Dysfunction Society

So the world is continuing to go nuts–and it’s like everyone is behaving like Negan from The Walking Dead!


North Korea has achieved ICBM capability with a missile launch yesterday to 2,800 miles altitude—11 times higher than the International Space Station—giving Axis of Evil, North Korea the ability to now hit Washington, D.C.!


At the same time, a career civil servant tries to pull a fast one on the Trump Administration—challenging the President’s right to appoint an Acting Director over the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, which is part of the Executive Branch of government—and hoping that the Senate then won’t confirm Trump’s new appointee for Director, all of which would leave her in charge of CFPB for the next 3 years!  Of course, the courts don’t see it her way, but as the Wall Street Journal noted her coup attempt is definitely something to take note of in democratic, America.


In the background, the Democrats and Republicans continue to beat each other silly and senseless, and not only with stalled legislation on almost every front from Healthcare to Immigration, but now minority leaders Schumer and Pelosi are even refusing to meet with the President over enacting a government budget leading us to another looming government shutdown in December…we can’t seem to keep the government functional or even running for the most powerful nation on Earth.   


Finally, Bitcoin—an artificial computer-generated currency, advanced 1,000-fold this year to hit $10,000! Talking about another financial bubble reminiscent of the manic investment in tulips in the 17th century. What’s the value of Bitcoin or sunflowers? Whatever you want it to be! It’s not about the technology, which may be great, but rather the phony valuing of cryptocurrency, which few understand, and we all know how these bubbles end.  


So overall, we have national security, the administration of our government, and economic stability all in grossly abnormal territory. 


When things get this crazy, eventually you can be sure that something will first start to crack and then potentialy really break, and when it does, will we see more Negan with his brain-bashing baseball bat, Lucille? 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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Technology Forecast 2018

Here are Andy Blumenthal’s technology forecast and priorities for 2018.


1. Medical Computing – Continue the significant progress and solve the great illnesses of Cancer, Parkinson’s, ALS, Alzheimers, and so many other horrible and debilitating diseases. Along with longevity, we need to alleviate human suffering and create a higher quality of living for all people.


2. Environmental Computing – Develop more and better clean technologies that can eliminate the Great Plastic Garbage Patch and other heart-breaking garbage dumps and environmental disasters around the world–clean up, breakdown, recycle, and create a more sustainable and beautiful planet for everyone to enjoy.


3. Quantum Computing – Achieve the ultimate processing power and speed of quantum computing to enable us to solve the greatest of mankind’s problems including WMD, and cyber security threats as well as the overcome the transportation and colonization challenges to reach, explore, and settle the depths of outer space.

Invasion of Dinosaur

So what’s with the invasion of dinosaurs. 


First one is standing next to the checkout line in Whole Foods in Maryland.


Second one is actually on someone’s terrace overlooking the beach in Fort Lauderdale.


Third one is the real McCoy from the Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. 


Certainly, dinosaurs aren’t cute and cuddly–even the plush ones from Whole Foods–they’d eat you and I for dinner if they could!


So why do we gravitate to relics from the Ice Age past?


Perhaps, just like looking forward to Aliens from outer space, the dinosaurs represent an important historical link for us, and thus anchor us in a much larger perspective of time and space. 


In a way, it all points to the dichotomy between us as humans with great–almost endless–potential, and yet at the same time, how small we are relative to the enormous dinosaurs that roamed the earth of yesteryear as well as the distinct possibility of mighty extraterrestrials that we may someday (soon) encounter from outer space. 


From this context, I guess what’s really amazing is that we, as a people, are still here!


Despite our bad habits and unsustainable living, we continue to innovate our way out of own messes of greed, conflict, contagion, pollution, and resource depletion, and create a future far beyond what destroyed our predecessors or even what may come from current or potential future foes. 


Like the economy, we think we can grow ourselves out of all our troubles–and who knows, maybe we can if we can continue to stay at least one or two steps ahead of all the challenges and threats–but, at the back (or front) of our minds is what if we can’t or don’t?  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Deterrence Alone Is Not A Strategy

 

High Wire Act.jpeg

So there is a military doctrine that has been in place for decades. 


– MAD – Mutually Assured Destruction 


If you attack the USA with weapons of mass destruction, you’ll get an overwhelming responses that will totally destroy your country. 


