Time for another out of the box date. No, you are not going on a conventional date with renown journalist and news commentator, Ted Koppel. He won’t be sitting across from you in a dimly lit restaurant while you both sip a nice glass of wine. You will, however, get to sit in the audience while he talks about his new book, Lights Out.
An opportunity like this is offered each year when Bank of America hosts the Festival of Arts, Books and Culture presented by the Katz JCC in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. This event is one of the top book selling venues in the country. At least a year in advance, authors from all over the country vie for a chance to talk about and sell autographed copies of their most recent books. The audience can number from around 100 to well over a thousand depending upon who’s speaking. Ted Koppel draws big time and he was well worth the nominal, $35 fee for admittance.
While some folks research each speaker they wish to see and even read the book before the talk, many just want to see an icon like Ted and don’t know what to expect. In this unexpected treat, he spoke about the real fear of a cyber attack on America’s power grid. This is not a far fetched theory and he pointed out that, already, Russia and China have entered our grid. Is it just a matter of time before someone goes beyond entry and effects a disastrous outcome for America. Imagine going back to the days of no electricity. We’d have to live much like those who got along in the mid 19th century, the only problem is that we no longer have those skills that they had to manage well in a world before cell phones, television, cars and just about every modern convenience we currently take for granted.
One member of the audience asked about an EMP attack (electro magnetic pulse). This could take place when an enemy explodes a nuclear bomb 20 miles above the earth. The explosion produces an electro magnetic pulse that wipes out everything electric so even your battery powered radio won’t work. Not only did Ted know about EMP attack, he explained it rather well.
How well would we fare? According to a congressional commission back in 2008, they described the impact of an EMP attack as devastating on civilian infrastructure. Available online, some projections from the report estimate that only one in ten Americans would survive a year into a nationwide blackout. The rest would die from starvation, disease, or societal breakdown (worse than Ferguson but you can imagine).
Now why would you take a date to a doom and gloom book lecture? On a positive note, facing mortality might inspire the two of you to hop into bed for one last go at it before the end of days. The other reaction might be depression, and that could have the reverse effect. You will have to see how it plays out for you.
Every year this book festival includes many interesting authors. This year, (2015) Alan Alda and his wife Arlene came to speak, along with other luminaries like Steve Katz, founder of the group Blood Sweat and Tears, Erica Jong (Fear of Flying) and Susie Essman (not much of a literary figure, but rather there for an hour of comedy).
When it comes to interesting dating venues, they are everywhere. Book fairs, art festivals and a myriad of shows are ever present if you just look for them. Next time we’ll report on alligator wrestling. Oh wait, that show was just cancelled. Probably not very good for a date, anyway.
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