MY ALTER EGO
I took a quick personality
quiz online, estimating where I fall within a 28-dimensional
attribute space. The results:
best match between the self-assessment you provided and the profile
of a fictional character as rated by other people who have taken this
survey is the character Leonard Hofstadter (The
Big Bang Theory).
OUGHTA BE A LAW
of historical novels develop fictional characters and
imagine them interacting with actual historical personages and events.
example, the Whitman Publishing Company released this book in the
juvenile fiction category when I was ten years old.
My uncle Ralph, a Whitman executive, sent me a copy.
titled A Boy Sailor with John Paul Jones, it was written by
H.C. Thomas (no relation). I clearly understood that the young
Noah, the Yankee firebrand, was invented by the author and inserted
into the real American Revolution.
sometimes the author gets too clever, and readers think his
creations really existed.
friend of mine last week reported that his kids had discovered a Victorian-era
mechanical man called Boilerplate. It was featured in one of
their robotics magazines, and they found more details on a website.
to the story, Boilerplate was introduced to the public in 1893 at
the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The automaton went
on to explore the polar regions and to serve as a soldier in the
Spanish-American War and World War I.
friend was puzzled by technical questions. Without a
gyroscope, how did Boilerplate balance on two skinny legs? How
did he run? Where are the blueprints showing how his joints
also was puzzled. If a robot participated in Teddy
Roosevelts famous charge up San Juan Hill, why had this
remarkable detail been omitted from the history books?
didn't take me long, via an Internet search, to establish that
Boilerplate is a fictional character. The contraption was
invented in Portland, Oregon, in 2000. The photos are of a
years later, a U.S. News & World Report special edition
on The Art of the Hoax included this picture.
Thomas Hayden wrote, The robot is fake. Fake, fake,
fake. Yet folks want to believe, says artist Paul Guinan (in uniform).
by John Dooley of the Portland Mercury, Hayden observed,
Boilerplate works because of people's gullibility rather than
Guinan's guile. ...It's immediately obvious that the site is a
joke. The amazing thing is that some seemingly intelligent people
believe it anyway. ...The first clue that something might not
be true is the reaction, 'Oh my god, that is so freaking cool, I
can't believe it's really true!' If it seems too
good/cool/weird to be true, hey, big surprise, chances are it is.
estimates that about a third of his site's visitors are taken in by
friend felt violated. He had been the victim of a hoax.
Admitted, he and his kids had learned some real history, such as the
story of the Buffalo Soldiers. But, he asked, shouldnt it
be illegal (or something) to deliberately disseminate outright
disinformation like Boilerplate?
I could answer was, Dont believe everything you read.
I need to enter a password on my smartphone, as I did this morning
before depositing checks, I must concentrate. It's quite easy
to accidentally touch a part of the screen I didn't intend to
touch. Pressing a virtual key with my finger is not
precise enough, and using my thumb is even worse (it could cover a
dozen keys). Password comes out Paaadqprrf, which gets rejected.
I use a stylus. I carefully hover it over the character I wish
to type and hold my hand very still.
I shift my gaze to the row of dots in the window where the character
will appear (red arrow). I touch the stylus to the screen and
the character does appear, but for only one second! I whisper
it as confirmation that I've typed it.
this point, if I've made a mistake I can backspace, which will no
longer be an option once my password has become nothing but a secret
row of dots.
MY CAR, PLEASE
have no idea where this sticker was originally displayed. I
suspect it once included a final D.
years now, it's been affixed to a trash receptacle at a nearby
as far as I know, the invitation has not led to an increase in
A TRUE GENTLEMAN FROM THE CONTINENT
this month's 100 Moons article, a 1952 television sketch and a
parody of it 40 years later lead to a reminder that not all sources
of information agree.
imagined that even in prehistoric times, people assumed there was a
cause for everything. Random chance couldn't possibly be
involved. See this month's 100 Moons article.
