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Comment: This method will not pick up many issues (Score 2) 215

by grandpa-geek (#41525283) Attached to: Statistical Tools For Detecting Electoral Fraud

For example, there is very strong evidence that Scott Brown reached the US Senate as a result of election fraud. Details are in http://electiondefensealliance.org/files/BelieveIt_OrNot_100904.pdf That analysis compared the results in machine count jurisdictions and hand count jurisdictions. The usual disparity between hand count and machine count results (based on prior elections) runs around 0.25%. Coakley led in hand count jurisdictions by 2% and Brown in machine count jurisdictions by 5%. That is a 7% disparity. It also turns out that the company operating the machine counts was Republican-connected, and that the ballots were neither saved nor sampled to validate the accuracy of the machine counts. There are numerous ways to tamper with a machine count of paper ballots, especially in a two-person special election.

The method published in the subject paper could not pick up this kind of election fraud.

Comment: Re:Consistent availability is the issue (Score 2) 345

by grandpa-geek (#41333647) Attached to: How Viable Is Large Scale Wind Energy?

One major potential source of battery backup is electric vehicles. Even after their batteries are no longer usable in the cars (about 75% of capacity) they can be used as backup for wind and solar. That also requires either the vehicles or the charging stations to include inverters that can feed power to the grid.

Geographic diversity can do some mitigation of wind variability, but storage is better. Not all storage needs to be in batteries. For example, compressed air and flywheels are other storage technologies that can also help.

The distribution infrastructure needs to be rebuilt, but that is not what would transfer power over larger regions. The transmission infrastructure does that job. One study a few years ago estimated a need for about 10K miles of new 500KV transmission to handle a wind penetration of around 20% to 30%.

Also, there is a need for much more detailed and more statistically-focused weather forecasting to support wind production forecasting. That is needed to help manage a system with high wind penetration.

Comment: Re:Complexity of the vote is different (Score 1) 500

by grandpa-geek (#41283633) Attached to: Election Tech: In Canada, They Actually Count the Votes

In addition to the number of offices and questions on the ballot, US elections can be complicated by multi-seat offices (e.g., there are five council seats, they run "at large," and you vote for five candidates out of of whatever number are running; the top five win). In Canada and many other countries, there is one office and a number of competing candidates. They can put the ballots in piles and count the piles. You can't do that with a multi-seat office, and it gets difficult when there are multiple offices on the ballot.

The number of offices and questions can be large. Where I live, in a presidential year there may be around a dozen or more offices and questions on the ballot. In an "off-year" (mainly local) election there may be 20 or 30 offices and questions, including at least 3 or 4 that are multi-seat.

Comment: Re:Mandatory already for electric power (Score 1) 94

by grandpa-geek (#41279727) Attached to: White House Circulating Draft of Executive Order On Cybersecurity

Some problems do remain. FERC and NERC only control the Bulk Electric System. The state PUC's regulate the distribution system, and few PUCs have the capability for overseeing cybersecurity. Second, there is huge pushback on NERC when they try to tighten the CIP standards. The prime example is the continued existence of the scope exclusion for non-routable protocols. They are just as vulnerable as routable protocols, but if they were made in scope asset owners would have more work to do to protect them or might actually need to replace their legacy equipment. So, the exclusion hangs on revision after revision. Finally, even if the asset owner is serious about cybersecurity, their vendor might not be willing to get serious and might prefer to peddle half-vast capabilities.

Comment: Mandatory already for electric power (Score 2) 94

by grandpa-geek (#41277139) Attached to: White House Circulating Draft of Executive Order On Cybersecurity

For the high voltage part of the electric grid there are already mandatory standards, They are part of the reliability standards mandated by a 2005 law and are produced by an industry consensus standards organization. However, upon acceptance by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) they become mandatory with maximum penalties of a million dollars a day per violation.

The early versions of the standards mainly required asset owners to attend to cybersecurity by identifying critical assets and making and following plans to protect them. The early violations were not having the plans and not updating them. Some asset owners tried to say they didn't have any critical assets. Over the years provisions have tightened (like defining what kinds of assets are critical and requiring that the plans not only be prepared but actually followed).

