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Statistical Tools For Detecting Electoral Fraud

grandpa-geek This method will not pick up many issues (215 comments)

For example, there is very strong evidence that Scott Brown reached the US Senate as a result of election fraud. Details are in 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.

about 2 years ago

Favorite way to add capsaicin to a dish:

grandpa-geek I don't (348 comments)

I don't add any kind of hot spices to anything. I also avoid spicy foods unless they are mild.

BTW, the main reason for hot spices was originally to hide the taste of rotting meat and vegetables in the dish.

about 2 years ago

How Viable Is Large Scale Wind Energy?

grandpa-geek Re:Consistent availability is the issue (345 comments)

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.

about 2 years ago

Election Tech: In Canada, They Actually Count the Votes

grandpa-geek Re:Complexity of the vote is different (500 comments)

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.

about 2 years ago

White House Circulating Draft of Executive Order On Cybersecurity

grandpa-geek Re:Mandatory already for electric power (94 comments)

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.

about 2 years ago

White House Circulating Draft of Executive Order On Cybersecurity

grandpa-geek Mandatory already for electric power (94 comments)

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.

about 2 years ago

Romney Taps Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan As Running Mate

grandpa-geek Re:Pro Move, Romney (757 comments)

"...since Jefferson put in the Alien and Sedition acts more than 200 years ago".

It was Adams who put in the Alien and Sedition Acts and Jefferson who ended them.

about 2 years ago

What's Keeping You On XP?

grandpa-geek I can squash it down to install Linux (879 comments)

On a machine with XP pre-installed, you can squash it down to about 20% of the drive to install Linux on the remainder. With later versions of Windows, you can't go below about 50%. All of my machines are dual boot XP and Linux.

more than 2 years ago

"Space Archeology" Uncovers Lost Pyramids

grandpa-geek Re:New? Hardly. (156 comments)

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.

more than 3 years ago

"Space Archeology" Uncovers Lost Pyramids

grandpa-geek Re:New? Hardly. (156 comments)

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."

more than 3 years ago

The world will end ...

grandpa-geek It almost seemed to at times in the past (585 comments)

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.

more than 3 years ago

Copyright Law Is Killing Science

grandpa-geek It is equally bad (or worse) for standards (323 comments)

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.

more than 3 years ago

Legacy From the 1800s Leaves Tokyo In the Dark

grandpa-geek Re:The 50/60 Hz split once caused a major blackout (322 comments)

Reactive power isn't imaginary, except in its mathematical representation. It is really due to the charging and discharging of lines and other reactances.

more than 3 years ago

Legacy From the 1800s Leaves Tokyo In the Dark

grandpa-geek The 50/60 Hz split once caused a major blackout (322 comments)

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.

more than 3 years ago

Is an Internet Kill Switch Feasible In the US?

grandpa-geek This proposal is based on tech-challenged idiocy (339 comments)

This bill was notivated by a CNN program where some technology-challenged lawyers tried to play techies on TV. The program was based on a preposterous scenario in which a viral, malicious cell phone app took down the Internet and went on to take down the power grid. It would require a huge level of stupidity, incompetence, and neglect among both techies and management in multiple industries for anything like that scenario to happen. In addition, the cell phone app itself would need to make Stuxnet look like child's play.

The organizer of the CNN program was a former Homeland Security secretary who ordered a phoney attack on a piece of equipment to be able to put a video on CNN showing the equipment physically destroying itself. The attack did not involve actual cyber penetration, only taking some actions well-known to destroy equipment. It was a publicity stunt to get attention and funding from Congress.

Cybersecurity laws need to be based on more than tech-challenged lawyers' solutions to science fiction scenarios from the minds of other tech-challenged lawyers.

more than 3 years ago

Why Published Research Findings Are Often False

grandpa-geek Research has always had problems (453 comments)

First, science has always had a political aspect. Publication reviewers are always biased by conventional wisdom among their scientific peers, and they will become critical of any submitted paper that strays from that view. A lot of careers are based on following the conventional wisdom, and threats to those careers are met with political responses.

Second, the quest for statistical significance is based on serious misunderstanding of statistics among scientists. It has been so for decades. Publication editors are thoroughly ignorant of statistics if they demand statistical significance at the .95 or .99 levels as a condition of acceptance.

Results that are statistically significant may or may not be clinically significant. Both factors must be considered.

Significance levels are based on one model of statistical inference. There are other models, although those have been subjected to politics within the mathematical/statistical community. Although Bayesian statistics are now accepted (and form a critical basis in theories of signal processing, radar, and other technologies) they were rejected by the statistical community for many years. The rejection was almost completely political, because the concepts challenged the conventional wisdom.

The basic scientific method is not a problem. The major problem is the factors in publication acceptance and the related biases and pressures to adhere to the conventional wisdom. Rejection of papers based on politics or on ignorance of statistical methods is outside the scientific method and needs to be rooted out.

more than 3 years ago

Solar Storms Could Bring Northern Lights South

grandpa-geek Geomagnetic storms and the power grid (88 comments)

Geomagnetic storms cause DC ground currents in power grid transformers. The currents magnetically saturate the transformer cores and result in both overheating of the power system equipment and power quality problems that affect end user equipment. In the last round of geomagnetic storms (late 1980's to early 1990's) power grid transformers were damaged as far south as New Jersey. One fix discussed at that time was to switch nonlinear resistors into the transformer ground connections to limit the DC currents.

Another problem that accompanies the geomagnetic storms is disruption of wireline communications that is used for SCADA connections between field devices and control centers. Thus, just as the control centers most need to know what is happening in substations, they are blinded by the same conditions that are causing damage to the substation equipment. Transition from wireline to fiber optics can mitigate that issue.

Geomagnetic storms are a serious threat to grid reliability. Early warning is important (e.g., through satellite monitoring of solar activity), as are steps to mitigate the effects and prevent damage to equipment.

more than 2 years ago

OSI Refers Novell Patent Deal To Authorities

grandpa-geek This statement should also go to US authorities (88 comments)

The statement that OSI sent to the German authorities should also go to the US Justice Department Antitrust Division and to the Federal Trade Commission. The placement of OSS-relevant patents in the hands of OSS opponents creates a serious concern.

more than 2 years ago


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