Biobots. Henry. EV Mandates. Honor.

The Androids Are Coming! Kissinger, The Statesman And Villain. Have We Actually Planned For EVs? “You’ll Never Walk Alone”

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” – James Baldwin

  • When the word android comes up in conversation, it usually describes a device (phone or computer) that uses the Android operating system. For this take, I am discussing the other android, the one that Hollywood exemplified via movies like RoboCop, Terminator, Ex Machina, and Alien. The android, by definition, is a robot designed to look or behave like a human being. All the movies I listed, plus many more, used some semblance of an android as an antagonist, or in some cases a hero. Whether we gave credence to the use of androids in movies or not, the forefront of artificial intelligence is allowing the android to become part of the thread of our existence.

Scientists somehow have developed tiny robots made of human cells. These scientists, after years of research and laboratory testing, have discovered these tiny robots, a.k.a. ‘anthrobots’, are capable of reproducing characteristics of man, imitating distinctive features such as appearance and movements. The initial objective of this research and development is focused on healthcare, investigating how anthrobots can provide therapeutic potential using human tissue grown in the laboratory. Have I lost you yet?

To be a bit more clear, here is the net result of the laboratory testing and experiments: To test the anthrobots’ therapeutic potential, the developmental biologists placed several anthrobots into a small dish (think Biology 101). There, the anthrobots fused together to form a ‘superbot’, which the researchers placed on a layer of neural tissue that had been scratched. Within three days, the sheet of neurons had completely healed under the superbot. This was surprising because “the anthrobot cells were able to perform this repair function without requiring any genetic modification.”

Going forward, developmental biologists think anthrobots made from a person’s own tissue could be used to clear arteries, break up mucus, or deliver drugs, with or without genetic engineering. By combining several cell types and exploring other stimuli, it might also be possible to develop biobots — robots made from biological material — with potential applications in sustainable construction and outer-space exploration. I know this reads a bit wonky, but the use of anthrobots and biobots are clearly going to change the way we live…not now, but in the very near future. This short video explains some of the applications of biobots:

How Biobots May Change The Way We Live.

  • He was a veteran, serving with the U.S. Army’s 84th Infantry Division, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973, and was the only politician who served as the Secretary of State and National Security Advisor at the same time. He advised both Republican and Democratic presidents, pioneered a policy of detente with the Soviet Union, was instrumental in diplomatically ending the Yom Kippur middle east conflict, and opened up relations with China.

Born Heinz Alfred Kissinger in Furth, Germany, his family was bullied by anti-Semites, forcing them to move to New York in 1938. He soon became an American citizen and was awarded a Bronze Star for his work as a translator in intelligence operations which led to the capture of Gestapo members. The accolades are numerous for Henry Kissinger, who passed away last week at the age of one hundred.

Many called Kissinger an enemy of the state as his negotiations around the world led to the deaths of thousands, with many pointing to him as the reason so many U.S. military personnel lost their lives in the Vietnam War. He was called the master of ‘proxy regimes’ often sabotaging chances to end wars and conflicts with his never-ending level of extending compromise. I remember my father, who fought in the Korean War, was not a supporter of Henry Kissinger. Upon review, my father’s negative take on Kissinger is supported by millions of others.

After reading about Kissinger, I came across this quote from Benazir Bhutto, who was a Pakistani politician and stateswoman who served as the 11th and 13th prime minister of Pakistan from 1988 to 1990 and again from 1993 to 1996. She was the first woman elected to head a democratic government in a Muslim-majority country: To make peace, one must be an uncompromising leader. To make peace, one must also embody compromise.”

Was Henry Kissinger all about compromise or manipulation, or in his case are these two words interchangeable?

The master of diplomacy or manipulation?

  • I have written, to a point of ad nauseum, my concern with the push from the federal government with electric vehicle (EV) mandates. Whether it stems from our electrical grid infrastructure or the lack of charging stations, it is obvious to me that the EV mandates are premature. The continued development of EV batteries, allowing for greater miles per charge, and the installation of EV charging stations around the country may help satisfy some of my concerns, but the Biden administration’s regulation that would require that two-thirds of new vehicles sold in the U.S. be electric by 2032 is basically ridiculous and unwarranted.

I assume that these mandates were generated by eco-phobic politicians, who used Tesla’s early-stage vehicle demand to support their EV theories. The reality has now set in as automobile dealers across the U.S. are pushing back on the administration’s EV mandates, with a clear message that electric vehicle demand today is not keeping up with the large influx of EVs arriving dealerships prompted by the current regulations.

Last week, 3,882 dealerships across all 50 states have sent a letter to President Biden urging him and his administration to hold off on EV mandates. That is a strong message from a very important sector of the U.S. economy – clearly stating that the majority of customers, for many reasons, are not ready to switch to electric vehicles.

Ironic or not, at the same time these dealers are pushing back on EV mandates, the City of Detroit is adopting a wider acceptance of EVs with the installation of a quarter mile “charging” road, similar to the technology for charging cellphones and other devices. The City of Detroit states that large copper coils are installed under the road to create a magnetic field inducing electric current in a receiver in the car. While these “charged” roads may increase the range EVs can drive between charges, does anyone way smarter than me see issues with a magnetic fields on our highways that induce electric current?

Any Concerns?

Talent is talent. The operatic voice of Cristina Ramos is amazing enough, and then as Gomer Pyle said so eloquently, “Surprise, Surprise, Surprise.” Wow!!!

In A Word, Fantastic!

This Thursday is December 7. If that date is not significant to you, I would strongly suggest you Google December 7. It was only eighty-two years ago. Please fly your flag.

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

Things I Think. Thanks. Now Boarding.

Random Thoughts Heading Into December. A Few Of Many Things I Am Thankful For. The Focker Gate Experience.

