24, 2016 STOP?
take a look at the pros and cons of roundabout intersections,
including a downtown racetrack in nearby Rochester,
PA. My article on this subject is called Courteous
19, 2016 ROBOTIC
college, I used to rip the news
off our campus radio station's UPI teletype and read it on the
air. Often my shift was the 5:30 pm newscast on Thursday.
What sports stories break at that hour on a Thursday?
invariably, I found that the sports section led off like this.
The standard sentence could have been written by a machine.
that the Associated Press is allowing a computer program to begin
filling in the blanks. It uses the data from minor league box
scores to generate baseball stories automatically. No human
sportswriters are required to actually watch the games.
the robot isnt taking away anyones job. In this
era of budget cutbacks, as I noted
earlier about high school football, theres less and less actual
in-person newsgathering going on these days. No reporter would
have been assigned to these particular minor league games anyway.
15, 2016 THE
Scully is drawing closer to the end of an amazing 67 years of
broadcasting Dodgers baseball. Yesterday he called his final
Pittsburgh at Los Angeles game.
crossed paths with Vin only once. It was ten years ago in the
restroom of the Dodger Stadium pressbox. But his assistant
now theres a different story.
Robertsons specialty is the position we call stage
manager, overseeing various details in the announcers booth.
1987 I started traveling as part of the KDKA broadcast team covering
the Pittsburgh Pirates, and I relied on his help any time we
televised from L.A.
the graphics operator, I couldnt actually see the game.
I was out in the parking lot, sitting behind a keyboard in a truck
called the mobile unit. My view of the ballpark was limited to
what the cameras were shooting. If a pinch-hitter came out on
deck or a reliever started warming in the bullpen, the stage manager
needed to notice it and alert me via headset.
also required his assistance in other situations. Hed
bring me the starting lineups as soon as they became available.
When I forgot to mark something on my scorecard, hed help me
fill in the gaps. And late in the game wed discuss which
pitcher would be awarded the win and which would take the loss,
barring any further scoring.
was always great to work with. I was glad to see him on a few
other occasions when he came East or when we were televising a sport
other than baseball.
starting in 1989, he rarely had to deal with visiting broadcasters
like us because he had joined Vin Scullys crew. I
didnt see him much after that, except on a July 2005 edition of
HBOs Real Sports in which Bryant Gumbel followed Vinny
behind the scenes.
from last month, when the Dodgers were on the road at Anaheim, brings
us up to date on the Boyd Robertson story. Good luck to him,
wherever he goes from here!
10, 2016 FEMINISTS
ON THE RISE
my lifetime, President Barack Obama noted one week ago today,
weve gone from a job market that basically confined women
to a handful of often poorly paid positions, to a moment when women
not only make up roughly half the workforce but are leading in every
sector from sports to space, from Hollywood to the Supreme
Court. Ive witnessed how women have won the freedom to
make their own choices about how theyll live their lives.
Thats what 21st-century feminism is about: the idea that
when everybody is equal, we are all more free.
many professions were effectively closed to women when I was a young
man in 1970. But that didnt stop fellow Oberlin College
graduate Jan Olson. She was going to be a doctor. She
applied to several medical schools including the Yale School of
Medicine, only to discover that Yales admission policies
favored men. Jan got herself accepted elsewhere.
mossbacks didnt trust physicians of either gender, as I later
wrote to Dr. Olson.
to the radio recently, I happened to run across a preacher who was
talking about having faith in what God tells us, using Luke
1:19-20. Then he quoted James 5:14-15, in which we are told
that if the elders of the church pray over a sick man, God will cure
him. So why is it, asked the preacher, that when we are sick we
go to a doctor?
preacher himself had not been to a doctor since he was discharged
from the Navy in 1946. God says that prayer
will cure us. Who are you going to believe? God, or
some old demon-possessed doctor whos been out all night
with his nurse, boozing it up?
one of the strange tangents that can result from a too literal, too
uncritical reading of the Bible.
verses, like I Corinthians 14:34 and I Timothy 2:12, had excluded
women from church leadership positions.
by 1980 Jan was able to tell me proudly that her newly elected
bishop in Wisconsin was Marjorie Matthews (left) from Colgate
Rochester Divinity School, the first woman to become a bishop of the
United Methodist Church.
are no models for me, Bishop Matthews said. I'll
have to make my own.
where was I? Ah, yes. Back in the first year out of
college, I was. Applying to med schools, Jan was. Also,
she was conflicted about her love life. She wrote,
alone in the silence that separates me
rest of that poem, and the one I wrote in reply, are to be found in
this month's second installment of Letters
from Jan: Readjustment.
