Music mavens prove to iTunes/Apple how dumb they are

Since Apple granted music labels the flexibility to set individual song prices between $0.69 and $1.29 on the iTunes Music Store, growth of digital music sales has slowed, one music executive has revealed.

According to Peter Kafka at MediaMemo, Warner Music Group revealed Tuesday that it has seen digital music sales slow down since the price increase took effect in April 2009. Digital album downloads grew 5 percent in December, down from 10 percent in the September quarter and 11 percent in the June quarter. Digital revenue is slowing as well: Warner saw 8 percent growth in the holiday quarter, versus 20 percent a year before.

Warner CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr. reportedly said the pricing change has been a “net positive” for Warner, but conceded that a 30 percent price increase during a recession was not the best move…

Do you think so? Idiot!

In early 2009, Apple convinced record labels to remove digital rights management from iTunes music downloads. But in the process, the Cupertino, Calif., company conceded price flexibility. Starting last April, some popular tracks saw a 30 percent increase in price, from 99 cents to $1.29.

Anyone believe the Music Barons have a clue about marketing to 21st Century consumers?

Would you marry the same person again?

It’s said that human beings have restless hearts, but our latest global survey suggests otherwise. On average, 68 percent of respondents in 15 countries would again say “I do” to their spouse. In the United States, Brazil, and Great Britain, respondents over 45 are more likely than younger people to feel satisfied with their choices. But in Canada, France, India, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Spain, it’s the 45-and-unders who feel more happily matched.

Read all the poll results.

Research details how carcinogens form from third-hand smoke

Nicotine in third-hand smoke, the residue from tobacco smoke that clings to virtually all surfaces long after a cigarette has been extinguished, reacts with the common indoor air pollutant nitrous acid to produce dangerous carcinogens. This new potential health hazard was revealed in a multi-institutional study led by researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab).

“The burning of tobacco releases nicotine in the form of a vapor that adsorbs strongly onto indoor surfaces, such as walls, floors, carpeting, drapes and furniture. Nicotine can persist on those materials for days, weeks and even months. Our study shows that when this residual nicotine reacts with ambient nitrous acid it forms carcinogenic tobacco-specific nitrosamines or TSNAs,” says Hugo Destaillats… “TSNAs are among the most broadly acting and potent carcinogens present in unburned tobacco and tobacco smoke…”

Since the most likely human exposure to these TSNAs is through either inhalation of dust or the contact of skin with carpet or clothes, third-hand smoke would seem to pose the greatest hazard to infants and toddlers. The study’s findings indicate that opening a window or deploying a fan to ventilate the room while a cigarette burns does not eliminate the hazard of third-hand smoke. Smoking outdoors is not much of an improvement, as co-author Lara Gundel explains.

“Smoking outside is better than smoking indoors but nicotine residues will stick to a smoker’s skin and clothing,” she says. “Those residues follow a smoker back inside and get spread everywhere. The biggest risk is to young children. Dermal uptake of the nicotine through a child’s skin is likely to occur when the smoker returns and if nitrous acid is in the air, which it usually is, then TSNAs will be formed…”

“Nicotine, the addictive substance in tobacco smoke, has until now been considered to be non-toxic in the strictest sense of the term,” says Kamlesh Asotra of the University of California’s Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program, which funded this study. “What we see in this study is that the reactions of residual nicotine with nitrous acid at surface interfaces are a potential cancer hazard, and these results may be just the tip of the iceberg…”

Destaillats’ comment is more to the point than anything I might say: “We know that these residual levels of nicotine may build up over time after several smoking cycles, and we know that through the process of aging, third-hand smoke can become more toxic over time.”

RTFA. Deal with it.

Tinfoil-hat probe of auto electronics to follow Toyota recall

Faraday Cage VW for nutballs

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says his agency is widening its probe of sudden acceleration complaints in Toyota Motor Corp. vehicles to look at the possibility of electromagnetic interference with electronic throttle systems, and said he wants to talk directly with company Chief Executive Akio Toyoda…

The car industry could face a broader challenge because of Mr. LaHood’s decision to have the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigate claims that electromagnetic interference could cause electronic throttle systems such as those used in many Toyota models to malfunction.

That in turn could raise questions about the industry’s wholesale move to computerized systems, done in part to meet fuel-efficiency requirements…

Electronic throttles replace mechanical links between the gas pedal and the throttle with electronic relays. The systems, used widely in the industry, reduce vehicle weight and fuel waste.

NHTSA said it had begun a “fresh look” at both electronic throttle control systems and the possible effects of electromagnetic interference on them. The agency said it has no reason at this point to believe there are safety defects in the systems or in their ability to function when exposed to electromagnetic interference.

Instead, it is “a background examination of the underlying technological issues,” NHTSA said.

