24, 2017 NOTHING
with time running out, I launched a desperation shot from 40 feet away.
my aim was pretty good. My shot hit the bottom of the net.
hit the bottom of the net.
but net! Way to go, buddy! Swish!
like twip, actually.
your team won, right?
exactly. I hit the outside of the bottom of the net.
found this old photo in a 1963 edition of my hometown newspaper, the Richwood
Gazette. It's an aerial view of the main intersection in
that Ohio village, looking east-northeast. Franklin Street,
running from left to right, is crossed by Ottawa Street.
any of you long-time Richwood residents remember the little white
cube-shaped building with the black roof in the center of the
photo? It was the police station.
the control tower at an airport, it was elevated so that an officer
could look out windows on all four sides and see what was going on
for several blocks on both Ottawa and Franklin. If necessary,
he could scamper downstairs and hop into his patrol car, parked right there.
recall that the police department's phone number (2422) was painted
in black on that white wall. As a boy in the 1950s, I thought
that it was uncomfortably close to our home phone number (2244), but
we never seemed to get any emergency calls by mistake.
THE CONSTITUTION SAYS
take the Constitution of the United States literally. I'm
stubborn that way.
13th Amendment states, Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude,
except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been
duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.
the government compels me against my will to serve on a jury, is
that not involuntary servitude?
in times past, the government drafted young people to serve in the
military, was that not involuntary servitude?
suppose there must be a loophole somewhere.
then there's Article 8, which gives Congress the sole power to
declare war. Congress has not exercised that power since
1941. Yet we have been involved in numerous conflicts since
then, and our present President [George W. Bush] has declared that we
are at war against terrorism.
Presidents have "declared war," but in a metaphorical
sense, as in the War on Poverty and the War on Drugs. These
"wars" were large-scale efforts to diminish particular
evils. Everyone realized that they would never achieve total
victory. We can't eradicate all drugs, and the poor will always
be with us. We can only try to make the poor less poor and
drugs less pervasive.
understood, the War on Terror is in this category. As long as
one disgruntled person knows how to make a bomb, terrorist tactics
will be a possibility. We can only try to make terrorism less likely.
our present President has implied that the War on Terror is a real
war, a conflict against an identifiable foe who can be forced to
surrender. He admits that winning the War on Terror may take
many years, but in the meantime he is a wartime president, authorized
to restrict civil liberties in his role as Commander in Chief.
His supporters have impugned the patriotism of anyone who would
question the President's actions in time of war. They imply
that this Presidential immunity from criticism ought to continue for
the duration. But the duration of this "war" could be centuries.
stubborn enough to maintain that we are not at war unless Congress
formally declares it.
20, 2017 MEETING
Wright, a native of Dayton, Ohio, said in 1910: If I
were giving a young man advice as to how he might succeed in life, I
would say to him, pick out a good father and mother, and begin life
seventy years ago, I followed his recommendation!
celebration of my birthday, today has been declared a national
holiday Thomas Buckingham Thomas Day.
more baby pictures, see this months 100 Moons article.
It has my footprints all over it.
idle times, my mind sometimes shelves the problems of the day and
instead proposes solutions to old problems. The old matters no
longer matter, but they still haunt me in dreams.
day about 30 years ago, we were taping the weekly About Washington
in our cable TV studio. For the second half of the half hour, Jerry
Polen was interviewing a woman who had brought her young
child to sit on her lap. The boy was restless, and as the
interview progressed, she struggled to keep him in place.
Finally the kid slipped off her lap and toddled off to explore the
studio. He saw a microphone cord attached to his mother.
He followed the cord to the wall and unplugged it. That was
it. I had to come out of the control room, stop the taping, and
plug the mic back in. (I think I frightened the child, and he
spent the rest of the session on his mother's lap, sucking his
thumb.) I told Jerry we'd have to start over again from the
previous commercial break, so he'd have to redo the interview from
the beginning. "Can't we pick it up in the middle and make
an edit?" he asked. I had to tell him no, that our
videotape equipment wasn't capable of making edits with any kind of precision.
night, as I once again rehashed this incident in my dreams, I
realized that it could be handled differently nowadays. In my
dreams, I still have to type up the program logs, and we're still
taping About Washington every week, in the traditional black
and white, but now we have up-to-date recorders digital,
probably with edit capabilities.
then I dreamed of other improvements. How about adding a
studio audience? The cable studio isn't big enough, so maybe
we'll go on location to a small auditorium at the local college.
