28, 2019 THE
YEAR OBERLIN DIDN'T SHIMMY
graduated from college in 1969, my class is having its 50th reunion
next month alongside the annual Commencement activities.
if we look back twice 50 years? My latest article, Reunion
is based on the stories in a 100-year-old student newspaper.
Young men and women weren't allowed to dance together back then, and
a man might not be invited into a womans parlor after a date
even though hed taken her to a movie and a game and bought her
candy and dope. (That last word doesn't mean what you think.)
25, 2019 BE
ORTHODOX OR BEGONE!
College's leaders naturally retained the right to expel any student
who behaved in an immoral manner.
according to Delazon Smith's 1837 pamphlet, they even expelled
exemplary students whose only crime was disagreeing with
official religious doctrines.
disputed many policies himself. He also recalled episodes in
which supposedly righteous Oberlinians had refused charity to a needy
person until he renounced his version of Christianity and adopted the
preferred theology. (No Universalists allowed in this
house!) The pious also vilified a poor teamster who, unable to
afford overnight lodging, drove his wagon into town on a Sunday.
(Laboring on the Sabbath? Such awful wickedness!)
fortnight's installment of Oberlin Unmasked discusses Intolerance
or Suppression of Opinion. Today,
of course, the college has moved on from the slavery of the
mind of the early 19th century, and it's much more open to
rational discourse about differing beliefs.
24, 2009 WHOS
when listening to the radio, Im not paying attention. Or
maybe Im tuning to a different station. At any rate, I
often find myself listening to the middle of a story.
so she stabbed him in the chest! Apparently it wasnt a
deep wound, and hes expected to recover, but she certainly got
his attention. I wonder how this is going to affect her movie
career. Shes going to be in jail for some time. Of
course, this is not the first time hes driven a woman to
violence. We all remember how his first wife threatened him
with a gun a few years ago. I think his brother was involved in
that somehow, wasnt he?
a few minutes of this, my question is, Who are you talking about?!
written material, it may be acceptable to keep using pronouns
without restating their antecedents. If the reader gets
confused, he can go back a page or two to find out who he
and she are. But on radio, the audience has no
rewind button, and you have to assume that some listeners are joining
the conversation at various points throughout. They cant
ask, So what are we discussing here? The
broadcaster should repeat the names occasionally. Some classic examples:
in the 1960s on ABC Radio, it must have been network policy to write
news stories with a certain redundancy. I remember hearing many
stories that went something like this.
Philadelphia, two women and a young girl died in a fast-moving row
house fire that broke out just after midnight. The cause is
under investigation. Captain John Ayers told reporters that
those on the second floor didn't have a chance in that
fire last night in Philadelphia.
joining the story in the middle and wondering What fire?
Was it around here? would hear the key facts repeated at the end.
when Hank Stram was the radio analyst on Monday Night Football,
Id often hear him reorient his listeners.
always been a very productive running back. His statistics
dropped off a bit last season when he missed the last five games with
the knee injury, but hes back on track this year, and he sure
looked good on that play. Talking about Barry Sanders.
Heres a real-life example. On the first edition of the podcast
Movie B.S. with Bayer and Snider in April 2010, the guys
discussed their dissatisfaction with a certain actor in Clash of
the Titans. If you started paying attention at 10:45 into
the conversation, heres what you heard.
Its like weve been forced to accept him
as our blockbuster star.
Someone decided that hes
an action hero without asking our permission first.
Right. Normally there is some sort of voting system. We
normally like there is a chain of I feel like we, as
America, decided we wanted to see Will Smith in these movies. I
dont feel like it was just thrown upon us. And here he
is with Terminator, with Avatar, and now with this
being thrust upon us.
You know what it is? Its socialism. Im tired
Im surprised because he
doesnt elicit any emotions for me, at all, when Im
watching him act.
very boring. Hes
not unpleasant, hes
not dislikable, unlikable; hes
just a flat presence.
I saw him on
Letterman, and it was great. He
was on Letterman last night, and he
had this nervous energy. It was almost endearing. And
Ive never seen that in a performance of his.
It was like he
was a little worried about how he
would come off and everything else, and it was nice to see. So
Ive decided I dont hate him
as a human being.
I saw on IMDB that he
was in a production of Macbeth, an Australian movie version of Macbeth,
and he played
Macbeth. Im curious to watch that to see if theres
like actual acting involved.
