He left Brooklyn many years ago but Brooklyn never left him. His childhood was a rich gumbo of passions: the Dodgers, radio, comic books, 78 rpm records, stickball, punchball, Barnaby & Mr. O’Malley, the Dodgers. From these ingredients his life's main interests were formed: jazz, classical music, writing, and (still) baseball. Brooklyn also gave him Brooklyn Girl, who has been his best friend for nearly half a century. One lucky kid.
Saturday, 3 December 2011
A question about electricity
Electricity in 1897
To my non-scientific eye, there doesn't seem to be much difference between these two pictures.
We live in a wondrous age of digital, wireless everything, and believe me, I don't take it for granted. As a kid I played 78 rpm records on a wind-up Victrola; now I can hold 130 gigabytes' worth of jazz, pop, and classical music in the palm of my hand. I can read any newspaper in the world with my morning coffee. I can post my reminiscences and favorite pieces of music and share them with the world. I can play Texas Hold 'Em poker against opponents from Poland, Brazil, Thailand, and New Zealand.
And yet, if a tree branch snaps off somewhere, anywhere, and brings down a wire, we're cold, in the dark, and all my Steve Jobs wonders are worthless, their batteries unrechargeable.
Brooklyn Girl and I live in a modern, prosperous city that likes to think of itself as world-class, yet our supply of power is, at best, unreliable. (When the electricity is off, my adjective changes to "third-world.") The weather doesn't have to be bad. It can be a perfectly lovely day, as was yesterday, and zap! the electricity goes off for two hours.
I grew up in a Brooklyn neighborhood where the electrical infrastructure was as old as Edison. I remember our house being dark during the hurricane of 1944, but in all the years I lived on 71st Street I don't recall such an on-again-off-again relationship with our power supply.
Exposed wires and wooden poles? That's pathetic. With universal solar power still a pipe-dream and the cost of burying all those wires too high, our high-tech superstructure rests on a foundation right out of the horse-and-buggy era. Why has there been no breakthrough in this area since 1897?
Right now it's raining and windy outside. I just hope the electri