If you're like me, you probably thought that power outage in New York City, the San Francisco bay area, and Los Angeles, was a little suspicious. As one might imagine, after I blogged about that event, I received a number of emails from people also following the story, some in California, and some in... well, Canada. We'll get back to that in a moment.
Suffice it to say, that after reading more details about that story, my suspicion meter has slipped from the orange zone into the dark red zone. It's not quite into the "point of no return zone" but it has definitely crept closer to it. Here's one reason why, in a story shared by Ms. K.S.:
When I read this, the suspicion meter couldn't help but rise into the lower red zone, for a reason I'm sure you caught, but just in case you didn't, consider this little admission:
Southern California Edison initially reported it was caused by metallic balloons coming in contact with wires. The utility later corrected that statement, saying there was a different outage in Long Beach that was caused by balloons. The agency is still investigating the cause of the outage at the port. (emphasis added)
Metallic balloons coming into contact with power lines? "Oh, but wait, that was a different power outage. We're not really sure why the port of Long Beach went down."
What kind of "metallic balloons" are we talking about here? Those happy birthday shiny things that are filled with helium that one can buy in a store? If so, then we're in trouble, folks, if all it takes to tie up a major port and bring down a power grid is someone having a birthday party. And I probably don't even have to air my high octane speculation here, because you're probably thinking the same thing already, but I'll go ahead and do so anyway: suppose someone deliberately wanted to test the vulnerability of the power grid with a simple system: "metallic balloons" with appropriate "stringers" to short several lines all at once. It's cheap, it's easy, and would be virtually impossible to prevent, unless the Reichsicherheithauptamt ... er... the Department of Homeland Insecurity's Paranoia Bureau wants to put birthday balloons on the favored weapons of terrorists watch list.
But then Mr. K.H. sent this strange article about about Ontario's largest supermarket chain experiencing difficulty in debit and credit card clearing, occurring concurrently with the "power outages" which were caused by "metallic balloons":
Mr. K.H. also indicated that there were difficulties in yest another popular system of clearing and payments operating between Canada and the USA that took much longer to resolve. He raised an important point: there may have been a whole period of time -- perhaps a day -- of suspicious transactions that had to be "reset".
In any case, you know me: I cannot resist the temptation to be suspicious of easy - and quite frankly, amusing - explanations like metallic balloons, or explanations in the case of the Ontario credit and debit card clearing difficulty, that amount to no explanation at all.
The question is, are these things all related? Well, my high octane intuition and speculation tells me they may be. I've blogged before on this site about the strange way the internet seems to be being reconnoitered by "someone" intent on probing its architecture and weaknesses. We've seen the attacks on internet cables in the Bay Area, the Sony hack, Federal Reserve hacks, and so on. Now, it's metallic balloons and hundreds of trucks stranded in Long Beach. Call me crazy, but I suspect therefore that what we're looking at is more of the same pattern. The important question, however, seems to be why, what's the motivation?
And I cannot help but think that there is one thing in this alleged "pattern" that stands out as common elements: digital systems, the power grid, and the complete lack of security of both. It's almost as if "someone" is trying to send the message, "think again before you move to cashlessness, and have computers running everything." It's almost as if someone is trying to draw attention to the vulnerability of the grid.
See you on the flip side...