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

February 07, 2015 - 12:15 a.m.

The Amazing, Amazing Maurice.

Welcome to a rare evening edition of Wise Madness. I really should be out seeing the wonderful Tomoko Omura; tonight is the release show for her new album Roots. It is no fun being poor.

I wrote some brilliant things in my head but now that I'm writing they are having trouble coming out. Part of the problem is that I seem to have developed arthritis in my knuckles. Typing is a bit difficult. But you know I'll make any sacrifice for My Gentle Readers.

Last night I was back at Heather's as I forgot to pick up her broken MacBook last time I was there. I am taking it with me to LORi and Steve's so Steve can take the hard drive out and recover files on in that Heather needs.

Today I had my weekly meeting with Carolann. We got some things accomplished. She's good at getting me to do things I find difficult to do. One of those was breathing. Good thing I was sitting down,. I had one of the attacks I used to have frequently where my heart doesn't race but slows down so I don’t enough oxygen anyplace. I got lightheaded. There are times where it isn't fun being me.

I then got my mail and then headed to my office for the first time since I stopped teaching. I found out that all my stuff was put in boxes. I went there to print something out for payroll. I found out that they accessed my account and changed the password! They better not have read my emails. Good thing I changed a lot of them, like my Gmail or they could have read those as I had the passwords on the computer.

The most frustrating thing was finding that a colleague who has trouble doing problems in remedial math is still teaching.

I'm almost finished with I am almost finished with The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents (Discworld #28) by Terry Pratchett. It's either a children's or young adult book. The thing is with Pratchett is that it's hard to tell. He doesn't talk down to kids at all. He hardly pulls his punches. It isn't that he excludes the adult audience, he just makes them especially inviting for children. Like the Tiffany Aching stories they are exactly what I'd want my child to read. They don't tell lies. They tell about people telling lies. The protagonists aren't people with special powers. They are people that are smart, resourceful, smart and brave. Sometimes the people aren't human beings. It The Amazing Maurice … it's a cat and rats. Now they have been magically transformed into intelligent thinking beings but they are still a cat and rats and their human friends. The humans are far from being the focal point.

In every Pratchett story there's a character I love. In this on it is not Maurice, the cat. It's the small, albino, pretty much blind rat Dangerous Beans. The rats got their names for cans of food and signs they saw when the were first transformed and found they could read. They didn't know what things meant. They picked names that sounded good.

So why do I love Dangerous Beans? Because he's magnificent. The rats just found themselves suddently intelligent. There was no previous culture to help them understand the world. DB with the help of nothing more than a children's book they found Mr. Bunnsy Has an Adventure works out a theory of moral philosophy. He's the one that teaches the Changelings to be more than rats. Deep down inside they are still rats, but it's what's above that that matters. Now that's a lesson we can all learn. Deep down humans are apes reft of a tail but we can be so much more. DB is the rat Socrates and did so without the benefit of the Seven Wise Men of ancient Greece. He did it all on his own. And the other rats learned. And they became pretty magnificent too. As for Maurice, he's a cat and the one thing you can count on a cat for is being a cat. But by the end the Amazing Maurice turns out to be well, amazing. Nobody is bounded by artificial limitations. But they are bounded by reality. Keith is their human friend, usually referred to as the stupid looking kid. But he' not stupid. He's a musician. When the evil rat catcher breaks Keith's only cherished possession, his flute, Maurice expected him to launch himself with superhuman strength at the rat catcher. But there's no magic, he launches himself with ordinary human strength and gets clobbered. That's why more realistic than you'll find it most books, let alone kid's books, that take place in the real world.

The rats and a human town council have negotiations that ring true. They are filled with arguing and distrust, and confusion but make progress. Hell if the Israelis and Palestinians understood the concept of compromise as well as the rats there would be peace. And it shows the messy details of the negotiations. And this is for kids! No magic, "everyone lived together in peace." I wish I knew what the reading level required to read the book was. There are some kids I know that I'd love to read it.

I planned on writing another section here, more personal. But I can't bring myself to do it. It's something I always want to write about. I actually wrote it all out. I just deleted it.

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

Memories: Not that Horrid Song - May 29, 2018
Wise Madness is Now In Session - May 28, 2018
The NFL and the First Amendment - May 27, 2018
On The Road Again - May 26, 2018
Oliver the Three-Eyed Crow - May 25, 2018

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Horvendile February 07, 2015
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