Saturday, June 02, 2007

Some more NYT picks

I don't know if it's the paper or just my mood, but today's NY Times seems filled with good stuff. After putting up two previous posts to call attention to individual stories, I'm going to lump the rest here.

Michael J. Copps, one of the FCC commissioners, has a good op-ed. He says the FCC is falling down on its job to hold television broadcasters accountable for their lack of content that educates the public, a responsibility that is, in theory, implied by the granting of licenses. I think he's probably fighting a lost cause, but I'm glad at least one guy on the FCC is speaking out.

Joe Nocera [T$] has an interesting take on Rupert Murdoch's efforts to buy the Wall Street Journal. Many are wringing their hands at this prospect, most eloquently, Jack Shafer of Slate. Nocera doesn't think that Murdoch is the Savior, but he does claim that the current owners are running the WSJ into the ground. He draws an instructive parallel to the saga of The New Yorker, which was bought from its family owners back in the 1980s, a kerfuffle that I still remember.

Jane Perlez has a profile of Ed Husain, who recently released his memoir, "The Islamist: Why I Joined Radical Islam in Britain, What I Saw Inside and Why I Left." Apparently, this book has caused an uproar in England. (Request for input here, Mr. Sandwich.) My reaction was one of hope; Husain's tone, in the article at least, sounds like one small step on the path of us all learning how to get along. My only complaint: I wish the article was longer. Guess I'll have to buy the book.

Wilson Rothman has a piece about bit rates and their effect on audio fidelity. Actually, this is from a few days ago, but the link is still up on the NYT's home page. Don't miss the sidebar, which lets you hear a snippet of a Norah Jones song at three different bit rates. I was pretty sure that I could hear the difference, even over my crummy computer speakers, but I'll like to try again, with someone else clicking the links. Let me know how it works for you, especially if you can cajole someone else into helping you run the test.

I have noticed that 128 kbps MP3s, when burned to a CD and played through my fairly good car stereo, sound noticeably inferior to other CDs. The latter group includes CDs that I burned from ripped CDs, so I'm pretty sure it's not an artifact of my recording process.

All this comes from thinking about the happy news that Apple is now offering 256 kbps versions of some songs on its iTunes store site. Thirty cents more for increased fidelity seems well worth it. This might even force me into relinquishing my claim to be the only person on the planet without an iPod.

I now yield the floor to curmudgeons of a different sort, who are no doubt champing at the bit to tell me that vinyl is final, that their old LPs sound way better than any of these newfangled digital thingies. Which, I concede, might be true, given a brand-new record and a really expensive sound system.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Who shall guard the guardians themselves? The FCC apparently. No thank you. Auction the licenses to the highest bidder and pay down the debt 0.000001%.

I'd rather watch christian televangelists ripping off old ladies all day long than have the Bushies pick winners and losers for me. Until all speech is free, none is free. Free at last, free at last, may the ACLU almighty make us free at last.

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