September 6, 2014 archive


Keeping An Eye On Kansas

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Kansas has always been a strange place for politics. Since joining the Union as a slave free state on January 29, 1861, Kansas has been one of the most socially conservative states of the union, driving its politics off the right wing cliff. Currently, Republican Senator Pat Roberts is in a tight fight to maintain his seat, barely winning his primary. His Democratic challenger, Chad Taylor, withdrew from the race at the last minute this week but Kansas Secretary of State says his name must remain on the ballot. Still, this gives the better funded Independent candidate, Greg Orman, a shot at unseating Roberts in what would be a real upset

Polling analysts, who usually sneer at the possibility of “game-changers” disrupting the fundamental trends of a race, are now all worked up about the game-changing possibilities on display here. Nate Silver declares that the Kansas Senate race “just got crazy,” adding that his “totally wild guess” early on is that the contest is now a “toss up.” (Studious Nate, as always, would like to think about this for a little while.) Princeton’s Sam Wang puts Orman’s “winGO probability at 85 percent,” meaning “the probability of Democratic control of the Senate is about to pop up by 20-30 percent.” Nathan Gonzalez, writing at the Rothenberg Political Report, dubs Roberts the “most vulnerable Republican Senator in the country.” [..]

The race will hinge on how Orman chooses to define himself and how Roberts and the Republicans choose to define Orman. If it breaks down into an effective Democrat vs. Republican race, you’d think, just given the fact that this is Kansas in a strong Republican year with an unpopular Democratic president, that Roberts would be able to pull it off. But if Orman can manage to maintain the “independent” image and marry a coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans, then he could pull off this most unlikely of upsets.

However, the Democrats need to be careful about wishing for an Orman win. It may not change anything since Orman, a Republican who once ran as a Democrat, has parked himself in the middle

The problem for election forecasters is that Orman has given a novel answer to the question of which party he would caucus with should he win. “If one party is clearly in the majority,” Orman’s campaign website says, “he will seek to caucus with the party that was in the majority as that would be in the best interest for the state of Kansas.”

More importantly, Orman has been coy about what he might do in the event his caucus choice would determine which party held the majority. “If I get elected, there’s a reasonable chance that neither party will have a majority in Washington,” Orman told MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki. “If that is the case, I’m gonna caucus with whichever party is willing to actually go to Washington and start trying to solve problems as opposed to just pleasing the extremists in their own base.” [..]

If either party wins a majority with room to spare, Orman’s choice is irrelevant. If Democrats end up with 50 seats or Republicans win 51, Orman can give the majority party one extra vote, but his choice will not decide which party takes control. (Vice President Joe Biden votes with the Democrats to break ties, so Democrats would have a working majority with 50 votes in their caucus.) However, if the Democrats hold 49 seats and the Republicans win 50, Orman will be in a position to determine the majority.

Add to the fact that the very unpopular Republican governor, Sam Brownback, is in serious jeopardy of losing to a Democrat, Paul Davis, makes Kansas worth watching.

Kansas has been crazy for a long time, maybe now the voters are fed up with the crazies. As Doc Maddow would say: Keep watching this space.

The Breakfast Club (Papa Haydn)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgIn about 1759 or so, a new musical format started taking the world (and by ‘world’ I of course mean the elite upper class courtiers of certain western European Kingdoms and Principalities) by storm called the Symphony.

These pieces were typically quite short by comparison with Operas and Sacred works and scored for Concert Orchestra or Band while excluding vocalists which made a lot of sense in that they were normally abstract and non-representational (at least during the Classic period) and used as introductory, inter-act or movement, and departure music for more ambitious compositions.

Just like Sonnets there were competing formats the oldest being the Italian and distinguished by 3 movements, typically a Presto, an Andante, and another Presto in a different key or time signature.

Later many Symphonies were composed using the ‘German’ or 4 movement style consisting of an Allegro, an Adagio, a Minuet or Scherzo, and a Rondo.  More particularly 4 movement Symphonies can be characterized as Austrian since their most popular and prolific composers were Joseph Haydn (107) and Wolfgang Mozart (47).