With the holiday season in play, here are some top-of-mind things I think:

  • Elon Musk – please use your resources, assets, and technology to help humankind, and stop your racist and antisemitic rants. Just stop.
  • With retailers starting Black Friday earlier and earlier every year, does anyone still rush to their favorite store at 6am on Friday?
  • Last Friday, Wall Street closed out a third straight winning week. Are we really heading to a ‘soft landing’ with the economy, and will 2024 see the Federal Reserve finally done with rate hikes? Note: On Friday, U.S. oil prices fell to a 4-month low.
  • Many people are talking about Ridley Scott’s new movie Napoleon, which hits theatres this week. My pick, of course, is Planes, Trains, and Automobiles or National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
  • Will Taylor Swift be at tomorrow night’s Monday night football game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs? If so, what is the over/under on the number of times the director cuts to Ms. Swift frolicking in her suite? Must-see TV.
  • I am a Deion Sanders supporter, but it looks like the University of Colorado coach and his two football-playing sons are finding out what ‘big-boy’ football is all about. Sanders’ Colorado team lost 56-14 to Washington State on Friday night.
  • Journalism and fabricating stories have an inverse relationship. Charissa Thompson – you have done harm to your peers who have worked so hard to ensure women have opportunities with male-dominated sports broadcasting. Shameful.
Not okay at any level.
  • We have heard for years about Venezuela and their serious socioeconomic plight. What I did not know is that Argentina, a country I somehow assumed had a strong economy, is in its worst financial crisis in years, with annual inflation toping 140%. Latin America’s third largest economy is on track to shrink 3.0% year-over-year, resulting in a shocking cost-of-living crisis.
  • The definition of a self-serving politician: George Santos. George, just go away, somewhere far away.

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, here are some general and personal things I am thankful for:

  • The ongoing efforts of first responders and healthcare workers – they are fearless and amazing.
  • For the freedom to vote.
  • For my daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter.
  • For the technology such as Zoom and FaceTime that sometimes drives us crazy but allows us to spend time together.
  • For my baking skills, though one of my friends has been quite critical that I can do better. Meh.
  • For the sponsors, partners, owners, staff, players, conferences, leagues, and media who bring us live, televised sports.
  • For my friends who bring camaraderie, laughs, and sometimes a good bottle of wine.
  • For the ocean and the mountains.
  • For the weather in Central Florida now being amazing.
  • For all of you, who read my blog, (this being post # 335), offer up suggestions, and comment whether you agree or disagree.

  • Regarding the Thanksgiving holiday, travel starting today through next Sunday is tracking to increase 2.5% over last year as more people will take to the roads, skies, and seas compared to 2022. Most airports are already busy, with an estimated five million people heading to spend time with family or taking a holiday during Thanksgiving week. We have all dealt with the bizarre dynamics at an airport gate and with the boarding process. After millions of dollars spent on time and motion studies, boarding a commercial aircraft is still a dilemma no matter the airline. Regarding the boarding process, the interaction between ‘Focker’ and this gate agent must be part of every airline training manual. Wishing those who do travel this week an easy and seamless travel experience.
The gate agent’s glare at the 0.35 mark is priceless!

Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and have a great Thanksgiving holiday.

Shameful. Game Control. Veterans Day. Chivalry. They Behave. Quirky. South Park.

  • Those Were The Candidates To Lead The Most Powerful Nation On Earth?
  • “This Is Not Soccer.”
  • Salute Our Veterans!
  • This Is My House…..
  • Chicken Livers On The Way To School.
  • Mike McDaniel Is A Different
  • Can We Just All Get Along?
  • I am still receiving emails about my thoughts on the 2024 Presidential election. Those thoughts will be kept to myself as I no longer comment or have an opinion with the world of politics and many self-serving politicians. Here is what I will say: Last Wednesday night, for a reason that I cannot explain, I turned on my television and the channel was showing the Republican presidential primary debate held in Miami, Florida. Republican, Democratic, or whatever party, that was twenty minutes I will never get back. No names mentioned of course, but the twenty minutes I watched was both embarrassing and slightly humiliating. Leadership candidates of the United States of America making a mockery of serious domestic and international issues. Okay, I have again said my peace.

  • From the world of sport: The ridiculous, outlandish, and time-wasting by soccer players complaining to the referee about every call needs to stop. Over and over again, players charging up to the referee after a foul or decision being made is maddening. There is no doubt that soccer leagues around the world need to put a dead stop to this practice – and learn from the world of rugby. Nigel Owens is a renowned rugby referee, known for his quick wit and one-liners, but more importantly his command and control of a sport played with reckless abandon. This video quickly shows who is in charge, and his quip regarding ‘this is not soccer’ is a classic. Yes, the center referee in world rugby is microphoned-up and wears a body camera.
Nigel Owens taking control.

  • Veterans Day is a federal holiday in the United States observed annually on November 11, honoring military veterans of the United States Armed Forces. First observed on November 11, 1919, Veterans Day was first called Armistice Day in honor of the first anniversary of the end of World War I, which ended on the eleventh hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. Please get your flag out, fly it proudly, and to all the veterans: praise, honor, admiration, and thank you.
Thank You, Veterans.

  • Speaking of honor and respect, this is a post-game press conference and it is obvious Mexican LigaMX manager Ricardo ‘Tuca’ Ferretti was not exactly in a good mood. He always starts his presser with women reporters asking their questions first, and when one moronic male reporter asked him why….well, you can watch what happened…..
There is no doubt that Tuca Ferretti is all about chivalry!

  • Chicken liver with your bus ride to school. Doggy daycare gone over the top? What an impressive and creative idea. Could daycare facilities and schools learn some best practices from the doggie bus? Wow.
Alaskan Doggie Day Care!!

  • Headline of the week: Plane bound for Orlando takes off with missing window panes as crew fails to spot damage. The plane reached an altitude of 14,000 feet before the crew realized ‘something was wrong.’ So much for the pilots’ pre-flight inspection protocols.

