Takeaway from the EAS

The Department of Fear’s (no, not that one) Emergency Alert System test today confirmed a few things:

– no matter how much planning goes into it, government employees will do the absolute least amount of work possible. What do I mean? Easy: that audio recording was crap. Couldn’t they at least put together something that people could clearly understand that didn’t have the digital signal overlay along with ambient background noise, and the terrible echo of the audio itself? Was that intentional?

– what’s the benefit of having a nationwide alert of anything? No, really — when was the last time there was a nationwide disaster where the whole populace had to be notified instantaneously that there was something horrendously bad happening? Do people not understand the scope of emergencies? Usually they’re isolated, regional issues. Hurricanes, tornado warnings, “we just had an earthquake” — that kind of thing. The whole country doesn’t need to know. Sure, I could envision a couple of scenarios where that would be helpful, but the odds of those (asteroid strike, a very laughable global EMP strike, a literal zombie apocalypse or very rapid disease outbreak, destruction of the nation’s framework as we know it) are astoundingly remote. Okay, that last one gives me pause.

– why even bother? I mean, none of this stuff is really automated anyway; any station can choose to simply not retransmit it. If you really wanted to get the attention of the populace, do a series of blast SMS messages to every single mobile phone. That, though, wouldn’t work very well either because you 1) don’t know what language to put it in so the recipient actually understands the message, 2) the people who don’t have a clue how to read an SMS message on their phones are probably the ones who would benefit most from the message itself, 3) it’ll piss people off.

Humor me: What, exactly, is the purpose of this? How might one of our all-knowing government drones envision using such a thing?

We’re waiting.

Feel free to challenge the EMP remark in the comments.

Tomorrow’s EAS FUD

Fear Uncertainty and Doubt apparently surround tomorrow’s nationwide Emergency Alert System test planned by the Federal Fear Department — oh, sorry, the Federal Unicorns Cuddling Kittens department.

Just received an email from elsewhere in the organization it included some vague description of what would happen and this little sentence:

The test message on TV might not indicate that it is just a test.

Wait, what? So they’re going to do a test but not actually tell people it’s a test? How does that work exactly? Are you going to just send out a nationwide blast message saying “This is a test of the Emergency Alert System… this is only a test…”

Or are you instead, just to see if people are paying attention, planning on sending out something more like, “Holy f**k, we’re all doomed! Zombie Apocalypse is upon us! Fear everything!”

If you want to have a test, then use a message that states clearly that it’s a test. If you want people to be concerned and turn into dangerous panicky animals, then, by all means, tell them that there’s some major global catastrophe happening.

A Good Step

A nation that deports foreigners who are on welfare? Say it isn’t so!

Okay, it’s not the US. It’s actually Switzerland (original here). It’s almost enough to make one want to move there to become a productive member of their society because obviously they care about what happens to their nation.

Alas, not a whole bunch of jobs for *nix engineers in Switzerland from what I’m told. So, this is where I’ll stay.