They aren’t all crazy. There are Muslims who not only refuse to participate in the violence that aims to overthrow and destroy Western Civilization, there are genuine peacemakers who scold bin Laden and others for their murderous intent. Here is a heartening account that proves it. The fly in the ointment is that anyone slightly familiar with the Koran and hadith can find many passages that refute this call for peace and amity. Some might even say that Sufis are not true Muslims. But for the record, this newsletter acknowledges and endorses the call for an end to the madness, and it is good to have yet more proof that there are Muslims one can consider decent folks.
And the bad news is…this scholarly cleric has just become a target for assassination. May it not happen!
A tip of the hat to the Dean of TLB Subscribers, JH, for the above encouraging item.
More Libel…It’s An Old Story By Now
The assault on the Tea Party Movement….
When they weren’t being defamed as racists, tea party supporters were described as irrational, enraged, seething, and livid. Constituents at town hall meetings who rejected the superficial Democratic Party talking points and demanded answers instead of political spin were portrayed as mobs on the verge of riot. At the very time that real Muslim terrorists were planning a record number of attacks inside the U.S. right under their noses, political apparatchiks in the Department of Homeland Security warned ominously of imaginary right-wing violence as the nation’s newest terrorist threat.
When the elites weren’t depicting their fellow Americans as out-of-control racists and anti-government zealots, they tried to downplay their social and political importance. They did so with a demographic attempt at marginalization; the tea partiers, they said, were too old, too white, too middle class to matter in contemporary America, and thus could be safely ignored.
And so it goes. What next? Well, “progressives” are certain to mock the TPM as whining about being mistreated. Read the commentary at the link above, and decide who’s fair and who’s not. Before you hand down your decision, be sure to get the testimony of Tom Friedman; you don’t want to miss it. It’s hilarious.
The Worm That Ate Iran’s A-Bomb, Maybe
It’s called Stuxnet, though that’s not what its creators called it. Here is a summary, in Q and A form, of the main facts known so far.
Q: Can this get into my computer, and should I worry about that?
A: If you still use Microsoft Windows it can get into your computer, and it won’t affect you at all if it does. There are two reasons for that: first, it’s designed to be invisible, to cause no trouble and not mess with the things you want to do (it does not want you to know it’s there, so it minds its manners). Second, its target is Siemens software that controls industrial plants; that software is reached and gets its settings and commands from Windows. You don’t have that Siemens software.
Q: What’s the fuss about?
A: Stuxnet could open valves that are supposed to stay shut, run motors that are supposed to stay off, and so on. It could sabotage a factory by giving the machinery in it commands to do everything wrong. A virus — Stuxnet is called a worm, to distinguish it from other similar types of bad software — that can do that is new. And Stuxnet is very, very cleverly designed. It’s a weapon. As such, it will probably go down in history as firing the first salvo in the first genuine cyberwar in history.
Q: But China and Russia and hackers have been doing this for years.
A: No, they have not, and call them “crackers,” not “hackers” — hackers are the Good Guys. Stuxnet is as different from what the nasty governments and criminals and crackers have been doing as a modern howitzer is different from a water pistol. Stuxnet is not for fun, not for profit, and not a proof of concept. Stuxnet is a fully-fledged weapon being used to limit the military capacity of a nation. Weapons technology has just completed a qualitative change that allows warfare to be waged in unprecedented ways and on a new battlefield, so don’t think of this as more of the same. Everything about this extension of the power of a combatant is novel — not unexpected or unpredicted, certainly, but this is its first deployment in what must be called hostilities.
Q: Stuxnet is complicated, eh?
A: Very. But most of all, it is sophisticated, for it obviously employs contributions from several very well-connected sources. The teams needed to put it all together were probably large, and they have been working for quite a while. Who knows what else they have come up with…wrap your mind around this: what if Stuxnet is a decoy, a red herring?
Q: The news says Stuxnet is in several nations, so how do you know Iran was the target?
A: There is no certainty about its target, but Iran is the way to bet.
Q: But it’s found in Indonesia, too.
A: Sure, and there is some speculation that the designers of Stuxnet goofed on that one. One of the things Stuxnet does is spread (propagate) itself when it can, and that aspect of its behavior was possibly not designed carefully enough to hit just Iran. It might be, however, that the people who made Stuxnet wanted to check to see who in the world is doing computer-related businessf with Iran; perhaps the Indonesian problem with Stuxnet betrays some commerce and cooperation that Indonesia did not want the world to see. Remember, there are more Muslims in Indonesia than in any other nation.
Q: Is there a good understanding of how Stuxnet works?
A: Probably not; a “fair” understanding would be a better way of putting it. It’s hard to know that you have found simply everything, learned it all, when your opponent is hiding information from you.
Q: They say Israel did this.
A: Again, that’s the way to bet. You should also consider that the USA and Germany may have helped, though. For some speculation on what Siemens had to do with it, if anything, see this. Certainly it’s hard to imagine the USA being entirely unhappy with developments, if the Iranian bomb is out of the picture.
