Lost interest

When I read about Lost, it sounded like exactly the kind of show I’d love. I didn’t watch it. To understand why, we need to look at The X Files. At some point during the first few seasons of X Files, the writers decided that it would be good for the show if there was an overall story arc involving the alleged extraterrestrial invaders. Initially, they were right. However, shortly after the movie a problem became apparent: the network was never going to allow them to solve the mystery.

À la carte TV myths

The controversy over à la carte cable and satellite programming keeps resurfacing. The basic problem is that cable prices keep rising, to the point where the basic level of digital cable is over $50 a month in many places. Prices have risen 40% in the last decade.

(As an aside, I’m amazed at the whiners in the UK who complain about paying £126.50 a year for a TV license that gets them the best premium programming from the US, as well as UK TV. I pay $588 a year to get a similar selection.)

Viewers find it galling to pay for a hundred channels when there are only a handful they watch on a regular basis. Hence there has been a campaign to get the FCC to rule that cable and satellite providers must offer the option of à la carte programming, where you can choose to subscribe to only the channels you actually want.

The cable and satellite companies don’t want to see that happen, as it would eat into their fat profits. Since the same companies own a lot of the mainstream media outlets, I’m constantly seeing astroturf coverage explaining why à la carte programming is impossible, would make your cable bills skyrocket, is tantamount to Communism, and so on.

This is my attempt to cut through a lot of the common bullshit spouted on the subject.

In widescreen where available

We’re right in the middle of the city. I discovered a while back that all I had to do was use unshielded speaker wire and I’d pick up AM radio. I checked, and all the TV transmitters are in a cluster less than 10 miles away from us. So, this afternoon while we were out shopping for Christmas meal ingredients, I picked up an $8 UHF loop antenna, plugged it in, put it on the shelf above the TV, and lo—we can get 10 channels of digital TV.

Reality catches up with Bush

Choice statistics from last week’s CBS poll of the average American: 61% disapprove of Bush’s handling of the war in Iraq. 65% believe the country is heading in the wrong direction. 81% think the torture at Abu Ghraib was unjustified. 51% think the Pentagon tried to cover it up. 20% think the Bush administration has increased jobs, 49% think they’ve decreased jobs. There’s more in this week’s poll: 80% thought Bush was either “hiding something” or “mostly lying” in his statements on Iraq.

Kerry’s popularity

Guardian today: A new poll suggested yesterday that Ralph Nader’s independent presidential bid represented a serious threat to the Democratic candidate, Senator John Kerry. The New York Times and CBS News poll revealed a tight two-man race for the White House between President George Bush and Mr Kerry. Mr Bush had a narrow lead of 46% over Mr Kerry’s 43% — within the poll’s margin of error. But when Americans were asked about a three-man race including Mr Nader, the 70-year-old consumer activist attracted 7% support, mostly at the expense of the Democrat.

Viascum

If you watch Comedy Central, chances are you’ve seen a strange and irritating message scrolling across the screen recently. It says something about Dish Network subscribers losing access to the channels they have paid for. It’s actually a complete lie; here’s the real story: Viacom own CBS, MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, and a bunch of other channels. Their contract with Dish Network was coming to an end. Their terms for the new contract were: (1) You pay us an extra 7%, and (2) You carry all of our channels as part of your basic lineup whether the customer wants them or not.

Political correctness strikes again

CBS are refusing to run the winning ad from MoveOn.org, supposedly on the grounds that they don’t allow political advertising regarding controversial issues during the Superbowl. However, a look at the list of advertisers confirms that one ad will be from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. So, no controversial political issues there. Remember this next time someone posts bullshit about the “liberal media”.