A Sign for Whitewater High School

The Scene from Whitewater, Wisconsin

Whitewater Planning Commission – A High School Sign from John Adams on Vimeo.

Anyone who thinks that small town politics is simple hasn’t watched small town politics. In the video above, the Whitewater Planning Commission took 28 minutes to approve conditions for the local high school to place an electronic sign on school property. (Whitewater is a small city of about fifteen thousand, half of whom are college students attending a local campus.)

I’d invite readers to watch the video (and the video of the full meeting, too, online @ https://vimeo.com/250492564).

A local family raised donations toward the cost of an electronic sign with a scrolling message the school could display. One sees signs like this across America.

Whitewater’s planning commissioners, one of whom sits on the Whitewater city council, consider here whether the sign would be a distraction, where it would be placed, what kind of message should scroll on it, how long the messages should scroll, when some messages but not others should scroll, etc.

The summary written immediately above takes only a few seconds to read; the  discussion of these topics consumes nearly a half-hour.

A few remarks:

1. A lawyer in town raises concerns about the sign. He contends that traffic in the area is intense. That’s a relative term; there are millions of commuters who travel safely each day in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York under conditions that they would consider intense.

2. How risky is driving at the intersection near the sign? The local lawyer says it’s intense, and a commissioner/council member mentions that the commission might have asked the police department for accident reports from the area.

No one, however, took the simple step before the meeting of asking for a summary of existing accident data for the area. It wouldn’t have been hard, but instead of looking for the best available information, the commissioners and city planner speculate without it. No data will offer a perfect assessment, but it’s a sign of a lazy mindset to know one could get better information – and relatively easily – and not even bother to try.

3. Hyper-rationality isn’t rational. It’s right to ponder something, to think it through, and yet, and yet – some matters will remain undiscernible even after lengthy consideration. Some scrolling letters might be less distracting than other letters, at some times of day, under some weather conditions, at some months of the year, etc.

It’s not a higher reasoning, but instead a lower one, that delves into unknown (and unknowable) speculation. Significance (relevant & material) constrains – as it should – right reason. On and on doesn’t bring one closer – it takes one father away.

4. The question for Dr. Elworthy. Mark Elworthy, the school district administrator, appeared to answer any questions that the commissioners might have. Commissioner/Council member Lynn Binnie decided to ask him one (@ 6:20 on the video):

Binnie: You received a copy of Mr. Devitt’s [lawyer-resident objecting to sign’s location]  letter. What comments would you have with respect to those concerns?

Elworthy: We’ve talked about that, but Mr. Devitt has spoken to the school board, and the school board has responded to all of those. I apologize, I did not, I got the copy, if I could look at those I could answer it. [Receives Devitt letter, examines.] I guess I came here this evening to share that the school board has listened a couple times to Mr. Devitt, responded, we have spoken privately as well, the board has listened to those concerns, after listening to his concerns the board approved the sign.

Elworthy’s right, here, about how to respond. He’s an appointed administrator of an elected, collectively-governing body. He neither can nor should offer an individual, point-by-point reply if there’s already been a decision of the board to which he is responsible. Elworthy’s right to point to a decision of the collective body to which he, Elworthy, is responsible. A point-by-point reply would inch Elworthy away from whatever the board has decided on the matter. It’s the board’s position, and the board’s language, that controls the school district response.

Binnie’s free to ask the question, of course, but Elworthy answered soundly. (One can’t tell whether Binnie expected the response he received. Perhaps he didn’t know that there had been prior discussions with the school district, perhaps he didn’t see that the proper answer precluded a point-by-point reply, or perhaps Binnie just asked the question regardless to appease a complaining constituent.)

5. Conditions. One hopes that there will never be an accident at the high school intersection, or any other intersection in town, for any reason. The relationship between the commission’s conditions for use of the sign and the actual value of those conditions for safety, however, is unknowable.  What one can say, however, is that it’s much easier to impose conditions – one after another – than to show how any of them will actually reduce the chances of an accident.

