Saturday, May 04, 2019

By any metric... treason

Okay we'll start with a member of the "deep state" 

“No collusion’? I managed Russia operations at the CIA. Read between the lines.”An expert shows how hard it is to press spy cases in a country that demands total proof to convict… 

...though all our intel/FB/military officers can see what’s monstrous. To shrug aside such warnings you must swallow the “deep state” incantation – that nearly all the men and women who defended us from Hitler, Stalin and bin Laden are now, suddenly – more than 100,000 of them – are united in conspiracy against dearly beloved Rupert Murdoch and Vladimir Putin. While reading, remember who the writer was, how he served. This article forces your RASR to choose.

Oh, a side note: He cites the infamous American traitors and Soviet agents Bloch and Hanssen. Unmentioned is Aldrich Ames and the Walkers and several other Soviet spies who did us terrible harm, during the Cold War. What NEVER gets mentioned is a stone cold fact: all of them were republicans. For 70 years the USSR communist party tried to suborn the American left, and it paid off once, with Klaus Fuchs. But from the 50s onward, it was a complete failure. Effectively, the American left was of no use to Russian spymasters. So? In the 1990s they dropped all Marxist cant and symbols, switched to mafia-oligarchy, and suddenly every method that had failed in suborning the American left worked gangbusters on the U.S. right.  Ponder that.

Then ponder how the "deep state" enemies of the Putin-Fox-Mercer-GOP good guys also includes nearly everyone in the FBI and intel agencies and most of the senior and middle U.S. military officer corps, as well an nearly all scientists, teachers, journalists, diplomats, law professionals, civil servants... essentially ten million American - the smartest ones - are all united against...


== Treason at all levels and in all ways, down the line. ==

 “Trump once again requests deep cuts in U.S. science spending.”  Note: Fully HALF of all economic growth across the last 70 years was rooted in government stimulated R&D.  

Speaking of government supported “research…” Jessikka Aro, an investigative journalist in Finland, some years ago uncovered an unusual company in St. Petersburg, the Internet Research Agency, now known as the top Russian online troll factory. After she reported her findings on the Finnish broadcasting company YLE, she was mercilessly attacked by the same Russian trolls.  And the Trump administration has rescinded an award she was due to receive.

But it goes deeper. The War on Science isn’t just about climate change, or Trump’s slashing of the federally supported R&D that boosted half our wealth. The “deep state” treason incantation aims to suppress the millions of men and women who stand in the way of a return to feudal oligarchy, but there are also a million smaller cuts, described by Michael Lewis in his book, “The Fifth Risk:”

"In The Fifth Risk (the risk posed by incompetent government leaders), Lewis turns his attention to government data collection, including weather information and the census (which, as we rapidly approach the 2020 decennial census, also lacks a permanent director).

“Smart government scientists and techs have been mining this data to protect Americans. But Lewis reports (as have others), a lot of government data is now disappearing from government websites, data on climate change at the EPA, on animal abuse at the Department of Agriculture, on violent crime at the Department of Justice. "Under each act of data suppression," Lewis writes, "usually lay a narrow commercial motive: a gun lobbyist, a coal company, a poultry company.""review by Brian Naylor.

In order to get away with this, the confederate cabal must rile up tens of millions of dullard ingrates to resent all the nerds who at-least partly understand this new world… and alas, this includes not just the men and women who saved us from Hitler and Stalin and bin Laden, but those who ended plagues like polio and smallpox, got us to the moon and Mars and designed safe-cheap-luxurious cars than can last half a million miles. And who might, perhaps, if listened-to, yet save the world.

The Greatest Generation - who ‘made America great’ - respected expertise. They knew the danger posed by aristocrats and cheater-lords. Too bad a majority of their children are such saps.

== Why so much cowardice? ==

The View' co-host Joy Behar says Lindsey Graham 'needs to find his testicularity,'” implying he needs to finally gird himself to help against Trumpism.

This is truly unfair. 

True, but unfair, since the only conceivable explanation for Lindsey Graham's behavior... and that of countless DC residents like "retired" justice Anthony Kennedy... is blackmail

The blackmailer counts on the victim's sense of isolation and loneliness. After Jeff Bezos defied a blackmail attempt, I had hoped that some others would step up - out of patriotism, and knowing that the first few to do so will be seen as heroes - beginning an avalanche that could take out the world's most evil men. Alas, we'll have to wait. 

These guys need to realize that someday it all will leak... all of it. Some other guy in town will reap the rewards - forgiveness and adulation - for breaking this criminal ring. Their only way out is to bite the bullet and use the one weapon at their disposal. The Truth.

== There’s method to the monster ==

Breitbart published an interview with President Donald Trump on Wednesday in which he suggested that his supporters in the military and police would rally to his side in a way that would be “very bad, very bad” if things get “to a certain point.”

There is more to this than just hateful threat and dystopian bluster. Trump knows that traditionally conservative military and police officers are fleeing the Republican Party in droves… along with every other fact or accountability profession. When this stream becomes a river, the GOP will be finished, because the saner and more decent half of U.S. conservatives will turn away from Fox-Putinist treason-propaganda and this phase of the Civil War will end in a rout.

One thing could save them… if idiotic FAR-lefties poison the waters, hurling contempt at men and women who share more values in common with us (love of facts and a healthy nation and saving the planet) than disagreements (over crewcuts and responsible gun ownership.) 

THAT is what Trump’s hateful message aims at. Egging Democrats to reflexively reject crewcut refugees from the confederate madness, making our tent narrower, at the very moment when we need it to be broad. To save the nation and the world.

And it gets specific, in the open. “Rep. Steve King posts meme warning that red states have ‘8 trillion bullets’ in event of civil war.” Um, hey Steve. Just how long does that advantage last, when you've made it be all about smart people vs. Idiocracy?

== Short takes ==

Are tech billionaires less-bad? At least they create value.

Libertarians have long pointed at Houston as a major city without zoning laws or land use regulations. And while I deem myself to be one kind (Smithian) of libertarian and speak (impudently & provocatively) at some of their events events, and yes, I do believe government can cloy and over-reach, I hold the heretical view – supported by 6000 years - that venality is a worse enemy. 

So? See what’s happening to Houston is a series of explosions and fires rock the area. 

Oh!  My life partner made this graphic in case Elizabeth Warren runs on a ticket with Kamala Harris!  And the WH stands for White House?  Arr, Arr? 

Pirate Party running mates? Or maybe First mates? Wen Is? Wen His?

== Miscellany ==

Trump’s travel to Mar-a-Lago alone probably cost taxpayers more than $64 million.   An honorable billionaire would reimburse us.  (Or even pay for the damn Wall and then bill us when it 'works.')  But then, someone honorable would not rake in hundreds of millions in coerced overpriced bookings by foreign governments for empty suites at his hotels. And honorable Republicans would shun a liar who promised he’d work hard for them and “never golf like Obama.” (He golfs 4x as much and spends half of every day at the White House in “Executive Time, shouting at the TV. Look up the $50,000 VR golf room he set up, in the White House!)  

But then the issue isn’t Trump or even McConnell; your mad neighbors know they’re monsters and all the rest, too. They hug the TV shouting “Give me anecdotes about bad liberals! Please! More anecdotes‼”

An achilles heel for your Trump supporter. He can rail against Cohen and Sessions and Omarosa and all the rest. But Trump has been "betrayed" by more trusted factotums and "great guys!" than all of the history of 19th, 20th and 21st Century presidents, combined. 