And that is one of the reasons they called him ‘Papa’ (Mozart died a little too young).  It’s often thought Haydn ‘invented’ the Symphony, but among others with claims there are some who composed much earlier including Tomaso Albinoni and Antonio Vivaldi.  His day gig was Kapellmeister of Esterházy and during his long term of service there he helped out a lot of musicians who were basically otherwise unemployable.  He was incredibly fecund with all manner of musical amusements (hey, when it’s deadline time you take whatever crap you got, put a -30- under it, tear it out of the typewriter and hand it to the copy boy) and was actually constantly spoofing himself with things like the Surprise Symphony and the endless ‘false’ endings which became ‘Classical’ Clichés simply because lesser lights didn’t appreciate the irony (5 minutes in the dryer, I’m telling you).

It’s not that hard to see why I identify.

The downside is that the next major musical movement, Romanticism, came to be defined in opposition to his contributions which were not nearly as sterile and stylised as his detractors claimed.  Heck, one thing he did invent was Sturm und Drang.

Oh, and he had his head stolen.

That happened about a week after the funeral and nobody noticed for 11 years.  When they did the conspirators hid it in a mattress and parked one of their wives on top claiming she was menstruating.

Ick (one of many ways of pronouncing ek) said the searchers.

Anyway the thieves came up with another skull, continued to hide the real one, and it was 145 years before Yorick was reunited.

I came across this YouTube that represents about 5% of Haydn’s total Symphonies by Opus (as opposed to duration since it covers his first 5 which are very short).

Obligatories, News, and Blogs below.

On This Day In History September 6

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

September 6 is the 249th day of the year (250th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 116 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1995, Cal Ripken Jr of the Baltimore Orioles plays in his 2,131st consecutive game, breaking a record that stood for 56 years.

Calvin Edwin “Cal” Ripken, Jr. (born August 24, 1960) is a former Major League Baseball shortstop and third baseman who played his entire career (1981-2001) for the Baltimore Orioles.

During his baseball career, he earned the nickname “Iron Man” for doggedly remaining in the lineup despite numerous minor injuries and for his reliability to “show up” to work every day. He is perhaps best known for breaking New York Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig’s record for consecutive games played, a record many deemed unbreakable. Ripken surpassed the 56-year-old record when he played in his 2,131st consecutive game on September 6, 1995 between the Orioles and the California Angels in front of a sold-out crowd at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. To make the feat even more memorable, Ripken hit a home run in the previous night’s game that tied Gehrig’s record and another home run in his 2,131st game, which fans later voted as Major League Baseball’s “Most Memorable Moment” in MLB history. Ripken played in an additional 502 straight games over the next three years, and his streak ended at 2,632 games when he voluntarily removed his name from the lineup for the final Orioles home game of the 1998 season. His record 2,632 straight games spanned over seventeen seasons, from May 30, 1982 to September 20, 1998.

Late Night Karaoke

Random Japan

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McDonald’s Japan is bringing Mushroom Risotto Balls this autumn and people couldn’t be angrier

   Master Blaster

If we’ve learnt one thing from the vast number of articles on this site, Japanese fast food chains like McDonald’s come up with some really good ideas to keep people coming to their restaurants. Regardless of whether they turn out delicious or disgusting, inventions such as the luxury burger line-up, avocado burger, and tofu nuggets are hard to ignore.

It’s gotten to the point that people in Japan may have grown too accustomed to the nice things served at fast food outlets. For example, McDonald’s recently announced their new autumn special – Mushroom Risotto Balls – and online reaction could largely be described as righteous indignation with comments like “only an idiot would eat that!”

South Carolina DMV sued in federal court over gender policing incident

Last March Chase Culpepper, 16, applied for a South Carolina driver’s license.  Chase is gender non-conforming but still uses male pronouns.  At the DMV Chase was told that he could not have his  license photo taken unless he removed the make-up he uses on a daily basis.

I covered the story at the time:  Disguise and Deception, complete with the basic concept:

No amount of makeup remover can erase how he feels.

The government should not be in the business of telling men and women how we are supposed to look as men and women.

–Michael Silverman, executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF)

On Tuesday TLDEF filed a federal lawsuit against the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles brought by Theresa Culpepper on behalf of her minor child, asking the court to rule that denying Chase the freedom to wear his everyday makeup in his license photo constitutes sex discrimination and violates his right to free speech and expression under the United States Constitution.  The suit also seeks a ruling that the DMV’s policy (roughly, that it cannot take the photo of anyone who is “in disguise”) is unconstitutionally vague, too broad, and allows DMV employees to “police gender” (i.e. to arbitrarily decide how a driver’s license applicant should look without regard to the rights of the people they are supposed to serve).