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Free and Unecessary Thought

August 26, 2006

Recently, I saw a news blurb from one supposedly newly freed country, half way around the world. A well dressed, well educated, well spoken man confirmed, to the astonishment of the interviewer, that he'd been warning his students from having too much "free and unnecessary thought". At first I thought that this man was joking, that this was surely some sort of comedy routine. As I listened, I kept waiting for the punch line, but it never came. I was shocked and dismayed to find that this man is a University Professor! Old idiologies die slowly, it seems, even in "free" societies. Come to think on it, this isn't too far from where we are today in other parts of the so-called 'free' world. Is freedom such a relative thing?

One thing that I value more than just about anything learned growing up, was something my folks and long time mentors to our church youth group had insisted upon our understanding above all else - to think for ourselves That meant not to believe by wrote what someone attempted to pass off to us just because they said it was so (tradition), but to consider a thing well before settling on the matter. This meant that we were to seek wise counsel and weigh things carefully before saying, "This is what I believe to be true, and this is what I'm going to do about it." It meant that we were going to have to develope critical thinking skills. It meant that we were going to have to look at all sides of an issue. It meant that we were going to have to develope courage. It also meant that we were going to have to become responsible; quite a challenge for teenagers growing up in an era of a between-a-rock-and-a-hard- place no-win, war torn society. They taught us not WHAT to think..but, simply, how to........THINK. That's a touch stone (true wisdom) which has gotten me out of a few tight spots over the years, and has kept me from following the lemmings of our time blindly over that proverbial ledge and into the sea. And for this valuable lesson, I am eternally grateful.

It has been my pleasure (and sometimes pain) to discover many good songs here on Folk Alley protesting a variety of unethical and unsavory practices and policies against humanity and of it's stewardship over this earth and it's inhabitants. Many songs encourage calls to action, reinforcing unity of purpose. These songs are not only really good listens, but also challenge me to reconsider some of my former attitudes about things. It's songs like these which cause me to stop and think before I leap, blindly, to support a cause or idiology, or even to settle comfortably into one without a thought.

Instead of imbedding links to the many individual songs here, I will simply provide a link to Ann VerWiebe's recent blog, "Where Have All the Protest Songs Gone?" and encourage you to participate in the conversation. Feel free, as well, to post active links to good protest songs down below in this thread.

We can be grateful (glad) that we have the priviledge to express thoughts...ANY thoughts, even those difficult thoughts which are deemed by some (yes, even right here in the good ol' U.S.of A.) to be 'free and unnecessary'. Thank goodness for those daring teachers and professors and mentors who are willing to encourage free and critical thinking, and for forums, such as Folk Alley where we can have collective class "sit ins" and "stand ups", not "drop outs". I'm hearing things here which would encourage me to consider a matter, thoughtfully, before running my mouth about it, before wearing a really cool looking tee-shirt or button to promote a cause, or even before casting my vote on an issue. I want to be able to really believe in a thing for which I stand or am promoting. In order for me to be able to do that, I must first carefully consider all viewpoints.

One thing's for sure, I'm supporting Folk Alley if for no other reason than to encourage free and open expression in a free-thinking challenged world. Leave it to Folk, yet again, to pave the way for open discussion and dialogue!

What are some of the songs or comments you've heard here on Folk Alley and from around the world which have challenged your sense of what you THOUGHT you knew to be correct thinking, and how have they affected your attitudes toward change?
Share if you dare!

Now, does everyone have his assignment? Good.
Class dismissed!

Posted by JoLynn Braswell at August 26, 2006 5:14 PM


Comments

Here's one to start:

Bob Dylan
"It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)"

Posted by: JL Braswell at August 26, 2006 7:27 PM

know for a fact that I have a take on this, but I'll wait and see where this goes before I unload my barrels.

Posted by: Joshua Brande at August 27, 2006 10:58 AM

Hey..go ahead an lay it on us, Joshua! Somebody's gotta do it...

Posted by: Edward Alfred Chapa at August 27, 2006 7:46 PM

(soory guys...that last post was supposed to be from me.. I had my photographer and fellow Folk Music enthusiast friend over here lastnight listening to and making his final selection for the Open Mic contest before time ran out, and he hadn't logged off.)

Posted by: JL Braswell at August 27, 2006 7:49 PM

That's how we "out" our other folk music friends!

Posted by: Ann VerWiebe at August 28, 2006 1:49 PM

lol...yeah, well everybody - meet someone new to the Folk Alley scene. He's been reading the blogs and keeping up with the news here for quite a while now, and finally registered. Now, if he can just get his computer DSL or cabel connected, he'll probably jump on in. edwardalfred is a dang fine photographer too and I drag him to festivals, local gigs and the like, cameras in hand. We're headed out to Kerrville again this weekend for the Wine and Music Festival. I'm so excited - Tom Kimmel, Tim Grimm and Pierce Pettis will all be there!

