Thursday, November 10, 2011

But we already have an emergency alert system.

My roomie, who works on a starship and therefore knows a little bit about how the the little bits of pictures and sound fly through the air and stick to antennas, breaks down yesterday's FEMA test of the nation's Emergency Alert System, the results of which ranged from "Okey-Dokey" to "Complete Goat Rope", depending on your locale.

She also raises a good point:
You might take some comfort that on 11 September 2001, when a national-level emergency did take place, the news was disseminated rapidly. Not by the government but by the various companies that run for-profit networks all day, every day: ABC/CBS/NBC/Fox/CNN etc. all jumped on the story as it happened -- and even pushed their scheduled commercials aside to do it. There wasn't any question of the message making it to you; it had been reaching you 24/7/365 to hawk soap flakes and cornflakes already and when the stakes suddenly got much higher, it was already in place, working.
It's almost like the invisible hand had grabbed your remote, no?
.

26 comments:

Bubblehead Les. said...

AND there was No Master Plan to land all the the planes in the Sky on 9/11, either. The word went out, and all the individual Air Traffic Controllers just did it.

But what do you expect from a Gooberment System where even the Weather Radio in my region tends to NOT announce that "Severe Thunderstorm Warning" that is trashing my neighborhood until 20 minutes after it passes by?

Anonymous said...

The EAS has been in place for decades, I don't see why a few people are getting so worked up. They didn't go this nuts when the Patriot Act was enacted. That scares me a hell of a lot more than the ability to put a talking head on every TV screen at once.

Tam said...

Anon 10:03,

Did you even read the linked post? My roommate certainly wasn't getting 'worked up' about the test, other than the extra workload it meant for her.

Here's more on how it works: http://twowheeledmadwoman.blogspot.com/2011/10/national-eas-again.html

Anonymous said...

I remember that on 911 the entire cellular phone system crashed because of the volume of calls. This is important to those who were counting on friends and family calling to warn them of anything important. Many times a text will go through when a voice call will not; unfortunately I did not test it at that time. This reminds me of the old saying about if you want your pants to stay up you should have a belt, suspenders and you should pin them to your shirt. Always have a backup and if it's really important then your backup should have a backup.

og said...

I think the predominant reason it's still around are the myriad small stations that are "Automated". There was a little "Automated" system in a town near Lawrence, Kansas, that blithely broadcast right through a tornado, giving no indication of it's impending approach; the predominant issue I have with those sorts of automated systems. At LEAST they're connected to EAS.

Anonymous said...

I have a personal EAS, weighs about ninety pounds, eats quite a bit, sleeps with it's nose against the front door, we call him Butters, don't step on the porch, he bites

Tam said...

And he can detect a sarin release from a thousand miles away?

That's pretty impressive for a dog.

Evil Eye said...

And yet, no chatter regarding the important news -

http://politics.blogs.foxnews.com/2011/11/09/us-secret-service-officer-accidentally-fires-gun

Weer'd Beard said...

Do they actually USE this thing?

I've heard all the tests, but I've never heard the system being used outside of apocalyptic movies...

Anonymous said...

It is not about warning us, its about the gov projecting power.

Tam said...

"...its[sic] about the gov projecting power."

Really? How's that work? What power were they projecting?

Break it down for me here.

Homer said...

So, riddle me this: we need the dead hand of gummint to run this.....why?

mariner said...

Tam, if you need that broken down for you, you should turn in your wookie suit.

Tam said...

mariner,

No, I'm being serious.

I'd like to see that broken down point by point: "The government was doing ____ which would allow them to ____, thus _____."

Rabbit said...

There was a period of roughly 90 seconds of silence/dead air in North Texas at the appointed time.

I rather enjoyed the lack of intrusion.

mmasse said...

Did not work in Idaho either. Between this and the Christmas tree gaff someone is pulling their hair out.

Ferret said...

I'd like to see that broken down point by point: "The government was doing ____ which would allow them to ____, thus _____."

The first thing that comes to my mind would be if a media blackout of unspecified duration were needed or if a single message needed to be sent out to the populace, the dissemination of which could not be entrusted to all media outlets.

bluesun said...

The government was doing it's usual job at being incompetent which would allow them to waste everyone's time, thus nothing happened.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

I'm gonna need your bet for the Preakness, Admiral.

And get ECOMCON on the horn for me Colonel

Hunter said...

And yet...I would like to think that someone, somewhere was paying attention. Proof being, that the whole exercise was canceled, well in advance, for us here in Alaska, due to "The Humongous Storm From Hades" that was striking us at the scheduled hour. Or as we like to point out, the difference between hurricane force wind in Alaska and the same winds in Florida?...in Alaska it is a small craft advisory.

Drang said...

One Internet for NJT! That was just on AMC or maybe TCM, last week, BTW.

Not sure we need a national emergency alert system. If we do, it ought to be tested, so I wonder why it was never tested before this.

Anonymous said...

So my question is, after all these years, surviving the Cold War, why is the system now being tested like this? Is there something going on we should know about?

Standard Mischief said...

>I'd like to see that broken down point by point:

1. As said, it was not needed during 9/11

2. A "super committee" (actually a subset of congress), is looking for budget items to ax.

Why get all wookieed up over everything when there is a simple explanation?

Tam said...

Anon 8:06,

1. A lot of stuff has been piggy-backed onto it over the years and it's never been given a system-wide test in its current configuration.

2. See Standard Mischief's Point #2. With everything potentially on the table in future budget cuts, expect a lot of Looking Busy from fed.gov agencies in the near future.

Kristopher said...

Ermmm ... we actually need the damned thing in the square states, wookie suit or not.

Weather has a bad habit of killing people out here.

Emergency services, justice, and defense are government services that only the most rabid anarcho-capitalist will moan about.

Justthisguy said...

Yup, Kris, tornadoes are right scary. You don't even need tornadoes; look what happened when USS Shenandoah tried to fly through some ordinary midwestern bad weather. There were deadly squashed-flat owies sustained by a whole bunch of sailors.

Google Joy Bright Hancock, USN. She had the misfortune to marry two airshipmen in a row, each of which was killed in an airship crash; one in R-38, the other in Shenandoah.

WV: angeri. Like Billy Mitchell, I am angeri at the Navy for getting all those people aboard Shenandoah killed.