From: "Rev. Ivan Stang" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Fri, Aug 15, 2003
"Blackout's Revenge" couldn't have come at a better time, for me.
I was about to shut down my computer and walk to the
anyway. I figured it was just a local problem. Last time it happened, a
truck had hit a power line a couple of streets over.
But when I got up to the shopping center, it was a right
Practice for Doomsday scene, with a huge traffic jam, with all the
traffic lights out as all the shopping center customers tried to leave
The Office Max employees were standing around outside,
listening to a
battery powered radio. That was when I learned that all the big Eastern
cities were totally without power and that there were people trapped in
subways and elevators.
My Office Max lady friend speculated that it was Osama
et al again. I
speculated that it might be a computer attack. (We're all getting
emailed at least a virus a day this week anyway, right?) Most of the
workers I talked to had cell phones, but most of them didn't work. I
have to admit, my big worry was that it was an EMP, electro-magnetic
pulse from a nuke in the sky or Nevada. For just a few minutes I got to
enjoy some good serious End of the World fretting with the stranded
Office Max employees before the radio guy said it was an overload at
I decided to stock up on batteries. I was surprised
to see that the
Home Depot, the liquor store, and the supermarket were all still open
and were even taking credit cards. Back-up generators. People were
carrying bags of ice to their cars. My car is in the shop so looting or
water jug shopping was not on my schedule.
I walked home with my batteries, thinking about what
should be my
priority if the power STAYED out, for like a week. I don't trust happy
chappies on the radio with their assurances that everything is okay.
One of these days, something big WILL happen, and it WON'T be okay, but
they'll try to act like it is. Also, the novel I've been reading
involves survival in the jungle, so I was in a somewhat survivalist
mindset to begin with.
I decided that I should fill every container in the house with water.
Princess Wei had just left work in Cleveland for Youngstown
hour before the power went out. Youngstown happens to be the one area
in N. Ohio that never lost power. And her cell phone kept working,
oddly enough. I didn't have to worry about her.
We've been camping half the summer, and were only half-unpacked,
my flashlights and candles were handy. What I DIDN'T have handy were
lots of water jugs. I ended up filling dozens of medium sized food
containers, pitchers, etc, and the bathtub. This may sound paranoid to
you, but the water pressure was dropping by the minute, and right about
the time I ran out of containers, the water stopped entirely.
My phone rang! The cheap old fashioned one. It was Dr.
Legume, who was
watching CNN in Philadelphia. He told me of the horrific sights he was
seeing on the screen -- riots in NYC! Seas of unconscious or dead
people in subways! Army tanks plowing through SCHOOL BUSES, and blowing
up buildings! I asked him to tape it all for me, knowing he was
bullshitting his evil ass off.
It did get me to thinking. What if this wasn't just
a 10-city blackout,
but something new and unknown. (I read a lot of sci fi.)
I actually got my shotgun out of its case and made sure
it would still
make ominous pump-action noises. I also made sure my fire extinguisher
was where it was supposed to be.
I turned on my battery-powered boombox radio and sat
and listened for a
while to talk radio and news, recording on cassette just in case
anything really spectacular happened. It didn't.
I wondered why Washington DC wasn't hit. "Why did
Bush need ALL the
lights off, in SO MANY places?!?"
I ascertained that there was NO WAY to make coffee without
the Coleman stove, and I wasn't gonna go that far
I always look for ways to turn disaster into Involuntary
Slack. I had
the boombox tape-CD player-radio and a ton of batteries, and about 30
new CDs to hear. I was handed a dozen at the DEVOtional and I had been
mailed several from various musical or collage arteests, and I had
downloaded a lot of new-old stuff. Normally I would half-listen to them
as quickly as possible while assembling a late Hour of Slack. This time
I had NO CHOICE but to ENJOY them.
Thus, most of the CDs were WONDERFUL.
As it got dark I found myself surrounded by Coleman
candles and flashlights. Still, like a blind person, I had to carefully
remember where I had placed certain crucial items in the near dark so
that I wouldn't have to blunder around looking for them. I wore my
Burning Man Miner's Head Lamp strapped to my head and found that doing
so imparted a strange cognitive dissonance -- I was dressed for Burning
Man or Brushwood, but IN MY HOUSE. COOL! All my survival tools being
used in the midst of Cleveland Heights normality. And believe me,
Cleveland Heights is great for normality, if you're a weirdo.
