Friday, March 30, 2007

The latest in the contango files. Here at Hamradiocentral, we, I mean I, post on the subject from time to time.

Some excerpts:

"Blame huge refinery profit margins, falling gasoline production, tensions with Iran and American drivers themselves, who are -- believe it or not -- buying more gas now than they did last year."

Or how about:

"Throughout, refinery profit margins on the West Coast remained almost twice as high as they were last fall, adding to the price drivers pay at the pump. The difference between what West Coast refiners pay for crude and the price they charge for refined products has risen to $37 per barrel from about $20 last fall."

And:

"Consumer advocates charge that refiners are purposely restricting gas supplies as a way to drive up the price. They doubt that all the recent mechanical problems are real or require as much downtime as the companies say. And they note that no government agency polices refining companies to make sure their executives are telling the truth."

I like this one:

"Still, no one has been able to prove manipulation. And many experts say the huge margins for refiners simply represent the dynamics of the market, where supply is squeezed and demand keeps rising.

For all the times California officials have investigated gasoline prices, they have never been able to demonstrate that refiners are gaming the market. The state attorney general's office has one such investigation under way right now but has not reached any conclusions."

Sound familiar? It should, because that was the exact scenario California went through with Enron and others on 2001. Where is the outrage?

The clue can be found here:

"Yet, even some oil executives acknowledge that California's gasoline market is broken, or at least seriously warped.

The state uses its own unique, pollution-fighting blend of gasoline, made by a limited number of refineries. That limited supply makes the state prone to wild swings in price and is one of the main reasons Californians typically pay more at the pump than other Americans."

What's wrong with the way that the above is framed in this article? EVEN SOME OIL EXECUTIVES ACKNOWLEDGE...as if it's established fact that the real reason there's a problem is because of those hippie environmentalists. That's the implied from above. But don't you think the oil executives have an incentive in highlighting the above limitation to create an impression that it is the real cause of the spike in prices, and omitting or downplaying the real cause (artificially limited supply to create higher demand and, thus, higher prices in a short period of time)? Uh, yeah. The spikes in prices are not just here in California.

This kind of thing is right out of the Bush Administration's playbook, in fact. Remember WMD? It's the same tactic: oversell the flimsy evidence to create the conditions to get what you want. "Even oil executives acknowledge," my ass. They are the first to want to acknowledge that red herring, not the last.

I'm still surprised at how little attention was given to this report, which I linked to last year. Nobody seems to care. The dems have subpoena power now. Where is the movement on this? Is it not a priority because key Dems want to incent people to stop driving? Is it because the Dems in the House and the Senate also have friends in the oil industry and owe them a few favors? A combination of the two? None of the above? If it's none of the above, then what is it? I don't get it.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Monday, March 26, 2007

A familiar pattern: a disgruntled nfl player in the news. And his agent? Drew Rosenhaus. Shocker. Well, except that this one's a kicker. A sign of things to come for Drew?
Katie Couric=Brutal

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

This article reinforces my "burn the witch" fears about YouTube quite nicely. I agree with Mr. Hogarth: if the person posting is anonymous, I have a problem with that. It is very much indeed like Salem (insofar as how things can easily spin out of control and a nonstarter of a story can take on a life of its own).

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Can you say "Much Ado About Nothing?" I mean, come ON! The Repubs are going..."ooooh, big bad Obama's trying to make Hillary look like big brother." I love how the morons in the mainstream press just eat up this inane shit hook, line and sinker. Some folks need to seriously consider a career change. Like...most journalists? Or a remedial course in independent thinking or....something.

Monday, March 19, 2007

I wrote a while back about the wonders of lastfm and internet radio, and how it's breathing life into music (maybe not the music industry as currently configured). Well now it seems the RIAA's fighting it all once again. They are again proposing to grossly increase fees that allow internet radio stations and the like to stream music. If allowed to stand, the new fees will put many of my beloved stations, like somafm.com (likely pandora and lastfm also) out of business. I encourage everyone to write their members of congress. Details can be found at somafm.com.

