September 23, 2015 archive

In Memoriam: Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra 1925 – 2015

Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra has left the stadium for the last time. The iconic Yankees catcher passed away early this morning.

He retired after 2,120 major league games with a batting average of .285, and hit 358 home runs in his career. He played in more World Series games than any other Major League Baseball player, was a three-time American League Most Valuable Player, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1972.

He won 10 World Series with the Yankees, and a further three after his playing career finished in coaching roles.

Berra also became well known for an array of colourful quotes, such as: “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else”; “When you come to a fork in the road … take it”; “It’s like deja vu, all over again”; and, reflecting on his reputation: “I never said most of the things I said.”

His “Yogi-isms” were repeated by presidents, businessmen, celebrities and anyone else who wanted to sound wise, funny, folksy, or all three. The cartoon character Yogi Bear was named after him, something he did not appreciate. “I don’t know why I say these things,” he once told Reuters. “But people understand me.”  [..]

Berra, survived by three sons – Larry, Tim and Dale – as well as 11 grandchildren and one great-grandchild, was once asked by Carmen: “Yogi, you are from St. Louis, we live in New Jersey, and you played ball in New York. If you go before I do, where would you like me to have you buried?”

Berra replied: “I don’t know, surprise me.”

The Greatest Threat to World Peace: The USA

Noam Chomsky: The United States, Not Iran, Poses Greatest Threat to World Peace

In a speech Saturday at The New School in New York, Noam Chomsky explained why he believes the U.S. poses the greatest threat to world peace. “[The United States] is a rogue state, indifferent to international law and conventions, entitled to resort to violence at will. … Take, for example, the Clinton doctrine-namely, the United States is free to resort to unilateral use of military power, even for such purposes as to ensure uninhibited access to key markets, energy supplies and strategic resources-let alone security or alleged humanitarian concerns. And adherence to this doctrine is very well confirmed and practiced, as need hardly be discussed among people willing to look at the facts of current history.” Chomsky also explained why he believes the U.S. and its closest allies, namely Saudi Arabia and Israel, are undermining prospects for peace in the Middle East. “When we say the international community opposes Iran’s policies or the international community does some other thing, that means the United States and anybody else who happens to be going along with it.”

Transcript can be read here

Autumnal Equinox 2015

At 4:21 AM EDT, the Northern Hemisphere passed from Summer into Autumn as the sun passes over the equator heading south to give the Earth’s Southern Hemisphere its turn at Summer. The Autumnal Equinox is also known as: Alban Elfed, Autumn Equinox, Fall Equinox, Cornucopia, Feast of Avilon, Festival of Dionysus, Harvest Home, Harvest Tide, Mabon, Night of the Hunter, Second Harvest Festival, Wine Harvest, Witch’s Thanksgiving, and the first day of autumn. It is the second harvest, a time for gathering the Summer’s last fruits, giving thanks for the harvest and marking a celebration in gratitude as the soil and plants die away.

This year’s Harvest Moon happens on September 27 – 28 depending on your location on the globe. In North America, the crest of the moon’s full phase comes on September 27, at 10:51 p.m. EDT, 9:51 p.m CDT, 8:51 p.m. MDT or 7:51 p.m. PDT. The “Harvest Moon” is another name for the full moon that occurs closest to the autumnal equinox, which marks the change of seasons. The moon gets its name from the amount of light it emits, allowing farmers to continue harvesting the summer’s crops through the evening. This years harvest Moon is unique since it is also a super moon, when the moon’s orbit is closest to the earth. There is also full lunar eclipse that will give the moon a reddish hue as the earth’s shadow passes over its surface, thus the term “Blood Moon.”

On the night of Sept. 27 and into the early hours of Sept. 28, the full Moon will glide through the shadow of Earth, turning the Harvest Moon a golden-red color akin to autumn leaves.

