She Needs More Power, Captain!

Electricity. All of us need and use it constantly throughout the day. In fact, most of us have been using electricity for so long that, like our relatives and loved ones, we've learned to completely ignore its existence. However, electricity is present in almost everything we own, especially in products which require some kind of power source to operate. Without electricity we would have no phone or phone service which allows people from all across the globe to call us up and con us into purchasing their credit card which has an APR in the mid hundreds. The recent power crisis in my state of California has really helped drive home this point into my thick skull.

If you've been "out of the loop" or "visiting another country" or "in a coma" or "dead" for the past month, let me explain the power-shortage situation, this quarter's deadly crisis in California. If you've lived in California for some time, you'll undoubtedly know that the news media chooses to distinguish the four seasons of the year by giving them different natural disaster threats. A typical year is described by the following TV news blueprint:

SPRING: "Will global warming melt the ice caps, causing your yuppie seaside village community to be washed away in a giant tidal wave? Judging by the accounts of a drugged-out hippie who was once a professor at Big Hank's Big Weather University in southern Clydesdale, Arizona, the answer is an alarming 'maybe'!"

SUMMER: "Heat waves are expected to roll in, killing hundreds of working class citizens like yourself. That's right, we said 'LIKE YOURSELF.' Will these heat waves make YOU die? Scientists who once had a vague involvement in a government project which studied the effects of caramel on fruit flies say the chances are moderately high! Keep your television tuned to 'HEAT DEATHWATCH 2000' and we'll keep you informed!"

FALL: "Every year hundreds or maybe thousands or maybe six people are killed to death by deadly mudslides. These deadly natural disasters can kill you no matter where you are - nobody is safe from these so-called 'people-killers.' Learn how to protect you and your loved ones from Nature's Hitman, the death-inducing deadly mudslide of death."

WINTER: "The popular movie 'Armageddon' illustrated how millions of people could be wiped out by a single deadly asteroid. Luckily that can't happen in real life... or can it? We've found two guys wearing white coats who claim that the chances of everybody on Earth dying due to an asteroid hit are quite high. But don't kill yourself now - tune in and watch out 8472-part series, 'Will You Die From an Asteroid? Probably!' on ABC news."

Those quarterly-crises are usually complemented with an assortment of other "YOU'RE MORE THAN LIKELY GOING TO DIE" investigative reports such as:

"Deals or Deathtraps?" - Getting a "killer" bargain at a garage sale may end up killing you. More than likely it won't though, but the news team was somehow able to find an instance of a 130-year old Mormon woman who died of natural causes while sitting in a chair she bought from a guy who was once a con artist (or some kind of artist).

"Something Your Kid Eats Every Day Has a 100% Chance of Causing Them to Positively, Absolutely, Undoubtedly Die" - A popular, brand-name product that many parents give their children has been linked to a rare disease which hasn't really killed anybody YET, but according to a vague line graph displayed on a consumer watchdog's computer, it just might.

"Everything In Your House Will Kill You" - Abridged version of the two topics above, basically insinuating that every single consumer product ever made was created with the sole intent to murder you. With the exception of the George Foreman "Lean, Mean Grilling Machine", this is pretty much false.

The current media crisis in California is this whole power fiasco. Each side has their own story regarding this situation; according to the power companies, California has no power left. According to media watchdog organizations, California has gobs and gobs of power left, but the companies are trying to manipulate the system so they can charge more. According to the California news services, drinking tap water gives you brain cancer. I personally don'tknow who to side with here, because I find all sides equally stupid.

First off, the power companies. After playing games like Command and Conquer and its smash hit sequel, Dominion: Storm Over Gift3, I've learned that everything revolves around power plants. I find it really hard to believe that these giant billion-dollar companies, who have been in business since the days when a computer took up 80,000 square feet and used punchcards and ran on human souls, can't grasp the simple power plant-building technique. It's simple guys: the bigger your "base" expands, the more power plants you need. As far as I know, California hasn't been attacked and destroyed by an army of Orcs within the past 20 years, so there's no damn reason for them to be lagging behind in the ratio of existing power plants to coffeehouses.

