Archive for October, 2009

Smart Grid Paranoia

October 28, 2009

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Erica Lovley, (POLITICO.COM), 3/4/09Obama’s $787 billion economic stimulus bill includes $4.5 billion in funding for the so-called Smart Grid, an ambitious plan to modernize the country’s electric grid that many Obama contributors are helping to shape.

Steve Holland, (Reuters) – ARCADIA, Fla., Oct 27President Barack Obama on Tuesday announced $3.4 billion in grants to help build a “smart” electric grid meant to trim utility bills, reduce blackouts and carry power generated by solar and wind energy.

Oh, don’t we feel good? The Obama administration is paying back GE, Google, IBM and Microsoft, among other evil corporations, for their support of Dear Leader’s presidential campaign. How? Why, they’re handing them a bag full of Scamulus Gigabucks to implement “Smart Grid,” the technology that is supposed to “modernize the country’s electrical grid.” What could be wrong with that?

See, our electrical grid has been patched and bandaged to keep it from repeating the sort of “cascading failure” that caused the Northeast Blackout of 2003, but much of the physical plant that makes up the electric power distribution system of the United States is old, obsolete, and subject to just such failures at any moment.

(Never mind that it is also terribly vulnerable to terrorist attack, either via the Internet or by any sufficiently insane country or extra-national entity with a few bucks to spend to loft a Scud from a freighter off the Atlantic coast, topped with a low-end nuclear warhead, and detonate said warhead a hundred miles above Washington or Baltimore, wiping out the whole system for months, or years. Never mind that.)

Why would the electric companies neglect their own infrastructure? Let me speculate: The big electric power companies are reluctant to put hundreds of millions of dollars of stockholders’ money into infrastructure improvements that will require a microscopic rectal examination by every regulatory agency and environmental group in North America to be sure that they don’t harm snails, owls and fish, or cause offense to favored ethnic groups, or allow career legislators to use them as punching bags when appealing to the aforementioned groups for campaign money.

And, these days, those greedy power company execs are probably wondering, “Is Obama going to nationalize us, the way he did the financial industry and the auto industry, and the way he wants to nationalize the health care industry? Will someone explain to us why we would want to sink money into improvements, when some Obama appointee may well wind up carving up our salaries and profit margins, or inventing regulations that make electricity so expensive no one can afford it?”

Well, now, simmer down. All this “Smart Grid” stuff is about is allowing the power company to reach into your house and instruct your dishwasher to run overnight, when power usage in your area is lower — your dishwasher, and any other appliance that has the right kind of microprocessor controller, and a connection to the Internet.  Never mind that you might want to set your own dishwasher’s timer to run later all by yourself, or that you have good reasons for wanting it done before bedtime.

Big deal, right? Oh, it may also allow Big Power to turn back the thermostat on your central heat system to 60 or so, on the next cold night, from your preferred 68. So, Global Warming takes the night off, and the house is a little chilly when you roll out of bed in the morning. So, it takes a while to get it back into a comfortable range, while you shiver in your bathrobe and sweats, in front of the coffee machine, waiting for it to receive permission from the Smart Grid to start perking. So what? We all have to make sacrifices, in this new world.

You’d like to warm up in the shower, but the electric water heater is still recovering from being put into “sleep” mode by Smart Grid, and it will be a while before there’s enough hot water to keep you from feeling like one of those Titanic passengers floating in the icy North Atlantic, waiting for Leonardo DiCaprio to shut up and drown.

You’d pass the time watching Fox News, but oddly, the new, microprocessor-controlled TV in the kitchen skips past Fox News and stops on MSNBC, and has been doing that for a while. You think about disconnecting the network line that connects that TV to the Internet, but (surely not!) the creepy tingle in your scalp may be less about the prospect of a cold shower, and more because the thought has wormed its way into your mind that someone has decided you are too easily influenced to be allowed to watch Fox News, and is using your power company connection to block it from your TV.

If you disconnect the network line from the TV, will somebody know, and just not allow it to power on, tomorrow morning? Fox News will just put dangerous ideas in your head, anyway. Might as well leave it connected, and do without Fox. That way, when your security system’s motion detectors indicate to Smart Grid that the kitchen is empty, it can turn the TV off, and save a few watt-hours. It saves you money, and allows the poor and unfortunate to use the power you would otherwise waste — or your self-righteous, vegan neighbor can use it to top off the charge in his little electric car.

