high school math teachers are doing their part to improve the game
of college basketball.
this century, one of them invented a new rule which, if implemented,
would eliminate those tiresome late-game trips to the foul line.
back in 1960, another math teacher began evaluating a team's
performance by dividing its points by its trips down the court.
As I relate in a new article, it was not long afterward that I first
encountered points per possession and even met the
inventor. He called his stat by a different name, OER.
the way, Gonzaga's OER coming into this year's NCAA tournament was
1.22, best in the nation.)
28, 2011 THE
Frulinger writes in his blog,
True story: Up until fairly recently, I thought that a
spinning class involved spinning around in circles, and
couldnt figure out why everyone seemed to think they were so
difficult! Ha ha, isnt that funny? Anyway,
apparently they actually consist of working out really intensely on
my part, up until fairly recently I thought a spinning
class was a session in which women learned how to spin yarn.
update: Here's another composite I've made to show a spinning
class in session.
THE REAL STORY?
1859 outside Bingerbrück, Germany, railroad construction
workers unearthed the tombstones of nine ancient Roman soldiers.
Was this one the true father of Jesus???
inscription memorializes TIB.
IVL. ABDES PANTERA.
The Roman names Tiberius Julius were acquired when he joined the
army, but when he was born at Sidon in Lebanon he had been given the
names Abdes Pantera or Abdiel (servant of God), Panther.
served for forty years. When the First Cohort of Archers was
posted to Judaea and later to Germany, he bore their standard.
He died at the age of 62 (ANN.
LXII), and we can
estimate his dates as 27 BC to 35 AD approximately.
in 4 BC, his cohort had participated in the sack of Sepphoris, near
Nazareth, where the young soldier could have encountered a certain
years later, gossip
was still being circulated about that girl, as well as a soldier with
that name and a baby with that year of birth.
On the streets of Sepphoris around the end of the first century,
Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus heard a teaching in the name of
Yeshu ben Pantera.
In 248 AD the Christian author Origen denounced the philosopher
Celsus because he had written of Mary, when she was pregnant
she was turned out of doors by the carpenter to whom she had been
betrothed, as having been guilty of adultery, and she bore a child to
a certain soldier named Pantera.
The same allegation appeared in the Jerusalem Talmud and a satirical
Jewish anti-Gospel, Sefer Toledot Yeshu.
what are we to think? Today is the Feast of the Annunciation,
nine months before Christmas, when Christians recall Luke
1:28-51. Does that story refer to a messenger angel or
to an occupying soldier?
came in to Mary and said to her, You're a lucky young woman!
was startled and wondered what he meant.
He explained, You're
going to bear a son. And I promise he will grow up to be a king.
protested, How can these things be? I'm a virgin!
he told her. The
spirit is going to come upon you.
This power, it will overshadow you.
and answered, I'm your servant. Let it be done to me,
according to your word.
her. She left town hurriedly and fled to her older cousin
Elizabeth, who had also been impregnated and was already in her sixth
month. Mary happily told of her own experience: He's
mighty! He did great things to me. I feared him, but he
showed me might in his arms.
CORNER OF FRANKLIN AND OAK
before my father purchased a Chevrolet dealership in the Ohio
village of Richwood and brought Mother and me along, people there
were taking photographs. I've found a wide collection of them
in a Facebook group called Richwood, OH [History and Events].
of those photos relate to the old Chevy garage. Its location
on North Franklin Street, I discover, used to be the freight house of
the Delaware & Magnetic Springs Electric Rail Road. Here
comes a D&MS trolley now. It's bound for Richwood,
Lyn Barry, from Scott Jerew Collection
added a few of those historic images to others that I've previously
posted on this website to make a new article called Tales
of 153 North Franklin.
It includes some of my childhood memories, for example walking up
the ramp to the showroom. Also, circling the Sign Pole.
SPA LADIES, LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION
a gunman attacked three spas in the Atlanta area Tuesday, killing
eight people and wounding one, six of his victims were Asian
women. Most people assumed his motives were misogyny and racism
directed against Asians. While those forms of intolerance
certainly need to be addressed, I suspect the actual motive might
have been Christian guilt directed against sinfulness.
