Life Is More Than A Bumper Sticker ~ Late Afternoon Thoughts

On a site I follow daily, they posted about depression as living in the past. There’s a tremendous truth to that…However, those of us living with depression for any length of time also know “the mind is a dangerous place to wander in, unaccompanied – especially at night.” And that depression is more than a bumper sticker.

Over these last few years – you’re welcome to read about it in other posts – I’ve also discovered there’s a huge difference between the “dark night of the soul” and a “dark night”. Tuesday was one of those “nights”.

Duane Townsend (.com)

Duane Townsend (.com)


It’s a feeling of things not being quite right, of emotions that want to come to the forefront for no apparent reason. It’s a soft feeling of dread. A feeling of loneliness that may or may not have roots in reality.

It’s a terrible feeling when you that in your mind there’s no one to call … which is vastly different from the feeling there’s no one who cares

Sometimes, I set the timer and just “let it all hang out”,~ however,  sometimes – such as tonight – it’s more important to do a version of what AA calls fearless moral inventory. I do what I call a version of that because when I’m doing this inventory, I must sit quietly and track back where this is all coming from.


You see for those of us with severe depression, there is no “It will suddenly get better”, “snap out of it, quit being selfish”, “fake it ’till you make it” or “Pray and all will go away as if it had never been”. If such things had worked for me, there wouldn’t be the gash scar on my forehead or the long scar on my neck from the exploratory surgery to see if I’d damaged something after I’d tried to commit suicide.

And I've actually had a couple of these tossed my way ...

And I’ve actually had a couple of these tossed my way …

For those of us with severe depression, it’s a life-long job. And 99% of the time, it’s a job that’s actually quite easy…it’s that 1% which gets really, really difficult and makes even doing the simplest tasks a major undertaking.

And here’s the other “rub” … sometimes when we are going through these “dark night(s)” … it’s highly possible no one will know. We’re awfully good at hiding. There are those we can’t hide from – ourselves and our [don’t judge my term here – there’s a reason for it] higher power, and eventually, one of the two (if not both) will get our attention …

When I was at CRU, they gave us a tool called F.L.A.S.H to instantly check our feelings (which as you know, feelings are neither right NOR wrong – they just are.). F-fearful, L-lethargic, A- angry, S- sad. (not just “down” but sad) and last H-happy. Of course, being the sane adults we all were, we laughed quietly at such a childish idea. Childish until you realize that given the letter – you then must try to identify why. Not necessarily solve it, but identify it ….. Ah, not so childish or easy now, is it ….
So, after – OK, the truth – two days of F,S,S,F,A (FSSFA sounds like a bill from a drunk congressional committee) I can say I’m firmly in the H camp.

This isn’t a call for pats on the back … but rather part of my ongoing attempt to be honest and transparent with others …

We will now resume your regularly scheduled broadcast. 

An Important News Interruption … Early Afternoon Thoughts

Now, it’s not the Royal Baby ~ Although, I do have a BuzzFeed graph of what the internet might have looked like this afternoon …..

the internet on the royal baby

No – it’s a very important discovery …..

Those of you who’ve been around my blog know that I suffer from depression…sometimes serious, deep depression and that I have (according to the Doctors) probably suffered for as long as 60+ years.

Treatment/medication are fine.  But this article from The Independent in England has given me tremendous hope.

I”ll link to the article, but this just might be the money quote:

Researchers used a particle accelerator called the Diamond Light Source to understand the structure of CRF1. The X-ray machine’s powerful beams illuminated the protein’s structure, according to the Sunday Times, including a crevice that could become a new target for drug therapy.

The information gained from this study will be used to design small molecule drugs that fit into this new pocket to treat depression.


This is wonderful news, and news that gives me hope for all of those (myself included) who suffer from this disease ….

Here’s the link to the article ….

It’s A Combination Of Remembering (AND reading) ~ Late Evening Thoughts…

By now, we all know the cover that uncovered a huge stream of hate/hysteria ….

I'd also direct your attention to the Willie Nelson story in the left hand corner ...

