The Growth That Uplifts

In a recent interview, Ana Revenga, senior director of the World Bank’s Poverty and Equity Group, talks about ending extreme poverty.  See, Ending Extreme Poverty: World Bank Economist Ana Revenga @ The Christian Century.

(The World Bank defines extreme poverty as living on less than $1.90 per person per day, and the article describes how they’ve arrived at that figure.)

Revenga is focused on Third World poverty, but her insights into poverty prevention are relevant even in less dire situations. 

Consider her answers to two questions from the interview:

What is the single most important contributor to the decline in world poverty?

The biggest driver of the success is economic growth—but not any kind of economic growth. What’s needed is economic growth that improves the income-generating opportunities of the poor. This kind of growth involves either raising the value of the agricultural products that the poor are producing or generating better jobs. Anywhere between two-thirds and 80 percent of the decline in poverty rates is due to this kind of economic growth….

Are there forms of economic growth that are not good for the poor?

Absolutely. You could have a country where all the growth comes from commodity extraction or from a pipeline. Those funds might generate income, but that money does not go back into the economy to improve the lives of farmers and is rarely invested in building further infrastructure….

Needless to say, Dr. Revenga is more than capable of setting the boundaries of her own views, yet it seems fair to infer that if not all growth should be valuable, then not all spending is valuable.

Whitewater’s conditions are milder than those Ana Revenga faces in her work, yet not so mild that some who experience them would describe them as mild at all.

This leaves us with a question: is it, can it be, a solution merely to buy capital, goods, or the means of their distribution at public expense?

Daily Bread for 6.27.16

Good morning, Whitewater.

Monday in town will be mostly sunny  with a high of eighty-two.  Sunrise is 5:18 AM and sunset 8:37 PM, for 15h 18m 30s of daytime.  The moon is a waning gibbous with 53.7% of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s School Board meets tonight at 6:45 PM, with the open session of the meeting beginning at 7 PM.

On this day in 1985, Route 66 is decertified:

500px-Map_of_US_66.svg

U.S. Route 66 (US 66 or Route 66), also known as the Will Rogers Highway and also known as the Main Street of America or the Mother Road, was one of the original highways within the U.S. Highway System. US 66 was established on November 11, 1926, with road signs erected the following year.[4] The highway, which became one of the most famous roads in America, originally ran from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas,New Mexico, and Arizona before ending at Santa Monica, California, covering a total of 2,448 miles (3,940 km).[5] It was recognized in popular culture by both the hit song “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66” and the Route 66 television show in the 1960s.

US 66 served as a major path for those who migrated west, especially during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, and the road supported the economies of the communities through which it passed. People doing business along the route became prosperous due to the growing popularity of the highway, and those same people later fought to keep the highway alive in the face of the growing threat of being bypassed by the new Interstate Highway System.

US 66 underwent many improvements and realignments over its lifetime, and it was officially removed from the United States Highway System on June 27, 1985,[6] after it had been replaced in its entirety by segments of the Interstate Highway System. Portions of the road that passed through Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico, and Arizona have been designated a National Scenic Byway of the name “Historic Route 66“, which is returning to some maps.[7][8] Several states have adopted significant bypassed sections of the former US 66 into the state road network as State Route 66.

On this day in 1837, Solomon Juneau founds a newspaper:

On this date the Milwaukee Sentinel, the oldest newspaper in the state, was founded as a weekly publication by Solomon Juneau, who also was Milwaukee’s first mayor. [Source: History Just Ahead: A Guide to Wisconsin’s Historical Markers edited by Sarah Davis McBride, p. 19]

A Google a Day asks a science question: “What was Robert Brown looking at through a microscope when he found evidence of the 1827 scientific concept named in his honor?”

The Art Market (in Four Parts): Auctions

The Art Market (in Four Parts): Auctions from Artsy on Vimeo.

How did the art auctions business become a multi-billion-dollar industry? The first film in a series about the art market explores this question, leading viewers through the complex history of auctions, with specific attention to the last 20 years. The film unpacks record-breaking sales, like last week’s epic Jean-Michel Basquiat painting Untitled (1982), hammering in at $51 million, and anomalies such as Ai Weiwei’s Kui Hua Zi (Sunflower Seeds) (2010), which pop up at auction in countless different quantities, making the connection between the auction price and market value of art. Interviews with auction-house specialists, financial analysts, and art-world influencers like Adam Lindemann, Xin Li, Sarah Thornton, Josh Baer, and Don Thompson add personal insight and shape the narrative.

