OCTOBER 31, 2012 HOUSES ON SAND
Ive been watching the news all week. Isnt it terrible about all the destruction from Hurricane Sandy?
It is. And the human suffering is far from over. Some people will be without electricity for many more days, and others will return to their homes and find them destroyed. And the other property damage? Its a great tragedy.
And its just like the weathermen were predicting all last week. Frankenstorm, they called it. You live in Pennsylvania, right? Wasnt that one of the states that was hard hit?
Eastern Pennsylvania was, but I live in western Pennsylvania. Around here, we've only had to put up with several rainy days.
You were fortunate.
Yes, we were. Our neighbors in West Virginia had a blizzard, but there was nothing like that where I live.
My pastor says that this storm was a sign from God. God is warning America to repent of its sins.
Oh, really? Which sins in particular?
Allowing gay marriage, mostly. My pastor gave me a pamphlet quoting Chaplain John McTernan. What does he say? Oh, here it is: What a sign from the holy God of Israel that American politics is an abomination to Him! A pro-homosexual Mormon [Mitt Romney], along with a pro-abortion/homosexual Muslim Brotherhood promoter and Hard Left Fascist [Barack Obama], are running for president. And there is no cry of repentance from Gods people! I see this storm as a warning from the LORD to call His church to repentance. This might be the last call from the Holy God of Israel.
Hmm. So the good chaplain feels that God is upset because the two Christians running for president arent the right kind of Christians for him. They dont hate gays and Muslims and other people the way they ought to.
Mormons are an evil cult. They arent Christians!
Yes, they are. Its right there in their name, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Any group can claim to be a Church of Jesus Christ.
And whats the name of your church again?
Never mind that. Weve got to get back to the Bible!
You know, if God doesn't want certain people to marry, it seems odd to me that he would warn us by sending bad weather. If he sends bad weather, hes more likely to be warning us about the weather, about changing the climate.
We arent causing climate change! Only God can do that.
Thats not what the meteorologists say. Theyre the same experts who predicted exactly what Hurricane Sandy would do. Dont you think they might also be right about global warming?
Theres no way.
Here, Ive got a pamphlet myself. This guy writes that Republicans refuse to accept anthropogenic global warming as anything other than a liberal scare tactic, a plot; something that is no more likely than a raped woman getting pregnant. It is literally against their religion. So instead of acknowledging a scientific basis for storms like Hurricane Sandy, the GOP is forced to adopt the position that they are only a continuing sign of their gods displeasure with the human race.
Who wrote that?
Not even an American name! He has no right to say what Republicans are thinking.
He has as much right as you and I to say what God is thinking. Do you want to know my opinion of what God is thinking?
I am God. When I created this planet, I buried all the extra carbon deep inside the earth, where the surplus could do no harm. But these humans have turned the earth over; they have torn it apart; they have ripped out the coal and sucked up the oil. For their own purposes, they have burned these ancient fossils. The carbon has become carbon dioxide, and the carbon dioxide is accumulating in the very air they breathe. Theres so much of it that its raising the temperature of the planet.
Now some of the humans own scientists foresee a disaster. They predict that because temperatures are rising, the sea will rise as much as another seven feet by the end of the century. Others add that hurricanes and other bad weather will become ever more extreme. So the humans own experts warn of the consequences of their environmental recklessness.
Of course, the big energy corporations want to protect their riches. They encourage the lie that temperatures are not rising.
Therefore I have sent my own warning, which the humans call Sandy the first fruits of what is to come.
Did you read what Joseph Farah of WND wrote after the last big hurricane? Gods trying to get your attention. Are you paying heed? What will it take? Will your world have to be turned upside down before you recognize whats happening? Would even that be enough?
He wasn't talking about global warning. Global warming is a lie.
All I can do is quote from the gospel of Matthew [7th chapter, 26th verse ISV, 27th verse NIV]: Everyone who keeps on hearing these messages of mine and never puts them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.
OCTOBER 27, 2012 AIMING FOR THE HORIZON
It was the spring on the plains of Union County, Ohio, back in the early Sixties. As managers for the schools track and field team, David and I were preparing the high jump. Was the crossbar level? The two standards that supported either end were they adjusted to the same height? I sighted from the top of one to the top of the other and observed that the horizon was directly behind the far top. Yes, they were the same height. I was quite proud of my clever surveying.
Flash forward fifty years. There was not a cloud in the sky this past Thursday afternoon. It was about 12:45, and our TV crew was setting up for a high school football game, due to kick off shortly after 7:00.
Where should we put our on-field cameras? Sometime after 6:00, we would be taping our announcers on the sideline for the first segment of the show. We were concerned about the lighting. We didnt want the setting sun to be directly behind them.
So which way was west? A couple of the guys pointed to a hill looming behind the pressbox. The hill would block the sunset from our view, and there would be no problem.
That didnt seem right to me. I had seen an aerial view of the field, and I thought west was on the opposite side. It was time for some cogitation.
