Category Archives: national security and infrastructure

WJLA7 News Channel 8 in DC hosts Town Hall: “Your Voice, Your Future: The New Terror Threat”: video clip excerpts

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On Thursday, October 16, 2014, News Channel 8 (of television station WJLA-7 in Washington DC) held a Town Hall “Your Voice, Your Future: The New Terror Threat“.   (This title has also been spelled in different word orders: “The New Terror Threat: Your Future, Your Voice” and “The New Terror Threat: Your Voice, Your Future”.)

I’ve described the points made in my “cf” blog Oct. 16, but I want to present all the video I made here from YouTube

Part 1  (Suicide bombers mentioned)

Part 2

Part 3 (threats on military members within the US)

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9 (relative seriousness of ISIS/ISIL threat and Ebola)

(Published: Friday Oct. 17, 2014 at 2:30 PM EDT)

AFI Docs: QA’s from “Silenced” and “The Internet’s Own Boy”

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I saw four films at AFI Docs (formerly called SilverDocs) this weekend.

Two of the films dealt with the government, surveillance, leaks, overreaching prosecutions, and the like.  While reviews are on Blogger, I have many other videos from the QA to share.

On Thursday, June 19, “Silenced” played at the Naval Archive, directed by James Spione, told the story of CIA operative John Kiriakou, NSA official Thomas Drake, and US attorney Jesselyn Radack.

On Saturday, June 21, 2014, I saw “The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz“, directed by Brian Knappenberger, at the AFI Silver in Silver Spring MD.  The film will be in general release June 27.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

This was an answer to my question, which involved the DMCA Safe Harbor, Section 230, and downstream liability protection, especially in connection with the SOPA bill in 2011, which Aaron’s protest help defeat in early 2012.

Jack Andraka, the teen who discovered a promising test for Pancreatic Cancer, discusses the problem of paywalls for scientific journals at about the 15:00 mark in the YouTube video of his Stanford speech in late 2013, youtube link here.

(Published Sunday June 22, 2014 at 11:45 PM)

“Revolution” on NBC shows life after an apocalypse, maybe comparable to “The Proles”

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Before providing some more discussion of my own early novel “The Proles”, that is, the post-apocalyptic second half, I wanted to provide an entry for the series “Revolution” on NBC (link), now in its second season, created by J.J. Abrams and his company Bad Robot, having premiered in September 2012.

The series takes place fifteen years after all the power in the world went out suddenly.  The United States government has fallen, and the continent has broken into various republics and wild areas governed by militias and warlords.  The president was hiding out at Guantanamo.  At the end of Season 1, the power was almost going to come back on, but the purpose was more to enable a nuclear strike on part of the Monroe Republic.

At this point, there’s not much point in going through the deals of the history of post-apocalyptic life as they are summarized on Wikipeida, here.

More important is the cause of the blackout.  In 2012, the series was billed in popular media as caused by an EMP attack by terrorists (as in the novel “One Second After”, Feb. 15 here). By comparison with my book “The Proles”, such an attack could be motivated by communism, fascism, or religious extremism.  But it turns out that the loss was caused by a conspiracy, apparently involving the government, to create “nanites” that can devour electricity but that have other abilities, such as to create objects under telepathic command (of the master programmer Aaron, played by Zak Orth), or by a USB-like pendant when inserted into certain computers. There’s a summary page about the nanites here.  The nanites can be especially effective in treating cancer, which could help explain their origin. 

The nanites are controlled by a “Tower” – there may be several of these towers.  The concept of a control tower appears in my novel “The Proles”, as well as in the ABC series “Flash Forward”.  (In my own subconscious I have called it the “Tower of Ned”, but I’ll get to that later.)

Zak, as a character, may be viewed as roughly comparable to me.  He had worked for Google – I worked mostly in mainframe, but that’s because my career occurred earlier.  His heterosexual forays are weak.  He has worked as a teacher in the “afterworld”, just as I worked as a substitute teacher, leading to a major incident.

