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Making Music

The recording industry turns down its speakers. Also: Playing the field. Bidding Biden bye-bye. Henny-pecked. Billy Graham. Plus more.

1.2.08

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PLAYING THE FIELD
Re: Colby Cosh's Naming Names:

Colby Cosh is quite right to note that fans and reporters have paid far less attention to the use of steroids and HGH in pro football than in major league baseball. It's quite obvious to even the casual observer that both baseball players and football players are much bigger and stronger than they were just a few decades ago, and this can't all be natural.

Why the scrutiny on baseball? I think it's because, until very recently, an ordinary fan could go to Wrigley Field or Fenway Park and see a lot of "athletes" who didn't look so very different from him. In the Seventies, there were tiny players (Freddie Patek), scrawny players (Mark Belanger), rotund players (Wilbur Wood), even players smoking cigarettes in the dugout. At most, each team might have two guys with bulging biceps. So, when that fan looks at a modern ball club and sees benchwarmers and utility infielders with six-packs and rippling muscles, he NOTICES immediately and wonders, "What the heck is going on here?"

Even though pro football players have become far more massive in that same period, the fact remains, football players have ALWAYS been much bigger than their fans. Sure, today Bob Lilly and Alan Page would be too small to start for most junior college teams -- but fans NEVER looked at Page or Lilly and thought, "That could be me out there."

When little guys get big, it's far more noticeable than when already-huge guys become enormous!
-- John Leavy

MUSIC MEN
Re: Robert VerBruggen's Ripping the RIAA:

Ever since I bought my very first record in 1967 to this very day, I have loved putting all sorts of popular music together for my own personal enjoyment. First there were cassette tapes, then CDs, and now the hard drive. The hard drive is vastly superior to any format I have ever used as I can put thousands of songs in one place and divide than into categories (rock, jazz, country and classical) that I can pick as I please. I pay for every piece of music I get. I do not file share. I used to make "mixes" on CDs and give them to a few friends; but since I learned that this was considered "stealing" I have stopped.

It galls me that my pastime is now claimed to be "illegal" by the RIAA. The recording industry provides me nothing similar to what I have amassed for my own enjoyment in my own home. I paid for every CD I have and my CD collection is so large that some might question my sanity. I want to know where is the harm. I understand the record industry would like for me to buy the same piece of music over and over again; but if the RIAA is successful in its campaign to outlaw ripping one's CD onto one's own hard drive then any concept of "fair use" will be meaningless.

The RIAA should be very careful. If it antagonizes the very customers it needs to stay alive, then it creates the conditions for which fans will purchase music directly from the artists and bypass the recording companies. With the advance in recording technology for the average musician, this is already possible. That could well be the commonplace reality in ten years.
-- Name withheld
Indianapolis, Indiana

I generally agree with Mr. VerBruggen thesis but diverge on two counts:

1) As a consumer I would rather see the % of dollars going to the artists increase rather than majority of it going to the Suits as it currently is established. RadioHead and the Eagles seem to agree, as both have gone "open source" to distribute their music without a major label backing them.

2) Sales figures for CD's is not the total income pool of the music industry. There is post on this topic here. But sales of everything but CD's is up. Concerts -- +4%, Single Tracks -- 46%, ringtones -- 86%, and CD's -18%.

The music industry is quite healthy in fact, except for CD sales. I would suggest that the CD sales are down for the following. a) Prices are too high relative to the song hits contained in it. It's why digital singles sales are thru the roof. b) DRM attempts have been damaging to that segment of the industry. WalMart in fact has insisted that the major labels drop DRM as WalMart is getting too many returns for bad product. c) Business practices that sue the customer using blind suits and third party shills does not bode well for future sales.
-- John McGinnis
Arlington, Texas

Ever since the personal computer age and digital revolution began back in the early eighties the big players in the Movie/TV/Music industry have been working overtime to return the industry to the point where it was back in 1960s or absolute control over the distribution and "use" of recorded information. I've been in the computer business 35 years and anything that is worth anything to any measurable market segment has moved from single use/play formats such as records to digital form. I have a whole record collection I can't replace with industry produced CD's because the record industry does not produce copies of my 1960-1980s products. I can and will convert them over to CD and eventually MP3 for the same reason. Record players are gone (mostly); CD players will follow and everything will end up on some kind of memory device ultimately. That's the way the market works and the market place is what organizations like RIAA can't stand or tolerate. There will always be "stealing" of digital material but there are market ways to mitigate the level that exists for commercial gain.