I settled into the Involuntary Slack. No Thursday night
drive to the
radio station! No way to RECORD at all -- only to LISTEN! WOW!! No way
to write except by HAND. COOOOOOL!
After switching between headlamps and headphones for
a while, I went
out for a walk in the apocalyptic darkness. The birds were up late, and
though the streets were otherwise silent, there were KIDS ON BIKES
EVERYWHERE. Amazing what a night without TV does for kids. I
encountered one little old white lady walking her dog, a neighbor I
hadn't met. She evidently lives alone and has no common sense, as she
had not even thought about stashing some water even though she knew her
water was about to be gone. She had no idea that it wasn't just our
block that was out; I guess she didn't have that battery powered radio.
I told her to come to my house if she needed help or water.
Unfortunately, I think she was a little afraid of me on account of my
shirtless, long-haired, bearded, Charlie Manson-like state.
Of course, when I awoke this morning, everything was
normal and all my
water containers had to be emptied into the rosebushes. I was
Next time I will have more water jugs, and I need to
get one of those
teeny little mini cook-stoves like Philo has, for coffee.
Think if the power WAS off for a week. AHAHAHA! I would
be the block
warlord within just a few days. Unless one of the neighbors has a
better gun. Hmmm. I should start making plans, alliances. The guy next
door has not one but TWO generators, AND the Pufferdome itself; the
ladies across the street have a MOBILE VETERINARIAN LAB TRUCK with not
only a generator, but fucking X-RAY MACHINES and other nifty shit that
could be converted into weapons. We would need to commandeer whichever
house is at the highest point on the street and use that as the main
fortress. I need to get to know and befriend the local gun nut, whoever
he or she might be. IDRMRSR's sleep-apnea oxygen machine could probably
be converted into something dangerous. And Rev. Geo has access to all
manner of emergency vehicles, fire engines and cop cars and the like...
hmmm... yes, we need to be better prepared next time.
4th Stangian Orthodox MegaFisTemple Lodge of the Wrath of Dobbs Yeti,
Resurrected (Rev. Ivan Stang, prop.)
From: Wbarwell <Wbarwell@munnged.mylinuxisp.com>
Rev. Ivan Stang wrote:
> "Blackout's Revenge" couldn't have come at a better time, for me.
> I was about to shut down my computer and walk to the post office
> anyway. I figured it was just a local problem. Last time it happened, a
> truck had hit a power line a couple of streets over.
> But when I got up to the shopping center, it was a right regular
> Practice for Doomsday scene, with a huge traffic jam, with all the
> traffic lights out as all the shopping center customers tried to leave
> at once.
> The Office Max employees were standing around outside, listening to a
> battery powered radio. That was when I learned that all the big Eastern
> cities were totally without power and that there were people trapped in
> subways and elevators.
> My Office Max lady friend speculated that it was Osama et al again. I
> speculated that it might be a computer attack. (We're all getting
> emailed at least a virus a day this week anyway, right?) Most of the
> workers I talked to had cell phones, but most of them didn't work. I
> have to admit, my big worry was that it was an EMP, electro-magnetic
> pulse from a nuke in the sky or Nevada. For just a few minutes I got to
> enjoy some good serious End of the World fretting with the stranded
> Office Max employees before the radio guy said it was an overload at
Yeah, sure! It was that damned Pee Dog again! Peeing
where he shouldn't
have! Not that they will ever tell the truth about this to a panicky world.
When I shake my killfile, I can hear them buzzing!
From: email@example.com (SubSpecies23)
Rev. Ivan Stang wrote:
<< "Blackout's Revenge" couldn't have come at a better time, for me. >>
BEST POST EVER.
EVERY SQUARE FUCKDORK WITH A PIPE... *IS NOT "BOB"* -- Ivan Stang
From: Jarto <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"Rev. Ivan Stang" <email@example.com> wrote:
Americas power system is pathetic. If one goes out,
the whole lot
does. What an amateurish way of doing things.
From: Artemia Salina <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Big talk from a guy who lives on a 10 sq. mi. patch
of rocky dirt in
the middle of the Atlantic. Have much trouble wrestling it away from
the penguins, did you? You could juice your whole country with a
10KW paraphin generator set and a fistful of extension cords.
