Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Let’s Play Fact Or Fiction

No question is so difficult to answer as that to which the answer is obvious. - George Bernard Shaw

There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact. - Arthur Conan Doyle

The #1206 “fiction” series continues …….


The brilliant, hot studio lights dazzled him as he waited for commercials to finish airing.  As the host of “Fact or Fiction”, the outrageously popular new Internet and television game show, he continued to be intrigued that the show, while having an ulterior motive, continued to grow in popularity.

Suddenly, he could hear his producer’s voice in his earpiece, “Stand by. Ok. Back on in 3, 2, 1 ….”.

Game time.

His adrenalin surged in synch with the cameraman’s gesture to “go” and a broad smile lit up his face.

“Hello and welcome back to Fact or Fiction, the informative game show where we take actual news events and attempt to figure out what is real and what is not.  Our next contestant has already been introduced to the audience so let’s get started.  Are you ready, Tom?”

Tom thumped his chest in classic, coached, game show style and yelled, “Bring it on.”

“Very good”, said the host.  “Let’s plaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay Fact or Fiction.  All of the following items but one have appeared in the news in the past 12 months.  For 10 points, can you identify the fictitious item?”

1. All of the nuclear power plants in the United States were identified in a study within the last year as being totally vulnerable to a terrorist attack with no current plan in place to prevent it or to deal with the ramifications of such an event.

2. A growing trend this year is to perform exorcisms via a Skype video call.

3. An unknown number of shoulder-fired missiles (possibly in the hundreds or thousands) that went missing during the invasion of Libya and which can take down a commercial jetliner may be in the US because of the limited searching of inbound shipping containers.  As a result, a planned time-on-target attack could take down any number of commercial aircraft simultaneously within the US or anywhere in the world and there is currently nothing that can be done to prevent it.

4. The US is built upon 18 key infrastructures, but 17 of them rely on the 18th, electricity – an infrastructure vulnerable to compromise through a number of man-made or accidental means.

5. China has developed jets and missiles (both of which it will soon be exporting to other nations) that are capable of penetrating US defense systems , thus requiring the US to reverse previous spending cuts on military technology in response to the perceived threat.  Russia will follow suit, fuelling a new global arms race.

6. The President will make more use of Executive Orders this year than ever, passing laws without Congressional / Senate oversight or approval and with unknown long-term impact.

7. Executive Directive 51 remains on the books, providing a means to dissolve Congress and the Senate at the will of the President any time he / she chooses.

8. The NSA, although chastised for its alleged overreaching surveillance and despite assurances from political leaders that it will have its wings clipped, is actually seeking ways to expand and hide its operations at the same time, including being beyond oversight by those same political leaders.

9. The NSA has learned how to harvest useful information out of smartphone games such as Angry Birds and others.

10. The Facebook app on your smartphone now reads every SMS to and from your phone, possibly contravening your privacy as well as the privacy of people and organizations that you interact with.

11. Many US government systems continue to be hacked and compromised on a regular basis, with US officials indicating that a total compromise, possibly including defense systems, is a when and not an if.

12. Many brokers on Wall Street have confirmed that an end to the current bull market is now on the visible horizon and investors should be intelligent about what this means.  They won’t talk about this too loudly because they need a few more people to enter the market first.

13. Aviation authorities have issued two warnings, one from the FAA that terrorists appear to be doing dry runs in preparation for some type of aircraft takeover within the US and the other noting that increased pilot stress levels need to be investigated before passenger safety is compromised.

14. The sale of personal lubricant products is soaring to record levels.

15. Alien abduction claims are on the rise.

16. Points 14 and 15 are interrelated, with some people fearing that aliens are insisting that a medical examination include a BYOL designation to help make the event more pleasurable.

17. A number of senior ranking officers in the US and Russian militaries are spending millions of dollars on defense against extraterrestrial invasion and the development of telekinetic abilities to be used as both a weapon and a tool of espionage.

18. The President of the United States claimed that he was not aware of the level of NSA surveillance being conducted, implying that he is not the highest authority in the nation.

“Whew”, said the host as he caught his breath, “That’s a long list.  Take your time, Tom.”

Tom smiled broadly and said proudly, “That was pretty easy. Number 16.  Final answer.”

“You …. are …. right!”, exclaimed the host. “Well done!  You are on the board with 10 points.”

Turning to the camera, the host said “Do we have the makings of a champion here?  I sure hope so.  But for now we are out of time.  Tune in next week when we will play another round of Fact or Fiction.  God Bless and sleep well.”

Hearing “We’re off” in his earpiece, he turned to Tom and smiled.

Tom returned the smile, exchanging an unspoken message.

To be continued.


© 2014 – Harry Tucker – All Rights Reserved


All of the items noted have appeared in the press within the last year although many disappeared quickly after being initially reported.  As for answer 16, maybe we should all carry a tube of lube ..… just in case. :-)

We have a lot of things to fix (or at least do better with).  Maybe global warming and the like serve as convenient distractions …… diversions that help us not pay attention to the fact that our to-do list is long (and growing). 

We have two choices – find better ways of dealing with “stuff” or stop acting surprised and outraged when events occur to our detriment.

Transparency, information dissemination and collaboration are keys to achieving better results in these areas.  Unfortunately, the cost and political risk necessary to achieve better results are so prohibitive that we settle for “good enough”.

The question becomes:

Is that good enough?

Series Origin:

This series, a departure from my usual musings,  is inspired as a result of conversations with former senior advisors to multiple Presidents of the United States, senior officers in the US Military and other interesting folks.

While this musing is just “fiction” and a departure from my musings on technology, strategy, politics and society, as a strategy guy, I do everything for a reason and with a measurable outcome in mind. :-)

This “fictional” musing is a continuation of a series noted here.

In service and servanthood,


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