Speaking Of Now : Is It Warm In Here ?

Jupiter image from the Cassini mission

Jupiter image from the Cassini mission. Thanks to ESA/JPL

08/14/16 Sunday   11:22 PM EST

With wind speeds measured anywhere from 190 to 450 mph Jupiter has an extremely turbulent atmosphere – and that is entirely in the absence of any political conventions whatsoever. Some of the Jupiter image galleries from Hubble and Cassini are breathtaking and now of course there is the Juno mission. But if our spacecraft ever become sentient first words will probably be something along the lines of ” I’m not going ” . Stuff can happen. That big red spot looks like it’s just waiting to hoover in anything that gets too close…

Well , stuff happens here too but the weather is a LOT nicer. July and August in Florida are no picnic , but if you really like the heat try Venus or Mercury. Our solar system has likely seen several different epochs of runaway greenhouse effects on differing planetary scales. The scary thing is there are a plethora of ways to get there as even frozen planets will trap heat from the Sun more efficiently if they have an atmosphere. We seem to be observing some warning signs here at home that our atmosphere is experiencing a steadily improving ability to trap heat . We do have means to mitigate this – but we also have democracy and if we are willing enough to elect science illiterates as leaders of our democracies the hell they create will belong to everyone. Cheers !

Daily Tracks: Just Hit The Darn Record Button

 

TASCAM DR-05 mini stereo digital recorder

TASCAM DR-05 version 2

 

Update :  Monday , May 23rd 4:44 AM EST

Noted that folks using Safari on iPad & iPhone were getting a fall-back download link for the audio instead of the player. Was going to put up AAC audio just for you guys but then some other older browsers don’t support it. As nasty as mp3’s are audio-wise they do have the broadest browser support and being that #DailyTracks is more about  getting your musical ideas down quickly than it is about all that tweaking we do later any way…I’ll just have to work out a separate mastering chain for rendering the mp3’s.

If I had to summarize the direction we’re going in here it’s this : When your playing and recording often enough  musical energy eventually gets you to that place where a lot of stuff is going to go down on the very first take- but almost no one starts out that way ! Fussing too much about details in the beginning stops  A LOT of music from getting made. Also there is a side benefit to recording everything :  Being a practice and performance recording ninja means your much less likely to wind up on the path where your throwing twenty five plugins at a two minute track that really just needs another go . I cracked up the first time I heard the proper term for this – it was Stewart Copeland in an interview talking about tracking and “turd polishing ” .

Someone asked how the heck you get all that sound happening playing just one keyboard without multi-tracking ? It’s actually pretty easy when you can map different synth sounds across an eighty eight note keyboard. Better still is the fact that a lot of these sounds via just having different release and delay settings will  “dovetail” with rapid work on the sustain pedal – you can hear me stomping rapid fire to get multiple voices ringing. None of these layers have been performance tuned either . Guys that spend hours performance optimizing their synth combis will hear these and know right away that I haven’t touched them yet.

 

First Take : Wednesday , May 4th, 2016  10:29 PM

Well ,  we’ve been threatening to get Daily Tracks going again since last year and the time has finally come. The challenges  have not changed one bit. That list of inertia inducing items has just been reduced enough to create forward motion again. Irony – thunderstorms and rain here all day so the lights have  gone out a few times . The last outage was literally seconds after I’d rendered these first two tracks to Ogg files. The UPS kicked in but still – be sure to SAVE YOUR WORK at regular intervals !

The story: I bought the little gadget above after finding that my in-camera audio on the tennis courts was generally a rumblefest regardless of there being any breeze or not. Outside of audio for video there’s also the idea that one can never have too many microphones or ways to record ambient audio. These devices also come in handy as backup for guitar and keyboard sessions when data and tracks going into the DAW overwhelm hardware long due for an upgrade. The punchline though is that some of us have to just surround ourselves with devices that have record buttons until they crowd out all our excuses for not hitting one !

But wait , there’s more – if your going to produce , mix and master your own music then obviously the ability to deal with recording real performances of acoustic and electric instruments in real spaces with microphones comes in handy. I could have rendered  keyboard midi from last weeks practice session direct to audio  ‘ in the box ‘ and the audio would be completely noise free apart from the clams that come with the word practice . Instead I wound up recording close to three hours worth of live audio from a single practice session. When  I got round to listening back to the session a few days later there was enough material for a very cohesive set of tracks. It really makes you sit up and take notice when you realize how much can come thru via just losing yourself in the process of playing.

Confronting all that noisy room  audio also forced some hard thinking about workflow , planning and details. The session included multiple keyboards , guitar , trips to the bathroom and phone calls. You can’t just take a near 3 hour WAV file and denoise the whole thing in one pass. Each instrument segment will require different denoising parameters , eq ,compression and so on –  so all that spontaneity has a cost down the line when you have to untangle the hairball. The bright side is your now  in the intensity regime learning quickly to make those adjustments and refining your own individual workflow.

Let’s take a look at the DAW :

Mixcraft Pro 7 , Synthogy Ivory II American Concert D , Omnisphere , OPX


The reason I use Mixcraft : Easy mapping/saving of multiple VST plugins across the keyboard turns your soft synths into one massive instrument !

Those two arrows show a feature every DAW should have : a simple facility for assigning individual soft synths to controller (in this case an M-AUDIO Keystation 88es) key ranges across the keyboard . There are old school ways of doing this but on a per  instrument basis the individual assignments are just a huge pain in the ass that sucks up your time like a flock of angry birds.

First up is Synthogy Ivory II American Concert D – really I was left stunned the first time I played this , Spectrasonics Omnisphere – which literally speaks for itself and is probably the deepest synth out there , and finally – Sonic Projects OP-X PRO II , the totally unexpected killer Oberheim emulation ; the upfront lead sounds in these multis are usually coming from this. There is an excess of hell raising potential here ! We’ll get more into the gory technical details as we go  but I want to pivot for the upcoming track.

Regardless of your being an established musician (the forever kids) or an actual kid/kid wanting to play music – practicing should be fun ! I’m not saying if your studying classical piano seriously you should whip out the stacked fifth combi on your old school russian piano master if your lucky enough to have one –  cause she’ll throw you and your kit out of the house. But for everyone else…make some fucking noise !

Speaking of noise : those other sounds you here in these recordings are me pounding the keys and sustain pedal like it’s a double kick drum . Seem to be destroying one of those every couple of months . Remember the point of practice sessions is capturing things to develop and refine later. It’s not about mixing and tracking cleanliness.

Here’s the warmup pitch – meaning  like playing scales only more fun. The fingers are ‘ getting it ‘ around the 2:12 mark. The little recorder is sitting on a 4 x 12 speaker cab about 3 feet from the keys and 10 feet from the monitors. The sounds are a multi with Ivory , OPX and Omnisphere sounds. Overlapping key ranges mean things get muddy down low . Were gonna see how radically things clean up  as  we address issues one by one. But first JUST GET THE IDEAS DOWN . Perfection is an ending not a beginning. From an audio and performance perspective this is what it is – a warmup.

Track 1 : Touch N Go

 

Confession : I actually did play some boring old scales for the first eight measures ; habit to get things moving. Cut those out and faded in after. Now I could have run thru this until timing and execution were spot on and rendered direct to audio and had a dressed up shiny track to put up – it’s like looking at a supermodel and thinking this is a person who has never farted in her entire life. Truth is different . The first steps in any journey might be messy.You take them anyway.

Prior (and later again  in the same session) I’d been helping out a friend with cueing some music to film  . Those needed  theme and variations  that would sync to timecode and I think a few of those may have snuck back into this session. It’d be hilarious if they wind up in the final cut. So picture this :

Track 2 : Thru The Rapids

 

The segue is signaled at the end of the first track . Other than key , timecode and tempo it’s all improvised. Music for film is just one more way to have a blast making music. Unfortunately the key bashing noise is even more prominent here . The  USD 200.00 Keystation 88 has held up remarkably well. These recordings are all coyote ugly – tempo and execution are all over the place , the noise is ridiculous and the clams unedited but the raw musical ideas are preserved for posterity and available to be fitted for suit and tie later.