22 UPDATE: A biology professor whose blog I follow says
"of course" the event was an act of racism. "It
was also an act of misogyny. And also of gun fanaticism.
And puritanical religious self-loathing. And ignorance.
And general hatred of unfamiliar cultures. It can be all of
these things at the same time!"
massage spas have long been identified by police as places where sex
work and possible sexual exploitation regularly occur, and the gunman
said he himself was a regular customer at two of the spas he
attacked. He said he considered the people working there to be
temptations, leading him into sinful acts. Had he
been a Catholic, he might have confessed those acts to a priest, but
he was a Baptist and he probably merely prayed on it. Perhaps
he was having a bad day, filled with shame, and the
answer that came to him was that while he had been called to be a
soldier for Jesus, those workers were agents of the devil! He
told the police he needed to eliminate them.
church was shocked. These unthinkable and egregious
murders directly contradict his own confession of faith in Jesus and
the gospel, according to the statement from Crabapple First
Baptist Church, which denounced any and all forms of hatred or
violence against Asian Americans even sinful sex
workers, I suppose because each person is responsible
for his or her own sin.
19, 2011 NIGHT
things are happening. There must be a full moon tonight.
there is. And its a supermoon, brighter than
usual because the moon appears larger than usual. Its orbit has
brought it within 221,565 miles of Earth, the closest approach in 18 years.
In March of 2021, the full moon won't actually occur until the 28th.
contrary to popular belief, the full moon doesnt cause people
to go temporarily insane. Recent studies have shown no
statistical connection between full moons and crimes, suicides,
epileptic seizures, or other unusual human events.
legend is not without foundation, however. Those were recent
studies. If they had been conducted during the Dark Ages, I
suspect the results might have been different.
gaslights illuminated streets in the 19th century, our nocturnal
activities used to be constrained by the phases of the moon.
And before electricity reached farms in the 20th century, nocturnal
activities in rural areas were still constrained.
remember printed calendars with four little symbols for each month,
helpfully pointing out the dates of the new moon, first quarter, full
moon, and third quarter. People couldnt do much on dark
nights, so they simply planned on staying indoors.
on other nights the moon on the breast of the new-fallen
snow/Gave the luster of midday to objects below. When the
moon was full, people who were so inclined could stay out all night
long, doing goodness knows what. It was lunacy.
day in elementary school, maybe around 1956, I learned something
from one of my classmates. Kelly Drake couldn't wait to tell us
that he'd discovered a delicious new kind of food. Pizza
pie! he said, beaming.
rest of us were unfamiliar with that term. However, Kelly's
favorable review might be useful at a later date in case I was ever
offered this novel item, so I filed the moment away in my
memory. It's still there.
wasn't until a couple of years later that the Pizza Hut chain was launched.
I ever encountered an actual pizza pie back then, I'm sure I
wouldn't have known the correct way to eat it.
recently, I was watching a TV show on which a character was making a
special dinner. For a side dish, she prepared some exotic
little vegetarian dumplings called niyoki. I had never
heard of that Japanese delicacy, either.
checked the closed captioning. She was actually saying gnocchi,
which I guess derives from the Italian for knuckles.
My bad. I deserve a rap on my niyoki.
14, 2011 HERR
a child, I had this toy, first marketed in 1952. There was a
plastic base a headless body with a pointed spike
where the neck should be. Youd borrow a potato from the
family supply and impale it on the spike. Then youd
complete the head by sticking other plastic pieces into
it. There were various eyes, mouths, ears, and noses to choose
from, as well as black-felt eyelashes and mustaches and accessories
like pipes and hats. Youd try to create an amusing
character so you could giggle at it.
didnt know it then, but apparently this toy was
dangerous. I could have swallowed one of the little ears and
choked on it! Or I could have stabbed myself with its sharp point!
more than 50 years. According to reports, last month
Hasbro unveiled a new, noticeably thinner Mr. Potato Head
during the 2011 International Toy Fair convention in New York
City. The tinier tater, named the Active Adventures Mr. Potato
Head, has a slimmer body.
raised my black-felt eyebrows at that. If you wanted a
skinnier Mr. Potato Head, why wouldnt you simply go back to the
pantry and choose a longer, thinner potato?
turns out that federal child safety regulations have changed since I
was a kid. Real vegetables havent been used since 1964,
when a plastic potato was added to the kit so that the
attachments could be less sharp. In 1975, Hasbro doubled the
size of all the parts to reduce the choking hazard. And now Mr.