I’d also direct your attention to the Willie Nelson story in the left hand corner …

. Now, I have no argument that the picture is one of a self-confident, somewhat attractive youth.  The look of a lot of college students.  But, even as the picture hit the internet, before distribution – the flames began to fly.   OK, here’s where one of my points comes … IF the cover was only to glorify the bomber, then I don’t think they would have included this statement:


The article itself – which hopefully some people read online – while not exactly the world’s greatest journalism – attempted to deal with the question – why would someone who seeming had everything going for him do something such as this?  What failed him? Did his brother “turn him to the dark side”.  Some of these questions we may only get answers to at the trial…if ever,

I want to wander back in recent history a bit, and take a look at a moment in time and TIME magazine.  When this cover was published, TIME was pretty much everywhere and if not in most homes, was probably read somewhere by someone in that home.

Here’s a cover about Timothy McVey ….

The explosion killed 168 people, including 19 children in the day care center on the second floor, and injured 450 others.

The explosion killed 168 people, including 19 children in the day care center on the second floor, and injured 450 others.

Here’s a good-looking fellow, who lit an explosion that killed 168 people, including 19 children in the day care center on the second floor, and injured 450 others. And TIME is having a debate about should he die.  I don’t recall a huge uproar over the photo or the story.  I don’t recall people wanting to burn the issue or stores refusing to carry it.  It was published, distributed and seemingly “forgotten” as a major issue for people to deal with …

OK, let’s go to another TIME issue a little more recent…Osama Bin Laden

3,460: Approximate number of people killed in the 9/11 attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., including firefighters and paramedics (New York Magazine /Guardian ) 20: Percentage of Americans who knew someone “hurt or killed” at the World Trade Center (New York Magazine )  422,000: Estimated number of New Yorkers with symptoms of PTSD post-9/11 (New York Magazine )

3,460: Approximate number of people killed in the 9/11 attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., including firefighters and paramedics (New York Magazine /Guardian )
20: Percentage of Americans who knew someone “hurt or killed” at the World Trade Center (New York Magazine )
422,000: Estimated number of New Yorkers with symptoms of PTSD post-9/11 (New York Magazine )

So, just looking at the photo as a photo, here’s a fairly handsome person with a slight smile, piercing eyes – and to my untrained eye – has been slightly airbrushed.  Just slightly. And yet –

  • 3,460: Approximate number of people killed in the 9/11 attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., including firefighters and paramedics (New York Magazine /Guardian )
  • 20: Percentage of Americans who knew someone “hurt or killed” at the World Trade Center (New York Magazine )
  •  422,000: Estimated number of New Yorkers with symptoms of PTSD post-9/11 (New York Magazine )

Now, admittedly you might think I’m begging the question with this one, but in a sense, it was presenting a very pretty picture of a very evil person …

Which brings me to the Rolling Stone cover … warts and all.  One of the Boston Police was so upset at the cover he released some shots of the capture (which has now gotten him suspended) .  Sgt. Sean Murphy, Massachusetts State Police photographer really might not have wanted his photos to be used as the cover but was trying to counter-act what he perceived as the glorification of the bomber.  Here’s his picture … and my comments below ..

 caused injuries and death totaling 3 spectators killed and 264 casualties whose injuries were treated in 27 local hospitals

caused injuries and death totaling 3 spectators killed and 264 casualties whose injuries were treated in 27 local hospitals

There actually people today demanding (on Facebook and other places) that Rolling Stone should reissue the magazine with this picture on the cover.  Here’s my problem with that.  Go ahead, enlarge the picture for a moment…. I’ll wait …

This picture does as much to glorify him as the other might.  You have the handsome – albeit blood spattered – youth, with his shirt pulled up above his abs and a laser target on his forehead.  For an arrest photo, it’s also quite well-lit. It could actually pass as a fashion advertisement in a glossy magazine. [if you didn’t know who it was] Certainly, nothing that would tell you “this is an evil, scary killer” …

Here’s where I’m at with this … people didn’t like the photo because it didn’t reach their preconceived notions of what a killer should look like.  It also struck deep into the biases and dislikes that people have.  And sadly, there is no arguing with that.  Let me repeat that – there is no arguing with folks who are biased, discriminatory or yes, even racist.

S. I Hayakawa in his landmark book “Language In Thought And Action” talked about the idea that once we have cast someone in the role of the enemy all communications and actions are immediately suspect and forced to fit the narrative we’ve given them.

Seem familiar? We’ve seen it at two MLB events in the last couple of weeks.  I was watching on Twitter someone attempting to counter someones frankly bigoted argument with the truth Puerto Ricans indeed are US Citizens (have been since I think 1917). the discussion went about as well as you would think … nowhere.