 

Carvin lefty bolt , Line6 Pod HD500One of the things you find working to your advantage as a multi-instrumentalist is that playing piano and keyboards tends to be a great warmup for many other instruments . Having  blast improvising cues to film for drowning in the rapids  I picked up the guitar still in the same frame of mind . Naturally what followed was a bit more ‘outside’ than usual. Generally if your going for something dramatic or panicked film is a great place to start but if you want to get in a more aggro mood and don’t have access to film cues for something like this try throwing a chair through a window 😉

There were a few things I wanted to play thru but the only bit written out here comes at the end. A first thought for guitar examples was a metal track breakdown but metal tracks in isolation can only get so much across – and remember we’re still talking about audio recorded from the DR-05. These bits are all from the same WAV file the keyboards are pulled from and I beat up the guitar about as much as the keys so there is a lot of string noise !

The guitar is a southpaw Carvin bolt with three pickups going into the Line 6 HD500 .There will be more on tweaking HD500 sounds later. I’m taking the stereo outputs into the board and the DR-05  is recording  the output from the monitors from about 10 feet away. I have a two way PA cab with a 15 inch driver set up as a center channel . I’ve edited short segments together as a sampler to make it more entertaining and varied in the guitaristics dept. It romps right out of the gate straight into a train wreck . As performers we always strive for perfection in front of an audience but the nasty stuff that normally never sees the light of day can be equally entertaining. Hence the popularity of all those BTS features and blooper reels.

Track 3 : Them Fightin Words

 

Next up we’re gonna talk fans.Oh boy we got fans – and an air purifier I meant to turn off but merely turned down while recording this practice session. The steady noise background is not the worst thing to have to deal with but normally you don’t go out  your way to make it worse , alas…Enter the Izotopians.

Izotope RX5

I had some older noise reduction tools on hand but the timing was perfect to try this out so I downloaded and installed the demo. The current RX is at version 5 and this is light years ahead of earlier iterations of noise reduction software in general. Algorithms are more advanced and the way that various techniques are utilized in parallel to repair and enhance your audio is breathtaking. There is a lot to consider in making this tool  a part of your workflow and for some it might be overkill but in general there is nothing else out there that puts all of these different techniques to fix noise and glitches under one roof. More to come…

 

 

 

 

 

The Gravitational Waves : “Hello From The Other Side , We Must’ve Called A Thousand Times “

Colliding Black Holes

02/11/16  10:44 PM EST

There are things in heaven and Earth that physicists and other scientists dare not speak of. Non detection of gravitational waves is one of them. There the thing that thus far had eluded us called but remaining so fundamental to our standard model that the near entirety of our understanding would sink into confusion – we must find them ! It looks like…it could be…hammer that nail people !
Poetry might not speak to us in our wagers under the auspices of ugly things – and the standard model has its share of ugly things . But the beauty in it that speaks to us tells us where to look for more keys , more clues and gives more hope that the underlying truths are innately beautiful. Okay – so gravity versus quantum mechanics – the thing mediating that particular quarrel is still at large , but we are inching ever closer. Also now , as before , we seek the underlying manifold that speaks in the tongue that will tell us why our freaking-particle-masses are all over the goddamn place. String theorists now more than ever have hope that cosmological scaling will create more opportunities to test those ideas that Planck lengths love to tease us about. Still questions we will abide and still answers call as before in plain song , the signals in the noise :

 

We are here We are here We are here :
Sound off, Sound off, it’s time to be heard. Your time’s running out – it’s time to be heard
Give with a gargle or chirp like a bird. Or blonk on a blonker
Blonk on a blonker and make yourself heard
Blow on a bloozer; Anything goes
If you can’t blow a bloozer, try blowing your nose. If you can’t snap your fingers, try
snapping your toes
Anything. Anything. Anything. Anything. Anything. Anything. Anything goes.
Sound off, Sound off, come make yourself known
Play bidiliboop on a xylomophone
Play bap-bap-bap on a dinosaur bone
Play anything, neighbor Just make yourself known
Play on ocatiana or who on a carina
Play bubbely bop on a copy machiner.
Play on a pizzer. Fizz on a fizzit.
Do it on something, whatever it is.
All noises are needed; refind or absurd.
Sound off, neighbor – and make yourself heard

We are here. We are here. We are here. We are here

                                                                                                         … from Dr. Seuss   Horton Hears A Who


                        
Figure 1 from Observation of Gravitational Waves from a Binary Black Hole Merger

B. P. Abbott et al. (LIGO Scientific Collaboration and Virgo Collaboration)
Phys. Rev. Lett. 116, 061102 – Published 11 February 2016

LIGO Gravity Wave Detection Event 1

LIGO Gravity Wave Detection Event 1

Figure 1

The gravitational-wave event GW150914 observed by the LIGO Hanford (H1, left column panels) and Livingston (L1, right column panels) detectors. Times are shown relative to September 14, 2015 at 09:50:45 UTC. For visualization, all time series are filtered with a 35–350 Hz bandpass filter to suppress large fluctuations outside the detectors’ most sensitive frequency band, and band-reject filters to remove the strong instrumental spectral lines seen in the Fig. [3]spectra. Top row, left: H1 strain. Top row, right: L1 strain. GW150914 arrived first at L1 and 6.9+0.50.4ms later at H1; for a visual comparison, the H1 data are also shown, shifted in time by this amount and inverted (to account for the detectors’ relative orientations). Second row: Gravitational-wave strain projected onto each detector in the 35–350 Hz band. Solid lines show a numerical relativity waveform for a system with parameters consistent with those recovered from GW150914 [37, 38] confirmed to 99.9% by an independent calculation based on [15]. Shaded areas show 90% credible regions for two independent waveform reconstructions. One (dark gray) models the signal using binary black hole template waveforms [39]. The other (light gray) does not use an astrophysical model, but instead calculates the strain signal as a linear combination of sine-Gaussian wavelets [40, 41]. These reconstructions have a 94% overlap, as shown in [39]. Third row: Residuals after subtracting the filtered numerical relativity waveform from the filtered detector time series. Bottom row:A time-frequency representation [42] of the strain data, showing the signal frequency increasing over time.


 

Note: I discovered the numbered reference links for the figure text were all pointing back to the source paper instead of the actual references so have edited all of those to point back to the proper authored citations. Some of them will open directly to the journal hosting the paper and some will open the cited paper in a pdf viewer. [37] opens to the SXS Gravitational Waveform Database & the waveform for the linked figure is SXS:BBH:0001.

 


Now if your into the physics  you already know that LIGO and  BICEP2 are fundamentally different ways of finding  gravitational waves. I don’t know if I want that to be the jumping off point for purposes here yet. We intended to get our physics-y math-y bits going after getting the whole daily tracks / music video content of the site moving . When it rains it pours !

More to come…

Speaking Of Now

Thanks to Jeff_Golden for this stunning shot

Thanks to Jeff_Golden for this stunning shot

07/08/16   Friday   01:00 AM EST

Looking back at these last few posting dates is a big reminder of just how challenging it can be to multitask big projects. The world seems to be remaking itself every few months in one way or another. The one blessing in rapid change  is that we’re in a position to shift gears and focus where opportunities arise. Right now there are multiple  fronts propagating in quantum information and computing – these have impact in many areas and the tie ins with work in astrophysics and cosmology are a subcategory full of surprises. There are various data bumps in the particle physics domain that keep disappearing and reappearing in intriguing ways and oh – the NASA Juno mission just arrived at Jupiter and for all practical purposes in the vicinity of the proverbial orbital dime. Huzzah ! There should be more time now for updates and expansion of the various threads here and continuing on with daily tracks , music and Maria’s story. If your a fan make sure to remind her that your there and you care. Anyone going through this kind of atrocity with WADA & TADP should have massive crowd support.

 

Photo thanks to Ano Lobb on Flickr

Bee in hover by Ano Lobb

05/23/16   Updated Monday 4:44 AM

A lot of discussion among researchers lately about the Zika threat heating up  – you can usually tell when a situation is going critical  on the inside when  guys that are normally very reticent about speaking outside their fields start weighing in. For it’s part the CDC is doing a fine job getting the word out. Remember that little bit of information when you go to the polls and vote for politicians speaking with great bluster about shutting down the government agencies charged with our protection.

