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Archive for March, 2007

COMMENTARY: ON THE PASSING OF THE LONG PLAYING ALBUM

Posted in Conscious Media, Cool Products, Eco -Chic, Miscellaneous on March 30th, 2007

THE “LIB” CONFRONTS HIS INNER CONTROL FREAK

300px-Vynil_record.jpg At the bottom of this posting is a link to an article from last Sunday’s New York Times, telling of the decision by the major players of the recording industry to phase out funding long playing albums by new and up and coming artists.

This is tragic news for many of us baby boomers for whom the album is more than a collection of songs, but a vital part of the soundtrack of our lives.

But no matter how much I realize that time waits for no man, and pride myself on being at the forefront of those willing to embrace new technologies, there are times when this is more difficult than others. The passing of long form album is one of those times. So, let’s all cry in our beer together as we celebrate what once was.

For many of us forty and above, 45-RPM singles were how we were developed our music jones, that quasi-clinical, belly-knawing addiction that as teenagers forced many of us to do what no child should be forced to do.

Now, many years later and after intensive therapy, I feel safe enough to reveal that I was one such child, forced unfairly, I might add, to choose between the momentary oral gratification of the latest junk food craze or of trading up for the near heavenly pleasure derived from owning my very own copy of the hottest new hit single being played to death that week on Top 40 radio.

I’m happy to say that when forced to choose, usually I opted for the latter and fed my music monkey, a condition which plagues me to this day. But I am getting ahead of myself here.

Needless to say, it didn’t take long for my little upstairs bedroom in my parent’s house to be overrun with my music purchases. Luckily, because it was upstairs, I didn’t have to worry about my parents coming up there all that much. The old out of sight out of mind situation, which I would be thankful for later on when I wanted to smuggle my date up there for what was known in those days as submarine races. This is particularly true in the winter as the room was a far better option than either hanging out on a cold corner, or getting the stink eye from the waitress at the local ice cream parlor as my date and I tried to stretch a couple of ice cream sodas into an entire evening.

Moving on, the mid to late 1960’s saw the 45-rpm single eclipsed by a new media delivery vehicle, the long-playing album. For me, this coincided with the British Invasion and the release of Meet The Beatles in January 1964.

In the years that followed, my collection expanded to include legendary albums – The Beatles’ Rubber Soul and Revolver, The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds, and The Rolling Stones, Aftermath, being a few of them that would establish the 12 inch long-playing album as the medium of choice for serious musical expression, and a must have for collectors like myself.

Then there were the concept albums, works of art not satisfied with being merely a collection of great songs, but which had a consistent theme throughout. Albums such as Tommy by the Who, Sergeant Pepper by the Beatles and Days Of Future Passed by the Moody Blues, being but a few of the most popular.

But as great as these disks were, they too would also pass into history, taking with them, as far am I’m concerned, the heyday of the long-playing album.

What remained is what we still have today, albums in name only, with little if any cohesiveness, containing at best two or three hit songs rounded out with a lot of what can only be called filler.

Well guess what?

The American music public, commonly more astute than the population at large, is onto this game and has taken what I consider to be appropriate action.

Now rest assured this does not mean picketing the nearest home entertainment store, regardless of how good an idea that that might be to us baby boomers raised on a tradition of civil disobedience.

What it does mean is making a conscious decision to obtain music from other than the traditional sources and in the newer and technologically superior formats. Hence, the rapid growth of the legal download sites and the decrease in non-virtual albums sales, which that the attached article credits as the prime reason for the recording industry’s decision to stop producing albums.

For the music lover, downloading tunes is a win – win situation. Not only do we get the latest digitally mastered / remastered music from the majority of our favorite artists, but we also get to audition each track before hand and purchase only those good enough to be a part of the soundtrack of our lives.

No more crappy filler, music so bad that collectors such as myself have had to burn our own disks so to be free of the sinkers that should have been left to de an ignominious death in someone’s vault.

The other obvious benefit is the cost. Tracks on I-Tunes, the largest and best managed of the legal download sites, cost ninety-nine cents per., with most standard albums available for less than ten dollars.

Putting pencil to paper, downloading represents as much as a fifty percent savings when compared with the average price of a packaged CD, most of which hit the ground somewhere in the thirteen to eighteen dollar range. Think about it, not only do you get to cherry pick the best of the best, but you save money too, a consolation for those still reeling from all those passed up treats as a child. What could be better?

Then, of course there is the environmental benefit, this is after all a green themed website. Less packaged CD’s sold today, means less plastic junk to wind up down the road at one of our planet’s already overcrowded landfills. So buying music downloads rather than CD’s makes one a good environmental citizen to boot.

But I think the thing that I find most attractive; all of the preciously mentioned benefits aside, is the ease of storage that digitally archived music offers.