The action begins at 9:07 PM Eastern Time on the evening of Sept 27th when the edge of the Moon first enters the amber core of Earth’s shadow.  For the next three hours and 18 minutes, Earth’s shadow will move across the lunar disk.

Totality begins at 10:11 PM Eastern Time.  That’s when the Moon is completely enveloped by the shadow of our planet.  Totality lasts for an hour and 12 minutes so there is plenty of time to soak up the suddenly-red moonlight.

he reason the Moon turns red may be found on the surface of the Moon itself. Using your imagination, fly to the Moon and stand inside a dusty lunar crater.  Look up. Overhead hangs Earth, nightside facing you, completely hiding the sun behind it. The eclipse is underway.

You might suppose that the Earth overhead would be completely dark.  After all, you’re looking at the nightside of our planet. Instead, something amazing happens.  When the sun is located directly behind Earth, the rim of the planet seems to catch fire! The darkened terrestrial disk is ringed by every sunrise and every sunset in the world, all at once. This light filters into the heart of Earth’s shadow, suffusing it with a coppery glow.

Back on Earth, the shadowed Moon becomes a great red orb.

A scientific myth is that day and night are equal around the entire world, not really:

Most Northern Hemisphere locations, however, do not see an exact 12-hour day until a few days after the fall equinox (and a few days before the spring equinox).

The main reason is atmospheric refraction: This bending of the sun’s light allows us to see the entire sun before and after it crosses the horizon. (By definition, actual sunrise occurs as soon as the upper edge of the solar disk appears above the horizon, while sunset occurs the moment the sun’s trailing edge disappears below it – though that’s not how our eyes see it.)

This helps explain why the day is slightly more than 12 hours long on the equinox. It also explains why places on the equator always see just over 12 hours of daylight year-round: It’s because of the angle from which they observe the sun.

Another of the myths connected to this celebration/time of year is the myth of Demeter and Persephone.  The Autumn Equinox signals the descent of Persephone back to the underworld to be with her husband, Hades and the Harvest Mother, Demeter’s mourning for her daughter…thus, the explanation of the dying back of plant life.  This myth gave explanation to our ancient ancestors for the changing of the seasons.  The symbolism that is present for us today is the letting go of our youth, child-bearing years and moving closer to the crone/elder part of our lives.  But it is only a preparation, the opening to what needs to be prepared when the Winter inevitably comes.

I Am The Autumnal Sun ~ by Henry David Thoreau

Sometimes a mortal feels in himself Nature

— not his Father but his Mother stirs

within him, and he becomes immortal with her

immortality. From time to time she claims

kindredship with us, and some globule

from her veins steals up into our own.

I am the autumnal sun,

With autumn gales my race is run;

When will the hazel put forth its flowers,

Or the grape ripen under my bowers?

When will the harvest or the hunter’s moon

Turn my midnight into mid-noon?

I am all sere and yellow,

And to my core mellow.

The mast is dropping within my woods,

The winter is lurking within my moods,

And the rustling of the withered leaf

Is the constant music of my grief….


The Breakfast Club (Autumn Begins)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

Richard Nixon gives his ‘Checkers’ speech; Rome’s Augustus Caesar born; Lewis and Clark finish trek to America’s West; Psychologist Sigmund Freud dies; Musicians Ray Charles and Bruce Springsteen born.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

The autumn wind is a pirate. Blustering in from sea with a rollicking song he sweeps along swaggering boisterously. His face is weather beaten, he wears a hooded sash with a silver hat about his head… The autumn wind is a Raider, pillaging just for fun.

Steve Sabol

On This Day In History September 23

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

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

September 23 is the 266th day of the year (267th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 99 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1964, the Paris Opera, Palais Garnier, unveils a stunning new ceiling painted as a gift by Belorussian-born artist Marc Chagall, who spent much of his life in France. The ceiling was typical of Chagall’s masterpieces–childlike in its apparent simplicity yet luminous with color and evocative of the world of dreams and the subconscious. . . .

