Technology and Dependence (Ignorance is Bliss)

I assume most folks who use the internet have encountered at least one of the many recent news reports about the vulnerability in the SSL system which used worldwide to provide security on websites.

It seems that the entire internet, every website that uses SSL, is vulnerable and that the assumed “security” provided by it for passwords, credit card transactions, banking and every other private transaction has been fatally flawed for close to two years. All this time the entire online world has been living in a fantasy world in which our communications, financial transactions and every other “secure” operation has been totally UNsecure.

I work in the IT world for an internet retailer and I spend a goodly portion of my time dealing with security issues. Finding out that the underlying cryptographic foundation of the entire World Wide Web and internet commerce is not only flawed but has BEEN fundamentally flawed for two years is… well it’s hard to find the words… an alarm bell, a warning siren, a wake up call? It’s hard to come up with words to describe how disturbing it is at a gut level.

Internet commerce and communications is a world wide phenomenon. A large part of the financial, communications, industrial and business world is integrally tied into the internet to such an extent that it’s probably impossible to disengage from it without fundamentally restructuring all of those parts of the technological and industrial infrastructure. Some parts of the economy would simply cease to exist without the internet. And that entire growth has been based on the understanding that it was possible to conduct communications and transactions in a secure, protect fashion.

Now we’re told that one of the foundations upon which all of that is built not only doesn’t work properly but hasn’t worked properly for 2 years.

Oh it will be fixed. Indeed it has already been fixed and a replacement is available to correct the problem quite easily.

But it begs the question… if something so vital and fundamental to business, to industry and to communications could be so fatally flawed for two years without most of the world being aware… what other potential or possibly active flaw is sitting out there as a part of the internet of which we are also totally unaware?

We are becoming increasingly tied to and dependent on a system that has suddenly been revealed to have had a rather amazing flaw in its security. Will that make anyone stop and rethink increasing dependency? Will anyone reconsider whether it’s wise to increase that dependency? Will there be any discussion of the possible consequences of a future failure of that technology on our lives?


I’m not immune to it myself.

Yesterday, even after reading that story and checking to be sure we’re correcting the problem at work on our own websites, I placed an order online for a piece of bookbinding equipment after driving to a bunch of local stores and being unable to find what I needed. Even if I had found it locally I would have paid by credit or debit card which would have been processed… you guessed it… over the internet using the flawed SSL cryptography to their payment gateway.

I’ve been in the computer industry for 39 years now. The summer of 2015 will make it an even 40 years. I’ve watched the increasing dependence of the world on the expanding technological infrastructure and over the last 10-15 years I became at first concerned, later worried, more recently frightened until finally I’ve reached the point of acceptance of the fact that eventually that technological infrastructure is going to fail or break or be destroyed and the consequences are going to be catastrophic. Many people will survive it but a lot more, perhaps a majority in the industrial world, will not. I may not live to see it happen but I am as certain that it WILL happen eventually as I am that gravity works and that the sun will rise in the morning.

In 1859 a Solar Flare hit Earth and caused what is usually called the Carrington Event. It caused some fires at some telegraph stations, damaged portions of the telegraph network and created some remarkable Northern Lights seen almost as far south as the Equator. Other than those effects most people were unaware that anything unusual had occurred. The technological infrastructure was one that was, other than the nascent telegraph system, virtually immune to the effects of the EMP caused by the Solar Flare hitting Earth.

Today, as most of you know, an EMP of that magnitude, whether caused by a Solar Flare or a nuclear weapon exploded a few hundred miles overhead by a rogue nation, would utterly devastate the industrial world. Estimates are that 90% or more of the populations affected by the event would be dead within a few weeks to a few months. In the event of a Solar Flare EMP which affected the entire world the time required to rebuild technology and industry to today’s level would be measured in generations. Even in the event of a regional event caused by a nuclear device which left the rest of the world unaffected the death toll would probably still be well above 75% of the affected population and that regions recovery time would be measured in years, perhaps decades.

Despite all of those facts and the revelation this week of a fundamental flaw in the technological infrastructure nothing will be done to slow the industrial worlds growing dependence in that technology. Some meetings will be held, a few committees appointed to prepare studies which no one will read, a few talking heads on television will gain some face time, a few prepper retail sites will hold sales (how ironic is that?), a lot of news stories will be written and in a few days to a week the issue will disappear from the public consciousness to be forgotten.

