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

March 17, 2018 - 5:30 p.m.

Women:Men

It's a strange day. I went to sleep earlier than usual last night because I was tired and saw no reason to force myself to stay awake. As has been happening for the last week I woke up a few times in the middle of the night and went to the bathroom. When I woke up around my usual time, 8:15 I wasn't feeling full rested and went back to sleep. I woke up and got out of bed two hours later. I was still sleepy. I fell asleep at the computer. After brunch and two cups of coffee I wasn't sleepy but was still spinning my wheels. It took until 3:22 to start writing. It's not like when meds made me sleepy. I'm functioning fine now. If it happens again I'll be concerned. I thought of not writing but couldn't do it. I don't remember what's on my diary ideas list, but I know I have a few things.

It's St. Paddy's day so my writing soundtrack is Irish music. I'm starting with RUNA live. It's been way too long since I've seen them; I'm the original RUNAtic. WFUV should honor the station's and Fordham's traditions and have special editions of Ceol na nGael and A Thousand Welcomes today. I should have live Irish music plans but I don't. Any suggestions?

I have two musical ideas in my bin, I'm going to use one of them. I keep forgetting I have a bin on my phone, those ideas get neglected. I remembered they were there because I added this one Tuesday night at John Platt's On Your Radar.

I have discussed studying the gender breakdown of folk musicians. What that On Your Radar made clear is how open to interpretation that concept it. The kernel of this is from Katherine who was concerned with. She was concerned with the fraction of the people onstage at a festival that are women. That makes sense from two points of view, first of musicians; it determines employment opportunities for women compared to men. Secondly to children, are they seeing women on stage as role models or mainly men? This is not the way people traditionally consider gender balance.

I have friends that have told me what they count is the fraction of the voices that they hear that are women's. You then must distinguish between lead singers, harmony groups, and backup singers.

Most often people would consider only the band leaders, especially with bands with name names of the form, Front Person and the Backup Band. That prioritizes the creative voice, not the singing voice.

Then when you consider the bill at a festival or show with multiple acts, like On Your Radar, how do you weigh things? Let's go through this with the latest edition of On Your Radar with Phoebe Hunt & the Gatherers, Sam Reider & The Human Hands, and Hannah Read. I should make a chart, but they are a pain to do in HTML and I'm not going to get this done if I force myself to do it the best way. The lineup varied some between songs, but I'll just record the full band with no special guests. The Total Musician Ratio is women:men

Phoebe Hunt & the Gatherers.
Band Leader - 1 Woman
Lead Voice - 1 Woman
Backup singers - None, am I right about that?
Total Musician Ratio: 1:3

Sam Reider and the Human Hands Band Leader - 1 Man
Lead Voice - none
Backup Singers - none
Total Musician Ratio - 1:5

Hannah Read
Band Leader - 1 Woman
Lead Voice - 1 Woman
Backup Singers - 1 Man
Total Musician Ratio - 1:1

How well were women represented on this bill? My guess is that if you asked people in the audience the reaction would be, well represented; 100 percent of the lead voices were women as were two thirds of the band leaders. If you look at how many musicians you saw on stage it's another story, 2 women and 5 men. If you are confused with that number, it's because Phoebe's band is a subset of Sam's. If that were not true, the total musician ratio would be 2:9. But maybe that's not the best way of looking at it. Think of it this way, let's say that one act was the Vienna Boys Choir and the other two were solo women. Mightn't it make the most sense to think of it as three equally weighted bands two of which were 100% women and one 0%? What's the right answer. Here's where I'm going to lose people; they are all the right answer, just different aspects of it. Whenever you do statistics you gain clarity at the cost of information. What you are trying to do is see the forest through the trees. What is right depends on what use you want to put the statistics too. This show is representative, there is no dearth of talented female musicians, but they are greatly underrepresented among backup and session musicians. What you see with that Gatherers is not at all uncommon, even a woman band leader surrounds herself with male musicians. When is the last time you saw a male leader have a primarily female band, let alone all female? I can't think of any.

Now put yourself in the position of a booker trying to achieve gender balance, how do you do it? What is the criteria? I'm going to leave that as an exercise for the reader. There is no right answer what is important is to take all these methods into account. Each capture essential aspects of the truth but none capture all of them. Flexibility in thinking is a virtue, be virtuous.

Hey, I wrote about music, math, and clear thinking. I guess that means I should write about food and baseball tomorrow. Whatever I write I hope it's earlier than today. If I start the day sluggish I'll make coffee right away instead of waiting. I know I won't. If I'm sluggish I won't have the energy to make coffee.

I'm listening to the Chieftains now, I'm a good Irishman. I'm wearing no green, I'm all in grey. I don't have any green clothes. As I'm not going outside it's not very important. That could change if one of you invites me to some Irish music tonight.


I signed the Pro-Truth Pledge:
please hold me accountable.





Home On The Snow Day - March 22, 2018
The Adventure of the Young Novelists in the Caves and Clouds - March 21, 2018
"What is Your Emergency?" - March 20, 2018
Mercury Meets Fitzgerald - March 19, 2018
Ireland and Israel - March 18, 2018



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