Injury & Disability Law Center - February 2020

Meet Conan THE DOG WHO HELPED TAKE DOWN AL-BAGHDADI

“To me, they’re the first line of defense,” United States War Dogs Association President Ron Aiello told Vox after the news about Conan came out. “They’re such a great asset to our military today.” Military dogs are put up for adoption after 6–8 years in the service, which means a lucky civilian could take Conan in as early as 2022! Meanwhile, dozens of other smart canine heroes are looking for homes. To learn more about military and other working dog adoptions, visit MissionK9Rescue.org.

In college, arriving late to class might earn you a stern look from your professor, and turning in homework late normally results in a docked grade. For one student, however, these actions resulted in veneration from the academic community and a story that has become legend. George Dantzig, a doctoral candidate at the University of California, Berkeley, arrived late for a graduate statistics class one day in 1939. He saw that his professor, Jerzy Neyman, had written two problems on the board, and guessing they were the homework assignment, he wrote them down to solve later. A few days later, Dantzig delivered his answers to Professor Neyman. He apologized for turning them in late, remarking that they seemed more difficult than usual. When Neyman told him to just throw the answers on his desk, Dantzig reluctantly did so, fearing his homework would be lost forever in the sea of papers already there. He couldn’t have been more wrong. Six weeks later, Neyman went to Dantzig’s house and excitedly asked him to read the introduction he had written on one of Dantzig’s papers. Of course, Dantzig had no idea what he was talking about. Over the course of the conversation, however, he found out that the two difficult problems he had thought were homework were actually examples of famous unsolved statistical proofs — and Dantzig had solved them! On Oct. 28 last year, President Donald Trump tweeted a photo that quickly went viral. It showed an adorable snapshot of a bright-eyed Belgian Malinois, tongue lolling, still wearing its camo military vest. In the caption, President Trump explained that the pup, Conan, was a national hero who was instrumental in taking down ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. With four years in special operations forces and roughly 50 missions under his collar, Conan was selected to be part of the team that pursued al-Baghdadi through a network of underground tunnels in northwest Syria, where the terrorist ultimately died. It’s unclear whether Conan was there to track al-Baghdadi or to spot improvised explosive devices that may have been planted on the route, but either way, he performed well. According to NBC News, Conan was injured by some live electrical cables during the mission, but he recovered quickly and was back on duty within the week. Meanwhile, President Trump invited the brave pup to the White House and tweeted out a doctored photo that showed him awarding Conan a Medal of Honor. President Trump captioned the photo “AMERICAN HERO!” and he’s not alone in his appreciation for the hardworking dogs that have been helping our military since WorldWar II.

Solving the Unsolvable THE BEST CONSEQUENCE EVER FOR ARRIVING LATE TO CLASS

Neyman published the first of the two proofs soon after. Then, a year later when Dantzig was struggling to decide on his doctoral thesis topic, his professor just shrugged and told him to wrap the two problems in a binder. Neyman said he would accept them as his thesis. Dantzig’s story has been retold in various versions over the years often as an illustration of what a person is capable of when they think positively. After all, Dantzig may not have solved these proofs if he believed they were “unsolvable!” However, even though some versions might lean more toward urban legend, it’s still an impressive story of the best consequence a student ever received for arriving to class and turning in homework late.

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