Tuesday 7 September, 2021


Quote of the Day

“To betray, you must first belong”

  • Kim Philby

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

Josephine Baker | Si J’etais Blanche | Recorded in Paris, February 1933


The first black woman to be interred in the Pantheon in Paris, along with Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Victor Hugo and Marie Curie.

Long Read of the Day

What if the Coronavirus Crisis Is Just a Trial Run?

Shrewd OpEd piece by Adam Tooze, adapted from his forthcoming book — which comes out today.

Almost two years since the novel coronavirus began to circulate through the human population, what lessons have we learned? And what do those lessons portend for future crises?

The most obvious is the hardest to digest: The world’s decision makers have given us a staggering demonstration of their collective inability to grasp what it would actually mean to govern the deeply globalized and interconnected world they have created. There is only one limited realm in which something like a concerted response has been managed: money and finance. But governments’ and central banks’ success in holding the world’s financial system together is contributing in the long run to inequality and social polarization. If 2020 was a trial run, we should be worried.

How did we get here?

Worth reading in full. Tooze is an historian and good on taking the Long View, which is that what’s unique about our present moment is the confluence of one age-old syndrome — the tensions of geopolitics, finance and politics — and a completely new kind of global shock: Covid.

Chart of the Day

An estimated 3,238 days until we reach the 450ppm threshold at this rate of increase. That’s just under nine years. Go figure.

Frank Bruni on our current dilemma

From his weekly newsletter…

But in a certain psychological sense, is the current chapter perhaps the most challenging of all? We thought we’d turned the corner, only to learn we hadn’t, and we’re neither isolated nor liberated. Our marching orders are fluid and feel less like orders than like caveats, nudging us not toward obedience but toward wisdom, which is even harder. We’re not being told to suspend all activities as usual, which is a digestible if dire command, but we’re being encouraged to suspend or alter many activities, maybe for the next week, maybe for this whole month, maybe not for the following one but maybe again in November, when the mercury dips, we head indoors and Thanksgiving waddles into view.

I take absolutely no issue with that. I agree with it. But I also recognize that this shifting, shapeless horizon is at war with a whole lot in human nature and a whole lot in the American psyche, and in this instance, I’m not talking about the individual-liberty part.

I’m talking about the impatience. I’m talking about the certitude and absolutism of the social-media age. We are increasingly a country of either/or, pro/con, virtuous/deplorable, all/nothing. And the pandemic right now can’t be squeezed into any dichotomy. Nor will it be hurried to its end.

I’ve had lots of conversations along precisely these lines in recent weeks with friends, family and colleagues. Subtlety and judiciousness is needed just when our media ecosystem is trying to stamp out those qualities.

The climate crisis: as seen from Summer 2071

Kim Stanley Robinson’s perceptive — and unexpectedly optimistic — perspective on our current climate crisis, as seen from the Summer of 2071.

It’s a ten-minute TED talk, and well worth your time (see below).

The Rise of ZuckTalk

Intriguing essay on the apparently irresistible rise of an oratorical style that “asks for validation while bulldozing through almost any topic”. In other words, the way Mark Zuckerberg talks. Link

Why you shouldn’t use anyone else’s charging cable

Just came on an ad for a perfectly normal, innocuous charging cable for an Apple iPhone or iPad.

Here’s an edited version of the product description:

Every cable is hand made and tailored to look and feel exactly like the cable your target already has in their possession. You won’t need a million dollar budget for this cable, but the power and capabilities are extensive.

It is packed with a web server, 802.11 radio, and way more memory and processing power than the type of cable you would want for just doing demos. But the flexibility makes demos easy.

The cable is built for covert field-use, with features that enhance remote execution, stealth, forensics evasion, all while being able to quickly change your tooling on the fly. And, of course, it works just like a normal USB cable when not deploying payloads.

A special ‘keylogger’ version has all the features of the standard cable but adds a keylogger capable of storing up to 650,000 keystrokes. This version was specifically built to be used against keyboards with detachable cables.

A snip at $199.99.

You can see why only the paranoid survive in a computerised world (as Andy Grove used to say).

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