A Different Definition For IV&V
In IT circles, IV&V generally refers to Independent Verification and Validation, but for CIOs another important definition for leading is Independent Views and Voices.
Please read my new article on this: here at Government Technology — hope you enjoy it.
(Source Photo: here with attribution to Joi)
Restraint or Recklessness?
Like many of you, as I watch the events unfold with the Russian military invasion of Ukraine, I am amazed at the “restraint” being shown by the West.
But I can’t help asking myself why a military invasion by the Great Bear into a sovereign nation that is leaning toward democracy is being met with restraint.
Sitting in Starbucks, I overheard one young women saying to an older gentlemen that she did not understand the reaction of the President in saying there would be “consequences” and that no one took that seriously as there was no specificity, almost as if their where no real consequences to even threaten Russia with.
So why all the word-mincing, dancing around the subject, and restraint by the West in light of this very dangerous escalation in eastern Europe:
1) Surprise - Was the West completely taken by surprise by Russia’s military intervention? Didn’t something similar happen with Georgia in 2008—less than 6 years ago? Did we not foresee the possibility of Russia lashing out against Ukraine to protect its interests when Ukraine turned back toward European integration and away from the embrace of Russia that it had made only weeks earlier? After Pearl Harbor, 9/11, and with all our “Big Data,” intelligence, and military planning—how did we miss this (again!)?
2) Duped - Were we duped by the misinformation from Russia saying that the 150,000 troops they called on a “training exercise” was planned months ago and it just happened to coincide with the toppling of Ukraine’s President? Also, were we fooled when the “mysterious” soldiers showed up without national markings and Russia said they weren’t their military—uh, where did they come from—did they float down from the heavens?
3) Apathetic - Are we just apathetic to Ukraine’s plight? Are they just a poor country of little strategic value to us? Are we so war weary from Iraq and Afghanistan that we just want to place our heads in the sand like ostriches even when democracy and freedom is threatened in a European nation of some 45 million people?
4) Fear - Are we afraid of the military might of the nuclear-armed Russian Federation? Is America, the European Union, NATO, the United Nations all not willing to stand up and hold Russia accountable even if that means a military confrontation? Not that anyone wants World War III, but if we don’t stand up and defend against wanton aggression, how can any country or anyone be safe going forward?
5) Optionless - Are we just out of options? Russia got the upper hand on this one and they are logistically right there on the border and in the country of Ukraine now and what can we do? Despite the U.S. assertion that it can project military power anywhere around the world and a defense budget bigger than the 10 next largest combined—how can we be out of options? Are we out of options because we tacitly understand that one wrong miscalculation and we could end up with WMD on our homeland doorstep?
6) Butter Over Guns - Have we retrenched from world affairs, downsized our military, and emphasized domestic issues over international ones? Have we forgotten the risk that comes from a world without a superpower that helps to maintain stability and peace? Are we just under so much financial duress with a growing mountain of national debt, a economic recovery still struggling, and the lowest employment participation in over 30 years that we can’t even entertain spending more treasure to fight again?
7) Leadership - Who is managing the crisis? We’ve seen our President speak, various other government officials from the U.S. and European Union, the Secretary General of the U.N., the Secretary General of NATO, and more? Who is in charge—setting the tone—deciding the strategy? Who has point so that we and Russia know who to listen to and what is just background noise?
What is so scary about this whole thing is how quickly things can escalate and seriously get out of control in this world, and this despite all the alliances, planning, and spending—at the end of the day, it looks like we are floundering and are in chaos, while Russia is advancing on multiples fronts in Ukraine and elsewhere with supporting dangerous regimes in Syria, Iran, North Korea and more.
Whether we should or shouldn’t get involved militarily, what is shocking is: 1) the very notion that there wouldn’t be any good military options, and 2) that the consequences are not being spelled out with speed and clarity.
In the streets, at the cafe, on the television, I am seeing and hearing people in shock at what is happening and what we are and are not doing about it.
Even if we get Russia to stop advancing (yes, based on what happened with Georgia, I doubt they will actually pull back out), the question is what happens the next time there is a conflict based on how we’ve managed this one?
I do want to mention one other thing, which is while I feel empathy for the plight of the Ukrainians seeking their freedom from Russia now, I also must remember the events of Babi Yar where, between 1941-1944, 900,000 Jews were murdered in the Soviet Union by the Nazi genocide and Ukrainian collaborators. This is history, but no so long ago.
All opinions my own.
(Source Photo: here with attribution to Utenriksdept)
First We Must Live
I liked this advertisement for the movie sequel to the 300 coming out this week.
Anyway, for this scary-looking dude, “War is in my blood”—that’s who he is and these days, it seems like he is not alone in this crazy and violent world.
Some people are like that…they always like to fight, be oppositional, or just be difficult.
My belief is more like Ecclesiastes—that there is a time and place for everything…”a time for war and a time for peace.”
Around the globe, there seems to be plenty of fighting, slaughter, and tensions going on…from Damascus to Kiev, from Iran to Venezuela, from Sudan to the South China Sea, and more.
