An Explanation. The 1968 Olympic Games. Random Takes.

Some Questions Answered. Is There Really A Difference? Do Not Mess With Tantor. The Fall Classic.

  • In last week’s post, I mentioned my concern and bewilderment with a mosque, full of Shiites, being blown up in Afghanistan. Sunni’s may have taken credit, but who are the Sunnis and Shiites, and why the discourse between them? I asked my friend Samir to help all of us understand the basic history surrounding these sects, and he has come through in a big way. Thank you, Samir.
    Caliphate – The rule or reign of a caliph or chief Muslim ruler or the area ruled by a caliph.
    Muhammad – Muhammad ibn Abdullah was an Arab religious, social, and political leader and the founder of the world religion of Islam. According to Islamic doctrine, he was a prophet, divinely inspired to preach and confirm the monotheistic teachings of Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and other prophets.
    Fatima – Muhammad’s only daughter.
    Sunni – The larger of the two main branches of Islam, which differs from Shiite in its understanding of the Sunnah, its conception of religious leadership, and its acceptance of the first three caliphs.
    Shiite – The second largest branch of Islam. It holds that the Islamic prophet Muhammad designated Ali ibn Abi Talib as his successor and the Imam (spiritual and political leader) after him.
    ISIS – A Sunni fundamentalist group.
    Taliban -A Sunni fundamentalist group.
    Hezbollah – A Shiite fundamentalist group based in Lebanon and Iraq.

Sunni and Shiite – A Bit of History
Sunni and Shiite are the two main sects of Islam. Sunni is the largest sect and Shiite the second largest. Sunnis represent more than 85% of Islam. While some scholars believe the Sunni/Shiite split was festering prior to the death of the prophet Muhammad, the actual separation happened after Muhammad’s death – circa 656 A.D.

Shiite Muslims believe that Ali Bin Abi Talib, Muhammad’s first cousin as well as his son-in-law, (Ali was married to Fatima, Muhammad’s only daughter) was divinely appointed by God as the rightful successor to Muhammad. According to Shiites (but disputed by Sunnis), Muhammad hinted that God asked him to appoint Ali as his successor in a sermon he gave prior to his death (that day is considered a holy day for the Shiite). Shiite believe that upon Muhammad’s death, some of Muhammad’s close companions (most notably Aisha, one of Muhammad’s twelve wives and some say his favorite) appointed Aisha’s father, Abu Bakr, as the first Muslim Caliph. Ali and Fatima (the daughter of Muhammad) refused to pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr.

Ali was not appointed Caliph (successor or leader) until the assassination of the third Caliph, Uthman bin Affan. His appointment was contested very quickly, and a large Muslim population blamed Ali for the assassination of Uthman, causing an Islamic civil war to start. Soon after Ali was assassinated, his main rival Muawiya claimed the caliphate. Muawiya and his son Yazid raged war against the followers of Ali and the Shiites and ended up killing his two sons (the grandkids of Muhammad) Hassan and Hussein. Hassan was poisoned, and Hussein and all of his family were killed in a territory that is Iraq today.

Since that time and incident, almost 1,400 years ago, the Sunnis and Shiites have been engulfed in hatred, war and terror that continues to this day.

The majority of Shiites live in Iran, Iraq. Yemen and Syria. Lebanon’s Shiite population is over 30%. The balance of the Muslim population is overwhelmingly Sunni including all the Gulf States, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Indonesia, India, and East Africa.

The fundamentalists on both sides see the other as heretic and must be either converted or killed – a form of Jihad. To understand the hatred, ISIS killed almost the same number of Shiites as foreigners in Iraq and they destroyed many Shiite mosques on the way. The attacks on Shiite mosques in Afghanistan now are very similar to what happened in Iraq.

In my opinion:
• ISIS is telling the Taliban that we are here to stay, and we can destabilize the area – and we still hate Shiites.
• The Taliban do fear that their fighters may feel ISIS is a more fundamentalist group and be attracted to it.
• A continued destabilization of Afghanistan will continue now that the U.S. military has pulled out.
• Taliban was accepted by Afghanis because they brought security and some stability. Their brutality continues, but to a degree the Afghans feel that the Taliban have brought a bit of stability to their country.

The Associated Press
Explosions rip through a mosque in Afghanistan killing and injuring dozens of parishoners.

