Thursday, July 06, 2006


I had a very odd conversation with my sister today. She lives on the outskirts of Las Vegas, and their phone service has been interrupted lately; she wanted to know if I'd been trying to reach her. (No, I was working.)

When this first happened, last weekend, she said someone had "cut the phone cable". I assumed accident, but it seems to be a form of semi-organized crime: the price of copper has gone high enough, and the rural phone lines in Nevada are installed carelessly enough, that some people are driving around in the small hours, and stealing the phone lines to sell for scrap. Seems like it's time to upgrade to fiberoptics?? Also, isn't this carrying good old American initiative a little too far?


  1. Anonymous7:47 PM

    hedera, fiberoptics would be good. About 6 years ago, Corning built a state of the art fiberoptics plant in Cabbarrus County - about 25 miles away from my house. One of my flying buddies had a programming job there for almost a year. Corning was in the process of doubling the size of the plant, when orders came to shut it down. It's still closed and is a sad sight to see when I drive by it every month. Such a waste.

  2. Anonymous7:49 PM

    At least we now have the answer to how low some people, who could give a shit whether an emergency phone call can be made in rural Arizona can be made, will go. We would have denutted the bastards where I grew up, and the phone company can now if it will simply by coming down on the people who buy scrap copper with a vengeance. Maybe those people guarding the border could shift to a more useful activity and start guarding rural phone lines.

    Anonymous David

  3. It's rural Nevada, actually, but the principle holds. I just talked to my sister, so her phone service is back up and her DSL is working, so for the moment all is cool.

    Your point about emergency phone calls is a good one, David, but have you noticed that you can't find a pay phone to save your life any more? Everyone is assumed to have a cell phone. I forgot mine the other day and had to borrow one from a fellow gym rat so the car dealer's shuttle could call me back to confirm they should pick me up... And I guess if you don't have a cell phone at all (and I don't have a personal one, my company pays for it for business use), you're SOL.

  4. Anonymous4:02 AM

    I'm not surprised. Here in Germany thieves start stealing the big grounding-cables which connect train-tracks to prevent electric arcs. Very dangerous, but the cables are quite thick - i guess those are 25mm² cables - and they're made from solid copper. You can make a real fortune out of it.

  5. Anonymous11:26 AM

    This is what happened when Clarke Air Base in the Phillipines was vacated as result of the volcano. The Air Force had guards, but as I remember the story, there were overwhelmed by the numbers, crowds, of people swarming over the fences onto the base. The Phillipines owns the base now. the airfield is used for domestic and short hop international travel. All looks neat and tidy, but it is guarded by the Phillipine military who don't carry guns for decoration.

  6. It's a regrettable statement about what the human race will do when it thinks it can make a fast profit without getting caught, by swiping something that belongs to a large, distant, impersonal organization. I don't think they'd steal from their neighbors.

    Which is why boggart's comment about the Phillippine military guards at the airport explains why it's now immune to this...

    And yet, it's the same race that produced Mozart, and Einstein, and da Vinci, and Michaelangelo. Of course, Mozart chased girls and drank too much, and Michealangelo chased boys; I don't know offhand what vices Einstein and da Vinci may have had. I just have to shake my head.

  7. Greed is a fundamental aspect of human beings (not all, but its very well represented in the general population, along with the other two universal qualities of stupidity and laziness)

    Any electrician will tell you that copper theft has become a big problem recently. Wire is being stolen everywhere, even large buildings are having the electric services chopped off them "live".