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Observations

2005aug01 I heard a piece on the radio about prison abuse (especially rape) was being investigated; this struck me as a way to get around the logjam of prison reform, and a technique that could possibly be used elsewhere.

2005aug13 When you shift your visual attention quickly, it's possible to quickly integrate the new scene, but if a subsequent shift happens too soon after, the integration time is longer. If you're having to divide your attention between two scenes, you can't shift back and forth too quickly. One possible way to deal with this is to alternate a longer period of attention with a shorter one. Which scene gets the long gaze and which gets the short depends on many factors ...

2005aug21 As infants, we already have command of the sounds of speech.  What if the sounds of music were equally available?  What's a good way to make all of the effects of tonality and harmony available?  One approach would be to have a region of space representing a chord, with all of the notes available to it expressed relative to that chord; pitches could still be represented with colors (using harmonic coloring), but the position relative to the chord could be expressed with geometry.  The current harmony structures the whole pitch space a certain way; it's not a local thing; how can you express that graphically?  //  How to function while you're losing your mind.  There are various ways to lose your mind; one is to lose your memory, another is to lose your speed, another is to lose your flexibility, another is to lose your will to think, another is being able to keep track of the context, another is to lose your creativity (I don't know if it's possible to lose your creativity).  My experiences of losing my mind: drugs, alcohol, old age, upset, sleepy, asleep (dreaming).  A great deal of human intelligence is strategies for exceeding the limits of human intelligences, that is, heuristics.  For example, trading off between short/medium/long term memory; extending memory with language, mnemonic devices, writing.  If you're losing your ability to remember words, do this exercise: for a given word, make up a few sentences using that word.  //  Could the same principle that's applied to pitch (in the current Keyboard Wizard software, objects representing notes appear, and you need to negotiate them) be applied to tonality or harmony?  //  In a musical interface, what should it feel to go from one key/tonality/chord to another?  Are you being-pulled/pushing/wiggling-free?  //  Not a new idea: there should be digital archive services, which, for a fee, would make a piece of data available online indefinitely; the cost would take the form of a self-funding trust, enough so that the interest would cover all expenses.  //  When talking to foreigners, if you speak so that each word is its own element, you both give the listener more time to recognize a word, and make the task of separating one word from another easier.  //  How good can a violin coming out of a loudspeaker sound?  Does it have the same problems a piano does?  //  Does being empathetic to others relate to being empathetic to yourself?  What does that mean?  If you can't treat others well, can you treat yourself well?  //  The beat structure in the Tapper display could be color-coded, or thickness-coded, or something.  Climbing my parents' fig tree this morning, I found I wasn't flexible in ways that I was thirty years ago; a good exercise for me would be to climb around on a jungle gym.  //  How often during the day are you actually deciding what you're going to be doing next (as opposed to just following through on things you've already decided)?  //  What are the graphical equivalents of speech sounds? { rough surface for fricatives, grooves for vowels, bumps for frontal plosives, etc. }  //  Listening to a piano concerto, I was struck by how well the piano balanced a given section of the orchestra, it was like it was a section; this suggests that, for the conductor program, an ensemble in which each player controlled a section would work well.  //  An idea for an instrument: one in which the in-stroke is much more nasal (in its harmonic structure) than the outstroke, so that it is like breathing.

2005aug23 Musicians who sight-read well have learned to make a quick assessment of what's going on, and react to it with full commitment; does this make them more likely to jump to conclusions in other situations?

2005aug26 One thing that distinguishes youth from age is the degree to which things are unexpected the more you've seen, the more that what you see looks like what you've seen.  On the whole, it's emotionally beneficial to have experience, because the unexpected (and the fear of the unexpected) can be upsetting, but positive things can be unexpected too.  If you want to retain flexibility in the face of deteriorating capabilities, allow the unexpected into your routine; welcome it.  //  One way of categorizing a new experience to make it available in the future is to see it as an alternate way of doing something that you already know how to do.

2005aug29 On my web site, I'd like a shorthand to indicate which ideas I consider ahead for me, and which are for other people.

2005aug31 Does it take longer to grow up in a world that is more complicated?

2005sep01 There's an image that occasionally comes to my mind in situations where the amount of effort spent discussing something that might be done dwarfs the amount of effort it would take to actually do it (and which would render the discussion moot).  The image is a bunch of men standing around, pointing to some small object on the ground, like a small pebble, going on and on about what it would take to move it an inch to the left, the pros and cons, etc.

2005sep12 Many of the people who've attempted to make intelligent music tools have, in my humble opinion, bitten off more than they could chew.  Music analysis is a very hard problem, and no technique is going to work perfectly all the time.  Rather than trying to make imperfect tools perfect, we should be making systems for letting us help imperfect tools do a better job (perhaps by using other imperfect tools).  For example, if you have a rule which can classify melodic motives, and you apply it to a piece of music, and it doesn't do quite what you want, you should be able to give it another rule, perhaps one which is only applicable to that piece, which lets it work better.

2005sep22 What do you have to learn to be able to __________?  Is it possible to enumerate these things for various activities?  E.g.: playing the piano, writing software, doing a backflip, etc.  Is it possible to quantify the effort required to learn things?  //  What's the way to get the most dense kind of activity of the kind that I want?  I want to arrange things so that I can continuously respond to the point of greatest pressure; this could be the pressure brought by my own will, or the will of others.  It would be good to push each thought forward as much as it could be pushed at the moment; what's an environment that would let that happen?  Of course, the best environment is a single mind, but when that grows unreliable, what's a good prosthesis?

2005sep25 An art to be cultivated: to be more suggestible.  The main person to suggest things is yourself, but being open to the suggestions of others can be valuable too.  Being drunk makes you more suggestible.  It's useful to decide: on which axis am I going to be comprehensive -- like, which room am I going to clean up first?  Or: are all my biological needs satisfied?

2005oct02  We teach a lot of things in grade schools and universities, but we don't teach peace-making (or -keeping) much.  Why not?  Is it considered impractical?  Wasted effort?

2005oct11   The DMV for each state should have an interactive game for teaching traffic laws.

2005oct20  Having your headlights on increases the share of other drivers' attention you receive; is this what we want?  Does this mean that you increase the chances that another driver will have an accident involving a car with its headlights off, or a pedestrian, or with some part of the roadway?  If so, is it selfish to drive with your headlights on?  //  Does the capitalist model suit the individual well in a world where there is free trade between nations with very different standards of living?

2005oct26  Don't let it slip away without a fight! ('It' being any kind of opportunity to live your life to its fullest.)