Pence won the night and other commentary

2020 watch: Pence Won the Night

This week’s debate between Kamala Harris and Mike Pence was “more civilized” but at times just as “frustrating” as last week’s Trump-Biden square-off, sighs Liz Peek at Fox News — since “both candidates were evasive.” Yet Pence has been “in the public eye longer”; we know him. And he “looked presidential,” while she “smirked and frowned and shook her head.” Yes, Harris “landed a few good punches,” but Pence won the night. He boasted of President Trump’s three years of accomplishments, while she was able to talk up Joe Biden’s “47 years of . . . what exactly? Surviving?” If Biden wins but can’t serve out his four years, Harris would become president. Yet “neither her track record nor her demeanor . . . recommends her for that job.”

Culture critic: Van Halen Flashed Red

“Before Eddie Van Halen, if one word defined rock guitar aspiration, it was this one: blues,” Kyle Smith notes at National Review. “Rock went best with a frown or a scowl.” It needed “a rip-roaring, full-on party band that could fill a stadium with shameless ecstasy. . . . Edward Lodewijk van Halen and his bandmates gave us that.” He played his “splendidly strange guitar Frankenstein . . . like a teenager taking a stolen Porsche for a joyride with three furious cops on his tail.” The band “didn’t chase the blues, it flashed red — the color of lipstick, of fast cars, of excitement, of the blood it got racing.” Its music “was the sound of fun . . . of young hormones past all control — the sound of sex.”

Libertarian: Jo Jorgensen, Spoiler?

Third parties “lag in the polls” compared to 2016, when 5.7 percent of the electorate voted for nontraditional presidential candidates, observes Reason’s Matt Welch. But “there remains potential yet for Libertarians and even Greens to be labeled ‘spoilers.’ ” Libertarian Jo Jorgensen “is polling higher than the gap between” President Trump and Joe Biden “in four key states” Trump won in 2016: “Ohio and North Carolina, where Biden currently leads, and Iowa and Georgia, where the incumbent ­retains a tiny advantage.” A Cleveland.com writer said last week that “Ohio looked like a red state a year ago,” but now “it’s clearly a toss-up.” Welch even puts Alaska in play: After all, 12.2 percent of voters there went for third-party candidates in 2016.

Science desk: How Andrea Ghez Got Her Nobel

Twenty-five years ago, recalls astronomer Hilton Lewis at Scientific American, “an unknown, newly minted astronomer” approached him with “an outrageous request”: to put his telescopes to a novel use and risk breaking them. That astronomer was Andrea Ghez, one of three winners of this year’s Nobel Prize in physics, for providing “conclusive experimental evidence of a supermassive black hole with the mass of four million suns at the center of the Milky Way.” Ghez spent the next quarter-century doing what she had proposed to Lewis: namely, removing “atmospheric turbulence” from images to track stars in the galactic core. From that “came the first evidence — not just hints — of stars orbiting the black hole.” Not only does Ghez “do the science,” gushes Lewis, “she molds events to make it possible.” Now she stands at the “pinnacle” of her field.

Sweet history: The ‘Candy Bomber’ Turns 100

At the Deseret News, Lee Benson recounts a bit of Cold War history: When the Soviet Union in 1948 tried to starve free Berlin “into submission” by closing roads and railways, Gail “Hal” Halvorsen, 27, “was one of hundreds of C-54 pilots who daily filled the skies ferrying groceries and fuel” to Berliners. But Halvorsen and his crew also tossed “small parachutes” of chocolate and gum. The brass chewed him out for that at first but then told him to keep doing it. “From July 1948 to September 1949, Halvorsen and his successors would drop some 21 tons of candy on Berlin.” In advance of his 100th birthday Saturday, the Candy Bomber advises: “If you see a need, do something about it. It’s the little things in life that put your footsteps where you end up.”

— Compiled by The Post Editorial Board

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