  • Amidst the civil rights protests the United States faced in the late 1960’s, we watched two American sprinters win the 200 meter gold and silver medals in the 1968 Olympic Games. I watched these two men, on the podium, raise their black-gloved fists as the national anthem was played. My brother and father, watching our black and white television with me, said nothing. I was confused and asked my dad what these two medal winners were doing? As I remember, he told me something like: “…they are protesting human rights; read the newspaper tomorrow and you will learn all about out it…and make your own opinion about the situation.” The long and the short of their protest revolved around civil rights, so right or wrong they used the Olympic Games to make a statement. John Carlos and Tommie Smith were admonished by the International Olympic Committee, their medals taken away, and they were sent home by the U.S. Olympic Committee. Everyone is entitled to their opinion if the Olympic Games was the appropriate platform for these two athletes to express themselves. Many people across the U.S. were appalled by their actions – how could they use the Olympic Games to voice their opinion? For me, there is no difference between John Carlos and Tommie Smith taking their stance with civil rights, in comparison to Simone Biles, the greatest gymnast of all time, taking her stance on mental health. For one, journalist Howard Cosell agreed.

Howard Cosell was an American journalist, known for his verbose and pompous personality. He had a stint on Monday Night Football, and often provided his boisterous commentary for the ABC network. With all the controversy surrounding John Carlos and Tommie Smith at the 1968 Olympic Games, Howard Cosell, in a very short and pointed statement, provided this take on both the International and U.S. Olympic Committees. Well said Howard Cosell!

Howard Cosell dissects the Olympic Committee.
  • Disdain and discourse between people – from the American Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s to the Middle East conflicts that have lasted over a thousand years. Race and religion – something to ponder why the color of a human being’s skin or the differences in one’s beliefs can continue to lead to death and destruction?
  • A couple of top of mind thoughts as we head to the end of October:

It is estimated that poachers kill over 20,000 elephants a year on the African continent. Though areas including Botswana have implemented protocols to ward off poaching, their efforts have failed miserably. It is now to the point where the elephants themselves seem to have taken matters into their own hands. Last week, authorities found a rifle and what they determined to be a poacher who came across the likes of Tarzan’s friend Tantor. Maybe the poacher tried to run but to no avail as an African bush elephant can run up to speeds of 25 mph – at a weight of up to 13,000 lbs. A tremendous victory for elephants around the world – and hopefully a message to poachers that their terror on the elephant population will be coming to an end.

It has been twenty-one years. Though that 1999 World Series did not turn out well for the Atlanta Braves, they had finally returned to the Fall Classic. Last night at Atlanta’s Truist Field, the Braves beat the formidable Los Angeles Dodgers and will return, after twenty-one years, to the World Series. Let’s Go Braves!

Adios, pay it forward, stay safe and have a Funday Sunday!

Enlightenment. Headlines. Music Reaction.

A Look At Reason, Science, Humanism And Progress. Strange News. Enter Sandman.

  • I read very early on most mornings. The subject material is varied, and includes the news of the day, a weather synopsis with the hope of Fall-like temps in Orlando, and of course a brush of what is happening in the world of sports. Book reading is something I enjoy, and miss, as I used air travel as the time to get entrenched in various novels. Books I have read lately included subject matter on Arthur Blank, Sir Alex Ferguson, and John Bolton. My most recent read is a book titled Enlightenment Now, a 450-pager from Steven Pinker, who is a professor of psychology at Harvard, and is known for his research on cognitive, language, and social relations. That description in itself should tell you that I was way over my head taking on this book.

What hooked me into buying Enlightenment Now is Pinker’s basic premise: “ step back from the lurid headlines and prophecies of doom, which bring out the worst in our psychological biases….and instead, follow the data that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise”. Yes, I know it sounds like I ‘drank the Kool-aid’ but I actually enjoyed how he supported his observations with data, some of it easy to understand, and some of it needing a doctorate in economics.

My thoughts on Enlightenment Now:

  • We were born to a wide open universe, where knowledge varies based on geographic territory, religion, culture, and socio-economics.
  • We were shaped by ideals – which sometimes led to situations that were ultra-competitive….and may relate to the “live up to the Joneses” syndrome.
  • The math and the data tells me that an anecdote is NOT a trend. History reveals that something bad today doesn’t actually mean it was better in the past. Knowledge stirs narrative and narrative is important in our daily lives as we really don’t know what we don’t know.
  • The key to progress is knowledge, as knowledge overshadows false news, superstition, and most importantly ignorance.

This book took some time for me to read and comprehend. I enjoyed the challenge to understand Pinker’s thinking, philosophy, and most importantly his data. Will I rush to order another Pinker book anytime soon? Most likely not but I am glad I took the time to enjoy the book.


