Revolutions 2010: Booklife Unbound

So here it is January 1st, 2010 (at least according to my calendar–yours may vary by a day or two one way or the other), and by long standing tradition a time for New Year’s Revolutions. This is to be a big year for me –momentous, even–and hence a big year for all of us at Wetmachine– exalted Wetmechanics like me and mere lowly wetmachine readers like you alike. So pay attention. These revolutions could save your life.

Why is 2010 going to be so momentous, which is not to say (or is to say, depending on the definition you choose) portentous, you ask? Because 2010 is going to be the year that all my problems go away. Howso, you ask? First, during this year I will become a wildly successful writer. Achieving wild writerly success will make me financially solvent. Being financially solvent will reduce my worry and stress, and my health will improve as a consequence. Seeing that, the Fates will smile upon me and grant me a reprieve from all my other worries and problems.

Let me explain. Other than my own financial and physical health, I have only two other kinds of problems: (1) The world is going all to hell (global warming, Darfur, Wes Welker, etc), and; (2) people near to me have problems, and this causes me worry, which is a problem.

The first class of problem I solve by fiat, that is, by declaring the world’s going all to hell “not my problem”. That leaves only the second class, the problems by proxy. Because all problems stem from not having enough money, when I become financially unbound as a consequence of becoming a successful writer, I will give mass quantities of money to people close to me, and thus their problems will go away, which will make my problem of worrying about them evaporate, ipso facto. You see, I control my own fate! This is called New Age (or “Republican” or “magical”) thinking. It’s gonna work. Count on it.

So everything hinges on my becoming a successful writer. Very quickly. That may seem like an audacious goal, but thanks to Jeff Vandermeer’s “Booklife”, which I received as a Christmas present from Dear Wife (& to Booklife-related blog & web sites), I now have a plan by which to acheive such success as a writer (and person). See below for details. (You really should continue reading, by the way, since the more you read the closer you become to me, and thus more exigible for expiation of all your problems. As in tales of supplicants whose wishes were granted by touching Jesus’s robe. Not that I’m claiming divinity; just say’n.1)

Continue reading

Will Comcast/NBC Need FCC Approval? And How Would That Play Out?

The industry news is abuzz with the upcoming Comcast/NC Universal Deal. According to recent reports, Comcast would buy 51% of NBC Universal (assuming Vivendi, which owns 20% at the moment, agreed with the terms). But beyond this general framework, it’s unclear whether all the assets held by NBC Universal would be included in the deal. Whether or not the FCC has jurisdiction hinges on this question.

The FCC does not have general jurisdiction over deals pertaining to content. NBC Universal owns lots of radio and television stations. Transfer of the licenses to the new Comcast-controlled entity would require FCC approval. But if the deal does not include the licenses, the FCC would probably lack a jurisdictional hook. Review of the deal would lie strictly in antitrust — at either the DoJ or Federal Trade Commission (FTC). From an antitrust perspective, the deal raises some concerns given the concentration of content and Comcast’s position vis-a-vis other existing subscription television providers (e.g., FIOS, DIRECTV) and potential new competitors (e.g., Netflix and other “over the top” video providers)). It may also concern broadcasters, both NBC affiliates worried about the change in management and other broadcasters worried how this would impact Comcast’s retrans negotiations. Much of this will also depend on whether the deal includes the movie production studios, prior existing content, and a host of other details that impact the universe of content distribution these days.

Assuming the TV and/or radio stations are included, it’s not entirely clear what happens. The D.C. Circuit eliminated the FCC’s existing ban on cable/television cross ownership (which applied only to broadcast licenses in a cable system’s franchise area) in 2002 on the basis that the D.C. Circuit didn’t like it (Fox Television Stations, Inc. v. FCC, 280 F.3d 1027 (D.C. Cir. 2002). That decision does not directly impact the FCC’s general obligation under Section 310(d) to ensure that any transfer of a license serves the public interest. Comcast and NBC will certain push the Fox Television decision for all its worth, arguing that the DC Circuit decision to vacate the rule means that there are no circumstances under which the FCC could prevent a broadcast/cable cross-ownership rules. Opponents will argue that while the D.C. Circuit vacated a per se rule that any cable/broadcast combination was contrary to the public interest, that has zero impact on the Commission’s responsibility to resolve the question of whether transfer of these licenses to this cable company serves the public interest. I expect much confusion and argument on this point. Assuming the FCC has jurisdiction in the first place.

Stay tuned . . . .

AT&T Falls Back on “It's All About Google” Strategy

For some years now, the opponents of Network Neutrality have had the same basic fallback strategy: When all else fails, make it about Google. So no surprise that AT&T, in a letter supposedly about the rather technical issue of “traffic pumping” opens with an attack on Google and Net Neutrality. Because if we have learned anything from our national healthcare debate, it is that it is more important to make this about how awful the other side is rather than debate the merits.

More below . . . .

Continue reading

How Fox News Killed The Bradley Effect

Pundits and talking heads have debated the Bradley Effect (or, as we locals call it, the Wilder Effect) and whether Obama’s current lead in the polls represents false positive. Even before Obama, there existed considerable evidence that the Bradley Effect was fading. Having canvassed this weekend in VA, I have concluded that it has pretty much vanished.

Why? Because conservative talk radio and Fox News have given voters the tools they need to say things that might sound racist, but don’t really make you a racist for saying them. Whatever one may think of this as an argument, it has had the enormous benefit of eliminating the polling problems associated with the embarrassment of being mistaken for a racist when you are simply saying things that only sound racist.

More below . . .

Continue reading

A Happy New Year From The Kosher Contingent In The Sausage Factory

Tonight, the Jewish month of Tishrei will begin. Tishrei ushers in a season of numerous Jewish holidays, starting with the ones everybody has heard of (Rosh Hashannah) and concluding with the ones people are convinced we are making up to get out of work (Shmini Atzeret/Simchat Torah). Unless you live in Israel, or it comes out as one of those years when the holidays overlap with the weekends, it tends to make for a very, very compressed month on the secular side. As a result, I expect to post a heck of a lot less than usual this month.

I just want to wish regular readers a happy New Year and trust that those of other religious faiths will forgive the hubris of those Jewish people — including me — who believe that (a) God is judging the entire world (including you guys) this Tuesday and Wed.; and, (b) the entire world hinges on our showing up in Synagogue on time to put in a good word for everyone.

And, btw, a happy Eid ul-Fitr to those celebrating that this new moon as well.

Stay tuned . . . .