BET ON CLEVELAND
bet on Birmingham, either. But I do need someone to venture
some money on the bay. Someone? Anyone?
written a rambling gambling piece about the 19th century in my home
town plus a certain song. Its called Essex
Racetrack Four Miles Long,
and youre invited to click on that title.
least once a week, I conduct a ritual that Ive come to call my
Japanese tea ceremony. I bring out this bamboo serving tray and
fill it with all sorts of goodies. The sides of the tray keep
things from accidentally escaping. Then I take the tray to my
desk, where I will spend several minutes in deep concentration,
transferring small objects from one container to another.
bottles at the top of the picture hold my medications and
supplements, prescribed (among other reasons) to keep various numbers
from getting too high: in particular, my cholesterol and uric
acid and blood pressure. Fortunately, I have Medicare Part D,
and most of these cost me only 30¢ per pill.
colorful plastic box has four transparent lids for each day of the
week. During the ceremony I fill these compartments according
to the formula Ive taped to the corner of the tray. (Once
I could remember what goes where, but its become too
complicated as I have now reached the age of 67.) (Todays
my birthday, by the way!)
I ingest the contents of each compartment during the scheduled
daypart: morning, noon, evening, and bed time.
are my keys also on the tray? For the noon meal I usually find
myself at a restaurant. I dont have the colorful plastic
box with me, but I do have my car keys.
the aluminum cylinder. Each day I transfer the noon pills into
the cylinder and screw it onto its cap, which dangles from the key ring.
the copper coin. Its a 10-yen piece that I brought back
from Tokyo. I put it in the now-empty noon compartment to
indicate that its pills have been loaded into the cylinder.
Im ready for lunch. Kenko!
THE WATER WASN'T BROWN
NBC television graphics specialist at the Olympic Games complained
he was misled about the living conditions he'd find there.
"The brochure described the accommodations and amenities at the
Press Village as equal to or better than that of a hotel.
However, the hotel they surveyed was located in Tijuana. The
bedsheets in the Press Village are paper, the towels non-existent,
safe deposit boxes and closet space inadequate."
gripe about Sochi, right? No, this was a quarter of a century
ago in Seoul.
was the first of my three Olympics, and it brought me an Emmy Award.
story is this months "100 Moons" article.
cleaning out my files recently, I found a unique envelope I saved
five years ago. Its from Reason magazine.
identified the name and address of a potential subscriber, Reason
used a Google Earth picture of the area to print this arresting
personalized warning about them. (The letter inside
described them as surveillance staters, busybodies, and
control freaks who want to run your life and spend your money.
do they really know where I am?
do live within the highlighted circle, though not in the
center. Nor am I at the spot to which the yellow arrow points.
this closeup of that spot. If the busy bodies go there looking
for my body, theyll find it buried under a tree in
lived nine hundred years;
lived nine hundred years.
calls dat livin'
gal will give in
To no man
what's nine hundred years?
preachin this sermon to show
that youre liable
To read in
Gershwin in Porgy and Bess
precise, we read in the Bible that Methuselah lived 969 years.
Apparently some gal did give in to him when he was only 187, because
thats when his first son was born.
of the men in Genesis are obviously exaggerated. Can we make
sense of them if, for example, we divide the numbers by ten?
No, because dividing them all by ten would imply that some of these
men became fathers at the age of three. No other simple
correction seems to work, either. So how did the Biblical
writer come up with these impossible lifespans?
in a new article how the Genesis
could have been computed.
to say, televised sports have changed since I was in high school 50
years ago. Back then, we could watch college basketball on
different TV channels, but not every night.
4 in Columbus televised most Ohio State games.
6 aired the syndicated Big Ten Game of the Week around suppertime on
Saturdays. This production actually used a third camera (at
floor level on a pedestal at one corner of the court), but they hired
only one announcer (Bill Flemming).
in March, there were the nationally-televised NCAA and NIT tournaments.
cant recall any other college basketball games on the tube in
the early Sixties. Nowadays? Tomorrow is a typical
Saturday on my Pittsburgh-area cable system, and Ill have the
opportunity to see thirty-five games in a single day!