At our house, CD’s, cassettes and other assorted prerecorded media fill an entire bedroom closet, not to mention the dozen or so banker boxes in the garage, and that does not include the records, either, which is a story for another day.

Whereas my portable hard drive stores the best of that collection in less than forty gigs of space. The best thing is that this is in a package small enough to fit in a corner of my briefcase.

So why then with all of these warm fuzzy positives do I still lament the passing of the album?

I guarantee you that I’m not shedding any tears about what this will mean to the record industry. Chameleons that they are, they will survive this change of events while conjuring up new revenue streams to replace that which they are loosing.

Nor do I feel all that much for the recording artist. For sure, they will suffer from not knowing what it is like to waste tens of thousands of dollars in the name of experimentation.

But what with the availability of low cost digital recording gear and the wealth of lower cost recording operations dotting the landscape, they will do alright as well.

Besides it is time that many or these prima donnas start thinking as businessmen and not as wards of the record company. There are many revenue streams open to modern performers, and more, which I’m sure will unveil themselves in the years to come. All it takes is a little research and determination.

So what is it then? Why does the thought of the passing of albums have me so freaked out?

After much soul searching it dawns on me that the person that I feel the sorriest for in this situation is myself.

Why? I really don’t know

And to be honest, I don’t think I will have a handle on it anytime soon.

Perhaps it is the control freak in me

Yeah, that’s the ticket.

LIB – Editor

Referenced Article: The Album,

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LEAKED REPORT PREDICTS GLOBAL WARMING CHAOS

Posted in News Brief on March 30th, 2007

sun-from-nasa-stereo.jpg Many years ago, in another professional lifetime, I happened to author a television treatment called “2021: Tommorow’s World Today”, which dealt with just such a scenario. Mine was fiction. But to tell you the truth, it was not a lot different from what is predicted here. God help us all. - LIB

By the year 2050, one billion Asians will lack water, the small glaciers of Europe will begin disappearing, large glaciers will change “drastically,” and ozone-related deaths will rise 4.5 percent in large cities. In 2050, up to six hundred million people will be hungry due to climate changes. Diseases such as Malaria and Dengue Fever “will run rampant.” Scientists predict by the year 2080, three billion Asians will lack water and as many as one hundred million people may be affected by rising sea levels.

According to the Associated Press, “some scientists said the overall message is not likely to change when it’s issued in early April in Brussels, the same city where European Union leaders agreed this past week to drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.”

“The report offers some hope if countries slow and then reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, but it notes that what’s happening now isn’t encouraging,” Seth Borenstein reported for the AP. “‘Changes in climate are now affecting physical and biological systems on every continent,’” the report says, in marked contrast to a 2001 report by the same international group that said the effects of global warming were coming. But that report only mentioned scattered regional effects.

Read On….

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GOP STACKS GLOBAL WARMING PANEL WITH CLIMATE SKEPTICS

Posted in Corporate Polluters, Eco Thugs, News Brief, Pseudoscientific Babble on March 30th, 2007

chinadroughtclimatewarming.jpg Apparently these fools will never accept the truth about Global Warming until they are forced to give up their ocean front property and flee to higher ground. I only wonder if they will accept it then.
- LIB

The six Republican Congressional members chosen by Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) to sit on a panel chosen to deliberate on policy responses to global warming have all expressed significant skepticism over the human impact on the Earth’s climate, RAW STORY has found. However, House Democrats did not believe the small group would have much of an impact.

“The number of Republicans who don’t believe there’s a human cause to warming is shrinking faster than the ice caps,” a Democratic leadership aide told RAW STORY.

House Democrats succeeded in passing legislation on March 8 to create the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming by a vote of 269 to 150, with 44 Republicans joining their Democratic colleagues.

Read On….

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ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERS FOR MANY UPSCALE RESTAURANTS TO ELIMINATE BOTTLED WATER

Posted in Health Watch, Sustainable Living on March 30th, 2007

WATER LATEST VICTIM OF EAT LOCAL- EAT FRESH MOVEMENT

200px-Stilles_Mineralwasser.jpg Bye-bye bottled water. Hello eau de tap. A new trend is in the pipeline, with some upscale restaurants ditching packaged H2O in the name of conservation.

The bottled water backlash, which recently spread to the venerable Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, is spurred by environmental concerns over the energy used in transportation as well as the disposal of all those containers.

“We just decided this was something we had to do,” said Mike Kossa-Rienzi, general manager of Chez Panisse, where owner Alice Waters has pioneered the eat local, eat fresh concept. “”It just makes sense to us to not have to use all the energy and resources to bottle water in Italy and then truck it to our restaurant and then after that deal with the recycling of it.”