More on this anon ….

Early Afternoon Thoughts ~ The Day You Think You Are Too Old To …

When I flew up to Montana several years ago to conduct my Mother’s memorial service, I stayed at her house.  On the coffee table was a book whose title I believe was “Getting Old Isn’t For Sissies“.  As I glanced through the book one statement struck me and has stayed with me since.  Part of the statement is the title of this post:

“The day you think you are too old to do something, is exactly the day you should do it …” 

That has governed a lot of my thinking over the past few years.  I love the statement “I will get OLDER, there is nothing I can do about that.  However, I refuse to get OLD.”

At my current … ahem …. age,, I know that I’m no longer 21, 31, 41 or even 51 … but I have developed a love for life and living that I pray I never lose.  That’s why, when I saw this video today, it really struck a chord with me.  I have admit I laughed and laughed while watching this.  This fellow is amazing and so are those around encouraging him.  He’s certainly not lost his love of life!!!

(sorry that it’s a link…for some reason it won’t embed!!!)

Which got me looking for some of my favorite quotations and some new ones…

Getting older is no problem. You just have to live long enough.
Groucho Marx
The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been.
Madeleine L’Engle
Part of getting older is realizing that you can integrate all these different areas of your life, rather than the adolescent mindset, which for me lasted a long time, which says, ‘It’s all or nothing.’
Chris Robinson
The minute you’re born, you’re getting older.
Doris Roberts

This one is probably one of my favorites:                                                                                           Do not regret growing older.  It is a privilege denied to many.  ~Author Unknown

The aging process has you firmly in its grasp if you never get the urge to throw a snowball.  Doug Larson

Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years.  We grow old by deserting our ideals.  Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.      Samuel Ullman

I still have a full deck; I just shuffle slower now.                                                             Author Unknown 

What are some of your favorites?

And We Got Here How? (Part 1) ~

When I first began to gather my thoughts for this “ramble” … I was concerned with discourse, or lack of discourse.

As I thought and worked through how I want to try and connect my thoughts – yesterday, THIS report was released by the PEW foundation – which has been polling the polarization of America since 1986.  This report, which I’m going to link to in it’s entirety, shows that we are more polarized than we’ve been since they began tracking.  This does not surprise me in the least.

As I’ve said before – I’m a member of several forums, follow an insane number of blogs and news sites (and the comments) as well as being part of World of Warcraft and Pogo games.

I cut my computer “teeth” – so to speak – in the AOL chat rooms of all kinds – where one had to have an advanced degree in AOLese or AOL speak or you would be five conversations behind everyone else.  (For those who may not know, you had to learn to read through the typos/spellings and strange constructions because people were typing so fast and thinking so quickly that sometimes things didn’t quite match-up.)

All of this introduction is to simply say, I didn’t need the PEW organization to let me know “There’s Trouble In River City”, all I’ve had to do is be around people on-line and even in real life.

What has happened over the years is a steady decline in the ability of people of differing beliefs, hopes, dream, ideas, lives to even civilly approach each other.  At one time, personal opinion, you either were willing to listen to another person or you didn’t interact with that person at all.  Much of time now, I feel it has become a game of seeing who can one-up another in either hate/degradation/intimidation/provoking (not to be confused with trolling – that’s a special sub-set of behavior!!)   or proving how much more someone knows than anyone else.

Just the other day on Facebook, I entered into what I thought was a discussion involving the concept of gay marriage (how’s that for a hot button at the beginning of these postings?) and the difficulty someone had found in talking to someone else about it.  Those of us who are friends with this person and know the overwhelming love in her heart for all people, commiserated with her and offered some light-hearted and yes, even snarky thoughts to help.  Another person had entered the conversation and within two posts it had devolved into 1) necrophilia 2) pedophilia and 3) bestiality.  Even with AOL speak, I couldn’t figure out how we’d gotten there.  It became very obvious that the person simply wanted to anger everyone and bait everyone into an “argument” so that they could present themselves as a 1) winner 2) extremely knowledgeable and at the same time 3) the victim.