Potato Head is getting a healthier body shape.
suppose I shouldnt expect a 59-year-old product to remain
After another decade, there's going to be another change.
Earlier this month, Hasbro announced that the brand is going to
become simply "Potato Head" so that the accessories for Mr.
and Mrs. Potato Head can be included in the same box. There are
certain people who aren't concerned about issues such as preserving
voting rights but are horrified that "Mr." is being
dropped, because men must always remain men.
current pandemic has forced the National Hockey League to contract
its usual 82-game continent-wide season by almost a third. Each
team has been scheduled for only 56 games this year, all within its
own division, starting in the middle of January and ending on May
8. Today should mark the midpoint, or 28 games played.
as Robert Burns wrote, The best laid schemes o' mice an' men /
Gang aft a-gley. Due to various pandemic-related
postponements, only seven of the teams have managed to play 28
games. The average East Division team has played 25, and Dallas
has completed only 22.
illustrate the progress of an NHL season, I invented the Ice Cube
Road a decade ago. As explained here,
each team starts a season with zero points in the standings.
Every time it plays a game, it moves up a row on my chart.
can also move laterally by a column: to the left for a win
(worth two points) or to the right for a regulation loss (zero points).
if the game was settled by overtime or shootout, the losing team
gets one loser point (for having at least achieved a tie
within regulation time) and moves neither left nor right on the
chart, only straight up towards the finish line.
what the 2021 Ice Cube Road looks like for the East Division so far,
with a dashed line at 28.
The standings are still rather jumbled, but the Division appears to
have five strong teams (NY Islanders leading Washington and early
pacesetter Boston, while Pittsburgh's Penguins are ahead of
Philadelphia's Flyers). Then there are three also-rans (NY
Rangers, NJ Devils, and Buffalo).
PARITY: Notice the yellow line after eight games
played. For some reason, 44% of the Division games below that
line were tied at the end of regulation, but since then only 18% have
been. Half of Pittsburgh's first dozen games were in this
category, including five of their first six wins.
As of Tuesday, the Penguins had a record of 29 points in 24 games, or
60.4% of the available 48 points. Points Percentage is a line
at an angle of PP x
90° from northeast on my chart. (The PP might determine
the final standings if some teams play less than a full
schedule.) I provisionally painted the 29/24 square yellow.
Flyers, with twice as many postponed games pending, have two
games in hand on the Penguins. It wasn't until last
night that the Flyers reached the aforementioned 29/24 square and
recolored it orange, as shown here.
the Penguins have continued moving on, and after last night's action
they have two additional wins to improve their PP to 63.5% with 33
points in 26 games. They're currently in third place with one
more point than Boston, or maybe fourth place considering Boston's
SYNC ME UP!
the announcers in Pennsylvania while the basketball players are in
South Carolina? I don't care. I still sometimes enjoy
listening to the announcers on my radio, as I have for decades, and
muting my TV.
explain in an article about Billy
Peppard starred in a 90-minute NBC detective drama called Banacek
on many Wednesdays beginning in 1972.
years later, a young English immigrant came to a much smaller TV
studio my little cable operation where he divined
hidden numbers and bent spoons and forks. His classmates at the
nearby high school knew him as Steve Shaw, but he needed a more
memorable stage name.
seen the NBC show, he became the exotic-sounding Banachek (adding an h
so Americans would know how to pronounce it) and went on to work with
the late James Amazing Randi.
story is this month's 100 Moons article.
