been watching auto racing since as far back as 1953.
Nowadays it's one of the few live sports on television, and I'm
following it still.
few decades ago, I worked telecasts with both of these announcers.
we were preparing for a NASCAR event at the New Hampshire Motor
Speedway in 1990, Mike Joy came into the TV truck to see what was
going on. I had prepared a full-screen graphic at the
producer's request, but the format was unusual and when the chart
popped up during the telecast, Mike might misunderstand what it was
trying to say. I called him over to show it to him.
then, as Mike recalls,
every network had always gone to break and come back from
break with a leader board containing 5 or 10 drivers. If your
driver wasn't on the screen... that was your only way of possibly
keeping up with where he or she was running.
the TV truck as well as the announce booth, we did have access to
more information via Timing & Scoring computer monitors, but
those were generally updated only after each lap. If I hadn't
been assigned to the leader-board graphics machine, I generally
busied myself on the other machine typing minimally-informative lower
thirds like the one below.
years later, I've been enjoying Mike's description of NASCAR events
on Fox. He's easy to listen to and knows the sport, including
Sunday's Pocono 350, one driver reported that his power steering was
out and the engine was overheating although the oil pressure was
okay. Another complained that a wheel was vibrating, but it was
unlikely to be due to an improperly tightened lug nut because the
tires hadn't been changed for many laps. Mike immediately
diagnosed that parts probably had popped off: (1) a belt and
(2) a wheel weight.
I'm amazed at how new technology enhances the TV broadcast.
In-car cameras are everywhere. A drone camera flies around the
site at 80 mph, revealing unique angles.
automated leader board shows the running order; the seconds behind
the leader are updated continuously, not just at the end of the
previous lap. This is possible because each car carries a
transponder to transmit its location on the track.
cameras also inform the computers which direction they're pointing
and how far they're zoomed in. Combining these two sets of data
allows an arrow to be placed on the screen pointing at the image of
an individual car, labeled with the driver's name and his
instantaneous speed. All this data is also linked to the replay
machines via time codes, so when a replay is about to show a car
losing control, an arrow can point it out in advance! That's a
big improvement over trying to identify the competitors by their colors.
Pocono there was a crash for which the TV cameras picked up nothing
but the crumpled aftermath. What happened? When the
driver was interviewed later, he didn't want to assign blame.
But long before that, the video wizards had used transponder data to
create a computer-generated virtual image of the critical
instant: two cars, both trying to lap a slower one on the
inside, came together. An hour later, video tape from another
source became available and confirmed that's exactly how it took place.
we've come a long way.
26, 2010 ON
the conclusion of a conference in San Francisco, a charter was
signed 65 years ago today by the United Nations, determined to
save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.
has that worked out so far? We have indeed avoided another
World War, but we have not prevented all armed conflicts. That
may never be possible. It has always been human nature to
resort to violence when there seems to be no other option.
also human nature to consume the earths resources. We
want energy, so we burn whatever we can get our hands on: wood,
coal, oil, gas, biomass.
we try to restrain wars through international agreements, we
can try to restrain the burning of carbon through
green initiatives. But we can't change human
nature. While we Americans reluctantly take small steps to
achieve better gas mileage, in the developing world the use of
private automobiles is escalating at double-digit rates (Walter
Hook, executive director, Institute for Transportation and
mood of Western civilization is Abrahamic. The explorers and
colonists were guided by a biblical prayer: May we take possession of
this land that God has provided and let it drip milk and honey into
our mouths, forever. Now, more than six billion people fill the
world. ...The living world is dying; the natural economy is
crumbling beneath our busy feet. We have been too self-absorbed
to foresee the long-term consequences of our actions (Edward O.
Wilson in The Future of Life).
as we can never prevent war completely, we can never do without
combustion completely. We have little realistic hope of
reducing the level of CO2 in the atmosphere.
as far as global warming is concerned, were going to have to
turn our efforts away from preventing the inevitable and toward
living with it.
going to have to spend money, a lot of it, to relocate the
worlds population away from the slowly submerging coastal
regions and away from the increasingly torrid tropics.
good news: Humans are adaptable. Well survive,
though our numbers will be drastically reduced and we will become
even more polarized. I mean literally.
the lower latitudes become uninhabitable in the coming centuries,
half of our species will flee towards the North Pole to dwell on the
balmy shores of the Arctic Ocean, while the other few million
survivors will flee towards the South Pole to farm the valleys of Antarctica.
UPDATE: Those "balmy shores of the Arctic Ocean" are
already becoming a reality. I've added a blue X to the above
map to indicate Verkhojansk, Russia, which is 70 miles north of the
Arctic Circle. This Siberian town has been called the Pole of
Cold since it recorded a low of -90.0° F in January 1885.
But on June 20 of this year, the thermometer reached a record
dramatic warming of the Arctic up to triple-digit temperatures was
not expected to happen until 2100," writes Trevor Nace.
"But the reality of warming due to climate change has exceeded expectations."
