[imgcontainer left] [img:WynnandRalph.jpeg] Pedal steel player Ralph Mooney, left, helped create the Bakersfield sound in country music, with his friend Wynn Stewart. Mooney died Sunday. [/imgcontainer]

Ralph Mooney, a co-author of the Ray Price 1956 hit Crazy Arms, died Sunday at his home in Kennedale, Texas, south of Fort Worth. Mooney was best known as a steel guitar player. Mooney played in Waylon Jennings’s band for two decades. 

“Ralph Mooney was one of the chief architects of the ‘Bakersfield sound,’ ” said Chris Hillman, a founding member of the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers. “Nobody played steel like Ralph….When Ralph took a solo, you knew it was all California.”

Mooney played with Jennings, Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, Wynn Stewart (with Ralph in photo on this page), Marty Stuart, and Wanda Jackson.

•Several state legislatures are considering laws that would require prescriptions for over-the-counter decongestants, such as Sudafed and Co-Advil, as a way of battling the methamphetamine industry. 

The legal drugs contain pseudoephedrine, a crucial ingredient in meth production. And meth production is rampant in some areas, the New York Times reports. In Tennessee, police uncovered 2,100 meth labs last year, a 45% increase over 2009. 

Most of these labs are found in rural areas. 

These laws have failed in Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky and West Virginia, after heavy industry lobbying. Other bills are pending in Alabama, Missouri, Nevada, Tennessee and Oklahoma.

• The general manager of WMMT, the mostly-volunteer public radio station in Whitesburg, Kentucky, says that a cut-off of federal funds would put the station “in danger of having to limit our broadcast to a few hours a day, cutting all public-affairs programming or saying goodbye after 25 years.” 

WMMT isn’t a National Public Radio affiliate. It’s a community station that has 50 on-air volunteers that receives money from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. 

Marcie Crim writes that when diesel fuel spilled in the river running through town, WMMT was the way officials quickly got the word out.

“We don’t air NPR programming,” Crim wrote. “We tell our listeners when their water is poisoned (which happens more often than you can imagine).” 

• The housing industry collapse also cratered the market for plaster and drywall. That meant the end of Empire, Nevada, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Empire is the home of a U.S. Gypsum Corp. plant that made Empire plaster. By 2000, 500 people lived in Empire, most working at the plant. Now the plant is shutting down. 

• It’s the oldest trick on the shelf. When the price of food goes up, the size of the package goes down.

Pasta has shrunk from 16 ounces to 13.25 ounces. Canned vegetables go from 16 ounces to 14. It’s simple. Consumers are more attuned to changes in price than to changes in quantity. 

• Food or clothing? That’s the question farmers are facing as they decide what to plant.

Will it be corn or wheat? Or will it be cotton. The New York Times says cotton is winning, as prices for the fiber have risen. 

“It’s good for the farmer, but from a humanitarian perspective it’s kind of scary,” said Webb Wallace, executive director of the Cotton and Grain Producers of the Lower Rio Grande Valley. “Those people in poor countries that have a hard time affording food, they’re going to be even less able to afford it now.” 

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