Daily Bread for 2.13.16

Good morning, Whitewater.

Saturday in town will be sunny, with a high of nine degrees.  Sunrise is 6:53 and sunset 5:24, for 10h 30m 05s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing crescent with 30.8% of its visible disk illuminated.

It’s Freeze Fest today and the Special Olympics Polar Plunge at the Cravath Lakefront today.  Check-In and Registration begins at from 10 AM, with an 11 AM Chili Cook-off, and a 12:00 PM Opening Ceremony & Plunging.   There will also be a Snow Dogs presentation at the Irvin Young Library (11 AM -1 PM).

Among all things polar, a polar bear cub in Toronto recently saw snow for the first time, and liked what he saw:

Take a look at our polar bear cub seeing snow for the first time! ? #TOpolarbearcub

Posted by The Toronto Zoo on Friday, February 12, 2016

On this day in 1935, state government intervened in the marketplace to prevent lower gasoline prices:

1935 – Gasoline Price Wars Quelled

On this date, in an effort to stop gasoline price wars, the state of Wisconsin established a minimum price of 16 cents per gallon for gasoline. [Source: Janesville Gazette]

Ackman’s Right About Herbalife

Bill Ackman, CEO of Pershing Square Capital, has waged a long campaign against Herbalife (in which he has a publicly-disclosed short position, that is, a bet against Herbalife’s future). Ackman’s a capitalist, activist, and philanthropist. (His politics are not mine – he recently urged Michael Bloomberg to run for president; Bloomberg is no libertarian.)

In his campaign against Herbalife, however, one sees Ackman’s deep humanity, a humanity wholly consistent with capitalism’s respect for individuals. Herbalife is a fraud and a cheat, offering a false promise to vulnerable people who invest in what’s truly a mid-level marketing scam. It’s more pyramid scheme than company. They prey on hopeful but unsophisticated small investors, often those who would like to share in America’s promise. Michael O. Johnson, CEO of Herbalife, is a repulsive schemer.

Above, I have embedded a video that Ackman has produced, where victims of Herbalife tell how they’ve been cheated.

Ackman has said that he will carry his short position against Herbalife “to the end of the earth.” That’s the very definition of a respectable position, view, or belief: that one will hold on, against any and all, to the very end. Not everyone believes Bill Ackman’s claims; in fact, Herbalife’s stock has been doing fairly well of late. His bet against them has been an expensive one.

But if he should be right, truly right, then why would he not double and double again his efforts to persuade others?

So he is doing, and in so doing, Bill Ackman is doing right, not merely for his investors, but for the many small investors that Herbalife cheats each and every day.

Looking at this one way, Bill Ackman didn’t have to wage a long war against Herbalife; he might have chosen any number of alternative causes. Looking at this another way – properly, I think – he most certainly did have to wage war against Herbalife, whatever the time or cost.

There is much to admire in his campaign against that foul company, and reason to emulate a commitment to fight ‘to the end of the earth’ in defense of other causes, too.

Here’s a link to more from Pershing Square: Facts About Herbalife.

See, also, a large (over 300 pages) pdf file with the case against Herbalife.

Friday Catblogging: The Purrtraitist

The Purrtraitist from No Problem on Vimeo.

Larry Johnson is a renowned photographer. His specialty is feline portraiture. He travels around the world taking photos of show cats. I spent a weekend with Larry at a cat show in Parsippany, NJ to see him work his magic.

Directed/Edited: Mark Zemel
Camera: Tyler Jensen & Mark Zemel
Audio Mix: Jeff Curtin
Colorist: Ryan Rossillo
Title Animation: Mack Williams

Directors Notes just posted some behind-the-scenes info about the video! bit.ly/1Uyv3Sj

Friday Poll: Possum in a Toilet Paper Dispenser

In Australia, park rangers discovered a possum living in a toilet paper dispenser. What should one think about this?

Daily Bread for 2.12.16

Good morning, Whitewater.

Friday in town will be cloudy in the morning, giving way to afternoon clouds and a high of seventeen. Sunrise is 6:55 and sunset 5:22, for 10h 27m 25s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 19.8% of its visible disk illuminated.

