Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Why is the U.S. economy so stagnant?

by Don Keith

Veering just a bit from the usual rapid-technological-change motif for this post, but not very far if you think about it.  Here's the question:

Why is the U.S. economy so stagnant, so slow to rebound from the last recession?

I think I can give a reason for much of the sluggishness by presenting a single chart:


You don't even have to be able to read the labels to understand the impact of the data that this graph presents.  It shows the page count for the Federal Register, generally considered to be a proxy for the amount of federal regulation being inflicted on the country.

Would it surprise you to know that the country's Gross Domestic Product tracks almost perfectly counter to this particular graph.  The ups and downs of the page count in the Federal Register track almost the opposite of GDP.

Makes perfect sense to me!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Good friend, big honor, amazing true story

by Don Keith

My friend and the subject of my book MATTIE C.'s BOY, Shelley Stewart, has just been honored as a "Good Neighbor" by State Farm Insurance.  You can see a short video about Shelley, read the article about the honor, and learn more about the book as well as Shelley's Mattie C. Stewart Foundation HERE.


Shelley's story is one of the most powerful and inspirational that you will ever hear.  I was honored to help tell it.  I wish the book was getting more promotion and awareness.  Everyone...and I mean everyone...could benefit from this man's life experiences and what all he overcame to become such a leading figure in media, business, and human rights.



Saturday, April 25, 2015

I be bloggin'

by Don Keith

I have had the pleasure of doing a couple of blog appearances in the past week.  One will be released in June as part of a brand new World War II blog series done by the History Network in Great Britain.  Angus Wallace did a great job on the interview, and I will try to remember to update this post with a link when it is available.  We are, of course, discussing the USS Neosho and my book about what happened to her--THE SHIP THAT WOULDN'T DIE--at the Battle of the Coral Sea.



I was also honored to be a part of the podcast series from QSO TODAY, a web site belonging to Eric Guth 4Z1UG, who interviewed me from Jerusalem, in Israel.  We discuss amateur radio, how the hobby can enhance a person's education and career, my ham radio book, RIDING THE SHORTWAVES: EXPLORING THE MAGIC OF AMATEUR RADIO, and also about my other books.  Eric does a good job with the podcast but also includes "show notes" that add a great deal to the audio, including numerous appropriate links and even pictures of some of the things we talk about.

You can see the show notes page and listen to the podcast from the QSO TODAY site by clicking HERE.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Another promotional blog post from Don Keith N4KC...using that rapidly-changing technology

By Don Keith

You have to admit that I rarely use this forum for self-promotion for my World War II (WWII, WW2, World War 2, #WWII, #WW2) just to get all the keywords in there), amateur radio (ham radio, #hamradio, #amateurradio), submarine, Alabama (Crimson Tide) football, or other books.  But right up front, let me warn you this is one.
The latest Don Keith book, The Ship that Wouldn't Die, a remarkable true story of WWII

While we are at it, are you noticing that most articles you run across on the web...regardless the source...are loaded with both keywords and language designed to put the content at the top of Google, Bing, and other search engines.  Click bait!  It is becoming less and less about what is said and how it is said and more about how Google, Bing, and the rest find and index what is being published.  And so it shall be from now on, I suspect.  And, as best as I can, this article is being written more for Google than for you nice folks who follow the Don Keith N4KC Rapidly Changing Technology blog.  For that I apologize.  But it is what it is.  I feed my family by writing WWII (World War II, World War 2, WW2), amateur radio (ham radio), submarine, and Alabama (Crimson Tide) books.

Well, maybe you are interested that my new book, "The Ship that Wouldn't Die", has now been released and, even before it officially shipped, landed on several Amazon.com (Amazon) bestseller lists.  Amazon.com (Amazon) being the top seller of books these days, that is a positive sign for struggling book writers.  The book tells the story of a WWII (World War 2, World War II, WW2) ship that was attacked and left for dead at the Battle of the Coral Sea (#Coral_Sea) and the remarkable efforts of her crew to keep her afloat until rescue ships arrived.

Ship that Wouldn't Die by Don Keith audio book cover for World War II Coral Sea storyI also just got a copy of the audio book (#audio_book) and the fellow who read it, Arthur Morey, did a very good job.

If you like remarkable true stories of average men placed in desperate circumstances who do remarkable things, you will enjoy "The Ship that Wouldn't Die".

And I don't think there is a single potential search term in that last sentence.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Massive tech change in media means...classic rock still top radio format?

by Don Keith

Counter-intuitive, ain't it?  Despite all the rapid technological change in society and its effect on all media...and especially broadcast radio...a format that plays music forty years old is still among tops with listeners.  At least, that is true if you believe Nielsen ratings and this article from our friends at INSIDE RADIO:

Why Classic Rock Refuses to Die.
Despite classics by Led Zeppelin remaining in rotation for decades, a new online survey from researcher Mark Kassoff shows their extraordinary resiliency. Two-thirds of classic rock radio listeners say the music sounds every bit as good now as it did decades ago.

OK, first let me punch a hole in Mr. Kassof's survey.  According to the article:

Asked to agree or disagree with the statement, “Classic rock sounds every bit as good now as it did decades ago,” two-thirds of the 320 survey respondents who listen to classic rock radio strongly agreed.

Well, if you ask 320 people who eat chocolate cake if chocolate cake tastes good to them, I'd expect even more than two-thirds to say it did!

Then why does Nielsen (formerly Arbitron) surveys show classic rock stations to still be among the most popular in most radio markets?  Because of a strange--but purely self-serving--quirk in how radio ratings are gathered and presented.  And because of the nature of today's over-the-air listener.

