JUNE 29, 2017 KNEE-HIGH BY THE FOURTH OF JULY
Now, Douglas Cook at New York University and colleagues Roger Elmore and Justin McMechan use contact microphones to directly record the sounds of corn growing. This is the fusion of two seemingly unrelated disciplines: plant science and mechanical engineering.
Many crops are lost each year due to wind damage, Cook said. Material breakage is a lot like a microscopic earthquake: the sudden release of internal stresses sends sound waves radiating in every direction.
We now think that plant growth involves millions of tiny breakage events, and that these breakage events trigger the plant to rush to repair the broken regions. By continuously breaking and repairing, the plant is able to grow taller and taller.
JUNE 26, 2017 TIP ONE END, UPSET THE OTHER
Representatives of 50 nations created the United Nations 72 years ago. They signed the charter in San Francisco on June 26, 1945.
One week later, Norman Corwin presented a CBS radio program called Unity Fair, featuring a song with words by E.Y. Harburg. You may have heard some of Yip Harburgs other songs like Over the Rainbow and Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? As World War II drew to a close, his lyrics went like this:
Huddie Ledbetter, the folk singer known as Lead Belly, often performed We're in the Same Boat, Brother. Here's the third verse:
In January of 2017, Sandy Schuman added an up-to-date stanza:
JUNE 23, 2017 IN ONE WORD
The year was 1974. I was working for Washington Channels in Washington, Pennsylvania. Every weekday evening I directed a local newscast on Cable TV-3.
JUNE 21, 2017 ÉTÉ SUR UNE ÎLE, ALMOST
Im told that the French word presque means almost, and therefore presquîle means almost island or peninsula with a narrow neck.
When televising sports, I sit safely indoors and operate a graphics computer. I'm glad I don't have to brave the elements as a camera operator.
JUNE 14, 2017 UNCOVERING FLOWERS
Discussing Ohio's early color TV in my May 22 post, I referred to a show called Midwestern Hayride. My high school classmate Lynne Glass Ledley responded, In the infancy of the Midwestern Hayride, they performed at the Richwood Fair a couple of times once on Wednesday night.
I dont remember that, but I do recall one Hayrider. I replied to Lynne, When I first worked at Marion CATV in 1970, we had a morning show hosted by a veteran performer who called herself Sally Flowers. I got the impression that she was semi-famous in the Columbus market, though I knew little about her. While researching the Midwestern Hayride for my article, I saw her mentioned as part of the cast for at least one season. I don't remember her there either.
Realizing that I had never learned much about this television pioneer, I researched her online. That led to a new article about Sally Flowers.
Today is the 40th anniversary of the United States Supreme Court's unanimous decision in the case of Loving v. Virginia, in which the Court declared unconstitutional a Virginia statute outlawing miscegenation. As of June 12, 1967, miscegenation was no longer a crime in these United States.
They legalized what, now? When I read this story in the newspapers at the time, I had never heard of miscegenation, though I was about to start my junior year in college. So I tried to reason it out.
Many offenses begin with mis-, such as:
All of them carry the implication of doing something improperly. Therefore miscegenation must be the act of improperly cegenating, which I guessed must be pronounced KEG-uh-nating. So far, so good. Now what was cegenating?
Reading the news story further, I learned that Loving was a white man who had been found guilty of being married to a black woman. The judge at his trial proclaimed, Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, Malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. . . . The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix. There were sidebar references to another controversial and possibly illegal marriage between black entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. and his Swedish wife May Britt. They couldn't appear together in public because of death threats.
Apparently, then, to cegenate was to marry within your own racial group. And Loving had failed to cegenate.
It turns out that my etymological guesswork was wrong. The actual story of the word's origins is available here. (Rush Limbaugh would be glad to know it was invented by scheming Democrats working in the evil mass media to discredit a wartime President!) Miscegenation was formed from the Latin words miscere, to mix, and genus, race, and is pronounced either missa-juh-NAY-tion or mis-EDGE-uh-nation.
Loving's offense was failure to keep the white race pure, a failure that was anathema to white racists. Fortunately the Fourteenth Amendment forced this crime off the books, and our melting pot could continue making Americans e pluribus unum (out of many, one).
JUNE 10, 2017 AVOID THE KISS OF DEATH
Sometimes a baseball game is half over and one of the starting pitchers has not yet allowed a hit. His teammates are aware hes working on a no-hitter, but theres a tradition in baseball that no one mentions it. That might make the pitcher nervous. In the dugout between innings, no one sits near him, no one talks to him.
Because fans like to pretend theyre part of the team, many of them observe the tradition even if theyre nowhere near the stadium. They dont want anyone to mention the possible no-hitter in progress. To do so might jinx it.
