Saturday, February 28, 2015

Valuing the Goods

I am not quite sure what to make of J. Bradford DeLong's essay "Making Do With More," which I read on the Facts & Arts Web site. He begins with the premise that "just three out of ten workers are needed to produce the deliver the goods we consume." He accounts for the other seven as follows:
The rest of us spend our time planning what to make, deciding where to install the things we have made, performing personal services, talking to each other, and keeping track of what is being done, so that we can figure out what needs to be done next.
He then wonders why we are not all bathing in prosperity.

Like many he attributes the problem to changes brought on by the information age. He argues that we are no longer producing goods that are either rival or excludible (terms which he defines clearly). Such goods are hard to value; and, in the absence of what he calls "true value," we have become a society of "techno-plutocrats and their service-sector serfs." Whether or not this is the sort of serfdom that Friedrich Hayek had in mind, DeLong's analysis gives one pause.

Nevertheless, he may have overlooked the fact that serfdom is not confined to the service sector. Increased reliance on high-technology equipment means that those three out of ten workers are also little more than serfs. If they are not mindless, then they are still passive for more time than they are active. The question is whether or not this state of degraded mindfulness has had an impact on what is being produced. It strikes me that there is a need to investigate whether the goods now being produced and delivered are now really shoddier than they used to be or whether the consequences of their being shoddier just happen to be greater (as in that cockpit door that locked out the pilot). Either way, we may need to own up to the fact that the information age has given us a world in which not only are fewer people doing work to which value can be attached but also they are not doing it very well.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Live Long and Prosper

I remember Leonard Nimoy giving an interview on Public Television at which he talked about the hand sign used in Vulcan greeting. He remembered it from synagogue, where it was used for the Priestly Benediction of the congregation. He neglected to mention that only the kohanim (members of the priestly caste) were allowed to make the sign (something that my father taught me). However, whatever the traditions of Orthodox Judaism may be, I later found the same hand sign as part of a warm up exercise in a book about typewriter skills!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Local Means More Than Global

One of the things I have learned by living in San Francisco is that sports is, as Tip O'Neill said politics, local. With the San Francisco Chronicle deteriorating on an almost day-to-day basis, my wife now devotes almost all of her attention to the Sports section; and, since it seems to be the most consistent source of good writing, I cannot say as I blame her. Local teams provide a point of reference for more general news, and local knowledge is what makes reading sports analyses worth reading.

This provides what may be a valuable perspective on the bungled management of the 2022 World Cup, for which Qatar won the hosting rights. After a seemingly endless stream of promises about providing suitable climate control to play soccer in the blazing heat of an Arabian summer, FIFA has now recognized this as an absurdity. Their response has been to reschedule the games during the month of November and December.

This would put the World Cup right in the middle of the season for most of the European leagues. Needless to say, none of them are happy about this. Sadly, their reaction was to petition FIFA for financial compensation for the losses incurred by schedule changes, since this gives the impression that the leagues think that its all about the money. Better they should think about the fans. My guess is that most fans would rather be watching their teams perform locally in November and December, rather than watching the World Cup on television. Indeed, fan loyalty could well increase if the European players all made it a point to prefer their local fans to a global television audience. There is no reason why either fans or players should have to suffer because of FIFA inept failure to make sensibly practical decisions.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Blame the Gerbils (again)!

The latest word from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is that black rats have been taking a bad rap for having caused the Black Death. An article by Professor Nils Christian Stenseth of the University of Oslo has put forth the argument that the disease was spread by gerbils from Asia, part of that argument being that the Black Death originated in Asia. This is not the first time that the scientific community has found fault with the gerbils. The most notorious case has been the archaeological efforts to find and date the buried cities of Troy. The usual rule of thumb has always been that depth is the primary indicator of age. Unfortunately, that site seems to have been very popular with gerbils; and some archaeologists have argued that they have been undermining the buried remains of Troy for centuries. Gerbils had better be wary at any future meetings of members of the National Academy of Sciences!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Dignifying Stupidity with a Response

