Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Odds and Ends and Programming Note

First off, I am sorry that I have chosen to not post of late.  I am taking an online class in information assurance and infrastructure protection.  The material is new to me and requires more work than some previous classes I have taken.  I thought I might catch up on some of the

First off, my article on Romney not making the case provoked reaction that the polls aren't to be trusted.  Fellow tea party friends said the same thing privately in email, so this wasn't just for public consumption.  I am not so sure.  I think the election is winnable, but believe that Romney still has work to do.  Apparently Romney supporters in Ohio think the same thing, don't trust the polls that is.

As if to reinforce the point about the importance of the election to our future freedom, the Obama administration is trying to seize control of cyberspace after it scuttled efforts at cybersecurity infrastructure protection legislation moving through the Senate. The WSJ is spot on with this editorial lambasting Obama's dictatorial tendencies.
According to leaked versions of the draft, the executive order would impose security standards for 16 critical industries. The adoption of these "voluntary" (ironic quotes intended) and probably costly measures could be a condition for private companies to win federal contracts. A DHS-led cybersecurity council will decide who's "critical." Twitter and Facebook could easily end up on the list along with electricity providers or financial services firms.The Obama push is a case of the medicine being worse than the disease. DHS bureaucrats are no match for the dynamic and fast-changing world of technology. Any static standards they draw up will be an invitation for teen hackers or Chinese government cyber rogues to get around them.
The issue is directly related to the course I am taking. The professor asked our opinion about the general approach that should be taken to infrastructure protection; I made the case for minimal governmental intrusion, of course. We'll see if I pass.  A little of what I wrote on the infrastructure is at the bottom of this post.

The referee problems in the NFL are a real headache, in my view, because they are tarnishing the brand name of the sport.  Part of the entertainment value derives from the belief in the fair outcome on the field according to set rules.  This appeals to our sense of fairness.  One of our key criticisms of everything Obama does is that he appears to rig the rules to favor particular individuals or favored groups.  Examples include San Francisco getting an inordinate number of exemptions from the ACA, green energy loans to favored donors, unions getting a good deal in the automobile bailout but teacher's pension funds in Indians getting the shaft, to name three that by themselves should prevent the President's re-election.  It baffles me that the public is so nonchalant about his obvious abuses of power.

The President is required by law to submit a report to the Congress on how sequestration cuts to defense will be implemented.  He finally did so two weeks ago.  But I have it on good authority that no real detailed planning has been performed regarding the cuts to defense.  I am of two minds about the defense cuts.  They sound scary until one realizes they are spread out over ten years and if the Congress ever passes a budget that a future President signs, the cuts are done.  However, they might be applied indiscriminately in ways that harm future readiness.  McCain has been highly critical of the President for failing to act on the issue, but the real issue is in the details, not yet revealed.

The supermassive black hole of incompetence of Obama's administration is again revealed in the Drudge headline that al Qaeda was behind the attack in Benghazi, as admitted to by Sec'y of State Clinton.  But clearly if al-Qaeda hadn't been enraged by that infernal video . . .  What a bunch of incompetent fools.  al-Qaeda humiliates the U.S. on 9/11 no less, killing an American ambassador, no less, and Obama's foreign policy approval rating sits in the mid-40s?

I thought it would be great to live in a district with a competitive Congressional race.  I was wrong.  Every time I turn on the TV its either one of two very boring ads: Scott Peterson, pension bum who cost the taxpayers billions or Brian Bilbray, 20 year career politician and lobbyist.  Really, that is the sum intellectual content of the ads.

From my paper about infrastructure protection approaches.

A personal example of a catastrophic failure is illustrative. On September 8, 2011 a widespread power outage left 5 million residents in the southwest U.S. without power (Gustafson). The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission reported on the key root causes as follows:
The loss of a single 500 kilovolt (kV) transmission line initiated the event, but
was not the sole cause of the widespread outages. The system is designed, and should
operated, to withstand the loss of a single line, even one as large as 500 kV. The affected line—Arizona Public Service’s (APS) Hassayampa-N. Gila 500 kV line (H-NG)—is a segment of the Southwest Power Link (SWPL), a major transmission corridor that transports power in an east-west direction, from generators in Arizona, through the service territory of Imperial Irrigation District (IID), into the San Diego area. It had tripped on multiple occasions, as recently as July 7, 2011, without causing cascading outages.
. . .
The flow redistributions, voltage deviations, and resulting overloads had a ripple effect, as transformers, transmission lines, and generating units tripped offline, initiating automatic load shedding throughout the region in a relatively short time span. Just seconds before the blackout, Path 44 carried all flows into the San Diego area as well as parts of Arizona and Mexico. Eventually, the excessive loading on Path 44 initiated an intertie separation scheme at SONGS, designed to separate SDG&E from SCE. The SONGS separation scheme separated SDG&E from Path 44, led to the loss of the SONGS nuclear units, and eventually resulted in the complete blackout of San Diego and Comisión Federal de Electricidad’s (CFE) Baja California Control Area. During the 11 minutes of the event, the WECC Reliability Coordinator (WECC RC) issued no directives and only limited mitigating actions were taken by the Transmission Operators (TOPs) of the affected areas. (FERC)

In this case, we have a single system, the electrical transmission grid that has is characterized by relatively few nodes producing electricity. The economic model is that of regulated utility; but regulation was inadequate to the task of preventing the ensuing chaos.

My personal experience of the event was that there were of course cascading effects. My home phone service failed because TimeWarner Cable's system lacked local electrical generation back up for its transmission system, according to operators with whom I discussed the incident later. My neighbors had twisted pair telephone from AT&T, which remained operating and allowed me to call my parents-in-law to ascertain their well being. Some cellular services continued to work as well, although with difficulty as it appeared that traffic congestion on the cellular networks caused problems. Our local supermarket gave away frozen food that was going to spoil.
My neighbor across the street owns a restaurant and he transported as much valuable food from the restaurant to his home freezer powered by a portable diesel generator. It made me believe that the regulatory model for the electrical system is partially to blame, because it discourages multiple, small microgeneration to be attached to the grid.

The electrical power ecosystem, characterized by a single provider in each geographic area, suffered a catastrophic failure without graceful degradation. However, the unregulated voice infrastructure had more success in handling the failure because competing technologies were available.  


  1. That is an excellent point. Centralized management is always more vulnerable than multiple competing local systems. The central system, when instituted, requires a large defensive system. Small evolving units are difficult to target appropriately, both by management and aggressors.

  2. So many things on which to comment. But we appreciate you back on the job. There are likely many readers and less commentors, so you are missed when you are away.
    I still say we miss the boat with our message. There is some common sense that can be addressed with our adverising, and we just aren't getting the job done. With all the money spent, you would think they would hire the guy that writes the Nike, Ford, Victoria Secret commercials rather than the crap that's out there.
    There was a brief Reason.Tv clip on fast n furious, that was most excellent, and less than 30 seconds. Put it in Spanish and run it!

    On to more important subjects like the NFL. There are mixed emotions. Bdaddy and I would ref games for 10 bucks a game at the local Park and Rec. There were times where a blown call would seem like the end of the world to the parent on the sidelines. So true we don't have perspective with our sense of fairness when it comes to our government. Listening to talk radio in Chicago during the last election was enlightening. "What do you mean, 'Obama's seat is not for sale?'"