Posted by: JL Braswell at August 28, 2006 4:16 PM

"There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in"
- Leonard Cohen
Those are some of the most brilliant words I'd ever heard... so simple, so profound.

Posted by: JL Braswell at August 28, 2006 4:45 PM

JL,
you do ask the questions! I don’t know about anyone else, but this is very personal and rather uncomfortable. It’s an easy question to answer, but difficult all the same.

It’s not just the music, but in the way it is presented. I will never-never forget the day I stumbled upon folk music- it was a catalyst for change in my life. Big time. I heard the voice of a friend. I felt I had waited my whole life to hear this voice, which often (deeply) contrasted my belief system. “That which I had always felt was missing -Like the rolling dreams of a wagonless wheel”-Mark Erelli. The song gave a face to that contrast, thus challenging me to look at the heart, rather than the stereotype. Honestly, the process was a very frightening experience at times. The song was a mirror, reflecting back to me my hypocrisies, beauty, spirit, judgments and love. “Somehow all of the signs are in sight If I hold it up to the light”- David Wilcox. Instead of seeing all the differences, I began to search for common ground. That common ground opened up a world of beauty, but most of all a desire to practice grace- as defined through the Golden Rule.

Though there are countless songs to expand on what I am trying to say, I think Deb Talan’s song “Slow Pony Home” best does-

It’s the second September I have known you
Four years or so ago, I rode a pony, called him “Truth”
We didn`t know the way so it took us till today to get here
And all that time, I felt just fine
I held so many people in my suitcase heart
That I had to let the whole thing go
It was taken by the wind and snow
And I still didn’t know that I was waiting
For a girl on a slow pony home
I can remember when I first saw you
You said in my photograph I looked more far away
I laughed and smiled and didn’t say “I am a bit afraid to be here.”
Setting free the anchor and looking past the shore
It’s a sea of horses on ships with no sails, no motors, no oars
Now we’re cleaning the windows between us two
Funny, you do it once, and then again, and pretty soon
the fingerprints and dust...
But I’ve begun to trust the view here.
©2006 Deb Talan & Steve Tannen (ASCAP/BMI). All rights reserved

Posted by: Shannon McDaniel at August 29, 2006 12:47 PM

Shannon, I know what you mean. That journey can be one of tears and of joys. I spent nearly an entire season weaping almost nightly upon hearing, then holding up to the light those things which I had to examine to let go of and to hold fast to. That common ground is what I was aiming for for balast. Often, it's a gradual process, and sometimes some things are easily left behind, no looking back. Other times it's like ripping away a cloak in the snow.

Posted by: JL Braswell at August 30, 2006 1:14 AM

And it's one, two, three...
What are we fighting for?

Posted by: Huw Pryce at August 31, 2006 9:19 AM

Oil, of course. Until we go to hydrogen fuel cells, then we can go back to fighting to see who has the best imaginary friend.

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at August 31, 2006 10:47 AM

“What are we fighting for?
Is it peace, love-end another war?
When our house is in ruins,
And we shoot at each other,
No wonder how they- break down the door.

The voice of America, so tattered and torn,
Killing each other, with our own civil war.
While our house is in ruins,
And we shoot at each other,
No wonder how they- break down the doors.

American Beauty, come home from the storm,
The arms of freedom, ruin holy war.
When the house is in order-
We stop hurting each other-
With the keys that can heal- the holes in our door.”


Posted by: H.A. West at August 31, 2006 1:47 PM

Well that puts me firmly on the road to comprehension.

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 1, 2006 8:38 AM

How about: You are all worshiping the same god, he's just telling you all different things.

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 1, 2006 9:02 AM

Huw - I tend to think that it's more the human wee brain comprehension which fluxuates...

Posted by: JL Braswell at September 2, 2006 4:18 AM

Huw - I tend to think that it's more the human wee brain comprehension which fluxuates...

Posted by: JL Braswell at September 2, 2006 4:18 AM

... and repeats occasionally!

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 3, 2006 3:55 PM

;o) (o;

Posted by: JL Braswell at September 5, 2006 6:40 AM

Unecessary thought has to be thing that separates us from the monkeys. Descartes did his thinking in a bread oven, specifically because if you're just sitting staring into space, some busybody finds you something to do (and I so hate them for it!). Our abstract intelligence is the icing on the cake of existence, none of the processes which led to humans making the initial pointy sticks to fend off predators were in themselves necessary to our survival, particularly as a species, all we needed before we ate of the tree of knowledge, was the ability or urge to forage, fight and fornicate (not a bad state of affairs for the single male of the species even today).
Religion is itself a whole matrix of deeply unecessary thoughts. The moment a pastor, priest or imam tries to suppress unecessary thought, he is sawing away at the branch he's sitting on. Educationalists really should know better or they're wasting their and everyone else's time. On the other hand teaching your students not to stick their clever heads over the parapet lest they get them blown off; that strays into the realm of necessary thought.