  • I have often reflected about my memories of the Miami Dolphins. Many of the famous Dolphins’ players are still top of mind for me, and their head coach of those days was the epitome of discipline, strategy, and most importantly exemplified his desire to win. I am referring to Don Shula, still the winningest coach in NFL history with 347 wins, including two Super Bowls and one NFL championship. Fast-forward to today’s Miami Dolphins’ head coach, Mike McDaniel. His path to a head coaching job in the NFL is mind-boggling, starting off as a 22-year-old intern with the Denver Broncos. McDaniel is no Don Shula, but he does bring a refreshing, quirky, and very honest personality to the ranks of NFL head coaches. McDaniel does not hide the funny, or not funny, like how he once consumed alcohol in excess and has battled hard to reach sobriety. From McDaniel: “I think people respond best to authenticity, to know that nothing that you say or do is fabricated,” McDaniel said. “So, I just try to stay true to my personality and I feel like that’s owed to people. You have to give yourself, if you’re in a leadership role where you’re serving other people. You have to give people yourself and so I just try to pride myself on that and hold nothing back because I feel like that’s what people deserve.” In many ways, but with a slightly different approach, Mike McDaniel does bring a level of leadership to the Dolphins they once enjoyed with Don Shula.
Mike McDaniel is no Don Shula.

  • South Park has a massive following. The creativity and writing on that show has been honored many times, winning both Peabody and Emmy awards. The series became infamous for its profanity and dark, surreal humor that satirizes a wide range of subjects and issues. We can always hope that this animated bit can become true very soon.
Van Halen’s 1978 classic Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love

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

Darkness. AI Control. Ad Spend. Player.

An Explanation. Setting Standards. $7m For 30 Seconds. Baby Come Back.

  • It has been another six months and this morning we moved the clock back. Yes, every year at this time I moan about the lack of daylight in the early evenings. I do not understand why we continue to adhere to a strategy imposed in 1974 to help mitigate an ongoing natural gas crisis. Sure, we will have light earlier on in the morning, but the dread of darkness creeping into the afternoon is not fun. I never wish my life to move any faster than it already is, but for one I cannot wait until March 10, 2024.
Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson with his take on changing the clocks every six months.

  • In my last post, one take discussed artificial intelligence (AI) technology and my concerns about its potential use within technology sectors, healthcare, transportation, education, and the military. My issues with AI were not with the technology itself, but more about its exponential growth without standards and protocols.

Last week, the United States announced that it is leading the way with trying to wrap some level of regulation around AI, as the White House handed down an executive order, the most significant action with AI the administration has taken to date. The order provides standards for safety and security, protecting consumers privacy rights, advancing equity and civil rights, promoting workers, and spelling out how government should use AI. No, this is not the be all and end all of trying to control the use of AI, but at minimum it is start of trying to wrap some command and control with the exponential growth of AI.

  • There is no doubt that worldwide marketers are taking a hard look at their advertising spend, especially considering what many think will be a slow down with the economy. While over-the-air and cable television are still a bit of the norm, advertisers have been and will continue to use streaming and digital as alternative advertising platforms. With all that said, there is no doubt the NFL is still the preeminent televised sport in the United States. CBS/Paramount announced last week that their inventory for commercial spots for February’s Super Bowl has sold out…at $7 million for a 30-second spot. I assume that these advertisers are betting on two competitive opponents, a fantastic halftime show, and ad spots that the viewing audience glean over. The projected television audience for the February 11, 2024, Super Bowl is expected to reach 120 million.
A top commercial from last year’s Super Bowl.

Six Things I Think I Think

  • New York City is back in a big way. The streets, the restaurants, the stores – all packed with people. A great response from the dark days of the pandemic.
  • Speaking of cities and a complete change of socioeconomics, the Miami River sector near the Dolphin Expressway in Miami, Florida should be a benchmark for redevelopment across the United States.
  • What a weekend in Orlando with the two-day Fall Fiesta at Lake Eola Park, and last night’s Jazz Fest in the College Park neighborhood.
  • Who would have predicted that flexible work entities would be in such bad financial shape, when just a few years ago that space was on fire? WeWork, Workbar, Impact Hub, and Regus are just a few of these businesses who have fallen on hard times.
  • Mortgage rates fell below 8% on Friday – the lowest level since September. Will this trend continue or will the Fed step in again to ‘curb inflation?’
  • Are we missing something here? The 2023 Cricket World Cup lasts six weeks with the final match at the end of November. Through the first eighteen matches, the worldwide television viewership was 365 million people. Say what?

  • I know I complain a bit too often about today’s music. While there are many artists who are fantastic, the music of the past will unfortunately never be replicated. I could start a long list, and many of you would agree with my assessment that the music of the 1970’s/80’s was incredible. Yacht rock, classic rock, disco, Motown, heavy metal, and folk music. “Baby Come Back” was released in 1977 by British-American rock band Player. The song is so well done it reached #1 on the Billboard 100. The music is fantastic and the vocals, by Peter Beckett, are bar none. Real vocals + real musicians = real talent.
The 1977 hit “Baby Come Back” by Player

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

Healthcare AI. Hero. Chaka Finally.

Why AI Is Not Always The Right Path Forward. Do Not Mess With This Grandfather. “Ain’t Nobody”

  • I find it interesting, and sometimes puzzling, why the topic of healthcare seems to be an increasingly top-of-mind discussion point for too many people. I had a lengthy conversation about healthcare with two friends, one from Scottsdale, Arizona, and the other from Toronto, Canada. I found the conversation interesting with the topic covering everything from increasing costs to the quality of healthcare in the U.S. and Canada. The Canadian, for obvious reasons, boasted about her country’s publicly funded healthcare system, known as Medicare. The Canadian Medicare system is a set of ten provincial and three territorial healthcare systems, covering a wide range of services including childbirth, surgery, and prescription drugs. Based on this riveting 🙂 conversation about healthcare, I decided to post about the U.S. healthcare system.

