Friday, February 3, 2017

Shocked Not Shocked

Thank Raijin It's Friday!

"Yeah, that whole 'lightning never strikes twice in the same place' thing is bullshit!"

Senate Shenanigans

"You're just afraid I'll do what I've promised to do, right?'

At the crack of dawn in Washington, D.C. this morning the U.S. Senate voted 52-48 (strict party-line vote) to allow the nomination of Betsy DeVos to serve as the next Secretary of Education to advance to a confirmation vote on Monday.

Even though she is a fine choice for the post, two of the Republicans who voted today
to advance her nomination to the floor for a vote have pledged to vote against her, so the most likely scenario has her being confirmed when Vice President Mike Pence breaks the expected 50-50 tie. The two largest teachers' unions, who between them spent more than $37 million on lobbying in the most recent cycle (with only $362,000 of it going to GOP candidates) will not relent in their efforts to prevent her confirmation.

Personally, I have zero confidence that Republicans will have the spine to confirm
a legitimate reformer to the position. It would only take a single additional Republican defection to sink her nomination, and the list of candidates for the Benedict Arnold role here is lengthy...

"So, what happens if she doesn't get confirmed?"

Hard to say, but if it was up to me I'd abolish the Department of Education altogether...

Feast Day

Altarpiece in the Church of St. Blaise, Alsace, France
Today is the feast day of St. Blaise,
the 4th century bishop who became one of Europe's most popular saints (he is still revered there as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers).

When I was growing up the sacramental known as the Blessing of the Throats was the highlight
of this feast day. If February 3 fell on a weekday, the parish priests would visit our school and perform the ceremony in every classroom.

I have never forgotten how it felt
to have the crossed candles touch my throat as the priest softly spoke the blessing. The sense of safety and well-being it gave me was palpable.

It doesn't seem as though many parishes make as much of a fuss about February 3
as they once did, but that isn't surprising. I believe that such ceremonial expressions
of faith still have meaning, though.

"You're big on traditional Catholic observances, aren't you?"

I am...and I don't see anything wrong with that...

So Much Winning

Nice trophy!

Hot on the heels of American Grandmaster (GM)
Wesley So's victory at the Tata Steel Chess Tournament in Wijk an Zee a few days ago comes news that American GM Hikaru Nakamura has won the Tradewise Gibralter Masters Tournament.

It was a strong field, including three of the world's top six rated players, but GM Nakamura prevailed in a tie-break to win the event for the third straight year.

Another Shocking Development

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

Until Next Time...

On February 3, 1959 a 12-year-old Beechcraft Bonanza Model 35 crashed in a frozen cornfield near Clear Lake, Iowa, a town about four hours north and east of where I live. All four of the aircraft's passengers were killed in the crash.

What shocked the world about this event is that it claimed the lives of popular musical artists Charles Hardin "Buddy" Holly, Richard Steven Valenzuela (Ritchie Valens), and Jiles Perry Richardson, Jr. (The Big Bopper). 21-year pilot Roger Peterson also perished. Ever since, February 3 has been known as The Day the Music Died.

Informal memorial at the Clear Lake crash site
Of course, the history of popular music is filled with tragic, untimely deaths of major stars, but this particular event acquired a special significance in American culture.

The events of that night have been dramatized in the Academy Award-winning The Buddy Holly Story
as well as the Ritchie Valens biopic La Bamba, and singer-songwriter Don McLean's legendary hit single "American Pie" references the accident extensively.

Today's send-off is each artist's highest-charting single...

The 1957 Brunswick recording of Holly's hit single "That'll Be the Day" (with the label billing only to The Crickets):

A recording of "Donna," Ritchie Valens's ode to his high school sweetheart, paired with images of the talented teenager:

A lip-synched performance of "Chantilly Lace" by The Big Bopper broadcast on American Bandstand in 1958:

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