BEFORE A LIVE HOMEBOUND AUDIENCE
we know all too well, the lingering COVID-19 pandemic still requires
everyone to observe social distancing. Some sports leagues are
hoping to resume play a few months from now, but they'll probably
have to do it without spectators in the stands. Missing will be
the roar of the crowd that mutually inspires the fans, not to mention
the teams themselves.
Busbee reacted to the recent telecast of UFC 249: The
palpable emptiness is what will characterize all of sports that
return without fans, and that ambience is impossible to replace.
maybe not. I've heard that football teams, when preparing to
play before a hostile crowd, sometimes simulate game conditions by
piping in distracting noise via loudspeakers.
suggest that a team could invite its supporters to not only watch
its games on TV but also participate via the Internet.
They'd pay a small fee, thereby replacing some of the lost gate revenue.
fans might fill a screen, where they could interact with the others
in their section. It would be like a luxury suite!
all the audio from this group were mixed together and added to 50
others, plus another 50 groups supporting the opposing team, we'd be
able to flood the field with the roar of 1,500 people chanting and
booing and cheering. Copy that audio a few times with slight
delays and pitch alterations, and we could make the crowd seem even
sound quality would be less than desired, but PA announcements and
fight songs could be added to keep the enthusiasm level high.
The fans, plus cheerleaders and mascots, could be flashed onto
big-screen monitors in the front row of the stands to be glimpsed by
TV viewers as well as the players.
similar technique might work for other big events. Why not
give it a try?
You know how TV sportscasts enhance the picture with
"virtual" things that aren't really there, like names and
stats and starting lineups and yellow first-down lines? And
sometimes sound effects are included? I just heard that Fox
Sports is planning to add virtual fans to its NFL telecasts, hiding
the empty stands with images of artificial people making artificial noise.
TV pictures would look better than they would in my plan, and maybe
that artificial noise could be pumped into the stadium to urge on the
players. However, Joe Buck remarks, "I think whoever is
going to be at that control is going to have to be really good at
their job and be realistic with how a crowd would react depending on
what just happened on the field." That wouldn't be a
problem with my plan, Joe.
UPDATE: They're actually trying my idea in Aarhus,
Denmark. Apparently the sound in the stadium may not be
that bad. However, there's a big problem: The fans at
home will see the action several seconds after it happens!
That's due to digital encoding delays inherent in cable and satellite
and streaming systems. Some have greater delays than others.
a big play happens, and there's no immediate reaction from the fans
on the screens; then a few see it on their home TVs and cheer, while
the others in their section wonder why; then a few more see it on
their smartphones and cheer; and so on, spread out over the better
part of a minute! Ak, det vil være en katastrofe.
suggestion: In addition to the fans, log onto every section's
website with Megafan, a laptop computer located inside the TV
production truck. To avoid filling the stadium with TV talk and
commentary, mute Megafan's microphone. In place of its webcam,
patch in the TV program video before it's transmitted to the various
Megafan have a larger image moving around the screen, hiding a few
faces at a time. Now the game appears on all the fans' screens
with no more delay than their own webcams. We're back in sync!
course Megafan's definition via the Internet isn't very good.
Don't worry; a few seconds later, when the real TV signal arrives at
peoples' homes, they can watch the same action replayed in 4K on
their 60" screens. Hurra! Vidunderlig idé!
HOPING FOR FEWER NOVEL CASES
often see scary headlines like this one: Pennsylvania
tops 3,000 virus deaths!
unfortunate, but is it really news? A similar story is
reported every day, because the cumulative total has nowhere to go
statistic to watch is the top one on this KDKA-TV graphic: New
Cases. That number may never reach zero, but we do want it to
shrink every day, because one of the criteria for
reopening requires new cases to trend down for 14
can new viral infections be minimized? Paraphrasing Erin
Bromage, who was on MSNBC last night:
depends on Exposure x Time. Social distancing is really to
protect people from brief exposures. In a grocery store, the
low density of people along with the restricted time you spend in the
store means that the opportunity to receive an infectious dose is low.
