“Outages”

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An interesting item in the news the other day got almost no attention.

The thing that got attention in the news was the news that a “ . . .problem with Tesla servers on Friday once again left hundreds of drivers unable to enter and operate their electric cars.”

No analysis of the italicized implications was offered.

Ergo, it’s well to considering them.

For the past 120 years or so – since the first cars began rolling under their own power – it was taken as a given that the people who owned them controlled them. The keys were a physical symbol of ownership because he who held the keys controlled the car. Parents would threaten to withhold the keys from their teenaged drivers, if their grades slipped, for instance.

But once you were no longer a kid, if you held the keys then the car was yours. You used to see dangling-suggestively keys in car ad copy; the implication being – this could be yours (and by implication, no one else’s).

Not anymore.

Not if it’s one of Elon’s electric cars. Because Elon holds the keys – and you never will, no matter that you’re not a teenager, you paid for the car and Elon isn’t your father. But he is your overlord. He and his fellow managers intend to lord it over all of us – and electric cars are the perfect vehicle for that.

They have two plugs – one physical, the other virtual.

You use the physical plug to charge the thing up.

They use the virtual plug to determine how much and how fast you’re allowed to charge up – and (cue Emperor Palpatine voice) many other things, besides. Including whether they allow the car to move, at all – regardless of its state of charge. A signal is sent over the airwaves and the car bricks – perhaps because you’re not Jabbed. Perhaps because of some wrongthinkful thing you Tweeted. Perhaps just because.

To let you know who’s Boss.

It may not even let you open the door, which Elon also controls via the wireless network, over which are sent the back-and-forth commands that control the car’s systems.

Which you don’t control.

Teslas do come with a card key to unlock the doors in the event of an “outage.” But you cannot lock Elon out of your car, just as you cannot interfere with the “smart” power meter the utility company affixed to what you mistakenly consider to be your home, which the power company now has wireless control over, too. It can decide to limit how much power you’re allowed to use – even though you’ve paid your bill.

Which is an interestingly convenient synchronicity. Elon builds cars that he remotely controls and the utility company remotely controls the power that the electric car needs in order to be able to go. And guess who’s getting into the electricity business?

If you guessed – Elon! – a gold star, for you.

And if you think it’s just Elon, better think again. This applies to all electric cars, which are all connected cars. They are more like smartphones in more than just their function.

You pay to use them but don’t truly own them. When you hand over your money, you are handed an End User License Agreement (EULA) which establishes who controls and thus really owns the device – whether it rings or rolls.

You retain physical possession of the physicality – the plastic and glass. They retain sole and exclusive control over the operation of the thing, via the software and programming, which they are at liberty to update at will – and to cease supporting, at their whim.

People had a preview of what Elon can do – what can be done to any electric car, anytime its owner (not you) wishes – a couple of years ago, when a major hurricane threatened to inundate several states. Elon generously sent out an update that increased the distance his cars could go before they had to stop.

Elon was hailed for his magnanimity but few considered the implicit other side of that coin. If Elon can summarily increase the driving range of his cars he also has the power to decrease it, just as summarily.

And either way, he is the one controlling what you thought was your car.

Now, Elon may be a nice guy. He might not be the one to turn off your electric car – for whatever reason. But the point is, they could. Your techno overlords. The same ones who locked us down last year and may do so again, this coming year.

It’ll be much easier when all they have to do is trigger an “outage.” Perhaps because of the uptick in “cases” (here we go, again). Perhaps because of blackouts – caused by too many EVs sucking too much power from an over-taxed grid. Perhaps because of a “climate emergency.”

It’s all in the works.

Most people have no idea. But they are going to find out.

Probably just in time for it to be too late.

. . .

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47 COMMENTS

  1. Eric,

    Related true story. Couple of years ago my water heater went out.

    I tried a couple of simple things to fix but no luck. End up calling a local plumber I knew, and he came over and looked at it for about a minute and said, here’s the problem. Was device attached to the water heater that was designed to let the power company turn off your water heater during summer periods of high electrical load.

    “These things keep malfunctioning and every few months we get a call about a water heater on the fritz.”

    “How do you fix it?” I asked.

