Information for this post is taken from the following companies:

  • Wholers Associates
  • Gartner
  • Oerlikon
  • SmartTech Publishing

3-D ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING:

I think before we get up and running let us define “additive manufacturing”.

Additive Manufacturing or AM is an appropriate name to describe the technologies that build 3D objects by adding layer-upon-layer of material, whether the material is plastic, metal, concrete human tissue. Believe it or not, additive manufacturing is now, on a limited basis, able to construct objects from human tissue to repair body parts that have been damaged and/or absent.

Common to AM technologies is the use of a computer, 3D modeling software (Computer Aided Design or CAD), machine equipment and layering material.  Once a CAD sketch is produced, the AM equipment reads in data from the CAD file and lays downs or adds successive layers of liquid, powder, sheet material or other, in a layer-upon-layer fashion to fabricate a 3D object.

The term AM encompasses many technologies including subsets like 3D Printing, Rapid Prototyping (RP), Direct Digital Manufacturing (DDM), layered manufacturing and additive fabrication.

AM application is limitless. Early use of AM in the form of Rapid Prototyping focused on preproduction visualization models. More recently, AM is being used to fabricate end-use products in aircraft, dental restorations, medical implants, automobiles, and even fashion products.

RAPID PROTOTYPING & MANUFACTURING (RP&M) TECHNOLOGIES:

There are several viable options available today that take advantage of rapid prototyping technologies.   All of the methods shown below are considered to be rapid prototyping and manufacturing technologies.

  • (SLA) Stereolithography
  • (SLS) Selective Laser Sintering
  • (FDM) Fused Deposition Modeling
  • (3DP) Three-Dimensional Printing
  • (Pjet) Poly-Jet
  • Laminated Object Manufacturing

PRODUCT POSSIBILITIES:

Frankly, if it the configuration can be programmed, it can be printed.  The possibilities are absolutely endless.

Assortment of components: flange mount and external gear.

Bone fragment depicting a fractured bone.  This printed product will aid the efforts of a surgeon to make the necessary repair.

More and more, 3D printing is used to model teeth and jaw lines prior to extensive dental work.  It gives the dental surgeon a better look at a patients mouth prior to surgery.

You can see the intricate detail of the Eiffel Tower and the show sole in the JPEGs above.  3D printing can provide an enormous amount of detail to the end user.

THE MARKET:

3D printing is a disruptive technology that is definitely on the rise.  Let’s take a look at future possibilities and current practices.

GROWTH:

Wohlers Associates has been tracking the market for machines that produce metal parts for fourteen (14) years.  The Wohlers Report 2014 marks only the second time for the company to publish detailed information on metal based AM machine unit sales by year. The following chart shows that 348 of 3D machines were sold in 2013, compared to 198 in 2012—growth of an impressive 75.8%.

Additive manufacturing industry grew by 17.4% in worldwide revenues in 2016, reaching $6.063 billion.

MATERIALS USED:

Nearly one-half of the 3D printing/additive manufacturing service providers surveyed in 2016 offered metal printing.

GLOBAL MARKETS:

NUMBER OF VENDORS OFFERING EQUIPMENT:

The number of companies producing and selling additive manufacturing equipment

  • 2014—49
  • 2015—62
  • 2016—97

USERS:

World-wide shipments of 3D printers were projected to reach 455,772 units in 2016. 6.7 million units are expected to be shipped by 2020

More than 278,000 desktop 3D printers (under $5,000) were sold worldwide last year, according to Wohlers Associates. The report has a chart to illustrate and it looks like the proverbial hockey stick that you hear venture capitalists talk about: Growth that moves rapidly from horizontal to vertical (from 2010 to 2015 for desktop).

According to Wohlers Report 2016, the additive manufacturing (AM) industry grew 25.9% (CAGR – Corporate Annual Growth Rate) to $5.165 billion in 2015. Frequently called 3D printing by those outside of manufacturing circles, the industry growth consists of all AM products and services worldwide. The CAGR for the previous three years was 33.8%. Over the past 27 years, the CAGR for the industry is an impressive 26.2%. Clearly, this is not a market segment that is declining as you might otherwise read.