We’re starting to see convergence of scaling with environmental problems and it’s not pretty. In a fight like the one Zika presents your generally going to fight with the weapons you have but spraying on the scale required to contain Zika most definitely is going to inflict a lot of collateral damage. Collapsing bee populations are already having an effect on food production and pesticides are a big part of that problem. Zika is definitely not a problem that can be ignored but neither should we ignore alarming trends in cognitive impairment among human populations with at least partial attribution going to increasingly complex  levels of neurotoxins introduced into the environment via , you guessed it – pesticides.

The general public is not yet aware of the fact that with recent advances in genetic engineering we already have lab populations of mosquitoes designed to impair if not terminate breeding populations of these disease vectors. Unfortunately we haven’t done a good enough job of preparing the public or our politicians for understanding these advances in a way that would allow for rapid deployment – and obviously if your going to use the mosquito to kill THE mosquito you can’t be spraying at the same time.

The generalized collapse of fisheries at sea combined with an increasingly impaired ability to maintain food production on once productive land are not the kind of things you want to see happening at the same time . That  combinatoric juxtaposition of unknowns foils prediction in many ways but really – observation of what’s already taking place should motivate more high level discussion regarding our ability to mass produce and deploy these more advanced science and technology based solutions in times of crises.

 

 

Prince 1958-2015

Prince

04/22/16 6:24 PM EST

We lost Prince yesterday. Now if I were a commanding general and musicians were my army I’d have been deeply concerned about attrition months ago, but
I think the words of a guy I deeply respect who can share his thoughts without pulling any rank whatsoever say it all:

 

 

 

It is plausible that  folks might find it a bit arrogant to mention in this moment that we all need to have more timely thoughts regarding that word prevention when it comes to looking after ourselves. If there is a general back-story to the losses we are suffering it is not exclusive to musicians. Having a pre -existing condition , be it chronic or acute (something like the flu) has become a lot more dangerous in the age of ever  evolving treatment resistant superbugs that people don’t often know they harbor until some other health insult comes along and weakens them sufficiently. It doesn’t matter how tough or healthy you think you are – shit can happen , and fast. ( Note that it’s early July as I append this and so most are aware by now that a drug dependency played the primary role in Prince’s passing. While the idea of prevention is just as relevant as it was before there is that sense of…how MANY more are we gonna lose this way before something changes ? )

 

Since doing these kinds of conscious (or-not) computations are part of our research remit I’d like to mention this interview of Scott Aaronson in Scientific American wherein he refers back to what I consider to be the machine primitive context of Quantum Computation to field some extremely difficult questions regarding physics and computation. It’s a long read and a bit technical but oddly enough captures the  requirements for concise reformulation of  questions regarding psi that are a main pursuit here.

So how’s that going ?  The notion of consciousness as computation is ever evolving. The idea that consciousness as a concept has been nailed down to any great extent is not something that anybody should assume has happened ; we’ve gotten better at bounding the primitives that are subsets of functions of consciousness without necessarily getting any better at a workable definition of what consciousness actually is . That of course begs the question of whether psi phenomenologies and questions like life after death are subsets or constitute some superset of whatever the primitive roots of consciousness are.

Personally these things are made much tougher by the fact that I’m working to put music and musicianship on equal footing here. I know in the core of my being that music eventually wins out. After completing data runs last week I fired up the boards and started working on a bit inspired by @GrumpyOldRick ‘s  Awaken . Going down that rabbit hole more and more frequently means that time has to be re-apportioned appropriately. Problem is – by the time you get to the point that you can actually play the stuff  that voice that thunders you really shouldn’t be doing anything else is wanting to take you lock , stock and barrel. These are the kinds of fun problems one wishes to have.

11:17 PM   EST

Worth mentioning that in the context of psi and computation there has been due progress since that original statement of intent. If you can identify your problem as being or having a dual (equivalent and /or inverse) in another familiar field of research then  progress in that field tends to feed back into the work your doing . There are also other important questions that get you quickly down the rabbit hole like ‘ can a machine be conscious in the same  way that humans are ‘ which begs the inevitable ‘ what a Turing test says and does not say about  computation and consciousness ‘ .

One thing that should be clear is that the problem of consciousness presents too broad a front to attack on  with regards to formulating a way forward in almost  the same way that one would not want to attack  P vs NP head on. Talking about consciousness in the context of computation doesn’t necessarily make things any easier – it just makes communicating and formulating your problems easier as you now have a language with a built in syntax for expressing those ideas without having to invoke the dreaded  ” and then a miracle occurred ”  hand waving type nonsense.

Quantum mechanics obviously is a nice resource to have but we still have the problem of classical suppression of nonlocality and entanglement as computational resources with regard to macrostates. Nature undoubtedly howls with laughter at what we go through to prepare for computation on the quantum level in laboratory settings. Wouldn’t it be something if she were running a classical simulation of a quantum computer just to keep us guessing…

 

 

 

Mountains and cloud filtered light

Thanks to joinash on Flickr for this awesome shot

04/10/16 11:34 PM EST

I think it was Paul Krugman at the New York Times making that last salient comment about how little wisdom there is in evidence among leaders when it is absolutely critical we get things right…actually a running commentary that even he is frustrated by in terms of finding optimality of repetition ; how many times per week , per minute , per second do you have to repeat a thing in a different context in order to expand the boundaries of the choir such that positive change has a better chance of occurring ?

We know that one person saying the right thing at the right time in the right place can make a difference. Maybe even change the world. In fact there are enough people out there that such things can happen via sheer luck  and force of numbers. But when it comes to our various forms of governance , our lawmaking , our science and technology – in fact anything really important to us , including our relationships with each other, we really ought to be harnessing more than sheer luck if we are serious about wanting positive outcomes. So it’s a bit disturbing when you go in and try to rationally tease apart the latest toxic hairball – be it the recent  tennis WADA/TADP mess , the debacle of the new/old Republicanism (see below) , the idiocy of undoing the encryption that we need to protect all of our transactions…and finding at the core of each of these things…empty space. Sheer vacuum with regard to clear thinking or even minor citation of anything that could justifiably be regarded as cause and effect.

It’s even harder justifying a large form piece of writing when upon examination you find that the people most broadly affected by the subject matter are by and large oblivious to the dangers until they are caught in the gears of the machine and responding to the stressors involved before having a chance to think things thru. Of course this is made worse  by a local dearth* of wisdom or experience.

…so take a look at that beautiful landscape above. Breath the cool mountain air. Put your mind at ease. Ignorance really is bliss – at least it is until you turn around and see that next giant toxic hairball barrelling towards something or someone you care about.

 

*On occassion referred to as dumbth

 

 

dems vs reps

#TRUMP and a #PONY

03/02/16   3:15 PM EST

I have to preface what comes next with two things : the first is this – don’t be fooled by notions of Donald Trump as a political outsider: he is – but what matters more is that he is a child of privilege – he’s not one of those of you in the 99% making less than 2 million a year (wink,nod) struggling to make ends meet and you’ve pretty much seen and heard on display for decades now that ‘those people’ , meaning you , are losers. The thought that this type of personality is going to attain the most intoxicatingly powerful office in the world and be alchemically transformed into a wise leader is magical thinking at its finest. Massive abuse of power for personal gain is likely a given.

The second groups the things making him so dangerous as a candidate to both sides together – there is an unformed political personae here . Years of exposure under lights as media personality have drawn people in – a large percentage of them not really in the habit of wanting to think very deeply about who they are going to cast their vote for. Even more terrifying to the Republican establishment is that after becoming the nominee he will very likely become much more populist. He’s demonstrated that he is a quick study ( genius level ? – too early) , a great improviser – and the electorate is likely to see some appealing transformations in the run up to the general election. The view from here is that if he turns around and disavows the negatives as ‘ things I had to say to secure the nomination running as a candidate with all those crazies ‘ while saying ‘ but as President I don’t care which side of the aisle the best ideas come from ‘ that post primary gap for the general is going to close. The notion that he’ll start spouting party line dogmas and cut his own balls off is much less likely.

