conference-pic-e1526767430499-300x208Awww, come on guys, it’s so simple maybe you need a refresher course.  It’s all ball bearings nowadays.  Now you prepare that Fetzer valve with some 3-in-1 oil and some gauze pads, and I’m gonna need ’bout ten quarts of anti-freeze, preferably Prestone“.  — Fletch (film, Chevy Chase)

Have you ever met someone who thinks they know what they’re talking about, yet something in your gut (your BS detector) tells you they don’t really have it all figured out?

Scientists are notorious for this sort of thing.  They throw around a few equations, add a few big words, and we all assume they’ve figured something out.  Cops are as bad as scientists when it comes to acting like they’ve got it all figured out—but more on that later.

There are several scientific fields that can trigger a reasonable person’s BS detectors.  For example, evolutionary psychologists claim that people love golf because the open spaces make humans feel safe.  Hum.  People get paid to come up with this stuff?  How do I get in on this?

Neuroscience has jumped into the pure speculation game, as they now claim that everything is reducable to brain activity.  Hey, you fell in love and finally engaged in that special first kiss?  Well, it really isn’t that special, neurologists will tell you that they’ve found the “first kiss” neurons located in the bottom right corner of the frontal cortex.    Oh, you had a religious experience?  No you didn’t.  In the most condecending tone imaginable, some neurologist will pat you on the head like you’re their pet doggy, and explain that this life changing experience was just temporal lobe epilepsy.

But when you dig deeper into these so-called scientific explanations, they’re really not explanations at all.  They label things, sure enough, much like an engineer can label the data transmissions of your home modem.  But they’re not really telling you anything about what’s really happening.

Recently, I saw a neuroscientist “explain” how they’ve figured out what is going on during a psychedelic experience.  Psychedelic drug research is super interesting, and it utilizes drugs like psilocybin (mushrooms), MDMA (extasy), and DMT/Ayahuasca.

Anyway,  the “breakthrough” discovery is this: all of these drugs react on our brain’s 5-HT2B receptor.  Amazing, right?  That’s an impressive word, 5-HT2B receptor.

But there’s only one problem with this discovery.

Once a psychedelic drug hits the brain’s 5-HT2B receptor—we know absolutely nothing about what happens next.  It’s like some doctor “discovering” that once I drink some water that same water will eventually come out another orface.  Ok.  But what happens in between?  Does the water go to a kidney or two?  Is there any sort of processing?  The only thing we know about the brain’s reaction to psychedelics is that they hit the 5-HT2B receptor.  All knowledge ceases right there.

Still, its impressive to listen to neurologists toss around the term “5-HT2B receptor”.  Just saying this word increases your perceived IQ by several points, but fundamentally, this “discovery” sounds only slightly more credible than Fletch’s explanation of the Fetzer valve.  Continue Reading

Mark-Twain-Quote-e1525719777428-300x270

My DVR at home is packed full of science shows, physics and cosmology in particular.

Science shows have a  predictable format: “Interview a few geniuses who have it all figured out.  Theory XYZ explains that the universe started like this, or gravity works like that, or subatomic particles behave like this, or humans evolved like that.”

Hum.

Does science really have it all figured out?  Here are some gentle reminders that geniuses are not as smart as we think they are:

There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable.” – Albert Einstein, 1932

I think there is a world market for maybe five computers” – Thomas Watson, IBM Chairman, 1943

Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.” – Lord Kelvin, 1895

“... my imagination refuses to see any sort of submarine doing anything but suffocating its crew and floundering at sea.” – HG Wells, 1901

[all of the above, plus the picture, were taken from an excellent lecture by Paul Werbos at the 2018 Science of Consciousness Conference, put on by the Medical School at the University of Arizona]

Maybe we don’t know everything, but are there any major revolutions left for scientists to uncover?

Scientific American author John Horgan wrote an excellent book called “The End of Science“, claiming that we’ve had all the great scientific revolutions we’re going to have.  Science egos have a hard time swallowing Horgan’s position, and he rubs salt into the wound by explaining that science will never solve the really important questions, like  “Where did the universe come from?  How did life begin? How, exactly, does a chuck of meat make a mind?”  Continue Reading

IMG_0476-e1456765765191-300x225True confession.   I “secretly” hope is that you read these articles and say “Hey, John knows all about my situation, I’m going to hire him.”   The opposite is also true: why write an article that would hurt business?  Well, I’m in a generous mood.