Were on daylight time, I said, which means that the actual sun time is not 12:45 but closer to 11:45, almost high noon. At noon, shadows point north. Look at the shadow of the goalposts. North is over that way, so south is back this way behind the hill, and west is over there.
But its late October. At this time of year the sun is lower in the sky, and it doesnt actually set in the west. More like west-southwest. That way. I pointed at the horizon. I say the sun will set just to the left of that cell phone tower.
The others werent convinced, but as the afternoon wore on, the sun dutifully arced across the sky toward the place I had pointed out. And it set just to the left of the cell phone tower!
I felt like Christopher Columbus predicting a lunar eclipse to the Jamaicans. My friends were impressed. Theyll never doubt me again. It feels good to be right. And it feels good to see a scientifically-derived prediction confirmed. Science rules!
OCTOBER 25, 2012 ANTS AS BIG AS DINOSAURS
Over two decades ago, I conceived a unique museum to demonstrate the size of the universe.
Every time you went up a ramp to the next level, the models of the planets and other objects became 90% smaller.
OCTOBER 21, 2012 MORE HOME MOVIES!
OCTOBER 15, 2012 WHY? WHY?
Last year I wrote that it always happens. Its happened again. The world of TV situation comedies has gotten too predictable.
On tonights How I Met Your Mother, new parents Marshall and Lily had a decision to make about their infant son. He never appeared on camera, but they were concerned about him nonetheless: if something happened to them, his parents, who would be his guardian?
The grandparents would be the obvious guardians, but they were rejected for reasons never explained even though Grandpa Mickey was taking care of the boy off-camera. Instead, Marshall and Lily decided to choose a guardian from among the other three major characters on the show. These three friends, all of them unmarried, competed enthusiastically against each other to win the responsibility. There was even a game show involved. The situation was completely unbelievable.
At the end of the show, the parents admitted that since becoming saddled with a child, they no longer had time to socialize with their three childless friends. Not as much time as before, anyway. But, in a warm and fuzzy moment, they decided to list all three as co-guardians. Twas a farce.
TV writer Mark Rothman blogged about baseball yesterday.
In Pittsburgh this season, I had the same reaction whenever Clint Hurdle brought in the Pirates closer, Joel Hanrahan. It seems to me that a closer ought to be like Cincinnatis fireballer Aroldis Chapman, using overpowering stuff to utterly dominate the opponent and get three quick outs to end the game. Hanrahan, on the other hand, always seemed to make the ninth inning interesting. He would allow a couple of runners to advance into scoring position before (hopefully) registering the third out.
Were these impressions correct? I checked the stats for Major League Baseballs most-used closers during the 2012 regular season that is, the top dozen in terms of Save Opportunities. Here they are, ranked in order of WHIP (Walks + Hits allowed per Inning Pitched).
If we ignore the Brewers Axford, who struggled in the middle of the season but came back to convert 17 of his last 18 save opportunities, we see that Valverde and Hanrahan were in fact the worst of this group. Valverde had the worst ERA.
Why cant all closers be as reliable as Fernando Rodney, who led the group with 74.2 innings pitched, only five earned runs allowed, and only two blown saves? Why, indeed?
OCTOBER 11, 2012 ON THE JOB
OCTOBER 8, 2012 WISHBONE DETOUR
Road construction projects around here often force the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to temporarily close one of a highways lanes, forcing two lanes of traffic to merge into one. Im glad to see that the orange signs they post in such cases, USE BOTH LANES TO MERGE POINT followed by MERGE HERE / TAKE YOUR TURN, are gaining wider acceptance.
But hold on. That's nine to 12 minutes off of an hour-long delay? Do we really delay traffic by as much as an hour merely by closing one lane of a highway?
Around here we do, especially if the remaining lane of traffic then has to leave the highway and negotiate city streets and stop signs before getting back on. This will be the case at the notorious inbound Squirrel Hill Tunnels for the next two weekends. "At times it was up to two hours on the detour in the last two weekend closures," PennDOT spokesman Jim Struzzi told the newspaper. "We definitely want people to consider alternate routes."
OCTOBER 5, 2012 OUT OF THE GOLD AGAIN
Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order an account of the recent travails of the baseball team known as the Pittsburgh Pirates, it seemed good to me also to write. Yet what could I add to what has already been chronicled by the local scribes?
I can depict the last two summers graphically, using my Diamond Brick Road.
As you most surely know already, most excellent Theophilus, this is a chart of a baseball season. Starting at the bottom, a team moves one block up and to the left for each win, and one block up and to the right for each loss. The vertical line separates the gold half of the graph (a winning record) from the white half (a losing record). For 20 seasons now, the Pirates have failed to finish in the gold.
But then came the disaster. After August 8, they went 16-36 for a winning percentage of .308 even worse than last years collapse. They were shut out with a week left in the season, no-hit two nights later, and shut out again in the season finale.
If they had played the entire season with that level of futility, they would have finished with a record of 50-112, five games behind the woeful Houston Astros. However, because of their success in the first two-thirds of the year, the Pirates were able to struggle to the finish with a record of 79-83.
