Monday, February 6, 2012

Classical South Florida Update, Strategic Unemployment and a Short, Short Story

Reminder: In regard to the picture off to the right and the POTPOURRI POLL below it, they are independently managed. That means that the changes I make in them are not necessarily concurrent with new postings on the blog.  That's just the way things are set up by Google Blogspot, the system on which Jack's Potpourri is based.  What is your favorite Ice cream flavor?  Check the box and now, let's start with a short story from my "archives."

Surprise!  (a short, short story)

He was a creature of habit.   He always put his left shoe on before he put his right shoe on.  He always had orange juice, dry cereal (usually Wheaties), toast and coffee for breakfast.  When he drove to work, he always took the same streets.  He arrived at his place of business precisely at 7:15 AM each day, directly after practice, and left for home at 4:05 PM, pulling into his driveway at 4:35.  Lunch was always at the same luncheonette at noon each day.  On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, he would have a tuna sandwich on toast and on Tuesdays and Thursdays, a cheeseburger, with a diet coke.  In regard to everything he did, Sam was very predictable.

“Fellahs,” the tallest of them was saying. “This guy gets out of his car in the parking lot every morning, early, before the other cars start to show up. I say we go for him, take his wallet, and get us some money to play with this weekend.”

“Yeah, yeah,’ the other two agreed.  “But, what if he doesn’t show?,” one asked. 

“He shows every day, believe me,” the tall teenager responded.  “Are we on, then, for tomorrow morning?”

“Yeah, yeah,” the other two again agreed.

The next morning, the three boys were lurking behind a dumpster at the back of the parking lot as Sam pulled into his usual spot.  As he got out of his car, he saw them coming toward him, each brandishing a knife.  Dropping his briefcase, he dropped to a crouch, and reaching toward his armpit, pulled the .45 from the shoulder holster it was his habit to carefully strap on each morning before he put on his jacket.

Seeing the gun, the boys turned and ran.  Sam fired a shot into the air, calling out to them, “Freeze, drop your weapons, or the next one will finish you off for good.”

They froze.  Sam called the police on his cell phone, and within a few minutes, the three would-be thieves were on their way to Police Headquarters.

“Sam,” one of the officers said, as he got into his cruiser, “It’s a couple of years since you retired from the force, but it’s good to see you on the firing range every morning at six.”

“You bet! It’s the best habit I have, never ever missing a day of target practice.  You never know when it might come in handy.”  And then he strolled to the front door of the Women’s Medical Clinic, where he served as Chief of Security.

Jack Lippman                                                  

Probably the Last Word on my Classical South Florida Crusade*

The FM news and information programming outlet of Classical South Florida’s WPBI-FM (90.7 FM) is known by the call letters WPBI-News and is found at 101.9 on the FM dial.  WPBI-FM broadcasts classical music.  WPBI-News broadcasts news and information programming.   It is not really an FM station, though.  It is what is known as a translator (W270AD) which is a low powered transmitter usually used to transmit the signal of an FM station or another translator to an area that station’s signal cannot reach.  That is not the use, however, to which this particular translator is being put.  

WPBI leases this translator, which is powered with only 250 watts, the maximum allowed by the FCC, from WKCP, the Classical South Florida station in Miami. Formerly, WKCP used it to retransmit its musical programming into Palm Beach County, where its primary signal did not reach.  In any event, whatever content this “translator” is broadcasting, its signal is so weak that only a fraction of the homes in Palm Beach County can readily receive it, whereas WPBI-FM at 90.7, powered with 38,000 watts, can easily reach the entire county and much of the Treasure Coast.  

(This disparity between WPBI’s and WPBI-News’ transmissions was the basis for one of the points in my complaint to the FCC concerning WPBI’s license renewal application.  It is clear, however, that the FCC will not regulate the content [other than obscenities, slander or libel] broadcast by its licensees, whose right to determine what they broadcast is guaranteed by the First Amendment and the Telecommunications Act.  That Classical South Florida moved news and information programming to a weak 250 watt translator is not their concern.  I also questioned the unusual origin of the signal that the translator retransmits, as explained below, and now have strong reason to believe that the Commission accepts this method of transmitting, although some still contend that it is controversial.  The other point in my complaint dealt with the manner in which WPBI and WKCP [which remains the translator’s licensee despite its lease to WPBI] meet the Commission’s requirements concerning mandatory quarterly “Issues/Programming” reports, something I still feel is not in compliance with their rules.)