The latest attack has been tried before and shot down in courts of law repeatedly for the reason sited in your article. End users have a right to protect their investment just as the producer of the material does. As long as an end user does not receive material benefit from the copies the RIAA has no ground to stand on. The industry said the same kinds of nonsense when 8 track and eventually cassette tapes came along too. The idea that they have a right to control the use of the product to such an extent (beyond material gain) belongs in a bygone era in places where everyday life was considered a nightmare. They are barking up the wrong tree and this tree will respond precisely as one would expect when someone tries to use the law to swindle them. When the RIAA replaces my original bought record, tape, CD collections at no charge to keep me current with the market place and protect my investments in said products they will get my respect and perhaps my agreement to pay a nominal fee to have my investment on multiple media (going back over 30 years). I won't hold my breath and I would advise that no one hold their breath either. The RIAA is just another money hungry corporation that can't figure out how to work with the market instead of against it 24/7. I'm still paying the same or higher price for CDs (relative to inflation) as when they came out and CD players were hand-made and cost $1500 then. CD players cost what today? Blank CDs cost what today compared to 10 years ago? The market notes the monopolistic practices of organizations like RIAA over the years, the millions it pays successful recording artist while claiming it is starving to death.

A little price elasticity in the marketplace for digital material might go a long ways towards a gesture of good will on RIAA et al's part, but that's not likely to happen here. They want to control and be paid for each copy of the material simply even though they make no investment in making the copy or moving it to the latest technology media. If I convert all my records to CD (and have no record player any more) they see that as stealing. The vast majority of people and any that have put faith in digital material and lost it (such as on a hard drive) will see the producer of the material as the thief in such cases. Same story for records to tape, CD to MP3, etc. The market moves forward; Organizations like RIAA are stuck in the past and seem destined to remain there. If any Court is fool enough to open this Pandora's Box, there is no end in sight as to the damage to the marketplace with regard to digital recorded material. Brave New World is trivial by comparison to what will be required to provide the "control" RIAA like organizations seek. If coping a CD to my computer hard drive or any other electronic storage device is a crime, as RIAA contends there aren't enough jails or lawyers to hold all the present criminals and most aren't found on college campuses these days.
-- Thom Bateman
Newport News, Virginia

The recording industry and the RIAA need to face one simple fact: they've been rendered technologically obsolete. For recording artists and the industry that either (a) supports them or (b) leeches off them (take your pick), it's adapt or die.

However...I'd like to think, under the current copyright rules, that I could, say, take my copies of The American Spectator and resell them if I choose, or clip or copy individual articles and file them for my own reading convenience. I don't know how you'd feel about it, though.
-- Robert Nowall
Cape Coral, Florida

BIDEN BYE-BYE
Re: Shawn Macomber's The Fifth Nag of the Apocalypse:

My God! why does anyone take this popinjay serious? this must be one of the most mystifying questions of the so called civilized world, only in Washington DC I suppose would anyone take notice of his blather or even more surprising make campaign contributions to him. Forgive me please O Lord for even this e-mail. Biden is a complete and utter phony from his hair plugs to his round heels and who will ever forget his plagiarism of a British socialist no less. As someone said once if you are going to steal someone's words at least make it from a great person worth stealing from not a second rate Brit.
Jack Wheatley
Royal Oak, Michigan

In a month's time, this vainglorious fool will once again be relegated to obscurity. He, Dodd, Kucinich, et al. can get back to coloring outside the lines, when finally back in Washington. One hopes the plug on Biden's decades old quest for the presidency will have finally been pulled. Perhaps Congress, in an attempt to restore what's left of their credibility with Americans, would consider a bill that requires any federal elected office holder to relinquish their office, if they should run and fail to obtain the presidency. That's got to be worth a 10% point bump in their ratings. Here's hoping for February.
-- A. DiPentima

Biden's not a nag, he remains what he has always been... the village idiot who the people of Delaware have allowed to drink at the public trough for way too long a time.
-- Dan Mittelman

SAPPED STRENGTH
Re: Philip Klein's The Wife and the Wrestler:

Philip Klein indirectly brings up an interesting point -- that of the need of physical endurance and stamina in the presidential race.