Thats still a losing record. At least this years Pirates stayed in the gold longer than last years, and they totaled seven more wins. If the local team can improve another seven games next season, they could actually end the 20-year losing streak by finishing above .500 in 2013. We can hope, anyway.
SEPTEMBER 29, 2012 SILENT BATS
As my 31st season telecasting Major League Baseball draws to a close, last night for the first time I finally worked a no-hit game! The Pittsburgh Pirates were held without a hit by Homer Bailey of the Cincinnati Reds. This doesnt happen often; the last time the Pirates were victims of a no-hitter was in 1971, with Bob Gibson on the mound.
However, it isnt unusual recently for the Pirates to be held without a run. Theyve been shut out 14 times this year. The local team is now 76-81, last nights loss having clinched their 20th consecutive season of losing at least as many games as they won. That extends the record of futility the Pirates already held: in the history of the four major North American professional sports, 20 years is the longest streak ever without a winning season.
When you passively watch a no-hitter unfold on TV, in the late innings every out is a moment of high drama. Surprisingly, that wasnt my experience in the TV truck. We were too busy to think about it. We started to build a panel listing the Reds no-hitters (the most recent was a perfect game by Tom Browning against the 1988 Dodgers), had to deal with a technical problem, finished the panel, prepared the other graphics wed need after the last out, watched the final couple of fly balls, and the game was over.
Rachel Carson grew up in a farmhouse near Springdale, Pennsylvania, just five miles from where Im living now. Fifty years ago this week, she published Silent Spring, a book that that helped start the environmental movement by exposing the detrimental effects of pesticides like DDT.
As a teenager in Ohio, I had read glowing articles in Readers Digest and elsewhere reporting the wonderful benefits of pesticides. These chemicals were wiping out insect-borne diseases in Africa and increasing crop yields on farms everywhere. They were building a better world as part of the Green Revolution.
I resented the accusation that DDT was somehow evil. It seemed to me that Rachel Carson and her friends wanted to ignore the advances of science. She wanted to turn back the clock to a preindustrial age, when disease and starvation were rampant.
Since then, of course, Ive moved on to a more nuanced view of such matters. New inventions and discoveries have both advantages and disadvantages, and we have to weigh the good against the bad.
SEPTEMBER 24, 2012 FISH STORY
For the latest in my series of revised Biblical stories, told in the first person but with an irreverent twist, this time Ive rewritten an entire book of the Bible. Its a short book. As the narrator, Im a teller of tall tales who takes a detour through a huge fish before agreeing to prophesy in the enemy capital of Nineveh.
Jonah, he lived in the whale;
preachin this sermon to show
Ira Gershwin in Porgy and Bess
SEPTEMBER 18, 2012 SUPPRESSING INSULTS
SEPTEMBER 12, 2012 JOHN, CHAPTER 1, VERSES 1-14
An anonymous blog poster asserts that science came into this world to save us from the original sin of believing in gods.
However, inspired by the fourth Gospel (in the left column below), I'd like to point out (in the right column) that scientific laws existed even before there were scientists to discover them.
SEPTEMBER 8, 2012 OLD PHOTOS ON TV
Sometimes on our sports telecasts, one of our reporters comes up with a human interest tidbit. Did you know that Bob Webb and Chuck Magill were once actually on the same team? It was back in the fall of 1963, when they were sophomores at Richwood High School in Ohio. And, for Visual Proof, hell e-mail me an old photo that Im expected to include in a television graphic.
SEPTEMBER 2, 2012 FIVE YEARS ON THE GROUND
Ive visited every state except Alaska. Ive also visited five Canadian provinces, the United Kingdom, South Korea, and Japan.
Ive worked on televised sports events in 47 of those 57 places (all except Arkansas, Idaho, Montana, New Brunswick, New Mexico, North and South Dakota, Nova Scotia, Vermont, and Wyoming, where I was merely a tourist).
A dozen years ago, a typical September would find me in an airport as many as five days a week, flying to various cities for baseball and football telecasts on Fox Sports Net and Fox Family Network and FX.
Around the turn of the century, however, all those Fox national cablecasting contracts went to other networks, and I was free to work closer to home.
Ive been very fortunate. Ive become the crewers first choice when they need a local Duet operator for several professional teams: the Pittsburgh Pirates, Penguins, Steelers (preseason only), and Power (arena football). And when there are separate telecasts for the home team and the visitors, I get to work on the home telecast with familiar faces. Im also the crewers first choice for high school football games and for college games at Pitt, Duquesne, Robert Morris, Saint Francis of Pennsylvania, and California of Pennsylvania.
I also occasionally get calls for events outside the Pittsburgh area, but with enough work here at home, I generally turn those down unless theyre within driving distance. For practical purposes that means between Cleveland and Harrisburg, although for past assignments Ive driven as far as Chicago in one direction and Long Island in the other.
The last time I was on an airplane was five years ago today! And as I have attained the age of 65½, its possible I might never have to visit an airport again.