THE MARKET:

  • About 20 to 25% of the $26.5 billion market forecast for 2021 is expected to be the result of metal additive manufacturing.
  • The market for polymers and plastics for 3D printing will reach $3.2 billion by 2022
  • The primary market for metal additive manufacturing, including systems and power materials, will grow to over $6.6 billion by 2026.

CONCLUSIONS:

We see more and more products and components manufactured by 3D Printing processes.  Additive manufacturing just now enjoying acceptance from larger and more established companies whose products are in effect “mission critical”.  As material choices continue to grow, a greater number of applications will emerge.  For the foreseeable future, additive manufacturing is one of the technologies to be associated with.

OVER MY HEAD

June 17, 2017


Over My Head is an extremely rare look into the workings of an injured brain from a doctor’s perspective.  It is a true story of a young doctor’s battle to overcome a debilitating head injury and build a new life.  The book is an inspiring story of how a medical doctor comes to terms with the loss of her identity and the courageous steps (and hilarious missteps) she takes while learning to rebuild her life. The author, a 45-year-old emergency-room doctor and clinical professor of medicine, describes the aftermath of a brain injury eleven years ago which stripped her of her beloved profession. For years she was deprived of her intellectual companionship and the ability to handle the simplest undertakings like shopping for groceries or sorting the mail. Her progression from confusion, dysfunction, and alienation to a full, happy life is told with restraint, great style, and considerable humor.

I’m not going to spoil the story for you but eleven (11) years ago, Dr. Claudia L. Osborn was riding her bike with a roommate, Dr. Marcia E. Baker.  It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Detroit with just about perfect weather.  Due to a fairly narrow road, they were riding in tandem with Marcia in front and leading the way.  A car made a right turn onto the road they were riding and swung much too wide to avoid hitting the ladies.  Marcia saw the car first and managed to navigate to the shoulder of the road where she “dumped” her bike.  Claudia was not that lucky.  The car hit her head on. She traveled over the hood, over the cab, over the trunk and landed on her head.  She was taken to the emergency room but the damage had already been done.

The beginning of her post trauma period is consumed with behaviors we so often see in this population; denial, depression, and frustration.   I am sure the medical profession has patients coming in after such an injury with unrealistic plans to return to exactly the same life they had beforehand?  Their all- consuming drive is to go back to who they were, to the life they lived before the injury, when in reality all around can see that will not happen.  However, everyone around is afraid of what will happen if they ever give voice to these concerns.  So there emerges an unspoken conspiracy to not put voice to the facts that serve to block the full return to a former life, in fear that these comments might be as traumatic as the actual injury was.

One symptom above all seemed to override nearly everything in Dr. Osborn’s recovery and this was a profound short-term memory deficit.  What many consider a simple errand, buying two or three things at the store turns into nightmare after nightmare for her.  In those instances when she would get to the correct store, she might find the first thing she had set out to purchase, then end up not remembering the other two things she needed.

Claudia might actually remember to get all the things into her basket to realize at the checkout counter she had not brought her money, or not being able to find her car after getting all of those things done correctly and having to wait until the parking lot cleared out to find her car.

Although from Michigan, Claudia ended up enrolling in a treatment program at the Head Trauma Program of New York University’s Rusk Institute, which included physiatry and allied rehabilitative specialists.     This book clearly demonstrates the roles that others play in working her acceptance of the new person who emerged after the head injury as well as helping to deal with her severe depression.

Those important in Claudia’s life serve as tremendous examples about what to do and not to do in supporting and helping an affected person.  Her mother is very supportive from the beginning but demonstrates many of the expectations that it will be ok in time and life will return to the way it was before.  Claudia also has an amazingly understanding life partner who seemed to know just the right times to back away and give Claudia the time and distance to discover who she was.  Accepting these evolving expectations from their relationship allowed them to come through the event and long recovery still together.  So often this is not the story.   As soon as it becomes evident that the injured party will not return to whom they were before the injury, the physically undamaged person leaves the relationship.    This story is a powerful message to those life partners and family of head injured patients everywhere about life after such an injury.