This was what supposedly held the USSR at bay during the cold war. 


And even recently, President Trump threatened North Korea that they would be “totally destroyed” if they try anything on us. 


The problem is that the MAD doctrine of deterrence assumes incorrectly that you are always dealing with rational actors and not with madmen.


Let’s face it, their are plenty of crazies out there, and some of whom may be willing to go down in a “blaze of glory” as long as they stand up to the United States and die a heroes death for their radicalized or “subjected” people. 


Whether it’s Iran or North Korea or others–we may not know what we are really dealing with here until it’s too late. 


Life is not everything to these people–remember many a terrorist has died a martyrs death with the promise of 72 virgins in heaven awaiting them. 


To some, as Prime Minister Gold Meir stated:

“Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us!”


Hate by virtue of perceived injustice, required Jihad or “holy war,” brainwashing or threats and the desire for a “glorious death” standing up to the infidels or the “great Satan…any of all of these can contribute to ignoring the consequences. 


Israel has tried to deter horrible homicide bombers/and other mad terrorists from performing their evil misdeeds on the civilian population by for example, demolishing the terrorist homes as a potent consequence that they know going into it, yet many terrorists still wear the explosive vests and detonate anyway.


Similarly, North Korea despite the President’s threat that they “will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen,” brushed it off and shot off more volleys of ICBMs and threatened to engulf Guam in fire. 


– The point is that deterrence alone is not a strategy!


If our enemies can hit us with a devastating attack–whether WMD, cyber, EMP, or quantum attack— that can inflict immeasurable harm on us–they may actually choose to take their best shot, rather than wait for us to hit them or continue to feel disrespected, subjected, inferior, and hopeless.


To someone on the radical fringes or the mental edge, maybe–just maybe–they will do the unthinkable and surprise us.


What good will our fire and fury counterstrike do us, when our cities are in ruin and our people dead and dying en masse. 


Revenge isn’t so sweet when your family, homeland, and virtually everything you know and held dear is gone.


The only real military strategy is to be able to defend ourselves and AVOID getting a homeland catastrophe!


We need massive investment and expertise in missile defense, bio defense, cyber defense, quantum computing, and expansive hardening of our critical infrastructure.


Unfortunately, as naysayers to the threats abound, we are no where near where we need to be in protecting the homeland.


If one person falls from the high wire and smashes their head, what good is it that the other person falls and suffers similarly or worse. 


The point is not to fall, not to get hurt, not to die, not to have our country and way of life destroyed.


Deterrence does not guarantee this security to the country–especially when dealing with no shortage of radicalized nuts out there. 


Only a genuine defense that can STOP and counter the threats BEFORE a devastating attack happens and hits us is a strategy worth pursuing …and THEN you can punch the other person squarely in their devil’s face!


Without an adequate defensive strategy, get ready, because every high flying act eventually falls to the ground and hits their head hard. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Reconquest of the Soviet Union

Soviet Union .jpeg

Okay, when I saw this map of the Soviet Union pre-1991 breakup, I got it!


Russia lost 14 Former Soviet Union (FSU) states after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

  1. Armenia
  2. Azerbaijan
  3. Belarus
  4. Estonia
  5. Georgia
  6. Kazakhstan
  7. Kyrgystan
  8. Latvia
  9. Lithuania
  10. Moldovia
  11. Tajikistan
  12. Turkenistan
  13. Ukraine
  14. Uzbekistan

Could you imagine the United States or the European Union losing something like that?


Think of California and Texas and more seceding and making their own independent states. 


What would that do to the power and capability of this country?


Hence, when Russia goes into FSUs like Georgia and Ukraine (in red)–does a land grab like with Crimea and Abkhazia and South Ossetia–and threatens others, in their Soviet minds, they are just reclaiming what is/was theres.


Now listen, I am not justifying their aggression and hostile actions, but I am realizing/recognizing how explosive a situation this may end up being–especially since Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania (in blue) changed sides and are now part of NATO!


Russia–even without the 14 FSUs–is the largest country in the world by territory with over 17 million square miles–that is almost the size of the United States and Canada or and China combined!


Russia may not have the economy of the United States but they are a formidable foe that we least not forget also has the largest nuclear weapons stockpile in the world. 