These conditions should also give pause, that the commission regulates easily, and readily, even over a simple matter.

It would have been a moment of candor for the members of the commission to admit as much.

Daily Bread for 11.17.17

Good morning.

Whitewater’s Friday will be rainy with a high of forty-three. Sunrise is 6:50 AM and sunset 4:29 PM, for 9h 38m 42s of daytime. The moon is new, with 0.8% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the three hundred seventy-third day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1968, NBC broadcasts the Heidi Game: “The Heidi Game or Heidi Bowl was an American Football League (AFL) game played on November 17, 1968, between the Oakland Raiders and the visiting New York Jets. The game was notable for its exciting finish, in which Oakland scored two touchdowns in the final minute to win the game 43–32, but got its name for a decision by the game’s television broadcaster, NBC, to break away from its coverage of the game on the east coast to broadcast the television film Heidi, causing many viewers to miss the Raiders’ comeback.”

On this day in 1861, the 4th Wisconsin Infantry reconnoiters Virginia’s eastern shore: “The 4th Wisconsin Infantry was among Union forces assigned to an expedition in Accomac County, Virginia. The regiment’s historian wrote, “The Fourth and a battery [of light artillery] and small cavalry force, embarked on an expedition to the eastern shore of Virginia, where they remained, encountering some severe marching through the mud and flooded roads, under the command of General Lockwood, until the 9th of December.”

Recommended for reading in full — 

Rebecca Ballhaus and Peter Nicholas report Special Counsel Mueller Issued Subpoena for Russia-Related Documents From Trump Campaign Officials (“Senate committee also pressures Kushner lawyer to turn over more documents”):

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team in mid-October issued a subpoena to President Donald Trump’s campaign requesting Russia-related documents from more than a dozen top officials, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The subpoena, which requested documents and emails from the listed campaign officials that reference a set of Russia-related keywords, marked Mr. Mueller’s first official order for information from the campaign, according to the person. The subpoena didn’t compel any officials to testify before Mr. Mueller’s grand jury, the person said.

The subpoena caught the campaign by surprise, the person said. The campaign had previously been voluntarily complying with the special counsel’s requests for information, and had been sharing with Mr. Mueller’s team the documents it provided to congressional committees as part of their probes of Russian interference into the 2016 presidential election.

The Trump campaign is providing documents in response to the subpoena on an “ongoing” basis, the person said.

A spokesman for the special counsel declined to comment.

Mr. Mueller and congressional committees are investigating whether Trump associates colluded with Russian efforts to interfere in the election. Mr. Trump has denied collusion by him or his campaign, and Moscow has denied meddling in the election….

Karoun Demirjian reports Senate Judiciary panel: Kushner had contacts about WikiLeaks, Russian overtures he did not disclose:

President Trump’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner received and forwarded emails about WikiLeaks and a “Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite” that he kept from Senate Judiciary Committee investigators, according to panel leaders demanding that he produce the missing records.

Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) sent a letter to Kushner’s lawyer Abbe Lowell on Thursday charging that Kushner has failed to disclose several documents, records and transcripts in response to multiple inquiries from committee investigators.

In the letter, Grassley and Feinstein instruct Kushner’s team to turn over “several documents that are known to exist” because other witnesses in their probe already gave them to investigators. They include a series of “September 2016 email communications to Mr. Kushner concerning WikiLeaks,” which the committee leaders say Kushner then forwarded to another campaign official. Earlier this week, Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. revealed that he had had direct communication with WikiLeaks over private Twitter messages during the campaign.

[Donald Trump Jr. communicated with WikiLeaks during 2016 campaign]

Committee leaders said Kushner also withheld from the committee “documents concerning a ‘Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite’ ” that he had forwarded to other campaign officials. And they said Kushner had been made privy to “communications with Sergei Millian” — a Belarusan American businessman who claims close ties to the Trumps and was the source of salacious details in a dossier about the president’s 2013 trip to Moscow — but failed to turn those records over to investigators.