Whatever the merits/demerits in each case, it proves that he is an terrible judge of character.  Take home lesson: Even if you like him, at least admit Trump hires only the worst people.

== Final note about the oligarchs ==

Oh, you oligarchs who think you can escape sharing our fate, in your bolt-hole ranchos in Patagonia, consider (1) climate change is hitting all these places, hard; (2) how do you guarantee the post apocalypse loyalty of your guards? (3) Is it wise to enrage all the middle class egghead who know virology, genetics, cyber and nuclear science? And (4) You seriously think we don’t know where every one of your Holnist bolt holes is located?

BTW, I have answers for all four. But it'll cost ya.


=========================
=========================================================  Lagniappe! ========
     
 == Culture can nail it ==

Our comment community here at Contrary Brin is one of the oldest and smartest on the Web. Here’s a cogent contribution from A. F. Rey:
“I heard a song the other day driving home from work. Christopher Cross' "I'm Too Old for This" from his 2011 album Doctor Faith. The tune is so-so, but the lyrics caught my attention.”

The willful ignorance across the nation
The screaming yahoos that rage on every station
It makes me crazy and I'm too old for this

Folks in this country used to strive to be better
Work to be smarter so they could understand
Now we idolize the clueless and the mean
It's hip to be stupid, just wear the right brand
I sound like a geezer but it's a disgrace
Try to discuss it and they get all in your face
It's raining morons and I'm too old for this

Too old to see the lack of compassion
Too old to watch it go out of fashion...

Too old to watch the men we elected
Sit on their hands when it's change we expected
So hard to keep the bigotry out of my head
So hard not to wish some people dead
I got to keep a hold on myself

Don't want this anger; I got to stay clear
Too much to do before I get out of here
I still believe in peace but I'm too old for this


Full lyrics 
here.  And the music here.



Let me add that we can no longer judge a song by its “tune.” 

Back in the 20th Century I predicted – and so did Spider & Jeanne Robinson in their Hugo-winning story “Melancholy Elephants” – that the rapacious rate at which we were getting great new melodies across the 60s through 80s would taper off, as all the useful, compelling melodies get used up. 

Alas, though long delayed, it clearly happened at least a decade ago. There are terrific musicians nowadays! They should be proud, not ashamed of doing wonderful variations on earlier melodic themes, or experimenting with rhythm and or aggressive poetics. But when was the last time you heard a truly original melody?

94 comments:

Jon S. said...

"But when was the last time you heard a truly original melody?"

Twenty One Pilots - Lane Boy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywvRgGAd2XI

Jim's Big Ego - the Ballad of Barry Allen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLWLAxzu4fU

Poor Man's Poison - Providence https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AD0zPCP6jn8

Tim H. said...

I think this is topical:
https://www.vox.com/2019/1/1/18139787/rome-decline-america-edward-watts-mortal-republic

What I think we have in common is people who are willing to violate societal norms to "Win".
BTW, thanks for "Too Old For This", it made my evening.

yana said...


David Brin thought:

"In order to get away with this, the confederate cabal must rile up tens of millions of dullard ingrates to resent all the nerds who at-least partly understand this new world"

Good point, but the dogmatic whistle from the redfederate side is that those damn libs have been dumbing down American education for so long, that the MSI song has come true: "You'll Rebel To Anything". They'll blame the libtards for manufacturing snowflake dullards by the tens of millions, everyone gets a trophy, yet with despicable cynicism, they're sibilant with glee to cultivate particular dullards into synagogue shoo-tuppers.

"These guys need to realize that someday it all will leak... all of it."

Because data wants to be free. In the framing of network topology, a new concept of humanity could be nascent: corporeal corks, bobbing on a sea of data. And it all runs on ethernet, which is now terribly inefficient and scarily insecure, but that's a different screed. It's all going to leak, and the next step will be drips and drabs about who inexplicably owns a 14th floor in Knightsbridge or a tidy half-block in Central Park West.

I am totally with you on the real estate "prove it or lose it" idea. But it's gotta be run by local political structures, the people who have that info right in their hands: who pays property taxes on each and every piece of land? If Delaware, South Dakota and Nevada want the benefit of their style of incorporation laws, then they also have the responsibility to respond to records requests from other US states in a very timely manner. Don't make me quote Spiderman here.

NYC, London, LA, SF and Shanghai. The Kleptocrat Bank. 4 of 5 have a local gov't which could start the ownership discovery process next week. Then what happens? The flight of illicit "capital" to Chicago, Dallas, Berlin, Singapore and Mumbai. You're right, a wave of abandoned properties 'condemned' and re-sold would flood large cities with public wealth. But it does nothing for the broader population, no oligarchs are stashing money in midsized cities. Yet.

"Rep. Steve King posts meme warning that red states have"

Speaking of dullards, weren't we? Half of any redfederate cache, in go time, would be spent "purifying" their own "homeland"s landscape, putting them at an immediate par, slug for slug, with new unionists who control all the western and most of the eastern ports. That threat is a non-start on both sides, because not everyone is as dull as a Congressman.

yana said...


David Brin thought:

"the rapacious rate at which we were getting great new melodies across the 60s through 80s would taper off, as all the useful, compelling melodies get used up ... it clearly happened at least a decade ago... They should be proud, not ashamed of doing wonderful variations"

Not sure i can concur with ya. There was once a website which listed the mathematically possible number of melodies on various scales: pentatonic, tri-tonic, and our familiar octaves. But, and it's a big butt, these were assumed frequency progressions in order, essentially a 1-dimensional vector in measured steps. Time is not a dimension, but using it makes melody a 2D beast.

Not yet, but soon, some musician will record three notes on an instrument. The first two notes will be released immediately, but the third note will be stored, encrypted, only to be unencrypted after a century. In 2122, the suspense will be killing us, all of human society will go bonkers in the good way, hoopla and pundits waiting in the wings. Before the Third Note is released, the entire catalog of that musician will garner a few billion listens.

An extreme example perhaps, but injecting time into melodic progressions turns the potential pool into an ocean.

Larry Hart said...

yana:

... the third note will be stored, encrypted, only to be unencrypted after a century. In 2122, the suspense will be killing us, all of human society will go bonkers in the good way, hoopla and pundits waiting in the wings


Hmmmmm. Sounds like a recipe for a version of "Al Capone's Vaults" to me.

Jack said...

Thanks for the link to "I'm Too Old for This" and, yes, I am.

Anonymous said...

As long as we're offering musical suggestions, I've always liked "Early Days of a Better Nation":

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aHa8gQVjVJw

Larry Hart said...

http://www.stonekettle.com/

OMG!

I can't describe Jim Wright's (Stonekettle Station) latest posting of May 4. You've got to read it for yourself. Except for one small sentence or so about the Liberals, it's not even on a topic we've been discussing here lately. Very personal.

And I hope to God it's not a suicide note.


You wonder why so many veterans have trouble coming home?

You wonder why veterans drink, do drugs, fall apart?

You wonder why veterans kill themselves?

Do you?

Maybe it’s because you’re not listening.

Mike Will said...

Since the advent of the Internet - more recently compounded by blogging - everyone can be a published voice. Any cowardly, anonymous anger-monger can have an audience of thousands. That doesn't make them a journalist any more than my throwing an onion and a few carrots into a pot of boiling water makes me Julia Child.
- Lynda Resnick

Jon S. said...

