Sunday, June 21, 2009

Obama testing the left's faith

The moment that Obama topped Bush in the God-mentioning sweepstakes, cyber-liberals have been attacking the Christian Right like never before. Or, at least, like before. Actually, it's kind of hard to top before, when it comes to faith-bashing.

Why are they doing this? Substitution. They can't bear coming down too hard on Obama, so they go back to their traditional target. Which is stupid, because we Dems hold the power now, and what's going to be the effect of our demonizing any portion of the not-in-power right? Isn't this one of those measures destined to backfire? The kind of measures preferred by my side, it sometimes seems.

Every day, we Dems strive to live up to our "How do we screw things up today?" image.

Anyway, there isn't much to say about this trend, being that it's nothing more than a faith-bad/democracy-good game that rivals the men-bad/women-good movement of the Nineties for sheer brainlessness. Too many on the left seem incapable of facing up to any of our own faults, especially any on Obama's part. Maybe, during our eight years in exile, we got to thinking too much like victims. And a victim, in the language of pop culture, is someone who can do no wrong, by definition.

So, when faced with evidence that we can do, and do do, plenty of wrong, we're forced to scapegoat the usual suspects. Anymore, we have a single usual suspect called the Religious Right. The more we dump on our foes, the angrier they'll get. Something to ponder, I think.

Anyway, Obama's religious. Live with it. He'd be so even if he didn't feel compelled to dispel the not-born-in-America, is-a-Muslim rumors. (In fact, one of Google's standard search lines is "Obama is a Muslim terrorist"! Far out.)

Lee says, let's face up to our faults and get on with the business of worshiping celebrities and snoring loudly while the health insurance lobby owns Congress (step aside, NRA). My personal favorite form of liberal disconnect consists of praising the very same "liberal" media that worked so hard against Gore and Kerry and which now bitches loudly about the aftermath of eight years of Bush. Choose your own form of denial. Personalized denial is the best kind.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Care and feeding of 78s, Part Three, by Peter Grendysa (1984)


Peter Grendysa (Goldmine 96, 3/30/1984)

Whether you have one 78 or 10,000, whether you've been collecting other speeds for six months or sixteen years, you can never forget that a 78rpm is different. Just getting your new find home or receiving an unbroken mail order purchase is a major accomplishment. You deserve a short time to relax and enjoy the sight of this fine shiny black example of American engineering. Before you slap it on your turntable and crank it out, take a moment to get it ready.

The first thing to do is put away all those fancy-schmancy fluids you've been buying to goop up your LP's and 45's. You don't know what is in them, anyway, and if your vinyl plastic records dissolve into freeform objets d'art in twenty years all you can do is write a nasty letter to the manufacturer, if they're still around.

78rpm records are allergic to alcohol in any form or concentration. For them, the Volstead Act was never repealed. Disc-washing fluids contain alcohol to help in cleaning and to dry the surface rapidly. They also contain surfactants which is an expensive word for detergents. Detergents go after everything not nailed down, surround it in a bubble, and let you rinse it all away. This is a good thing to combat dust and gump in the grooves, and surfactants make water "wetter" to get it down into the grooves. You don't need a lot of surfactant to do the job, and the bubbles or foam you see are no measure of how well it is cleaning. Some of the best surfactants don't get a "head" on them at all. And, you definitely do not need or want the alcohol. (Well, at least not on the records).

Alcohol will attack your 78’s and dissolve them. On the other hand, dust particles in the grooves can be extra destructive on a 78 because of the brittleness of the material. How do you clean a 78? Simply stated, you wash it just as you would a dinner plate. Start with a clean sink, fill it with lukewarm water and add a few drops, no more, of a non-lotion dishwashing detergent. Get yourself one of those very soft complexion brushes sold in cosmetic departments, roll up your sleeves and get ready to do some sud-bustin'.

