Friday, October 23, 2015

5 Things on a Friday: Who's Losing?

I would like to tell you that I have some brilliant insights about the world this week, but the biggest news anywhere was negative--Joe Biden's not going to run for president.

Of course he's not.  He's been trying to decide not to run for months.

But this leaves us without a lot to talk about.  Thankfully, there are new trailers for Star Wars and Jessica Jones, and of course, we'll always have Jeb Bush to pick on.

Let's get to it.
1. Sniper attack on California power grid may have been 'an insider,' DHS says (
The attack, which nearly took out power to parts of Silicon Valley, has been called "the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred" by the nation's top electrical utility regulator…

"While we have not yet identified the shooter, there's some indication it was an insider," said Caitlin Durkovich, assistant secretary for infrastructure protection at the Department of Homeland Security.

An electric substation out west.

Speaking personally, I’ve wondered for years if this wasn’t some kind of “black hat” operation by one of the firms trying to sell physical security gear to utility companies.  The attack successfully targeted very specialized equipment in a very specific way, making it clear that the attacker had a unique kind of training.  That is unusual to say the least.  If you know that much about the power grid, it’s way easier to just get a job in the utility industry.

2.  Our unused strength (Washington Post)
[T]he next president will inherit an America in better shape — better positioned for world leadership — than the nation that George Bush bequeathed to Barack Obama.
So why doesn’t it feel that way? Why does it feel as if we’re losing?
Warning: this is not a real person.
The article argues that economic and demographic forces favor U.S. leadership on the international stage, but it’s facile argument.  Okay, yes, the U.S. is in relatively better shape going forward than are many of its potential rivals.  However.  It’s a zero-sum world, and the U.S. will never again command the kind of influence that it did in the 1950s and 1960s, and it is the echo of that influence that shapes domestic political thought in reference to our position in the world.  To put it another way, no one who wants to be a peasant farmer in an age in which the Internet shows them the full scope and breadth of their alternatives.  People everywhere want change.
Sure, the U.S. has some advantages over many of its geopolitical rivals, but at the same time, the forces that make the world a restless place are growing, and regional instabilities outside of the U.S. threaten an existing balance of power that is very much in America’s favor.  Meanwhile, no one at home wants to pay market price for the re-establishment of hegemony, and anyway, it’s debatable whether or not hegemony was ever a real thing in the first place.  Regardless, there are very good reasons why the attempt to re-establish unfettered dominance might be ill-considered.
Markets and people both like stability, but we live in an unstable world with declining--or at least stagnant--resources in the face of an expanding population.  We may someday reach peak population and after that perhaps things will look and feel a little better, but until then, we’re sort of stuck with a tough world that’s getting tougher and more competitive.
3.  Jessica Jones Teaser

4.  I heard that there’s a new Star Wars movie coming out.

Say what you want about The Phantom Menace, it has one of the best lightsaber duel of the entire series. 

5.  Jeb Bush Says Supergirl Is His Favorite Superhero Because “She Looked Pretty Hot” (Slate)

This was a serious gaffe, apparently. Must be a slow news week.

Definitely not hot.  Can't imagine what Jeb was thinking.

That’s all I’ve got, folks. Have a good weekend.

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