So, how did we get here? There were news events from when PEW began tracking the polarization: 1984 The Aids Virus is identified it is not the worldwide problem it is today. Following on from the PC Apple releases the Macintosh computer. Following the Widespread Famine in Ethiopia many of the top British and Irish USSR pop musicians join together under the Name Band Aid and record the song “Do They Know It’s Christmas”. Following the boycott by the US of the Moscow Olympics the soviet block boycotts the Los Angeles Olympic games. Recession continues to be a problem in the US and 70 US Banks fail in just one year.  But I think it goes back to even before that.

Here are three images and comments that will start this series of posts ~ and hopefully, you’ll forgive the length of this one…

At this point in time, we as a people were pushed into the realization that those dedicated to protect us, could indeed seem to turn against us.

Kent State by John Filo

Add to that another realization that perhaps our view of life wasn’t quite so quaint as we wanted to believe.

Birmingham Alabama 1963
I don’t know whose picture this is


And lastly – an event that shook our already shaky belief in our government.

So bear with me, and more on this journey of thought over the next few days ….

Golden Eggs (2) ~ Early Morning Thoughts`

Last night I recounted a fable about the golden goose that laid golden eggs.

[While many people see the story as a warning against greed or even the more you produce, the more you do, the more effective you will be.] . . . I suggest that within this fable is a natural law, a principle – the basic definition of effectiveness True effectiveness is a function of two things: what is produced (the golden eggs) and the producing asset or capacity to produce (the goose).

If you adopt a pattern of life that focuses on golden eggs and neglects the goose, you will soon be without the asset that produces golden eggs. On the other hand, if you only take care of the goose with no aim toward the golden eggs, you soon won’t have the wherewithal to feed yourself or the goose.1

At this point, I basically had an epiphany about some of what I had been doing in the past and even recently. (Epiphany can be a “nice” word for getting smacked in the back of the head with a 2×4)

I learned there are three kinds of assets – physical, financial and human.
Three years ago, I purchased a good computer. Later I purchased a very good monitor…(not to play World of Warcraft, of course) And over time, I’ve given some thought to their maintenance and upkeep – but not as much as I should have. Now, the computer is in need of some attention, by someone that is a little more knowledgeable than I am about serious maintenance. I was actually looking at the short-term and had started to run this asset down. Of course, I can say the same about my body – and trust me there is a LOT of work to be done there. (major overhaul for 600, Alex)

The next asset is financial. And I’ve had to make some changes there as well. Not that I, at this point, have to worry – but if I were to continue living my life as if tomorrow didn’t matter, I would soon be having to worry about tomorrow. Of course, our ability to earn and manage money is a financial asset as well. But, there will come a time when perhaps I won’t be able to earn money and I don’t want to do things that will get in the way of the now.

A year and a half ago, I took a job as a by-the-week apartment manager 1) because it was supposedly right up my alley and 2) it was going to pay me a salary that was much higher than the level of the job seemed to be. It was what seemed to be a good opportunity. Lots of promises were made and I signed on at the interview. The fact also that I had been without work for sometime might have played a part in it as well.

Now that I look back – especially with the golden goose in mind – I realize that this fable DOES contain principles. The properties were owned by a slumlord less than honorable group of people. There were serious maintenance issues, etc. I thought at the time, if I can only get the rents collected, keep the tenants happy keep moving people into empty apartments and get whatever maintenance needs accomplished I can within the system that I would be fine.

Right at the start what was being produced (the rents) was getting much more attention than the capacity to produce (the apartments). And as I look back over some of my posts about the place, I knew what was going to happen much earlier then I admitted it to myself. And now, I’m doing in six days what “normal” apartment managers do in four weeks. And each week I got the privilege of starting all over again.

So now, I’m fighting my ability to collect rents/fill apartments/evict those who don’t pay/keep the central family office happy (what is being produced) by my constant frustration over what isn’t happening and my feelings of sheer terror at losing the job and not having an income (producing capacity) as well as being determined to please the “boss.”.

Up until the last several weeks (the change due to a lost lawsuit about overtime) managers were basically on-call 24/7 and worked seven days a week. Something was going to give, and I can tell you – as far as the family was concerned – it wasn’t going to be what was being produced.

As I began to spiral downward from all that was going on – to say nothing of what I was fighting mentally that I didn’t even realize – I have to say that my rent collections were the best in the entire system of apartments (in three states). I had a positive balance on the spreadsheets – the bible of the owning family – and everyone had basically paid all that was owed and some were even ahead.