It does not make sense that the “nanites”, as envisioned by the show, could really “absorb” electricity.  I say this, recognizing that the crippling effects of an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) or extreme solar storm (Carrington event) would come in a few separate steps taking several minutes (or even days, in the case of a solar event).  Maybe there is something to the concept I don’t get, and will be explained in future episodes.

I have to express a degree of irritation about the progress of the show.  The opening Pilot shows the blackout briefly, taking about five minutes, and then various episodes show flashbacks to various times after the blackout but relatively few before the “event”.  The series does not yet show any narrative continuity to how the Blackout occurred, or how long it took society to collapse afterward.  The previews keep promising an explanation, but the clues have been slow to come, mostly through the Orth character.  I think a two-hour prequel (more or less parallel to Part I of “The Proles”), showing how it occurred, aired sometime soon, would be very much in order for NBC and Bad Robot.   A documentary discussing the EMP and solar storm issues (maybe from Dateline) would also seem to be called for.

This scene between Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell) and Jane Warren (Kate Burton) is instructive.

(Published Thursday, March 27, 2014, 11:50 PM EDT)

Update: April 23, 2014

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The film “Transcendence” by Wally Pfister for Warner Brothers and Alcon, almost seems like a “prequel” to “Revolution”.  Indeed, once his consciousness is captured on a super computer, Will connects himself to all the computers in the world and makes them create nanobots.

 

“The Proles”: My fantasy of Armageddon, Cold-War (1970) style

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The Proles” is my 400-page typewritten “unpublished novel” manuscript, my first.

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Creation of manuscript:

I wrote most of the novel by hand in spiral notebooks while living in the barracks at Fort Eustis, VA while in the Army, throughout much of 1969.  It appears that I finished the handwritten draft in early 1970 after starting to work for RCA in Princeton NJ, and had typewritten most of the manuscript by early September 1970.  It appears that I did some work and revision while on a job assignment in Indianapolis in the early summer of 1970.

In the early fall of 1970, as I went back home to Arlington for a weekend on the train, I accidentally left my only copy at the Trenton NJ Amtrak station.  I got off in Philadelphia and took a commuter train back to Trenton to recover it.  The ticket agent still had it.

I wrote an epilogue and a summary and typed it in 1972.  After starting a new job with Univac and while living in Caldwell, NJ, I contacted someone through old contacts at RCA and sent it to Knopf in the late fall of 1972.  This didn’t get very far.

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Plot and concept:

The novel is in two parts, “The Covenant” and “The Great Summons”.

The first five chapters of the novel are strictly autobiographical.  They closely track my own life as follows:

Chapter 1:  the end of the spring semester at the University of Kansas, 1967

Chapter 2:  a summer job with the Navy Department in the summer of 1967

Chapter 3:  a fall semester at the University of Kansas and completion of my degree, 1967-1968.

Chapter 4: My fourteen weeks of Basic Combat Training in the Army, early 1968.

Chapter 5: My tours at the Pentagon (summer of 1968) and mysterious transfer to Fort Eustis in September 1968, and my remaining time there in 1969.

For these chapters I made some changes.  I call myself “John Maurcek”.  The University of Kansas becomes Kansas Weslyan (even though nothing is sectarian) and Lawrence KS becomes Atkins.  Fort Jackson SC becomes Fort Wilson (half way to Fort Gordon).

The general idea is that John meets a number of students and various people in the Army and pieces together a “conspiracy theory”.  One of the most charismatic, Hans Zugfel, appears at his summer job in Chapter 2, and seems to have a mysterious history of trips to the Soviet Union.  It seems that the Reds have developed a doomsday weapon that can vaporize matter but encode the information that created it digitally.

In Chapter 6, one of John’s other cohorts, named “Rado Suhl”, fights in Vietnam and witnesses the effect of the weapon.