The U.S. healthcare system is often criticized for various reasons, and some people describe it as corrupt or flawed due to several factors. It’s important to note that this description does not apply to all aspects of the healthcare system, and many healthcare professionals and institutions work diligently to provide high-quality care. However, some common criticisms and issues include:

  • High Costs: The United States spends more per capita on healthcare than any other developed country. The high costs can be attributed to various factors, including administrative expenses, the cost of prescription drugs, and the high salaries of healthcare professionals.
  • Lack of Universal Coverage: Unlike many other developed countries, the U.S. does not have a universal healthcare system. This means that millions of Americans are uninsured or underinsured, leading to disparities in access to care.
  • Insurance Industry Complexity: The involvement of private health insurance companies has led to a complex and fragmented system. This complexity can result in high administrative costs and difficulties for patients in understanding their coverage.
  • Pharmaceutical Industry: The cost of prescription drugs in the U.S. is often much higher than in other countries. The pharmaceutical industry’s pricing practices have faced scrutiny and criticism.
  • Profit-Driven Healthcare: Some argue that the profit motive in healthcare can lead to overuse or unnecessary procedures, tests, and treatments, as well as a focus on profit over patient well-being.
  • Inequality: Disparities in healthcare access and outcomes based on factors such as race, income, and location are significant concerns.
  • Lobbying and Political Influence: The healthcare industry, including pharmaceutical companies, insurance providers, and hospital groups, often wields significant influence in U.S. politics, which can shape healthcare policy and regulation.
  • Legal Issues and Fraud: There have been cases of fraud and abuse within the U.S. healthcare system, including insurance fraud, kickbacks, and overbilling.

It’s important to recognize that while there are systemic issues, the U.S. healthcare system also provides world-class care in many areas, and many healthcare professionals are dedicated to their patients’ well-being. Reform efforts continue to address some of the issues, but the complexity of the system and political considerations make significant changes challenging. Public discourse and policy debates about healthcare reform in the U.S. are ongoing.

Did you fall asleep reading that? Reality:

  1. I had a conversation about healthcare with my friends from Scottsdale and Toronto.
  2. I did write the opening paragraph.
  3. I did NOT write the italicized content. All of that content was written in under five seconds using artificial intelligence, specifically ChatGPT – Open AI.

After reading a good bit about artificial intelligence, I am going on record that I am very concerned about its use, the impact on our society, and how it may affect general human behavior. Without trying to put you to sleep with my concerns with AI, here are three in no particular order:

  • AI’s ability to generate and use algorithms that prioritize engagement over truth – and how this may divide and polarize content…any content.
  • The ability for AI to create or alter social media platforms to generate attention, emotions, and beliefs, and create a distorted sense of reality.
  • How value and ethics come into play with the use of artificial intelligence, and depending on who is using AI, their ability to promote good, bad, and evil.

I used the comparison of the U.S. and Canada healthcare systems as an example of AI-generated content. Simple, straightforward, and no harm, no foul with that type of content. Where the use of AI goes sideways: it is an ungovernable technology and can be used by bad people to wrongly shape opinion, behavior, and values by generating content that is harmful and incorrect. The following are examples of AI going terribly wrong:

  • In 2016, Microsoft launched an AI chatbot named Tay on Twitter. The chatbot was designed to learn from the interactions it had with users and become more intelligent over time. However, within a day of its launch, Tay began spewing racist and sexist comments.
  • In 2018, Amazon had to scrap an AI recruiting tool because it was biased against women.
  • In 2020, a study used AI to predict criminality from faces. Researchers from Harrisburg University announced that they had developed facial recognition software that could predict whether someone would be a criminal. The software could allegedly predict from a single photo of a face with an 80% accuracy rate and no racial bias. In response to this announcement, 2,425 experts signed a letter urging the journal not to publish this study or similar research in the future because this type of technology can reproduce injustices and cause real harm to society.
  • In 2021, OpenAI’s GPT-3 language model was found to be generating racist and sexist content.

One theorist, Tristan Harris, argues that “AI is not just a tool, but a force that is shaping our perspective and reality in ways that we are not aware of or in control of. He also claims that AI is creating a “race to the bottom of the brain stem”, where tech companies compete to capture our attention and manipulate our emotions, often at the cost of truth, ethics, and human dignity.” Harris also believes that a level of AI legislation and regulation must be enacted very soon as “AI will end the world by amplifying our own human flaws and biases, and creating a feedback loop of polarization, misinformation, and extremism. He says that AI is already eroding our trust in each other and in institutions and undermining our democracy and social cohesion. He warns that AI could also trigger existential risks, such as nuclear war, bioweapons, or climate change, by destabilizing the geopolitical order or enabling malicious actors.”

I am not sure I agree with Harris’ extreme views on AI, but I do believe that entities better get a grip on the use of artificial intelligence very soon.

Only Sebastian Maniscalco Can Dumb Down The Use of A.I.

Last week’s post discussing the tragedy in the Middle East evoked a good bit of feedback and comments. The ongoing horrible saga continues with no end in sight. Last week’s comments on the tragic events will be my last, though I felt it was important to substantiate and depict the reality of terrorism, whether it be in the Middle East or here in the United States. Below is a snippet of a thirteen-minute segment of last Sunday’s 60 Minutes, which after fifty-five years, is still one of the best written ‘news magazine’ shows on television.

This thirteen-minute video documents the heroism of a former Israel Defense Force operative, who did not hesitate to go into battle again to rescue his son and family, as well as a couple fleeing the terrorists, and two wounded Israeli soldiers. Thirteen minutes that most of us cannot relate to. This thirteen minutes is worth your time:

An Amazing Rescue.

  • I try to end every post with a bit of positivity and fun, and today will be no different.

