A Response to Hate Groups

A reader kindly pointed me to a tweet describing a successful method to respond to Nazi sympathizers. It’s true that money for programs to rehabilitate racists is needed now more than ever, as the current administration recently cut funding for a vital program, Life After Hate, that works to counter violent extremism.

Here’s the tweet, describing an approach used in Germany —

Below is a video and description of Life After Hate’s work. If you’d also like to make a contribution to Life After Hate (I just did), they’ve an easy-to-use donation link.

Life After Hate, Inc., a 501(c)(3) U.S. nonprofit, was created in 2011 by former members of the American violent far-right extremist movement. Through powerful stories of transformation and unique insight gleaned from decades of experience, we serve to inspire, educate, guide, and counsel.

Whether working with individuals who wish to leave a life of hate and violence or helping organizations (community, educational, civic, government, etc.) grappling with the causes of intolerance and racism, Life After Hate works to counter the seeds of hate we once planted. Through personal experience and highly unique skill sets, we have developed a sophisticated understanding about what draws individuals to extremist groups and, equally important, why they leave. Compassion is the opposite of judgment and we understand the roles compassion and empathy play in healing individuals and communities.

More on the Right Social Conditions in a Small Town

I posted yesterday that Gentrification Requires the Right Social Conditions, contending in part that a small city like Whitewater remains divided (and by consequence limits its own attractiveness to newcomers) because it remains divided by town and gown (and divided within the town, itself, too).

Whitewater’s problem is not that different factions do not have a sense of their own interests, it’s that these factions do not see others’ interests adequately, and so both make accommodations less likely and (worse) even misperceive full measure of the very community in which they live.

It’s much easier to be a representative of a particular group (e.g., students, middle-aged non-student residents, elderly residents). (Obvious point, still worth making: I don’t claim to represent anyone else; I’m an emissary of one, so to speak.)

A few people saying they’ve solved problems of division doesn’t mean those divisions have been solved; it means a few people think (let’s assume sincerely so) that they have been, and hope to convince many others that their assurances are an adequate substitute for community harmony.

I’m increasingly convinced that the best efforts at community harmony and progress will not come from local government, or large local institutions, but from private charitable, small business, and cultural projects. Each of these has a chance of inspiring cross-cultural understanding as good or better than any factionalized political representation.

Cross-cultural understanding is a necessary condition of community progress.

The Whitewater Community Foundation’s First Annual Campaign

Please see a news release about charitable work in our small city — best wishes to all who are supporting the campaign –

Whitewater Community Foundation board of directors presents a check to Stacey Lunsford for a reading program at the Irvin L. Young Memorial Library. (In photo: Beverly Kopper, Mark Dorn, Rick Fassl, Jim Coburn, Stacey Lunsford, Kevin Brunner, David Yochum, Dawn Hunter. Not pictured: Danielle Frawley and Dr. Mark Elworthy, who became board members after the photograph was taken.)

Whitewater Community Foundation is concluding its first ever Annual Campaign

Thank you to everyone who donated! We reached our modest goal of $50,000, and the donations are still rolling in! Thank you to everyone who contributed to help us continue our Community Action Grants. Our grants help nonprofits in town accomplish amazing projects that benefit us in numerous ways – through education, beautification, health and preservation. We believe that real change starts at the local level. And those of you who donated have shown that you believe this too!

If you were thinking about donating and got distracted, you still have time until the end of the year to contribute your tax deductible gift toward great projects in our great city. You can go to our website at whitewatercommunityfoundation.org and click the “donate” button at the bottom of the page or you can donate the old-fashioned way by sending the Whitewater Community Foundation a check to P.O. Box 428, Whitewater, WI 53190. We’ll be contacting you early next year to find out more about what you value in Whitewater.

The World’s Largest Model Railroad 

If model trains are built for kids, then it’s safe to say Bruce Zaccagnino is an incredibly large child.

He’s the mastermind behind Northlandz, the self-proclaimed largest model railroad in the world. And according to filmmaker Andrew Wilcox, it’s one of the most under-appreciated attractions he’s ever seen. So he decided to capture it on camera to share it with the world.

It’s situated in a 16-acre property in Flemington, New Jersey, and boasts a whopping 100 trains on more than eight miles of track, longer than anywhere else in the world. With a 30-foot mountain, 400 bridges and tressels, some of which span 40 feet, and roughly 500,000 miniaturized lichen trees, Northlandz is more than just the object of a child’s bewilderment in a storefront window….

Via An Up-Close and Personal Look at the World’s Largest @ Atlas Obscura.

Asking About a Student’s Day

33cscreenshotPost 15 in a series.

Every parent wants to know how a child’s day went at school – what he or she learned, experienced, and thought about the day.  Sometimes, however, the obvious question (“how was school today?”) doesn’t elicit more than a brief, unspecific answer.

An NBC news story online, offers suggestions from a parent on how to ask children about their school days in a way to get a more informative answer. The questions – and variations one can easily craft – are from Liz Evans, a parent of three and blogger.

