James Pinkerton thinks that a Contain Ment policy will be best in the Middle East/IRan.

In 1946 (ColdWar), three schools of thought emerged; we can dub them the Conciliators, the Rollbackers, and the Containers... "The main element of any United States policy toward the Soviet Union must be that of a long-term, patient but firm and vigilant containment of Russian expansive tendencies." But even as George Kennan saw the Soviets as a threat, he also saw the risk of America's overplaying its hand; in the very next sentence, he added, "It is important to note, however, that such a policy has nothing to do with outward histrionics: with threats or blustering or superfluous gestures of outward 'toughness.'" So Kennan's keep-cool "containment" led, naturally, to the Cold War.

Rollback didn't work out as planned in IRaq, but the neo-Burnhamites -- oops, Neo Conservative-s -- are still gung ho for mo' military action... the true essence of rollback, as "Burnham the Liberator" would have insisted, is not just toppling the enemy regime, but replacing it with a new friendly government. And yet such confident talk is conspicuously absent from current discussions of IRan... Indeed, the emerging reality is that Muslims don't like the West... If so, then knocking over the Ahmadinejad government might not help us much, even if we knew how to do it, because the new bosses would be about the same as the old bosses... So we will settle for rolling back just their nuclear/WMD ambitions, as they become visible to us, leaving the populations to stew in their increasingly Salafist juices. Here's a prediction: this particular neocon scenario won't work... eventually, after they get bombed enough, with or without Ahmadinejad, the Iranians will sober up and realize that they need a Big Friend, to protect them from us... And the biggest potential Friend of all is ChinA.

z2006-02-22- Pinkerton Containment Iran Middle East

Interview with Chet Richards. FourGw, etc.

  • Contain Ment basically says, "What we want to do is keep the threat level down to something that we can stand ,while staying actively involved in the rest of the world through other means to try to lure people to us."... Well, go back to George Kennan's original idea. That's where the term containment comes from. He said to contain the Soviet Union militarily so we didn't have World War III, but then to try to involve them in as many things as you can. The other thing about Kennan is that by '48 or so, he was saying, "Hey, they're contained. Now we really need to start trying to involve ourselves with them." Everyone ignored him, and he had to spend the rest of his life saying this wasn't the containment he had in mind... Saddam Hussein was so weak, it didn't take very much to contain him.

  • We're spending half a trillion dollars, and when you look around, who's it going to defend us from? It didn't defend us from AlQaeda.

  • (re risks from private security companies - PMC-s): There is no doubt in my mind that there's going to be abuses. Then again, the Declaration Of Independence lists all the abuses of standing military forces against the people. The thing the Founding athers were just deathly afraid of, and thought the biggest threat to people's liberties, was large standing military forces (Standing Army). Look down through history at all the times that armies have turned against their own citizenry. At least on the private side, they'll have some competition. It's difficult for one of those companies to do too much damage, because companies can bring the abuses of their competitors to the surface. If Black Water starts doing things that are too egregious, there's an incentive for a Triple Canopy to rat them out.

z2006-07-22- Chet Richards Interview
Distributed Membership System
Digital Identity
Intervention Roulette
Patients Like Me
Engineering School
Weekly Review
Getting Things Done
Hack Your Project Team With An Issue Tracker Wiki
Graph Drawing
EverNote has MohioMap
Mencius Moldbug
Lounge Lizards
Computational Thinking

In reviewing TedGioia's The Jazz Standard-s, Benjamin Schwarz notes how much jazz leveraged the "Great American Songbook". Items from the Songbook form by far the largest portion of Gioia’s selections, and indeed of any conceivable version of the jazz repertoire. The great overlap between the Songbook and the jazz catalogue largely explains a fact that troubles Gioia—that his book can enshrine “few recent compositions”—and raises doubts about his assertion, supported by passion rather than by argument, that “the jazz idiom [is] a vibrant, present-day endeavor.” (Syncopated Music)

Schwarz quotes John Lewis of the Modern Jazz Quartet: "Jazz developed while the great popular music was being turned out. It was a golden age for songs. They had a classic quality in length and shape and form and flexibility of harmony. The jazz musicians were drawn to this music as a source of material." But Schwarz implies that the particular qualities of the Songbook material were what attracted jazz musicians.

