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Comment: Re:Musical scales based on math, not on culture (Score 2, Informative) 80

by ExecutorElassus (#48307621) Attached to: Birds Found Using Human Musical Scales For the First Time
Pedagogy time. Vibrating bodies of any physical type will vibrate at an infinite ascending series of whole number multiples of the base frequency f (so, f, 2f, 3f, etc.) in decreasing -- but not linearly or regularly decreasing -- amplitude (the exact difference in the proportions of the various overtones, among other factors, is why different instruments sound different).

The musical scale used in most music in the Western tradition, however, does not use anything like a harmonic series. Rather, it (presently) uses an equal-tempered scale, such that each note is the same distance from the next. This is a convention adopted to make keyboard music in many different styles and keys more practical to play, but has almost no musical basis per se. To a sensitive ear, a lot of the intervals in an equal-tempered system (most notably the major third) are starkly out of tune from their harmonic manifestations.

Bach did not use, nor attempt to use, equal-tempered scales. This is an error of historical writing that was introduced by a poorly-informed musicologist into the 1890 edition of the Grove Dictionary of Music, and has persisted ever since. Bach not only could not have tuned his instruments to a truly equal temperament (the technology to do so was not available until the 1820s), almost everybody of his time agreed that more-equal temperaments sounded generally awful and unmusical. Bach used "Well Temperament," which is a distinct system of temperament (of which there are many variants; just which one he used is subject to debate), that kept most intervals in most keys acceptably approximate, while allowing each key to have a slightly different flavor/color.

I imagine the birds sing notes out of a harmonic series because the intervals are much easier to hear.

Comment: Re:s/Identify/Hypothesize/ (Score 1) 103

by ExecutorElassus (#48286043) Attached to: Physicists Identify Possible New Particle Behind Dark Matter
I agree with you in principle, but I have a couple quibbles with your argument. Firstly, there is, in fact, a branch of theoretical physics that derives particle masses from first principles: Heim Theory (I'm not sure why the article is so short now; I remember it being much more extensive, with discussions of predicted vs. observed masses for most of the basic particles) apparently derived the basic particle masses from fundamental constants. But hardly anybody is working on it now, because it's pretty far out there (among other things, it implies that FTL travel is possible using really big magnets). So there are approaches that would calculate the masses of nuclei, but they're weird and nobody's really sure if they're legit or just hokum. Not for nothing, it also predicts dark matter (but then again, also paranormal phenomena).

Given that the terribly-named Amplituhedron, recently discovered, reduces Feynman calculations that used to require supercomputers to some geometric manipulations you can do on a napkin, I wouldn't be surprised if some fundamental theoretical breakthroughs are going to come out in the next few years.

Comment: Re:What about themselves? (Score 1) 206

How strange it is, that once the politicians find themselves on the receiving end of all the surveillance tactics they enthusiastically support for regular citizens, they are up in arms and immediately start issuing bans and prohibitions! "We are shocked -- SHOCKED -- that these consequences of widespread mass surveillance would one day prove to have undesired side-effects! Who could have predicted this outcome???"

Comment: Re:Why do opera at all then? (Score 1) 121

Wish I had mod points this week, because this is absolutely correct. The giveaway is right there in TFS:

why not let free enterprise decide the fate of this endeavor instead of...

.
This is exactly what is driving these decisions. You know why Bayreuth is the only place in the world to do the full Ring cycle every year? Because mounting a 12-hour operatic spectacle is fucking expensive, and only the place with a guaranteed audience for it -- that is, an audience willing to pay a premium to see the opera in the house that was specifically built for this music -- can survivie doing it.

Make no mistake, the trends cited in TFA are not motivated by much creative interest. They are primarily motivated by cost-cutting and standardization drives, which -- you guessed it -- are the consequences of market capitalism. I mostly dislike orchestra unions -- they seriously interfered with a lot of work by myself and my colleages when we tried to compose things for orchestra that they didn't like -- but if we take your arguments and the OP's as valid, then they are protecting a legitimately valuable experience from debasement.

Comment: Re:He picked the wrong moment to support amnesty (Score 4, Interesting) 932

by ExecutorElassus (#47215011) Attached to: House Majority Leader Defeated In Primary
"Just that simple"? You like the idea of closing borders, evidently, but do you like the idea of produce prices, meat prices, service-economy costs, and just about every other menial-labor field seeing its labor costs double overnight? Because that's the consequence of requiring that citizens do those jobs. Stoop work is awful, backbreaking work that pays bullshit. It only survives because the immigrants who do it are so desperate for the work that they'll take it.

The moment you kick the immigrants out, you see cases like these ones, where billions of dollars of produce were left to rot in the fields because all the immigrants who would have picked them were driven out by tough anti-immigrant laws.
The US agricultural economy -- and a lot of the service economy -- is built on a steady influx of sub-minimum-wage labor, and only survives because of undocumented immigrants. Take it away, and large swaths of the economy collapse.

