When NBC agreed to broadcast a few regular season and playoff weekend games and the Stanley cup finals in prime Time, NHL viewership was so weak that the network didn’t even have to pay the usual “rights fees” that sports leagues usually can demand.
So why is NBC getting record TV ratings for Hockey this year? For years hockey has struggled on television. As a kid after screaming myself hoarse at Ranger games in smokey Madison Square Garden, trying to watch a game on TV was excruciating. As hard as it was to see the puck, sometimes even the camera man would lose the puck.
So what changed? …the size of TV screens. With the spread of large-format, hi-def TVs, you could actually follow the fast-paced action. So a sport, which grew up on frozen ponds in cities like Chicago, now has a rabid fan base in the Sunbelt, with many local junior leagues.
“The 10 most dangerous words in the English language,” Reagan said on another occasion, “are ‘Hi, I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.’ ” As Hobbes could have told him, in reality the 10 scariest words are, “There is no government and I’m here to kill you.”
So yes, war is hell — but have you considered the alternatives? When looking upon the long run of history, it becomes clear that through 10,000 years of conflict, humanity has created larger, more organized societies that have greatly reduced the risk that their members will die violently. These better organized societies also have created the conditions for their members will die violently. These better organized societies also have created the conditions for higher living standards and economic growth. War has not only made us safer, but richer, too.
While we a gone from World Wars to Cold Wars this book review, which is continued from the “more” link overlooks the ongoing danger of even a “small” thermonuclear war, between emerging powers, annihilating our 10,00 years of “progress”. The miscalculations of rising powers has contributed to most wars of the Industrial age.
We are now moving into a world of what I call Soft Wars, waged by guerrilla tactics of cyber and economic warfare. And now with so many empowered transnational bad actors on the world stage, it will be hard to determine who really hit you and how do you counter.
A Saudi oil minister once said, the Stone Age didn’t end for lack of stone. Ecologists call this “niche construction”—that people (and indeed some other animals) can create new opportunities for themselves by making their habitats more productive in some way. Agriculture is the classic example of niche construction: We stopped relying on nature’s bounty and substituted an artificial and much larger bounty.
Economists call the same phenomenon innovation. What frustrates them about ecologists is the latter’s tendency to think in terms of static limits. Ecologists can’t seem to see that when whale oil starts to run out, petroleum is discovered, or that when farm yields flatten, fertilizer comes along, or that when glass fiber is invented, demand for copper falls.
That frustration is heartily reciprocated. Ecologists think that economists espouse a sort of superstitious magic called “markets” or “prices” to avoid confronting the reality of limits to growth. The easiest way to raise a cheer in a conference of ecologists is to make a rude joke about economists.
If I could have one wish for the Earth’s environment, it would be to bring together the two tribes—to convene a grand powwow of ecologists and economists. I would pose them this simple question and not let them leave the room until they had answered it: How can innovation improve the environment?