Author Archives: deanwebb

Heartbreaker

Dr. Borden exhaled and dabbed the sweat from her forehead before proceeding into the most critical part of the operation. She drew a deep, competitive breath and moved the precision mouse to aim the laser directly at the point of incision. With a click, the aorta would-

The screen went black, then a logon screen appeared.

“What the plokha budding spore?!?! What the spore just happened?”

Dr. Borden regained her composure and typed in her username and password – the patient was undergoing open heart surgery, there was no time to lose!

Agony of ages as the dots blinked in their circular path.

Username and/or password incorrect. Next login attempt in 00:05.

“SPORE SPORE BUDDING SPORE BUDDING EFFDISKING BUDDING K’CHORTU BUDDING SPORE!”

Dr. Borden didn’t want this to be the first patient she would lose on the table, but it was looking increasingly that way. He was somewhere in Alberta, wherever the meddrone landed, and she was in Atlanta, where the workstation ran in her Midtown apartment. She was doing everything to keep her mind down-to-earth and focused, but found that rage did all it could to take over.

Her mind raced – how long had it been since things went dark? Would the meddrone AI be able to abort the operation in time to save the patient’s life? Oh God, he is so effdisked if that AI doesn’t figure out there’s no doctor on the other end.

Because this was the third time Dr. Borden tried to log on to her workstation and the third time it kicked her back, this time with a caution she only had one shot left and that maybe she ought to call tech support before using that chance.

There was no way to call the meddrone, as those things were sealed off as far as comms went. There was only one way to talk to the meddrone directly, and for Dr. Borden, it was on the other side of a logon screen.

She called the number for her hospital’s tech support. Ringing. Well, at least it’s not down. Chortu, but that’s a lot of ringing. Well, let it ring, someone might die today if Dr. Borden shrugs her shoulders and becomes fatalistic in philosophy. She waits out the machine-induced stress.

And a machine answers. On an emergency line, it takes time to explain how the options may have changed recently and offers up a universe of choices, all a press of a digit away. Effdisk that, Dr. Borden presses zero. A human eventually speaks.

“Aetilus Medical Solutions help desk, this is Raj. May I get your employee username?”

“Eborden. E as in echo, b as in bravo, o as in oscar, r as in Romeo, d as in delta, e as in echo, n as in November.” Dr. Borden hated it whenever eborden sounded like edorgom. Spelling was usually faster than going over it twice.

“Dr. Elizabeth Borden, is this correct?”

“Yes. A man may be dying, please check if meddrone A as in alpha, 3447-”

“I’m sorry, Dr. Borden, I’m not able to contact meddrones. I’d have to escalate for that.”

“Please escalate, za’chortu.”

“There will be a, uh… oh, spore, a 30-minute wait.”

What the budding spore? 30 budding minutes? Might as well be 30 budding years! Even so… “Chortu, just get me in that queue.”

46 minutes later, a human spoke to Dr. Borden. “Hello, Dr. Borden? You there?”

“Yes. Contact meddrone A as in alpha, 3447-1369-0003.”

“A as in alpha, 3447-1369-0003. Got it. One moment… I’m sorry, I’m not getting a status, I’ll try again.”

“Do you know what’s going on?”

“Some kind of outage, that’s all I know.”

“Chortu… I desoxy-ed for this. All right, that meddrone number I gave you, it’s involved in a heart operation in Alberta. I need verification that it aborted the operation successfully and the patient status. Text me as soon as you got that info. I can’t log on to my workstation.”

“Yeah, none of the remote staff can log on. I’ve got the status query queued up for the drone and your number associated with it. Can I do anything else?”

“Nope. I’m needled. Cheers.” Dr. Borden touched her phone and the call ended.

Hopped up on the desoxy, Dr. Borden started to shake as she lost anything specific to focus on. Suddenly, she became aware of her heart rate and the blood being shoved pell-mell through her circulatory system. Don’t panic, Dr. Borden. You know how to ride out this part of the desoxy run.

The door opened and closed. Dr. Borden brought herself out of her trance state to see her boyfriend Teddy. “Hey babe.”

Teddy set stuff down on the table, even though he wasn’t supposed to. “Hey Lizzie. How’d the operation go?”

“Pffft.”

“Oh God.”

“No idea how the patient is, everything just cut out on me.”

Teddy pulled up a chair near Dr. Borden. The workstation screen was dark. A light blinked on Dr. Borden’s phone. Teddy didn’t know what to say. Someone, somewhere, connected to his girlfriend, could be dead.

Dr. Borden picked up her phone, but the light was just for a FriendFace notification. Apparently, one of her associates was a real slug and had gone fascist, from the content in his post. She unfriended him. “Budding fascist loser.” No word from Aetilus tech support.

“Budding what?”

Dr. Borden shook her head, “Nothing. Someone I went to high school with is now a fascist and dead to me. Hey, I did desoxy for this operation and I need something to focus on, or I’m gonna lose it.”

Teddy reached for the string of prayer beads Dr. Borden kept by her keyboard. She grabbed them and began to run them through her fingers like there was no tomorrow. Once you give a soxer something to do, they’ll do it. They just can’t give themselves something to do.

After a few minutes with the beads, Dr. Borden felt like she could talk and manipulate them at the same time. “What do you think caused the outage?” Teddy was a nerd. He knew answers to questions like that. He was a really cute nerd and fun to have around.

“Did it affect just you or a bigger group?”

“Guy said it took all the budding remote users out. No comms to meddrones.”

“Wow. That’s big.”

“You think it was terrorists?”

“Could be. More likely, it was someone stupid.”

Dr. Borden laughed. Teddy elaborated on the stupid. “So… it could be that someone turned off your time server. That would kill off your ability to log on remotely. Or maybe your computer cert expired. No, stupider, the root cert expired.”

Dr. Borden laughed even more. “I have no budding clue what that means! God, I love you!”

Yeah, she wasn’t doing any more operations today, system restoration or not. “Well, a root cert, that-”

“Shhhh! Explaining is boring! Just list off all the stupid stuff.”

Teddy knew better than to try and argue with a soxer. Last thing you want a soxer to focus on is a budding argument. “Um, OK, the VPN hub could be offline, uh… the directory service got swamped and went down… date field problem, oh spore! Do you know if your IT guys took care of your Y38 problem?”

Dr. Borden laughed harder, kinda maniacally now. It was time for the bell-1. She needed to come down off of this before she broke down.

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

Dr. Borden opened her eyes and looked around. There was a little drool on her cheek, which was typical of a bell-1 cooldown. She sat up on the sofa and saw the blinking light on her phone. She reached over to the desk and picked up her phone. A swipe later, then a code, then a DNA pulsecheck, and she was in. The light was for a text.

