JUNE 22, 2019 MAN WALKS INTO A BAR (HA-HA-HA!)
When a comedian delivers an obvious punch line, his audience will laugh, even if the joke doesn't make sense.
Two weeks ago, Bill Maher gave a commencement address on his HBO show Real Time. I recorded the program as it aired live.
Later he urged each graduate to ironically thank his/her overprotective parents for teaching me that any thought, word, or action, or feelings I had, was unfair. There were a few confused giggles. Our parents took a dim view of all our feelings?
According to the script, he had intended to say, Thank you for teaching me that any thought, word, or action that hurt my feelings was unfair. This would have been an allusion to our President, who whines Witch hunt! to any criticism. It would have properly set up the closing dig: Which didn't make me a liberal, it made me Donald Trump.
Laughter and applause followed automatically Bill's audience is primed to laugh at any reference to the President even though the meaning of the joke was lost.
Today is Juneteenth, the anniversary of the day in 1865 when, more than two months after the conclusion of the Civil War, slaves in Texas were finally told that they had been emancipated by a proclamation that President Lincoln had issued 2½ years earlier.
Gilbert Cruz wrote in Time last year, Advocates say Juneteenth is as deserving of recognition as Independence Day. We may have gotten there in different ways and at different times, says [the Rev. Ronald V.] Meyers of blacks and whites, but you can't really celebrate freedom in America by just going with the Fourth of July.
Nobel laureate Toni Morrison grew up in Lorain, Ohio, ten miles north of Oberlin College. She wrote in 1989, There is no place you or I can go, to think about or not think about, to summon the presences of, or recollect the absences of slaves; nothing that reminds us of the ones who made the journey and of those who did not make it. There is no suitable memorial, or plaque, or wreath.
JUNE 17, 2019 OUT OF NEMO'S LEAGUE
But no. Upon looking it up, I found that a league is considerably more than a foot. It was originally the distance a person could walk in an hour. (The mythical seven-league boots enabled the wearer to accomplish a day's hike in a single stride.) English-speaking sailors defined a league as three nautical miles.
For Verne it was a little less: four kilometers. Therefore, 20,000 Leagues under the Sea would be 50,000 miles. Obviously this wasn't the vertical depth Captain Nemo attained, but rather the horizontal distance he traveled while submerged equal to four trips across the widest part of the Pacific Ocean, or twice around the earth.
Numbers are great, but it's also important to understand the units of measurement.
16, 2014 NO
NAVIGATOR'S VOICE NEEDED
One gadget my new car doesnt have is a GPS navigation system. I dont use GPS. But its not that Im avoiding computers. I simply prefer to use Google Earth, in order to know in advance where Im going.
Last winter I got a flyer from a new restaurant at 3231 Leechburg Road. Im familiar with that road, but its a couple of miles long. Where exactly is 3231? I fired up Google Earth on my desktop computer and typed in the address. The program immediately showed me where it is: the former Quiznos sandwich shop. Set back from the other buildings and therefore easy to miss, Quiznos is no longer in business at that location. I may or may not decide to go to the new place.
When Im assigned to work at, for example, Hometown High School, Im given an address several days in advance. So when I have the opportunity, I ask Google to plot a course to 225 White House Road, 15163. Then I examine the map in detail, paying special attention to the turns. For the tricky parts, I use Street View and memorize the terrain.
Okay, Ill come up to a stop sign with a Sunoco station on my left. There's a big blue-and-yellow sign. Ill make a right turn, then immediately get in the left-hand lane to make a left turn at the traffic light, just before the golf course. Ill follow that road for 2.6 miles. Soon after passing Truman Road there should be a green sign on the right Ill turn right onto Eisenhower Road, which is rather narrow.
Now when I actually make the trip, Im not driving in unfamiliar terrain. Ive been there, seen that! Virtually, that is.
Whew! That was a close one! Friday the Thirteenth come on a Saturday this month!
JUNE 11, 2019 THREE RIVERS STADIUM, 1989
JUNE 9, 2019 MMOONARS?
I am certainly no fan of President Trump, but sometimes he's unfairly criticized.
Twitter provides only so many lines, and sometimes we have to read between them.
JUNE 8, 2019 PEIRASMOS
Yesterday's newspaper had a couple of articles that left me wanting more information.
One, in the course of examining the question Why Is It Raining So Much, noted that developers in Allegheny and Butler counties have graded and built upon 54.5 million square feet of land since 2005. So when 57.83 inches of rain falls in the region, as it did last year, there is less undeveloped land to catch it.
Now 54.5 million square feet sounds like a huge amount, but is it? How does it compare to the total area of the two counties? I had to do a little additional research to discover that in the larger perspective, it isn't that much: only one-eighth of one percent. Any runoff flooding caused by the added pavement is probably only a local nuisance.
The other article reported that Pope Francis has approved a change to the Lord's Prayer. Christians have long recited and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. The Pope declares that is not a good translation because it speaks of a God who induces temptation. The one who leads you into temptation is Satan. James 1:13 agrees. Henceforth Catholics will instead pray, do not let us fall into temptation.
Perhaps the original Greek of Matthew 6:13 and Luke 11:4, kai me eisenenkeis hemas eis peirasmon, can legitimately mean either lead us not into or don't let us fall into. I don't know, but I doubt it, and many people suspect the former translation is the accurate one. (In the traditional Latin, it's et ne nos inducas in tentationem.) They will accuse the Pope of trying to correct the words of Jesus.
As long as we're rewriting scripture, I like G.J.R. Ouseley's formulation In the hour of temptation, deliver us from evil, which implies nothing about the source of the tempting.
On the other hand, Jesus never said kai me eisenenkeis hemas eis peirasmon. He didn't speak Greek. Someone had to translate his recommended prayer from Aramaic into Greek before it could be included in the gospels. Let's blame that anonymous translator!
JUNE 5, 2019 FRIENDS
We had never met, as far as I recall. However, for the past year I've been learning about him and hundreds of other classmates in the process of administering Oberlin College & Conservatory's Class of 1969 50th Reunion Website. Now the big event was under way!
On the website, all of us have been conversing about something we have in common, our Oberlin experience. I feel like they're all my friends.
JUNE 2, 2019 LJ'V DWW JMZ HPZZUV' NDXWJ!
A popular puzzle is the cryptogram, where each letter needs to be replaced by another throughout. How do I solve one of these?
Usually I stare at it for a minute or two, looking for possibilities. Suppose one phrase is JB JMZ FZBFWZ. Many three-letter words exist, but perhaps the most common is THE. If J and M and Z were replaced by T and H and E, the phrase would become T THE EE. If so, the two-letter word would almost certainly be TO, so B is O. The six-letter word then becomes EOE, with the first and fourth letters the same. I've learned that PEOPLE uniquely fits that template, so the phrase is TO THE PEOPLE. This is all done in my head.
I scan the rest of the puzzle to make sure none of these substitutions would cause problems. For example, a coded contraction CBD'JF would have to become O'TP, which is unlikely. If there are no such improbabilities, I start writing in E wherever I see a Z, and so on. Other words become as obvious as EOE was, and I'm on my way.