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 offer your own
ideas for our 50th Reunion, coming up in May!
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
articles are still to come!
22, 2009 LOWERING
in a late-night comedians monologue typically refer, in their
punch lines, to something the audience already knows. Because
weve heard this fact lampooned before, we laugh on cue.
example, from Jay Leno in 1990: You can't blame R.J.
Reynolds for marketing their new cigarettes at minorities and young
women. They're the only ones left. All the other groups
they've targeted have died! This apparently macabre joke
works only because weve already accepted that cigarette smoking
like to suggest that it may be time to retire one of these
much-used facts. As were constantly reminded, at
the beginning of World War II Hitlers tanks stormed into
France, and rather than risk the destruction of Paris by the
overpowering force of the Germans, the French government
surrendered. To that point all the other nations that Hitler
had invaded had also given up. Nevertheless, ever since, jokes
have been based on the stereotype that the French are cowardly.
this months Funny Times, Dave Barry reviews the past
year. He relates that in May 2008, Irans nuclear
aspirations lead six nations to convene an emergency meeting,
during which they manage, in heated negotiations, to talk France out
in July, Barack Obama ... flies to Germany without using an airplane
and gives a major speech speaking English and German simultaneously
to 200,000 mesmerized Germans, who immediately elect him chancellor,
prompting France to surrender.
the same issue, Will Durst asserts that Sen. John McCain ran the
worst campaign ever. That includes New Coke, France in
39, and Cloris Leachman on Dancing With The Stars.
then this week, Carbolic Smoke Ball ran this fake
headline: British, French Submarines Collide in Atlantic
French Sub Immediately Surrenders.
nearly 70 years, shouldnt we surrender this stereotype?
19, 2019 GRAPEFRUIT
LEAGUE BEGINS FRIDAY
by Kevin Fagan (2018)
17, 2019 YOUNG
WOLVES AT MID-CENTURY
is this young man smiling? He's wolfing.
Having noticed a cute blonde on campus yesterday, he has now joined
her on the parlor couch.
however, is not smiling. In fact, she's leaning away from the
wolf, the better to watch Uncle Miltie on TV because it's 1950.
the 20th-century rules of propriety are being observed. Of the
couple's four feet, the prescribed minimum of three are on the floor,
and the parlor door has been propped open with a wastebasket to
discourage surreptitious shenanigans.
how did the young man learn the blonde's name and address? He
used his Wolfbook. The cartoon above appeared on the
cover. The photos inside included one particular freshman who
today is an 86-year-old emeritus professor, still living near the campus.
latest article gives you a peek at Wolfing
14, 2019 THEY
SERVED US SALT AND SAWDUST
It was on this date 160 years ago February 14, 1859
that Oregon joined the Union. The new state's first two
Senators were Democrats Joseph Lane (far left) and Delazon Smith.
Oregon had been admitted as a free state, but Smith, despite having
studied at abolitionist Oberlin College, did not subscribe to
anti-slavery sentiment. Having drawn the shorter straw,
he received the shorter term, which would expire when the 36th
Congress was sworn in on March 4, 1859.
Unfortunately, Oregon's legislature declined to re-elect him, so he
was out. He had served only 18 days as a United States
Senator. The seat would remain empty until a Republican was
named in the fall of 1860.
Decades earlier, when Delazon Smith was an Oberlin student, he also
served less than a full term. His disagreement with
school policy and philosophy ... earned him an invitation to leave
and not return. Thereupon he promptly published a book
telling what was wrong with the college including even the vittles.
institutional food served in college cafeterias and dining halls has
always drawn complaints. That's why so many present-day
students will instead send out for pizza.
Smith's 1837 pamphlet Oberlin Unmasked, the disaffected
former student described far worse fare at his boarding hall.