So, what is there to be paranoid about? Sure, you flew that “Don’t Tread on Me” flag on September 12th, and you sent $20 via the Internet to that independent Congressional candidate that pledged to put the Constitution ahead of any desire for re-election, even though he wasn’t running in your district. A couple other people in your neighborhood did, and, in fact, your congressional district didn’t go for Obama in ’07.

Wait a minute… I wonder if it ever occurs to the Obama Administration to tweak the Smart Grid to favor “blue states” over “red states?” Once you have the power over power, the possibilities are endless. As I wrote a while back:

Once you have a stranglehold on the generation and use of energy, you have a stranglehold on people.  Let’s just suppose that, on this sub-zero night over a large swath of the United States, the feds decide to provide a little object lesson about how the Constitution is no longer a limit on government power.  It would be a little brazen for President for Life Obama to instruct everyone to hold his or her breath for a few minutes, just to get an idea of what it would be like to be prohibited from emitting the bad pollutant CO2.  Might be a little hard to enforce, too, at this early stage in the Administration.

No, let’s just “accidentally” turn off the power to some states that didn’t go “blue” in the last election, but they’re going “blue” now, from sub-zero temperatures.  Not for long; just for a few hours — say, overnight…the first time, anyway.  Maybe, they will be offered some half-hearted explanation about a squirrel getting into the transformer, and the dang computers shut everything down, dumb computers, or Christian fundamentalist  terrorists, or something.  But don’t try too hard to be convincing, because the point is to make a subtle threat.

See?  If you don’t play by the new rules, will the Constitution keep you warm?  (Maybe you could burn your copy of the Bill of Rights on the kitchen table.  That’ll last a minute or two.)  Yes, your wood stove may tide you over for a few days without power, but a passing car carrying a government official might just see smoke coming from the chimney.  A DEA helicopter might be scanning in the infrared for indoor hydroponic pot farms, and see the heat coming from your fire.  Whoa, we can’t have that, can we? Spewing CO2 out into the publicly-owned air, melting glaciers and drowning polar bears? Tsk.

No, that would never happen. Sure, Obama said before the election he was about to “transform” our country. Sure, he keeps hiring people to important posts who profess an affection for socialism and even communism, and for mass murderers like Mao tse-tung. But surely, they have no intention of making those quirky political views into policy, right?

I’m just being paranoid. Right? Hey! Who turned off the lights?

YOU’RE TOO STUPID!

October 14, 2009

For decades, the government has been telling you that you’re stupid. Are you too stupid to get tired of that?

You are too stupid to buy a car you can afford, and one that gives you and your family a chance of surviving a collision, rather than one that will crush like a paper bag because it had to lose weight to meet CAFE standards.

You are too stupid to manage your own health care. You need the government to choose your doctor, and to determine if, what, when and how you will receive medical care; and whether you and your loved ones will die because their care is too expensive, or rationed to those in a more favored political class.

You are too stupid to decide for yourself what the truth is, so government will decide who gets to use “public” airwaves to tell you what to think.

You are too stupid to buy a toilet that flushes the first time, a light bulb that doesn’t contain poisons you need a HAZMAT team to dispose of, or to set your thermostat to a comfortable temperature, just because you are the one paying the utility bills.

You are too stupid to distinguish honest expression of news and opinion appearing on the Internet from scams and lies, so government will move in, as in China, and allocate Internet access to the sources that get bureaucratic blessings.

You are too stupid to know how stupid racism is – especially of you are white, or non-white but conservative – so you need government to impose racist standards on hiring, college admissions and just about everything else.

You are too stupid to be responsible for your children’s education. You don’t have an education school degree, so you are not qualified to provide your children with moral education, let alone to home-school them. Government will provide them with all the knowledge and wisdom they need, thank you very much. And government will encourage your children to bring their wisdom home and lecture you  for not buying a hybrid deathtrap car and for running too much hot water, and for not standing whenever Barack Obama appears on TV.

You are too stupid to examine the actual positions of political candidates and decide for yourself, based on those positions, which are more qualified for office. Instead, you need government to restrict the right to run for office to members of one or the other establishment political party. “Independents” and “third parties” should get every possible obstacle thrown in their way, because you are too stupid to see their names on the ballot. The burden of choice would overload your stunted intellect, and you would be incapable of making the right decision.

You are FAR too stupid to own a firearm, because firearms, all by themselves, cause crime and suicide. You are incapable of learning which end of the gun the round comes out of, or how the unload a weapon and make it safe, or how to distinguish a home invader seconds away from crashing through your front door from your mother-in-law getting a midnight snack.

Some of us are at the end of our patience with genuinely stupid, selfish, socialist, statist do-gooders telling us we are the stupid ones.

Are you?