In a different world -- specifically, one in which I was going to be near a computer more than hurriedly today -- I would try to say something about the apparently-impending next crisis point in the Google-China showdown, about a similar intensifying disagreement over China's currency policies, and about the coming health care vote -- and of course about the final outcome of migrating all my email files from Outlook to Gmail. In the world I actually inhabit, here are quick links on two important topics:
1) Cyber threat (true) versus "cyber war" (false): As I argued last month in the Atlantic, the vulnerability of computerized info systems -- which control our finances, run much of our infrastructure, and in other ways keep the modern world modern -- deserves more sustained public attention than it has gotten. But attention is different from panic; and much of what we have heard recently about the looming cyber danger has the unmistakable tone of faddish exaggeration, and "threat inflation." Threat inflation is a Beltway term of art for hyping public concern about an issue, and then transforming that fear into federal contracting dollars.
James Lewis of the CSIS in Washington, whom I quoted several times in my story, has a very useful new essay here explaining the difference between "threat" and "war" -- starting with the basic fact that most electronic intrusions so far have been by "normal" criminals or by businesses spying on their competitors. Definitely worth reading. For a broadside against the larger concept of "cyber war," see this, in Wired.
(Yes, I know that the title of my article was "Cyber Warriors." But, hey! 1) I'm just the writer; 2) the first half of the article talked about the Chinese military in general, or "warriors" in the normal sense; 3) the "to do" part of the article was mainly about non-bellicose, non-budget-inflating ways to deal with the problem. Plus 4) nobody's perfect!)
2) The filibuster (bad) versus commentary on filibuster (good). There is a lot of movement in this field (and I will link to past items once our previous "category" feature for our website is restored). Soon I'll report on a recent interview I had with former Senator Bob Graham on the topic. For now, it's worth checking out yesterday's commentary by my friend Timothy Noah on CBS Sunday Morning. Bonus points to him for working in Billie Holiday's macabre Strange Fruit and explaining why that song, and not Jimmy Stewart's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, should be the real pop-culture reference point for filibuster discussions. See his comments on embedded player, below.