Once again… Ignorance will be Bliss.

The Librarian

p.s. Two other news reports today caught my eye:

1. A Homeland Security study states that North Korea has the ability to launch an EMP attack at the U.S. with their existing warheads and missiles.

2. Kim Jong Un, the gentleman who controls North Korea’s nuclear weapons just had one of his “enemies” executed by flame thrower.




2014-04-02 McGuffey Readers Added to Teaching-Readers

The McGuffey Readers that I left out of the first posting of Teaching-Readers have been added to the category.


There is more information about them and the addition in the Library Updates & Additions Forum.

The Librarian

p.s. Still on track to get the Arithmetic and Math Category added sometime next week.



2014-03-31 Next Category will be Arithmetic and Mathematics

Since The last two categories added were Teaching books oriented towards teaching Reading I thought I’d go ahead and fill that group out with some Teaching books on Arithmetic and Mathematics. I should have them up by late this week or early next week. There are a good number to go through. (no pun intended)

Reading, Writing and Arithmetic since those are the basics (the ones they don’t much bother to teach anymore).

Some of the horror stories about the Math programs in the Common Core are enough to make you weep for a lost generation of kids we’re going to send out into the world completely unprepared to function in a literate society. This is probably the first generation where there is absolutely no question that the parents and grandparents are better educated than the children we’re producing and most grandparents are better educated than their kids.

You have to wonder about the priorities of a society where each generation is less and less educated than the one before it. It’s especially telling that the countries with whom we compete militarily and economically are pursuing exactly the opposite goal. Is it utter incompetence or is it planned? I’m not sure which is worse.

I don’t see much hope for a society that is consciously pursuing such self destructive behavior but then I’m not sure it will last much longer anyway.

The Librarian




EMP Coalition Should Probably be Renamed to the Cassandra Project

Cassandra was a Trojan Seer in the sagas of the Trojan War. Apollo gave her the ability to see the future in order to seduce her but when she turned him down he cursed her so that no one would believe her prophecies.

The EMP Coalition has a similar problem. They have the facts, they know the dangers and the consequences of those dangers, a man made EMP or a Solar Flare induced EMP. They have repeatedly explained it to Federal, State and Commercial leaders and no one hearing them seems to believe them or to care.

Despite the simple and brutal fact that as many as 90% of the population would likely die within weeks or months (more likely days) of such an event and the collapse of the power grid followed by the collapse of our industrial and technological infrastructure… no one seems to want to bother to do anything.

The country spends more funding bizarre studies like the drinking habits of transsexual prostitutes in Brazil than it would cost to protect the grid. But no one appears to care.

Frightening and enraging. The leaders who heard and then do nothing are either criminally stupid or stupidly criminal. In either case they would probably be fortunate to die in the early days after such an event than allowing the survivors to find them and realize that THEY are responsible for the situation those survivors find themselves in most likely for the rest of their lives.

So it is pretty clear that barring some intellectual, moral and ethical evolution of Washington politicians (feels odd using the word “moral” and “ethical” in the same sentence with the word politician) nothing is going to be done to ameliorate the possible effects of an EMP event regardless of its source.

So keep building your own library as I will keep building mine (and putting it online) because it’s clear that relying on the individuals we elected to “lead” the country is on par with Cassandra trusting Apollo when he said “I’ll still respect you in the morning.”

The Librarian


Current Printing/Binding Project

I finished the last Printing/Binding project a few weeks ago and held off starting the next one since I was setting up a new workshop for my various projects like reloading, bookbinding, food storage, blueberry propagation, etc.

I went through the ones I had in the queue to print and bind and the next one I’m doing is:

Fertilizers – How to Make Them – 1885

from the Farming Category. The soil in this area is fairly poor until you move many miles inland so supplementing the soil is a big issue around here if you do any serious farming.

In the event of a serious collapse of the infrastructure (As NASA now claims is inevitable) commercial fertilizers are not going to be available any longer. The vast majority of them are made by major chemical companies in large centralized facilities and then shipped all over the U.S. (and the world) where they are distributed through local farming supply stores. When the transportation (not to mention energy) infrastructure fails that’s going to cease immediately.

