Birds Dropping In For Lunch

These birds decided to swoop in for some lunch. 

It was funny to see the people go scrambling from the table.

The birds were completely unabashed and took their time over the chow. 

One couple in the corner had ordered this truly enormous meal (don’t worry, I was good and ate only the salad).

Each of them had a full lunch plate PLUS in the center of their table was “The Volcano” of nachos, cheese, chili, guacamole,  sour cream, and jalapenos. 

That was certainly no bird food with The Volcano punching in at 3,500 calories!

I have no idea how any two people could possibly eat that much food.

Probably good that the birds decided to drop in.  😉

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Why Isn’t The U.S. Keeping Up Militarily?

The United States is ranked as the most powerful country in the world:


But the U.S. spends more than the next 7-8 countries COMBINED!(See below chart from Forbes 2016)


In fact, military spending is more than half of all U.S. federal discretionary spending. 


So the question is why are we spending so much more than everybody else, is the United States getting its money’s worth, and most importantly are we able to defend ourselves? 


The U.S. defense budget is going up and has been approved at $717B for 2019. 


All the other 28 NATO countries together spend less than half ($296B) as much as the U.S. alone. 


If you add NATO spending as a complement to the U.S. then the total spend on our mutual defense approaches $1 trillion!


Russia ($69B) China ($146B), North Korea ($6B), and Iran’s ($16B) military spending in total pales in comparison at just $237B.


NATO as a whole is outspending Russia + China + North Korea + Iran by a factor of 4 times yet these countries are still considered major threats to us!
Despite all the truly incredible brave, hard working, and excellent men and women that serve with distinction in our military, 


Therefore, again why is it that the U.S. is spending more on what others seem to get for cheaper?  Is there significant fraud, waste, and abuse in the system?  Are we as a rich capitalistic nation simply getting fat, lazy, and stupid?  


Notwithstanding the outsized spending by the United States, incredibly from today’s Wall Street Journal, there is another article about our inability to defend ourselves:

“These are admissions that the U.S. cannot proportionally and equally defend itself in space, cyber, and response to tactical and nuclear weapons except through the threat of escalation and intrusion into other domains.”

Some poignant examples given:

– Our stationary land-based nuclear missiles are no match for Russia and China’s mobile-based ICBMs.

– Our ten busiest U.S. ports do not have an adequate defense against an underwater nuclear missile launch.


China and Russia variously are beating us out in:

  • Quantum Communications
  • Anti-Satellite Weapons
  • Directed Energy 
  • Hypersonics 

In fact, it was just reported that China conducted its 8th hypersonic test of a plane–with this one said to capable of Mach 10–and that it is capable of carrying nukes! 

Further, our carrier group fleet and land forces are at risk with respect to Russia and China’s hypersonic weapons.


Of course, EMP weapons can fry our electrical grid and a large cyber attack could disable our critical infrastructure.


Let’s not even talk bioweapons–think Black Plague from the Middle Ages that wiped out 30-60% of Europe. 


Yes, some of these are asymmetric warfare, but why are we still thinking and fighting so kinetic and conventionally. 


If we are fighting the wars of yesteryear instead of the battles of today and the threats of tomorrow then what good is our military investments and assets.


To become a more capable fighting force that is less vulnerable, more capable of defending this country, and making better use of our large investment dollars here are 10-steps we need to take to transform our military; we need to transition as follows:

  1. From static land-based nuclear missiles to a fully mobile platform.
  2. From vulnerable fleets of large ships and planes to “unstoppable” swarms of miniaturized lethal drones. 
  3. From a preponderance of earth-based kinetic weapons to space-based energy directed weapons. 
  4. From having to generally choose between speed or power to using the power of speed as an “unstoppable” force of nature. 
  5. From projecting a time and space bound visible presence to a persistent invisible existence.
  6. From attempting to defend limited points of presence to establishing a “impenetrable” umbrella shield of multi-layered defenses.
  7. From reactively identifying and stopping cyber threats to proactively hunting and destroying them. 
  8. From knee-jerk instinctive putting of human lives in harm’s way to matter-of-factly sending milbots (military robots) to the front lines. 
  9. From relying on the heroics and genius of individual human brainpower to harnessing in realtime “the collective” augmented by artificial intelligence into a hive.
  10. From relying on escalation of a “bigger, badder gun” to being able to fight capably in every battle arena, win in each and dominate holistically. 

Over $700B per year should buy us a lot of defense, hopefully in the future we can really use it to defend ourselves. 😉

Love Is Like Cows

Cows

So had three funny instances today of the tales of woe when it comes to love.


