Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I'm An Artist Too (41)

As today is the eve of All Saints Day, aka All Hallow's Eve, aka Halloween, I present to you a witch.

Monday, October 29, 2007

I'm Not A Lawyer, But...

Apparently there is still a lot of confusion about defence attorneys. I will attempt to clear that up for you now.
  • A defence lawyer does not need to believe in the innocence of his client.
  • A defence lawyer's role is not to defend the actions of his client.
The role of the defence attorney is to:
  • defend the constitutional rights of his client thus ensuring his client gets a fair trial.
This is important. Without defence lawyers the government could push people around at whim. There would be nothing preventing police from barging into your house and going through your stuff. Even with a constitution, there needs to be people defending it. Most average citizens wouldn't be able to do this. I wonder how many Canadians know we even have a constitution?

Imagine the police just walked into your house tomorrow and found a smoking gun and arrested you for murder. What would you do? If you're the average person, you probably don't know the law in detail enough to raise the proper objections with constitutional basis. After arresting you, the police would likely interrogate you. You would likely talk. Most people do. Even if you've never seen that gun before. I think that most people don't know that in Canada you have the right to remain silent. But you do. It's in the constitution.

You can joke about defence attorney's all you like. I know I like to. But when it's your son that's arrested, suddenly a defence attorney is your best friend.

So, on what basis can I clear up misconceptions on defence attorneys? Why should you listen to me? I'm not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV. What are my credentials?

That's easy. I used to be an avid fan of Law&Order. I own the first two seasons on DVD! So there!

Oh yeah, and I took a bunch of law classes in university, but I'm not sure if that counts for anything.

Friday, October 19, 2007

That's An Expensive Suit

The RIAA won it's first case against a song downloader. A single mother of two downloaded 24 songs, and possibly uploaded them using Kazaa. The RIAA was seeking over 3 million in damages. But they were awarded $222 000. For 24 songs? Come on! That's over $9 000 per song. How can that be?

Again, I think it's wrong to not steal from the RIAA. The RIAA is a group of large music companies like Warner, Universal, BMG Sony, etc.

I use the term "steal" loosely. It isn't really stealing. It's copyright infringement. There's a huge difference. Either way I say stick it to the man!

I don't understand the RIAA. Instead of adjusting to new technology trends and times they whine and cry that their cheese has been moved. Good companies understand they have to keep up with the times. Not just keep up, but adjust and change.

Instead, the RIAA sues. Suing is never a good business plan. Especially when big companies sue private individuals. It's usually better to accept the change and ask "How can we make money from this?"

How could they have made money from this? Seems impossible doesn't it? People are sharing music with each other. Record companies can't regulate it. No one can. So they throw their collective hands up in the air, call their lawyers, and sue their customers.

Apple, on the other hand, asked "How can we make money from this?" They realized people were tired of paying $15 for a CD when they only want one song. They knew that if they made single songs available for download, and if the download price was cheap, and the if the download and payment process was easy then they'd have a hit.

The iTunes Music Store (iTMS) does all of those things. You create an account using your credit card number. When you visit the store in iTunes you search for a song and click "Buy". The song downloads to your computer, and a 99 cent charge shows up on your credit card. It's so easy. And it's a hit. The iTMS isn't hurting for business.

A problem with the law suits is that they alienate fans and potential customers. Perhaps 15 years ago it was very hard for people to find new music. It was probably hard to find indie bands. I don't know how I would have done it. But times have changed. It's so easy now! So you can still boycott the RIAA and still find and buy new music.

To find new music:
  1. download iTunes (for free)

  2. Install iTunes

  3. Run iTunes

  4. In the left-menu bar click "iTunes Store"

  5. On the left, in the store, there's list of things in the iTunes store including "Music", "Music Videos", "Audiobooks", etc. Click "Podcasts".

  6. Search for podcasts to your heart's content. When you find one, click "Subscribe".

  7. iTunes will automatically downloaded the podcasts to your computer. Then you listen when it's convenient.
You can also subscribe to podcasts without using iTunes. I'm not sure how though. I'm sure you could Google it.

Podcasts aren't just for music, by the way. You can also get university lectures, sermons, cartoons, news, or learn a new language! All for free! You will only need to give your credit card number if you want to buy songs. You don't need to use your credit card if all you want to do is download podcasts.

But if you're looking for indie music, I highly recommend the CBC Radio 3 podcast. It plays Canadian Indie music of many genres.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Monday, October 15, 2007

Different Ways To Learn

Sometimes I wonder if there's any real such thing as intelligence or is it just our imagination?

Some of you may have witnessed someone with a "learning disability" have great difficulty in school. Eventually they take some psychological tests and they're told they have a "learning disability." Along with that, they're usually told how they have to learn. For some, they need to draw what they're learning. Some need to explain what they're learning to someone else. Or they need something else. When they find that something else, they're fine and can do quite well in school.