He pulled this quote from GeneLees' essay "Jazz and the American Song" in The Oxford Companion to Jazz. The essay places less emphasis on the quality of the songs than their market function. The hits of the day were familiar to a wide audience and thus gave the performer comparitively easy access to the listener... From the standpoint of the audience, the use of this repertoire had two evident advantages: it was material with which the listener was already comfortable; and it provided a basis on which to assess and appreciate the performer's improvisations.

Jazz musicians took this dependency on the American song a step further: they began basing "originals" - their own compositions - on the chord structures of popular songs... You cannot Copy Right a set of chord changes.

But Lees also thinks that the quality of the Songbook was important: As material for improvisation, "modern" popular music, including that derived from Broadway and the movies, not to mention Nashville, is pretty thin gruel... Can you imagine anyone recording an album titled "The Jazz Soul of Andrew Lloyd Webber"?

I think there's real potential here for greater jazz visibility.

  • there's plenty of current PopMusic that isn't treacly like Andrew Lloyd Webber. (In fact, BroadWay isn't PopMusic, it's music that's attractive to aging upper-middle-class SubUrb-anoid.) And it isn't really getting any worse.

  • even if a popular song's ultimate quality isn't strong, you could create a better song from a recognizable snippet/component.

  • if you want to grab the chord progression from a pop song, this Hook Theory database might help. Of course, you'll eventually end up with a Four Chord Song.

  • some genres (e.g. Drum And Bass) seem like a natural background for ImProv. Though I don't know if any small number of pieces are sufficiently recognizable by a large number of people. But maybe these genres just create niches for specific jazz players.

  • I wonder whether Copy Right enforcement practices have changed. MashUp-s like GirlTalk still happen, but “What the Beastie Boys and Public Enemy were doing, no one could do anymore,” he (Illegal Art's pseudonymous Philo T Farnsworth) said, referring to groups that made music from densely layered samples when record companies were paying less attention to these legal issues.

  • A friend noted that The People like vocals. Sounds like a job for a lyrics generator or a poem generator. (cf Markov Chain)

    • May not need a singer.

Oct30 update: just discovered Acid Brass.

z2012-10-25- Jazz And Popular Music
My Intro Blurb
Mathemat Ica
Syncopated Music
Either Orchestra
World Music
First World
First World Problem

Venkatesh Rao on why you're not an Artisan (Artisan Al). Thinking through the implications of the whole artisan-crafts-guilds meme in the future-of-work (Economic Transition) debates led me to an odd conclusion: the future is significantly brighter (or less bleak) than people realize. So long as you stop thinking in terms of crafts and aim to practice a trade instead, there is more work for humans than people realize.

Neolog Ism OfTheDay: Conspicuous Production: We look for prestigious brands to work for. We look for “fulfillment” at work. Sometimes we even accept pay cuts to be associated with famous names. This is work as fashion accessory and conversation fodder... First World artisan tendencies take this to a logical extreme... People who seek sexy work are often members of what I called the Jeffersonian Middle Class in an earlier post — motivated by creative self-expression and a sense of personal dignity rather than economic survival.

Sexy/schleppy is to my mind, the most natural way to break down human preferences for work... Unfortunately, the entire current conversation around work is confused because we prefer a less meaningful distinction, CreatIve vs. uncreative.

So when people talk about saving work or jobs, they mostly talk about saving sexy, income-generating conspicuous production packaged as creative work, in a debt-fueled de facto leisure society. Since few people actively aspire to do the schlep work anyway, we don’t poke much at the consensus view that it can be automated away. I think this conclusion is premature and in fact mistaken. Just because sexy work is the kind we want to save doesn’t mean it is the kind that is easier to save. In fact it is harder to automate schlep work, which we grievously misunderstand.