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 6, 2006 10:27 AM

In the church I grew up in, I was convinced that Ghandi and Schweitzer were both United Methodists...they were spoken of as if they were missionaries we supported. My young mind eventually grew to understand that it was my particular congregation which was forward minded. We had all been aiming toward the same goals of peace and justice and mercy and grace for all peoples.

Posted by: JL Braswell at September 6, 2006 12:32 PM

I don't ever think I was told not to have thoughts, necessary or unecessary, there. It was a safe and encouraging place which challenged us to get involved in the world. How cool is that!

Posted by: JL Braswell at September 6, 2006 12:34 PM

You and I had similar upbringings I think - I grew away from my church, for philisophical and moral reasons. It saddens me that it now fights against the ordination of gay bishops, but that would probably have happened when I was there.
My absence of faith is an item of basic skepticism - I won't believe in something whch demands irrational belief. I am very Cartesian about the whole issue.

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 6, 2006 5:04 PM

In my Existentialism class in college I was taught that the terrible and sublime thoughts I was encourged to think may be absurd.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at September 7, 2006 8:58 AM

Absolutement mon brave!

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 7, 2006 2:23 PM

Reminds me of that joke, of which I'm afraid I can only recall the punchline:

Upon being asked a question, Rene DesCarte replied,
"I think not", whereupon he immediately vanished!

Posted by: JL Braswell at September 7, 2006 6:48 PM

My main inspiration is my "imaginary friend."

And His Father.

And the Helper He sent.

Nothing irrational about it at all.

***

Is there anybody listening?
Is there anyone who smiles without a mask?
What's behind the words--images
they know will please us?
I'll take what's real. Bring up the lights.

Is there anybody listening?
Is there anyone that sees what's going on?
Read between the lines,
criticize the words they're selling.
Think for yourself and feel the walls...
become sand beneath your feet. ~Queensryche (DeGarmo, I think)

Posted by: Don Rosenow at September 7, 2006 9:07 PM

BTW -

The fact your proponent of "necessary thought" is a university professor is lot less surprising to me than to you apparently.

Posted by: Don Rosenow at September 7, 2006 9:13 PM

Don - those triune imaginary Friends are my main inspiration as well.
I have this idealistic idea that Univ. Profs might be ones who would challenge us to think beyond what we might encounter in our everyday world... someone to encourage the process of actual THINKing, pondering, formulating, postulating, etc.;
someone to get the conversation started, in other words.
In reality, I've come across both close-minded and open-minded profs, plus a few beyond hope, lost in the apathy of the age. I've learned to choose my professors well, and avoid the slugs. Regarless of their own personal opinions, if a Prof is willing to entertain fair discussion on issues, that's a good sign for me.

Posted by: JL Braswell at September 7, 2006 10:20 PM

I started out utterly irreligious, and gradually became convinced of the truth of the Word over the next 45 years.

The richness of the intellectual tradition of Christianity - especially the Catholic version to which I adhere is amazing.

To read John Paul II or Benedict is to be in the prescence of two of the giants of our age.

True liberty is a rare thing.

Posted by: Don Rosenow at September 8, 2006 10:29 AM

Liberty to have sex and not get pregnant would be a good idea.

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 9, 2006 7:53 PM

Or the liberty to have and keep a girl child without being policed might be nice too. It's all a matter of perspective.

Posted by: JL Braswell at September 10, 2006 3:17 AM

Get yourself some God glasses.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at September 13, 2006 4:00 PM

I've been having so much risk free sex recently Richard, that my eyesight isn't what it was anyway.

Then there's always Corinthians 1 13 again.

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 13, 2006 4:27 PM

Our language (English) is so limited when it comes to that one supreme word: LOVE. I wish we had more words to describe and express the many and varied meanings and definitions of it.
There are so many more words for the different types of snow...

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at September 13, 2006 11:56 PM

Except the yellow stuff.

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 14, 2006 5:25 AM

According to Snoopy, "Never eat yellow snow!".

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at September 14, 2006 7:58 AM

Frank Zappa - out of a thousand Alaskan redneck jokes. I think the Schultz estate might seek to distance itself from any yellow snow baased caption - crediting it to forgers and passers-off. Probably. Maybe?

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 14, 2006 9:18 AM

I thought this might interest you from The Times On Line Sept 5th:

Human brain naturally inclined towards the supernatural
By Mark Henderson, Science Editor of The Times


The human brain is hard-wired to be susceptible to supernatural beliefs as a result of tens of thousands of years of evolution, a British psychologist said today.

Religion and other forms of magical thinking continue to thrive, in spite of a lack of evidence and the advance of science, because people are naturally biased to accept a role for the irrational in their daily lives, according to Bruce Hood, Professor of Experimental Psychology at the University of Bristol.

This evolved credulity suggests that it will be impossible to root out belief in ideas such as creationism and paranormal phenomena, even though they have been refuted by evidence and are held as a matter of faith alone.