I have witnessed many examples of people who, by our public "education" system aren't very smart, and have low chance of success. But they found that they learn differently. Once they found out how they need to learn, and put their new learning techniques into practice, they become much more successful, and by our public "education" systems' standards, smart.

After seeing enough cases I have to wonder if there's any such thing as absolute intelligence, but rather different kinds of intelligences, and different learning styles. If you think you're stupid and incompetent you're probably not. You just haven't figured out how you learn. If you know someone who appears stupid and incompetent, they may well not be. They might have yet to learn how they learn.

You may have noticed I put "learning disability" in quotes. "Learning disability" implies that they're disabled; ie: unable to do something. I'd rather call it "learning differentability." They just learn in a different way than what the public "education" system thinks everyone should learn. You'll also noticed I put "education" in quotes. But that's for another post.

At this point you may think I have confused intelligence with school smarts. Right now the best measure of intelligence we have is the IQ test. IQ tests were originally developed to predict academic success in children. If you've taken enough IQ tests then you know they're just testing you in a small set of skills. You can improve upon those skills. Sometimes you see a problem solving question that you already know the answer to so you don't need to use any mental horsepower to solve it. This artificially boosts your test score. The more you practice those types of problems, the better you are at solving them. But your mental horsepower hasn't necessarily changed.

So IQ tests don't actually test your inherent mental horsepower, but your ability to solve certain types of problems. They're meant to predict academic success in a given teaching/learning model. However, it is noteworthy that many people with learning differentabilities have exceedingly high IQs. But I have no actual statistics to back that up. Just the availability heuristic.

Anyway, my point/theory is that there are multiple types of intelligences/learning models, not just one as generally imagined by the mass populace.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Men Are From Earth, Women Are From Earth

Are men and women similar?

According to pop psychology, yes, totally different!

According to real psychology, yes, but not that different.

When perusing the shelves at the local book store one would think that men and women come from completely different planets. (Mars and Venus specifically.)

One of the first things you learn when studying the science of psychology is that men and women are much more the same than different. You'll notice when reading articles that talk about the differences that they say things like "Women are more likely to...." or "Men tend to...." but they rarely give hard data or numbers to back that up. Are they 50% more likely to? 20%? 90% 0.1%? That's important.

Today's article substantiates that with some science. Only in the following three areas do men and women significantly differ: sexual attitudes, aggression, and motor performance.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Monday, October 08, 2007

My Dose Is All Stupped Up

When you talk with old people, the conversation inevitably turns to their ailments.

I am getting older. I will now talk to you about my ailments.

When I was a kid getting a cold meant nothing more than having the sniffles. I think I got my first sore throat when I moved away to college when I was 18.

Now that I'm older I find that colds take more of a toll on me. It starts with more than usual sneezing followed by unexplainable fatigue followed by a pre-sore throat sore throat followed by a sore throat followed by the nasal congestion.

Right now I seem to be passed the sore throat stage, but I haven't experienced congestion though. As much as I don't like congestion I find it encouraging. It means the immune system is doing it's job.

You may wonder why I am blogging about this. I think the answer explains why old people discuss their ailments. When you're not feeling like you're at 100% health, whatever's bothering you is always on your mind.

UPDATE: I am now getting over the congestion. Yay! Cold almost gone!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Hurry Up and Slow Down!

A couple of years ago I was having coffee with a social worker or two and someone went speeding by at a ridiculous speed. I wondered aloud if the number of traffic violations could be cut down significantly if they gave insanely high fines? My friends assured me that harsher sentences never work. This was a bit of news to me. I knew capital punishment doesn't work as a deterrent. But to say 'harsher sentences never work?' I was open to the idea.

That idea didn't surprise me for crimes that come from the depravity of man, such as murder, rape, theft, drugs, etc. But traffic violations? A few years ago in Nova Scotia they passed a law whereby if caught speeding, even 10 km/h over the limit, you would loose your license for a week, plus a fine. For the last summer I was home in Nova Scotia I knew that I could not afford to be without a license for a week. I might be able to pay a fine, but not loss of licence. So I slowed down.

Now something similar is happening in Ontario. As of last Sunday, according to today's article, if caught going over the limit by 50 km/h or more, you could face a week without a license, an impounded car, and a $2000 fine without right of appeal.

So it will be interesting to see if this actually works. Will people slow down? Will fatalities be reduced? Where's the laws against tail-gating? Will the new law stand up to any constitutional challenge?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

I'm An Artist Too (37)

I wondered what a 3-legged woman would look like. Here she is again saying "I think I grew an extra foot last night."

Monday, October 01, 2007

What Are You Running For?

I would like to cheer on everyone who ran in the CIBC Run For The Cure that took place this weekend.

I hope you will cheer me on this week as I participate in the Run For The Bus all this week. And next. And the week after. And so forth.