Searching for the Moon

Shannon Clark's rambles and conversations on food, geeks, San Francisco and occasionally economics

The Blackout

Posted by shannonclark on August 15, 2003

The Blackout

Pretty cool – I figured something like this had to be out there, thanks to Doc Searls here is the link. A collection of phonecam photos (mostly) of the blackout.

A few things, more in a later longer post most likely. I think how the US has dealt with this current blackout is pretty amazing and reflects my personal overall general feeling about people and society – that is, if you expect people to behave themselves and help each other they generally will (i.e. people are generally good as opposed to generally bad).

It is quite notable, I think, that while Detroit and NYC were peaceful, with people safely sleeping on the streets and/or out and about with an almost party atmosphere (according to one report I heard this morning on the radio describing Chelsea in Manhattan), there was “serious looting” in Ottowa and a state of national emergency was declared there. Not, perhaps, what most people would expect given the general perception of Americans vs. Canadians.

Just last night I attended a monthly political Science Fiction discussion group, our book for this month was Octavia Butler’s “Parable of the Sower” which depicts a post-apocolyptic vision of California in the 2020’s.

Looking at what just happened, I am struck by how far the country has come in just the decade since she wrote that book. She wrote it in the wake of the LA riots, when a vision of escalating lawlessness and chaos did not seem so far fetched. But think about things now, it certainly appears that everyday ordinary Americans as well as our government officials can conduct themselves extremely well in crisises and that lawlessness and violence is not the result.

For me, it is the small little things that I particularly note, the fact that tolls on bridges out of New York were lifted – not the reaction of stupid beaucrats but rather the reaction of sensible people. The stories of individual small acts of kindness are also impressive, as are the relatively small numbers of people hurt or even needing rescue from elevators (800 calls in NYC seems amazingly, almost unbelievably low).

In short, I am quite proud today to be an American and I am very pleased with how we have conducted ourselves in the face of seeming disaster and crisis.

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