Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What's That Thing Called, Where We Elect People to Public Office?

Ugh. I'm getting sick of this. I just saw this video (at the end of the post), and one thing that continues to perplex me is this notion that we've lost our representation or that our representatives don't really represent us.

Well, I suppose if you voted for the candidate that lost, you'd be partially correct. They probably don't represent your views, but seriously--calling for a new revolution?

Don't get me wrong, I agree with several point in this video, but really? A revolution? If the person you didn't vote for doesn't represent your views, that doesn't call for a revolution! That's democracy!

But the last bit, the "get a gun, you'll need it" is ridiculous. It seems to me that this video was put together by a politically conservative group, but it's mind boggling that now, when the Democrats are in power, a revolution is called for. What happened to waiting for 2012, or 2010 for that matter?

No. Rather, let's take up arms and "take back the government" by force. Is this why people are showing up at health care rallies with assault rifles?

Last time I checked, we took care of those in positions of power that we didn't agree with by voting them out of office. And if they aren't voted out, then we abide by the will of the majority.

Some people are afraid of "what America is becoming" because of proposals and legislation being passed through a Democratically-controlled Congress with a Democratic President. I'm more afraid of what will happen to America if people start revolting simply because they can't handle the will of the majority.

You know, democracy.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Imogen Heap - "Ellipse" Review

I initially heard Imogen Heap's music on The Last Kiss's soundtrack, which featured "Hide and Seek". After that, I ended up getting the Garden State soundtrack, which led me to Frou Frou, Heap's electronic duo project and their beautiful song "Let Go."

Eventually, I picked up Heap's sophomore album Speak For Yourself and Frou Frou's Details, finally picking up Imogen's debut I Megaphone a while later.

Speak For Yourself was, for me, one of those albums that you feel may forever change or define some part of who you are. It didn't sound like nearly anything else I had in my collection--the closest to that would probably by Jem--but it felt neatly at home. Details continued that trend, but I found I Megaphone to be somewhat lacking; it is substantially different from Speak for Yourself, and has a much different musical sound than Heap's later work. To be fair, though, it was written and recorded when Heap was around 19 or 20, and separated by a seven year gap between it and Speak for Yourself.

Needless to say, I was quite excited for Imogen's next album, Ellipse. While I was expecting a sound similar to Speak for Yourself, the album sounds like an amalgamation of I Megaphone and its predecessor, and it's own work entirely. And it comes off quite well.

Heap, who as far as I am aware wrote and recorded--for the most part--the album by herself uses an eclectic variety of instruments and methods to create sounds. "The Fire", towards the end of the album, features the crackling of a fire to start the track out, followed by piano playing over it shortly thereafter.

One of the biggest problems I had with 21st Century Breakdown was Green Day's use of using the same conventions as they did on American Idiot. To a much smaller extent, Heap uses a couple of conventions on Ellipse as she did on Speak for Yourself; for example, "Earth"starts out in a similar way to "Just for Now," with a Capella, dubbed over vocals, but it lasts for a few seconds before jumping into the rest of the song. Likewise, there is a similarity to "Hide and Seek" with similar synthesized vocal line, but done in almost an entirely different way--one that almost seems like a brief tribute to her earlier hit, rather than ripping herself off.

Ellipse is just the right amount of comfort, not steering too far away from the work of Speak for Yourself, but changes things up enough so that it's not a rehashing of its predecessor, and sounds like a natural step and progression from the album crafted four years ago.

On a four-star scale, I find this one hard to rate. Speak for Yourself is a definite 4/4, and I feel I Megaphone is a 2.5/4. Ellipse falls somewhere in between; it's by far better than I Megaphone, but it doesn't hit that same level as Speak for Yourself. I'd rate it around 3.5/4; it doesn't hit that 3.5 exactly, but it's close. This is a thoroughly enjoyable album that satisfies but doesn't shatter expectations, but that's fine by me.

TIME Magazine Universal Health Care Article

I found this article on TIME magazine's website. Since health care is a passionate topic for me, I thought I'd pass it on. I've emphasized certain parts in bold italics.