I can definitely recommend this book to anyone who has personally had a head injury or to anyone who has had a family member with a serious head injury.  For that individual, a “new normal” must be sought and accepted.

THINKING FAST AND SLOW

June 13, 2017


Thinking Fast and Slow is a remarkably well-written book by Dr. Daniel Kahneman. Then again why would it not be?  Dr. Kahneman is a Nobel Laureate in Economics. Dr. Kahneman takes the reader on a tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think.   System One (1) is fast, intuitive, and emotional.  System Two (2) is considerably slower, more deliberative, and more logical.   He engages the reader in a very lively conversation about how we think and reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we tap into the benefits of slow thinking.  One great thing about the book is how he offers practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both the corporate world and our personal lives.  He provides different techniques to guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble.  He uses multiple examples in each chapter that demonstrate principles of System One and System Two.  This greatly improves the readability of the book and makes understanding much more possible.

Human irrationality is Kahneman’s great theme. There are essentially three phases to his career.  First, he and he coworker Amos Tversky devised a series of ingenious experiments revealing twenty plus “cognitive biases” — unconscious errors of reasoning that distort our judgment of the world. Typical of these is the “anchoring effect”: our tendency to be influenced by irrelevant numbers that we happen to be exposed to.  (In one experiment, for instance, experienced German judges were inclined to give a shoplifter a longer sentence if they just rolled a pair of dice loaded to give a high number.) In the second phase, Kahneman and Tversky showed that people making decisions under uncertain conditions do not behave in the way that economic models have traditionally assumed; they do not “maximize utility.” Both researchers then developed an alternative account of decision making, one more faithful to human psychology, which they called “prospect theory.” (It was for this achievement that Kahneman was awarded the Nobel.) In the third phase of his career, mainly after the death of Tversky, Kahneman delved into “hedonic psychology”: the science of happiness, its nature and its causes. His findings in this area have proven disquieting.   One finding because one of the key experiments involved a deliberately prolonged colonoscopy.  (Very interesting chapter.)

“Thinking, Fast and Slow” spans all three of these phases. It is an astonishingly rich book: lucid, profound, full of intellectual surprises and self-help value. It is consistently entertaining and frequently touching, especially when Kahneman is recounting his collaboration with Tversky. (“The pleasure we found in working together made us exceptionally patient; it is much easier to strive for perfection when you are never bored.”).  So, impressive is its vision of flawed human reason that the New York Times columnist David Brooks recently declared that Kahneman and Tversky’s work “will be remembered hundreds of years from now,” and that it is “a crucial pivot point in the way we see ourselves.” They are, Brooks said, “like the Lewis and Clark of the mind.”

One of the marvelous things about the book is how he captures multiple references.  Page after page of references are used in formulating the text.  To his credit—he has definitely done his homework and years of research into the subject matter propels this text as one of the most foremost in the field of decision making.

This book was the winner of the National Academy of Sciences Best Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.  It also was selected by the New York Times Review as one of the ten (10) best books of 2011.

DANIEL KAHNEMAN:

Daniel Kahneman is a Senior Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He is also Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs Emeritus at the Woodrow Wilson School, the Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology Emeritus at Princeton University, and a fellow of the Center for Rationality at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 2002 for his pioneering work integrating insights from psychological research into economic science, especially concerning human judgment and decision-making under uncertainty. Much of this work was carried out collaboratively with Amos Tversky.

In addition to the Nobel prize, Kahneman has been the recipient of many other awards, among them the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award of the American Psychological Association (1982) and the Grawemeyer Prize (2002), both jointly with Amos Tversky, the Warren Medal of the Society of Experimental Psychologists (1995), the Hilgard Award for Career Contributions to General Psychology (1995), and the Lifetime Contribution Award of the American Psychological Association (2007).

Professor Kahneman was born in Tel Aviv but spent his childhood years in Paris, France, before returning to Palestine in 1946. He received his bachelor’s degree in psychology (with a minor in mathematics) from Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and in 1954 he was drafted into the Israeli Defense Forces, serving principally in its psychology branch.  In 1958, he came to the United States and earned his Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1961.