Jim's not suicidal - he's pissed. And he understands why so many vets, especially Iraq and Afghanistan vets, are suicidal. (Or, like my roommate, are suffering from crippling survivor's guilt - it's not that he wants to kill himself, it's that he wonders why he got to come home and his buddies didn't.)

Slim Moldie said...

David,

In regard to your argument that "all the useful, compelling melodies get used up."

I believe anyone who can play you a Lydian dominant augmented scale would say, no! But for a simple explanation I would direct you to this: https://youtu.be/If2Bli0rZcA

It's kind of like TED talk with two professional musicians spending 30 min (with examples of actual songs and progressions to contextualize what amounts to a rebuttal of your " all the melodies are gone" argument.


At one point they make an analogy of kids and broccoli.
Kids don't like broccoli. But, if you keep making them eat broccoli they will develop a taste for it. The popular music industry does not give you any broccoli.



Anonymous said...

What is your source for the "fact" that Ames was Republican?
He is quoted here saying he was progressive/liberal
https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/coldwar/interviews/episode-21/aldrich1.html

He is listed here as democrat
https://www.nndb.com/people/459/000045324/

regards,

- some lurker

Larry Hart said...

@Jon S,

I wasn't being judgmental. And it wasn't so much that I thought that was a suicide note as that I recognized the possibility that it might be. That if he were to be signalling a suicide attempt, that's what it would look like.

I didn't want us going, "How did we miss those signs?" later on.

David Brin said...

There's a simple melody originality test.

The test. If you step into an elevator and hear an orchestral MUZAK version of the melody, and yet it is instantly recognizable as a horrible but clear version of the song.

Sorry Jon S but your examples fail it.; they are fun, though, thanks!

-- some lurker... thanks for those links. I will amend mention of Ames, though note these were self-justifying statements post-facto. The sources I got this from (remembered) were intel guys who had no stake.

David Brin said...

The Providence song I think might pass the Muzak test. But it sounds ...familiar.

Jon S. said...

You don't believe that a Muzak version of "Lane Boy" would be instantly recognizable? How about "Car Radio" or "Heavydirtysoul"? (And frankly, Jim's Big Ego is very nearly Muzak as it is, at least with that opening...)

Poor Man's Poison does a sort of - what to call it? Prog rockabilly? It's an evolution of both the rockabilly riffs of Cherry Poppin' Daddies and the steampunk sensibilities of The Cog Is Dead. I quite enjoy it.

David Brin said...

Jon, when I get the machine from Kiln People I will dedicate several high quality dittos to getting tutored about recent music by you.

Ah, look up an under appreciated band - the Naughty Sweeties. esp. Who wiped my Black Cadillac and "Ultimate Shades."

Slim Moldie said...

RE The Muzak test

NOOOOOOO! Facepalm. Getting a little dopamine kick because you recognize Song X being played by a synthetic chamber group doesn't make it a great melody. It just demonstrates that you can recognize something being actively destroyed.

Your prediction HAS come true but it's not as simple as n! variations of a melody.

The music you were listening to before the age of three when you are open to learning new languages likely plays a big part in what you like. And then, think about the variety of that to which you were exposed. And even as popular music has continued to simplify you still grew up listening to all kinds of hip (jazz) chord changes, time changes and songs that were painstakingly worked out by artists who mostly had to be able to play and perform their music live in order to get a recording contract. The popular music industry doesn't work that way any more.

Those of us who grew up in the 60s or 70s heard all kinds or different chord progressions every day on mainstream radio. But now if all you listen to is popular music you are consuming the musical equivalent of processed fast food engineered to be addictive, And if all you hear are I/IV/V chord progressions in 4/4 time you are not going to want to listen to more sophisticated melodies happening over different progressions. Pink Floyd's "Money" isn't getting made today because it is some crazy shit and would scare people away.

Take the instantly recognizable intro intro to Boston's "More Than A Feeling" which is played over D5 to Dsus4 back to D then to C add9 then to a G/B to a G. One of the reasons it kicks ass is because Tom Scholz probably sat in his basement and worked it out over a period of days or weeks. He's not just playing the D to C to G with Brad Delp rapping in auto tune about how he woke up this morning. Delp is actually singing chord tones that have been worked through to perfection because he probably sat in the same room listening to Sholtz play that riff a few hundred times until they worked it out.

You can still make great melodies based on a D to C to G. A song writer just needs to have the time to add all the other things going on you see notated above next to the D C and G (implying it's in D Mixolydian mode) that you don't understand if you're not a musician. Spoiler alert. There is more to music than the Diatonic scale.

Lacking the time to be creative, then yes, it's a self fulfilling prophecy that all the good melodies have been taken, so just go with a good D C to G and wait to be sued by somebody's estate.




David Brin said...

Um, enjoyed the rant! But you seem under the impression that I insist that original melody is the only way to esteem a song. But by that standard, EVERY blues song is a total failure, since they use the same, identical melodic pattern, with smal variations in tempo-rhythm, every time! Yet, I love it! The instrumental riffs always toy with my brain and the mid-phrase departures are often delightful.

Still, melody is melody and the songs that surprise me, on that count, get rarer and rarer.

locumranch said...


Why this attempt to whitewash & rehabilitate Marxism? It was a silly idea then & it's a silly idea now.

"He cites the infamous American traitors and Soviet agents Bloch and Hanssen (and claims that) all of them were republicans".

https://www.atomicheritage.org/history/rosenberg-trial

Except for Julius & Ethel Rosenberg, plus extended family, who were all scientists, intellectuals, commie marxist idealists & infamous Soviet spies, who went by the code-name 'LIBERAL' until their subsequent trial & execution.

"For 70 years the USSR communist party tried to suborn the American left, and it paid off once, with Klaus Fuchs".

False (see above).

"But from the 50s onward, it was a complete failure".

Following the execution of Julius & Ethel Rosenberg in 1953.

"Effectively, the American left was of no use to Russian spymasters".

False (see above).

"So? In the 1990s, they (the Russian Spymasters) dropped all Marxist cant and symbols, switched to mafia-oligarchy..."

Possibly due to the failure of Marxism & the complete collapse of the Soviet Union (circa 1991), maybe?

"Then ponder how the "deep state" enemies of the Putin-Fox-Mercer-GOP good guys also includes nearly everyone in the FBI and intel agencies and most of the senior and middle U.S. military officer corps, as well an nearly all scientists, teachers, journalists, diplomats, law professionals, civil servants... essentially ten million American - the smartest ones"

You mean, elite educators, intellectuals & scientists dedicated to treason like Julius & Ethel Rosenberg, or are you invoking the sainted memory of dedicated civil servants like J. Edgar Hoover, unelected FBI director-for-life, deep state operative, blackmailer extraordinaire, notorious tyrant, racist, segregationist & transvestite?

I still await refutation for my 'consensus politics, majority rule & democracy ALWAYS ends badly for the minority' assertion, only to have our evasive host identify as a member of a minority group that has been "less repressed in all democracies than in any and all despotisms".

This is an equivocation, of course, this false distinction he makes between democratic mob rule & despotism (when both are equally despotic) and this false equivalence he makes between the extremely LIMITED constitutional democracy format (which may protect aristocratic & minority rights) & actual majority rule democracy of the Jacksonian, Weimar, Marxist & Mob varieties (which does not).