Part of an inter-racial funk band, which started over fifty years ago, Chaka Khan, in my opinion, has been in a league of her own. Her powerful and amazing voice evokes emotion, happiness, and soulfulness. After fifty years accumulating numerous awards, including ten Grammy’s, Chaka Khan has finally been elected to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. It really does not get any better than the 1983 classic “Ain’t Nobody.”

Chaka Khan, and Her Massive 1983 Hit “Ain’t Nobody”

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

War. A Two-State Solution? That Was Not A Question. O.A.R.

Edwin Starr’s POV. Pure Evil. We Don’t Have Any Damn Trout. Peace.

“We must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

  • There have been many songs about war, from the battle on Iwo Jima to the conflict in Vietnam. Edwin Starr never sang it better when he belts out “War, what is it good for?” in this early 70’s classic. Military theorists always look for an advantage with command and control, and Edwin Starr’s command of his voice, tone, and emotion never expressed his disdain of the Vietnam War better. Unfortunately, some fifty years later, the song ‘War’, by Edwin Starr, is still relevant.
Edwin Starr’s War

  • Last week’s post did not include any take on the tragic events in Israel and Gaza. I wanted more information and facts, and because I try to post on Sunday mornings, Hamas’ terrorist attack in Israel last Saturday left many harrowing questions. I decided to wait until this week to look at what happened in Israel, allowing time for the facts to come forward.

To start off this post, many thoughts and prayers for the people around the world who are suffering and in dire straits. I was not going to post today, feeling like my avantgarde take on ‘things I think’ would be trivial and unwarranted right now, with people suffering and in harm’s way. I decided to provide a bit of reflection on the situation in the Middle East, and maybe some thoughts and music…anything to lighten the bleak situation in many parts of the world.

After two thousand years of territorial and religious conflict, last Saturday afternoon provided us with a glimpse of real life in the Middle East. On Saturday, October 7, we watched in horror at what unfolded, starting with rockets landing in Israel from Gaza, a narrow piece of land located on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, bordered by Israel to the east and north, and Egypt to the southwest. Gaza is ruled by Hamas, a.k.a. the Islamic Resistance Movement, an Islamist political and military organization currently governing the Gaza Strip of the Palestinian territories. Hamas have ruled Gaza since 2007, and they are deemed a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States, and other countries around the world. Hamas is forever aggressively resisting Israeli occupation of Gaza and seeks revenge for Israel’s 2021 raid on Islam’s third-holiest site, Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is located in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Hamas’s bloody massacre and Israel’s retaliatory airstrikes have so far killed more than 2,000 people. Israel has warned citizens who reside in northern Gaza, to leave as the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) readies to first destroy and then occupy Gaza to 1) try and rescue hundreds of hostages taken by Hamas, and 2) rid Gaza of the terrorists once and for all. This is a political and humanitarian crisis of a scale and complexity that is difficult to comprehend. As my friend S² has explained to me, Israel has no choice but to destroy Gaza and wipe out Hamas, as previous efforts by Israel have always come to to a stop, allowing Hamas to again regain a foothold and accrue military provisions. Note: S² was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon, a country that shares its southern border with Israel, and for many years have had to live with their own terroristic organizations, including Hezbollah.

I have questions as I only have a basic understanding of the territorial and religious division found in the Middle East (and in regions of Africa, as well as other parts of the world). In no particular order:

  • Will Israel’s agony and retribution end in chaos or stability?
  • Is there any chance of rescuing the hostages taken by Hamas?
  • How will the IDF fare with urban warfare in what is left of Gaza?
  • Where will the residents of Gaza flee to?
  • What is/was Hamas’ endgame with their terroristic rampage in Israel?
  • How in the hell did Israel’s intelligence failure happen?
  • Why has Hamas failed to rally the Middle East to its cause?
  • The savagery of Hamas has garnered a pro-Israel sentiment similar to the aftermath of the six-day war in 1967 and Yom Kippur war of 1973. Will the support for Israel continue?

While the focus in the last eight days is the sadness and agony found in Israel and Gaza, let us not forget that other parts of the world, where we unfortunately find humanitarian issues that most of us can never comprehend. It is day six hundred of the Russia-Ukraine war. The continued violence in Haiti where gangs control basic goods and fuel. The same for Burkina Faso, where groups of terrorists control 40% of the country. The devastating drought in Ethiopia and Somalia, where thousands of people have already lost their lives to hunger with both countries on the brink of famine. The list of countries with humanitarian issues are too many to name, and now the crisis in the Middle East seems to have added more misery and fuel to fire.

  • Was it shocking that Hamas ‘walked’ into Israel, known for their vast and invasive intelligence services? Yes, on all counts, as what happened last Saturday has put the world on alert. The ‘never again’ mantra after Pearl Harbor and 9/11 happened again, in a country that we all felt had their finger on the pulse of terrorists who always want to due harm to Israel. United States Army Staff Sgt. David G. Bellavia’s speech is powerful – and is not a threat, but a promise to enemies of the United States.
Someone Else Will Raise Your Sons and Daughters”

  • When drama unfolds around the world, we always look to the protagonist or champion of a particular cause or situation. The great military generals of the past, Godzilla, David versus Goliath, or in this situation, this server, who for obvious reasons, I would follow into a street fight or gang war. “That wasn’t a question” has never been stated so succinctly. Yes, everyone, I did mention Godzilla.
What Don’t You Want?

  • No one knows what the short and long-term future of Israel and Gaza looks like, and if any of the many hostages will be rescued or released. What we all do know is that around the world, there are situations that are putting millions of people in a desperate situation. Whether the cause and effect relate to war and territory, ruthless gangs, or famine, we can only wish for some level of sustainable peace. Unrealistic? Probably, but one can only hope. O.A.R.’s song Peace really does sum it up.
O.A.R. Wanting Peace

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

The Enforcer. Thoughts. You Do It. A Team For The Ages. Math Explained.

There Was No One Like Butkus. Things I Think. Self-Checkout. The 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers. I Paid You!