This is where you start to feel like the security researcher who’s warned some large entity that their product is insecure and your about to release the details of the exploit because they’ve not responded and blowing the whistle may be the only way to warn people. Call it what you will. Simply hoping and praying bad things won’t happen is not an option. The irony here is I think Donald Trump is the best candidate playing on that side of the aisle for the simple reason that the toxicity of the new Republicanism had nowhere else to go. If it had this country might well have had the inevitable civil war that is the only other outcome of that particular brand of stupidity. Donald Trump , for better or worse , is their equilibration and divine comedy. Dessert topping and floor wax meets its match. Thanks SNL.
On the bigger picture / analysis side things are settling down. Analysts have gotten sucked into the media driven desire to answer questions with statistics that really don’t even start to track until after #SuperTuesday ; some things labeled as surprises are more likely polling artifacts or the edge of two and four year old changes in small demographics. Of course there are some interesting things going on but to say anything definitive (cough, cough) more dust has to settle. Probably the biggest thing from here is that based on the Obama priors the democratic base has grown – probably enough to swamp any  credible notion of disappointed ‘Feel the Bern’ voters going kamikaze in the general. One party did go crazy but what we’re seeing now took years of hard work to create 😉  – I’m not sold on the notion the entire country is in danger of making the same choice. Go Hillary.

 

 

 

Tk - Another training day

03/01/16   11:14 AM

Intuition needs feedback from real world data if we as individuals are going to employ the thing skillfully to improve our lives. Intuition needs feedback from real world data because intuition is often wrong. Spend enough years analyzing real world data  and it becomes obvious that the things people associate with the notion of analysis ( mostly from utterly absurd TV dramas) are wrong. It’s maddening to see people credited with real world analysis skills imposing their need for a binary outcome on data sets gathered from real world systems that almost never behave that way ! You know who you are.

Sorry. Had to get that out of the way. Every once in awhile somebody gets it. We have been given an unlimited source of opportunities with the cognition and consciousness this Universe has bestowed upon us. But also…computers. To do the boring stuff for us so we can get to the fun parts – discovery. Much of the impetus of this site is about that journey of discovery and how it applies to personal growth ; the idea that we can do physics or mathematics for the sheer joy of it , for understanding the world around us .

 

 

dems vs reps

#Iphonitics

02/19/16  10:47 PM

Vet writers that have been part of the interwebs backstory / political mileau know that we’ve been at this for awhile. I’m no arch liberal anti establishment type. The problems start when your crunching data and start to see a picture emerging that is not even vaguely reminiscent of the story the general public is trying to digest – many of the labels we like to slap on things keep falling off – much to the dismay of folks who operate stricly on the friend or foe spectrum. It’s hard to maintain that level of separation between things when the data are shouting – we are our governance , we are our enforcers , we are our large corporations , we are our banks , we are our whatever it is we voted for in that last election.
There are now at least two midterms worth of evidence that suggest Democrats are more likely to embrace not voting as an expression of anger/discontent with current news than Republicans are. This is not a good thing , particularly if it happens heading into a general election with the opposition being a flock of complete loons. If your observing general downward trends in what one might call cognitive function across large demographics and have concurrently a Republican primary like the one we have now…democracy !
Current story : The phone. I’ll give one thing to the conspiracy theorists – they are bloodhounds when it comes to sniffing out the first few stops of a confederacy of dunces. But when the trail goes cold they start making shit up. The phone starts with sloppy jurisprudence that opens the elevator shaft on a world of dumbth and the FBI jumping into the breach demanding everyone get the same potential terrorist like thrumming of their constitutional rights equally… for the sake of national security of course. It’s not the first time – and it won’t be the last. The cognition/competency fails come with a simple segue from unlocking this particular dead terrorist phone to the generalization that we the people deserve the same treatment whenever some government entity sees fit. Darn that Constitution.
Timing. El Presidio jumps in. We’ll skip whether Commander In Chief actually has free will to decide he’s not running with the Feds on this . But then this is our guy helping slash and burn one more remaining swath of constitutional forest , possibly setting the stage for – you guessed it: future tyrant . See the problem ? Does it really matter who we vote for ? Those of us who spend a lot of time analyzing can answer unambiguously. Folks trying to survive that don’t have the time or inclination may get off the bus at disgust and not get back on.

 

Tk - Another training day

02/16/16     3:15  AM  EST

So this years #Grammys are in the books , the gravitational wave party is just getting started and we have yet another new element of drama to add to our season of political retrograde motion with the fight over the appointment of a new supreme court justice to replace Antonin Scalia. It’s also pouring cats n dogs here right now – I mean like , deluge with streaks of torrential. Actually kind of peaceful – the kind of relaxation that makes you realize sometimes you’d rather not have a front row seat to all the drama – be at liberty to just watch it all go by while doing the things that are important to you.
After 3 hours working thru some new acoustic guitar arrangements and into the wee hours yesterday morning I caught myself staring at new blisters on three of five fingertips and realizing what total bliss the state of musical immersion brings. The work is still punctuated in segments of juggling research while trying to keep tennis training at a reasonably high level. Lately those ‘flow state’ musical moments are happening more frequently . It’s possible  intensity gets to that level where you just put everything else down – the energy just takes over and you literally have no choice – plus you’d have to be a complete idiot to to fight off that kind of muse after doing the heavy lifting – preparing the ground as they say. The value of choices and sacrifices made over years and years to keep dreams alive for most of us are not about fame and fortune foremost but rather those opportunities to once again be unfettered and child like in full discovery of a moment.

 

 

dems vs reps

#POLITICS

2/10/16  2:07 AM

So , prediction – One of two sane people will win on the democratic side (bias !) and one of several loons will win on the other . Omniscience  no , sentience plausibly…but not rocket science either way. What worries me right now more than the possibility that a loon will be President is the susceptibility of people who’s judgement I normally trust to hand-wringing / panty bunching now bordering on hysteria. It’s too early for this. Wait til March madness rolls around ! Boy that’s gonna be fun.

We’ve seen this picture before in Primaries. Okay – no we haven’t , but still – it’s too early to surmise the end of the Universe. I do think there are some signals hidden in the noise. If your a Democrat with wonkish tendencies the mere plausibility of the Trumpster being the Republican nominee is intriguing – what inferences can you draw regarding the base ? There is obviously something important going on but it is at least partly comical  and a little too early to parse exactly what that is. One thing is clear : the core influencers and deep pockets on the Republican side are on the ropes. But now some journos are suggesting  there is similar division on the Democratic side.  Wait , what ??!!  R u nuts ? Dems don’t even have one puppy-monkey-baby candidate let alone one in the lead and an entire (now somewhat thinned ) herd on the bench…

Okay , back to that moment of serious. A true conservative can utter the most ridiculously inane thing with a totally straight face . Most late night satire of conservativism depends on the fact that it’s not a shtick – these are Very Serious People. But with Donald no one is ever quite sure how much he’s playing to audience , how much is shtick and how much has real conviction behind it. Possibly he doesn’t even know ; the segues might be entirely random. I know , I know – we should all be terrified that people are eating it up. But really – just substitute any early tea party loon for an equivalent amount of crazy. Here’s the thing – he’s not one of them. There is a massive disconnect at the very heart of the Republican hairball. A shift has occurred in a party that is already at maximum crazy. This is my non academic version of a prediction – the Republican party is in the process of discovering that it cannot survive without its moderates – all the skilled people the pogrom drove out. Fools.