People ultimately believe in them for the same reasons as they attach sentimental value to inanimate objects like wedding rings or teddy bears, and recoil from artefacts linked to evil, as if they are pervaded by a physical "essence".

These tendencies, he said, are almost certainly a product of evolution. The human mind is adapted to reason intuitively, so it can generate theories about how the world works even when mechanisms cannot be seen or easily deduced.

While this is ultimately responsible for scientific thinking, as in the discovery of invisible forces such as gravity, it also leaves people prone to making irrational errors about what cause and effect.

This innate tendency means it is futile to expect such beliefs to die out as scientific understanding of the world improves. "The mind is adapted to reason intuitively about the properties of the world. Because we operate intuitively, it is probably pointless to get people to abandon belief systems. No amount of evidence is going to get people to take it on board and abandon these ideas."

Credulous minds may have evolved for several reasons. It was once less dangerous to accept things that are not true than it was to reject real facts, such as the threat posed by a nearby predator, and this may have predisposed humans to err on the side of belief. Superstition may also give people a sense of control that can reduce stress.

"I don’t think we’re going to evolve a rational mind, because there are benefits to being irrational," Professor Hood said.

There's more at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-2342421_1,00.html

Posted by: Johnny Mindlin at September 14, 2006 7:40 PM

Obviously, I'm not sure whether I believe a word of it: my horoscope said I'm passing through "a period of uncertainty" so there!

Posted by: Johnny Mindlin at September 14, 2006 7:43 PM

If this theory is true, the it is reasonable to assume that people of faith may be on the leading edge of the evolutionary chain. Geee...didn't know I was so far advanced. (o;

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at September 15, 2006 4:45 AM

Huw - my best friend in Junior High School actually gave me a Charles Schultz "Peanuts" card sized plastic keychain which had Snoopy, standing in snow with the caption,
"Never Eat Yellow Snow". I still have it.
Sometimes Schultz had a wicked sense of humour!

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at September 15, 2006 5:19 AM

Hell JoLynn. I believe you.

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 16, 2006 7:14 AM

I believe you too, but I'm not so sure it was a licensed Peanuts product, authored and/or approved by Schultz. It sounds more like a knockoff copycat, like those car decals of Calvin peeing. Don't know for a fact, but that would be my bet. It's funny though.

Posted by: Joan Kennedy at September 16, 2006 2:02 PM

Joan - I'll have to go back home to the folk's house to find it, but it was from about the mid-to-late 60's - early 70's and I do remember Schultz's name across the bottom (vague memory though). Those were the days of Smiley Faces and Woodstock. I also have an inflatible smiley face mobil and a pillow from those early days. This was pre brand name labels dispayed on the front of tee shirts and other obvious marketing campagnes.
I do recall that the Snoopy keychain was the first time I'd ever really seen any periferal product, other than my Disney lunch box, with the name of a designer/author on it, for marketing purposes. Those were simpler days back then.
The first time I ever saw a brand/designer name displayed (other than on the back waistband of Levis jeans) was an Adidas tee-shirt, and I recall quiping to the boy who was wearing it at bell choir practice, "What's an AHH-di DAHHHH??". That got a roaring response of laughter - never occured to me to display a designer name on the outside of a product...kind of seemed like wearing your underwear on the outside. Oh, but wait...we've been through a phase of that sort of thing too since then....

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at September 16, 2006 2:59 PM

My sister unpicks all the labels on her designerwear. Odd because all her chainsaw stuff (some of the marketing for that is really out-there) is worn with pride. She and her partner could attend any US backwoods, logger convention and almost disappear. Except that if you wrapped a towel around his partner's head he'd probably be shot on-sight; he looks like a clean shaven jihadi. Funny, cos he was born in Armagh and is a Catholic.

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 16, 2006 3:25 PM

I suppose I'm trying to say something about labels here. Let me know when I acheive relevance.

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 16, 2006 3:32 PM

You're there, Huw (highly relevant). The ironic thing about turbans is that they're so often won by Hindus and Sihks, who are never jihadists but often get slammed for it by people who just see "middle-Eastern foreign" and think "he wantsta kill me".

JoLynn, the only red flag your keychain seemed to raise for me was that though it was funny and Schultz was funny, it didn't feel so much like Schultz's humor. I think ripoff-artists have been mass producing stuff for even longer than there have been licensing agreements. I must admit Schultz could've been a lot more wicked than I'm giving him credit for. If you can find that thing you're incredibly organized. I have nothing left from that era, sad because Snoopy pretty much taught me how to read.

Posted by: Joan Kennedy at September 16, 2006 5:14 PM

Mmm! And BC, Asterix the Gaul and Tintin.

