THUMBS UP! To policing disinformation campaigns. Propaganda and misdirection have been a part of politics forever. We look back at politics' history of crude and clear lies and sometimes chuckle at how naïve the audience must have been. Then we see discussions about political influence campaigns and suspicious Russian and Iranian pages, groups and accounts on Facebook and Twitter. We are still challenged to find the truth. The field has simply grown more sophisticated. Thanks to FireEye, an organization staffed with a roster of former military and law-enforcement cyberexperts, we have a fighting chance. One analyst calls the group “the Navy SEALs of cybersecurity.”
THUMBS UP! To the H.D. Smith Foundation. It donated $20 million to the University of Illinois Foundation, the largest philanthropic donation in the history of Illinois' Division of Intercollegiate Athletics. The gift will go toward the university's football performance center, fund scholarship opportunities for former student-athletes to return to campus for degree completion, and funds an effort at “innovation at the intersection of medicine, engineering, and athletics.” It's the latest and largest contribution from the foundation, a decades-long Illini backer.
THUMBS DOWN! To the state of our bridges. As detailed in Jaylyn Cook's story in Sunday's Herald & Review, the Federal Highway Administration in 2017 identified 48 bridges in Macon County as deficient. While that doesn't mean the bridges will collapse soon, it does indicate a need for repairs. Macon County is just an extension of a nationwide problem. Over 54,000 of the 612,677 bridges in the United States are considered to be structurally deficient. That's another good reason to plead for progress on national infrastructure funding.
THUMBS UP! To Decatur public schools. Decatur and other schools in the area released early during sizzling days at the start of the week. Many of us who complain about these early departures would do well to remember a time when school did not start until after Labor Day. Heat and humidity in a classroom do not enhance the learning experience.
THUMBS UP! To the St. Louis Cardinals. The team had been muddling through its season until switching managers. Mike Shildt was named interim manager, and the team went 26-12 in its next 38 games, passing seven teams in the standings and making a case for their post-season possibilities. “Interim” was lifted from Shildt's title this week. Dare we hope for some kind of Cubs-Cardinals playoff showdown?