 

Caffeinated

02/06/16    11:32 PM

Just a quick note tonight – It’s been a fun  week getting back into the groove here and we’ll have lots of music and video to follow in the weeks and months ahead. The world can be a bit strange if you take in a bit too much of the ‘news’  and it’s important to stay connected and close to friends and loved ones as a reminder that there is plenty to be optimistic about in the world. Breath

 

02/05/16   11:49 PM   Dual Rig Adventures

Mentioned a bit ago we’ve been experimenting with various permutations of dual amp guitar rigs . Radial makes a whole host of tank built solutions for getting your guitar signal to one or more amps/pedalboards/starships. While the passive ABY is actually a box everyone should own note that the more complex a setup becomes the less a passive box is suitable. Just splitting a guitar signal to a unit like the HD500 and a second amp requires more futzing than your likely to anticipate. Impedance loads change , ground loops happen (often), noise is generated and levels can get harder to control. I also should mention that your gate now possibly becomes a bad cable detector. For most permutations today I found that plugging the guitar into the input of the ABY was the noisiest path of all. Things quieted down considerably plugging the guitar into the HD500 and taking the right stereo output from there into the ABY. The left  out from the HD stayed were it was into the board , output A from the ABY went to the second amp and output B went to the board channel previously occupied by the right output from the HD. This got those three magic switches on the ABY (ground lift , phase invert and the isolation transformer) functioning as they should.  Now for another zillion possible tonal experiments I had an old Pod XT in various places. In front of the amp there were several sweet spots that sounded huge but levels were too hard to control and the Orange Dark Terror (we don’t need no stinkin clean tones) feeding a 4X12 became even more ornery. We need a second volume control. Out comes the FCB1010 foot controller – cause  Pod XT speaks midi and I am not buying another volume pedal ! So we get midi volume control for the XT working but still too noisy. Out from in front of the amp Miss XT goes and into the FX loop. Much better. We are now at the starting gate for tweaking dual rig tones . Possibly even quadruple rig tones when you think about it. Hey , where’d everybody go ?   Sigh.

 

Electrifying Practice 063014b

02/05/16  12:11 AM

Did ya see them #DemDebates tonight last night ?  What’s fun and lends itself to multitasking is that you can sorta ‘watch’ the thing unfold on social media while doing other stuff and not be glued in front of a television screen. That got me thinking – was there a local radio broadcast of the debates ? Of course there must have been a zillion webcasts – but I mean actual radio ? Hmmm. Time to go up in the attic and dig out that big silver RCA and see what she pulls in. Tangents !  The debate was mostly intelligent , reasoned and nontoxic. Boring if what you want in your governance is ignorant toxicity , stupidity and macho posturing.

On the music side one of the round-to-its on the table is checking out Positive Grid BIAS  and their newer Pro FX . I’m already in progress working thru Peavey Revalver and that’s going to take awhile – these programs have gotten so deep that really it’s unfair not to spend serious time with them before rendering judgements. You do tend to bump up against certain things right away though with modeling programs particularly if it’s UI clunkiness but in many cases folks are already hard at work getting the next ACT together…pun intended. I was actually early on the desktop BIAS release list but the very last beta had a problematic installer and the first alpha installer kept getting attacked by my antivirus as malware. So that got put on hold. I’m guessing they’ve got that fixed by now  😉

Hi gain tones have always been the achilles heel of modeling in both software and hardware and Positive Grid seems to have made some very serious strides forward in this area . After the nth ‘you gotta check this out right now’ plus hearing and seeing some of the latest video it’s starting to sound more viable. Oh – and then of course there’s the review thread for Line6 Helix over at Harmony Central that @Craig_Anderton has in progress.

Dropping the mic dept : @TheWineryDogs are on tour in Europe and @BillyonBass  tweeted a pic of his rig with Macbook air running Mainstage for synth pedal sounds . Hope we get to hear more about that – gearheads wanna know. Speaking of gear heads @JPetrucci tweeted his rig signal chain for the upcoming @dreamtheaternet tour – don’t even .

Happy Birthday to @Richie_Kotzen who turned 46 on Feb 3rd . Hope that wasn’t an ice cream cake !

Readjusting to the blogging routine is ah well – I’m sitting here typing this an hour and a half  2 1/2 hours after the time on the top of the page and my own deadline of yesterday. So things are going well !  Mind you we’re also going to have video and daily tracks on all this stuff. What’s the point of all this yakking if your not gonna show off ?

 

02/04/16  12:37 AM

Bit of a robot cycle today ( now yesterday – by minutes ) with number crunching and analysis taking up much of the day. Attending to what many would consider drudge-work you sometimes realize how fortunate you are to have that sometimes boring , repetitive thing that shores up a whole bunch of other stuff. The world generally doesn’t look as attractive represented as tables of numbers until you let them draw a picture of something . Occasionally that something turns out to be an unexpected manifestation of what you were looking for – or utterly not at at all that thing but a surprising and relevant something else entirely…

This bit in The Guardian is something most of my muso friends are familiar with and reading it made me realize that the choices made to wait out the rough times are perhaps the only reasons why we now have a solid shot at an actual musical  life minus most of the discomforts . It was worth waiting for a time when the risk of winding up under the bridge had been minimized. Sometimes living your dreams does in fact require hard core endurance of hardship but if you have the choice of creating a safe haven for that future minus the hardships via a few years of patience – be the patient, wise one.

 

dems vs reps

IOWA CAUCUSES

02/02/2016   10:11 PM

So Dems , -the Hillary or Bernie question (?) . Here we are post Iowa and it’s still a tough choice. Many of us like them both . They are a sane contrast to the lunacy of the opposition. First I’ll say this : I think the agenda that Bernie Sanders wields describes the bare minimum of what will be necessary to preserve  democracy for our children and move us away from oligarchy. The problem begins with the reality that nothing happens without Congress. The agenda Bernie describes is one that a two term President with a majority in both the House and the Senate would have a tough time completing. We will likely be nowhere near that. We’ll have to make use of the old fashioned wheeling and dealing that is the status quo in Washington to get anything done at all. When Barack succeeded in the rare end run around a totally obstructionist Republican house it was with a few key members that could moderate the otherwise lunatic fringe that was in the way.  John Boehner , as evil as he could seem – had a few moments of sanity. There is no John Boehner now. The lunatic fringe wanted purity and they have pretty much achieved their goal.

Hillary has massive experience , quite a few intact old school D.C networks and plausibly the ability to awaken moderation from members of the opposition that may be hiding the desire to step away from the abyss that is the new Republicanism. When a few deep pockets offered the loons that ultimate deal with the devil in exchange for purity the Republicans turned on their own and ousted every remaining moderate with a zeal unmatched by the walking dead. It shouldn’t be the job of Democrats  to resuscitate the moderate wing of the Republican party but as luck would have it…

…Bernie has the ideas and conviction – same as Barack had . Hillary has the chops and the networks – and maybe just that tiny bit of necessary evil.

 

02/02/16   1:14 AM

Quick ! Say something intelligent about the Iowa caucuses – Aaaaaaaagh . It’s bad enough missing your own midnight deadline two days in a row after  re- commiting to the blogging cycle but now we also have this comedy pregnorama that is the election year giving birth to hordes of new comedy bits every five seconds or so. I’d love to speak at length about how important this election is going to be for science and education funding but it’ll have to wait. As a Democrat that two cents has been preached to the choir many times over. I will say that it did/did not surprise me that Iowa Republicans picked the loon that didn’t previously refer to them as idiots. It doesn’t actually prove anything of course because well…they’re still Republicans    😉

 

Novak Djokovic photo by Marianne Bevis

Novak Djokovic photo by Marianne Bevis

01/31/16  11:58 PM EST

Busy day and think we’ll fit in a congrats to @DjokerNole on the win to close out the #2016 Australian Open against a very tough @andy_murray. Fitting because the dominant theme of work today was assessing signal strength vs noise in a dataset and finding that stable hi temporal averages were the most consistent predictors above the noise floor in predicting outcomes overall for the system in question. Kinda like what happens when your up against a wall and banging your head against it to no avail : Your tempted to try and break free with instantaneous peaks in power that are lower percentage tennis against the consistently high average power spectrum that is Novak Djokovic and even when your winning a point it’s like you have to win it twice. Ditto for your errors -just count em twice. That kind of consistency will beat down anything in its path that isn’t as least as consistent.

Okay I’m not being too rigorous here but really it’s extremely satisfying to note that consistency applied to achieving whatever it is your after is a simple and powerful tool. In signals analysis there are quite a few different kinds of ‘consistency’ to look for : temporal averages or consistencies in time , spatial averages or consistencies in space , correlations between the two…and more. Find them both and learn.

 

Woody Gap on the Georgia Appalachian Trail

Woody Gap on the Georgia Appalachian Trail

01/30/16   5:53 PM EST

So January just happened . How cool is that ?  🙂  This is where we ease back into blogging every day and begin expanding in all the areas we’ve been making a fuss about since the beginning. I’m going to introduce articles in this section that will grow into the full feature as we go – at least until I get the rest of the structural stuff on the site sorted.  The thrust of where we’ve wanted to go with music , daily tracks , gear related articles ,  research writing and news is generally not something you usually see all on one site and it’s taken quite some time to process how to go about it. Truth is the broader you go in the ground your going to cover the less you can afford to be a perfectionista at the outset.