The world according to computers (and by extension, robots and soon all machines) offers two kinds of work: algorithmically scalable and algorithmically unscalable. We make the mistake of thinking that just because computers do bounded-variety, repetitive information work very well, that they can do anything that seems repetitive (boring) to humans very well. But when we’re talking complex systems-level schlepping, like the refining of crude data from disparate information systems, there are rarely any elegant algorithms... The human share of the work pie isn’t the gap between machine creativity and human creativity. The real human share of the work pie is the gap between machine repeatability and human boredom.

Aspiring artisans seek sexy work at small-and-local scales (Local World). They reject mass celebrity and status in a global culture, but still crave local celebrity and status (they call it “being respected in the community”). They still look to engage in conspicuous production. They are as prone to deluding themselves that sexy is creative as wannabe actors. How do they do this? They do this by confusing economically essential variety (such as handling all the potential variety and ongoing evolution in an online payment system) with economically optional variety (such as uniqueness in hand-crafted coffee mugs). This is the artisan delusion... The artisan delusion is important because almost everything artisans want to do — all the local-and-sexy work — is actually algorithmically scalable once you filter out the noise. There just isn’t much requisite variety there. Which means it is more vulnerable to being taken over by post-industrial modes of automated production, not less. Because software makes assembly lines more capable, not less.

The easiest way to appreciate the emerging human condition to adopt a couple of new metaphors for machines: machines as children and humans as intestinal fauna.

In every sexy-work market, automation takes away the most profitable irreducible-variety segment and leaves behind a pure Attention Economy segment subject to the highly random celebrity and fashion dynamics of the Internet age... The role of technology in sexy work is to take away the algorithmically scalable, high-requisite-variety market segments that actually generate profits, leaving behind a casino economy for a class that is destitute in the median case. It is democratization in the sense of turning an unfair LottEry that you can at least game with some cleverness (such as pitching a gullible movie producer with more money than taste) into a true lottery that you cannot.

The early example of information-age chimney sweep work are just emerging: data cleaning, image interpretation, human customer service as a differentiator from voice-prompt hell, various kinds of machine repair. Some of these categories will go away, but I suspect new kinds of schlep work will emerge faster than old kinds vanish... What unites all these trades is that they accept roles based on kinds of schlepping that machines are bad at rather than insisting on work that humans like to do. I think of them as forming an emerging Hamiltonian middle class — a class that accepts and adapts to large-scale technological systems as a part of life (the kind that Alexander Hamilton promoted in early America). Unlike the Jeffersonian middle class, the Hamiltonian middle class is willing and able to redefine its identity and evolve with machines rather than remaining attached to a static, romanticized notion of what it means to be human.

z2013-07-11- Rao Not An Artisan Sexy Vs Future Work
Live Performance
Buckaroo Banzai
Simulat Ion

I have a fuzzy feeling that AI techniques will become useful for CoachIng us in Self Improvement.


I'm going to start playing with some ChatBot code David Ross wrote combining ELIZA and Markov Chain ideas.

  • hrm, he built on Twisted Matrix which I don't really feel like getting into

  • so I'm starting to play with the "Willie" IrcBot library...

z2014-07-06- Ai Assisted Coaching

My Intro Blurb:

This is the publicly-readable WikiLog Thinking Space of Bill Seitz (a Product Manager and CTO).

My Calling: to accelerate Evolut Ion by increasing FreeDom and Opportunity and AgenCy for many people via DAndD of Thinking Tools (software and Games To Play) that increase the LeverAge of Free Agent-s and smaller groups (Small World).

See Intro Page for space-related goals, status, etc.; or WikiNode for more terse summary info.

Beware the War On The Net!



Seeking: Product Manager-type position in established organization with entrepreneurial culture, local to Barrington Il or remote. My value: accelerating business-changing product development.



My Recent Key Pages:
My Blog Roll:
Follow me on Twitter