The run for the presidency is extremely grueling, especially in the early states like Iowa and New Hampshire where the emphasis is on retail politics. Not everyone is up such rigors. So, it can hardly be surprising that an old bag like Hillary, whose experience with physical conditioning up until now might have been limited to throwing a lamp or an ashtray or two at her Ever Lovin' Bill or some Secret Agent who didn't step fast enough, is aging fast on the campaign trail.

For as with sickness, as the body fatigues, so does the mind. As Vince Lombardi once said as he was emphasizing physical conditioning to his players, "Fatigue makes cowards out of us all." The Hillary collapse is coming, and this hippy-chick of yesteryear is going to go out on a note of unusual ugliness.
-- Peter Skurkiss
Stow, Ohio

A HENNY PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS
Re: Peter Hannaford's Bali Highs:

I agree with Mrs. Henny Penny. But, only this part:

"... We therefore need to equip nations to become resilient to the full range of these natural phenomena by promoting economic growth and wealth generation."

Capitalism and improved property rights will fix any global warming disaster, even if it is not real by refusing to divert significant resources for imaginary purposes. Capitalism, unencumbered and not legislatively subverted, will cause an affordable and proper response to either global warming or global cooling.

Socialism, and its retarded cousin, Communism, on the other hand, is a steady state philosophy that will throw itself against changes in either direction and wear itself down opposing the forces of nature within the physical and economic realms.
-- Danny L. Newton
Cookeville, Tennessee

Even that bastion of Democrat dribble and treason the NY Slimes is beginning to question the pontificating of his boringness Al Gore. When a liberal Democrat automaton like John Tierney begins to question the Democrat talking points on global warming you know the forecast for the prophet's of doom and gloom is not as sunny as it was a few months ago. He's even begun to question the myth that hurricane Katrina Blanco was caused by global warming (I'll truly believe his conversion to truth when he attacks the myth that George W. Bush was responsible for the inept Louisiana Democrats' handling of the flood in New Orleans). Maybe there is hope in 2008 that the scientifically challenged Democrat party and its legion of chicken little Islamist fellow travelers will embrace truth over petty politics. Nah that's just wishful thinking. The party of anti-Americanism, terrorist appeasement and bogus science is still committed to one thing the acquisition of power for the benefit of the few and nothing will change that reality -- just look at Bozos running for the party's presidential nomination they make Nancy Pelosi look almost sane. Note I said almost.
--- Michael Tomlinson
Jacksonville, North Carolina

Since the weather can not be predicted even one day in advance, the idea that anyone can predict years in advance is God like. Last night was supposed to be a hard freeze, only got to 30. Oh well wrong AGAIN.
-- Elaine Kyle

Is Peter Hannaford implying that the Global Warming Pontiff (Al Gore) has been struck on the head by an acorn? This might explain everything!
-- Jack Hughes
Chicago, Illinois

SPEAKING OF WHOM
Re: Enemy Central's Enemy of the Year 2007:

WINTER WONDERLAND, HOORAY!

If you were a global warming alarmist,
Staring down at the white ground below,
Would you be sobbing and chewing your pillow
As you watched it snow and snow and snow?

Would you smash your Nobel Peace Prize
As you threw it across the room?
After all you prophesied relentlessly
The advent of gloom and doom.

Be happy for the ski resort owners.
Rejoice in the sledders' delight.
Skaters gliding on icy, frosty ponds
Are grabbing daylight from your dark night.