5, 2016 OBRIGADO!
EU SOU RICO!
you may have heard, the Olympic Games are getting under way down in
Brazil. The opening ceremony will be tonight.
most recent summer Olympics telecast was in 1996, where I provided a
small part of the graphics for the international feed.
year in Atlanta, my first assignment was the opening ceremony (at right).
was much speculation about which celebrity might receive the honor
of lighting the flame. For a few minutes I was one of the only
people in the world who knew the secret; they told me in advance so I
could prepare a lower-third identifier. Even Bob Costas didn't
know who it was going to be until Muhammad Ali stepped out to take
the competition began, my assignment changed to events on the
example, there was as the 200-meter dash. In the final,
Michael Johnson set a new world record by more than a third of a second.
again I knew in advance. I could tell several strides before
the finish that he was going to surpass the old mark, and I exclaimed
to my coordinator, That's a world record!
however, Im recalling another gathering of nations for a
different festival of athletic competition. There a stranger
from Brazil gave me money. For no reason at all, he handed me
sounds like a lot, but due to inflation at the time, the
large-denomination bill was barely worth a couple of bucks
American. Due to subsequent inflation, nowadays the souvenir
isnt worth the paper its printed on.
the anecdote is worth three paragraphs in this months 100
1, 2016 AWAKE,
I consider the possibility of Donald Trump becoming Commander in
Chief, two specters haunt me. One is Donald Trumps
incompetence. The other is his voters hostility.
is nothing on Mr. Trumps résumé, the Washington
Post editorialized between the conventions, to suggest he
could function successfully in Washington. The lack of
experience might be overcome if Mr. Trump saw it as a handicap
worth overcoming. But he displays no curiosity, reads no books,
and appears to believe he needs no advice ... whether he convinces
himself of his own untruths or knows that he is wrong and does not care.
Krugman wrote, You cant run the U.S. government the way
he has run his ramshackle business empire. We know about his
stiffing of vendors, his profiting from enterprises even as they go
bankrupt, his seeing contracts as mere suggestions and clear-cut
financial obligations as starting points for negotiation. We
also know that he sees fiscal policy as no different; he has already
talked about renegotiating U.S. debt. So why should we be
surprised that he sees diplomatic obligations in the same way?
has made clear, the Post continued, that he would
drop allies without a second thought. The consequences to
global security could be disastrous.
alarming is Mr. Trumps contempt for the
Constitution. ...He doesnt seem to care about its
limitations on executive power. He has threatened that those
who criticize him will suffer when he is president.
have criticized the presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton,
in the past and will do so again when warranted. But we do not
believe that she ... represents a threat to the Constitution.
Mr. Trump is a unique and present danger.
commentators have even questioned the mental health of the man who
would have his finger on the proverbial button. Keith Olbermann
used the Hare Psychopathy Checklist to diagnose Trump as a borderline
psychopath. Stephen F. Hayes of The Weekly Standard wrote,
Donald Trump is crazy. This isn't the behavior of a
rational, stable individual.
remember 1972, when the Democrats nominated Sen. Thomas Eagleton of
Missouri for Vice President. Two weeks later, we learned he was
on the anti-psychotic drug Thorazine and had received electroshock
therapy for clinical depression. His doctors said Eagleton's
depression could recur and might endanger the country. He was
forced to withdraw on August 1. The Democratic National
Committee had to nominate a replacement.
things are different in 2016. Crazy Donald is not going to
only one out of every 24 Americans cast a ballot for him in the
primaries, that still amounts to 13,300,472
votes a total that Trump proudly trumpets. Why do so
many support him?
the response is, Trump understands what its like to be
me. In this economy, Im having a hard time making ends
meet. I know its not my fault. So whose fault is
it? Somebody has to be blamed! I blame blacks and
foreigners. Also those elite politicians in Washington.
Trump is not a know-it-all politician. He speaks his mind.
He talks the way I talk.
of course, is the problem!
does talk like an egotistic white male not a statesman.
His voters cheer for a demagogue who will bully the rest of the world
into doing whatever benefits them. He exploits their
fears, slams the door in the face of outsiders, demeans dissenters
with crude nicknames.
if he loses in November, his supporters will still be with us.