Chez Panisse stopped serving bottled non-sparkling water last year and expects to stop serving bottled carbonated water in a few weeks, just as soon as the restaurant’s new carbonator is installed.

Read On….

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RICH BITCH TURBINES RUIN VIEW

Posted in Clean Energy, Eco -Chic, News Brief, Renewable Energy, Sustainable Business on March 30th, 2007

windturbin.jpg The rich may be moaning about wind turbines ruining their coastal views on Cape Cod, but in Delaware, citizens are ardently battling politicians — and the coal industry — to build the nation’s largest offshore wind park.

Peter Mandelstam says he can power 130,000 Delaware homes without adding to the greenhouse gas emissions dangerously heating our planet. His proposed 600-megawatt offshore wind park — the biggest such project yet unveiled in the United States — could supply that power over 20 years cheaper than coal or gas, he vows.

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RISING SEAS FROM GLOBAL WARMING COULD AFFECT 600 MILLION

Posted in Global Warming, News Brief, Sustainable Living on March 30th, 2007

MIGRATION WILL BE NECESSARY BUT COSTLY AND HARD TO IMPLEMENT

image568445x.jpg More than two-thirds of the world’s large cities are in areas vulnerable to global warming and rising sea levels, and millions of people are at risk of being swamped by flooding and intense storms, according to a new study released Wednesday.

In all, 634 million people live in the threatened coastal areas worldwide — defined as those lying at less than 33 feet above sea level — and the number is growing, said the study published in the journal Environment and Urbanization.

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STUDY: DRUGS WORK AS WELL AS STENTS IN NON-EMERGENCY CASES

Posted in Health Watch, News Brief on March 30th, 2007

Angioplasty_Stenting.jpg Heart patients around the country are calling their doctors to question plans to treat clogged arteries with stents. It is the early fallout from a big study that showed drugs work just as well in non-emergency cases to prevent heart attacks, deaths, and over the long run, chest pain.

But Americans love a quick fix, and some doctors make a lot of money providing it. Many experts predict the study will not drastically cut the number of angioplasties that are done unless insurers balk at the $40,000 cost and force patients to try drugs first.

“People want their chest pain to go away right away. They don’t care about three years, they want it gone tomorrow,” said Dr. Christopher Kramer, a University of Virginia heart specialist.

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TODAY’S TEENAGERS ‘ARE LESS HEALTHY THAN THEIR PARENTS’

Posted in Endangered Species, Health Watch, Toxin Alert! on March 28th, 2007

ALCOHOL, TOBACCO, DRUGS, OBESITY AND SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES REPLACE CHILDHOOD INFECTIONS OF THE PAST

250px-High_school_students.jpg

Today’s adolescents are the first generation to have grown up less healthy than their parents, doctors said yesterday.

Alcohol, tobacco, drugs, obesity and sexually transmitted diseases have replaced childhood infections of the past, such as tuberculosis and polio, and are exacting a greater toll. The difference is that the modern threats to teenagers’ health are preventable.

Between 1970 and 2000, obesity in adolescents has increased fourfold; sexually transmitted diseases have increased threefold; teenage pregnancy rates in Britain are the highest in Europe (despite a recent fall); drinking has increased; smoking rates are unchanged since 1982; and suicide is slightly up in the 30-year period (despite a recent decrease), figures show.

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MAMMALS EVOLUTION RE-EVALUATED

Posted in Miscellaneous on March 28th, 2007

260px-Field_dinos_2.jpg The mass extinction that wiped out dinosaurs and other life 65 million years ago apparently did not, contrary to conventional wisdom, immediately clear the way for the rise of today’s mammals.

In fact, the ancestral branches of most mammals, including primates, rodents and hoofed animals, emerged long before the global extinction and survived it more or less intact. But it was not until at least 10 million to 15 million years afterward that the lineages of living mammals began to flourish in number and diversity.

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THOUSANDS OF HARP SEAL PUPS PERISH

Posted in Endangered Species, Global Warming on March 28th, 2007

GLOBAL WARMING BLAMED

seal-baby.jpg Thousands of harp seal pups are assumed dead in Canada’s Gulf of St. Lawrence due to the lack of ice floes, which mother seals require to give birth and nurse their pups successfully. Experts with IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare – www.ifaw.org) have been carrying out daily surveillance flights over the region. They report that the Gulf of St. Lawrence, which is the annual birthing ground of hundreds of thousands of harp seals, is essentially devoid of both ice and seals.

“The conditions this year are disastrous. I’ve surveyed this region for six years and I haven’t seen anything like this.” said Sheryl Fink, a senior researcher with IFAW. “There is wide open water and almost no seals. I only saw a handful of adult harp seals and even fewer pups, where normally we should be seeing thousands and thousands of seals.”

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