Friday, February 27, 2015

Is the world ready for a cyber 'Pearl Harbor?'

The man known as Mohammed Emwazi, "Jihadi John"
Carol Forsloff--Experts tell us the greatest threat to world security now is cyber terrorism; and with the uncovering of the identity of"Jihadi John," the ISIS member, Mohammed Emwazi, who beheaded citizens from a number of countries, the risk is underlined by the fact that he was studying computer sciences while becoming radicalized in Britain.  Is a cyber 'Pearl Harbor' possible?

The horror of beheading reminds us of the extreme measures used by terrorists to create fear.  But the perfect storm of problems can be caused by manipulating the money supply, power systems and government agencies by those with the sophistication with computers that can analyze and develop programs that are especially clever and difficult to detect.

Security analysts say that cyberwarfare is the greatest form of terrorism threatening the United States.  In fact they warn of the potential of a cyber "Pearl Harbor," a surprise attack that could create widespread harm that could confuse, frighten and likely kill and injure thousands.  Leon Panetta, former Secretary of Defense, warned in 2012 of the risks from cyberwarfare, but many analysts believed at the time it was principally theoretical.  However, recent comments from experts tell us it is now more than hypothetical and the possibility of a serious, surprise attack is real.

An attack of large proportions on the US power grid could cause massive casualties, security analysts tell us.  And there are not enough specialists in computer systems with the sophistication to stop any possible threat, which is of special concern to officials who are working hard to recruit students and professionals into the security business. 

Tara Maller is a former military analyst for the CIA and a research fellow with the National Security Studies program at the New America foundation had this to say about the potential of a major cyber attack.

"The capability is out there to launch a large-scale cyberattack resulting in loss of life or property damage, and potential targets are in some sense infinite, because everything is connected to computers in one way or the other.  But I do I think it is very likely another country would launch a cyber attack of this type on the U.S. right now?  No, because I think there is some level of cyber deterrence that exists between states."

Experts also tell us that a "cyber" Pearl Harbor could literally launch a world war. 

Concerns about cyber terrorism is not new.  In fact during the Reagan administration the President signed the Computer Security Act of 1987 that was passed to protect federal agencies' computer data.

But since 9/11 those concerns have increased with the bombings and attacks on property and civilians by terrorists in different countries around the world.  This has served to heighten worries about cyber terrorism and the potential dangers that might come from a surprise attack.

This month President Barack Obama announced the creation of a new Cybersecurity Agency that will be tasked with developing new and stronger methods of countering the potential of cyberattacks.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Pollyana people not too trusting or easily fooled

Carol Forsloff - Do people call you a "Pollyana," assuming you are so innocent you cannot tell when you are being duped?  Perhaps it is helpful to know science has found Pollyana people are actually better able to detect liars and not too trusting either.

Several years ago in a study done at the University of Toronto and published in the Social Psychological and Personality Science Journal researchers observed being a Pollyana as an intelligence indicator.

Polyanna is a character from a 1960 film that starred Hayley Mills and Jane Wyman.  The film's principal were seen as optimistic, with Aunt Polly setting the tone for trust and honesty.  Hayley Mills played Polyanna.    It was a film of good cheer with the message of hope and trust that resonated with
viewers at the time.  At the same time, some folks over the years point to these characters as cliches, representing naivete.  It was adapted from a well-known children's story by Eleanor H. Porter.

In the study, participants who had answered questionnaires about their level of trust in other people looked at  tapes of people undergoing job interviews and had to decide which ones were being truthful.  Some of the sample items were like these: "Most people are basically honest,"and "Most people are basically good-natured and kind." They then watched the videos, and rated the interviewees based on the perception they had of truthfulness and honesty.

The study found people high in trust more accurately identified liars than others.  The more trust they had in people, the better able they were to distinguish lies from truth.

 Co-authors Nancy Carter and Mark Weber of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto concluded from this research, "People who trust others are not pie-in-the-sky Pollyannas, their interpersonal accuracy may make them particularly good at hiring, recruitment, and identifying good friends and worthy business partners."

And what are some of the cues people use to detect lying.  Bette DePaulo and co-author Wendy Morris examined characteristics of liars, that Pollyana people and others might observe in detecting liars.  What they found in recent research is that liars take longer to answer questions than truth-tellers do.  They tend to start their answers faster and talk less as well.  They also seem more negative, complaining and nervous.

