Don’t Cough On Granny

So these are the signs of the times of Coronavirus. 


Pictures telling us not to cough on Granny. 


Cover your germy mouth!


Don’t get the older and more vulnerable amongst us sick. 


I was in the elevator the other day, standing in the corner next to the elevator buttons. 


Someone else–an older person–gets on with a big (double size) shopping cart.


He’s standing in the opposite back corner (kitty corner from me) with this huge cart between us. 


Then he starts yelling at me, literally, to “get in the corner!”


Ah, I’m already in the opposite corner. 


He’s huffing and puffing angry that he wants me to literally get up against both walls. 


I was almost tempted to say something like maybe you should just get off and catch the next elevator Sir. 


But I held my tongue, in part out of sympathy for these elderly people who are obviously really scared (and maybe rightfully so) of the Coronavirus. 


Sometimes, I think to myself what if we were really hit at some point in the future with a very deadly bioweapon that was expressly designed to kill and to repulse any sort of countermeasures against it. 


What if the fatality rate was 1/3 to 2/3 of the population like in the Middle Ages Bubonic Plague or even higher like 100% of anyone that gets infected from a military-grade, genetically modified virus (similar to effects from Ebola). 


Maybe it’s not good to ask what ifs, but if we are really going to learn anything from this, then I think we need to extrapolate from the relatively minor now to the potential major down the road. 


If you think we have hysteria, deaths, and $2.2 trillion U.S. impact now, this is just a glimpse of what could actually happen. 


We need to seriously rethink our disaster preparedness and response–big time.  😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

What’s Your Relationship?

This week I learned about the Three Levels of Relationships.


Level 3: Family/Friends

The highest form of a relationship where you are being authentic (i.e. yourself), you share deeply about yourself (thoughts, feelings, desires, mistakes, etc,) and you are vulnerable. 


Level 2: Professionals

The middle level of relationships in which you are seeking to build trust and respect, you share some information (i.e. appropriate), and you expose yourself a little to the other person. 


Level 1: Acquaintances

The most elementary of relationships that is superficial in nature, there is little personal sharing of information (i.e. mostly when you are asked a question and you feel comfortable answering it), and you remain guarded. 


This is a good way to assess your relationships–is it a level 1, 2, or 3 and are you behaving appropriately within that, so that you trust, communicate, and collaborate effectively.  😉


(Graphic Credit: Andy Blumenthal)

Driverless Cars – New Beginning or Part of The End

Jet Pack.JPEG

Driverless cars are exciting to so many.


But doesn’t it also seem so boring?


There is a lot to be said for being the driver and doing the driving. 


We control the destination, trajectory, speed, etc.


Occasionally, there is even time to stop and enjoy the view. 


We’ve given up on doing or even knowing how to do so many basic things.


Probably 90% plus of us would fail at any sort of basic survival test. 


You can’t hunt, you don’t know how anything really works, and you don’t even have a green thumb.


You’d be dead in under a week or max three


The only thing you do know how to do is sit at a desk, push papers, go to meetings, and post endless nonsense on social media–congratulations you’re an imbecile!


When Axis of Evil North Korea, Iran, or Russia decide to hit us with an ICBM, EMP, or a massive cyber attack your gonna wish you knew something (anything) real, let alone how to drive a simple automatic. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Our Assets Are Compromised

Compromise.jpeg

So in the games that nations play, spy games is #1 on the hit parade.


Of course, it’s about using information to get a strategic advantage. 


It runs the gamut from pure espionage in terms of stealing state secrets and intellectual property to conducting stealthy subversive acts to undermine enemies and competitors. 


Whatever spies do, it’s all about compromising assets…whether they be human, information, or critical infrastructure. 


From turning patriots into traitors, words into info warfare, or critical infrastructure in trojan horses ready to im/explode…whatever leads to getting the upper-hand or advantage. 


What one nation comes to rely on for their sustainment and survival is instead exploited and turned against them like a trojan horse or modern-day malware.


And with people, using money, sex, ideology, compromising material (Kompromat), or threats against loved ones–it’s simply about appealing to either opportunism or extortion. 


So truly defense means protecting not only what before one’s eyes, but also what in the rear and at the flanks. 


When the over 21 million personnel records and background investigations where stolen from OPM on virtually all federal employees (civilian, military, and intelligence personnel) a door was left open and the demon is still hiding and waiting to cross the threshold, infiltrate, exfiltrate, and compromise. 


As an society that meaningfully values an open and transparent democracy, we can perhaps too easily become lured or lax to common sense safeguards and vigilance, but that does not excuse negligence, incompetence or stupidity.


Rich people and countries around the world can unknowingly falter by becoming overly comfortable and full of themselves…to the point where many don’t fully care about their jobs or their country, as they sit in their mansions, designer clothes, and with busting bellies.


From the need to vastly improve our competencies in cyberwarfare to defending ourselves from a tidel wave of global terrorism to upgrading the U.S. nuclear triad against resurgent superpowers and dangerous rogue dictators, we have let our guard down to compromise. 


Is expelling 35 Russian diplomats an effective strategy against their technical attempts to subvert our free and democratic elections or does it just underscore how vulnerable we continue to be?


