Friday News Chum: Brain Destruction, School Shenanigans, Radio History, and Flops

Well, it is Friday at lunch, and you know what that means: clearing out of the links. So here are a few news articles that caught my eye this week:

  • Brain Destruction. Recently, This American Life did a program on how we can be our own worst enemy. Specifically, they touched upon baseball, and how when pitchers start to overthink the mechanics of how they pitch, they destroy their ability. Another article in the LA Times demonstrates this in another area: if you think too analytically about religion, you destroy your religious faith. If, on the other hand, you go more by gut response, you are more likely to be religious.
  • School Shenanigans. A small article in the Daily News notes that LAUSD won a furlough ruling, and can shorten the school year by 5 days. I mention this because it was the trigger for one of my annoyances at Van Nuys HS this year. They have a website, with a schedule on it. You might think that schedule would be maintained so that parents might know when to scheduling things. Wrong. Van Nuys anticipated this ruling, and moved up graduation from the traditional Thursday after finals to before finals (i.e., from 5/31 to 5/24)… but never bothered to send a notice home to parents or update the website. I learned about this only through the rumor mill. Similarly, they’ve never gotten the dates for performing arts events at the school on the website (especially dance shows). This is showing a lack of respect for parents and students that plan ahead. Surprising? No. Disappointing? Yes.
  • Radio History. Another article in the Daily News highlighted some aspects of radio history I never knew. Evidently, in the really early days of radio, multiple stations all shared the same frequency (360 meters==833 Khz), and just had their own time slots (early TDMA!). Today stations are in KHz in multiples of 10, so that’s not even a used frequency. The article gives some details on the changes:

    By the end of 1922, more than 500 radio stations were licensed throughout the country. Obviously, having all stations share their time on one frequency was not going to work. So the government opened up 750 AM in late 1922 for high-powered (500-watt) stations such as KHJ and KFI to share. It was not until May 1923 that a full band of stations was opened up, first from 550-1350. By 1924 it was 550-1500, then 540-1600 in 1941, and in the 1990s, 540-1700.

    “KFI moved to 640 in May 1923, where it has been ever since,” Hilliker said.

    KHJ, meanwhile, was on 833, 740, 750 and 760 in the early 1920s; on Nov. 11, 1928, it went to 900, and then finally on March 29, 1941, it moved to its present home at 930.

    KNX (1070 AM) is another of the broadcast pioneers, starting out as a ham radio station, switching to commercial licensing in December 1921 as KGC, then finally becoming KNX on May 4, 1922.

  • Gluttons for Punishment. Lastly, Playbill has a story about a theatre company that must consist of gluttons for punishment. Not only did they present the odd musical “A Dolls Life” (the Comden-Green musical sequel to Ibsen’s classic “A Doll’s House“), but now they will be presenting the infamous “Moose Murders“, a flop so bad it is is the standard against which all Broadway flops are judged. My prediction: Next up will be “Kelly“.

Music: Stoney End (Barbra Streisand): Stoney End