Samuel Osbourne reports Trump Organization worth one tenth of value previously reported:

The Trump Organization in New York is reportedly worth one tenth of the value it previously claimed.

Donald Trump‘s family business had previously ranked near the top of Crain’s New York Business list of largest privately held companies.

But this year it has fallen from number three to number 40 after the President disclosed the organisation’s revenue to federal regulators.

While the Trump Organization claimed $9.5bn (£7.2bn) in sales last year, Mr Trump’s public filings suggest revenues of less than a tenth of that amount, between $600m (£450m) and $700m (£530m).

(Trump as a fraud, yet again. See also The Case Of Wilbur Ross’ Phantom $2 Billion.)

The Economist lists The Trump administration’s latest misdemeanours:

AN ADVISER allegedly involved in a plot to force a migrant to return to his home country. An attorney-general who seems conveniently forgetful when testifying before Congress. A president’s son exchanging messages with an agent of a hostile foreign power. In past administrations any of these things would have caused shock, hand-wringing and, probably, Congressional hearings and sackings. But it’s just another week in Donald Trump’s America.

On November 11th the Wall Street Journal reported that Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election, is looking into allegations that Michael Flynn, Mr Trump’s former national-security adviser, was involved in a plan to return Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric living in Pennsylvania, to the Turkish government in exchange for $15m. Turkey accuses Mr Gulen of masterminding last year’s failed coup (charges the cleric denies) and has long sought his return….

Stephen Vladeck, a professor at the University of Texas specialising in national-security law, says the allegations against Mr Flynn provide “the first clear prospect of state criminal charges”. The alleged plot was cooked up in New York; Mr Trump can only pardon federal crimes, and thus would be unable to offer Mr Flynn the same lifeline he could offer Paul Manafort, Mr Trump’s former campaign chairman, and Rick Gates, a lobbyist, whom Mr Mueller has indicted on federal charges.

Spain’s found a new use for an abandoned nuclear power plant:

Its construction started in the 70s, but it was stopped in 1982 before the plant was operative. Nowadays the government means to reuse the plant as a fish farm.


Daily Bread for 1.8.17

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of eighteen. Sunrise is 7:24 AM and sunset 4:39 PM, for 9h 14m 42s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 80% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the sixty-first day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1877, Crazy Horse fights his last battle at the Battle of Wolf Mountain. On this day in 1910, a plan to use vagrants to shovel snow in a Janesville, Wisconsin rail yard hits a snag when the shovelers strike for twenty-five cents per hour and better food.

Recommended for reading in full —

Judd Legum observes that Trump mentioned Wikileaks 164 times in last month of election, now claims it didn’t impact one voter: “President-elect Trump says that information published by Wikileaks, which the U.S. intelligence community says was hacked by Russia, had “absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election.” This was not the view of candidate Trump, who talked about Wikileaks and the content of the emails it released at least 164 times in last month of the campaign. ThinkProgress calculated the number by reviewing transcripts of Trump’s speeches, media appearances and debates over the last 30 days of the campaign. Trump talked extensively about Wikileaks in the final days of a campaign that was ultimately decided by just 100,000 votes in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania combined.”  [Clinton won the national popular vote by 2,864,974 votes, or 2.1%]

Aaron Blake describes Trump’s bogus claim that intelligence report says Russia didn’t impact the 2016 election outcome: “So while Trump says the intelligence report “stated very strongly there was absolutely no evidence that hacking affected the election results,” the intelligence report itself says it “did not make an assessment of the impact that Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election.” No assessment does not mean no evidence. It means they’re not attempting to answer that question.”

