Wouldn’t you like to be a Tepper too?

Could the recent $2,000,000,000+ purchase of the Carolina Panthers be the most horribly timed investment decision in the history of mankind?  It’s quite possible.  We’ll get to that in a bit.

School shootings here in the United States and human stampedes abroad have something in common.  They seemingly just keep happening.  But only the major, mass casualty incidents receive significant media coverage.  Would it surprise you to know that there were 3 major stampedes within the last month or so?

April 23, 2018 — Ougadougou, Burkina Faso.  A crowd surge at a religious festival in Somgrande Stadium.  Six dead, unknown number of injuries.  It’s a little ironic that parishioners perished during a faith healing ceremony.

May 12, 2018 — Sierra Leone, Africa.  A presidential inauguration ceremony at National Stadium resulted in 1 dead, 98 injured. Judging from the video, I think it’s reasonable to question the tally of fatalities.

May 14, 2018 — Chittagong, Bangladesh.  A private gathering to celebrate Ramadan left 10 dead, 50 injured.  Wealthy muslims often give out free food and clothing to the poor.  Occasionally, things take a turn for the worse.

Yep, these incidents all had one thing in common.  They all failed to make the news.  For the most part, stampedes rarely make the busy U.S. news cycle.  Unless of course, they happen in the good ‘ol U.S.A.  Then, there’s a public outcry, investigation and demand for accountability.  Like with the recent May 28 stampede in South Beach, Miami, FL which produced a grand tally of 1 person hospitalized with serious injuries.

My point: these incidents are more prevalent than you might think.  You just don’t hear about them on a routine basis.

Regarding stampedes, my specific concerns are centered around the potential for wireless driven panics.  Not sure if anyone has noticed, but everyone seems to be walking around clutching a cell phone.  In their car.  At the gym.  The grocery store, the bar and so on.  And if it’s not in their hand, it’s clipped to their hip like a weaponized sidearm.  Others have some form of ear-piece or alternative headset.  Suffice it to say, these days, when you take a look around, pretty much everyone is “connected.”

Without going into a lengthy explanation, this dynamic could produce serious consequences if someone with malicious intent decided to saturate a string of large crowds with phony evacuation orders, bomb threats, or cellular trickery designed to make people fear for their lives.

But like Forrest Gump would say, “Everything’s fine and dandy.”  Well, until, Donald Trump’s twitter feed is hacked.  Then, all of the public safety planning, contingency operations, strategies and mitigation, tactical emergency response… all of it gets flushed down the theoretical toilet.  For example…

Witness how there was no mention of bombs, IEDs, active shooters, chemical weapons, etc.  Just a vivid reminder of a historical disaster followed by a semi-convincing evacuation command.  I think it’s reasonable to wonder how roughly 1 million individuals attending major sporting events would simultaneously process a sudden info-bomb of this nature.  My hunch is that a decent percentage would “hedge their bets” and start moving aggressively toward the concourses.  This would leave the remainder of people to make sudden observations and quickly draw their own conclusions.

Regardless, that’s three tweets delivered in less than 30 seconds.  With just a few tweets, the incident command structures for every key sports venue in the entire United States are effectively eviscerated and rendered worthless.  Or at the very least, dangerously compromised.  And yes, I realize this is a hypothetical.  But it’s a pretty big one.  Most people express concern about Trump’s twitter feed being misused in terms of a nuclear holocaust, or “nuke-tweet.”  But I believe there are other, more realistic, overlooked precarious scenarios.  This is one of them.  And by the way, there are about a dozen other ways to wirelessly saturate large, confined crowds.  Trump’s twitter account ain’t the only way.  However, it does represent an easily identifiable method.

Transition #1:

I attended the Carnegie Mellon University 2018 commencement on May 20, 2018.

It gave me the opportunity to hear former CMU graduate and keynote speaker David Tepper.  For those unfamiliar with Tepper, he’s a philanthropic hedge fund manager with a net worth of roughly 10 billion dollars.  Not too shabby.  He recently purchased the Carolina Panthers for a record 2.2 billion dollars.  Tepper’s now a distinguished member of one of the world’s wealthiest cartels.  He is an NFL team owner.

Tepper gave an impressive speech, mostly about determination, following your gut instincts and doing what’s morally right.  He was born into a lower middle class family in a rough Pittsburgh neighborhood.  Growing up, he could never afford to attend a Steelers game.  But now he is the proud owner of an NFL franchise.  Quite the rags to riches story.  Tepper relayed an impressive list of personal accomplishments.  But out of nowhere, he stunningly revealed his father’s penchant for domestic violence.  Tepper then tearfully claimed that his greatest achievement was breaking that cycle of domestic abuse.  How he made a solemn vow to never raise a hand to his own children.  This blunt admission received a standing ovation.  Indeed it was a powerful moment.

Transition #2:

For the past several years, I’ve been trying to get the NFL to explicitly warn its fans that official stadium evacuation orders would NEVER be delivered via their personal cell phones.  Why is this important?  Well, if such a directive is coming from your cell phone, it’s almost certainly part of malicious hoax designed to create a panic and an ensuing stampede.

My justification has always focused on the moral rationale.  That people have a fundamental right to know the truth so they can adequately defend themselves.  That it’s a matter of human rights and situational awareness.  That choosing to divulge this hushed, yet very generic information, is the morally right thing to do.  Legitimate stadium evacuation orders do NOT come from your cell phone.  Breaking news: I’m not the only person on the planet earth who has come to this realization.

But perhaps I made a miscalculation.  Rather than focusing on the ethically challenging aspects of this asymmetric cyber-threat, maybe I should have been a bit more realistic.  Hey let’s face it.  The NFL is a monetary cauldron of greed at near-unprecedented levels.  Bubbling over.  Maybe I would have fared better if I had drawn attention to the potentially staggering fiscal losses in the aftermath of a dominipede (domino stampede).

September 9, 2018 & September 16, 2018:

Just same dates you might wanna keep an eye on.  Both days offer up 9 NFL games, 11 MLB games and a plethora of other major events as mid-September boasts some of the best weather of the year.  All of them overlapping during the 1pm – 4pm time frame.

Remember what I said.  One hack + a few tweets = the makings of a black swan, the likes of which the world has never seen.  I imagine something like this would not bode well for technology, humanity and/or prosperity.

On second thought, who cares?  After all, those professional sports franchise investments are invincible.  Right?  The rich can only get richer.  The economic laws of supply and demand do not apply to NFL or MLB ownership.

So how about an alternative perspective?  It goes something like this.  In seven words.

Bad things never happen… until they happen.

If you know David Tepper, please forward him the link to this article.  Perhaps he could be that one NFL owner who’s willing to take a stand and shed light on the prospect of a potential act of cyber-terrorism which would shatter conventional norms.  Considering Tepper’s disdain for physical violence, it seems like he’d be an ideal candidate.  Regrettably, I already know the collective stance of the 31 other owners.  It’s 31 identical flavors that all taste the same.  It’s the taste and sound of silence.