During the past several years, the primary focus of Professor Kahneman’s research has been the study of various aspects of experienced utility (that is, the utility of outcomes as people actually live them).

CONCLUSIONS: 

This is one book I can definitely recommend to you but one caution—it is a lengthy book and at times tedious.  His examples are very detailed but contain subject matter that we all can relate to.  The decision-making process for matters confronting everyone on an everyday are brought to life with pros and cons being the focus.  You can certainly tell he relies upon probability theory in explaining the choices chosen by individuals and how those choices may be proper or improper.  THIS IS ONE TO READ.

COGNITIVE ABILITY

June 10, 2017


In 2013 my mother died of Alzheimer’s disease.  She was ninety-two (92) years old.  My father suffered significant dementia and passed away in 2014.  He was ninety-three (93) and one day.  We provided a birthday cake for him but unfortunately, he was unable to eat because he did not understand the significance and had no appetite remaining at all. Dementia is an acquired condition characterized by a decline in at least two cognitive domains (e.g., loss of memory, attention, language, or visuospatial or executive functioning) that is severe enough to affect social or occupational functioning. The passing of both parents demanded a search for methodologies to prolong cognitive ability. What, if anything, can we do to remain “brain healthy” well into our eighties and nineties?  Neurologists tell us we all will experience diminished mental abilities as we age but can we lengthen our brain’s ability to reason and perform?  The answer is a resounding YES.  Let’s take a look at activities the medical profession recommends to do just that.

  • READ—What is the difference between someone who does not know how to read and someone who does know but never cracks a book? ANSWER: Absolutely nothing.   If the end result is knowledge and/or pleasure gained, they both are equal.  Reading books and other materials with vivid imagery is not only fun, it also allows us to create worlds in our own minds. Researchers have found that visual imagery is simply automatic. Participants were able to identify photos of objects faster if they’d just read a sentence that described the object visually, suggesting that when we read a sentence, we automatically bring up pictures of objects in our minds. Any kind of reading provides stimulation for your brain, but different types of reading give different experiences with varying benefits. Stanford University researchers have found that close literary reading in particular gives your brain a workout in multiple complex cognitive functions, while pleasure reading increases blood flow to different areas of the brain. They concluded that reading a novel closely for literary study and thinking about its value is an effective brain exercise, more effective than simple pleasure reading alone.
  • MAKE MORE MISTAKES—Now, we are talking about engaging life or JUST DO IT. Every endeavor must be accompanied by calculating the risks vs. reward always keeping safety and general well-being in mind.  It took me a long time to get the courage to write and publish but the rewards have been outstanding on a personal level.
  • LEARN FROM OTHER’S MISTAKES—Less painful than “learning the hard way” but just as beneficial. Reading about the efforts of successful people and the mistakes they made along the way can go a long way to our avoiding the same pitfalls.
  • LEARN TO CONTROL YOUR BREATHING—This one really surprises me. Medical textbooks suggest that the normalrespiratory rate for adults is only 12 breaths per minute at rest. Older textbooks often provide even smaller values (e.g., 8-10 breaths per minute). Most modern adults breathe much faster (about 15-20 breaths per minute) than their normal breathing frequency. The respiratory rates in the sick persons are usually higher, generally about 20 breaths/min or more. This site quotes numerous studies that testify that respiratory rates in terminally sick people with cancer, HIV-AIDS, cystic fibrosis and other conditions is usually over 30 breaths/min.  Learning to control respiratory rate is one factor in providing a healthy brain.
  • EXERCISE-– This seems to be a no-brainer (pardon the pun) but thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of people NEVER exercise. For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends these exercise guidelines: Aerobic activity. Get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity.  That is the minimum.
  • VISUALIZE YOUR OUTCOME—You have heard this before from world-class athletes. Picture yourself accomplishing the goal or goals you have established.  Make winning a foregone conclusion.
  • FOCUS ON THE LITTLE THINGS—For want of a nail the shoe was lost. For want of a shoe the horse was lost. For want of a horse the rider was lost. You have often heard ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’.  People who accomplish pay attention to detail.
  • WRITE—Nothing can clear the mind like writing down your thoughts. You have to organize, plan, visualize and execute when writing.
  • LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE—This is a tough one for most adults but, learning a new language stimulates areas of your brain. Scientists have long held the theory that the left and right hemisphere of your brain control different functions when it comes to learning. The left hemisphere is thought to control language, math and logic, while the right hemisphere is responsible for spatial abilities, visual imagery, music and your ability to recognize faces. The left hemisphere of your brain also controls the movement on the right side of your body. The left hemisphere of the brain contains parts of the parietal lobe, temporal lobe and the occipital lobe, which make up your language control center. In these lobes, two regions known as the Wernicke area and the Broca area allow you to understand and recognize, read and speak language patterns — including the ability to learn foreign languages.
  • SLEEP-– The evidence is clear that better brain and physical health in older people is related to getting an average of seven to eight hours of sleep every 24 hours,” said Sarah Lock, the council’s executive director and AARP senior vice president. The evidence on whether naps are beneficial to brain health in older adults is still unclear. If you must, limit napping to 30 minutes in the early afternoon. Longer naps late in the day can disrupt nighttime sleep. Get up at the same time every day, seven days a week. (You will not like this one.) Keep the bedroom for sleeping, not watching TV or reading or playing games on your smartphone or tablet.
  • DIET—A “brain-healthy” diet can go a long way to promoting cognitive ability. Keeping weight off and maintaining an acceptable body mass index (BMI) can certainly promote improved mental ability.
  • LEARN TO PROGRAM-– This is another tough one. Programming is difficult, tedious, time-consuming and can be extremely frustrating.  You must have the patience of Job to be a successful programmer, but it is mind-stimulating and can benefit cognitive ability.
  • TRAVEL—As much as you can, travel. Travel is a marvelous learning experience and certainly broadens an individual’s outlook.  New experiences, new and interesting people, new languages, all contribute to mental stimulation and improve cognitive ability.
  • LESSEN MIND-NUMING TELEVISION—Enough said here. Read a good book.
  • APPLY THE KNOWLEDGE YOU HAVE—Trust me on this one, you are a lot smarter than you think you are. Apply what you know to any one given situation. You will be surprised at the outcome and how your success will fuel additional successes.
  • REDUCE EXPOSURE TO SOCIAL MEDIA—Social medial can become a time-robbing exercise that removes you from real life. Instead of reading about the experiences of others, bring about experiences in your own life.