Here’s the situation:  Every criminal defense attorney has received the panicked mom call.  My heart goes out to mom’s, they bare the brunt of their children’s shenanigans.  Anyway, the call goes something like this: “My son’s on probation, he’s at school.  His probation officer just called to say he is coming by the house to search our home.  I’ve searched first, and found drugs.  What should I do with these drugs?

Moms being moms, they want to be the good Samaritan and hand over the drugs to the police when they arrive.   Hum.

Bad idea.

That’s what happened in the real life case of Stanton v. State746 So. 2d 1229 (Fla. 3d DCA 1999).  Stanton was a recovering addict, and his former drug dealer gave Stanton some cocaine to get him hooked again.  Nice guy, this dealer, right?  It would be like Marlboro offering free cigarettes for those who have quit.  Chantix users get two free packs while supplies last.

Anyway, Stanton’s old drug dealer was offering free cocaine samples to his recovering ex-junkies.  Pure evil.  And, what is the world coming to that coke dealers are begging recovering addicts to come back like my old cell phone company?  Continue Reading

IMG_4918-e1520960263223-225x300You have to look at criminal charges closely.  Drill down deep.  In a criminal case, don’t get thrown off the scent by taking the arrest report as the Gospel Truth.  It’s not.  An arrest report isn’t even admissible in court.  The important document is called “The Information”.  It’s what the prosecutor files after they’ve reviewed the police report and (supposedly) spoken with the witnesses in the case.  The Information contains what the defendant is charged with, regardless of what the police may have arrested the person for.

Now, this all important document–the “Information”–contains lots of words.  Words have meaning.  That being said, it shouldn’t come as any surprise to you that we lawyers like argue over what things mean.

We’re going to take a close look today at credit card crimes.  Let’s briefly review the evolution of a typical fraudulent use of a credit card arrest.

Our journey often begins with surveillance cameras.  Someone takes a stolen credit card, and uses it at a gas pump.  Guess what?  There’s video cameras everywhere you use a credit card.  No need to dig out CSI Miami spy satellite imaging to solve this case.  A credit card swipe has a time code attached to it, and this is matched up to the store’s surveillance video.  So, how long does it take to get a picture of the “suspect”?  Like, five seconds.  Just rewind the tape.  Continue Reading

IMG_0179-e1519940395141-300x142Some of you “Dear Readers” are locals, so you’ve survived driving I-4.  For those of you visiting Orlando and driving I-4 for the first time, your passengers will be exclaiming “Did you see that?” several times per mile.  Yes, I-4 is the most dangerous road in the United States.  It’s official, Google it.  Unfortunately, I drive the most dangerous road in America at least twice a day.

It should be no surprise that America’s Most Dangerous Highway also contains its most insane drivers.  I try not to get too angry at these folks, as they’re going to need my help defending the three most common reasons for insane driving: (1) drunk driving, (2) reckless driving, or (3) a fleeing charge.   Fleeing and attempting to elude is often the most serious of these three crazy driving scenarios.  Fleeing the cops is never a good idea, as no one can “out run a dispatch radio”.

Many a rap song has advised against fleeing.  Yes, rap music contains wisdom.  I’ve verified this.  When it comes to fleeing charges, Pharrell Williams and Snoop imparted this wisdom upon the masses back in 2004: “when the pigs try to get at you, park it like it’s hot, park it like it’s hot, park it like it’s hot.”  You would think that after repeating this three times, it must be true.  Things that rhyme are more true than those that don’t, right?  If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit.

For those of you who panic and flee the cops, how can you beat the rap? (bad pun, I know)

Today’s real life example of an aggravated fleeing charge comes to us in Canidate v. State, 2018 Fla. App. LEXIS 2268 (Fla. 4th DCA 2018).   To give you an idea of how serious a fleeing and attempting to elude charge really is, Canidate lost his jury trial and was sentenced to five years in prison.  Here’s what happened: Continue Reading

IMG_3136-300x225I hired a “friend” (yes, air quotes) to do my kitchen cabinets a few years ago.  I overpaid for the entire project because it was helping a friend that needed the money.  Unfortunately, I got screwed toward the end of the job.  I could have sued.  It was so bad, I could have pressed criminal charges.   As my significant other will attest, I still harbor anger over this situation.  Yes, forgiveness would help me out some, but when it comes to getting ripped off by someone you thought was your friend, its easier said than done.