  • I am a fan of the National Football League (NFL) for many reasons. Growing up in Miami, I had the Miami Dolphins, an expansion team that joined the NFL in 1970 following the merger of the NFL and the American Football League (AFL). In a matter of two years, led by coach Don Shula, the Dolphins went on to win back-to-back Super Bowls in 1972 and 1973. The Dolphins’ “No-Name” defense was led by Nick Buoniconti, small in stature for a linebacker, but a relentless tackler as well as a team-leader. Fond memories which led me to always watch the middle linebacker position on any team.

Middle linebackers of the AFL/NFL era were always my favorite. Along with Buoniconti, there were many great linebackers who were fierce, great hitters, and feared by quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers cutting over the middle of the field. To name a few, Ray Nitschke, Bill Romanowski, Mike Singletary, Willie Lanier, Ray Lewis, Jack Lambert, and Harry Carson. All of them exemplified the role and responsibility of the middle linebacker position.

Not to discount my list or any other notable middle linebacker, the most feared and intimidating linebacker ever to play, in my book, was Dick Butkus. Nicknamed The Animal, The Enforcer, The Maestro of Mayhem, and The Robot of Destruction, Butkus wreaked havoc game-in, and game-out, with his menacing demeanor, relentless intensity, speed, and strength. Butkus was fast and at 6’3″ and 245 lbs., he was big compared to other players of that era. His speed was astonishing for his size, tracking down running backs and dropping back to cover passes over the middle. Butkus intercepted twenty-two passes in his career, astonishing for a middle linebacker.

Teammates and opponents alike marveled at Butkus’ ferocity. He intimidated players like nobody else. “If I had a choice, I’d sooner go one-on-one with a grizzly bear,” former Green Bay Packers running back MacArthur Lane said. “I prayed that I could get up every time Butkus hit me.” In a video for NFL Films, John Facenda, in typically dramatic fashion, said Butkus played “with a religious fervor, with an unrelenting obsession not only to excel but to dominate and demoralize.” This video is well worth your time to understand the impact Dick Butkus made on football. Butkus passed away last Thursday at the age of 80. Note: NFL Films with John Facenda’s voice-over is still one of the best productions ever.

RIP Dick Butkus

Things I Think For October 8

  • Completely wireless TVs – inevitable and there should be many interesting applications of these TVs in the very near future.
  • The Pacific – a ten-part series that premiered a decade ago. Acclaimed by many to be a better watch than the Band of Brothers, this series is based on the accounts of Marines in the Pacific theatre in World War II. Producers included Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks so you know it is well done. After many weeks, I finished the series last Thursday night. Note: this series is extremely vivid and very gory.
  • Tech firms are racing to put artificial intelligence (AI) in small, wearable devices and gadgets. I am not sure how I feel about this.
  • I hope you are $1.4 billion richer after last night’s Powerball drawing.
  • Sam Bankman-Fried. Was he an inexperienced nerd who could not manage a fast-growing crypto company, or is he all about fraud similar to Bernie Madoff?
  • I enjoyed watching golf’s Ryder Cup, but I will say it is not the same without Tiger involved with the U.S. team at some level.
  • After all the time, consternation, and aggravation, retailers are finally rethinking their self-checkout strategies. “Some are finding that they still need employees to combat theft and assist with purchases.” Duh.
“You Do It”

  • The Major League Baseball (MLB) playoffs are in full swing. Great teams and great players in an era dictating rule changes including a pitch clock and larger bases. Due to the physicality of today’s MLB players, it is difficult to compare today’s players to the players of the past. The photo below shows a ‘bobble-body” lineup of the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers. With all due respect to the great teams we have watched in the last twenty-five years, this is the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers lineup from left to right: 2B Jim Gilliam; SS Pee Wee Reese; CF Duke Snider; RF Carl Furillo; 1B Gil Hodges; 3B Jackie Robinson; LF Sandy Alomar; P Don Newcombe; Manager Walter Alston. I wonder what level of performance we would have with these players if they had grown up in this era of weight and speed training, contact lenses, nutrition, chartered jets for travel, and ballparks tailored for teams to score runs. Thoughts from the baseball people?
The 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers With Manager Walter Alston

  • Jo Koy is very funny. This bit discusses his seventh grader and the issues “they both are having” with math. Note: Jo Koy does not hold back with language.
I hired you to teach son math – so funny!

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

Ret. General Mark Milley. Delta Missteps. Getting Older. No And No. Fall Sports. Las Vegas Gets Fancy.

Narcissism At Its Finest. Is Delta Still Atlanta’s Favorite Airline? Age = Wisdom. Could Care Less. A Great Time Of Year. The Sphere.

I received many comments, mostly sent to my email address, from last week’s post. Please remember that it is my take and I am always looking for your opinion and comment. Thank you to all for taking the time to respond.

  • “I, _____________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic…”

That is the first sentence of the U.S. military oath of service. This 60 Minutes interview with retiring Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley literally turned my stomach. This take is not pointed at the former President, or any other politician, as all of you know how I feel about anything political. What makes me ill is that the statement made by the former President has again come to light as this military veteran of forty-three years gets set to retire. Mark Milley, before his appointment as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, served with the 82nd Airborne Division, 5th Special Forces Group, the commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, the commanding general of the 10th Mountain Division, and served as the commanding officer of the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command. He earned degrees from Princeton, Columbia, and the Naval War College, and was awarded the Bronze Star four times. For anyone, nonetheless any politician, to infer that this military hero would do anything treasonous with China is disgusting.

In today’s post, I mention narcissism and cognitive abilities. It is ironic and sad that the two leading candidates for the 2024 presidency align with those descriptions.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley

  • Hello Ed,
    I clearly understand that successful companies must segregate their customers based on spend, as well as tenure and loyalty. As someone who has been a Delta customer since the early 1980’s, the changes made with both Medallion status and Sky Club access, while certainly differentiating your customer base based on spend, certainly does not reward customer tenure and loyalty. There are case studies outlining the missteps well-recognized brands and entities have taken with their lack of recognizing customer tenure and loyalty.