Evans suggests questions that should help parents learn more from their children about school experiences.

See, Not Having Luck Asking the Kids ‘So How Was School Today? @ NBC News.

Making Wood Without Trees

Ecovative Design has made a mission of replacing synthetic plastic polymers with natural mushroom based polymers. After disrupting the packaging industry with a line of fully biodegradable mushroom packaging, they are now setting their sights on replacing manufactured wood products. (Video by Brandon Lisy, Justin Beach) (Music by Andy Clausen)

Via Bloomberg Business.

NASA Adds Dream Chaser to Transportation Roster

For those hoping that America would re-introduce a space plane to her roster of civilian transportation options, there’s good news:

The Dream Chaser space plane that lands on a runway like an aeroplane and launches with the help of a rocket will join the duo of privately operated space capsules – SpaceX’s reusable Dragon and Orbital ATK’s disposable Cygnus.

NASA awarded contracts valued at several billion dollars Jan. 14 to three companies, including one newcomer, for commercial cargo deliveries to the International Space Station through 2024.

See, Dream Chaser space plane to fly to ISS (Video) @ Canada Journal.

There’s also significant support among our European allies for the Dream Chaser.  See, from the BBC, Europe excited by Dream Chaser mini-shuttle.

Winged craft don’t simply look sharp – they allow (among other things) runway landings that permit rapid return of biomedical experiments to terrestrial laboratories.

NASA made the right decision when she encouraged multiple, private companies to compete for transportation contracts. Out of that competition, America will have more than one good vehicle (where each of those options will be at the forefront of contemporary engineering).

Caffeinated Pastry’s Only a Matter of Time

Alternative title : Biophysicist-Inventor Possibly One of the Greatest Americans Ever.

Thanks to a biophysicist, caffeinated muffins could be coming soon to a coffee shop near you — and they’ll also be loaded with antioxidants. Professor Daniel Perlman of Boston-area Brandeis University has invented a coffee flour milled from par-baked green coffee beans that can be used in baked goods; a patent for the process was approved in December.

As the Boston Globe notes, a number of studies have been done in recent years focusing on the health benefits of coffee, but while many researchers agree that a few cups a day is good for you, they have yet to pinpoint what exactly is responsible for coffee’s beneficial effects — though they suspect it may have something to do with “chlorogenic acid (CGA), an antioxidant that appears to modulate how rapidly the body breaks down glucose.”

Perlman’s newly patented process involves par-baking green coffee beans at a relatively lower temperature for a short period of time, which retains the CGA that’s typically lost in the regular coffee roasting process. The resulting light-colored beans are no good for brewing and drinking, so instead, he turned them into a finely milled flour that has up to four times as much CGA as regular roasted coffee beans.

Via Newly Patented Coffee Flour Could Fuel Caffeinated Baked Goods @ Eater.

The Hon. Alex Kozinski on Good Science

The Hon. Alex Kozinski is a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  The Ninth Circuit has jurisdiction over most federal appellate matters in the western continental United States.  Judge Kozinski is nationally know among members of the bench, and served as chief judge of the Ninth Circuit for many years (2007-2014).

One of his finest accomplishments (and at sixty-five he’s still busy as judge and legal scholar) is his thoughtful defense of exacting standards for expert studies at trial.

To be a defender of exacting standards requires that one be an opponent of junk science, crackpot theories, and shoddy studies.  That’s the Whitewater aspect of this: Americans can and should do better than the low standards local publications set for policymaking and policy studies.

In the audio clip above, Judge Kozinski speaks (last fall) to the Cato Institute about the need for sound reasoning in criminal matters.  Early in the clip, he mentions a motion – a Daubert motion, following Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993) – used to exclude expert testimony that falls below an acceptable standard as Federal Rule of Evidence 702 requires.  Daubert was a civil case, and it’s Judge Kozinski’s point that in criminal matters a Daubert standard in favor of reason – and against junk science – hasn’t been applied as often it should be.

We could use a Daubert standard for local government projects around here; even Daubert-lite would be a big improvement.

A Coffee Shop with a Spot for Stray Dogs


A photo has been making the rounds on social media showing a group of stray dogs napping comfortably on a bench of cushions as a result of one business’s act of kindness. The image was reportedly snapped at a café in Greece, where management sees fit to offer refuge to homeless pups after closing up each evening.

The cafeteria Hot Spot in Mytilene, Lesbos, once customers leave, opens its doors to local stray dogs so they can use the sofas and “sleep without being cold,” writes Greek blog Zoosos.

Via This Coffee Shop Opens Its Doors Every Night To Stray Dogs @ The Dodo.

Hiking for Emails

HIKING FOR EMAILS from Clemens Purner on Vimeo.

In the Annapurna region in Nepal a man has made an extraordinary vision come true.

He has brought internet access to places that even today can only be reached after several days travel on foot.

By now he has managed to connect over 60.000 people to the World Wide Web and raised the region’s standards of health, education and prosperity.

His name is Mahabir Pun.