Do you want to know how he
got into acting? This is actually a good story. When he
was 17 years old, his
lived in the southwest corner of Australia, along the coast. His
dad flew him
to the northeast corner, gave him
$400, and said, Work your way back home.
Like as a prank?
No, like as in Here it is. Become a man!
By the way, that was not that would have been a great time to
break out my Australian accent.
Wurk yer wye bahck! Becomm a mahan!
There. Thats what I said. So what he
did was, he
eventually met a girl. And the girl was very nervous about
auditioning for the same drama school that Mel Gibson did. So
apparently Mel Gibson did do acting classes; thats good to
know. I actually like him, by the way. I liked his
performances before. (Anyway, were sidetracking.
Focus!) I did. So, uh, anyway, he
goes with her to the audition and says Ill be here for
support; Ill audition too. Hes
never really acted. He
got in, she didnt.
And thats it. Thats how he
became an actor.
Well, there you go.
I kind of like that story.
How do you know that story?
Letterman. So everybody that watched Letterman was just like
Get on with the story!
We know. We watch Letterman too.
what we dont know, even after listening for more than
two and a half minutes, is who he
is. They never did mention the actors name again. I
rewound the podcast and discovered they were talking about Sam Worthington.
22, 2019 FEWER-BABIES
the first Earth Day was observed in 1970, I was at Syracuse
University studying radio and television in graduate school.
the campus, undergraduates were removing trash from a neglected
little park, so I cranked up a Bolex that looked something like this
and shot some 16mm silent film of the scene. It would be B-roll
for our in-class fake newscast.
of course, is the fiftieth Earth Day.
what have we done for the Earth in the intervening 49 years?
We've loaded our planet down with more than twice as many people!
1970 the world's population has grown from 3.7 billion to over 7.7
billion. In another fifty years it's expected to reach 9.4
billion. The red line indicates one estimate of how many people
the Earth's resources can support.
condensed what a TV host opined ten days ago.
give millennials credit for doing something right: having less
sex than other generations and so less babies, which is good
for the planet!
Day is coming up, and I can't think of a better gift to our planet
than pumping out fewer humans to destroy it.
great under-discussed factor in the climate crisis is there are just
too many of us and we use too much stuff. Climate deniers like
to say, There's no population problem. Just look out the
window of an airplane. There's nothing but empty space down
there. But it's not about space; it's about
resources. Humans are already using 1.7 times the resources the
planet can support. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently said,
Young people are asking, is it okay to still have children?
Senator Mike Lee went so far as to rebut AOC's threat to stop
breeding by saying, Climate change and problems of human
imagination are not solved by more laws, but by more humans.
The solution to so many of our problems is to get married and have
some kids. But remember, Mike Lee belongs to a cult that
believes all sorts of fantastical nonsense. It's called the
I've got to tell you, liberals are also at fault on this issue.
I've never heard a liberal say that falling birthrates are a good
thing which they are! Everyone talks about a falling
birthrate like it means there's something desperately wrong with the
country. Whatever problems that are caused by falling
birthrates aren't nearly as dire as the ones brought on by
overpopulation. Wouldn't it be nicer to just have fewer people around?
Time with Bill Maher
19, 2019 EVIDENCE
people, according to the late Billy Graham, are so completely
prejudiced that they cannot accept the glorious fact of the
resurrection of Christ on Bible testimony alone.
laws of evidence hold in the establishment of any historic
event. Documentation of the event in question must be made by
reliable contemporary witnesses.
is more evidence that Jesus rose from the dead than there is that
Julius Caesar ever lived!
Really? I think he was simply referring to the
preservation of ancient documents.
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?
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?
examine three existential allegations.
JULIUS CAESAR LIVED
is substantial primary as well as secondary evidence. From
coins and statues made during his lifetime, we know what Caesar
looked like. We have copies of the accounts he himself wrote of
his military campaigns. We have other words written during his
lifetime, including letters and speeches of his political rival
Cicero, the historical writings of Sallust, and the poetry of
Catullus. Many more details of his life are recorded by later
historians, such as Appian, Suetonius, Plutarch, Cassius Dio, and Strabo.
JESUS ROSE FROM THE DEAD
Carrier wrote of the resurrection: It has not the best,
but the very worst kind of evidence a handful of biased,
uncritical, unscholarly, unknown, second-hand witnesses.
They claim to have experienced a supernatural Jesus. He
was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve,
the Apostle Paul tells us in I Corinthians 15:5-8 (NIV). After
that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one
time.... I also saw him.