For sure folks will not be expecting the role that science and research in general can play in the context of developing a personal worldview  encompassing any facet of life or skill one might wish to develop ; the influence of science and technology in these areas is expanding at a breathtaking rate and because we can take in so much more of life and what’s out there the next question naturally becomes  more germane : How do we disentangle our personal state vector from that current hairball known as the world at large ? On what scale exactly should we try to take responsibility for our own lives and how much should  we care how those things effect the world around us ? There are general abstractions like spiritual beliefs that can make these things more manageable , political beliefs – you name it. These beliefs don’t initially sound very much like computation but in fact they are and in often mind-blowing fashion. Because the reasons why they are are often so totally counter-intuitive you actually wind up having to treat the notion of their truth as an entirely separate subject. None of these applications are all or nothing options : like the wet dry mix on your favorite reverb or that ultimate lasagna recipe – you can modify to taste…

More to come…

 

12/15/15  5:23 PM EST

Happy Holidays !  Myriad things going on as usual . Ti’s the season where businesses that you’ve allowed to monopolize you as a customer suddenly become dysfunctional and unable to execute. Those extra CSR people are more than likely not veiling the ‘ yeah we’re really sucking right now whadd-ya gonna do about it ‘ attitude either. This begs the bigger question , actually the same question –  since we’ve all been here before : What are you gonna do about it ?

Backup plan. Hopefully in place and actionable. It’s not the greatest time of year to put pressure on people and organizations regarding performance issues. Unfortunately the stuff that is going to break down sometimes will keep functioning until that time when a fail is going to effect the most people. Like right now. UPS and FEDEX will deliver your package into the void swearing you were that nameless faceless person they handed it to. Your supplier  will dutifully  not go into overdrive recognizing you as one of their best customers. Your hold times and phone calls regarding this one stupid order will pile up. They’ll tell you a replacement order is on its way. But then it isn’t. Today, but not today – today but later today as in tomorrow. Tomorrow they’ll promise today really really will be the day. This is when you get the email informing you that the order you finally gave up on and canceled has been shipped – as of yesterday.

Now add insult to injury with the recognition that the time you’ve spent well exceeds both the cost of the order and the time you’ve spent pursuing it. Have this happen often enough (hello alive and living on Earth) and you gain the instant ditch reflex. No fuss , no waiting – and no 30 year customer awards. Truth is most businesses today don’t know who those customers are. They’ve all moved on.

 

12/05/15   5:36 PM EST

Turns out everything I’ve personally enjoyed about social media resided in doing things that were fun, often spontaneous and highly experimental . I’ve  used it to shout across six different networks without having to log into all of them or worry about who was here or there , done psi experiments , talked to ppl w/o the forced name dropping that comes with handles and bookmarked too many things to count. That last is why I’ve finally just given up on getting ‘serious’ about social media and follow counts – digging stuff out of a 10k tweet archive is ridiculous . Sucking all the air out of a room that was previously fun to be in in the name of marketing is also ridiculous. The old account & it’s ten thousand or so tweets encapsulates a journey and its expression. Analytics are important , follow counts will be provisionally important later on…but if i had a marketing team I’d have to fire them. It’s just not who we are. The old account is now the new account , the (old) new account is now a personal account. None of the stuff about analytics matters much when your original reasons for being on social media had nothing to do with selling stuff. I’m not even sure  my consciousness is in a place where I can appreciate the difference between twenty followers and two million. How the hell do you feed all those people ?  😉

 

 

10/15/15    12:53  AM

It’s cool knowing that things and relationships that you build in the process of multitasking your way into a life representing dream (or is it vice – versa ?) are there in place just waiting for you. There are certainly insecurities involved in entrusting a process that requires you be confident of a project that first forms itself in the intuitive sense rather than taking shape fully as the result of hard analysis. In the early eighties much was made of a metaphorical ‘battle’ between faculties that were considered bastions of left brain or right brain dominance.Today we know that picture was a vast oversimplification.

There is a great difference between theorizing about such things and experiencing them directly. Learning what those differences are often has nothing to do with the demands that survival makes on us , thus many people never experience the joy of dreams made real by hard work – they are forced to stop dreaming too soon for the sake of survival , unaware that there ever were multiple choices with different outcomes even when it seemed survival made only one choice viable. One has to see beyond survival itself. A thing seemingly impossible when fear of non- survival rules one’s actions…

 

08/20/15   10:38 PM

Getting back into gear head mode I just tried something out that I’ve wanted to do for awhile – 1st I should say that Line 6 have their new Helix guitar rig out and this 1st take video  has the thing sounding pretty awesome. Anyway we’ve got the Pod XT & HD500 – these two pieces of gear have the capacity to generate awesome tones but they require quite a bit of tweaking in quite different ways between the two to wring the best tones out of them. So anyway what I did the other day was run them into a dual ABY with the XT going into an Orange Dark Terror feeding a 4 x 12 vintage 30 cab and the HD500 going into my monitors and a sub. The result of that was – well 1st I’m going to need a volume pedal up front to work with this controllably because it sounded so f***ing HUGE- and that was with a Morse patch I crafted for the XT that makes serious use of the curve eq they added later and a modded Marshall JCM800 conjured with the HD. Will try to have a full rundown on this rig shortly. Also speaking of rigs and rundowns Premier Guitar has a great  new one with one of our favorite people in the whole world : check out Perfesserer Steve Morse and his Deep Purple rig . And so it begins…

 

08/08/15  6:38 PM

So I’m now doing the right thing and posting er…posts – rather than posting update snippets all over the place like the stuff you stick to your fridge. The problem of course is that Google comes around and indexes site content which then disappears and  hurts you in  search results. People also post links to the stuff they like which then get broken  and return 404 errors . None of this is good if you care about site ranking or not pissing off folks that may have just decided they like you. Eventually SEO determines that you have a vanity license plate instead of a website and you are sucked into oblivion and ignominy. No wait…ignominy has to come before oblivion.  🙂

 

 

Mom at work : Moses Lake AFB December 194907/21/15 9:30 PM When you become a caregiver for an aging parent who can no longer look after themselves your relationship with them changes – grows…deepens if your lucky. These past seven years Mom and I fought and won many of the battles that complicate growing old. Battles that take down most folks in less than a year. But then one day you lose and it’s not just losing a mother or a father anymore. It becomes equally like losing a child. Your soul just contracts into this tight little ball. It takes a while to open up again. You don’t feel like playing or singing or writing much. If I’d have been gigging or competing I’m pretty sure I’d have been utter toast.

The few folks that have followed my writing here and elsewhere know experiential psi has been a primary force in my life.These things are so much more comprehensive than a mere subscription to some externally imposed spirituality or religion – I wouldn’t know where to begin – but the dreaming began late last week and the healing and reconnection they afford have once again saved my ass. For those that scoff at the notion of psi as a set of sensory survival skills or the work that people like Robert Monroe did or that John Edward and Joe Mcmoneagle continue to do I say this – What makes people whole again after loss is not computable in most cases.

– Tom –

 

Maria Sharapova , WADA And TADP

 

Maria Sharapova - Champion

 

06/12/16   10:41 PM EST   The Continuo

Since this process is now in the  post announce for the ITF 2 year suspension but pre CAS appeal I’d originally decided to hold posting until it was clear if the rules change regarding what one should or should not be writing about as the thing grinds on. I have to also note that communication fails with some of the affected parties meant that there was no time to formalize anything effectively amicus that might be considered prior to judgements rendered – or even ascertain if such efforts had a channel outside an otherwise closed proceeding.  It wasn’t for lack of trying. It was exceedingly frustrating. Maddening even. Between now and the original post there have been a few other developments that mark the current implementation of WADA as even more disturbing and in dire need of revision. There is much more to be said but also and unfortunately  all of this has remained outside the circle of individuals that might have had the means to act. I’m not sure but it might have been more useful to just  buy a t-shirt   😉

03/08/16   5:17 PM EST

Wow . Not sure I know where to begin here . It’s hard to fathom that today with all the research progress in all areas of science and technology , climate science , physics , sports , health and longevity it still seems there will always be these looming shadows of unskilled low intelligence leadership and governing bodies wanting to  metaphorically , personally , culturally and often literally bomb us or someone else back to the stone age.

