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Military Killer Robots

Being a veteran makes you think about certain things a little different than some people. I’m not sure it matters if you are military veteran or a first responder you see the world from a different angle.

drone-firingSure, we see the news, we hear about some injustice and the war drums start to beat the calls for invasion start (we don’t call it that anymore we say send the military).

But if you are the one that has to go, you think about it differently. Especially after your time is up. Send the military takes a different meaning. You think about it longer because you know that when you go down range someone else is there who may not like you very much.

Until now. Send in the robots….drones.

We love these things. We can send people around the world to keep the peace and never be in harms way. We can blow up a guy on a scooter in Africa or the Middle East while our guy is sitting in a chair outside Las Vegas who goes out to dinner later that day win or lose.

The only question is, philosophically should we? Is this the right thing to do. Should we turn war into a video game.

What happens when the other side uses nothing but drones. Will we get to the point where all sides of warfare are no longer human its all robots? Will it just be the side with the best tech team that wins?

Or will it go one step further.

I’m not really a philosopher but it is a question that I think about more often than I’d like to admit.

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Concussions, the NFL, and a new book showing how the crisis has evolved, and how it can be fixed

When I first met Jay Saldi I had no idea he was once a professional football player, much less a team captain from Super Bowl XII. It was long after he left the NFL, and it was a business meeting for a marketing project on this startup company that has long since gone away.

Concusstitution Kindle flattened

It turns out Jay wasn’t just an NFL player, he was one of the guys on the Dallas Cowboys when they earned the name America’s Team, and a hell of a nice guy. He played back when the Cowboys were the team, you know the one, the one that everyone wants to beat. Roger Staubach was the Quarterback and Tom Landry was the coach.

I am now and have been for many years a scientist. My PhD is in Physics, and I spent a fair number of years working on Army projects, specifically how to prevent traumatic brain injury in soldiers.

A book on Concussions in Football seemed like the thing to do at the time.

We didn’t want to be like the laundry list of others showing up on the market. You know the ones, the books that say, “Concussions bad, ban everything.” Or the other type that is out there, “I knew concussions were bad, now let me tell you my life story down to what my nanny used to tell me about running when I was 4.”

We wanted to write one that is going to help you make up your mind about the sport. Concusstitution is that book.

In this book we give a history of the sport, we discuss how brain injuries happen (geared for the layperson), we even show how, and when injuries are most likely to occur in the sport. We went so far as to talk to former players and figure out how they avoided injuries if at all possible.

We even examined the field for potential impact to injuries.

In short, we didn’t make the book about us, we made it about Football, and how Football has evolved, as well as how your head may (or may not) suffer an injury as a result of playing.

We hope you enjoy Concusstitution, Welcome to Football!

 

Upcoming 2020 election, politics and myths

Is anyone else disturbed that the 2020 election for President of the United States was somehow officially kicked off in 2018? Thanks to Elizabeth Warren and her oh so early announcement (that surprised no one).

That means that for 2 years I have to listen to “the founding father said,” and then “what I meant by that was,” and then of course “I misspoke” and on and on and on.

There will be myths created about people’s experience, there will be opportunistic statements about the contribution of one person or another. Then, of course, one side will carry around pocket Constitutions ready to pound us over the head, and the other side will pretend that document doesn’t really matter.

There will be discussion of walls, and how they are the only possible way we won’t all die in the near future. There will be discussion of the evils of cars and fossil fuels right before someone steps on a private plane to rush off and burn tons of the stuff.

I started thinking about how far back this myth thing goes and I found this book.

DSCF1069I look forward to reading some of the myths that got us all started. It is going to be a informative read.

I’m sure there will be a few posts about these myths as I go along through this one. Happy 2019, let’s not forget this year is election free (at a federal level) and feel free to live your lives without fear of whatever topic some politician seems intent to bludgeon you over the head with.

Law Enforcement, Donuts and Most Hilarious News Story Ever

Ok, we all know the cliche. Never get between a cop and a donut shop. Could it be because law enforcement work strange hours and the need the coffee or is because donuts are delicious, and cops are human.