Too much of our farming in the U.S. today is large scale corporate farming relying heavily on mechanization and chemical fertilizers. That kind of farming, being extremely energy dependent, will also cease almost immediately and in the event of an EMP event will cease instantly as the tractors stop midfield and the transportation sector stops rolling instantly.

Which means that farming is going to go back to the 1800s level of labor intensive and locally managed. Fertilizers will become local issues again and farmers will be challenged to find local sources for soil enrichment.

The organic gardening gurus worship at the feet of compost and it is indisputably a great way to help your garden. It’s somewhat less practical when you’re trying to grow a farm field, or several farm fields, worth of crops to feed a town or community.

1800 farming technology will become a matter of life and death as we once again learn local fertilizer production techniques, crop rotation and other low tech, local ways to enrich the soil and maintain the fertility of the fields.

This books seems to be one of the best of the ones available.

I dumped the PDF file into .jpeg files and am going through it cleaning up the worst of the imperfections, straightening a few pages here and there and arranging them into folios to print in a half page size on the laser printer. Then it will be sewn into a text block and bound to join the others on the shelf in case it’s ever needed.

Next will probably be a simple duplex print of some of the Phonics Readers from the new Phonics category. Not sure if I’ll bind them or just tie a ribbon around them and put them in a storage box.

Once I finish this Printing/Binding project I’ll decide on the next one in the queue.

The Librarian

2014-03-25 Teaching-Readers Category Added

The Phonics Category went live yesterday and as promised the Readers Category is online today as Teaching-Readers.

It’s a supplement to the Phonics Category since most of the elementary level Readers can be used effectively along with a Phonics approach to reading. The Readers category goes well beyond just learning to read and holds a range of readers from the very first stages of reading through the high school levels.

Most significant is that it contains a full set of the Elson Readers which are still widely used today by many Homeschoolers since they are still highly effective teaching tools even if they do date from the early 1900s.

One the primary responsibilities we have to children is to teach them to Read since once they can Read they can ultimately continue their own education as far as they choose.

If you have children or envision ever being in a situation after a collapse of some kind where there are children then either print out and store or burn a CD or DVD copy of a basic Phonics Reader and the Elson Readers. Do it for the future or your children.

The Librarian

2014-03-24 Teaching-Phonics Category Added

The Phonics Category has been added as Teaching-Phonics. It’s a fairly small category because Phonics is not Rocket Science and doesn’t require an advanced degree to teach. IN fact it’s one of the simplest methods available for teaching reading in English.

The books are mostly Readers to be used to teach the basics of reading. There are a few that are text books ABOUT Phonics but most of them are books to set in front of a student to actually teach them to read with notes in the text to help the teacher present it more effectively.

The next category coming probably tomorrow is Teaching-Readers and contains a large collection of Readers for everyone from the very earliest levels up through high school levels. The Readers in it are an excellent supplement to the basic Readers in this Category and can take a student from the early fundamentals of English up through fairly advanced levels.

The Librarian

2014-03-21 Next New Category is Phonics/Reading

I’m putting together a fairly extensive set of books on Phonics and on teaching Reading.

There’s a good bit more explanation of in the Updates and Additions Forum.

It’s one of those categories like many in the library that won’t teach you how to survive in the woods, how to make Ghillie invisibility cloaks or how to become an unstoppable, death dealing, mutant zombie slaying superhero as in so many Post-Apocalyptic novels.

But it will provide what you need to know to teach the kids in the Community how to read… which just might make you the kind of hero really needed in the years after all the mutant zombies are eliminated.

The Librarian


2014-03-18 Library Access No Longer Requires Registration

I’ve changed the settings on the site to allow open access to the library files for the time being.

Hopefully that won’t cause any problems with bandwidth or anything else but we’re suddenly getting snowed under by new registrations and I don’t want new Users to have to wait for me to get the registrations approved when I’m in the middle of major software updates at work.

Anyone can now access any of the books inĀ  any of the categories with or without Registering.

I’d encourage you to register since the site sends out updates and addition notices to Registered Users when I add or update categories and it’s the only way I have of knowing that people are continuing to use the site. But it’s entirely up to you.

Since this isn’t a commercial site I don’t pay much attention to the stats on here regarding downloads or bandwidth so the only way I know that the site is being used is when people Register, tell me they’re using it or they point out a problem or a missing file and the like.

If the bandwidth starts getting hammered and the GoDaddy folks complain I may have to put the registration requirement back in but for now…

The Librarian