Intro to Music Production-Assignment 4/30

To my regular readers, of which there about 5, over the next weeks I will be publishing assignments for my online course in music production. You might find them useful. Thanks for understanding:

Hello fellow producers. My pen name is Will Servant. Sorry, but I don’t reveal my true name on this blog. I’m an old, white, male. I was a performing musician for several years and have a AA in Sound Arts from Minneapolis Community and Technical College. I have produced some demos and one album of original material. However, I need to learn much more about how to produce music recordings.

My topic today is recording an acoustic instrument. Recording an acoustic instrument involves several basic processes, and I’ll be covering them roughly in the order I like to follow.

Most home studios don’t have a professionally designed and built room to record in. Because of this you often record in your bedroom or garage, rooms that have far from the best acoustics. Vibrations and noise from nearby trains, passing vehicles, noisy neighbors and even your computer can introduce unwanted sounds that affect the clarity of your track and raise your frustration level. Some of these problems can’t be fixed. But there are things you can do to help. For one, if you can record late at night, without waking up your roommate, you can reduce the chance a passing truck or that guy downstairs will make it impossible to record your sensitive mandolin part.

You can also improve your room itself. The physical properties of the room influence your recordings. Rooms with hard surfaces, or of certain sizes, can make it difficult for you to record the sound you want. You might have to hang a blanket on the wall or scatter some chairs around the room. You might even stick one of those huge stuffed panda bears in the corner. We’ll talk about standing waves and live rooms later in the class.

The type of microphone you use and where it is placed will influence any recording, and not just that of an acoustic instrument. If you have a bare bones studio, with only one large diaphragm condenser mic to use, moving the mic around and/or changing the microphone’s polar pattern will assist you in getting the desired sound quality. It might take awhile, but it’s definitely worth it. Remember, and this is important, the best production tools in your tool belt are your ears. Listening critically and constructively is the best way to find the sound you want.

If you can afford several mics I recommend getting one or two small diaphragm condenser mics. These mics can help you record sounds from a particular small area, while rejecting other close by sounds. A good example is recording the sound from the fretboard of a guitar, while avoiding the sound coming from the sound hole. These mics can also be useful for recording a natural stereo, or adding useful ambient sounds, such as the sound from the corner of the room. Having a decent dynamic mic can come in handy when recording acoustic instruments that can cause sensitive condenser mics to distort the signal. In general, experimenting with different microphones and placements is the best way to capture your ideal track.

We have talked about the actual recording of acoustic instruments. Now let’s spend a little time on signal path. Using quality equipment is as important to getting the best possible sound as a good performance. Besides the instruments themselves and the microphones, everything in the signal path has a significant effect on the quality of your recording. Using the best devices you can afford, such as cables, direct boxes, pre-amps, mixing boards, or interfaces, will give you the best recordings possible. It is important not to skimp on any piece of equipment along the signal path. A chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link. This is true in all recording. Try to balance your spending, regardless of your budget.

Some of these issues aren’t as critical as others for recording acoustic instruments, but always make certain the signal path  is as quality as you can make it. Double check to assure everything is working and set up properly. Something as simple as a condenser microphone with phantom power turned off can drive you crazy. Before recording your track follow each point in the signal path, starting with the source, from component to component, all the way inside the computer. This will help assure you can record the track successfully without any unnecessary hair pulling.

Finally, there is a factor that is often unknown to, or forgotten by, the home producer/recordist. I previously mentioned unwanted noise created by external sources. There are also sources of noise right inside the studio. The dreaded “60 cycle hum” created by grounding issues somewhere in your signal path, can be maddening, hard to find, and difficult to reconcile. Poorly shielded cables can allow radio frequency interference into the path. And what about unwanted noise created right in the studio by the performers themselves? A squeaky chair, or bracelet hitting the guitar, or a foot unconsciously tapping on a mike stand can ruin a great performance.

In summary, although there are plenty of “experts” who will tell you the right way to record an acoustic instrument, the best way is to listen and find the way that gives you the sound you want. You might have to experiment or think counterintuitively. Your studio may have limitations. But your ears and creativity can overcome those obstacles, and your acoustic guitar part will come out clean and crisp. With some feeling, technique, skill and a good performance, a well recorded acoustic instrument will add just the right touch to your mix.

Next we’ll talk about what happens once the recorded signal gets inside the computer.

