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United States Government Space Science

Feds Have a Plan For Catastrophic Solar Flares ( 188

New submitter Steve Sacco, referencing the newly released National Space Weather Strategy and the National Space Weather Action Plan, written in anticipation of large-scale disruptions from a solar flare or similar event, writes: Released on October 28, 2015, the White House plan involves the coordination of agencies from the federal level, state level, and including emergency managers, academia, the media, the insurance industry, nonprofit organizations and the private sector, all in preparation for the worst-case scenario possible, such as the Carrington Event that took place in 1859.
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Feds Have a Plan For Catastrophic Solar Flares

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  • They have no plan (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Sunday November 01, 2015 @07:56PM (#50844233) Homepage Journal

    If you actually read TFA and TFD's, there is no plan. What there is, is an outline for a plan. This is about what they should do to prepare a plan -- it's not an actual plan.

    Once they have a plan, then they need specially prepared gear, vehicles, etc. They don't have enough hardened / sheltered "stuff" to even have a hope of dealing with a really significant event.

    If you don't have solar power stored in a nice dark box inside a Faraday cage, along with (at least) a radio and anything electrical you need to survive*, you won't even have the beginnings of what you'll need to going to do well -- and the government is not, in any way, prepared to help you out at this time. And your neighbors... they aren't going to be happy you're okay, and they are not, either.

    * I do... I photograph auroras for fun, and in learning about them... and as I am both a ham and an engineer... it does tend to provoke some paranoia. And as for the neighbors... this is Montana. :)

    • I'll bet if you ask them about the status of their "plan", they will answer, "we are currently implementing plans to size the effort."

    • Re:They have no plan (Score:5, Informative)

      by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Sunday November 01, 2015 @09:13PM (#50844421) Homepage Journal

      If you don't have solar power stored in a nice dark box inside a Faraday cage, along with (at least) a radio and anything electrical you need to survive

      We're talking about a solar flare, not an EMP from a nuke at ground zero. The only reason massive solar flares damage things is because we have millions of miles of wires stretched across entire continents acting like massive antennas absorbing the energy from the flare on a massive, massive scale. The primary risk is the infrastructure itself going down - mainly in the form of tens of thousands of power transformers being destroyed. It's also possible that anything plugged into the grid can also be damaged, similar to a lightning strike, however in all likelihood the grid would be damaged before it can transfer the power of the solar flare into homes (it would be a slow build up over time - hours and maybe days - until it cooks the transformers and other equipment designed to regulate power).

      So Faraday cages and the like to protect from solar flare are, well, about as useful as tin foil hats. Main thing is to disconnect your house from the grid via your main breakers when we know CME strike is imminent (and of course we will know about many hours in advance).

      • i dont know what im talking about so excuse me if this sounds insane to those who know more about it than I do

        is it possible to enclose the transformers in faraday cages? the cost would be ridiculous.... but what is it compared to replacing them all when they fry?
        • If a solar flare is accompanied by a coronal mass ejection (CME) then the CME can trigger a geomagnetic storm. It's the geomagnetic storm that causes so many problems for the electrical grid. A wire moving in a magnetic field, or a wire in a moving magnetic field (which is the case here) causes a current to be generated. Because the length and number of wires and the magnitude of a large geomagnetic storm then a large current is created. It is the large current that overloads transformers, circuit breaker

          • thank you for that. I am actually a little shocked that hardened equipment isnt more prevalent. I remember the brownouts in the east coast in the early 00's and thought to myself at the time that the system needed an overhaul. I dont know what would work (if anything) but i am a little shocked that we dont hear about people making headway on this kind of thing
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Anonymous Coward

              There is no need for "hardened" equipment, only properly working circuit breakers. The onset of a geomagnetic storm is slow, over the course of hours. All that you need is a circuit breaker that trips when excess current is seen. Stuff like this has already worked in the past, like the blackout in Quebec that was caused by a geomagnetic storm. Yes, the power goes out during the storm, but as soon as the storm is over you just reset the system and there is no permanent damage.

              The only place there is seri

              • Can they not be pulled[1] manually? Is there enough warning to do an orderly shutdown?

                [1] I realise they aren't like the ones in my basement, but I know you can take a line out of the grid intentionally for maintenance.