Coastal Carolina at Campbell
Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth
#24 Ohio State at #14 Wisconsin
Georgia Tech at Wake Forest
Maryland at Virginia Tech
Seton Hall at Xavier
George Washington at Dayton
Marquette at St. Johns
1:00 #11 Kentucky at Missouri
1:00 N.C. State at North Carolina
1:00 Toledo at Ohio
2:00 Baylor at #8 Oklahoma State
2:00 #22 Memphis at Southern Methodist
2:00 Providence at DePaul (1-hr tape delay)
2:30 George Mason at #19 Saint Louis
3:00 Evansville at #4 Wichita State
3:00 #7 Michigan State at Georgetown
3:00 Clemson at Florida State
4:00 #6 Kansas at #25 Texas
4:00 #9 Villanova at Temple
4:00 Duquesne at La Salle
4:30 Drexel at Towson
5:00 Arkansas at LSU
6:00 #21 Massachusetts at St. Johns
6:30 #17 Duke at #2 Syracuse
7:00 Colorado State at #5 San Diego State
7:00 Wright State at Green Bay
8:00 Boise State at UNLV
9:00 Central Florida at #12 Louisville
9:00 Penn at Harvard
9:00 Tennessee at Alabama
9:00 UNC Wilmington at Delaware (9-hr tape delay)
St. Marys at BYU
UC Irvine at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo
#11 Oklahoma State at Oklahoma (women)
who subscribe to special sports packages or satellite hookups
probably have even more TV choices. And innumerable other games
will be available on the Internet, on sites like ESPN3 and the
webcasts of individual schools. For example, among the small
Division III colleges, Jerry Schads alma mater DePauw visits my
alma mater Oberlin. That showdown will be on the web at 3:00.
wanna watch hoops? We got hoops!
NORTH, YALL CALL IT A BUBBLER
may have seen this
questionnaire about dialects that came out last month. Because
different regions use somewhat different terminology, you're asked
which word or pronunciation you use for water fountains and other
things, such as lightning bug versus firefly.
thought I might see baloney vs bologna vs
jumbo. As a native Ohioan, Id choose
baloney, but when I moved to southwestern Pennsylvania I
found a lot of locals calling it jumbo. The local
yinzers also said gum band instead of rubber
band, which wasnt a questionnaire option either.)
choice corresponds to a map, and when all the maps are added up, the
program tells you where youre from. My most similar city
seems to be Shreveport, Louisiana. I must protest! I talk
nothing like Terry Bradshaw!
map does get it partly right, however. My parents both came
from reddish-orange areas. I went to school in the orange, and
I now live in the amber.
HAVE NO INKLING WHERE TO GO
I can slow down
If I shift down
a somewhat lower gear.
me four more years!
happy to report that time has passed, as it does, and the panicky
dreams I sometimes experienced around the turn of the century have
been replaced by a different set of nightmares.
the little verses that those panicky dreams inspired are in this
months "100 Moons" article.
a white person on this Martin Luther King Day, I pose this
question: If the Constitutions blessings of
liberty are extended to our fellow citizens, does that mean we
must surrender those blessings ourselves?
Americans fear it means exactly that. They think liberty is
limited: more freedom for you means less freedom for me, so the
net sum of any changes is zero.
of these zero-summers are white Christians. As the
unchallenged majority, theyve been accustomed to doing things
their way. Now that others can share their privileges, the
zero-summers gripe and moan and selfishly complain that they're losing
privileges. They resent the intrusion of diverse cultures into
the life they have always known.
Americans try to respect even non-Christians by wishing customers
Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas or
by singing Frosty the Snowman in public schools instead
of Away in a Manger, the zero-summers call it a War on Christmas.
gays try to obtain the same benefits of matrimony that straights
have long enjoyed, the zero-summers call it a War on Marriage.
shooting survivors try to increase their safety by regulating
handguns and assault weapons, the zero-summers claim they need
unrestricted arsenals for their own safety.
two Hebrew speakers in Wisconsin
are thought to be conversing in Spanish, a zero-summer beats them up
for not speaking English.
blacks use affirmative-action programs to overcome longstanding bias
against their race, the zero-summers call it reverse racism.
2011 research paper
quantifies the latter situation. Although those surveyed agreed
that blacks in the 1950s and 1960s were very much the targets of
racism, the whites in the study felt that the balance has now shifted
and they are being persecuted for being white! By
the 2000s, some 11% of Whites gave anti-White bias the maximum rating
on our scale, in comparison with only 2% of Whites who did so for
anti-Black bias. Co-author Dr. Samuel Sommers comments,
Its a pretty surprising finding when you think of the
wide range of disparities that still exist in society, most of which
show black Americans with worse outcomes than whites in areas such as
income, home ownership, health, and employment.
whining, paranoid zero-summers! Life is not a zero-sum
game. When a door is opened to welcome Muslims and gays and
shooting victims and Latinos and blacks, that does not mean a door
has been slammed in your face.
way to insure domestic tranquility is not to draw a circle that
keeps the others out; its to draw a circle of love that takes
them in promoting the general welfare, for all of us.
PBS series Nova
aired a documentary this week about Zeppelins. Germany flew
these hydrogen-filled dirigibles on night bombing missions over
London a hundred years ago, during World War I.
the technology involved was Dr. Hugh Hunt, an engineer from
England's Cambridge University.
Cambridge man learned during his research that his great-uncle James
Buckingham was a part of the story.
was a car manufacturer at the Buckingham Motor Company of
Coventry. As part of the war effort, he invented an incendiary
see it here in flight, photographed by a high-speed camera.