I’m not sure but this officer had the opportunity to get the picture of his career, and dangnabit, he took it. This is hilarious.

https://www.foxnews.com/food-drink/cops-grieve-krispy-kreme-doughnuts-lost-in-nye-truck-fire-no-words

Lee Child, Jack Reacher – Personal

Lee Child PersonalI have been reading through the Jack Reacher novels recently.  I know, where have I been. I ask myself the same thing.

Lee Child is a great writer, a little formulaic but dang…It’s a good formula and it works.

Jack Reacher, in my opinion is a little like a cross between James Bond and Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock Holmes in that he connect clues no one else can, and that thing with his clothes.

I read a lot of mystery/thrillers. I have since I was in my teens, and I’m later into my 40s now. This one was an exciting thriller, I couldn’t figure it out. It kept me turning pages looking for that next clue.

In the end the clue was so cleverly hidden I totally missed it. I was surprised at the end, but when the reveal happened I finally connected the dots. Mr. Child you confused me. Hat tip to you sir.

 

Concussions, the NFL, and the American Public

To say Football is popular in the United States is almost the same as saying oxygen is popular for those who enjoy life. It is what many of us do in the Fall. It has a long history, is has had its challenges but it is the most popular sport around in this part of the word. I freely admit I live in Texas (Dallas to be specific) and we are basically football central, but still, it is hugely popular.

Concussions have been a problem for the league. Players have suffered from them since the dawn of the game. Athletes have suffered from concussions long before football existed on this planet. Look at how long boxing has been around if you want to understand just how long that injury has been present in sports.

Many books, and at least one movie have focused on this topic. I, and my co-author, wanted to take a different approach. We didn’t want to set out to write a book to blame someone, we didn’t want to write a book that tells our life story as some of the other concussion books do, no we wanted to be different.

What we did was we wrote a book that explains the foundation of the sport. We show how it originated, where it started, how far the safety aspect of the sport has come, and yes, where there is still room for improvement.

We did our homework. We researched the sport as far back as it goes (mid 1800s), and even looked into the sports that had influence on the formation of American Football which go all the way back to the Greeks and Romans.

We then reached out to a series of former players, coaches and other notables still involved with the league at various levels. We spoke to, and have included interviews with:

  • Jim McMahon
  • Howard Richards
  • Randy White
  • Bob Ward
  • Roger Staubach

We looked at any method a concussion can occur. I think you will find this book informative, and I hope that you will find it informative enough that you can make a decision about involvement with the sport from a position of information rather than fear. A wise man once said, we have nothing to fear but fear itself.

Our book, Concusstitution: Welcome to Football can be found on Amazon.com and I hope you enjoy!

Concusstitution Kindle flattened

 

Hannibal Rising – Lecter Prequel

hannibal risingThomas Harris has achieved what many authors dream of. Not just literary success, although that is certainly a desire, but he created a character that is now internationally recognized the instant the name Hannibal Lecter is said aloud.

I have read the entire series of books, and enjoyed every one of them. The movies are also something to be watched and allow them to induce nightmares. Anthony Hopkins does a serial killer like no one else.

I watched the Prequal again recently, and although it was hated by many critics I have to say it is a nice film. The challenge with it is that it isn’t Anthony Hopkins level acting, but it is very rare to find that quality actor.

The only real issue I ever had with this book was that the reason Hannibal did the creepy things he did were unknown. Sometimes that is better. Knowing why Hannibal is the monster he is almost makes us feel sorry for him at first. When I initially read the book, that was certainly how I felt. Now as I watch this again I don’t think I feel sorry for Hannibal. Maybe it is my age, but I now see that perhaps there is a potential Hannibal in everyone…Perhaps a victim of circumstance. He wasn’t a monster, he was transformed into a monster by life experience.

It makes me want to ensure my children’s life experience forms them to be good people. It makes me think carefully about the decisions I make to impact others. I don’t want to push someone, or influence someone into awakening their inner demon. You never know when someone is one little nudge away from breaking.

Iranian Nuclear Weapons Program – Fact or Fiction?

When I saw this article (linked below this paragraph), I was not as surprised as most people who follow this sort of news. A number of years ago a friend of mine and I completed a book called The Last World War: Trial By Fission, available on Amazon in eBook, print and audio book formats. It is the fictional story of what we think Iran would do should it get the nuclear weapons they desire.

Iran had secret plans to build five nuclear weapons.

