What have we learned in the 40 years since the OPEC oil embargo?

In 1974, during the oil embargo, cars in Southern California line up for gas at a Union 76 station.

LAPL/ Security Pacific National Bank Collection

In 1974, during the oil embargo, cars in Southern California line up for gas at a Union 76 station.

Forty years ago, Egypt crossed the Suez Canal to begin a war that killed some 27,000 people and left the nation of Israel fighting for its life. When it was over, after much U.S. support, Israel had won. But the effects of the war are still being felt in America and elsewhere.

The key effect was the first so-called OPEC oil embargo, an act of vengeance aimed at the U.S. and its allies for supporting Israel. Its short-term results were the indignity of gas-station lines, improvised alternate-day rationing and even the banning of Christmas lights (in Oregon).

But in the long run, the embargo did us a lot of good. It helped Americans change the way they thought about petroleum and the automobile.

Since the days of the Model T Ford, most U.S. citizens had assumed that cheap gas was an entitlement, like rain and sunshine. In the '50s and '60s, Americans paid little more for a gallon of gas than did the Okies in the "Grapes of Wrath." 


There's apparently a Konami Code cheat on this Los Angeles government website

Control Panel LA

Screenshot/Control Panel LA

Screenshot of Control Panel LA with the Konami Easter Egg enabled.

Update 4:45 p.m.: Looks like the Controller's Office took the Easter Egg down and the code no longer works. Ah, well. Fun while it lasted.

A Redditor just discovered a fun easter egg on a web page run by the Los Angeles City Controller's office.

So, quick: go to this page. Using the arrows on your keyboard, type up up, down down, left right, left right, b a, enter. If you do it right, a little white arrow will appear in the top left of the screen. Press the space bar and watch as the arrow shoots lasers and blow up different payroll numbers, webpage elements or even the L.A. city seal. 

The easter egg is activated by the famous Konami Code, a time-honored cheat code first associated with video games created by Japanese video game maker Konami. But it's gone on to make cameos in all kinds of video games, and was even referenced in Disney's Wreck-It Ralph. 


How KPCC got the rights to the 75th birthday broadcast of 'The War of the Worlds'

The front page of the October 31, 1938 New York Daily News.

New York Daily News

The front page of the October 31, 1938 New York Daily News.

Our story begins last year at this time, when it occurred to me that Halloween would be the perfect time to bring back “The War of the Worlds,” the most famous radio broadcast of all time.

Curious as to whether it was even legal to broadcast it on Off-Ramp, I Googled the Orson Welles/Mercury Theatre production, expecting to find that it was in the public domain. And I found that while CBS doesn’t protect the transcription of the 1938 broadcast – the sound, as it were – someone does hold the copyright to the script used for the broadcast.

It turns out that “Casablanca” screenwriter Howard E. Koch, who was later shamefully blacklisted as a Communist, won a copyright battle from Orson Welles after Koch proved in court that he had adapted the H.G. Wells SF novel for the Mercury Theatre production. Koch died in 1995, but his widow and son were (and are) still alive, and they license the broadcast.


Halloween: 8th Annual Dusk-to-Dawn Horrorthon this weekend

aero theater theatre

jvoves/Flickr Creative Commons

If you have absolutely nowhere to be on Sunday, you can spend all night Saturday watching horror flicks at the Aero in Santa Monica.

This year’s six back-to-back films will include David Cronenberg’s “The Fly” and the 1977 film “The Car,” about a murderous (and driverless) vehicle. Don’t worry — ticket price includes all-night coffee (and snacks).

Ticket prices are General $20, Student/Senior $18, Members $15. This Saturday, Oct. 26, starting at 7:30 p.m. Go to the Horrorthon website for more information.

RELATEDCountdown to Halloween: 10 events to get you spooked


Young entrepreneur starts 'No Burger Left Behind' program at SoCal school

Government Backs TV Adverts To Promote Healthier Eating

Matt Cardy/Getty Images

A hamburger similar to the ones being sold at an unnamed school in Southern California.

A friend of Off-Ramp, who shall remain nameless, writes:

There's a drug dealer in my daughter's school.

He's not selling pot, crack or meth; he's selling ... hamburgers.

He buys them in bulk in the early morning and has a group of carefully selected minions deal them out to students at a 200% markup. All of his cohorts have to have a GPA of 2.0 or more, because he figures they are less likely to be watched, and he cuts them in on a percentage of their sales. In spite of these transactions being strictly verboten, at the end of the morning there is No Burger Left Behind.

My daughter says some of her teachers know about it, but they turn a blind eye because they find it less harmful than sugary snacks, as well as a creative implementation of supply and demand.

When my daughter told me about this last night I was riveted, not just by the story, but in the way she relayed it: cheerful, ironic voice and a twinkle in her eye, as if she found the whole scenario absurd and admirable at the same time.