Greg Sargeant observes that Yes, Donald Trump ‘lies.’ A lot. And news organizations should say so: “Take Trump’s biggest lie of all — his racist birther claim. Trump himself originally conceived of it as a means of entree into the political consciousness of GOP primary voters. It was debunked countless times over many years. Yet Trump kept his birther campaign going all throughout anyway. In these cases, was Trump lying? The standard that Baker adopts — that there must be a provable intent to mislead — seems woefully inadequate to informing readers about what Trump is really up to here. Sure, it’s possible that Trump continued to believe these things after they were debunked. We cannot prove otherwise. But so what? If we accept that it’s possible to prove something to be false — which [Wall Street Journal editor Gerard ]Baker does [on an episode of Meet the Press], judging by his own comments — then we presumably also accept that this can be adequately proved to Trump. And so, Trump is telling a falsehood even though it has been demonstrated to him to be a falsehood. If we don’t call that “lying,” or if we don’t squarely and prominently label these claims as “false,” don’t we risk enabling Trump’s apparent efforts to obliterate the possibility of agreement on shared reality?”

Anna Fifield finds that Japan’s trains are in a league of their own. Japan’s subculture of train fanatics is no different: “TOKYO — Just as Japan’s trains are in a league of their own, so too are its trainspotters. This country, where a 20-second delay leads to profuse apologies on the platforms and conductors bow to passengers as they enter the train car, has taken train nerd-dom to a new level. Sure, there are the vanilla trainspotters who take photos of various trains around the country. They’re called tori-tetsu. (Tori means to take, and tetsu means train.) But there are also nori-tetsu, people who enjoy traveling on trains; yomi-tetsu, those who love to read about trains, especially train schedules; oto-tetsu, the people who record the sound of trains; sharyo-tetsu, fans of train design; eki-tetsu, people who study stations; and even ekiben-tetsu, aficionados of the exquisite bento lunchboxes sold at stations. And that’s not even getting into the subcultures of experts on train wiring, the geeks who intercept train radio signals or the would-be conductors. Even in the internet age, Japan still prints phone-book sized tomes of train timetables. “It’s really hard to find people here who hate taking trains,” said Junichi Sugiyama, a journalist who writes about trains and the author of train-related books including “How to Enjoy Railroads From Train Schedules.”

So how is tweed made? This way —

Daily Bread for 4.22.16

Good morning, Whitewater.

Friday in town will be cloudy with a high of fifty-eight. Sunrise is 5:59 AM and sunset 7:46 PM, for 13h 46m 34s of daytime. It’s a full moon today, with 100% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is Earth Day, and Google has a series of doodles to mark the day, one of which I’ve embedded below:


The day has always had a strong Wisconsin connection:

1970 – First Earth Day Celebrated
On this date the first Earth Day was celebrated. The event was organized by a 33-member committee in Philadelphia. Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson advocated Earth Day to focus national attention on ecological issues. [Source: Earth Day Information Center]

On this day in 1778, John Paul Jones leads a raid:

At 11 p.m. on this day in 1778, Commander John Paul Jones leads a small detachment of two boats from his ship, the USS Ranger, to raid the shallow port at Whitehaven, England, where, by his own account, 400 British merchant ships are anchored. Jones was hoping to reach the port at midnight, when ebb tide would leave the shops at their most vulnerable.

Jones and his 30 volunteers had greater difficulty than anticipated rowing to the port, which was protected by two forts. They did not arrive until dawn. Jones’ boat successfully took the southern fort, disabling its cannon, but the other boat returned without attempting an attack on the northern fort, after the sailors claimed to have been frightened away by a noise. To compensate, Jones set fire to the southern fort, which subsequently engulfed the entire town.

Here’s JigZone‘s Friday puzzle:

Daily Bread for 2.7.16

Good morning, Whitewater.

Sunday in town will be partly cloudy and mild, with a high of forty-one. Sunrise is 7:01 and sunset 5:16, for 10h 14m 19s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 1.4% of its visible disk illuminated.