                • Can they not be pulled[1] manually? Is there enough warning to do an orderly shutdown?

                  I counted approximately 5 electrical sub-stations in my perambulations around my home town a couple of days ago, and wasn't really paying attention. To the best of my knowledge, there are no premises in the town owned by the power utility, other than the sub-station sites (which are blank concrete boxes, or arrays of transformers, breakers and metering equipment surrounded by a "fuck-off" spiky fence). Driving around to ma

            • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
              hardened is not what you think. In most cases it means making it more robust, but only against specific things. Some shielding. Some wider paths. Slower clocks. Hardened things have the same survivability whether on or off at the time, but won't operate properly under blast conditions.

              You can't harden some things. Other things you can harden on paper, but aren't hard in practice. [] are common when hardening. You gap the copper to isolate each side, and hop the gap wi
          • by Agripa ( 139780 )

            It is the large current that overloads transformers, circuit breakers, and anything else that happens to be connected to the grid. So wrapping a transformer in a Faraday cage would provide no protection as the damage isn't from EMF.

            It is not the current itself from the geomagnetic storm which damages the transformer.

            What happens is that the low frequency common mode current from the geomagnetic storm moves the B-H curve of the transformer core toward saturation. When that happens, the inductance falls and

            • by delt0r ( 999393 )
              You know that many transformers. Especially the big ones, have protections built in that do get tripped in such events. In fact in the last bit one most of the breakers etc *did* trip saving most of the grid. Hence why power was restored hours later.
          • by delt0r ( 999393 )
            breakers and any core saturation cutoffs (often installed) will in fact trip, *as they did last time* will high DC currents that are what typically disrupt the gird on one of these events.
        • by AK Marc ( 707885 )

          is it possible to enclose the transformers in faraday cages?

          Not while connected to the grid. The "fix" is to have all the transformers electrically isolated from the power lines. That makes them useless. So the "trick" is to make it possible, and protect it only when necessary.

          Though, a single large DPRK nuke, detonated over Kansas, would fry much more than a flare would. So the flare would be damaging, but not as much. The EMP nature of the flare is lower. It's a longer, slower event. The power lines will be very succeptible, but the coils in a transformer

      • The only reason massive solar flares damage things is because we have millions of miles of wires stretched across entire continents acting like massive antennas

        All electrical circuits are also antenna with a large enough power source "transmitting", and a Carrington level CME or larger is absolutely strong enough to affect individual electrical components.

        Funny you should mention tin foil, because with some warning you could save a lot of stuff with a few layers of plastic alternating with aluminum foil, t

        • Try looking up actual numbers for a Cardigan like event and find it is still a chance of millitesla over hours. Your individual electronics would be exposed to worst effects by walking past a fridge magnet.

        • by delt0r ( 999393 )
          Buhahahahaha, oh wait you believe that bullshit. Here is a hint. The core was a really really bad hollywood movie. Not real life. Look it up dumb arse. The internet makes that easier than ever.
      • by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Monday November 02, 2015 @03:13AM (#50845337) Journal

        I used to work at Bell Labs, in a department that had a bunch of nuclear physicists doing research into EMP, because the government wanted studies about hardening their networks in case of nuclear war, and a big thing that influenced them was a telco cable that crashed during a mid-1970s solar flare. It was back when long-haul cable systems were still copper, before fiber had replaced them, and a few hundred miles of copper wire becomes a very big antenna if you hit it with enough of a magnetic field, and there's enough voltage difference between it and ground to fry the equipment at both ends. They had a huge amount of data to work with, and they also studied the effects of EMP on various pieces of equipment, and ways to design the networks to be resilient against suddenly getting big holes in it.

        Fiber optics helps with a lot of this (but obviously that doesn't help the electric companies.) On the other hand, during the 60s and 70s, the phone networks were changing from electromechanical phone switches like relays and crossbars, which were easy to protect, to transistors and integrated circuits that just aren't, and you're not going to put it all in Faraday cages, especially these days when there's no longer a Soviet Union that's likely to nuke the US. And the Bell System divestiture meant that a lot of the interconnections between local telco switches were no longer available to act as backups for the now-multiple long-distance companies, but the switching logic was starting to get smarter so there were more option for rerouting traffic than with the older dumber switches. Lots of change, and then all this Internet stuff happened.