Q: Has Stuxnet actually aborted the coming Iranian nuclear bomb?
A: Those who know are not about to say, but yes, it does appear that Stuxnet is in the Iranian computers, has messed things up something fierce — this is not a new worm, so it’s had time to work — and is not about to go away any time soon.
Q: What about Microsoft?
A: It’s the same old story. Stuxnet was known months ago, and Microsoft knew of at least one problem with Windows that it never bothered to address until very recently. Pitting the Microsoft team against the Stuxnet team would be a hopeless mismatch, so don’t bet on Microsoft being a lot of help — in fact, Redmond is going to need help from others to do all it should. (It may not make that effort, of course.) In past months, therefore, getting a fix from Microsoft was out of the question, though there was some hole-patching that came from Redmond. In fact there were four distinct previously unknown vulnerabilities in Windows that Stuxnet exploited, and to this day, they have not all been patched. Remember, too, that plugging a hole through which Stuxnet entered Windows is one thing, while removing Stuxnet from the computer is a totally different and much more difficult task. Stuxnet was designed to run, cover its tracks, hide and send information to its creators, as well as get updates and upgrades from them. This is one impressive piece of software.
Q: So Iran’s problems are not over?
A: That’s correct. The headaches will continue long after all the Windows software has been removed and replaced, and may even continue if the Siemens programs are replaced. There will never be any way to know with certitude that Stuxnet or some evolved form of it is gone for good — or that if it is gone, it won’t return.
Q: That means…maybe a meltdown, a runaway atomic reactor? Chernobyl?
A: It’s possible, but only in a theoretical sense. For a lot of reasons, you can be sure it’s not going to happen.
Q: Where can I get more information on Stuxnet?
A: Keeping in mind that as more is learned, today’s information will go out of date, have a look at this paper. That said, keep this question in mind: why would anybody who is part of the Stuxnet story tell all he knows, or be truthful? Such folks probably exist, but corporate, governmental and individual motives for lying and refusing to talk are innumerable. Disinformation may be more prevalent than misinformation.
Q: If, as you claim, history has just been written and a new weapon has appeared, what are the implications? And can we defend ourselves from this new weapon?
A: This newsletter believes cyberweapons are a real danger, but that the impact of a Carrington event would be greater. Note that the latter can be artificially created. That is the biggest threat.
Defending against the use of computer programs will be easy and cheap, compared to defending against the sun and against an electromagnetic pulse generated by a bomb.
To ward off Stuxnet-like malware, in the short term all governmental, industrial and utilities control systems should be isolated from telephone lines and the computer operating systems of business and industry should be modified to be much more secure (that is, much more intruder-unfriendly). It would not be expensive if Open Source software were used.
Regarding which, a brief word. The creators of Stuxnet knew exactly what they faced when they plotted to intrude. Windows and the Siemans software were studied with great care, and nothing about either was mysterious to the teams. Now imagine how difficult it would be to create invasive malware if one knew only that the operating systems and control systems had probably been modified in any number of multiple ways to detect and frustrate malware. Open Source software makes modification easy, so companies of all sizes could have literally unique computers. That would severely restrict, if not preclude, the propagation of malware.
Of course the problem with that is communication. As long as telephone lines are used, security is intensely difficult. Encryption may ease the problem, and increased use of microwave transmission may be necessary. The idea of simply linking all computers to each other over land lines is, however, absurd, and will have to be abandoned.
Once innovative solutions are in place, secondary measures to make it much harder to introduce malware should be employed. It is believed that Stuxnet may have been launched at its target when someone, perhaps out of pure curiosity, plugged a tiny USB flash memory stick into a computer in Iran. That USB device might have simply been left in a toilet where it could be picked up and carried into an office. Absolutely preventing that sort of thing from happening is impossible, but it can be made much more difficult if a few simple rules are enforced. A nation — even a large one — can adopt protocols to block virtually all malware intrusions and seal off those that do occur.
The future will occur in a threatening environment. When in human history has it been otherwise?
The Government And Free Speech
Dictators of all types, socialists, fascists, communists and collectivists all agree that if they can’t control the means of communication, they can’t control the people. And control is what it’s all about. From the dictator’s urgent need comes surveillance, and from that comes, among other things, the teaching of little children to inform on their parents. Oh, you say that’s a big stretch, and that Obama does not want to do that to the USA? Yes, you are right…or at least you are right so far. Pardon this newsletter while memories of those little kids singing the praises of The One (as if they had the slightest notion of the philosophical and political and economic issues involved) haunt the entire staff, right down to the Second Assistant Men’s Room Attendant. Then please consider this attempt and its follow-up. The Eagle Wing Palace is exquisitely sensitive to these collectivist attempts to guarantee solidarity. And so ought you be.
