Some Blackouts are Darker than Others

Tip of the blog cap to David, who points out that Der Spiegel believes a blackout in part of the United States is a sign of a superpower at the edge of chaos, while a blackout across almost all of Italy (those lucky Sardinians!) is a sign of trees falling in a forest.

Here’s his translation of the intro paragraphs of the two articles:

SPIEGEL: “ITALY WITHOUT POWER – France rejects responsibility for the blackout. In Italy, the power went out in the early hours of the morning this Sunday, affecting more people than the blackout in the USA. In all likelihood, storms knocked out two major power lines connecting France and Italy. The search for a scapegoat has begun.”

>The language of the SPIEGEL was different than when New York was hit by a blackout:

BLACKOUT IN AMERICA – The dazed world power was plunged into chaos by the largest blackout in the super power’s history: Cities in the dark, planes on the ground, and a nation marching single-file like geese through the darkness. The land of limitless opportunity was shut off by a couple of exploded fuses. A world power between perception and reality – SPIEGEL TV with observations from a country whose lights have gone out.”

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About Doug Merrill

Freelance journalist based in Tbilisi, following stints in Atlanta, Budapest, Munich, Warsaw and Washington. Worked for a German think tank, discovered it was incompatible with repaying US student loans. Spent two years in financial markets. Bicycled from Vilnius to Tallinn. Climbed highest mountains in two Alpine countries (the easy ones, though). American center-left, with strong yellow dog tendencies. Arrived in the Caucasus two weeks before its latest war.

4 thoughts on “Some Blackouts are Darker than Others

  1. I gotta say the extended entry seems redundant here. Of course I hate them in general. If it was up to me, I’d have used them in anything shorter than Scott’s French boobies entry.

  2. Doug,

    fair point.

    However, when they spun the US blackout, it was rather unprecedented. I doubt that article would have been published if it had not been the first of such incidents. No justification for their spin, just attempted explanation.

  3. I suspect the causes of the electricity crisis in California in 2001 will turn out to be a far more challenging criticism of market systems than the recent blackout across the north-eastern states in America through into Canada. As we discovered recently in London, wide area power cuts can happen through a domino effect initiated by a simple technical fault in the system – in London’s case, a wrong fuse had been fitted.

    Consider Paul Krugman’s assessment of the California crisis:

    “In fact, the California energy crisis had nothing to do with environmental restrictions, and a lot to do with market manipulation. In 2001 the evidence for manipulation was basically circumstantial. But now we have a new report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which until now has discounted claims of market manipulation. No more: the new report concludes that market manipulation was pervasive, and offers a mountain of direct evidence, including phone conversations, e-mail and memos. There’s no longer any doubt: California’s power shortages were largely artificial, created by energy companies to drive up prices and profits. . .” – from:

  4. The slant of the Der Spiegel article is clearly another sign of anti-American bigotry in Europe.

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