There are entire books written on “How To Forgive”, and these books make forgiveness seem like some sort of science.  Just follow the charts and checklists, and you’ll be healed.  But it’s not a science and I’ve never heard a satisfactory explanation as to what happens inside of me when I forgive.    When people say “I need you to forgive ME”, they’re just looking to gain the outward effects of forgiveness.  Let’s say a wife cheats on her husband–and consequently gets the angry cold shoulder forever–the wife’s hope of forgiveness is just that her husband will bring back the love and warmth he once had for his wife.

I get it.  The world would be a better place if we all forgave each other–but how do you do that?  Most importantly, what happens on the inside?

I don’t know.

I didn’t press charges on the contractor “friend” that did my kitchen.  Our real life example case for today involved a similar situation where charges were pressed over a kitchen deal gone bad.  In Leggett v. State, a homeowner hired a carpenter Carl Leggett to remodel her kitchen.  2018 Fla.App.LEXIS 701 (Fla. 3d DCA 2018).  The homeowner gave Leggett a $2,250 check as a deposit to start the work, and they had an agreement that this work was to be completed within 2 weeks.  So far, so good, right? Continue Reading

cardboard_box_love-300x224Do you know how many people died last year in car accidents?  Worldwide, 1.3 million people.

How safe are airplanes, compared to cars?  For the same time period, 324 people died in plane crashes.  Again, 1,300,000 people died in cars (these are 2016 stats, and yes, I know its 2018).

Now, airplanes are interesting because some planes are designed to shoot down other planes and you would think this would drive up the airplane death stats significantly.  This is what makes being a fighter pilot such a tough business.  We all know the stress involved because, after all, who can forget Tom Cruise losing his best friend “Goose” in Top Gun?  That was a true story, wasn’t it?   If not, at least Fargo is a true story, isn’t it?

There are lots of theories on how to win a fighter jet battle like those found in Top Gun.  The most famous book on the subject, Aerial Attack Study, was written by the guru John Boyd.   Boyd’s book said lots of things the military didn’t want to hear: the best pilot doesn’t win the fight.  The best fighter jet doesn’t win the fight.  Contrary to popular military opinion, “perfection” in a dog fight is not the goal.

When Boyd wrote Aerial Attack Study, there were only two fighter jets worth a damn: the Russian Mig and the American F-16.  Have you ever checked the stats of, say, a Porsche 911 versus a Dodge Dart?  The Porsche has more horsepower.  It has a higher top speed.  It is faster 0-60 mph.  Same deal with the Russian Mig fighters: the Mig won in every category.  It had a higher top speed.  It had more firepower.  Better range.

So, why is it that our F-16’s have won every fight with a Mig, ever?

Because our F-16’s change direction faster than a Mig.  That’s all.  Just that one thing.  Agility.  Sure, the Mig was a more “perfect” plane statistically–stronger, faster, blah blah blah.   But, the ability of an F-16 to change direction faster than a Mig made it so that our pilots could outmaneuver the Mig every time.  And that was the crux of Boyd’s advice–build a plane with more agility, and you win.

The lesson here?   You don’t have to be perfect.  But you must be agile.  If you’re not moving in the right direction at first, change directions before your opponent knows what hit them.

Agility wins in business too.  Was YouTube a perfect company when it started in 2005?  Hardly.  YouTube started as a dating site, with the slogan “Tune In, Hook Up.”   And, you know the rest of that story.  Continue Reading

fostex-8-track-e1516227725568-225x300I’ve been recording bands and artists since my high school days, but I sold my recording studio back in 2010.  Recently, I was going through a box of wires (junk) and I stumbled across some old ADAT tapes, and reel to reel tapes.