The way we determined how many nuclear weapons they would desire (which was 5, exactly as the article states) was to look at their stated long term, publicly stated strategic objectives. This isn’t a Democrat/Republican thing. I don’t care which party does what with regard to international policy. This was about common sense, some military background and some thought as to how we would achieve their goals.

The answer was clear, they would need a minimum of five nuclear weapons. They would have to place those weapons very specifically. They would also need the world (and specifically) the United States to be in the middle of political chaos.

The level of chaos we put into our work of fiction was extreme, but how much would really be necessary?

Do they have those weapons already, and are merely waiting for the right time to use them?

Should the international community (not the United States unilaterally) get in the middle of it and stop them from acquiring this capability?

We aren’t the ones to answer those questions. However, if you want to know what they would do with those weapons, and what the world might look like on the other side of that attack, you have a reference point. We can pretty close on one count, I can only hope we weren’t as close on the others but I fear we were.

Last World War

The Government and Private Industry “Partnerships” as displayed by Avenger Comics #181

I know, how the hell do I tie together public/private partnerships, or more importantly government control of private industry to a comic book. I don’t have to. The Avengers covered it for us years ago.

DSC02098Avengers #181 came out in 1979. In this comic the government decided that the Avengers had too many members running around trying to save the world and they would have to get by with only seven members. To make matters worse the government was going to decide which seven.

Let’s look at this more closely. The Avengers is a group that was funded by the Stark Family (yes I know they profited by building weapons for governments). They used their profit dollars, which were theirs, and legally earned, to form and fund the Avengers.

The Avengers were a group whose mission was to stop threats to innocent civilians that the government couldn’t stop. Ok, I know they sometimes destroyed cities in the process, but don’t governments do similar types of collateral damage?

What’s my point? In this book a government agent showed up to tell the Avengers they had too many members and they would have to operate with only seven, and the government would decide which seven.

Sound familiar?

DSC02093Hey, private industry, thanks for doing that thing we can’t do, but do it with less. Do it with our rules that make absolutely no sense.

Why should people go out and risk their lives, fortunes, or potential harm in a case when the government wants to dictate the terms?

I remember a case when I lived in Massachusetts where a woman was being mugged on a subway, a good samaritan stepped in to break it up. The attorney general of the state when on TV and said “we don’t like it when people use self help, you should really wait for government people to come help you.”

Ok, interesting concept, but why not help yourself? Why wait for someone else?

Are we really going to centrally control everything all the time? That seems to be the direction, and in some weird way the Avengers appear to have predicted this garbage.

Should we permit the government to start to dictate terms in which people help other people? Ok, I know that hasn’t happened yet, but are we on a slippery slope for this type of thing?

We might be, we are dictating to companies how they do things with massive regulation. We have entire industries that are now being told how to do business, being constrained by various approval cycles, and now there is a push in congress to “mandate” nothing but renewable energies coast to coast at 100%.

Should government be involved in everyone’s personal business? What are those limits? Maybe the Avengers can tell us.

 

Forest of Assassins, Navy SEALs doing the dirty work

If you have heard of the Navy SEALs, but not the original ones dating back to the VietNam Conflict. You really need to read this post.

Stories about the US Navy SEALs are always tales of heroism that seem almost super human. Some of us are waiting for Marvel to announce a new Avenger to fight alongside Hulk in the next movie based on one of these fighting men.

Their non-fictional stories read like some of the best action fiction around, and the fictional stories sometimes find it hard to compete. Forest of Assassins is a “fiction” novel based on some of the real life missions of one of the earliest of the SEALs.

These guys have been involved in missions we

know about, and many more we don’t. Some of these missions we may never be able to know the details. Some of those extend back to Vietnam and include the Gulf of Tonkin incident that the United States used as a reason to enter the war. The events of that night were not all that we have been told…yet. But more about that in a minute.

One of the earliest members of these elite units, who served in Vietnam before the Gulf of Tonkin incident, was a man named Harry Dale. In the mid-1990s Harry was retired and living in Michigan near Dave Forsmark (author of Forest of Assassins). The official story of the Tonkin incident has changed so many times over the years any further government statements on the matter are essentially meaningless. Harry Dale was there that night, and knew what really happened. That incident has been told in the fictional tale based on Harry’s real life events.

Harry was, in addition to being a tough son of a bitch, was a natural storyteller.

