Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Is music still for sale?


"...the products of artists may no longer be a saleable item."

Regardless of your taste in music, your favourite genre can probably be traced back decades ago, to times of starving musicians, in small studios, recording on primitive equipment. Distribution of the music was by radio, or even if fortunate enough, to be seen live in small venues.

Nearly without exception, one can listen to these old recordings and be in awe of the talent, and groundbreaking changes that were being made in music. There were no shortages of artists, or floods of awful sounding musicians and performers. These musicians were often less than affluent, and shared their music out of the pure passion of the arts.

Today we have superstars worth millions and millions of dollars. Production company executives living in mansions and enjoy a life of lavish extremes. Not for a moment would I suggest that these artists, producers or executives are contributing less to the art of music, and equally, will be look back at decades later as innovators and geniuses.

So what has changed from the early years of music to present? It is obvious that the amount of income that a superstar (and associates) is a whole different world now. The direction the music industry travelled, with sales of physical recordings, huge distribution channels, royalties, fundamentally changed the income model for musical performers.

But now, there has been another market fundamental change. The internet, the ease of the public to access recordings, and bypassing all of the middle income gathers. Music Piracy. As per a previous blog post, I think this is yet another case that we are attempting to fit an old business model into a new medium that simply does not fit.

To reiterate, the music industry was healthy and booming and innovative in the early 1900’s .. and the market set a value to these performers.. Even with incomes similar to other professions outside of the industry. With the new world of the internet, the market is speaking once again, not willing or wanting to pay for physical recordings, nor paying licence fees, or royalties. We can try to legislate to the market to continue this ridiculous income levels for the performers, distributors and production. I suggest let the market sort this all out. Maybe an artist will settle back to where their true value is, not a starving homeless soul, but live a comfortable life off of live performances, endorsements etc.

Videos, recordings etc, the market has clearly determined are mere commercial advertising opportunities to gain recognition, and fame. Although as incredible it may be to imagine, the product of artists may no longer be a saleable item. Music will continue to exist, as it did before every executive was driving a Porsche or Jaguar. I don’t expect that the artists that shaped today’s music so many years ago drove Lamborghinis and wore millions of dollars worth of jewellery. But the music is here, and will never stop.

A painful but very real market correction is in the works, and police, a judge with a gavel, lawyers cannot stop it.

Friday, January 20, 2012

[SOPA] New Mexico: Females are strictly forbidden to appear unshaven in public.


"...a product or service blindly thrown to the pack of wolves on the internet" 

In California it is legal to drive the wrong way down a one-way street if you have a lantern attached to the front of your automobile, and in Glendale Arizona, cars may not be driven in reverse.

Our law books are filled with statutes that at one time or another were quite relevant and served appropriate service. We look back at these, and (as I did as I researched this blog) and can enjoy a good chuckle, and they now look ridiculous as we compare them to how the world looks in modern times. Lawmakers have no crystal ball when enacting new laws; they can only base these on what is here and now. As mechanics, technology, culture evolves, often times these laws become obsolete. As cars replaced horse drawn carriages, laws that required hitching posts in front of business, needed to be replaced with car traffic laws.

Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is faced with similar challenges. As I read debates on the for and agaist of SOPA, I chose not to comment on either side, but I did come to the conclusion that we are trying to enforce hitching post laws, in a world of automobiles. Piracy, Trademark, Intellectual Property, Counterfeit laws have all been designed, and written when there was no vehicle for the world population, at a click, to share information. The internet has (obviously) evolved into a world marketplace that to some, is impossible to police.

I will not cry uncle, and say that because it is difficult to eliminate the evils of market abuse we don't need to make an effort to curb illegal activities. But I do suggest that it is now time to revisit all of the laws relating to Piracy with the new world market the internet as a core to the new laws. The debate on enforcing laws that are now unenforceable, and possibly irrelevant will never cease, as long as we continue to drive a square peg (the existing laws) into a round hole (the internet).

Clean slate, new technical innovations, new methods of revenue generation for those that have rights to property need to be the primary drivers. Business and property ownership, is a self correcting market, even in the case that lawmakers chose to continue attempting to police antiquated laws, the market, after suffering a loss, will find ways (technically or otherwise) to counter this loss. This relative “short term” pain of piracy, IP theft, Copy write infringement etc will be countered, just by the pure nature of the free market system. But a helping hand of legislators, scripting laws that are current and enforceable might speed the natural market correction just a bit.

