I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken

Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
-Bertrand Russell

What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell

April 06, 2018 - 10:43 a.m.

The Argument Clinic

The mighty Mets won again yesterday and stand alone at the top of the National League East. I'm becoming a believer. I'm not sure that's a good thing. My brain is telling me that they have too many weaknesses, but my heart is shouting, Let's Go Mets! That's how you set yourself up for a fall.

My plan yesterday was to check my PO Box and go to Trader Joe's. Bernie got a new prescription and I told Jane that I'd drop it off and pick it up at the pharmacy by the train station. The drop-off took longer than planned, it was all about checking the insurance, and by the time I was finished I didn't have time to get to the Post Office. I still needed eggs, so I went to Stop & Shop. The prescription was ready when I got back. When I did the drop off I noted the pharmacist assistant's name. It was a name I liked, and I figured I use it when I got back and make a personal connection with her. Instead when I got back she remembered me and knew Bernie's last name. All I could think for her name was Erin, but I knew that was wrong. It was Megan. I knew it was a good Celt name. I see a Megan, Meghan, or Megon and I figure we are starting off as friends. I'm Facebook friends with 4 Megans, two of which are Ceol na nGael hosts, a Meghan, and a Megon.

As I forgot the thing that I knew I'd remember to write today I'll have to go to plan B, something inherently difficult to discuss. Some of the New Atheists make me cringe; they speak so disparaging of believer. I had a friend that said, "No intelligent person can believe in god." I'm a devout atheist and what's closer to the truth is that, no intelligent person would say, "No intelligent person can believe in god." Not only is it not true it's counterproductive to say it. It makes people dislike atheists; I don't want to be disliked. It makes people less open to persuasion when you insult them. It's a manifestation of "Smartest Guy in the Room Syndrome." While it's a good thing to be the smartest guy in the room it never helps to act like that. It's not a smart thing to do, people resent it.

Disbelievers in evolution often complain that scientists are arrogant. This is related but somewhat different. Unlike the existence of god, we can have meaningful discussion on the validity of evolution. What makes it difficult is the Dunning-Kruger effect, so many opponents are not competence to judge their own competence. They are not equipped to have a meaningful discussion. It's not because they are stupid, it's because they don't have the training. As someone who has often had science-based arguments with people that don't understand the basic science, I know how frustrating that is. When someone doesn't understand something that is so a part of you that you don't remember learning it, you must fight the urge to be dismissive. I failed at that recently. I started off with a snide remark instead of politely explaining it. It isn't obvious to everyone, I know that by experience. I need to remind myself that there are things that are obvious to others that I don't get.

You also don't want to be arguing about things you don't understand with those that do. A musician friend's boss, a very intelligent person, tried to convince my friend that she didn't need a first-rate producer. He should realize that no matter how smart he is he was in no position to tell a professional that she was wrong. Experts aren't always right but their opinion is worth more than yours. There have been times where I have told experts they are wrong but that's because they made errors in math or logic or facts that I could verify.

I said I was going to have French toast yesterday, but I changed my mind and had poached eggs. French toast gets better when the challah is a bit stale, so I waited until today. Now I'll make my grand slam breakfast, bacon, French toast, and scrambled eggs. I scramble whatever egg is not soaked up by the bread.

Tonight, I'm going to see the magnificent Mari Black at Spiral Sounds, aka Gidge and Loyse house. Mari is a virtuoso fiddler, Scottish national fiddling champ, and master of many other styles. She's also as much fun as anyone you've ever seen. Come join me. Just click on the picture.

It's in Jersey City, a short walk from the PATH or light rail.


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please hold me accountable.





A Month of Music - April 12, 2018
Detecting and Ranging, Crys, Jacob, and Annie, with Radio - April 11, 2018
What Word Follows Rainbow and French in Titles? - April 10, 2018
John Lilly, Red Molly, and Dancing Girls - April 09, 2018
Mari Don't Bar Me - April 07, 2018



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