Here’s schedule of posts for the week ahead, with other posts possible (if there are changes to these scheduled posts I’ll explain why):

  • Today: DB, Upcoming Seniors in Park Film, evening post
  • Monday: DB, weekly Music post, WHEN GREEN TURNS BROWN post, evening post
  • Tuesday: DB, weekly Education post, evening post
  • Wednesday: DB, weekly Film post, Revisiting Kozloff’s Dark, Futile Dream, evening post
  • Thursday: DB, a restaurant review, Attorney General Schimel’s support for Wisconsin Senate Bill 656, evening post
  • Friday: DB, weekly Poll, weekly Catblogging
  • Saturday: DB, weekly Animation post, evening post

Friday’s FW poll asked readers which team they thought would win Super Bowl 50.  Most respondents picked Carolina (58.82%).  Kickoff is around 5:30 this afternoon.

On this day in 1935, Monopoly goes on sale:

The history of Monopoly can be traced back to 1903,[1][4] when American anti-monopolist Elizabeth (Lizzie) J. Magie Phillips, created a game through which she hoped to be able to explain the single tax theory of Henry George. It was intended as an educational tool to illustrate the negative aspects of concentrating land in private monopolies. Magie took out a patent in 1904. Her game, The Landlord’s Game, was self-published, beginning in 1906.[5] A series of variant board games based on her concept was developed from 1906 through the 1930s that involved the buying and selling of land and the development of that land.[6] Cardboard houses were added and rents were increased as they were added. Magie again patented the game in 1924.

According to an advertisement placed in The Christian Science Monitor, Charles Todd of Philadelphia recalled the day in 1932 when his childhood friend, Esther Jones, now married to Charles Darrow, came to their house with her husband for dinner. After the meal, the Darrows played the game of Monopoly several times with them, a game that was entirely new to the Darrows, and before he left, Darrow asked for a written set of the rules. After Darrow brought his own Monopoly game out, the Todds never spoke to the Darrows again.[citation needed]

….By 1933, a variation on “The Landlord’s Game” called Monopoly was the basis of the board game sold by Parker Brothers, beginning on 6 February 1935.[7] Several people, mostly in the Midwestern United States and near the East Coast, contributed to the game’s design and evolution, and this is when the game’s design took on the 4×10 space-to-a-side layout and familiar cards were produced. The original version of the game in this format was based on streets in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

On this day in 1867, a famous children’s author is born:

Wisconsin’s most famous children’s author, Laura Ingalls Wilder,  was born this day near Pepin. Although her family moved away a year later, it subsequently returned in 1870 and remained until 1874. It is this period that is immortalized in her first book, Little House in the Big Woods.

Daily Bread for 1.31.16

Good morning, Whitewater.

Our month ends with a high of thirty-nine and a probability of late-morning, early-afternoon showers. Sunrise is 7:09 and sunset 5:06, for 9h 57m 03s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 55.5% of its visible disk illuminated.

Here’s schedule of posts for the week ahead, with other posts possible (if there are changes to these scheduled posts I’ll explain why):

  • Today: DB, evening post
  • Monday: DB, weekly Music post, WHEN GREEN TURNS BROWN posts (there will be two), evening post
  • Tuesday: DB, weekly Education post, evening post
  • Wednesday: DB, weekly Film post, post on public records and the press, evening post
  • Thursday: DB, a restaurant review (as reviews will begin again this week), evening post
  • Friday: DB, weekly Poll, weekly Catblogging
  • Saturday: DB, weekly Animation post, evening post

Friday’s FW poll asked whether a Patriots fan who got a tattoo in expectation of a New England win that will never come exhibited true dedication or unjustified optimism. Most respondents said that he had been unjustifiably optimistic, bur a fair number (29.41%) felt that Burke O’Connell showed true dedication.