It’s Lincoln’s birthday. Every movement has its fringe, and libertarianism is no exception: some who are overly critical of Lincoln’s wartime powers or insufficiently attentive to the Civil War as, from beginning to end, an immoral secession motivated by slaveholders’ interests. Lincoln was incomparably superior to his principal critics and opponents, whatever mistakes he may have made in the course of a long war. See, in particular, Why “Libertarian” Defenses of the Confederacy and “States’ Rights” are Incoherent from Libertarianism.org and Defining Americanism from the Cato Institute’s Unbound series.

Here’s Lincoln, correctly, on Americanism and liberty, as C. Bradley Thompson cites him:

Abraham Lincoln helps us to understand the inconsistent and paradoxical relationship between the ideal and the real in American history. In his 1857 speech on the Dred Scott decision, Lincoln noted that the original theorists of Americanism, our founding fathers,

meant simply to declare the right, so that the enforcement of it might follow as fast as circumstances should permit. They meant to set up a standard maxim for a free society, which should be familiar to all, and revered by all; constantly looked up to, constantly laboured for, and even though never perfectly attained, constantly approximated, and thereby constantly spreading and deepening its influence, and augmenting the happiness and value of life to all people of all colours everywhere.[6]

Lincoln’s birthday remembrance: a great day for a great man.

On this day in 2002, it’s gold for America (and Wisconsin):

2002 – Verona Athlete Wins Gold Medal in 2002 Olympics

On this date Verona’s Casey FitzRandolph won a gold medal at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games in the Men’s 500 Meters. He began his career on the ice playing ice hockey and was inspired by Madison native Eric Heiden, an Olympic speed skater. FitzRandolph tried speed skating in his hockey skates and soon caught the attention of coaches in Wisconsin. He became an Olympian in 1998, when he placed sixth in the 500 meters and seventh in the 1000 at the Nagano Olympic Games. At the Salt Lake City Games he broke the olympic record in the 500 meters with a time of 1:09:23.

Here’s the Friday puzzle from JigZone:

Attorney General Schimel’s Support for Senate Bill 656

Late last month, Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel joined law enforcement officials at a press conference to announce his support for a bill that would offer amnesty for underage drinkers who report incidents of sexual assault (whether reporting as claimants or bystanders).   The bill (Senate Bill 656) would assure that someone could report an assault without worry of being cited for drinking, a possibility that might deter a claimant or bystander from contacting the police.

He was not alone in his support – SB 656 has support from both sides of the aisle, with both Republican and Democratic co-sponsors.

Once again, as with his meeting with sexual assault survivors (despite a refusal of UW-System officials to do likewise), one sees that A.G. Schimel understands that respect for individuals requires that their claims be heard.  Whether their claims are meritorious is a matter to be determined after they’ve had a chance to offer a claim –  failure to hear them out is deciding a matter a priori, a failure that would be inimical to the principles of a society based on individual rights.

(Those who are accused deserve and must have due process – that due process requires taking and processing a claim, not rejecting or pretending that claims have not been made.)

One alternative to hearing claims and offering due process to all individuals is a crude act utilitarianism in which university officials – in the name of protecting an organization’s reputation but truly to protect their own reputations – bury claims, ignore claimants, and ruin the careers of those who report incidents.

The UW System – and UW-Whitewater officials in particular – are accused by multiple claimants of burying claims (1 and 2), contending falsely that publicly-paid bureaucrats cannot speak to claimants, and insisting self-servingly that claims can only be presented one way.

A.G. Schimel’s support for SB 656 is support for the view that being heard can and should legitimately trump the circumstances surrounding when and how one makes oneself heard.  His support further undermines the unpersuasive, risible contention that the Telfer Administration at UW-Whitewater acted on principle in these several matters.

There’s no serious choice in this:  one can embrace the reasoned view of a well-educated, experienced prosecutor who has (sadly) seen many cases of assault in his career, or one can side with the flimsy, self-protective claims of lightweight administrators and their press flacks.