Article 5 of the Oberlin Covenant had proclaimed, That we may
have time and health for the Lord's service, we will eat only plain
and wholesome food ... and deny ourselves all strong and unnecessary
drinks ... and everything expensive that is simply calculated to
gratify the palate.
college's leaders therefore prohibited such sinful substances as
pork and pepper and coffee and tea. Students sometimes had to
subsist on bread and water, like prisoners! They were, however,
bemoaned the ban on all types of tea, including Bohea
and Imperial and Gunpowder. He claimed that folks from
other towns could tell that a young man was from Oberlin by his
emaciated appearance, his lean, lantern-jawed visage.
was so appalled that he exclaimed, We are led to cry out in
the language of the poet! The nine-stanza tirade that
resulted is the highlight of this fortnight's installment from
Smith's book, entitled Board
and Mode of Living.
11, 2019 A
GRAY DAY IN HISTORY
this date 172 years ago, Thomas Edison was born in Milan, Ohio.
There was a college in the next county, but he never enrolled there.
Edison's 29th birthday, Elisa Gray who had in fact
attended that college drew a sketch in his notebook. It
depicted an electrical apparatus for talking through a
telegraph wire. In other words, he'd invented the telephone.
sketch was dated February 11, 1876. Alexander Graham Bell's
patent drawings wouldn't be filed until three days later!
latest article tells about Elisha Gray, The
Edison of Oberlin College.
8, 2019 THESE
BILLS ARE CONFOUNDERATE!
are three 10-dollar bills that won't buy you a hot dog. The
first is play money, of course.
second is smeared because it was printed poorly in some guy's
basement; it's counterfeit.
the third is Confederate.
the early 1950s, when I was beginning to read, I didn't know much
about history, but I did run across stories about hapless folks being
paid with worthless money. Sometimes it was called
counterfeit and sometimes it was called
confederate, and I thought those similar words must mean
then, a few Civil War veterans were still alive. Confederate
currency was less than a hundred years old, and it was still
it's more than 150 years old, and you don't hear about it anymore
unless you're a collector, which I'm not. However, the
many variations of these graybacks and other
denominations are interesting.
is a note from the third series, issued in 1861 and signed and
numbered by hand. Although backed only by bonds, within the
Confederacy it was supposed to be receivable in payment of all
dues except export duties and it would have been worth real
money if the South had won the war. Six months after the
ratification of a Treaty of Peace between the Confederate States and
the United States, the Confederate States of America will pay to the
bearer Ten Dollars.
man on the lower left is the CSA Secretary of State, Robert Mercer
Taliaferro Hunter. To balance the design, a stock image of
innocence was chosen for the lower right. Later it was
discovered to be a vignette of one Alfred L. Elwyn. But in
1861, Elwyn was no longer a child. He had graduated from
Harvard and co-founded the Pennsylvania Institution for the Blind as
well as a school for mentally disabled children. Now he was
serving as the treasurer of the American Association for the
Advancement of Science. And, of course, he was an abolitionist.
5, 2009 HOLOGRAPHIC
of the pleasures that youngsters receive from playing with scale
models, like dollhouses or model train layouts, is a sense of
empowerment. As they tower over the Lilliputian scene below
them, they are no longer children; they have become giants, and
they're in control of all they survey.
was 14 years old, and the Ohio State Buckeyes were NCAA basketball
champions, when I realized it might be fun to watch a televised
basketball game not as a picture on a screen but as a
a basketball arena reduced to 1/20 scale, with a court the size of a
Foosball table and the players four inches high. You and your
friends gather around the table and watch the action from any angle
you choose. Or maybe instead of little athletes, you could see
little actors performing a play. I actually wrote up my idea as
an essay, now long lost, for my eighth-grade English class.
would it work? I guessed that the positions of the players on
the court could be detected with some sort of radar beam, or perhaps
with one of those newly-invented "lasers." That would
constitute the camera.
your living room would be the receiver, a transparent rectangular
cube about four feet on a side. Inside the cube, electronic
circuits would precisely schedule the firing of millions of little
guns, shooting tiny particles from one side of the interior to the
other. The guns would be timed so that 30 times a second, the
particles would have reached positions in space corresponding to the
surfaces of the real players. At that instant, a strobe light
would fire, illuminating the particles and forming ghostly images of
miniature players. A thirtieth of a second later, the next
firing of the strobe would reveal a new set of particles in slightly
different positions, and your eye would fill in the gaps. Of
course the expended particles would fall to the bottom of the box,
and eventually you'd have to empty the litter tray like a birdcage.
