Robert Green Ingersoll (Aug. 11, 1833 – July 21, 1899)

Reason, Observation and Experience – the Holy Trinity of Science – have taught us that happiness is the only good; that the time to be happy is now, and the way to be happy is to make others so. This is enough for us. In this belief we are content to live and die. If by any possibility the existence of a power superior to, and independent of, nature shall be demonstrated, there will then be time enough to kneel. Until then, let us stand erect.

Wikiquote – The Gods and Other Lectures (1879)

A hat/tip is due to W.F. Strong and the Texas Standard for bringing the name Robert Green Ingersoll back to mind with this piece about Redwater, Texas. I first learned of Ingersoll by listening to the weekly broadcast of the FFrF way back when. If you haven’t heard an FFrF broadcast, then you probably haven’t heard of Robert Green Ingersoll before. Which is why he is billed these days as the most famous American you’ve never heard of.

I found it amusing that Mr. Strong felt he had to point out that Ingersoll was not an atheist but an agnostic. As a freethinker, I understand the finer points of the difference, probably better than W.F. Strong does. There is little doubt that Ingersoll had no use for religion as an institution, as this last quote should illustrate.

While utterly discarding all creeds, and denying the truth of all religions, there is neither in my heart nor upon my lips a sneer for the hopeful, loving and tender souls who believe that from all this discord will result a perfect harmony; that every evil will in some mysterious way become a good, and that above and over all there is a being who, in some way, will reclaim and glorify every one of the children of men; but for those who heartlessly try to prove that salvation is almost impossible; that damnation is almost certain; that the highway of the universe leads to hell; who fill life with fear and death with horror; who curse the cradle and mock the tomb, it is impossible to entertain other than feelings of pity, contempt and scorn.

Wikiquote – The Gods and Other Lectures (1879)

Raise Hell

Texas has always been the national laboratory for bad government.

Molly Ivins
Magnolia PicturesRaise Hell: The Life & Times Of Molly Ivins – Official Trailer – Aug 8, 2019

A hat/tip is due to the Texas Standard for the interview clip of Janice Engel, the director of Raise Hell: The Life & Times Of Molly Ivins. I will be watching this documentary. I loved Molly Ivins’ columns. This is one of those times I kick myself for not being willing to drag myself through the news each day (another mass shooting last week sent me away from the news again) Had I listened to the Texas Standard last week when the segment aired, I might have had time to get a ticket to the advanced screening at the Alamo. But probably not. Most of these special Alamo events sell out long before the public learns about them.

History

Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

George Santayana 1863-1952 (via Wikiquote)

Happy Labor Day. Go join a union.

It is a measure of just how far we’ve come, and just how big an impact that those laws, regulations, and social safety programs have had, that those who directly benefit the most can complain with full bellies just how terrible they have it.

Stonekettle Station

Folderol

Etymology: Originally a nonsense refrain in several old songs, used to make the song longer without adding more meaningful matter.

Nonsense or foolishness.

See also: frippery

Wiktionary

This is one of my favorite words. I heard it used in a sentence this week in relation to the Brexit machinations of Boris Johnson. Since it was a British podcast, this might not rank as a rare occurrence.

Human Barometer

This study provides the strongest evidence to date that changes in atmospheric pressure and humidity are associated with symptom exacerbation in MD. 

Otology & Neurotology

A hat/tip is due to the blog Meniere’s and Me for bringing this finding to my attention. The Wife has called me her human barometer since I was first diagnosed with Meniere’s. I try to laugh with her when she says it.

