And the Amish Were None the Wiser
As most of you may know, last Thursday (August 14th, 2003), we had ourselves a little blackout. And when I say little I of course mean the entire north east of North America.
For those of you in the dark about what went on (boo!), about 11% of the USA/Canadian power grid died out. No one is sure why just yet, but that is not stopping the blame game. Americans are blaming a lightning bolt from the Lord of the Canadian gods, Zeus, hitting the Niagara Falls power plant; Canadians are saying someone from the American Rock and Roll Hall of Fame dropped a Fender™ Bass in a puddle of water.
Either way, the news has gone and titled the whole mess as the “Blackout of ’03;” instead of the correct – “Aught Three” – like our curmudgeon counterparts will be doing forty years from now.
So, what did we learn from this? As seen from a New Yorker’s perspective:
1) Well, human nature has progressed since ’77 – In 1977 (the year of the last major blackout), there were countless fires, robberies and over 3000 arrests. This time, a dip in the daily crime average, only about 500 candle powered fires… hey 500 is better than countless, no?
As for the prerequisite looting – only three stores, one being a Footlocker™. And this was probably only for a decent pair of walking shoes, since subways were down. Good job all you hoodlums of NY!
2) Human nature has not progressed since… ever – Listening to a battery operated edition of the news, the area was exposed to the excesses of reporters. A New Jersey journalist called in from her home when her power came on. She had reported that, she now had enough power to run her air, and was currently doing a load of clothes. Of course we, the powerless, waited with baited breath to see if her model railroad was also functioning, and that the microwaveable burritos were done.
What the hell is that about? A load of clothes!? Laundry!? In a time when we should cut off all non-essential electricity like, say, light bulbs, this stooge is doing the wash!? And to top it off, she was complaining that the second floor air conditioner was not powered!
Oh, there must have been some flak in the office the day after; then again, probably not.
3) That a loss of power, occurring mostly in daylight hours, having maybe 3 fatalities, and caused by nature and not a wayward 747 can be equally compared to 9/11. Wow! That’s good to know.
I’m sorry, but this 12hr event is nothing in the cosmic scale of things compared to the day the towers fell! NOTHING!! Yet all the ever-hyper news agencies must have brought 9/11 up in every other question asked of both peasant and potentate. It gets you wondering if they were bummed out that this was not a terror attack; that this was not indeed the final battle of Armageddon.
4) How ridiculous the world really is – Hundreds were forced to sleep on the streets, not because of the economy (well, sort of), but because they could not get into their hotel rooms. Why? Because the locks are electronic! Two inches of balsa separated the tired masses from their beds because we have become too lazy to turn a key; we need a magnetic strip to operate the latch.
It was estimated that all of Broadway lost about 2 million in revenue thanks to this; and there was much pissing and moaning to go along with it. Little do people realize that there are 5 other show days per week. Let’s get some perspective here, please. Hundreds of storeowners will go out of business because of this; and all the rich producers are concerned with is that they’re out 2 million from the 12 they make a week. And the news has the nerve to try to get sympathy for these fat calves.
Ok, this is now shaping up to be a rant to which I don’t feel like getting into right now. So I think I shall abruptly quit this post.
To sum up – Needless to say, the darkness cast light on some issues that need to be addressed. Is this a hackneyed statement? Yes. Is it true? Yes. So the moral of this story is — “Stick with what works.”