Wednesday, August 4, 2010


The Investor's Business Daily is a sober journal not given to political theatrics and overheated rhetoric. Thus it was alarming to find a column in a recent issue that paints the policies of the current administration as unprecedentedly baneful for the nation.

The authors, two former Treasury officials, one an economist and the other a former deputy secretary, make the case that the Obama presidency, with the aid of a Democrat-controlled congress, is dragging the country toward almost certain ruin. They write:

His bullying and offenses against the economy and job creation are so outrageous that CEOs in the Business Roundtable finally mustered the courage to call him "anti-business."

Veteran Democrat Sen. Max Baucus blurted out that Obama is engineering the biggest government-forced "redistribution of income" in history.

Fear and uncertainty stalk the land. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke says America's financial future is "unusually uncertain."

A Wall Street "fear gauge" based on predicted market volatility is flashing long-term panic. New data on the federal budget confirm that record-setting deficits in the $1.4 trillion range are now endemic.

Obama is building an imperium of public debt and crushing taxes, contrary to George Washington's wise farewell admonition: "cherish public credit ... use it as sparingly as possible ... avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt ... bear in mind, that towards the payment of debts there must be Revenue, that to have Revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes can be devised, which are not ... inconvenient and unpleasant ... ."

Opinion polls suggest that in the November mid-term elections, voters will replace the present Democratic majority in Congress with opposition Republicans - but that will not necessarily stop Obama. A President Obama intent on achieving his transformative goals despite the disagreement of the American people has powerful weapons within reach. In one hand, he will have a veto pen to stop a new Republican Congress from repealing ObamaCare and the Dodd-Frank takeover of banks.

In the other, he will have a fistful of executive orders, regulations and Obama-made fiats that have the force of law.

Believe it or not this litany of grievances is only the half of it. Read the IBD column for the rest and perhaps pass it on to those of your friends who swooned as Mr. Obama enchanted the nation, or at least a majority of its voters, with his eloquent promises to "fundamentally transform" America. He certainly is doing that - sort of like killing the goose that layed the golden eggs transformed the society that was home to the goose.


Honey Pots

There's an interesting column at Strategy Page on methods being employed by security personnel in industry and government to prevent serious hackers from accessing their servers. One tactic is to set up pseudo-servers called "honey pots" that attract the attention of the hackers but which, in fact, are recording data on who the hackers are:

The Internet's criminal underground shares a lot of information. Technical tips and newly found net vulnerabilities are traded in password protected chat rooms and encrypted e-mail groups. When the black hats see a particularly promising new vulnerability, they go in themselves. They proceed very carefully. The criminal black hats plan their operations as thoroughly as a professional heist. Nothing is left to chance, for getting caught can be fatal. In China, they execute black hats.

Until recently, the only way you found out about a successful black hat operation was after it was too late. And sometimes not even then. The black hats covered their tracks carefully. To them, a successful operation was one that was never discovered. Then the white hats came up with the concept of honey pots.

The honey pots have proven useful in finding out what tools and techniques the black hats have. This makes it possible to build better defenses. Honey pots also make the black hats uncomfortable and less confident that any server they are hacking into is not rigged to catch them. This makes the white hats happy.

Perhaps the next step is to configure the honey pot so that it sends a return message to the hacker's computer informing him that he's now toast and can expect to spend the next twenty years providing tech support for the staff at the federal penitentiary.


Pastor Lewis

Timothy Larsen relates a couple of anecdotes about the hostility of academics to the Christian worldview and calls for a more systematic study of the phenomenon.

Colleges and universities are hypersensitive to the slightest indication of discrimination against racial minorities and women, they're sharply attuned to the faintest sign that Muslims are being offended, but do they ever try to discover if their Christian students or scholars experience discrimination?

Larsen issues the call for just such an effort:

This could be done through surveys, or focus group discussions, or even just by inviting people to tell their experiences and following up on them, seeing if certain patterns emerge. If these are not the best methods, just think of what you would do in response to reports that a university or academic society was marked by institutional racism or sexism and then apply those same strategies of listening, investigation, and response.

This sounds like fun. I hope the idea catches on.

One of the anecdotes Larsen recounts is this:

John had been a straight-A student until he enrolled in English writing. The assignment was an "opinion" piece and the required theme was "traditional marriage." John is a Southern Baptist and he felt it was his duty to give his honest opinion and explain how it was grounded in his faith. The professor was annoyed that John claimed the support of the Bible for his views, scribbling in the margin, "Which Bible would that be?" On the very same page, John's phrase, "Christians who read the Bible," provoked the same retort, "Would that be the Aramaic Bible, the Greek Bible, or the Hebrew Bible?" (What could the point of this be? Did the professor want John to imagine that while the Greek text might support his view of traditional marriage, the Aramaic version did not?) The paper was rejected as a "sermon," and given an F, with the words, "I reject your dogmatism," written at the bottom by way of explanation.

Thereafter, John could never get better than a C for papers without any marked errors or corrections. When he asked for a reason why yet another grade was so poor he was told that it was inappropriate to quote C. S. Lewis in work for an English class because he was "a pastor." (Lewis, of course, was actually an English professor at Cambridge University. Perhaps it was wrong to quote Lewis simply because he had said something recognizably Christian.)

It's unfortunate that the halls of academe are populated by narrow-minded ignoramuses like this pompous English prof who use their power to intimidate young students and to impose upon them an ideological and religious conformity. Even so, the silver lining is that even students who might be inclined to agree with such professor's beliefs are often repelled by their coercion and bullying when they see it applied to their fellow students.

At any rate, Larsen's piece is interesting and reinforces the opinion of many others who've reported similar reactions to student or faculty Christians at their own schools. The comments to this article are worth reading as well. Check it out.