Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Quantum Leap backwards in Sound

One thing the Vietnam war brought America was great stereo systems from the "Tokyo Exchange". Guys coming back from "nam" usually came back with these gigantic Akai stereo systems that they bought through the military PX/exchange. In the late 60's and early 70's when Rock was good, the baby boomers started working on their "tinitus" (pronounced ten-it-us, not ten- eye- tus) It's ringing of the ears. Contrary to what the new commercial over the counter products say; tinnitus is the result of killing off the cells in your Cochlea or hearing organ in the inner ear. When you hear that ringing in your ear after you hear a gun shot, that's tinnitus. For us musicians it's that ringing in our ears that comes from standing in front of Marshal cabs for 3 hours.

But I digress. Back in the day (1970's) We had really cool speakers. My personal favorites were Bose 501s. (not to big, not to small) you had to have a receiver, preferably 50 watts per channel. A Techniques turn table. A Sony cassette to cassette recorder, and of course a 12 to 24 band eq (graphic equalizer). Then on a Friday night when the new Pink Floyd album came out, you told your neighbors to shut their windows if they didn't want to hear DSOTM at 90 decibels.

The speakers and eq really made the system. (and a good cartridge or "Needle)

All we had back then was vinyl. But it was great if you recorded it on your cassette tape before your LP "record" got scratched. (damn cats) Then began the quest to improve the media. They did a great job, but in doing so, they screwed up the sound ! IT's the SOUND DAMN IT.

I don't give a damn about MP3 players. I don't want to listen to music through ear plugs. Plus MP3's rob you of 90 percent of your sound.

But I've jumped ahead.

Next came cassettes and really cool high end cassette players that had titanium play heads and a bitchin' thing called "SOUND SEARCH". A really good cassette player would fast forward and stop in between tracks. A mega/uber cool player would have a belt driven carriage. (Like a VCR if you're familiar with those antiques) It took the cassette and gently lined up the tape so the heads played the tape at a perfect perpendicular angle.

Then somewhere in the 70's someone really really high invented the 8 track. lol...... Oh the jokes you can tell about 8 tracks. If you had an 8 track player in your car, and you wanted to hear a certain song again; you had to keep driving. You also had to make sure you had a book of matches to wedge under the tape and the player opening to line up a worn tape. lol how awful.

Then in 1979, every FM Radio station in the free world bragged about having the "digitally re-mixed" version of the White Album, or Houses of the Holy, or Elvis Costello's My aim is True.

It's safe to say that Consumer music sounded the best in the early 80's. We still had the bad ass speakers and graphic EQ's.

Fast forward 20 years. 8" sub woofers with tweeters gave way to 2.5" boom box speakers. Of course the price of the new CD system was only about 300 bucks. (complete with 5 spot CD carousel) The stereo system as we knew it morphed into the glorified boom box. Even the quality of the CDs went to hell. Originally CD's would take a lickin and keep on tickin. Now they're pieces of crap that are only good for burning wave files on to archive.

In 1998 I predicted someone would invent an MP3 device. "SHAZAM" the IPOD. They even came out with IPOD sunglasses for skiing. Ya you could hear something, but you never heard DSOTM or Close to the Edge unless you've heard it on vinyl or early 80's CDs through huge fricken Bose speakers.

Oh how I miss the drop of the needle.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


The Bible is full of stories that range from the misery of Job (an example of a righteous man losing everything for no apparent reason) to the Christmas story in Matthew 3. There is the irony of God's people being forced to wander in the desert for 40 years after escaping 400 years of slavery in Egypt to the greatest story of Christ being resurrected.

These stories are in the Bible to show you how God dealt with situations you might be facing in your life today. Job's story (pronounced Jobe)is frequently used to try and explain to people that "Life is not fair". In fact, Job suffers the loss of his children, his land and his livestock over a bet that God had with Satan.

In short, the moral of the story is, "Stuff Happens" and could have nothing to do with the life you're living.

What's really interesting is that the bet was about whether Job would curse God and turn on him. Job did not. In spite of his wife who said:"Why don't you just curse God and die"? Because a godly man loves his god. No matter what.