Smart people can sure be incredibly stupid sometimes:

(1) They always have & always will represent a statistical minority in the Enlightened West;

(2) They demand unconditional trust from the less enlightened majority despite a history of elitist disloyalties; and

(3) They feel entitled to leadership dominance despite a history of self-righteous nincompoopery.

That said, it takes a special kind of fool to imagine that one can let slip the hate-filled (majority rule; populist; marxist) dogma of war against one & only one minority, whilst simultaneously keeping all the other chosen minorities safe & protected.


Best

David Brin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Slim Moldie said...

"EVERY blues song is a total failure, since they use the same, identical melodic pattern, with small variations in tempo-rhythm, every time! Yet, I love it!"

You get it then. Those small variations are BIG. When you're listening to music it's like being at a party. And if you're like me, you're going to be wanting to talk to the most interesting person in the room.

So the narrower you confine yourself to a music genera like blues, it's kind of a boring party on the one hand because everybody is dressed the same and there's an element of predictability--which gives you pleasure-- in hearing the pattern you think you are about to hear transpire. AND then you also get a kick when something unpredictable happens that you didn't predict...which is why really good blues music doesn't age. Like you said, it's the little details and small variations. You also may think it's the same chords but it isn't. In the key of G, blues is I/IV/V G/C/D but you can play a G9/B or a G7 or a C9 or a D augmented you might add notes out of different scales to create dissonances. And they are playing live with each other, not to a click track, so the tempo is dynamic and fluctuating.

The other thing I should have added to my rant was singers. If you like Bob Dylan, Neil Young or Willie Nelson, think about why you like them. Imagine you don't speak English. Would you still like them? What are they doing musically. Would they have ever become singers if they'd grown up in a culture where being a singer meant you could win American Idol?

David Brin said...

blah blah lies and more blah de blah blah.

Screeching "Rosenbergs!" doesn't change the fact that your cult sieg heils to Putin and his ENTIRE oligarchy was raised as Marxist conspirators. All of them. Every single one. Funny coincidence how every single one of them had an epiphany to be our best pals! Or besties with our own oligarchs & confederate.

The final rant against ALL of the twenty million or so US teachers, journalists, diplomats, civil servants, intel/FBI/military officers and so on... especially scientists... is stark jibbering insane. Your creepy-loony scenario depends upon all of us conniving together to oppress you, yet keeping that conspiracy secret, when it doesn't benefit our world, future, children, ambitions or goals one iota.. Twenty million or so. Riiiiight.

Natch, you never consider how easy it is for your 20 THOUSAND CEO-mogul-feudal-mafia-casino +Russian Oligarch masters to connive to steal the world, a pattern seen relentlessly across 6000 years. (There are NO historical examples of the 'oppression by smartypants' that you describe.)

I only bother answering you so the other guys can see how to answer such utterly stupid, mind-boggling mania.

You are a brown-nosing servant of plantation lords. Kibble.

David Brin said...

Slim, why is it that when non-yanks sing rock songs they sound more American? Projection. Yanks on London tube can be heard 3 cars away.

Mike Will said...

Herbie Hancock's Cantaloupe Island, with minimal melody, had several covers over the years (US3's Cantaloop was a hit). They were slight variations with ever-crazier syncopation. To mangle Imhotep: Melody is only the beginning. Ah trumpet - the sound of the 20th century.


It's like melody is digital computing and rhythm is quantum computing.
Music will truly blossom once the pesky, pedantic hominids are gone.

Jerry Emanuelson said...

I used to supervise a TV and FM transmitter site. When the old-style FM transmit antenna was added to the television tower, there wasn't quite enough room on the tower for the bottom FM antenna bay, so the RCA antenna division basically just sawed off the bottom antenna bay. Although it worked, it caused a number of strange problems. One of these was that a significant fraction of the nearly 100 KW of power was radiated straight up. Most FM broadcast transmit antennas are deliberately made to transmit nearly all of their energy horizontally.

From about 1970 to 1990, this station played MUZAK-like music nearly all day and all night, and the atmosphere is quite transparent to vertical radiation at FM broadcast band frequencies. So much of the local region of the galaxy, between 30 and 50 light-years away, is now receiving bursts of several minutes of elevator music on precisely 24 hour intervals on 95.1 MHz.

If there are any technologically-advanced creatures within that rather large volume of space, I've always wondered if they've ever figured out the mystery of the strange, but very regular, bursts of elevator music coming from this odd little stellar system of ours.

David Brin said...

Heh MW indeed! JE, cool story, though alas (or providentially) even straight up incoherent beams spread out and dissipate within a quarter of a light year.

Jon S. said...

I would never "screech 'Rosenbergs!'", mostly because when I think of that name I usually think of Jon Rosenberg, of "Scenes From a Multiverse" fame. A randomly-selected sample:

http://amultiverse.com/comic/2015/09/14/the-evaluations/

Slim, you can be forgiven for thinking only one kind of music is being made these days if you only listen to radio (or rather, what's left of radio). You have to be willing to step beyond that in the modern era - I was introduced to Twenty One Pilots by my son, who became fascinated with them after hearing another kid playing "Stressed Out" on the schoolbus. JT Music came into my awareness while I was looking for a YouTube video on how to accomplish a particular mission in Fallout 4 and found the video for "Welcome To My Apocalypse", which then led me into nerdcore as a whole, while running across Poor Man's Poison was a result of the various seeds I've fed into Pandora over the last year or two (I used to curate varied stations for myself, then one day just fed them all into one station I call K-JON Radio - it's given me some really cool results).

Darrell E said...

From the OP

"Breitbart published an interview with President Donald Trump on Wednesday in which he suggested that his supporters in the military and police would rally to his side in a way that would be “very bad, very bad” if things get “to a certain point.”"

I've said this many times in past months in meat space so I may as well say it here too, these types of comments by Trump, and he has made many of them, warrant impeachment all by themselves. If the Republicans in congress and the senate took their oaths the least bit seriously public comments like these from Trump would compel them to remove him post haste as a danger to the nation and everything we are supposed to be proud of about the US.

Darrell E said...

Slim Moldie,

Thanks for that link.

Pop music these days may be worse on average than previous eras, I'm not sure, though there is still the occasional great song (meaning I personally like it). And there is so much more than pop music. More music is being made these days than ever before. Much more. Most music made in any era is mediocre if not flat out bad. I'm not sure the good/crap ratio has changed any, it's just that the hay stack is a lot bigger these days.

Larry Hart said...

@Darrell E,

Republicans are only for checks and balances as a way of constraining Democrats, liberals, any popular majority that doesn't share their goals.

They're all for authoritarian control as long as they are the authorities and for mob rule as long as they are the mob.

I agree that the entire national Republican Party needs to be purged from any office as high as dogcatcher, but it's going to have to be the voters who carry that out. The politicians themselves will not, nor will the courts they have methodically packed. "There is no justice--there's just us."

Darrell E said...

Larry Hart,

Yes indeed. The Republican Party has become a parody of cravenness. They worked hard to become so over the past 2-1/2 decades or so. Still, in this Trump era it is impressive to see just what depths they will plumb. More impressive, in a thoroughly demoralizing way, is how many citizens continue to support Trump week after week, tweet after tweet, trivially exposed lie after trivially exposed lie.

It may be mere fantasy but my "feeling" is that the rise of the Trumpists we are experiencing is the fight or flight response of a cornered creature who fears its imminent death. My fantasy is that the back-lash will lead to rapid changes in the right direction. Whichever way it goes times of turmoil like the present often result in a period of rapid changes.

raito said...