In Chapter 7, John has not actually found his first job yet (in actual fact I had), and Zugfel summons him on a treasure hunt.  He winds up meeting “Oscar” (another friend from Fort Eustis) near a military base in North Dakota.  He enters the facility and loses sense of time.  He and Oscar are let go after a little while, and given a ride.  At the first gas station, they learn that nuclear war has broken out and destroyed most of the country.

Part II has six chapters named after sections of the Requiem Mass.  (Maybe the structure is a bit like Havergal Brian’s “Gothic Symphony”).  John meets a woman, Tovina, and with her travels a wasteland, eventually making it back to the East Coast.  Eventually, after some misadventures (including a place called an “Amusement Tent” in Nebraska and the delivery of some more characters)  he and Tovina (now possibly pregnant) arrive on the East Coast near the remains of Princeton .  Zugfel judges Bill regarding Bill’s hero-worship of him, and then Bill has to decide if he and Tovina are game for a long space voyage to a new planet.  The Earth, however, is finally destroyed.

Relation to my other Books:

Chapter 4, called “Interlude”, giving the details of my Basic Training in 1968, is reproduced in the “Fiction” section of the new book “Do Ask, Do Tell III: Speech Is a Fundamental Right, Being Listened to Is a Privilege”.  A more compact account had been provided as Chapter 2 of “Do Ask, Do Tell I: A Gay Conservative Lashes Back” in 1997 (totally as a non-fiction narrative using Fort Jackson as the place).

The more detailed account in the new book is disturbing.  It tends to portray me as a mooch or coward, concerned about his own comfort when thrown into a situation where others make gender-related demands for the supposed common good.  But of course these demands are only valid if the “domino theory” of communism as understood in the 1960s holds and if the government indeed has the legal warrant to conscript for this common good.

The previous chapter 3 (“Development”, following the earlier “Exposition”))  gives some of the details of “John’s” experience as an assistant instructor at graduate school in Kansas, teaching a section of algebra designed for slower students.  John exudes “power” of the students in a manner similar to how he thought teachers and authorities in general had wielded power over him in his own teen and early college years.  Many students flunk, including one given an automatic F for cheating.  John knows that some of these students could lose their draft deferments if he fails them, and wind up more likely to serve as cannon fodder (especially in infrantry) in Vietnam.  The chapter also describes some travels with a roommate (one dedicated to Ayn Rand’s individualism, and with whom he has good rapport, compared to what had happened at William and Mary), as well as the last two weeks of transition from graduate student (with some powers in teaching himself), going through Master’s orals, to Army life as a “prole”.  There is a posting on my companion site with some passages from early pages of the book that develop this point, here.

Another story in the DADT III book, “The Ocelot the Way He Is”, brings up the issue of sending other college students to the draft by flunking them, as if John had played both sides of the issue.

The Chapter that follows Basic, 5 (“The Investigations”) chronicles his life in permanent party.  He spends three months in the Pentagon and living on post at Fort Myer.  He makes some jokes in the office about having been a “bad detail man”.  Mysteriously, he is transferred to Ft. Eustis.  This seems to have to do with his previous psychiatric history, and this may be the only portion of the novel where his expulsion for “latent homosexuality” is discussed.  Once at Fort Eustis, he makes friends in the barracks in his own way, as most of the other men are similarly relatively well educated.  One campadre, “Oscar”, had enlisted for three years to ensure staying out of combat.  Oscar, while studying genealogy in conjunction with joining the LDS church, is quite taken in by John’s hangups about latent homosexuality, joins in the jokes, with repeated caricatures of Tiny Tim. (and “The Gesture”, where moonfaced Oscar bends his wrist and says “O Go Way Butterfly” — we called that “OGAB”).   But other characters, for whom John assigns “animal names” like Lizard, Ostrich, and particularly The Ocelot,  impress John, who starts to imagine how they could fit into (or have wind of)  a particular “conspiracy”, to rid the world of the parasites and underserving.  (John is called “Chickenman” — because he’s everywhere.)   By the time I was at Ft. Eustis, we all knew about the proletariat “cultural revolution” in China, where everyone took turns being a peasant, and thought that the Soviets would ensure that the same thing could be imposed on us, one by one, even if took nukes to do it. Even, I thought that the USSR’s National Anthem (performed in the 1981 movie “Reds”) was much more stirring than our own.