I have received a number of comments on my articles, expressing that it is hard to see my point. For what it is worth, I prefer that my readers determine their own point, and extrapolate on the oversimplification of thoughts I provide. However, in respect to these requests, my point in this is simply summarized to the fact that in order to address the issues under the SOPA efforts, is to embrace the new world of the internet, and rethink what new laws should exist, and what can the market do to protect their assets on their own. Acknowledging that a product or service blindly thrown to the pack of wolves on the internet WILL be taken without remuneration is an unfortunate fact. Maybe the market (without lawmakers) will be forced to develop a way to protect themselves.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Cant' get there from here!

"...vague goal like “be happy” or “be rich” or wishy washy objectives."

It seems obvious as you are assigned as navigator; map unfolded giving forewarning of upcoming exits to the driver. The map in front of you is a mess of intersecting lines, but with a keen eye on the destination, the peripheral lines, not marked with a highlighter are unimportant peripheral clutter, as you focus on the road you are travelling and which exit is next to get you nearer to your destination.

I wonder what age; a person becomes capable of reading and interpreting a map, and how to target a destination, and more importantly not to follow roads that take you in the wrong direction. But I am confident in my belief by the time we become adults; this is a natural and easy task.
What seems to be impossibly difficult at times, as adults, is managing the endless number of decisions we need to make in our personal and professional lives... so many choices, so many options, so many ramifications of our every decision. Decisions that will take us off in many different directions, decisions that affect other decisions. A daily, even hourly, exercise that every human must endure.

Let’s go back to navigating now, the map on your lap, a driver anxiously awaiting notification on what is the next exit, what highway should we be on. But, this time, you are not fortunate to have a highlighted trip marked out, and even worse.. no destination identified. Now the map is a large unfolded confusing mess of lines, colors, numbers, and pictures.

I think you see where I am going with this (even without a map)

In order to make correct decisions in our lives, we need a destination. Not a vague goal like “be happy” or “be rich” or wishy washy objectives. We need to make specific, tangible destinations. Something that every decision (EVERY), can be help up against the destination. As we reach crossroads (nice play on words there I must say), the decisions are crystal clear when we pause to say “Will this get me closer to my goal”. If not, then it is not the right decision. Major or minor work and personal decisions can be held up to destinations that you have defined for each.

Driving down the highway, and taking an exit that leads you to something interesting, may result in a meandering country side drive that takes you far away from your planned destination.. And could even possibly take you to a point that getting to your destination is impractical, so you offhandedly select a new goal, then another, then another as you drive endlessly in circles around the continent. Never reaching the well thought out and desired outcome of your trip.

These side roads are tempting, and often appealing for the short term, but can lead to failure in the big picture. Personal decisions are easy to send us off to travel in endless circles. 
Unfolding your personal or professional map, be very specific, measurable when placing a mark on it, circling it and committing to that is where you end up. Then as you encounter traffic circles, off ramps, crossroads, detours the choices are very simple and uncluttered and all of the other roads on the map are just indeed unimportant peripheral clutter.

“Will this [insert choice of decision here] bring me closer to my goal?”.. repeat, repeat, repeat.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Shaken Baby Syndrome - I feel ill !!!

"I cannot see anything, that will ultimately be used as a defence and freeing child abusers from prosecution, that is so counter to common sense. I deeply saddened by this." 

No teaser titles of this blog... I am sickened, and seeing red on an interview I only moments ago heard with the producer of a news documentary for “The Fifth Estate”.. airing tonight, the one hour documentary entitled “Diagnosis Murder” is covering the topic of Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS).

Although I am unsure of the motivation that CBC found to produce this documentary, it appears that its roots are in a recent court case in British Columbia of a couple falsely accused of abusing their child as a result of SBS:

"Diagnosis Murder" tells the story of several Canadian parents who say they were wrongfully accused--and the leading-edge medical researchers who believe they're telling the truth. The stakes are high: Some have gone to jail. All have had their other children taken away from them.
One couple recently had their children returned after a four-year battle. Even though the courts in B.C. cleared Zabeth and Paul Baynes of charges they had shaken their baby, the couple feel they will carry the stigma for life. Another man in Ontario has now had his case put up for judicial review, giving him hope that his name may too be cleared.”

What made me physically feel ill as I listened to this interview with Gillian Findlay (CBC) is that the Documentary appears less to follow the tribunals of a false accused couple, but the recent scientific research stating in simple terms SBS is a myth.

ARE YOU KIDDING!!?? These scientists suggest that brain haemorrhages, retinal bleeds in these infants is a result of per-existing conditions, or viruses, or even more ridiculous, inexplicably spontaneous. In partnership with these publicly funded basement dwellers, a team of bio-mechanical engineers invite college football players in to shake the life out of crash test dummy infants, and seem unable to cause damage to the dummy. They claim that if truly a baby is shaken to death, ribs would be broken, and contusions would litter the body. So an adult victim of a life ending head injury in a vehicle crash actually died of a pre-existing condition. Because no ribs were broken as their head went through a windshield.. Cause of death was a result of a virus.

