Placeholder for later news: Google-China, RMB-China, "cyber war," etc

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.



Watch CBS News Videos Online

Presented by

James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

Video

Pittsburgh: 'Better Than You Thought'

How Steel City became a bikeable, walkable paradise

Video

A Four-Dimensional Tour of Boston

In this groundbreaking video, time moves at multiple speeds within a single frame.

Video

Who Made Pop Music So Repetitive? You Did.

If pop music is too homogenous, that's because listeners want it that way.

More in Technology

From This Author

Just In