From: "Rev. Ivan Stang" <email@example.com>
Jarto <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> Americas power system is pathetic. If one goes out, the whole lot
> does. What an amateurish way of doing things.
Actually, this particular job had been farmed out to
Brits! If this
article I was just sent is right.
Subject: Palast: Why the Lights Went Out
POWER OUTAGE TRACED TO DIM BULB IN WHITE HOUSE
The Tale of The Brits Who Swiped 800 Jobs From New York,
Carted Off $90
Million, Then Tonight, Turned Off Our Lights
WebLog Friday, August 15, 2003
by Greg Palast
I can tell you all about the ne'er-do-wells that put
out our lights
tonight. I came up against these characters -- the Niagara Mohawk Power
Company -- some years back. You see, before I was a journalist, I
worked for a living, as an investigator of corporate racketeers. In the
1980s, "NiMo" built a nuclear plant, Nine Mile Point, a brutally costly
piece of hot junk for which NiMo and its partner companies charged
billions to New York State's electricity ratepayers.
To pull off this grand theft by kilowatt, the NiMo-led
fabricated cost and schedule reports, then performed a Harry Potter job
on the account books. In 1988, I showed a jury a memo from an executive
from one partner, Long Island Lighting, giving a lesson to a NiMo
honcho on how to lie to government regulators. The jury ordered LILCO
to pay $4.3 billion and, ultimately, put them out of business.
And that's why, if you're in the Northeast, you're reading
candlelight tonight. Here's what happened. After LILCO was hammered by
the law, after government regulators slammed Niagara Mohawk and dozens
of other book-cooking, document-doctoring utility companies all over
America with fines and penalties totaling in the tens of billions of
dollars, the industry leaders got together to swear never to break the
regulations again. Their plan was not to follow the rules, but to
ELIMINATE the rules. They called it "deregulation."
It was like a committee of bank robbers figuring out
how to make
But they dare not launch the scheme in the USA. Rather,
in 1990, one
devious little bunch of operators out of Texas, Houston Natural Gas,
operating under the alias "Enron," talked an over-the-edge free-market
fanatic, Britain's Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, into licensing the
first completely deregulated power plant in the hemisphere.
And so began an economic disease called "regulatory
reform" that spread
faster than SARS. Notably, Enron rewarded Thatcher's Energy Minister,
one Lord Wakeham, with a bushel of dollar bills for 'consulting'
services and a seat on Enron's board of directors. The English
experiment proved the viability of Enron's new industrial formula: that
the enthusiasm of politicians for deregulation was in direct proportion
to the payola provided by power companies.
The power elite first moved on England because they
wouldn't swallow the deregulation snake oil easily. The USA had gotten
used to cheap power available at the flick of switch. This was the
legacy of Franklin Roosevelt who, in 1933, caged the man he thought to
be the last of the power pirates, Samuel Insull. Wall Street
wheeler-dealer Insull created the Power Trust, and six decades before
Ken Lay, faked account books and ripped off consumers. To frustrate
Insull and his ilk, FDR gave us the Federal Power Commission and the
Public Utilities Holding Company Act which told electricity companies
where to stand and salute. Detailed regulations limited charges to real
expenditures plus a government-set profit. The laws banned power
"trading" and required companies to keep the lights on under threat of
arrest -- no blackout blackmail to hike rates.
Of particular significance as I write here in the dark,
utilities exactly how much they had to spend to insure the system
stayed in repair and the lights stayed on. Bureaucrats crawled along
the wire and, like me, crawled through the account books, to make sure
the power execs spent customers' money on parts and labor. If they
didn't, we'd whack'm over the head with our thick rule books. Did we
get in the way of these businessmen's entrepreneurial spirit? Damn
right we did.
Most important, FDR banned political contributions from
companies -- no 'soft' money, no 'hard' money, no money PERIOD.
But then came George the First. In 1992, just prior
to his departure
from the White House, President Bush Senior gave the power industry one
long deep-through-the-teeth kiss good-bye: federal deregulation of
electricity. It was a legacy he wanted to leave for his son, the
gratitude of power companies which ponied up $16 million for the
Republican campaign of 2000, seven times the sum they gave Democrats.
But Poppy Bush's gift of deregulating of wholesale prices
set by the
feds only got the power pirates halfway to the plunder of Joe
Ratepayer. For the big payday they needed deregulation at the state
level. There were only two states, California and Texas, big enough and
Republican enough to put the electricity market con into operation.