in an indoor workplace where you spend a lot of time, even a low
dose of the virus in the air reaching you can spell trouble. A
single sneeze releases about 30,000 tiny droplets at up to 200 miles
per hour. Most droplets are small and travel easily across a room.
another reason why, for the foreseeable future, even wearing a mask,
I will not be taking part in televising a seven-hour baseball
doubleheader from inside a compartment of a mobile production unit.
from photo of a replay room
TV on Wheels by Boston & Hoover
baseball had not been suspended, today might have been my final
telecast. I was originally scheduled to provide graphics for
the Philadelphia feed of the Phillies at Pirates weekend baseball
series, including this afternoon's Mother's Day finale, with no
further sportscasts on my calendar.
so few bookings? As I explain in a new article, my career has
been steadily tending toward retirement for the past eight years,
gradually slowing to a non-traumatic stop a Soft
years ago this afternoon, as a memorial to those who died for
peace at Kent State six days before, a quickly-assembled
250-member orchestra and choir from Oberlin College performed to an
audience of over two thousand in the nation's capital.
Oberlin Remembers Kent State, the Conservatory's online Stage
Left program revisits that performance
of Mozart's Requiem at the National Cathedral.
Today reports that there are signals in the economy that
are very slowly improving.
is ticking higher after plunging 30% at the start of the lockdown,
as consumers buy more clothing, gasoline, and restaurant meals. I
concur. Now that I have a face mask and I've discovered local
restaurants with take-out options, I'm daring to burn a little more
gas, venturing out for more than merely groceries.
Standard & Poor's 500 stock index has rebounded 22% from its
March 23 low and is now within 15% of its Feb. 19 record high. I
concur. My personal investments, evaluated monthly, have
rebounded 7% from the end of March and are now within 11% of the
end-of-January record high. But what goes up can come down again.
applications for unemployment insurance have decreased five weeks in
a row. That's another good sign, right?
Well, I'm not so sure. A large number of layoffs occurred in
March, so people filed for unemployment then. But in April,
with empty workplaces and fewer workers available to be laid off,
fewer initial applications were filed. The situation isn't
getting better, it's merely leveling off in a depressed
condition. Unemployment currently stands at 14.7%. The
last year the rate was higher was 1939.
tuned for further developments.
SHE MERITED A WOK
years after Jenny Wagner graduated from college, she wrote to me,
I don't deserve such a thoughtful friend. Writing
to her two years later, I quoted two letters I'd received from other
young ladies: Don't worry about me please, I am really
not worth the trouble and I don't deserve the people I know.
wasn't worthy? That's hard to imagine. I can't
believe, I confessed, that all the women with whom I
correspond are so undeserving of me. What's really happening,
most likely, is that I'm being over-friendly, in one way or another.
Jenny's case, my particular excess consisted of sending quirky
little birthday and/or Christmas gifts. She thought she urged
me several times to stop, but I didn't receive the message, as you
can read in the final installment of our correspondence. It
began in 1969-70, and this fourth chapter covers The
Next Few Years.
You can even listen to one missive.
KEEPING THE ORDERS IN ORDER
couple of times a week, it's been my habit to choose a fast-food
restaurant for lunch. Of course, with social distancing, I'm no
longer allowed to dine inside. Wearing my face mask, I pull up
to a drive-through menu board and speak into an intercom.
visited this McDonald's recently. As I approached (Driver Z),
there were half a dozen cars ahead of me (6 through 1). The
line would have spilled out onto the road, and I might have turned
away to go elsewhere, had there not been double ordering lanes.
