OCTOBER 29, 2010 WE GET THE LEADERS WE WANT
State and municipal governments are in bad shape financially. With an election coming up, Ive written a little fantasy about Local Campaigning ... for the important office of Parent.
OCTOBER 27, 2010 I FOUND THE KEY
However, the non-pointed end was not too small. With it, I was able to pry the bottom edge of the lid away from the glass, bending it outward about a millimeter. Then I moved to another part of the lid and pried it out, and so on all the way around the circumference. The seal was broken, and the lid unscrewed easily.
Another victory over packaging! (And later I found this additional use for the church key.)
OCTOBER 25, 2010 THIS DATE IN HISTORY
Today marks the 10th anniversary of this website! On October 25, 2000, I first tentatively uploaded articles to the Internet for the whole world to see.
Because few people had high-speed Internet connections back then, I kept the format simple and the bit count low. I included only a few small pictures that wouldn't take forever to download through a dial-up modem. For the first six years this home page, which directs you to the various articles, was generally updated only once a month.
The world kept on turning, so I kept uploading. At last count, I've posted 691 pages to this website.
Im slowly beginning to exhaust my supply of raw material from those boxes in the basement. But many of my earlier articles were posted so long ago that they may have been forgotten. Therefore, in honor of the anniversary, Im launching a project called 100 Moons.
Starting in November, from time to time Ill direct your attention to a classic article that has been on this site for over a hundred months (8.3 years). These will be pages that I deem deserving of a second reading. Stay tuned!
OCTOBER 22, 2010 PIE THE CHEERLEADER!
STARVING FOR RELEASE I never really understood why a prisoner would go on a hunger strike. He has already lost his freedom; for what purpose would he then refuse to eat, thus losing his health as well? Is he merely trying to be a martyr to draw attention to his cause?
Perhaps, but he might also be trying to get out of jail.
The current edition of Old News tells of the WSPU, a group of English women who agitated for the right to vote under the leadership of Emmeline Pankhurst a century ago.
On July 2, 1909, a suffragette named Marion Wallace Dunlop, who had been arrested for defacing a wall, decided on her own initiative to go on a hunger strike. After refusing all food for 91 hours, she was released from prison. Emmeline Pankhurst was delighted by this result, and she encouraged all WSPU members to imitate Dunlop by staging hunger strikes whenever they were imprisoned.
For several years, the hunger-strike tactic made it difficult for the authorities to jail any WSPU member for longer than a week. Prison authorities, reluctant to let them die, always released the hunger strikers as soon as their health seemed endangered. Christabel Pankhurst wrote: We are feeling proud of having destroyed the governments weapon of coercion. ...We have now learnt our power to starve ourselves out of prison and this power we shall use unless, of course, the government prefer to let us die. I hardly think however, that even they would adopt so extreme a course, if only for the reason that it will not pay them politically to do so.
However, every tactic has its countermeasures. The government had refused to give women the right to vote. The women countered by destroying property; the government countered by jailing them. The women countered by starving themselves. Now it was the governments move: prison wardens were ordered to force-feed hunger strikers.
Later the government passed the Temporary Discharge of Prisoners for Ill-Health Act: starving inmates were to be released, but once their health improved, back to jail they went. Over 18 months in 1913-14, Emmeline Pankhurst was released and re-arrested on nine occasions.
The WSPUs tactics generated publicity, but not legislation. The cat-and-mouse game ended only when World War I began and Pankhurst turned her organizations energies to that struggle.
good will engendered by the women during the war effort proved more
effective than their earlier civil disobedience. At the end of
the war in 1918, female property owners were given the right to vote,
and the WSPU was dissolved.
UPON WATERS Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days, we read in Ecclesiastes 11:1-2. Give a portion to seven, and also to eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth.
This made little sense to me when I was a little boy. The only time it seemed practical to throw bread into the water was when my mother took me to Richwood Lake to feed the ducks. Now that I think about it, there were usually seven or eight ducks who swam up to get their portion of the bread crumbs. But we never miraculously found those crumbs again many days later.
Sometimes preachers use bread in its Sixties hippie sense of money to arrive at an allegorical interpretation. Give your money indiscriminately to the poor. Many days later, Karma will reward you for your good deed.
In other verses, the Bible frowns on alcoholic beverages. Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle, commands Leviticus 10:9. Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise, warns Proverbs 20:1.
We know what wine is, but what does the Bible mean by strong drink? In the current issue of Biblical Archaeology Review, Michael M. Homan explains that the Hebrew word shekar really should be translated beer.
In the ancient world, he writes, beer was often produced by creating a bread or cake made from malted barley or wheat. The bread was then placed in water, forming a sweet liquid known as a wort. In a few days, after adding yeast, the carbohydrates would be converted to alcohol and carbon dioxide.
This leads to a totally different interpretation of the passage from Ecclesiastes. I believe this is a reference to the cakes of bread used in ancient beer production, writes Homan. Cast your bread upon the water and it will return as beer. Much like the phrase carpe diem, the author advises making beer and drinking it with friends, because you dont know what evil might be coming.
OCTOBER 11, 2010 THE DEFINITION OF INSANITY
OCTOBER 5, 2010 OLD MEMORIAL HALL
A couple of decades ago, I worked on telecasts of professional wrestling. But my memories of this form of entertainment go back more than 50 years. Does anyone else recall the showmanship of Lex Mayers? I do, in a new article about Rasslin.