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Relation to historical truth:

I’ve noted the fictional locations already,  The main deviation from reality starts in Chapter 5.  I propose that the Army canceled the program of specialized MOS’s (like my “01E20” Mathematician) for enlisted men with advanced degrees.  I don’t recall for sure whether the Army really did this, but I believe that it did eventually.   At Fort Eustis, the Berkeley doctoral graduate “Rado Suhl” asks to be transferred and goes to Vietnam, in time to witness the doomsday weapon.  I think he did get transferred shortly after I left (on Feb. 7, 1970).

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In the book, I don’t get a civilian professional job before getting out of the Army, and go right on the treasure hunt.  In reality, I had two major offers (RCA and Bell Labs) by mid December 1969.  I started work at RCA on February 16, 1970, reporting at the Cherry Hill NJ location.

In the book, John is accused of homosexuality in the last few months and placed  on general duty, where he has to live in the bay with Special Troops and share KP.  This did not happen.  But we constantly “feared” being sent “back to the bay”, which we called “BTTB”.

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Psychological Aspects

This whole time, John sees his own life as from outside like an observer.  Everything in his life is about meaning and symbolism rather than direct experience.  He has emotion generated by music and by his ideals, and fantasies about ideal men (as explained in the DADT III book, around p. 44-45. He has no concept of a relationship with someone based on genuine complementarity, even less with the idea that he could biologically father life and that if he did so, that could “mean” anything.  In fact, he might relish communicating the idea that less competitive men should not father children and have a lineage — but that would feed the idea of eugenics.   He seems to lack some basic instincts.  Yet, within his own frame of reference, his own universe with its own rules, everything is fascinating.  Autism (at least in this form mild enough to invite moral disapproval) really works, even rocks.  So it’s possible to view a conspiracy theory through this lens and make it work, even make it funny.  Perhaps it sounds like satire.  You can pick up this 1969-1970 typed manuscript at random passages, and it seems quite seductive and captivating to share John’s beliefs, worldviews, and fears, even about his own vulnerable body image.

There is something very dark about how John sees other people.  You could say, as objects, as pawns or chess pieces, to be scored (that is, a Bishop is “worth” three and a half pawns).  Physical attributes become part-objects, and affect whether John can feel any emotional stake in the person.  It’s possible for someone to “lose it”, either because of his own bad living habits, or because of the actions of others (as in combat).  Then he is forever worthless, whatever the cause.  On a private level that is meaningless, but as people get taken in by it (as they do in the military barracks, especially in Chapter 5), it has its effect.  Politically, it can become dangerous, feeding racism or an attitude that people can become expendable.  Organized crime and fascism both feed on that process;  communism at least pretends that it addresses it.  People need to be able to enter relationships (marriages) and keep them when something unfortunate happens to one partner, all the more if in war.  

Of course, this style of thinking, even if we had just fought WWII to defeat it, had been reinforced by the draft and deferment system, which led that some people’s lives were more expendable than others.

There is a lot of talk of male beauty, and of resentment of the old cultural norm that only women should be valued for passive beauty.  There is some focus on various secondary attributes of men in spots (with phrases like “mannish flesh”).  Nevertheless, all the sex scenes are heterosexual.  Near the end of Part I, Hans Zugfel finally has intercourse with his mystery girl friend “Holdine” (whom John has met clandestinely); the scene builds up very slowly, as John imagines it during masturbatory fantasy.  But John never imagines being with Zugfel or any other male directly in the book.  John’s “second coming” would not occur until 1973.   In the second half, near the end, as written, he attempts intimacy with Tovina, and is disturbed at what he sees when she undresses.  Would it make sense to have children in such a world anyway?