Dangerous World

I was livin’ in the city
Trying to find a way
Making nothing out of nothing
Livin’ day to day
Gotta try to think of something
Livin’ in a dangerous world

And so I got round to thinkin’
Makin’ on the street
All the hustle and bustle
Steal enough to eat
Now I’m takin’ care of business
Livin’ in a dangerous world

It’s such a dangerous world we’re living in
Even though it seems so far so good
And if I die lord change it
Though I doubt I will
I’m working till the morning light
I’m waiting for the kill

I’m in and out of barrooms
Running in the dark
Sneaking down the alleyways
Messing with the sharks
Only trying to keep my head above
A dangerous world

A dangerous world

Such a dangerous world

A dangerous world

(guitar solo)

With some Molly in my pocket
And a dot on my tongue
Got the city holding
At the point of a gun
Some people think I’m crazy
But I know I belong
In a dangerous world

I’m in and out of barrooms
Running in the dark
Sneaking down the alleyways
Messing with the sharks
Only trying to keep my head above
A dangerous world

A dangerous world

A dangerous world

A dangerous world

(guitar solo)

Living in a danger
Such a dangerous world

We’re living in a danger
Such a dangerous world

Yes, sneakin’ down the alleyway
Lookin’ at your never way
Trying to find a way to stay
In a dangerous world

Oh yeah we’re livin’ in
A dangerous world
Such a dangerous world

Such a dangerous world

Da…

Alvin Lee, RX5, Dangerous World

It blew my mind when I found out that there were no lyrics on the web for this song. There are no lyrics on Alvin Lee’s website, not on any of the lyrics websites that I checked. Nowhere, after at least five searches. So I decided to try transcribing some of them myself, see if that got hits since there are songs of that title that aren’t Alvin Lee’s song. But no, the phrase “such a dangerous world we’re living in even though it seems so far so good” gets no hits on the web. That phrase is definitely in the song.

Concord HPL 115 – 1979

I bought this album when it released in 1981 (Amazon has the wrong date on it) It was just another cassette in a very long string of cassettes that I bought at the Hastings next to the Safeway where I worked in downtown Sweetwater that year. But it was one of the first cassettes I played on my prized new stereo that I bought to put in my car, the first car that I paid for myself, a burnt orange ’72 Chevelle with an all-black interior. After my bad driving got that car totaled (even though it was the other drivers fault. Had I been paying attention I could have avoided it) I transplanted it into a ’74 Vega that I loved almost as much as I loved the Chevelle. Here’s the song on Youtube,

Alvin Lee OfficialDangerous World – Dec 3, 2016

I love this song. I Identify with this song. Hell, I identify with nearly every song on that album. I can’t explain why. My life was rough, but it was not this bad. However, the sentiment worked for me. Never feel safe or complacent. That is where trouble gets you.

I remember I played this album for a coworker at the first architectural firm I worked in, Johnni Jennings, Designer. This guy was a huge Yes fan. He just loved listening to those tunes day in and day out. I know, because I shared an apartment with him for about a year. When I played this album he dismissed it as just a bunch of noise. I knew I was an audiophile at that point. Yes does beautiful music, but the music is simple. It doesn’t have any drive, any compelling need. Alvin Lee’s work can sound like noise if you aren’t listening closely, but you can pick out the various levels in the song and just hear those levels if you are paying attention. The funky bassline. The intermittently riffing lead guitar. The rhythm guitars. It’s the rhythm guitars and excellent guitar work that got me listening to AC/DC. Most of the rock & roll that I hung onto featured amazing guitar work, from Boston to Styx and everything in between, guitar was what kept me listening to any piece of music back then.

It was years later when Constantin Barbu, the first architect I worked for, took the time to make me enjoy classical music. After that initiation, Yes‘ work is appreciable, but it’s still not real rock & roll. Alvin Lee was a rocker. One of the greatest.

I drew a king like a stranger to an ace
And I’m way back down on the ground

Alvin Lee, RX5, Lady Luck

Album art by Derek Riggs. I love his work, too. (Wikipedia)

The Impossible Dream

This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far

The Impossible Dream, Man of La Mancha
The Impossible Dream – Man of La Mancha

We performed this song at the Leoti grade school I attended back in the late sixties. We did quite a few songs from Man of La Mancha that year. Some Spring or Fall festival that we as a school choir practiced endlessly for. I can still remember that gymnasium and the asbestos filled rubber flooring of the hallways. They were a mottled pink, as I recall.

