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:: Recently I joined Foster Parents Plan, and information on my sponsored child arrived in the mail last week. Her name is Welalo, she lives in a village called Lama Tessi, in Togo, and is in third grade primary school. She lives with her sister and mother, in a small brick house with a straw roof.

Her village has no electricity, and her home has no plumbing. In lieu of a washroom, her family must use and open field or public area for their needs. Welalo’s family gets their water from a open well approximately one kilometer from their home. To cook their food, they use an open fire, fueled with wood, and their house is lit with kerosene lamps. Despite the foregoing, the documentation sent to me indicates that the familes in Welalo’s community live a rich cultural life, telling and listening to stories, talking with friends, and listening to the radio.

Needless to say, as I sit in front of my Dell computer, with lights on, drinking cold water from the fridge after eating a satisfying meal of meatloaf with fresh vegetables and bread, reading about how Welalo lives puts my life in a perspective I hadn’t considered before reading about her and her village. I really, really don’t know how good I have it, living in Canada.

:: I mentioned previously that my friend in Winnipeg, Tony, began a blog a couple weeks ago. Tony is in the midst of difficult times, and he is showing great courage in detailing this on his site, something I’m not sure I could do myself. I have avoided writing about Certain Things on this weblog since its inception, issues too painful for me to write about publicly. Tony is choosing to do so, and I applaud him for his effort, as I believe it can’t be the easiest thing to do. However, writing can be cathartic, and whether or not one chooses to do it publicly, shouldn’t change that. I’ll leave it there. When a friend is in pain, one shares that pain with them – I wish him and Claire well, at all times.

:: The Harvard/UNC study on downloading, mentioned earlier, is in the news. One of the authors, Koleman Strumpf, an economics professor at UNC, thought the paper, The Effect of File Sharing on Record Sales: An Empirical Analysis, written with Felix Oberholzer of the Harvard Business School, would be of interest to a handful of academics, and nothing more. Instead, its release, in draft form, has touched off a flurry of responses and uproar, most of it coming from the music industry. The RIAA released a six-page response (which, despite my best searching efforts, I cannot locate on their web site anywhere), saying that “The results are inconsistent with virtually every other study”, and asking “”If illegal downloading is not the cause of the precipitous decline in sales of recordings, what is?” Well, duh. Where does one begin? From

There could be many causes for the decline, Strumpf said. The economy is weaker. More entertainment choices might be drawing consumer dollars. Radio consolidation has reduced variety.

He says the industry’s response amounts to, ” ‘We have 20 studies, they have one.’ If 20 or 100 or 1,000 people say the sun revolves around the earth, it doesn’t make it so.”

Two years ago, Strumpf and Oberholzer-Gee set out to research the matter. Strumpf’s interest was piqued by the Napster trial, where the recording industry alleged copyright violations that led to the demise of the pioneering Web site in 2001. In the testimony, experts argued that music downloads had to be the cause of slumping sales.

Strumpf read the studies they cited. They were horrible, he said.

“I was like, ‘Boy, this is pretty amazing,’ ” said Strumpf, a Philadelphia native. “Nobody has done a serious study.”

Translation: Strumpf and Oberholzer read the industry-sponsored studies, and realized that they were a collective crock of shyte, most likely scientifically unsound. Strumpf also notes that his paper is not complete, and the reason it was released was so that the two researchers could get feedback, which is happening in spades. Of course, one other reason that sales have dropped is that so much of what the Big Labels release these days is CRAP!

:: This small, unassuming blog posting, about a tag with washing instructions in French and English, has generated at least 354 comments, and 86 trackbacks.

4 Responses to “Various”

  1. kelly Says:

    The most interesting thing about Tony’s blog is that I linked through to his daughter’s blog, and read her reaction to it all as well.

    I hope they all pull through okay.

  2. randy Says:

    Thank you, Kelly, the kind words on their behalf is appreciated. They are Good People, I know they will see better days soon. R

  3. randy Says:

    That’s a nice story, LI, thanks for sharing it. I hope the experience something similar, i.e., that my small contribution will help change the life of the my foster child in Togo. I look forward to learning more about her. I hope my experience mirrors yours.

  4. Mike Chau Says:

    Haha I was doing a search for “Bank of Montreal Sucks” becuase I wanted to see who else they suck..and both of our sites came up…haha…

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