  • A $10 million annual contract to coach an NFL team and you come out as a bigot and homophobe. Does the NFL understand that there is NO coming back?
  • William Shatner, a.k.a. Captain Kirk, had a real life space experience last week…at the age of ninety. I never watched many episodes of Star Trek, but I do remember this famous line from Captain James T. Kirk: “One of the advantages of being a captain, Doctor, is being able to ask for advice without necessarily having to take it.”
  • On Friday, a Russian spacecraft fired it’s thrusters a bit too late and pushed the International Space Station out of position, sending astronauts into an emergency mode. Seriously Vladimir, get your country’s space program together.
  • Another suicide bomber attack in Afghanistan, targeting Shiites as they prayed at a mosque. Dozens killed and injured. To my longtime friend Samir: can you please provide us some insight into reality by discussing the Sunnis, the Shiites, the Taliban, and ISIS? Am I the only one confused?
  • I find it amazing, with the far reaches of worldwide news networks, why we have seen so little coverage of a devastating volcano eruption in the Canary Islands. Mystifying to me.

  • On a lighter note, I really enjoy people discovering music that they have no clue about. The set up: Thirty-years ago, Metallica, along with other bands, played in Moscow in the final days of the Soviet Union. The event drew 1.7 million people, and it is obvious that this young man is clueless of just how big of a band Metallica was, and still is. His reaction to the band, their music, and the crowd is priceless:

Adios, pay it forward, stay safe, and have a Funday Sunday!

The Fall weather is being enjoyed by most of the United States – and with that said temperatures in Florida are expected to be in the upper 80’s for the next seven days. The nonsense on Capitol Hill continues and the unfortunate circumstances of Afghanistan have quieted down a bit. Today I just want to bring up ten top of mind things I think:

  • Students should pass through metal detectors when entering any school. Case in point: Last week’s awful event at that Arlington, Texas high school.
  • Brian Laundrie is a much better survivalist than anyone expected – or he is hiding on the Mexican Riviera. Or, as I mentioned two weeks ago, he has vanished in that swamp – in a very bad way.
  • Yesterday’s Pride Festival at Lake Eola, near downtown Orlando, Florida drew 70,000 people – sort of like Mardi Gras in New Orleans and Carnival in Rio de Janeiro all wrapped into one. Amazing to say the least.
  • The cliche’ “time flies” is so true. Friends reminded me that a bourbon tour trip to Lexington, Kentucky, was six years ago this weekend. That trip, in one word: Fantastic.
  • What is China’s endgame with Taiwan? Incursions into Taiwan’s airspace do not bode well for either country.
  • No matter your profession, business or stage of retirement, the global supply chain issues I have written about are going to affect you in one way or another. My take just brushed the surface of the issues – and no matter what you do or who you are, you should take five minutes to read this article:
  • I mentioned the Fall weather. My first thoughts: Blue Ridge, Georgia and Highlands, North Carolina. Two awesome areas to visit anytime of year but especially right now.
  • It now has been open for a few months. It involves being chased by Velociraptors and takes you on a treacherous ride at speeds up to 90 MPH. What could possibly go wrong? Now Universal Studios has produced a point-of-view video of a nighttime ride. That ride is the JURASSIC WORLD VELOCICOASTER. Let’s see…no, and no. There is no way I am getting on this – especially at night.
What part of the word no do you not understand?
  • What ever happened to Shania Twain? She took the world by storm in the late ’90s – and has sold over 100 million records. Miranda Lambert might be my go-to now, but Shania Twain was awesome.
  • Speaking of music and good memories, The Brothers Johnson. George and Louis Johnson, Los Angeles-based brothers who brought the best of funk and R&B back in the late 70’s. With all due respect to the great artists of today, who can replicate this level of music? Enjoy your Sunday as you listen to one of my favorites from The Brothers Johnson:
The Brothers Johnson.

Adios, pay it forward, be safe and have a Funday Sunday!

Now & Then.

Get Me There Quick. No Tolerance. Buddy.

