Showing posts with label Preparedness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Preparedness. Show all posts

June 21, 2020

No Matter How Much You Prepare

So we just finished watching Season Six of Alone (and have now started Season Seven).

Highly trained professionals (military and otherwise) with ALL the skills, experience, and confidence setting out to survive in the arctic, alone.

Each one thinks they can make it and outlast the others.

And watching these folks, you think to yourself, wow, these people can fish, hunt, build shelters, survive off of the land, and know how to survive.

Yet, usually well before 100 days, (virtually) all the contestants are out:
No matter how well prepared they are, life happens!

- They get hugely sick, often from the gross food they are eating.

-They fall down and hurt or break something.

- They cut or stab themselves.

- They lose one or more of their essential survival tools.

- They inadvertently burn down their own shelters.

- Animals steal their food or attack them.

- They starve and their bodies start to break down critical fat stores in their heart or other vital organs.

- They start to lose their minds from the lack of nutrition and mind-numbing loneliness.

It seems like no matter how well trained and prepared they are, they can't outrun, outwit, out-survive what life eventually throws at them.

Even the last person "standing" is still usually more dead than alive.

Anything other than self-control is ultimately an illusion.

Remember, life happens, and eventually everyone needs help from someone.

No man is an island even if you are living on one. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 19, 2020

Coronavirus: A Modern Leprosy

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Coronavirus: A Modern Leprosy."
What an interesting time this week during the coronavirus for my bar-mitzvah parshas of Tazria and Metzora, where we learn about how to handle someone with the plague of leprosy...What’s fascinating though for our times is that right here in the Torah, long before medical science understood germs, washing of hands, and disinfectants, we have the first instruction on quarantining someone who is sick. The person with leprosy is deemed impure and is put outside the camp in quarantine, repeatedly checked (e.g. tested) by the Kohen, until they are healed, at which time they are purified before being allowed back in. What we don’t see with leprosy is that the whole community is put in a state of quasi quarantine as we are doing now globally with the coronavirus.

In the end, I see this coronavirus blowing up with some people forever anxious and germophobic and others becoming complacent and careless about the whole thing. Either way there will be more sick and dying people, as well as anger at the system that over time repeatedly failed us. This week’s parsha is a good reminder to go back to the ultimate wisdom of the Torah and read again how we handle the leper and manage with a thoughtful risk-based management approach and an eye on the ultimate purity—physically and spiritually—of the individual and the community.

(Free Photo via Pixabay)

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March 19, 2020

Coronavirus - Something or Nothing?

I don't know about you but I have found the communication about the Coronavirus to be absolutely confusing.

And the actions demonstrating unpreparedness, disorganized response, general chaos, and panic do not match the few calming words we are getting. 

No wonder everyone is panicking and the bottom is falling from the market.

On one hand:

- The officials tell everyone to remain calm, and there is no reason to panic. 

- Help is on the way.

- People are overreacting.

- Most people that get Covid 19 won't even know they had it or the symptoms will be mild (or maybe moderate)

- The death rate is "only" like 3 or 4% and it's mostly older people or those with chronic ailments anyway (as if these people don't matter). 

- Younger children aren't really getting it (although we don't know exactly why or the impact on pregnant women). 

- It's less contagious and deadly than the flu (wait, it's more contagious and deadly). 

- There are plenty of tests available for everyone (no, there aren't).

- It will be over in a few weeks when the seasons change and the temperature goes up. 

- A vaccine will soon be ready for testing and then distribution after 12-18 months. 

- The numbers of infected are going down in China--see they have it under control!

- Maybe we should allow investigative drugs to be used (or maybe not, the FDA thinks this is a bad idea).

- The impact to the economy will be over probably by August (or will it?). 

- It'll ALL be over soon.

On the other hand:

- We don't know what we're facing (people are routinely using the words apocalypse and armageddon). 

- This could be the "big one!"

- Is this a punishment from G-d (and is the Messiah coming)? 

- This has reached pandemic proportions. 

- We are declaring a national emergency. 

- This may have come out of a Chinese bioweapons lab.

- Also, China suppressed information and initial response on this making the outbreak worse. 

- "China should be punished for these things" (or some version of this).

- Cases are raising around the world. 

- The contagion is worse than initially thought (there are comparisons to the Spanish Flu of 1918 which killed around 50 million people)

- The death rate is higher than expected. 

