Pot-based tourism in Nevada County is the topic of this week’s Union column by George Boardman whose comments are also often read on these pages. This is a column full of thought provoking ideas, some obviously with tongue firmly planted in cheek. But the gist of a TV series (‘High Country’) concerns local MJ jinks – both high and low – practiced by the natives in these foothills. If well written, I can see many interesting and humorous sub-themes with interwoven characters – e.g. one based on ‘Smokey and the Bandit’ of our sheriff forever on the trail of a certain local RMJ grower. Supervisor Beason’s concern that such notoriety for the county may keep high tech industries from locating here is legitimate, but I think the concern will abate when more closely examined in light of the overall benefit to our community. Good piece (paywalled here) to get this conversation started Mr Boardman.
‘We’re Losing the Cyber War’ and no one is “personally responsible” according to Ms Katherine Archuleta who heads our Office of Personnel Management that has now admitted to mismanaging the safe-keeping of tens of millions of detailed personal files on fed employees, former employees, and contractors with security clearances. Most Americans expect a generous level of systemic incompetence from the federal bureaucracies and their staffs, especially their politically appointed bosses. But Ms Archuleta has really broken new ground here.
The purloining of these millions of files highlights two major concerns – our inability to stop Chinese and other foreign cyber attacks, and the potential damage that the information in those files can do to individuals who work for/with government in sensitive positions. Of most concern are the security background check files that China now has on thousands of government defense managers and contract workers. On active duty I also served as the S-2 Intelligence Officer of a nuclear capability artillery battalion. In my possession and charge were several hundred security clearance files on members of my unit. I worked closely with the local Army intelligence office charged with investigating people regarding potential changes in their clearances, and therefore have read many such files. The contents’ depth and detail of such files is eye-popping, and in many cases can be used to blackmail people who hold/held such clearances to reveal classified aspects of the projects they work/ed on. Serious stuff indeed that will now place a huge additional burden on the various gumshoe agencies who must start much closer levels of surveillance on (tens of?) thousands of vulnerable clearance holders. (Yes Virginia, if you hold a high security clearance, then as a routine you will be periodically very closely ‘monitored’ – foregoing your privacy is the price paid by those of us who work to keep our fellow Americans secure.)
And speaking of China, author and military analyst Peter Singer is making the Pentagon rounds giving presentations to our military warning of the strong likelihood that we will fight WW3 with The People’s Republic (more here). I have ordered Singer’s new book, Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War, that will be released tomorrow, and is already on the Pentagon’s reading list (as have been a couple of his previous techno-thrillers). So far we can surmise that Obama’s ‘Asia pivot’ has been executed with blindfold firmly in place as we continue to reduce our military’s ability to project force while China's technicians and military are rapidly expanding and exercising their country’s military and technical abilities which they daily exercise ‘in our face’ both in international waters and on the internet.
The big fear is that China has the ability at will to shut down major parts of our country’s infrastructure and critical military systems already deployed on our ships and aircraft. How? Both through advanced hacking technology, but most fearfully through Trojan functions in China-manufactured microchips that are already embedded in our civilian and military equipments worldwide. Meanwhile the incompetents in Washington are dancing in the streets celebrating the victory which is crippling one sixth of our economy with sky-rocketing premiums and reduced access to healthcare for all except our top quintile or two.
[30jun15 update] This morning Union’s print edition informs us that the local loonie Left has sent hate mail to the NC Tea Party, threatening to disrupt this weekend’s 4th of July parade when the TP unit passes by. Limiting free speech by the Left has become an ongoing drumbeat across the country that spawned in our universities, arches across the lamestream media, and now easilty reaches into local communities. It is always the Left that calls for silencing its opposition wherever they encounter it. The threatening writer has a history of hate toward the NCTP, and warns, “If you continue to support this anti-constitutional, anti-Christian ideology, start packing or pay the consequences of the outing of the cruel inhuman people your T Party represents.” Local law enforcement officials are taking the threat seriously. (I could not find this story’s URL on the Union's website. We are now 20 years into the WWW, and sadly The Union still does not have a professional website; its current site is horribly designed and broken in many places. Reminds one of healthcare.gov.)
'Has China’s Stock Market Bubble Burst?’ asks a Stratfor article in its title. When you read the article, it meanders all over the map giving reasons why it may, and then again why it may not have burst. In short, they don’t know. When I read one of these pieces with a questioning title that promises to provide the reader an answer, and then doesn’t, I get really irked (aka pissed to the gills). (Elementary probability tells us how to represent ignorance about the truth of N equally likely competing propositions – you assign them each a 1/N probability of being true. Will the coin land heads or tails? Your correct answer to tell people that you don’t know is that it’s ’50-50’, or with probabilities ½ and ½ that it will land either way.) When an article lays out arguments that equally support all N advertised alternatives, it implicitly assigns 1/N to each alternative. In that case it shouldn’t use a title that implies it has any added information about the outcome. Oh well.