The text was from tech support Raj. Spore, it was 7 hours ago! Must have texted Dr. Borden right after Teddy gave her the bell-1 dose.

Oh, chortu. The guy died. Dr. Borden sighed and scrolled. OK, so the meddrone did shut things down gracefully, so it was just his heart failing post-op, which was always a risk, regardless of how the operation went. Poor old dude and his now-dead carcass.

Dr. Borden texted back to Raj, what was cause of outage?

Company cert expired, sorry was Raj’s response.

Dr. Borden wondered why “cert expired” made her laugh a little.

Time to even things out with some zebra and ibuprofen. And some mango juice.

Teddy was in the kitchen. “Hey, I’m up.”

“Sleep ok?”

“Pffft. That spore’s not sleep.” She got the juice and then rummaged in the cabinet for the zebra and ibuprofen.

“How did the patient do, if I could ask?”

Dr. Borden downed the drugs and took a shot of mango juice. “Operation ended OK, but he died post-op. Not my fault, still sad. I’m taking zebra to even things out.”

“You also took something for the headaches, right?”

“I’m not an idiot, Teddy.”

“Hey, just checking. They say what caused the outage?”

“Cert expired, whatever that means.” Dr. Borden laughed again and felt weird about laughing. Was she going psychotic?

“It means nobody was checking one of the most important pieces of computer security, the thing probably being used to establish your VPNs and channels back to the drones and stuff. And the time on it ran out right in the middle of your operation.”

Dr. Borden was level enough to want to understand that. “Hold on. You mean to tell me that a company that knows precisely how long I’m functional on a dose of desoxy and how long it takes to do an operation and how long it takes to run drones over seven continents can’t keep time on the one thing that’s gonna tie them all together? Holy budding spore.”

“Well, that’s how you guys make money. Nobody makes a dime watching a calendar for a cert to expire. They know when licenses are due because someone else makes money with those. But certs?”

“Pffft.”

“Yeah, Pffft. That’s when they call me up. You remember when Charleston had that power outage last month?”

“That was an expired cert?”

“Yep. So was the Athens Supermax Riot. Cert expired, all the doors opened.”

Dr. Borden shuddered at that thought. That was too close to home. She still worked remotely, but those meddrones were trauma center models, only 60 miles away. And that was just three months ago. Images of the carnage still popped up in her mind if she wasn’t vigilant about her thoughts.

Now she had a question.

“Teddy?”

“Yeah?”

“Tell me… What is a cert and how does it expire?”

Again, Dr. Borden laughed for a reason she did not know.

Spirituality and Suffering

As I read more about Rabbi Kalonymous Shapira, who served as a rabbi in the Warsaw Ghetto during the years of Nazi occupation, “The Years of Wrath”, I arrive at his thoughts regarding the connections between spirituality and suffering. This is a man who was forced to experience not just a depth of human suffering, but, as he put it, a depth within a depth. I would do well to pay close attention to what he has to teach.

To begin with, he makes the connection between hearing or reading about suffering and actually experiencing it. The two are completely different. This I know from my own experience, so I know that the kinds of suffering I have not endured are academic only to me. Nevertheless, those who endure those sufferings can describe methods they used to cope with it. Should I face that suffering, I can rely upon their teaching in order to pass through it myself, with my soul and identity intact.

I know this because of how I used those methods and teachings to help me through my times of deep loss and crisis. When Rabbi Shapira speaks about areas of his sufferings in common with my experience and how he worked through them, I find that what worked for me also worked for him. So, when he speaks of areas where I do not have common experience with him, I trust in what worked for him. Heaven forbid, should I have to endure such things as he did, I will strive to endure them in the way he endured them.

While there are discussions about how sufferings can make us more spiritual once we have finished with that suffering and can reflect upon it, a sort of reflection upon answered prayers and tiny miracles, what do we do when our prayers for deliverance are answered with deeper suffering, the depth within the depth? What do we do when we think we can go no further, and then the road before us appears to be longer than we think we can survive? What do we do, to put it in raw setting, when we find ourselves in the Warsaw Ghetto on the eve of its liquidation, after having passed through plagues of Typhus, starvation on rations of a hundred calories a day, brutal murders in plain sight, horrors of the unrestrained and unfiltered brutality and hatred expressed by the Nazis? What do we do?

Rabbi Shapira’s answer is that we not consider the worldly end of the suffering. He turned to the martyrdom of Akiva, which happened in the Roman persecutions after the Bar Kochba revolt: Akiva said that he had always been willing to give his life for God – why should he turn away when that moment actually arrives?

More than that, Rabbi Shapira wrestled with questions about the existence of evil. While some have felt that evil is incompatible with the idea of a just and loving God, or even a God at all, Rabbi Shapira passed through that very evil and was able to state that evil did not matter. There is still a God, and it matters not what choices others may have made: those choices and their horrific impact do not negate or invalidate the existence of God. Nor do they invalidate the existence of a just and loving God. He is who he is, and we await the day of His judgment.

Rabbi Shapira taught that as persecution deepens, we must ourselves deepen our study and commitment to God. He noted that such deepening of study and commitment was next to impossible, especially as the repeated atrocities numbed the soul. It was to fight against that numbness that he encouraged the study and the commitment. Who is left to save if the body has become just a shell for the inner organs, the spirit within having perished from the psychic battering of repeated, unrelenting horrors?

No, we read more, we pray more, we make our observances more. We must fight that darkness that seeks to encompass us, in our depths within our depths. Even if we know we are to go to our deaths, we go to our death with our soul intact.

Will I go through such things as Rabbi Shapira endured? Maybe. I’m a member of a religious minority in a nation flirting with fascism. Such things could come to pass, where I cry out for rescue and deliverance, only to be faced with depth within depth of suffering. But if I can cry out from a depth, I can cry out from the depths, but I must prepare myself now, that I might have the spirituality developed in a time of peace to draw upon during years of wrath.

Spirituality does not end suffering. It does not mitigate the pain. It can, in fact, sharpen the pain and make us more aware of what we are enduring. But it does give us a path to draw ourselves up to face that suffering with dignity and faith. It gives us the ability to be patient and long-suffering. It gives us the ability to see to the eventual end of that suffering, even if it is in a day that comes after our own physical death. As long as we go to our death with our spirits still alive in faith, we are victorious over that suffering.

I believe in God, and I trust Him to be just and loving. I have had too many spiritual experiences in my life to believe otherwise. Yes, I have lost a son in a senseless tragedy. But my faith teaches me where he is, who he is with, and how to get there. Why should I refrain from finding joy in God’s mercy, even when I endure such a depth? Even so, if I am plunged into a depth within a depth, why should I be any less of a man than Rabbi Shapira or even Akiva? Their example, their wisdom, and their teaching, may that all be part of my life and how I endure all things.