Our multi-camera switching gear, problematic in 1977, can no longer
leave the studio. But now that we can edit, we can simply
record each camera separately and then cut the shots together
afterwards. (I've seen some musical performances
on YouTube that obviously were recorded by a stationary camcorder on
a wide shot, with closeups from a handheld camera inserted into the
proper places later.) Maybe when About Washington goes
on location, we can supplement our usual two cameras (one on Jerry
and one on his guest) with a stationary "master shot" of
the entire stage. That's assuming that we can find three
cameras and three recorders. Let's see, we'll want to pick a
fixed time and day of the week for the taping so the audience would
know when to show up . . . .
years ago I dreamed that my job was to direct another program from
this same studio. I must have been thinking of 1970, when my
boss recruited regionally famous Sally Flowers to
host a morning show and assigned me to direct.
this dream, the boss had worked a deal with David Letterman to stop
by and tape a weekly hour, because our studio was on his way
home. (Each weekend, Letterman apparently went back home again
to Indiana!) Paul Shaffer came, too. Not the whole band,
of course; just Paul and a keyboard. We didn't exactly know
what Dave was going to do in our little studio, but my boss was sure
that he'd figure something out. Dave, however, was irritable
and did not seem happy to be there.
16, 2017 THE
the first half of my article Fleshing
the apostle Paul (right) told about his visions of Christ
Jesus, a supernatural being who visited earth briefly before
returning to heaven.
in the second half, the evangelist Mark suggests making Pauls
ideas more accessible by inventing an allegory about Jesus
Christ, an actual person who preached on earth.
here for the second half.
wallet from pocket.
driver's license from wallet, place in boarding pass folder.
wallet in external compartment of carry-on bag.
cell phone from pocket to external compartment.
keys from pocket to external compartment.
change purse from pocket to external compartment.
watch from wrist, place in external compartment.
in line for security check.
boarding pass and driver's license to official.
laptop from carry-on bag, place in tub.
small bag of liquids and gels from carry-on bag, place in tub.
coat, place in tub.
zippered sweater, place in tub.
hat, place in tub.
belt, place in tub.
left shoe, place in tub.
right shoe, place in tub.
tubs and carry-on bag on conveyor belt.
boarding pass to official.
zippered sweater from tub, put it on.
coat from tub, put it on.
hat from tub, put it on.
liquids and gels from tub to carry-on bag.
laptop from tub to carry-on bag.
up belt, left shoe, right shoe, and carry-on bag.
to seating area.
on left shoe.
on right shoe.
keys from external compartment of carry-on to pocket.
cell phone from external compartment to pocket.
change purse from external compartment to pocket.
watch from external compartment to wrist.
wallet from external compartment.
driver's license from boarding pass folder to wallet.
wallet to pocket.
to make sure you have everything.
a good flight.
12, 2017 MUSIC
knows one of my fellow TV graphics operators as Linda
P. I first worked beside her on an auto race around 1990,
when she was one of the few who were proficient on a machine called
are two recent photos shes posted online.
second one was taken in her hometown of Nashville. Shes
watching her Nashville Predators hockey team and hoping to be named
the Preds Fan of the Game.
hockey fans down there in Tennessee come to the arena
although they're still not really into the sport. At a game a
year ago, Linda P tweeted:
next to me has not stopped talking about everything BUT hockey since
start of game. And it's two guys!
calories in a Big Mac; when I was a 1st baseman; Iowa; Human
Resources; speech club...
finally talks hockey: "The Preds are so far ahead, we're
putting the bench guys in. Other team is playing starters."
the guys had not yet grasped such obscure concepts as line
changes. But they eventually got bored.
finally left the Preds game! Now we need an Arvidsson hatty to
salvage my night!
Viktor Arvidsson hat trick suddenly did seem possible. He had
come into the game with only three goals in his NHL career,
but already that night hed scored two. Alas, the third
nights later, Linda P returned to Bridgestone Arena when Nashville
hosted Washington and their star, the six-time NHL goal-scoring champion.
in Preds jersey next to me asks, "What's that name? Ove-Chicken?"
better than the chatting guys from Saturday's game. #notmuch
Moody, another Nashville cutup, tweeted on a different subject six
months ago. She asked, Does anybody else get such a jolt
of excitement when you begin making coffee that you don't even feel
like you need coffee anymore?
replied Scott Evans. I push that magic little button on
my Keurig and all is good in the world. Jacques Lasseau
added, Compared to that, the actual drinking of the brew is a
letdown. And Shawn Pollock reported, The other day,
I was at work with the 2:00 doldrums, desperately needing a cup of
coffee. Made the cup, perked right up, never drank a sip.
(below) also sometimes perks herself up with a can of whipped
cream. Happy Darwin Day!
8, 2017 GATES
Kalis is a Rhodes scholar who holds degrees from Oxford and the Yale
1997, he has headed the Pittsburgh-based corporation known as K&L
Gates. But he'll be stepping down as Chairman and Global
Managing Partner at the end of this month.
what does K&L Gates do?
seems like they ought to market their products to farmers.
Their competition, of course, would be J&R Fences.
it turns out that K stands for Kirkpatrick. L stands for
Lockhart. And Gates refers to Bill Gates father.
whole thing is a law firm that employs more than 1,800 attorneys
worldwide. Therefore never send to know who let the lambs out.