On this day in 1865, the House of Representatives passes the Thirteenth Amendment for submission to the states:

In mid-January, 1865, Speaker of the House Schuyler Colfax estimated the amendment to be five votes short of passage. Ashley postponed the vote.[55] At this point, Lincoln intensified his push for the amendment, making direct emotional appeals to particular members of Congress.[56] On January 31, 1865, the House called another vote on the amendment, with neither side being certain of the outcome. Every Republican supported the measure, as well as 16 Democrats, almost all of them lame ducks. The amendment finally passed by a vote of 119 to 56,[57] narrowly reaching the required two-thirds majority.[58] The House exploded into celebration, with some members openly weeping.[59] Black onlookers, who had only been allowed to attend Congressional sessions since the previous year, cheered from the galleries.[60]

While under the Constitution, the President plays no formal role in the amendment process, the joint resolution was sent to Lincoln for his signature.[61] Under the usual signatures of the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate, President Lincoln wrote the word “Approved” and added his signature to the joint resolution on February 1, 1865.[62] On February 7, Congress passed a resolution affirming that the Presidential signature was unnecessary.[63] The Thirteenth Amendment is the only ratified amendment signed by a President, although James Buchanan had signed the Corwin Amendment that the 36th Congress had adopted and sent to the states in March 1861.[64][65]

On this day in 1846, the territorial legislature charters Wisconsin’s first college:

1846 – Carroll College Chartered

On this date Carroll College, in Waukesha, was chartered by the territorial legislature. It is the oldest college in Wisconsin. The college was named for Charles Carroll, who signed the Declaration of Independence. [Source: History Just Ahead: A Guide to Wisconsin’s Historical Markers edited by Sarah Davis McBride]

Infrastructure, Public Spending, the Local Economy

Whitewater’s an unusual town: most cities in Wisconsin don’t host a college campus. Nearby cities may have living there some faculty and staff from UW-Whitewater, but that economic boost pales in comparison with the presence of a campus along Main, with thousands of students attending.

Our infrastructure is different owing to the presence of the campus, the amount of public money flowing into the city is different (for the campus directly, in support of it indirectly), and our local economy is different from many other cities as demand here is markedly different from, let’s say, Milton or Fort Atkinson.

We often talk about Whitewater as though it were One WhitewaterTM, but that’s misguided, and leads to both confusion and error about fiscal and economic policy.  Many small towns would come much closer to the concept of ‘one town’ – that is, one demographic – than Whitewater.

(About six years ago, I heard someone opine that the key to understanding Whitewater is to understand its three largest public institutions: university, school board, and municipal government.  It’s not. Thinking about these institutions without much thought to the people who comprise them, let alone everyone else not a part of them, is myopic.  If someone said that Whitewater had an office, a factory, and a farm, would anyone else think that an understanding of the city had been settled?)

We talk about infrastructure, about public spending, and about the private economy in a mistaken way when – despite our beautiful city’s small size – we talk about Whitewater as though it were one demographic.

Now, I don’t mind our character one bit – I like our city as she is, as a heterogeneous, diverse, evolving place.  But even if I did mind, still there would be an obligation to assess so well as possible.  That means recognizing existing heterogeneity.   SeeA Small But Diverse City, Seldom Described That Way.

It’s only by doing so that one can understand sensibly why some infrastructure spending succeeds, why some public spending succeeds, and why some (but not sadly not all) private ventures flourish. Infrastructure, spending, and private production of goods & services have to meet the actual demographics – the actual needs – of the city’s residents.  SeeThe Meaning of Whitewater’s Not-Always-Mentioned Demographics.

But when we think of Whitewater as one entity, or as no more than an institutional troika, we’re left without an adequate explanation for Whitewater’s successes or failures.  And when we think of Whitewater as one entity, or as no more than an institutional troika, we waste resources.

It’s bad to be without an adequate explanation; it’s far worse to waste resources.  Having the explanation is a defense against waste, and an assurance that those who need something are the ones who receive something.