It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More

When I was in Boy Scouts, I learned a song that has stuck with me for the rest of my years thus far. It’s called “It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More”, and it’s a rousing, irreverent tune that’s a load of fun to sing. The chorus is simple:

It ain’t gonna rain no more no more
It ain’t gonna rain no more
How in the heck can I wash my neck
If it ain’t gonna rain no more

Since I’m a Cubmaster once more, I thought I’d collect the verses I liked best and compose some ones of my own. Here goes:

Bullfrog sitting on a lily pad
He looked up at the sky
The lily pad broke and the frog fell in
He got water all in his eye

Skeeter he fly high
And skeeter he fly low
Skeeter he land on my arm
(smack your arm) He ain’t gonna fly no mo’!

Peanut sitting on the railroad track
Its heart was all a-flutter
Around the bend came Number four
Toot! Toot! Peanut butter

Noah built himself an ark
Got animals two by two
And pretty soon he had himself
The world’s first floating zoo

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck
If a woodchuck could chuck wood?
If he held a saw in his little paw
A ton of wood he could

The Grand Old Duke of York
He had ten thousand mens
But when he counted chickens
He had ten thousand hens

Man lived by the sewer
And by the sewer he died
They couldn’t call it murder
So they called it sewercide

The mice are very quiet
As they skitter all about
But if you ask, “Who wants some cheese?”
Then you’ll hear them shout

A cow walked on the railroad track
The train was coming fast.
The train got off the railroad track
To let the cow go past

I found myself a new pet dog
A strangely-shaped old fella
He’s wide and flat, his tail won’t bend
He makes a fine umbrella

A pig and a hen went for a walk
Just to stretch their legs,
A motorcar came round the bend,
Toot! Toot! Ham and eggs.

I never saw a purple cow
I never hope to see one
But I can tell you anyhow
I’d rather see than be one.

 

The Nah’wadass Sourcebook: The Wisdom of the Binyaelim People

The Binyaelim were a minority group in many Nah’wadass cities, primarily engaged in trade ventures, particularly those in the textile industry. In the countryside along the banks of the rivers of the land, there were a number of Binyaelim villages where they were able to assert their own laws on a local level, as per tradition under most of the Law-Kings of the Nah’wadass. It is known that the Binyaelim themselves arrived within the lands of the Nah’wadass early in the years of their written history. Binyaelim records speak of their flight from a powerful empire to the far south of the Nah’wadass, most likely the Early Dynasty of the Koss Empire. As one of many minority groups within the lands of the Nah’wadass, we can learn from their writings what the Nah’wadass would – and would not – tolerate among their subject peoples.

These writings, part of the Binyaelim Thalmadh, were most likely compiled around the zenith of Nah’wadass prosperity, 500-700 years after their earliest writings. These were selected from different parts of the Thalmadh and illustrate Binyaelim attitudes regarding the Nah’wadass. It is to be understood that, in the matter of a question-answer or debate section, the final opinion is the wisdom to be followed.

Teacher Ismar, Son of Elmar, said, “We sell cloth and clothing, that we may not put weapons in the hands of our enemies.” Teacher Ofed, Son of Paman, asked, “Is it right, then, that we are made to serve in the iron trade for the Nah’wadass?” Teacher Ismar, Son of Elmar answered, “They give us protection, to procure iron for the Nah’wadass is like unto giving a meal to a brother.”

Teacher Elmar, Son of Oferan, said, “The Nah’wadass revere the green under the snows. Truly, they look to the same hope of life after life that we revere. Therefore, it is not wrong to give unto them that which they ask for their rites.”

Teacher Oferan, Son of Afermar, said, “When a man of the Nah’wadass comes unto us and asks to be numbered among us, we must bring him before the Law-Master for his judgment in the matter. When a woman or child of the Nah’wadass comes unto us and asks to be numbered among us, we must bring them before the husband or father for his judgment in the matter. When a slave of the Nah’wadass comes unto us and asks to be numbered among us, we shall first purchase him and then take him as before the Law-Master for his judgment in the matter. If he is granted leave to join with our number, he shall be set free as a captive of our people is set free. If he is not granted leave, then he shall serve our people and we shall petition each year for leave, that we might move the heart of the Law-Master with our many entreaties.”

Teacher Ofrain, Son of Elmar, asked, “And what of those who we set free as captives that stay not numbered with our people, who sin and transgress our laws?” Teacher Oferan, Son of Afermar, answered, “What do we do with our own number who sin and transgress our laws? They are as the same if they have entered into our number with our ceremonies.” Teacher Ofrain, Son of Elmar, said, “We do not set them free until they have entered into our number with our ceremonies.”

Teacher Oferan, Son of Afermar, said, “Wear not the masks and the robes, as the Nah’wadass do.” Teacher Belermar, Son of Belermar, asked, “What then if the Nah’wadass wish one of us to be a student?” Teacher Oferan, Son of Afermar replied, “We are not taught by the Nah’wadass, for we are an older people and have already been taught by tyrants in the infancy of our nation.” Teacher Ofrain, Son of Elmar, asked, “What, are we not to be esteemed in the lands of our exile? Are not to show our worthiness as servants of our rulers?” Teacher Oferan, Son of Afermar, said, “When the Nah’wadass have a matter for us, are they so foolish as to not know who our teachers are? Even among strangers, the wise man shall find his brother.”

Teacher Belermar, Son of Belermar, said, “Truly we are as blessed as the Nah’wadass. Their ancestors speak through their masks, and ours speak through our writings.”

Teacher Ismar, Son of Elmar, said, “When a Master or King asks a teacher among us to lend a shoulder to a King’s task, count it as an honor and go and serve.”

Teacher Ismar, Son of Elmar, said, “When the Priest-Master of the Nah’wadass asks for a sacrifice of earth, do not give that which has been trod upon. When the Priest-Master of the Nah’wadass asks for a sacrifice of water, do not give that which is downstream or which comes from our baths. When the Priest Master of the Nah’wadass asks for a sacrifice of fire, do not give that which comes from our altars.” Teacher Ofed, Son of Paman, said, “We show respect with what we offer, but we must respect first our own baths and altars, then we respect those of our friends.”

Teacher Oferan, Son of Afermar, said, “When we are compelled to share a meal with a Master or King, eat not the meat offered, and we sin not.”

Teacher Elmar, Son of Oferan, said, “If a woman has issue, forbid her from the baths and the altars, but forbid her not from the market or the congregation. For the law of our people rules over the baths and the altars, but the law of the friend and protector rules over the market and congregation.”