Note, for example, that the Democrats are promoting the imposition of solidarity with a “One Nation Working Together” program. The very name implies that disagreement (having your own views, without Party approval) is somehow unamerican. — What’s that? You say freedom of speech comes only with responsibility? Yeah, well, that puts you in good company, because these guys running Iran agree with you. They are, you might notice, not nice folks.
The fact is, you do not have to be responsible to have free speech. You just have to be human. If you lie, there may well be consequences, some of which could land you in prison (faking evidence, giving false testimony, filing bogus police reports, and so on), or you might face civil actions. But proving responsibility first, in order to be granted free speech? Never! License is what the mass media believe in. They do not put their trust in genuine freedom of the press. And with that license goes, of course, government subsidy of news organizations.
Have you ever noticed how people who take on the establishment sometimes turn out to be even worse than the villains they oppose? Sooner or later, you might discover that the noble cause was a thug’s attempt to reduce events to a gang war. Thus it is with the creepy, self-righteous Julian Assange of Wikileaks. He plans to release stolen classified documents in an attempt to humiliate the USA. And what kind of man is he? Click on the link and you will find pretty much the supremely egotistical dictator you would expect.
Genes, proteins, computers, and engineering: an explanation of a new approach to cancer. Even the most enthusiastic cheerleaders for hugely expensive cancer research are finally starting to admit that improvements in survival rates have stalled. Research simply is not paying off with better results. The linked video, which is almost an hour long, describes work that will probably still be unfolding when most people alive today are not around to benefit from it. The developments described must be pursued if anything like a decent set of treatments for cancer is ever to be possible.
Here’s a video compilation — then and now. It’s darned depressing. Barney Frank’s quote is unusually candid, considering that Barney is an incompetent buffoon.
From an article on Rand Paul: “When you talk to Tea Party leaders, they’ll express their disgust with Obama, for sure, but they’ll also point out that their movement was formed not in response to the president but in response to the bailout, which was voted on before Obama entered the White House. They will insist…that those who supported (the bailout) should be held accountable.” This stubborn insistence on principle and common sense is why the GOP should be a lot more worried about the Tea Party Movement than it is.
This man came close to being president…and this is what he thinks of today’s voters. Well, maybe he’s right; if his view is correct, then a lot depends on when the electorate was devastated by that pandemic of imbecility. Did the Grate Dumbing-Down happen just before W was re-elected, or later, when Obama was the candidate?
Now this is truly amazing: after years of feeding the news media and the politicians a diet of utter nonsense, the climate freaks have decided that it’s cooling, not warming, that is the problem. No, that’s not a sarcastic joke. True, this newsletter is not above sarcasm, and not above the occasional joke, but…the issue of climate change is taken seriously in the Eagle Wing Palace. It’s nothing to joke about, because when the Bicoastal Elite tumbles to this new “cool” rubbish, there will be a call for higher taxes and greater control of individuals and businesses. Government will stand once again between the masses and doom, sheltering homo from the outrageous things done by crass capitalists in their rape of Gaia. The only hope the sane public has is that by now, the climate nuts have lost all credibility, and will be told to shut up and sit down. As every rational person should realize, Mother Nature warms and cools the climate, and that is all there is to it. Man’s effects on climate are trivial, though pollution can be a serious problem locally. So: global cooling? Do you expect this one to get any traction?
A hat tip to reader DM for alerting TLB to an e-mail that’s making the rounds: “I am perplexed that so many of my friends are against a mosque being built near Ground Zero. I think it should be the goal of every person to be tolerant. The mosque should be allowed, in an effort to promote tolerance. That is why I also propose that two gay nightclubs be opened next door to the mosque thereby promoting tolerance within the mosque. We could call the clubs The Turban Cowboy and You Mecca Me So Hot. Next door should be a butcher shop that specializes in pork and has an open barbecue with spare ribs as its daily special. Across the street a very daring lingerie store calledVictoria Keeps Nothing Secret with sexy mannequins in the window modeling the goods. Next door to the lingerie shop, there would be room for an adult toy shop (Koranal Knowledge?), its name in flashing neon lights, and on the other side a liquor store — maybe call itMorehammered?”
Accused of racism, the Tea Party Movement soldiers on. So the “progressives” rally, and step up the hate. Only this time, they use racist language. Don’t believe it? Read all about it, including such questions as, “Had decades of sucking down so much high-fructose corn syrup…messed with white brain chemistry to the point that some sort of tipping point had occurred?” All right, Pilgrims, now answer this: would you consider it racist if this newsletter were to say, “Decades of eating watermelon have messed black brain chemistry up so that those people can’t think properly”? Come on, you “progressives” in the audience, what would you think? You know racism when you see it, don’t you? Or is it impossible for a black person to be a racist, as it seems Attorney General Holder believes? Look, political correctness should not give anyone immunity to the consequences of spouting racial bigotry. But that “should” does not apply when you “progressive” bigots are defining the terms of the argument, now does it?
Related? This may not be more leftist racism, but it still stinks.
The culture war is, to a surprising extent, a literal matter of geography. It’s Flyover Country versus the Bicoastal Elite.