  • Two weeks ago I posted a take from my granddaughter’s view of her future and the technology she will be experiencing as she progresses to her college years. I made reference to “Uber Air” and the trips she will be able to take from point-to-point. That ‘future’ is here as Lilium, one of many Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) ventures, will establish their first ‘Vertiport’ in the Lake Nona area of Orlando, Florida. As Lilium and other “air taxi” offerings expand their reach, I can see every major city benefiting from this service. One scenario to ponder: You live in the northern suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia and you need to get to downtown for events at State Farm Arena or Mercedes Benz Stadium. Driving from any northern suburb to downtown Atlanta any time of day is problematic, especially late afternoon to make it to an early evening event or game. Lilium’s “air taxi” service would get you to a downtown Vertiport in a matter of minutes instead of the driving commute that at best, is a minimum of an hour. Vertiports and Spaceports and autonomous vehicles – will the regular airport be around fifty years from now?
Lilium will establish their first U.S.-based Vertiport in Lake Nona, a suburb of Orlando, FL.

  • Evidently it has been too long since some members of the U.S.A. gymnastics team exposed the sexual harassment and abuse they experienced from one of the team’s staff members, Dr. Larry Nassar. The abuse of these young athletes was again headline news on September 15 as four of those former Olympic gymnasts testified on Capitol Hill – clearly and concisely communicating the details of how the U.S. Gymnastics Federation and the FBI had failed them. The entire nation, and world for that matter, listened to these four courageous women – explaining in detail how the FBI ‘swept the Larry Nassar allegations under the rug.’ The Capitol Hill session continued with Senate subcommittee members attacking FBI director Christopher Wray for the FBI’s failure to carry out their investigation. You would think that this sad moment in the history of women’s athletics and the failure of our legal system would have sent a message to all?

Obviously, the answer to that question is ‘no’, as last week players in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) went viral, exposing that their League office failed to act on allegations of sexual coercion and harassment by one of the league’s head coaches. Emails reveal that in April, over five months ago, two players wrote the Commissioner of the NWSL to ask for an investigation into that coach -only to receive back a statement from the commissioner that she had checked her files and “the initial complaint was investigated to conclusion.” Say what? A completely false statement as she had new detail from these two players that the abuse was continuing at the new club he was managing, the North Carolina Courage. How could the League executives not act on these serious allegations? Did the U.S.A. gymnasts not send enough of a message? Sickening to say the least.

I do not have a legal background, but my intuition tells me that FBI Director Christopher Wray, after that Senate subcommittee blasted him and the entire FBI for the failure to carry out the Larry Nassar investigation, will impose his will with the NWSL allegations – with a full-force investigation. The words conspiracy, coercion, and RICO come to mind. A federal case as this former North Carolina Courage coach crossed state lines with his team – and possibly RICO charges – yes, federal racketeering charges should the FBI find evidence of racketeering involving sexual exploitation. The NWSL, going forward, will come out of this serious situation a better league, with better leadership, and a heightened awareness to all that this treatment of their players will never be tolerated again.

Let’s flip this negative situation with women’s soccer around for a feel-good story. Last week, girls from the Afghanistan national soccer team, who were recently granted asylum in Portugal, had a surprise visit from the captain of the senior team. Farkhunda Muhtaj flew into the Portuguese capital of Lisbon for an emotional reunion with the girls’ team last Wednesday. She is a professional player who from her home in Canada spent weeks helping arrange their recent rescue from Afghanistan. The girls, aged 14-16, and their families gathered on the Tagus riverbank and hugged and kissed Muhtaj amid smiles and tears. The rescue mission was called Operation Soccer Balls and took weeks to put together. Kudos to Ms. Muhtaj!

Look at the smiles on the faces of these young soccer players!

  • I don’t consider myself to be ‘old school.’ I embrace technology and have learned through many experiences to have a ‘go-forward’ perspective. With that said, a dinner last week turned into a fun but spirited discussion and debate regarding the greatest drummers of all time. I was the elderly statesman of the group, but because I enjoy all types of music, I was well aware of some of the drummers the group challenged me with. While I do appreciate the talents of Ben Thomas, Taylor Hawkins, Keith Moon, Neil Peart, and Jon Bonham (Rag’n’bone Man, Foo Fighters, The Who, Rush, and Led Zepplin respectively), I will put my money on Buddy Rich. Not because he was ‘old school’ – it was his incredible speed and drum stroke with the type of music played. Not metal or hard rock, but a semblance of jazz that just sounds great. I will say that the song ‘Caravan‘ is a favorite of mine. To Ben L., a loyal follower of all music, who is your go-to for the best drummer ever?
Who is the best drummer of all time?

Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and have a Funday Sunday!

Let’s Hope.

Am I Asking For That Much?