- We don't know why or where certain people got Covid 19 from.

- The hospitals are already overwhelmed and are unprepared for a real surge of cases. 

- We need to "flatten the curve" so our healthcare system isn't brought to its knees. 

- We are already triaging patients and our doctors and nurses are working extra long hours and are exhausted. 

- We aren't prepared for this--our healthcare system and government has "failed us". 

- We're rolling out unprecedented economic assistance from the Fed, the Treasury...another trillion dollar deficit (no answer for how this gets paid, if ever...can anyone say runaway inflation in the future and lots of worthless dollars). 

- Washing and "Social Distancing" are paramount. 

- There is a run on toilet paper and disinfectants and these are either sold out or vendors are price gouging these items. 

- We are shutting down the country (workplaces, fitness centers, eat-in restaurants, entertainment, travel, places of worship, and any significant gathering of people). 

- The instructions to stay at home in "indefinite"!

- People are stuck in the house and worried about how long this will go on. 

- Some places like New Rochelle, NY are under quarantine and the National Guard has been called out.

- There is talk of a curfew and further measures of quarantine to be enforced under penalty of imprisonment. 

- The lines at the stores (Costco, Sam's Club, Supermarkets, Groceries) are out the door and the shelves are empty. 

- Amazon announces that they are running out on consumer stables!

- Businesses are suspending workers, moving them to part time, and laying them off. 

- The stock market is down by 1/3 and we're told that this could just be the beginning. 

- A recession is looming and the economic impact and duration is unknown. 

- Italy is on lockdown. 

- Borders are being closed. 

- People can't get home from abroad. 

- Cruise ships aren't being allowed to port. 

- Airlines are screaming for a financial bailout. 

- Navy Hospital Ships with 1,000 beds each are being deployed to the east and west coast. 

- We're sending $1,000 checks (or something like this) to people below a certain income level (maybe $65,000).

- Taxes are supposedly being deferred (although not filing of returns or estimated taxes yet).  

- People are wearing masks everywhere (but we are being told only the sick ones need to wear it and we see everyone in China wearing it and of course our first responders and medical professionals, so which is it).

- Primary voting is delayed in some states and there is question whether the November Presidential election will also be delayed.

Summary:

Does anyone know WTF is going on around here???

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 15, 2020

The Coronavirus Panic


Fruits and Vegetables...


Bread....


Cereal...


Paper Towels and Toilet Paper...

(Credit Photos: Andy Blumenthal @Harris Teeter)


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February 2, 2020

The Real Threat Is Surprise Attacks

Please see my new article in Israel Defense called, "The Real Threat is Surprise Attacks."
The element of surprise can overcome most defenses. This can happen whether through an insider threat or through new and stealthy technologies. Already in August 2018, two explosive-laden drones were used to attack the president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro. Similarly, last year, in the movie, Angel Has Fallen, we saw the president of the United States attacked by a swarm of drones. While this is a great threat in and of itself, I believe that the greater threat lies in the miniaturization of the drones, in some cases, drones with the size, shape, and function of insects.

Unfortunately, Yigal Amir used the element of surprise to assassinate the prime minister of Israel. Now there are other high-tech threats like miniaturized, weaponized drones. There is no excuse for us not to be on the lookout for and to be prepared to defend against these, so that our leadership and our democracies are duly protected. Surprise is a big advantage in warfare, but we must be one step ahead, so that we are prepared to defend against these as well as to turn the tables and effectively employ the continued element of surprise against our relentless adversaries.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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January 18, 2020

Anti-Semitism: Preparedness Can't Be Blind

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Anti-Semitism: Preparedness Can't Be Blind."
As I'm standing there, I feel someone coming up behind me and then running into me. Of course, with anti-Semitic attacks prominent and growing, I may have been at a slightly higher state of alert, and I turn around ready for whatever or to give someone a few choice words...And then I see the cane from a blind person.

So even in these times, when there are gangs, drugs, violence, and anti-Semitism, and "we can't be careful enough" (especially given our long, deep history of religious persecution), at the same time, we need to judge our fellow man favorably first and foremost, and still we must be prepared for, G-d forbid, the worst at any time.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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December 21, 2019

Israel Must Leave No Stone Unturned

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Israel Must Leave No Stone Unturned."
Over the last decades since 1973, Israel has taken strong actions again to beef up their defenses and leave no stone unturned including taking the bold steps in destroying the menacing nuclear reactors of Iraq in 1981 and the Syrian reactor in 2007. Now Israel is facing a similar decision on action with Iran and their weapons of mass destruction. Israel and the United States need to leave no stone unturned in trying to find a path towards a peaceful resolution with Iran, but if that stone threatens potential annihilation of Israel and other western allies, then there should be no doubt whatever that Israel and other civilized nations must act once more to remove the threat and turn that stone into harmless dust again.