Various men looked at my handwritten manuscript in the barracks, and chuckled at how they were presented.  The standing joke was “The Proles,, rated X”.  Now, that’s NC-17.  But it probably would be rated R if made today.

Will “The Proles” ever sweep across the screen?  That I’ll take up in a subsequent posting.

(Published Tuesday March 25, 2014 about 5 PM EDT.)

Films about gays in the military: Hollywood could do much more with this theme

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It’s logical to have expected activity in the film world over the issue of gays in the military.  Most of the films have been small, and there may have been missed opportunities.

One of the oldest was a television film, “Matlovich vs. The U,S. Air Force” on NBC in 1977, about Tech Sgt. Leonard Matlovich.

One of the first important Clinton era films was “Serving in Silence” on NBC, about the case of Washington National Guard colonel Grete Cammermeyer, as played by Glenn Close.  I remember a scene near the end where the Army  JAG lawyer for the government describes her as a fine person.

There was talk in the 1990’s that there would be films about both Joseph Steffan and Keith Meinhold, but they did not come about.

An important film about tension within the ranks. would be “Any Mother’s Son” on Lifetime, in 1996, about the murder of gay sailor Allen Schindler, from the Belleau Wood, by off-duty sailor Terry Helvey in Sasebo, Japan, in 1992, a killing that was in the same league as that of Matthew Shepherd.

In 2003, Showtime aired “Soldier’s Girl”, the tragic story of a solider (Barry Winchell) who fell in love with a trangendered person (Calpernia Adams) and was bludgeoned to death by unit mates, at Fort Campbell, KY.

In 2008, Johnny Simmons produced an important documentary “Ask Not” giving the history of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy,

There is a similar film in 2009 by Tom Murray, titled “Tell”, having mostly interviews of soldiers, and attorneys including Dixon Osburn.

Ned Farr’s “A Marine’s Story” presents a lesbian kicked out of the Corps telling her backstory as she trains a delinquent girl with tough love.

“Out of Annapolis”, by Steve Clark Hall, presents gay alumni of the Naval Academy.

In 2012, Marc Wolf produced the film “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” on Snag Films, his monologue based on his play “Another American: Asking and Telling”, which I had seen at the Studio Theater in Washington DC in April 2000.

The best history film on the policy is probably “The Strange History of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”  (Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato) on HBO, airing in October 2012.  The film did a particularly good job of distinguishing between the “privacy” issue and “unit cohesion”, which is a bit more subtle.

And there is the one hour history “Do Ask, Do Tell: The Documentary” on YouTube by Ali Sue.

There are many films in the past that have tangentially brushed the issue of gays in the military, including the 1929 silent classic “Wings” set in WWI, and even “A Few Good Men” in 1992.

Books about gays in the military, and the history of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

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In view of the content of my own books, it’s useful to survey the major books on gays in the military, including the history of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which was effectively passed into law at the end of 1993 and officially repealed in 2011.

The basic reference was by journalist Randy Shilts, “Conduct Unbecoming: Gays and Lesbians in the U.S. Military”, originally published by St. Martins in 1993, and reissued, slightly updated, in paper by Fawcett Columbine in 1994.  Really, this is a history of gays in the US military, all the way back to the Revolutionary War, up to the beginning of DADT.  A critical time came in 1981, just before President Reagan took office, when the Pentagon came up with the notorious “123 words” (“Homosexuality is incompatible with military service” and the following litany or word salad), and a uniform absolute ban on gays in all the services, technically including the Coast Guard and Surgeon General corps.  Shilts also gave a history of the Vietnam era, when the Army had to try to stop men from claiming homosexuality to get out of the draft.  Shilts included a case of a man thrown out of a civilian college in Illinois in 1995 (officially “flunking out”), getting drafted and discharged again.