In recent weeks, opponents of Barack Obama's health-care-reform plans have criticized Britain's National Health Service (NHS) in an effort to counter the President's proposals for greater government involvement in health care. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa suggested that his Democratic colleague Edward Kennedy would have been left to die in Britain because doctors would have refused the 77-year-old treatment for his brain tumor, and former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich wrote in an article that British health care is run by "Orwellian" bureaucrats who put a price tag on life. Meanwhile, the lobby group Conservatives for Patients' Rights (CPR) has been running scare ads with horror stories from British patients on its website. TIME takes a look at what the NHS is really all about.

What is the NHS?
The NHS is a rare example of truly socialized medicine. Health care is provided by a single payer — the British government — and is funded by the taxpayer. All appointments and treatments are free to the patient (though paid for through taxes), as are almost all prescription drugs. The maximum cost of receiving any drug prescribed by the NHS is $12.

How was it formed?
The NHS officially came into being in July 1948, in the wake of World War II, to replace an inadequate system of volunteer hospitals that had, during the war, come to rely on government funding. Doctors and conservative politicians vehemently opposed the NHS in the run-up to its formation, using many of the arguments that opponents of greater government involvement in the U.S. cite today. According to Geoffrey Rivett, author of From Cradle to Grave — The First 60 Years of the NHS, the then head of doctor's body the British Medical Association (BMA), Charles Hill, gave a radio address in 1948 in which he asked, "Do you really want the state to be your doctor?" Today, the BMA is a champion of the NHS and resists any privatization initiatives. In a statement on Aug. 14, BMA chairman Dr. Hamish Meldrum said, "The NHS is not perfect. But the market-style philosophy of the U.S. is a lesson we could do well without."

How does NHS health care compare with U.S. health care?
Like most developed countries, Britain ranks above the U.S. in most health measurements. Its citizens have a longer life expectancy and lower infant mortality, and the country has more acute-care hospital beds per capita and fewer deaths related to surgical or medical mishaps. Britain achieves these results while spending proportionally less on health care than the U.S. — about $2,500 per person in Britain, compared with $6,000 in the U.S. For these reasons, the World Health Organization (WHO) ranked Britain 18th in a global league table of health-care systems (the U.S. was ranked 37th). However, there are measures by which the U.S. outperforms Britain: for instance, the U.S. has lower cancer mortality rates.

Does private health insurance exist in Britain?
Yes, and it works in a similar way to health insurance in the U.S. Many employers offer private health-insurance plans as a perk to workers — a minority of patients opt out of the NHS system to receive their medical treatments privately. Private patients can choose their specialists and avoid waiting lists for non-emergency procedures; NHS patients wait an average of about eight weeks for treatments that require admission to a hospital, four weeks for out-patient treatments and two weeks for diagnostic tests. While NHS patients have a choice of hospitals, they cannot always choose their specialist.

Is it true that NHS bureaucrats put a price tag on life?
The short answer is yes. The NHS has a body called the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) that decides which new treatments and drugs the NHS should pay for. One of the factors NICE considers when deciding whether to approve funding for a new treatment or drug is cost-effectiveness. To determine the dividing line between what is cost-effective and what isn't, it must set a threshold. Taking its lead from Britain's Department of Transport — which has a cost-per-life-saved threshold for new road schemes of about $2.2 million per life, or about $45,000 per life year gained — NICE rarely approves a drug or treatment that costs more than $45,000 per life year gained. In short, NICE does not want the NHS to spend more than $45,000 to extend a citizen's life by one year.

While NICE's decisions have angered some doctors and patient groups — particularly some oncologists who say they are unable to prescribe expensive, life-extending cancer drugs — mainstream politicians, the media and most Britons accept NICE's rare rejections as a necessary compromise to keep universal coverage affordable in the face of rising health-care costs. As NICE chairman Sir Michael Rawlins recently told TIME, "All health-care systems have implicitly, if not explicitly, adopted some form of cost control. In the U.S., you do it by not providing health care to some people. That's a rather brutal way of doing it."