I try, as I blog to remain objective, and believe I give a certain degree of respect to those opinions I may not agree with... But I am sorry, in this case I cannot. We have lost complete grasp on common sense in this case. As a result that they are unable to reproduce the signs and symptoms and fatalities in a lab, courts are giving validity to child abusers, and precedents are being set that as our scientists fight to prove that shaking an infant ferociously for minutes on end does not cause them harm.

"Dr Squier’s main concern is the challenges to the science that have come from biomechanics and pathology. In 1987 a Pennsylvania study that was undertaken to validate the SBS theory suggested that in fact it was virtually impossible for a person to exert the level of force needed to sustain the triad of injuries."

Typically I would not cast such an outcry of disgust until I do research (in this case watch tonight’s airing of the documentary). BUT, regardless of any defence that the researchers make on their efforts to prove this is a myth, any lab results will be forever impossible for me to believe that this violence against defenceless infants is harmless.

I cannot see anything, that will ultimately be used as a defence and freeing child abusers from prosecution, that is so counter to common sense. I deeply saddened by this.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

I am going to jump off a bridge!!!

“Recent poll states that 96.72% of Canadians want to jump off a bridge”

Far too often, It happens, sitting down for supper the phone rings, and occasionally, you drop your knife and fork and answer it.

“Good Evening, this is Joe Bothersome calling from Interruptus Polling Group and would you mind responding to a question that we are surveying people in your area”... 
“Sure” your reply, looking at your Sheppard’s Pie cooling on your dinner table. 
Joe continues, “Thank you, we have only one question. If you were asked to jump of a bridge, would you?”... 
Your obvious response would be “Not a chance”.. End of survey and you head back to your room temperature meal.

Several days later, mid evening, as you scroll through your television channels, looking for something to break the boredom, again the phone rings. Aha... maybe someone to talk to, to socialize with, and to catch up on the local gossip.  
You are greeted with a pleasant friendly voice “Good Evening, my name is Mary Nicety-Nice; I hope that I have not interrupted you, but we are calling a few people in your neighbourhood with a quick question, do you have time to answer?”  
Keen to respond to this pleasant person, you agree to chat. Mary explains “We are wondering if you were fortunate enough to be on vacation in Cuba, and along with the many beautiful places you visit, you have the opportunity to swim with the dolphins in the clear warm ocean, would you enjoy that?” 
Excited at the premise, your respond “Damn right I would!!”. 
Mary continues, “so you would have no problem stepping off a small walking bridge into the water to join the dolphins?”.  
Your response is an obvious one. “Of course not”.  Unfortunately your pleasant banter with Mary is over and you return back to your channel surfing.

Next morning you read the headlines in the paper. “Recent poll states that 96.72% of Canadians want to jump off a bridge”

I know that this is an exaggerated example, but this is reality as it relates to public opinion polls. Pollsters are obviously much shrewder in the manner they design and deliver polls. But our newspapers are full of results that are almost certainly skewed to present certain point of view. With a little research, it is interesting to understand who has commissioned the poll. And more interesting yet, to look at the specific methods and order of questions being asked.

A simple question alone (the core question within the survey), can lead to a specific response, but also more discreetly, when the primary question is placed within the series of questions. Preliminary questions can soften you up and poise you to respond in a particular favour. Even the method of delivering the poll can falsely represent what the true outcome would be. I leave you to consider, if the time of day, a friendly voice, an abrupt pollster, a written questionnaire, or even an automated “select a number on your phone keypad” would change your responses to questions. The anonymity of a written or automated survey may create a heightened sense of anonymity, verses, having to respond to a friendly chatty pollster.

Why does this matter? We are constantly faced with very complicated social and political issues, and these issues, are frequently provided with public opinion polls as supporting arguments, or combating this issues. We don’t always take the time to personally research and study all of the aspects of these issues, so it is human nature to follow the mob. If 80% of my fellow community members agree with a policy.. it is easier to go with the flow and support it as well.

But blindly following the results of polls may also have you standing at the edge of a bridge, and it is a long, long way down to the water below – and no friendly dolphins to swim with.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Information Highway - a single lane country road

"...I will leave you to consider what less socially acceptable or even criminal deviancies that can be re-enforced..."

Counterintuitive - not sure why I enjoy any opportunity to dig into life’s situations that seem to defy logic.  If you have had opportunity to brows my other articles in my blog you may note that there is an underlining theme of facing reality versus perception.