CONCLUSIONS:  As always, I welcome your comments.

WHO IS MITCH RAPP

June 7, 2017


I have had the great opportunity to travel to several countries over my not-too-short-lifetime.  Most of that travel has been for business purposes but even though you are engaged for long periods of time you do pick up various indications relative to culture, even pop culture.  In my opinion, we here in the United States and the western world have by far the very best heroes.   Literature and certainly the entertainment professions are replete with men and women selected to “save us all”.  I’m not too sure if this is good or bad.  Maybe we are looking for that “white knight” to ride in and solve all of our problems then ride off leaving us happy and forever content.  I personally feel that white knight may be found by looking in a mirror.

At any rate, the list below is just a partial list of “heroes” we look for to write all wrongs, deliver us from alien invaders, purge our country from evil—you get the picture.

  • James Bond
  • Jason Bourne
  • John Wick
  • Neo and Morpheus
  • Katniss Everdeen
  • Sherlock Holmes
  • Philip Marlowe
  • Ripley
  • Wonder Woman
  • Captain America
  • Iron Man
  • Han Solo
  • Luke Skywalker
  • Rocky Balboa
  • Harry Potter
  • The Terminator
  • Jimmy Lee Swagger
  • Jack Reacher
  • Mitch Rapp

I would like to concentrate on the last one—Mitch Rapp.  Mr. Vince Flynn created Mitch Rapp and penned the following action-packed novels with him as the main character.

