Wednesday, August 31, 2016

They Might Be Giants

Big (Dumb) Ideas

"Did you know watching football makes you a monster?"
One of the more tedious aspects of modern life is the general public's increasing inability to tell genuine intellectuals from glib hucksters. Today's case in point is Malcolm Gladwell, author of numerous best-selling books.

People keep buying those books and going to hear the guy speak even though it is quite obvious that he is completely full of shit.

As you might expect, he's the type of charlatan who claims that any serious criticism of his work is just one more sign that he is right. And if you disagree, why,  you're simply not smart enough to understand just how right he is. Q.E.D.

That's why it was such a day-brightener when I came across an article which pointed to the latest scientific evisceration of Gladwell's famous "10,000 Hour Rule." It isn't the first time someone has refuted Gladwell's absurd claims on the issue, but piling on is fine with me in this intellectual football game...

"It didn't take me 10,000 hours to master eat-murdering ant colonies."

Of course it didn't...

Feast Day

Stained glass of St. Aidan, Holy Cross Monastery

Today is the feast day of St. Aidan,
an Irish-born monk and later bishop who was noteworthy for his tireless and successful evangelism to both the nobility and the common people of what was then known as the Kingdom of Northumbria, where the return of Christianity in the 7th century is credited to him.

Virtually all of what we know about
St. Aidan comes from the remarkably thorough Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (Ecclesiastical History of the English People) by St. Bede (also known among scholars as Venerable Bede).

Because he was born in Ireland, established an important monastery in Scotland, and ministered to the English, from time to time there are proposals that he be named the patron saint of the United Kingdom.

The precise date of St. Aidan's canonization is unknown, since his sainthood is pre-Congregation. He is buried beneath the priory he established on the island of Lindisfarne. Aidan is the patron saint of Northumbria, and of firefighters.

Baseball Coincidences

As I've mentioned on previous occasions in this space, one of my favorite things about baseball is its rich history, and especially its veritable treasure trove of amusing coincidences. Today's episode focuses on a pair of "firsts," one batting and one pitching, accomplished by a pair of teammates on the same calendar date nine years apart...

Brooklyn Dodgers first baseman Gil Hodges was one of the biggest stars of the famous Boys of Summer teams of the 1950s.

On August 31, 1950 Hodges became the first man in National League history to hit four home runs in the same game without the benefit of extra innings. He hit each home run that day off of a different pitcher. At the time, American League star Lou Gehrig was the only other player since 1900 to have accomplished the feat.
On August 31, 1959 Hodges's teammate, Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax, pitching in the Dodgers' first season in Los Angeles, became the first man in National League history to strike out 18 batters in a nine- inning game.

Koufax's record stood for a decade.
On September 15, 1969, it was broken
by 24-year-old future Hall of Famer
Steve Carlton, who struck out 19 in a losing effort for the St. Louis Cardinals against a New York Mets team that went on to win the World Series that season
(the legendary Miracle Mets).

Who was managing the Mets the day Carlton broke Koufax's record?

Gil Hodges.

Behind Schedule

From the delightfully off-kilter webcomic xkcd, by Randall Munroe, which you should read every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, as I do.

Until Next Time...

One of my favorite things about my guitar hero Joe Bonamassa is that he is so prolific. Unlike artists who make you wait years at a time for new music, Joe's fondness for releasing live recordings and collaborations with other artists means there's almost always something new in the pipeline. And it is always good stuff.

Many of these live recordings aren't regular concerts, but rather special events like his all-acoustic show at the Vienna Opera House, or his Tour de Force series of four albums capturing four concerts with four different set lists over four consecutive nights at four different London venues. He has yet another live album scheduled to be released in a few weeks, just six months after the release of his latest studio album.

On August 31, 2014 Joe performed a unique show at the famous
Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado, in which he paid tribute to the music of two of his biggest blues influences, Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf.

The sold-out concert was one of Joe's largest-ever crowds, and one of his rare outdoor shows. Muddy Wolf at Red Rocks debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Blues Albums chart, and reached No. 35 on the Billboard 200.

Today's send-off is Joe's performance that night of "Killing Floor," the award-winning Howlin' Wolf number that many consider the epitome of Chicago-style electric blues.

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