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A World Record Marathon Time – 384 Hours!  

By Shlomo Maital  


   I’ve run two marathons, Boston and New York; the Boston marathon took me over five hours.  This is very slow; the current world record time for men   is 2 hours 3 minutes and 38 seconds,  set by Patrick Makau of Kenya  and the world record for women was set by Paula Radcliffe of Great Britain  in 2 hours 15 minutes and 25 seconds. 

   But the greatest marathon record by far is that set recently by Claire Lomas:  384 hours, or 16 full days.  She walked across the finish line of the London Marathon, accompanied by three riders from the British Household Cavalry.  (see photo).    The reason this is amazing?  Claire’s legs are paralyzed.   She was injured in a horse-riding accident.  She was able to complete the full 26-mile 200 yard marathon course ON HER OWN TWO FEET thanks to an Israeli invention called ReWalk, an ‘exo-skeleton’ invented by Dr. Amit Goffer, an Israeli entrepreneur. 

    According to The Guardian,  the £43,000  (about $70,000) ReWalk suit enables people with lower-limb paralysis to stand, walk and climb stairs through motion sensors and an onboard computer system.   A shift in the wearer’s balance, indicating their desire to take, for example, a step forward, triggers the suit to mimic the response that the joints would have if they were not paralysed.  

    Lomas walked two hours a day, for 16 days. London Marathon officials refused to give her a medal awarded to all finishers, because she failed to finish in a single day.  In response, a dozen or more other finishers gave her their medals. 

    Goffer’s ReWalk exoskeleton is now widely used in the United States, in Veterans Administration hospitals, to help soldiers who were paralyzed by war wounds.  Goffer himself is a paraplegic.  He was injured in a freak go-kart accident.  Ironically, he himself cannot use his exo-skeleton to walk. His upper body is too weak to operate it.  Goffer says that his invention gives new dignity to those who are paralyzed, transforming them from someone in a wheelchair, always looking up at the people with whom they work and converse, to “just another guy on crutches”.    I visited ReWalk, at its headquarters near Haifa, and watched a demonstration of ReWalk as a paralyzed man walked up a long set of stairs.  It was amazing. 

Tampa Bay Rays: How Innovation Replaces Bucks –

Tell Me What You Think, Not What You Heard 

By Shlomo Maital   



  Joe Maddon, manager of Tampa Bay Rays

Read this only if you like, or at least partly understand, baseball.

  Tampa Bay Rays are a low-budget American League team, competing with the big-bucks Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees.  Yet right now the Rays defeated the Yankees in three straight games, and are ahead of them in the standings, tied for first with Baltimore. Last year Tampa Bay grabbed a wild-card playoff spot from Boston, on the season’s last day.  The reason is: Innovation.

   Manager Joe Maddon, when he took over at Tampa, had T-shirts made for each player, that said: “Tell me what you think,  not what you heard.”   He wanted his players, and of course himself, to think differently about baseball.  He wanted the people surrounding him to really think, and innovate, not just repeat all the worn clichés, most of which are wrong. 

    Maddon has pioneered something called the “shift”.  When left-handed hitters are shown by data-mining  to ‘pull’ the ball (i.e. hit mainly into right field), Maddon shifts his defensive infielders and outfielders far to the right.  This leaves a big hole in left field, but, so what?  Data are data.  Other teams have used the ‘shift’. But Maddon uses it far more.  And he even uses it on right-handed batters, who ‘pull’ the ball to left field.  And it works!  Moreover, when batters actually see it, mentally it freaks them out.  That alone helps the ‘shift’ work. 

     Eventually, other teams will copy Maddon. (The process is very slow; baseball is a game hidebound by old traditions and clichés).  Meanwhile, innovation is giving Tampa Bay an edge, that big bucks cannot.  Innovator: If you’re facing a tough stubborn incumbent, the only way you can win often is by trying new ideas, and instilling innovative thinking in every single person in your organization.  Tampa Bay and Joe Maddon show that it works.  

   My previous blog was about an illegal experiment. Maddon’s extreme shift is a highly legal experiment – one that pays off.  The other key element in Maddon’s success is perseverance.  Even when the ‘shift’ fails, he says, we stick to it.  We live and die by our innovation. 


     Source:  “Tamba Bay’s shifting ways are paying off” Global NYT May 9, 2012, p. 12

 The Great Experiment: Early Results 

By Shlomo Maital   




A massive experiment is underway. Despite the Helsinki Convention, you and I are the subjects, even though we have not given our permission.  Early results are in.

   The experiment is this:   Hypothesis – budget austerity creates economic growth and wellbeing.  The subjects:  Europeans, plus those who trade with them.  Control group: America.

    Europe, led by Germany, imposes fiscal austerity on Greece, Ireland, Spain and other nations, causing social unrest, protests, deep unemployment (over 20% in Greece and Spain, and even Serbia).  It’s for your good, say the Germans (and the reluctant French, under Sarkozy).

   America, stymied by vetocracy (Fukuyama’s term for political deadlock, where each political party vetoes anything the other party wants) has massive deficits and is unable and unwilling to fix them.  So America is the control group for European budget austerity.

   Which of the two is doing better?

   Europe is now mired in recession, officially.   America is growing faster, with lower unemployment and better job creation.

   The verdict, so far, is in.  Austerity doesn’t work.  As NYT reporter Jack Ewing notes in the Global New York Times today, “Everyone in Europe seems to agree that government austerity has been overdone.”  

    What infuriates me, and blows all my fuses, is that top experts have been warning about this for years.  You cannot grow an economy by shrinking it. It’s that simple.  This experiment has been done on human beings.  Greeks are committing suicide, 40% increase in suicides since 2010, because of it.  Europe’s German-led austerity is a war crime.   America is fortunate; the Republicans pay lip service to cutting spending but in fact, it is they who created the deficits. First, under Reagan and Bush the father, dumping a massive budget deficit on Clinton’s shoulders in 1992 (he fixed it), and then, under George Bush the son, whose tax cuts created the massive budget deficit Obama faces now.  Fortunately, political deadlock has kept America from the austerity that is ruining Europe.       

     I live in Israel. Israel’s economy has so far weathered the crisis better than many other nations, partly because of an enlightened and experienced Central Bank Governor Stanley Fisher.  But even Israel is now sinking because of Europe.  So, I intend to protest, that I and billions of others worldwide are subjects of an unauthorized experiment in Europe, that is causing pain and suffering.  It’s time Europe woke up!  When 11 leaders are dumped in elections in recent years, including the latest Sarkozy, don’t Germany and Europe get the message?

   In the notorious Tuskegee Experiments, in 1932, black American men were given syphilis, purposely, then allowed to die (while being told they were getting treatment) so that data could be collected from autopsying their bodies.  Today this is illegal. Yet the austerity experiments continue.  In the end, all those who authorize or support such experiments will pay the price. 

Blog entries written by Prof. Shlomo Maital

Shlomo Maital
May 2012
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