As we approach the last quarter of 2021, many of us, including me, have reflected on the last twenty months. An unprecedented time with a virus tipping the world to one of uncertainty, illness, and in some cases, despair. One can only hope that as we get into ‘Q4’ and the new year, we can put some of the socio/economic issues behind us. Yes, the political world has played havoc but as all of you know, I will not go there. Below are some of my ‘hopes’:

  • To the health and safety czars of the world: please give us definitive and efficacy-supported information regarding the vaccine boosters. Let’s not return to the misguided information that came from the CDC, WHO, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. One voice, one directive, please.
  • From 1892 to 1954, nearly 12 million immigrants arriving at the Port of New York and New Jersey were processed there under federal law. In numerous occasions in the last seventy years, the United States has ‘processed in’ immigrants who legitimately want a life in America. There is no doubt that our nation’s farmers, especially the ones in California, rely on immigrants to keep the supply chain of food moving forward. In a recent survey of farmers by the California Farm Bureau, 55 percent reported labor shortages, and the figure was nearly 70 percent for those who depend on seasonal workers. So, while I completely understand that the United States must govern immigration, the situation like the one in Del Rio, Texas must stop. Over 6,000 Haitians, including very young children, without the basic necessities of food, clothing, and shelter, living under a highway in a border town. How quickly we can forget Ellis Island and the runway to a life given to so many immigrants.
Migrants, many from Haiti, are seen at an encampment along the Del Rio International Bridge near the Rio Grande on Sept. 21, 2021.
The encampment of mostly Haitians in Del Rio, Texas.
  • Let us hope that the family of Gabby Petito finds peace. We may never really know what happened to her and I am a firm believer in due process and that one must be proven guilty. If Brian Laundrie had anything to do with this young lady’s death, I can only hope that he did enter that waterlogged reserve in southwest Florida. The Carlton Reserve is 75% water, with thick underbrush, murky ponds, and infested with snakes and alligators – never mind the infamous Florida panther. Trust my instincts: My friends who I grew up with in Miami know exactly what I am referring to – we may never see a trace of Brian Laundrie again.
  • All of us, at some level, are affected by the supply chain nightmare. As the ongoing and critical shortage of truck drivers continues, the cause and effect of moving 75% of all goods across the United States concerns everyone. It is estimated that there is a shortage of 60,000 truck drivers, which is due to many reasons including a retiring workforce, the pandemic, and work/life balance. Last week, due to the shortage of trucks and drivers, there were sixty-two ships anchored off the coast of Los Angeles/Long Beach waiting to be unloaded. In a very simple statement, this cannot continue.
A view of marine traffic around the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
A view of the marine traffic around the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.
  • Not to mince words: Let us all hope that once again that we become the UNITED States of America.

Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and have a Funday Sunday!

A Lennon Perspective

A Futurist: “One who studies and predicts the future especially on the basis of current trends.

A visit to Beacon, New York, located 50 miles north of New York City in the Hudson Valley, is always a great trip for many reasons. My daughter and son-in-law escaped to this area, which reminds me of Blue Ridge, Georgia, after the pandemic. I get to spend time with them in this beautiful area but with all due respect, my real reason to visit is my granddaughter, Lennon. Now almost eight months old, she is a vibrant and happy baby, full of life and maybe a bit too inquisitive. Luckily for me, my daughter and son-in-law had a commitment they needed to attend to down in NYC, leaving me and Lennon to deal with a really nice Saturday afternoon and evening. As I hold, read, and play with her, I wonder what she is thinking about, but in particular what the world will be like as she grows up and has a family of her own.

Main Street in Beacon, New York.

School – how much of my schooling will be in-class, virtual or a hybrid of both? Will I ever really have school books or will I use my tablet/laptop to download all my reading and learning materials. Will I still have daily interaction with my teachers and classmates? Most importantly, what about recess?

My backpack – it is much smaller than the one my mom uses for work. Mine contains only a pen, a small notepad, and a thick lining material that charges my interactive communication devices (ICD’s). My backpack is really light – I can barely pick up my mom’s.

The school’s transport vehicle is really quiet as it comes down the street. The transport vehicle sends a signal to my ICD which in turns makes my communication bracelet light up, alerting me that I have ten minutes until it pulls up to the queuing area on the corner of my street. As I place my bracelet next the central home hub (CHH), mounted next to the refrigerator, my schedule, including soccer and dance practice, are loaded onto my ICD as well as my mom and dad’s.

The transport vehicle is autonomous, staffed by a transport vehicle experience specialist, who ensures we are seated, and our three-point seat belts fastened. I really like my school transport vehicle, but find it really cool that half the kids in my school are driven by their parents in either an electric or autonomous vehicle.