Catching Up with the SweetSpot

I’ve reviewed the SweetSpot previously, and here are a few quick remarks about the new menu and remodeling of their location at 226 West Whitewater Street. I’ve not yet reviewed the SweetSpot Bakehouse, on the other side of town at 1185 West Main St, Whitewater.

Remodel (and Menu Changes It Brings).  The remodel adds a soda fountain, and brings the SweetSpot closer to being a sandwich shop as well as a coffee house.  It’s had sandwiches before, but adding fountain soda moves the restaurant even farther in a lunchtime direction.  In fact, by ambiance, it’s more a hybrid than solely a coffee shop.  (A traditional coffee house would not have a soda fountain at all.)

We’re a small town, and there’s both benefit and need in offering an expanded lunch menu.  A traditional, coffee-only shop with china cups and orders of pastries on plates might have trouble making a long-term go of it here.

And yet, a sandwich shop with à la carte side dishes (as this menu now has) is a stylistic contradiction (if an economical or lucrative change, depending on one’s vantage):  a sandwich shop would typically include sides, as the old menu did.

Speed of Service.    An independent coffee house (unlike a Starbucks) doesn’t have to move quickly. Service is languorous because for an old-school shop, speed’s not only unimportant, but actually unwelcome – one moves slowly and leisurely.

A sandwich shop can’t be slow – patrons wanting lunch are on a schedule, and need to get their food quickly to maximize the limited time that they have.

In my recent visits to the SweetSpot, lunchtime service has been too slow for some patrons, and people walked out.  There’s a second electronic register, but on these occasions I’ve not seen it used.

When patrons walk out, they don’t vanish – they go elsewhere to eat.  If they like elsewhere enough, they will not return to the original destination.  Whitewater has more than one shop that offers sandwiches. Time hasn’t been a concern for me, but I can see that it is for others.  It’s unexpected that a remodel and menu change did not bring, at the same time, a change in speed of lunchtime service.

As always, this post is delivered without financial or other connection to the establishment or its owner. The dining experience was that of an ordinary patron, without notice to the staff or requests for special consideration.

Daily Bread 2.11.16

Good morning, Whitewater.

Thursday in town will be sunny and cold, with a high of eighteen degrees. Sunrise is 6:56 and sunset is 5:21, for 10h 24m 46s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing crescent with 11.4% of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Fire Department will hold a business meeting tonight at 7 PM.

On this day in 1861, Lincoln leaves for Washington, D.C.:

On a cold, rainy morning, Lincoln boarded a two-car private train loaded with his family’s belongings, which he himself had packed and bound. His wife, Mary Lincoln, was in St. Louis on a shopping trip, and joined him later in Indiana. It was a somber occasion. Lincoln was leaving his home and heading into the maw of national crisis. Since he had been elected, seven Southern states had seceded from the Union. Lincoln knew that his actions upon entering office would likely lead to civil war. He spoke to a crowd before departing: “Here I have lived a quarter of a century, and have passed from a young man to an old man. Here my children have been born, and one is buried. I now leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. Without the assistance of that Divine Being… I cannot succeed. With that assistance, I cannot fail… To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell.”

February 11, 1842 was an unpleasant day in Wisconsin’s territorial legislature:

1842 – Shooting in the Legislature

On this date the Territorial Legislature of Wisconsin met in Madison, only to be interrupted by the shooting of one member by another. The legislature was debating the appointment of Enos S. Baker for sheriff of Grant County when Charles Arndt made a sarcastic remark about Baker’s colleague, James Vineyard. After an uproar, adjournment was declared and when Arndt approached Vineyard’s desk, a fight broke out during which Vineyard drew his revolver and shot Arndt. [Source: Badger Saints and Sinners by Fred L. Holmes]

JigZone‘s puzzle for Thursday is a fire hydrant:

Revisiting Kozloff’s ‘Dark, Futile Dream’

About a year ago, I wrote a post on an off-campus meeting at which local notables and a search consultant (Jessica Kozloff) discussed a replacement for Richard Telfer. A story on that meeting, published in the Daily Union, is one of the best accounts of insiders’  thinking.  See, from that newspaper, UW-Whitewater chancellor session held, http://www.dailyunion.com/news/article_f042575e-a63a-11e4-bcd8-939679ffcc09.html.