Now, there’s something you should know about these tapes.  You cannot play them in an ordinary reel t0 reel machine, because these tapes were made especially for use with my old 8-track Fostex recorder.  Same goes for the ADAT tapes.  These tapes are, technically, VCR tapes, but they don’t work in a VCR, they only play on an Alesis ADAT multitrack machine.  I got a little sentimental when I ran across these old band recordings, but I just don’t have the equipment to play these tapes.

These band memories captured on ADAT and Fostex are lost forever.  Maybe forever is slightly dramatic, given the fact that I can pay a ridiculous ransom to some “vintage collector” and maybe, just maybe, these old units will work.  But, you get the point.  Technology has changed so much during my lifetime that I can’t even play the memories I once made.

This whole train of thought came from an interesting article by Robby Berman, Is There Going to Be a Big Hole in History Where the 21st Century Was?   His point is pretty simple.  At some point in the future, your kids will reach “an age when they want to know who their parents were, what they thought, and what they felt.  One day the kids will come across a trunkful of these intimate messages on USB thumb drives, hard drives, or solid-state drives–and have no way to read them.  The same will be true for the thousands of digital childhood photos we’ve been taking, and which they’ll be desperate to see.  Absent a trip to a hardware archivist or local museum, all this silicon might just as well return to its original form–sand–for all the good it will do.  Experts are concerned that this time, now, in the 21st century, may well be the future’s ‘digital dark age,’ with nothing ultimately left behind to tell our story for future generations.” [Berman’s article accessed 1/17/18] Continue Reading

pouch-300x225Big charges make the news.  Defense attorneys love big cases because their egos enjoy coverage on the evening news.  Heck, lawyer egos even enjoy the bought-and- paid-for attention manufactured from incessant TV ads and billboards.  And, if you know nothing about attorneys, please know that they have quite the egos.

The ego stroking options are endless for attorneys, big cases aren’t the only way to go.  When I first started defending criminal accusations back in 1993, all the new lawyers at the public defender’s office bragged endlessly about their jury trials, even to the point of chest pounding the likes of which you haven’t seen since the intro to 2001: A Space Odyssey (One of the best movie intros ever? Certainly makes the Top Ten List).  At my old PD office, when an attorney was about to begin a trial, a loud ego blast (email) would go out office wide, saying something like “picking 6, someone please cover my office conferences”.  No, this attorney never had anything to cover, but at least the whole office knew what a “fighter” he/she was.

A particularly annoying fad of late is the rash of attorneys who write “books”.   I don’t consider these books to be real “books”,  that’s why I’m using air-quotes.  Unfortunately, books are now like a business card, a marketing tool, rather than something that can add value to folks lives.  Call me old fashioned, but I say write a good book or don’t bother.

And, this brings us to an important question someone smarter than I formulated: Am I saying this because I want to sound smarter than everyone or am I saying this because it needs to be said?  Continue Reading

IMG_4561-300x225Storytelling is important.  There are books out there that claim to teach storytelling, but its more of an art than a science, so I’m not super confident much can be learned from a book.  The most common example of this is learning how to swim.  Sure, you can read a book that will “teach” you how to swim–but if you’ve never been in the water–that book knowledge may not be a safe way to go.  I’m just saying.

I owned a record studio for many years, and storytelling can make or break a recording artist.  Much like psychologists who love to study twins separated at birth, we studio geeks love to study the course of the same story told by different singers.  One classic example of this is a song Otis Redding wrote and recorded in 1965, “Respect.”  The song did well on the soul charts, but when Aretha Franklin sang Otis’ song in 1967, she told a different story with the same lyrics.  She made history with this song, really.  Same lyrics as Otis.   Absolutely owned it.  The same effect was not had when Phil Collins covered The Supremes’ classic “You Can’t Hurry Love”.  Diana Ross’ vocals are  classic on that track, and Phil Collins didn’t come close to wrestling ownership away from The Supremes.

Do you think that cops get tired of hearing everyone’s story?

The problem is, everyone thinks they can talk their way out of a criminal charge.  This is America, and even though folks have the right to have an attorney present, not everyone exercises this right.  Yes, this is a bad idea on many levels.  Remember, there is an art to storytelling, and even true stories come out sounding fishy once the police get done misquoting you.  But, every now and then the right story will get a case dismissed.  Sure, I’m spoiling the ending, but it will be an interesting ride. Continue Reading