HIGHMARK SWAG (STUFF
WE ALL GET)
worked my last sports telecast one year ago tonight. The
following week, most events were canceled due to the worsening
pandemic. I took the hint that it was time for me to become
completely retired. I scrounged up some plain white face masks
and went into hiding.
couple of months later, a more attractive mask arrived unsolicited
in the mail. I glanced at the label, put aside my other masks,
and started wearing this one. It had been sent by my
Pittsburgh-based Medicare Advantage Plan provider, Highmark Blue
Cross Blue Shield, which might explain the prominence of blue in the
obviously doesn't want me to run up big medical bills. They
want me to stay healthy. Therefore, a few months after the face
mask, a big five-pound package arrived. It was filled with all
sorts of things: 50 disposable masks, 15 wet wipes, a bottle of
hand sanitizer, two bottles of sanitizing mist (one for hands, the
other for surfaces), a thermometer, a pulse oximeter, an electric
toothbrush, a tube of lip balm, aloe vera lotion, 100 bandages, and a
separate 213-piece first aid kit. Then, as a reward for
prioritizing your health and using your Highmark insurance in
2020, they mailed me a $100 gift card!
then, on most days I've been using the disposable masks.
Because one can't be too careful, sometimes I double-mask by adding
the colorful one on top.
I looked more closely at its label. Tomlin?
That's not a common surname, but it is the name of the Pittsburgh
Steelers head coach. And then I noticed the four-pointed
hypocycloids, part of the Steelers logo. There had to be a connection.
quick online search revealed that Mike Tomlin's wife Kiya is a fashion
designer. Her products include many stylish $15 face masks.
5, 2011 NOT
week, Brigham Young Universitys #3-ranked basketball team
suspended its top rebounder, Brandon Davies, for the rest of the
season after he admitted violating the Mormon schools honor
code by having sex with his girlfriend.
he played for almost any other school, Davies would have been
congratulated for his conquest, not kicked off the team. Why
are these Mormons so strict and humorless?
they arent, not all of them anyway. At least a couple of
them are funny. I mentioned
in 2008 that I follow two BYU graduates blogs.
D. Snider will soon be reviving his weekly Snide
Remarks column for our amusement, thanks to the financial
viewers like you readers including me. He
also wants us to remind everyone about his podcast.
Jeopardy champion Ken
Jennings, who was much in the news last month, recently held a
Q&A session on Reddit. Excerpts:
have this idea that Mormons are monolithically boring and/or
creepily Stepford-y. But in my experience, that's bull, and
Mormons are as diverse in most ways as anybody else. I think it
would be cool if people figured that out.
Mormons are not biblical literalists. So you can choose to
keep all the crazy stuff you like (Moses just turned his rod into a
snake! badass!) and choose to ignore the crazy stuff you don't like
(wait, God just sent bears to kill those kids because they made fun
of Elisha's male pattern baldness?)
not saying no Mormons are young-earthers ... but let's just say
you're not likely to see those ones on Jeopardy.
Christina Aguilera was born Mormon. Not our finest effort.
The original proposed name for Utah, Deseret, isn't
related to desert. It's a Book of Mormon word (and
therefore etymologically iffy to nonbelievers) meaning honeybee.
Mormon congregations are called wards, and dioceses are
called stakes. Some of our houses of worship used
to therefore be called stake houses, but this turned out
to be too confusing. (Especially because there was no salad bar.)
Mormon scripture strongly implies that the apostle John, as well as
three Book of Mormon disciples, never actually died but are still
kicking around someplace. Awesomely, this leads some Mormons to
repeat urban legends about the three Nephites
miraculously appearing to help little old ladies, repair the cars of
stranded travelers, etc.
My Sunday school teacher, when I was a Mormon teen, once memorably
advised us that There's nothing more overrated than sex, and
nothing more underrated than a good bowel movement. It
totally worked. I don't remember a single other sermon from
when I was a kid, but I think about this guy exactly once a day, and
then again once a week.
Mormons no longer want to be Mormons. They now prefer
to be known as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day
Saints, the official name that God supposedly revealed to Joseph
Smith in 1838. And the name should no longer be abbreviated to
the initials LDS, because that would exclude Jesus.