Actually, the programming of WPBI-News heard on this “translator” at 101.9 is a retransmission of the signal it takes from WPBI-News 90.7 HD2, a hybrid digital radio service which can only be received by those who have purchased hybrid digital radio receivers.  That hybrid digital signal is carried within the bandwidth of WPBI-FM, something that can be done with digital transmissions, but not with traditional analog transmissions.  Think of the 90.7 HD2 hybrid digital signal as “piggybacking” on WPBI-FM’s signal. 

Although I am not well versed in communications engineering, I would suspect that WPBI is transmitting an analog signal at 90.7 so that traditional analog FM receivers can tune into it, and also a hybrid digital component of that signal as well for the purpose of transmitting a separate HD radio signal carrying news and information programming within WPBIs bandwidth, that signal being known as WPBI-News at 90.7 HD2.  That is the signal the translator receives and then retransmits at 101.9.   In this sense, the 90.7 HD2 signal can be considered to be part of an FM signal and qualify under the FCC’s rules stating what a translator can retransmit.  As I have said, this is considered a controversial point by some in the communications field but generally, the FCC goes along with it since they are eager to provide the opportunity for as many signals as possible to be broadcast.  Piggybacked digital signals make this easier.  And that is how news and information programming gets to 101.9 on the FM dial, if you can manage to tune in to it. And incidentally, that signal has been improving lately, indicating that Classical South Florida is truly attempting to act in the public interest by improving access to WPBI-News at 101.9.

(Most of this information actually was made available from Classical South Florida on their online FCC Public Inspection Files for WPBI, WPBI-News, WKCP, WPBI News 90.7 HD2 and W270AD (the leased translator) in bits and pieces, but never really put together as I have attempted to do.  I also referred to appropriate sections of 47 CFR, the citations in the Code of Federal Regulations pertaining to the Federal Communications Commission, and a few internet documents found on the FCC’s web site as well as from “googling” the words “broadcast law.”)

*until the FCC rules on the license renewal application

Jack Lippman     

Strategic Unemployment Revisited

Many postings ago, I used the phrase “strategic unemployment.”  By that I meant a solution to our economic problems, once our government recognizes that the manufacturing jobs which have left this country for places with cheaper labor costs will never come back.  There will be a great growth of jobs based on STEM skills (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) but there will always be many workers in this country who will, despite training programs, never really acquire these skills, and there are only so many jobs in retail, finance and other service roles.  The loss of manufacturing jobs will never be fully replaced and unemployment will be a permanent fixture in our economy.  That is not good since the unemployed cannot be more than very limited consumers and ultimately will require some type of government assistance. 

To solve this problem, we might consider a program to spread the available jobs around so that unemployment disappears.  This can be accomplished by capping the work week at a mandatory 30 hours and enforcing a mandatory retirement age of 55.  This would result in those over that age, and everyone who has already put in their weekly 30 hours, being “strategically unemployed” once those limits were reached.  This would be better than having millions with no employment at all, which would be the alternative.

But how would families be able to house, feed and clothe themselves in view of the reduced income “strategic unemployment” would bring about?  How would they pay for STEM college educations for their children?  How would they save for retirement?  The world of “strategic unemployment” would be a more austere world for everyone, but it would be far better than the world in which the families of the unemployed reside, and the problems of supporting them persist.

The answer to this may rest in a reorganization of our nation’s family structure, resulting in far fewer households.  Parents, “strategically unemployed” at age 55, would remain living with their children and/or their grandchildren.  Unmarried children would remain at home, but when married, would bring their spouse home, or move in with the spouse’s family.  The typical household might include ten, twenty or even more people.  It would not be unlike the extended families which dominated our country when farming was our leading industry.  Several generations of one family, all living under one roof, cooking together, helping one another along, and caring for one another may be the answer to the problem of making it in an austere age of “strategic unemployment.”  Such a family would benefit from the "economies of scale."

  Reducing the number of households in a country where everyone up to age 55 would have some kind of employment, however reduced from today’s standards, with each household having a multitude of paychecks coming in may be the solution.  Think about it and let me know your ideas.
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