–more on this tomorrow
1. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen R. Covey pg. 56

Golden Eggs ~ Late Evening Thoughts

With tropical storm Eduard bearing down, people are beginning preparations for what may/might happen … where I live in Houston, we will probably have plenty of rain and some wind. As with tropical storms/hurricanes they have a tendency to keep their intentions fairly close to the chest and don’t play their cards until the last possible moment.

Lat week I finally got a copy of a book that has been available for a number of years. I have e-mailed the author for permission to do some quotes from the book, but tonight I wanted to start with a story the author tells. It was a story I’d heard a number (?!) of times before – but where I am on this journey now – this time it really spoke to me on a number of different levels. (with apologies to Aesop and others)

There once was a man who by being blessed with good fortune was given a goose in exchange for some work that he did. While he was not happy with only getting a goose, he thought it would at least make a good dinner as it seemed very fat and actually quite content.

He took it home and placed the goose in a box by the fireplace so that it could stay warm and stay within sight.

In the morning when he looked in the box the goose had been in – he was astonished to see a golden egg. One golden egg. Knowing this was quite valuable, he took it into market and sold it for quite a good sum of money. He was pleased.

Each morning he checked the goose’s box and each morning there was yet another golden egg – each as valuable as the first one.

This went on for sometime and eventually the man became somewhat impatient. Rather than having just one egg a day, he began to wonder why they goose didn’t lay two or three. . . or even more.

He began to realize that the goose must have either gold inside or a lot of golden eggs. So, early one morning – right after the goose had laid yet another golden treasure, the man killed it.

He quickly cut it open expecting to find a treasure that would make him rich and powerful for his entire life. He was to find nothing other than what any goose or living creature would have inside.

And now, he was left with a hacked up goose not fit for cooking and no goose to lay golden eggs.

For years I’ve heard the “moral” of the story as “greed can overreach itself” or “haste makes waste” or “what some people have is never enough.” But there is a very different approach to the story that really had me evaluating my life and somethings that I’ve done. Not that they were “bad”, so to speak – but perhaps there might have been a better way…

–more tomorrow

By the way – I thought you might enjoy the Indian version of the story – this was translated and published in 1895.

The Golden Mallard
from The Jataka

Once upon a time when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta was born a Brahmin, and growing up was married to a bride of his own rank, who bore him three daughters named Nanda, Nanda-vati, and Sundari-nanda. The Bodhisatta dying, they were taken in by neighbors and friends, whilst he was born again into the world as a golden mallard endowed with consciousness of its former existences.

Growing up, the bird viewed its own magnificent size and golden plumage, and remembered that previously it had been a human being. Discovering that his wife and daughters were living on the charity of others, the mallard bethought him of his plumage like hammered and beaten gold and how by giving them a golden feather at a time he could enable his wife and daughters to live in comfort. So away he flew to where they dwelt and alighted on the top of the central beam of the roof. Seeing the Bodhisatta, the wife and girls asked where he had come from; and he told them that he was their father who had died and been born a golden mallard, and that he had come to visit them and put an end to their miserable necessity of working for hire.

“You shall have my feathers,” said he, “one by one, and they will sell for enough to keep you all in ease and comfort.”

So saying, he gave them one of his feathers and departed. And from time to time he returned to give them another feather, and with the proceeds of their sale these Brahmin women grew prosperous and quite well to do.

But one day the mother said to her daughters, “There’s no trusting animals, my children. Who’s to say your father might not go away one of these days and never come back again? Let us use our time and pluck him clean next time he comes, so as to make sure of all his feathers.”

Thinking this would pain him, the daughters refused.

The mother in her greed called the golden mallard to her one day when he came, and then took him with both hands and plucked him.

Now the Bodhisatta’s feathers had this property that if they were plucked out against his wish, they ceased to be golden and became like a crane’s feathers. And now the poor bird, though he stretched his wings, could not fly, and the woman flung him into a barrel and gave him food there. As time went on his feathers grew again (though they were plain white ones now), and he flew away to his own abode and never came back again.

F.Y.I. ~ The Return ~ Early Evening Thoughts

I’m sorry that I have been “missing in action” for these last months. I would like to say upfront, everything is fine, I’m fine and what is now going on around me is fine as well!!
It was just important that I take some time off and solidify what’s been happening with me, and to get to the point that I actually wanted to write something that wasn’t in my journal.

