Superficiality v.1.26

Have you ever wondered about your life and where you are? Have you ever thought that maybe if you had just tried a little bit harder in your second year of college in differential equations that you might not be where you are today? Have you ever wondered what differential equations are?
I’ve thought about the effor that I put forth in college, dwelling on memories from the past, even though I know that I should try not to dwell on thoughts of despairity. I admit that in my own college undergraduate career that I could have worked harder, that I could have been more committed to my major. But looking back I see that if I had, I would have been in an even more stressful situation today as a graduate student looking for my “original thought” so that I could get my PhD.
So where do I end up? Well, working as a computer scientist, working with all sorts of information systems, learning how networks talk to one another, finding out how insecure somethings are and how secure others are and working with people that have low ambitions. My dream job? I’m not sure to be honest, it’s got a lot of flexibility, but it’s more just adjusting to people that aren’t risk takers, people that aren’t willing to put forward new ideas and through a pragmatic nature develop new and better, efficent ways of doing things.
If I had gone the road that is more traveled – going to graduate school, life would be different, I’d still be in school, working my tail off and never seeing the light of day, getting very little appreciation. Of course, I guess that’s not too different than what most of experience in the real world.
Working very hard and getting little appreciation. Whether it’s if we volunteer with a church or group or some sort of philanthorpy, it seems that relationships are more of the “I-it” nature rather than the “I-thou”, others just using us when they need and not really caring how we’re doing otherwise.
“House, you sound as though you’re depressed, why don’t you go hang out with friends and let them cheer you up.”
What so that I can sit there and listen to the superficial nature of others knowing that if they want to get the optimal performance from me that they need to suck up to me? That if they throw a party in my honor, but never speak to me outside of that, that all will be well and I’ll do things out of kindness for them?
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy helping others out, I feel bad knowing that I can help someone to better understand something or fix something that they aren’t quite sure how to. But, to never have someone say, “Thank you,” and really recognize that you’ve helped them? Most people would say, “Well House, you’re vulnerable and let yourself get walked over.” Yet at the same time, these are the very people that are doing the walking.
Then what am I to do? Be assertive? Be boastful? Join in the superficial nature of others?
What good is there in that? How is edifying to others?
The Bible states that I should rejoice in all things, and I do try to. I see my current situation as a learning experience, a time to truly rest in God. I know that I am where I am for a reason, but I’m still trying to find out what that is.

Nonetheless, I’m more than welcome to your comments, besides it would be nice to know someone actually reads this from time to time.

Do You Remember The Time…

Yahoo! News is running a story entitled: Study: False Memories Easily Implanted.
It really starts to make me wonder how often we have memories and thoughts implanted into our cerebral neural networks by politicians, corporations and consumer groups. For instance, the study reports how people are often asked if they remember Bugs Bunny at Disney World and apparently quite a few people said yes. Now, this leads us to two different theories – a) people are honestly having memories implanted into their minds, or b) people are friggin’ stupid.
I remember in college, sitting in the back of a religious studies course and a gal wearing a sorority t-shirt turned and asked me, “Which war was it that we dropped the nuclear bomb on Japan, world war one or two?” This alone leads me to believe that my assertion that the majority of people in the US are “friggin’ stupid.” My apologies to those of you that might be offended by this theory, but I’m sure that you’ll let it go in five minutes when you’re back to playing your X-box or watching your reality television programs.
“Well maybe that was just the sorority girl that didn’t know,” you might say in defence of the rest of the population.
This brings me to my second thought on the stupidity or lack of education of America is when I begin seeing studies and papers published on things that should be common sense to society. Sure, I admit that PhD candidates are running out of different paper topics, but I’m starting to wonder about them as well.
So why this incessant ranting? Actually no reason whatsoever, I’m just curious to hear what you all think.
Day after day I hear how our children’s education is far better than what it was ten years ago. I agree that there are many new technologies out there, but I don’t think that there are any new innovations in teaching core subjects of history, english and language to be quite honest. Sure, we might have activities that are online, but what use is that when all that students want to do is sit and talk on instant messenger or play online games?

Information Security – A National Perspective

A few days ago while watching CNN, I realized something that was quite daunting that the press doesn’t really seem to understand. First a little background… I do a bit of information security work for my company, but also in addition to that, I read about security and what not like it’s my job (oh wait, it is), but I’m talking on my off hours when most people are sitting back and drinking Corona (mmmm, good with lime). So it startled me the other day when watching CNN and realized that having a free press could be a great strength, but at the same time a very weak link.
It is true that the press tends to be able to shed light on situations, presenting all sides and facets of a situation (after reading through eight or nine different news accounts with different spins, you can generally get the whole picture). However, at the same time, when reporting how different agencies are handling and dealing with different “scares” and “false alarms” and “incidents” you give your enemy a picture of what it is that you’re doing. Call it passive reconnaisance if you like. It’s like the raptors in Jurassic Park II. They would jump and touch different portions of fence, strength testing it. Computer Hacker’s tend to do the same thing. Rather than launching a full force attack, they merely toss up a port scan or see how many times till the system locks out their IP address for not being able to put in a correct password for a user name.
By having the news cover all of this, yes, it tells us that they care and that they’re doing everything that they can to make sure that situations are handled properly, however they’re also giving any enemy a sneak peak into how the organization runs, also giving them an idea of where to strike the help so that it cannot help.
Bank robbers use this practice too – seeing what the response time is for the police to get to the bank that they’re robbing. If you’ve seen Ocean’s Eleven then you know that “organized” crime attempts to plan things out, gathering as much information as they can so that they don’t get caught.
Am I the only person that notices this? For a computer hacker or bank robber to get information they typically have to practice some sort of “Social Engineering” in that they are deceitful as to their identity and get information that they they’re after. It’s almost as though we’re showing our cards to the rest of the table, still expecting to win at this hand of poker. By having the press continually talk about the readiness and policies and procedures that are in place, there is a bit of anxiety relief that the public no longer suffers from, but at the same time, it’s like poker, your opponent knows exactly how you’re playing your cards.
Of course we do have the flip side of all this. If we limit the press to one viewpoint, one vantage point, then we are only making our own lives even harder as we have locked ourselves down to one perspective, one view. It would be like going to Baskin Robbins, all 31 flavours are exactly identical. Definitely a catch 22. Post your comments though, I’m interested to hear what you all think.