Thoughts on father figures

Over the weekend, this happened:

Short version of the story: a Daily Mail reporter allegedly posed as a jihadist to try and wheedle out some (largely imaginary) fellow extremists, in order to write yet another story implying that all Muslims are terrorists. Forum admins quickly cottoned on and exposed their IP as coming from the Daily Mail offices.

(Update: since this post was written, it has been well established that the individual named in the initial report has had nothing to do with the Daily Mail for years. The DM themselves also claim the message didn’t originate from their offices at all, though that part has not been independently verified.)

So what has this got to do with school IT, or father figures (as per the title)?

Well, while my work in schools only occasionally puts me directly in front of children, it happens often enough that I’ve developed a good appreciation for the importance of father figures. When I would make a troubleshooting visit to a class of 5 year-olds, for a number of those kids I was the only man they saw all day. Almost all primary school teachers are women, and many of the kids had fathers who were absent from their lives either through divorce or working extremely long hours in the city. I was regularly taken aback by the number of small children who would run over and beg me to come and play with them, despite really having no idea who I was. This didn’t happen with random female staff who would visit. These were kids who desperately wanted a male role model in their lives, and never got the opportunity to have one.

At one of the schools I used to work at, we had a pupil whose father was a Daily Mail journalist, and he wrote exactly the sort of stories you would expect from someone working for a tabloid with a long history of prejudice. His child, on the other hand, was a genuinely nice kid. I found it sad to think that one day they would either grow up to be as equally hateful as their father, or alternatively, grow up disillusioned by the realisation that their father was a horrible human being.

The few times they racked up minor infractions on the computers, I always looked the other way. I figured they had enough problems at home with a father who was a racist homophobe for a living. I still wonder who has it worse: the kids with no male role model at home, or the kids with a bad one?

About The Angry Technician

The Angry Technician is an experienced IT professional in the UK education sector. Normally found in various states of annoyance on his blog. All views are those of his imaginary pet dog, Howard.

3 responses to “Thoughts on father figures”

  1. Andrew says :

    Given that we don’t know that configuration of the ummah.com forum, it’s perfectly possible that the IP is forged, by simple means of an HTTP header.

    Further to this, the IP address given by ummah.com is

    http://195.234.240.212

    This is the ACTUAL IP of (one of) the dailymail.co.uk web servers.

    Try pinging dailymail.co.uk, it resolves to 195.234.240.212

    The Daily Mail have a large and professional IT operation, the chances that their journalists are posting to websites from the same IP address as their web server is basically zero, especially as the Daily Mail website runs on Linux, and the chance that the average hack journalist uses Linux is also zero.

    • The Angry Technician says :

      I wouldn’t ascribe the word ‘professional’ to an IT team that couldn’t fix their own app from displaying the wrong pictures with the articles for weeks on end: https://twitter.com/DMReporter/status/463769733075312640

      I will admit that it does seem a bit less likely when you look at what the IP is used for, but given that almost all of the DM group’s websites are hosted on that IP, they almost certainly have multiple machines behind it on a load balancer, so who knows what else is behind it? If the webservers are actually located in the DM offices, it’s entirely possible they use the same connection for outgoing traffic. If you already have a fat pipe into the building for your webservers it’s very tempting to use it for the office workstations.

      Perhaps a bigger problem for the Daily Mail is that the idea their journalists are behind this is all too easy to believe. That’s what happens when you’re a muckraker: if someone smears s*** on you, people will just assume it got there through your own doing.

      That said, just in case it is a conspiracy, I’ll finish with a quote that even the DM could agree with:

      “Never let the facts get in the way of a good story.” – Mark Twain

  2. Another_Technician says :

    How complicated life becomes with busi-ness, especially for kids who suffer absence of parents. I strongly agree with your feelings for those kids. The vacuum created in their socialization is a big variable and has far reaching effects on personalities. But what can be done?

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