OCTOBER 1, 2010 A STASH OF GREENBACKS
In regard to currency of small denominations, my year is divided into two equal phases. The Time of Spending has come to an end, and the next six months will be the Time of Collecting.
When I pay for a purchase with a $20 bill, I receive fives and ones in change. From October through March, more and more of these small bills accumulate in my billfold. Sometimes it gets so full that I have to remove a dozen fives and a couple dozen ones and put them in a drawer.
But this currency isnt out of circulation forever. From April through September, I occasionally have to withdraw a handful of fives and ones from this stash in order to restock my billfold.
Why do the warm months require more small bills? Blame it on baseball.
I work on the telecasts of about 80 home Pirates games a year. I pay $7 for parking each time, and I prefer to speed things along by having a five and two ones ready for the parking attendant. Then I pay $8 to eat dinner in the press lounge, and again I prefer to give the cashier exact change. Over the six months of the season, these two daily transactions require 160 five-dollar bills and 400 singles!
SEPTEMBER 25, 2010 SOME SPLAININ TO DO
Its a sentence we hear too often in farces. When the lead characters misguided actions have gotten us into another fine mess, he protests, I can explain everything!
But the other night, I heard a fresh reading of this line. A different word was emphasized. Perhaps it sounded fresh because it was recorded before the line became so hackneyed in all the subsequent sitcoms on television.
I was listening to a radio comedy from 1949, My Favorite Husband, the forerunner of TVs I Love Lucy. When Lucille Ball delivered the line, she pleaded, Now dont get upset. I can explain everything. And it didnt sound trite at all.
SEPTEMBER 19, 2010 IT COULD BE WORSE
Sixscore years ago on this date, on September 19, 1890, the Pittsburgh Alleghenies played a game of Base-Ball against the visiting New York Giants.
At the time, the Alleghenies were in eighth and last place in the National League with a record of 21 wins and 105 losses. They were 61 games behind the first-place Brooklyn Grays, having lost thrice in one day to the "trolley dodgers" in a Labor Day tripleheader.
However, there was some hope for the Alleghenies on September 19. Most of their contests that season had been on the road. So far, they had played only 31 games at Recreation Park, and they had actually won 12 of them!
As they took the field that Friday afternoon, an enthusiastic hometown throng of 100 fans cheered from the grandstand. (Yes, thats right, one hundred. The teams estimated attendance for the entire season was only 16,064, which also ranked last in the NL.)
Alas, the home team did not win. And we know what the rooters say about the home team: if they dont win, its a shame. The game ended in a 7-7 tie.
In another two weeks, the 1890 season would come to a merciful conclusion. The Alleghenies finished 23-113, with a road record of 9-88. That season remains the worst in franchise history, considerably worse than even the current team's record of 50-98 (15-59 on the road).
SEPTEMBER 15, 2010 WORLD TO STOP TURNING
In the spring of 1956, I was only nine years old. At our house we still didnt have television, but my recently widowed grandmother did have it at her place. That's her in her rocking chair, with the TV set in the background.
During the daytime she watched soap operas. Like everyone else, she called them my shows. (How did that possessive term arise?) A soap opera was a 15-minute serial drama, broadcast live from a studio in New York, accompanied by music improvised on the Hammond organ, and sponsored by a soap company.
On April 2, 1956, one such program upgraded the genre. Its grand opening theme was played by both organ and piano. And it was twice as long as the others. The announcer said, And now, for the next 30 minutes, As the World Turns, brought to you today by Ivory Snow.
Ever since then, ATWT has been a daytime fixture on CBS. After our family finally bought a TV set, my mother watched too. She may have been watching on November 22, 1963, when Walter Cronkite interrupted with the news that President Kennedy had been shot.
However, after this Friday As the World Turns will go off the air. In more than 54 years, there will have been 13,858 episodes.
That sounds like a very large number, doesnt it? But if you want a really large lifetime number, consider retired Pittsburgh baseball announcer Lanny Frattare. In his 33 seasons of describing 162 games per year, assuming each team threw 143 pitches per game (the current pace), Lanny saw over 1.5 million pitches!
SEPTEMBER 10, 2010 BRING THE KIT
When I was a manager for our high school football team in the early 1960s, I sometimes had to run out onto the field carrying the trainer's emergency kit. This was a big metal toolbox painted orange, our team color. It held first-aid supplies and rolls of tape for patching up athletes.
Nowadays, of course, were beginning to realize that when a football player gets his bell rung, its unwise to merely revive him with a whiff of smelling salts and send him back into action. Instead, he needs to be checked for a possible concussion.
While a manager, I described the play-by-play for several basketball games, one of them on an actual radio station. But I never called a football game. A few months after graduation, I got a chance to try.
It was on this very Friday night, 45 years ago, that I carried my tape recorder up to the roof of the pressbox at Memorial Field. I had permission from the school to tape a fake radio broadcast. The next week, I would be in college, and the next year, I would be broadcasting college football games for real.
September 10, 1965, was an historic date. Richwood High School had consolidated with Byhalia to form the new North Union High School, though they were still using the same Richwood facilities until a new North Union building and football field could be constructed on the north edge of town. This would be the very first game of the North Union Wildcats!
As I described the event in a letter five days later:
SEPTEMBER 4, 2010 HANDS UP!
Craig Counsell has been bronzed for posterity, but due to his unique
batting stance, they couldnt fit all of him into the chamber.
Actually, the rather unusual sculpture depicts the grip of Hall of Fame member Ralph Kiner, who hit 301 home runs for the Pirates between 1946 and 1953. Its located in the left field rotunda at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.