 So that friend or co-worker people tend to judge as too innocent or lacking ability to discern truth or reality may not only be able to detect liars better than average.  It might also be they are more apt to tell the truth as well, but that's something another Pollyana might be able to determine.

Monday, February 23, 2015

What everyone wants is a 'Window in Heaven'

Window of Heaven--a vision in nature and in life
Carol Forsloff---The loss of a loved one can create initial confusion and grief, along with a mix of other emotions; yet most of us believe there is continuity in life, even as we wish we could have just a peek through a Window in Heaven, to see each other as we once were, expressed in the musical eloquence of Kenny Herbert and Roy Mathews.

Herbert and Mathews reminds us of what many people believe is true, that there is something beyond the grave where peace and love are infinite.  His vision of the Window in Heaven is the glimpse of eternity, where there is no time but now, even if that is forever,  And his desire to have that window to see the life of the loved one unfold again behind the veil of death is what most of us wish we too could have when we lose someone especially dear to us.

Herbert and Mathews write, "Like a rose in the winter, that withers and dies.  Like the passing of time, through an older man's eyes, You stay in my memory, that I know won't fade.  You'll always be with me.  You're never away."
 The lyrics dance with the soothing melody as we find our own memories seem to pass through our minds as we listen to Herbert and Mathews' song and wish we too could have that Window in Heaven as well to see those we miss, yet trust we will see again in some special and wonderful place.
"If I had a Window in Heaven for a day; if I could see you just one last time.  Oh, I would be happy to know you're okay.  Yes, a window would be fine." 
 These words take our wishes and give them special meaning, for often we say, at the death of a friend, a loved one, a family member, "If I could only see (him/her) one last time."  This common expression is shared by many, whether a death is sudden or prolonged.

Yes, a Window in Heaven would be fine encapsulates the idea that the lives we touch can be meaningful, that our connections continue and that we see in our memories the loved ones who have died through the eyes of eternal youth.  For in life, and in death, there is no age, no time, and the once more can be a minute, a day, a year or a lifetime.  We can feel the dead in all of nature that surrounds us, for that too is part of life, the kind that lasts forever.

Listen and love again, feel again and be embraced by the tenderness of word and melody of a talented composer who expresses for all of us what we most want, as we travel through our own lives, to have that Window of Heaven for ourselves and all we love.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

U.S. citizens live with 'emotional terrorism'

Officers at DHS
Carol Forsloff---For years Homeland Security, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have said right-wing extremist groups and militias are a serious threat, as some of their members attempt recruitment online, even on blogger and newspaper sites, creating a form of “emotional terrorism.”

After an article on this site, a reader wrote in the comment section:
There is one issue that he has initiated (although inadvertently) that will make a percentage of the population of the U.S. safer sumdum, and I suggest you find your state branch.
 The 'Patriot' Movement Explodes. There were only 149 Militia groups/patriot groups in 2008. The American trust in obama has sent that number into a chain reaction of epic proportions and is growing momentum by the day. There are now as of 2011 1,274 and counting. Many have networked and are merging.

obama really is bringing True Americans closer together!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Why aging in place is not for everyone

Laurelhurst Park senior residence in Oregon is for those who need both independence and assistance
You may be one of those baby boomers who declares you don't want to live in assisted living or in some senior community, and you do not want your parents there either; but aging in place is not for everyone.

Experts tell us that although older people may be attached to their homes and believe it is the best place to live out their lives, the home in place may not be equipped to provide the activities and amenities for people to be able to adapt to the changes as they grow older.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The truth about breaking the enigma code

File:Enigma 1940.JPG
Machine Enigma, wikimedia commons, 1940
Editor's Note: Hollywood's history sometimes omits salient facts, opting for the broad-brushed version of a story.  But the details are often those that enlighten us the most, as they do in this story of the Polish contribution to code-breaking during World War II and given to us by Joseph Boltrukiewicz

Boltrukiewicz' article is important history with contemporary lessons.  His narrative serves as a reminder of how nations enlist the collaborative efforts of the best talent to solve complex problems during war, no matter where those efforts may come. It also allows us all to acknowledge the contributions of others whom we may not know about who may have the expertise in solving those problems others cannot. as well in winning wars or capturing an enemy that may not be easily found.  Boltrukiewicz helps us realize that from someone or some thing outside of one's national borders might come the key to victory when location and tactics of an elusive enemy are needed.