There was also a “book” by the Rand Corporation, the official study commissioned by Les Aspen in the Clinton Administration, “Sexual Orientation and U.S. Military Personnel Policy”.  The book surveyed many other countries, including Canada, Britain and particularly Israel, before concluding that “sexual orientation was not germane to assessing fitness for military service” and recommending a “code of military professional conduct.”

But the really interesting books were the autobiographies by the individual gay and lesbian soldiers who had to deal with the ban

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The best of all of these books was “Honor Bound: A Gay Naval Midshipman Fights to Serve his Country”, by Joseph Steffan, from Villard (Random House) in 1992.  I actually bought this book at a signing party at Lambda Rising in Washington in September of that year and met the author, I read it in one night and couldn’t put it down.  It woke me up.  Steffan was about to graduate third in his class in 1987 when, in a bizarre set of circumstances, he was outed, and did tell the honor board and cadre that he was gay, and was denied graduation.  He had many accomplishments, such as signing the National Anthem at the Army-Navy game in Philadelphia.  He did a summer cruise on a submarine without incident, and was apparently quite skilled at chess.  There was a great line in the book: “Personal honor is an absolute. You either have or do not have honor”.  For all its importance, I’m surprised that this book is no longer in print and seems to be available only from resellers.

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Marc Wolinsky and Kevin Sherrill authored “Gays in the Military: Joseph Steffan vs. The United States”, Princeton University Press, supplements Steffan’s book with all the legal papers.

Mary Anne Humphrey authored an anthology of cases “My Country: My Right to Serve” (Harper Collins), again, pre-DADT.

James Hollobaugh, in “Torn Allegiances” (1993, Alsyon) told the story of his life as an ROTC cadet.  Discharged after outing himself, he was pursued for recoupment of scholarship monies. One of the most harrowing passages, though, occurs in civilian life when he gets lost in a blizzard in the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina (yes, it gets cold there).

Soldier of the Year: The Story of a Gay American Patriot”, by Jose Zuniga, 1995, Pocket Books, is the story of the Sixth Army Soldier of the Year who enlisted at Fort Bliss in 1989.

Serving in Silence” is the story of Grethe Cammermeyer, to be covered in another posting.

Rob Graham’s “Military Secret”, published in Dallas, was a first-person account of Desert Storm.

One of my favorite later books is Reichen Lehmkuhl’s “Here’s What We;ll Say: Growing Up, Coming Out, and the U.S. Air Force“., from Carroll Graf.  By clever manipulation, Reichen survived his four years at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and graduated.

Of special interest as Scott Peck’s “All American Boy” (Scribner, 1995).  Peck was the gay son of a Marine Corps general who opposed lifting the ban and who hosted a radio talk show about gay rights on Sunday nights in 1993.  He one time had a discussion with Frank Kameny on his program about security clearances for gays.

There were books by men in civilian fields similar to the military. There was Frank Buttino’s “A Special Agent: Gay and Inside the FBI”.  Mr. Buttino describes his meeting with the closety J. Edgar Hoover, and his own relationship with a gay sailor, who never was discharged and served without incident.

There are a couple of books by gay atheletes:  “The Dave Kopay Story”, and then Esear Tualo’s “Alone in the Trenches: My Life as a Gay Man in the NFL”.  There is also Mark Tewksbury “Inside Out: Straight Talk from a Gay Jock”, by a Canadian Olympic swimmer (sorry, that means “all that body shaving”).  And there is Greg Louganis, “Breaking the Surface.”

My own “Do Ask, Do Tell: A Gay Conservative Lashes Back” (1997) inverts the usual story, where I was thrown out of a civilian college (William and Mary) for admitting homosexuality in 1961, then took the draft physical three times and eventually was drafted in 1968 and “served” two years without incident.  But Shilts relates a somewhat similar incident at one point.