Teacher Ismar, Son of Elmar, said, “When we receive money for the purchase of slaves for to free them, let us free our own people with our own money. But when our neighbor gives unto us money and says, ‘Here, go forth and purchase the freedom of my kinsmen with this money,’ then let us go forth and purchase the freedom of his kinsmen as if they were our own.”

Teacher Ofed, Son of Paman, said, “Mock not the ways of the righteous neighbor, who does good to our people. Our neighbor has not our law, he is free to do as he pleases. Teach the First Law to all those not of our people, and let that suffice.”

The Law-King Odetamewe Edatawess said, “Behold, Teacher Ofed, Son of Paman, I protect you with my laws.” Teacher Ofed, Son of Paman, said, “I protect you, Law-King Odetamewe Edatawess, with my righteous obedience to your laws.” The Law-King Odetamewe Edatawess said, “Behold, it is as you and I have spoken.”

The Law-King Odetamewe Edatawess said, “Teacher Ismar, Son of Elmar, give unto me a sacrifice worthy of my station.” Teacher Ismar, Son of Elmar, said, “Here, O Law-King Odetamewe Edatawess, is my heart which does serve thee, my mind which doth obey thee, my hands that do work for thee in thy lands, and my mouth that does teach the law in thy lands.” The Law-King Odetamewe Edatawess said, “Surely, these four sacrifices that flow from thee unto me are worthy of my station, would that all my people were like unto Teacher Ismar, Son of Elmar.”

BlacKKKlansman Reaction

Saw “BlacKKKlansman” last night. Very powerful drama, very timely film. Spike Lee’s script takes the right-wing white-supremacist wink-wink phrases and places them in their full context. When someone buys into one or two of the lines they use, it’s easier to start going with the rest of their hateful flow.
 
If you think you’re not a racist, and you don’t see where Donald Trump is being a racist, then you need to re-think about whether or not you’re a racist. Why? Because I plan to call it out even more so than I’ve done in the past. I don’t care if it makes you uncomfortable. Racism should not be a comfortable position.
 
I think there is a place for conservative views in America. I’m very sympathetic towards many of them. But I’m not going to stand on the same side as racists. I’m going to call them out and denounce them. If you want to speak out against the excesses of liberals, please do. But first, denounce the racism that has infected so much of the conservative movement in the USA. Conservatives have needed to clean house since 1964, when the racists began to move like roaches from the Democratic party to the Republican one. Instead of accepting those votes, they need to turn them away.
 
The saying “Make America Great Again” applies only if you think a Black president was a disaster. It logically equates with turning back the clock on Civil Rights. If you believe that all people are created equal and that every adult in the USA deserves the right to vote, and to have those votes fairly counted and not gerrymandered, then you need to step away from that racist MAGA falsehood.
 
America’s greatness is in its principles of equality, rights, and freedoms. Racism, intolerance, and authoritarianism take away from our greatness as a nation. Trump and his most dedicated supporters promote racism, intolerance, and authoritarianism. If you’re not a racist, not intolerant, and not a jackbooted authoritarian, I don’t see how you can maintain those positions with an uncritical support of Trump.
 
And if you think you can maintain those positions with an uncritical support of Trump, then what is keeping you from joining the Klan? Or the American Nazi Party? The Aryan Nation? The League of the South? The Holocaust Deniers? What keeps you from joining with them? Ask carefully, because *they* have joined *you*.

Blind Spot

Nick Vendor poked his head into the office, via a door left open. Nobody was in the office, but the time was 10:00, and Nick had a 10 o’clock meeting in Cecil Oh’s office, so Nick went in and got comfortable.

Getting comfortable meant sitting in the chair closest to the wall and angling it so that he could see both Cecil’s desk and the door to the office. Nick was a security pro, and was paid to be paranoid.

A few minutes after ten, Cecil Oh bustled in and smiled at Nick, “Sorry I’m late, but you know how it is.”

Nick nodded. Everyone from manager on up was always running late, everywhere he went. A CISO at big company was certainly no exception.

Just behind Cecil was Dirk Rector, the IT Director, and Cissy Tantisso, the assistant CISO. Cissy closed the door behind her and all sat in chairs around Cecil’s desk.

Cecil answered two emails and then said, “OK, sorry about that delay, but here we go. We’re here to meet with Nick Vendor here, who is going to give us his network health check assessment. He’s been scanning and probing for a few days, so we’re all eager to hear what he’s found.”

Nick smiled through that “eager to hear” part. Everyone’s eager to hear, but not everyone is so eager to have had heard. There was always at least some bad news in a network health check assessment. Today, the amount of bad news was somewhat more than just “some”.

Cecil held his hands towards Nick and said, “It’s all yours, sir.”

Nick nodded, smiled, and did his best to front-load the cushiony stuff. “Thanks very much, Cecil, and thanks of course to Cissy and Dirk for all the cooperation you and your teams have provided me in this past week. I really do appreciate all the work they’ve done to help me. They certainly helped me to have a little fun as I did my assessment and they were more than helpful in providing me with information about different device types and systems you have installed here at Amalgamated Potrzebie. They’ve been a great help.”

Cissy, Dirk, and Cecil all nodded in appreciation of Nick’s thanks.

Nick shifted in his chair. “So, let’s get to the numbers. About 70% or so of your Windows PCs are managed in SCCM and a similar percentage are up to date on their AV. Dirk’s got the action to follow up with the desktop team to close the gap with the other 30%.

“Macintosh systems, there’s only a few hundred of those, but they’re all pretty much managed centrally. There were, like, 10, that weren’t. We know where they are and Dirk’s Mac team will follow up on those. It’s just a small office, right?”

Dirk agreed. “It’s a marketing team in our Pittsburgh campus, that’s correct.”

“Thanks. Linux.”

Everyone took a deep breath for Linux. They all knew they had a problem there, but they still had to hear about it.

“Linux… well, these developers have not yet embraced the idea that they have to install a security client on their test boxes.”

Dirk objected. “Well, hold on there. That client doesn’t work on all flavors of Linux.”

Cissy said, “We need to stop using those flavors, then. We can’t have developers deciding what risks we accept.”

Cecil grinned, “Yeah, if someone else says ‘I’ll accept the risk’, what am I here for?”

As she finished chuckling, Cissy said, “I’ll take the to-do for getting dev to standardize on Linux.”

Nick said, “Good. That will go a long way towards getting Linux in line.” He took a deep breath, deeper than the one for Linux. “That brings us to embedded devices. We’ll start with embedded Windows, the badge readers at the entrances first. Those devices are active on the O-Sheet Botnet, nearly all of them. The botnet software listens on port 80, HTTP, and determines if it’s botnet communications or if it should hand off to the legit software that uses HTTP. So, if we block port 80, we block both the botnet and the device, which means nobody gets in at that location.”