(The Daily Union may be a mediocre paper, but it’s a clear window into town notables’ inflated views of themselves, mistaken notions of quality, and willingness to say and believe any number of tall tales about the city.  See, along these lines, The Last Inside Accounts.)

The DU story quotes Kozloff as dismissing the assertiveness of the local press, seeing that not as a problem, but as a benefit:

“One of the trends we’re finding in the search is that the role of the president is, to some degree, less attractive today because it’s everything from social media to the volatility of politics today,” she said. “All of that has sort of had an impact and made the role much more stressful, especially in a place that has a very, very negative media. However, that’s not going to be true here, so I think that’s going to help.”

Kozloff is right that the local press here is laughably weak (what she’s describing as ‘a very, very negative media’ would undoubtedly be investigative journalism and inquisitive reporting elsewhere).  Gazette, DU, and the Banner (an online imitation, if not a parody, of a newspaper) have played critical roles in supporting local authorities at almost every turn.

(For those who doubt that the Banner‘s publisher could possibly imagine himself as a journalist of sorts, there’s confirmation of those pretensions  in a Gazette story still online, in which he poses with a reporter’s notebook and a voice recorder: http://www.gazettextra.com/news/2008/jan/20/ambassador-records-community-life/.   At the time, this must have seemed almost precious to the Gazette; it would have been closer to the truth to say that it was a foretaste of where quality of inquiry was headed, in a race to the bottom among declining newspapers and their imitators.  The political-press relationship is so distorted here that one can be a candidate, and report on one’s candidacy, while describing oneself in the third-person in a childish attempt to downplay the conflict.)

Big_Fat_Red_CatWhere Kozloff’s wrong, however, is in her implication of how news actually travels in this community.  She wants to reassure her audience of notables that they needn’t worry about ‘negative’ news, but of course she’s reassuring only in the way a doctor would be reassuring when telling a morbidly obese patient that he’s fit and looks great: a few people will believe anything.

One can consider the contrast between what a few seem to think and how information actually travels.

What A Few Seem to Think.  Even now – it’s 2016 – one can find examples of officials who must think (or hope, really) that information comes from only a few sources: DU, Gazette, and Banner.  They’d also know that there’s word-of-mouth discussion, but would have less worry about it except in personal terms.  (If there’s anyone left who thinks that the Register is a meaningful source of information, well…)

How Information Actually Travels.  People read stories in the DU, Gazette, and Banner, to be sure.  (Candidly, though, the actual penetration of either the DU or Gazette into the community is almost certainly far lower than their publishers would have one believe.  That’s more true of the Gazette – sales of the paper locally or online subscriptions for Whitewater’s residents are surely small.  Doubt this?  Potential advertisers should ask for independent readership figures for Whitewater, that is, figures specific to the city.  They’ll be surprised, if they even get anything.

But there are other ways that news travels, from email, blogs, Facebook, text messages, etc.  On the blogging side, a post that mentions local policy (or responds to mention of local policy discussed elsewhere) reaches a significant audience within twenty-four to thirty-six hours of posting.  That doesn’t mean everyone in the relevant group (city, school district, whatever) sees every post, but it’s about a day to a day-and-a-half before the post reaches a critical mass, to speak.

ostrichThere are undoubtedly officials who would deny this, or at least hope it’s not true.  They are committed to a strong perimeter fence, and desperate to live as there is no discussion – or life – beyond it.  SeeThe Perimeter Fence and How a Perimeter Fence Dooms Elites Within to Impossible Tasks, Exhaustion.

Their denial has never bothered me.  In fact, it’s been a great advantage.

First, when a few carry on as though no one has heard a counter-argument, when in fact many have heard the counter-argument, those who pretend nothing in reply has been said look ridiculous.  Even a few episodes like this makes a person look absurd.  It leads to a situation part silly, part sad.

