A newspaper could print those tragic headlines every day. Those are the average daily U.S. gun violence statistics, according to this from Tom Begnal.
Thats a major reason I dont share some peoples love of firearms. Another reason: Ive watched nature documentaries on TV. They celebrate the lives of the wildlife with which we share the planet.
On one, an English barn swallow literally feathers its nest. There are ducks in the barnyard, and occasionally a downy white feather is shed and the breeze carries it off. In slow motion, we watch a swallow fly toward the feather floating in the sunshine, grab it in its beak, take it to its home in the rafters of the barn, and drop it into the nest. So charming.
Or weve all seen scenes of bear cubs playing with each other. Their mother comes by and starts to teach them how to catch fish. So cute.
Once, changing channels, I came across a scene of an adult bear standing up leaning against a tree, scratching his back. Aaah, that feels good. The bear relaxes, contented. Suddenly, BANG! The defenseless animal flinches, stumbles, falls to the ground, and dies. We cut to two hunters with their rifles and sniper scopes, congratulating each other on the ambush murder theyve just committed. So disgusting.
OCTOBER 10, 2014 TICK TICK TICK TICK
Ages ago, CBS News introduced a series called 60 Minutes, anchored by Harry Reasoner and Mike Wallace. They needed a graphic design.
The program was described as a news magazine: three separate mini-documentaries within a single hour. Therefore, the background simulated a printed news magazine like Time. (The dark border around Harrys head resulted from the primitive blue-screen Chromakey technique of the time.) And to symbolize the passing of those 60 minutes, they added a ticking stopwatch. The larger hand circled the dial once in a minute, the smaller hand once in 60.
Five years out of high school, during my brief stint as a graduate student on WAER in Syracuse, I experimented with using a stopwatch to become a smoother disk jockey.
Announcers often talked over the introductory portion of a record, back-timing their comments to conclude just before the vocalist started to sing. Ken Levine posted this week, As a former disc jockey, I still talk-up records in my car. Right up to the vocal. Im a master at this. Its maybe my greatest skill ... which is unfortunate since its also utterly useless. KHJ Boss Radio is not coming back anytime soon. Someone named Yekimi commented, Holy crap! I thought I was the only one that did [that. I only] get embarrassed when at a traffic light with my car windows down and someone pulls up alongside and looks at me like I'm a serial killer.
To accomplish this trick, DJs need to know the songs rather well. I didnt. So I used a stopwatch.
During the 1970s, digital stopwatches began to appear. Theyre smaller and easier to read, typically to a hundredth of a second. (But can you push the button that precisely?) Also, you dont have to wind them, and you can more easily measure multiple events.
The old ticking analog stopwatches are obsolete nowadays, except on 60 Minutes.
A mere two days ago William Steven Humphrey, editor of the alternative Portland Mercury, posted this recommendation: "The tweets of Eric D. Snider are a rapid-fire stomp through pop culture brimming with erotic candor and ennui." I'm not sure what that means exactly.
Nevertheless, in my latest compilation you can read Erics opinions about noise pollution from leaf blowers and motorcycles, a crime wave in his neighborhood, Ansel Elgort, minding his brothers kids, and celebrating his 40th birthday . And more.
Peek, if you have the courage!
SEPTEMBER 28, 2014 WHY THIS FAMILY SWITCHED TO SPANISH
I used to visit an on-line discussion board for sportswriters where often a comment would begin, I cant believe what Le Batard wrote in his Miami Herald column.
In French, le bâtard means the bastard. Therefore I first thought the posters were being insulting: I cant believe what that bastard said!
But Dan Le Batards family came to this country from Cuba, where (fortunately) the family name has no meaning in Spanish.
Now I dont watch ESPNs televised talk shows, but via Sirius XM the other day, I finally caught the Dan Le Batard show on ESPN Radio. Turns out he pronounces it LEBB-it-tarred.
And he does have proper parents, Gonzalo and Lourdes Le Batard. In fact, Papi often joins his son on the air.
Therefore, never mind. No son hijos de puta.
SEPTEMBER 22, 2014 THEY'LL BE HERE TONIGHT!
What were they about to hear? A symphony orchestra concert? A performance by a famous rock group? No, something you probably wouldnt expect. Something that swelled with pride this physics major who once played with radio at the campus station.
I explain it all, as well as the ensuing football game, in my article about Homecoming Weekend 2014.
SEPTEMBER 16, 2014 C WHAT I WROTE
When I first went online with this website nearly 14 years ago, it was a collection of articles, some new and some from my archives, typically a couple thousand words in length.