Cecil sat forward. “Wait, what? A botnet?”

“Yes sir. A botnet in practically all your badge readers. It can infect other devices from those badge readers, as well. That’s basically where the local command and control software is located. Your IPS will block north-south traffic, so it won’t get to the data center, but the east-west stuff is wide open.”

Cecil sat back. “Recommendation?”

Nick grimaced. “Honestly? Rip them all out and get a new system, one that either doesn’t use port 80 or one that doesn’t use a network connection at all. These were all installed with the vendor’s default admin credentials still active, which is probably how they were able to be compromised.”

“Any way to remediate in place?”

Nick shook his head. “It’s embedded legacy Windows. No way to really get in there and make any changes unless we’ve got our own red team to write custom code to pop the devices and clean out the malware. Even then, there could be another zero-day exploit that comes to light and then you’re back to where you are now. And this is just the start.”

Cecil had a panicky tone to his voice. “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa – give me the big numbers, let’s start with that.”

“Amalgamated Potrzebie has a large number of industrial and security control devices that show indicators of compromise. Close to 40% of your IoT devices are showing signs of compromise.”

Dirk asked, “How many of those are on our production floors?”

Nick looked at his spreadsheet, did a quick bit of math in his head. “Maybe 20-25% of your production systems are compromised, but the compromised devices tend to be concentrated in certain facilities. You’ve got most that are still clean, but a good chunk that are shot through-” Nick corrected his language. “- showing about 80-90% compromised.” It was important to leave out hyperbolic adjectives when delivering news of this magnitude.

Dirk’s next question: “Any of those compromised lines in Council Bluffs or Little Rock?” Cecil and Cissy looked at each other with trepidation. Those were the facilities with Defense contracts.

“Yes, both.”

Dirk spoke to Cecil and Cissy. “We have got to get those cleaned out, as soon as possible. We can’t keep our contracts with that kind of threat active in the environment.”

Cissy responded, “Hold on, we don’t even know what’s compromised in those locations. Nick?”

Nick looked over the list. “Temperature gauges, badge readers, security cameras, the time clocks, well time clocks just in Council Bluffs – Little Rock clocks are fine, um… the digital signage is infected, as are the smart light bulbs in the Woodbridge building in Little Rock… ummm… oh, crap.”

Cecil didn’t like that. “Excuse me?”

“I didn’t see this earlier, and I apologize for that oversight, but all your Philly switches on the production floors are basically being run by a group outside of AP.”

“What?”

“There’s a feature on those models to allow for easier automatic upgrading, but it’s vulnerable to an attack. Basically, send a packet to the port used for auto-upgrade and you get a root prompt. We can’t access the devices, but there’s a stream of traffic running between those boxes and a TOR node.”

Cecil didn’t believe it. “No way, we block all manufacturing traffic from the Internet. It’s a segmented environment.”

Nick held up his hand. “It’s not segmented. There’s a vendor-owned Windows 2008 server that bridges traffic between those lines and the Internet. It’s basically on a DSL line and hasn’t been patched since 2010.”

“Who’s paying for the DSL line?”

Nick shrugged his shoulders. “Probably whoever paid for it in 2010 and then never did a budget review since then. At any rate, we recommend not turning off the server, since we don’t know what happens when the communication line is severed. You could wind up losing your switches and maybe other production line equipment that’s connected to them. As for the Philly switches, I do have a note here to check the rest of your sites for this issue. I just didn’t have enough time to finish that part before our meeting here.”

“OK, well, I’m going to want you to follow up our discussion here with a complete check of those Philly switches.” Cecil felt a pit opening up in his stomach.

Dirk and Cissy looked at him for guidance, with Cissy asking, “So what do we do about the compromised Defense lines?”

Cecil looked at his desk. “We need to go up the chain on this one. We have to let DoD know that the lines are compromised, but at the same time, they may accept the risk and let us keep producing parts. We’ve got a lot of pressure to fill the quotas they’ve set for us.”

Nick asked, “Should I still be in this room for that discussion?”

Cecil thought about what the lines in Council Bluffs and Little Rock were turning out. On the one hand, the independent, armed, unmanned aerial vehicles were some seriously top secret items. Nick shouldn’t be privy to that information.

On the other hand, Cecil felt like he had to know if those IAUAVs were themselves compromised… “Well, Nick, that depends. Do you have a security clearance?”

“No.”

Dirk looked a little aghast. “How was he able to do this survey, then?”

Cecil flopped back in his chair. “Apparently, we’ve got a few blind spots around here as regards security…”

The Blind Crusaders of the GOP

Is the forlorn hope of getting a shot at having a Supreme Court that *might* overturn Roe v Wade worth selling out to the Russians?

We have to face facts, President Trump is not just a bull in a China shop – he’s a wild boar in a Kosher deli. So far, his foreign policy has been to antagonize the closest, most democratic allies of the USA and then cozy up to murderous dictators like they were teddy bears. His actions at the G7 and NATO meetings provided deep challenges to our allies’ resolve to ride out his presidency in the hope that he’s just a one-termer. His actions at the Singapore summit with North Korea’s fratricidal dictator were worse than Chamberlain’s at Munich. Trump didn’t even get one concession or formal commitment from North Korea to back up his “nuclear peace in our time” declaration.

When that anti-semitic, white supremacist, child molester was running for the GOP in the recent Alabama Senate race, the justification given for abandoning all moral principles and to vote for him was blunt realpolitik: He will be a vote in the Senate that will help nominate a judge to the Supreme Court who might tip the balance of the court to overturning the established precedent of Roe v Wade.

Given that the GOP majority of one (1) in the Senate is possible because of at least two senators that have said they will not nominate a justice that does not view Roe v Wade as established precedent, one can understand why the anti-reproductive rights base of the GOP was willing to go with an anti-semitic white supremacist child molester to build out that majority to where it would not depend upon those two moderates.

It also explains why they’re going with a blustering, gauche Trump who seems to be doing his level best to somehow become Vladimir Putin’s best friend in the whole wide world. While I argue that a US strategy that encircles Russia with military bases is needlessly antagonistic, I’ve never said that we should give Putin a free pass to do all the things that he’s done.

Trump asked for Putin to get back into the G7, completely glossing over the reasons Russia was ejected from the then-G8. Russia invaded Ukraine and sponsored rebels in the Donbass region. As if to remind us about how nasty a person Putin is, a British citizen recently passed away after unintentionally handling debris associated with Russia’s nerve gas attack against two dissidents in the UK.

