Brendan Koerner

Brendan I. Koerner is a Markle fellow at the New America Foundation.

Recent Articles

Calling Plan

The so-called Tauzin-Dingell Act, slated for a House vote this week, has seemingly spawned more drive-time radio ads than "Hooked on Phonics." The bill would allow the "Baby Bell" phone companies to offer long-distance data services without first abandoning their local monopolies, thus nixing a key regulatory provision of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Because interstate broadband is worth billions, the four titans of regional telecom -- Verizon, SBC, Qwest, and BellSouth -- have spent months saturating the airwaves with gooey messages about how Tauzin-Dingell will launch, say, North Dakota wheat farmers into the Internet Era.

Play Dead:

The hardcore fans of Aibo, a popular robotic pet,
are a
creative, if geeky, bunch. Since 1999, when the lifelike toys first appeared
beneath Christmas trees, hundreds of Aibo enthusiasts have programmed their
charges to perform tricks unimagined in the boardrooms of Sony, the robot's
creator. By expertly tweaking Aibo's code, hobbyists have enabled the robobeast
to boogie to Madonna's "Vogue," double as a breadbox-sized surveillance camera,
or growl "Bite my shiny metal robot ass!" All these behaviors are infinitely
cooler than the bland caninelike moves that unenhanced Aibos perform.

Onward, Christian Moguls

Vision is a favorite topic of Dr. Garth W. Coonce, a minor
Christian-broadcasting magnate from Marion, Illinois. In his monthly newsletter,

Partnership,
he often muses on the sacred visions that have inspired him to
amass 16 television stations, creating a 24-hour network that beams charismatic
preachers like Creflo Dollar and Benny Hinn into devout homes. Coonce also likes
to share the communiqu├ęs he still receives from the Almighty, who
occasionally instructs him to expand his media holdings into, say, Detroit or
greater Boston. "Perhaps it is good that God doesn't give us the big picture in
the beginning," he wrote in the September 1999 issue of Partnership. "Seeing