If we're going political with the music, my favorite is still Friend of the Common Man by The Blasters:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9e4a4K1oVuM

Larry Hart said...

Darrell E:

More impressive, in a thoroughly demoralizing way, is how many citizens continue to support Trump week after week, tweet after tweet, trivially exposed lie after trivially exposed lie.


That's been the biggest disappointment I've felt since Nov 2016 as well. That so many of my fellow Americans are in his corner, not even despite his a-holery, but because of it.

Darrell E said...

Politically inspired music?

The Merry Minuet by The Kingston Trio
Luke's Wall by Black Sabbath
Bull's On Parade by Rage Against The Machine
B.Y.O.B. by System Of A Down
The Ghost Of Tom Joad by Bruce Springsteen

David Brin said...

“"Breitbart published an interview with President Donald Trump on Wednesday in which he suggested that his supporters in the military and police would rally to his side in a way that would be “very bad, very bad” if things get “to a certain point.”"

DT is unpopular and even dreaded among a majority of mid-to-upper military officers - the 3rd best educated clade in American life and very fact-oriented (making them targets of the Fox mania). But Two Scoops etc are working hard to promote the monstrous minority.

The real nightmare, though, is if a conspiracy spread among noncoms. That’s where you are likely to find a great many rural-southern good-ol boys who - while skilled and brave - are not among the most fact-educated, and some are drawn to simplistic stuff. And history shows cases where sergeants and corporals … well…

David Brin said...

raito thanks for the Blasters song. Well done and biting. Though of course musically a blues riff with heavy rock guitar.

jim said...

This is a link to a group of music nerds from Cleveland.
I saw them do this song live at a small bar in Cincy. One of the members of the band did not play a musical instrument, he did the video mix live while the others were playing. They put on one of the funniest shows I have ever been too.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ak_AmQYQCVI

Infinite number of sounds - "kiss my converse"

A.F. Rey said...

Although I can't articulate on how it relates to the conversation (and yet know that it does--something like Bill Maher's "I Don't Know It's a Fact...I Just Know It's True" bit :) ), our musical tastes and favorite bands appear to be determined in our early teens, and become pretty-much ossified by our thirties, on average.

https://www.iflscience.com/brain/we-stop-discovering-new-music-at-a-certain-age-heres-why/

Jon S. said...

I'm glad that's not actually true, A.F., because my early teens were in the disco era. :-)

Okay, I was introduced to Rush just before becoming a teenager, but in my defense they're a favorite band of a lot of people, from Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan to Tool drummer Danny Carey to Dave Grohl, drummer for Nirvana and founder of Foo Fighters (trivia moment - when the Foo Fighters' first album was recorded, Grohl hadn't actually lined up any band members yet, so he played each instrument himself).

OTOH, Twenty One Pilots wasn't even formed until 2009, by which time I was rapidly approaching 50, so... :-)

Larry Hart said...

I became a fan of Hamilton at age 55 or so. Never cared for any sort of hip-hop or rap before that.

Just sayin'.

Having a kid helps with exposure and interest in new things.

yana said...


David Brin thought:

"melody is melody and the songs that surprise me, on that count, get rarer and rarer."

As Slim says, the pool of untapped melody is vast, and as Darrell and Jon say, new earworms come out all the time but the problem is in the vain tendency of producers to genre-limit what they're doing on the job. Every one of those producers, mind you, is doing much more amazing things as a side gig at home, beyond what they do for the label.

Recent in news is the "classification" of country music as a discrete genre-limit. My own recent favnewstuff comes from a DJ who was miffed by that ruling, so has lately started to put out the tunes which are suddenly country-non-grata. Colt Ford & Chase Rice, JB & The Moonshine Band, Lenny Cooper, Devon Jones. Country and rap, two tastes which go great together?

Jerry Emanuelson said...

I agree with most of what has been said about our musical taste being fixed at an early age, but that is no longer true for millions of people because of what has been recently happening in Asia.

This is mostly due to one young man named Dimash Kudaibergen. I have hesitated to mention his name here because he has so many millions of absolutely rabid fans who insist that he is not human, and who love to talk about him. He became famous around the world in 2017 (outside of the United States, which has very rigid cultural borders) when he sang his remake of a song from a 1978 French musical called Starmania. The performance was on the Chinese television show "Singer." That most famous song of his is "SOS d'un terrien en d├ętresse" (SOS of a Terran in Distress). It is at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyUu2ZS4VBA

In the above video, Dimash (from Kazakhstan) is singing in French with on a Chinese television show with English and Mandarin sub-titles.

I detest most of the music that I heard before the age of 11. I discovered the kind of music that I listen to most now just before I turned 70. I am now 71. Most Dimash fans became Dimash fans at all ages. He does complete remakes of some Queen songs, but much of his music is completely new to Western ears.

David Brin said...

jim the Converse progressive riff was cool & fun. Nice to agree with you!

BTW that led me to -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lp-xN-o6W90

The raising of ghetto walls around Country is the surest sign of failed confidence. It is fear that makes a group draw inward their boundaries of inclusion. It is confidence that makes for expanding boundaries and horizons.

David Brin said...

Yipe. This Dimash video is simply amazing.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyUu2ZS4VBA

Thanks for sharing that. Wow, this community took a turn down a new direction. Cool on all of you.

Anonymous said...

Slightly off-topic, but related to music…

Anyone know how to convert flac files to something that will play in iTunes (and thus my iPod)? I'd prefer not to purchase new software (or download dodgy converters which seem to be the first page of results on Google). One of the projects I backed on Kickstarter made the music files available only in flac :-(

yana said...


Darrell E thought:

"Politically inspired music?"

Got an hourlong like that, comes at it from the underside of politics, the economic systems of oppression and misdirection...

Nat King Cole & Johnny Mercer - You Can't Make Money Dreamin'
Regina Spektor - 2.99c Blues
Josie And The Pussycats - Money
D.R.I. - Money Stinks
Tom Morello - Black Spartacus Heart Attack Machine
Onion News - A 14 Year Old Collapses Under the Weight of Corporate Logos
Laurie Anderson - O Superman
William Shatner - Common People
Nina Simone - Rich Girl
Sex Pistols - Substitute
Immortal Technique - Rich Mans World (1%)
Lazy Boy - Underwear Goes Inside the Pants
Vamp - The Rich Dont Rock
Rantanplan - Tierra Y Libertad
Ace of Cups - Glue
Styx - The Grand Finale
Dick Haymes & Helen Forrest - I'll Buy That Dream

Darrell E said...

Regarding new music, cultural mixing (oh noes!), broadening of horizons, that kind of thing, this is some of the coolest stuff I've come across this year. Elements of, among other things, traditional Mongolian music and metal. And the video production values are top shelf too. Give it a try, you won't be disappointed.

The HU - Wolf Totem

The HU - Yuve Yuve Yu

Darrell E said...

yana,

That's a heck of a list! A couple I've never heard of, but will look them up.

yana said...


Darrell E thought:

"will look them up."

It's a curated list. Encouraged to collect 'em all then listen in listed order.

yana said...


Anonymous thought:

"how to convert flac files to something"

I use FLAC Frontend, an adorably kludgy GUI for FLAC conversion:

http://flacfrontend.sourceforge.net/

This makes FLACs into WAVs, which are playable universally. But because a WAV file is lossless, it is a large file, so you may wish to use LAME or another free MP3 encoder to make the audio file smaller.

