10 Apr 2010

“You Don’t Play Around With Those Power Lines!”

All Posts 13 Comments

Such was the warning that a cartoon lightning bug would sing in a Public Service Announcement on TV when I was a latchkey kid. Today after the Mises Circle ended, I went for a walk around the hotel. I had to cut it short though, because I was waiting for a phone call and noticed that my Blackberry screen showed nothing but a spinning hourglass.

That was quite a weird thing, and I attributed it to the huge power lines that I was walking under. Does that actually make sense? As many of you know, right-wing economists are anti-empirical, so I really can’t say whether my theory makes sense.

13 Responses to ““You Don’t Play Around With Those Power Lines!””

  1. Aristos says:

    Well, Bob, it’s really a matter of simple physics. The power lines emit an electromagnetic “shield,” if you will, and that means that I really don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. I once made a magnet with a big battery, some copper (I think) wire, and a nail. There ends my expertise.

    Electromagnetism is my best guess. My second guess has to do with the foil hat that you’ve been rumored to don on occasion.

    • bobmurphy says:

      Actually you’re right, I took the tinfoil hat off when I went back inside, and then the phone worked fine. Coincidence? I think not.

  2. JimS says:

    Perhaps it is your magnetic personality?

  3. Doc Merlin says:

    Not really, power lines emit most of their interference at around 60 hz. Your blackberry is probably in the mhz so they shouldn’t interfere. However, metal will block mhz electromagnetic signals, so being inside old buildings often blocks the signal. Also, sometimes the building itself will cast a “shadow” if the tower is on the wrong side of the building.

  4. Cody says:

    More likely any em interference would be on the street near you, though a well-placed collection of grounded wires might shroud your signal fairly well. In such a case, the higher gauge and more conductive the “wires” the better (i.e. a chain-link fence is usually not a great em shroud.)

    I don’t suppose your emergence from the building had sparked a spontaneous ticker-tape parade with aluminum foil as a substitute medium? Or that a group of fiendish Keynesians were attempting to pelt you with some locally-available metallic detritus?

    If you are interested, google “faraday cage;” it’s pretty neat stuff.

  5. Robert Wenzel says:

    Who really knows what kind of dirt you have been talking about re the powers that be. They’re probably tracking you. Be careful.

  6. TGGP says:

    Milton Friedman at least played an empiricist in “Essays on Positive Economics”, Stigler prided himself on his empiricism as well. It’s the Austrians who prioritize theory over data.

    • bobmurphy says:

      I was referring to Brad DeLong. It’s not just the Austrians who fall into the “non-reality-based camp” in his blog posts.

  7. fundamentalist says:

    Actually, the EMF from power lines is quite strong, if they were transmission lines (they cut across the country) and not just the small distribution lines running down the street. I can see where the emf from a transmission line would overpower the weak signal from a cell tower, which is digital and tends to be fragile, even though the frequencies were different. In the old days of AM radio, you could drive under a transmission line and not be able to pick up anything but the 60 hz buzz from the line, even as you tuned up and down the frequency scale.

    • bobmurphy says:

      Yeah, sorry folks but even though everyone up till fundamentalist was sure it wasn’t the power lines, I still think it was. These were heavy duty lines, not the dinky ones you’d see in a residential cul de sac. And I’m not saying I was getting no signal, I’m saying the whole Blackberry screen went out except for a spinning hourglass. The only time I’ve ever seen that before, was when I had to pop out the battery to reconfigure my registration.

      • fundamentalist says:

        Yeah, the circuits for frequency discrimination are good, but also are easily overwhelmed by sheer power!

  8. Gene Callahan says:

    “the circuits for frequency discrimination are good, but also are easily overwhelmed by sheer power!”

    Didn’t Gandalf say this in the Lord of the Rings?

    • bobmurphy says:

      And I definitely “did not pass” those power lines. I turned around.