GETTING INTO THE GAME
remember this box. I don't know what's happened to it since,
but I've located some nostalgic images online. It dates to
about 1954, when I was seven years old. I might have unwrapped
it as a Christmas present, or my mother might have purchased it for
me to give on Father's Day.
my father was the local Chevrolet dealer, this three-dollar board
game was especially appropriate for the Thomas family. I played
it with my parents. But first I asked, Daddy, what are
term, of course, was a rhyming reference to automobile
manufacturers. The robust North American auto industry had
produced over 6½ million cars in 1953, a mark that would be
exceeded only once in that decade. How did they do it? By
bringing the parts together on an updated version of Henry Ford's
other board games about cars that featured some type of auto race,
writes Jonathan Schmalzbach in Games magazine, this
game focused on the assembling of cars. Who wouldn't
want to run a car company or even be down on the assembly line
putting these works of art together?
Assembly Line was less childish. It required the parts to be
assembled in a certain order.
a spinner added complications like labor unrest, big sales,
industrial sabotage, and so on.
family also had a game for putting bugs together. Shown here
on the left, it had been introduced a few years before.
board represented four competing factories building Chevrolets,
Fords, Plymouths, and Studebakers.
start the game, a player would move one of his three plastic
frames onto the assembly line, starting at the bottom arrow.
put three sets of wheels and steering posts into his parts
manufacturing plant on his left, while motors and bodies went into
the plant on the right.
parts were bodies, although my mother simply called them
cars because that's what they looked like.
player rolled a die, then moved a part of his choosing that many
spaces. Subsequent turns would bring individual parts to their
proper stations along the line. When a frame was alongside a
station, that part could be added to the assembly.
cars moved into the large square. The winner was the first
player with three finished vehicles ready to be shipped to Vernon M.
THE YEAR WITHOUT A SPRING
been an awful spring in Pittsburgh, as the pandemic kept us at home
and forced businesses to close. But this sad season is soon to end!
summer officially arrives Saturday.
it won't be summer as we've known it. Pittsburgh-sponsored
youth baseball, concerts, and 5K races will not go on. No
fireworks will mark the Fourth of July. City and county
swimming pools are closed, causing one mother to lament, What
am I going to do with the kids all summer? This is the thing
they most look forward to. It's as though an entire
season of life has been lost.
we ever lost a season before? Several times. The most
memorable was in 1816, The Year without a Summer.
That trouble too originated in Asia, when an Indonesian volcano
filled the atmosphere with ash. (Similar eruptions in 536 and
540 in Central America darkened the sun for more than a year.
Each day it shone for about four hours, wrote Michael the
Syrian, and still this light was only a feeble shadow.)
staying in the house can be productive. One bored teenager,
trying to vacation near Geneva (marked by the gold star above), had a
nightmare in the wee hours of June 16, when lightning lit up the lake
momentarily and the thunder came in
frightful bursts over our heads.
That was 204 years ago this morning! She was inspired to begin
writing a Gothic horror story, and Frankenstein became the
very first science fiction novel.
1816, the ground froze in New York State on June 9 and crops had to
be replanted. European average temperatures were below normal
by as much as 3.5°C (6.3°F), causing grain harvests to fail.
rain often prevented folks from venturing outdoors for days at a
time. It was like a social distancing lockdown.
DIVING INTO GOD'S WORD
preachers invoke the authority of Scripture to back up their
assertions. They are convinced that the Word of God is
perfect: infallible, inerrant, and non-contradictory.
Their favorite phrase is The Bible says. And that
in one place the Bible commands let your good works shine
before men. Elsewhere it warns don't do your alms
before men; that's boasting. Which should we obey?
are many similar examples. Christians often choose to ignore
one verse and quote another that they like better.
situation led me to create an interactive Bible
Quiz for this website in 2003, with questions such as Does
God ever change his mind? Yes or no.
rather than taking my quiz yourself, you'd prefer to watch two stick
figures tackle the issues on a game show.
Australian calling himself NonStampCollector
put together just such a video in 2010. Click the image, sit
back, and be enlightened.
2017, after reading some of the same sources that NSC uses, I imagined
St. Mark writing a letter complaining that his gospel stories had
been altered by St. Luke to depict Jesus as kinder and gentler.
would Luke do this? NSC points out that a confrontational and
threatening Jesus would be unlikely to find acceptance from the Roman
authorities. In 2019 he posted another video. You can
click this image as well.
minds think alike. I myself do not collect stamps.
the middle of the last century, law enforcement was notoriously
corrupt in the Ohio city of East Liverpool, 40 miles west of
Pittsburgh. The police may or may not have been guilty of
brutality, but they turned a blind eye to illegal gambling in perhaps
two dozen different locations.
also looted businesses. Officer Louis Suttler, along with five
other current and former policemen, was indicted in connection with
various enterings and thefts. Reports like this
reveal that one such crime was discovered on Thursday, June 10, 1954.
