zaterdag, augustus 16, 2003


"Let's wait for the blackout
The lights are too bright
Let's wait for the blackout
Wait for the night"

Goo Goo Dolls -- Wait For The Blackout

Desultory Turgescence Top Fifteen List of Best Things About Being In 2003 NYC Blackout

15. Leaving work early on Thursday because all the computers and the lights went out.
14. Not being trapped in the subway and having to walk through the dark tunnels with rats running all over my feet.
13. Living in Manhattan and not living in Brooklyn or in Queens or anywhere else where you had to schlep across a bridge in the intense heat and humidity of the late afternoon with thousands of other people to get home.
12. Hitting the bodegas before they ran out of batteries, flashlights and cold beer.
11. Not being pregnant and having a blackout baby.
10. Thursday night neighborhood block parties and huge bonfires up the street in Tompkins Square Park.
9. Being able to look up at the sky and actually see stars and constellations not drowned out by the artificial lights of Manhattan.
8. Not having to listen to idiots mindlessly chattering away on their cellphones which were useless during blackout.
7. No "Fair And Balanced" news coverage to avoid since there were no televisions available.
6. Using the old "freezer is defrosting" excuse to wolf down gallons of melting ice cream.
5. Unexpected three day weekend discovered when power was still out Friday morning.
4. Watching people line up at pay phones like obedient automotons to check in with their jobs.
3. Impromptu street barbeques as people attempted to cook meats before they rotted.
2. Meeting/talking to all my neighbors for the first time.
1. Sweet melody of air conditioning unit clicking back on as lights flickered on and massive cheering in the streets as power finally returned at 9:03 PM.

All in all, a good time, a fun experience and one which lasted just about as long as would be pleasant without computer/internet fix and sweltering in heat and humidity without air conditioning trying to make oneself feel better by imaging that people lived like this every day in the 1930s.


But, having read the papers for accounts of what was going on, two notices jumped out at me:

The first one was the speed with which normally incompetent and inaccurate government officials, like the Mayor of New York City and The President of the United States, could reassure everyone that the blackout was not the result of a terrorist attack. Hmmmm. And your basing this unsubstantiated opinion on......? Wishful thinking? 911, 4:11 blackout?

And of course, the wonderfully inept President Bush parroting the lines of one of bureaucrat lackies when he suddenly "discovered":

"I think this is an indication of the fact that we need to modernize the electricity grid ... make the electricity system have the redundancy necessary so that if there is an outage, like there has been throughout our history, that it doesn't affect as many people as it did in the past."

He's a genius. No wonder he's the ruler of the world.

Fortunately, buzzflash is quick to point out that:

In June of 2001, Bush opposed and the congressional GOP voted down legislation to provide $350 million worth of loans to modernize the nation's power grid because of known weaknesses in reliability and capacity. Supporters of the amendment pointed to studies by the Energy Department showing that the grid was in desperate need of upgrades as proof that their legislation sponsored by U.S. Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) should pass.

Unfortunately, the Bush Administration lobbied against it and the Republicans voted it down three separate times: First, on a straight party line in the U.S. House Appropriations Committee, then on a straight party line the U.S. House Rules Committee, and finally on a party line on the floor of the full House [Roll Call Vote #169, 6/20/01].

As AP reported at the time, the amendment would have amendments that would have doubled the bill's money for energy assistance for the poor to $600 "provided $350 million to support loans to improve the capacity of transmission grids. 'It's pure demagoguery,' House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, R-Texas, said in a brief interview regarding the Democratic amendments. 'If Democrats had an energy policy, they'd have had one in the last eight years. They have no credibility on this issue whatsoever. They are responsible for the energy crunch more than anybody I know.' Spotlighting the high political stakes, House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., took the unusual step of issuing a written statement about the committee's energy votes. He said President Bush and Republicans are 'committed to helping the Big Energy special interests' and accused them of obstruction." [AP, 6/14/01].

No terrorists here. Just inept government officials.

In any case,

We've Got Power!

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