        • by delt0r ( 999393 )
          Lots and lots of Hinky meter overload from this post. EMP and solar flares/geomagnetic storms are just not the same thing.
      • Wouldn't a high current just trigger the circuit breakers?
        • by delt0r ( 999393 )
          You also want good DC or line imbalance detection/trips or high current neutral breakers. It is often put in, but less rigorously than pure overcurrent breakers because you often run a little imbalanced anyway (ie most houses are only wired with one phase).
    • by kenwd0elq ( 985465 ) <> on Sunday November 01, 2015 @09:26PM (#50844453)

      I was going to say much the same thing, but you've said it better.

      Just to add SOMETHING to the mix, however, I would have thought that hardening our electrical grid _MIGHT_ have been one of the things the gub'mint should have spent a little of the trillion wasted "stimulus" dollars on. But as Instapundit Glenn Reynolds puts it, that might have given real jobs to burly men rather than to the natural Democrat constituencies.

      Further, as the recent article from Nature pointed out, ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica have recently revealed spikes in C-14 and Be-10, indicative of a truly MASSIVE solar storm, in 774 and 993, perhaps as much as 5 times more powerful than the Carrington Event. So, yeah, perhaps we should think about planning to begin.

    • I photograph auroras for fun, and in learning about them... and as I am both a ham and an engineer... it does tend to provoke some paranoia. And as for the neighbors... this is Montana. :)

      What are the auroras looking like lately? I'll be spending a week a little north of you in Lethbridge, AB, and it'd be awesome if that's far enough north to see anything.
    • Your complaint is just a weak "No True Scotsman" attack. Is that really the best you can do in criticizing the plan, is to declare that it isn't plan-y enough?

      They do have a plan. And it doesn't include having the ` "stuff" ' you hand-wave about. You make no case that specialty equipment is even needed, and you certainly don't give the indication that you have actually identified a need for specific (un-named) equipment. You do realize that the problem is with long-distance power transmission and satellites

    • Peter Quill: I have a plan.
      Rocket Raccoon: You've got a plan? Okay, first of all, you're copying me from when I said I had a plan.
      Peter Quill: I'm not copying you, I have a plan, that's not that unique of a thing to say.
      Rocket Raccoon: And secondly, I don't think you even have a plan.
      Peter Quill: I have part of a plan.
      Drax the Destroyer: What percentage of a plan do you have?
      Gamora: You don't get to ask questions after the nonsense you pulled on Knowhere!
      Drax the Destroyer: I just saved Quill!
      Peter Quill:

    • The plan is the same as for nuclear war.

      Bend over and kiss your ass goodbye.

    • by khallow ( 566160 )
      Eh, they don't need much of a plan to be honest. The real problem here is that the US routinely refuses to pay thousands of dollars for disaster preparedness (such as stockpiling empty sandbags), but doesn't flinch at millions of dollars for disaster recovery (such as buildings flooded because sandbags couldn't be located in time).
    • by ksheff ( 2406 )
      Even if there was a plan, the Feds would screw it up.
    • by delt0r ( 999393 )

      Once they have a plan, then they need specially prepared gear, vehicles, etc. They don't have enough hardened / sheltered "stuff" to even have a hope of dealing with a really significant event.

      God dammit. Solar flares are not fucking EMP events. It is not a nuke. It will have ZERO effect on cars, boats, planes cellphones. In fact anything that doesn't have a circuit loop measured in hundreds of km is totally uneffected. ie they only thing affect is the grid. That is it. Oh and circuit breakers and other limit devices do tend to protect most of the hardware in that case as well.

  • SDO/AIA has a strange design that results in internal reflections at high intensities ... resulting in that abnormal lens-flare like effect.

    And besides ... the 131Angstrom images have a rather strange color palette. Most people stick with 304, 171-ish or 193-ish. (and to make it more confusing, the AIA color tables for ~171 and ~193 don't match SOHO/EIT and STEREO/EUVI)

    I mean, I'm thankful they didn't use that early EIT 304 filament image from before they were properly accounting for the burn-in at the li

  • by queazocotal ( 915608 ) on Sunday November 01, 2015 @08:18PM (#50844275) [] - twice in the last thousand years or so, there has been an event around ten to twenty times larger, with a _much_ more energetic and destructive (to orbital things) spectrum.