My parents took me on a trip to Long Island over the weekend. My mom told me that in the old days they would drive a car filled with gas and oil, and that the trip would sometimes take three hours from Beacon. For this trip we used ‘Uber Air’, one of the many air taxi services found around the New York metropolitan area. My dad actually takes an air taxi to and from his job in Manhattan, cutting down his commute to 15 minutes each way.

I am not allowed to watch ‘regular’ video content too often, but when I do, I take one of the rollup screens outside on our deck and usually divide the screen into two of my favorite shows. My dad showed me a photo of this huge box that was called a television – I’m really not sure why those video content screens needed a box in the first place.

Last night my dad was watching his personal video content screen while he was grilling some salmon. He told me that the U.S. Central Command, located in Tampa, Florida, had deployed 1,000 more drones to the Middle East as conflicts again were instigated by terrorists in the region. My dad also told me that at one time there were thousands of military troops, as well as ships and equipment deployed for these types of conflicts. Those days for the most part are long gone as the drone operators sitting in Tampa simply use their joysticks to destroy all enemy combatants.

My mom told me that my dad is planning a big trip for my high school graduation. We are going to the New York Spaceport, located right next to the regular LaGuardia airport. For my gift, he is going to allow me to pick a space flight from one of many space transport companies. My dad sent information to my ICD, that allows me to pick and choose the destination I want. I think for this trip, I want to fly around the earth a few times – it is a two-hour trip but will only cost my family $5900.00.

Unfortunately, the video visit to my doctor was not a great one. I need a medical procedure, but the doctor reassured me that the ‘laserscope technology’ will barely leave a scar. The cool thing is that I get to use an air taxi again as it will pick me up at the air taxi stand down the street and land right next to the healthcare hub. The entire ‘laserscope’ will take only ten minutes and the recovering time should be a few hours only.

Every generation is different. Every family dynamic is different. I am looking forward to Lennon and how she grows up in a very interesting world.

Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and have a Funday Sunday!

Twenty Years Ago.

A Day Of Infamy.

  • 7,306 days ago – I was in my usual Tuesday morning staff meeting when the conference room door suddenly flew open and a teary-eyed associate asked me to come with her to the break room.

1,044 weeks ago – My initial reaction of puzzling concern turned to horror as I realized the four planes involved were some sort of coordinated terror attack.

240 months ago – That day, even with the operations and communications experience I had garnered in my career to-date, taxed all of my faculties. The continuous conference calls throughout the day focused on the twenty-seven company associates who were traveling or away from home that day. With the chaos that ensued, it took fourteen hours for our senior management team to locate those associates. Working with them to get home, considering the emotion and circumstance, was indescribable.

20 years ago – As I wrote this yesterday morning, I vividly remembered the emotional roller-coaster of that moment, that day, and the subsequent weeks. “A date that will live infamy ” was a statement included in a speech by Franklin D. Roosevelt one day after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. I was not around then but I am sure all Americans felt the same feelings on December 7, 1941 as we all did on September 11, 2001.

Let us all remember and never forget 20 years ago. To all of those who were directly affected by those tragic events, today and always, may loving memories bring you peace, comfort, and strength.

  • Over the last twenty years, some serious issues were uncovered surrounding the United States’ intelligence community. Terms that described the different intelligence agencies included “territorial” and “justifying their existence.”

The following is an excerpt from The 9/11 Commission Report. Take what you want from this short paragraph found on page 328:

“The government’s ability to collect intelligence inside the United States, and the sharing of such information between the intelligence and law enforcement communities, was not a priority before 9/11. Guidelines on this subject issued in August 2001 by Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson essentially recapitulated prior guidance. However, the attacks of 9/11 changed everything. Less than one week after September 11, an early version of what was to become the Patriot Act began to take shape. A central provision of the proposal was the removal of “the wall” on information sharing between the intelligence and law enforcement communities….”

After watching this past Sunday’s 60 Minutes show, one might wonder if the 9/11 attacks could have been prevented if the United States had kept The Ritchie Boys and their intelligence-gathering tactics in place after World War II. I am sure the U.S. intelligence agencies have employed similar tactics over the years, but after watching this 40-minute segment on Sunday night – well, you make your own call if these brave men might have had a part in uncovering the 9/11 terrorist plot.

One of The Ritchie Boys, who collected 60% of all intelligence data during World War 11.

I have some different content to post but I think I will leave this take, regarding 9/11, stand for the week.

Adios, never forget, pay it forward, be safe and have a Funday Sunday.

Cork The Whine V.2

Inspiration From The Remarkable.

