iPod Users: Universal Music are thieves

The recent announcement that Microsoft would share $1 of revenue for every Zune sold with Universal Music Group—because, according to UMG Chairman and CEO Doug Morris, iPod-like devices are “just repositories for stolen music, and they all know it”—sounds familiar. So I went back and found the precedent for this apparently unprecedented business model: the 2004 CD MAP settlement. This madlibbed version of the Zune revenue-share announcement should clarify the similarities:

In 2004, the music companies, including UMG, agreed to share revenue from CD sales with consumers. Forcing the issue were Attorneys General of 43 states, Commonwealths and Territories. UMG refused to admit to price-fixing but agreed to compensate consumers between $5 and $20 per claimant.

“These companies are just repositories for stolen consumer money, and they all know it,” this consumer says. “So it’s time to get paid for it.”

And after pulling highway robbery via price fixing for six years, these guys call us thieves? As Laurie Anderson would say, “It takes. It takes one. It takes one to. It takes one to know one.”

The unstoppable power of a fully operational kitchen

kitchen layout

It has been a long time since our kitchen has been ready for prime time, but since the weekend’s work we now have a couple of meals under our belt and I have to say, I like the setup. On Sunday we roasted a chicken—about the simplest recipe I know (stuff two lemons into the cavity of the chicken, salt and pepper, close the cavity, cook at 350° breast side down, flip the bird over, and finish at 425°, monitoring breast temperature with a probe), but it went very smoothly.

The redesigned kitchen has some nice work triangles: fridge to sink and prep surfaces, prep to garbage and stove, stove to sink and dishwasher, dishwasher to cabinets and sink). I really appreciated them last night with a more complex meal: gnocchi with mozzarella and meatballs in a tomato and onion sauce. It sounds complex but it’s pretty simple, at least if the gnocci and meatballs are prepared ahead: one can diced tomatoes, an onion peeled and split, some butter and a little salt, simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. Toward the end toss the gnocchi in the boiling pasta water and scoop them out when they float; drop them in the sauce, add meatballs and mozzarella, and park in the oven for 10 minutes. Pretty ambrosial.

The last part of the process: our new SimpleHuman trash can. It felt wrong to have our battered old can in the new kitchen, so we gave the kitchen (and ourselves) a present. The concept of trash can as ceremonial gift isn’t new, of course; check the review of this model which notes it was a gift to the owner’s new condo. Also check out this extensive kitchen hack description, pointed to from the Ikeahacker Blog, that calls the SimpleHuman trash can “lovely…I never thought a really expensive trash can could make me happy.”

Of course, all this trash can talk reminds me of the definitive commentary on trash cans and consumerism in general from Charles Schulz: Charlie Brown buys a new trash can, takes it home and unwraps it, then comments to Shermy that he has to do something with the wrapping paper. Shermy suggests to him that he put it in the trash can, and Charlie Brown says, “Boy! That sure is handy!” — conveniently neglecting to notice that the need that the trash can handily filled was created by it in the first place.