. . . . Andre Malraux, the French minister of culture, commissioned him to design a new ceiling for the Paris Opera after seeing Chagall’s work in Daphnis et Chloe. Working with a surface of 560 square meters, Chagall divided the ceiling into color zones that he filled with landscapes and figures representing the luminaries of opera and ballet. The ceiling was unveiled on September 23, 1964, during a performance of the same Daphnis et Chloe. As usual, a few detractors condemned Chagall’s work as overly primitive, but this criticism was drowned out in the general acclaim for the work. In 1966, as a gift to the city that had sheltered him during World War II, he painted two vast murals for New York’s Metropolitan Opera House (1966).

In 1977, France honored Chagall with a retrospective exhibition at the Louvre in Paris. He continued to work vigorously until his death in 1985 at the age of 97.

The unveiling of the ceiling coincided with the publication of The Phantom of the Opera (“Le Fantôme de l’Opéra”) by Gaston Leroux.

It was first published as a serialization in “Le Gaulois” from September 23, 1909 to January 8, 1910. Initially, the story sold very poorly upon publication in book form and was even out of print several times during the twentieth century, despite the success of its various film and stage adaptations. The most notable of these were the 1925 film depiction and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1986 musical. The Phantom of the Opera musical is now the longest running Broadway show in history, and one of the most lucrative entertainment enterprises of all time.

The Daily Late Nightly Show (Bridge, is it a Sport?)

First of all, I told you so-

American TV’s most awkward & painful tradition: Why politicians need to stop going on late-night talk shows

by Jack Mirkinson, Salon

Monday, Sep 21, 2015 05:58 AM EST

I, for one, wish no politician would ever darken the door of any talk show host. It would save us all a fair bit of misery. But that is a battle I shall never win, and because I am a self-loathing masochist, I’ve been watching a lot of the appearances that the 2016 crowd has been making on these shows.

The one thing that almost all of these segments-from Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s trips to the “Tonight” show to Jeb Bush and Bernie Sanders’ get-togethers with Stephen Colbert-is their utter pointlessness. They’re not interesting, they’re not funny, and yet if the candidates avoid them, the press will talk about how scared they are of dealing with the supposed bear pit that is the talk show circuit.

In a sign of the limits of Fallon’s political imagination, both sketches featured his impersonation of Trump. In one, he and Trump sit on opposite sides of a mirror as Trump “interviews” himself. How will Trump create jobs? “I just will,” the real Trump says. Hilarious! In another, Fallon-as-Trump “interviews” Clinton-as-Clinton. Sample Clinton dialogue: “America was built by people who came here, they worked their hearts out for a better life!” (She also makes fun of his hair. And she smiles!) Thank god Hillary Clinton finally got a platform to say that!

Fallon’s actual interviewing technique is just a cut above. His probing of Clinton’s email scandal lasted about 90 seconds before he moved on to selfies.

The one man who sailed through his talk show appearance and came out neither embarrassed nor wounded was Bernie Sanders. He came out, barked out his talking points, didn’t try to be funny, the New York crowd predictably ate it up, applause rained down, he left, done and done. Now that’s how you do it. Either everybody should act like Sanders or we should just ban the talk show appearance altogether. There are no other choices.

I don’t want to give you the impression Mirkinson was any more complimentary of Stephen’s interviews than Fallon’s because he wasn’t.  Sorry if that bothers you, my point was about Bernie’s performance, not Colbert’s, and I’ve personally never felt he was an especially good interviewer except by comparison to almost everyone else, though I will grant his preparation is always obvious.

Some people quite like the job he is doing however-

Stephen Colbert dismantles Ted Cruz’s anti-gay bigotry & tax cut fanaticism

by Sophia Tesfaye, Salon

Tuesday, Sep 22, 2015 04:47 PM EST

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz paid a visit to Stephen Colbert’s two-week-old “Late Show” set last night and sat for a grilling over the legacy of conservative icon Ronald Reagan tougher than any question the Texas senator fielded at last week’s debate at Reagan’s presidential library.