  • While we are dealing with the continued pandemic – with people a bit sideways due to masking and the vaccination, I just wanted to remind everyone to cork the whine. The Paralympic Games are underway in Tokyo with athletes from all over the world competing at very high levels. The next time you are out of sorts take a look at the video below. In a word, amazing people doing remarkable things.
Amazing and remarkable.

  • Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday of September. Labor Day is designated to pay tribute to the achievements of American workers.

One year ago, this was my comment with all of us living through the continued Covid-19 pandemic: “Of all years to recognize Labor Day, 2020 stands out. A special tribute to all healthcare workers and first responders. Please everyone, fly your flag.”

A year later and we continue to deal with the pandemic and the Delta Variant, which we can only hope has peaked and is on the mend. Keep your chin up, fly your flag, and I hope you have a nice Labor Day weekend.

Adios, Stay Safe, Pay it Forward, and Have a Great Weekend.

Reactive, Not Proactive. Ida Rears Its Ugly Eye.

Why The Hell Did U.S. Strategic Advisors Recommend This Withdrawal Plan?

I am angry. I am disgusted and stuck in a realm of bewilderment. I will not make light of the situation in Kabul, Afghanistan out of respect for the thirteen U.S. service members who lost their lives last Thursday to an attack by ISIS-K. Yes, ISIS-K, a group of undisciplined savages who found their way past Taliban security (yes, I wrote Taliban security) and set off a bomb near a security gate at Kabul’s airport.

I am going to provide information and my take, but I will stick with my ethos of no religion/no politics. In short, I don’t care whether this 20-year debacle or current situation boiled down to George Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, or Joe Biden. This failure to gather the correct intelligence, provide strategic and decisive operational plans, and the lack of proactive execution regarding this 20-year mess does not fall into a category of political football.

  • The failure of correct intelligence to execute a successful withdrawal from Afghanistan is surely among the greatest in the history of the United States.
  • The intelligence reports stated that if the Taliban were to reach Kabul at all, it would not be until well after the 9/11 deadline for the U.S. departure. Then, U.S. intelligence spit up all over themselves, suddenly stating that the Taliban would reach Kabul in 90 days. Then, even more suddenly, it was 72 hours. Shameful to say the least.
  • Then came reports that Taliban fighters were at the gates of the city, and then they were filming themselves in the presidential palace that had been vacated by its occupants barely 24 hours earlier. A disastrous intelligence failure that led to various strategic withdrawal plans provided by the State Department and military advisors.
  • How the hell did U.S. intelligence officers, after being imbedded in Kabul and other Afghanistan provinces, not thoroughly know the enemy, figure out its capabilities, and correctly forecast how likely and quickly they would act? After 20 years, how could U.S. intelligence personnel not gauge the vulnerability of Afghan security forces?

Again, I will not make light of this situation but with my relatively warped mind, I will try to bring a bit of relevance (and levity) to this sad situation. The U.S. State Department and military advisors were charged with devising strategic and operational withdrawal plans BASED ON THE INTELLIGENCE THEY WERE GIVEN. These advisors were the ‘designers’ of the various plans that eventually were vetted and put into play by U.S. military and State Department leaders. As a point of ‘misguided’ relevance, American Motors Corporation (the infamous AMC), had a design team that were charged with coming up with automobile designs based on the market research (intelligence per se’) provided to them. The AMC design team, using this so-called market research, produced various auto designs that included the Gremlin and the Pacer. These designs were among many that someone at AMC, a product manager or leadership team, eventually approved. They approved two of the most god-awful looking cars ever, sending German and Japanese auto executives into a state of laughter heard around the world. My point: don’t point your finger at the ‘designers’ as they were doing their jobs based on the information given to them. Don’t blame the U.S. State Department and military leaders who, based on the intelligence provided, devised many plans (designs), one of which was approved by someone at a high level within the U.S. bureaucracy. Disgusting, sickening, and unfathomable. The phrase ‘heads should roll’ is never more appropriate.

1977 AMC Gremlin and 1978 AMC Pacer DL | 1977 AMC Gremlin an… | Flickr
The Gremlin & Pacer. It was not the designer. It was the person who APPROVED the design.

To the families of the thirteen service members who lost their lives: Today and always, may loving memories bring you peace, comfort, and strength.

Is This A Katrina Redo?

Today we pray for the Gulf Coast of the United States….especially the New Orleans area. It was sixteen years ago that Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc on the New Orleans (NOLA) area – when poorly designed levees failed to keep the storm surge from drowning areas of NOLA, causing the loss of life and despair.