  • American Assassin (Mitch Rapp #1) (2010) ​ ISBN 9781416595182
  • Kill Shot (Mitch Rapp #2) (2012) ​ ISBN 9781416595205
  • Transfer of Power (Mitch Rapp #3) (1999) ​ ISBN 0671023195
  • The Third Option (Mitch Rapp #4) (2000) ​ ISBN 0671047310
  • Separation of Power (Mitch Rapp #5) (2001) ISBN 0671047337
  • Executive Power (Mitch Rapp #6) (2002) ​ ISBN 0743453956
  • Memorial Day (Mitch Rapp #7) (2004) ​ ISBN 0743453972
  • Consent to Kill (Mitch Rapp #8) (2005) ​ ISBN 0743270363
  • Act of Treason (Mitch Rapp #9) (2006) ​ ISBN 0743270371
  • Protect and Defend (Mitch Rapp #10) (2007) ​ ISBN 9780743270410
  • Extreme Measures (Mitch Rapp #11) (2008) ​ ISBN 9781416599395
  • Pursuit of Honor (Mitch Rapp #12) (2009) ​ ISBN 978141659516
  • The Last Man (Mitch Rapp #13) (2012) ​ ISBN 9781416595212
  • The Survivor (Mitch Rapp #14) (2015) ​ ISBN 9781476783451
  • Order To Kill (Mitch Rapp #15) (2016) ​ ISBN 9781476783482
  • Enemy Of The State (Mitch Rapp #16) (2017) ​ ISBN 9781476783512
  • Term Limits (not part of Mitch Rapp series) (1997) ​ ISBN 0671023179

I have read most of Mr. Flynn’s novels involving Rapp and I can tell you he is a most interesting man.

Mitch Rapp attended Syracuse University, where he majored in international business and minored in French. He attended Syracuse on a lacrosse scholarship and became an All-American due to his amazing speed and aggressive style of play. Rapp was also offered a scholarship by the University of North Carolina, but turned that down because his high school sweetheart Maureen was attending Syracuse.  Rapp had known Maureen since he was sixteen years old.  She was tragically killed in the December 21, 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.  One of thirty-five (35) Syracuse students died that day while returning from a semester overseas.

Nearly a year after Maureen’s death, Rapp was recruited into the CIA by Irene Kennedy. He began training the week after graduating from Syracuse. Only twenty-three years old at the time, Rapp did not go through the standard CIA training program at “The Farm,” outside Williamsburg, Virginia. Instead, for a year straight he was shuttled from one location to the next, sometimes spending a week, sometimes a month. The bulk of the training was handled by Stan Hurley, a former CIA operative, who taught him “how to shoot, stab, blow things up, and even kill with his bare hands.” In other words, he was schooled in firearms and marksmanship, hand-to-hand combat, and explosives. Endurance was stressed. There were long swims and even longer runs. Between all the heavy lifting, they worked on his foreign language skills. Since he had minored in French at Syracuse, within a month at the CIA he was fluent in the language. He was then taught Arabic and Persian and could passably speak Urdu and Pashto. He also spoke German and Italian. He is ambidextrous, but naturally left-handed.

Rapp then became an operative of the Orion Team, a highly secretive organization supported by the CIA but definitely outside the Agency. It is funded by money diverted from congressionally funded programs. The job of the Orion Team in a nutshell is to take the war to the terrorists. It was formed in response to the Lockerbie disaster by the then CIA director of operations Thomas Stansfield. The unit operates in secret, independent, national security apparatus and circumvents the leviathan of politics that bypasses impediments like the executive order banning assassinations. The team is headed by Rapp’s recruiter, Irene Kennedy, whose official role is as director of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center.

Rapp has been the Orion Team’s star operative almost from the day he started and has been honed into the most effective counterterrorism operative in America’s arsenal. He’s spent significant amounts of time in Europe, the Middle East, and Southwest Asia collecting intelligence and when the situation called for it, dealing with threats in a more final manner.

Officially, Rapp has nothing to do with the U.S. government; rather, he is referred to in the business as a private contractor. Rapp lives a life completely separate from the Agency. His cover is that of a successful entrepreneur. With the help of the CIA, he runs a small computer consulting business on the side that just happens to do a fair amount of international business, which gives him the cover to travel frequently. To keep things legitimate, Rapp often does indeed conduct business while abroad.