    “Simple, ” he said, “we just deactivate the thing. Five minutes tops.”

    Well, true to his word it took only five minutes. Next to no charge for this.

    Still have the water heater.

    This is always the way “they” operate, by trying to get *YOU* to modify *your* behavior.

    Screw them.

  2. Happy Thanksgiving from Brandon:

    ‘President’ Joe Biden said Tuesday that the administration will tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as part of a global effort from energy-consuming nations to calm 2021′s rapid rise in fuel prices.

    ‘The coordinated release between the U.S., India, China, Japan, Republic of Korea and the United Kingdom is the first such move of its kind.

    ‘In total, the U.S. will release 50 million barrels from the SPR. Of the total 32 million barrels will be an exchange over the next several months, while 18 million barrels will be an acceleration of a previously authorized sale.’ — CNBC

    Never mind that the statute creating SPR says it is for combating physical shortages, such as an embargo — NOT for politicized price management.

    But that’s exactly what ward healer Biden, troubled by his abysmal public approval, is trying to do. ‘Ten Percent for the Big Guy’ Brandon doesn’t have a principled bone in his body. He’s demonstrated throughout his checkered career that he’ll do anything for his own benefit.

    WTI crude oil is down only slightly on the news. If it breaks out above $80 a barrel in coming days, then Jackass Joe has bumbled into another giant #FAIL.

    • Aside from the illegal domestic nature, how is the release being “coordinated” with other countries? Are we selling them our “strategic” reserves or vice versa? Do those countries even have reserves? China? WTF?

      If this is real and not just desperate jawboning, it doesn’t square with Biden’s EV push. Why is he pretending to care about gas prices when it would benefit this agenda? Is he signaling he knows this agenda is not a majority political position?

    • Today Energy ‘Secretary’ Jennifer Granholm was asked by a reporter, in connection with the SPR release, how many barrels of oil the US consumes daily.

      She hadn’t a clue.

      How did Granholm get to be so hopelessly uninformed about the issue she’s in charge of?

      1. Californicator? Check.
      2. Harvard Law degree? Check.
      3. UC Berkeley professor? Check.
      4. Obama transition team member? Check.

      Only at these stratospheric levels of elite credentials can one find such abject, weaponized ignorance — a congenital know-nothingism that would shame a well-read fifth-grader. 🙁

    • If Biden hadn’t stopped work on the KeystoneXL pipeline there would be more crude available. Funny how that factoid never gets mentioned.
      FJB

  3. Once upon a time when I worked for mega corp they decided individual CAD software licenses on each engineer’s computer was too expensive and too difficult to deal with. So they went with network licenses. Every so often but way too frequently there would be a network issue and everyone would be dead in the water as the software would refuse to function because it didn’t have a license. I complained. I was told their license server had something like 99.999% uptime. I asked, what about the network? Answer: ‘we don’t track that’.

    Centralization is one point of failure. Weak systems. But for the people who control them….

  4. I will NOT own a vehicle that does not have a physical key/keyed door locks/keyed ignition switch. Period! There is no reason for all of the overblown fancy expensive crapola; it offers less functionality than the simple, durable, cheap technology it replaces, and it’s only purpose for existence is to control YOU and what is supposedly YOUR property, and to bilk you out of even more money.

  5. ‘a problem with Tesla servers on Friday once again left hundreds of drivers unable to enter and operate their electric cars.’ — eric

    What happens when we get another Carrington event, like the one in 1859 caused by a coronal mass ejection from the sun?

    ‘Telegraph systems all over Europe and North America failed, in some cases giving telegraph operators electric shocks. Telegraph pylons threw sparks. Some telegraph operators could continue to send and receive messages despite having disconnected their power supplies.’ — Wikipedia

    Yeah … and maybe Teslas will scoot around without batteries, soaking up power straight from the sun.

    But I doubt it.

    • I imagine that in such event, driving your car will be the least of your worries. Not to mention that all late model cars will fail, whether EVs or not.

  6. I think it goes a lot deeper than that, and I can’t wait to see what happens when a dedicated group of hackers gets the idea. It’s not just Muskrat who can lock you out of your car or brick it. With the right hacking, a group of programmers could do it too. Can you just imagine a bunch of hackers bricking every Tesla at the same time? If it wasn’t so potentially serious, I’d laugh my ass off.

