Monday, August 06, 2007


Monday Musings

Neo-Malthusian? I think my antique collectable ZPG button resembles that remark. Some of those predictions have been coming true in Africa, and I give Florida and California about 10 years to figure out if they can really sustain the next doubling of their population as they run an economy based on exponential growth, but that is (as you allude to) mostly a function of social systems.

The limitations on fossil fuels are not entirely due to economics. Some are due to physics (the Earth itself is finite), mathematics (a 3% annual increase in coal consumption would consume a mass of coal equal to the mass of the earth sooner than you might guess), and chemistry (you can turn coal into oil or gas, but the price has to be right because it takes lots of energy to do this).

China has to be careful. They can't really afford to crush the US economy back to 1930 until they can sustain their own economy without exports to the US via WalMart et al.

Basketball camp should generate some blog material when TB returns. Did you send him off with the right kind of sneakers?
--The Niece's eyes are a strange shade. In normal room-level light, they're dark, almost gray. In bright sunlight, you can see their true color, a brilliant sapphire blue. Not baby blue, but sapphire. Whenever we take her outside, even we are astonished at her eyes, and we see 'em every day. Total strangers stop and comment on them.

--The XM-Sirius merger faces a big technical hurdle. They use dissimiliar technologies in the radios and satellites. If there were a way to iron it out without me having to get a new receiver and without costing me more money, I'm all for it. I'd also like a singing pony that poops ice cream.

--A regular imponderable of mine: what would be the hardest "Iron Chef" secret ingredient? Sheep eyes? Pop rocks? Durian, the foulest-smelling fruit in the world? My current vote is for the dreaded "circus peanuts." Yeeg.

--"Gardening Rap" could be a new genre. As our generation ages, it seems more and more likely. "Yo, whassup/ I'm workin' it/ I'm trimmin' the azalea/ Gonna be a party/ Gonna be a bacchanalia!" (I didn't say I'd be any good at it.)
they aren't much better inside the store. why don't you just get down and crawl on the floor! And this from a woman with an infant and a toddler in tow. Seriously, if you're slower than I am, something has got to be wrong with you
An additional thought:

Baking soda + vinegar + red food coloring + volcano model + enthusiasm = future scientist.

Baking soda + vinegar + red food coloring + volcano model + little plastic people and animals placed in path of "lava" + evil cackling as toys are submerged in flow of magma = future mad scientist.

Something to consider.
this is a great blog you have here, very interesting.

It is hard to find bloggers in the community college system that are not apologizing for it.

by the way, are all these thoughts happening at the same time?? :)
Hope you don't mind me dropping in, I noticed you were writing about the XM-Sirius merger. Disclosure: I consult for NAB, which you may know opposes the merger.

Your point about the monopoly is spot on -- if allowed to merge, what's to keep them from upgrading their service in years ahead, without any competition? What about the radios? Will they keep improving, or turn into the phones you'd have to rent from Ma Bell?

But I'm not a subscriber, so those aren't my concerns, of course -- I'm more concerned about the impact the satellite monopoly would have on terrestrial radio stations, which can't compete nationally, but are after the same advertisers.

So I do think the merger would be a mistake, for everyone except maybe Mr. Karmazin.
Sorry Walt (and DD), but I don't see the problem with XM and Sirius that you guys do. Sure, local stations can't compete against national shows... I mean, who ever heard of listening to Rush Limbaugh, Dr Laura, and Sean Hannity on local radio stations? (yeah, tad bit o'sarcasm there.)

I see two main themes in the post and the comment. The first is that these two companies will somehow be able to leverage a monopoly on audio presentation, and force their ware on the unsuspecting public. The second is that these megaliths will, through size of listening audience, somehow crowd out the earth-based "local stations."

Speaking as an XM Subscriber, with several radios, I am not captive to their service. I still find a need for drive time radio in certain markets, and enjoy the local news when listening to the national, syndicated shows.

Where XM and Sirius currently win out is in the commercial free music area. Note, since they are commercial free, they aren't competing for those "commercial/advertising dollars."

And btw, have you listened to the ads on those stations? Forget for the minute that they remind me of spam for the ears (So, it's not viagra they hawk, but rather an all herbal "enhancement" treatment...) none of them are LOCAL. That's where terrestrial radio still has it's niche.

I don't see the masses abandoning all other forms of delivery, either. I suspect listeners still enjoy CDs, plugging in the MP3 player, or listening to local talk, news and sports. In addition, there is one other competitor has arrived as well. Podcasting. I listen to more podcasts than radio, and if one were to talk about an opportunity for niche marketing that certainly is it.

Think about it. As a brewer of beers only to be consumed by left handed drinkers within 20 hours of brewing, I most likely cannot afford to advertise in large markets, where most listeners are not interested in my product. But get me on that podcast that talks about the nuances of left handed fresh beer drinkers, and I have a target ready audience!

So, don't think of the market as "satellite vs satellite" or even satellite vs terrestrial. It's a bigger competitive environment with all sorts of "places" to market and and generate advertising revenues.

Oh, and if you guys haven't ever listened to podcasts--don't. They are addictive!
TP -- the commercial-free music area is exactly what I'm concerned with. Since it's harder to get podcasting rights for music than it once was, radio remains the primary source for exposure to new music. If your tastes run mostly to Avril Lavigne, that's not a problem. If, like me, your tastes are less mainstream, satellite is really the only game in town.

(Since you listen to XM, you'll get the reference: most of what gets played on Beyond Jazz simply isn't available on terrestrial radio. Outside the biggest metro areas, it's even worse. Given a tiny niche of listeners, you need nationwide reach to justify a channel.)

I'm a fan of podcasting, and I've gone on record urging Aunt B, at Tiny Cat Pants, to do one. Podcasts are great for spoken word, but not so hot for music, given intellectual property laws. (Totally agree that they're addictive, btw.)

You're right, of course, that if the costs become unreasonable, I could always drop the service. But if I did, my music options would be reduced to buying stuff I already know about, or listening to whatever's on the utterly predictable commercial stations. It's hardly a national crisis, but those of us whose tastes are a little left of the dial found an oasis in satellite, and I'd hate to lose it.
Brother of Dean Dad, you rock. I want to see that volcano at a history fair, recreating Pompeii.

Sarah, the community college system has its origins in the ideals of people like Justin Morrill, who pushed the idea of a land grant college (to teach engineering and scientific agriculture to the, literally, unwashed masses along with some culture) through Congress. [Just checked, and Wiki has an excellent bio.] No one has to apologize for the ideal of opening up academia to persons who did not go to an elite private academy rather than a rural public high school. That ideal lives on today in the Community College, particularly as the large state universities Morrill helped create have evolved into semi-elite institutions.
DD and Brother of DD, oh my god!!! PIC and I about snorted our appletinis thanks to this amazingly funny post. More, please.
My concern about XM is that perhaps it will drive local radio away. Clear Channel is already starting that trend. I never really noticed it until it flooded here, and I ABSOLUTELY HAD to find out the most up-to-date information on road closings as I'm not much of a swimmer. Clear Channel? Never. Locally owned? After every song.

I just have to say that your family reunions must be a trip. how many other siblings do you have?
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