This is either CYA PR or there are enough tinfoil hats in Congress to mandate more foolishness.

Continue reading

Exonerated man, accuser reach understanding, forgiveness

Loretta Zilinger, Dean Cage, his fiance, Jewel Mitchell

For 16 years, Loretta Zilinger loathed Dean Cage for what she believed he did to her when she was 15 years old.

Dressed in her immaculate Catholic school uniform, she was on her way to class in October 1994. She heard footsteps coming up behind her. By then, it was too late.

A tall man attacked her, hauled her into an empty building and threatened to kill her. She kept her eyes open as he performed sex acts on her. She used her hands to touch his face; her fingers traced his nose, his eyes and his lips. She wanted to remember him.

Several days later, Chicago police brought her into the meat market where Dean Cage, a tall black man, worked. A police officer instructed
her to identify her attacker by gently tapping the officer’s arm.

Instead, she wailed frantically. She pointed at Dean Cage.

Cage, then 26, was shocked when the police arrested him. “I’m innocent,” he insisted.

That didn’t matter. Two years later in 1996, Zilinger’s testimony would convict Cage, sending him to prison for 40 years. Zilinger was absolutely sure. Even his voice sounded like her attacker’s, she said.

After four appeals and 14 years in prison, Cage won his freedom. A sample of the assailant’s saliva, retrieved from the victim’s body in 1994, was the proof he needed. A DNA test, which was not available at the time of the trial, was performed on the saliva and excluded him.

This story is about the emotional twists and turmoil each experienced through the original trial and aftermath. Through the years following Cage’s conviction. And especially in the months since Cage’s exoneration in 2008.

Gentle persistence from Dr. Phil McGraw step-by-step brought the two together. Step-by-step being the operative dialectic. Unlike snappy revelations popular in America’s Walt Disney culture – hesitation, doubt, pain were the normal characteristics that distracted much of the process.

But, a positive result makes it all worth it. Cage plans to marry his fianceé in May — and he has already invited Zilinger.

World War II-era navigation system shutting down

Loran Station Attu – 1945

In a series of small ceremonies, the U.S. Coast Guard on Monday shut down Loran-C, a navigation and timing system that has guided mariners and aviators since World War II.

The death blow came last May when President Obama called the system obsolete, saying it is no longer needed in an age in which Global Positioning System devices are nearly ubiquitous in cars, planes and boats.

Killing Loran-C will save the government $190 million over five years, Obama said. But supporters of Loran — including the man known as “the father of GPS” — say the nation’s increasing reliance on GPS paradoxically has increased the importance of maintaining Loran as a backup.

Indeed, in recent years, as the popularity of GPS soared and the number of Loran users dwindled, the fate of the Loran system has followed a meandering path of near-death and rebirth experiences that even the most sophisticated navigation system would have difficulty tracking.

So at 3 p.m. Monday, the U.S. Coast Guard turned off Loran signals at 19 of the 24 Loran stations. Signals remain at five stations because of agreements with Russia and Canada, but the Coast Guard expects those stations to be decommissioned by June after the United States receives verification that those countries have been notified of the change.

The five stations that temporarily remain on line are at Attu, in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, and Caribou, Maine; Nantucket, Massachusetts; Shoal Cove, Alaska; and George, Washington.

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Dave Robbio said the Loran signals at the 19 closed stations will be on a “hot stand-by” for the next week, allowing the signals to be turned back on if something unforeseen occurs. If there are no problems, the transmitters will be completely powered down next Monday.

The only pilot in the family who remembered Loran – is off in Arizona in his 5th-wheel trailer – navigating by GPS.

Beer is a rich source of silicon and helps prevent osteoporosis

A new study suggests that beer is a significant source of dietary silicon, a key ingredient for increasing bone mineral density. Researchers…studied commercial beer production to determine the relationship between beer production methods and the resulting silicon content, concluding that beer is a rich source of dietary silicon.

“The factors in brewing that influence silicon levels in beer have not been extensively studied” said Charles Bamforth, lead author of the study. “We have examined a wide range of beer styles for their silicon content and have also studied the impact of raw materials and the brewing process on the quantities of silicon that enter wort and beer.”

Silicon is present in beer…making beer a major contributor to silicon intake in the Western diet…Some studies suggest moderate beer consumption may help fight osteoporosis, a disease of the skeletal system characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue…

“Beers containing high levels of malted barley and hops are richest in silicon,” concludes Dr. Bamforth. “Wheat contains less silicon than barley because it is the husk of the barley that is rich in this element. While most of the silicon remains in the husk during brewing, significant quantities of silicon nonetheless are extracted into wort and much of this survives into beer.”

Any study that encourages beer drinking – in moderation, of course – is OK by me.

Thanks, Cinaedh