His story was so interesting it is work knowing a few of the highlights, including his earliest as well as final mission.

Harry lied about his age in an attempt to get into World War II, but by the time he has completed his training he arrived at his first duty assignment just in time to see the Japanese war criminals hanged.

He was then stationed on a cruiser that would patrol the Whangpoo River near Shanghai, and got a taste of what the real old timers called the best duty the U.S. Military had to offer before he witnessed the surrender of the formerly International City to the Red Chinese. He had the concept that became the book China Bones (available on Amazon).

Harry had to be pushed to give up his most impactful mission. It took time to work it out of him.

It turns out that Harry had run a platoon of SEALs first in the Delta, in the Rung Sat Special Zone, where they did snatch and grab missions of Viet Cong cadres who were terrorizing the countryside. Later, his squad took PT boats north up the coast, knocking out Russian radar stations and other targets–all under the auspices of the “South Vietnamese Navy.”

When the North Vietnamese fired on the U.S. destroyers Maddox and Turner Joy in the infamous Tonkin Gulf Incident, they thought the ships were supporting Harry’s missions. In turn, LBJ had his excuse to escalate American military presence in Vietnam and the war went from Special Forces advisors and counter-insurgency to Big Army.

Big mistake.

Later, Harry was made the captain of the USS Asheville, a prototype patrol gunboat designed to operate in shallow waters- basically to provide fire support for operations like the SEALs were doing. That made him the first “mustang” officer (one who rose from the enlisted ranks) since John Paul Jones to command a U.S. warship in wartime.

But Harry saved his best for last.

His beloved wife Shirley contracted emphysema, a family tendency, and Harry spent most of his time caring for her. After she died, he began answering the kind of phone calls that people of his particular skill set never quite leave behind them.

He would say he was going on a “pension bump,” and that was that. He would disappear for a few months. That was as close as I ever got to knowing what he was up to, but it was obviously in service to his country.

Along the way, Harry got engaged to a woman who also had a winter place in the same mobile home park he did in Florida.

One day he received some very bad news. During a physical for going someplace to do something for the country he loved they found a spot on his lung, and he required immediate surgery.

When he came out of the anesthetic the first thing he said to Dave Forsmark was, “Dave, they gutted me like a fish. The Agent Orange finally got me.”

That made me smile. Harry had started smoking when he was 12, though he quit cold turkey the day Shirley had been diagnosed with her lung disorder.

Later when I told him what he’d said, he protested: “I smoked for almost 50 years; I wouldn’t say that VVA bullshit!”

He had Dave arrange a preacher, and the minute he was home, he married Kathy in a ceremony at his home.

Harry had served his country well, and felt he deserved his pension (bumps and all) and that he had the right to leave it to someone. But one has to be married for a year in order to leave a military pension to a spouse.

Though his doctors held out little hope, and the treatment made him miserable, Harry embarked on an aggressive course of chemotherapy. “I’ve gotta make a year,” he would say. Kathy didn’t really approve, and looked stricken every time he went to the cancer center, but knew better than to argue.

They were married in December, and over the summer, Harry got progressively frailer. Dave sat with him at chemo here and there, and I could see the dapper, upbeat, tough guy was fading. The Navy officer from central casting was now a sick old man; but the spirit that kept him from ringing the bell to call it quits during SEAL training Hell Week was still burning.

When the Michigan weather started to turn, Harry and Kathy headed to Florida. When Dave saw them off, I knew I would never see him again, despite his “See ya’ in the spring, buddy.”

“Sure,” was all Dave could manage.

Dave made a call at Thanksgiving, but Kathy talked to me for a few minutes and said he couldn’t come to the phone, he wasn’t up to it. It was obvious the end was near for this great man.

He only needed another three weeks.

On the morning of their anniversary, Dave got a call from one of Kathy’s sons. “Dave, Mom is too broken up to come to the phone, but she wanted you to be the first call we made. Harry died last night.”

After I recovered, I asked, “Did he make it past midnight?”

He knew what I was asking. “Yes, he did. Almost to dawn. Tough old sonofabitch,” he said admiringly.

As they say in the Navy for a job well done, “Bravo Zulu.”\

The Forest of Assassins gives a fictionalized version of Harry’s time in Vietnam. It is available on Amazon in Kindle, Paperback, and Audio formats.