn away from, be distracted from, and causes such inner horror?
Our minds and bodies need to be active to be healthy, this includes being social–being alone and bored in solitary has been shown to cause people to hallucinate, go insane, and even kill themselves.
Yet still people recoil from other people–emotionally, they may be turned off or nauseated by them; physically, they may fight, separate, or divorce and end up for a time by themselves again–people make the decision that it is better to cut your familiar loses, then go down with a ship filled with corrosive and abusive others.
I imagine Buddhists meditating in the mountains or in an open field–alone and yet at peace–but this is self-imposed and temporary and more like a “time out” in life.
Then I see humans languishing in dungeons and in solitary confinement–physically and mentally tortured–they scream out in the void–and I see G-d reaching out to finally take them from their immense suffering to be reborn and try their lives again.
(Source Photo: herewith attribution to Deisel Demon)
U.S. law enforcement officials have thwarted about two dozen known terrorist plots since 9/11 and there are probably lots more that haven’t made the papers. Some of them, like this month’s “Underwear Bomber” have nicknames, like the “Shoe Bomber” (2002), the “Lackawanna Six,” (same year), and the “Virginia Jihad” (2003). Others are known by geographical location, such as Fort Dix (2007) and the foiled plot against synagogues in the Bronx (2009). But one thing they all have in common is their determination to threaten and even destroy our freedom and way of life.
As a person who is deeply dedicated to America’s safety and security, both personally and professionally, I worry about the rise of terrorism that has sprung up in the past few decades. Terrorists are relentlessly determined to destroy our lives even if it means taking their own lives to do it. But what is even more frightening is that despite all the actions we have taken to fight terrorism, our culture remains deeply reactive. Can we really stay one step ahead and lucky forever?
The best example of our relative complacency in the face of a deadly threat is the policy of taking off our shoes for screening only after the case of the Shoe Bomber came to light. Now again, we waited for an Underwear Bomber before talking seriously and publicly about full body screening for all?
There is a saying that you can’t drive a car by looking in the rearview mirror, but unfortunately that seems to be the way our culture approaches the fight against terrorism. The focus should not be on stopping the last threat, but on anticipating and countering the future threat before it ever materializes.
To do this, we need to think like the bad guys do as well as conduct more exercises to expose our own security weaknesses (red teaming), rather than be surprised when the terrorists find our next Achilles heel.
In the particular case of the Underwear Bomber, it was particularly shocking that we knew this person was a threat. His own father warned us, yet we didn’t put him on the terrorist watch list or revoke his visa (as the British did). And just today I read that this individual told investigators there are literally hundreds more just like him, all waiting to strike.
Think about that for a second. There are seemingly endless terrorists out there, and they can have a 99% failure rate and still be “successful.” Yet U.S. and global law enforcement can’t fail at all—not even once—without dire and deadly consequences on a massive scale.
However, instead of gripping that unbelievable reality and treating it as the dire situation it is, there is actually talk about “rehabilitating” the terrorists. As if we have succeeded at rehabilitating “normal” criminals…now we are going to try and “deprogram” people who are religiously “inspired” to commit their diabolical deeds?
To adequately manage the new reality we face today, we must not only stay ahead of known threats, but also proactively envision new potential attack scenarios, prepare for them, and thwart them before they become potentially lethal.
A great place to start would be Hollywood; our entertainment industry has done a pretty good job of imaginatively exposing potential attack scenarios—in dozens of films from Air Force One to The Sum of All Fears, Executive Decision to The Peacemaker, and Arlington Road to The Siege, and many more.
There are also television shows like 24, with now seven seasons and counting, that keep Americans riveted to their seats week after week with terrorism plots that play out before our very eyes. We seem to generally view these as serious threats that are possible in our time.
I respect the President for openly acknowledging the “systematic failure,” but it is going to take all of us to commit and follow through with ongoing security measures. It is not a one month or one year event (or even an 8 year event post 9/11), but rather a complete new security mindset that stays with us always.
We can and should learn from the visionary talent in our vibrant entertainment industry and from wherever else they may reside, and adopt creative and proactive thinking about terrorism and make this a regular part of our security culture. I understand that there are many forces at play here, and that most of us are not privy to some of the more sophisticated ways that we fight terrorism every day. But what I am talking about is our collective, public culture, which still seems to shrug off the seriousness of threats against us. For example, just today, I saw a sign in an airport that directed wheelchairs through security screening. It seemed almost an invitation to sew explosives into a wheelchair (although I understand that these are actually screened).
I have the deepest respect for the men and women who serve to protect us every day. But as a culture, it is long past time to wake up. We don’t have the luxury of collective denial anymore. We must embrace security as a fact of life, fully and in an ongoing manner.
Further, as we approach 2010, let us resolve to learn from the most imaginative people in our society about how we may think out of the box when it comes to combating terrorism.
In the real world, we must act now to quickly deploy new, more advanced screening technologies to our airports, marine ports, and border crossings, and employ our most creative minds to “outwit, outplay, and outlast” the terrorists who plot against us—whether in their shoes, their underwear, or wherever else their evil schemes might lead them.