Tuesday, November 10, 2015

It's 50 years since a big power failure, and a funny communication failure

Sometimes a print or broadcast journalist will hear a word and think she or he understands what it means, but doesn't.

On Tuesday, November 9, 1965, a power blackout shut down the supply of electricity to New York, New Jersey, New England and Ontario, Canada.  Over 30 million people were powerless for up to 12 hours.

I heard a news report broadcast by WOR radio (which was operating with an emergency generator). The newsperson told us that there had been "a failure of the power grid," and as soon as a replacement could be located and installed, power would be restored.

The sincere but ignorant person apparently assumed that a power grid was a simple gizmo that could be purchased at a nearby Radio Shack -- not the network that connects power companies in multiple states.

The misunderstanding probably would not happen today, when independent people proudly "live off the grid."

RadioShack pic from Time mag, 

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