    • Doesn’t even require hackers. A disgruntled employee in the right role could do massive damage on their way out of the door. Snowden was able to do all he did because in IT there always has to be an administrator. You can lock down systems only so far but someone, somewhere, needs to have root access in order to maintain things.

      Beyond that you also have the coders who work on all the software. Once you see the code that controls things it is not to hard to find ways to exploit the system. The part that makes hacking difficult is probing the target for weaknesses. If you are a coder on one of their products you most likely already know were all the weaknesses live. Generally speaking in software development (which I do professionally) it is a balancing act between performance/usability and security. If you make it super secure it ends up being unusable and if you make it unsecure you have no way to trust the data you are processing. We are also humans and make mistakes… many many mistakes.

    • from zh comments
      Wait till these same people realize the Communist Chinese at the Data Center can drive them off a cliff at will.

      Permission to access your car depending on your vaccination status.

      Idiots. But there’s a lot of that going around. Anyone who ties their persona, finances, home security/privacy, work, etc onto the net is in the same pool. It works, until one day it doesn’t because of a glitch, and until one day it doesn’t because your social credit score isn’t in compliance, and one day it doesn’t because of the major war occurring on all domains.

      If you’re dumb enough to get a car you need an app to open – obtaining the manufacturer’s consent to use their product you are paying for – you deserve to get locked out.

      • Exactly! What kind of idiot would let a third party have control of their vehicle? Tesla “owners” fit the bill perfectly.

  7. There’s a case to be made for remote lock. In a world where companies can be trusted (or at least there’s enough competition to keep them honest), getting an unlock over the airwaves instead of having to call a tow truck is a major hassle-reducer. Vehicle stolen? Just have it locked down until recovered. Or, on the flip side, if the driver stops paying for the loan or lease, the bank can have an easier time recovering their assets.

    But here in clown world, there’s no way this won’t be used for controlling the population.

    • Indeed, in a world of honorable people there are MANY tech advances that would be highly useful and profitable. Unfortunately, if a human endeavor can be corrupted, it will be.

  8. This article has prompted me to remember the Tesla connected cameras in their vehicles….So this guy takes his main squeeze to a parking spot for a little romance and is Elon recording the action? I wonder if the cameras have zoom functions?

  9. We kind of need those smart meters though. Customers tolerate outages less and less and we need better ways to account for that, like remote monitoring. I can limit your power consumption with an electromechanical meter too. I can pull it out of the enclosure, I can shed load from a control room, I can pull your transformer cutout fuse. A car is not analogous to smart meters because you don’t own the power you get, you don’t even own anything past the load side of the meter. Get a generator or solar panels if you would like to not be limited. I get what you are saying, but I think the smart meters are a red herring for the libertarian community. Truly a non-issue.

    • BD,

      My feelings on smart meters are mixed. Though they can phone home, they do some good too. One is that, soon as there’s an outage, the meter will phone home to let the utility know. I also like the actual vs. estimated billing I used to have; my already low bills dropped by 20%-25%!

      • Mark,

        Same.

        I don’t like it that it “knows” every time I activate the toaster. But, it does allow us to use the existing power grid a great deal more efficiently—and that’s a good thing, because it seems that grid capacity growth into the future is going to be a lot slower than it really needs to be.

        • Plus, with more remote monitoring, we can prevent cascading failures (East Coast, August 2003) that may otherwise not detected in time to be stopped. The last thing we need is more overloaded transmission lines dumping their load onto other overloaded lines, or under-frequency problems arising, just because some people don’t like a meter that can talk to its daddy (the utility).

        • I hate the “helpful” letter I get annually reminding me that I use more power than my neighbors. They of course know how much power I use, but don’t get the reason for it is my house is about a third larger than most homes in my hood…… So no matter what I do, I am going to use more.

          • Hi richb!
            I get those exact same letters from the gas company, trying to shame me for using more gas than my “efficient” neighbors. Like you I have a big old Victorian house with 12’ ceilings so they’re comparing apples to oranges; plus I’m old a retired and prefer to be comfortable in my own house, so ef them. Plus don’t they make more money the more gas I use? Some business model.