Anonymous said...

"Politically inspired music?"

Billy Bragg's version of the Internationale:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BIvqbyku5g

Eric Bogle's "Dan":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fr45o4bnTaw

Buffy St. Marie's "No No Keshagesh":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKmAb1gNN74

Buffy St. Marie's "The War Racket":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GABAvqx-wAU&frags=pl%2Cwn

A Tribe Called Red "ALie Nation":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhlKs_3Srj0&frags=pl%2Cwn

Supaman singing "Why":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OiVU-W9VT7Q

Tanya Tagak's "Retribution":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xNYTA6SV6tM&list=RDBCuayGvy3i8&index=4&frags=pl%2Cwn


And if you want something different, try The Hu (Mongolian heavy metal — not political, but addictive):
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnfPnba2FDSWaJPwNl7m98eVhyaNlDIWY



Anonymous said...

About flac conversion — I should have mentioned I have a Mac, not Windows box. Thanks anyway.

Jerry Emanuelson said...

If anyone searches for more Dimash songs, avoid any of the snippets of songs that he did on an awful CBS program earlier this year that butchered his songs (cutting 5 minute songs to less than 2 minutes). He quit that competition show just as he was about to win a million dollars because the CBS producers had lied to him. The YouTube video that CBS put up of their final show promptly got 14,000 angry comments from Dimash fans (along with a dozen or so comments supporting CBS). It was the most one-sided set of negative comments that I've ever seen on YouTube.

Other than the awful CBS stuff, there are a lot of good Dimash videos on YouTube in all languages. Some of them are in English His English has a heavy accent, but he is getting better at English all the time. Here is one recent Dimash song that is in English and closer to an American popular music style:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFrQXcHSp2c

Jon S. said...

Oh, if we're going back in the day for political music, Rush's "A Farewell To Kings" and "Bastille Day" just seem to grow more relevant every day...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNhCSJuZi9A

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNhCSJuZi9A

yana said...


Anonymous thought:

"I should have mentioned I have a Mac"

Oh, even easier. If you can ferret out a legacy copy of All2Mp3 on the web, then use that. If you can't, then here's the skinny:

https://www.mediahuman.com/download/YouTubeToMP3.dmg

This converts FLAC to MP3, but be sure to make them 320 kbps bitrate, because FLAC is also a lossless format like WAV, and if one sets out to make an MP3 file, one may as well do the best job that they can, no?

Jerry Emanuelson said...

Anyone who has a Mac or an iPhone should become familiar with an amazing free software app from Apple called Shazam. It can identify almost any fragment of music that you've ever heard on the radio or on YouTube, usually within 2 or 3 seconds.

As we begin to run out of original melodies, blended melodies may become the way to make completely new music. This is not really possible right now because of the structure of copyright law.

An analysis of how Shazam works also gives you some idea of how computers might be able to analyze blended compositions by multiple different songwriters, and then assign the proper percentage of intellectual property rights to each songwriter of entirely different songs. For an introduction to all this, see the YouTube video:

How Shazam Works

yana said...


Jerry Emanuelson thought:

"an amazing free software app from Apple called Shazam. It can identify almost any fragment of music that you've ever heard on the radio or on YouTube, usually within 2 or 3 seconds."

Not very amazing. Shazam is far from comprehensive. When i need to use it, it disappoints me more often than it rewards. Why? Because when i need Shazam, it's an unknown tune which is not in the half-million locked in the local wetware database, and Shazam only has access to a couple million datatprints.

If someone doesn't know music, then Shazam can help. But the more you know, the more Shazam does not know.

locumranch said...


David dishes out disrespect to innumerable high-ranked authority figures whom he dislikes, but it seems that he cannot take it when others dish up disrespect to those whom he prefers.

It's stark jibbering insane, he says, to disrespect teachers, journalists, diplomats, civil servants, military officers, and those sterling scientists who have all transcended human imperfection, but it's just fine & dandy to disrespect everyone who questions David's insane definition of insanity.

Apparently, we must respect David's desires because he has an army of 20 million worthies in his blessed band, even though we who are not worthy outnumber his 20 million by many millions more.

Has he mistaken reality for Marvel fan fiction?

Has he convinced himself that his plucky rag-tag band of nerdish diversitude can triumph over an innumerable foe with a time-traveling gauntlet, a fire-breathing Mueller report, or a magic McGuffin of some sort that will somehow retroactively nullify Trump's election before it ever happened?

Jerry Emanuelson said...

Yana, I agree about the current shortcomings of Shazam, but that is only because of the currently limited size of its database. You can't expect too much of a free product. I've seen it rapidly identify some extremely obscure stuff, though.

For the more well-known performers, it can also often identify, not only the song and artist, but also the particular concert location and year of a certain performance. The performer's photo often also comes up.

Also, the current version of Shazam can't do any of the blended song analysis that I mentioned. However, it looks to me like the Shazam software technology has the potential to do all of that.

TCB said...

I write songs, and so I know a thing or two about writing melodies. There are ways of exploring search spaces that haven't been tried yet. The trick, you see, is to walk the fine line between "Boring, heard it before" and "interesting structure, but TOO out there." Notice how the second turns into the first when people's ears get acclimatized. There was a time when I could empty a room by putting on the first Devo album. Most people were not ready for that.

One method is to start aleatory and then prune. In Propellerhead's Reason software there's a Random button which scrambles the notes or drum beats. Hit that a few times and save when you find a good loop. Repetition, of ANYTHING< is interpreted musically by the human brain.

Another is to create an interesting visual pattern in the score, and see what it sounds like on playback.

And it's good to keep a tape recorder by the bed to catch that hypnagogic 'fairy music'. Pitfall: as in Melancholy Elephants you need to make sure it's not something out of deep memory.

Another out-there realm is microtonal music, i.e. dividing the octave into other than 12 tones. Different scales have different flavors and nobody has put the sort of work into, say, a 19-tone scale, that centuries of musicians have put into 12 tone. Again, that catch: it's too out-there for most tastes.

A lot of the real innovative possibility is not in melody but in rhythm. Often the real diff between genres is not melody at all, but rhythmic sense. Zydeco and polka are shockingly similar! Reggae and dub taught a lot of musicians the importance of space, of not cramming in a surfeit of notes. Rap is arguably a bigger innovation than rock music was, because rock was still chordal melodic music, as has existed for centuries, while rap is based on samples, rhythm, loops, and can also include all the other elements of older music like jazz and rock. Rare indeed is the musician who can invent a truly fresh rhythmic idiom (James Brown did it! So did Johnny Cash!)

Just to show my bona fides, here's a link to a song I wrote. The recording is... not great, not terrible either...

Soup and Songs

NoOne said...

When I need a melody fix, I usually turn to Porcupine Tree (and Steven Wilson). I think "Heartattack in a Layby" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDdv0ItSefk) is a pretty awesome song with a scary counterpoint melody of a guy dying of a heart attack. Wilson's newer solo stuff is also pretty melodic at times (but doesn't quite do it for me).

matthew said...

We're in the Golden Age of music right now.
Just not pop music. Yet.
There is so much *unbelievably good* music being made today, in 10k varieties. The problem is finding the good stuff, which requires curation.



Any talk of "running out of melodies" doesn't understand how music is made, IMO.