    • by mysidia ( 191772 )

      Right now, our modern civilization as we know it, may break down when the GPS system fails, and therefore the cell phone network collapses.

      I think there are events much smaller than Carrington which the country is by no means prepared for..... can't worry about the once in 1000 years event at this point (IMO), when we're not yet prepared for the 1 in 100 years events.

      • Who cares about GPS and cell phone service? How is Google going to sell ads on cat videos? How am I going to watch Twitch?

      • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
        You don't need an always on GPS network if the local devices have a backup Stratum 1 clock. You can get clocks that have around 1 microsecond of skew per day. Using one of these, you can lose GPS signal for at least a few days before it becomes an issue.
        • by mysidia ( 191772 )

          you can lose GPS signal for at least a few days before it becomes an issue.

          Do you think the GPS signal is going to be back online within a few days after a X40 event that destroys a plurality of the satellites in orbit?

          • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
            I'm sure the devil is in the details, but in theory you only need a few GPS satellites in view at the same time. As long as this situation happens once every few days, you're golden.
            • by mysidia ( 191772 )

              As long as this situation happens once every few days, you're golden.

              The concern being a CME associated with a X40 event hitting earth could likely obliterate all the satellites in orbit, so there wouldn't be a single one left.....

              Putting together a few more satellites and launching them into orbit afterwards is possible, to replace the downed system, but likely takes years.

      • What are you talking about?

        Cell networks don't require GPS, so why would GPS going down have anything to do with cell service going down? If one of these events happened, the power network going down would be far worse than the cell or GPS networks going down. In fact, it is more likely that the power would go out, not the cell network until the batteries/generators died.

    • Um ... both of those were more than a thousand years ago.

      I'm surprised you didn't mention the 1192 event []. (Note that there's rebuttal [] to some things mentioned in that paper.)

  • by turkeydance ( 1266624 ) on Sunday November 01, 2015 @08:28PM (#50844313)
    or Space Climate?
    • or Space Climate?

      This is obviously Man-Made Space Climate Hanky Panky. If you study this in "2001: A Space Odessey", the first of many of famed film director's Stanly Kubrick faked Moon Landings produced at Area 51, everything with the Space Climate was working fine, between the monkey-boy critters on the Earth, and the concrete slab delivery boys from outer space. Then, the concrete slab delivery boys mistakenly delivered a slab that sung some freaked out Hungarian music, which instructed the Earth Monkey Boys to smach s

  • by Dereck1701 ( 1922824 ) on Sunday November 01, 2015 @08:40PM (#50844343)

    From what I understand there is really only one preparation, which is the entire reason the Space Weather Prediction Center was created. To know that it's coming and be ready to shut down the grid. This isn't an EMP, it won't overly effect individual electrical systems (like a Hospital running on a generator). It really only effects large networks which have enough surface area to serve as a receiver for the energy of the storm. The biggest threat is operators not reacting fast enough, which would cause the grid voltage to increase to levels that it wasn't designed for which would cause transformers, generators and other control/generation systems to burn out. If that happened replacement of the burnt out systems would take years.

    • by ka9dgx ( 72702 )

      The grid voltage isn't the problem, it's the DC currents which would be induced on the power lines... transformers can't handle DC bias, it causes the core to saturate, which then causes the inductance to fall, primary currents to rise, and then failure from all the extra current heating the windings.

    • by iggymanz ( 596061 ) on Sunday November 01, 2015 @08:59PM (#50844389)

      No, there is a better preparation, ground resistors for transformers so the grid doesn't even need to be shut down. Solved problem, just need to spend the money and do it; estimated cost by Michio Kaku and other members of the American Physical Society was less than $200 million. chump change, cheap insurance.

    • by ClickOnThis ( 137803 ) on Sunday November 01, 2015 @08:59PM (#50844395) Journal


      The electrical grids consist of cables that are strewn over long distances. They act like giant antennas that pick up the EM radiation from the flare and its interaction with the Earth's magnetic field. To protect the grid, you disconnect portions of it from each other, so that instead of a few giant "antennas", you have many more small ones. The current induced in the smaller "antennas" is much lower and far less harmful. And this is why prediction is so important: the early warning allows grid-operators to disconnect the grid in time to avoid catastrophic damage.

