Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Worm Turns

The Iranian computers used in their nuclear weapons production program have been mysteriously hit by Stuxnet, a computer worm of enormous sophistication and lethal capability. New Scientist has some very helpful background on how the worm operates and why it represents a quantum leap in terms of the potential hazard.

The fact that this worm seems to be concentrated in Iran and has infected their nuclear program naturally raises a lot of questions. For instance:

Who designed this worm? It seems to require resources that only a national organization could command. Is this a strategy initiated by the U.S. or Israel to compromise the Iranian nuclear program without having to launch military strikes or is there some other player involved (Some have suggested the Chinese)? If so, will it work, and how will Iran respond? Will they launch a cyber attack against whomever turns out to be the source of the worm?

Stay tuned.

Why They're Leaving

The other day we commented on the increasing number of parents who are choosing alternatives to public education for their children. A reader writes to share his experience and why he left the public school system:
I had an experience dealing with administration shortcomings and failures in the public school setting. During my sophomore year of high school I had an issue happen where I became a personalized victim. One day after being in the wrong place at the wrong time (ironically this meant standing at my locker collecting my books before heading to the bus to go home), I was assaulted. A teenager snuck up from behind and tackled me to the ground and beat me. Thankfully I was not badly hurt other than a couple of bruises and scrapes. However, I was caught totally off guard.
Not knowing what to do past that, I went on the bus and traveled home. Of course, when I got home my parents were furious and called the administration as soon as possible trying to get this matter resolved. Unfortunately, the administration did nothing other than suspend the boy for a couple of days, pat me on the shoulder telling me it was okay, and send both of us on our ways.
However, that did not stop or change the situation. Apparently, what had happened was I was wrongly confused with another person who had turned this man (as well as a group of students) in to the administration the previous year for selling marijuana on the school grounds. Completely unaware of the reason this happened, I was flabbergasted to find out that I was the target of some of those people who were suspended. They were trying to teach me a lesson that those who snitch will get punished.
Ironically I was very quiet in high school and tried my hardest in everything to mind my own business. However, somehow I was mixed up in this problem. Eventually it got so bad that I had to pull myself out of that high school and transfer to a private, Christian school. The administration did practically nothing despite threats, warnings, and even legal action. I was left to fend for myself in a situation I had nothing to do with and had no control over. Even getting the parents involved with this matter did not resolve the problem. In the end I was forced to abandon the life I had come to know at my public school.
This sort of story saddens me because I know from personal experience that there are a lot of fine schools out there staffed by many outstanding teachers, some of whom are personal friends and relatives. Yet, one wonders how long such schools and teachers will remain in the majority and whether there's a day coming when they become the exception.

Until administrators get serious about making schools safe for their students, until they get serious about culling from their student bodies the sort of thugs and riff-raff that populate too many public school hallways and classrooms, the best and the brightest will continue their exodus. Eventually, all that will be left will be those students too poor to afford an alternative and the punks and goons who prey upon them.

Mr. Wallis Please Call Your Office

The other day we noted Jim Wallis' call for a more civil political discourse this election season. It was a call that we are firmly behind, but I think Jim's plea has fallen on deaf ears among his friends in the Democratic party. Take Florida congressman Al Grayson, for example. Grayson, an incumbent running against a Republican named Dan Webster, has sponsored what is probably the most dishonest, sleaziest political ad since the Democrats tried to connect George Bush to the murder of a black man in Texas back in the 1990s.

Here's Grayson's ad:
To see how dishonest this is compare it to what Webster actually said:
It's clear that Grayson is portraying Webster as having said exactly the opposite of what he did say. This is not the first time Mr. Grayson, one of the left-most members of congress, has used such tactics. He had earlier accused Mr. Webster of being a draft dodger when it turned out that Mr. Webster, who had served four years in an ROTC program was turned down for active duty because of a medical condition.

It would be a real shame if Grayson were reelected to office. I hope Wallis publicly takes him to task for so despicably corrupting the political debate. We'll see.