ANDY KESSLER: The Lost Era of Reliability: We can no longer count on politicians, media or even the latest technology.

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“Photoshopping the then-missing princess of Wales. The press twisting Donald Trump’s “bloodbath” comment out of context. AT&T Wireless down for hours. And (gasp!) Instagram offline. Is anything reliable anymore?
Reliability is a lost art. Our electricity used to be so steady that plugged-in wall clocks rarely needed adjusting. That’s funny now because power outages are so commonplace. Heck, we now schedule rolling blackouts in California—forced failure.

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Back then, the electric grid and phone system were designed for “five 9s” or 99.999% reliability—five minutes of unscheduled downtime a year. Last month, AT&T. ’s cellular network went down for around 11 hours. No TikTok? The horror. AT&T provided $5 credits to customers. Thanks for nothing. Today’s reality is that we’re preconditioned to accept failure.

When did things change? My guess is after the July 13-14, 1977, New York City blackout, which happened during a heat wave. The result was fires, looting and fear that the “Son of Sam” serial killer would kill again. After that, we became thankful for outages lasting only an hour.”

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