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Generic Confusion

When you leave, my blog just fades to grey
Nu ma nu ma iei, nu ma nu ma nu ma iei

News? Check. Politics? Check. Music? Check. Random thoughts about life? Check. Readership? Ummm.... let me get back to you on that. Updated when I feel like I have something to say, and remember to post it.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

More signs that the music business is changed

This time, the news comes from the U.K.:

Woolworths have announced that they will no longer sell CD singles in their stores because of the "terminal decline" of the format.

It could signal the end of the CD single as Woolworths is one of the largest music retailers, selling one in three of the UK's CDs.

Woolworths spokesperson, Daniel Himsworth, told 6 Music: "Well the CD single market is a rapidly declining market. In 2000, 55 million CD singles were sold, that was only 8 million in 2007.

The single was always more important in the U.K., as their single chart was entirely sales-driven. The battle for #1 between two competing releases was often big news (for example, Blur's Country House versus Oasis' Roll With It). And labels carefully arranged their releases for maximum chart impact (single week releases, for example). My record collection contains a number of U.K. CD singles, bought for $9.99-$11.99, mostly over the early to mid nineties. That was a necessary step to complete collections for bands, mostly British, and also useful when U.S. record companies stopped releasing singles.

The rationale for record labels to stop releasing singles was fears they cut into record sales. However, there are several problems with this approach. The albums don't always have the version of the song played on the radio; this is probably most prominent with R&B songs with multiple remixes for different formats. An example from personal experience: the radio station I listened to played the Eiffel 65 remix of Bloodhound Gang's The Bad Touch, not the album version. Buying the album can lead to disappointment, and not just because the album is filled with B-side-quality songs and one single.

In any case, we now buy songs via downloads, or wait until they appear on compilations like NOW. But I miss the singles, remixes, B-sides, artwork, and liner notes. Fortunately, the bands I'm most interested in buying singles have a dedicated fan base, and will continue to have singles available.

It's the passing of an era. Buy I'm pleasantly surprised that singles sales remained so high in the U.K. for so long.

Thursday, May 08, 2008


An interesting article was published in a publication of actuarial consultant Milliman Inc. Entitled "The Political and Philosophical Costs of GASB 45," it covers a topic with which few people are familiar: public pension plans and other benefits.

GASB 45 is an accounting rule that will affect public entities like state governments, schools, public hospitals, and the like. They will now have to identify and disclose liabilities associated with "other post employment benefits," benefits for retired employees other than pension and termination benefits. These can include medical and drug benefits, long term care, and life insurance.

I bet you didn't know public entities could get away with not accounting for these costs now! They could even operate paying for these costs as they arise, leaving themselves open to massive future costs (and demands to raise taxes to pay for these promises). Right now, these promises could be a huge accrued liability, and until GASB 45, public entities didn't even have to think about the costs.

If public employees are going to argue that generous benefits are fair due to lower public sector salaries, then we really need to have an accurate accounting of the costs of said benefits. $40,000 in additional benefits is not justified by a $15,000 shortfall in salary.

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Indiana results

It looks like Hillary! gets her necessary victory in Indiana, thus leading to the Democrat nomination battle continuing. I am pleased.

Locally, the November elections were decided in today's Republican primaries. Representative Dan Burton appears to have won an unusually close victory against challenger John McGoff. I would normally vote against Burton in the primaries, but I was disgusted by main challenger McGoff's obviously false attack ad. For any non-local reader, what do you think Burton's position is on illegal immigration? He's one of the strongest opponents of illegal immigration, yet McGoff tried to portray him as soft on illegal immigration. Just for that false ad, I voted against McGoff.

I wonder how many people reacted similarly? Enough to turn the tide in this election?

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