Here's what I wrote to Congressman Mike Honda (along with Senators Feinstein and Boxer. Honda responded in less than 24 hours. I thought it would be instructive to share both what I wrote, and Congressman Honda's response. I encourage anyone reading (anyone?) to do the same. Assuming anyone reads this.

Dear Senators Feinstein, Boxer and Congressman Honda:

I am an independent musician living in the Bay Area, and I am writing in support of small, independent internet radio stations like somafm.com and others against recent changes in copyright licensing fees which, so structured, would put small mom & pop internet radio stations out of business and threaten to put music outlets back into the hands of large, corporate distribution channels only.

Internet Radio stations like Somafm and other services like Pandora and Lastfm have been a boon to getting independent artists heard by a wider audience. This phenomenon, call it Web 2.0 if you like, is the most exciting thing to happen in music in years, and it encourages innovation. But the RIAA, in its infinite wisdom (not!) would quash that innovation by dramatically raising licensing fees for such outlets.

Make no mistake, the artists would not benefit from this change. Large, corporate distribution networks that have been overcharging for music, and taking a disproportionate cut of royalties for years stand to gain the most from these changes.

In my view, independent, web-based music distribution has put much needed deflationary pressure on the costs/risk that independent artists have to make/take for a chance to be heard. The quality and variety of music that kids listen to today is much, much wider as a result of the internet than it was even ten to fifteen years ago. The RIAA needs to understand that, in the long run, it will lose based on a strategy of bringing independent internet radio to its knees.

Let me share some quick numbers for you. The new fees for Somafm.com (my favorite local, SF, based stations) face a staggering increase over their previous annual royalty rate of about $22,000 to over $600,000 for 2006. And the fees are even higher in 2007. Based on current listener ship, they'll be over $1 million dollars for 2007! This is 3-4 times what they hope to raise in 2007. This is unfair to internet radio stations that are trying to play by the rules, and all it will do is encourage "illegal" filesharing to increase once again.

Please help abolish these changes, for the sake of independent music, and for artists who innovate. Thanks for your time.

Bill Swan

Dear Bill:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the threat that new royalty payments pose to Internet radio stations. The issue is of great importance to me, and I appreciate your thoughtful comments on the matter.

As you may be aware, in 2002, the Library of Congress, under a recommendation from the Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel (CARP), required that Internet radio stations pay prohibitively high royalty rates for the music they stream to listeners. After a failed appeal made by both webcasters and copyright owners, and a series of unsuccessful negotiations between the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and Internet radio stations, Congress created the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) under the Library of Congress to determine new royalty fees.

Under an agreement reached in 2002 made by the CRB, internet radio stations are required to pay royalties which constitute about 6 to 12 percent of the stations' revenues. However, this agreement has expired, and the CRB recently proposed raising the amount that commercial internet radio services pay to record companies by up to 30 percent.

When these negotiations took place in 2002, I advocated that the LOC take a more measured approach that would encourage the development of Internet radio stations. In addition to sending letters to the Librarian of Congress, I also cosponsored legislation that would reform the CARP process, as well as the decision to increase royalty fees in the 107th Congress.

At a hearing before the House Telecommunications and Internet Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Chairman Rep. Edward Markey criticized the CRB's proposal, stating that it creates a further imbalance between what different radio industries pay. Thus far, no further congressional action has been taken, but I will continue to monitor this issue closely as relevant legislation arises in the House.

Once again, thank you for taking the time and effort to share your opinions with me. Please continue to keep me apprised of issues important to you.

Sincerely,
Mike Honda
Member of Congress
Bong Hits 4 Jesus? What's the fuss, the city of Juneau, Alaska is only 3% Latino.

P.S. Someone at NBC6 had fun with the headline.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Okay, I take back my earlier commentary about YouTube. Ann Coulter is a gutter slut. Burn the witch!

But don't just take my word for it. Here's the Rude Pundit.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Some of us have been saying this for months. I won't mention names. All right, I will. And Barack's got the tone in his speech exactly right. I think he's the only one who does among the candidates.