Wednesday 17 November, 2021

Briefer edition than usual I'm afraid due to pressure of other work.

Quote of the Day

”Poor Henry James! He’s spending eternity walking round and round a stately park and the fence is just too high for him to peep over and he’s just too far away to hear what the countess is saying.”

  • Somerset Maugham


Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

Liam O’Flynn | The Fox Chase

Link

Extraordinary piece which captures the dynamics of a fox-hunt.


Long Read of the Day

 We have privatised our cyber security. The winners are the hackers

Stark warning in Prospect magazine from Ciaran Martin, the ex-GCHQ guy who set up the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre. He uses as a case-study the successful hacking of the Colonial pipeline in the US.

Colonial, it should be said, broke no rules. And that’s the point. Insufficient protection of its pipeline—a critical national asset—caused social disruption that clearly met the threshold of a national security threat. But there is nothing—yet—in the regulations governing this critical sector that requires firms to do better (and Republicans in Washington are starting to push back against suggestions for tighter controls). The unspoken message behind the Colonial case is that businesses can choose how to respond, whatever the consequences, and the government will pick up the tab.

It’s a neoliberal wet-dream, in other words — just like the 2008 banking crisis. An unregulated private sector is allowed to run risks which eventually come to threaten the security of the rest of us. And then the taxpayer (in the shape of the government) comes to the rescue and no corporate executive goes to gaol.

Good piece, worth reading in full.


The erosion of the American republic (contd.)

Joe Biden achieved what many people thought would be impossible — the passing of a huge bi-partisan Bill to renew the country’s crumbling infrastructure. And guess what? Heather Cox Richardson takes up the story:

It is a historic bill, not least because it recalled times when the government just…functioned, with members of both parties backing the passage of a popular bill that reflected a lot of hard work to hammer out a compromise.

And yet, Trump loyalists have attacked the bill as “Joe Biden’s Communist takeover of America” and have attacked any Republican who supported it as “a traitor to our party, a traitor to their voters and a traitor to our donors.” Some of the Republicans voting for it have gotten death threats.