Friday, 22 June 2018

Cannibis legalization?

One topic that has been discussed recently is the use of Cannabis Oil in the treatment of epilepsy medically as presently this is illegal within the UK coming under  a blanket ban on all cannabis use that goes back several decades.
Into this it also has been suggested as the "war on drugs" has not been won legalizing cannabis for recreational use has been suggested by one senior Conservative  former minister.
To me, the two areas of debate are not identical because in the first instance, cannabis products for medical usage which is allowed in Canada and some European countries needs to produced in laboratory conditions where strengths and other agents in them have to be disclosed. In other words you need to know exactly what would be prescribed and that decision would be made by say a doctor or specialist rather than the patient themselves.
One problem with recreational use of cannabis is the user has no idea of the strength nor of any other products in with it because it is produced clandestinely and it is far from clear if legalized such production would stop given the illegal infrastructure exists right down to street level distribution.
That means even if one was to put in age checking, requirements to have contents clearly displayed and approved licensed sales sites, there would no guarantee consumer would use them.
The Home Office Minister, Sajid Javid, has permitted two high profile families with sick children to be able to import cannabis oil and have it in effect prescribed while conducting a review into the use of it that is expected to allow prescribing for others in a similar situation.
What  he has ruled out for now at least is a broader legalizing of cannabis for recreational use which to me seems reasonable given the complexities legalizing might entail and the strong arguments about medium to long term impact usage has on mental health not least memory function.
The bigger argument here is for medicinal use under prescription which is not unlike the use say of opiates in severe pain management where again what is grown in secure units has the potential when not for street heroin.  

Friday, 15 June 2018


 (Pix credits:CNN)
While on Tuesday I was frankly much more interested in hearing what Mike Love and Bruce Johnston of the Beach Boys had to say about their collaboration with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the anchorman had to politely caution them they may need to switch at short notice to a news announcement.
The reason for this was after a on-off-on series of behind the scenes diplomatic activity President Trump of the United States of America and his opposite number Kim Jong-un of North Korea the two leaders met in Singapore, South-east Asia which was the first time a serving U.S. President has ever met his North Korean counterpart in over sixty years.
Being of the generation brought up in the "Cold War" we learned and lived with the history of the Korean War of 1950-53,Eisenhower's doctrine of the "Domino Effect" of how one country would fall to "Red China" the whole of the region would get into communist hands which was our moral mission to prevent leading to involvement in Indo-China and Vietnam specifically.
Whatever our reservations may be other how that panned out and the rapprochement with China in recent decades, that left the states of North and South Korea technically at war each backed by China and the U.S. respectively subject to periodic tensions and missile threats apart from leaving families split and gross human rights violations in the North.
Indeed the worrying back drop to this was the frankly childish even for seven year olds playground spat between these two grown men trading insults and threats of mass destruction that scared South Korea and other neighbouring states.
After all this both men (and I'd like to think they had "Grown up") agreed to look at denuclearization of whole Korean peninsula, working on economic reform and development, human rights and a end to hostilities.
While critics can rightly point out there's not much meat on the bones here and may question if giving up rather than suspending training exercises with South Korea temporarily, the preparedness to at least start the process of tidying up the Cold War mess in a way that respects the legitimate concerns of both Korea's and de-esculates tensions I feel has to be seen as a good thing.