Thing about my bro in law is inside he's this six foot ginger Irishman, and outside he's this 5'6" asian creole, with a broad, Norf Lahndan accent.
Excellent bloke - likes his music to move - claims to be non-musical, has a sweet, tenor voice - spot on the note. You only hear it when he's working away from people with the radio on.
An enigma, shrouded in mystery, wrapped in a small, angry guy of indeterminate race. He'd vote Bush! And yet I like him a great deal.

All of this constitutes unnecessary thought, I suppose, but I'd love to see how he'd deal with US customs!

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 16, 2006 7:01 PM

Joan, there was definitely a cartoon by Charles Schultz with Snoopy making the "never eat yellow snow." I remember it well, and if I dig through my daughter's Peanuts paperbacks I could probably find it. Neither Frank Zappa, nor Charles Schultz can take credit for a joke that I remember from grade school days. It is a joke much older than either of their uses of it.

Posted by: Jack Swain at September 16, 2006 7:15 PM

Like I said - a thousand Alaskan redneck jokes - possibly translated from some Inuit language...

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 16, 2006 11:13 PM

Probablyyyy!!!
That would be grade school jokes in Texas, would it Jack? We have had a number of snows here - I have proof on old reels of film. Ice sickles were pretty much safe to eat though, as long as they were from high up enough. Until the '70s - then nothing was safe from all of the polution.

Joan - I love it! A literate dog who taught a little girl how to read...it was his Red Baron bubble typed captions wasn't it!?

And about snow, from:
http://wtimmins.tripod.com/lore/inuitsnow.html
Ian Noble writes:

No idea as to the accuracy of its content, but I got sent the following a month or two back:

"Subject: Snow

With winter nearly upon us someone is bound to suggest (it happens every year) that the Inuit have more than 30 words for snow. As far as I can remember (about down the end of the block and a few paces to the right), no one has ever appended all those words (I could be mistaken, I often am). Here are the 31 words for snow in the Inuit language (I don't speak Inuit, so please don't ask me how they are pronounced) as printed by today's Denver Post:

Aniugavinirq: very hard, compressed and frozen snow

Apijaq: snow covered by bad weather

Apigiannagaut: first snow of Autumn

Apimajug: snow-covered

Apisimajug: snow-covered, but not snowed in

Apujjag: snowed-in

Aput: snow

Aputiqarniq: snowfall on ground

Aqillutaq: new snow

Auviq: snow block

Katakaqtanaq: hardcrust snow that gives way underfoot

Kavisilaq: snow roughened by frost

Kiniqtaq: compact, damp snow

Mannguq: melting snow

Masak: wet, falling snow

Matsaaq: half-melted snow

Mauja: soft, deep snow footsteps sink in

Natiruvaaq: drifting snow

Pirsirlug: blowing snow

Pukajaak: sugary snow

Putak: crystalline, breaks into grains

Qaggitaq: snow ditch to trap caribou

Qaliriiktaq: snow layer of poor quality for an igloo

Qaniktaq: new snow on ground

Qannialaaq: light, falling snow

Qiasuqqaq: thawed snow that refroze with an icy surface

Qimugjuk: snow drift

Qiqumaaq: snow with a frozen surface after spring thaw

Qirsuqaktuq: light snow

Qukaarnartuq: crusted snow

Sitilluqaq: hard snow"

-Ian Noble"


I see no word for "yellow snow" in this list, but I'm certain that if one exists, the Inuit must know of it -
they do have plenty of sled dogs!

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at September 17, 2006 3:45 AM

I'm looking forward to winter now.

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at September 17, 2006 3:46 AM

...all 2 1/2 weeks of it!

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at September 17, 2006 3:50 AM

2 1/2 weeks? You'll be lucky even to get Masak during that!

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 17, 2006 8:12 PM

last year (or was it the year before), Huw, I made a tiny little 8" snowman from the collected snowfall on my car, and it stayed there for two days! Mostly we just have lots of hail, which can be an impressive sight at any time of year, and quite damaging. My Ruby Red grapefruit lost about half it's fruit to it this year, and what's left is badly scarred. The leaves look a bit shredded.

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at September 17, 2006 10:04 PM

We had a six month winter with no snow at all - and hardly any rain. Summer began with the government declaring a drought. The real pig of last winter was the easterly wind that blew for MONTHS, giving us a wind-chill well below freezing day and night. My poor old flat was unheatable, the pubs were all sweltering and fugged with smoke, because the vents were shut. I've had winters where my van was frozen into the snow and wouldn't start because the sump was solid (very, very rare), but never one as bitter as this last one. Horrible.

Christmas day '94 I walked across the lawn, tiptoed over a roasting beach and fell into the Indian Ocean at 8.00AM. Why do I live here?

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 18, 2006 7:58 PM

..and why do I live here?, I ask myself year in and year out. I'm going to somewhere tropical with a breeze in December with my gal friends. I think it's Cozumel. One of them won the trip and kindly asked me to tag along. No one wants to go snow skiing with me though. Maybe someone will win an Alaskan cruise and I can actually see a seasonal shift.
I forget...what are we talking about again? I think we were protesting something. Ohhh, yeah - "Never Eat Yellow Snow" and freedom to worship if we please in the Ice Chapel @ Ice Hotel in Sweden.
Something like that..