I guess Rudy Giuliani is just too old school to realize that calling a political gathering a "private party" does not guarantee privacy. Apparently the party had to do with Scott Walker's possible run to be the Republican candidate in the next presidential election. Giuliani may have thought he was having an intimate chat among friends. Unfortunately, his words have now been reproduced in more sources than can be enumerated:
I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America. He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.
Once upon a time there would have been a general consensus that this was noise so remote from signal that it did not deserve response. The only reasonable thing to do would be to get the discussion back on track. Unfortunately, it has become hard to use the adjective "reasonable" in a sentence that names Walker, which may be why the Wisconsin governor decided that this would be another opportunity for him to pour gasoline on a burning building. Walker's response to Giuliani's statement was:
You should ask the president what he thinks about America. I've never asked him so I don't know.
At least we know what sort of President Walker would make: a man who prefers discussing conclusions to seeking evidence.

Now it is Sunday, meaning that it is now feeding time for the Sabbath-Day gasbags, as Calvin Trillin liked to call them. Lindsey Graham may not have found the moral high ground. However, he decided that he would do best by presenting himself in an effort to distance himself from the loonies:
President Obama has divided us more than he's brought us together and I don't want to add to that division. I have no doubt that he loves his country. I have no doubt that he's a patriot. But his primary job as president of the United States is to defend this country and he's failing miserably.
In other words he recognizes that he will need the loonies to get the nomination but will also need cooler heads to get elected.

Have we learned anything from this? Probably the most solid conclusion that can be drawn is that "political discourse" is as much of an oxymoron as is "central intelligence." It would be nice to think that, in this atmosphere, we could count on all the dim-witted brutes to simply destroy each other; but it is hard to imagine this happening without rationality becoming the most serious victim of collateral damage.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Implementing Cybersecurity

Bearing in mind that one of my favorite technology themes on this site has been the irreversible degradation of software quality, I have to ask just where the United States plans to recruit our "shock troops" to establish that cybersecurity that our President has now decided is a major issue.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Conferring on Extremism

As a refugee from the world of high technology research, I must confess that I have a rather jaundiced view of conferences. It has struck me that such events have always been, first and foremost, an excuse for travel. When the excuse was to parade recent activities, I came to accept it as tolerable and even set the standard that if, over the course of half a week away from my desk, I had encountered one result worthy of attention, then the trip was a good one.

More insidious, however, are those conferences that are concerned more with policy than with results. These are an excuse for little more than jawboning. They may conclude with an agenda of action items, but action rarely emerges from such an agenda. As a result I was far more than a little skeptical when I read about the White House hosting a special conference on terrorism.

Having read Marwan Bishara's editorial this morning on the Al Jazeera English Web site, I was glad to see that I was not alone in my thoughts. Bishara was perceptive enough to look beyond all the usual gratuitous observations that were uttered and turn, instead, to what was not said. Furthermore, I chose to concentrate his enumeration of "sins of omission" on the conference's host, President Barack Obama. Here is the basic summary of that enumeration:
Obama said nothing about how proxy and other western wars have created the fertile grounds for the type of extremism that has been evolving and spreading in the Arab and Muslim world.
How the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan coupled with US/Saudi intervention on the side of the mujahideen led to the creation of al-Qaeda.
Or, how the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, coupled with Iran's interference, prepared the ground for the creation and expansion of ISIL.
Nevertheless, I think there is a broader view, which first came on my radar during the early heady days of the Arab Spring. It is not enough to observe that the world, as a whole, has lapsed into a "forever war" mentality. We need to home in on how that mentality is being sustained.

What we learned from the protests that arose during the Arab Spring (protests that, it is important to observe, extended to include the educated young citizens of Israel) was that the current generation of youth, particularly those who have enjoyed a rich education, is desperately concerned that they have no future in the world as it is being run by its current leaders. While Corita Kent believed that war was not healthy for children and other living beings, that slender minority that controls the lion's share of the world's wealth sees great value in war, particularly as a solution to providing for those of the "other class," condemning them to be little more than "cannon fodder" for the many new generations of cannons that provide a major chuck of revenue to the moneyed class.

In also is amusing to see how, through control of the consciousness industry, that class has tried to cloak its elite status with a smoke screen. The recent report about the top 1% controlling more wealth than the remaining 99% overlooked just how much of that top 1% has almost no control at all. That upper tier needs to be narrowed down to 0.1%, if not 0.01% before we can really appreciate just how unevenly wealth has been distributed.

