Breaking Up is Hard To Do

The news today is filled with discussions around a proposition that will be on the November ballot. Quoting the LA Times:

If a majority of voters who cast ballots agree, a long and contentious process would begin for three separate states to take the place of California, with one primarily centered around Los Angeles and the other two divvying up the counties to the north and south. Completion of the radical plan — far from certain, given its many hurdles at judicial, state and federal levels — would make history. […] Northern California would consist of 40 counties stretching from Oregon south to Santa Cruz County, then east to Merced and Mariposa counties. Southern California would begin with Madera County in the Central Valley and then wind its way along the existing state’s eastern and southern spine, comprising 12 counties and ultimately curving up the Pacific coast to grab San Diego and Orange counties. Los Angeles County would anchor the six counties that retained the name California, a state that would extend northward along the coast to Monterey County.

Of course, this proposal will never go all the way: it has to pass Congress at the national level, and they would be loath to create something that might topple the balance of power in either the House or Senate. That’s why neither Puerto Rico nor DC have achieved statehood: they’d come in a strongly Democratic. But there are so many other problems with this proposal. One can easily see why the last successful state split was West Virginia, during the Civil War, in an era where there wasn’t much state level infrastructure.

But splitting California would have so many problems:

  • What would be the state postal code? After all, both NC and SC are taken. CN and CS and CA?
  • You think the state bureaucracy is bad now? Splitting means duplicating and recreating all of the government bureaucracy: Three governors, Three Lt. Governors, Three of every executive, Duplications of staffs and such. Where does the money to pay for all of that come from?
  • How will you divide infrastructure and infrastructure maintenance, especially when Caltrans districts straddle and cross state lines?
  • Think about all costs associated with resignage. Almost every sign on state highways would need to be replaced if they referenced the state name or used the state highway shield.
  • What do you do about funding of multiyear infrastructure improvement projects? How do you split the bonded indebtedness of projects that straddle state lines?
  • How do you handle water, especially when all of the major urban areas are importing their water from new California states?
  • How do we divide the costs of prisons, when they aren’t evenly distributed across the new states?
  • Think about the mess this creates for Cal State and UC, as they now become multiple systems? How would USC react to there being another USC (and note that both SCU and CSU are also taken)? How will UNC react to their being another UNC (and note that both NCU and CNU are also both taken)?

Most importantly, would I have to do the Californias Highway Pages?

Seriously, if you want to break up a state, break up Texas. They already have the Congressional approval to do so. Malcolm Gladwell of the Revisionist History podcast has a great episode on the subject; even the Texas Law Review cites it. Hint: No matter how you do it, the Republicans will lose, and lose big.


Risk and the Theatre

userpic=fringeRecently, after one of the numerous Fringe shows we’ve seen, I was talking to my wife. I opined that if I ever put on a Fringe show, it would likely me getting up and doing a short tutorial on the NIST Risk Management Framework using Powerpoint slides, and it would probably land with a thud. My wife, however, thought that with the right director, it could work…

This started me thinking. What if I was more than an audience? What if?

The idea has been floating around and taking space in my head, so I want to get it down so I can move forward. The notion is this: There have actually been very few plays — and certainly no musicals — that have explored the area of cybersecurity. There was Dean Cameron’s Nigerian Spam Scam Scam, a great two-person piece that we presented at the Annual Computer Security Applications Conference (ACSAC) in 2015 (and discovered at HFF15). There was the wonderful play The High Assurance Brake Job: A Cautionary Tale in Five Scenes by Kenneth Olthoff presented at the New Security Paradigms Workshop in 1999 (and if you haven’t read it, follow the link — you should). But that’s it. Could we create a play that imparted fundamental Cybersecurity notions — risk, assurance, resiliency, social engineering — to a non-technical audience using a form other than a Powerpoint presentation? Could we create something with some staying power? How do you take technical notions and transform them into broad acceptability, in a two-act multi-scene structure with a protagonist who goes on some form of journal?

I’ve got some ideas I’d like to explore, especially in the areas of exploring how people are incredibly bad at assessing risk*, and the difference between being risk-adverse and risk-aware. This could be a significant contribution: we could make people more cyber-aware while entertaining them. Think of it as an information security refresher training, but in a large building in a central part of town in a dark room as part of a play with a lot of people listening, who have all paid a great deal to get it in. Or a storefront during Fringe.

However, I know my limitations. I’m not a playwright — my writing is limited to blog posts and 5,000 page interpretations of government documents. I’m not an actor, although if I know my material I can give a mean tutorial. I am, however, an idea person. I come up with ideas, solutions, and architectures all the time. If I could find someone who actually knows how to write for the stage, perhaps we could collaborate and turn this idea into something (with that caveat that, as this is related to my real life job, I might have to clear it through them — but as it is at a high level with no specifics, that’s likely not a problem).

So, if you know a potential writer who finds this notion interesting, and might want to talk to me on this (or you are a writer), please let me know.** Who knows? Perhaps one day I’ll actually be more than a Fringe audience.


*: Here’s my typical example: Would you rather let your child visit a friend’s house that had an unlocked gun safe, or a house with a pool. Most people fear the gun, but the pool is much much more dangerous, as this week’s news shows. There is intense fear about MS13, but the actual number of MS13 members attempting to come across the border is low when viewed across all immigrants making the attempt, and the likelihood that a single MS13 member will attack a particular American is very very low. A third example is how it is much safer to fly than to drive, yet people are more afraid of flying. The list goes on and on.

**: I should note that right now this is exploratory. I have no funds to commit, but when is there funding in theatre :-).