Some broadcasters accommodate this silliness by only indirectly acknowledging the no-no. For example, Joe Blow walked back in the third inning, and so far, hes been the only Blowhard to reach base. You can do the math.
A similar situation arose Thursday night in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, when Penguins goalie Matt Murray was on the way to his second shutout of the playoffs.
By the way, why do the cable news channels pander to viewers by concentrating on just one sensational story? And why do they label it continuously as Breaking News although nothing has changed for hours?
I always thought for a story to be Breaking, the details had to be still coming in. Breaking News: The governor is holding a press conference right now to announce a new technology park on the site of the old refinery. No word just yet on how many jobs this might bring to our area. We have a correspondent on the scene, and we expect an update shortly. Hours later, the story will no longer be Breaking; it will have already been Broken.
JUNE 7, 2017 KUKA TUO ON?
English is spoken here. Finnish, not so much. But we are somewhat familiar with Italian names. So when a fast-talking hockey announcer rattles off the name of Finnish goalie Pekka Rinne, I cant help thinking hes talking about somebody named Peccorini.
Also, I no longer follow soul and/or country music, so I keep confusing Gnarls Barkley and Dierks Bentley. I guess one of them sang the national anthem (like a dying catfish, someone tweeted) before Mondays fourth game of the Stanley Cup Final.
So far in that series between the Nashville Predators and Pittsburgh Penguins, Mr. Peccorini hasnt been required to face a lot of shots with Pittsburgh on the power play. The Pens have scored only once in 16 power play opportunities (6.3%), amounting to 27:26 of ice time.
Without the man-advantage, theyve scored 10 goals in 212:34.
Lets compute the goals per 60 minutes of action. On the power play, its 2.187. Otherwise, 2.823. Their offense is 29% more potent when it doesnt have the so-called advantage!
Therefore, whenever the Predators are called for an infraction, I recommend that the Penguins decline the penalty.
JUNE 5, 2017 WORLD WAR REGISTRATION DAY
Rick Santorum, the right-wing former senator from Pennsylvania, argues against renewable energy (solar and wind) because he thinks it cant be stored.
Nor do their books admit that, for example, Americas more advanced rival Germany already obtains 34% of its net electricity production from renewable sources.
Therefore, our failing nation has to continue relying on good old dirty-but-dependable coal. After all, the wind doesnt always blow, and the sun disappears every night and we have no idea where it goes.
Is he really this ignorant? I suspect not. I suspect hes just catering to low-information conservatives who disdain solar and wind because they resent other countries asking us to stop burning so much carbon.
President Trump played to this resentment yesterday when he announced the United States would renege on its pledge to curb global warming by means of the Paris Agreement. Why did he turn his back on the rest of the world? I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris, he said alliteratively.
The citizens of Pittsburgh have some problems with that.
Pittsburghs dark days of the past are far behind it. The city already plans to reduce its carbon emissions by a further 20% by 2023, and we will fall in line with other criteria of the Paris Agreement, says Mayor Peduto.
Other forward-looking leaders are also taking it upon themselves to comply, including the governors of California, New York, and Washington. Representatives of cities and states and corporations are preparing to pledge to the United Nations that they will meet the United States greenhouse gas emissions targets despite Donald Trump, who doesnt represent the views of most Americans.
Virginia Senator Tim Kaine tweets, Trump alienates allies, walks away from Paris Agreement, and sabotages health care. His presidency is all destruction, no accomplishments. I'm confident that our nations optimistic, can-do spirit will prevail over this short-sighted dereliction of leadership.
JUNE 1, 2017 SPORTS MATH
Although there were incidents during this years race and five competitors in the back half of the grid eventually dropped out and did not finish, the podium seemed predetermined: Ferraris started 1st and 2nd and finished 2nd and 1st. Vettel moved ahead of Räikkönen only when the latter made his pit stop. We can now update the stat to 12 of the last 14.
Why does it always work out this way? Well, the fastest cars (determined by qualifying speeds) get to start up front, and they tend to stay there because the street course in Monte Carlo is narrow. Passing is difficult. The order in which the cars start pretty much determines the order in which theyll finish. Nevertheless, its exciting to watch the spectacle.
In a best-four-out-of-seven championship series, might your team sweep the series by winning four straight games? Maybe, but the percentages are against it.
However, lets consider the current situation. After last nights win, the Penguins have a 2-0 lead in the Stanley Cup Final. To sweep, they need to win the next two games as well. What are the percentages of that happening?
Other factors come into play, of course. Thats why we have sports commentators. However, the mathematics still predict there will be a Game Five at least.