The Spectacle Blog

Cynthia Robinson, R.I.P.

By on 11.24.15 | 4:36PM

Cynthia Robinson, trumpet player and back up vocalist for Sly & The Family Stone, has passed away at the age of 69 of cancer.

Sly & The Family Stone is probably best remembered for their appearance at Woodstock. They were an unusual band as its members were both black and white, men and women. They had a string of hits in the late '60's and early '70's including "Dance to the Music" (in which she is mentioned by name), "I Want To Take You Higher" and "Stand". Stone and Robinson were also the parents to a daughter named Phunne. Robinson was the only original member to remain alongside Stone when the band fell apart in 1975 although she did also play in bass player Larry Graham's band Graham Central Station. Robinson toured with The Family Stone (sans Sly Stone) as recently as this summer.

Here is a clip of Sly & The Family Stone playing an extended version of "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" on Soul Train with Robinson featured on trumpet.

Obama Will Show Terrorists Who’s Boss With Climate Change Conference

By on 11.24.15 | 2:28PM

Next week, the world's leaders will converge on Paris to discuss whether humanity is burning up the ozone layer and how best to address the problem (hint: the solution will probably include a plea for more governmental authority in monitoring and controlling humanity's energy consumption and, probably, taxes). And, thankfully, according to our fearless leader who has been completely absent from the world stage following the Paris terror attacks, such a gathering will not only end our global reliance on fossil fuels, but it will also demonstrate to a homicidal Islamic apocalypse cult that we are a strong, global presence committed to the issues that truly matter.

Or something.

All we know is that President Obama is 100% convinced that our best offense against terrorism is a Climate Change conference. 

Obama’s Vacuum of Power Made Russian-Turkey Mess Possible

By on 11.24.15 | 1:40PM

It’s really going to hit the fan after Turkey downed a Russian Su-24 fighter-interceptor jet for allegedly violating its airspace on Tuesday. Both the Russians and the Turks are madder than wet hens with Vladimir Putin calling it a “stab in the back by accomplices of terrorists” and other less-than diplomatic niceties, while Turkey rattles its sabers over the territorial integrity of its long border with Syria.

According to the Turks, the Russian aircraft repeatedly was warned by ground controllers that it was slopping over the border, but the warnings were ignored. As a result, two Turkish F-16s were sent up to take care of business.

Numerous reports have the two-man crew bailing out with their fate uncertain, although some say one crewman’s body was discovered by Syrian rebel forces operating in the area. ISIS does not control that portion of Syria.

Ted Cruz Pulls Even With Donald Trump in Iowa

By on 11.24.15 | 1:02PM

For a rather long time, Donald Trump has looked nearly infallible as the designated Republican leader, but lately, a string of mis-steps, problematic statements and thinly veiled temper tantrums appear to have soured American voters on their most famous potential candidate - or at least, capped off his support levels. 

In Iowa, at least, a new potential front-runner is on the rise: Ted Cruz. And for the first time, a candidate other than Donald Trump is within spitting distance of locking down Iowa voters, who will hold their caucus just a couple of months from now. 

Ted Cruz, buoyed by tea party support and the backing of the conservative wing of the Republican Party, has surged to a virtual tie with Donald Trump in the first caucus state of Iowa, according to the results of a Quinnipiac University poll surveying likely Republican caucus-goers released Tuesday.

Why I’m Not Surprised That Turkey Shot Down Russian Fighter Jet

By on 11.24.15 | 12:39PM

If you have just read Emily's account of Turkey shooting down a Russian warplane, I must say that I am not terribly surprised with this development.

After all, it was only last month when Turkey intercepted a Russian jet that entered Turkish airspace. Following the incident, the Russians said it had been a mistake. At the time, I argued that Russia respects Turkey a lot more than they do the Obama Administration. Today events force me to partially reassess that opinion.

Turkey Shoots Down Russian Fighter Jet Over Syrian Border

By on 11.24.15 | 11:34AM

This morning, news outlets are reporting that Turkey shot down a Russian Sukhoi fighter jet somewhere along the Turkey-Syria border.

According to Turkey, they warned the fighter jet it was "repeatedly' crossing into Turkish airspace and had been warned before it was attacked. Russia says the aircraft was well inside Syrian airspace and has promised "serious consequences."

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the plane had been attacked when it was 1 km (0.62 mile) inside Syria and warned of "serious consequences" for what he termed a stab in the back administered by "the accomplices of terrorists".

"We will never tolerate such crimes like the one committed today," Putin said, as Russian and Turkish shares fell on fears of an escalation between the former Cold War enemies.

Canada’s Liberal Government Says No to Single Male Syrian Refugees (Well, Mostly) UPDATE

By on 11.24.15 | 11:11AM

During Canada's recent election campaign, Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau pledged to bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees into Canada by the end of 2015. This helped Trudeau's Liberals come to power last month.

But with the Paris attacks, reality has set in. The Trudeau government is expected to formally announce its Syrian refugee plan later today, but details of the plan got leaked a couple of days ago. The plan will not reach the goal of 25,000 refugees and will be limited to women, children and families although additional reports indicate Canada will admit unaccompanied Syrian males if they are gay. This latter development is likely to intended to offset criticism from both the Conservatives and the NDP concerning the exclusion of gay males fleeing persecution. (It does lead me to wonder if ISIS members are willing to lie about being gay. One cannot discount the possibility).

Rod Carew is Trying to Get on a Heart Transplant Waiting List

By on 11.24.15 | 10:31AM

A short time ago, Larry informed me that seven time AL batting champion Rod Carew is trying to get on a heart transplant waiting list.

Carew suffered a massive heart attack while golfing back in September less than two weeks before his 70th birthday. Doctors implanted a Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) which pumps blood into his heart. Although it is possible Carew could keep the LVAD permanently, he is trying to get healthy enough to be placed on a heart transplant waiting list.

Naturally, all of this reminds of me of what occurred with my Dad just over a year ago. While my Dad didn't have a heart attack, he was nearing one and he probably wouldn't have survived it. Fortunately, Mt. Sinai Hospital was in the neighborhood and an emergency triple bypass did the trick. So when Carew's son, Devon, expresses his apprecation for the medical staff at Scripps La Jolla Hospital, I know of what he speaks.

Quotation of the Day…

By on 11.24.15 | 10:04AM

… is from page vii of the 1983 translation, by Leland Yeager, of Ludwig von Mises’s 1919 book, Nation, State, and Economy; it’s the final line of Mises’s Preface:

My task can only be to direct the reader’s attention to points that public discussion does not usually take sufficiently into account.

This task is one that too few economists perform, and one that even fewer economists perform well.

Regrettable, that.

Ken Johnson, R.I.P.

By on 11.23.15 | 4:29PM

Former big league pitcher Ken Johnson passed away on Saturday after a long illness. He was 82.

Johnson pitched in the majors between 1958 and 1970 with the Kansas City A's, Cincinnati Reds, Houston Colt 45's, Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs and the Montreal Expos. During his 13-year career, Johnson compiled a record of 91-106 with an ERA of 3.46. Johnson was a better pitcher than his record would indicate. In 1962, when Johnson was part of the expansion Colt 45's, he went 7-6 but had a decent ERA of 3.84. In 197 innings pitched, he fanned 178 batters while walking only 46. Houston scored two runs or less in 15 of his 16 losses that season including being shut out five times. The Colt 45's would have been the laughingstock of the NL in 1962 if not for the Chicago Cubs and their College of Coaches and, of course, the expansion New York Mets.