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at September 18, 2006 8:56 PM

We went to Andorra for skiing - like Sweden with Tapas. Crawling with Russian Mafia at the time. Strange but true.

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 20, 2006 11:36 AM

Mafia just wants to have fun too....wonder what or who was their target..uh, I mean business?

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at September 20, 2006 2:59 PM

Mafia just wants to have fun too....wonder what or who was their target..uh, I mean business?

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at September 20, 2006 3:00 PM

(now I know how those repeats happen!)

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at September 20, 2006 3:00 PM

Anyway, back to business. Freedom of thought in my family comes from a tradition of non-conformist religion. By 1920 the non-conformity had got so far into my Grandfather he started to question everything. He had some pretty advanced ideas for a coalman born in 1896. He read anything and everything, and even in his eighties came out with bits of unconventional wisdom that made you jump. His most impressive faculty by far was his ability to listen to arguments and change his position as his opinion modified. He loved a good argument and didn't mind losing if he could be proved wrong. I've always tried to follow him in this (and many other things I found admirable about him).
Being able to see both sides of an argument is unfashionable in this day and age, and an indication we have nurtured the barbarians within the gates as well as allowing them to gather without.
I've often thought that the tide of civilisation rose and fell somewhere around my Grandfather's level of liberalism and I pity my daughter's generation which is doomed to clear up after ours.

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 25, 2006 9:50 AM

Welcome back from your mini "vacation" Huw (don't hit me!). (o;

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at September 25, 2006 11:10 PM

OK - revive the Blog!

Why are bananas bent? Where does light go when you switch it off? Why when I cup my hand over my cheek so I can hear my own voice am I accused of 'sticking my finger in my ear'? When did the word critique become a verb? Who is afraid of Virginia Woolf? Is unnecessary thought the same as extraneous daydreaming? How was Was not Was? What is the be-all and end-all? Why am I not working? Ooops!

Posted by: Huw Pryce at October 25, 2006 7:41 PM

'Extraneous daydreaming' is essential, Huw.. it's from where most of the brilliant ideas come!

Oddly enough, there was a study as to the appeal of bent vs straight bananas which resulted in the finding that straight bananas were more appealing to the most people, and thusly, were more marketable.
I've always prefered the bent ones, so I have no idea what that means.

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at October 28, 2006 3:15 AM

It was a study and not a critique I take it?

Posted by: Huw Pryce at October 28, 2006 7:03 PM

Some sort of marketing study..uhmm, but..I don't think that's what you meant to have answered! (blush)

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at October 28, 2006 8:37 PM

Sorry JoLynn. I've just heard it again! People have now started to say "maybe you'd like to critique such-and-such". WHY!!!

IT'S A NOUN

Next week:

Say "NEW"
Say "CLEAR"

Say them together:

"NEW CLEAR"

That's how the word nuclear is pronounced. You are now more intelligent than George W Bush!

Arrgh!

Posted by: Huw Pryce at November 2, 2006 9:46 AM

You know, Huw - I feel your pain! The first US President I had heard to mispronounce that word, "nuclear" was dear Pres. Jimmy Carter. I recall that it was the first time I'd heard a public official, whom I'd assumed was well educated and well versed in the English language, to make a faux pas such as that. My young image of 'respectatible', well 'edumacated' leaders was shattered, I tell you.
"Mischievous" is another word which slipped past the lips of many as (incorrectly) "miss-sheeve-ee-us". I mean, if one just LOOKS at the spelling of the word it might give a clue as to the correct pronunciation! Please! "Mischievous...MISS-CHI-VUS"! So...how would they say, "Ribonucleic acid", I wonder!

Now then...I've had my harumph! for this morning.

Except for this tidbit of news....a few wrinkles to be ironed out, but yes, YOU TOO can be a vigilante Texas Border Patrol agent, even from the comfort of your own home in London, and without having to have a gun or anything but a computer and an email account and a curiosity and penchant for... something (I will not comment on this one, grrrr):

http://www.texasborderwatch.com/

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at November 4, 2006 7:42 AM

Free..and unecessary.

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at November 4, 2006 7:43 AM

I think everyone should be required to take Latin, and German, and Scandinavian, and Galic, and Greek, and... Perhaps then, we could all read English! (and if that makes no sense to you, then you need to take at least a semester of Latin!).
Hmph.

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at November 4, 2006 7:47 AM

Robert Claiborne - The Roots of English, excellent read and a must for budding pedants. You can bore your friends at dinner parties and intimidate your greengrocer (or Dan Quayle).
I recently asked to speak to Panini the chef at my local pub, they were advertising Panini's filled sandwiches outside, i'm now helping the landlord to spell the word facetious.
For some reason I found it easier to forgive Carter his pronunciation deficit - now why might that be? Hmmm...