Given other fantastical claims in the Bible, it's a matter of opinion
whether any of these visions can be trusted.
ELVIS IS STILL ALIVE
since Elvis Presley died on August 16, 1977, some of his fans have
refused to accept it. They say he faked his death to escape his
celebrity status. Hundreds of eyewitnesses have claimed to have
spotted him in many cities around the world, in shopping malls,
taxis, restaurants. One author recorded the true story of
a crowd of patrons in a Louisiana honky-tonk who swear that the
King sang a song one night. Were there more than
500 at one time? These Elvis sightings are attested by biased,
uncritical, unscholarly, unknown, second-hand witnesses.
sorry, Billy, but the evidence for both #2 and #3 is much weaker
than the evidence for #1. Case dismissed.
none of this matters anyway, according to the Apostle Paul. We
don't need to prove that anything is true. We only have to say
it's true and believe it.
you openly admit
by your own mouth that Jesus Christ is the Lord and if you believe
in your own heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be
10:9 (J.B. Phillips)
don't need no stinking evidence. All we need is
16, 2019 HOLD
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?
they've been kept in the refrigerator, they should still be good to
eat. You could devil them and serve them next week.
mother made deviled eggs for us occasionally, but not with
mayonnaise or pickle relish or any of that fancy stuff.
Deviling originally meant simply adding large amounts of
hot, spicy seasoning, and Mother used only mustard, black pepper, and
vinegar. The eggs were our main course for supper!
explain in this month's 100 Moons article.
13, 2009 GOOD
FOR YOU, BAD FOR ME
the media characterize news as good or bad,
theyre not always looking at the big picture.
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.
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.
is good news that the population decline has slowed
down," said county spokesman Kevin Evanto.
Briem, a regional economist at the University of Pittsburgh ... said
he would not be surprised if the population figures released a year
from now look even better for the region.
Pennsylvania Commission ... Executive Director James Hassinger expressed
confidence that the regional population will bottom out by 2015
and slowly tick upward afterward.
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?
11, 2019 HEADING
UP TO THE PROMISED LAND
from the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music is a rather literal
memorial honoring the emergence of the Underground Railroad, which
came to Oberlin in 1836.
the first part of the 19th century, this network of secret routes
and safe houses helped tens of thousands of slaves escaping bondage
in the South to find refuge in the North or in Canada.
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
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.
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:
Person held to Service or Labour in one State under the Laws
thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or
Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but
shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or
Labour may be due.
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.
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.
9, 2019 A
WISER CHOICE, PERHAPS
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?
waive your right to a jury trial and instead have your case decided
by a learned justice, with chambers and law books and a black robe
I argue in
favor of that decision in my new article, Oft
May Ye Waive.
7, 2014 TIME
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.
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.)
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.
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.)
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.
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:
fades in) Seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this
continent a new nation, conceived four score and seven years ago our
fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in
liberty and dedicated....
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.
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.
theres the kickoff, and its going spotted on the 25-yard
line, where Pitt will have the ball first and 25-yard line, where
Pitt will have the ball first down and ten. Lets see if
they can over right tackle for a gain of maybe two yards to the
27. Making the tackle was John Smith, the inside
linebacker. So were looking at second down 27.
Making the tackle was John Smith, the inside linebacker....
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.
3, 2019 WHERE
THERE'S DANGER, HE IS THERE
I was seven, we didn't yet have a TV set, but my parents did buy me
an occasional comic book.
remember staring at one panel that looked something like this.
It depicted a cwoss-section of a wabbit hole, and I wondered what
supported the round-bottomed chunk of ground upon which Elmer was standing.
I became older, I put away childish things. I grew embarrassed
to have ever behaved as a little kid.
I must confess that once, at the age of seven, I scampered around
pretending I was a superhero with a red cape streaming behind
me. No, not Superman. A little parody of Superman.
I'm Mighty Mouse! I proclaimed.
Trouble never hangs around
he hears this mighty sound:
I come to save the day!
means that Mighty Mouse is on the way!
he's a heldentenor.)
the stories featured the invulnerable Mouse flying in at the last
moment to rescue Mitzi, his damsel in distress. Even at that
age, I enjoying imagining myself as a dashing hero winning the
adoration of a fair maiden.
I didn't want to emulate the Mouse's violent tactics. For some
reason I remember one line of comic-book dialogue. After
raining vicious blows on the chin of another villain (or maybe a
flying saucer), Mighty remarked, Wow, skinned my knuckles on