I will never forget participating in a Habitat for Humanity project in New Orleans a year after Katrina. We were working on a home in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans, which was completely under water when Katrina swept through the area. We were framing a deck of a new home and next to us was an empty concrete block home – with a water line on the home at approximately 18′ from the ground. It was a bit surreal trying to comprehend how much water poured into the 9th Ward.

Two years ago, NOAA estimated that if another Hurricane Katrina-like storm were to hit New Orleans and the Gulf Coast today, it would likely cause up to $200 billion in damage to the region, even though the city today is much smaller, with only 80% of its 2005 population, and better protected, with dramatic improvements to its hurricane levee system. Let’s hope that NOAA’s estimates do not hold true, as later today Hurricane Ida targets the city of New Orleans and its surrounding areas. Godspeed to all along the Gulf Coast.

New Orleans' Lower 9th Ward is still reeling from Hurricane Katrina's  damage 15 years later | Katrina |
The Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina – NOLA’s Lower Ninth Ward.

Adios, pay if forward, be safe, and have a Funday Sunday!

California Dreamin’.

California’s Four Seasons: Fire, Flood, Mud, & Drought.

Many thanks to all of you who have contributed as a guest writer. This week, a friend and former business associate stepped up with his take on his home state of California. Peter has enjoyed a career as a CFO with many successful entities. This week he chimes in on the serious drought and fires devastating parts of California. While many of us around the world are dealing with our own set of climate and socio-economic issues, the dynamics affecting California are troublesome. Note: if a sovereign nation, California would be the world’s fifth largest economy, ahead of India and behind Germany (and yes, LM, there is a good bit of agriculture in California! 🙂 ).

As a resident of Southern California (CA) for over thirty years of my life, I have some insight into the fire season. Yes, CA has four seasons, just like the rest of the country. They are Fire, Flood, Mud and Drought. The fires in Northern California are natural. The vast majority are the result of lightning strikes and the burning of the undergrowth. This natural process replenishes the soil and thins coverage for new growth to survive. What is completely unnatural in the process is the massive consumption of water by California’s residents, agriculture, and industry.

A small digression: In the early days of America, explorers sailing up/down the West coast only needed to bring their boats near the shore to haul up fresh water. The aquafer under present-day California leeched so much fresh water, that it was still fresh 100 yards offshore. Today, the salt water has leeched several miles onshore into the soil and ground water due to California’s unquenchable thirst.

In the 1940’s and 50’s our natural lands and our parks needed to be maintained and cleared of fallen trees, dropped leaves, and pine needles, etc. Why? Because all of those things are fuel sources. Overtime, as budgets got tighter and priorities shifted, less infrastructure was dedicated to clearing fuel sources for large scale fire events. Subsequently, the more fuel on the ground, the larger the fires.

Going back to the discussion on water…CA, especially Southern California, holds most of the power when it comes to water in the region. When CA became a state, and as early as 1850, planners were involved in adopting the common law of riparian rights. In 1851, they recognized the appropriative right system as having the force of law. California has used a larger and larger straw, sucking up water from the Rockies and Northern California ever since. As the population grew, demand for water grew with it.

Over time, the water usage in Southern California, Las Vegas, Arizona, etc. has forever changed the water table and the balance. When there is a drought year, more water is released to Southern California – it’s their rights, it’s the law. This leaves Northern California, Colorado, etc. dryer and more vulnerable to a natural event, like a forest fire, being a major catastrophe. Add to that, the flight from the cities to the sprawling suburbs and mountain homes to “get away from it all” and we have, over the decades, created the perfect storm.

We moved into the woods.
We stopped taking care of the woods.
We made the woods dryer.

So, to the original reference from last week’s post: “The fires of California and Evia – are these man-made or due to changes with the global climate?” I would label it a natural event made worse by our own actions. I am not a huge proponent of Global Climate Change. I do though, absolutely believe that our actions in regions impact those regions profoundly and with long-term consequences.

On last point… It’s California, not Cali. Nobody who actually lives there would ever say “Cali”. SoCal or NorCal – perfectly acceptable. That is my take. What is yours?

California is a very interesting place to live, according to my friends who now or once lived there. I like a number of things in California, including the Carlsbad, La Jolla, Carmel, Central Coast and Bay Areas. I, for one, like Los Angeles, and so did Missing Persons as described in their 1982 hit Walking in L.A.

Walking in L.A. by Missing Persons – circa 1982.

Adios, pay if forward, be safe and Have a Funday Sunday!