4, 2017 BIOANTHROPOLOGY
right, students, here is a photograph of two adult male hominids,
placed side by side. The specimen on the left is identified as
A. quinn, and the one with the large forehead is D. rickles.
the marked anatomical differences between the two skulls. In
particular, when we measure the vertical distance between the eyebrow
ridge and the base of the upper jaw, one measurement is half again as
large as the other. So what do you think? Could these two
individuals possibly belong to the same species?
saw the above image
3½ years ago and wrote the paragraphs alongside it, but I never
found the occasion to post them here. However, now theres
a recent scientific article
raising the possibility that human faces differ so much because
were hybrids, with some Neandertal DNA in our genomes.
An initial round of interbreeding followed by hybrid
offspring mating among themselves and with members of parent species
can result in animals with a far greater array of physical
traits than observed in either original species, including the
sizes and shapes of skulls.
1, 2017 MOVE
IT! MOVE IT!
always viewed TV programs with an eye to the technical minutia.
How might the crew have done things better?
those of you who cant watch Real Time on HBO, or
dont watch because its too liberal for your taste, I can
report that Bill Maher has returned for his 15th season with a new set.
here under construction at CBS Television City in Los Angeles, the
layout looks great, but I think maybe they tried too hard.
watched the first episode on January 20. Bill opened standing
in front of a backdrop B.
it, on the far end of a movable platform P, was concealed a
huge anchor desk big enough for five people.
his monologue, Bill moved to a pair of chairs I stage right,
where he conducted a sit-down interview. Meanwhile, off camera,
three guests took their seats at the desk. (Later in the show a
fourth guest G walked on, tried to climb up onto the platform,
and almost tripped on that big first step.)
the interview was over and the applause began, Bill said
Lets meet our panel, and we did. Eventually.
saw a wide shot. The bottom of the backdrop slowly pivoted up
toward us like a garage door. Beneath it, the platform bearing
the desk began to creep downstage into the lights, in order to
relocate the talking heads closer to the studio audience
an improvement over the arrangement in previous seasons.
took his seat at the desk. He and his guests killed time with
jokes about being on a Disneyland ride. The interstitial music
continued. The audience tried to keep applauding. We cut
to a closeup of our host while the platform was still in motion.
Finally it lurched to a halt and he could introduce the panel.
I timed the whole transition at 27 seconds.
a half-minute scene change is much too long. For the second
episode a week later, the backdrop had been removed. During
Bills monologue, we could see the empty desk waiting behind
him, with a decorative globe slowly revolving above it.
got to be careful with revolving globes. Im ancient
enough to remember seeing another one on a show that aired from 1955
to 1958 on NBC-TV: Wide Wide World. One of Pat
Weavers innovations, this was a remarkable technological feat
for the new medium. A 90-minute documentary on Sunday
afternoons, it originated live from remote locations
scattered all across North America. Dave Garroway
anchored. Ive heard that the audio engineers in his
studio spent hours trying to track down what seemed to be a squeaking
mouse until they realized the culprit was their signature globe,
slowly turning in the background.
back to Real Time. Now that theres no need to
lift a backdrop out of the way, the desk can start moving forward
immediately at the end of the interview. Bill hops aboard and
takes his seat, and the introductions can start after only 19 seconds.
theres still a minor problem: the shiny floor. On
the second episode, Bill almost lost his balance twice. He
remarked to his guests, This new set is going to kill
somebody. Its very slippery.
studio show I watched recently preceded the AFC championship
game. Here too there was a giant desk.
time CBS cut to the wide shot showing all five men at the desk, the
camera was already in motion: trucking right to
left, then left to right. Apparently the camera was mounted on
a jib arm that was being waved back and forth throughout the program.
would they annoy us like that? Well, the five men remain in
more or less the same position on our TV screen while the background
moves one direction and the logos on the front of the desk move the
other. Our mind separates the men from the other parts of the
scene, thus creating an illusion of depth.
other shows and movies use similar camera moves (but more subtly) to
make the scene come alive in three dimensions. Its much
easier than requiring the audience to wear those 3-D glasses.
then the game started. Normally Tom Brady on TV looks like
Photo 1. But at kickoff, a light misty rain combined with smoke
from fireworks to render the first play foggy, as seen in Photo 2.
can easily manipulate the picture on my computer, crushing the
blacks and cranking the gain to obtain Photo
3. Ive often wondered why the video operators in the TV
truck dont do likewise. After all, during day games they
readjust cameras all the time as the action moves between sunlight
and shadow. Youd think theyd want to match the
cameras high in the stands to the cameras closer to the action, which
achieve more contrast because they dont have to shoot through
as many yards of murky atmosphere.
can think of several reasons this didnt happen.
They couldnt experiment before the game to find the
optimal fog settings, because the smoke appeared suddenly and
dissipated almost as quickly. As you can see, the two shots of
Brady were separated by only 72 seconds on the game clock.
The fogginess was an honest representation of what the fans
high in the stands were seeing. And a casual viewer might
think my tweaked Photo 3 looks prettier, but it has flaws like
posterization and graininess. Notice the players thigh in
the background. Television professionals try to avoid such flaws.