Whether towards peace or G-d forbid to war, Israel must be courageous to act and leave no stone unturned to secure its peace and security, or the ultimate defeat of its unrelenting enemies. Israel must be like Joseph, and be able to interpret the dreams and events unfolding before them, and like Pharaoh to make the decision to act and restore the meticulous butler, hang the negligent and dangerous baker, and save the nation from otherwise assured destruction. May G-d give us the wisdom, courage, and strength to do what we must eventually do and let it be for the good.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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November 17, 2019

OPTIMISM vs pessimism

So I thought this really matched my philosophy to a T on optimism and pessimism. 

As Joel Rosenberg put it in his book The Ezekiel Option, "In the long run everything would turn out fine...but tomorrow could be a disaster."

In short, this equates to:

I'm a strategic optimist, but a tactical pessimist. 

My mom used to say, "If I am pessimistic, I'll never be disappointed." LOL

I think though when we have faith then we know that truly, in the end everything is for the best and will be okay.

In the short term though, there are challenges to face and these can be tough indeed. 

- Strategically an optimist. 

- Tactically a pessimist. 

Plan for the worst, hope for the best. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 19, 2019

Prepare to Survive!

Picture from active shooter training today. 

Saw a great (and scary) video on RUN, HIDE, FIGHT (from http://www.readyhoustontx.gov) -- link to video is here.

Other take-a-ways:
  • Always have a plan A, B, and C. 
  • If you can't run or hide, fight with everything at your disposal--engage and neutralize the shooter!
  • Survive, you're not done until your done!

Please G-d, we should never have to deal with the horror of this, but it's good to learn to be always ready. ;-)

(Credit Photo: U.S. Marshal Service)
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December 2, 2018

On The First Night Of Chanukah

Please see my article in The Times of Israel called, "The Lesson of the Candy Lane Menorah."
It was a beautiful ushering in the first night of Chanukah by Chabad of Bethesda, Maryland. The "candy" menorah that they were going to use was somehow destroyed, but Chabad came with a spare--they are terrific...even when things go wrong, miracles can happen, but we have to be prepared like Chabad was tonight.

Happy First Night of Chanukah to everyone! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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February 7, 2018

Cross The Street

I like this saying by life coach Iyanla Vanzant"
"When you see crazy coming, cross the street!"

I remember learning similarly from experts that the first lesson in self defense is always:
"If you can run, run!"

That doesn't mean your not strong or courageous.

It's just common sense to try to avoid trouble if you can. 

When people seriously fight, both usually can end up with a black eye or worse. 

And there are truly a lot of crazies out there.

Peace is always desired.

But strength (and preparedness) is always required. 

This makes sense as well in the larger context of the USA upgrading it's nuke arsenal and other weapons systems and platforms to deter enemy aggression.

Thus, peace through strength and of course, prayer! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 25, 2017

Ever Feel Like You're Target Practice

Thought this was really spot on.

The knives get sharpened and readied. 

At some point, they come flying out of nowhere. 

Often, from all directions at the same time.  

When it rains, it pours. 

Some people latch on to the opportunity to try and make a kill. 

You do your best to duck this way and that and survive the onslaught.

Hopefully, you were adequately prepared. 

The big question is--can you hold unto your cheese? 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 18, 2017

Paper Navy Tiger

We spend $600 billion on defense and this is what we get?

In the middle of the night our U.S. Navy DESTROYER crashes with a ginormous container ship.

The commercial vessel (yes it's bigger, but it's a civilian ship) is lightly damaged, but the U.S. Navy BATTLESHIP (after having undergone a recent $21 million upgrade) has 7 dead, the captain injured, and it can barely make it back to its port except with tugboats for extensive repairs. 

WTF!

How does an battleship with the latest sensors and technology collide with a civilian ship--how did such a foreign vessel even get close to our navy ship let alone collide with it--was someone completely "asleep at the wheel?"

This is no joke!--this is our first line of defense in our ability to project force globally. 

