Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The green, the gold

I have been trying to write a song using these lyrics for a long time and have not been able to come up with vocals sounding how I want them to sound. So for now I am just publishing the lyrics. How often do you hear a song about fiat currency? I want to change that, I just wish I had a better singing voice.

The green
the Gold
the young
the Old

The green
The gold
The lies that have been told

One was created through nature
One was created through crime

One is just a baby
One has stood the test of time

The green
The Gold
The young
The Old

The green
The gold
The lies that have been told

Gold is a metal that remains true
Green is a paper that loses its hue

The green
The gold
The truth
The lies
One creates goodwill
One we should despise

The green
The gold
The lies that have been told

Friday, November 19, 2010

Republicans like to threaten to end NPR funding only when they know it will be vetoed

Two people have posted on my facebook about some bill that republicans are trying to push through to eliminate NPR funding. First it is an empty gesture by the republicans because they know that Obama would veto the bill, if they were serious they would have done this while Bush was in office and the congress and senate was majority republican. Secondly, why should taxes fund this one radio station? There is no reason for it and the funding should be eliminated. I don't want my tax money going to NPR any more than I want tax money going to Fox News. I wonder how these people who are so afraid of NPR not getting stolen money would feel about stolen money going to Fox. I have a FB policy of not discussing politics very often due to the pointlessness of it all, the limitations of facebook do not allow for any discussion more deep than “Friends post: I had a great time last night. My response: click the “like” button.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

TSA - perverts with perverse incentives

In the free market airlines have a financial incentive to offer safe and secure flights, they also have an incentive to make the travel experience as seamless as possible for its customers. Their job should be to find ways of providing security that is invisible to the average customer. This is how most businesses operate. However, airlines are an exception, they have government goons providing their security. These goons don't care if they inconvenience the airlines customers, because they are not paid by the airlines, they are paid by taxes unrelated to whether a person flies on an airline or not. Their goal is not to provide a pleasant flying experience, their goal is not even to provide airline security, they claim they are providing airline security, but the facts are (and they know it) that if the airlines suffer another terrorist attack it will be a boon for the TSA, they will see their funding increase, not decrease after they have been proven to be failures. So they operate on a perverse set of incentives, one to act like they are doing something by making their actions as visible as possible whether or not those actions have any real effect, this harms the consumers, the second incentive is to fail, this harms everyone.

So lately we have seen the kinds of abuses these perverse incentives lead to and expect to hear many more horror stories, and what can you do? Nothing really. You can complain but as long as they are not paid in direct relation to the service they provide there really is little anyone can do, except put some sort of political pressure on those claiming to run the show by exposing the abuses and the stupidity.

I wrote a punk rock song about the TSA, and all of my thoughtful criticism boiled down to the main line “I've got a shiny badge, now let me touch your vag, it doesn't matter what you say because I know that you will still PAY!”

TSA by Flag in Flames

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Music in an IP free world, my view

As some of you know I have been slacking on my blogging because I have been concentrating on making music (see http://flag-in-flames.blogspot.com). This has meant that music, the state of the industry and music related things have been on my mind extensively the last few months. I am against the idea of intellectual property, so how does this work when you are also a musician, and if all IP laws related to music were to go away tomorrow and suddenly all music was available for free download with no threat of violence against those who might partake in downloading, how would this effect the industry? I have been thinking about it and have been cruising around the Music site that hosts my songs, soundcloud, and I have come to the realization that there is about to be a new golden age in music and what is currently holding it back are IP laws. Contrary to the popular misconception that IP laws encourage the creative process, I believe they discourage it.

