APRIL 19, 2019 EVIDENCE FOR LIFE
It's true that we have copies of the Gospels dating all the way back to the second century AD, a mere four generations after the era they describe. If pen wasn't put to papyrus until a hundred years after the fact, can these manuscripts be trusted?
It's also true that our oldest physical records of Caesar's writings are even less contemporary, dating to the ninth century AD. Does that rule them out as evidence?
Let's examine three existential allegations.
I'm sorry, Billy, but the evidence for both #2 and #3 is much weaker than the evidence for #1. Case dismissed.
APRIL 16, 2019 HOLD THE MAYO!
Are you planning to hard-boil and dye a batch of eggs so the kids can find them on Easter? What will you do with the eggs afterwards?
When the media characterize news as good or bad, theyre not always looking at the big picture.
For example, take the weather. A forecast of 89° and sunny is generally proclaimed as good news, but thats too hot for my comfort. A forecast of a rainy day is generally bemoaned as bad news, but not by the farmers whose crops need the rain. Those same farmers rejoice if the price of wheat goes up, but their joy is not shared by those of us who buy bread.
For another example, take the population. Although the Pittsburgh region lost 2,967 residents over the last year, the local newspaper found a silver lining in the fact that the loss was only half as large as usual.
A larger population may be good news for businesses and construction workers and politicians. But should the rest of us want to see more traffic jams, more pollution, more overcrowded schools, and all the other consequences of the fact that there are already too many of us?
They were abetted in their flight by northern abolitionists. In particular, for three days after the Oberlin-Wellington Rescue in 1858, escapee John Price found refuge just 400 feet south of these rails in the home of future Oberlin College president James Fairchild.
Back in 1834, James and his older brother Edward Henry Fairchild had enrolled as freshmen, having come from the family farm ten miles away. In 1835, from upstate New York came Delazon Smith, whose subsequent pamphlet I've been serializing.
Even in those days, several hundred slaves were already fleeing each year. Smith presumably agreed with abolition, as he attended the convention of the Ohio Anti-Slavery Society in the spring of 1836. But a few months later, when the town first became involved with the Underground Railroad, he objected. The fleeing slaves were still legally the property of their Southern masters. Abetting their escape to freedom was not only illegal by the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 but also a violation of Article 4 of the Constitution:
Proclaiming their loyalty not to the Constitution but to a higher law, several Oberlin students traveled 200 miles south and stationed themselves on the banks of the Ohio River. There they enticed slaves to desert their masters and head north to freedom. One commentator later would call Oberlin the town that started the Civil War.
In my latest installment of Delazon Smith's Oberlin Unmasked, the author opposes this civil disobedience. He also reveals his racism, criticizing the revolting doctrine of amalgamation that allowed blacks to mix with whites in polite society. Such an abomination, later known as integration, was a likely result of Abolition.
APRIL 9, 2019 A WISER CHOICE, PERHAPS
Did you know that if you're accused of a crime, you don't necessarily have to entrust your fate to the uninformed guesses of a motley crew of a dozen dopes like me?
APRIL 7, 2014 TIME TRAVEL
After six months with my new car, Im starting to figure out one of its features: HD radio. Ill limit my remarks to FM stations that use this relatively new technology.
You probably didnt know that a station today delays its audio by eight seconds before transmitting it. This particular delay has nothing to do with giving the station a chance to bleep out obscenities before theyre aired. No, its a requirement for HD. (In this case, HD does not stand for High Definition. Some say it means Hybrid Digital.)
When I first tune to a station, I hear (via the regular FM analog signal) what the announcer said eight seconds ago. Meanwhile, my receiver starts collecting digital bits to assemble a cleaner version of what hes saying now. It takes about eight seconds to get enough data, allowing for brief dropouts should I drive past a building or something. After this latency period, the receiver switches over; it stops playing the delayed analog signal and starts playing the digital version that its created. The analog signal I heard first was delayed so it would sync up with the digital signal Id hear later.
The digital quality is supposed to be better, although in the somewhat noisy environment of my car I have a hard time hearing any improvement. If I listen very carefully, after eight seconds I notice the bass is slightly stronger. This leads me to wonder about the point of the whole exercise. (However, digital transmission does allow the station to broadcast additional channels like HD2 and HD3, plus brief text annotations.)
But sometimes on Pittsburghs KDKA-FM, a sports talk station known as 93.7 The Fan, the switchover is very obvious. A couple of days ago, the analog delay wasnt working, so when I first tuned in I heard eight seconds of live analog followed by the digital version of the same eight seconds.
Had I tuned in as they started broadcasting the Gettysburg Address, I would have heard something like this, with the switchover from undelayed analog to digital occurring at the word four:
Thats amusing, if it only happens once. But when I drive more than 25 miles from Pittsburgh, sometimes the stations signal falls off the digital cliff. When no digital version is available, my receiver automatically returns to regular analog FM. And if the regular analog FM isnt being delayed, at the switch I seem to jump forward in time. I miss a sentence or so. Before long, the receiver reacquires the digital signal. Eight seconds after that, I jump backward in time, hearing again the sentence that I just heard.
I first noticed this while trying to listen to a college football game last fall. Apparently the delay wasnt working then, either. As you can imagine, the random cutting back and forth was rather confusing.
Yesterday I was planning to e-mail a TV engineer I know at KDKA to have him check with his radio colleagues about this. But apparently they were aware of the problem, and they got the delay working again. Everything seems fine for now. Cross your fingers.
APRIL 3, 2019 WHERE THERE'S DANGER, HE IS THERE