What if this had been a terrorist ship laden to the hilt with high explosives or an Axis of Evil Iranian or North Korean fast attack craft or even a Russian or Chinese attack submarine--surprise!

Doesn't a battleship need to be ever-vigilant and -ready for battle? 

How can we fight sophisticated 21st century militaries with advanced ship-killer cruise missiles, torpedos, and mines, if we can't even avoid the essential sinking of one our own fighting ships in peacetime. 

Our brave men and women who take up the uniform to serve this great nation--and this country--DESERVE BETTER!

Does this paper navy ship with a punched hole in it represent a larger forgotten or war-weary military in dire need of modernization and genuine readiness to defend the beautiful and free America? 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal via The Guardian)
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February 25, 2017

The Trouble With Our Security

So the problem with our security is that we value our openness more than we do our security.

And perhaps, we fear war more than we desire true peace. 

This was a photo from Summer 2015 when the Pope was in DC.

And despite a "massive" security apparatus set up to protect the Pope, the "largest security operation in U.S. history"...


Check out this photo of a colleague who was able to literally run up to the Fiat car where you can see the Pope waving from. 

Our security is full of holes--if this guy had a gun, molotov cocktail, or bomb then the top Christian leader in the world could've been taken out, just across the street from the U.S. State Department. 

As a democracy, we value openness and freedom to say what we want, do what we want, protest what we want, carry guns as we want, but when is open too open?

Again, whether it comes to cybersecurity or physical security, unless we start to get serious about what massive and large security really means, it is just a matter of time before something really terrible happens, G-d forbid. 

We've got to do a better job balancing security and openness. 

No one should be getting right up to the Pope's car like this!

No one should be smashing windows, burning cars, and attacking police and pedestrians in Washington, DC or anywhere.  

No one should be buzzing our battleships and jets!

No one should be hacking into our sensitive cyber systems, taking down and crippling them and stealing our secrets!

No one should be recruiting, plotting, and carrying out increasing and devastating terrorist attacks right under our noses in this country or elsewhere. 

No one should be using chemical weapons around our red lines in population centers or in airports!

No one (Iran, North Korea, Russia) should be developing, testing, and aiming nuclear ballistic missiles at the West!

War is a last resort, but this is not peace.

It is time to rethink our security posture...it is past time. ;-)

(Source Photo: A Colleague)
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February 16, 2017

That's One Scary Shot

Wow, this is one scary photo. 

Imagine coming downstairs and seeing this kids body laying on the floor like that. 

Looks like he's dead!

Would you freak out totally?

Call 911.

Get the emergency responders on the scene. 

Try to save his life. 

Thoughts race through your mind. 

Is he sick?  Was it an accident?  A crime scene?  Terrorism?  Is there an active shooter? 

Is he going to make it? 

Where is his family?

OMG, what if they lose him?

Well, it turns out this kids was just acting out and scaring his parents--and everyone else passing by.

Life is so full of surprises. 

You never know if it's the real thing or not.

But you have to be prepared for anything, anytime. 

This is a crazy world we live in. 

Thank G-d when it's just a false alarm and everything is okay. 

Unfortunately not every time is it all well that ends well. ;-)

(Source Photo: Michelle Blumenthal)
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November 14, 2016

Beautiful Rise and Fall

Just wanted to share this beautiful Fall scene in Maryland.

While we are about to embark on a major infrastructure spending spree to make this country great again--and we need it to fix all the rot in our roads, bridges, trains, airports, marine ports, schools, utilities, and more--at the same time, we need to keep in mind the safeguarding of the beauty of our natural outdoor spaces and resources.

I heard President-elect Trump on 60 Minutes last night speak about the $6 trillion that we have spent in the Middle East fighting terrorism since 9/11, and that with that money, we could've rebuilt our infrastructure twice over.

While the amount is seen on the high end, the point is that while other nations are investing in their infrastructure, people, and future, we are wasting large sums of blood and treasure in a fight that in over 15 years, we haven't won, and many question whether we are significantly even any safer.

We need to fight smarter, spend more strategically, and take care of America first.

BTW, what did we get from the prior investment from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus spending of $831 billion in 2009...where did all that money go (uh, down the special interest drain)?

While the beautiful outdoors needs to stay pristine, our country needs to seriously rebuild with clear project expectations and results and at the same time wipe out the terror threats against us--no more dabbling, PC, Mr. Nice Guy (of course, we need to be nice to those that are nice to us, but also we need to fight for this country like we mean it)!