Why is this not a big deal to the GOP? Is the long shot of overturning Roe such a goal that you would keep a leader in office that antagonizes our allies while ignoring actual foreign policy threats? There’s also the matter of the trade war with China (which war also takes shots at the aforementioned US allies), which could lead to a very real war.

Is the need to restrict women’s reproductive rights so overriding that you want to support leaders that are racist child molesters (the Alabama Senate candidate) or foreign policy disasters (the current President)?

If yes, I don’t need any more explanation. You’ve made a deal with the Devil, in spite of your professed love of God. You have to live with the psychological doubling that will destroy your soul, as surely as it did the souls of the German doctors that agreed to work in Nazi murder camps. Not saying you’re Nazis. I’m just saying that you’re going to wind up with the same mental problems that they had. I recommend Robert J. Lifton’s work “The Nazi Doctors” as an excellent read to help prepare you for the nightmares you’re going to experience in later life.

If no, then why aren’t there more people in the party doing something about it? I used to lean Republican, but I can’t any more. There is no way that I, or a lot of independent-undecided-Libertarian type voters can lean towards a party that puts forward the candidates it does simply because they might be a vote to get a judge through to the Supreme Court who might overturn Roe v Wade.

This blind crusade within the GOP is leaving it as a party that can not govern effectively, that can not conduct foreign policy in a way that will benefit the USA, and that can do no more than say “no”.

Don’t Demonize

So I see this image from “We Love Donald J. Trump” on a friend’s page… It’s a mass of negative generalizations about the Democrat party and positive generalizations about the Republican party. I’m not going to post my response on my friend’s page because I’m going to post it here, where I’m free to have here what I want to have here.
 
It’s highly generalized, which makes it inaccurate. The “lower taxes” item considered in the Republican’s favor, for example, means more deficit spending, which is essentially taxing your children so you can party today. The GOP-associated “Small government” is more words than actual action. The reality is that a true small government would also mean significant dismantling of the military along with medicare and medicaid. I don’t know of many politicians of either party willing to reduce those things to the point where we would have a true pre-1900 sort of small government.
 
At the same time, I don’t know anyone that’s pro-abortion, which is used to label the Democrats. There are people who support allowing the freedom of choice, so it’s just as easy to say that Republicans are anti-freedom, if we use the same inaccurate generalization.
 
Wanting to make sure that police work is done accurately, fairly, and with respect to our Constitutional rights doesn’t make a person anti-police (which is pinned on the Democrats), and wanting immigration reform doesn’t make a person anti-ICE (also pinned on Democrats), or for open borders and/or illegal immigration (yes, also used to tag the Dems). Going with inaccurate generalizations would paint all Republicans as closet Nazis, just waiting for a police state and concentration camps. That’s as ludicrous as some of the generalizations being made here.
 
Point being that, yes, there are differences between the major political parties after several decades of them being pretty much the same. But a person is not a demon simply for making a conscientious choice to support one party or another. Language that demonizes the opposition only makes it easier for the group doing the demonizing to itself become more extreme in its views.

How Did the Jews Survive Hellenism?

I’m taking a course in Jewish History. It’s not for credit, but for learning. It is offered by Dr. Henry Abramson of Touro College, online, and for free. The course itself deals with the survival of the Jews as a people. As I went through one of the readings for the first lesson of the course, the book of 2 Maccabees, I came across the account of the death of Antiochus Epiphanes in that book. Wanting to check some details (did he *really* indicate a desire to convert to Judaism?), I read that the violent persecution against the Jews under the Seleucids was only in Judea and Samaria. Jews in the Diaspora – as well as Jews under other Diodachi rulers – were not subject to this violence, at least not on this level. Nevertheless, they *were* subjected to the Hellenistic influences of the conquerors. Inside of that frame, I want to answer this question.

All through time, conquerors have imposed their cultural stamp on the conquered to the point where the cultures of the conquered either vanish, become invisible, or leave but a few words, sayings, and dinner entrees behind. Consider the people of the Indus Valley civilizations: we cannot interpret their writings and it does not seem anything of what they once had as a culture has remained in the Indian subcontinent. We have to strain our historical eyes to see what is left of Assyria, Babylon, and Sumeria. And yet, in spite of the massive power of Hellenism, we can look around today and see that Judaism has indeed survived. So, how did it make it through the gauntlet of Hellenism?

On the surface, it seems as though it took the force of arms to sustain Judaism, but as noted above, that was only the case in Judea and Samaria. In places such as Alexandria, the question was much more fundamental: Abandon the law and the covenants or remain true to them?

In this sense, although Philo Judaeus has a heavy infusion of Hellenic philosophy in his writings, at their core they are still Jewish because they hold true to the covenants and the law. He may be saying things that seemed unusual to the scholars both of his day and of later periods, but he’s still working from a world view that prizes the Jewish law and religion. He does not replace it with Hellenism, as the antagonists in Maccabees do. He *reconciles* it with Hellenism.

But even in that reconciliation, there is a danger. Does the philosophical reconciliation introduce elements of culture and thought that undermine or alter the core narrative of the culture in question? In the case of Christianity, the prophetic Christianity of the 1st Century CE (believe me because I was a witness to the miracle) was replaced with Augustine’s philosophic Christianity of the early 5th Century CE (believe because I am using Platonic philosophy to prove it). So, the question now becomes one of whether men like Philo changed the fundamental reason to practice the Jewish faith, namely, that one is descended from a person who made a covenant with the Almighty, and is part of a people who received a law from the Almighty.

Set aside things such as desires or even needs to translate scriptures into Greek or to have Greek signage within the temple. Those things still imply a need to observe the law. Perhaps the greatest challenge to Judaism was when men like Saul of Tarsus were able to leverage general Greek interest in mystery religions with a declaration that one need not undergo convert circumcision to enter into fellowship with a Christian congregation. These congregations of Gentiles were overwhelmingly Greeks or Hellenized populations. When we see a lack of Hellenized Jewish congregations in the world, it may be because those populations themselves were absorbed into the Christian church of the Romans, itself highly Hellenized as a result of Saul/Paul, Augustine, and other early Christian leaders.

Given how Christian rulers in Europe have constantly troubled the Jews living in their borders, one can see that if the Christians themselves are seen as the product of Hellenized Jews, the conflict of the Maccabees is a conflict of today.

Through it all, the Jews have to ask the question of survival. Maybe they have to ask if they should fight or fly, but they have to first ask the question if there is anything worth fighting or fleeing over. If not, why bother? Both Judah Maccabee and Philo of Alexandria held that there was a reason to retain the law and covenants they had been given in their youth. Both determined that, yes, there was a reason to not drop these things and go with the times. To these people and their devout associates and followers, the covenant of Abraham and the law of Moses were worth taking a stand for. Even if Hellenism were accommodated, it was not allowed to replace these core concepts. The true path to survival in the Greek world lay not in force of arms, but in scholarship and creativity. The Jewish people had to know who they were before they could struggle to retain that identity.

