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Letters from the Home Front

When I was younger, my parents had this little bit they liked to perform. "Can you turn the TV down?" my mother would ask, to which my father would yell, "What? I can't hear you! The TV's too loud!" Ha, ha, ha. A regular laugh track, they were. This usually happened during the commercials that, at the time, I thought were louder than the real shows. Years later I read that commercials aren't really louder at all -- the peak volume levels of commercial advertisements are no different than those of the programs. It's just that the advertisers keep their volume turned up for the entire spot, while there is some modulation where a regular broadcast is concerned. Consider the typical show where the bad guys blow up the building. This results in a big noise, but ear-popping destruction and all that screaming is quickly followed first by hushed tones of mourning and reflection and then by all of the dialogue returning to normal levels as everyone returns to w...