Is it true that old people receive inferior care on the basis of their age?
NICE uses what it calls "citizens councils" to help it sort through difficult ethical issues, and one of the decisions the councils have made is that age should not be a factor in the institute's approval process — that is to say, a year of life should be considered as valuable to a 77-year-old as to a 12-year-old. In every part of the system, a 77-year-old has the same access to treatment as anyone else in Britain.

What about the ad by lobby group CPR that interviews a British woman who developed cervical cancer after being refused a Pap test because she was too young, and another for a woman whose mother died while waiting for treatment for kidney cancer? Are these experiences typical?
As mentioned above, cancer treatment is one area in which British patients probably receive inferior treatment to Americans who have comprehensive health insurance. However, Britain's policy of beginning cervical-cancer screening at age 25 is in accordance with WHO guidelines, which are based on evidence that screening below that age produces false-positive results that can lead to unnecessary and dangerous surgical interventions. Overall, the WHO has found that the risks posed by false positives outweigh the benefits of earlier screening.

It's also true that Americans who have comprehensive health-insurance plans do, in some cases, have access to a greater range of cancer treatments, without waiting lists. The two British women used in the CPR ads have since told various newspapers that their views were inaccurately portrayed. While both have complaints about how cancer is treated within the NHS, they support the service as an institution. The woman who developed cervical cancer (it is now in remission) told the Times of London, "My point was not that the NHS shouldn't exist or that it was a bad thing."

That view seems typical. It's a British pastime to complain bitterly about the NHS but remain fiercely protective of its existence. A recent "We Love the NHS" Twitter campaign has received thousands of messages of support, including from British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, whose eyesight was saved by British doctors after he was involved in a rugby collision as a young man and whose son suffers from cystic fibrosis. The leader of Britain's right-wing Conservative Party, David Cameron, expressed his support for the health service on Aug. 14: "One of the wonderful things about living in this country is that the moment you're injured or fall ill — no matter who you are, where you are from or how much money you've got — you know that the NHS will look after you."

Friday, August 14, 2009

21st Century Letdown

Green Day is playing in Salt Lake City this Sunday, and a couple of years ago, I'd have been jumping all over the chance to see them live. That was when they were still riding the high of American Idiot, an album that had a profound impact on me regarding the world and how the political climate stood at the time.

After five years, Green Day readied their latest album, 21st Century Breakdown. Here is what I had to say about that album after listening to it:

First things first: I like Green Day. I think they are a tremendously talented band, and are an influence in music that will be felt for years and years to come. Their songs have spoken to me, motivated me, and moved me. That, in part, makes this review hard to write.

Nine years ago, Green Day released Warning:, and after some setbacks and a side project, released American Idiot four years later. It was loud, political, and in-your-face. Green Day rode their new wave of popularity high for another several years, releasing another side-project album in between, and are readying the release of 21st Century Breakdown, an album which "chronicl[es] the life of a young couple as they deal with the mess our 43rd president left behind."

Herein lies the first problem: the album is still rooted in the politics of old. When Idiot hit, everything that Green Day had to say was relevant to the times. Since the election of Barack Obama to the Presidency, it seems to me that most people just want to move forward. The theme of this album comes nearly seven months too late.

However, the real problem lies in the songs themselves. They don't sound bad, but the problem is that it sounds like I've heard each of them before. Some new things are nice, such as a piano intro and Billie Joe singing falsetto, but quickly things change, and it's the old familiar sound. Before the Lobotomy and 21 Guns each sound like a hybrid of Give Me Novocaine and Letterbomb, while Restless Heart Syndrome has an ending that reminded me of Boulevard of Broken Dreams. Last of the American Girls, thematically, is like a carbon copy of the songs regarding Whatsername on the Idiot opera. The title track sounds like Green Day's version of Working Class Hero, the John Lennon song they covered a couple of years ago; they even use that title in this song. Musically, the song is alright, until the Queen-like breakdown, which just doesn't fit the song. It's almost like an afterthought tacked on to the end of it.