Friday, 8 June 2018

The middle way through the abortion debate

I do sometimes talk a little out current affairs even if a career in politics it had to be said did nothing for my mental health and indeed only served to highlight the impact of  intellectual disabilities in coping in very adult situations and lead to age regression  as part of the coping mechanism becoming more prevalent.
One issue that has been much talked about in the media is abortion which is very difficult to get across the Island of Ireland and to which in the Irish Republic (aka Southern Ireland) is illegal under a amendment to the constitutions and prevented by a 1945 Criminal law clause in Northern Ireland except for a tiny exemption.
There is little getting around the fact this is a very emotive issue  that transcends everyday political differences on different sides of the argument and for some is linked to religious centred notions of morality.
For me it's not something that I see as a clear-cut issue because universal statements of principal don't always help in a persons own individual situation where we may be looking at the least damaging outcome as much as I may share a general view where it may be of benefit.
In the general hierarchy of birth control I tend to look on abstinence or the taking of contraceptives as being the primary means of individuals taking control of giving birth, exercising personal responsibility and only having a child when they feel able to meet those needs.
In general I do not believe in abortion being available to act in the place of the use of contraception nor personally do I believe a parent carrying a child born with a disability should be advised as a matter of routine to have an abortion. That's influenced by being disabled and having grown up in the disabled community from childhood covering a wide range of physical, intellectual and learning disabilities and their families.
However to me there are other situations where the physical and  mental well-being of the mother take on an important consideration where they may be unable to look after the child, where having the child especially when born under traumatic situations would lead to a state of distress likely to result in a nervous breakdown where it would seem to me to be unreasonable to oppose a request because the outcome for mother and child if not would be to detriment of both.
Such applications it seems to me need to be considered on their own merits.
That for me is why I understand why some may be generally and genuinely uncomfortable emotionally and ethically with abortion, in the end I come down to permitting in certain situations and why the individual and their situation matters so much that to write an absolute prohibition in a constitution or to have a situation where a woman who has an abortion regardless of circumstance  may receive a longer prison sentence than a person who commits murder is not one I can agree with.
The general principal is very important but the right decision for the individual in their own circumstances matters more in dealing with such matters in fair and compassionate way.

Friday, 1 June 2018


In a week that's been rather warm, drinking a lot and trying to keep cool, in the cooler late afternoons I have been playing some classical music to help relax by.
Last week we talked about the demise of one specialty compact disc and lp label, Audio Fidelity  and as if by co-incidence a disc by one its competitors is here, delayed a little which isn't uncommon.
Perhaps unfairly seen as typifying a nineteen-seventies style over substance trend, Supertramp tended to do albums around concepts, house individuals of some professional musical merit as performers and attract producers who liked to make recordings that had an 'oh wow!' technical feel to them.

Probably the best known studio album is Crime Of The Century which as a lot of hifi worthy production points thanks to producer Ken Scott but another was nineteen seventy-nines Breakfast In America with it's clutch of singles such as 'The Logical Song', 'Goodbye Stranger' and the title track a kind of statement about complacency and corporate values in the States.
 One problem with the albums production is the recording equipment was not that good at capturing quick bursts of high frequencies and it tends to sound over bright on good quality equipment which has lead to a number of attempts to fix that and put the emphasize on  the vocals.
This issue by Illinois based  Mobile Fidelity on Super Audio cd that is also playable on regular cd has managed strike a good balence between keeping in detail and bring out the vocals. A job well tacked by mastering engineer Rob LoVerde who has really pulled it off.
As with all their issues on 5cm disc, this comes in a mini lp form with a gatefold featuring the full album art and inner for the disc which looks and feels great in the hand so I'm mightily pleased with this disc that joins my collection.
It also comes with a full colour insert in one of the two pockets which is a nice touch.
When it comes to compilations while not perfect, 1986's The Autobiography of Supertramp easily found used is the best sounding with a very wide dynamic range taking their recordings to 1985's Brother Where Are You Bound and the Cannonball single.

Friday, 25 May 2018

R.I.P Audio Fidelity cds

On May 18th in answer to much speculation on the Steve Hoffman Audiophile Forum, an open letter from Audio Fidelity's president Marshall Blonstein was published where upon he outlined the closure of his re-issue label Audio Fidelity originally famed for its gold plated discs and lately its hybrid super audio discs.
The company was formed in 2005 from ashes of DCC which he also had an involvement in which ceased operations in 2001 and utilized the services of mastering engineers Steve Hoffman, Kevin Gray and Steven Marsh who owned a mastering facility.
To be honest this didn't surprise me too much as they had not new titles out nor announcements for over a year which is never a good sign especially as members of Mr Hoffman's forums are very much the prime target for the discs, people who are looking for best sounding cds (or records) of certain 'classic' albums.
Another reason was to do with the hit and miss nature of a number of their titles some sounding little better than original cds from the 80's, others having in explicable errors such as clicks or having mysteriously the highest and lowest volume passages reduced which is the opposite a person spending around $29.99 wants.
Moreover even the presentation suffered from poor quality scans from 'borrowed' lps with no posters with the disc itself in a blurry looking templated slipcase which when compared to budget regular cds looked embarrassing and cheap.
Compared to people like Mobile Fidelity who used sharp images on a mini lp form with booklets that you'd feel proud to own and whose work is often to a high standard, they looked poor so it was hardly surprising I bought more Mobile Fidelity titles because I felt confident placing a pre-order.
In truth I feel they were uncompetitive being pitched at the premium cd market who understandably are also interesting in how something looks as its absolute sound quality so while I enjoyed a number I bought such as the Styx, Rush, Phil Collins, EWF and certain Billy Joel titles I don't feel mournful.
They just lack the quality of the DCC discs from 1992-1999 a number of us bought.

