Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Turn down the noise

We have all heard the warnings to turn down the volume on our iPods. The ubiquity of iPods and other MP3 players, combined with ready access to large libraries of music, mean that people are listening to more music than ever. That, in itself, is not the problem. It is the fact that we listen to our music so loud. As it turns out, part of the blame can be placed on the high volumes of modern life.

A recent article in the National Post notes:

"If you've ever tried to listen to your iPod on an airplane, your tendency is to turn it up to overcome all the other noise, engine noise, whatever else is going on in the cabin," continues Dr. Towers. "And that's where we start getting into the damaging level."

While most listeners might not take to the sky every week, they'll likely turn up the volume on the daily bus ride to help block out engine and traffic noise. Even with only a half-hour commute to and from work or school, the total weekly exposure time to overly loud sound levels can be extremely detrimental.

The article then goes on to suggest that we replace our earbuds with conventional headphones or noise-cancelling earphones that block out external sounds. But who really wants to live in a bubble? Maybe part of the solution lies in reducing the noise in our cities.

Having moved to Toronto last year from Montreal, one thing I quickly learned is that the decibel levels of the Toronto subway vastly exceed those of the Montreal metro. The steel wheels of Toronto subway cars make a terrible racket. In Montreal, the wheels are made of rubber, and consequently are much quieter.

Unfortunately, nothing in the specifications for the new Toronto subway cars suggests they will be any quieter than the current fleet. That is a pity. If we could turn down the noise, the quality of big city life would improve considerably. An added bonus is that music lovers might make it to old age without need of a hearing aid.

My 12-year old daughter provides her perspective on the iPod on her web site.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Still the party of big business

News that Eastern Canada's captains of industry are lining up to back Liberal leadership candidate Scott Brison comes as no surprise. The Liberals and Canada's business elites have always had a symbiotic relationship. Just look at any list of contributors to Paul Martin's leadership campaign.

Given the corporatist credentials of the Liberal Party, I have never really understood recurring accusations that the Conservative Party is somehow in the pocket of big business. In the old days, the Liberals always received the bulk of donations from corporations. In contrast, the Conservatives continue to rely primarily on individual donations.

The revelation about Brison's backers suggests that nothing has really changed. Notwithstanding Liberal MP Paul Zed's assertion that "the business elite in any community no longer has a lot of influence because of the bill that limits financial contributions," the Liberals are still the party of big business.

Monday, June 05, 2006

3 minutes 30 seconds

I've seen this music "meme" a few times now. Out of curiousity I decided to see what songs I have on my computer that are exactly 3 minutes 30 seconds long.

Here's the list I exported from iTunes:
  1. Ella Fitzgerald - 's wonderful
  2. Stefie Shock - 18
  3. The Lion King soundtrack - Akuana Matata
  4. Tia Carrere - Ballroom Blitz
  5. Kaiser Chiefs - Born To Be A Dancer
  6. Monty Python - Bright Side of Life
  7. Bill Wymans Rhythm Kings - Cadillac Woman
  8. The Buzzcocks - Choices
  9. Jan Hammer - Crocket's Theme
  10. Lou Reed - Dirty Blvd.
  11. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - Don't Let It Bring You Down
  12. Pink - Don't Let Me Get Me
  13. The Tubes - Don't Touch Me There
  14. Ron Sexsmith and The Uncool - Every Word Of It
  15. Atreyu - Ex's And Oh's
  16. Beck - Forcefield
  17. Prince - Forever in My Life
  18. Paul McCartney - Get Out Of My Way
  19. Frank Zappa - Hungry freaks, daddy
  20. Lynyrd Skynyrd - I Know A Little
  21. Linval Thompson - I Love Marijuana
  22. The Rolling Stones - It's All Over Now
  23. Star Academie (St├ęphane & Francois) - La Vie Roule Et Coule
  24. Suzanne Vega - Left Of Center
  25. Fiona Apple - Limp
  26. Yes - Long Distance Runaround
  27. Boomtown Rats - Mary Of The 4th Form
  28. Metric - Monster Hospital
  29. Frank Sinatra - Moonlight Serenade
  30. Billy Joel - Movin' Out
  31. Paul McCartney - No More Lonely Nights 2
  32. Split Enz - Nobody Takes Me Seriously
  33. The Police - Once Upon A Daydream
  34. Alice Cooper - Only Women Bleed (Single Version)
  35. R.E.M. - Perfect Circle
  36. Laurence Jalbert - Rage
  37. bran van 3000 - Rainshine
  38. Iggy And The Stooges - Search And Destroy
  39. Eurythmics - She's Invisible Now
  40. Johnny Winter - Silver Train
  41. Ron Sexsmith and The Uncool - Speaking With The Angel
  42. Cream - Steppin' Out
  43. Stiff Little Fingers - Straw Dogs
  44. The Tragically Hip - Summer's Killing Us
  45. The Cranberries - Sunday
  46. Paul McCartney - The Long and Winding Road
  47. Bruce Springsteen - The Long Goodbye
  48. Orgy - The Obvious
  49. 10 Years - Through The Iris
  50. Macy Gray - This Christmas (Hang All The Mistletoe)
  51. Lord Of The Rings - Twilight And Shadow
  52. The Beatles - Two Of Us

Given that iTunes tells me I have 3o days of music to listen to, it is perhaps not surprising I found stuff I've never heard before. Hopefully, I'll get to them some day as I load new random mixes on to my iPod Shuffle. It's only a matter of time. I listen to more music than ever since I got it.