I know that sometimes we are tempted to question God if our pay checks are late. If we get a flat tire. We become outraged when we think of all the good we've done only to endure more hardship. Sometimes we wonder where God is. Sometimes we wonder if God is ignoring us. These are the questions Job was asking. He felt if he could just get an audience with the Great Almighty, he could clear up what must have been a misunderstanding.

Job's young friend Elihu sums it up in one line Job 37:5

"God thunders with His voice wondrously, Doing great things which we cannot comprehend".

Stuff Happens. God is there. Sometimes we have to live our lives by Proverbs 3:5

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight".

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

ATTACKS on FREEDOM (a reprinted article by John Stossel)

Something's happened to America, and it isn't good. It's become easier to get into trouble. We've become a nation of a million rules. Not the kind of bottom-up rules that people generate through voluntary associations. Those are fine. I mean imposed, top-down rules formed in the brains of meddling bureaucrats who think they know better than we how to manage our lives.

Cross them, and we are in trouble.

The National Marine Fishery Service (NMFS) received an anonymous fax that a seafood shipment to Alabama from David McNab contained "undersized lobster tails" and was improperly packed in clear plastic bags, rather than the cardboard boxes allegedly required under Honduran law. When the $4 million shipment arrived, NMFS agents seized it. McNab served eight years in prison, even though the Honduran government informed the court that the regulation requiring cardboard boxes had been repealed.

How about this one? Four kindergartners -- yes, 5-year-old boys -- played cops and robbers at Wilson Elementary in New Jersey. One yelled: "Boom! I have a bazooka, and I want to shoot you." He did not, of course, have a bazooka. Nevertheless, all four boys were suspended from school for three days for "making threats," a violation of their school district's zero-tolerance policy. School Principal Georgia Baumann said, "We cannot take any of these statements in a light manner." District Superintendent William Bauer said: "This is a no-tolerance policy. We're very firm on weapons and threats."

Give me a break. These are just some of the stories featured in a new book, "One Nation Under Arrest". I'll discuss more on my Fox Business show Thursday night.

Here's another: Ansche Hedgepeth, 12, committed this heinous crime: She left school in Washington, D.C., entered a Metrorail station to head home and ate a French fry. An undercover officer arrested her, confiscating her jacket, backpack and shoelaces. She was handcuffed and taken to the Juvenile Processing Center. Only after three hours in custody was the 12-year-old released into her mother's custody. The chief of Metro Transit Police said: "We really do believe in zero-tolerance. Anyone taken into custody has to be handcuffed for officer safety." She was sentenced to community service and now carries an arrest record. Washington's Metro has since rescinded its zero-tolerance policy.

Keith John Sampson, a student-employee at Indiana-Purdue University Indianapolis, had the temerity to read "Notre Dame Versus the Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan" during breaks on the job. One student complained because the book's cover depicted the Klan. The university then found Sampson guilty of racial harassment! Thankfully, a great organization, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), came to his defense and got his school record cleared.

Palo Alto, Calif., ordered Kay Leibrand, a grandmother, to lower her carefully trimmed hedges. Leibrand argued that no one's vision was obstructed and asked the code officer to take a look. He refused. Then the city dispatched two police officers. They arrested her, loaded her into a patrol car in front of her neighbors and hauled her down to the station.

In 2001, honor student Lindsay Brown parked her car in the wrong spot at her high school. A county police officer looked inside and saw a kitchen knife -- a butter knife with a rounded tip. Because Lindsay was on school property, she had violated the zero-tolerance policy for knives. She was arrested, handcuffed and hauled off to county jail where she spent nine hours on a felony weapons possession charge. School Principal Fred Bode told a local paper, "A weapon is a weapon."

Congress creates, on average, one new crime every week. Federal agencies create thousands more -- so many, in fact that the Congressional Research Service itself said that merely counting them would be impossible.

This is a bad trend. As Lao Tsu said, "The more laws and order are made prominent, the more thieves and robbers there will be."