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Tuesday notes

Oct 3, 2017 By Steven R. Peck, Publisher

Las Vegas

Sundaynight's mass shooting in Las Vegas is not far from the minds of every civilized American citizen today. This was awful. The latest in the continuous, bloody parade of one man/many victim shootings sprees in the United States is the worst to date. Unfortunately, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock may well have provided the new blueprint for more depravity. He didn't walk into a room and start blasting until he ran out of ammunition or was shot by police. He demonstrated a level of planning and preparation not seen before, and he contrived a combination of target and vantage point that permitted maximum killing without interruption.

Adding to the immediate shock, sorrow and outrage of Paddock's crime is the chilling certainty that others, at this very moment, are studying it down to the molecule - not to prevent a repeat, but to perfect one.

Comic commentators

An oddity of modern American culture is the emergence of the late-night comedy talk-show host in the societal role as commentator, advocate and comforter in times of tragedy. Among the current crop of major-network hosts, Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel have become the leaders in this new form of national conversation, with Seth Meyers and James Corden also active and thought-provoking.

Jimmy Fallon and Conan O'Brien, notably, have tended to stay away from anything beyond the "thoughts and prayers" rhetoric, buton Monday night even O'Brien stepped outside the normal boundaries of comedy with a thoughtful couple of minutes of comment, noting that he had reviewed transcripts of past shows to recall what he had said following the Sandy Hook school shootings and the Orlando nightclub attack (each of which held the grisly dishonor as the worst mass killings in the U.S. prior toSundayin Las Vegas).

You know you've reached a very troubling place in America, O'Brien said, when a talk-show comedian has a file of past remarks on mass shootings that he consults before taking the stage to talk about the new one.

Frosty

The skies over Fremont County cleared beautifully Tuesday morning, revealing two signs of the new season, plus the one that will follow. There was a heavy quilt of frost on most surfaces (although the temperature itself wasn't enough to kill everyone's flowers and garden crops, nor, we hope, to freeze the leaves on the trees before we've had autumn's best colors).

And the crystal-clear view of the Wind River Mountain showed new snowfall from top to bottom. Usually that happens a bit later in the month and sometimes doesn't occur until November. We aren't so lucky this year, but the mountain range is the preferred place for early snow. We'll worry about our driveways and sidewalks in due time.

Memorable chapter

Years ago, on a chilly October afternoon at Bill Bush Stadium in Lander as the Riverton Wolverines and Lander Tigers met on the football field in a very close game, former Ranger editor Chad Baldwin (now the chief communications officer for the University of Wyoming), approached a couple of newspaper colleagues on the sideline and said, "We're watching a classic."

There have been lots of those in the old cross-county series, but Chad especially would have appreciatedFridaynight's battle at Wolverine Field in Riverton. Riverton happened to win it, but the outcome was never certain until the final seconds. It's rare than an NFL-length field goal wins a high school game in Wyoming, but that's what happenedFriday, thanks to the strong leg and firm toe of RHS kicker Maurice Gartenschlaeger. Riverton won it 30-27 as his 48-and-a-half-yard kick split the goalposts.

The crowd at Wolverine Field was poor. Is there really something that much better to do in small-city Wyoming on a warmFridaynight than see the two old foes play football against each other? The relatively few who were there saw something well worth seeing.

Brainpowers

On the opposite end of the human spectrum from Stephen Paddock are Jeffrey Hall, Michael Young, Michael Rosbash, Kip Thorne, Rainer Weiss and Barry Barish. They are the first announced winners of the 2017 Nobel Prizes. The first three were introducedMondayin medicine, while the second three won Tuesday for physics.

Along with the beginning of the baseball playoffs and the start of the Supreme Court's annual term, the Nobel Prize announcements help lift October to a higher realm than other times of the year in terms of the recognition, celebration and contemplation of the things that separate us from other animal species on the planet: brain power, in these cases put toward entertainment, justice and science.

In the days ahead, winners of the other Nobel Prizes categories of chemistry, economics, literature and peace will be announced. These are some of the very best among us, and they are being recognized for some of the very best reasons as well.

Here's to a good week.

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2017-10-18