Thursday, July 24, 2014

Cyberterrorism & Cyberwar

I hadn't heard about this:
One example of the kind of damaging infrastructure attack that can be expected in the future was the recent cyber attack against Saudi Arabia’s state-run oil company Aramco that destroyed some 30,000 computers used to control key elements of that country’s energy infrastructure.
It was part of a larger article which discusses cyberattacks by governments like China (hardly terrorism: taking down a US infrastructure system would be war, not terrorism), al Qaeda, and for profit criminals.
Al Qaeda, nation states, and criminals are preparing for major cyber attacks against U.S. infrastructure that could be comparable to the devastating September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, a senior Justice Department official said on Thursday.

“We’re in a pre-9/11 moment, in some respects, with cyber,” said John Carlin, assistant attorney general for national security in the Justice Department.
Electrical grids and financial systems are among the targets.

Without electricity there is no water.

More here.

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More on the Coronal Mass Ejection of 2012

The Washington Post:
On July 23, 2012, the sun unleashed two massive clouds of plasma that barely missed a catastrophic encounter with the Earth’s atmosphere. These plasma clouds, known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), comprised a solar storm thought to be the most powerful in at least 150 years.

“If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces,” physicist Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado tells NASA.
No electricity: no water. Try that out in the Southwest in summer. Or anywhere for that matter.
A CME double whammy of this potency striking Earth would likely cripple satellite communications and could severely damage the power grid. NASA offers this sobering assessment:

"Analysts believe that a direct hit … could cause widespread power blackouts, disabling everything that plugs into a wall socket. Most people wouldn’t even be able to flush their toilet because urban water supplies largely rely on electric pumps.
. . .
According to a study by the National Academy of Sciences, the total economic impact could exceed $2 trillion or 20 times greater than the costs of a Hurricane Katrina. Multi-ton transformers damaged by such a storm might take years to repair."
Hours without water? Days? Months might not matter all that much: days would do the trick in most places.

So, what are the chances?
NASA’s online article about the science of this solar storm is well-worth the read. Perhaps the scariest finding reported in the article is this: There is a 12 percent chance of a Carrington-type event on Earth in the next 10 years according to Pete Riley of Predictive Science Inc.

For a National Academies of Science report on solar storms, see this. From the summary:
Although the probability of a wide-area electric power blackout resulting from an extreme space weather event is low, the consequences of such an event could be very high, as its effects would cascade through other, dependent systems. Collateral effects of a longer-term outage would likely include, for example, disruption of the transportation, communication, banking, and finance systems, and government services; the breakdown of the distribution of potable water owing to pump failure; and the loss of perishable foods and medications because of lack of refrigeration. The resulting loss of services for a significant period of time in even one region of the country could affect the entire nation and have international impacts as well....

...vulnerabilities in one part of the broader system have a tendency to spread to other parts of the system. Thus, it is difficult to understand, much less to predict, the consequences of future LF/HC events. Sustaining preparedness and planning for such events in future years is equally difficult.
Oh, joy. Are the preppers on to something?
...the nation’s electric power grids remain vulnerable to disruption and damage by severe space weather and have become even more so, in terms of both widespread blackouts and permanent equipment damage requiring long restoration times. According to a study by the Metatech Corporation, the occurrence today of an event like the 1921 storm would result in large-scale blackouts affecting more than 130 million people and would expose more than 350 transformers to the risk of permanent damage.
Well, if the Honolulu water system goes down for more than three days, I suspect a lot of people will die.

Here is a bit more from the Washington Post in 2009.

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Coronal Mass Ejection aka EMP Assault

Luckily this Coronal Mass Ejection mostly missed the earth. According to Lloyds a big one hitting us solidly could make a mess for many months, if not years.

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Elizabeth Warren for President...

....because what is between a President's legs is more important than what is between her ears.

We are doomed.....

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Friday, June 13, 2014

Those Pesky Lois Lerner eMails Have Been Lost

I mean, those exculpatory emails, of course. All gone. Poor Lerner.

It must be the result of a small left wing conspiracy to discredit her.

More here at

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David Brat Is Refreshingly Clear About The Nature Of Government

If only more were so, but then they cannot afford to be clear. It might dampen demand.

More here.

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Recreating the 1918 Flu: What Could Go Wrong?