That format didnt allow brief items of a hundred words or less. So when I wanted to express a short opinion, or when I found a short comment in my archives, I called it a C-Note. (To maintain my self-imposed 100-word limit, I carefully counted words using the computer and deleted the excess.) Once I had a dozen of these C-Notes, I compiled them into an article of respectable length and added it to the site.
The situation changed six years later, when I converted my home page (the one youre reading now) into something resembling a blog, updated every few days. Now there is a place for shorter items.
But the old C-Notes still are of interest.
SEPTEMBER 10, 2014 WELLLL, DOGGIE!
The neighbors doggie was named Augie. He was familiar with the old song, a novelty record from 1953 in ¾ time. At a pet shop Patti Page sings:
There are more dog stories, and even a cat story, in the second of two articles on what I did this summer. Last month, I told you about my July trip to New York State. Thie month, I arrive at Syracuse in an article called Cuse Tales.
SEPTEMBER 4, 2014 QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
You claim that people evolved from apes, millions of years ago, says the creationist. But if the monkeys turned into humans, why are there still monkeys? Huh? Answer that one. You dont have an answer, do you?
No, I have another question. If our family is descended from Scottish people who emigrated from Scotland to the New World two centuries ago, why are there still Scotsmen today? Huh? You see, some Scots became Americans, but not all of them.
Clearly, not only have the people at Answers in Genesis not read their biology textbook. The people at Answers in Genesis have not even read Genesis! At least they havent read it beyond the story of Noahs flood.
Scripture clearly does not delineate Gods insistence on a single, exclusive union.
Therefore, Answers in Genesis, has God commanded his people to restrict their sexual activity according to the standards of 18th-century America? The way youd prefer?
No, he has not. The answers are in Genesis.
AUGUST 23, 2014 I'LL TAKE SPORTS FOR $200, ALEX
Chyron, the company that manufactured the character generator, provided a font library for their machine on 8-inch floppy disks. A few dozen styles were available. Some were offered in only one size, but there were several that came in five different sizes, providing flexibility.
One of those, called Korinna Bold, caught our eye. It was a fresh, relatively new font; the modern version had been introduced only ten years before. It had some flair, with the distinctive shapes of the P and the N and especially the U, yet it was sufficiently bold for sports television. So we chose it to build the full screens and lower thirds that wed need for baseball. Our new look premiered on a road game on April 6.
Unfortunately, by the time the team returned to Pittsburgh, the network was out of business, and our graphics package was never seen again. More details are here.
That same year, however, a long-running game show was being updated with a new host and a new look for syndication. And the producers made the same Chyron choice that Betsy and I had made.
Thirty years ago next month, Alex Trebek introduced Jeopardy! with the clues given in Korinna. The fonts still there three decades later. You cant keep a good idea down.
Here are some other notes.
Korinna was also used for the intertitles and closing credits on the 1993-2004 comedy Frasier.
Ken Jennings claims that when he had his winning run 10 years ago, the name of the show was still pronounced jee-OP-ur-dee.
And why is it called Jeopardy anyway? Alex could say, I told you that on the very first program, when I explained how the game is played. Werent you listening? Do I have to repeat the rules every 30 years?
AUGUST 19, 2014 MARRIAGE: NO ONE'S DOING IT RIGHT
Every live telecast has a format or rundown, a couple of pages listing the order of the various elements in the show and how many minutes each should last.
Years ago, cleaning up the studio after one such program, I retrieved a used format and discovered that one of the performers had not been concentrating totally on her performance. Her mind was on her marriage. She'd had a stormy relationship with her husband and had finally decided to give up, doodling these words in the margin of her format: The End. The End. The very very very end. Eventually there was a divorce.
Later, that incident inspired me to put together a little libretto, a sort of Greek tragedy with two characters and a chorus. I wrote the lyrics as if they were to be sung, including The End and some other fragments from correspondence of the time. However, I made no attempt to compose the music.
AUGUST 13, 2014 R.I.P. MORK
Last month I quoted some of Eric D. Sniders Twitter remarks, so it seems appropriate to pass on his tweets from Monday:
Depression doesnt mean sadness. Many peoples first reaction was Why was Robin Williams depressed? He had everything. To Erics tweets, Damien Owens added, Please remember that What are you depressed about? makes no more sense that What are you diabetic about?