We should mention John Barrett’s “Hero of Flight 93; Mark Bingham: A Man Who Fought Back on September 11

Regarding the history of the Repeal, I recommend Aaron Belkin and the Palm Center (at UC Santa Barbrara), “How We Won: Progressive Lessons from the Repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’” on Kindle.  Previously Belkin had authored “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: Debating the Gay Ban in the Military” (2003).  I met with Dr. Belkin at his office in Santa Barbara in February 2002.   Another book of important is Nathaniel Frank’s “Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America”  (2009). Vincent Cianni will publish a photographic book “Gays in the Military” April 30, 2014.

Big threats to electric power grid covered in several books and academic papers, not much in movies yet

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A number of books and professional papers in the past few years have discussed the dangerous and possibly existential threat to the electric power grid for North America and most of the developed world, from both natural and hostile sources. I would expect major films (not just typical overdone “disaster movies”) to explore this possibility in the future.

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Civilization, and the whole concept of the rule of law, has evolved with technology and now could not function if electricity to a large percentage of the country or to a major area were lost for many weeks, months or years.  But this is indeed possible.

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Concern about this idea has risen in recent weeks, since the Wall Street Journal drew attention to a physical rifle attack on the Metcalf substation in the Silicon Valley in California in April, 2013, which actually caused very little disruption to companies and homes in the area.

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There are two major fiction works that present the grid vulnerability.  One of these is “Gridlock”, by Byron L. Dorgan (former senator from North Dakota) and David Hagberg, from Forge.  Dorgan envisions a major conspiracy theory, involving Russian and Middle Eastern enemies, who (with the help of a psychopathic young hacker in the Netherlands) can take out the grid with cyber attacks in stages, demanding ransom.  But the incident starts with shooting a power station, and then the electrocution of a repair person by manipulating the way the line is energized by a computer virus. The link is here  and the visitor can follow the labels to other books that take up related issues.

The older fiction is “One Second After”, by William Forstchen (2009, from Doberty) with a foreword by Newt Gingrich and an afterword by Bill Sanders.  The novel follows one family in the North Carolina Blue Ridge when, one April afternoon, the lights go out suddenly for the whole country, as a result of three simultaneous electromagnetic pulse (EMP) explosions from nuclear weapons launched from a commercial ship in the Gulf of Mexico to high altitude.  I wondered, would Norad find and would the Air Force intercept these missiles?    Civilization in rural areas returns to the 19h Century, but almost everyone in large cities perishes within a year.

The major non-fiction book is “A Nation Forsaken: The Escalating Threat of an American Catastrophe” by F. Michael Maloof. From WND Books.

Maloof covers all the major possibilities, including EMP from missiles, but also explains how a coordinated EMP attack could occur on the ground from smaller, non-nuclear “magnetic flux compression generators”, a possibility pointed out in a Popular Science article in 2001, originating with New Scientist, link here.

Maloof also covers the possibility of a solar flare, followed by coronal mass ejections that could arrive at Earth two or three days later.

The National Academy of Sciences has published two important works, “Terrorism and the Electric Power Delivery System”, in 2012, as well as “Severe Space Weather Events: Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts”.

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Oak Ridge National Laboratory has published “Geogmagnetic Storms and their Impact on the U.S. Power Grid”.

On October 27, 2013, National Geographic Channel aired the docudrama “American Blackout” about how the US would recover in ten days from a total cyber attack on the power grid.

On Feb. 21, 2010, CNN aired a similar film, “Cyber Shockwave,” enacting a cyber crisis with officials discussing what they would do in a manner similar to war games that the media used to stage for nuclear crises in the past (even the Cuban Missile Crisis).

There have been a few B-moves on the solar flare issue, like “Air Collision“,  “Solar Strike”, “Solar Crisis” and “Solar Attack” that aren’t very effective or credible.

But “Perfect Disaster: Solar Storm” from the Discovery Channel is pretty scary.

I have heard rumors that Warner Brothers has looked at “One Second After”, and Dorgan probably has the connections to get “Gridlock” considered by studio agents.

(Initial publication: Saturday, February 15, 2014 at about 11:45 AM EST).