Welcome to Varied Expressions of Worship

Welcome to Varied Expressions of Worship

This blog will be written from an orthodox Christian point of view. There may be some topic that is out of bounds, but at present I don't know what it will be. Politics is a part of life. Theology and philosophy are disciplines that we all participate in even if we don't think so. The Bible has a lot to say about economics. How about self defense? Is war ethical? Think of all the things that someone tells you we should not touch and let's give it a try. Everything that is a part of life should be an expression of worship.

Keep it courteous and be kind to those less blessed than you, but by all means don't worry about agreeing. We learn more when we get backed into a corner.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Opus 2011-236, DEFCON for Mere Mortals

I have been attending DEFCON 19.  I think I have been going for about 10 years.  It has become an annual trip that I make with my family geek.  I am not a geek.  I am more of a nerd.  I can work a computer.  I am not afraid of technology.  I have loaded my own software and know that the solution to many things is to reboot.  Much of what happens at DEFCON is a total mystery to me but that is okay because much of what happens in my world is a mystery to the hackers.

DEFCON is the inexpensive alternative to a security conference called Blackhat.  That runs in the thousands of dollars to attend, DEFCON is affordable for people who are not on expense account.  It started out very small and was viewed as an excuse to get together and get drunk.  When I first started attending the booze was still a major theme but the sessions were an acceptable balance.  At this point the booze is still a big factor but it is going on more and more behind closed doors.  Gone are the days when a panel of four would have a gallon of hard stuff on the table with beer chasers interspersed. 

The sessions are across the spectrum.  At one end you have the detailed, acronym laced tech talks that are of interest only to the initiated.  At the other end you have presentations by an apostate mainline ex-pastor into the philosophical questions of the universe .  In between you have politics, law and social engineering.  I have always found enough to attend and make it interesting.

It has been fun to watch the evolution and maturing of the core group.  I got in on the end of the childish phase.  Booze, sex jokes, the F-bomb and scatological references ran non-stop.  I felt like I was in a red-neck bar on a Saturday night.  Let’s see, booze, foul language, more booze, unwashed bodies, more booze - I apologizes to the red-neck bars.  In the midst of this I have seen what I can only view as one of the great hopes of the country.

Buried under all the facades is a real desire to make a difference.  These guys might deny it but most of them want to make the world a better place.  They want to be founding fathers of a new, freer generation.  They see the growing potential for evil control by a government that has lost the understanding of limited government.  They understand how computers have the latent ability to bring us to 1984. 

I hope and fear that the sleeping giant will wake up.  I hope because they have the ability to hack into almost any computer system that exists.  After all, they are the ones who put them together.  More and more they are the ones who keep them operating.  They have the skills to bring the government to a standstill.  In their younger days they had a tendency to “own” the hotel they were using.  That is why they were not invited back and had a hard time finding a new venue.  I remember going to one session where a hacker was explaining how, with a little bit of equipment, you could get into the hotel management system and do just about anything you wanted.  You could order room service and charge it to another room.  You could adjust your bill.  All of this from the TV set.  We found three movies charged to our room yesterday when we were looking at our bill.  Imagine what they could do to the IRS.  You may have heard about the government of Egypt turning off the internet.  These guys could do that too.

That brings up the fear element.  That kind of ability could also lead to a life of crime.  One of the themes of sessions is showing how they find ways to access vulnerabilities in software.  They do what they call “penetration tests.”  Yesterday I listened to a guy tell about how they were able to access all the financial records of an “island nation.”  All of them.  So far it is considered wrong to take full advantage of that.  I fear that may change.

The DEFCON hackers are growing up.  They are concerned about leaving a good impression at the hotel so they can come back next year.  As one guy said, “Isn’t it nice having rooms that are clean?”  They are getting married and having children.  This year they added a track called DEFCON Kids for their children.  They are buying homes and investing in the future.  That brings the blessings of maturity and the curse of calcification.  The blessing is that they will be concerned about the future for their children and invest their talents to build.  The curse is if they get their piece of the pie and decide to withdraw from the game.

So far I see little of what I would consider spiritual maturity.  If revival could ever hit this group the world would just sit back and say, “What happened?”

homo unius libri

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Comments are welcome. Feel free to agree or disagree but keep it clean, courteous and short. I heard some shorthand on a podcast: TLDR, Too long, didn't read.