Russia has a history of creating a large world dominating union and their military forays into the FSUs, support of hostile regimes like Syria and in Iran, sizable war games in Belarus, continuing to militarize the Arctic, interfering in our election, stealing our secrets via Kaspersky Lab software is likely just a shadow of what is yet to come. 


So if you think North Korea and Iran are problems…  😉


(Source Map: here with attribution to Map Collection)

From North Korean ICBMs to the Las Vegas Mass Shooter

hamas-rally.jpeg

What do North Korean ICBMs and the Las Vegas mass shooter have in common?


They both target the masses for the maximum fatality count.


North Korea was shown targeting a nuclear attack on major U.S. cities–including San Diego, Austin, Washington DC, and the islands of Hawaii. 


The Las Vegas shooter last night targeted a concert crowded with fans to let loose his automatic rifle killing at least 59 and wounding 527 in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.


How about the Boston Marathon bomber that killed three and wounded 260 at the crowded finish line?  


We are living in dangerous, dangerous times. 


And being in a crowd can seriously get you killed. 


Honestly, does it take a genius or a madman to target a large gathering to inflict great pain on the enemy?


Honestly, who hasn’t wondered why we don’t target the terrorists groups and rogue terror nation states–whether Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS, Al-Qaeda or Axis of Evil Iran and North Korea–when their militants are violently rallying, burning the American flag, chanting death to the USA, and boldly and defiantly raising their assault rifles high into the air. 


Why do we prefer to go after onesies-twosies in a virtual never ending battle to try and stop the terrorists of the day before they hit our cities and people again, when instead we can take out the evil bunch in more or less one fell swoop and send a no nonsense deterrent message. 


Are we too moralistic to do it to them before they do it to us and we have hundreds of thousands or millions of dead?


I’m not suggesting hitting innocent civilians, but how about an armed, military parade with tanks and missiles or a bunch of crazed terrorists just building up their gumption to do their next dirty massacre against masses of innocent men, women, and children.


The bad guys aren’t asking any questions before they hit the World Trade Center or the Pentagon or London or Paris or Tokyo or Jerusalem with guns, knives, bombs, vehicular attacks or even attempted WMD–maybe we shouldn’t ask too many questions before we invoke “fire and fury” on their evil ranks and protect our own once and for all. 😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to JTF News)

613 Everywhere

So many times, I have written about the holy mystical number of 613 (the number of commandments in the Torah) and variations/transpositions on these numbers (316, 163, etc.).



My wife and I continue to see 613 all the time and everywhere!



Prices, receipts, license plates, accounts balances, stock price changes, lottery winnings, bar codes, time of day, wait times, schedules, number of email, rows in a spreadsheet, road numbers, social media views, etc. etc. etc.



– I have questioned myself over and over whether I am seeing it because I am sensitized to it or simply even looking for it at this point. 



The answer is a definite no!



Here’s a recent example, of the change in the stock price for Teva Pharmaceuticals (above)–it’s exactly -.0613!



But this isn’t a one time event or a fluke.  



As we all know stock prices fluctuate every moment on the marketplace. Yet, when I check at completely different and random times, it is up or down by a variation of 613!



Other times, I’ll check multiple stocks… and they will simultaneously be moving or priced at variations again of 613–at the exact same moment, I repeat, different stocks priced at the exact same moment.  



Here’s another non-financial example:

I did a post a few weeks ago on the critical importance of emergency preparedness. 



Look at how many views it got on LinkedIn…exactly 163!



This happens everywhere and all the time!



Here’s a third example:

A license plate. 



Here’s a fourth example:

Can you see the code on the package…613!



A fifth example:

A tracking code on a shipment. 



A sixth example: 

A bar code on a bottle of Life Water.



A seventh example:

A label on some spinach!



An eighth example:

A construction site.



An ninth example:

A public solicitation for the Department of Energy.



A tenth example:

The winning pot for Powerball. 



Hey, I am not superstitious and I am not OCD–seriously. 



But this happens all the time.



I cannot help but think that G-d is sending us an important message.



From a personal level, my wife and I have both tried to take the messages seriously and to continue to improve our lives–albeit we know, we are far from perfect human beings. 



However, we also feel compelled to share this message more broadly.



There is a lot going on in the world, and could this mean something bigger and more consequential to a lot more people?



Please, please, please, G-d have mercy on your children…we are but flesh and blood…and we desire to do good. 



(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)