Are you a
member of the Oberlin College Class of 1969?
Click the image at
the left and then click on Join Here.
can reconnect with classmates and learn how to register
for our 50th Reunion, May 24 through 27!
might be interested in some Oberlin articles recently posted here on
my personal website:
Our Reunion Planning Committee met last fall, and we learned a lot.
An Olympic gold medalist was once our president; his cousin could
have been everyone's president.
Getting to breakfast and German 101 required walking through a
building with an aluminum collection.
Revisiting "My Favorite Year" concludes with recollections
of December 1968.
A stash of WOBC Program Guides recalls our campus radio station in
19, 2019 THE
LATEST FILM RELEASE
I heard from two staff members at radio station WOBC.
Promotions Director Abby Lee and Station Manager Katie Wilson are
Oberlin College seniors, and they'll be graduating a week from tomorrow.
before leaving their animation class behind, they chose the campus
radio station's 70-year legacy as the subject for their final film project.
a link to the result.
16, 2009 BRAND
months ago, I worked on the closed-circuit telecast of a corporate
meeting. The company president was excited about this concept
hed recently discovered called branding.
learned that while consumers can buy a hundred generic aspirin
caplets for only $1.99, they will happily pay $6.79 for the exact
same pills if theyre labeled Bayer.
thought the boss. We can get people to pay us 241% more
than they pay our competitor. All we have to do is convince
them our brand means higher quality. We can increase our
revenue without increasing our costs. Free money!
boss asked his employees, gathered in the ballroom and watching on
TV, to split up into small groups and come up with operational
improvements to turn branding into profits.
the company was not one that sold low-priced name-brand
products. It sold services. And Im sorry to report
that the brainstorming employees failed their assignment.
best idea had nothing to do with branding. It was, "New
employees just sit around for their first two weeks unable to use
their computers because they're still waiting for their
passwords. We should speed up the password-assignment process."
valid point, but probably not the kind of thing the boss had in mind.
12, 2019 MERITORIOUS
you a good driver? An Allstate commercial says 94% of us think
we are. We're invited to plug in this monitor to prove it.
what's good? Does that mean SKILLFUL,
as in being able to white-knuckle through tight spots at high speed
without running off the road? Or does it mean SAFE,
as in being considerate toward others while carefully observing the
obey the speed limit and avoid swerving quickly from one lane to
another. I think I'm a good driver of the second
sort. The insurance company would be happy.
9, 2019 TIME
Smith gradually fell out of favor with Oberlin College. His
opinions were suppressed, and the Faculty cut him off from both
dining and lodging. Also, the Society of Inquiry expelled him
for swearing. Also, the local church excommunicated him for infidelity.
he gave up. On Sunday, June 18, 1837, having written out his
complaints in great detail, he made ready to leave town. At the
time the town looked something like this.
watercolor by H. Alonzo Pease
guess is that we're looking east from the location of today's King
Building. That would make the dirt road on the right West
College Street. The building I've labeled T is probably Tappan
Hall; the one at O would be Oberlin Hall.
Monday morning, Smith boarded a wagon. But then a constable
arrived to arrest him and confiscate his manuscript! His
antagonists, fearing embarrassment if the tell-all book were
published, accused him of trying to skip out on a bad debt.
proceeded to the county seat, where the authorities dismissed the
bogus complaint. That enabled Smith to continue on to
Cleveland. There he found a printer for his manuscript, which
became known as Oberlin Unmasked. And that's how I've
been able to bring a condensed version to you these past ten fortnights.
final installment is titled, appropriately enough, Concluding
7, 2014 MAGIC
with a difficult situation, sometimes we try to find a silver
bullet that will provide an easy answer.
bullets are a metaphor for simple solutions to complicated
problems, writes columnist Landon Y. Jones. In
folklore across many cultures, a bullet made of silver is the only
way to kill a werewolf or devil. However, he adds,
real-world experiments suggest silver bullets are less accurate than
lead ones, and they wreak less havoc.
course! Its simple physics. Check out this chart
of various metals, with their densities in grams per cubic centimeter.
two projectiles with the same velocity and size, the mass of a
silver bullet is 8% less than that of a lead bullet. Momentum
equals mass times velocity. With only 92% of the momentum, the
silver bullet will be slightly less stable in flight and will do less
damage when it hits the werewolf.
there are other options. Compared to silver, gold is 84%
heavier and platinum is 104% heavier. Bullets made from these
precious metals would be much more effective. However, they
would cost about 70 times as much as silver and 1,400 times as much
more practical choice, with essentially the same density as
gold: depleted uranium (DU), a byproduct of enriching fuel for
nuclear reactors. The military loads DU projectiles into some
of its weapons, such as the 30mm rotary cannon on the A-10 Warthog aircraft.
want depleted uranium bullet, kemo sabe?