Friday Catblogging: Music for Cats

For the first time ever, there’s music for cats that’s been verified by science. Help fund music that’s been proven to enrich animals’ lives by donating to our Kickstarter campaign at:

We’d like to give a special thanks to our feline stars and their owners:
– Lori Shepler and City the Kitty: citythekitty.com
– Chris Poole and Cole & Marmalade: coleandmarmalade.com
– May Chung and Bacon: instagram.com/baconcup
– Pookie Mathachittiphan and Nala: nalacat.com

We’d also like to say thanks to Anomaly (anomaly.com) for their leadership and generous, enthusiastic support while making this all possible, Animal Haven (animalhavenshelter.org) for letting us film, Getty (gettyimages.com) for access to stock video assets, H. Paul Moon (zenviolence.com) for his imagination and generous addition to the rooftop film, and Owen Brown (owenbrown.nyc) for brilliantly leading the Kickstarter campaign’s creative efforts. Special thanks are due to Chuck Snowden, the scientist’s scientist who has such a rare combination of a brilliant, open mind with a capacity for rigorous attention to detail.

Via Music for Cats @ YouTube.

Shop Small on Saturday, November 28, 2015

If you’re out and about on Saturday, I hope you’ll shop at some of the many independent, small merchants of Whitewater. You’ll find a wide selection of items for purchase as gifts, and good restaurants at which to eat while shopping during the day.

Best wishes to all for a happy and prosperous season —


See, for more information, Small Business Saturday® on Facebook.

Kangaroo-Avoidance Technology

Only a matter of time —


Stateside, as large mammals go, deer are probably the single biggest threat to cars traveling the highways. Now, imagine a smaller, “very unpredictable” deer that hops on two legs: that’s the hell of driving in Australia, where some 20,000 kangaroo collisions are said to happen annually….

There’s no word on when kangaroo avoidance will actually become a standard feature on new Volvos sold Down Under, but it may not be long: all the technology and sensors already exist, it’s mostly just a matter of calibrating the systems appropriately. Volvo conducted real-world research (hopefully without killing any live animals) near the Australian capital of Canberra last week.

Via Volvo is testing kangaroo avoidance technology for Australian drivers @ The Verge.

Today @ the Whitewater City Market, 3 – 7 PM




If you’ve not had the chance, today would a fine day to visit the Whitewater City Market, at the Cravath lakefront.   They’ve an impressive lineup, and you’re sure to find something you’ll enjoy.


Andrus & the Mariners  5:30-7 p.m.


BeefN’Beaks  grass-fed beef, farm-fresh chickens and eggs

Bluff Creek Nursery  plants, produce, painted trellises

Chippy’s Kettle Corn  popped-on-site kettle corn, fresh-squeezed lemonade

D&B Yarn  hand-spun yarns

D&D Enterprises  wooden birdhouses, feeders, dream catchers, jewelry

Doug Jenks Honey  honey, maple syrup, beeswax, sorghum

Drews Designs Jewelry  jewelry

Grischow’s Produce  produce

Ground to Table  jams, jellies, chutneys, bruschetta, salsas, kimchi, bread

Jazzed-Up Marshmallows  gourmet marshmallows, apples in the fall

Life Giving Nook Goat Milk Soap  bar and liquid goat milk soap; plants and veggies

Malone’s Produce  sweet corn

Morningside Farm & Orchard  chicken, goat meat, eggs, goat milk products, jam, produce

Morsels by Marly  fruit pops, granola, baked goods

Murphy’s Farm Produce produce

Nani’s Nook  handsewn baby bibs, burp cloths, crayola caddies, aprons, eye pillows

New-Age Peasants Field of Dreams  organic produce, all-natural body scrubs, rustic furniture

Number One Dime  crocheted items, jewelry, sculptures

Ron’s Tin Roof Garden  produce, handmade signs, birdhouses

Schoenfeld Family Farm  sweet corn, beans, potatoes, onions, carrots

Shia Shakes & Co. Jewelry  jewelry and jewelry holders

Soap of the Earth  goat milk soaps infused with organically grown herbs

Spark Spices  spice blends

SpinMeKnots  hand-spun hair clips and yarns, knitted headbands, spirit locks

Steffen’s Cherry Orchard  local tart cherries (frozen), jams, honey

Sunny Brook Farm  produce, eggs

Taco Fresco  salsas, picos, pickled Mexican and southern-style veggies

Takou’s Produce  fresh-cut bouquets, sunflowers, seasonal veggies

The Vegetable Stand  produce

Uncle Steve’s Creations  homemade jellies, jams, sauces and relishes

Tony’s Honey  honey, soap, and beeswax items

Vang’s produce  produce

Yang’s produce  produce


Casual Joe’s  pulled pork sandwiches, barbecue sauces, salad kits

Flying Cow Pizza  wood-fired mobile pizza oven

Primetime  burgers, wraps, cheese curds, fries, snow cones, sodas, and more

SweetSpot  coffee, baked goods, bread, lemonade