Comment: Re:Told you that you were serfs (Score 3, Interesting) 208

This is all totally off-topic, but there is one part of your argument that merits discussion. Pointing out that a few people have experienced very lucrative social mobility is not evidence of the system as a whole being conducive to it. In fact, such arguments serve the exact opposite goal by thwarting meaningful discussion of social and economic policy. A handy thought experiment from Cracked makes it more clear:

Let's say there are a hundred of you and your friends all locked in a room, and you're all starving. I walk in, and out of my fat wallet I pull a wad of bills that it more money than you'd make in a year. I set it on a table, and say, "the last one of you left alive gets this pile of money." Then, when all your friends are dead, you get rich, and I say, "see? The system is fair: any one of you can become a rich person, if only you try hard enough. It deliberately conflates "any of you can get rich" with "all of you will get rich." And you and your friends are so busy fighting each other that nobody is asking why there was only money for one of you in the first place.

Dr. Dre may have become a billionaire, but he grew up in a neighborhood systematically ghettoized, and the majority of the kids he grew up with ended up dead or in jail, and almost all of them stayed poor.

Comment: Re:math? maths? (Score 1) 688

by ExecutorElassus (#47072583) Attached to: Professors: US "In Denial" Over Poor Maths Standards
No, the short form of mathematics is "math" in American English, as American English regards "mathematics" as a group term, thus singular. Second, American English does not transfer pluralizations in this way.

In all honesty, probably the better approach would be how it is done in German -- which I might point out shares a much older parent language with both versions of English -- in which "Mathematik" has no plural form, and is shortened to "Mathe." That makes grammatical sense. Also, I should mention that the idea of what is "standard" based on historical precedent cuts both ways: the way American English pronounces the R (which I have to admit, even as a native speaker, sounds hideous, is one of the things Americans consistently fail do lose when speaking German, and is also one of the hardest things for non-native speakers to pronounce correctly) is actually closer to how it was historically pronounced. Should your American colleagues give you lectures on how your pronunciation of R glides is non-standard and dialectical? (And here I'm even talking about the R in standard British English, not that god-awful north-country dialect that turns even non-terminal Rs into a sort of W).

Comment: Re:math? maths? (Score 2) 688

by ExecutorElassus (#47063991) Attached to: Professors: US "In Denial" Over Poor Maths Standards
I hate to be That Guy, but the English to which you refer is only "standard" among Commonwealth countries, and is not a global one. Presupposing Commonwealth English to be a standard from which all other versions are derivative might reflect historical lineage, but not present usage. Since the idea of what constitutes a standard derives from the latter and not the former, referring to British English as a/the standard is, at best, inaccurate.

Neither of us would presume to instruct our colleagues on the Indian subcontinent, for example, that English is the standard of Indoeuropean languages, and thus superior to, say, Hindi or Sanskrit. The same is true here: both British and American English in their present form are versions of an older language, and neither one of them should be construed as normative.

Comment: Wait, what? (Score 2) 208

"...you can't create a fast lane without worsening service for some Internet users. 'That's at the heart of what you're talking about here,' Wheeler said. 'That would be commercially unreasonable under our proposal.'"

This makes no sense at all. Is it just a bad summary? Waxman is citing testimony that internet fast lanes inevitably and necessarily degrade internet service for "non-premium" users, and Wheeler responds that the proposed regulation enables the FCC to prohibit that inevitable consequence of the system it creates?

"Yes, this regulation will degrade service, unavoidably. BUT! The regulation also says that we will make sure that this unavoidable consequence is prohibited, so it's all good!"

Comment: Re:They want the free market to decide? (Score 3, Insightful) 208

I don't think you understand how monopolies work. The majority of Comcast's customers have no alternatives. Where are they going to go? Back to dial-up? There are at best one or two other providers in any given market for internet service, and *none* for cable television. So, Google, Facebook, et al say they won't accept connections from Comcast servers, then ... what? Comcast's customers stop using those companies' services, but don't switch providers. In retaliation, the peering providers that used to trade back all that traffic that those sites were generating stop doing that, so those companies lose even more traffic.

This is the point of a monopoly: they control access, and so they can control how the market functions.

Comment: Lost Cause (Score 2) 286

I don't mean the ISPs, I mean the rest of us. Wheeler is a cable lobbyist; I suspect the court striking down the Open Internet Order was exactly the excuse to scuttle the net neutrality that all his buddies hate so much. Besides: the court has been very clear on this matter. The only way the FCC could force net neutrality would be by declaring ISPs common carriers. The Republican Party -- and Wheeler himself -- is adamantly opposed to such an action, and so it will not happen.

This smacks very much of the Obama administration responding to all the illegal wiretapping the NSA and FBI et al were doing not by arresting the perpetrators, but by writing the laws to give them authority to go right on doing it.

"Flattery is all right -- if you don't inhale." -- Adlai Stevenson

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