4, 2019 TEN
first 27 months in office, President Donald J. Trump told more than
10,000 lies! That was the word this week from Washington Post
fact-checker Glenn Kessler. Our head of state has been
averaging one false or misleading claim every hour, day in and day
out, since last September.
however, I prefer to ponder a different 10,000. I propose to
picture a group of ten thousand graduates from my college singing our
century-old alma mater, Ten Thousand Strong.
sing it, we pledge that Our hearts shall be thy
throne. That is, if we remember the words. Or the
tune. I've written a new article to jog the memories of my
Story of 10,000.
that number? Oberlin has had well over 10,000 alumni for a long
time, and today there are more than 40,000. I went looking for
the source, which is a reminder of the institution's historic efforts
to abolish both slavery and segregation while encouraging all
students to smile a recognition of a common humanity.
1, 2014 RELAYING
have received this sports report from my old home town in Ohio:
North Union High Schools boys track team has won the 2014
edition of the Virg Rankin Relays!
a video by mapleguy43 (click here)
placed first in three of the thirteen events: the 4x100, the
long jump, and the high jump. In the final event to be
completed, the Wildcats trio of high jumpers totaled
186. That clinched the victory over Fairbanks High School.
(named after the Union County native who became Vice President of
the United States) had been the Relays champions the last two years,
and this year they placed first in five events. But although
North Union had only three first places, they also picked up five
seconds, three thirds, and two fourths to win the overall boys point
total. (The girls team was not as successful.)
a century ago, I wrote about this track meet when it was called the Richwood
Relays. Back then, the athletes did not have
todays pullover jerseys in team colors with competitor numbers
on the back. Only boys competed. The girls could merely
cheer them on and hand out the trophies.
is the 1964 Relay Court, in a picture Ive colorized from the
yearbook. Left to right, they are sophomore attendant Pat
Smith, senior Janet Johnson, Queen Dianne Wilson, junior Pat Ransome,
and freshman Rose Sullivan.
28, 2019 THE
YEAR OBERLIN DIDN'T SHIMMY
graduated from college in 1969, my class is having its 50th reunion
next month alongside the annual Commencement activities.
if we look back twice 50 years? My latest article, Reunion
is based on the stories in a 100-year-old student newspaper.
Young men and women weren't allowed to dance together back then, and
a man might not be invited into a womans parlor after a date
even though hed taken her to a movie and a game and bought her
candy and dope. (That last word doesn't mean what you think.)
25, 2019 BE
ORTHODOX OR BEGONE!
College's leaders naturally retained the right to expel any student
who behaved in an immoral manner.
according to Delazon Smith's 1837 pamphlet, they even expelled
exemplary students whose only crime was disagreeing with
official religious doctrines.
disputed many policies himself. He also recalled episodes in
which supposedly righteous Oberlinians had refused charity to a needy
person until he renounced his version of Christianity and adopted the
preferred theology. (No Universalists allowed in this
house!) The pious also vilified a poor teamster who, unable to
afford overnight lodging, drove his wagon into town on a Sunday.
(Laboring on the Sabbath? Such awful wickedness!)
fortnight's installment of Oberlin Unmasked discusses Intolerance
or Suppression of Opinion. Today,
of course, the college has moved on from the slavery of the
mind of the early 19th century, and it's much more open to
rational discourse about differing beliefs.
24, 2009 WHOS
when listening to the radio, Im not paying attention. Or
maybe Im tuning to a different station. At any rate, I
often find myself listening to the middle of a story.
so she stabbed him in the chest! Apparently it wasnt a
deep wound, and hes expected to recover, but she certainly got
his attention. I wonder how this is going to affect her movie
career. Shes going to be in jail for some time. Of
course, this is not the first time hes driven a woman to
violence. We all remember how his first wife threatened him
with a gun a few years ago. I think his brother was involved in
that somehow, wasnt he?
a few minutes of this, my question is, Who are you talking about?!
written material, it may be acceptable to keep using pronouns
without restating their antecedents. If the reader gets
confused, he can go back a page or two to find out who he
and she are. But on radio, the audience has no
rewind button, and you have to assume that some listeners are joining
the conversation at various points throughout. They cant
ask, So what are we discussing here? The
broadcaster should repeat the names occasionally. Some classic examples:
in the 1960s on ABC Radio, it must have been network policy to write
news stories with a certain redundancy. I remember hearing many
stories that went something like this.
Philadelphia, two women and a young girl died in a fast-moving row
house fire that broke out just after midnight. The cause is
under investigation. Captain John Ayers told reporters that
those on the second floor didn't have a chance in that
fire last night in Philadelphia.
joining the story in the middle and wondering What fire?