    • You may not own the grid, but you and the utility company have contracted for a service, and a fee for it. If they utility company decides to force reduction in your usage, is that not a violation of contract, unless stipulated otherwise in the contract? Always pays to read the fine print. Just as most people do not know their contract allows their mortgage lender to call in the note anytime they please. $XXX,000 dollars due by the end of the month.

      • I’ll have to say yes and no. The utilities generally couldn’t limit power consumption unless the contract says so. But utilities are at the end of the food chain. All they do is shuffle paper around to make it easier to buy power. However, the generators and traders (transmission companies) are not beholden to you, unless you buy from them (many large factories do this, bypassing the utility). They can shed load all they want and do it all the time. There is nothing you can do about it.

  10. A Mk1 VW caddy pickup truck or car or a Mk2 VW with a NA 1.6 diesel is looking good, 60 mpg highway, runs on vegetable oil, no computer, no spark ignition, so no tune ups, starts with a dead battery, when there is fuel shortages, diesel sells out last, not dependent on the power grid like an EV.

    Note on Tesla and GM, probably others now: your EV is connected 24/7 to their servers so it records everything you do with, or in the vehicle, total surveillance.

      • If you swap a later 1.9 litre VW AZZ turbo diesel into a Mk1 Rabbit (1800 lb car), turn the boost up, the car is fast and 60 mpg too. The later 1.9 ALH with stage 3 tune put out 450 lb ft torque, they are swapped into Nissan, Ford pickups and Samuri 4×4’s, these engines easily last 300,000 miles. You can burn 50% used engine oil to save money.

  11. The other question I had during that hurricane – if Elon had the ability to increase the range, why doesn’t the car come permanently with that increased range in the first place?

      • Speaking of range……if an EV owner keeps using fast chargers a lot it ruins the batteries, the range drops a lot, if you buy one of these used cars you might be buying ruined batteries, another problem, this will also cause huge depreciation, (remember depreciation is the number 1 cost in a car, EV’s have huge depreciation because of the old batteries.) on top of ruined batteries if the temperature is really low you can lose another 50% of the range, now you have really short range, then you turn the heater on, more lost range. just buy a diesel……really long range, 3 minute fills.

  12. Which is exactly why I don’t “connect” anything except this computer I’m writing this on. I recently bought a new cell phone, since mine is about 7 years old. As I was trying to set it up like my old one I discovered I don’t get voicemail without being connected, and I can’t disable all things Google. I only gave about $45 for it, so I threw it into a drawer with some other stuff that I consider educational experiences. I may, or may not get it back out when my old phone quits., if it does before I do. I want two things from a cell phone. Phone service, and text capability. The rest is just noise to me.

  13. In addition to who really owns a Tesla…who really owns their own retirement account? If they can lockdown the country why couldn’t they lock me out of my retirement account until I get jabbed? No social security payments for the old and dependent unless jabbed. Judge Roberts will interpret this measure as just a tax which the government has the power to raise.

    Thinking hard about getting a natural gas back up power generator…100amps. When the dark ages come to those who aren’t jabbed maybe I can go a bit longer until they shutoff my natural gas service.

      • I have soooo much thought of that too! I thoroughly believe it. I’m sure his phone rang at 11:00, night before the vote. His logic on the issue is so twisted, as to be farcical. BTW, I miss Justice Scalia very much… I don’t know why the Scalia’s didn’t ask for an autopsy….

    • in 1998 they knew the math didn’t work to fund pension plans, wouldn’t be able to pay the pensions.

      in 2003 they said between 2020 and 2025 there would be a huge drop in the population numbers. sounds preplanned, they are good planners.
      it is like managing cattle, if there isn’t enough resources to keep the animals, you cull the herd.

      The depopulation administrators are also targeting the cull to the countries that have pension plans so this makes sense, canada, U.S, australia, new zealand, europe. Worked all your life paying into a pension plan and never collect, if you are dead you can’t collect.

      Meanwhile the politicians were payed millions to go along with the cull.

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