In my "other life" of writing about music, I have recently been listening to a new recording of the songs composed by Claude Debussy. This last of these songs, for a single unaccompanied voice, is a Christmas carol for homeless children. Debussy wrote this in 1915 when Europe was being torn apart by war. Who speaks for the homeless today?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Everything was Beautiful at the Drive-In

Those who miss the good old days of drive-in movies might want to visit (or move to) Sacramento to check out the Sacramento 6. I assume from the name that this place has six screens. Also, according to an ABC7 News report, at least one of those screens is visible from Highway 50. Needless to say, it was not the visibility of the screen that warranted a news article, it was that the screen was being used for the projection of Fifty Shades of Grey! I suspect that I am far the only one of my generation who remembers being able to find a vantage point from which one could watch one of those screens without paying for entry. This particular screen has such an affordance, and motorists with kids in the car do not like it!

Monday, February 16, 2015

That Was the Past that Wasn't

Apparently, last night's telecast of the NBA All-Star Game could not hold its own against the 40th Anniversary Special for Saturday Night Live. As far as I am concerned, neither of these forms of entertainment were at all what they used to be. However, since my wife wanted to watch the basketball, I sampled it for a bit until it became apparent to both of us that the actual basketball game had almost nothing to do with the television program. The idea of an athletic competition has been pushed so far into the background by media ballyhoo that I have to wonder whether any genuine sports enthusiast took last night seriously. If last night was a major event for anything, it was that of a double-barrelled effort to provide mindless distraction for the underemployed, since no one seems particularly interested in solving any deeper problems.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Swimming in Repertoire

One of the unforeseen consequences of my having made the move from IT research into writing about music is that I seem to have built up a voracious appetite for repertoire. As I learned from reading Leonard Slatkin's memoir, Conducting Business: Unveiling the Mystery Behind the Maestro, such activity is one of the cornerstones of a conservatory education, at least at places like Juilliard, which Slatkin attended. It presumes that a comprehensive knowledge of music requires the broadest possible account of what has been documented, preferably coupled with devoting time to both recordings and performances to account for what has been made from those documents.

The good news is that I can pursue this activity through both attending as many performances as my schedule (and personal endurance) will allow and following up on opportunities to write about recordings. As of the beginning of March, I shall have been writing for for six years. That was preceded by building up my writing chops through several years of blogging, initially casual and progressively more and more serious. I have thus been evolving out of the state of a "passive consumer" for about a decade, perhaps to the point that repertoire now constitutes the medium of my existence, rather the way in which water does for a fish.

Every now and then someone will ask me how I retain it all. The fact is that I don't; and, at my advanced age, I am less and less likely to do so as time passes. I sometimes joke that I now depend on Google when my memory is failing, meaning that I write as much as I can "into" simply to make sure that Google will help me when I need it.

On the other hand I still make it a point not to take notes during a performance. Paying attention to writing down something means you are not paying attention to your auditory channels, and I simply will not abide by that latter option. Besides, human memory is not a file cabinet. It is an ongoing process of recollection. Just looking at a printed p program seems to be enough to set the wheels of that process in motion. What it yields provides the substance of what I write, and anything that does not emerge from that process was probably not worth writing about anyway.

I thus find myself in a somewhat complex and possibly tenuous relationship with both knowledge and memory. Exercise is as fundamental to maintaining that relationship as physical exercise is in maintaining the health and fitness of my body. (Because the latter is not particularly demanding on mind, I often use it as an occasion to begin to rehearse the thoughts that will find their way into writing.)

Does this protect me against lapses of memory when I need to recall something? Not at all. However, I think it does help me to sharpen my skills as a writer, even when mind is not always up to summoning up the specific memories I need or want.

