Latest Blog Posts

by Jason Gross

4 Nov 2008

- The FCC has leveled a series of hefty fines against the networks and assorted radio broadcasters in the last few years for content which they have deemed inappropriate.  What’s your opinion on the effectiveness of these fines and the presumptive problems that they’re trying to solve? Are there better ways to address these issues than these fines?

- Another issue that the FCC has been wrestling with is media ownership and how many outlets one company can own in a broadcast market.  Chairman Kevin Martin has been pushing for a relaxation of ownership rules arguing that the media landscape has changed so much (especially with the Internet) that these rules must change also.  The opposing viewpoint is that this kind of consolidation means that fewer independent voices are available and only a few companies will decide what we see and hear in the media.  Which viewpoint do you subscribe to and why?

- Do you believe that the current rating system for movies and labeling system for music releases is adequate?  Why or why not?  Ideally, how should such uniform standards be decided for every community in this country?

- NEA funding has been a hot button issue for decades now.  Do you believe that the NEA serves an important purpose for this country?  If so, what should that be?  If not, why would you end it?

- The RIAA has pursued a campaign of lawsuits against web users that distribute copyrighted music material on the web.  Do you believe this is the right course of action and that it has been effective?  Why or why not?

- Do you believe that this is a real or imagined link between violence in media (movies, music, videos) and real violence crime itself?  If so, what is the government’s role in taking action against this problem?

- Currently, many schools are doing away with music programs to meet their budgetary needs.  Should it be a priority to reverse this trend?  If so, how would you do so?

- Musicians who sign contracts with record labels almost never receive any health care or benefits as part of their package.  Do you believe that government should push the labels to include that as a standard part of artists’ contracts?  Why or why not?

- What are your thoughts on cultural exchanges with other countries?  Do you think it’s right to have the State Dept. sponsor American musicians touring overseas?  Also, what’s to be done about the current difficulty that foreign musicians have in obtaining timely travel visas to tour America?

- The recording industry has been asking Congress and the FCC to implement measures to have radio stations pay royalties for music that they play.  Should radio broadcasters pay royalties to recording artists when they play their music on the air?

by Christian John Wikane

4 Nov 2008

Brooklyn-based soul chanteuse Maiysha headed uptown over the weekend to perform at the Get Out the Vote drive hosted by Congressman Charles B. Rangel in the plaza of the Harlem State Office Building on 125th St. in New York. Hundreds of voters took the “A” train to hear community leaders and musicians lend their voices to a pre-Election Day celebration in support of Senator Barack Obama’s campaign to win the Presidency on 4 November.

Maiysha treated the audience to two tracks off her debut album, This Much Is True (Eusonia, 2008), including the reggae-sway of “U.S.H.” (“United States of Hysteria”) and the album’s first single, “Wanna Be”. In the next few weeks, Maiysha will travel to her native Chicago for another round of promo dates before the New Year.

by Rob Horning

4 Nov 2008

It’s hard to write about anything serious while waiting for the election to be over. My hope is that Obama wins convincingly, the Republican party becomes even more reactionary and Palinesque, and the sensible conservatives form their own third party, so that there can be grownup debate in this country again about issues. It seems like U.S. politics in general, perversely enough, would be well-served by a real far-right party (just like they have in such countries as Austria and Germany and France) where wackos can gather, lodge their petulant protest against reality, and stay out of the arena of meaningful politics. As it is, they are muddling the picture when there is a great deal to do. America needs serious policy debates about the economic intervention and foreign policy, and we can’t afford to waste time with nitwit nationalism, xenophobia, religious bigotry, and race hatred.

Anyway, more of that later, I’m sure. In the meantime, I thought this post from the PsyBlog, about the way weather doesn’t actually affect mood, interesting. The post cites two studies that suggest the correlation between mood and the weather is almost negligible, which raises the far more interesting question of why we believe the weather is so significant.

Denissen et al. (2008) suggest that we may be responding to a culturally transmitted idea that weather affects mood. Effectively we think the weather has significant effects on our mood because everyone else thinks and says it does.
We may also pay a disproportionate amount of attention to a very small number of people who really do have what has become known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). These people report that their moods are very strongly associated with the weather. While it might be assumed that this connection is the same for everyone: winter = sad, summer = happy, the data collected by Denissen et al. (2008) doesn’t support this. Instead it suggests there are just as many people with SAD who become sadder in the summer and cheer up in the winter. But for the vast majority of us there is no effect.

This pattern of mutual social reinforcement probably has something to do with it—a consequence of people ceaselessly and needlessly talking about the weather—though it certainly doesn’t feel this way when we are in a good mood, and we want to ascribe it to something. We want the weather to be for us alone, to reflect our tremendous significance to the world. We never feel so important, perhaps then when our mood and our milieu seem to magically coincide, as if the climate has been specially contrived just for us.

As someone who dislikes sunny days and enjoys a good mist, these findings are reassuring, though perhaps I should be upset that something special and contrarian in me has had its basis in fact threatened. There’s nothing special in being inured to the sun.

It’s probably more convenient to blame the weather rather than what is really causing a down mood, since you can’t expect to do anything about the weather, so you can remain passive, thereby reinforcing one of the primary traits of down moods. Possibly, weather-mood connections are established not in response to actual behavioral changes but ahead of time as a kind of moral imperative—it’s sunny so you should want to go outside and enjoy it. You should feel glad you have this opportunity to get more done in the world. My aversion to sunshine actually has more to do with weather bullies than the sun itself, though the UV rays are no good for me either.

by Lara Killian

4 Nov 2008

When times are tough… hit the library.

In an economic downturn, it totally makes sense that individuals in communities are turning more frequently to the convenient (and FREE!) resources their local public libraries offer.

Trouble is, libraries aren’t immune to economic crises. Libraries around the US are cutting staff, closing branches, and reducing their hours. Last week the American Library Association (ALA) requested an emergency cash stimulus of $100 million from Congress.

The ALA argues that now is the time when it is most important to make sure that everyone has access to the free resources that can help people help themselves.

A news item at the Library Journal website notes:

While public libraries depend heavily on local property taxes to maintain operations, increased foreclosure rates, lower home values, and fewer sales have sharply reduced available funds, forcing libraries to cut services and hours.

Will Congress realize that public libraries are providing job-hunting and financial-information-seeking Americans with important resources in troubled times?  Will US lawmakers come up with the equivalent of 1.4 percent of the massive 700 billion dollar bailout package to help keep these libraries afloat? It might be time to form a backup plan in case your local Internet source gets closed down – how far away is that other branch, again?

by PopMatters Staff

4 Nov 2008

Truck Sweat [MP3]

Street Trash [Video]

Lovers in Japan [Video]

The Streets
Heaven for the Weather [Video]

Charlie Hunter
Welcome to Frankfurt [MP3]

Baboon Strength [MP3]

Buy at iTunes Music Store

Grampall Jookabox
Ghost [MP3]

Ghost (DJ Nobody remix) [MP3]

Starling Electric
Black Ghost/Black Girl [MP3]

//Mixed media

Cage the Elephant Ignite Central Park with Kickoff for Summerstage Season

// Notes from the Road

"Cage the Elephant rocked two sold-out nights at Summerstage and return to NYC for a free show May 29th. Info on that and a preview of the full Summerstage schedule is here.

READ the article