One of Rapp’s aliases is Mitch Kruse. In the special ops community, he is often known only by his call sign, “Iron Man” after the annual Ironman Triathlon in which he has participated on several occasions and has twice won. His only remaining family is his brother, Steven Rapp, a millionaire financial genius. Mitch and Steven grew up in McLean, Virginia.

Throughout the books, Rapp works with several special operations units including Navy SEALs and DEVGRUDelta ForceAir Force Special Operations Command, the FBI Hostage Rescue Team, and the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne). He also has close ties with “SEAL Demolition and Salvage Corporation”, a private military company specializing in underwater salvage such as getting rid of debris for ports and shipyards and training law enforcement divers, but whose employees also work from time to time as freelance operatives for the CIA. The company is owned and operated by Scott Coleman, former commanding officer of SEAL Team Six and friend of Rapp.

Flynn has crafted a remarkably complex character and has the ability to put that character in situations you would expect a “normal individual” to die from.  He has the uncanny ability to weave a story line that has one surprise after another.  This is truly a remarkable feat.  I love his books for this reason and one more—he is a master craftsman with words.  Truly gifted.

One caution—read “The American Assassin” first.  This book gives you the background or Rapp beginning with his days at Syracuse.  It takes you through all of the training used to produce a lethal weapon.  I strongly recommend the Mitch Rapp series for your summer reading.

WORDS CAN HURT

June 3, 2017


I think we all know that words can hurt—maybe really hurt. How many of you remember this old song?

“You always hurt the one you love
The one you shouldn’t hurt at all
You always take the sweetest rose
And crush it till the petals fall

You always break the kindest heart
With a hasty word you can’t recall, so
If I broke your heart last night
It’s because I love you most of all”

We are all familiar with misplaced words used by sharp-tonged comedians, brain-dead TV anchors, clueless politicians, abrasive supervisors, etc.  They can inflict wrath with words that make us look forward to the next vacation.

Let’s take a very quick look at several words, new words, my family and I have learned throughout the month of May.

MENINGIOMA:

A meningioma is a tumor that arises from the meninges — the membranes that surround your brain and spinal cord. Although not technically a brain tumor, it is included in this category because it may compress or squeeze the adjacent brain, nerves and vessels. Meningioma is the most common type of tumor that forms in the head.  Most meningiomas grow very slowly, often over many years without causing symptoms. But in some instances, their effects on adjacent brain tissue, nerves or vessels may cause serious disability.

MENINGITIS:

Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes (meninges) surrounding your brain and spinal cord. The swelling from meningitis typically triggers symptoms such as headache, fever and a stiff neck.  Most cases of meningitis in the U.S. are caused by a viral infection, but bacterial and fungal infections are other causes. Some cases of meningitis improve without treatment in a few weeks. Others can be life-threatening and require emergent antibiotic treatment.

GRAM NEGATIVE ROD MENINGITIS:

“Gram-negative” refers to gram staining, a routine laboratory test used to determine the presence of microorganisms like bacteria or fungi in your blood or tissue. During the test, the gram stain will turn pink if gram-negative bacteria are present. These types of bacteria can also cause infections and pneumonia. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gram-negative bacteria are resistant to multiple antibiotic drugs commonly used to treat infection. In addition, they have the capability to become resistant to new drugs. As a result, gram-negative meningitis is harder to treat than other forms of meningitis. An estimated forty (40) to eighty (80) percent of gram-negative meningitis cases end in death. Moreover, complications are generally higher in survivors of gram-negative meningitis. It’s more common in infants than adults.

On April 24, 2017, our oldest son suddenly collapsed on his way to a late lunch.  As a result of this fall, we discovered he had a tumor at the base of his brain stem.  This had been growing for at least ten (10) years.  Surgery was performed on May 4, 2017 at Methodist Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.  It was successful and he will live but we have a long road to recovery.  He has lost hearing in his left ear which will not come back.  Some paralysis in the left side of his face and double vision which we are told will correct itself over time.  It is absolutely gratifying how friends have rallied around our son and our family.  We will get back to normal but it just might be a “new normal.”

WORDS CAN REALLY HURT!!!!!!!!