Similarly, the piano intro and band entrances are used more than once, and sound too similar to one another to stand out. A little piano intro, and boom!, it's into the swing of things, but each time, it's done too similarly to the other to stand out. A piano filled bridge may have done better.

Like American Idiot had two "suites," a song composed of five shorter songs, complete with transitions, Breakdown features one--American Eulogy--composed of two shorter songs. It's about half the length of either of Idiot's suites, but the transition is reminiscent. It even starts like Idiot's latter suite, Homecoming, just Billie Joe and a guitar, though his voice is slightly distorted this time, then we get the whole band coming in. Mike Dirnt even sings lead vocals on one part...just like he did in the Homecoming suite. Each member of Green Day has a good singing voice; why not alternate whole songs? Why not trade off lead vocals with Mike singing verses, Billie Joe singing choruses, and Tre singing the bridge?

American Eulogy is divided into two parts: Mass Hysteria and Modern World. Almost immediately into Hysteria, the vocal melody reminded me of an older song. I had to check it out, and while not identical, the melody to Hysteria and Warning:'s Deadbeat Holiday are quite similar. Likewise, while remaining its own song, 21st Century Breakdown has transitional pieces into a guitar solo that sound like something heard on Idiot.

The lyrics are available online, and I've read them all. I know like Idiot, Breakdown is a rock opera, nonetheless, the conventions of repeating themes and phrases don't seem to work here, they just seem like Idiot revisited. There's not much new here, which is what kills the album.

Warning:, while not commercially viable, was strikingly different from what Green Day had done in the past and was critically acclaimed. Idiot was relevant to our times, and set a new standard for Green Day. I would have like to see that standard met, but unfortunately, thus far, it hasn't been. I would have liked to see something different. The lone song that stood out was the closer, See the Light. I enjoyed it, but it came seventeen songs (literally) too late. After four years--and a LOT has happened in that time--it would have been nice to hear something new. Green Day has proven they can do it; their side project Foxboro Hot Tubs was unlike anything they've done before. I realize it takes a lot of talent and skill to write an album, and maybe it's not my place to call this like I see it and be so critical, however, it just feels like they've rehashed their last album and released it under a different name. It feels like I've wasted my anticipation on nothing.

After hearing the album, I've changed my rating: 1/4 stars. And that one star is pushing it. Sorry to anyone who disagrees, but this is one of the most disappointing albums I've heard in recent memory.

I stand by every word I said then today. If I could change one thing, I would probably rate the album lower than I already did; a half-star would probably suffice, as a whole star feels much too generous for Idiot on replay.

Perhaps the worst part about Breakdown is the fact that it entirely killed my desire to see Green Day live. Of course they'll play a selection of songs from their back catalogue, but Breakdown is the album they're touring behind, and I really have no desire to listen to them play a majority of--if not the whole--album, filled with songs I feel are pale shadows and shallow retreads of those released on its erstwhile brother.

And so Green Day will come and go, and I don't even mind.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Walker, Texas Politician

I don't even know where to begin.

Maybe with this: I'm not a Republican. I'm not a Democrat, either. I find myself being more left-of-center than anything; mostly moderate, I tend to be more conservative on moral issues, but more liberal on issues like the economy, education, health care, and so on.

But even then, I still have issues with this.

The two political sites I often check on are Politico and The Drudge Report. That is, if you can call TDR political.

Criticism of TDR aside, an important thing to know about it is that there are rarely stories reported on there written by founder Matt Drudge (or perhaps TDR staff, if any) himself. Most of the stories link out to other websites, such as newspapers, through their headlines.

One such headline listed today states "Obamacare, page 838: 'Home visitation programs for families with young children and families expecting children'..." and links to The article in question was written by none other than Chuck Norris.

