Friday, January 29, 2016

Cream Rises

Thank Randall Flagg It's Friday!

"What happens in Vegas..."

Debate Reflections

So, there was another Republican presidential candidate's debate joint press availability last night in Des Moines, the final one before actual voting begins on Monday night with the Iowa Caucuses. There were no game-changing moments, but the absence of asshat Donald Trump (who boycotted the debate in fear of Fox anchor Megyn Kelly) meant a refreshing focus on actual issues as opposed to the "What do you think about what Mr. Trump has said?" sort of thing that has dominated most of these events thus far.

It was actually a good look at what might have been had the mainstream media not decided that Trump was the only candidate worth covering this cycle. My own brief impressions...

Carly Fiorina totally dominated the so-called "undercard" debate. That she was not put in the main stage debate when Trump withdrew is a travesty. She is smart, well-prepared, thoughtful, and fearless. An anti-Trump, which the campaign sorely needs.
Senator Rand Paul demonstrated why it was a mistake for him to have been excluded from the previous gathering, giving calm, thoughtful answers and showing a willingness to raise issues others shy away from. His core libertarian principles deserve a place at the conservative table.

Senator Marco Rubio made a good showing, and dealt with some tough questions about his record with honesty and clarity. A first-class mind and a first-class temperament. Clearly the winner of the so- called "main stage" event.

Senator Ted Cruz didn't do badly, but it wasn't his best performance. Former governor Jeb Bush had a solid performance, probably his best of the campaign so far, but it is unlikely that voters will re-examine their position on him at this point. Governors Chris Christie and John Kasich, along with Dr. Ben Carson, ought to seriously consider dropping out of the race. They contribute nothing of value to the proceedings, and take time away from better-prepared candidates who actually have important things to say.

First Class

Although major league baseball's National Baseball Hall of Fame would not formally open until 1939, voting for its inaugural class of honorees began in 1936. Eighty years ago today (January 29, 1936), the results of the first voting for the Hall were announced. To be elected, a player had to be named on a minimum of 75 percent of the ballots cast by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Five players reached that level of support, and became the Hall of Fame's first "class" of inductees:

L to R, by ballot percentage: Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson

This is as good a time as any to throw in a plug for my all-time favorite book about baseball. Written by the indispensable Bill James, Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame? is not only a fascinating history of the institution itself, but also a useful discussion of how baseball fans ought to think about the Hall of Fame, too. James does
a marvelous job of debunking almost every fallacy that plagues conversations about who should be in the Hall, a true public service if you pay much attention to the half-witted "debates" that swirl around some pretty marginal Hall candidates every year.

The chapter on Don Drysdale alone is a textbook example of how to build a Hall of Fame case (or how to dismantle one). Anyone studying argumentation and rhetoric could profit from a close study of that chapter.

"That's a pretty impressive group."

Yes, it is...the BBWAA didn't start fucking up their voting until later...

Presidential Material

From the pen of Henry Payne, whose editorial cartoons you should read often, as I do.

Until Next Time...

It is no great insight that the timing of a person's birth sometimes has much to do with the path their life subsequently takes. This is as true for entertainers as it is for anyone.

On January 29, 1981 Jon Gordon Langseth, Jr. was born in Fargo, North Dakota. Performing as Jonny Lang, he has had a reasonably successful career, but most likely would have been a much bigger star if he had begun his career at a time when guitar- based music was more popular with young people.

Jonny's father encouraged his son's interest in the guitar at a young age, and his talent for the instrument quickly became apparent. His major-label debut album Lie To Me was released on January 28, 1997, the day before his 16th birthday.

Being a fan of blues and blues-rock, I quickly became a fan of Jonny's as well. I also liked the fact that he performed barefoot (a practice he has since abandoned). He really didn't fit the mold of what guitar prodigies were supposed to be like during that time period. He was a throwback, in a good way.

Today's send-off is the official music video for "Lie to Me," the album's opening track and first single, in which Jonny plays a vintage Fender Esquire he saw in the guitar shop where the video was filmed. The guitar was later purchased and given to him as a gift, and he still plays and records with it. Enjoy...

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