Colbert’s Ted Cruz (calm and fair) smackdown: How “The Late Show” is triumphing with even-handed intelligence in these polarized times

by Scott Timberg, Salon

Tuesday, Sep 22, 2015 12:33 PM EST

Since his debut helming David Letterman’s old show, a few optimists predicted that Colbert – who has also recently dropped an old mask of his own – would become an important and grownup player in the discussion of politics. It’s still early, but so far he’s made good on these hopes. He’s now had Jeb Bush, Joe Biden, and Sen. Bernie Sanders on his show, and he’s demonstrated that he can speak, with a mix of seriousness and humor, to political figures better than just about anyone on television. Coming so soon after the weirdly brain-dead GOP debate on CNN, with its pandering questions, the Cruz interview served as a reminder of how valuable a part of the mix Colbert is becoming.

The Cruz interview started out conventional and light-hearted; it didn’t reveal much but allowed Colbert to connect with the jowly Texan. The highlight of the interview came when Colbert asked Cruz about the unreflective Reagan-worship in today’s GOP, which was on evidence at the debate the Reagan Library and on Cruz’s discussion of Reagan Democrats. “Reagan raised taxes, okay,” Colbert asked. “Reagan actually had an amnesty program for illegal immigrants. Neither of those things would allow Reagan to be nominated today. So to what level can you truly emulate Ronald Reagan?… Could you agree with Reagan on those two things?”

Cruz tried to squirm out, and on the issue of compromising like the Gipper had done, gave a twangy response as to why he would not “give in more to Barack Obama.” He later fell back on the usual half-truths about the miracle of the Reagan economy and his supposed shrinking of the government. (No mention of years of recession or the tripling of the deficit or the undercutting of the middle class or the way the economic cycle Reagan presided over led to the Bush I slump.)

Instead of rolling over, Colbert came right back.

When the two discussed gay marriage, and the audience began to boo Cruz, Colbert announced, “Guys, guys, however you feel, he’s my guest, so please don’t boo him.” You can dislike Cruz (as I do) and also think this may’ve been the most important line of the night.

Not every loose end was followed up. But the main way this interview could have been improved was to simply make it longer.

Colbert’s interview with Bush – which was effective not because it sparkled, but because he allowed the candidate to decisively reveal his own tone-deafness – and his ability to open Joe Biden up about the death of his son, show his real skill. Part of it comes from prodding, part of it from allowing these guys to be themselves.

Of course Timberg also calls Jon Stewart an “angry liberal” which everyone who reads these pieces knows is a laughable falsehood.  To think that Colbert’s show was more “centrist”, reasonable, and less strident than Jon’s demonstrates a profound ignorance of the content under discussion.

Tonight is The Donald who is vastly more entertaining than Cruz who even on review I think was soporific.  Thank goodness for that since his other guest is also political (and probably less interesting than last night’s snooze-Cruz) Ernest Moniz, current Secretary of Energy.  The musical guest is Raury.

The New Continuity

Timberg did like Larry’s Sanders piece.

As for Sanders, Larry Wilmore had more fun with him than Colbert did. Despite at least one great question from Colbert – why didn’t Sanders realize what an insult the term “socialist” was supposed to be? – and a joke about “messages from giant corporations to pay our bills,” Sanders offered pretty familiar stuff about Scandinavia and college costs and corporate America. Powerful, and things we need to hear, but standard stump-speech stuff. (Colbert does get points for asking about SuperPACs.)

Bernie, Bernie, Bernie

I didn’t think it was all that, but it did generate a lot of positive buzz.

Tonightly the subject is the YouTube sensation, Pizza Rat

Our panel is Sal Vulcano, Elana Duffy, Egypt Sherrod, and Benari Poulten.