Norris, as a Republican, and has issues with the universal health care bill. Titled "Dirty Secret No. 1 in Obamacare", Norris takes issue with the federal government offering assistance to people on raising their children. Says Norris:

Dirty secret No. 1 in Obamacare is about the government's coming into homes and usurping parental rights over child care and development.

The bill says that the government agents, "well-trained and competent staff," would "provide parents with knowledge of age-appropriate child development in cognitive, language, social, emotional, and motor domains ... modeling, consulting, and coaching on parenting practices," and "skills to interact with their child to enhance age-appropriate development."

Now we get into conjecture:

Are we to assume the state's mediators would understand every parent's social or religious core values on parenting? Or would they teach some secular-progressive and religiously neutered version of parental values and wisdom? And if they were to consult and coach those who expect babies, would they ever decide circumstances to be not beneficial for the children and encourage abortions?

One government rebuttal is that this program would be "voluntary." Is that right? Does that imply that this agency would just sit back passively until some parent needing parenting skills said, "I don't think I'll call my parents, priest or friends or read a plethora of books, but I'll go down to the local government offices"? To the contrary, the bill points to specific targeted groups and problems, on Page 840: The state "shall identify and prioritize serving communities that are in high need of such services, especially communities with a high proportion of low-income families."

First, I'll make note of the abortion note. One, I doubt anyone would go in and encourage that. But secondly, what is to say that one of these agents is decidedly pro-life? The assumption here sounds like this government agency will be entirely "liberal." The Obama Administration has Republicans in it. Jon Huntsman, the now former Governor of Utah, a Republican, was just appointed as the Ambassador to China. As most any job can't discriminate against one for race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion, I doubt anyone from this apparent government agency would be denied work based on their political or moral views. I doubt abortion would be readily encouraged.

Norris believes that the government should stay out of people's lives and let them raise their own children. Low-income families shouldn't be targeted by the government. Sure, I can agree with that, but if the consultation is free, it might have an application to low income people.

No, they can just turn to parents, religious leaders, friends, or books. While those are all fine and outstanding options which should be encouraged, more options provide people with more choices. They are free to choose which they may not want to use. If someone desires to consult with their bishop, priest, or rabbi, in addition to parents and the government, they will get information from different view points. They can then choose how to incorporate any of that information in taking care of their children.

Although he notes that the service would be voluntary, the question is raised of an ulterior motive. Why would the government want to interject with people raising their children, you might ask. Well, it's most likely so that they can raise them the way they want to, not the way you want to.

Government's real motives and rationale are quite simple, though rarely, if ever, stated. If one wants to control the future ebbs and flows of a country, one must have command over future generations. That is done by seizing parental and educational power, legislating preferred educational methods and materials, and limiting private educational options. It is so simple that any socialist can understand it. As Josef Stalin once stated, "Education is a weapon whose effects depend on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed."

It's all an attempt to control the next generation. You know, the way that socialists tend to do.

I will give credit where credit is due. I appreciate Mr. Norris' comments regarding how the LDS Church has been unfairly be targeted for Proposition 8 when a load of organizations supported the initiative. However, that article contained facts. Much of Mr. Norris' current article is conjecture, fear-mongering, and speculation, waving around the spectre of the Hammer and Sickle.

Recently, former Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin declared the Obama health care plan "downright evil" because it would institute "death panels" that decide "based on a subjective judgement of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care."

As the AP report states, the euthanasia rumors have been going around the Internet for weeks, but the non-partisan group states the claim is false. In fact, FactCheck quotes the President on the actuality of the claim:

At an AARP town hall event on July 28, the president took on questions about these claims. A woman named Mary, from North Carolina, asked: “I have been told there is a clause in there that everyone that’s Medicare age will be visited and told to decide how they wish to die. This bothers me greatly and I’d like for you to promise me that this is not in this bill.” Obama responded:

I think that the only thing that may have been proposed in some of the bills – and I actually think this is a good thing – is that it makes it easier for people to fill out a living will. … And if you don’t want to fill out a living will, you don’t have to. But it’s actually a useful tool I think for a lot of families to make sure that if, heaven forbid, you contract a terminal illness, that you are somebody who is able to control this process in a dignified way that is true to your faith and true to how you think that end-of-life process should proceed. You don’t want somebody else making those decisions for you. … But, Mary, I just want to be clear: Nobody is going to be knocking on your door; nobody is going to be telling you you’ve got to fill one out. And certainly nobody is going to be forcing you to make a set of decisions on end-of-life care based on some bureaucratic law in Washington.