      Satellites are also vulnerable because they can suffer deep static-charging that burns out electrical components. Unfortunately, forecasting doesn't help as much for this. The best you can do is study the magnitudes of expected events, engineer as well as you can against them, and plan for redundancy and replacement of the satellites as needed.

    • So the basic personal preparation is to practice banging rocks together :D
    • by Kythe ( 4779 )
      There are multiple possible ways to prepare. Broadly speaking, they are: disconnections (if warning is received), protective devices to stop unbalanced current in the grid, and replacement transformers (right now, the thousands of house-sized, custom-made extremely high voltage transformers upon which the grid depends, and which take many months to make with a years-long backlog, have few if any spares lying around).
  • by Etcetera ( 14711 ) on Sunday November 01, 2015 @08:44PM (#50844351) Homepage

    To be fair, there's not much incredibly unique about solar weather like this that wouldn't apply to a general electrical catastrophe from an intentional EMP. There's a chance of getting some notice notice, but the practical effects of that will be slim other than telling anyone with a Faraday Cage to close and everyone else to attempt to power everything down first.

    Whether it's a rogue state exploding a few nukes in space over the US (no targetting needed, just fire it up from a shipping container at set it to explode about 100mi high), or the Sun taking it out, the end is the same... pretty complete collapse of infrastructure everywhere at once. Think Katrina, but simultaneously across the county. What infrastructure remains working probably won't stay functioning for long with all of the other issues going on...

    The logistics of rebuilding will be immense and measured in years, and that's assuming we have enough working equipment after that to "reboot civilization", as it were, and some other -- better equipped -- country with a few working jets doesn't decide to take advantage of things. The military will have properly shielded equipment in many cases, but it's an open question how long and in what way a chain of command can survive when disconnection is universal and recovery is years away.

    The rural areas will be survivable; the coastal cities and anywhere where survival depends on electricity and food transportation logistics will not be.

    The book One Second After [] is a decent look at what it might be like, although I have faith that there will be more HAMs than he seems to think who might be able to help with long distance communication in the aftermath. Or you could just watch reruns of Revolution [] and ignore the mystical nanite techno-babble and focus on the sociology of the collapse.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      To be fair, there's not much incredibly unique about solar weather like this that wouldn't apply to a general electrical catastrophe from an intentional EMP. There's a chance of getting some notice notice, but the practical effects of that will be slim other than telling anyone with a Faraday Cage to close and everyone else to attempt to power everything down first.

      Sorry, but you and the mods need to learn there is a huge difference between an EMP and a geomagnetic storm, and that the latter has nothing to do with Faraday cages and telling everyone to shut things down.

      Geomagnetic storms involve magnetic fields changing on the hour timescale. Induced voltage is proportional to the area of a loop of wire and inversely proportional to the timescale involved. That very slow timescale means the induced voltages will be insignificant for anything that doesn't involve many

    • One Second After was a sobering read. In this scenario, two nukes go off way up in the atmosphere, high enough that nobody really notices them, but everything with micro-electronics in them stop working instantly. A massive percentage of the population dies off, far more than if the weapons had been set off in the largest cities. I hope this never happens. This is why we must never allow the mad mullahs to get nukes and ballistic missiles.
  • Push new cost to the private sector? With the issues of coal, consumers buying solar panels, nuclear interests and just looking after the grid..
    Who will pay for the grid upgrades? All tax payers? Each grid passes on a new upgrade tax to the consumers as a new basic connection cost?
    The option to just "discuss space weather preparedness" or "raise awareness" will not upgrade the networks.
    How much free cash is floating around for extra utility bill pressure to redesign the grid?
    Pass on to much cost
  • 1. Run!
    2. Hide!
    3. Panic!
    4. Try the above in a different order.

  • First it will give billions of dollars to the private banks. And then.. nothing. It will keep giving money to banksters. That is the only thing it knows.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    ....Mein Fuhrer......**I can walk!!!**

  • Its not a plan unless they have a budget.

    Perhaps the Feds should figure out what to do in case of catastrophic irrelevance, political expedience, and an inability of government to do anything according to plan or commitment to the desired outcome. Its another attempt at "set it and forget it" disaster preparedness that serves to do little in case of emergencies.

    But it's a start.