So, even tho’ I have NOT been:

And I certainly have not been under a storm of any kind:

I am glad to say that in the next few days I shall be back, and be back to stay!!!

Daddy Dearest ~ Early Morning Thoughts

I did a little research about the upcoming holiday of Father’s Day.

About 4,000 years ago a young boy named Elmusu wished his Babylonian father good health and a long life by carving a Father’s Day message on a card made out of clay. (No one seems to know exactly where this charming and suspect legend comes from …) No one knows what happened to Elmusu or his father, but the tradition of having a special day honoring fathers has continued through the years in countries across the world.

In the Catholic Liturgical Calendar, Father’s Day is celebrated on St. Joseph’s Day ~ March 19. In the Lutheran Church, March 19 is also observed as the Feast of St. Joseph. And even other Protestants denominations celebrate a Festival of Joseph. In New Orleans, the feast is celebrated with elaborate altars and even parades.

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the feast day of St. Joseph is celebrated on the First Sunday after Christmas).

The idea for creating a day for children to honor their fathers began in Spokane, Washington. A woman by the name of Sonora Smart Dodd thought of the idea for Father’s Day while listening to a Mother’s Day sermon in 1909.

Having been raised by her father, William Jackson Smart, after her mother died, Sonora wanted her father to know how special he was to her. It was her father that made all the parental sacrifices and was, in the eyes of his daughter, a courageous, selfless, and loving man. Sonora’s father was born in June, so she chose to hold the first Father’s Day celebration in Spokane, Washington on the 19th of June, 1910.

In 1924, Calvin Coolidge supported the idea of a national holiday, but according to several sources, the first presidential proclamation of the 3rd Sunday in June as Father’s Day was in 1966 ~ but only for that one year. Finally, in 1972 Father’s Day was made permanent by another presidential proclamation.

Any man can be a father,
but it takes a special person
to be a Dad.

I’m Thinking Of A ~ Late Night Thoughts

If you have never read “The Onion” you have missed a delightful collection of completely made-up fanciful and commentary articles. In October 2, 2002 they printed an article that shows they had their crystal ball completely polished – or at least pointed in the right direction. Thanks to durnMoose blogs for printing this article!

The Onion

RIAA Sues Radio Stations For Giving Away Free Music

LOS ANGELES-The Recording Industry Association of America filed a $7.1 billion lawsuit against the nation’s radio stations Monday, accusing them of freely distributing copyrighted music.

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Here is the complete article:

LOS ANGELES—The Recording Industry Association of America filed a $7.1 billion lawsuit against the nation’s radio stations Monday, accusing them of freely distributing copyrighted music.

“It’s criminal,” RIAA president Hilary Rosen said. “Anyone at any time can simply turn on a radio and hear a copyrighted song. Making matters worse, these radio stations often play the best, catchiest song off the album over and over until people get sick of it. Where is the incentive for people to go out and buy the album?”

According to Rosen, the radio stations acquire copies of RIAA artists’ CDs and then broadcast them using a special transmitter, making it possible for anyone with a compatible radio-wave receiver to listen to the songs.

“These radio stations are extremely popular,” Rosen said. “They flagrantly string our songs together in ‘uninterrupted music blocks’ of up to 70 minutes in length, broadcasting nearly one CD’s worth of product without a break, and they actually have the gall to allow businesses to advertise between songs. It’s bad enough that they’re giving away our music for free, but they’re actually making a profit off this scheme.”

RIAA attorney Russell Frackman said the lawsuit is intended to protect the artists.

“If this radio trend continues, it will severely damage a musician’s ability to earn a living off his music,” Frackman said. “[Metallica drummer] Lars Ulrich stopped in the other day wondering why his last royalty check was so small, and I didn’t know what to say. How do you tell a man who’s devoted his whole life to his music that someone is able to just give it away for free? That pirates are taking away his right to support himself with his craft?”

For the record companies and the RIAA, one of the most disturbing aspects of the radio-station broadcasts is that anyone with a receiver and an analog tape recorder can record the music and play it back at will.

“I’ve heard reports that children as young as 8 tape radio broadcasts for their own personal use,” Rosen said. “They listen to a channel that has a limited rotation of only the most popular songs—commonly called ‘Top 40’ stations—then hit the ‘record’ button when they hear the opening strains of the song they want. And how much are they paying for these songs? A big fat zip.”