Moderator and AARP radio host Mike Cuthbert then told Obama: “As I read the bill, it’s saying that Medicare will, for the first time, cover consultation about end-of-life care, and that they will not pay for such a consultation more than once every five years. This is being read as saying every five years you’ll be told how you can die.” The president responded: “Well, that would be kind of morbid.”

He went on to explain: “The intent here is to simply make sure that you’ve got more information, and that Medicare will pay for it.” Exactly so.

So an option for people to have their information updated every five years and provide a way for them to have a living will has been distorted into "the government will tell you how you can die," and "death panels will decide who gets health care and who doesn't"; both radically far from what the actual clause is.

The President recently held a town hall-style meeting where he addressed some of these issues personally. He said:

"[Opponents] will try to scare the heck out of folks, and they'll create bogeymen out there that just aren't real."

Directly confronting the death panel issue, he said:

"[D]eath panels that will basically pull the plug on grandma because we've decided that it's too expensive to let her live anymore. … I'm not in favor of that."

"For all the chatter and the yelling and the shouting and the noise, what you need to know is this ... if you do have health insurance, we will make sure that no insurance company or government bureaucrat gets between you and the care you need."

I am of the belief that we need a health care plan that covers all Americans. I lived in Canada and have seen the system work--although I agree with the President that the Canadian system wouldn't work for the United States; there are definitely kinks that could and should be ironed out in an American system. I also don't believe that any legislation should be rushed through, and that it should definitely be refined before being passed into law.

No universal health care bill will get passed that pleases everyone and that doesn't have some sort of problem, but I believe it will be beneficial for everyone to either have coverage in some way, or have the cost of their existing care lowered. If the government and private care coverage can compete, then everyone can benefit from lower costs and quality care. But everyone needs to know the truth about the bill that is currently being considered, and know what is downright false.

For further information on the death panel falsehood, please click here.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Advertisements in Liner Notes


I have a long history of not liking Mariah Carey. Maybe she's okay personally. I've never met her. But I've never liked her music. And this little ditty, reported by MTV News, really kind of puts it over the edge for me:

With product placement already ubiquitous in television and movies, the next logical place for brand integration is the CD — and Mariah Carey is taking the first step.

Brandweek magazine has reported that Carey's upcoming CD, Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel, will feature a 34-page insert in the CD booklet that is a collaboration with Elle magazine and which will include ads from upscale brands like Elizabeth Arden, Angel Champagne, Carmen Steffens, Le Métier de Beauté and the Bahamas Board of Tourism.

In addition to the ads, the mini-magazine will feature stories about the singer with titles such as "VIP Access to Her Sexy Love Life," "Amazing Closet" and "Recording Rituals" written and designed by the Elle team and mixed in with lyrics and other traditional liner-note materials. A spokesperson for Carey's label, Island/Def Jam, confirmed the report.

The ad-supported booklets — which will also be available in a digital format for downloaders — will appear in the first 1 million U.S. copies of the CD and the first 500,000 overseas, and if the experiment is well-received, even bigger branding deals could be in the works for upcoming CDs from Rihanna, Bon Jovi, Kanye West and other IDJ acts, according to the magazine.

A condensed version of the booklet, without the music-specific material, will be inserted into 500,000 subscription copies of Elle's October issue.

"The idea was really simple thinking: 'We sell millions of records, so you should advertise with us,' " said Antonio "L.A." Reid, IDJ's chairman. "My artists have substantial circulation — when you sell 2 million, 5 million, 8 million, that's a lot of eyeballs. Most magazines aren't as successful as those records." Reid said Carey was "very open" to the idea when he showed her a mock-up of the magazine with brands that fit her jet-setter lifestyle. "I wouldn't want to do Mariah Carey and Comet abrasive cleaner," Reid said. "I wanted things that really reflected her taste." Advertising revenues will subsidize the label's entire costs for producing the booklet.

