Strange but true

Boston and Dallas were designed by M.C. Escher. More such stuff at googlesightseeing.com. Also fun is to compare and contrast Newsweek international edition with Newsweek USA. Don’t forget the ongoing linkfeed.

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.

Debate 2

For the first half hour or so, I really wondered what miracle they had worked on Bush. He seemed intelligent, friendly, engaging, likeable…he didn’t lapse into awkward silences, or give the camera that “chimp in the headlights” look. Definitely no wire on him, as far as I could tell. Any kind of radio pack on his back would have been clearly visible to the audience as he walked around, and the C-SPAN coverage featured several good shots of his back.

Warnography

I saw Time and Newsweek on the newsstand in Harvard Square. Let’s face it, we all knew what this week’s cover picture was going to be. But just for once, I’d have liked to have been surprised. I’d have liked them to do something tasteful, something which treats the subject with dignity and sorrow, rather than exploiting it. But no, we got big lurid photographs of planes flying into buildings and exploding in a searing fireball of aviation fuel.