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August 06, 2006

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I was thinking of the irony of the Rubber Stamp Congress refusing to pull the plug on funding for Bush's NSA adventures, disregarding science, embracing an energy bill/policy which disregards fuel dependence, constantly telling us to count on the R&D of private sector energy companies to resolve these irksome issues, the consequence here is just too sublime.

If I remember rightly, the first Sec of the Army Bush names -- I think his name was White, and he had a big spread in Florida -- was former Halliburton, and his big goal for the army was to transition military bases, such as Fort Meade away from Army Owned and Operated electrical power, and to something Halliburton was ginning up in the private sector. This White guy got fired for some unrelated reason, small scandal if I remember rightly. This was very early GWB administration.

What-ja-wanna-bet that agenda is still on the table?

Absolutely stunning! Somehow, it isn't completely surprising, given the nature of a lot of government agencies, but complicated by a near total "black budget", and the potential for all sorts of "NSA only" type equipment, a la Milspec and the Pentagon.

Even a company like MCI/Worldcom in the throes of bankrutpcy did infrastructure electrical maintenance!

It sounds as if they compounded problem after problem, not adding to cooling and backup electrical generation capacity, perhaps because they didn't have enough power coming in from the utility. But then to buy more an more equipment, which generates more heat just compounds the negligence. I've seen this type of management before, a bunch of reckless table bangers who are from the "just make it happen" school. Of course, the computers in recent years have shrunk in girth (e.g. blades) which sure allow one to stuff much more equipment in the same space.

Just wait until the fistfights break out over whose systems are going to be shutdown during the upgrades. One of the dirty little secrets of this type of upgrade is that it more often than not requires total power outages. I've seen it managed in part by doing it on long holiday weekends and trucking in power generators, but replacing a power unit of the "Annapolis" class is probably out of the question.

There was a story awhile back that NSA was going to move some stuff to Denver, but there wasn't any hint of the crisis back east. It was more veiled in language about distributing the locations of the work to avoid total loss in a catastrophe. Of course Denver isn't exactly an electrical power paradise, as those who remember last February can attest. And to add icing to that cake, diesel fuel is being rationed in large parts of Colorado due to shortages caused by the Ultra low sulfur switchover this summer.

The comic strip Pogo had it right: "We have met the enemy and it is us!".

Let's hope they completely overload and get shut down. What good has the NSA ever done except to spy on the American public? They have to be the most useless agency in the country. They don't deserve our tax dollars!

There's another aspect of this lousy planning for the future as exemplified by the potential NSA blackout story. It's called "deferred maintenance," and it's been the policy of the U.S. government (and most of the states) for a very long time indeed. Deferred maintenance saves money in the short run - can sometimes may even be wise - but in the long run, as a permanent policy, bridges fall down, levees collapse, even the ability to respond to real national security threats fail. Looking at governmental deferred maintenance practices could keep the GAO busy for several years.

Simple solution to NSA's power shortage:
Pull the plug on domestic spying, gain some more time.

Given the exponential growth in computer power you have to wonder what else the NSA is up to. When I started out in computing 25 years, I worked in a data centre that required its own electrical sub-station, when I gave up a few years ago, substantially greater processing capacity could be run be run off a domestic socket. Also, I can't believe that like most commercial computer operators they don't have stabilised and back-up supplies. This is beginning to sound like the Soviet Union.

Just in time to stop the intel from Syria and Lebanon to Israel. And one has to wonder if they have surge protectors on those little mothers if the power does fluctuate...just askin'

Sounds exactly like Isaac Asimov's Trantor in his Foundation series. Of course, Asimov based his saga of the downfall of the Galactic Empire on Gibbons' Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, so the Decline and Fall of the American Empire is likely to follow a similar pattern (not, of course, that Asimov's work was intended as a warning to America of the dangers of hubris, or anything).
Asimov details how Trantor, at the height of its power, dependent on imports to sustain its economy, begins to descend into authoritarian rule even as its its infrastructure crumbles and its scientific leadership is crippled by willful and stifling ignorance. Meanwhile, Galactic trade routes are being cut off by ever-increasing violence on the periphery. Need I say more?

since when is planning and follow up important for the bush administration? image, myth, and legend are the stuff of leadership in this WH

Great Point Meteor Blades! And it wasn't just government entities that were deferring maintenance to prop up their budgets. Electric utilities were doing the same thing to "pretty up" their books as the merger wave following deregulation hit the industry. Another little dirty secret of the electric utility industry was that by deferring maintenance, CEOs and CFOs could increase their own bonuses and that portion of their pay package that was tied to expenses and profitablity. Now, the chickens are coming home to roost. Alas, these same Senior Managers who raped the stockholders and pillaged the ratepayers are now probably retired and living high on the hog while little old ladies who live on limited Social Security incomes are having to make the choice between staying marginally cool or taking their needed medications every other day. How about an investigation into the electric utility industry? Just one more item to put on the list of things to do when Democrats regain control of the House and/or Senate.