The asset owners have some legitimate concerns. For example, if the standards give discretion to auditors in reviewing the quality of their cybersecurity protections, they are worried about auditors who don't really understand the technology, see an actually inapplicable "best practice" somewhere and downrate the cybersecurity protections if the practice isn't followed. For example, the general practice in IT is to routinely install vendor patches. However, the proper practice in electric grid control systems is to individually test the patches to ensure that they don't cause system instability or equipment misoperation. You don't routinely install vendor patches if your job is to keep the lights on.

Mandating of cybersecurity has to be done carefully with sensitivity and attention to details in the application domain. But it does need to be done.

Comment: Re:New? Hardly. (Score 1) 156

by grandpa-geek (#36258420) Attached to: "Space Archeology" Uncovers Lost Pyramids

The Bible is compiled from a variety of materials. Some do indeed provide as accurate a description of events as is possible, given that parts of the material likely represent oral traditions handed down and later committed to writing. Of course, all history is written from a perspective and all documents, ancient and modern, are written for a purpose that may not have historical accuracy as a major priority.

Some parts of the Bible are legal and ethical in nature, others are writings regarded as having philosophical or historical merit. However, regardless of the nature of the material, there are nuggets of historical content found in numerous places.

Comment: Re:New? Hardly. (Score 2) 156

by grandpa-geek (#36250276) Attached to: "Space Archeology" Uncovers Lost Pyramids

There have been other discoveries of significance. For example, Israeli scientists used satellite imagery to find a canal that figures in the story of the Exodus. The canal runs from Lake Balah to Lake Timsah, and was probably built as a military earthwork. According to the scientists, the south end of Lake Timsah qualifies today for the name "Yam Suf" (Sea of Reeds, the place name often erroneously translated as "Red Sea") and the place where pharoah's army was destroyed is Pi Hachirot, literally "mouth of the canal."

Comment: It almost seemed to at times in the past (Score 1) 585

by grandpa-geek (#36204028) Attached to: The world will end ...

Speculation about the world coming to an end (a.k.a. eschatology) was an important part of early Christianity. It was also part of Judaism but mainly in later books of the Bible and in parts of the Talmud.

There is evidence, controversial in the scientific community, that there were worldwide cataclysms within recorded history that seemed like the world was coming to an end. One such cataclysm likely occurred at the time of the Exodus. The stories in the Bible about the plagues and the destruction of Pharoah's army at the Sea of Reeds correlate with Egyptian documents (a papyrus by Ipuwer describing the plagues and a monument to that Pharoah later found as a stone in an El Arish cistern) and with other stories worldwide.

The eschatalogical speculation has a basis in history and should be taken as further evidence of the past cataclysms. We will understand this phenomenon only when the scientific community begins to seriously consider the work of researchers such as Immanuel Velikovsky, Gunnar Heinsohn, Zecharia Sitchin, and their followers.

Comment: It is equally bad (or worse) for standards (Score 1) 323

by grandpa-geek (#35948678) Attached to: Copyright Law Is Killing Science

Most standards are written by volunteers who (or whose companies) even pay for their travel to meetings. All standards are copyright, and except for a few SDOs such as the IETF, most have to be purchased. SDOs, including professional societies, use sales of standards to support their central staffs. For IEC standards, even the volunteers who prepare them are expected to buy the final copies (the draft standards are marked as being only for the purpose of preparing comments). A single user set of the first five Smart Grid standards referred for action by FERC under the law creating the Smart Grid, all IEC standards, costs about $10K. That does not include the numerous normative references cited in the standards that also have to be purchased to fully understand the details. This creates a barrier to potential users even finding out what is in the standards to determine if they are worth using.

Comment: The 50/60 Hz split once caused a major blackout (Score 2) 322

by grandpa-geek (#35535856) Attached to: Legacy From the 1800s Leaves Tokyo In the Dark

The 50/60 Hz split posed a problem for air conditioner manufacturers in Japan. Their solution was frequency-converting air conditioners that would work on either 50 Hz or 60 Hz. When they were first being installed it was not noticed that their characteristics over their range of operating voltages were not the same as conventional air conditioners.

The problem became clear on a hot summer day in the late 1980's. TEPCO was importing power to the Tokyo area from nuclear plants a considerable distance away. Long distance transmission of electricity requires reactive power to maintain voltage at the receiving end. The frequency-converting air conditioners increased the need for reactive power in the Tokyo area.

In early afternoon, TEPCO ran out of reactive power and the voltage collapsed, causing a major blackout. It was the first major blackout that happened without some kind of event such as a lightning strike or a piece of equipment failing.

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