Dunk the entire record in your detergent solution for a few seconds, making certain the entire surface on both sides gets wet. Wipe the surface in the direction of the grooves with your complexion brush or your hand to loosen the dirt in the grooves, and then rinse immediately in lukewarm running water until all traces of detergent are gone. Don't worry about label color fade or lifting. The record won't be in the water long enough to do any damage. The majority of 78's have heavily-varnished labels quite impervious to water. If you leave the record soak too long, you might get some puckering of the label, but even this will disappear when it dries.

To dry the record, wipe it with a soft, lint-free cloth. Most dish towels that have been through the washing machine a few times are lint-free. Old diapers are good, too, as they are quite soft and lintless. Let the record air-dry 15 minutes or so, then put it in a paper sleeve. Chances are the sleeve that came with the record has as much junk on the inside as the record had on the surface, so a new jacket is recommended. If the original sleeve is one of those art-deco beauties or printed with the label name and lists of other records, save it. They're not making those anymore, either. If it's plain brown or green, you might as well throw it away because you can't clean it.

You should, at this point, give some thought to the jackets or sleeves you are going to use to house your 78's. That means you should think about plasticizers. If it wasn't for these crazy chemicals, plastic would be as rigid as a board. When you add plasticizers to plastic, you make it flexible. The bad thing about plasticizers is that they don't stay put, they migrate. The good thing about plasticizers in your 45's and LP's is this migration. Consider this: everytime you use a cleaning fluid or alcohol on those records, you remove some of the plasticizers from the surface. Within 45 minutes, more plasticizers from inside the plastic have migrated to the surface to replace those lost. That's why it's a good idea not to play a record just after you've cleaned it.

Most 78rpm records made of shellac and beeswax, etc. do not contain plasticizers. But many plastic sleeves do. (There are exceptions, such as mylar.) Putting a plastic sleeve on a 78rpm record is an invitation for plasticizers to migrate to the surface of the record, where they will soften the shellac over a period of time. Furthermore, everytime you slide the record out of the plastic sleeve, you generate a static charge, which is exactly what you don't want, as every mote of dust in the house will make a beeline for your record. Some plastics are made "anti-static" to avoid this well-known propensity. But the common method of rendering plastic "anti-static" is to add surfactants to the compound. You don't need this against your record, either. In the medical and aerospace industries, "anti-static" plastic bags are just one small part of a complete handling system that includes ionized air flow, grounded work surfaces, and grounded people. If you have all this in your record room, congratulations, static is not a problem for you.

If you don't worry about static-attracted dust in your environment for your 45's and LP's, chances are it won't be a problem for your 78's. You still want to keep plastic away from the surface of the record. Use a paper sleeve for your 78rpm records. The heavy green "stock" sleeves favored by record shops in the past were chosen not for any magical protective properties. They simply lasted longer under heavy handling and re-use. When you bought a record, it was taken out of the stock jacket and put into a plain paper one for you. The stock jacket was used again and again.

Collectors should consider the higher cost of the green stock
jacket and the extra space it requires on your shelves. The plain paper sleeves will do very nicely for most of us. Neither one is going to protect your 78 from breakage.

Sometimes, on a clear, silent evening you can sit in your record room and listen to the 78's cracking on your shelves. Or, so it seems. A record that has been given reasonable care and stored properly over the years will sometimes, for no apparent reason, develop a hairline crack all by itself. Second to receiving a most-wanted mint 78 in pieces through the mail, this is the most depressing occurrence. Some of this is caused by stresses built into the record during the manufacturing process those long years ago. Often you will find several copies of the same record with hairline cracks in the same place. One thing you can do to avoid this is to keep the 78's in a place that does not have extremes of temperature - whether too hot or too cold. For most of us, that means keeping them where we live - not in the garage or attic, but living room or bedroom. If your spouse or friend has already resigned her- or himself to you spending large sums of money on noisy old low-fi and fragile records, they won't mind sleeping in the same room with them.

The second thing you can do is shelve the records with strong dividers spaced every ten records or so to keep them from leaning on each other. Never store them flat, always upright.

(Originally appeared in Goldmine #96, 3/30/84. Posted here by kind permission of the author.)