The deal comes amid the continuing bad news for the music industry, which has seen sales down 13.9 percent so far this year compared with last year. It also follows on the heels of last year's deal by Chris Brown's label, Jive Records, with the William Wrigley Jr. company, which found him writing and recording a single, "Forever," that doubled as a commercial for Doublemint gum, a campaign that was suspended after Brown was arrested for assaulting then-girlfriend Rihanna; Brown pleaded guilty to a felony count of assault and was recently sentenced to 180 days of community service.

The Mariah initiative also gives IDJ a chance to promote the CD outside of traditional music stores and the constantly shrinking music aisles in large retailers like Wal-Mart and Target. At Wal-Mart, the CD will be featured outside the music section in a special display coordinated with Carey's new Arden fragrance, Forever, which will be advertised on the booklet's back cover. The CD and perfume will also be displayed together in the stores' beauty departments.

Yep. Advertisements in CD's. Nothing about this seems right to me. Now here, it seems like Carey is entirely on board with the experiment; but what if the experiment is an enormous success?

I once heard that it takes about 500,000 album sales--a gold record--for a record company to start making money on an album after making back what they spent to produce it. As stated in the article, by selling ads, the record company has subsidized all of their costs for producing the booklet.

Record companies, I believe, are necessary for musicians to get their music into the mass markets. And record companies, like nearly all companies, exist to make a profit. But a lot of artists thrive off of their intergrity. Will companies start putting advertisements in the newest Pearl Jam album? (Not that Pearl Jam would go for that!) Let's look at them as an example, though. This is the last of the '90's Seattle bands that has it's main members--and I assume we can count drummer Matt Cameron, as he was in Soundgarden when the Seattle scene exploded. This is the band that fought Ticket Master and survived. This is the band that fought AT&T censorship.

But say their next album came with advertisements in it, issued not by them but by the label. Would they be considered sellouts--a term that is thrown out all too often and too loosely, in my opinion--when they had nothing to do with it?

Hopefully we can all see the problem.

Worse, would a new band be forced to compromise their intergrity in order to try and sell their album? In doing so, they could lose all credibility, and be labeled nothing more than a corporate band when, in every other way, they've earned their way to making the album they want.

The record industry is hurting, and looking for a way to make money. Throw in advertisements; problem solved.

I'm a huge advocate of actually buying a physical CD. I love reading the liner notes, and I love seeing what the band or artist has to say. But if I began opening my CD's and started seeing ads for Gucci or Burger King, I'd be rather upset. I believe I'd start buying almost exclusively on iTunes. Granted, the article says that the ads will be in the online version, too, but when it comes to digital albums, I don't personally bother with that if the liner notes are available after the first album I tried that with had issues.

As a society, we're surrounded by advertisements every day. On the drive to work, you'll see them, or you'll see them on the bus or train. Every eight or so minutes you get bombarded with them on television, or every few pages in your magazines and newspapers. They're on scores of websites. They appear before your movie in the theater, and product placement can be prevalent throughout a film. And now someone thinks we should have them in our music.

Thanks but no thanks. If I see it in the liner notes of an album I purchase, I'll know to start buying online.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Hot Diggity Daffodil!

According to, Futurama will be back with the original voice actors!

Forgive and Forget

Something that really came to my attention yesterday is that we so often let trivial things get in the way of our friendships, and therefore our happiness. After getting together with an old friend this weekend, it became clear to me that holding on to the little things that can disrupt a friendship really only hurts yourself in the end. If I held onto things that were, for the most part not really anything to hold on to, I deprive myself of great experiences. After getting together for a little bit and having a lot of fun, it was clear to me that sometimes it's just time to let go, let bygones be bygones, and mend the fences. And I feel a lot better about it.