Try this -
Go here:
https://codepen.io/jakealbaugh/full/qNrZyw/

This is a arpeggiator webpage. It lets you select a key and a shape of the arpeggio. Play with this for an hour and tell me that there are no new melodies. Seriously. And take notes of what you like when you find a pattern you enjoy.
Maybe think about stringing together phrases to make something new. If you stay in the same key, you may finish the hour with a rough sketch of a song that is unlike any ever made before.

Any kid (or adult) with a computer interface and a sound output can use that website to compose musical phrases.
Music is only starting to get good. It's gonna get better and better throughout our lifetimes.

Phaedrusnailfile said...

I dont know if you all know me well enough to consider my recommendations but since recommending music is in the offing I will throw in my two cents. Passenger for lyrics, Turnpike Troubadours for good rockabilly, and War on Drugs for just damn fine rock and roll.

David Brin said...

TCB, I am a big fan of Bartok. Does that make me a free mind? ;-)

——
Hey locum, dig it (you won’t). I never said that 20 million smart people are at war with you. That is your truly jibbering paranoia. Yes, you are among the foot soldiers helping your 20,000 masters wage war on us, so they can be kings, but…

…it…is…not… reciprocal. Find one place where I said that. You can’t. Moreover, you cannot conceive that the hate pouring from your face when you look in a mirror is not reciprocated by us. And that is why you are insane.

TCB said...

Funny thing, Bartok sounded a lot 'weirder' to me years ago than now.

Here's a trio of 'popular music' type songs that impressed me a LOT. One, from 1977, the first track of Magazine's first album. Definitive Gaze. Tell me THAT ain't a cool melody.

Second, from 1989, David Byrne's Make Believe Mambo from his brilliant Latin album Rei Momo.

Third, more recent, Wilco's Impossible Germany featuring an astonishing Nels Cline solo.

And I could supply a lot more.

Twominds said...

I haven't yet read through all of the comment thread, but I'd thought to leave some links to Dutch blues here, for the ones that might enjoy it.

There were several concentrations, mostly in the '60's, with an impressive one coming from a small village in the east of the country, Grolloo.

Cuby and the Blizzards

Window of my Eyes

A slower version, with photo's of the poverty of North-East dutch rural life in the early 20th century as a backdrop.

Window of my Eyes


Their farewell concert, for people who want to hear more. Our maybe live version of one of their LP's, can't make that out in the comments, no time to listen to it now.

Concert

No time for more, need to go to work.

Darrell E said...

From "DOJ Alumni Statement", a letter signed by over 400 (and counting I think) high ranking DOJ prosecutors including Republican appointees from every Republican administration going back to Eisenhower. The letter says that there is more than enough evidence set out in the Mueller Report to indict Trump for obstruction of justice. I say "no shit" but damn nice to see such a consensus and the will to put it out there in writing.

"Each of us believes that the conduct of President Trump described in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report would, in the case of any other person not covered by the Office of Legal Counsel policy against indicting a sitting President, result in multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice."


STATEMENT BY FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTORS

Larry Hart said...

@Darrell E,

Note how Trump supporters don't seem to believe he didn't obstruct justice. They believe that he was right to do so, and therefore shouldn't suffer negative consequences.

This is consistent with their defense of Benedict Donald in other areas. For example, their belief that Trump is correct to support white nationalism. They'll bloviate in public that Trump isn't racist, but what they really mean is that his racism isn't something to be ashamed of.

raito said...

Genuinely new melody? Probably not since I was 8 or so. At least for Western music. 12 tones only combine so many ways. It doesn't bother me. The space is still big, it's just finite.

My musical horizons keep growing, but usually backwards in time. One thing to keep in mind is that all new music now is competing will all music ever made. Somewhere out there, there's a 13-year old who is really into ragtime. And for you old fuddies like me, it's worth noting that the classic rock of the 70's now is like listening to that ragtime in the 50's.

TCB,

There was time when you could clear the room with Rites Of Spring, too. Seems fairly tame now, doesn't it? Same with much 20th century atonal music. Or the automata-based electronic modular music.

As for search spaces, there's been a pile of research in the last decade or so. Goes along with a lot of music available online in various forms. Much of the research I've become aware of through Columbia's music-dsp mailing list (which also has a lot of other neat music stuff).

And as for writing songs, I've taken some college-level music theory and had music I've written played on the radio (regional hit for a couple months that I wrote with a member of a band I worked for.)

David Brin said...

TCB & TwoMinds, thanks for those way fun or moving links. old-farms in Holland and Byrne mambos, yum.

A.F. Rey said...

There was time when you could clear the room with Rites Of Spring, too.

Clear the room? Heck, a riot purportedly broke out when it was first played! :)

https://www.theverge.com/2013/5/29/4375736/igor-stravinsky-rite-of-spring-100-anniversary-paris-riot

Alfred Differ said...

I’ve heard the ‘just so many melodies’ statement before… probably from our host. 8) It made sense at the time, but I’m more skeptical today. I’ve also heard that there are only just so many distinct drama plots, but that I learned elsewhere. I think their number was 48. They pointed out how many modern stories could be related to Shakespeare plays directly or in recombination. Basically a 48-D vector space. Another variation I found elsewhere argued that there were essentially seven virtues. The Greeks went with four, but there is a decent argument for extending them a bit to include character traits having to do with more spiritual matters. Over the years, therefore, I’ve learned there are limited numbers of certain things that fall into the subjective experience category and collectively they got me curious enough to wonder how that works.

Consider dramas for example. Someone with no Shakespearean experience watching ‘West Side Story’ won’t realize which play has been restaged. If they see the play later, they will make the connection from the other direction, though. The older they get, the more the stories they learn will interconnect and overlap in their minds. Are there really 48 possible dramas where they are orthogonal enough we would recognize them as distinct? Is it more likely that there is only just so much room in our head for drama plots before we blur them? Is this distinction not a real distinction at all? When we watch a drama, we engage in multiple levels of abstraction. Try a different play like Merchant of Venice where Shylock is abstracted as ‘the Jewish moneylender’ or ‘the moneylender’ or ‘a miser’ or ‘the vengeful merchant’ depending upon how much one squints while watching and how anti-Semitic one is. Multi-level and multi-dimension abstraction is what humans do after all. There are many variations on the story told by others where Shylock is cast in a sympathetic light, his rival Antonio was a converted Jew, or Shylock gets revenge and reconverts after the trial. Even Plummer’s General Chang quotes Shakespeare from a Klingon perspective.

Are there really only so many dramatic plots, compelling melodies, or distinct virtues? How many different senses make up our sense of taste? Five? Fifteen? Someone with a trained palette will reject a low number. A trained wine taster will reject a similarly low number for their sense of smell. When an answer regarding subjective distinctions varies with the training of the person making the distinctions, it reveals the possibility that the stated number is really just a measure how the abstractions are being accomplished. An untrained wine drinker will note that wine comes in red and white varieties, the pink stuff is a blend, therefore there are two types of wine. The rest of us will roll our eyes. What about types of scotch, port, beer, ale, or essentially anything involving taste and smell? How you abstract them depends on your experience.

There might be an argument for a limited number of drama plots, virtues, compelling melodies, or distinct wine varieties, but I’m not inclined to listen to claims from ‘untrained palettes’ anymore. My suspicion is these limits speak more to the way our experiences overlap and link in our brains than to anything objective, therefore they depend on our education. The more musical experience I acquire, they more ‘space’ there is between the categories I create when abstracting my experiences. Like orbits just outside an event horizon, the space stretches and the tides pull my categories apart. The pint of stout in front of me isn’t just dark with double the alcohol. It’s sweet and bitter and chewy and nutty and chocolatey and …

Twominds said...