employees of Don Burbick's hardware and sporting goods store had
locked their doors at noon on June 9. (It was common practice
back then for businesses to close on Wednesday afternoons.)
the store reopened on Thursday morning, the employees found a broken
skylight, and some of the merchandise was missing. This wasn't
the first such theft at Burbick Hardware; movie cameras and
projectors had been taken two years before.
discovered a fingerprint just below the skylight, at least eight
feet above the floor. It belonged to Officer Stuttler. He
was charged and convicted of burglary, specifically breaking
and entering in the night season under Section 2907.10 of the
Revised Code of Ohio.
cop's defense attorneys filed an appeal. They disputed the
fingerprint evidence. More importantly, they questioned whether
the crime actually occurred during the night season
between sunset and sunrise. (In the Ohio summer of '54, that
meant the nine hours between approximately 8 PM and 5 AM EST.)
They pointed out that the store had also been unattended during
eleven additional hours, so a daylight break-in was a possibility.
jury used the common experience of mankind to conclude
that the burglar probably did use the cover of darkness to avoid
being observed. However, the state Supreme Court ruled
that the jury may not be permitted to speculate.
The time frame must be established by direct evidence.
had been specifically convicted of burglary in the night season, a
nefarious crime that carries a stiffer penalty. Because the
prosecution had failed to establish the season beyond a
reasonable doubt, the conviction was overturned.
endeth the legal lesson.
year was 2000, the final season of Pittsburgh's Three Rivers
Stadium. The Pirates were hosting the Montreal Expos, and I was
on the TV crew working out of this mobile unit to televise that
night's game on Fox Sports Net Pittsburgh.
we set up, I played around with a little camera that took 3D
snapshots. Some of the pictures turned out okay (shown here).
others that I took from my seat behind the graphics keyboard weren't
so great, so I stashed those photos away. Here they are, for
what it's worth.
Coordinator Mark Vidonic
Engineer Rick Kubia (back to the camera)
the intercom as Producer Tom Huet arrives
Operators Tom Kotyk and Jerry Schad
baseball ever resumes, we'll need to become more socially distant.
Murr's prediction: Would you believe... font
coordinators and operators go back to work like this.
museums and other institutions in Kansas City have been temporarily
closed because of the pandemic. With no visitors, the
inquisitive penguins at the local zoo have become bored.
Therefore, last month three of them were invited to come to a local
art museum and take a private
did the penguins think of it? Well, they declined to be
interviewed afterwards, but it seems their taste ran to the
Renaissance. They preferred the Caravaggio paintings (circa
1600) to those by Monet (circa 1900). Maybe birds and animals
just have no appreciation for modern art.
seen this sort of thing before, in a way. Decades ago in
Columbus, Ohio, I visited a display by local artists and was amused
by one object in particular.
was a miniature model of an art gallery, consisting of a box about
two feet square with an open top and a partition down the
middle. I don't have a photo, but let me describe it.
depicted by a line of little statuettes of sheep, would enter the
first room where traditional paintings and sculpture were displayed,
old masters and the like. They'd long been taught about these
familiar images, and they calmly observed them through sophisticated monocles.
then proceeded into a second room filled with non-representational
modern works. But when the lead sheep entered that second room,
he slammed on the brakes. Bracing his legs in front of him as
his friends bunched up and cautiously peeked around the corner, he
beheld the modern world in horror.
SINK HIGH MONTHLY PAYMENTS!
Chevrolet Motor Company was founded on November 3, 1911. Fifty
years later, the keychains shown below celebrated the golden anniversary.
you, America, for 50 years of confidence.
today, and tomorrow: Chevrolet, the symbol of quality.
late 1961, the logos also appeared in a newspaper ad for a
well-known dealership in Columbus, Ohio. Excerpted on the
right, the advertisement depicted the dealer happily firing upon
another ship, the S.S. High Monthly Prices.
father sold Chevrolets in the much smaller town of Richwood, 45
miles away. I worked in the office during summer vacations.
could Lex Mayers offer such low payments? First of all,
the cars listed here were cheaper models. In those days, ads
sometimes boasted that a stripped-down car at least came with
antifreeze. And due to inflation, $49 in 1961 would be $423 today.
I suspect he was spreading the auto loans over a 36-month term.
Our standard 24-month contract actually cost less in the long run,
of course, because the purchaser paid less interest.
recall that on at least one occasion, we did business with Lex.
say that one of our customers wanted a dark blue two-door Chevy II
with automatic transmission. We did have such a car on the lot
except it was white. We could order a blue one to be built and
shipped to us from the factory, but that would take a few weeks to arrive.
when we checked with Chevrolet we discovered that another dealership
had a blue one in stock (#746 in the ad above). Our office
called Lex's office and arranged a trade. One of our salesmen
drove a much-in-demand Impala down to the big city and returned with
the blue Chevy II plus a check for the difference, and our customer
could take delivery the very next day.
mention Lex because in Richwood we also watched the live weekend TV
show that he hosted in Columbus. It's described in this month's
100 Moons article.