Will I be able to keep this up indefinitely? I have no idea. Nevertheless, back when I was writing dance reviews as a student, I got to know Kathleen Eaton Cannell, who wrote for The Christian Science Monitor. She kept at it to the very end. One night she wrote up the performance that she had just attended, went to bed, and died peacefully in her sleep.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Patrick Leahy Tells It Like It Is

It is hard to believe that John Boehner's motivation behind inviting Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of the Congress involved anything other than giving offense to the White House and the Democratic Party. The act was wrong on so many grounds that the only thing that surprised me was how long it took those offended by the act to respond. However, the snowball of a boycott by Congressional Democrats now seems to be growing, and this morning the DC Dispatches blog maintained on the Al Jazeera English Web site put up a post that Patrick Leahy has joined the boycott. Furthermore, while Leahy is known for keeping a cool head while persisting in his personal convictions even in the face of outrageous offense, he decided to make an exception in this case, calling the Netanyahu's invitation "a tawdry and high-handed stunt that has embarrassed not only Israel, but the Congress itself." The only problem is that both Netanyahu and Boehner are so steeped in the slime of their respective ideologies that it is hard to imagine either of them knowing what embarrassment is, let alone experiencing it!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Ask Your Doctor if Google is Right for You!

According to an article by Lance Whitney on CNET this morning, Google is now using is Knowledge Graph side panel to show more "relevant medical facts" in response to queries on medical topics. I was skeptical about Knowledge Graph when it was launched and have not paid very much attention to it. My bottom line was that Google was taking a rather naïve approach to semantics, which worked when it worked and did not matter very much when it did not. While all parties involved make it clear that Google is no substitute for consulting a physician, I am sure those guys know as well as anyone else how badly medical care for the general public has deteriorated. Many people are likely to take an any-port-in-a-storm attitude towards Google, even if the port happens to be accessible only through a very hazardous passage.

Actually, I am not even sure how well this new toy actually works. I decided to draw upon a recent consultation I had with a "real" doctor. I started typing "Am I still allergic;" and I was pleased to see that "am I still allergic to penicillin" was offered as a completion. However, there was no Knowledge Graph on the results page. Furthermore, as is the case with every Google search, there was an advertising link preceding all search results.

This reminded me of John Oliver's return to HBO this week. His extended piece was on the dangers of intimate relations between drug companies and physicians. Anyone who watches television knows the extent to which the pharmaceutical industry now dominates commercial time, all with the necessary punch line "Ask your doctor." Oliver's point is that, due to the ways in which the industry influences the doctors, you have to be very careful just what you ask your doctor and how you interpret what (s)he says. Since advertising is still Google's primary revenue stream, can we really expect "knowledge" from Google search results (with or without that Knowledge Graph); or will be even more vulnerable to corporate interference than we are when actually consulting a physician?

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Latest Round of Ignoring History

Last week the Facts & Arts Web site ran, "A Greek Morality Tale," an analysis by Joseph E. Stiglitz of the damaging effects of austerity that was almost painful to read. Unfortunately, much of the pain came from the conclusion:
One hopes that those who understand the economics of debt and austerity, and who believe in democracy and humane values, will prevail.
Ironically, the leading beneficiary of the sort of judgment that Stiglitz counsels is Germany, through the planned recovery it experienced following the Second World War. Unfortunately, Germany is now the leading "austerity hawk."

Actually, Stieglitz himself does not take Germany to task. Rather, he lays the blame on what he calls the "troika" of the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. These are all institutions of the rich and mighty getting richer and mightier than they are in narrowing that enormous gulf between extreme wealthy and abject poverty. In such organizations "humane values" are no longer part of the mindset. The days when the filthy rich could cleanse their souls, so to speak, through philanthropy are long gone; and no one of any import seems to regret their passing.

Meanwhile unemployment has reached crisis proportions in just about every corner of the world. As I wrote back in 2011, this has become the age of "youth without future," brought upon by those whose incessant fixation with the immediacy of the "bottom line" has led to a willful ignorance of history. Is it any wonder that such youth, feeling abandoned by those who should know better, are attracted to the lure of extremists, most of whom can only be counted upon to make matters worse?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Henri Bergson on Nouns and Verbs

It seems to have been about a year since my last riff on the need to distinguish between noun-based and verb-based thinking when distinguishing between music as an artifact, usually in the form of some system of marks on paper, and music as the result of some act of performance. I remember that at one point, during that interval, I found myself in casual conversation with two members of a string quartet, telling them that people who worked in professions such as science, engineering, finance, and business management all tended to constrain their thinking to nouns and adjectives, partly because so much of their work had become driven by databases that could only allow for structures based on noun phrases, while those who performed music distinguished themselves by living in a world of verbs. Because such thoughts never leave me, I often seek out other writers who have based their work on a similar perspective.