Friday, 18 May 2018

Blogging updates

It's looking set to be a warm week so no doubt I'll be out doors for a period while I recover from installing that equipment I mentioned last week which is working out fine.
As explained at one site (and you know who you are) I have been working on simplifying  blogging as some of you will recall there was this blog with its original titles on one account and my littles on one another each connected to a Google Plus account completely stand alone which meant I needed to log in to different accounts to post and edit each.
We all know that's all under the bridge now as you've accepted me as I am and I tend to keep this for more middles or groan up stuff and keep the littles posts on its own blog  although the odd time I may reblog a post if I think it's of some us to those of you who read this blog.
So what may of been necessary in 2009 - the separation of the two - really isn't anymore  so from now on posts on this blog are coming from the littles account done in as seamless a way as possible to avoid having to change web addresses or remake blogs.
This also ties in with my plan to remove one Google Plus account which really isn't used for the littles blog because I use tumblr much more and frankly I see little activity in the circles to warrant it as again what seemed great in 2011 has moved way beyond a distant second to Facebook when it comes to social media being pretty much dead.
It was only really set up for one person because I tended to post littles stuff from the  big Google Plus account most of the time as I had anyone who may of had issues with that in a circle I didn't post that stuff too and as they left me for Facebook, I've deleted that circle anyway.
Indeed thinking back on it the social media I grew up with Friends Reunited, Experience Project, MySpace, Bestuff and Yahoo GeoCities  in the early days of this blog are either gone or withering on the vine.
After all that, expect a musical post next time around!

Friday, 11 May 2018

Sound changes

There's been a few changes in the 'spare room' system recently with finding using a combination of small boxes was awkward  having to hold down one to adjust anything and then find as one wire moved, the other bit moved  too.
It seemed I was needing less wires and a more solid single unit which wasn't appreciably longer so it would fit on same space
The other thing was although it could play loud at times it would sound 'soft' and beyond which it would start sounding harsh because it's power is fairly low.
Enter a used oldie from the 1980's that had a fair bit more power (25 watts per channel RMS), not too long and relatively short height so the overall form factor was still small being well way from the sort with big front panels loaded with features and flashing lights.
The Rotel RA 820B has inputs for a radio (or portable device), a cd player (designed specifically for their higher output) and circuit for  turntable that uses a Moving Magnet cartridge that can just plugged into it.
Outside of that it has full tape recording and monitoring (see later), a button to put anything in mono,  a volume control and headphone socket, that is just it.
On the rear you have the sockets including a grounding tag for turntables and the + and - left and right outputs that you push your loudspeaker leads into although I found I needed too extend mine a little.
I did mention 'tape monitoring' because some cassette (and open reel) decks actual allow you to hear what is coming off the tape you may well be recording so you know it's recording okay.
One thing the switching box couldn't do is just that and that comes into play with the entry of a circa 1991 three headed direct drive cassette deck by Technics of Japan, the Rs Bx 707.
First off on the record side it has a tape tuning system to make the best possible recordings on whatever tape you have rather than relaying whatever it was set to at the factory enabling you to set it yourself.
The record level meters have a wide scale which can switched to the portion that you use most of the time for greater accuracy.
On the playback side it has the monitoring button so when recording you can compare what you are recording with what it sounds off the tape and can use Dolby B or C noise reduction for playback (and record) which was typical of the period. 
I tended to use either B or if the tape was fairly quiet none as sometimes you can hear the noise reduction especially on tapes made on other machines typically as a either a dulling of the sound or sounding as if the noise reduction circuit wasn't quite keeping up with fluctuations in the tone.
The tapes are loaded by a motorized draw and the tape types are set between types I ("Normal"), II (High Bias aka "Chrome") and IV ("Metal") automatically using sensors.
The motor speed is set by a quartz crystal and adjusted in real time and featuring no belts is extremely steady.