MELTING POT

May 28, 2017


Once each month I receive a summary of charges for prescription medications from our healthcare provider.  How much the plan pays, how much we pay, where I am relative to co-pays, etc. I always read the document but this month I noticed information printed in several languages indicating phone numbers for those individuals who do not speak English.  That list is given below.  As you can see, my provider has their bases covered. This points to the fact that our country is definitely a “melting pot” for differing ethnicities, religions, and cultures in general.  English only is a thing of the past. There are plenty of households in which English is not the primary or native language.  I certainly feel people try to assimilate but, as we all know, English is a very difficult to learn if it is not your first language.  This fact got me to thinking, just how diverse are we?  With that being the case, let’s take a look.

The figure above is the fourth sheet from my medical provider.  As I mentioned, they seem to have all of the bases covered which is exactly what I would do if I were them.

The bar chart below was a definite surprise to me.  According to the 2000 census, close to forty-three percent (43%) of the American population comes from German ancestry.   You can read the chart below to see how the various cultural backgrounds contribute to the overall “melting pot” of the United States.  Of course, this varies from one part of our country to another.  In the Southeast, the predominant lineage is from England, Scotland, Ireland, and Africa.

If we look at cultural diversity by state, we may see the following:

Population demographics from the most recent census present the following:

Social scientists have only recently begun to evaluate multiculturalism as public policy. Keith Banting and Will Kymlicka of Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada, have constructed a multiculturalism policy index (MCP Index) that measures the extent to which eight types of policies appear in twenty-one (21) Western nations. The index accounts for the presence or absence of multicultural policies across these countries at three distinct points — 1980, 2000, and 2010 — thus capturing policy changes over time.  This information is captured below.

The countries were each evaluated for an official affirmation of multiculturalism; multiculturalism in the school curriculum; inclusion of ethnic representation/sensitivity in public media and licensing; exemptions from dress codes in public laws; acceptance of dual citizenship; funding of ethnic organizations to support cultural activities; funding of bilingual and mother-tongue instruction; and affirmative action for immigrant groups.

According to PEW Research, the most and least multi-cultural countries are as follows:

This multicultural map of the world is based on an analysis of data reported in a new study of cultural diversity and economic development by researcher Erkan Gören of the University of Oldenberg in Germany. In his paper, Goren measured the amount of cultural diversity in each of more than 180 countries. To arrive at his estimates, he combined data on ethnicity and race with a measure based on the similarity of languages spoken by major ethnic or racial groups. “The hypothesis is that groups speaking the same or highly related languages should also have similar cultural values,” said Goren in an email.

Together he used his language and ethnicity measures to compute a cultural diversity score for each country that ranged from 0 to 1, with larger scores indicating more diversity and smaller values representing less. The usual suspects lead the list of culturally diverse countries: Chad, Cameroon, Nigeria, Togo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. These and other African countries typically rank high on any diversity index because of their multitude of tribal groups and languages. The only western country to break into the top 20 most diverse is Canada. The United States ranks near the middle, slightly more diverse than Russia but slightly less diverse than Spain.

Argentina, the Comoros, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Rwanda and Uruguay rank as the world’s least diverse countries. Argentina may be a surprise, what with all those Germans and Italians pouring into the country after one world war or the other. But Spanish is nearly universally spoken in Argentina, 97% of the country is white and more than nine-in-ten Argentines are at least nominally Roman Catholic, according to the CIA’s World Factbook. The presence of Rwanda at the bottom of the list likely is, in part, a grim reminder of the mass slaughter of Tutsi by the dominant Hutu majority in 1994 in what came to be known as the Rwandan Genocide.

A caution: Cultural diversity is a different concept than ethnic diversity. As a result, a map of the world reflecting ethnic diversity looks somewhat different than the one based on Goren’s cultural diversity measure that combines language and ethnicity profiles of a country.  The Harvard and Goren maps show that the most diverse countries in the world are found in Africa.  The United States falls near the middle, while Canada and Mexico are more diverse than the US.

I have had the great fortune to travel to several non-English-speaking countries over my life time and I can tell you most do NOT consider other languages visitors or nonresidents speak.  Generally, and it may have changed over the last five or six years, if you cannot speak the native language you just might be in trouble.

 

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