Auctions launches a four-part documentary series, followed by Galleries, Patrons, and Art Fairs, released weekly through mid-June. Together, the four segments will tell a comprehensive story about the art market’s history and cultural influence, providing an approachable yet nuanced introduction to a extraordinary subject. Visit Artsy.net/art-market-series to watch all the films.

The series is produced in collaboration with UBS and directed by Oscar Boyson.

Daily Bread for 6.26.16

Good morning, Whitewater.

Morning thunderstorms will give way to partly cloudy afternoon skies with a high of ninety. Sunrise is 5:18 AM and sunset 8:37 PM, for 15h 18m 58s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 63.8% of its visible disk illuminated.

Chinese shoppers at the Ginza shopping center in Jinan, beset by recent floods, found that water marred their retail experience:

Friday’s FW poll asked if readers thought that the Bucks would make the playoffs in 2017. A majority of readers thought that they would, with 58.62% of respondents answering that the Bucks would be in the post-season.

On this day in 1945, fifty nations sign the United Nations Charter at a ceremony in San Francisco:

The Charter of the United Nations (also known as the UN Charter) of 1945 is the foundational treaty of the United Nations, an intergovernmental organization.[1] It was signed at the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center in San Francisco, United States, on 26 June 1945, by 50 of the 51 original member countries. (Poland, the other original member, which was not represented at the conference, signed it two months later.) It entered into force on 24 October 1945, after being ratified by the original five permanent members of the Security Council—the Republic of China (later replaced by the People’s Republic of China), France, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (later replaced by the Russian Federation), the United Kingdom, and the United States—and a majority of the other signatories.

As a charter, it is a constituent treaty, and all members are bound by its articles. Furthermore, Article 103 of the Charter states that obligations to the United Nations prevail over all other treaty obligations.[1][2] Most countries in the world have now ratified the Charter.

After the Black Hawk War, Congress creates new land districts, including ones in present-day Wisconsin:

1834 – New Land Districts Created

On this date an Act of Congress created the Green Bay land district (east of a line from the northern boundary of Illinois to the Wisconsin River) and west of this, the Wisconsin Land district. The act followed land cessions by Native Americans defeated in the Black Hawk War. The creation of the land districts opened up much of southeastern Wisconsin for settlement. [Source: Fond du Lac County Local History Web]

Daily Bread for 6.25.16

Good morning, Whitewater.

Saturday in town will be warm and mostly sunny with a high of ninety.  Sunrise is 5:18 AM and sunset 8:37 PM, for 15h 19m 23s of daytime.  The moon is a waning gibbous with 74.8% of its visible disk illuminated.

Perhaps, just perhaps, the campaign isn’t genuine anyway:

On this day in 1950, North Korea’s Communist regime begins the Korean War:

The Korean War… began when North Korea invaded South Korea.[36][37] The United Nations, with the United States as the principal force, came to the aid of South Korea. China, with assistance from the Soviet Union, came to the aid of North Korea. The war arose from the division of Korea at the end of World War II and from the global tensions of the Cold War that developed immediately afterwards.

Korea was ruled by Japan from 1910 until the closing days of World War II. In August 1945, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan, as a result of an agreement with the United States, and liberated Korea north of the 38th parallel. U.S. forces subsequently moved into the south. By 1948, as a product of the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States, Korea was split in to two separate governments. Both governments claimed to be the legitimate government of Korea, and neither side accepted the border as permanent. The civil war escalated into open warfare when North Korean forces—supported by the Soviet Union and China—moved to the south to unite the country on 25 June 1950.[38] On that day, the United Nations Security Council recognized this North Korean act as invasion and called for an immediate ceasefire.[39] On 27 June, the Security Council adopted S/RES/83: Complaint of aggression upon the Republic of Korea and decided the formation and dispatch of the UN Forces in Korea. Twenty-one countries of the United Nations eventually contributed to the defense of South Korea, with the United States providing 88% of the UN’s military personnel.

After the first two months of the conflict, South Korean forces were on the point of defeat, forced back to thePusan Perimeter. In September 1950, an amphibious UN counter-offensive was launched at Inchon, and cut off many of the North Korean attackers. Those that escaped envelopment and capture were rapidly forced back north all the way to the border with China at the Yalu River, or into the mountainous interior. At this point, in October 1950, Chinese forces crossed the Yalu and entered the war.[38] Chinese intervention triggered a retreat of UN forces which continued until mid-1951. After these dramatic reversals of fortune, which saw Seoul change hands four times, the last two years of conflict became a war of attrition, with the front line close to the 38th parallel. The war in the air, however, was never a stalemate. North Korea was subject to a massive bombing campaign. Jet fighters confronted each other in air-to-air combat for the first time in history, and Soviet pilots covertly flew in defense of their Communist allies.

