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Nickname:?Clive Maxfield???? Articles(444)???? Visits(532919)???? Comments(79)???? Votes(236)???? RSS
There is so much amazingly cool "stuff" to see and do that I'm amazed I find the time to get any real work done. In my blog I will waffle on about the books I'm reading, the projects I'm building, and the weird and wonderful websites I blunder across. Please Email Me if you see anything you think will "tickle my fancy."
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Posted: 11:39:17 AM, 09/11/2011

Of cyber-attacks and Scientology

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Cyber-attacks
I was driving to work a few days ago when I heard something interesting on the National Public Radio (NPR). One of the stories really made me think about how quickly things are happening, and how things that used to occur only in the realm of science fiction are appearing in everyday life.


Do you recall the Stuxnet computer worm, which was discovered in July 2010? It's now widely agreed that Stuxnet was designed to sabotage computer-controlled equipment 每 such as extremely complex and expensive centrifuges 每 in Iran's nuclear reactors.


Researchers studying the worm agree that Stuxnet was built by a really sophisticated and capable attacker 每 possibly a nation state. In fact, there's been a lot of speculation that the worm was created by America and/or Israel, but no one knows for sure.


Anyway, the reporter on NPR was saying that whoever originally created the worm, its inner workings are now known to everyone (well, perhaps not you and me, but lots of people and countries around the world). The problem is that the Department of Homeland Security is now extremely worried that groups with hostile intentions toward us could use modified versions of Stuxnet to mount cyber-attacks on all sorts of things, from power stations, to power distribution systems to water treatment plants to... the list goes on. I don't know about you, but I find this to be very, VERY scary.


As an aside, just in case you were wondering as to the difference between a computer worm and a computer virus, the Wikipedia has the following to say:


A computer worm is a self-replicating malware computer program, which uses a computer network to send copies of itself to other nodes (computers on the network) and it may do so without any user intervention. Unlike a computer virus, a worm does not need to attach itself to an existing program. Worms almost always cause at least some harm to the network, even if only by consuming bandwidth, whereas viruses almost always corrupt or modify files on a targeted computer.


Scientology
There are many religions in the world. In many cases I really have only a minimum amount of knowledge. Take Scientology, for example. Until recently, the most I knew was that it was founded by the science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard and that it had several famous followers, including Tom Cruise (I now understand that there are believed to be between 100,000 and 200,000 followers, most of whom live in the United States).


Well, I was just reading an article on Scientology in the November 2011 issue of Scientific American. It seems that at a meeting of a science fiction writers group in New York circa 1949, Hubbard was complaining about writing for "a penny a word". Another author (Lester del Ray) joked "What you really ought to do is create a religion because it will be tax free." So that's what Hubbard did, and the result is Scientology.


The really amazing thing is when you come to Scientology's "Creation Myth" (every religion has one 每 some of them are doozies). It seems that this used to be revealed only to those who had proved themselves worthy 每 typically by (a) paying many thousands of dollars and (b) by showing themselves to be susceptible to believing anything they were told. But Internet postings by ex-Scientologists and documents from court cases now mean that you and I can share the joy (grin). The story in a nutshell, quoted verbatim from the article in Scientific American 每 is as follows:


Around 75 million years ago Xenu, the ruler of a Galactic Confederation of 76 planets, transported billions of his charges in spaceships similar to DC-8 jets to a planet called Teegeeack (Earth). There they were placed near volcanoes and killed by exploding hydrogen bombs, after which their "thetans" (souls) remained to inhabit the bodies of future earthlings, causing humans today great spiritual harm and unhappiness that can be remedied through special techniques involving an Electropsychometer (E-meter) in a process called auditing.


Well, that sounds about right ... it all makes sense to me (grin). And, really ... when you come to think about it, 100,000+ believers (plus Tom Cruise) cannot all be wrong, can they? The only thing that's holding me back from racing down to my nearest Scientology recruiting station and pledging all of my life savings is my inability to reconcile the Scientology creation story with my absolute belief in a Flat Earth...


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