I heard what I thought was a good saying on the Game Of Thrones Season 3 (which by the way is totally excellent), it went like this:
"If we die, we die, but first we will live."
Let’s hope and pray for more peaceful, stable, and pleasant times .
There is yet much to live for. ;-)
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Hanging By A Thread
This spool of cable has been hanging from this utility pole for days, maybe weeks.
I have never quite seen anything like this.
This huge spool hanging by a thread from this skinny little pole.
Of course, there is one warning cone sitting right underneath the overhead spool.
Can’t you just see that spool crashing down and flattening the cone? [Wonk!]
Then you have some sporadic red warning tape not doing much of nothing.
And cars and people regularly going up and down this street—which you don’t really see in this photo.
Maybe the workers just left the spool of cable up there in case they need it again in the future.
Hey, less work lifting it all the way up there again. ;-)
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Newspaper, Identity Thief
So, true story.
I know identify theft is a serious matter, but really…
I’m heading out of the driveway and I see the newpaper delivery guy just pulling up.
He’s running a little late, but I figure I can still get the paper in time for morning reading on the Metro.
I walk over to him and ask if I can get the Journal that he’s deliverying to me.
He says, “No, I only deliver the Wall Street Journal and the Post.”
I say, “Yeah, the Wall Street Journal, can I get it, since you’re running a little late this morning.”
He says. “I’m never late!”—actually, he is and sometimes doesn’t deliver at all (the other week, I got 3 papers in one day).
I say, “OK, but I can take it from here.”
He says, “No, I only deliver to the door.”
I say, “But I’m right here.”
He says, “How do I know you are who you say you are?”
I say, “I am, and thank G-d, I really don’t need to steal a $2 newspaper from you, Sir.”
He says, “Okay, but I’ll need to see an id!”
I say, “Are you serious?”
He says, “Yeah,” pulling back to safety the pile of newspapers he is holding is his arms.
Reluctantly, I flip open my wallet and flash my license to him.
Not good enough…he insists I take it out so he can read it.
I finally got the paper, but we wasted what seemed like 5 minutes between the negotiation and proof of identity exercise.
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate his diligence, but I think this type of scrutiny over access and identity would be better placed squarely on our cyber assets—somewhere where we really need them! ;-)
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal
March Of The Dangerous Penguins
This was a funny picture on the streets of Washington D.C.
Someone drew these “armed” and dangerous penguins on the back of a chair.
The chair is translucent, but with the snow coming down and covering it, you can see this crazy drawing.
Perhaps this is a message from the local NRA advocating for gun rights, who knows?
Anyway, these penguins are cute little fellows even carrying scoped rifles and staring down the everyday passerbys. ;-)
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
What A Waste Of Coin
Coming to work this week, I saw a penny on the ground…then another…and another.
I saw people passing the money, and instead of picking it up, they kicked in off the curb.
That’s even worse than throwing them into the fountain where at least you might get some good luck from it.
Thus, the state of our minting of coinage—it’s essentially worthless.
After getting a pretty basic Venti Java Chip at Starbucks for a whopping $5.45, I quickly calculated, I would need 545 pennies,109 nickles, 54.5 dimes, or 21.8 quarters o pay for this—how ridiculous!
And uh, how many of these would you need to pay someone one hour at the new proposed minimum wage of $10.10 if you did it in coins?
Otherwise, I could just give them a credit or debit card—yes, sort of a no brainer, right?
Why do we keep making coinage that no one wants or needs in the digital age?
We have direct deposit for payroll, automatic deductions for many expenses, online banking, ecommerce , credit and debit cards, paypal, and even bitcoin…let’s just be honest and admit it, traditional money is basically obsolete.
At Starbucks, I see many people now just use their Smartphone App to pay and get rewards—another advance.
Someday soon, we will have embedded chips that simply add and deduct payments as we go along and live life—it’s really not all that complicated.
The funny thing also is that it costs more to make many coins then their intrinsic worth—and hence the drive towards making coins with cheaper materials.
According to Business Insider, in 2012, a penny cost 2.4 cents to make and a nickle 11.2 cents—quite a losing proposition.
While there truly are some valuable coins out there and I appreciate that there are many coin lovers and collectors—numismatists—perhaps there are alternate hobbies to consider.
A colleague once told me that “If you watch your pennies, the dollars will follow”—and that may be some good investement advice, but in a 24/7 society and after decades of inflation, there isn’t enough time or room to collect all the pennies we would need to make much of a difference.
ABC News reports that while our northern brother, Canada, got rid of the penny in 2012, we still make something like 5 billion of these useless things a year.
Full disclosure: my first job in Washington, D.C. was for the U.S. Mint, and while there were good things about it, I could never feel good about the mission—it just had no purpose. ;-)
All Opinions my own.
(Source Photo: here with attribution to Maura Teague)
Google Fiber 4 The Nation’s Capital
How About Google Fiber for Washington, D.C.?
- Lead, by example, the rest of the nation forward.
- Speed up the functioning of the government.
- Helpful for Emergency Management
- The Patriotic thing to do! ;-)
All Opinions my own.
(Source Photo: here with attribution to Cameron Yee, & no idea why it’s in Spanish, but I like it!)