aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Thursday, July 28, 2005
Why can birds sit on power lines?
Most of the hundreds of thousands of miles of high-voltage transmission lines in this country are made solely of metal-either aluminum or aluminum wrapped around a steel core. Adding a layer of insulation to every line would be pricey and has been deemed unnecessary given how high the lines are off the ground.
So what about birds?
Electricity will stray from a power line only if it has a direct path to the ground. If you hang from a power line with both feet in the air, you won’t get shocked-that’s why birds can sit on a line with no insulation. (Birds do get zapped when they touch two lines at the same time or one line and the grounded wooden pole that supports it; power companies try to prevent bird deaths by increasing the space between the wires.)
Just stay away:
The air around a power line isn’t a good conductor, but very high voltages do create a significant electrical field. For large-scale transmission lines, this field can have a radius of a foot or more. That means electricity could arc out of the wire to any crane or pole that gets close enough, even if it never makes contact.
Most power companies warn workers to stay 10 feet away from power lines and up to 25 feet away from the highest-voltage lines. Even regular folks trimming trees near a power line need to take care-wood isn’t as conductive as metal, but a stray branch can still transmit a deadly shock down the trunk.
Arianna on Judith
I’ve been ambivalent about Judith Miller for a number of reasons. Arianna Huffington has some intriguing speculation that sounds plausible to me:
Not everyone in the Times building is on the same page when it comes to Judy Miller. The official story the paper is sticking to is that Miller is a heroic martyr, sacrificing her freedom in the name of journalistic integrity.
But a very different scenario is being floated in the halls. Here it is: It’s July 6, 2003, and Joe Wilson’s now famous op-ed piece appears in the Times, raising the idea that the Bush administration has “manipulate[d]” and “twisted” intelligence “to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.” Miller, who has been pushing this manipulated, twisted, and exaggerated intel in the Times for months, goes ballistic. Someone is using the pages of her own paper to call into question the justification for the war—and, indirectly, much of her reporting. The idea that intelligence was being fixed goes to the heart of Miller’s credibility. So she calls her friends in the intelligence community and asks, Who is this guy? She finds out he’s married to a CIA agent. She then passes on the info about Mrs. Wilson to Scooter Libby (Newsday has identified a meeting Miller had on July 8 in Washington with an “unnamed government official"). Maybe Miller tells Rove too—or Libby does. The White House hatchet men turn around and tell Novak and Cooper. The story gets out.
This is why Miller doesn’t want to reveal her “source” at the White House—because she was the source. Sure, she first got the info from someone else, and the odds are she wasn’t the only one who clued in Libby and/or Rove (the State Dept. memo likely played a role too)Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ but, in this scenario, Miller certainly wasn’t an innocent writer caught up in the whirl of history. She had a starring role in it. This also explains why Miller never wrote a story about Plame, because her goal wasn’t to write a story, but to get out the story that cast doubts on Wilson’s motives. Which Novak did.
Via Kevin Drum.
UPDATE, from Salon:
This theory has been floated before, but Huffington colors it all the way in, making it into a coherent narrative… Miller is innocent of any collusion until proven guilty, but such proof would send Miller’s liberal detractors, who already want to see her laid out on the rack like Mel Gibson at the end of “Braveheart,” into a cataclysmic spasm of rage.