January 4th, 2004

Enterprise Bridge

Michael Powell vs. Reality

The SJ Mercury News interviewed FCC chairman Michael Powell. Much of what he says here is very true, about new technologies and the shifts going on in wireline telecom. If he's telling the truth about how he feels about "big and venerable companies", I'm glad to hear it.

However, his comments on media ownership are almost entirely whacked, and show evidence that he's not a dumb guy, he's just owned by the major media corporations. I will agree that television (and only television) is a more dilute media than thirty to forty years ago, when the big three networks were really the only games in town. But in the time since, we've seen the rise of local independents, as well as their fall as they are bought up by media conglomerates and joined the three newest networks. Recent FCC ownership rule changes absolutely work to reverse the dilution trend.

When we turn to radio, the signs of ownership are even stronger. Radio has always been a dilute, locally-driven medium. While the big three networks had a major presence early on (which in the last twenty years has diminished significantly) there have always been major local independent players in every market. The growth of CBS-Infinity, Clear Channel, their component antecedents (even big media companies have been merging with each other) and their peers, and the damage it has caused to radio is apparent in all markets except for a very few of the largest.
Enterprise Bridge

...just watch what you say

Paul Graham writes an interesting piece on cultural taboos.

I popped up a level to see what else he wrote, and he's got a great piece on the unpopularity of nerds: "Unpopularity is a communicable disease; kids too nice to pick on nerds will still ostracize them in self-defense."

Gee, there's a sentiment that leads right to one of my possibly blasphemous unconventional opinions: I don't blame kids who shoot up their schools for being that angry and that broadly heartless. You get tired of the bullies, the popular kids slamming you down, and you get tired of everyone else enabling it by either laughing or standing idle.

The intelligent reader will note that I don't excuse the action, only the emotions. But that's a detail too subtle to notice in a society so emotionally upset over the incidents that they condemn the perpetrators as subhuman monsters.

He goes on at length about why American adolescence and the schools it centers on suck. It reminds me a lot of a book I'm reading, Thomas Hine's The Rise and Fall of the American Teenager. Which I really ought to finish someday...

For the moment, I think I'm gonna go downstairs and throw Pump Up The Volume in the DVD player. Take cover, Arizona!