Posted by: Huw Pryce at November 4, 2006 11:10 AM

Is that Texas border thing real?

Posted by: Huw Pryce at November 4, 2006 11:13 AM

Being a peanut farmer is NO excuse, Huw. Some of the most well educated, well versed people I know are farmers and ranchers. It takes a lot of book learnin' and smarts to run a succesful agrigultural establishment. And, Huw.. if you are making light of our being from the south, now wait a minute! You're gettin' r e a l personal now! (o;

All kidding aside...that's NO JOKE about the border cams being made availible for on-line viewing and reporting. This, I read on Yahoo news just today.
The first day's viewing was rough, so I hear - obstructions by a bush here and there, blurry cams, can't tell the dif between, say..a family crossing a parking lot at the grocery store and a tractor trailer load of illegal aliens being transported in those sealed, unventilated death boxes.

Here's another bit of news for you. After December '06, we here will no longer be able to travel freely across the borders (Mexico/US OR Canada/US), or anywhere else for that matter, without Passport in hand.
I feel opressed already, and I have nothing to hide!

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at November 4, 2006 7:15 PM

..and of course, you know that not being able to type/spell well doesn't mean I'm a silly-head. At least I can PRONOUNCE things correctly!

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at November 4, 2006 7:16 PM

And border patrol was set to be such good excercise! What good is it if you can do it from home? People need to get out there and activly deny middle America its supply of gardeners and short order chefs.
It wasn't that he was from the South, I dunno, i kinda just liked him, but then I'm European.

Posted by: Huw Pryce at November 5, 2006 5:48 PM

Jimmy is a very likable character, and has done more good for this world in his retirement days than just about anyone I know. His work with Habitat for Humanity has been priceless, for sure!
http://www.habitat.org/

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at November 6, 2006 4:20 PM

..and I never expected to be blatantly offered to become an actual component of BIG BROTHER, Huw... Next time I travel across the border, I'll wave to the cameras - see if you can spot me there!

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at November 6, 2006 4:23 PM

Democratisation of despotism: bread and circuses next!
Ol' Jimmy has done a lot of good, and he set up your wonderful Freedom of information act, for which we on this side of the pond are eternally grateful (we can recover our government papers through your public records - they're routinely secret in this country). However, he may have been complicit in triggering the Soviet invasion of Afganistan, which has led us to where we are now. So I'll dine with him if he asks, but I'll take my long spoon.

Posted by: Huw Pryce at November 7, 2006 10:36 AM

Well said, Huw.

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at November 7, 2006 11:41 AM

Ooookay - did everyone vote? Always remember - free pizza with Oat Willie...

Posted by: Huw Pryce at November 7, 2006 10:00 PM

Took me three hours standing in line (the turnout in my precinct was tremendous), but yes, VOTING accomplished. Where's my free pizza?? All I wanted was a nice hot bowl of caldo (soup) at the local all night dive, with a little conversation. Done.

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at November 8, 2006 12:04 AM

I think you actually have to vote for Oat Willie to get Pizza. He's never on my ballot paper. My lead singer often is, also a local busker who hangs upside down from lamposts while singing Lucy in the Sky, in Chinese (http://www.ivaninversion.com/). Never any damn pizza though.

Posted by: Huw Pryce at November 8, 2006 11:14 AM

You guys a little low on the lithium levels in your water there, Huw? Should make those Morris dancers look like mild Mr. Rogers, considering the number of unusuals in your area. (Wouldn't have your Poppy any other way though!)

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at November 8, 2006 1:40 PM

This is what I came up with for "Oat Willie", Huw. Is this who you are talking about?

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at November 8, 2006 1:43 PM

http://www.keepaustinweird.com/home.html

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at November 8, 2006 1:43 PM

(Huw - that "ivaninversion" link won't work for me. What's up?)

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at November 8, 2006 9:47 PM

It's the damned brackets! http://www.ivaninversion.com/
There, that ought to work!
Just watching the news - Country roads, take me home, to the place I belooooong...

Posted by: Huw Pryce at November 9, 2006 4:40 PM

What an unusual person!

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at November 10, 2006 1:58 AM

I can divide my friends and associates into two groups - those who took the bad brown acid doing the rounds in the early 80s and those who didn't. I didn't, and I never say which of my friends probably did. It's fairly obvious.

Posted by: Huw Pryce at November 10, 2006 8:46 AM

I had a friend at Univ who had pretty much fried his brain in the '70s, and he kind of phazed in and out of things and wandered on occasion. After school he continued his letters to me over time. "Truly, Blair" is what I called him, as he faithfully signed each missive that way. His letters were interesting, but in a language structure which was pretty much alien to me but interesting reads, none-the-less. I could tell that in his earlier days he had been brilliant. Residuals were there, but not always present.
I thank my lucky stars that I hadn't gone in the path that he had in his wilder youth. It's good to be a little strange, but fully present.

