Top-shelf resilience (Re: Why the US Government has so many data centers)

Jay R. Ashworth jra at
Tue Mar 22 19:59:24 UTC 2016

----- Original Message -----
> From: "George Herbert" <george.herbert at>

> There are corner cases where distributed resilience is paramount, including a
> lot of field operations (of all sorts) on ships (and aircraft and spacecraft),
> or places where the net really is unstable.  Any generalizations that wrap
> those legitimate exceptions in are overreaching their valid descriptive range.

This seems like a good time to mention my favorite example of such a thing.

In the Navy, originally, and it ended up in a few other places, there was
invented the concept of a 'battleshort', or 'battleshunt', depending on whom 
you're talking to.

This was something akin to a Big Frankenstein Knife Switch across the main
circuit breaker in a power panel (and maybe a couple branch circuit breakers),
whose job was to make sure those didn't trip on you at an inconvenient time.

Like when you were trying to lay a gun on a Bad Guy.

The engineering decision that was made there was that the minor possiblity of 
a circuit overheating and starting something on fire was less important that
*the ability to shoot at the bad guys*...

Or, in my favorite example, something going wrong when launching Apollo rockets.

If you examine the Firing Room recorder transcripts from the manned Apollo
launches, you will find, somewhere in the terminal count, an instruction to
"engage the battle short", or something like that.

Men were, I have been told, stationed at strategic locations with extinguishers,
in case something which would normally have tripped a breaker was forbidden from
doing so by the shunt...

so that the power wouldn't go out at T-4 seconds.

It's referenced in this article:

and a number of other places google will find you.

Unknown whether this protocol was still followed in the Shuttle era, or whether
it will return in the New Manned Space Flight era.

But, like the four star saluting the Medal Of Honor recipient, it's one of
those outliers that's *so far* out, that I love and collect them.

And it's a good category of idea to have in the back of your head when planning.

-- jra
Jay R. Ashworth                  Baylink                       jra at
Designer                     The Things I Think                       RFC 2100
Ashworth & Associates          2000 Land Rover DII
St Petersburg FL USA      BCP38: Ask For It By Name!           +1 727 647 1274

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