That is probably one reason why I finally decided to spend some time reading Henri Bergson. I have now progressed to the final chapter of Creative Evolution, Arthur Mitchell's English translation, the book that led to Bergson receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1927. As the title suggests, Bergson approaches evolution more as an ongoing creative act, rather in terms of those artifacts that emerge that process. The book does not make for easy reading. His paragraphs often stretch out across several pages, and it is not always easy to parse them down into individual elements of the argument he is trying to make. However, every now and then, the verbiage distills down to a more manageable brevity, as with the following passage:
But things and states are only views, taken by our mind, of becoming. There are no things, there are only actions. More particularly, if I consider the world in which we live, I find that the automatic and strictly determined evolution of this well-knit whole is action which is unmaking itself, and that the unforeseen forms which life cuts out in it, forms capable of being themselves prolonged into unforeseen movements, represent the action that is making itself.
This is still a bit unwieldy; but there is something rather exciting about the possibility that Ludwig Wittgenstein's "world as I found it" can be reduced to the "unmaking" of an ongoing evolutionary process. Bergson may not have registered very strongly in Wittgenstein's Vienna; but his influence seems to have reached into the work of Martin Heidegger and then moved on to Jean-Paul Sartre. Unless I am mistaken, Albert Einstein also found him fascinating reading.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

If it Ain't One Thing …

I have been braced for the fact that the move to Yosemite on my MacBook Pro would be unpleasant, but I have to confess that I was unprepared for the quantum leap in unpleasantness that I would face. The bottom line is that Yosemite is such a mess that, for the most part, Apple's own Help Desk staff are powerless to be of much assistance. In this brave new world the only assistance comes from discussion groups, and the best ones are the ones not based on Apple Web sites. Thus, when I had to contend with an installation that hung after only 50% of the new system had loaded, I discovered that I learned most of what I needed to know by reading discussion groups while waiting on hold. My telephone connection went through right about when I figured out what I had to do, which means that, at least, I was able to verify the validity of my actions before taking them (with a guy who could barely articulate his words clearly, possibly as a result of battle fatigue). Since then I have had to contend with folder management taking over my entire machine and a Java inconsistency that interfered with my using a piece of software vital for my activities. The latest had to do with iTunes starting spontaneously, leading my wife to ask why she was hearing music coming from the computer room while I was out of our condo.

There has been word in the technology news that Tesla has been recruiting Apple hardware talent. I hope they are not doing the same for software. The idea of cars out there on the roads running software written by the folks that brought the world Yosemite makes my blood run cold.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Unequal Justice When it Matters

Jed S. Rakoff's article in the latest issue of The New York Review, "Justice Deferred Is Justice Denied," a review of Brandon L. Garrett's Too Big to Jail: How Prosecutors Compromise with Corporations, provides a valuable critique of the concept of "deferred prosecution." However, given Rakoff's experience as a judge, I am not sure what to make of his comments when comparing deferred prosecution with a decision to take a case to a jury trial. The fact is that, when a large corporation is involved, whether the case is brought against the corporation itself or individual employees at just about any level in the organization chart, the corporation will have access to a far more generous supply of litigation expertise than either the government or individual(s) filing the case. The idea that the courtroom provides even a remote approximation to a level playing field is dangerously idealistic. The result is that those who are disadvantaged, financially or physically, by negligence or malice from a large corporation, will be even more disadvantaged in any attempt to seek justice and any contingent compensation for those damaged, let alone punishment for the guilty. Until we recognize that our justice system is as broken as all the other elements of our current governmental structure, we shall be at the mercy of those who appreciate just how much power their wealth entails.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Marvel is Everywhere

Having just listened to one of the NCIS regulars describe Loki as a character from the Marvel Thor series (rather than citing his Norse origins or, for that matter, identifying him with Loge in Richard Wagner's Ring of the Nibelung cycle), the news that Philip Glass would be providing material for the soundtrack of the new Fantastic Four movie came as less of a jolt.

Entertainment in Exile?