  • Deus Ex Machina (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Sunday November 01, 2015 @11:59PM (#50844973) Journal

    I'm less concerned about the threats from outer space than I am about the catastrophe we will cause ourselves. []

  • The worst case scenario is having a massive solar flare hit earth in the middle of a geomagnetic reversal [] when the Earth could have multiple north and south poles. Any area near one of those poles will find themselves even more vulnerable to the energetic particles from the flare.
  • We are all doomed!
  • by Applehu Akbar ( 2968043 ) on Monday November 02, 2015 @01:18AM (#50845167)

    Develop field hospitals, bunkhouses, feeding centers, rescue bases, and other disaster handling gear designed as modules all in the standard 2TEU long freight container size. Store them in unused corners of military bases around the country. Make retainer arrangements with a well-distributed number of long-haul truckers such that when disaster occurs truckers who happen to be properly situated at the time will drive to a designated base, exchange their current load for a specified FEMA module, and haul it to the disaster zone. Meanwhile, their regular trailer is waiting at the pickup base under military protection for the duration.

    For overseas needs, using the standard container size would allow modules to be carried by ship and rail anywhere in the world.

  • Take a moment to review NERC EOP-005-2: System Restoration from Blackstart Resources []. If you live in North America, plans described in this document are your only real line of defense from the chaos and harm that may arise from grid-down disaster. Here is a peek at some software tools [] used by the industry and Black Start specific enhancements [] in progress [2013].

    Note that NERC's Compliance and Enforcement [] process is voluntary. This means no one's going to jail for failure to implement these measures... and there are many in the industry who prefer it that way. We have witnessed the growth of the Department of Homeland Security way past its original mandate. Indeed there is a slow motion power grab [] in progress.

    If you distrust large corporations and the consortiums they form then you're already suspicious. But few can argue that the grid is not resilient or well designed. In most cases frequency and voltage give operators all the feedback they need. But it has not ever been shut off completely, and the electrical equivalent of post-9/11 'ground stop' is neither practical nor possible to test black start capability... NERC does do regular computer simulations of country-wide restarts.

    So if you are fortunate to live near one of the ~7,304 operational power plants [] in the United States (for example) and know some people who work there, you might pose these questions:

    Has your plant participated in EOP-005 drills?
    Has there ever been a country or region-wide drill where procedures are acted out in real time?
    Do you feel the time presently devoted to this scenario is adequate, and plans are in place?
    Do you have confidence that the grid could be restarted successfully?
    Are there any 'old school' approaches to this problem you feel are not addressed or trained adequately?
    To what extent are these black start procedures reliant on computers and functional computer networks?
    What kinds of grid-wide inter-plant communications are in place for coordination when the grid is down?
    Would any coordination efforts rely on carrier networks (telephone, cell, Internet) being up?

    The very first BBC episode of Connections The Trigger Effect [] explores how we have become reliant on modern technology without needing to understand its intricacies, and uses the Northeast Blackout on November 9, 1965 [] and peoples' reactions to illustrate this.

    If Black Start should fail or become delayed indefinitely, National Geographic: American Blackout [] is a documentary that dramatically explores effects of an extended grid outage. It is a tame outage -- no Winter freeze or volcanic ash --- with cyberattack as its rather specious scenario. At present the operational controls of power plants are diverse and there is a great deal of manual control, and a coordinated attack could only target the grid monitoring systems and communications between plants.

  • What the hell are they intending to do with them?

  • If news leaks out before the event there will be Panic Buying which will turn a few hours of physical disruption with say a 10% overall infrastructure failures for a few days, into a maelstrom of stockpile madness. How will the repair trucks get their fuel when it's all been bought by consumers?

    The telecoms used by telecoms repairers to order parts etc is a 'how does the snowplough driver get to work' problem.

  • The mother of all riots like in Asimovs Nightfall.
  • The feds have always had a plan. It's crawl into a bunker and let everyone else die. It's called stick head in sand and hold their breath. It's called name-call the bearer of bad news. It's called BS their way out of the discussion. It's called lie like a big dog. It's called oo oo a new way to scam money to our friends. You actually believe people who paid 43 million dollars for a gas station in Afghanistan? So what's new?

"Spock, did you see the looks on their faces?" "Yes, Captain, a sort of vacant contentment."