Second, I don’t think that Whitewater’s public policy differences are merely a choice between alternatives of equal quality.  What officials say about something, and what one writes in reply, is not what will carry the day: the underlying soundness of a position is what matters most.  Many of Whitewater’s policymakers evidently believe that it’s enough to sell something. No, and no again: only close alignment between one’s views and the fundamentals of policy and human nature can assure a view’s ultimate vindication.  That’s why I see blogging – or any advocacy if undertaken properly – as both Commentary & Chronicle.

Third, remaining distant from local ‘movers and shakers’ assures that one will not be influenced, biased, or compromised by personal relationships.  Most insiders in Whitewater are individually talented but – when part of a collective group – produce work below their individual abilities.   SeeWhitewater’s Major Public Institutions Produce a Net Loss (And Why It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way).

Given the choice, I would for both principled and practical reasons never trade my aerie for one at the Gazette, Daily Union, or Banner.  Newspaper-oriented publications are on the wrong side of history.  Part of that historically disadvantageous position comes from the costs of printing, but just as much from the top-down, authority-boosting perspectives they hold.  One measures the strength of a position by considering whether one would trade it for another.  There’s no reason to trade to a weaker position.

Groups – at least political or social groups with serious concerns – wanting to advance a message in this unfolding, new environment need to create their own messages with their own media.  Relying on others’ media, when those media lack the energy or acumen to drive a serious political or social concern – is a recipe for failure.

One should do one’s own work.

Daily Bread for 2.10.16

Good morning, Whitewater.

Wednesday in town will be partly cloudy with a high of thirteen degrees. Sunrise is 4:57 and sunset 5:20, for 10h 22m 07s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 5% of its visible disk illuminated.

The Parks & Recreation Board meets tonight at 7 PM.

On this day in 1763, many of the combatants in the Seven Years War sign the Treaty of Paris, ending several years of global conflict among most of the principal powers of the time:

"A new map of North America" - produced following the Treaty of Paris. Via Wikipedia.
“A new map of North America” – produced following the Treaty of Paris. Via Wikipedia.                                                                                    (Click for larger image.)

The Treaty of Paris, also known as the Treaty of 1763, was signed on 10 February 1763 by the kingdoms of Great Britain, France and Spain, withPortugal in agreement, after Britain’s victory over France and Spain during the Seven Years’ War.

The signing of the treaty formally ended the Seven Years’ War, known as the French and Indian War in the North American theatre,[1] and marked the beginning of an era of British dominance outside Europe.[2] The two nations returned much of the territory that they had each captured during the war, but Britain gained much of France’s possessions in North America. Additionally, Britain agreed to protect Roman Catholicism in the New World. The treaty did not involve Prussia and Austria as they signed a separate agreement, the Treaty of Hubertusburg, five days later.

On this day in 1950, Sen. McCarthy keeps going:

1950 – McCarthy Continues Allegations

On this date, in a speech delivered in Salt Lake City, Utah, Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy claimed to possess the names of 57 U.S. government employees, actively engaged in Communist activities. [Source:Google Newspaper Archives]

JigZone offers a Gazania Sunshine Mix today:

The State of the Schools Presentation at Whitewater’s Common Council

33cscreenshotPost 5 in a weekly series.

State of the Schools @ Whitewater’s Common Council 020216 from John Adams on Vimeo.

Download (PDF, 6.26MB)

I’ve embedded a 2.2.16 ‘State of the Schools’ presentation to Whitewater’s Common Council, and a pdf of a brochure that school district representatives distributed at the meeting (and that is available on the school district’s website). It’s unlikely that many people have seen either one until now. I’ll post them today without additional remarks.


Daily Bread for 2.9.16

Good morning, Whitewater.

Snow showers will end this morning, and we’ll have a day of cloudy skies and a high of eighteen. Sunrise is 6:59 and sunset 5:18, for 10h 19m 30s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 1.1% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1964, the Beatles appear on the Ed Sullivan Show:

It’s 9th February 1964.

With George’s bad throat now, thankfully, better; at 8pm on Sunday 9th February, 1964, the live broadcast of the first Ed Sullivan Show was aired with the full Beatle line-up. The band played five songs (All My Loving, Till There Was You, She Loves You, I Saw Her Standing There and I Want To Hold Your Hand) and made broadcasting history.