Different Blokes for Different Folks

Since we’re on a roll posting about the differences between liberals and conservatives (or is it conservatives and liberals) I thought I’d go at it from a slightly different tack. This treatise (getting a big head are we?) is based on only one concept, how each faction (more like each segment) defines power and its use.

Politics is about power. It always has been and always will be. Government is power in a practical public sense. Government forms, secures and enforces public policy, which power to do so is given to it, in a democracy, by the people, through their constitutional right to vote. (One of these days we’ll look into the difference between constitutional rights and god given rights) (Are you tired of these not so clever parenthetical asides yet?)(OK I’ll stop).

So it follows that one difference between liberals and conservatives would be a difference of opinion about what power really is and who truly wields it. Since goal 1 of the politician is gaining office, i.e. political power, and goal 1A is maintaining it, differences in the perception of power inform a great deal of what politicians are about, both in theory and practice. Starting with how they wage campaigns, all the way through how they formulate policy and propose legislation, their ideas about power are an important aspect of their ideology and it’s promotion.

I reference no science here. I know of no studies or research on the subject of political power and it’s party specific dynamics, although I’m sure there must be some. Unlike other nameless actors in the media play, I have no desire to claim my opinions are science. These are solely my opinions, forged through observation of both the say and the do on the bridge between hypothesis and action. Because of the apparent death and rigor mortis of non partisan cooperation in Washington, and many state houses as well, I’m sure my opinions can only be speculative and not viable. I wish they were. And, as you will see, unfortunately, I am horribly biased as well.

The primary conservative vision of power is the acquisition and application of money. Money is the thing they value most. It gets them the things they want. Money has traditionally been the standard used to confer social status onto the wealthy. This status imparts important things to the rich person, things they need to imagine they are happy. Other people, often poor people who also value money above all, look up to the wealthy and aspire to be wealthy. They covet what the wealthy have and what they can get. They gladly hand over their socioeconomic and political power to the wealthy, feeling the rich have proven their ability to wield that power, based on the benchmark of their ability to accumulate wealth. These folk see the wealthy as superior but their egos tell them they are also superior and will someday be wealthy themselves, thus proving their superiority. In essence they worship the rich. This worship can easily give the wealthy a false sense of superiority and cause them to resent those who criticize them. They feel they are above criticism and scrutiny. They need the worship to give them a feeling of self worth. They are frightened people who are scared of change, of losing their status and the power they value that goes with it.

Conservatives also value the power of authority. This comes primarily from their belief that a hierarchy of authority, whether through the power of money or of wisdom or tenure, keeps society disciplined and morally in line. People who need discipline and need an external source of ideas, also display worship of authority and think their leaders as superior. They follow unfailingly those arbiters of the acceptable, whether familial, religious, political etc., because, once again, the authorities have proven their moral superiority. They depend on their leaders to tell them how to live. They are happy to abrogate their power, the power to discover their own set of values, to the authority figures and their prefab values. They are also scared, frightened of doing wrong out of wrong thinking. They don’t trust themselves to grow and progress any further than their ancestors did. They wait patiently, until they have their own families and own status in the community. They are then handed the power of authority, power they can wield themselves, over their own particular fiefdom.

It is not difficult for conservatives to accept authoritarian rule. They accept that the wealthy, or those who the wealthy support, are best suited to rule. They come from a system where dissent is discouraged; because reliance on rules protects the people from themselves. They harbor the idea that if they work hard enough and play by the rules, they will attain the power of wealth and authority for themselves. However, all the time, they are aware that the real way to attain power is to ignore the rules until you have enough power to discard them. But only those with authority have the luxury to do that with impunity.

So conservatives are mostly rich people afraid of losing what they have plus poor people who are scared of failure and desperate for success. They feed off each other, providing what the other needs most. They want everybody to submit to their values, not only because they are completely certain they are right about everything but because they have doubts, deep inside, that they might just be wrong. These doubts need to be buried even deeper in order for them to function. Seeing others who have different values makes them question that righteousness, and they can’t have that. If they can get everybody to accept their vision and their values, then those doubts disappear.

Finally, conservatives believe that power and wealth are finite and scarce. Because of this they are perpetually haunted by fear. Fear of not not being good enough to get their share of the pie, and fear of not being good enough to keep others from taking the share they have. In the struggle to accumulate and keep as much of the scare commodity of power it’s every man for himself. So in essence conservatives are motivated by getting and keeping power, in the form of money and authority. Their politics reflects this world view.

