David Brooks, a vaguely conservative op-ed columnist for The New York Times, recently took an ill-advised detour into music criticism, lamenting that "there are now dozens of niche musical genres where there used to be this thing called rock." Roger Evans sent me the link, commenting that it sounded like an absurdist parody of classical-music lovers complaining that kids no longer gather round the radio to listen to Beethoven. He goes on: "Brooks writes as though it's normal for a few artists and groups to dominate a whole culture and thus to know rewards beyond the dreams of avarice. Couldn't the 'fragmentation' he laments mean that the highly commercial repertories he's discussing may be beginning to experience the dynamic already familiar to other streams of music — folk, non-Western, classical, etc. — joining them in a larger, broader musical culture? Are we obliged to see the democratizing power of new media as a bad thing if it puts down the mighty from their thrones and enables a whole lot of others?" The answers to those questions are, of course, absolutely yes and absolutely not.