Continued Rosen: “According to our research, there is one of these Top 40 stations in every major city in the country. This has to be stopped before the music industry’s entire economic infrastructure collapses.”

Especially distressing to the RIAA are radio stations’ “all-request hours,” when listeners call in to ask radio announcers, or “disc jockeys,” to play a certain song.

“What’s the point of putting out a new Ja Rule or Sum 41 album if people can just call up and hear any song off the album that they want?” Frackman asked. “In some instances, these stations actually have the nerve to let the caller ‘dedicate’ his act of thievery to a friend or lover. Could you imagine a bank letting somebody rob its vaults and then allowing the thief to thank his girlfriend Tricia and the whole gang down at Bumpy’s?”

Defenders of radio-based music distribution insist that the relatively poor sound quality of radio broadcasts negates the record companies’ charges.

“Radio doesn’t have the same sound quality as a CD,” said Paul “Cubby” Bryant, music director of New York radio station Z100, one of the nation’s largest distributors of free music and a defendant in the suit. “Real music lovers will still buy CDs. If anything, we’re exposing people to music they might not otherwise hear. These record companies should be thanking us, not suing us.”

Outraged by the RIAA suit, many radio listeners are threatening to boycott the record companies.

“All these companies care about is profits,” said Amy Legrand, 21, an avid Jacksonville, FL, radio user who surreptitiously records up to 10 songs a day off the radio. “Top 40 radio is taking the power out of the hands of the Ahmet Erteguns of the world and bringing it back to the people of Clear Channel and Infinity Broadcasting. It’s about time somebody finally stood up to those record-company fascists.”

And of course, we know that a couple of years later the RIAA began suing anyone they could possibly think of who might have a single song/CD in their possession that might be a copy. Aside from actually dealing with people who were making enormous quantities of music available, they have also gone after grandmother’s who had no idea how to operate a computer – and there is even a story floating around that they have sued at least three dead people.

Of course, they were a number of years behind ASCAP (another royalty organization) that was collecting money if a Girl Scout Camp sang “God Bless America” around the campfire, but that’s another post!

I was looking through “The Onion” archives and found this article dated November 30, 2005. At first glance, it seemed like just another Onion article that John Stewart might have used.

The Recording Industry Association of America announced Tuesday that it will be taking legal action against anyone discovered telling friends, acquaintances, or associates about new songs, artists, or albums. “We are merely exercising our right to defend our intellectual properties from unauthorized peer-to-peer notification of the existence of copyrighted material,” a press release signed by RIAA anti-piracy director Brad Buckles read. “We will aggressively prosecute those individuals who attempt to pirate our property by generating ‘buzz’ about any proprietary music, movies, or software, or enjoy same in the company of anyone other than themselves.” RIAA attorneys said they were also looking into the legality of word-of-mouth “favorites-sharing” sites, such as coffee shops, universities, and living rooms.

However – this week a serious bill began to make it’s way through the “hallowed halls” of Congress. Here are some of the key provisions:

Criminalize “attempting” to infringe copyright.
Federal law currently punishes not-for-profit copyright infringement with between 1 and 10 years in prison, but there has to be actual infringement that takes place. The IPPA would eliminate that requirement. (The Justice Department’s summary of the legislation says: “It is a general tenet of the criminal law that those who attempt to commit a crime but do not complete it are as morally culpable as those who succeed in doing so.”)

–Create a new crime of life imprisonment for using pirated software.
Anyone using counterfeit products who “recklessly causes or attempts to cause death” can be imprisoned for life. During a conference call, Justice Department officials gave the example of a hospital using pirated software instead of paying for it.

–Permit more wiretaps for piracy investigations.
Wiretaps would be authorized for investigations of Americans who are “attempting” to infringe copyrights.

–Allow computers to be seized more readily.
Specifically, property such as a PC “intended to be used in any manner” to commit a copyright crime would be subject to forfeiture, including civil asset forfeiture.

Any chuckling over The Onion article stopped. I was teaching in India when Indira Ghandi with a single stroke of a pen took all liberties away (including those afforded to those of us who were working there). Somehow, when I read/think about some of the things going on – or proposed, I hear faint sounds of the Sitar in the background.