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Friday, April 30, 2004

Pharmaceutical Corporations: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

With the fall of big tobacco, the pharmaceutical companies have taken over the number two slot on the list of private entities with the most influence on our government. Number one is still big oil, though I doubt they will be able to sustain their position too much longer, because everybody knows oil is the reason our sons and daughters are fighting (and dying in) an increasingly unpopular war in Iraq, and that at some point there simply won't be any more oil. Ask any CEO of a pharma-corp and they will tell you that they hold little sway in Washington, but this is obviously spin. They know that we as a country fear power as much as we crave it, so they downplay the size of thier lobby efforts as they try to convince us that good health is what they are about. I do not doubt the motives of the scientists employed by these companies in their quest for new and better compounds to treat the ills of the nation, and the world. The question is; what percentage of the populace can afford to benefit from these magical pills, powders, and potions? What they are really doing is keeping the wealthy healthy. Of course they also keep millions employed through research, sales, and marketing. Their seemingly incessant need to hold large business meetings keeps yours truly gainfully employed, and in a fashion that I admit has me living more comfortably than I have been in the past. You may ask, "How does the hand that feeds taste?" Not bad. this is my tightrope, and I walk it daily. I do shake the devil's hand and then turn around and claim that I must, after all, make a living. I am part of the problem. Like most Americans, I find it hard to get up in arms about anything as long as there is food on my table. This is partially why I blog. Guilt. That and my pervasive need to be on some kind of stage. Any business' prime motivation is profit. Pharmaceutical companies need to spend greatly on reaserch and development. Drugs don't grow on trees (well....). This cost, of course, must be passed on to the consumer. Is that as it should be? Maybe. Maybe health should be cost prohibitive. Only the strong survive, right? Natural selection, naturally. So, in conclusion.......fuck the poor, right?

Friday, April 23, 2004

Pro Tools, The New Audio, and the decline of the big pro studio:

Digital audio has levelled the playing feild to a great extent. Anybody's basement, or bedroom for that matter, could be converted at little cost (under 10 grand) to a professional recording studio. I grew up with tape, and I will always be convinced that analog is king. Problem is, in the anolog world quality equals cost. One inch tape beats 1/4 inch . Bigger is better, and more expensive. But along comes Pro Tools, and boom- any asshole can do it. Bands no longer need to spend a huge advance from a record company to make a rercord. There is a prevelance of small digital project studios available to bands at drastically reduced cost. Is the quality the same as that of Power Station, or Puch? No. Does that matter? Again, no. The difference can be negligable if you find the right studio and a smart engineer. Tube pre amps and compressors can bring back much of the warmth lost in the digital domain. Editing, mixing, and mastering as well can be done much quicker, and therefore cheaper as well. Are the days of the big studio finnished? I'm not sure. Many are closing, which is great for the little guy. A used Neve pre-amp can make all the difference to a project studio recording. As these giants fall, they sell off their assests, and for a guy like me that's a windfall. Will the big acts still use the big studios. Maybe for a while, but as the major record labels continue to profit less due to file sharing, how much of the cost of the big studios are they going to be able cover. It was always a gamble. The company fronts cash for recording, the band submits it's record and both parties hope it sells. Well as revenues dwindle, how much gambling are they going to be up for. Artist development is already a thing of the past. The majors only deal with "sure thing"s nowdays. They want "artists", not bands. They are interested only in what they can packgage. Where does that leave a guy like me. 11 Hope Street, Brooklyn. smokeandmirrors.us Let's make a record!

Claiming Canadian:

I travel for work. I travel for pleasure as well. It's an old joke; when abroad, tell people you are Canadian. I wonder if the rest of the world is curious about the sudden increase in Canadian tourists. I have friends in Thailand right now, and I know that they are claiming Canadian. It was bad enough before that imbicile in the White House forced us into a shroud of shame. I doubt if we'll see him re-elected. The GOP hasn't been in such a state since the mid seventies. Can the damage be repaired in my lifetime? Will I ever be able to travel the world as an American? Is Kerry the new Carter? Will we listen this time? If not, who's the new Reagan, and can we have him "dealt with" in time?

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