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 22, 2014 - 12:19 p.m.

Owe My Soul

If you read Wise Madness the last few days check to see if you have a cookie from 170millionamericans and if you do remove it. The site got hacked.

I got discouraged in class yesterday, I think a good chunk of the class did not do the homework. Do students really think they can learn everything through osmosis?

So you know that I've been waiting to get my text book for Finite Math since the semester began a month ago. I just found out that the Admin ordered the wrong text for me, he has been waiting for the Tech Math book. He knows I don't teach Tech Math this semester. Oh and it looks l.ike somebody took the book I had so next time I teach it I will need one. I had annotated the old one, marking off the good problems and leaving notes for myself about writing my own on some topics. So a new book does not replace it.

After class I was good and did work. I graded the fractions retest of my finite math class. Everyone in the class has to get 6 of 8 questions right to pass the class. They have to keep retaking it till they do. After two attempts there are still students that haven't passed.

I did not go straight home after school. I took advantage of not having plans to do what my backup plan is every Friday, I went to the Museum of American Folk Art for the Free Music Friday series. I don't even check who is playing. I trust Lara Ewen's taste and it's just a few blocks from my office. Every week at 5:30 she presents three musicians. They are generally but not always on the more trad end of the folk spectrum.


I have heard very good things about Lara's own music but I haven't been able to see her yet. She doesn't promote it at all at the museum. It is such an one man, well woman, operation that I generally don't get a chance to talk to her at shows. She is the emcee, stage manager, and sound person.

Lara introducing John Gribbon

The first performer was John Gribbon originally from Northern Ireland but now my Crown Heights homey. He said, "This is my Brooklyn song," and I gave a whoop. He said, "Brooklyn people in the house?" I said yes and he asked me where I lived. When I said Crown Heights he asked; "What Street?" That's getting personal but I told him of course. Pride in place

John records and usually performs with a band. I'd like to hear that. Solo he has promise but he didn't excite me. There is something about him as a person that I liked and I suspect that he envisions the music with orchestration so what I heard is not a fair representation. I was also driven nuts figuring how who he sounds like, not so much singing as speaking. I kept having that feeling of familiarity.

They reconfigured the room where the shows are. I think the new set up works better. This makes a nice backdrop

I posted that picture on Facebook and then saw that Honor Finnegan had just posted a picture from Folk Alliance with the caption "Folk Couture." It really is a small world.


The next act was Holler. I cannot find them online. I signed their email list so I should be hearing from them. Lara did I get the name wrong? As I signed their mailing list you might have gathered that I like them. I did. they were traditional sounding and held my interest but lyrically and musically. The two women are the core of the band. They wrote the original songs and sang lead. They said that the men didn't even rehearse with them. I love that there are musicians that can do that, just jump in and play.

They did one cover near and dear to my heart. Tennessee Ernie Ford's Sixteen Tons. The bass player's father used to sing that to her as a lullaby. I bet he's about my age. I grew up seeing Ernie on TV all the time. He was a guest on just about every show. I wonder if people at the time, or now, realized what a radical song it is. Give it a listen.

Is there a stronger condemnation of unregulated capitalism that "St.Peter don't call me because I can't go/I owe my soul to the company store." Libertarians and Republicans believe the pure fantasy that the relationship between worker and employer is symmetric and equal. It isn't The employer has far more power. To want to overcome that asymmetry is not socialism but helping to correct a market failure.

I did not stay for the third act. By then it was even and I was hungry. I went down to Chelsea to shop at Fairway and Trader Joe's. I was disappointed that I couldn't get good hot chocolate at Fairway. They had one that looked good but every package was covered with sticky chocolate so I wouldn't buy it.

One thing on my shopping list at Trader Joe's is always "snacks." I'm trying to get healthier with that and got fig bars and bananas. I was afraid to eat bananas for a while as I had allergic reactions but that seems to have passed.

I didn't make the healthiest dinner. I had a chicken sausage, Trader Joe's Pastry Pups (cocktail franks in a fluffy pastry and cheese shell) and Trader Joe's frozen mashed potatoes. I am going to buy a potato masher and start making my own again. I have to make the best of my imperfect living situation.

I had an insight last night. One of the more interesting social science studies I saw showed that the more educated a liberal is the more likely she is to change her mind on an issue when exposed to new information. For conservatives it's the opposite, the more educated a conservative is the less likely she is to change her mind when exposed to new facts. What I realized yesterday was that this was not something about the liberal and conservative mind set. It's that particularly now "the facts have a well-known liberal bias.' Education is positively correlated to how liberal you are. If you look at Nobel Prize winners in the sciences they are overwhelmingly liberal. There's a selection process going on. If you are educated and base your opinions on facts you are much more likely to be liberal so the conservatives are more likely to be the people that don't base their opinions on objective criteria. It isn't that being conservative makes you ignore facts it's that ignoring facts is what makes you conservative.

And it makes me hungry. I'm not sure what I'm eating today. Is it a French toast day? perhaps. It might be a simple poached egg day. I think it is.

Late addition. Lara sent me a link to Holler's bandcamp and you can hear them for yourself

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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 22, 2014
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