Spewing flaming phosphorus, it was designed to ignite the hydrogen in
a dirigible's gas bags and bring it down.
it didn't work at first. The hydrogen couldn't burn because
there was no oxygen in the gas bags. So the Buckingham Bullet
had to be fired alternately with an exploding bullet that could rip
the fabric wide open.
it so happens that I too had an uncle named Jim Buckingham!
I've mentioned him on this website. In the state of Ohio, he
lived near Cambridge! At the age of 15, he visited the crash
site of a downed dirigible and
brought back a piece of the fabric! Then during World War II,
he went to England to fly bombing missions over Germany as the
armorer on a B-17! Later,
he sold cars for my father!
all of these connections be nothing more than mere coincidences?
Yes, they could be mere coincidences, and yes, they are.
I did learn a couple of other interesting facts from the show.
hollow Buckingham Bullets were filled with phosphorus, the holes
were sealed with a lead/tin alloy called solder.
Brit who was explaining this pronounced the word, very properly, to
rhyme with bolder. Here in America, the L is silent
and the word rhymes with fodder. I know not why.
telecasts nowadays employ audio assistants on the sidelines to pick
up distant sounds, such as a quarterback shouting
Omaha. They accomplish this with parabs.
These are microphones mounted in front of bowl-shaped parabolic
reflectors, which focus and amplify the sound waves coming from one
World War I, the British needed advance warning of the nighttime
approach of the Zeps across the North Sea. But radar hadnt
been invented yet, so they built giant parabs out of concrete.
One of these sound mirrors still stands on the Yorkshire coast.
operator positioned a pole, holding the horn of a giant stethoscope,
to pick up the drone of Zeppelin engines 20 miles away. The
other end of the pole would point toward the source of the sound (red
arrow). The operator could even track the invisible airship
across the dark sky. Clever!
IS MUCH SMARTER THAN ELIZA
movie HER opened this weekend. According to Entertainment
Weekly, it depicts a recently divorced loner who falls in
love with his phone's latest operating system. That the OS, which he
calls Samantha, has the sultry, pack-a-day voice of Scarlett
Johansson only heightens the case for why a man might fall for a
piece of software.
fictional Samantha is an advancement over Apples
personal-assistant application called Siri. And Siri is an
advancement over Eliza.
remember Eliza. She's a very simple computer program written
half a century ago. (The dream of communicating with an
intelligent robot has been around a long time.) In 1980, when I
bought a Radio Shack TRS-80 home
microcomputer, I keyed in a version written in BASIC.
you run the program, you seem to be using a teletype to consult a
psychologist. You type in your complaints, and the shrink
employs Rogerian therapy to help you understand them. Often
this consists of merely echoing your words, changing your
first-person pronouns to second person, and asking why
like an inquisitive little kid. For example:
I am Eliza.
Hi. I am the walrus.
long have you been the walrus?
Since the Beatles sang about it.
come, elucidate your thoughts.
I tell you, I am now a large marine mammal.
you believe it is normal to be now a large marine mammal?
Most people are not.
do you have any psychological problems?
I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.
you would like to be he as I am you and we am all together?
Yes! We am in agreement.
can be the walrus yourself at sites like this
one. But dont be fooled. You are not actually
communicating with a human being. Do not fall in love.
SAY WE NEED INNER G.N.D. PENDANTS?
want to improve their image among the common people. Big Oil
is airing radio commercials voiced by ordinary hard-working Americans.
hard-working BP supporter says the company has been helping the
a hard-working Chevron supporter touts the virtues of a competitor,
these ads had been voiced by hard-working professional announcers,
it would have been clear that BPs goal is helping the
Gulf recover. And Chevron is actually promoting
nobody would have believed polished professional announcers, I
suppose. Theyll say anything you pay them to.
Im driving my red car in the right lane, dutifully observing
the speed limit, I don't want to swerve into the left lane and cut
off a speeder who's overtaking me. I keep a close eye on my mirrors.
inside mirror shows me traffic thats at 6:00 from my
perspective, such as the green car.
people also adjust their left outside mirror to show them 6:00, but
I know the mirror should be angled out to see the blind
spot at 7:00, such as the gold car.
me, 8:00 is also a blind spot. As I grow older, I cant
turn my head as easily to look in that direction. However, when
the blue car reaches that area I can still see its rear in my left
outside mirror, and I can see its front with my peripheral vision.
that 8:00 blind spot sometimes does come into play if Im
trying to merge onto a highway from a short but helpfully
angled ramp. Ive developed a couple of little S-shaped
tricks to compensate.
as I approach the intersection from the southwest, I cant see
the heavy traffic approaching from the west because its at my 8:00.
I turn sharper than necessary, deviating from the painted lane and
taking to the shoulder (A). With my car at the same angle as
the approaching traffic, I can see it at my 7:00, and I can wait for
a chance to merge.
the second example, as I approach from the northwest I cant
see the traffic coming from the northeast.
I take to the shoulder briefly (B) and then turn towards my left,
coming to a stop at a proper 90° angle to the main road.
Then I can check my 9:00 before continuing with my right turn.