Years ago, when I needed to do some research as an Oberlin College student, I walked over the repository of all knowledge on the campus: Carnegie Library. There, working back and forth between the card catalogs and the stacks, I eventually identified two or three books that contained some information on my subject. I carried them to a desk and turned the pages. When I found something I could use, I transcribed it in my notebook. Eventually these notes became the foundation of my little report.
But now theres an easily available repository of all knowledge in the world: the Internet. And its searchable by keyword! Theres no need to travel to a big library, no need to locate books using a card catalog, and no need to turn their pages. I cant get over how much easier this is.
This week, I was preparing an article that will appear on this website Monday. A small part of it concerns an obscure 19th-century preacher named John Ingersoll. He couldnt hold a job. None of his congregations liked him. However, I discovered, he was associated with a more famous revivalist named Charles Finney. And Finney later became the second president of my alma mater, Oberlin College. I'd discovered a connection with personal relevance!
Consulting the Internet, I opened a lengthy biography of Finney and asked my browser to find all the appearances of the word Ingersoll. And it did. Besides confirming his incompetence, the bio mentioned that in 1840 Ingersoll actually lived in Oberlin. Nothing was said of his activities there he didn't seem to have a pastorate but if he was in town, it seemed likely that at some point his friend Finney must have invited him to speak.
So I turned to the Internet again and searched for John Ingersoll and Oberlin. As it turns out, Google Books has helpfully indexed a volume buried in the periodicals collection of the University of Minnesota. The book consists of reprints of a semi-monthly newspaper The Oberlin Evangelist, beginning with the first issue on November 1, 1838. Google highlighted my search terms. Oberlin was highlighted on every page, but where was Ingersoll? Did I have to examine the 224 pages of fine print? No, I merely refined the search and found he was mentioned exactly once, on page 158.
Quickly checking my 1840 calendar (via an Internet application, of course), I determined that Thursday last would have been September 17. So now I had the exact date of a sermon that Ingersoll preached at Oberlin in Finneys presence as well as the text he used.
It would have been very difficult for me to unearth this nugget of history as a college undergraduate. We had no Internet access in the library in those days. We had only one computer, in a basement across the street. Now I have a home computer, and I can use it to do the research in a few minutes! I find this marvelous.
AUGUST 6, 2014 LEGISLATOR OR CAMPAIGNER
Excerpts of a blog posting yesterday from Frances McClure of Oxford, Ohio:
I agree. Excluding holidays and weekends, there are 250 days in a year, but since 1990 our Representatives have averaged only 112 days in session during the second year of their two-year terms. Theyre on vacation 55% of the time.
But lets look at it another way. Is it the goal of legislators to enact legislation, or is it to get re-elected? I suspect that its the latter. A Congressmans job is to keep his job.
Excerpts from David Bolings piece in the Washington Post a couple of months ago:
Our politicians are not on vacation. Theyve left Washington so they can devote full time to their true occupation.
AUGUST 3, 2014 WHO IS NORI?
Practitioners of every endeavor need to communicate using precise language. If the necessary terms dont exist, they have to be invented.
Terms. Terms. Elsewhere on this site you can find a chemistry spoof I wrote in high school. Complaining about contradictory terminology, I quoted an ancient Greek philosopher: As Plato said, Kynosis anopodes acthykus! Did Plato actually say that? I dont know Greek, so how could I have known the phrase?
After 50 years, I couldnt remember the source of the quote, so I Googled it. Google returned only one result my own scientific paper! So then I put the quote into a translation engine, and I discovered it was gibberish. In the manner of Sid Caesar, this high school junior produced what only seems to be Greek. So there. Now Ive set the record straight.
Suppose my map revealed we were coming up to a situation like the one below. Normally the first turn would be described as right at T onto Claibourne Road. The next would be left at sideroad onto Snyder Road.
But in this case, the rallymaster has covered these two intersections with a single instruction: jog right. Thats the correct term if the right and the left are less than a tenth of a mile apart. The rallymaster wants the rallyists to ignore Snyder Roads brief detour and resume the original heading on Snyder.
(Why is there a detour at all? Back when the farms and fields were first laid out, they didnt conform to a strict grid, so the roads that were later built between the fields couldnt conform to a grid either.)
Now in the situation below, I needed to inform Terry that he would make a left followed by a right. But this isnt a jog left, because there are no other roads involved. Concord Road swerves around the big field all by itself. I invented a term for this: NORI, for No Other Roads Involved. Id tell Terry hed make a NORI left. I also would warn him that soon afterwards hed make a NORI right, lest he think he was supposed to continue straight ahead into the driveway.
And now, though no one knows what acthykus means, at least you know about NORI.