Posts tagged ‘piano’

The Federal Government’s War on Musical Instruments

Flutes, Pianos, and Guitars so far…. Your tax dollars at work!

Before you whine about an airline temporarily losing your luggage, think of poor Boujemaa Razgui. The flute virtuoso who performs regularly with The Boston Camerata lost 13 handmade flutes over the holidays when a US Customs official at New York’s JFK Airport mistook the instruments for pieces of bamboo and destroyed them.

Virtuoso’s flutes destroyed by US Customs

U.S. customs officials last week destroyed 11 rare flutes by a respected Canadian musician who was returning home via New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. But the agency isn’t apologizing for the incident — it says the flutes were an ecological threat.

U.S. Customs Won’t Apologize for Destroying Musician’s Rare Flutes

On Aug. 24, 2011, federal agents executed four search warrants on Gibson Guitar Corp. facilities in Nashville and Memphis, Tenn., and seized several pallets of wood, electronic files and guitars. One of the top makers of acoustic and electric guitars, including the iconic Les Paul introduced in 1952, Gibson was accused of using wood illegally obtained in violation of the century-old Lacey Act, which outlaws trafficking in flora and fauna the harvesting of which had broken foreign laws.

In one raid, the feds hauled away ebony fingerboards, alleging they violated Madagascar law. Gibson responded by obtaining the sworn word of the African island’s government that no law had been broken.

In another raid, the feds found materials imported from India, claiming they too moved across the globe in violation of Indian law. Gibson’s response was that the feds had simply misinterpreted Indian law.

Interestingly, one of Gibson’s leading competitors is C.F. Martin & Co. According to C.F. Martin’s catalog, several of their guitars contain “East Indian Rosewood,” which is the exact same wood in at least 10 of Gibson’s guitars. So why were they not also raided and their inventory of foreign wood seized?

Now The Gibson Guitar Raids Make Sense

Shortly after 9/11, [Krystian Zimerman’s] piano was confiscated by customs officials at New York’s JFK airport, who thought the glue smelled funny. They subsequently destroyed the instrument.

Polish pianist stops show with anti-US tirade

Keep your government hands off of my wood.

There is a level of finesse, of concern, the accompanies the movement of things of rarity and beauty, that eludes those charged with protecting us from enemies, real and imagined. Whether they can’t be bothered, or just don’t understand, it ends with the destruction of something that their banal hands would never touch but for their wearing a uniform and badge.

And much like sufferers of Dunning-Kruger, they perform their job with such certainty of omniscience that they have no qualms about the destruction they do. It was absolutely necessary. They had no choice.

It’s heart-breaking to hear of things of rarity, of beauty, of significance being wantonly destroyed by the stupidest person in the room. It goes without saying that the stupidest person in the room never realizes that it’s him.

What’s curious is how easy it is to see when it’s a musical instrument destroyed by a moron, but how difficult it becomes, or at least excusable, when the target of this failure is a human being. Police, prosecutors and judges invariably project their sensibilities on the conduct of people whose lives and experiences are nothing like theirs, and yet they judge them by the measure of their own narrow lives.

No Better Than The Most Ignorant Agent


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Assorted Links 2/7/12

  • Hide From Google – a how-to from WIRED
  • Corporatism Is Not the Free Market – “Young people coming of age in the Internet’s decentralized and wide-open market of ideas and merchandise can’t be expected to show enthusiasm for a system that protects entrenched corporations from the forces of competition. Moreover ‘the legitimacy of corporatism is eroding along with the fiscal health of governments that have relied on it.'”
  • Property and Disputes Over Property – “For over a century England’s judicial system decided land disputes by ordering disputants’ legal representatives to bludgeon one another before an arena of spectating citizens. The victor won the property right for his principal. The vanquished lost his cause and, if he were unlucky, his life. People called these combats trials by battle.”
  • Non-Citizen Voters in Florida – “The non-citizen voters were discovered because they said to be excused from jury service due to their lack of citizenship. The question now is whether this report is symptomatic of a larger problem in Florida, if not elsewhere, or a relatively isolated problem.”
  • I earn my entire living on Craigslist. Ask Me Almost Anything
  • Sister Feng Hands Out Flyers to Seek a Husband in New York
  • Frequent-Flier Tax Traps,” by Laura Sanders, WSJ, February 4, 2012 – “‘The issues surrounding frequent-flier miles are a perfect example of how complex the income-tax law can be concerning everyday transactions for virtually every American,’ says Michael Graetz, a professor at Columbia University Law School and a former top Treasury official.” (emphasis on understatement added)

  • Free Carlos Miller – “It’s easy enough to claim that he was doing something to “obstruct” the police. Any allegation will do, plus they can always jazz it up with some officer safety references and put on the scared police officer face when they tell the judge about their split second decisions and how they do it for the children. But deleting his images can’t be explained. Seize him. Seize the camera. That’s one thing. Deleting the content of the camera takes the officers allegations into an entirely different arena.”
  • Hammer Time Rewind: Depreciation Kills – “In most cases, car buyers get more bang for their buck (power, features, etc.), lower up-front costs, and lower depreciation costs simply by buying a used example of a less well known/accepted car.”
  • Cheap natural gas jumbles energy markets, stirs fears it could inhibit renewables” – “Can an energy source be all that bad if it scares the two most heavily subsidized sectors of the electric power generation industry?”
  • Bacon Butter … and Coffee – “It was good! I’ll still stick to Coconut Oil in my coffee on most days… due to the many benefits of Coconut Oil.”
  • NYC agent arrested in latest TSA theft allegation – “A Transportation Security Administration agent stole $5,000 in cash from a passenger’s jacket as he was going through security at John F. Kennedy International Airport, authorities said Thursday, the latest in a string of thefts that has embarrassed the agency.”
  • Why French Parents Are Superior,” by Pamela Druckerman, WSJ, February 4, 2012 – “The French, I found, seem to have a whole different framework for raising kids. When I asked French parents how they disciplined their children, it took them a few beats just to understand what I meant. ‘Ah, you mean how do we educate them?’ they asked.” Say what you mean and mean what you say.

Creative Commons License photo credit: anokarina

  • Sugar May Be Bad, But Is the Alternative Worse?,” by Brandon Keim, WIRED, February 3, 2012 – “Some studies even suggest that fake sugar may cause the same problems as real sugar. … Another study of 6,184 adult Americans linked diet soda consumption with higher rates of metabolic syndrome, the umbrella term for a physiological disruption that leads to heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.” Most people are best served avoiding anything containing wheat or sugar (see next link).
  • Myocardial infraction – “people who follow the basic advice of the Track Your Plaque program to do such simple things as eliminate wheat, don’t indulge in junk carbohydrates, normalize vitamin D status, supplement omega-3 fatty acids, supplement iodine and correct any thyroid dysfunction . . . well, they have no heart attacks.”
  • Did Early Humans Ride the Waves to Australia?” by Matt Ridley, WSJ, February 4, 2012 – “Everybody is African in origin. Barring a smattering of genes from Neanderthals and other archaic Asian forms, all our ancestors lived in the continent of Africa until 150,000 years ago.”
  • Let’s tickle the ivories,” by David Dubal – “There is an old proverb that goes ‘Play the piano daily and stay sane.’ … Playing the piano teaches one much, especially humility.”
  • Programmer 101: Teach Yourself How to Code
  • Seven ideas for learning how to program – Chad Perrin
  • Congressman Hurt To Discover Lobbyist Not Really His Friend

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