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at November 11, 2006 10:36 PM

Amen!

Posted by: Huw Pryce at November 13, 2006 11:19 AM

Any last thoughts folks?

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at December 16, 2006 8:59 AM

My epitaph: "And furthermore..."

Posted by: Huw Pryce at December 21, 2006 9:14 AM

I'm still waiting to hear from Joshua!!

Posted by: Shannon McDaniel at December 21, 2006 7:34 PM

Apijaq in Colorado these days, or so I hear.

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at December 21, 2006 9:52 PM

Shannon - ME TOO!
Joshua Brande, where are you?!?

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at December 21, 2006 9:53 PM

This is going here for want of a better place to put it. I would have opened a new thread, but I don't know how to do this here.

Elena See just commented on Willy Nelson's song "I Gotta Get Drunk", "Why must you get drunk? Because it's what's expected of you."

Here is a much better answer, from a prose poem by Charles Baudelaire.

One should always be drunk. That's all that matters;
that's our one imperative need. So as not to feel time's horrible burden one which breaks your shoulders and bows you down, you must get drunk without ceasing.

But what with?

With wine, with poetry, or with virtue as you choose.

But get drunk!

And if, at some time, on steps of a palace, or in the green grass of a ditch, or in the bleak solitude of your room, you are waking up and drunkenness has already abated, ask the wind, the wave, the stars, the birds, the clock, all that which flees, all that which groans, all that which rolls, all that which sings, all that which speaks, ask them what time it is;

And the wind, the wave, the stars, the birds, the clock, will all reply "It is time to get drunk!"

So that you may not be the martyred slaves of time,
get drunk.

Get drunk, and never pause for rest!

With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you choose!

Posted by: John Hobson at January 11, 2007 11:35 AM

Beautiful, John!

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at January 11, 2007 11:51 AM

JoLynn - I saw your comments on Jimmy Carter concerning his use of the word nuclear and his general education. I would like to point out that he is a brilliant man who has his degree in nuclear engineering. While I have no recollection of his pronouncing the word nuclear as nuke-u-lar, he is from the Southern US and I have heard it pronounced that way often in the south.

Huy - I don't know when it became common to use critique as a verb, but the Merriam-Webster dictionary lists it first as a 1.) noun, then as 2.) a transitive verb. I am not fond of how so many nouns become verbs through their misuse, but it does happen that languages evolve over time due to such things.

The Brits love to bash Americans about their misuse of the language. It seems to me that the Brits don't always use it any better, they just have their own misuses that differ from the Americans.

Posted by: Jack Swain at January 11, 2007 12:06 PM

I know...I know! Jack - that's why I had been so shocked at hearing President Jimmy Carter mispronounce that particular word. You'd think a person who is so very intelligent, and who's field is actually that particular one might get it right, but that's just not how things are sometimes. Our current President also mispronounces that particular word (nuclear) as well.

You know, my Dad is from the South (grew up in Birmingham, AL) and I've never heard him mispronounce one word. Mom was born near where I grew up on the Gulf Coast, lived for about 10 or 12 years in New York, then back to the Gulf Coast, and I've never heard her mispronounce anything either.
Same with our musical next door neighbors, who grew up in Houston. Could always count on them to have the difinitive answers reguarding language and the use of it, which really helped me growing up.
We (my family) were all together when we were watching Mr. Carter giving his address, and when we heard that word from his mouth we all looked at one another and some eyebrows were raised - couldn't understand why he was saying it that way. We all knew his education and background.

Language is such a fluid thing, always changing, but you'd think that certain words might be pronounced according to their basic spelling. Is 'nucular' in the dictionary? I wonder....

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at January 11, 2007 8:53 PM

avuncular is in there

Posted by: Richard Schletty at January 18, 2007 1:28 PM

For those who may be interested:
http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/Nucular

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at January 18, 2007 2:48 PM

Gristled Bone

I'm seein' all the topfolk
and wonder what ya got
that got ya where you are

I'm seein' all the bottomfolk
and wonder why you're sad
You got a crust o bread
You got each others' arms

Don't worry why
you ain't got it
Some things at the top
aren't worth spit

Don't carry on like
you wanna check out
It's time to live it out
with what ya got

The haves and the have-nots,
tug-o-war,
takers, givers, chicken livers
gristled bone, megaphone

Cry out, cry out
cry out for love

Posted by: Richard Schletty at September 11, 2007 11:30 AM

Hi Richard-

Pretty straight to the point. A good place to start!

Peace
Shannon

Posted by: Shannon McDaniel at September 11, 2007 11:43 AM

I suppose my thoughts weren't necessary, but I offer them here for free.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at September 11, 2007 1:11 PM

Yes, we do hold many people and memories in our "suitcase hearts".

Posted by: Richard Schletty at September 11, 2007 1:14 PM

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