English teacher Mrs. Endsley said that she had no idea what I was
trying to describe, but it certainly sounded clever.
a century later, in the January issue of Broadcast Engineering,
Anthony R. Gargano muses about the state of television
technology. He seems to share my vision from long ago.
into the future is holographic television, a technology that's in
the Stone Age today. During its recent presidential election
reporting, CNN used a scheme requiring 35 high-definition cameras to
capture not a true hologram but a 360-degree image of a single
reporter to transport her to the studio set. Was it holographic
video? No, but it's certainly food for thought. Clearly,
we are in the early stages, taking small steps on the road to
delivering the virtual reality of 360-degree holographic video to the home.
MIT Media Lab has demonstrated the rendering of full color holograms
as 1-inch cubic images that are updatable at video rates of 20 frames
per second. A research group at the University of Arizona
demonstrated updatable monochromatic holograms at the size of a
challenges in progressing true holographic television are the sheer
amount of high-speed memory and the computational horsepower required
to generate motion video. Given that many of today's cell
phones have more computer power than the first space shuttle, clearly
it's not a matter of if
but just a matter of when
you can watch that Sunday NFL game with 3-D players running on top of
your coffee table-like imager as you walk around it checking the
action and the views from end zone to end zone.
proposed technology may be completely different, but my dream from
1960 is still alive!
Smalley and a team of engineers at BYU are developing a version of
my 1960 particle-based idea! Here's an excerpt from the
February 17, 2018, edition of Science News:
new laser system renders full-color 3-D images in thin air,
researchers report in the Jan. 25 Nature.
system works by trapping a cellulose particle that's mere
micrometers across in a beam of nearly invisible laser light.
That laser repeatedly moves the particle along a specific path
through the air. At each point on the particle's path, other
lasers illuminate it with red, green or blue light, which the
particle scatters in all directions. This creates a single
image pixel that can be viewed from all sides. Because the
particle whizzes through the air so quickly and loops through the
same path over and over again, all the pixels blur together.
team could create only small images. Smalley says he is
already imagining a system that manipulates 100 or even 1,000
particles at once. With those improvements, "the sky
becomes the limit, he says.
3, 2019 STAGING
was the second Tuesday of September in 1969. Some 120 miles to
the southeast, they were still cleaning up from the Woodstock music
festival, though it had been over for three weeks. I myself,
however, was on the campus of Syracuse University. With about
70 other young adults, I was joining Sequence 22
of a Master's degree program in Radio and Television.
entered the gleaming marble lobby of the Newhouse Communications
Center. (Two more units have since been added, and this
building is now known as Newhouse One.)
billionaire S.I. Newhouse's antique printing press stood next to the
lobby's impressive double staircase, reminding us of the roots of our
chosen field: communication. He had given the money to
construct the Center, which had been dedicated
by the President of the United States just five years before.
over the next few weeks, I became interested in the staircase
itself. Not the tangled Pegasus on the wall. Not even the
Newhouse quote below it:
free press must be fortified
greater knowledge of the world
skill in the arts of expression.
I was fascinated by the bottom four steps. "You
know, I thought, this almost constitutes a
thrust stage, a good place to present Shakespeare.
we'd need to do is punch a few holes for entrance doors. We
could even add an upper window at which a singer or a Chorus or a deus
ex machina could appear without the need for a machina.
sketched my concept of the lobby redesigned as a theater. Now,
almost 50 years later, I've added arrows to indicate those
doors. The staircase and the drawing are in this month's 100
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