Sports are a fantastic distraction from the problems of the world. Watching Lonnie Chisenhall develop slowly over his career into a legitimate star is fun and entertaining even if it is not going to directly affect many of the things that matter. Distractions are important too. They build community and camaraderie, which people need to have to help soften the divide once we get to the stickier important stuff in life.
One of the issues though is that people in general might too easily be distracted even on these topics. It is easier to run with a couple one-liners from someone who you generally agree rather than dive into a 49 page CBO report to figure out what is in the current AHCA plan- let alone formulate individual opinions on it. It is far easier to become distracted with a possible fake TIME magazine cover of Trump hanging at a golf course than it is to worry about potential Syrian chemical attacks or discuss expanding the nuclear energy capabilities of the country.
The biggest distraction of 2017 has been Russia. Well, there are a bunch of potential scary items about Russia that could well matter not only in the relations with the United States, but also how we conduct elections, and more. We need to be patient and wait for the detailed investigations to find that information. In the meantime, most in the media like to just glom onto the TMZ-style headlines though as they generate ratings- aka money. CNN producer’s have even admitted as much, and have been embroiled in a bunch of scandals due to it.
On the other side, the Washington Post had a three-person byline with dozens of sources on a long-form article that detailed the Obama White House handling of the Russia scandal more in depth than had been reported thus far. The article- with main sources being ex-staffers of that White House- was critical of President Obama, Republican leaders, and many other parties from August through December of 2016.1
Rather than focus on the partisan politics though, my mind keeps wandering to another distraction with potential real implications for the future. That being the cyber attacks that have continually appeared in nearly every phase of our lives over the past few years. ISIS has been able to hack into government websites in Ohio and Maryland to put threatening messages on their pages. Y!Mail has reported over a billion accounts compromised, British hospitals and FedEx (among others) were exploited with malware attacks. We even had the St. Louis Cardinals hacking the Houston Astros database to steal information ahead of MLB drafts, trade deadlines, and free agency periods.
A wise man once said “Evil will always triumph over good because good is dumb.” Whether or not that is true, the fact that our election machines were hooked up to the internet suggests we are not the brightest when it is well known how prevalent attacks have been. It would be simple enough to hook up the units one of many central intranet stations to load the information onto them, then return them for counting once the vote is completed. Instead, the machines were allowed direct connect access to the internet. What could go wrong? According to the Washington Post story, nothing went wrong on Election Day, but there were hacks and attacks in the months and weeks leading up to it (again, none is expected to have had any effect on actual votes tallied or have suppressed any voters).
Not that anyone should be surprised. We live in a world where Facebook admitted to running experiments on altering the emotional state of their users. It was recently uncovered that they also hold a patent that would allow them to secretly monitor users through their webcam (and again, the stated purpose would be to monitor and change your mood for their amusement- err, profit). Umm, about Mark Zuckerberg potentially running for POTUS and having access to the NSA…
Oh, right, the NSA is the organization that might be overstepping their bounds of protecting the country from terrorism by monitoring citizens without a warrant and developing high tech viruses. Not that the agency would let 50TB of data walk out the door. Oh? Yeah, that happened too. The latest wave of cyber attacks this week are thought to have originated from those files, which is why businesses are calling for the NSA to help fight them. Good thing that automated cars hooked up to the cloud is not a thing currently being developed.
Nevermind. I don’t want to think about everything wrong with a world. I need a distraction. Have you seen my baseball?
- If you are going to read anything political, this piece is the best by far for the level of reporting and the important details divulged. [↩]