I will never cease to be inspired by this song. I don’t think that Miguel de Cervantes would appreciate what the playwrights and composers did with his novel or characters. Or maybe he would. It would be interesting to be able to ask him what he thinks about the play. He’d probably don a shaving basin and tilt at windmills himself. Trying to change popular belief is like that.

Condemning President Trump

Whereas the Founders conceived America as a haven of refuge for people fleeing from religious and political persecution, and Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison all emphasized that the Nation gained as it attracted new people in search of freedom and livelihood for their families;

Whereas the Declaration of Independence defined America as a covenant based on equality, the unalienable Rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and government by the consent of the people;

Whereas Benjamin Franklin said at the Constitutional convention, ‘‘When foreigners after looking about for some other Country in which they can obtain more happiness, give a preference to ours, it is a proof of attachment which ought to excite our confidence and affection’’;

Whereas President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, ‘‘Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists’’;

Whereas immigration of people from all over the Earth has defined every stage of American history and propelled our social, economic, political, scientific, cultural, artistic and technological progress as a people, and all Americans, except for the descendants of Native people and enslaved African-Americans, are immigrants or descendants of immigrants;

Whereas the commitment to immigration and asylum has been not a partisan cause but a powerful national value that has infused the work of many Presidents;

Whereas American patriotism is defined not by race or ethnicity but by devotion to the Constitutional ideals of equality, liberty, inclusion, and democracy and by service to our communities and struggle for the common good;

Whereas President John F. Kennedy, whose family came to the United States from Ireland, stated in his 1958 book ‘‘A Nation of Immigrants’’ that ‘‘The contribution of immigrants can be seen in every aspect of our national life. We see it in religion, in politics, in business, in the arts, in education, even in athletics and entertainment. There is no part of our nation that has not been touched by our immigrant background. Everywhere immigrants have enriched and strengthened the fabric of American life.’’;

Whereas President Ronald Reagan in his last speech as President conveyed ‘‘An observation about a country which I love’’;

Whereas as President Reagan observed, the torch of Lady Liberty symbolizes our freedom and represents our heritage, the compact with our parents, our grandparents, and our ancestors, and it is the Statue of Liberty and its values that give us our great and special place in the world;

Whereas other countries may seek to compete with us, but in one vital area, as ‘‘a beacon of freedom and opportunity that draws the people of the world, no country on Earth comes close’’;

Whereas it is the great life force of ‘‘each generation of new Americans that guarantees that America’s triumph shall continue unsurpassed’’ through the 21st century and beyond and is part of the ‘‘magical, intoxicating power of America’’;

Whereas this is ‘‘one of the most important sources of America’s greatness: we lead the world because, unique among nations, we draw our people — our strength — from every country and every corner of the world, and by doing so we continuously renew and enrich our nation’’;

Whereas ‘‘thanks to each wave of new arrivals to this land of opportunity, we’re a nation forever young, forever bursting with energy and new ideas, and always on the cutting edge’’, always leading the world to the next frontier;

Whereas this openness is vital to our future as a Nation, and ‘‘if we ever closed the door to new Americans, our leadership in the world would soon be lost’’; and

Whereas President Donald Trump’s racist comments have legitimized fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color: Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the House of Representatives—

(1) believes that immigrants and their descendants have made America stronger, and that those who take the oath of citizenship are every bit as American as those whose families have lived in the United States for many generations;

(2) is committed to keeping America open to those lawfully seeking refuge and asylum from violence and oppression, and those who are willing to work hard to live the American Dream, no matter their race, ethnicity, faith, or country of origin; and

(3) strongly condemns President Donald Trump’s racist comments that have legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color by saying that our fellow Americans who are immigrants, and those who may look to the President like immigrants, should ‘‘go back’’ to other countries, by referring to immigrants and asylum seekers as ‘‘invaders,’’ and by saying that Members of Congress who are immigrants (or those of our colleagues who are wrongly assumed to be immigrants) do not belong in Congress or in the United States of America.

RESOLUTION Condemning President Trump’s racist comments directed at Members of Congress. via NBC

First heard on the Rachel Maddow Show podcast. See how your representatives voted. I wrote a letter to mine.