That's a big agenda, but for under $6 trillion, we ought to be able to get some decent return on our investment please, ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 13, 2016

U-Haul Rental Truck Terrorism

So true story...

This week I was walking in Downtown, D.C.

I see something strange, not usually there. 

There is a U-Haul van parked in front of the GW University School of Science and Engineering. 

Literally in front of the main doors.

A couple of it's wheels are actually sloppily on the sidewalk and it is in front of a fire hydrant in front of the very doors to the school.

But that's not all. 

All around the vehicle are oddly taped on posters as you see above. 

On some of the posters are antagonistic words about DOJ (the Department of Justice) and some even use the word "terrorist."

Well, after the devastating terror attack in 1995 against the Oklahoma City Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building with a massive homemade bomb concealed in a rental truck that killed 168 people and wounded almost 700, I decided it's probably a good idea to call the police. 

In the time that it took them to come, I was able to walk to the market place and to coffee...I know they are busy, but it seemed like forever. 

Finally, two patrol cars pull up...that's good. 

I go outside to meet them. 

The officer after briefly looking around (and not in) the vehicle looks at me as I walk over to him. 

I said, "I called you about this suspicious vehicle."

He goes sternly, "Well, what's suspicious about it?"

I described the obvious...how it was parked with wheels on the sidewalk, at a fire hydrant, right in front of the main doors to the school, and with all those (crazy) posters all around it and uses the word "terrorist".

Surprisingly to me, the officer responds, "That's not suspicious!" Then he concedes, "but I will give it a ticket."

He must've seen my face go into this contorted questioning look, but I thought the better of the situation and said with deference to him, "Well Sir, you're the expert!"

I thank him for coming out and walk away feeling disheartened at this security response just 15 years after 9/11 and when we are still fighting a gruesome war with ISIS and against global terrorism. 

Then just a few days later, look at the article I came across with a homeland security warning:

"ISIS Guide: Rent a U-Haul As A Weapon, Target Thanksgiving Day Parade or Political Rallies."

In the ISIS instructions, there is a picture of a U-Haul truck with the caption, "An Affordable Weapon" and the statement that "low security" gatherings "are fair game and more devastating to Crusader nations."

With all due respect for our esteemed law enforcement, perhaps we need to take these terrorist warnings more seriously, and frankly even without the explicit warning, a suspicious U-Haul in downtown DC in front of a major university probably deserves more than just a parking ticket! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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October 15, 2016

Peace Through Strength

So this is what I've learned about conflict management...

Obviously, we are better off without conflict and to simply all get along--that's the ideal!

Now unfortunately, in real life there may be situations where we may have fundamental differences of opinions and goals, and at times these may seriously clash. 

What's good for you, may be bad for me (or vice versa)...that's called a win-lose situation. 

And when we don't see eye to eye and can't get along, then either we can try to work it out and that's where diplomacy comes in or at other times, we may have no choice but to take up arms and go to war.

Our first choice is diplomacy. Here, we sit down to listen and try genuinely to understand each other, and have empathy on others...life is not easy for anyone. 

Still we need to mesh what others want with what we need for our own wellbeing and progress, and that's where negotiation, compromise, and de-escalation come into play. 

Best case scenario, we come up with a win-win situation, where we can both walk away from the table with a respectable enough amount of what we each want and our egos still intact, so that that we can all go our merry ways and pursue our lives and live within our values and amidst security.  

However, in some cases, some may be so unreasonable, intractable, and their actions so aggressive, egregious, and dangerous as to threaten, harm, and violate the lives of others, that it's intolerable for it to continue any longer.

What's left when we can't put up and shut up, and when talk is exhausted, is to fight for what we believe in, for who we are, and for our right to live and prosper. 

Once, twice, three times and you're out of time and luck--we are seriously headed for a clash of persons and/or civilizations. 

Peace is better won without firing a shot, but when it's time to pull out the guns, they better be damn big and deadly ones. 

That is called peace through strength...where we have the guts and means to back up our position with force, if necessary. 

None of this bullshit of bringing a knife to a gunfight; instead, when we have no choice but to fight, we fight to win and everything is on the table. 

Peace is the preference, but if war is the only answer, then the other side may have unleashed hell, and that is what they will get from peace through strength delivered! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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