The election must have been rigged. Find a
scapegoat! And lock her up! Their seething anger
might be a greater long-term threat to the nation than crazy Donald himself.
can be done? Its up to us.
Americans have always seen ourselves as bright, optimistic,
friendly. We have always professed a decent respect and charity
for all. Even for poor, tired
foreigners. Even for the homeless.
sometimes, as Charles Dickens wrote in 1841,
shadows of our own desires
between us and our better angels,
thus their brightness is eclipsed.
we going to allow selfishness to block the light of our better
angels? Are we going to listen to those better angels, or to
our hateful demons?
temptations are illustrated in this image by C.F. Payne, which I
actually competent President reminded us in 1861:
are not enemies, but friends.
must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must
not break our bonds of affection.
mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and
patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this
broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again
touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.
THREE COOKIES LEFT
short but newsy letters, the more recent of which I wrote 63 years
ago today, can be found in an article I've just added to this
website. It's called A
22, 2016 GRAPHICS
for bilingual Asian and European texts really ought to have
different aspect ratios. If we insist that complex ideograms be
no taller than English letters, we make them almost too small to read.
designer of the seed advertisement on the upper left had a better idea.
Mr. Umpire, make sure Cookie doesn't try to eat the bat! (Om
nom nom nom.)
17, 2016 HE
WON ON THE THIRD BALLOT
days, political news comes too rapidly for me to keep up. So
does news about violent events. For example, I don't think
President Erdogan of Turkey was expecting a coup attempt on
Friday. And then this morning, the #2 headline in my news feed
warned of another assault:
expecting Quintana attack on Grand Colombier
what? Is Quintana a new terrorist group? I was not
familiar with any of those proper names. Clicking on the story,
however, revealed that the subject was the Tour de France bicycle
race, where Chris Froome is the defending champion and Nairo Quintana
is known for his ability to launch sustained and repeated
attacks on ascents of steep gradient.
actually do watch some of the Tour on TV, but I didn't know the
names because I pay absolutely no attention to the competition.
I'm still unclear on the concept of a peloton.
Instead, I watch the beautiful scenery unfold.
It's almost like exploring the back roads of France from a tour bus.
one point we glimpsed an aerial view of a lovely little village
alongside a river, dominated by an ancient square stone tower atop a
hill. I needed to turn to the Internet to learn that the town
was Cessenon-sur-Orb and the tower was the only remaining part of a
fortress that was probably built in the ninth century. That's
the sort of thing that interests me.
you know that I once helped broadcast a GOP political convention in
northern Ohio? This happened so long ago that the delegates
nominated a moderate Republican for President!
they heard a speech from a different moderate Republican who served
as the permanent chairman of the convention.
Although he was not introduced as The Next President Of The United
States, he actually did become the second-to-next.
man personified a certain strain of Republicanism, David
M. Shribman recalled
last Sunday. He was wary of big government but willing to
use it to assure the rights of minorities, stingy at home but
generous abroad, willing to play the partisan but also willing to
play 18 holes with his party rivals. So much of that is gone
the openness to bipartisanship, the instinct for compromise
... a practical approach to conservative government where he believed
it was possible to disagree while remaining respectful to one another.
was this chairman? Check out this month's 100 Moons
article. And by the way, the convention to which I'm referring
wasnt held in Cleveland but in a small town 30 miles away.
by Guy J. Smith in 1968 Hi-O-Hi
14, 2016 A
COUPLE OF UPDATES
I started working in television 46 years ago, I worked for one cable
TV company and then another. Each cable system needed to fill
the dial with a full 12 channels, so they originated one
themselves. Most of the time this channel ran
automatically. Viewers heard background music and saw an
automated display of weather conditions and messages.
Some of the latter were paid local advertisements, but subscribers
could also request public service announcements for their
organizations. Cablecasting these PSAs was good for business.
nothing lasts forever, and I see times & technologies have
changed. My present local cable provider stopped updating
their PSAs on July 1.
the automation was still running the last time I checked; apparently
they have not yet decided what to put on channel 13 in its
place. But they no longer have to bother with typing up those
bake sale promotions, and they wish us the best in all of our future endeavors.
on July 1, a Mississippi law was about to go into effect. It
would have violated freedom of religion, because the state would have
imposed the opinions of a favored group of churches upon
everybody. The bills sponsors didnt see it that
way, of course.
lobbying from Baptist and Pentecostal groups, the Associated
Press explains, the Republican-led Legislature passed House
Bill 1523 this spring. The law would have protected three
Baptist and Pentecostal beliefs: that marriage is only
between a man and a woman; that sex should only take place in such a
marriage; and that a persons gender is determined at birth and
cannot be altered.
the last moment, however, a federal judge blocked the law, saying it
unconstitutionally establishes preferred beliefs.