The definition of identity is possible only in the face of the *other*, the Greek, the Babylonian, the Egyptian, and so on. One can start to define what one is only when one can point to what one is *not*. The child would not ask a parent why they do not do as the others do if there are no others, and merely do as he or she is told, more or less. (This should not devolve into a discussion about rebellious teenagers, as they are a completely separate challenge to survival…) But when there are others who do this and that which one does not do, the questions will arise from the mouths of children and it is up to the parents to turn their hearts towards their children, that the children might turn their hearts towards their parents and honor the ancient laws and covenants.

Protect and Survive, 2018 Edition

Foreword

If the country were ever faced with an immediate threat of cyberattack, a copy of this booklet would be impossible to distribute to every household as part of a public information campaign. There are so many media platforms, we have no idea which one or ones to use that would, in their combination, reach all households. Moreover, even if we got the booklet out, how would we make sure that people actually read it? Let’s face it, attention spans are not what they were in the 80s, when all we were worried about were nuclear missiles and bombs.

If the country were attacked by a wide-ranging cyberattack, we do not know what targets will be chosen or how severe the assault would be. We probably couldn’t even imagine what would be attacked, so we’re rather certain that there will be critical flaws in this plan because of faulty assumptions made that a particular service would be available or that help would be on its way to those in distress.

If cyberattacks are used on a large scale, those of us living in rural areas would be potentially exposed to as much risk as those in urban areas. Supply chain disruption could deprive all areas of critical resources such as food, medical supplies, fuel, and so on. Service disruption could mean that sectors of the country would not have basic police, fire, and/or emergency protection. We like to think that the emergency response system is hardened against attack, but the truth is that that system is quite vulnerable in many areas. It is likely that some emergency systems are still managed via insecure methods and would be easily compromised by a large-scale cyberattack. This could also mean that alarm systems would be on constantly, without interruption, producing high levels of mental stress.

The dangers which you and your family will face in this situation might not be reduced if you do as this booklet describes, but at least you won’t be as surprised about what goes down as someone who hasn’t read this booklet.

READ THIS BOOKLET WITH CARE. IF YOU RECEIVE AN ELECTRONIC COPY, PRINT IT OUT AS SOON AS POSSIBLE BEFORE YOUR HOME NETWORK, POSSIBLY INCLUDING YOUR PRINTER, IS COMPROMISED BY THE ENEMY.

1. Challenge to Survival

Everything that is connected to the Internet during a cyberattack will potentially be damaged, destroyed, or weaponized.

Data Loss

Any device connected to a network that is itself connected to the Internet is at risk of complete or partial data loss. While personal data loss may be limited to items of a sentimental nature and locally-managed personal data, public and corporate data loss could potentially result in wiping of individual records. These records would potentially be those used to justify access to products and services, both public and private. Because it is cost-prohibitive to retain hard copies of these records, we recommend that you retain a hard copy of a volume of Stoic philosophy, Seneca being a good example of such, so that you can endure your losses with dignity. It is likely that restoring lost data would involve a process at least as long as used when it was first created, likely a longer process due to the need to utilize pen, paper, typewriter, and processes that we as a nation have largely abandoned due to our digitalization.

Function Loss

Any device with an Internet connection is also at risk of being rendered completely useless by way of having its software wiped or corrupted. Such devices would not be able to be updated by their vendors, either via the Internet or via hands-on methods. While loss of function for home thermostats would result in substantial discomfort, loss of function for medical devices and potentially refrigeration devices could lead to sudden or eventual loss of life. While we cannot advise that all persons immediately exchange “smart” medical devices for non-Internet connected equivalents, we do advise that persons with “smart” medical devices consult with their trusted medical specialists about the feasibility of eventually replacing such devices. As for persons who rely upon refrigeration to preserve medical supplies, we strongly recommend not using a “smart” refrigerator and that they maintain a power supply independent of the local grid, with sufficient fuel to last for 2-3 days. Maybe 4. Or 5. Or 6. 7, tops. Well, 8-12 in a severe case. 13-21 in a worst-case scenario. Could be a month or two, really, before services get restored if the attackers keep following up with additional exploits. Maybe even up to a year, when we think about it. Don’t want anyone to panic, but, yeah, we’re that vulnerable.

Function Modification/Weaponization

While it is possible that a cyberattacker would utilize connected devices to intercept domestic communications, we consider such a scenario to be low risk. We are more concerned about an attacker exploiting vulnerabilities in connected devices that would cause them to malfunction to the point where they would be potential fire and/or explosive hazards. To minimize this risk, we recommend that citizens unplug – not just turn off, but unplug – all electronic devices not in use. This includes unplugging them from the Internet. This also includes unplugging devices that do not connect to the Internet, as it is possible an attacker could weaponize the power grid to send a power surge to a residence, with the intent of creating chaos and confusion.

Under no circumstances should a citizen consider operating a motor vehicle during a major cyberattack. Even if your personal vehicle is not Internet-capable, you cannot say the same for the other vehicles on the road, nor can that be said for your municipality’s traffic control systems.

If you have a home alarm system, disconnect it as soon as you have advance warning of a cyberattack or become aware that such an attack is underway. This disconnection will need to include the battery back-up system for the home alarm system. The concern here is that the attacker will create chaos and confusion by triggering the alarm. The constant noise of the alarm would both render the home unusable as a shelter as well as lead to mental strain for one’s neighbors. Triggering home alarms across a wide area would also overload emergency response systems, if those haven’t also gone down in the original attack.

In the event of a cyberattack, remove all batteries from smartphones, tablets, and cell phones so that those devices cannot be weaponized, as described above.

We’re pretty sure we left something off this list that will result in massive injury and loss of life. In our defense, there are so many Internet-connected devices, we can’t even begin to imagine how to protect against all possible situations in which they could be compromised and/or weaponized. The guy in the cubicle next to me just mentioned something about Internet-connected cat boxes. Again, if this was 1980, we wouldn’t have to face such a scenario. But this is 2018, so we may very well have a cat box-related tragedy befall our nation in a major cyberattack.

2. Planning for Survival

Stay at Home

The title of this section is reassuring, more so than the more accurate “Stay Near Home, Possibly in a Public Shelter, Unless Those Are Also Compromised in the Attack.” If your home isn’t rendered unusable due to your domestic devices being shut down, incapacitated, or weaponized, you will have as good a place as any to ride out the attack.You may die there, cold, hungry, dehydrated, and exhausted, but wouldn’t you rather die at home than on the street or in some wilderness? It’s your call, but at least if you die at home, it’ll be easier to notify your next of kin, assuming we can get communications systems back online and are not overwhelmed by local casualties.