Eric D. Snider is actually now employed
by TCOJCOLDS in downtown Salt Lake City, working remotely for the
most part, writing content for a Church youth magazine. He no
longer podcasts about movies and rarely posts Snide Remarks.
thanks mostly to the virtual Sundance festival, he still managed to
watch 87 films in the first seven weeks of 2021. And he still
tweets. Yesterday he remarked, I know that bad
officiating is a real thing, but as a non-sportsman, my first impulse
whenever people complain about it (i.e., during seemingly every
basketball game) is always: Are you sure you're not just a big
baby and a sore loser? And I'm sure the answer is always,
No! NOOO! Did you SEE that?!
Ken Jennings, as you
may have heard, recently guest-hosted Jeopardy! for several
weeks. I don't often watch that show, but I do listen twice a
week to the miscellaneous odd topics he and fellow Seattleite John
Roderick discuss on their Omnibus podcast. One
episode in particular, recorded early last autumn and based on a book
by Ted Widmer, recalls the Presidential election of 1860 and the
subsequent efforts to prevent Abraham Lincoln from taking office.
the 46-minute mark you'll hear about racist militias and angry
ruffians who refused to accept the election results. They
threatened to blow up the Capitol on February 13, 1861, to prevent
John Breckenridge from certifying the Electoral College vote.
But as Mike Pence would do in 2021, Vice-President Breckenridge
honorably performed his duty.
2, 2021 VENTILATE!
should be our first step in fighting a viral outbreak? Open
by Sarah Zhang of The Atlantic recalls the early days of
Covid-19 when everyone was searching frantically for N95 masks.
In our quest for perfect solutions, we'd forgotten an extremely
obvious and simple one: fresh air. A colleague joked, at
one point, that things would have gone better in the pandemic if we
still believed in miasma theory.
air, or miasma, was identified as the source of pestilence by
the Greek physician Hippocrates in the fifth century BC. Much
later, Florence Nightingale insisted that hospital windows remain
open in all seasons so a cross breeze could blow between the beds.
course, we've learned that not all pathogens are transmitted through
the atmosphere. Cholera is spread by water; yellow fever, by
mosquitoes. However, disease-causing viruses do ride on the
air. Most have been conquered by vaccinations, but when a novel
virus enters our lives, we should open a window to encourage it to go
saloon doors were a thing of the past by 1918, when the flu struck
Marysville, Ohio, but dim and secluded bars still existed. I've
already noted that when
the mayor set a limit of ten customers in each local saloon, he also
ordered that the doors and windows had to be kept open, allowing the
viruses to disperse along with the tobacco smoke. That seems
odd nowadays when so many buildings are air-conditioned and windows
are tightly sealed.
the 1960s, I sketched a layout for a pie-shaped house.
My parents looked at my drawing and pointed out a drawback:
the rooms had windows only on the circumference, so there was no cross-ventilation.
more attention was paid to cross-ventilation in those days, for
example by the use of transoms above doors (left). I recall
being in more than one old high-ceilinged office or hotel room in
which one could open not only an exterior window but also a transom
window, enabling air to pass out into the hallway while the door
Hall, my college dorm built in 1932, had an alternative to
transoms: louvered vents in the doors themselves.
the other end of my room, beyond the head of the bed and the
radiator and the desk, there was a window that could be raised.
I left it open a few inches all winter long.
I freeze to death? No, steam pipes ran through all the rooms
of that dormitory, from the foundation to the fourth floor.
Those hot pipes kept me warm even though the valve on my particular
radiator remained closed.
Zhang knows what I mean. She writes, I'm writing this
now at my desk, which is in front of a radiator, which is in front of
apartment buildings like mine, built in the early 20th century, this
is by design. The radiator runs too hot, so that residents can
keep the window open for ventilation. (I am indeed too
hot. The window is open.) This is a building designed in
a time of airborne pathogens.
quirk of old building design went viral months ago in a collective
Aha! moment. This thing that never made sense
actually makes sense! The air is good.