Then there's the consumer watchdogs. Their duty is to basically claim every company that employs more than one person and their dog is a lying, greedy, deceitful pack of wolves. For the most part, this is true; nobody really needs a third party to inform them that their boss is a crook bastard. However, they seem to be desperately grasping at straws in this case. Their whole argument seems to be based around... well, nothing. Any time an electric company executive appears on television to explain how they're $502 trillion dollars in debt and they're broke and they have to shove rocks in their daughter's mouth because they can't afford braces, the consumer watchdog group spokesperson will be given two seconds of airtime to shout that the power companies are lying. The interviews usually don't last longer than two seconds because the spokesperson often runs off looking for the mothership to whisk him back to his home planet.

So to sum up the whole mess, there's a power problem. Too many people are using too much power and the companies just can't keep up with demand. As a result, the ever-helpful news media takes it upon themselves to release informative and educational tips, supposedly to help curb consumers' use of electricity. The only problem with this is that their tips are completely stupid and obvious, like "when leaving your house, turn off all lights" or "if you're not using the oven, make sure it's not on." Anybody with the least bit of common sense knows the crap they babble about on television. To counteract these blatant displays of obvious they peddle on the news shows, I will present to you a short list of things that I'm doing to conserve electricity in California. While they might not be as apparent as the ones that the news media crams down your throat, let me assure you that they're just as effective. Okay, they might not be effective at all, but they take up a lot of space and justify me sitting in front of a computer for extended periods of time.

When playing mp3s 24 hours a day at 600 decibels, stay away from "high energy" types of music like techno and speed metal, which use up more power (hence the term "high energy"). Stick to slow, depressing songs like anything by Tori Amos or that one band with the fat lesbians that I can't think of offhand. I think their name was like "The Bacon Sisters" or something.

Every time you change the channel on the television, it consumes an extra .10239 kilojoules per ampere of electricity. Try to find a program you like (such as "Road Rovers") and stick with it. When the show is over, keep watching the channel. Under no circumstances should you ever, ever change the station, unless Ron Popeil comes on and starts advertising a product which causes your skull to catch fire when used.

Upon leaving your house, make sure all lights are off and your refrigerator is unplugged. In fact, never turn your lights on at all. If you have an artificial respirator, unplug that as well, because it's way past time you learned to breathe on your own you little spoiled sissy.

Pets often produce excessive amounts of static electricity. Take your pet cat, rub him across the carpet for three hours, then sell him to the power company for a reduced price.

Some guy made a lightbulb run by sticking it into a potato, although I don't really remember exactly how he was able to accomplish this. Go to your local supermarket and buy a sack of potatoes. Then dump them out onto the middle of your livingroom floor and stare at them for days. This will keep you preoccupied and prevent you from bitching about all your lights being off.

Drinking a lot of liquor makes everything seem brighter, which is quite helpful in low-light situations. Drink heavily and then stumble around your apartment until you pass out or bash your head against a large piece of furniture. When you wake up, start drinking again.

Call your local power company and shout into the automated system, "BUILD SOME MORE MOTHERFUCKING POWER PLANTS!!!" Perhaps they just might take your advice.

Good luck all you power-conscious Californians out there! With our help, the power crisis will soon pass and the news media will go back to their scheduled 600-part investigative report explaining how a popular, naturally-occurring atom that floats freely around in the air may be silently killing your kids. AND IT MIGHT RAPE YOU TOO!

Jeff K. - He's Back!

SA's very own technical expert Jeff K. is back from his temporary detainment by... "The Man." It seems as if he's been sentenced to 120 hours of community service for his pro-hacking website, and he's now prohibited from writing ANY articles or posts that promote the act of malicious computer hacking. As a result, Jeff's first article since returning is called "HELPFUL COMPUTAR HELP AND HELPING TIPS FOR YUO!!!", which makes up for three of his 120 hours of community service he must participate in. Luckily for all you readers out there, ol' Jeff K. is here to help you with all your computer protection needs!

Wow, I feel safer already! Head on over and give a look-see to "HELPFUL COMPUTAR HELP AND HELPING TIPS FOR YUO!!!", featuring some narrator called "Doctor Hard Disk."

– Rich "Lowtax" Kyanka (@lowtax)

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