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Do you think house prices are too high? We know why

1. Banks created hundreds of billions of pounds and put it into property

In the ten years up  to the start of the financial crisis, house prices tripled. Many people think this is because there were not enough houses around, but that is only part of the picture. A major cause of the rise was that banks have the ability to create money every time they make a loan. During the period in question the amount of money banks created through mortgage lending more than quadrupled! This lending was a major driver of the massive increase in house prices.

house

2. House prices rise faster than wages

House prices rise much faster than wages, which means that houses become less and less affordable. Anyone who didn’t already own a house before the bubble started growing ends up giving up more and more of their salary simply to pay for a place to live. And it’s not just house buyers who are affected: pretty soon rents go up too, including in social housing.

This increase in prices led to a massive increase in the amount of money that first time buyers spent on mortgage repayments. For example, while in 1996 the amount of take home salary that a first time buyer would spend on their mortgage was 17.5%, by 2008 this had risen to 49.3%. In London the figures are even more shocking, rising from 22.2% of take home pay spent on their mortgage in 1997 to 66.6% in 2008.

More info on positivemoney.org

History of piano

The piano
Piano, also called pianoforte, French piano or pianoforte, German Klavier, a keyboard musical instrument having wire strings that sound when struck by felt-covered hammers operated from a keyboard. The standard modern piano contains 88 keys and has a compass of seven full octaves plus a few keys.

“Fantaisie-Impromptu”The vibration of the strings is transmitted to a soundboard by means of a bridge over which the strings are stretched; the soundboard amplifies the sound and affects its tone quality. The hammers that strike the strings are affixed to a mechanism resting on the far ends of the keys; hammer and mechanism compose the “action.” The function of the mechanism is to accelerate the motion of the hammer, catch it as it rebounds from the strings, and hold it in position for the next attack. Modern hammers are covered with felt; earlier, leather was used.

The modern piano has a cast-iron frame capable of withstanding the tremendous tension of the strings; early pianos had wood frames and thus could only be lightly strung. Modern pianos are therefore much louder than were those of the 18th century, an increase in loudness necessitated in part by the size of 19th-century concert halls. Of the three pedals found on most pianos, the damper pedal on the right lifts all the felt dampers above the strings, allowing them all to vibrate freely; the left pedal shifts the keyboard and action sideways to enable the hammer to strike only one of the two or three unison strings of each tenor and treble key (the bass notes are only single-strung); and the middle pedal (generally available on grand pianos but also found on some upright pianos) usually holds up the dampers only of those keys depressed when the pedal is depressed.

Source & more info on britannica.com

Blues Now!

Anybody interested in modern music sooner or later asks the question, “Where did it begin?” Well, if you leave blues guitar music out, you will not have much of an answer. So let us look at where the blues came from, where it went and who it met on the way. We will also take a look at the “blues guitar sound” and how it has its unique effect on our feelings.

The blues as a musical phenomenon began around 1911 when W.C. Handy published popular songs, notably “Memphis Blues” and “St Louis Blues”, which affected the hearts and souls of the black people. By the nineteen twenties the general population were beginning to hear this new music through its influence on jazz. Early blues singers like Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday sang with jazz bands while others played with “jug bands” accompanied by fiddle, kazoo and washboard.

Of course to people like W. C. Handy who were brought up singing in church, the piano was the natural instrumental accompaniment to their songs. But the guitar is portable and always was popular so it had to have a place in blues and jazz. Blues guitar players like twelve string guitarist Leadbelly and future electric guitar player B.B. King were making sure the guitar would be an integral part of the blues. Other blues guitarists made their living in smoky saloons playing slide guitar using a bottle neck or the blade of a knife to fret the notes.

ELVIS - 1957.jpg

After the Second World War young artists like Elvis Presley and Bill Haley were wrapping the blues in a new package called “rock’n’roll” and the players of the electric blues guitar like B.B. King were heralding the arrival of the lead guitar, soon to be a great attraction for both musicians and audiences. Throughout the evolution of the blues the guitar had always taken its turn for solos in jazz bands but now it competed with the singer for the attention of the audience.

Blues guitar can be played in any key that takes your fancy and comes in three basic forms: eight bars, for example “Heartbreak Hotel”, sixteen bars like “Saint James Infirmary” and twelve bars like “St. Louis Blues”. For some reason the twelve bar blues form is way more singer-friendly and popular with audiences than the other two, and it is the basis of many great songs outside the blues idiom.

If you go poking around the internet you will find that the blues scales are just your garden variety major and minor scales except that the third, fifth and seventh notes are played flat. However, you may be astonished to learn that blues players managed for centuries without knowing about European musical theory. They learnt to sing and play from their families and friends just as many of the young white blues players of the nineteen sixties learnt from imitating the artists they heard on records.

And this is where the blues takes another direction. After years of imitating their idols something odd happened to the white blues guitar players in Britain and the USA. They developed their own authentic, original styles. The older blues players even began using the new arrangements of classic songs and adopting some of the unbluesy musical innovations introduced by young white guitarists like Eric Clapton. So the beat goes on. A foreign culture influences American popular music and in turn gets fresh input from a new generation of guitar players from all over the world.

Solar Energy Systems For Pools

If you have a pool, you know how much heating it can crank up your utility bill. Solar energy systems for pools offer an alternative method that will not devastate your bank account.

When most people think of solar energy systems, they think of the large crystalline structures that are meant to collect a lot of solar energy in order to convert it into solar power. However, there are other uses for solar energy systems. One of the more ingenious uses for this technology is the use of solar energy systems for heating pools. By using solar power to heat your swimming pool, you can be sure that your morning swim will always be nice, comfortable and cheap.

pool

Everyone has to heat their pool unless they are living in a tropical climate where the temperature doesn’t drop at night. Some people choose to purchase a pool cover, but these only work to limit heat loss versus actually heating up the water. Gas heaters work well, but the operating cost of a gas heater can really add up. A low initial cost can draw pool owners to gas heaters, but the charges over the life of the use of the pool can be appalling.

Using solar energy systems for heating pools, however, can solve all of the problems of the above methods. Usually, solar energy systems are installed on the roof of your house, where much sunlight hits. These solar energy systems collect heat, which is transmitted to water stored in hoses behind the solar collectors. This warms the water, which is then circulated through the pool. This method of heating a swimming pool does cost more initially than any other heating system, but the solar collectors and other accessories pay for themselves within a few years. If you plan to live in the home for some time, the cost will be a fraction of any other heating method. If you plan to sell the house in the near future, the solar energy systems will add to the value of the house since they are considered energy savers over time.

The use of solar energy systems for heating pools is a time tested strategy. If you live in an area where lots of homes have pools, you should take a walk around the neighborhood. You will notice lots of homes with pools have solar energy systems. The only downside to this approach is the government does not offer any financial incentives for heating your pool with solar. Given the utility savings, it really doesn’t matter. It is still a no brainer to use solar energy systems for heating pools.

Solar energy systems are a great choice for heating your swimming pool. As well as being the most cost effective heating system, solar energy systems are the most eco-friendly as well. Choosing solar energy for your swimming pool heating means that everyone wins!

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