Drivers 1 and 3 chose the outer lane; 2 and 4, the inner one.
are there two places to order? Although the line will move
quickly past Windows A and B to pay for the food and receive it, the
preceding step placing a complicated request might take
twice as long.
which lane should go first when they merge at X? What's the
sequencing etiquette? There's a danger of road rage.
told her what I want first!
but I pulled away first!
cut me off!!!
impatient Driver 2 floors it and arrives at the windows before
Driver 1, who actually ordered first. Will Driver 2 be handed
Driver 1's food?
went online to investigate the procedure. I needn't have worried.
worker Kaitlyn Abernathy has explained: There are
cameras above each of the lanes. Then on the cashier's screen
there are pictures of all the cars with their order numbers.
employee, Natalie Harper, adds: It is policy to always
read the order back to the customer before they pay to make sure we
have selected the correct order. We ask also at the second
window where food is received. That way if there was a mix-up,
we can solve it before the customer drives away. Of course,
sometimes mistakes can happen, but our method is pretty fool-proof.
doesn't matter at all in what order the cars approach the
window, concludes Denise Neil of the Wichita Eagle.
So take it easy, everyone.
4, 2020 FIFTY
an ongoing demonstration 50
years ago today against President Richard Nixon's expansion of the
Vietnam War into Cambodia, Kent
State University students were fired upon by Ohio National
Guardsmen. Four were killed.
the news reached Oberlin College 50
miles to the west, the campus mourned. Students and faculty
turned their attention to anti-war activities, and the final two
weeks of classes and exams were canceled. Three weeks later,
the scheduled Commencement did take place, but without caps and gowns.
had ended far differently than expected for Oberlin's Class of
1970. They hoped to celebrate their 50-year
reunion later this month, as I had with my class in 2019.
Krass '70 had been known by a stage name on our campus radio
station. For one of his reunion's events, a dance party, he
tunes from college days.
songs from the British Invasion, Motown, R&B, hippie culture,
and more, Marc's three-hour playlist concludes with Four dead
in Ohio. And Give peace a chance. And
In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you
make. Then there's a bonus track.
events have intervened once again. On-campus classes and exams
have been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the
Commencement/Reunion Weekend has been tentatively rescheduled for May
the party has been postponed, you can click here
and dance! (You might have to sign up for Spotify, but it's
free.) Mike Rogan '70 and Jane Katz Field '70 posted on their
reunion website, Thank you to Marc Krass for all his hard work
in putting this list together. Enjoy it and stay safe. We look
forward to enjoying this music together when we actually meet to
1, 2010 CIRCLE
Saturday in May! What a glorious, glorious day! As
a high school student, I rhymed that couplet in honor of what always
seemed to be the first really nice warm day of the year.
finally gotten rid of Aprils cloudy, rainy weather, we could
look forward to about six weeks of pleasant conditions before the
arrival of summers oppressive heat and humidity. If I
remember correctly, the first Saturday in May was celebrated by a
morning bus trip to Otterbein College for the state scholarship
tests, followed by the televised Kentucky Derby in the afternoon and
our own Richwood Relays in the evening.
the year as a circle of twelve months. It turns out that
theres more than one way to divide it into four seasons.
Ive made the diagram below and colored winter blue, spring
green, summer red, and autumn gold.
colors on the outside of the black circle represent our
standard calendar, in which the seasons begin on the December 21
winter solstice, the March 20 spring equinox, the June 21 summer
solstice, and the September 23 autumn equinox.
May 1 or Beltane, is the middle of springtime. It's one of the
cross-quarter days that fall halfway between an equinox
and a solstice. In early August, Lammas or Lughnasadh is in the
middle of summer. On October 31, Halloween or Samhain marks the
midpoint of autumn. And on February 2, Groundhog Day or
Candlemas is the middle of winter.
some cultures deem these cross-quarter days not the midpoints but
the beginnings of seasons. As indicated by the colors inside
the circle, their seasons start six weeks earlier than ours.
example, on Groundhog Day, which we consider the middle of winter,
spring is actually right around the corner according to the
Celtic calendar. Nevertheless, if the weather on February 2 is
dominated by a cold high-pressure system, the groundhog will see his
shadow and switch to our standard calendar, thereby postponing the
start of spring for six weeks until the Ostara equinox arrives.
May Day, marks the end of the Celtic spring and the beginning of the
sunny Celtic summer. The middle of summer will arrive about six
weeks from now on June 21 truly Midsummer, as dreamt by Shakespeare.