Paul: “Seventy-three million people were reported to have watched the first show. It is still supposed to be one of the largest viewing audiences ever in the States.”

Three other British acts completed the show’s schedule – ‘The British Invasion’ was now well under way. By this point, The Beatles were better able to comprehend the phenomenon of their success, in part because Elvis himself had just publicly congratulated them…

George: “We were aware that Ed Sullivan was the big one because we got a telegram from Elvis and the Colonel. And I’ve heard that while the show was on there were no reported crimes, or very few. When The Beatles were on Ed Sullivan, even the criminals had a rest for ten minutes.”

Watch below to see Ed Sullivan famously introducing the USA to The Beatles.

Click through to the website to see more photographs from this now-legendary day: http://gnikn.us/Mv28wS

Via The Beatles on YouTube.

On this day in 1950, Sen. McCarthy claims he has a list:

On this date Wisconsin senator Joseph McCarthy claimed, for the first time, to possess a list of 205 names of known communists working for the State Department. He made this allegation during a speech to the Republican Women’s Club at the McClure Hotel in Wheeling, West Virginia. [Source: History department, University of San Diego]

JigZone offers a butterfly puzzle today:

‘A Truck Loop Specified for Heavy Truck Traffic’

WGTB logo PNG 112x89 Post 60 in a series. When Green Turns Brown is an examination of a small town’s digester-energy project, in which Whitewater, Wisconsin would import other cities’ waste, claiming that the result would be both profitable and green.

I mentioned that I would look at a few more aspects of Whitewater’s 12.15.15 meeting on wastewater upgrades and waste importation, perhaps also addressing a few scattered topics, and then collect my set of questions, and pose requests at law where additional information is needed. Those few posts also allow time to upgrade the WHEN GREEN TURNS BROWN website, and get it ready for a proper launch. There’s much to do after these questions are collected, and it makes sense to progress more quickly and firmly. Whitewater’s Common Council may take some action on the project in March, but the more one looks at this project, the less reasonable it is to consider the project primarily as a local matter. Local actions are illustrative for comparisons with other communities.

In the video below, a representative of the Donohue engineering firm, a firm paid over one million dollars for consulting on the project in addition to the twenty-million construction cost, describes the location of the plant for the purposes of importing waste:

“Located out on a truck loop really speci…specified for heavy truck traffic….”

I’ve embedded the clip through Vine, as I’m interested in ways to present brief remarks from public meetings (apart from this series). It’s set to load automatically but is not set to play audio automatically. (At least to my mind at this time, autoplaying audio seems jarring. An alternative presentation method would be to allow audio autoplaying initially but mute it after a few days’ time of the clip being on my sites. The advantage of short clips, of course, is that they capture brief but telling remarks. As it is now, one can click the speaker button on the video’s lower right corner to hear the audio.)

Today’s questions begin with Number 292. All the questions in this series may be found in the Question Bin.

Here are a few questions about the Donohue representative’s remarks:

292. What’s the maximum truck volume that this project can accommodate as presented?

293. What’s the actual truck volume that this project would require even under its initial formulation?

294. Why does the Donohue representative (Nathan Cassity) expressly mentions that waste importation would take place on ‘a truck loop really specified for heavy truck traffic’ if he didn’t think that available capacity was relevant and material to the project? (The alternative, it seems, would require one to believe that Mr. Cassity simply utters irrelevant and immaterial remarks in public meetings. If the alternative should improbably be true, perhaps Whitewater’s local government might ask for a discount on the million-plus consulting fee.)

295. After well over two years of discussions and presentations about waste importation – including ten presentations from City Manager Clapper to small, cherry-picked insiders’ groups – City Manager Clapper and Wastewater Superintendent Reel now contend that six or more years of waste importation would be mere experimentation. Isn’t it obvious that use of the term experimentation for their proposed effort is a transparent attempt to downplay a project that the vendor on which they rely candidly admits would use ‘a truck loop really specified for heavy truck traffic’?

WHEN GREEN TURNS BROWN: Appearing at whengreenturnsbrown.com and re-posted Mondays @ 10 AM here on FREE WHITEWATER.