The fighting ended on 27 July 1953, when an armistice was signed. The agreement created the Korean Demilitarized Zone to separate North and South Korea, and allowed the return of prisoners. However, no peace treaty has been signed, and the two Koreas are technically still at war. Periodic clashes, many of which were deadly, have continued to the present.

On this day in 1863, the 25th Wisconsin heads to Greenville, Mississippi:

The 25th Wisconsin Infantry participated in an expedition from Snyder’s Bluff to Greenville, Mississippi.

Daily Bread for 6.24.16

Good morning, Whitewater.

Friday in town will be mostly sunny with a high of eighty-four. Sunrise is 5:17 AM and sunset is 8:37 PM, for 15h 19m 44s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous, with 83.2% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1948, the Soviets begin a blockade of West Berlin, in an effort to isolate that part of the city from the West:

 More details C-47 Skytrains unloading at Tempelhof Airport during the Berlin Airlift.
C-47 Skytrains unloading at Tempelhof Airport during the Berlin Airlift. Via Wikipedia.

The Berlin Blockade (24 June 1948 – 12 May 1949) was one of the first major international crises of the Cold War. During the multinational occupation of post–World War II Germany, the Soviet Union blocked the Western Allies‘ railway, road, and canal access to the sectors of Berlin under Western control. The Soviets offered to drop the blockade if the Western Allies withdrew the newly introduced Deutsche mark from West Berlin.

In response, the Western Allies organized the Berlin airlift to carry supplies to the people of West Berlin, a difficult feat given the city’s population.[1][2] Aircrews from the United States Air Force, the British Royal Air Force, the Royal Canadian Air Force, the Royal Australian Air Force, the Royal New Zealand Air Force, and theSouth African Air Force[3]:338 flew over 200,000 flights in one year, providing to the West Berliners up to 8,893 tons of necessities each day, such as fuel and food.[4] The Soviets did not disrupt the airlift for fear this might lead to open conflict.[5]

By the spring of 1949, the airlift was clearly succeeding, and by April it was delivering more cargo than had previously been transported into the city by rail. On 12 May 1949, the USSR lifted the blockade of West Berlin.

6.26.1946 was a rainy day for Mellen, Wisconsin:

1946 – Most Precipitation in One Day

On this date Mellen, Wisconsin received 11.72 inches of rain within a single day. This set a record for Wisconsin for precipitation received within 24 hours. [Source: National Weather Service]

A Google a Day asks about language: “What is the largest surviving Latin American language reaching from Columbia to Chile?”

Inequality in the ‘Whitewater-Elkhorn’ Area

Over at the Economic Policy Institute, there’s a newly-published study of income inequality in America, and it ranks Walworth County as one of the most income-unequal places in the nation.  The study refers to the ‘Whitewater-Elkhorn’ metropolitan area, but with a population of 102,000, it’s clear that the reference is to Walworth County, using the 2010 Census population count.

(The methodology is that of Piketty and Saez, used years earlier to study income inequality across America.  Their method is not without critics, to be sure.  I find many of those critics compelling.)

Apart from this or other studies, however, it is still evident to anyone visiting Whitewater or Walworth County that pockets of significant poverty are all around.  This poverty surely  produces wide gaps with economically-successful residents.

Accentuating the positive in Whitewater has come at the price of ignoring actual conditions.

A few policymakers in Whitewater are versions of Japanese businessmen in the late ’80s, men who were so proud to proclaim that they had rebounded from the misery of war and thus had then arrived at the pinnacle of world achievement. (They were to find that arrival disappointing, as they’d overlooked actual economic conditions, and arrived only to years of stagnation.)

We would do far better to describe ourselves as we truly are, and invite others to join us not in an imaginary, perfect place, but in this real, beautiful, but work-yet-to-be-done place.

Daily Bread for 6.23.16

Good morning, Whitewater.

Thursday in town will bring an even chance of occasional showers or thunderstorms with a high of seventy-three. Sunrise is 5:17 AM and sunset 8:37 PM, for 15h 19m 59s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 90.7% of its visible disk illuminated.

There is a Downtown Whitewater Board meeting scheduled for this morning at 8 AM.

On this day in 1868, Wisconsin resident Christopher Latham Sholes and two partners receive a patent for a “Type-Writer”:

A 45-degree view of a wooden device with piano-like keyboard and, centered on its top, a metal disk over which a mechanical arm with two spindles is suspended. The machine patented on June 23, 1868, resembled "a cross between a piano and a kitchen table." Via Wikipedia.
A 45-degree view of a wooden device with piano-like keyboard and, centered on its top, a metal disk over which a mechanical arm with two spindles is suspended. The machine patented on June 23, 1868, resembled “a cross between a piano and a kitchen table.”
Via Wikipedia.