The first was when someone was telling me that they are trying to meet women through online dating. 


But he goes, “No one gives anyone a chance anymore.”


It’s like if there is one thing wrong, it’s over.


He said, one lady wrote in her profile that if you are a fan of XYZ sports team, do not even bother contacting her.


Another was like if you’re of ABC political affiliation, forget about it!


He said people just don’t seem to want relationships anymore. 


Then I was talking coincidentally to someone else, who I knew was going out with someone already. 


I politely asked how things were going. 


He said, “Fine, but she is pressuring me to marry her.”


I said, “So if you love her, what’s wrong with that?”


And he responded, “Well then my whole life will change. I won’t be able to go to parties or on vacations anymore.”


Basically, he’s just happy being with her but on casual terms.


Then I told him (considerably younger than myself) how years ago mothers would warn their daughters about men’s thinking of “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free.”


This guy was laughing like crazy when I said that. 


Finally, someone at the kiddush today told the joke about the Rabbi or Priest who lost his umbrella in the synagogue or church. 


His first thought was darn it, one of the congregants stole my umbrella. 


So he decided that for his sermon he would lecture the people about the Ten Commandments, one at a time from the beginning. 


But then when he got to the sin of adultery, he stops and says, “Oh forget it, I just remembered where I left my umbrella!”


Funny day for love and relationships–it’s something in the air, maybe cow patties.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Travel in Metro DC Snow

Biking In The Snow

I took this photo yesterday in the Metro DC area. 

This brave–or should I say crazy–dude is bicycle riding in the snow.

Car is turning in front of him with the lights on.  

But the bike and rider has no lights or reflective material to speak of. 

Seems like a death wish or just plain stupid. 

Only more ridiculous thing I’ve seen with a bicycle recently is the rider plowing hard through a rain storm while holding an umbrella with one hand. 

Perhaps, there is a gene that makes people look for trouble in bad weather or is it the economy stupid (maybe sadly, the guy can’t afford a car or even an uber)?

Ride like the wind… 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Lessons From Breaking A Leg

Lessons From Breaking A Leg

Some things I learned from breaking an ankle this week:

1) Beware of the Crazies: There are a lot of crazy people out there. This guy on the street in Washington, D.C. was yelling and screaming and when I turned to see what all the commotion was about, my foot pivoted sideways off the pavement and crack! I was cussing under my breath at the nut on the street and the pain shooting out of my foot. Thank G-d for the parking meter, which I lunged toward and grabbed to keep myself vertical!

2) Be great: The lady in the hospital that did my cast was amazing. She was so nice to me and talented as a medical professional. She was able to take even a sort of routine task like making a cast (she probably does thousands of them) and do it with an artistic flair and near perfection–I’m telling you this lady was able to make great out of the mundane. All the time explaining to me what she was doing, asking me how it felt, and then helping me test it out. She was like an angel.

3) Easy is hard: The crutches are large and clumsy–they help to redistribute the weight off the foot, but they are uncomfortable to use and look ridiculous. But getting around on crutches, I am realizing that all the things every day that I take for granted as easy are pretty hard with a broken bone. On the first day, I went courageously out to the Metro and was going to head down to work, but when it started raining I realized this was not going to work–how to you carry yourself on crutches and hold an umbrella at the same time and not get your cast wet and ruin it. The next day, I found myself hopping on and off the escalator trying to keep balanced, keep the weight off the foot, and grab the crutches along with me–this was almost comical. Then trying to stay on the crutches, while using the metro card to activate the turnstile, and go through this narrow passage quickly, I found myself wedged between the turnstile gates. Then the morning coffee was a no-no; how do you carry a coffee while navigating on crutches, which then left me with a caffeine withdrawal headache. I could go on, but you get the picture.

Being sick and injured is lousy, but I appreciate my health anew. And I thank G-d for teaching me some valuable lessons–many refreshers–and keeping me from an even worse outcome. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

World’s Nicest Ballerina Umbrella

Ballerina_umbrella

So we’ve had our share of rain in the last few days with Hurricane Sandy.

But with the right umbrella even Frankenstorm can be tamed, a little bit. 

That’s why I wanted to share with you this picture of the nicest umbrella that I’ve ever seen–it has dancing ballerinas all the way around. 

And if you like the umbrella, there are bags and totes to match.

I found these hanging in the gift shop at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. 

Personally, I opted for a music box for someone special, but I still had my eye on that umbrella. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)