Monday, August 15, 2011

Where's My Tinfoil Hat?

Now that doesn't look ominous at all, right?
--Actually, it's not. I've blogged about it before. As near as I can tell, it's a good-faith effort to start making a somewhat-creaky system work better: it's part of FCC's "countdown" graphic for the first official National EAS Test. If you're like me, you still think of it as the Emergency Broadcast System, bit of a Cold War relic.

It hasn't actually been that for years; mostly behind the scenes, it disseminates severe-weather and abducted-child warnings to broadcasters and cable TV systems. The one thing they've never tried is the thing you see in movies: a nationwide message.

So they're going to test it, coast to coast, with a real alert code and a whole lot of spoken reminders that it is only a test. The guys leading the effort, as far as I can find out, are not FCC but FEMA, specifically a handful of upper-midlevel types of the sort that ends up doing the heavy lifting it takes to keep the wheels in motion in any large enterprise. (Most bureaucracies have 'em; they do all the real work and get little if any credit). They realized they had a useful but dull tool available and are undertaking to sharpen it. While it's my tax money and yours, it's a sunk cost; we're not gonna get a refund if it fails, so why not tune the system up?

This should be...interesting.

(As for the FCC's graphic, it's certainly striking but I kind of wonder if it was done by the same artist who dreamed up the seal for IAO, the TLA that isn't. They might want to scale it back a bit. Just a bit.)

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