As you may imagine, liberals have quite a different vision of power. To them power is collective. it comes from the bottom up and not the top down. Power is people. It is attained through finding the ever changing nature of the greater good, nurturing and maintaining it for everyone, with equal opportunity for a life of meaning and peace of mind. Liberals worship the balance between the welfare of the self and the welfare of society. Power is not the finite, scarce commodity of money, to be competitively gathered, through any means, and hoarded for no good purpose other than to gloat. Power is limitless and abundant, and comes in many forms, with money being only one among many. Power is accumulated not individually through competition, but collectively through cooperation.

This is not to say the liberal does not value money. Money has real value and purpose. The accumulation of it is not so much proof of an individual’s superiority but more so an application of an individual’s gifts and skill. The power of money is not in using it to get what one wants but to assure everyone gets what they need.

Liberals are more inclined to recognize and respect the value of all people, regardless of economic or social standing. They respect authority rather than worship it. Neither do they worship those who have money and keep it for themselves but rather those who have money and happily give some of it back to the government and the people, so that together we create more of the abundance that gives us the comfort of knowing there is enough for all.

Liberals view the authority of leadership not as a rigid hierarchy of dominance but as a means to make and enforce rules that benefit all. Instead of quanta of the unchallenged influence of authority, through which a young adult can only ascend by the consent of one who must then descend, the liberal youth is simply given the tools to ascend on their own terms, without depending on the failure of others for their success. For the liberal, leadership is about managing abundance instead of doling out scarcity. It is about hope instead of fear.

So liberals are people from all walks of life who value themselves and, thus, others. The essence of how the liberal sees the world is in the individual and collective, giving to back and forth to each other the abundant, diverse wealth created by the power of skill and caring, of everyone working together. This is the model for their politics.

I cannot with good conscience claim that liberal politics in today’s America consistently and accurately reflect liberal values. Neither can I honestly claim that all conservatives reflect such narrow and self serving values. But when so many say the difference between liberals and conservatives is in the succinct opinion that liberals are about people and conservatives are about money, I can’t argue with that in principal.

When asked to explain the difference was between liberals and conservatives with one question, the cognitive linguist Dr. George Lakoff, to paraphrase, asked, if your baby cries in the night do you pick it up. The conservative, who is rigid, insists the baby learn to submit to the power of authority, the power of those who think they know what is best for them. They let them cry themselves to sleep. On the other hand, the liberal, who is caring, surrenders to the power of the child to express its needs, accepting that everyone, even a baby, has the power to ask for what they need. They listen to the child, and without fear of making them weak, pick them up and soothe them.

My question to describe the difference is, “if I told you someone was bankrupt, would you say it was more about morals or about money”? Maybe not the best question, but that is where I see the difference. With one definition comes the fear of being bereft of the power of money, and of being dependent on others. With the other comes the sadness of seeing someone not only hurt themselves but others.

Speaks to me.

There’s No Gold In the Poll Vault.

Most people think opinion polls are pretty easy. Somebody asks you questions, mostly over the phone, and you answer them. Simple. A lot of people also take poll results as gospel. There are polls about nearly everything. Probably the most well known are political polls. There seems to be a zillion of them and close to an election the results of one poll or the other seem to be made public daily. Then the media analyzes them into oblivion. Even the candidates themselves sponsor their own private polls.

Plenty of journalists (I use that term loosely) and pundits, plus individual campaigns, use polls to support their contentions and positions on the issues, as well as their popularity and place in the race. What many people fail to consider is the fact that poll results are statistics, and as such can be manipulated. People and groups with a political axe to grind, a candidate to elect or an issue to support often succumb to the temptation of doctoring, fudging, weighting their polls, using leading questions and deceptive phrasing. This gets them results that are more favorable to their goals, which results are then broadcast in as many media outlets as possible to make people think so and so is behind by 4 points instead of 2 or has 80% approval instead of 65%.

How do these pollsters do their manipulating? Probably the obvious and recognizable method is the push poll, so named because it is designed to push you in a specific direction. This kind of poll borders on the criminal, at least in my mind. It’s not even really a poll, in the legitimate sense. It’s more like a telemarketing call, short and to the point, designed to reach as many voters as possible in a short time. It will start off innocuously enough with simple questions like “are you registered to vote?” or “do you know who these candidates are”. They then quickly move into the push questions which are misleading at best and patently, cruelly deceiving at worst. They use suggestion and innuendo to create doubt in the voters mind, normally about the character of a candidate. These questions are cleverly worded not to be lies and get the message across powerfully.