In real life, maybe nothing. In apocalypse fiction: Oh, oh...
An international team of researchers led by a University of Wisconsin-Madison scientist created a life-threatening virus in a high-containment lab in Madison nearly identical to the 1918 "Spanish flu" pandemic that killed a staggering 50 million people worldwide, according to an article published Wednesday in a major science journal.

The controversial research, intended to show that bird flu viruses currently circulating in nature have the same potential for pandemic, is drawing sharp criticism around the world as highly risky.
Some people in apparently responsible positions really don't sound sanguine:
"The work they are doing is absolutely crazy," Lord May, the United Kingdom's former chief science adviser, told the Guardian this week. "The whole thing is exceedingly dangerous. Yes, there is a danger, but it's not arising from the viruses out there in the animals, it's arising from the labs of grossly ambitious people."

A virologist at the renowned Pasteur Institute in Paris referred to it as "madness, folly."

"It shows profound lack of respect for the collective decision-making process we've always shown in fighting infections, Simon Wain-Hobson told the Guardian. "If society, the intelligent lay-person, understood what was going on, they would say, 'What the F are you doing?'"
Well, then. I guess I'm glad we have a small stock of N95 face masks.

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Saturday, June 07, 2014

Getting Better

I called the doc back after the pain pills weren't doing much to relieve the pain, but were making me drowsy for a couple hours, and mentioned that whenever I tried to stand up I would get major, and painful, muscle spams. He thought about that for maybe half a second and put me on generic Valium.

One pill: Wow! Relief. I trotted off to the swap meet this morning, didn't get anything other than fruit, vegetables, and a couple small rosemary bushes for the garden, but what an improvement.

When I got home I got roped into a top to bottom clean up of the kitchen. Small invaders have been taking over, and they have now been pushed back.

I hope.


Thursday, June 05, 2014

It's Been A Few days...

I messed up my back a few days ago, and it is both hard to sit at the desk and energy level is low for blogging. I must keep repeating "Thou Shalt NOT Squat. Thou Shalt Not Squat."

I have been taking some pills the doctor gave me, and a bit better, but not very interested in doing much beyond reading and the occasional stagger around the yard.

I did order some camping stuff for this summer, to be delivered to our favorite storage facility in Utah.

Here is a pic of Calvin Bosworth, feline, commiserating with me:

This, too, is one Calvin Bosworth, flaked out much as I have been lately:

Good kitty.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The World Is Spinning Out Of Control Department: Mormon Crips

People who relocate are generally encouraged to get involved with their new community. California Mormons move to Utah:
"This work involves committing robberies and/or assaults on behalf of the enterprise,'' the court documents state....
Yet the criminal profile outlined in court documents, Katoa said, should not define his nephew's life.

...the youngster who accompanied him on fishing outings, stayed nights at his home, was "very obedient with his aunties and uncles, and always respected his elders.''

Even as Angilau and a brother, Vilisoni (now charged in a 2013 murder of a TCG rival), began "making choices beyond our control'' during their mid-teens with the gang, Katoa said they maintained close ties with the family....

"I was investigating a drive-by firebombing and when we got the guy, we found the Book of Mormon in his hip pocket,'' Stallworth said. "He was studying for his mission while he was out there tossing Molotov cocktails.''

Stallworth also describes how investigators sometimes located TCG suspects by staking out their churches.
UPDATE: This story has provoked some back and forth when I inquired of a family member in Utah if he would introduce us to the Crips if we moved there. He replied "Sure, but you first have to prove you can make a serviceable molotov cocktail." A slight reworking of my response:
Not to sweat: Miss Hassenpfeffer, my kindergarten teacher, taught us that Home Ec stuff: gasoline siphoned from a car in the Staff parking lot ("Don't drink it, boys and girls. Yuk!"), some liquid soap from the Girls Room ("Save some for clean up!"), a few pieces of Fritzy Harnischfeger's t-shirt ("Saving America from godless communism requires sacrifices, Fritz. You are opposed to godless communism, aren't you?"), a case of Miss Hassenpfeffer's empty gin bottles ("Extra energy after a day with you wonderful children!"), a Zippo lighter ("Just like real soldiers use, boys and girls!"), and we had the best recess ever at Dunwoodie School. Even the 5th Graders were jealous.

Especially when they realized that the Soviet tank we took out had been the Principal's car. ("Call me erratic, will you?")

The 1950s: Back when America was still a free country, Charles Addams drew cartoons for the New Yorker, and children could still be children.

The Good Old Days.


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