A few things have caught my eye recently.
Over last weekend, what really stuck out to me was the cyber-attack on the US’ largest pipeline, the “Colonial”.
Very early on in my job here, James Allen of Exponential Energy Fortunes fame put out a big report outlining the huge risks to the existing energy infrastructure from cyber-attacks, and a big investment case for cybersecurity – which has done very well since then.
We saw in Ukraine that Russia could switch off power to around a fifth of the entire country through a cyber-attack.
Now, in glorious America, the vulnerability is the same, and the government and responsible companies are scrambling to sort out the situation.
As the world goes digital (remember 5G?), cybersecurity feels like it will only gain in significance.
This shows that the cyber theme is both a governmental as well as personal security theme. The threat to national infrastructure is very real, and with China’s rising tensions with the US and its Western allies, my suspicion is that this will not be the last major story we see on the topic.
The BBC noted that:
It also marks the rise of an insidious criminal IT eco-system worth tens of millions of pounds, that is unlike anything the cyber-security industry has ever seen before.
In addition to a notice on their computer screens, victims of a DarkSide attack [what happened to Colonial] receive an information pack informing them that their computers and servers are encrypted.
The gang lists all the types of data it has stolen, and sends victims the URL of a “personal leak page” where the data is already loaded, waiting to be automatically published, should the company or organisation not pay before the deadline is up.
The gang even has a website on the dark web where it brags about its work in detail, listing all the companies it has hacked and what was stolen, and an “ethics” page where it says which organisations it will not attack.
Jokes! The cyber-attackers have ethics. Could this not be an international energy threat but a Robin Hood, attacking fossil fuels?
ESG ransomware? Green bonds to finance renewable powered computer power, used only to attack large fossil fuel companies and the asset managers which fund their dirty habit?
I wonder if DarkSide has an equal opportunities policy and pays the living wage. Does it track its Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions?
This is divestment+. Extreme engagement, forceful fact-finding.
Don’t just take your money out of fossil fuels, shut them down, steal their data, and hold them ransom.
I wonder what Greta thinks of all this…
Speaking of hustles…
Elon Musk hosted the popular American show Saturday Night Live over the weekend.
In it, he revealed he has Asperger’s, was weird and arrogant and annoying, or amazing depending on your existing preconception. He brought his mum on stage which was even more weird and awkward and poorly scripted.
The key though was what he’d say about Dogecoin – the mysterious cryptocurrency which started as a joke, based on a meme.
It has recently surged, briefly, to a market cap near $100 billion mostly thanks to Musk’s weird, funny, off references of support for it on Twitter.
During the show though, he did a skit where he was asked five times to say what it is, and danced around the answer, before finally saying “it’s a hustle”.
Obviously it’s a hustle. Elon goes on Twitter, owning this stuff and pumping it higher and higher using the currency of followers, of social media fame.
He did it with Tesla stock, then he did it with bitcoin. Those are both stuttering now, so he’s having fun with Dogecoin.
But in reality he is making (real/fiat) money by saying funny things about it, and is now the most important factor in the price.
Don’t believe me? After calling it a hustle it fell by more than 30% in just a few hours.
Since then, Musk has said that his real-world company SpaceX will accept this famously fake crypto currency as payment, and it will also take and use Dogecoin in space.
The amazing part of this was that the price recovered after the SpaceX announcement even after he had said the words “it’s a hustle” – which are clearly true words. He is pumping a value-less asset for fun and potential gain, and $85 billion dollars’ worth have poured in.
It reminds me of a piece I read by Tim Harford, in which he details how a magician giving a TED talk in 2013 brought someone on stage, told them he was going to pickpocket them, and proceeded to take their watch wallet and anything else they had, while just distracting their mind.
Even after saying “I’m going to steal your watch”, he managed to trick the victim’s brain into momentarily concentrating on something else, so that he could steal his watch.
This is what Dogecoin feels like.
Elon Musk is hustling people. Some realise, some don’t. Then he says that’s what he’s doing and everyone must at this point be aware that it’s a hustle, it’s not real.
But he carries on hustling and people carry on being hustled, worrying about other things like maybe, the value of the dollar or whether their energy bills are going to go up after the ESG-based attack on the Colonial pipeline.
I don’t know, it’s all a bit weird.
There is a great video though, musical comedy, about a saver realising inflation is going to erode all his savings…
Search “Demy: Dogecoin Rap” and you’ll find it. Good stuff.
Finally, politics happened over the weekend. Mayors, locals, all that.
You wouldn’t come to me for political commentary – so I will make one small point.
Climate change has never been a bigger issue… and you might think the Green Party’s time in the increasingly warm sunlight has finally come.
And yet… not really.
Because the issue has gone mainstream, and the Tories are actually going pretty big on commitments and funding and plans and legislation…
What can the Greens say?
That the government should be doing a little bit more than the large amount it’s already doing?
It’s a bit like UKIP’s raison d’etre evaporating after Brexit.
Perhaps both should simply be content to have accelerated a change, even if it didn’t get the party into power.
The ideas won, not the party – and maybe that’s okay.
The Conservatives sucking in northern and Green votes does make them start to look uncomfortably comfortable, from my centrist dad’s perspective, but change comes for us all, whether we see it coming or not. Nothing lasts forever…
All the best,
Editor, UK Uncensored
PS Dogecoin may be a joke in some ways, but it reflects huge interest in the digital asset space more broadly.
My colleague Sam Volkering, my chief/co-editor over at Exponential Investor, is one of the finest minds in crypto.
For anyone even remotely interesting in hearing from the man himself (alongside my occasional ramblings!) here’s the link to sign up now.