To exaggerate, but not by much, they ask questions such as “if you knew so and so voted to burn all black cats in Alabama to death would you be more or less inclined to vote for them? There is always the implication that this candidate is hiding something awful that makes them totally unfit for office. The questions are speculations and thus are not legally slanderous. But they sure are effective. Push polls often come very close to the day of an election when a candidate doesn’t have time to respond and refute the faux accusations. The giveaways that you are being subjected to a push poll are the clear speculative markers. These assure the questions aren’t directly accusatory. Be on the lookout for questions that start “if you knew” and “if I told you” or “what if so and so”. If there’s an “if”, it’s a push. Push polls are like defense attorneys. They try to create doubt in the mind of those making a very important decision. And like defense attorneys all they need is a little doubt to flip jurors, i.e. voters, and win.

Other, perhaps less creepy, but more subtle and not so obvious tactics include the small sample size, where the pollster uses the smallest number of polled voters that can legitimately be said to be “statistically significant” and within the standard plus or minus 3% deviation. Frankly, with that small a sample size plus or minus 3% makes the poll virtually meaningless in cases where the race is expected to be close. A small sample size also makes it easier to skew the demographics of the poll by calling at certain times of the day, or by saying a strong republican is a moderate because he voted for a democrat once in college, etc.

One might not think that deceptive political polling is a big deal but it enrages me. It is malevolent trickery at it’s finest, done extremely well by smart people who are paid well. The type of manipulation which enrages me the most is the most subtle and I believe most effective way of getting misleading results. This happens when there are intentionally badly worded or constructed questions or questions with no good answers. An example of a badly worded question is “was your congressman’s vote on xyz bill good for the people of your district?” If your congressman voted yes on a bad bill neither a yes or no answer is really indicative of your position on the matter. An example of a question without an answer is “do you think congress should cut funding for early childhood programs or all day kindergarten.” If you favor funding both of those things, strongly, being made to choose between them makes you disingenuous.

I have gotten to the point in my life where I refuse to answer certain questions on polls, even if they are from legitimate pollsters. And I tell the person administering the poll that it’s a bad, misleading question, not that that will change anything. Even if this stuff does make my blood boil, people are right when they say it’s not a major issue, compared to the litany of truly existential threats to the planet. But it is yet another in a long long line of manipulations designed to keep us divided and diverted.

Heaven forbid we suddenly wake up and realize we only have the illusion of democracy.

Who Has the Power? ( And How Did They Get It?)

Please be advised that this post presupposes that science has value and can legitimately shed light on at least several things in this universe. This is no longer a given.

Lately there seems to be something of a rush to discover and reveal the real differences between Conservatives and Liberals. It’s a mean and meme world out there and there are plenty of pundits with a need to chime in on every tweety youtube trender that comes along, regardless of whether they know anything about it or not. Thus the recent spate of “Here’s the secret handshake of science” journalism that probably comes from certain so-called experts’ need to separate themselves from the glutted pack of a thousand points of sites. And there are plenty of new studies out there for these limelight addicts to reference.

We have the brain activity explanation, complete with those graphs and GIFs of brainwaves that folks are fond of displaying in their articles and on their blogs. Oft times well meaning but inadequately informed journalists will look to graphs to help flesh out their stories, especially if they are pretty. (The graphs that is). The brain wave explanations are so au courant and impressive but as with most speculative science those brain waves are subject to the classic query, “Nature or Nurture”. And, also as usual, I believe it’s some of both.

There is then the genetic proclivity explanation, with a different, more structural look at the brain. They often talk in science-ese, a bizarre language they use to keep us confused enough that they can keep their jobs. They talk about how this or that lobe or area of the brain is larger or smaller, or more or less developed. It gives them reason to declare that there are genetic proclivities towards certain influences and behaviors that predict our political tendencies. I think there is some merit to this point of view, but it is not a complete explanation. The fact that tradition shows us that most national elections, when push comes to shove, are decided by a relatively small margin. This balance references the fact that many brain functions have a binary, on or off, function. More on this later.

My particular preferred explanation for all this terminally intellectual stuff comes through the branch of Cognitive Science that is Cognitive Linguistics. It is on this subject that I will wax poetic, seemingly for the next several days.

Because our brain does not primarily use words to communicate with itself, but only to communicate with others, the development of language says everything about how humans communicate thoughts, ideas and concepts. The study of the brain and how it works speaks to us about the relationship between brain function and the way we use words. The science shows us that words can actually, physically change the brain. For me this reconciles other research being done by cognitive linguists about the influence of our brains on our politics, with the aforementioned purely physical reasons.