This could be applied to almost any major headline in the news equally but right now  I’m stating it in the context of @MariaSharapova ‘s  announcement yesterday that she was ensnared in that nightmarish hairball known as #WADA with a positive drug test during the 2016 Australian Open. I say nightmarish because on multiple levels the Tennis Anti Doping Programme fails athletes in it’s stated mission both broadly and in individual cases. The nightmare scenario is precisely the one that unfolded for Maria with a drug prescribed by a doctor to treat a medical condition being reclassified and banned – becoming part of the updated WADA listing for the following player year.

The Tennis Anti Doping Programme applies in all tournaments of the ATP and WTA and is administered by the ITF , of which I am a member. I bring this up because governing bodies in sports often authorize themselves to take sanctioning actions against athletes that speak out regarding open cases. I am aware.

Science is usually used to clarify and validate the cause and effect underpinnings of things we build for a purpose but real (external) peer review applied to WADA would completely demolish internal criteria used for  classification for what they actually are : ad hoc – double blind reclassification via mechanisms of action can’t tell the difference between things like green tea extract and a supposedly performance enhancing drug – though a drug test can (sometimes) !

If the above is number one on a bullet list the flaws itemized by science probably stretch into the low thirties. There are substances completely misclassified, substances classified as performance enhancing whose mechanisms of action are still in question , substances that are not even remotely performance enhancing – including a few that would kill you long before they enhanced anything.
As always there are people on the inside fully aware of the problems but as usual up against their own limited resources and wanting to keep their jobs. As usual just under the surface lies the toxic sea of internal and external politics along with administrative issues that make the problems worse. Without an external due process clause players will never have the level playing field that WADA and TADP are supposed to provide and their careers will always be at risk.

03/09/16 10:42 PM  EST Update

There are several ways to examine systematic errors in sports anti – doping programs but it’s important for the general public to realize that the arguments that would get a case thrown out via normal due process in a court of law do not apply within the confines of review processes governed by sports associations that athletes must be members of in order to compete ; proving that a banned drug detected in a test confers no competitive advantage whatsoever for the individual found in violation makes no difference. Causality is rendered irrelevant by venue. If this sounds suspiciously like an American journalist being charged as a spy in Iran it’s because it is. The mission pretty much goes south from there.

The above renders a lot of the reductio ad absurdum reveals I would use regarding the science or lack thereof in WADA and TADP moot. It doesn’t matter that you can demonstrate the methodologies used in determining if a substance should be banned can’t discern the difference between the effects of training and the effect of doping. It doesn’t matter that you can demonstrate placebo effects are even stronger than most dopant effects and finally – it doesn’t matter that the overwhelming majority of substances on the list are more likely to degrade performance under real world conditions than enhance it. Reality , as they say – is irrelevant.

When we narrow the focus to tennis a few other important points come into view: for sports that involve track , endurance running ,bicycling, swimming and combinations thereof – where winning and losing often come down to fractions of a second and world records are often in play doping is a much more insidious problem. In contrast the demands of high level tennis and the complexity of skills required are not duplicated by any other naturally occurring human activity. Talk to any pro level tennis player and your likely to hear the same reply: your simply not going to find great tennis coming out of a bottle.
Returning to the case of Maria I’m not sure where the advising /communication fail occurred but it seems pretty clear that this situation as specified is not one that she nor any athlete should be advised to own. It’s much harder to correct errors post train wreck. The issues herein remain relevant and will be expanded upon but the title and focus will change. Maria Sharapova is a champion and bright light. She always will be.

03/21/16   11:16 PM EST  Update

Not much more to say about Maria’s status as of yet. Obviously all of us here  are hoping for resolution in her favor . The next installment of this segues from  direct issues of WADA science and implementation  to the collision of anti-aging research as it applies to older players in the context of WADA and TADP. For players like myself this is really where the rubber meets the road and also is just a horribly sparse demographic to make a case from. Exactly how many late blooming fifty two year old males are trying to leverage a shot at ATP ranking with multiple simultaneous careers ongoing  in a sport where the mean age of retirement is under 35 ? Is that one guy a complete loon ? My last two ITF renewals naturally assumed I was applying for the senior circuit. Being that outlier means you hit big time gravel in the roadway – primarily because the mainstream culture of the sport won’t be pragmatically concerned about these issues applying to more than a population of one for a few decades yet. Meanwhile every time I get another envelope from AARP with my name on it I just want to grab someone by the neck and shake them. Fact is the thrill in both the pursuit of the intensity and reality of the high level game is what has lifted and motivated  life these last seven years as I’ve struggled to put music, tennis and research on equal footing. When and if my body signals that it’s only capable of sustaining senior level tennis intensities I’ll probably move on to something where a machine and gravity can do some of the work – like motocross or ski jumping . Anyway this next post is tough . Tough because the issues have as much to do with science as they do with sports culture and the conditioned public perception of the word ‘cheating’ as it applies to athletes and governing bodies in sports. There is politics. Yecch.

 

 

 

 

 

More to come…
 

 

 

Observations on Technology Impacts & SuperBowl 50

San Francisco SuperBowl 50 skyline

SuperBowl 50 skyline by David Yu

02/09/16 1:02 AM

Congratulations to the Denver Broncos on their win over the the Carolina Panthers in Superbowl 50. I’m left wondering now if there is a coherent  way to show the various impacts that technology is having on the sport in general and the players in particular – though the impact these things are having on the viewer are admittedly just as significant. The pregame show detailed some of the changes on the field ; the use of tablets for sideline player review of the action is definitely one of the standouts. This essentially requires a player to quickly process and in turn be able to act upon a new information channel and modify focus in near real time. It requires a team to integrate with the technology and synchronize defense and offense more quickly – everybody has to process more and faster. Now when you think in terms of the acquisition of new skills that these applications can demand and multiply that by every team in the league you begin to grasp the enormity of what is taking place. Every team has choices to make on how they are going to integrate the technology at the coaching and player level – an edge is definitely there to be gained by any team that can leverage these technologies in new and creative ways . Quite possibly the team more skilled at analytic integration is going to win . We might already be seeing that first trend play out in the form of more efficient defensive play. I’m not sure yet. You really want to make the statistical case before relying on your own tech biased leanings…

…more to come.

 

The Bigger Picture : The Revised Not March Anymore Madness

Amazing ISS Space Photography by Astronaut Andre Kuipers

We have three simultaneous project areas in progress – music , tennis and research. Music currently involves tracking for a new CD , building of a rig that can encompass both live performance and studio duties (was going to say completion instead of building but I no longer believe you should use that word and rig in the same sentence) and trying to cover and maintain necessary chops for playing prog bass, guitar ,keyboards, drums and vocals since the guys in the original band got fed up and needed other gigs when I decided to become a tennis player . Can’t blame them. So here’s the first occurrence of the two words that can cover any interval of time in which I’m not posting new stuff on the site: Constant overwhelm.

Tennis involves training to level for Pro Circuit with an eye towards ranking as a tour player. Achieving this would be a first for anyone in my age category ; I think that has more to do with current tennis culture than it has to do with any intrinsic limitation that the aging process imposes upon us. That whole discussion is a book in and of itself – and of course the people that say it’s totally nuts to even try may wind up being right. But I don’t think they will be right for very long. Eventually an adult that wasn’t born with a racket in their hands will break through. Skill on the court is no longer the biggest challenge in my corner. The expenses of competition are pretty very high ; thus a working stiff has to pick his fights at the right time and in the right place.

Applied research in psi , signals and noise currently encompasses the greater human experience of higher level intuition , precognition and perception as a form of computation that nature does within the boundedness of her various systems – and that we are an extension of. This one area actually provides the common threads between music , tennis and everything else in a way that still enrages certain sectors of the scientific community – the notion that our human consciousness and cognition DO NOT raise us to a level of primacy above all other living things or even all other things in general. Current research extends qualities of perception to birds , fish , insects and surprisingly…other people  🙂

So , those first posts of the year still define quite a lot of the road ahead. Some new tasks have been added but everything on the docket as of January is still forthcoming. Shifting site content to primarily ( or at least equally) video has meant rigging for light and video : I’ll have first light posts using the Sony a5100 for tennis and music video as well as some commentary on why I chose this instead of the a6000 all my photographer friends recommended ; XAVC-S , lower price = more budget for the imminent step up to 4k etc. As a newbie to all of this I’m now also learning post production & color grading , music to picture…did I mention constant overwhelm ?