I am far from a “Bain’ consultant or analyst, but my leadership and P/L experience tell me that your staff could have developed a program that honored customer spend, as well as loyalty, and tenure.

That was an email I wrote to Ed Bastian, the CEO of Delta Air Lines, the day after Delta announced changes to their Medallion program and Sky Club access. The changes Delta announced only rewarded customer spend to create ‘greater value’ and delineate their customer base, with no regard to customer loyalty and tenure. I am sure my email, which was responded to by one of Delta’s customer officers, was one of thousands that flooded Ed Bastian’s inbox, as well as the media posting negative vibes with Delta’s new rules. An update is that Ed Bastian has conceded that the program changes may have gone too far and it looks like Delta may “roll back” their decision that resulted in angry customers and very bad optics. I guess the lesson learned is that well-run companies, even with strong leadership, can still take missteps with how they treat their customers. Here is a take from Kyle Potter from Thrifty Traveler:

Did Delta Go Too Far?

  • Not one of our favorite topics, but America is getting older. The share of Americans sixty-five or older grew by more than a third from 2010 to 2020 and at the fastest rate of any decade in 130 years. The good news: As reported by Pew Research, among adults 65 and older, fully 60% say they feel younger than their age, compared with 32% who say they feel exactly their age and just 3% who say they feel older than their age. The bad news: About one-in-four adults 65 and older report experiencing memory loss. About one-in-five say they have a serious illness, are not sexually active, or often feel sad or depressed. One-in-seven cannot drive.

Now that I have your attention – it is obvious that we must try to maintain and improve our functional fitness, as well as our mental aptitude and cognitive skills. The old adage that “I don’t remember what I came into the kitchen for, but I do remember lyrics from ’80’s hair bands” – is mystifying. Speaking of aging and wisdom, this statement is so true in many, many ways.

Here Are Ten Random Topics That I Could Care Less About. What About You?

  • Taylor Swift attending NFL games to watch her new squeeze.
  • NPD – Narcissistic Personality Disorder
  • Any latest version of iPhone software
  • Chatbots
  • The sheer amount of commercials during NFL games.
  • Mortgage rates hitting a 23-year high.
  • Insincere people.
  • Eyeglasses that support ChatGPT. WTH?
  • Weak coffee.
  • Anything to do with politics.

  • I mentioned this a few weeks ago, but if you enjoy sports, you are definitely enjoying this time of year. College and pro football are in full swing, as well as the other football around the world. Major League Baseball playoffs start Tuesday, the National Basketball Association on October 24, and the National Hockey League on October 10. Major League Soccer playoffs start soon, and for me it will be interesting to see where Orlando City and Atlanta United end up in the eastern conference standings, and how Chattanooga F.C. fair in their playoff run. A fun time of year heading into the Fall.

  • Speaking of live sports, this could be one of the most creative in-game productions….and of course it was hockey fans in an arena who pulled this off. Excellent!!!

  • I am not a huge fan of Las Vegas, probably due to the number of times I have been there for business. Las Vegas, similar to other cities, can be tough to do business in due to variable labor, union regulations, and the sheer volume of people in the city. The city has come a very long way over the years, and the newest ‘attraction’ in Sin City is magnificent. Sphere, part of The Venetian Resort, is a state-of-the venue combining music, art, and fabulous technology. Sphere has 160,000 speakers and 260 million pixels, took five years to build, and costs exceeded $2.3 billion.

U2 provided the entertainment for the Sphere’s opening on Friday of last week. Whether you like their music or not, this venue is just an amazing venue to see any performance.

U2 at the Sphere in Las Vegas, Nevada

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

Your Thoughts. Quotes. Schadenfreude. A Truly Great Actor. Two States.

I Need YOUR Thoughts. The Misfortune Of Others. Benicio. Florida & Texas.

  • I am interested with YOUR Thoughts on the Following. This is no time to be shy…just put your thoughts in the Comments section of the blog…or if you prefer, email me your thoughts. Grazi’.
  • Today marks day 578 of Russia-Ukraine war.
  • I am a big supporter of teachers, first-responders, and anyone who provides services to children. This quote, from a former Atlanta area teacher with eight years of experience, is just so wrong. “I am earning what a teacher with 15 years of experience made at my last school district — and 50% more than what I made when I quit.” This teacher quit her school system to go to work at Costco. I know, there are always three sides to every story, but this is appalling.
  • Fall is officially here. It was under 70 degrees in central Florida this morning. Okay, you non-Florida people, stop laughing.
  • Are interest rates, specifically fixed-rate mortgage rates, at a level that will not change in the near future?
  • Will the CDC recommend we take a vaccine for every new strain of Covid-19?
  • Families and individuals in Atlanta and Orlando spending way too much money on tickets to see Lionel Messi, with Messi unavailable/injured for last week’s game in Atlanta and tonight’s game in Orlando.
  • The United Auto Workers (UAW) strike could result in 300,000 people without a paycheck – in Michigan alone.
  • The Miami suburb of West Kendall has never been known for being recognized as an area of culinary excellence, but one eatery there has made the NY Times Restaurant List 2023. My go-to Miami contact is my longtime compadre, PDR, who has forgotten more about the inner workings of Miami than I ever knew. PDR: have you and DDR been to Smoke and Dough?
  • They are not exactly the Shinkansen bullet trains of Japan, but Florida’s Brightline service finally provides high-speed rail service from Miami to Orlando. At a top speed of 130 m.p.h., the Brightline train service from Miami delivers you to Orlando in less than three hours. A great alternative for some trips, especially if you want to avoid the Florida Turnpike or the infamous I-95. There are other routes you can take on Brightline with a stops in West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Ft. Lauderdale, and Aventura. In the very near future, Brightline will also service the Orlando to Tampa route. Nice job, Brightline.
  • This is not a loaded question…it is just a question: Are the leading U.S. presidential candidates too old to be the Commander-in-Chief of the country’s armed forces, as well as the President?

