Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Voicing an Opinion..... And Someone Listened... Hillary?

I have been getting emails from some of the net radio sources I listen to about the issues with the tariffs being imposed on internet radio. These tariffs will kill most internet radio stations if we cannot convince our representatives to do something about it. If you want more information, I recommend you check out I decided to write to my representatives about this. Senators Chuck Schumer, and Hillary Clinton, and Representative Maurice Hinchey. Hillary is the only one that wrote back, and I must say, the response seemed to be personal. Not "canned". She has earned a whole new level of respect from me. I am posting the correspondence below.

Here is the letter I sent to Hillary:

Senator Clinton,

I have recently read that the US Copyright Office has released their new set of rates for the payment of royalties by Internet Radio. These rates are so high that they will put many independent web casters out of business. The music industry continues to blame the decline in purchase of retail music formats on file sharing and pirating of online music. They need to take a look at their own practices before they attack a medium that is not used for music pirating by most people. The music industry told us more than 20 years ago that when CD's became more popular than vinyl and cassettes that the cost of our music would go down, because CD's were less expensive to produce than either current format. Within 2 years of the disappearance of cassettes and vinyl, CD's cost more than twice what vinyl once did. The music industry's own greediness has driven consumers to other sources for their music. One of these is live internet radio. Listeners to live internet radio are no different than the listeners to FM radio 20 years ago. Why do we insist on punishing this new and developing format? The music industry believes that streaming internet radio can be recorded at a quality level equivalent to CD's. It cannot! It is roughly equivalent to FM radio, or not as good in many cases. We alll had the ability to record from FM radio years ago. With a high quality cassette recorder i was able to make near-CD quality recordings of FM broadcasts 20 years ago. This method of delivering music is in its infancy, and the best solution for those of us that listen at work, or in the home as an alternative to FM. Let's not kill a new technology before it has a chance to grow. Please stop the unfair excessive royalty payments being charged to internet radio and help force the music industry to admit their mistakes in turning their back on digital music until it was too late for them to compete in an honorable way. Thank you.

Here is her response:

Thank you for taking the time to contact me regarding the proposed new royalty rates for online radio. I always enjoy hearing from New Yorkers about challenging public policy issues that are important to them, and I particularly appreciate your concerns regarding the future of I nternet radio. As you may know, I am a strong supporter of maintaining an open Internet that fosters innovation. No other communications medium in recent history has had such a profound impact on the expression of speech, education, the dissemination of information and the exchange of ideas.

Online radio is a great example of how the Internet has helped to cultivate innovation and offered consumers access to new an d personalized information. However, the great technological and commercial progress that has come with the ongoing development of the Internet has also brought with it numerous new public policy dilemmas, such as how to balance copyright protection for music and other property with the innovation that the Internet continues to cultivate.

As you know, in March 2007 the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) proposed a new online radio royalty structure, which would amend the system that has been in place since 2002 and establish a new scale for royalties charged to I nternet radio companies on a per-song, per-listener basis. The proposed rates will begin at 0.08 cents per song per listener, retroactive to January 1, 2006 , and will reach 0.19 cents per song per listener in 2010. The CRB has since announced that it will hear appeals of its previous ruling. Your concerns about this matter are significant and I hope that this period for appeal will enable the CRB to carefully consider points of view like yours.

Thank you again for sharing your concerns regarding these important I nternet radio issues with me. Please be assured that I will continue to follow this issue closely and that I will

keep your views in mind in the future if related measures come before the Senate. For more informa tion on my support for an open I nternet and other important issues before the United States Senate, please visit my website at .


Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton

I then sent another one back, as it looks like we are losing the battle:

Senator Clinton,

With 19 days to go now, it is looking pretty bad for Internet radio. Is there someway to make these people listen? My biggest concern at this point is: What's next? Is this how corporate America is going to fight innovation and diversity in the future? By making sure that emerging technologies that threaten their happy little world get taxed into oblivion?

I think that the large media conglomerates need to take a very good look at their programming and the stupid decisions they make before they pop the champagne corks on this victory.

There's something SERIOUSLY wrong with an industry that squashes a voice like Don Imus, but then allows Hip Hop and Rap music, and a disturbing video made by the VT killer. Don't get me wrong, I don't think we should censor any of this, but I see it as an example of the short-sighted thinking that is leading us to squash Internet Radio.

Please Help!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Those Crazy Candy-Loving Brits!

I am a fan of candy bars, although I really can't eat them anymore, I still keep up with the varieties, and know a bit of candy bar history. Paul and I frequently stop at a supermarket on our way back to New Jersey on Sunday nights that has a British foods section in the ethnic food aisle. Anyone who has attempted to buy a Milky Way Bar in Europe knows that it is a different animal. The European Milky Way is similar to our Three Musketeers Bar. If you want something like an American Milky Way, you would have to buy a Mars Bar, which was an almond version of a Snickers, and is even called as such now. Confusing?

That said, here are a couple of examples of European candy that I think just wouldn't make it with the folks here. The chauvinistic Yorkie Bar, and Nestle's Munchies:

And, just because it fits the subject, the Mr. Big Bar... "When You're This Big, They Call You MR!"

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Random... Hand Dryers, Bacon, and BBQ

 Someone re-invented the electric, automatic hand dryer. I am starting to see these things in restrooms, and they actually dry your hands. The XLerator is so powerful that it dries your hands without the extra step shown here. 

So, I have to explain. I don't go around thinking "I think I'll research hand dryers today and post it to my blog". No. What sparked this was stumbling across this image,  which the kids and I agree is worth writing about. Especially for us bacon lovers. 

Which brings me to the next random topic today.

My boss took me to another barbecue place in Manhattan on Wednesday. So far I have tried Virgil's, Dinosaur, Dallas, and now Rub.
This place was a bit different. We ordered a giant sampler platter of everything they offer. One item on the menu was burnt ends, and I recommend trying them. Roughly one-inch sized chunks of the point end of a brisket with their seasonings. The pastrami and brisket were both excellent, as was the chicken. The ribs were average, and the sausage will be avoided next time I go. In addition to the platter we sampled two very unique items. One was an appetizer called BBQ bacon chunks. Probably one of the most unhealthy things I have ever tried, and it supports the saying that the better something tastes the worse it is for you. The other is their famous desert Deep Fried Oreos. Seemed too strange for words, so we had to try them. The best description we could come up with was that they are like a zeppole with an oreo in the middle. Enjoy! And check out the bacon dispenser in the bathroom of course.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Mystery Solved

Once or twice a week, on my frequent walks around town, I end up at Jack's World. Jack's is a combination dollar store and closeout store, located on west 32nd, between 6th and 7th. Probably one of the best around. The ground floor is the dollar store and has an extensive food section. The upper two floors have anything from bedding sets, to fine chocolate, to rice cookers. Anyone I've brought there always comments on something out in the street; A massive bridge connecting the buildings on either side of 32nd street. I finally found something about it online. It is called the Gimbel's Traverse, and it connected the old Gimbel's department store to the Gimbel's annex across 32nd street. The current owners of the building had planned to demolish it in the 80's, but have not. The up-close photo here shows the great detail and copper cladding.