Cognitive science is a big deal these days. My opinion is that it grew simultaneously with and parallel to the quest to unlock the human genome. Curiosity is the engine behind scientific discovery, and as the technology to study and research both the physical functions of the brain and the body’s cellular level programming became more and more advanced, so did the drive to uncover the secrets of these heretofore mysterious and vitally important body parts.

What science is discovering is that the existence, outside of us, of a transcendent mind, which houses truth and reason, that we tap into to various degrees, to access universal meaning and conceptual reality, is a falsehood. Rationalists be damned, we are discovering that all human function is embodied in the brain. Not only does the brain control our typing and eyesight but our thinking and feeling.

One may ask, if all human thought is controlled by the individual brain and not an external static source, how is it that we have nearly universal acceptance of certain concepts. In essence that acceptance comes through experience and communication. Our thoughts are more pictorial than verbal. In fact, verbal communication is a limited, imperfect brain function, informed by the differences in individual human thought more so than any concrete construct. Agreement on the collective nature of things and ideas begged the question of what symbols to use to adequately and consistently communicate about things and ideas, between the ever larger sociopolitical and socioeconomic groups that evolved over time. Language became more and more important the larger the number of people we needed to talk to.

Words connect us with the pictures our brains use to simplify complex situations, concepts and functioning physical systems. Words are the triggers that bring entire groups of things and ideas into consciousness, from the unconscious, in one instantaneous moment. These verbally supported thought pictures define both what is and isn’t part of the communication at hand. For example, when one says the word “hospital” we immediately call up the words that trigger pictures of doctors and nurses and gurneys and IVs. Just that one word calls into our conscious minds an entire complex idea. The word also immediately references what is not in a hospital, i.e. a motorcycle or football. It cements a clear definition of the concept in our brain. Our brains do this as a shortcut. The brain processes millions of bits of information a second, and has an incredible amount of information in storage. In order to function quickly and efficiently it has to compress information dramatically in order to do this.

You may have heard the phrase ‘words have power’. This is more true than any of us ever imagined. Cognitive linguists are finding that words and the collective acceptance of their meaning cannot only influence people’s conceptualizations, but can actually change the brain. The brain learns and constantly changes to reflect that learning. Wanna learn how to hit a curveball? The more curveballs you try to hit the brain better remembers the group of complex physical responses that bring to the task both success and failure. Eventually it builds an express lane that more efficiently sets that entire process in motion the instant the eye sees what it recognizes as a curveball. We get better at hitting the curveball. The brain, over time, has learned how to make that entire quantum of processes respond more quickly and accurately, by physically changing its structure. The repetition has worn a “deeper’ neural pathway in the brain, from the seeing of the ball to the hitting of it. This better worn groove speeds up the process and enhances its effectiveness.

The desire for accomplishment and knowledge which leads to changing the brain does not only apply to physical performance but to conceptualization as well. If we are constantly exposed to a pervasive mental or emotional stimulus the brain learns which picture to call up, into the conscious mind, that the word, or grouped word metaphor, triggers. When dealing with a word that can have several meanings, repetition of the word trigger that points to the preferred definition determines which neural pathway becomes dominant. This now dominant pathway points us to that desired definition to the exclusion of others.

The brain can only assign one picture at a time to any given word. This is where the battle originates. Two opposing forces that support different meanings associated with a word, meanings called contested concepts, will fight over which meaning takes hold in the unconscious minds of the masses. The unconscious mind is where the meanings of words live. We could never hold the meanings of the several thousands words we know and use in our conscious minds minds all at the same time. The fight is over which picture comes into consciousness when the word is used and sets off the trigger. Establishing which meaning of the word is dominant is important because, as one address can’t be used for two homes at the same time, one word can’t point to two pictures at the same time. Their is a reason different definitions for a word in the dictionary are numbered. Pickle can’t mean a tasty, if salty, treat and a predicament concurrently.

