reading and stuff

am one of those people the modern meme is about. You know the one : my parents watch the debates so they know how much food to put away in the basement”.   Yeah, that’s me.  SO there is lots of stuff going on as winter approaches, the farmer’s market is filled with fresh squash (far more than what I can grow), and other good things.    I’m working with the dehydrator, going to learn how to ferment veggies and have the dummies guide to Ham Radio at the ready for winter reading.  Also knitting long sleeve sweaters and discovering the comfort of FINALLY being able to carry on body regularly instead of killing my shoulders with always purse carrying.

So on to this blog’s book review: Lights Out by Ted Koppel.

If you know someone whom you would like to hit over the head with a 2×4 to wake them up to how close to the abyss we are, this is the book for them to read.  Hey, its Ted Koppel. We all know Ted Koppel, award winning journalist, night time visitor to most homes in America, respected reporter.  Well, it seems Ted has become a prepper!  Guess it was lurking for him anyway – it seems he got to spend his early childhood in London during the Blitz – and then, like a lot of people, he read One Second After by Wm Forstchen.  I’ve not read that one, and many of you haven’t either, but for some reason a lot of people who normally wouldn’t read such books have. Its life for a man in a small east coast town after a country wide EMP attack.  And it seems to have put the burr under the saddle for a lot of folks, including Ted Koppel.

Lights Out isn’t about an EMP, though he does explore that possibility, this is about how insecure our electrical grid system is, particularly to cyber attack.

Now what makes this book different than all others is, ONE its by Ted Koppel and TWO Ted gets to interview all kinds of AUTHORITIES on the subject: NSA, DHS, DOD, FEMA, and other government agency types, past and present.  He interviews the CEO’s of the electrical companies and gets the real scoop on how the current electrical distribution system runs.  He’s interviewing people who are working real world Cyber Security. There is much discussion on how the authorities would handle such a situation, where and how they could evacuate folks, how they would get them supplies, and how long it would take to put it all back together.  Oh yeah, the answers are, when someone was willing to give them, was NOT.

He gets into the Mormen’s whole system of storing and distribution of supplies and the WHY of what they do.  He talks to a guy who worries about the security of Cody Wyoming and what makes them different than folks in NYC.  He talks to Ray Kelly, Rudy Giulliani and what worked in NYC after 9/11.  he talks about real cyber attacks that have taken place and how they were able to be pulled off.  He talks about the world wide political picture that shapes our current thought processes.  he talks about how long it would take to implement ANY system that would make what we have more secure.

This is not fiction, nor is it some hysterical ‘wing nut’. This is Ted Koppel, of the neat hair style, the calm speech, the informed journalist and investigative reporter.

So if you have some folks who need a bit of a wake up call so they are not pounding on your door one day expecting to share in what you have put away, give them this book as their holiday gift.

BTW, after reading this book, cyber attack on our grid has moved much further down my list of possible things that could happen, while a north Korean launched EMP has moved UP, especially as a west coaster!  I now see failure of our grid as a possibility from any number of different scenerios, none having to do with cyber attack, but all having to do with human fraility, the age and complexity of the system, and the lack of awareness most people bring to their jobs.   I see the possibility of local failures and having the system shut those areas of the country out of the loop to protect the big grid and it still taking months to years to repair that local damage and getting it back up and running.

Cyber attacks I see happening more to our economic system.  Think economic unrest would do more damage to the system as a whole than bringing down the grid.  It would create the kind of unrest among the people that can bring down a government and leave a leadership gap because there could still be communications and large scale planning.  taking down the grid would lead to unrest, but without communications, groups could not plan anything to act in concert.

at least that’s how I felt after reading this book and looking at all the “evidence” Ted presents.  Your take might vary, and at $17 for the hardcover (a little less for the Kindle) doubt that you would put this on your necessary reading list.  But, again, if you have someone who needs a wake up call as to how delicate our balance really is, it could be money well spent.

On another note, this book came to my awareness when I got an e-mail from some politician in Oregon who was basically their DHS guy and it freaked him out enough (along with One Second After) to send out a blanket e-mail with details about what minimum supplies they should have for at least 3 months cause if any of this should happen, there wouldn’t be any help coming from them!


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