In looking at the facts of the technological present, I can't help but notice that land lines are on the decline, which is the one area where I am happily a grumpy old man.
It's reported by the Center for Disease Control that 60 percent of all adults under 30 don't even have a land line, relying on cell for everything (http://bit.ly/Vvl9xT). Across the board, it's over a third of everyone, but it's also worth noting that another 15 percent reports that although they have land lines, they don't have any use for them. That adds up to half of Americans conducting 99 percent of the telephone business on a cell phone.
Don't even get me started. I've long maintained we've raised a generation that's come to accept high pricing for subpar service as a norm because of cell phones, not to mention that the general rudeness of taking a phone call when you have guests has now spilled out into every aspect of life and the ability to disconnect from your life and have a real vacation is non-existent for many. Phooey on all that.
Besides, cell phones have been one more way that people have decided to lay down and play dead in the wake of Big Brother, as reports earlier this year revealed that cell phone surveillance by feds is rising (http://huff.to/S5usbq), so much so that telecommunications have had to devote whole teams to handling the onslaught of requests.
But what can you say? We're the type of people who spill all our info into Facebook and then complain when Facebook makes use of our information, but the government is usually above such concern. How else can the federal government be so ignored when they propose putting little black boxes in all cars from now on (http://bit.ly/W3aAjS)? "Event data recorders" are well known for their function on airplanes, and thought the impetus is on safety with these car versions, privacy advocates are worried about misuse.
Who can really blame them for considering worst-case scenarios? When it comes to spying on your own citizens, the federal government seems to be an never-ending worst-case scenario. The latest example of this is the recent report that reveals the FBI operated in collusion with the private financial sector for purposes of surveillance of the Occupy movement (http://bit.ly/YU3Bw4), branding it a possible terrorist threat. There were even informants to the FBI passing on names of Occupy participants in their local areas, and I bet they didn't need any fancy technology like cell phones to work their spineless evil. I bet they could accomplish everything they wanted on a land line.
Outside of politics, though, I do take heart that the official proof is finally in: LPs are easily more awesome than CDs. We all knew it immediately back in 1989 when CDs were pushing records off the shelf.
Then we realized how easy it is to break those terrible CD plastic cases. And when a CD gets damaged, it just plays damaged. A record? Stick a damn penny on the needle and get some more life out of your scratched surface. The Economist reports that vinyl record sales are continuing to climb (http://econ.st/UnuKYc), almost doubling from two years ago, to nearly 5 million - and this does not include any records musicians sell directly. Meanwhile, CDs have plummeted by half and only make up about two-thirds of music sales, with the expectation it will just keep dropping and predictions that in a decade, vinyl might again be the biggest physical form to buy music in.
With that news also comes a chilling vision of a whole new kind of record (http://io9.com/5971712/). Released by the Swedish rock band the Shout Out Louds, we have now moved onto ice as a recorded medium.
The band made a limited edition of 10 kits for select journalists and fans to create their own playable ice records, and, as the video proves, it works. It sounds at least as good as most flexi-discs ever did, and the novelty gage goes much higher. You just have to be calm about the possibility of getting your turntable wet.
John Seven is the Transcript's arts and entertainment editor.