To illustrate this let's look at a popular rap artist, Tupac. He released only a couple of albums while he was alive, yet he recorded 10 songs for every one song that ever made it to the album, since his death those lost songs have been released by his family. Had he not died, it is likely that those unreleased songs would never have seen the light of day. They never would have passed the muster of the filter that is the big record companies who would have said these other songs were not of a high enough standard or would not have enough mass appeal to make them enough money, etc. He is a special case due to an early death all of his cutting room floor (so to speak) material has been released postmortem. However, his case does make you wonder what other musicians have stored away unreleased because the record companies didn't think they would be successful enough to make a profit on. Take the idea that recorded music can be seriously profitable out of the equation and you take away the incentive for musicians to not release all of the stuff they make, whether or not it passes muster from some record executive. In today's model musicians would be breaking their contracts with the record labels if they simply released the songs for free on the internet that the labels did not want to have on their newest albums.

Also as the barriers to entry get ever lower it allows more and more people to unleash their creative potential through music, video, etc. Currently IP just gets in the way, there are literally millions of ways any song or video could be mashed up, many of them may even be better than the originals, but IP law makes it much more difficult to pursue this line of creative endeavor. Get rid of IP and you get rid of the barriers that are preventing creative people from releasing their inner creativity on the public, much of it will be crap, but much of it will be amazing stuff. I see the advent of new technology as the ushering in of a new dawn for musical creativity, for the fan of music this will be a great thing. For musicians the lower costs of recording, production, release and distribution will be a great thing. The only ones who will be negatively effected will be record executives, and has-been musicians who thought that they would live off of royalties on a song they wrote while in high school all the way to retirement.

I see a day when all musicians release all of their recorded music for free on the internet, and if they desire to make a living doing music then they focus their efforts on live shows, using the internet and music downloads in the way that musicians in the past used the radio, as a way to promote their music so that people would come out to see them live. Let's face it, IP as it relates to music has only been a concept for the last 50-100 years since the record player was invented and records starting getting popular, before that people wrote songs and sang songs to entertain and they sang other peoples songs without any hesitation. They made a living, and so will musicians into the IP free future. The record executives will lose most of their power, but there will always be a need for some organization to help promote artists so the artist can be heard. This will be the new role for the recording industry, to market and promote bands. However, the roles will reverse. In the current structure a musician signs up with a record label and they end up essentially working for the label, the label dictates to them what songs go on the album, how much they will advertise the new album, who the band can tour with, and a host of other things, the musicians become the employees of the label. In the future as I envision it, the roles will reverse, a musician will hire a musical agent to promote their music and get it into the ears of the general public, but the musicians will dictate how this is done, they will decide on what songs they want to release, they will have the control. This will end stories like you would often hear in the 1980's where a label would sign a new band, give them 10 cents per album sold, promote the hell out of the first album and then on the second album when the band would get $1 per album sold the label would refuse to promote it. Giving the 1980's a glut of one hit wonders. Or situations like Prince ran into where the record label actually claimed to own his name, in my vision of the IP free future the label/promoter, or whatever their new title would be would work for Prince and not the other way around, much like a talent agent.

Friday, November 5, 2010

WTF do politicians know about Johnny Cash?

I was watching this biography on the singer Johnny Cash last night on the bio channel. I like Johnny Cash and think he was one of the greatest American singers in recent history, his voice had the power to hit you on an emotional level and this is a rare feat. That is why I have many Johnny Cash albums, with my favorites being those he made during his waning years when he teamed up with Rick Rubin as his producer.

I liked the documentary alright, but one part really ate at my craw. They kept interviewing Al Gore and Lamar Alexander about Cash. I have to ask, what the fuck do those stupid fucking politicians know about Johnny Cash? They aren't musicians who worked with him, they are not family or friends. They aren't even musicians who never worked with him, but can relate on a professional level simply because they share the same career and many of the same trials and tribulations that come from that. They are just blowhards who don't know anymore about Johnny Cash or his life than the average Johnny Cash fan. In fact the average fan probably knows more about him as the average fan can relate to his life more than those stupid, rich, whores, whose main goal in life is to steal as much from productive people and direct it into the non-productive parasitic class in government.

To be a little more fair, I was more upset to see Al Gore interviewed than Lamar Alexander, who at least is known to be a decent amateur country western piano player. But if they wanted to find some average country piano player, there are plenty in every southern church playing gospel tracks, you don't need to go to the halls of corruption in Washington DC to find them.