Who could argue this quote from Bruce Lee?

  • This neo-noir crime thriller stars one of my favorite actors, Benicio Del Toro. Overall, can you think of an actor that is on-par with Del Toro and his ability to morph into that intense gaze, and moody, haunted persona?
The Great Benicio Del Toro

  • My take on the quote below has nothing to do with who is quoted, though before her death three years ago, she was an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court. While I agree with the first part of the quote, we have all unfortunately witnessed that to “… do it in a way that will lead others to join you” may backfire.

“Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”– Ruth Bader Ginsburg

  • Word of the Day: Schadenfreude. This word is a direct combination of the German words for “harm or misfortune” and “joy.” It describes the happiness one feels at the misfortune of others. An example of ‘schadenfreude’ used in a sentence: “I felt a twinge of schadenfreude when I heard that my former colleague who liked to cause trouble for others had been fired.” Now you know.

  • For the last Sunday in September, I will end this take with a bit of fun humor. I enjoy living in Florida, especially between October and April…but Chris Cope’s perspective on the states of Florida and Texas are very funny.
Chris Cope

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

Shut Down. Thoughts. Gojira. Armory. Cinnamon Girl.

Ransomware Is No Joke. Things I Am Thinking For Mid-September. The Greatest Antagonist. Cheesesteaks, Anyone? CSNY.

  • By definition, Ransomware is a malware (software developed for malicious intent) designed to deny a user or organization access to files on their computer. By encrypting these files and demanding a ransom payment for the decryption key, cyberattackers place organizations in a position where paying the ransom is the easiest and cheapest way to regain access to their files.

Most of us are aware of ransomware with relative thinking that these attacks are primarily a nuisance, with you or your organization’s files encrypted until you pay a small payment to have them “released”, or decrypted. Nuisance is definitely not the correct way to describe a ransomware attack, as there has been a dramatic increase in both the frequency and severity of attacks. Today’s cybercriminals are more sophisticated, finding new ways to evade detection and infect devices.

Last week, cybercriminals went after Caesars Entertainment, the conglomerate that has many hotels under their umbrella, including Caesars Palace, Harrah’s, and the Flamingo. Las Vegas’ MGM hotel endured a cyber-attack back in 2019 as well, with the personal information of 142 million guests stolen by hackers and posted to a dark web cybercrime marketplace. Note: it has been reported that Caesars paid the cybercriminals $15 million to have their data decrypted. Before payment was made, the malicious software used by the cybercriminals caused long lines at check-ins, no phone service, no room service, and payouts from the casino taking up to sixty minutes.

Certainly not a benchmark, but in 2021, Chicago’s CNA Financial ended up paying out $40 million to cyber criminals to regain control of their network. Preventing these types of attacks, even with cybersecurity protocols in place, can be very difficult. As a baseline, here are a few things you and your organization can do to help prevent malware from entering your computer, phone, tablet, or your organization’s network. Samir, please chime in with any other thoughts on how to prevent malware from ‘entering’ devices or a network:

  • Backing up important data is the single most effective way of recovering from a ransomware infection.
  • Keep your system up-to-date, and use a newer version of antivirus software, like Microsoft Defender.
  • Think twice, and then three times, before clicking links or downloading files.
  • Do not trust pop-up windows that ask you to download software.
Malware, everywhere.

Seven Random Thoughts For Mid-September

  • It is ALREADY Mid-September!
  • Delta Air Lines: I certainly understand that all organizations must segregate their customer and prospect bases by spend (or potential spend), but revising your loyalty programs without a component of tenure and loyalty is a misstep.
  • Cable television providers are quickly retooling their go-to-market strategies by becoming resellers of streaming services. There is no doubt that traditional cable television service is on its way out – and with the National Football League and Major League Soccer offering league games via Amazon, YouTube, and Apple, streaming services have shown us that once the massive television rights contracts are up, sports and news programming will morph over to streaming service platforms.
  • The UAW is on strike, demanding a 36% wage increase over four years, a defined benefit pension, and a thirty-two-hour work week. This does not bode well for America’s ‘Big Three’ automakers, Ford, GM, and Stellantis, who produce cars for Chrysler. Dovetail these demands with a very tight labor market and who really does know how this will get resolved? As many as 150,000 workers could be affected by this labor strike.
  • Whether you like watching golf on TV or not, this week’s Ryder Cup, played at Marcone Simone Golf & Country Club in Rome, Italy, is usually must-see TV. The biennial men’s competition is between teams from Europe and the U.S. Depending on the results of the first two days (Friday and Saturday), the singles matches on Sunday are always fun to watch.
  • College and Pro football are up and running. So are international football leagues including England, Germany, Spain, and Italy. Major League Baseball is heading into their playoffs as well as Major League Soccer. Fun, and more fun.
  • Supply chain issues have bubbled up once more, this time due to the drought condition of the Panama Canal. This man-made canal connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean. Yes, I am going to ask: How can a canal that flows from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean be in a drought condition? Can someone just open the faucet at one end of the canal and let in some water?
Open the faucet!

  • Headline of the Week: New Godzilla Minus One Images Reveal Closer Look At Godzilla’s Destructive Rampage

Godzilla: The Greatest Antagonist to Ever Roam Earth?

  • Is the sky falling? Absolutely not, but what is the world (specifically Philadelphia) coming to when you read this: Philadelphia cheesesteak shop hires armed agents to protect customers outside.

I get it. Neil Young, along with David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and Graham Nash are not for everyone. Their folk-rock music set the stage for early 1990’s grunge, but I think CSNY are one of the most underrated acts of all time. Again, not for everyone, but this rendition of Cinnamon Girl, performed at 2017 Live Aid, makes you wonder if similar music will ever return.

The Great Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

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