Kids play in a winter wonderland.
Be glad it worked out this way.
Laugh and sing. Let the sleigh bells ring.
The hysterics have had their day.
-- Mimi Evans Winship

SHREVE TIDE
Re: Ken Shreve's letter (under "Perfectly Sensible Graham") in Reader Mail's Strike Two and Troy Harmon's letter (under "Graham Weighed") in Mail's Travel Plans:

Mr. Shreve: While I do not doubt Mr. Graham's beliefs or his desire to save the souls of those politicians that he befriended, I still have my doubts about the wisdom of his nearly unquestioning loyalty to them. Mr. Graham seemed to be solidly in the corner of those politicians no matter what their positions on the major issues of the day, and that leads to the perception of his being in their pockets, so to speak. There is a time for subtle persuasion I suppose, but there is also a need for a noted religious leader to take a stand against actions and policies that are contrary to the Word of God. And if you are not speaking out against those policies that stand at variance from what you know to be God's will for us...such as support for abortion...then you are giving your tacit support to those policies.

And I well recognize that it is helpful to have friends in positions of influence, but there is something that simply does not sit right with me about a preacher cultivating those relationships. In order to cultivate those types of relationships it is going to be necessary to compromise something, be it your beliefs or what you are willing to say to those people in order not to offend them. The Word of God is inherently confrontational, as it confronts people with the reality of sin in general, and their personal sins. If Mr. Graham failed to condemn those sins, then he was tacitly giving them his approval...all in the name of being non confrontational, and in so doing he failed those whom he was allegedly serving. His first order of business as a man of God was to save souls, not to build relationships that would serve him in the future.

Mr. Graham has done the work of the Lord in many ways, but he is still just a man with faults and foibles like the rest of us. And as I stated earlier, if he failed for whatever reason to strive for the souls of these men, he failed in his duties an a man of God and if he did it in order to cultivate "friends in high places" he was simply wrong to do so.
-- Eric Edwards
Walnut Cove, North Carolina

I am afraid that Mr. Harmon cherry picks one of the points that I made that he doesn't like, but fails to view the argument that I made as a whole with more than one part. Mr. Harmon also chooses to imply that Mr. Graham should have emulated Jesus and the early church apostles in every particular with no notice being taken of the changed environment that Mr. Graham found some 1900+ years later. I do not know if Mr. Harmon was around and paying attention when Mr. Graham cracked the nut that was the USSR, and took a crusade to the masses behind the Iron Curtain. Either he is unaware of the difficulty of getting into the USSR to bring the message of the Christ to those folks, or he believes that he should simply have preached the Gospel to several tens of millions fewer folks. Again I use the USSR simply as an example, the same type of situation presented itself in parts of Africa, parts of southwestern Asia, other parts of Europe behind the Iron Curtain, etc.

I can also assume that Mr. Harmon would object to the intelligence that our government got from Mr. Graham and/or members of his staff. Mr. Graham was a definite anti-Communist, and I can only assume was not averse to helping our government work toward the demise of that system, that dictatorship, that so oppressed their people. It should also be noted that, with the exception of a couple of phony showcases, churches were shut down and the practice of religion forbidden in the USSR.

Sir, Mr. Graham was not delivering his message in the first century with the rudimentary transportation, rudimentary communication, the differences of views on many, many important issues of the modern times. I guess, Sir, that you would call for active ministers to follow our Lord in minute detail, and if that leads to ministries and missions that last for three years and then see their leaders removed, then so be it. On the other hand, Mr. Graham's ministry lasted for 50+ years and he led millions to Christ. But hey, he didn't do it exactly the way Jesus did, so all those conversions are of no import, right. I wonder how many fewer folks would have heard Dr. Graham proclaim the message of our Lord, if he had to have walked everywhere that he went from his home in North Carolina. After all, that is what Jesus did, and if you are going to insist on complete purity in all aspects, that is what would be demanded. Mr. Harmon, when attempting to bring converts to the Gospel of Christ, you can simply not ignore reality of the environment that you are in, not if you want to be successful as a fisher of men.
-- Ken Shreve

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