Conservatives learned and accepted these ideas, putting their own frames around the pictures much earlier than liberals. They have gotten the jump on them in many areas of defining political ideas. In fact, to this day, many liberals consider as cheating the selling of the meanings of words to the public through repetition, by claiming opinion is truth, and by asserting their victimhood, etc.. They say manipulating the meanings of words is propaganda and against their principles. It is, of course, a type of propaganda, and as such is underhanded and vile, but we are in the middle of a war of words, a battle for the political hearts and minds of America. In war if you use inferior weapons, no matter how much you are loathe to use the better ones, you will almost always lose. And liberals are losing. Frankly, contests for the meanings of words take place every day in all disciplines. The irony here is that liberals often accuse conservatives of being more concerned with ideological purity than serving the people when, in this case, it is they who are being ideologically pure to their own detriment.

As usual I have gone way off the reservation here, but there is a method to my madness. People often read the end of articles first, to see what passes for a summary. So I often put the salient points toward the end. Maybe not the wisest thing to do, but I have never been accused of being particularly wise.

I have to put the difference between liberals and conservatives in here somewhere. So here are my salient points. All the folks who love to blame brain structure or brain wave activity or genetics for people’s political philosophies seem to forget that willful manipulation can actually change the brain. In some cases, to varying degrees, they are mistaking the effects for the causes. This often happens when one is looking to support a particular position and only delves as deep as the level where their evidence lives. It doesn’t mean their science is bad, it just means it’s incomplete and, thus, often inaccurate.

Earlier I mentioned that I feel genetics does play a role in a person’s values, fears, and perceptions, things that help forge our politics. I used the example of how close virtually all national level general elections are. But I’m not convinced that the ideological split is right down the middle. Few genetic proclivities, although based in binary sources, are exclusively black or white, on or off. On a dualist continuum there is not one exact place where X suddenly turns into Y but a gradual change from one value to its opposite. If you over-generalize, which for our purposes isn’t all that bad, one can claim that the division of dominance can be divided into thirds. X is dominant over 1/3 of the graph, Y dominates another third, and the hybrid Z, the gray, is prevalent in the middle third. One can see this is fairly true in political choice, as polls show, most often, on nearly any issue, that one third are conservative, one third are liberal and one third will not admit to being either.

This is where the framing of the pictures comes in. Electoral politics is the battle for that middle third. It is inaccurate to call these people moderates. They cannot honestly claim to be truly conservative or liberal because they find truth in elements of both philosophies. But when they are asked to choose, as in an election which only has two choices, they have been shown to choose by turning inward to their feelings about a candidate rather than his/her stance on the issues. So the definitions of the words used to describe candidates and their issues becomes vitally important. This is because the picture a candidate’s or party’s words elicit can influence a person’s feelings in a much different way than the speaker intends, based on the dominant definitions of the words that are triggered in that listener’s brain.

So, convincing that middle third to accept your definitions becomes the goal behind the goal. There are plenty of ways to accomplish this. Public opinion normally moves up and down in somewhat of a sine wave over time, but that doesn’t mean a skilled politician can’t manipulate the public’s feelings, to sell approval of their politics and not their opponent’s, regardless of prevailing trends. They can. in essence, be all things to all people. This duplicitous nature, normally attributed to all politicians often comes from their forked tongued efforts to appeal to all of the Z side of the triangle, and win the votes of everybody except that hard core one third of the other team.

In many ways elections are about using power to keep power. One particular application of political power is, to my mind, the reason why so many incumbents get reelected over and over again, even in the face of a predominantly negative feeling among voters that “we need to throw all the bums out”. This is the power of the incumbency. It is is reflected in the voting booth, where, faced with a choice between the lesser of two evils, a choice we are faced with much too often, we will vote for the incompetent idiot we know over the incompetent idiot we don’t know. That power can come from just a word, a familiar name. The familiarity doesn’t even need to be with an known individual. Here in Scandahoovian country, just having your name end in “son” can get you elected. This phenomenon is a type of scientifically explainable preference as well, just of a different kind.

Yes, there is a great deal of science in how a person behaves politically. But as long as humans use the imperfection of language to communicate the feelings of meanings, there will be a direct and imperfect relationship between the two. We can agree that red is red much easier than freedom is freedom, because the physical evidence of color that we all share allows for little contest in the meaning of red. Imperfection opens the door for falsehood. If the truth is not completely true then lies can appear to have an element of truth. And the political philosophy salesman only needs to get his foot in the door. He only has to establish plausibility to persuade. The meanings of words are one of the best tools he has in his tool belt.

It’s a shame our brains have to use our consciousness as a communications go between. Things could be so much clearer if we could just plug it to each other directly.

Maybe that’s why there is such a deep, ingrained fear in the human psyche that robots will eventually supplant us on top of the food chain. In fact, they don’t even need food.