Anticipate complete disruption of electrical, water, natural gas, and sewage utilities and plan accordingly. “Plan accordingly” is really a cop-out. We have no idea how every family in a major urban area would be able to arrange resources to cope with such a disruption in services. Especially families in apartment complexes, and doubly so for those receiving public housing assistance. Good lord, they might riot within 72 hours as the food in the local stores is exhausted. But where will you go? It’s not like these riots will be localized. I’m looking right now at a scenario in which the national distribution network is knocked offline for two weeks, and the carnage will be awful. So, yes, do stay at home. It will help you preserve your strength for the coming armageddon.

Plan a Refuge

If you can adopt a pre-industrial lifestyle where you raise your own food without the aid of mechanization, chemical fertilizers, or modern distribution networks, the sooner the better. Of course, that also means exposing yourself to diseases that pretty much exist only in developing nations and history books, so there’s a bit of a trade-off there. You could go with getting a year’s supply of food and a local water gathering system, but there may actually be laws in your area that make water gathering illegal. As for the food, that’s a major expense, so you can’t ramp it up all at once. Basically, if you don’t have a refuge now, you may be too late. Don’t panic, however. There is still plenty of time to print off the public-domain works of a Stoic philosopher so that you can endure these hardships with dignity.

If you live in a tiny house with a chemical toilet, you may be better off than most at first. Nobody here envies you for the task of replenishing that toilet, should the distribution network still be down when the time comes.

Plan Your Survival Kit

Stock enough food and water for 14 days. Why 14 days? We have no idea, but if it was good enough for the people who wrote the pamphlet on how to survive nuclear war, it’s good enough for us. Each person should drink two pints a day, so that means 3.5 gallons per person. I can’t do metric, so you’re on your own there. This water is for drinking. You’ll need twice as much per person for washing, and we’re not talking about showers or baths, either. You’re going to get rather grimy in the event of a major cyberattack.

Choose foods that can be eaten cold and that will also keep fresh, such as cans of soup or beans. You will likely want to practice eating soup straight out of the can now so that you can discover which flavors you prefer best and so that you learn to suppress your gag reflexes, should they be evident while consuming such a meal. The cold soup you eat today may mean cyberattack survival tomorrow!

Heaven help you if you have a baby or special dietary requirements. You are going to suffer grievously.

In the past, a radio would be one’s only link with the outside world, but even emergency and commercial radio systems can be disrupted in a major cyberattack. You might as well get a hand-cranked radio and try it out from time to time, in case we get lucky and manage to restore radio services.

Make sure you have plenty of warm clothing, first aid supplies, cutlery, dishes, and a can opener. Nobody wants to be the chump that stocked up on canned goods, only to forget a can opener. Better get several, just in case one breaks.

You will also find sleeping bags, flashlights, camp stoves (be sure to have the proper fuel and ventilation for these), spare batteries, toilet articles, and buckets to be very useful. You will also want a shovel and a location at least 20 feet away from your home where you can bury your solid biological waste. You would want this to be in an area that is not exposed to rain runoff or the local water table, as it will be a source of disease.

Also have tissues, notebooks, pencils, brushes, cleaning materials, plastic or rubber gloves, toys, reading material (including the Stoic philosophy that will help you cope), a mechanical wind-up clock, and a calendar.

Finally, in advance of a cyberattack or as one is underway, it may be advisable to shut off gas, electricity, and water services at the utility shut-off point so that damage to those systems will not compromise your shelter.

3. Protect and Survive

In the 1980s, we could discuss the methods of warning about an imminent nuclear attack. Such warning would be available in the case of a bomber attack or ICBM launch. We did not talk much about a submarine-launched missile attack, as those would have far less time between missile launch, missile detection, and missile target impact. We would basically know about the attack right before it took place.

In the event of a wide-ranging cyberattack, we may not know about the attack until some time has passed after the initial phases of the attack have been completed and the secondary phases of the attack commence. It is also possible that the cyberattack targets the warning systems themselves, so that they emit one or more false warnings to crate chaos and confusion and mental stress – or so that the warning systems do not function at all, as a prelude to a nuclear weapons attack by way of bombers, ICBMs, and/or submarine-launched missiles.

That last one would be the worst possible scenario. No warning, all major cities and quite a few minor ones all hit at the same time. The enemy wouldn’t dream of doing that, however, unless it also had managed to deprive us of our ability to use our nuclear weapons in that cyberattack. Since the enemy has been very persistent in attempting to penetrate our cyberdefenses, we can’t rule out that they might gain that upper hand and then launch the attack that effectively destroys our nation at little or no risk to their nation and/or allies.

It’s also possible that the enemy nation merely launch the cyberattack to deprive us of our nuclear weapons, with the intent of capturing and controlling our industrial base and natural resources. It is possible that the enemy nation would change the function of industrial security systems to keep loyal workers locked out, so as to prevent acts of sabotage to prevent industry from falling into their hands.

The same enemy nation may also be interested in disrupting the supply chain so as to induce mass panic, protest, and rioting. In the resultant die-off, our population would be too weakened by civil unrest and famine to mount an effective, coordinated resistance.

If, for some reason, our national leaders miscalculate on a massive scale and have to resort to a launch of nuclear weapons as a last-ditch measure, it is quite likely that the enemy nation will launch a wide-ranging cyberattack in conjunction with a discharge of its nuclear weapons, so as to take us down to hell with them. I know I said that a situation described above would be the worst case, now I’m not so sure.

We’ve so far attributed wide-ranging cyberattacks to enemy nations, but we also have to consider the possibility of the attacks originating from a non-nation-state actor, an internal threat, or as a result of pure accident. In such cases, we estimate that the impact of the attack would not be as comprehensive as described above, but could still incapacitate one or more major utilities and/or public services.

Holy crap, I haven’t even thought about air traffic control systems or airports until just now. If there’s a major cyberattack, pray that you’re not in the skies, should those systems be compromised.

Same goes for commuter rail and metro systems. I’m getting sick, just thinking about those.

My boss just looked over my shoulder and read what I’m typing. He didn’t say one word about changing my cynical tone. He just sighed and went into his office and shut his door. I think I can hear him crying in there.

If that part about the crying is in the final pamphlet that goes out, it must be because this threat is way worse than I’m letting on here and that this document, cynical and depressing as it is, is actually somehow better than leveling with you and telling the full story.

May God have mercy on our Internet-connected souls.