The Sholes and Glidden typewriter had its origin in a printing machine designed in 1866 by Christopher Latham Sholes to assist in printing page numbers in books, and serial numbers on tickets and other items.[2] Sholes, a Wisconsin printer, formed a partnership with Samuel W. Soule, also a printer, and together they began development work in Charles F. Kleinsteuber’s machine shop, a converted mill in northern Milwaukee. Carlos S. Glidden, an inventor who frequented the machine shop, became interested in the device and suggested that it might be adapted to print alphabetical characters as well.[3] In July 1867, Glidden read an article in Scientific American describing “the Pterotype”, a writing machine invented by John Pratt and recently featured in an issue of London Engineering. Glidden showed the article to Sholes, who thought the machine “complicated and liable to get out of order”,[4] and was convinced that a better machine could be designed. To that point, several dozen patents for printing devices had been issued in the United States and abroad.[5] None of the machines, however, had been successful or effective products.[5][6]

In November 1866, following their successful collaboration on the numbering machine,[4] Sholes asked Soule to join him and Glidden in developing the new device. Mathias Schwalbach, a German clockmaker, was hired to assist with construction. To test the proposed machine’s feasibility, a key was taken from a telegraph machine and modified to print the letter “W”;[3] by September 1867, a model with a full alphabet, numbers, and rudimentary punctuation had been completed, and it was used to compose letters to acquaintances in the hope of selling the invention, or procuring funds for its manufacture.[7] One recipient, James Densmore, immediately bought a 25% interest for $600, the cost of the machine’s development to that date.[8][9] Densmore saw the machine for the first time in March 1868, and was unimpressed; he thought it clumsy and impractical, and declared it “good for nothing except to show that its underlying principles were sound”.[10] Among other deficiencies, the device held paper in a horizontal frame, which limited the thickness of the paper that could be used and made alignment difficult.[11] A patent for the “Type-Writer” was granted on June 23, 1868, and, despite the device’s flaws, Densmore rented a building in Chicago in which to begin its manufacture. Fifteen units were produced before a lack of funds forced the venture back to Milwaukee.[12]

A Google a Day asks a science question: “As a testament to its adaptability in urban areas, what kind of animal strolled into a popular sandwich shop in the Chicago Loop area in the spring of 2007?”

The Colors of a Rubik’s Cube

image

Imagine that one sees a Rubik’s Cube for the first time, on a table nearby.  Three sides of that six-sided object are visible, displaying small squares of red, blue, and white.

Consider this initial puzzle: What colors are the other three sides?  How would one determine, with confidence, the colors on those sides obscured from view?

There’s more than one possibility. 

One could simply deny that there are three other sides: acknowledging what one sees, while simultaneously denying the existence of the unseen.

One could, instead, acknowledge that there are other sides, but that those sides must be the same as the ones on the three visible sides: if one sees red, blue, and white, then that’s all there is (or could be) on the cube.

A third option would be to form a committee, charged with developing an algorithm, by which one could predict what colors the other sides might be, based on what one sees now on the visible sides. The committee would meet dozens of times, to develop a scheme by which cube colors might be predicted. 

A fourth option would be to scour bookstores and toy shops for manuals on Rubik’s Cubes, to see if those publications described the colors of the puzzle.

Alternatively, one might reach out one’s hand, pick up the cube from the table, and rotate it to examine each of its sides.  Doing so would reveal that, for a regular Rubik’s Cube, the six sides showed six colors, one color per side: red, blue, white, green, orange, and yellow. 

The policymakers of Old Whitewater (a state of mind, rather than a person or chronological age) will typically settle on one of the first three merhods: deny it’s a cube, assume that the colors on the unseen sides must be the same as the visible sides, or form a committee to study what the unseen sides’ colors might be.

A few relatively adventuresome people from among this clique would perhaps  go off looking for a manual.

A few others would want to manipulate the cube to learn about its unseen sides, to be sure, but they would be rebuked by a greater number of policymakers, lest the few impermissibly deviate from conventional, collective thinking. 

The overwhelming majority of the city’s residents, however, would likely turn the cube over and around to see all its sides.

Daily Bread for 6.22.16

Good morning, Whitewater.