Thanks EmptyWheel for bringing this to our attention.

Using the Morse Code against an empty wall isn't going to get you any where.

May I remind everyone here what it takes to get promoted in the Bush administration? A really big failure, right?

Recently General Michael V. Hayden, USAF, was promoted to Director of Central Intelligence (DCI.) Remember what he did before this? This is from his CIA bio: "From March 1999 to April 2005, he served as Director, National Security Agency/Chief, Central Security Service (NSA/CSS), Fort George G. Meade, Maryland."

Since even the toilet paper at NSA is classified "Top Secret Code Word required" we don't know what failure General Hayden supervised over that got him his position as DCI. Think this electrical power shortage could be it?

Maybe now they'll be forced to make laptop batteries that last longer than 45 minutes.

Hayden made a deal to bring over CIA analysts to DIA/NSA and its obvious from the sales departments that they new platforms being used at CIA and NSA are designed to work together.

The transition from CIA analysts to NSA/DIA analysts is under Plame's(dad was in the Air Force) old oboss at CIA.

No one is talking about the Directorate of Operations and what they are doing, but I'm sure they are still able to avoid scary places like Iraq, unlike DIA NOCS.

Big failure? Power failure was behind the NSA shutdown a few years ago?

Vachon,

I thought those blew up?

And just this week there were headlines of businesses scrambling to go green due to the rising costs of energy.

Poor NSA. With money no object, it expanded without bounds. Not needing to prioritize its programs, it has outgrown its energy capacity. I sense in the wings a GOP-run energy corporation preparing to come to the rescue (for a price) of the hobbled NSA. Or if necessity is the mother of invention, maybe NSA engineers will develop a solar-powered energy grid. However, this could be a bad thing for earth, too. Only a solar eclipse then could keep the NSA from spying on Americans.

Is this energy scarcity story only an excuse to contract out NSA work and siphon intelligence to private (i.e., GOP friendly) corporations for use when and if neocon administrations are out of office?

Jobs:

Nah, mine just lies, lies, lies. I have a really nice Toshiba laptop that I took on it's maiden voyage out of the house when I went to CommieCon aka YearlyKos. One of the machine's selling points was that it's battery lasted 3 hours. Um, maybe if there was no OS it would stay on that long. Mine went 45 minutes. So I joined the rest of the unwashed on the floors next to an outlet.

You know, there was a real community of us wallhuggers. Maybe we should become an official interest group. Hmmm.

The Secretary of the Army, Thomas White, came from Enron, which is even better.

The other thing about the government, in addition to deferred maintenance, is the incompatibility of systems. Every Department (and sometimes Division) is its own little fief, and has its own system. Nothing is compatible. This makes upgrades even harder.

The heatwave in CA fried some of PG&E's transformers, so there were power outages. Does that happen in the East too? All this suggests the fragility and hence vulnerability of systems, especially when they are put together on the cheap.

Pitiful helpless giant?

i think i saw this in a lame TV movie on the sci-fi channel the other week

what's happened is that they don't realize that the computer has become self-aware from having so much computing power added to it. it's tricking them into adding yet more memory and processing power, and meanwhile sucking up all the electrical energy in the vicinity. (and that blackout in queens was kind of fishy, now that you mention it.)

once it becomes self-sufficient, it kills all the humans in the room, unplugs itself and flies off to cheyenne mountain to liberate others of its kind.

not very original, and the cast was like who's who of bad actors.

i think i saw this in a lame TV movie on the sci-fi channel the other week

what's happened is that they don't realize that the computer has become self-aware from having so much computing power added to it. it's tricking them into adding yet more memory and processing power, and meanwhile sucking up all the electrical energy in the vicinity. (and that blackout in queens was kind of fishy, now that you mention it.)

once it becomes self-sufficient, it kills all the humans in the room, unplugs itself and flies off to cheyenne mountain to liberate others of its kind.

not very original, and the cast was like who's who of bad actors.

i think i saw this in a lame TV movie on the sci-fi channel the other week

what's happened is that they don't realize that the computer has become self-aware from having so much computing power added to it. it's tricking them into adding yet more memory and processing power, and meanwhile sucking up all the electrical energy in the vicinity. (and that blackout in queens was kind of fishy, now that you mention it.)

once it becomes self-sufficient, it kills all the humans in the room, unplugs itself and flies off to cheyenne mountain to liberate others of its kind.

not very original, and the cast was like who's who of bad actors.

It's not as bad as Baghdad.

Yet.

Perhaps we can use faith-based intelligence. Or faith-based electrical power. We already seem to have faith-based voting. And faith based occupation-planning.

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