Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Contact Juggling:

I just discovered an entirely different kind of juggling that I have never seen before: balls roll about the body, instead of whirling through the air. (Penn Jillette mentioned it while being interviewed by Marc Maron.) Apparently some of the skills of Contact Juggling are ancient, but most of the moves have been invented since 1980. Here is an elegant demonstration of Contact Juggling: the artist fiddles with several balls at first, and then, after a short interlude, does wonderful things with a single ball. Sometimes the ball even seems to hang in space, unsupported.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I learned a new word today (Sports, of course):

Here’s one of the main reasons the Eagles beat the Giants: The Eagles' defense outphysicaled the Giants' offense. (It must be true; I heard it on the radio.)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

My Uncle Al's Rivets:

An anecdote from my Uncle Al sticks in mind, perhaps because of the understandable unfairness. Perhaps it will bother you, too.

Uncle Al was born in 1904. While in college, he worked a summer job on a Manhattan construction site, a moderate high-rise. His job was to test the rivets that had been driven into the steel, for strength and reliability. After a few days, one of the construction workers approached him.
“Kid, you're failing too many rivets.”
Al explained to the worker that his test was entirely objective. He measured the strength of the rivet, and if it was below a certain value, he failed the rivet. (Failed rivets had to be replaced.)
The worker shook his head and wandered away.
Next morning,” Al said, “a bucket of rivets fell out of the sky and landed right next to me with a bang. I looked up at the workers far above me, on the upper floors.”
Al paused, and then he said, “After that, I didn’t fail so many rivets.”

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Coffee and Ground Nuts:

Here’s a weird food suggestion. I thought of it and tried it, expecting the worst, but it works. First, make sure your cup of coffee contains no coffee grounds at all. (I made my coffee in a French Press, so I used a cloth filter.) Add a heaping teaspoon of ground nuts to your coffee cup and stir. (I used walnuts, and I’m eager to try almonds.)

The resulting drink will have a slight nut flavor, and it will also have some texture, as the ground nuts crowd into your mouth. Quite, pleasant, I think.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Wonderful Sentence:

A.O. Scott just reviewed the new Adam Sandler movie, Jack and Jill, in the New York Times. There are a lot of things he does not like about Sandler’s brand of humor. He concedes that Sandler can count on a large audience, and – being fair, I would say – he notes a few positive things about this movie. He winds up with a sentence that I shall quote in full. I’m in sympathy with it, but the main reason I’m quoting it is that it is delicious. Here it is:
As for Mr. Sandler, I have always been interested in what he would do next, and I suppose I still am, especially if what he does next is retire.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

A suggestion to Penn State: Shut it down!

A tiny controversy in sports news has caught my interest and indignation. A little background first, and I’ll get to it...

I follow sports news a lot. I got interested in this field after the San Francisco earthquake, which disrupted major sports to a remarkable degree. My local radio sports station, WFAN, covered sports as a business that year, showing how the disruptions to damaged stadium schedules created spellbinding ripple effects. Sports IS a business, and it is both fascinating and frustrating to follow it that way.

I was listening to WFAN when the Penn State scandal erupted. In case you’ve missed it: what has always appeared to be one of the cleanest major sports programs, one that wins games and sees that most of its athletes graduate, also harbored and abetted, for many years, a beloved assistant coach who cultivated abusive relationships with young boys. He has been charged with a number of such crimes, and it is very clear that people in charge of Penn State sports knew about that person’s abusive activities in 1998 and again in 2002. But they did not report him to the police, and, as a result, that man is likely to have damaged more young lives. As late as 2009, he was allowed to run a summer sports camp on Penn State campus that reached out to the very kinds of children he had, according to the current charges, already abused.

The full story has not come out yet, but it appears that people at Penn State decided that it was preferable for their sports programs to turn a blind eye. Which means that the great success of their major sports programs was built on the damaged bodies of abused young boys.

Now here’s the silly controversy: Joe Paterno, an old man and one of the greatest football coaches of all time, is caught in the web of this awful story, because he heard the worst allegations in 2002, and never tried to ensure that those allegations would be passed on to the police. He delivered the eyewitness charges to others in the sports department and did not act when they decided to do nothing. So the question is: should Paterno resign at once, or should he be allowed, as he wishes, to be the official coach for a few more football games?

I can not believe that anyone is seriously discussing how many more Penn State games Paterno should be allowed to coach! What games? The entire sports program is flawed. Poor judgment about the importance of this program is what allowed that other person to go on abusing additional children. College presidents have contemplated scandals in their sports programs before, and they have known what to do: Shut Them Down!

The only question is whether Penn State should cancel its entire major sports programs – for the next five or ten years – before or after this Saturday’s game. Once the entire program is gone, there will be nothing for Paterno to wish to coach.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Power is off!

Back in the late 1960's we used to dream about how to design a system so that a light would go on, to warn you that you no longer had power. Today, there are so many ways of storing electrical power that such lights are routine. But I still find it disconcerting when I recharge my cell phone and its display says:
Recharging ... power is off.

Friday, November 04, 2011

And the really exciting deal is ...

For $100,000, buy $200,000 of Groopon stock! Check it out at groopon dot com. Or better still, be one of their brokers.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Daylight Saving Time (??)

There's a very nice presentation on the pros and (mostly) cons of D.S.T. on John Dvorak's Blog. Reaonably short, amusing, and informative. Let's make up our minds and stop changing the clocks!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Beethoven and The Girl Next Door:

In the next few weeks, on my WPRB radio program (now on Monday mornings), I plan to play three Beethoven sonatas in performances by the pianist, Thomas Sauer. His performance of the 16th sonata recalled a fascinating anecdote about my professional classical pianist aunt Lucy Brown. You can enjoy my anecdote here. You’ll also discover why I titled this blog item “The Girl Next Door.” Following the anecdote, you’ll find some comments about the pianist’s unusual capabilities.