Midweek in town will see thunderstorms and a high of seventy-five. Sunrise is 5:17 AM and sunset 8:37 PM, for 15h 20m 11s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 95.8% of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Tech Park Board meets at 8 AM, and its Community Development Authority Board at 5 PM.

On this day in 1944, Pres. Roosevelt signs the G.I. Bill:

…U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the G.I. Bill, an unprecedented act of legislation designed to compensate returning members of the armed services–known as G.I.s–for their efforts in World War II.

As the last of its sweeping New Deal reforms, Roosevelt’s administration created the G.I. Bill–officially the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944–hoping to avoid a relapse into the Great Depression after the war ended. FDR particularly wanted to prevent a repeat of the Bonus March of 1932, when 20,000 unemployed veterans and their families flocked in protest to Washington. The American Legion, a veteran’s organization, successfully fought for many of the provisions included in the bill, which gave returning servicemen access to unemployment compensation, low-interest home and business loans, and–most importantly–funding for education.

By giving veterans money for tuition, living expenses, books, supplies and equipment, the G.I. Bill effectively transformed higher education in America. Before the war, college had been an option for only 10-15 percent of young Americans, and university campuses had become known as a haven for the most privileged classes. By 1947, in contrast, vets made up half of the nation’s college enrollment; three years later, nearly 500,000 Americans graduated from college, compared with 160,000 in 1939.

As educational institutions opened their doors to this diverse new group of students, overcrowded classrooms and residences prompted widespread improvement and expansion of university facilities and teaching staffs. An array of new vocational courses were developed across the country, including advanced training in education, agriculture, commerce, mining and fishing–skills that had previously been taught only informally….

On this day in 1943, a future senator from Wisconsin injures himself while drunk:

1943 – McCarthy Breaks Leg in Drunken Accident

On this date future senator Joseph McCarthy broke his leg during a drunken Marine Corps initiation ceremony, despite a press release and other claims that he was hurt in “military action.” Although nicknamed “Tail Gunner Joe”, McCarthy never was a tail gunner, but instead served at a desk as an intelligence officer. In 1951 he applied for medals, including the Distinguished Flying Cross, awarded to those who had flown at least 25 combat missions. The Marine Corps has records of only 11 combat flights McCarthy flew on, and those were described as local “milk run” flights. Many of McCarthy’s claims were disputed by political opponents as well as journalists.

A Google a Day asks a question about music: “During what musical period did composers perfect and standardize the concerto, sonata and symphony forms?”

Whitewater Chooses a New Administrator

This morning, the Whitewater Unified School District announced the selection of Dr. Mark Elworthy, currently administrator of the Wisconsin Heights School District, as Whitewater’s next district administrator. 

One wishes him truly the very best in our community.  We have proud accomplishments, with some significant challenges ahead, but that work ahead is among the best work anyone in this community might undertake. 

The cities and towns of this district are small and beautiful, if sometimes struggling.  For it all, there is no better place to be; what waits for us, here, is the work of a lifetime.

One should, and happily does, welcome Dr. Elworthy and all those who would join us in this common endeavor. 

Defending a River

At 85 years old, organic raisin farmer and lifelong river advocate Walt Shubin is not slowing down. He has dedicated the last 65 years of his life to restoring California’s once-mighty San Joaquin River to the wild glory he remembers as a young boy. Driven by his passion for the river, and despite worn out knees and joints, he takes us on a journey to help us understand why this river is so important to all of us as well.

Via Vimeo

Two States of Mind in Whitewater

There’s an easy way to see two different states of mind in Whitewater. 

Draft a list of eleven people for an athletic honor.  Make nine of the honorees athletes or coaches, and two of them an administrator and his spouse. 

Now, watch and see which people receive the most prominent attention. 
Some will pick one of the athletes or coaches, on the theory that it’s an athletic award.

By contrast, some will pick the administrator and his spouse, on the theory that a well-placed bureaucrat will always matter more than those who actually competed.

(In any event, whatever this second option may be, as an exercise in political rehabilitation it’s an impossibility.)

There we have the choices and states of mind in present-day Whitewater, although I’d doubt that some would even guess that choosing was possible.

Film: Wednesday, 12:30 PM @ Seniors in the Park, Son of Saul

This Wednesday, June 22nd at 12:30 PM, there will be a showing of Son of Saul @ Seniors in the Park, in the Starin community building.

Son of Saul is the Hungarian story of a prisoner at Auschwitz who tries to arrange a proper burial for the body of a boy that he recognizes from among other victims at the death camp.

The film received both an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film (2016) and Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language (2016). (The trailer above was made when the film was nominated, but had not yet won, an Oscar.)

More information about Son of Saul is available at the Internet Movie Database.