Thats the very opposite of religious liberty.
states Democratic attorney general, Jim Hood, announced
yesterday that despite pressure from his governor, he wont file
an appeal against the judges ruling.
HB 1523 has done is tarnish Mississippis image while
distracting us from the more pressing issues of decaying roads and
bridges, underfunding of public education, the plight of the mentally
ill, and the need to solve our states financial mess.
appeal HB 1523 and fight for an empty bill that dupes one segment of
our population into believing it has merit while discriminating
against another is just plain wrong. I dont believe
thats the way to carry out Jesus primary directives to
protect the least among us and to love thy neighbor.
10, 2016 OH,
IT'S CRYIN' TIME AGAIN
wasnt Jan who made yonder snow angels.
she has been lying in the snow outside her dorm for an hour and a
half on this bitterly cold night, weeping.
what happened? A friend just spent an hour explaining to her,
for her own good, why she has no worth as a person.
devastated. She doesnt want to see her roommates.
Shes far from worthless, of course, but some of what he said
hit home. Shell need to move out of the dorm for several
days to find her self-confidence again.
just one story Jan Olson told me. In the same letter she also
wrote, The way I tend to approach religion is not to ask
Does God exist? but to ask What is God?
not all the mail I received from her was that serious-minded.
In the coming years shed excitedly describe 14 newborn
rats. And a goalie husband. And a kicking, wriggling,
twisting, jiggling, laughing, giggling, smiling little boy. And LIVERS!
I mentioned last month, my friend has passed away. Now Im
starting to post excerpts from a decade of her correspondence.
You can find the first batch, including the tale of crying in the
snow, at Letters
5, 2016 LASSIE
NEEDS US! WHAT IS IT, GIRL?
somehow, when an animal is in distress it knows to ask a human for assistance.
classic story, which later made it into Aesops Fables,
was first reported by Apion. In first-century Rome, a
recaptured runaway slave named Androclus had been sentenced to be
devoured by fierce wild animals at the Circus Maximus. However,
one of them came up and licked the prisoners face.
Emperor Caligula asked what was going on.
learned that three years before, Androclus had hidden in a cave
which turned out also to be sheltering a whimpering lion.
Normally its very dangerous to corner a wounded animal in its
den, but this big cat allowed Androclus to remove a large thorn from
its paw, and they became friends. The animal in the Circus was
that very lion! The emperor pardoned the slave, and thereafter
Androclus was seen making the rounds of the shops with his lion on a leash.
jump ahead to this May, alongside Mill Creek near Interstate 75 in
Cincinnati. Police Sgt. James Givens was parked in his
cruiser. There were geese in the vicinity. Normally
they dont come near us, he said. I always
thought that they were afraid of people, and people say they will
attack you if you get close to their younguns. But
then a mother goose came knocking on his car door.
kept pecking and pecking, and the sergeant thought she was asking
for food until she walked away and stopped and looked back.
Givens got out of his cruiser, and the goose led him over to one of
her goslings that had gotten itself tangled in the string from a
discarded Mothers Day balloon.
Cecilia Charron joined him to untangle the little bird. That
took at least a minute. The mother goose waited patiently a few
yards away, honking softly every few seconds to reassure her
youngun. Finally it was free, the mama gave two happy
honks, and the two of them headed for the creek.
in May, a 25-year-old elephant called Pretty Boy was shot in the
head by poachers in Zimbabwe. He sought refuge in Mana Pools
National Park, wandering around with a hole in his forehead for weeks
before help could arrive. When it did, he motioned for
assistance, according to reports.
like he knew we were there with the intention of helping him,
said Dr. Lisa Marabini, who with her husband Dr. Keith Dutlow founded
the Animal and Wildlife Area Research and Rehabilitation Trust.
The elephant approached the two veterinarians; they tranquilized and
X-rayed him and treated his wound. AWARE Trust says the
elephant is recovering inside the park, and the vets will return for
Marabini noted that, even after all the harm humans had done him,
Pretty Boy was remarkably gentle towards the people who helped
him. I never usually feel totally comfortable getting
very close to a wild elephant, she said. But there
were no aggressive vibes coming from him whatsoever. He
literally emanated serenity.