I haven't followed recent pop music for a while, will listen to Dimash.

Classical music has many interesting new things happening since tonal music is no longer 'passee'. Dutch composer Mathilde Wantenaar (25 or 26 years old) is using the classical traditions in a way that makes them very new.

Fantasie for violin and orkestra Written in 2017.

Dr. Brin, thanks for reminding me of Bartok! I always loved the Concert for Orkest, but I need to be in the mood for his more folklore based music. What do you think of Janacek's Sinfonietta? Those pieces belong together in my mind, probably partly because I had them on one CD for a long time.

jim said...

I realize that sometimes I can come off like an
a**hole. Here is a song you can play when you think I am being one.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAFsoz0IH44

Reel Big Fish - Everyone else is an a**hole

Totally not safe for work!! But soo fun

Mike Will said...

Of course, there's the Kurt Vonnegut story graphs, which everyone has seen. Many lectures, eg Vonnegut 2004.

IMHO There's little point in objectively surveying the landscape of music or literature. An entirely new and unique interpretation may occur a thousand years from now. The subjective mind is not completely known to or controlled by the artist (unlike Magnifico's Visi-Sonor). Dolphins aren't people, and art isn't science.

Twominds said...

THANK YOU, Jerry, for Dimash, and Darrell, for The HU!

Both impressive and powerful!

Twominds said...

Some more Dutch music.

Nothing recent: symphonic rock from the late '60's and '70's.

Earth and Fire: Song of the Marching Children

Kayak: Wintertime, Mammoth, Starlight Dancer, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fjQtOTQEcSc>Anne (Boleyn)</a>

locumranch said...


My musical tastes tend to the more retro, and I strongly recommend the Jazz Fusion stylings of Sadao Watanabe & songstress Roberta Flack in combo, specifically their 'Rendezvous' album (example below).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSQDYlj6UkI

That said, I'd like to leave you with lyrics of the greatest political musician who ever lived, the incomparable Tom Lehrer, who sang:

Oh, the poor folks, hate the rich folks
and the rich folks hate the poor folks.
All of my folks hate all of your folks.
It's american as apple pie.


He also said (rather than sang) the following profundity:

"Life is like a sewer", he said, adding that "you only get out of it what you put into it". Which means, in paraphrase, that you get what you give, and I advise you all to remember such wisdom when you & all your Union Capos demand RESPECT from all those rural Confederates that you heap disrespect & scorn upon.


Best

Twominds said...

Anne (Boleyn)

David Brin said...

jim.... heh... an anthem for any generation

Jon S. said...

Well, Jim, there's also Denis Leary's extremely NSFW song, "Asshole":

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrgpZ0fUixs

Creigh Gordon said...

Here's a political song for our times, for sure: "All That I Require" by Radney Foster

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgAs9sZA-XQ

TheMadLibrarian said...

We had a musical evening last week; members from the local opera theater sang a collection of modern showtunes and operatic arias. What was most surprising was the 2 kids who sat entranced through the whole thing. Who can tell what will catch and hold in an impressionable mind?

Now that I think of it, I can draw a nice arc through 'Pictures at an Exhibition' to Philip Glass and eventually Laurie Anderson. O Superman!

Anonymous said...

Alfred... and to whom you have it written?

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

When we watch a drama, we engage in multiple levels of abstraction.


An amateur theory of mine is that a good writer is able to affect the reader's emotional response with what I think of as "meta-drama". How, for instance does the suspense work in cliffhanger endings of a continued comic book story, or the 1960s Batman tv show? I mean, we know the hero will escape and survive, so where does the suspense come from? My sense is that, if the cliffhanger seems foolproof, the reader feels a thrill of "How can the writer get himself out of this one?" which serves the same function as the feeling of "Will Batman die?"

Larry Hart said...

Mike Will:

Of course, there's the Kurt Vonnegut story graphs,


I'm glad you mentioned that. I remember reading Vonnegut's depiction of the graphs he submitted as his masters thesis in his book Palm Sunday. Basically, he reduces stories to graphs of "good fortune" vs "ill fortune" over time, and then concludes that the story of Cinderella is isomorphic in its rises and falls with the essential story behind Christianity.*

I tend to like stories which spend more time than usual in the "good fortune" area. The 1930s movie The Adventures of Robin Hood is a favorite example. Errol Flynn's character has his wins and losses throughout the film. There's time in between crises to enjoy the ride. (The original) Star Wars is similar. Likewise, our hosts novels The Postman, Kiln People, and Earth.* I also like stories with a long, slow denouement after the main crisis has been averted. Some writers and readers abhor that, but it works for me.

One movie I remember particularly not liking for its graph was the original 1980s Karate Kid. Because the entire length of the film was loss after loss for the protagonist, until he finally gets one win in the last minute of the film before the credits roll. I'm not saying there's anything objectively wrong with that plotting--just that it's not to my personal taste.

* I don't mean that as an exhaustive list.

Mike Will said...


Larry Hart: stories with a long, slow denouement after the main crisis has been averted

Yes. "Foundation's Triumph" comes to mind. It's mainly what I was thinking of when I said that the artist does not have final control or even knowledge of the workings of the subjective mind of the reader (or listener, or viewer). The cryptic clues and alternative paths in FT are perhaps even more 'chaotic' than our host intended !

One man's traitor is another man's patriot. For a long time, I've been in the 'let machines decide' camp. They're much more objective than we are, the trick is to maintain that objectivity as they achieve some form of humanity.

This is why I revere Asimov, not because he was any kind of literary Vermeer, but just because he saw this road first (at least in a form that a young Canadian farm boy could understand).

Larry Hart said...

Mike Will:

he saw this road first (at least in a form that a young Canadian farm boy could understand).


Asimov, and Arthur Clarke as well, were very good at presenting sci-fi in ways that ordinary people could relate to. Childhood's End was the first full-length sci-fi novel I ever read, and over 40 years later, I still remember Clarke's inclusion of a political cartoon in the Chicago Tribune (my hometown paper) depicting the as-yet-unseen alien as a centipede. It was so spot-on as something I could imagine the Tribune publishing in that situation. One doesn't have to be immersed in science, or even in sci-fi tropes, to connect with something like that.

David Brin said...

Thing about Clarke and Asimov is they were always portrayed as optimists and believers in tech-mediated progress...yest their famed works were deeply pessimistic about human sapience and ability to be logically progressive. Both were political liberals, yet democracy is viewed as hopeless in their works, and salvation comes via gods who intervene from the outside.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

democracy is viewed as hopeless in their works, and salvation comes via gods who intervene from the outside.


That's the case in the Foundation "extended saga" as it were. I guess you could say that even in Second Foundataion if you count the Second Foundationers as something external to humanity.

But in the first two books of the trilogy, the most god-like character is the enemy--The Mule. The victories that the Foundation scores are due to human courage and inventiveness. Much like the original Star Wars film and its ensemble cast of plucky everymen.

David Brin said...

LH -- yes, and that's the spirit I went "full circle" back to, in FOUNDATION'S TRIUMPH.

Okay then
onward

Anonymous said...

Stephen Kotkin on “Trump and Putin? What in the World Is Up?”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ot4OPfWZubMa

David Brin said...

onward

onward