We’ll have review material on using the Jabra Pulse for workouts on and off the court. I’ll get around to finally firing up Peavey Revalver for tracking guitars as well as putting that up against the Line 6 POD HD500 which is also due for a major update real soon now.There will be stuff on using Spectrasonics Omnisphere (also due for a major update) and Sonic Projects OPX Pro ll for prog keyboard workouts…and somewhere in there will be a bit about  Maria Sharapova and hey – I’m just one guy , so we’re pretty much good til 2016 !

 

P.S. Just one more thing and it’s spelled K-E-N-T-U-C-K-Y…

 

 

 

Bright Ideas & The Science Snootiness Index

A steampunk lamp for the Bright Idea Department

 

Lets say your doing work in high temp superconductivity and a paper crosses your desk by some chinese grads working under a seldom published researcher at a small institution (collegiate, not mental). The paper is a theoretical rule out for pushing T c higher than  established threshold in the material you happen to be working with and unfortunately the timing is such that it arrives at the very moment a sample of that very same material (you just tweaked for higher T c ) is in fact superconducting at a temperature 2 degrees higher than the previous recorded threshold in an apparatus…on the lab bench…directly in front of you. You were optimistic about a degree maybe. Two degrees might just be due to your rapidly expanding ego cooling the sample even further. Better check. Looks good. So what now ?

 

The minimal energy expenditure (but max entropy for them) response is the not uncommon filing-of-paper-under-desk routine. Some guys might read the abstract again thus expending a bit more energy. A few might immediately get a number for that lab to leave a voice or text message regarding the sheer irony of what was taking place at exactly that moment (tempting). A small minority might actually at some appropriate time read through the whole paper anyway to find out what their colleagues were on about.

Any ideas on how this story plays out – or should play out ? There is this one guy (whose name probably would be Fenyman if this were taking place thirty years ago) who is going to take his sample out of his apparatus (don’t go there) and go over it with the finest tooth comb he/she can find and notice the impurity that broke the topology that leads us to oh my god I’m on my way to Norway room temperature superconductivity. Or something.

The prize doesn’t always go to the saint with the bright ideas and the zero snootiness index. Genius – being what it is ,  can be bestowed on folks all over the spectrum. But you’d like to think in areas critical to human survival there might be some kind of divine intervention that says “dear God your THIS close – don’t be an asshole” . It could happen   🙂

 

 

Web Design Hindsight: An “Always On” Feature !

The Dev Donkey

 

It might only be the 2nd or 3rd site revision that you do or it might take a whole lot more – eventually you arrive at some level of satisfaction that things are starting to gel in terms of where your site is going. Precisely then it becomes much easier to take that sobering look at the advice of experienced developers that you either ignored or decided might be put off until later.

In my case I became a bit cynical about the canonical case for site development after spending weeks parsing Apache security holes while  setting up a dev server only to find the thing too damn slow to develop on. It was time I didn’t have to waste. So I decided to jumpstart the site by building it in situ with a feature laden commercial WordPress theme and plugins so I could focus on web design while sparing myself the pitfalls of down and dirty development. Unfortunately the  theme I chose (because of the tools it included to make my life easier) didn’t have any components that would automatically update: the theme and packaged plugin updates were never in version sync and therein lies a first lesson – stay away from paid themes that sweeten the deal with included plugins; your almost always going to be better off with a plugin license you purchase separately. At least you’ll be getting your updates on time. For further irony the very same theme harbored a plugin slider vulnerability that affected over 100,00 WordPress users and – you guessed it , we were hacked.

So after recovering from such a fiasco site security became a huge priority. I did something right by proceeding with implementing more advanced security measures going forward but in doing so threw another wrench into the design process because the most up to date practices for securing a WordPress  site will unpredictably break some theme features and plugins in ways that can make it hard to determine just where exactly the problem is.

The learning in hindsight is pretty direct citation of top down design fashion DIY : if you can realize the vision first of how you want the thing to look and feel in serving the purposes you want it to serve and then populate it with enough content (note:good SEO can start early) in each media category (text,photos,video,music)  it will be easier to determine the site elements your going to need to code for – or use plugins to accomplish otherwise. You can preview the look and feel of almost everything via saving draft posts and pages in situ if your not using a dev server.

Security decisions you make on the hosting side like SSL certs can be implemented before even installing your CMS but the stuff you do to lock down WordPress from the inside should be left until the end and be finished before going live. Back up the full site and then implement items in your security plugin dashboard in stepwise fashion while checking to see if any theme elements or other plugins break. When and if they do it will be much easier to debug and if not you can deactivate the security plugin , restore and have another go. I’d leave activating things like W3 Total Cache and a CDN as the last things before going live.

It’s easy to conflate learning in hindsight with having done things the hard way.The comic chagrin comes with the recognition that experience is the only way to know this in advance.Or you can learn from those who fell down the same set of stairs before you  😉

Intro to Psi & Computation

lattice

This discussion of psi is going to jump in at a fairly advanced level . If your familiar with the literature than your likely aware that certain forms of psi passed the historical threshold for evidence based  certifiability some time ago ; if your not than you may be in the wrong class. Check your schedule.

The burden of proof for any physical phenomenology is usually met via observation. Whether or not there exists a strong theoretical foundation in place for guiding experimentation is largely dependent upon the temporal development of technologies available for testing increasingly sophisticated ideas that build on what came before. We are at a rather unique crossroads for testing psi phenomena in that technology has made posing questions regarding esp , precognition and the like undifferentiable from  problems in areas involving computation, engineering , physics  and in my own particular neck of these woods prediction , analysis and signal processing. That is to say that these “problems” resemble many other things that constitute fundamental research  in areas like quantum computation as well.

I am not a physicist. My own work involves analytic methods for signal detection in data when signals are poorly characterized and/or swamped by noise . In many cases this has required knowing the physics of the processes involved – the physics of the problem may be very well characterized but the means of data collection may be less than optimal or complicated by the presence of lots of noise in the form of things like…dust.

As a starting point I’d like to point out that once you accept the evidence for psi the consideration of models to test becomes paramount. The standard model of physics that represents our most up to date knowledge from the infinitesimal measure of the Planck length on up to cosmological scales is a fairly accommodating structure. The important thing is that we start somewhere that gives us the opportunity to avoid silly things like violating physical laws of energy conservation ,information and causality at the outset.

It’s easier to do that now than it was prior to contemporary theoretical work that encompasses multiple  paths for putting quantum physics and relativity on the same page. Early on there were brilliant minds accelerating the development of the science with brilliant mathematics but at the time theories would produce lots of things that seemed nonsensical. Those particular solutions to the equations were ignored for a time as bothersome artifacts. In due time evidence for the reality of things like antimatter and black holes would drive theorists into some very strange waters. But even they wouldn’t have seen strings and M-Theory coming. Proper branes were conspicuous in their absence.

So where does all this leave us ?  Does the standard model Universe have what it takes to produce psi ? Obviously yes if you accept the evidence for psi . But that needs to be narrowed. Can purely classical physics give us everything we need or do we require relativistic frames and quantized fields to explain psi ? This is where things get really interesting. In one framework we have phenomenologies that describe causal anomalies . In another we have…engineering challenges !

In this sense throwing down the gauntlet requires a map. Our statement here  merely serves notice of intent.Don’t feel frustrated if you find it interesting but want more background. There will be plenty of citation and annotation , links and media as we go. If your feeling the impulse to jump in with objections already feel free to do so but remember – this is the cover and not the book. The book is still being written.

With the discontinuation of military based research in areas of psi that were useful to intelligence gathering active and ongoing technical discussions involving these phenomena are few and far between. Hopefully in the future we’ll have other researchers putting in a word or two regarding their own work and where they think things might be going.