California fell first. The power companies spent $39
million to defeat
a 1998 referendum pushed by Ralph Nadar which would have blocked the
de-reg scam. Another $37 million was spent on lobbying and lubricating
the campaign coffers of the state's politicians to write a lie into
law: in the deregulation act's preamble, the Legislature promised that
deregulation would reduce electricity bills by 20%. In fact, when in
the first California city to go "lawless," San Diego, the 20% savings
became a 300% jump in surcharges.
Enron circled California and licked its lips. As the
contributor to the George W. Bush campaigns, it was confident about the
future. With just a half dozen other companies it controlled at times
100% of the available power capacity needed to keep the Golden State
lit. Their motto, "your money or your lights."
Enron and its comrades played the system like a broken
yanking out the bills. For example, in the shamelessly fixed "auctions"
for electricity held by the state, Enron bid, in one instance, to
supply 500 megawatts of electricity over a 15 megawatt line. That's
like pouring a gallon of gasoline into a thimble -- the lines would
burn up if they attempted it. Faced with blackout because of Enron's
destructive bid, the state was willing to pay anything to keep the
And the state did. According to Dr. Anjali Sheffrin,
economist with the
California state Independent System Operator which directs power
deliveries, between May and November 2000, three power giants
physically or "economically" withheld power from the state and
concocted enough false bids to cost the California customers over $6.2
billion in excess charges.
It took until December 20, 2000, with the lights going
out on the
Golden Gate, for President Bill Clinton, once a deregulation booster,
to find his lost Democratic soul and impose price caps in California
and ban Enron from the market.
But the light-bulb buccaneers didn't have to wait long
to put their
hooks back into the treasure chest. Within seventy-two hours of moving
into the White House, while he was still sweeping out the inaugural
champagne bottles, George Bush the Second reversed Clinton's executive
order and put the power pirates back in business in California. Enron,
Reliant (aka Houston Industries), TXU (aka Texas Utilities) and the
others who had economically snipped California's wires knew they could
count on Dubya, who as governor of the Lone Star state cut them the
richest deregulation deal in America.
Meanwhile, the deregulation bug made it to New York
Governor George Pataki and his industry-picked utility commissioners
ripped the lid off electric bills and relieved my old friends at
Niagara Mohawk of the expensive obligation to properly fund the
maintenance of the grid system.
And the Pataki-Bush Axis of Weasels permitted something
that must have
former New York governor Roosevelt spinning in his wheelchair in
Heaven: They allowed a foreign company, the notoriously incompetent
National Grid of England, to buy up NiMo, get rid of 800 workers and
pocket most of their wages - producing a bonus for NiMo stockholders
approaching $90 million.
Is tonight's black-out a surprise? Heck, no, not to
us in the field
who've watched Bush's buddies flick the switches across the globe. In
Brazil, Houston Industries seized ownership of Rio de Janeiro's
electric company. The Texans (aided by their French partners) fired
workers, raised prices, cut maintenance expenditures and, CLICK! the
juice went out so often the locals now call it, "Rio Dark."
So too the free-market British buckaroos controlling
raised prices, slashed staff, cut maintenance and CLICK! -- New York
joins Brazil in the Dark Ages.
Californians have found the solution to the deregulation
re-call the only governor in the nation with the cojones to stand up to
the electricity price fixers. And unlike Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gov.
Gray Davis stood alone against the bad guys without using a body
double. Davis called Reliant Corp of Houston a pack of "pirates" --and
now he'll walk the plank for daring to stand up to the Texas marauders.
So where's the President? Just before he landed on the
deck of the Abe
Lincoln, the White House was so concerned about our brave troops facing
the foe that they used the cover of war for a new push in Congress for
yet more electricity deregulation. This has a certain logic: there's no
sense defeating Iraq if a hostile regime remains in California.
Sitting in the dark, as my laptop battery runs low,
I don't know if the
truth about deregulation will ever see the light --until we change the
dim bulb in the White House.
See Greg Palast's award-winning reports for BBC Television and the
Guardian papers of Britain at <www.GregPalast.com>. Contact Palast at
his New York office: <email@example.com>.
Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestseller,
Democracy Money Can Buy" (Penguin USA) and the worstseller, "Democracy
and Regulation," a guide to electricity deregulation published by the
United Nations (written with T. MacGregor and J. Oppenheim).
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