When as a country and with our leadership, we decide to get serious rather than stay scared and war weary then we will not only stand firm again, but fight against weakness and compromise of ourselves. 😉


(Source Photo: Rebecca Blumenthal)

Violation Of Home And Person

Followed

So I took this photo of a newscast recently about women being followed into their homes and attacked. 


What can be more frightening and violating?


A home is one’s castle and sanctuary–that is where we go for shelter, safety, and unconditional love. 


When the the home space is violated, then fear and panic ensue as all bets are off to what can happen to everything one loves and holds dear.


Think of basically any scene where the ancient city walls are being broached by a marauding army, and you’ll immediately see men, women, and children running and screaming, but alas the city burns and the people are doomed at the hand of their invaders. 


Similarly, when people are followed or suffer a home invasion–their privacy and security is violated to the core–and they easily become victims of theft, rape, and assault. 


I remember when growing up in New York how one local neighborhood kid was followed home one day by a gang, and they started beating him in front of his home until some neighbors came and chased the attackers away. 


But it didn’t end there, because this kid was vulnerable for months afterward, not knowing if and when the attackers would return for more. 


It’s like when people threaten someone and say, “I know where you live!”


That puts the fear of G-d into people, because it’s not only themselves, but their home and family at mortal risk–and not knowing when or how it may happen…people can just piss their pants. 


The opposite is true as well, people tend to be big shots and aggressive when they feel they are anonymous–when their faces are covered by masks, and they have no identifiable insignias–you don’t know who they are or where they are from. 


With anonymity, people feel they can do what they want without fear of reprisal. 


But someone who can be identified, they better behave themselves, because they can be found afterwards and “made to pay” for the bad things they did. 


Ultimately, peace comes from having both safety in the home and the serenity of mind that comes with not having to look over your shoulder all the time. 


Everyone should be able to feel safe in their homes and neighborhood, and the attacker be caught, killed, or damned. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Can You Just Stop And Think?

Think

So oddly, one thing that many people these days find really hard to do is STOP AND THINK.


What do I mean?


Be alone, do nothing, and just take the time to be with yourself and think.


–without your smartphone, television, music, game, or even a book. 


Just you, the four walls, and your brain…thinking, thinking, thinking.


Feeling a little jittery, scared yet. 


Why are people afraid to stop and think? 


Is it because within the thinking is some craziness, fear, anxiety, and even remorse?


Are there overwhelming feelings and thoughts about issues, events, people, and places that are unresolved and painful. 


Also, by ourselves and in our thoughts, we can realize how weak, vulnerable, and mortal we are. 


If we are here in our own heads, maybe no one will even notice we are gone or maybe no one will even miss us–maybe they’ll replace us?


We’re so easily ditched, replaceable, just another character in a long cast of characters.


When we stop and think, do we worry about all the other things we’re not doing or getting done…perhaps, we don’t have the time to think, because we need to be doing, doing, doing. 


And if we’re not moving forward doing something, then we are being left behind!


But doesn’t thinking lead to more purposeful doing?


A little upfront thinking and planning, maybe can save you some serious time wasted just acting out. 


Somehow, like a prisoner in isolation though too much alone time with your own thoughts is enough to drive anyone crazy, docile, and ready to behave just to get out, interact with other human beings, and doing something.


We need to stay active, not be bored, so we don’t think too much.


When I was in the hospital recently, one orderly named Kelvin, saw me sitting there by myself thinking, and he said to me, “Oh no, you don’t want to have too much time to think. Block those thoughts out of your mind. Why don’t you watch some TV?”  


Smart Kelvin. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Sitting Ducks, Sitting In The Dark?

Sitting Ducks, Sitting In The Dark?

If you read the Wall Street Journal, then you heard today about the attack that took place last April on the power grid in San Jose, California.

Yes, “the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred” and in San Jose in 2013!

Some assailants cut the telephone cables in an underground vault and shot for 19 minutes at a electrical substation with more than 100 rounds from an AK-47 and “surgically knocked out 17 giant transformers that funnel power to Silicon Valley.”

In this isolated case, power was able to be rerouted around the damaged site, but it still took 27 days to make the necessary repairs.

What if this was a broader attack–what could have happened?

Firstly, since our roughly 2,000 nationwide giant transformers sit mostly in the open surrounded by nothing more than chain link fences and some cameras, an attack is possible, if not probable.

According to the then Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), “if a surprisingly small number of U.S. substations were knocked out at once that could destabilize the system enough to cause a blackout that could encompass most of the U.S.”

Further, since each transformer is custom made, weighs up to 500,000 pounds, costs millions to build and are hard to replace, a large scale attack could result in “prolonged outages as procurement cycles for these components range from months to years.”

Is this an isolated incident and nothing to worry about?

Uh, no! Domestically, there were 274 incidents of deliberate damage in three years. And overseas, between 1996 and 2006, terrorist organizations were linked to 2,500 attacks on the power grid.

“Utility executives and federal energy official have long worried that the electric grid is vulnerable to sabotage.”

The Former FERC Chairman said, “What keeps me awake at night is a physical attack that could take down the grid. This is a huge problem.”

Do you think the lights will be on forever or is it just a matter of time?

On a personal level, have you given any thought to how you will feed your families, light and warm your homes, run your businesses, gas up your cars, and send and receive information?

Our Achilles’ heels–and is anyone even paying serious attention?

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal; this is not an endorsement of this book, but rather symbolic.)