If I sit at a desk all day and my only choice for background atmosphere is local radio, I probably prefer something familiar, unobtrusive, and non-distracting.  I probably also need something that will not drive fellow cubicle-mates bonkers.  Country gets on the nerves of some people.  Rap certainly does.  Adult contemporary is often a choice.  But almost everyone can tolerate classic rock, and especially if they are over 40 (as the article admits) and grew up listening to this music when it was new.  So, if I happen to be keeping a diary or toting a personal people meter (PPM) for the Nielsen folks, I can tally a whole bunch of listening to Classic Rock 105.5 or whoever.

Secondly, as mentioned in previous rants. radio is careful to yell and scream about its SHARE, not its RATING.  SHARE is the percentage of people listening at any given time to broadcast radio.  RATING is the percentage of every person in the survey area, including those who listen to no radio at all.

SHARE is how big a slice of the radio listening pie your station gets.  RATING is how big a slice you get of the "everybody" pie.  The former...SHARE...is from a pie whose size is shrinking rapidly.  Fewer and fewer people are listening to over-the-air radio because there are so many other audio sources for them to choose.  Me, sitting at my desk, might listen to Pandora instead of Classic Rock 105.5 if my company's IT department doesn't mind my use of the bandwidth.  But as long as we are talking about a PERCENTAGE of the pie...the SHARE...it will continue to look impressive.

But when figuring SHARE, all that other listening is ignored.  Only over-the-air stations count.  (Yes, new efforts are being made to measure things like radio station streaming and other sources, but we ain't there yet, and share still does not reflect it.)  Even if a station has a big SHARE, it could still be far fewer actual sets of ears than it used to be.  Today's (let's say) 12 SHARE is a lot less human beings than it was a decade ago but SHARES...percentages...are still the same.

Oh, and I can think of one other reason classic rock might still remain a "strong" choice for radio listeners.  Note this sentence in the article:

Nearly 30 years after it emerged as a rock splinter format, classic rock shattered its PPM ratings record in February, underlining the timeless nature of the music.

 Could it be that people who still listen to broadcast radio...and who are willing to keep a listening diary or carry a meter for Nielsen...are not very active listeners in the first place?  That they are not seeking new music or more active formats?  That just want something familiar, safe, and non-threatening?  Something not perceived to be noise?  Could that also be why the most successful classic rock stations have practically no personalities (live deejays) on the air?

Could it be that today's over-the-air radio listeners--far fewer of them, remember...actually only want non-distracting background noise?  Is that where you want your commercials, Mr. Advertiser?  

In the background?
    
    

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Shameless promotional post

by Don Keith

A couple of positive things lately regarding my books and...though only marginally...they do sort of fit into the "rapidly changing technology" subject of this blog.

First is the posting on YouTube of the short promotional video for my newest book, THE SHIP THAT WOULDN'T DIE.  Yes, it is now impossible (or at least inadvisable) to publish a book without some kind of video to accompany it.  So here's mine.  The hope is that it will make someone actually want to invest in buying and reading it.  Or at least make them look it up on Amazon and see what it is all about.

Of course, the real reason is to give my name and the book more ooomph! when people look for it on Google.  It's all about the views, hits, and likes, you know.

Second bit of news is about casting for the Relativity Media movie HUNTER KILLER, based on the book by myself (Don Keith) and George Wallace, titled FIRING POINT.  Gerard Butler, Billy Bob Thornton, and the actor/rapper/composer Comfort have reportedly been cast for the principal production, set to begin in July in New Orleans.

More to follow...

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Bear Bryant Certainly Had a Way With Words

(Note: the following post has nothing to do with rapidly changing technology.  It is a short blog post I wrote for the web site of one of my publishers and I thought followers here might enjoy it.)



Legendary Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant probably gets credit for many more philosophical statements than he ever actually uttered.  Still, having just passed another anniversary of his death in January 1983, I’m reminded once again just how succinct and powerful the college coach’s actual words and winning philosophy were.  And how easily they could be applied to success in life as well as to winning football as played by his beloved Crimson Tide.

In my book THE BEAR: THE LEGENDARY LIFE OF COACH PAUL “BEAR” BRYANT, I give several examples of Coach Bryant’s insistence that preparation and hard work were the real keys to success.  One maxim that stood out—and one I know he actually said—was, “It is not the will to win that leads to success.  It is the will to prepare to win.”

I believe it is especially important to the current generation to realize that success is not necessarily something that comes through good fortune or because of a desire for it to happen.  Yes, you may win the Power Ball millions, but consider the odds against you.  You may desperately want to be the next “American Idol,” but wanting to be is not enough.  Everyone wants to win and be successful.  Not everybody is willing to do what it takes.  As Coach Bryant says, you have a much better chance to succeed if you work hard, learn, practice, and excel.  That is, you are willing to do the hard work to prepare to be a winner rather than sit back and wish and hope.

Near the end of THE BEAR: THE LEGENDARY LIFE OF COACH PAUL “BEAR” BRYANT I talk about a conversation the Alabama football coach had with a sports reporter.  Bear admitted that he was sick and no longer able to continue the brutal coaching schedule he had followed most of his adult life. 

“When I give up coaching I’ll probably croak within a month,” he told the writer.  What he was actually saying was that once he was physically incapable of the hard work he knew he needed to do to assure the football success of the Crimson Tide, he would quit the only job he ever wanted.  “I ain’t never been nothing but a winner,” he said.  Once that was no longer possible, it was time for him to step down.  That was exactly what he did.
Bear Bryant’s comments proved to be prophetic.  He suffered a fatal heart attack only a few weeks after his last game as football coach at the University of Alabama.

Don Keith is author of THE BEAR: THE LEGENDARY LIFE OF COACH PAUL “BEAR” BRYANT and more than two dozen other books, fiction and non-fiction, on subjects ranging from sports to history to broadcasting.  His web site is www.donkeith.com.