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
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 13, 2017 - 11:41 a.m.
Unfortunately, I don't see my therapist this week but I did see my psychiatrist yesterday. I told her that I've been too sleepy and she cut back on my gabapentin. I did not take one this morning; I'm still sleepy. It's just one day, I will give it more time. It's not debilitating like the hydroxyzine was but I still don't like falling asleep while I'm doing things. Right now I'm fighting it. I was able to do 12-hour-shifts at WFUV so it can be overcome.
I haven't done real shopping in ages. My plan was to go to Aldi today but to stop at Stop & Shop on the way home from the psychiatrist yesterday to pick up a few things I can't get at Aldi, matzoh, plantains, breakfast sausages, and peanut butter. I have 20 minutes from when the train pulls into New Rochelle till the bus across the street from Stop & Shop leaves. I walked over there in 8 minutes leaving me with 12 to find what I needed and check out. I was stupid and didn't put it in my shopping list app. There was a glitch at the checkout which slowed me down. I raced to the stop. I was across the street before the bus and just waited for the light. It was a long light. The bus came … and left before I could get on it. I had crossed the street and was shouting "Stop!" to no avail. The next bus was half an hour later. As I waited I realized that I hadn't gotten the peanut butter or sausages. I didn't want to go back into the store with groceries I just bought. Perhaps I should have. My plan was to have matzoh brei with peanut butter this morning. Perhaps I'll have it with bacon instead.
I had a great idea what to write about yesterday but didn't write it down and now it's gone. I hate when I do that. I have a list of political things to write about but I prefer when things are personal. When I write about me I can be certain I know more about the topic than you do. I know it has to do with science. It wasn't personal but it's science so except for a few exceptions I know more about it than you do. But it's still gone. It was probably about failing memory being a sign of genius. Yeah that's it. I remember what I wanted to write about but forgot the clever approach I had to it. I started to write it now without the clever approach it doesn't work. I put myself in the reader's place and found that it would just harden the positions they already hold. It's tough to convince to change their minds on things they consider part of their identity. You have to be very careful where you tread.
I don't want to be confrontational today. Instead I'm going to go back to something I put in my ideas bin almost a month ago. I know because I linked to the Facebook post that inspired it. Decades ago I read a great article on how science does not need to justify itself with utility, that it is of inherent value. It compared science to art and said that nobody is asked to justify art. Yet that is exactly what is happening now. President Trump's budget eliminates all funding for the National Endowment of the Arts. It also makes huge cuts in funding science; they are still in the same boat. You don't ask what good art and science do, they are the good not the means to an end. The problem is that there are always philistines incapable of appreciating them. It's like another inherent good, chocolate. Chocolate needs no justification, I don't care if dark chocolate is healthy. I just need to know that it's chocolate. Yet as hard as it is to conceive there are people that don't like chocolate.
There are also people that are not moved by art, music, literature, drama, physics, math, biology, or chemistry. Often it comes down to confusing not liking one type or piece of art with art itself. My guess is that I don't like the majority of the projects funded by the NEA; some I think is not even art. But others do and that's why we have expert panels deciding who gets funding in the arts and sciences. It is not up to me to decide, or you, or any politician. It's not about pleasing any individual's taste. In the sciences, it's not about getting results that fit your preconceptions.
What science and art have in common is that they are public goods where there is market failure. Even if you don't pay for it you get the benefits. Those are kinds of things that government should fund.
I'll end this with something fun, a list of things that for me need no justification.
It's time to enjoy some of those things for breakfast. I'll let you figure out which ones.
Band in Steel - April 19, 2017
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