If one were to reflect on life before access to the vastness of the World Wide Web, we were influenced and developed our beliefs and were influenced by our social and family circles, and the more conservative television entertainment and news reporting. It would seem logical that in the “olden days” with such narrow influence of thoughts, we might find ourselves narrow minded, and to the extreme, radical in beliefs.

But, with the expanse of the Information Highway (there is an antiquated phrase)... all of these narrow minded, bias beliefs are gone right? A few Google searches and you are instantly educated on all sides of an area of interest. So we are all now more accepting and tolerant as we can easily see the other side of any story.  The high speed access to millions of opinions means we no long are handcuffed to local interest groups, and community radicals. We are all better people, as we can sit comfortable and read, watch, and listen to a broad diversity of logic and understanding.


There is a nifty little concept that has long existed, that is only exacerbated by the presence of the web. Confirmation Bias. This condition, in the simplest of terms, refers to the natural tendency of people to seek out information that confirms their beliefs, making them stronger, while at the same time, minimizing or discarding facts that are counter to their beliefs. This understanding of what makes us tick, has been around as long as we have.. but pre internet, finding resources to deepen our beliefs was more difficult so the bias was less prevalent.  I would speculate that the bias was more along the lines of religion, ethnicity, and male female equality. I expect these Biases are easily found and nourished within specific communities and relatively small geographies.

Now we open the flood gates of very specific bias or radical behaviour, if one were to Google the harmless issue “Anti-Fracking” in .34 seconds about 3,550,000 results resulting sites are returned for your perusal. This instant confirmation that in such numbers in the world, appears to validate ones belief, and only makes the belief much more entrenched. I will leave you to consider what less socially acceptable or even criminal deviancies that can be re-enforced in a person with these tendencies. Years ago, deviant behaviour and acceptance was less readily available, confirmation that these might be limited to a handful of people. Now, it would appear, there are thousands, even millions that support these behaviours... therefore.. it must be ok, and extremists continue to grow more extreme with this Confirmation Bias.

It seems logical to think that now we have so much information literally at our fingertips, we are all growing smarter and more acceptant and less bias to others opinions, whereas the reality, all of this information is only making us all that much more narrow minded... counterintuitive I say! 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

...there are way fewer crazy people in the world !!

"I am now challenged with learning, how does this happen? How can someone so bright believe in something so completely illogical?" 

When I began this blogging thing several weeks ago, I suppose it was yet another opportunity to simply listen to myself talk. To provide a venue for me to rant or more accurately, enjoy the luxury of taking very complex issues and applying an oversimplified view of them. I have been chastised on several occasions for doing exactly that – oversimplifying, but in my defence... to get right down to the finer points on every topic would be a full time job slaving away at my keyboard. HOWEVER, I was very excited to have a chat with a loyal reader, and she could see clearly what I was trying to achieve.  A catalyst for thought, teeing up the topic (so to speak), so my readers can on their own take the simplistic analysis I have provided and apply more complex scenarios to them. I have done this exercise, and I am pleased to have the simple framework of ideas stand up quite nicely when applied to more complex scenarios.

OK enough navel gazing.

Much better than expected, I have grown to have a good number of readers, and even better still, have been approached in person more than once, to hear first hand, a reaction to my posts. Although I confess, I have lived under the assumption that I am too old and stuck in my opinion to fundamentally change my thoughts on people. I am quick to judge (good or bad), and am very sceptical of those impassioned with their own special interest beliefs.

Fanatics on any issue, I painted with a broad brush, I firmly believed that those among us that blindly hang onto groundless, hypocritical, non-factual beliefs were obviously intellectually challenged, lacking the ability to see that these commitments to a cause and socially inept.

I was wrong, very wrong. My blogs have become a point of debate (in person) several times over the last weeks. Nothing gets the blood pumping like a good debate, but I was learning, and listening more than usual. Blind faith in a topic is an amazing thing to observe. Hearing the passion and unwavering commitment to a topic, regardless if the fact supports it, is an incredible human observation.

In a back and forth conversation with a very well education professional person several days ago in regards to Hydro Fracking, with absolute conviction in their words, they compared the people involved in this gas exploration to Nazis, and more specifically Hitler. I was slack jawed of course, but it was life changing fore to me to hear such insane comments from an otherwise brilliant person.

I have observed this intense loyalty to issues in conversation with other “normal” people and paid less attention to the content of their discussion, and focused on the phenomenon of blind belief.

How does an educated, worldly, responsible adult, get brainwashed or find logic defying thoughts so permanently and deeply engrained in their grey matter? I am stumped. It was easier to read these fanatics, and hear the propaganda when I assumed the originators to all of these were weak minded gullible orators. I am now challenged with learning, how does this happen? How can someone so bright believe in something so completely illogical?

Now life is much harder, knowing now that there are way fewer crazy people in the world.