I like to took at the Google Analytics Location page for my national site on The results are rarely very surprising. It almost involves the heaviest concentration in the Bay Area with New York usually running in second place. This morning, however, the map displayed a big circle marked "(not set)" off the west coast of Africa. The resolution on that map is not very good; but, if memory serves correctly, the circle seems to be centered on Saint Helena. I remember the BBC running a story about the fact that this island did not even have an airport but that one was in the works. Current date of completion is in 2016. Still telecommunications is easier to provide than air transport; and, if my scribbling is amusing some small sector of this insular community, then I guess I can feel some satisfaction in knowing that. I guess I just have to be careful what I say about Napoleon!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Republicans Want You to Get Sick

As we already know, the Republicans are seizing every opportunity to demonstrate their majority advantage in both house of Congress, even if it means trumping basic common sense with extreme ideology. The latest Republican senator to take up the banner seems to have been Thom Tillis from North Carolina, who has decided to oppose the regulation requiring food workers to wash their hands after having used the bathroom. the BBC News account of this story included the following Tillis statement reported by Associated Press:
Sometimes there are regulations that maybe we want to set a direction, but then let those who are regulated decide whether or not it makes sense.
From this we can at least conclude that Tillis' understanding of personal hygeine is somewhere at the same level as his command of English grammar. Presumably, he is also a member of the Republican camp that has been opposing vaccine regulations in response to the return of measles. I guess Republicans just want us all to get sick; and, considering their policy approach towards health care, we can assume they want us to stay sick (or, perhaps, leave it to illness to get us out of their way).

Monday, February 2, 2015

Riches Make you Obnoxious

One of the songs that Maria Irene Fornes wrote for the music Promenade involved an ostinato setting of the text "Riches make you dumb." That may have been all very well and good for avant-garde theater in Seventies New York; but a card-carrying psychologist has an alternate take on the rich. The psychologist is Paul Piff, formerly at the University of California at Berkeley and now in the Department of Psychology and Social Behavior at the Irvine branch. He has been studying the behavior of the wealthy (and the poor) for about a decade. His results were reported last week by City Hall Reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle Heather Knight.

Knight distills Piff's conclusions down to a single sentence:
Rich people are more likely to behave unethically even if they get very little benefit.
She then elaborates with a few choice examples:
They’re more likely to take candy from a jar labeled as just for kids, cheat at games and cut off pedestrians in crosswalks. They’re also more likely to say they’d do the same thing when told about somebody who accepts bribes, lies to customers, cheats on an exam or pockets the money when a clerk gives too much change.
The headline for her article refers to such individuals as "jerks." I suspect that most of us would come up with far choicer nouns. The bottom line is that, while riches may not make you dumb, they certainly make you very obnoxious!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

"Is Dionysian frenzy even possible in a concert hall?"

I just finished Ivan Hewitt's account for the London Telegraph of Total Immersion, an all-day festival of percussion music organized by the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Beyond the specific details, I was particularly struck by Hewitt's punch line for his article:
All this heavy-handed insistence proved was that in the concert-hall, a real Dionysian frenzy isn’t possible. The best one can hope for is an artful portrait of it, but for that, some real art from the composer is required.
If by "Dionysian frenzy" Hewitt means that the audience gets up out of their seats, the better to allow themselves to indulge in wild gyrations, I admit that the very architecture of concert halls tends to suppress such activity. Here in San Francisco, however, that kind of suppression is often overcome. A couple of years ago SFJAZZ presented a concert in Davies Symphony Hall entitled A Night in Treme. This began as a straightforward jazz concert salute to the music that David Simon had used for his HBO Treme series. However, by the end of the evening, things were wild enough that very few people in the audience felt they could take it sitting down any more. Furthermore, those down on the Orchestra level not only left their seats but also headed for the stage in search of more room in which to dance. No one discouraged their going up there, and at least some of the musicians seemed to encourage it.

Concert hall audiences often give in to wild enthusiasm. Even music as familiar as the final dance from Maurice Ravel's score for the "Daphnis et Chloe" ballet can, in the hands of the right conductor and an orchestra willing to follow him/her over the top, get an audience worked up beyond a mere "artful portrait" of frenzy. However, when listening to Ravel, decorum usually prevails. Nevertheless, it is not what the body does that ultimately matters; it is how the spirit is moved. Moving the spirit to "Dionysian frenzy" is definitely possible, but it requires just the right level of commitment from the performers and the right chemistry to bind that commitment to the audience.