It's as if one old oil well gave birth to six new gushers. Broadcasting lobbyists have descended on Congress and the F.C.C. to insure "flexibility" -- that is, to exploit exclusively all the new technology, and to charge viewers for the "ancillary and supplementary" services.
Even if accompanied by payment of rent to the Government, the exclusive arrangement sought by broadcasters would be an outrageous taxpayer ripoff.
What is the digitized, divisible channel worth? Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Larry Pressler gave a hint in an op-ed piece last week, suggesting that noncommercial licensees had a huge hidden asset: "Public broadcasting stations could rent, sell or make use of the additional channels for other telecommunications and information services."
Based only on current uses, which are primitive, the market value of the VHF, UHF, cellular, broadband and narrowband spectrum ranges around $120 billion.
But in the near future, your television set will combine with your computers and telephone and fax machine into a single unit you can hang on the wall or fold up in your pocket. That's soon -- possibly in the next Presidential term.
I've seen not-for-attribution estimates that the market value of the digitized spectrum in that onrushing era will be -- hold your breath -- a half-trillion dollars, give or take a hundred billion.
Before rushing into any giveaway, or any long-term exclusive rent away, we need extended, wide-open, thoroughly debated hearings to make certain of three outcomes:
First, we want a guarantee of spectrum competition. The criterion to determine competition must be scrupulously economic, not jiggered by the Government to introduce sexual or racial or ethnic or ideological favoritism. An appeals court yesterday stayed the F.C.C. from holding auctions that favored minority fronts.
Next, we want a holdback of certain rights. For example, we can solve the campaign finance dilemma justlikethat by putting a right-of-way in the deed setting aside air time, on-line time and direct E-mail advertising for candidates, which could be used or traded or sold by them in election campaigns.
Finally, we want top dollar for our public property. That means a series of Friedman-style auctions. After the purchases, sophisticated risk-takers and their banking backers can enhance the value of their property at no cost to the taxpayer and with great benefit to the consumer.
Where should the spectrum-sale money go? Toward reduction of the crushing national debt. By recognizing our hidden asset of the spectrum, Americans can ride the wave of the future.Continue reading the main story
The lip-smacking vocalizations gelada monkeys make are surprisingly similar to human speech, a new study finds.
Many nonhuman primates demonstrate lip-smacking behavior, but geladas are the only ones known to make undulating sounds, known as "wobbles," at the same time. (The wobbling sounds a little like a human hum would sound if the volume were being turned on and off rapidly.) The findings show that lip-smacking could have been an important step in the evolution of human speech, researchers say.
"Our finding provides support for the lip-smacking origins of speech because it shows that this evolutionary pathway is at least plausible," Thore Bergman of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and author of the study published today (April 8) in the journal Current Biology,said in a statement. "It demonstrates that nonhuman primates can vocalize while lip-smacking to produce speechlike sounds."
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Lip-smacking -- rapidly opening and closing the mouth and lips -- shares some of the features of human speech, such as rapid fluctuations in pitch and volume. (See Video of Gelada Lip-Smacking)
Bergman first noticed the similarity while studying geladas in the remote mountains of Ethiopia. He would often hear vocalizations that sounded like human voices, but the vocalizations were actually coming from the geladas, he said. He had never come across other primates who made these sounds. But then he read a study on macaques from 2012 revealing how facial movements during lip-smacking were very speech-like, hinting that lip-smacking might be an initial step toward human speech.
VIDEO: Monkeys Clean Teeth Just Like Humans
To investigate this scenario himself, Bergman analyzed recordings of the geladas' wobbles. He found that the rhythm of these wobbles closely resembled that of human speech. Specifically, the wobble resulted from a male making a "moan" (something geladas produce by vocalizing while inhaling and exhaling) and lip-smacking. The lip-smacking movements corresponded to the mouth movements made during human speech.
An example of a call involving complex facial movements is the "girney" vocalization in macaques. These are thought to be produced by lip movements and teeth chattering, but evidence suggests the movements and sound don't occur at the same time. By contrast, the gelada lip-smacking and vocalizing seem to happen concurrently.
The findings suggest lip-smacking represents a possible pathway in the evolution of speech, though not the only one, Bergman said. In addition, lip-smacking may also serve a purely social function, just like human conversations.
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Monkey Lip-Smacking Resembles Human Speech | Video Image Gallery: Cute Gelada Monkeys 8 Humanlike Behaviors of Primates This article originally appeared on LiveScience.com. Copyright 2013 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.