14 August

Power failures across NE America

Nuclear Daiquiri

So we are drinking a...

Nuclear Daiquiri

This day in 2003, a domino effect, thought to have started by a power plant in Ohio unexpectedly shutting down, led to power cuts in successive states as they in turn overloaded and failed. Chaos across the eastern United States and Canada ensued, crippling cities such as New York and Ottawa. It was the worst power cut in US history, affecting more than 50 million people.

The roads were thrown into gridlock as traffic lights failed. Railways came to a standstill with passengers trapped in New York subway trains for hours. People suffered similar periods of incarceration inside elevators in offices and apartments as rescuers were hampered by the numbers trapped and travel chaos. Flights into six major airports were also suspended for several hours. Many office workers in New York City were forced to either walk home or spend the night on the streets. The situation was made worse by the blackout occurring on one of the hottest days of the year.

Canadian officials blamed the Americans for the power issues, while the American's blamed the Canadians. The power was restored to nearly all within 30 hours, although a few areas suffered had to endure a couple more days for full service to be restored.

The North American power failures of 2003 are a poignant reminder of the UK's urgent need to address its own generating capacity. So today we are drinking to the workers who maintain the power supplies and powerlines in all weathers with a Nuclear Daiquiri while pondering if we should instead by enjoying an equally potent Flower Power Martini. (But that's for another day - see tomorrow in fact.)

Carlos the Jackal Captured

For years, the Marxist-Leninist terrorist Ilich Ramírez Sánchez was one of the most wanted men in the world and by the time he was captured in Sudan, on this day in 1994, he had assassinated secret agents, masterminded a bombing campaign and taken 60-70 innocents hostage at an oil conference.

The media dubbed him "the Jackal" after Frederick Forsyth's classic thriller The Day of the Jackal. Today he is serving two life sentences, a fact for which we should all be grateful, as it provides the perfect excuse for a classic long drink, the Jack Collins.

The Hungry Ghost Festival

In China and beyond, today's the day when folk celebrate the Hungry Ghost festival and, according to Buddhism, the spirits of the ancestors come back from the grave to visit the living.

Traditionally, offerings are made to the spirits. Folk cook up food and buy fake banknotes to burn. Some Chinese make offerings to the King of Hell, while some believers send lanterns down the river to guide the spirits home. In Malaysia and Singapore, however, today is more about live shows. Traditional music and dances are performed - often, in the finest Malaysian tradition, by heavily made-up pub singers in micro-minis and spangles.

If you (or your ancestors) need a little livening up today, we recommend you join us in a Chinese Whisper, a distinctly Asian blend of lychee and fresh ginger.

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