Was it around here? would hear the key facts repeated at the end.
when Hank Stram was the radio analyst on Monday Night Football,
Id often hear him reorient his listeners.
always been a very productive running back. His statistics
dropped off a bit last season when he missed the last five games with
the knee injury, but hes back on track this year, and he sure
looked good on that play. Talking about Barry Sanders.
Heres a real-life example. On the first edition of the podcast
Movie B.S. with Bayer and Snider in April 2010, the guys
discussed their dissatisfaction with a certain actor in Clash of
the Titans. If you started paying attention at 10:45 into
the conversation, heres what you heard.
Its like weve been forced to accept him
as our blockbuster star.
Someone decided that hes
an action hero without asking our permission first.
Right. Normally there is some sort of voting system. We
normally like there is a chain of I feel like we, as
America, decided we wanted to see Will Smith in these movies. I
dont feel like it was just thrown upon us. And here he
is with Terminator, with Avatar, and now with this
being thrust upon us.
You know what it is? Its socialism. Im tired
Im surprised because he
doesnt elicit any emotions for me, at all, when Im
watching him act.
very boring. Hes
not unpleasant, hes
not dislikable, unlikable; hes
just a flat presence.
I saw him on
Letterman, and it was great. He
was on Letterman last night, and he
had this nervous energy. It was almost endearing. And
Ive never seen that in a performance of his.
It was like he
was a little worried about how he
would come off and everything else, and it was nice to see. So
Ive decided I dont hate him
as a human being.
I saw on IMDB that he
was in a production of Macbeth, an Australian movie version of Macbeth,
and he played
Macbeth. Im curious to watch that to see if theres
like actual acting involved.
Do you want to know how he
got into acting? This is actually a good story. When he
was 17 years old, his
lived in the southwest corner of Australia, along the coast. His
dad flew him
to the northeast corner, gave him
$400, and said, Work your way back home.
Like as a prank?
No, like as in Here it is. Become a man!
By the way, that was not that would have been a great time to
break out my Australian accent.
Wurk yer wye bahck! Becomm a mahan!
There. Thats what I said. So what he
did was, he
eventually met a girl. And the girl was very nervous about
auditioning for the same drama school that Mel Gibson did. So
apparently Mel Gibson did do acting classes; thats good to
know. I actually like him, by the way. I liked his
performances before. (Anyway, were sidetracking.
Focus!) I did. So, uh, anyway, he
goes with her to the audition and says Ill be here for
support; Ill audition too. Hes
never really acted. He
got in, she didnt.
And thats it. Thats how he
became an actor.
Well, there you go.
I kind of like that story.
How do you know that story?
Letterman. So everybody that watched Letterman was just like
Get on with the story!
We know. We watch Letterman too.
what we dont know, even after listening for more than
two and a half minutes, is who he
is. They never did mention the actors name again. I
rewound the podcast and discovered they were talking about Sam Worthington.
22, 2019 FEWER-BABIES
the first Earth Day was observed in 1970, I was at Syracuse
University studying radio and television in graduate school.
the campus, undergraduates were removing trash from a neglected
little park, so I cranked up a Bolex that looked something like this
and shot some 16mm silent film of the scene. It would be B-roll
for our in-class fake newscast.
of course, is the fiftieth Earth Day.
what have we done for the Earth in the intervening 49 years?
We've loaded our planet down with more than twice as many people!
1970 the world's population has grown from 3.7 billion to over 7.7
billion. In another fifty years it's expected to reach 9.4
billion. The red line indicates one estimate of how many people
the Earth's resources can support.
condensed what a TV host opined ten days ago.
give millennials credit for doing something right: having less
sex than other generations and so less babies, which is good
for the planet!
Day is coming up, and I can't think of a better gift to our planet
than pumping out fewer humans to destroy it.
great under-discussed factor in the climate crisis is there are just
too many of us and we use too much stuff. Climate deniers like
to say, There's no population problem. Just look out the
window of an airplane. There's nothing but empty space down
there. But it's not about space; it's about
resources. Humans are already using 1.7 times the resources the
planet can support. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently said,
Young people are asking, is it okay to still have children?
Senator Mike Lee went so far as to rebut AOC's threat to stop
breeding by saying, Climate change and problems of human
imagination are not solved by more laws, but by more humans.
The solution to so many of our problems is to get married and have
some kids. But remember, Mike Lee belongs to a cult that
believes all sorts of fantastical nonsense. It's called the
I've got to tell you, liberals are also at fault on this issue.
I've never heard a liberal say that falling birthrates are a good
thing which they are! Everyone talks about a falling
birthrate like it means there's something desperately wrong with the
country. Whatever problems that are caused by falling
birthrates aren't nearly as dire as the ones brought on by
overpopulation. Wouldn't it be nicer to just have fewer people around?
Time with Bill Maher
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