Daily Bread for 1.10.16

Good morning, Whitewater.

Sunday will be cold, but with increasing sunshine on a day with a high of nine degrees.  Sunrise is 7:24 and sunset 4:40, for 9h 16m 24s of daytime.  It’s a new moon, with just .4% of that natural satellite’s visible disk illuminated.

Clemson or Alabama tomorrow?  That was the FW poll question for Friday, and most respondents (68.18%) picked Alabama to win.

Here’s schedule of posts for the week ahead (if there are changes I’ll explain why):

  • Today: DB, weekly Animation
  • Monday: DB, weekly Music post, WHEN GREEN TURNS BROWN post, evening post
  • Tuesday: DB, new weekly feature launched, evening post
  • Wednesday: DB, weekly Film post moves to Wednesday, what accreditation means for UW-Whitewater, evening post
  • Thursday: DB, weekly Food or Restaurant post, brief remarks on Downtown Whitewater, Inc., evening post
  • Friday: DB, weekly Poll, weekly Catblogging, remarks on a sports financial-impact study
  • Saturday: DB, evening post

On this day in 1941, Pres. Roosevelt submits Lend-Lease:

On this day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Lend-Lease program is brought before the U.S. Congress for consideration.

Roosevelt devised the Lend-Lease program as a means of aiding Great Britain in its war effort against the Germans. The program gave the chief executive the power to “sell, transfer title to, exchange, lease, lend, or otherwise dispose of” any military resources he deemed in the ultimate interest of the defense of the United States. The idea was that if Britain were better able to defend itself, the security of the U.S. would be enhanced. The program also served to bolster British morale, as they would no longer feel alone in their struggle against Hitler.

Congress authorized the program on March 11. By November, after much heated debate, Congress extended the terms of Lend-Lease to the Soviet Union, even though Stalin’s USSR had already been the recipient of American military weapons and had been promised $1 billion in financial aid.

By the end of the war, more than $50 billion in funds, weapons, aircraft, and ships were distributed to 44 countries through the program. After the war, the Lend-Lease program morphed into the Marshall Plan…

On this day in 1883, a fire kills scores in Milwaukee:

1883 – Newhall House Fire

On this date in 1883, one of America’s worst hotel fires claimed more than seventy lives when the Newhall House burned at the northwest corner of Broadway and Michigan Streets in Milwaukee. Rescued from the fire were The P.T. Barnum Lilliputian Show performers Tom Thumb and Commodore Nutt. The fire, shown here, was discovered at 4:00 a.m. on the 10th, but sources give the date variously as 1/9/1883 or 1/10/1883. [Sources: The History of Wisconsin, Vol. 3, p.452; WLHBA]



Daily Bread for 11.28.15

Good morning, Whitewater.

Saturday in the Whippet City will be partly cloudy with a high of thirty-eight. Sunrise is 7:03 and sunset is 4:22, for 9h 19m 49s of daytime. The moon’s a waning gibbous with 90.9% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1520, Magellan reaches the Pacific:

The Magellan–Elcano voyage. Victoria, one of the original five ships, circumnavigated the globe, finishing 16 months after the explorer's death.
The Magellan–Elcano voyage. Victoria, one of the original five ships, circumnavigated the globe, finishing 16 months after the explorer’s death.

Ferdinand Magellan… Portuguese: Fernão de Magalhães … Spanish:Fernando de Magallanes, … c. 1480 – 27 April 1521) was a Portuguese explorer who organised the Spanish expedition to the East Indies from 1519 to 1522, resulting in the first circumnavigation of the Earth.

Born into a wealthy Portuguese family in around 1480, Magellan became a skilled sailor and naval officer and was eventually selected by King Charles I of Spain to search for a westward route to the Maluku Islands (the “Spice Islands”). Commanding a fleet of five vessels, he headed south through the Atlantic Ocean to Patagonia, passing through the Strait of Magellan into a body of water he named the “peaceful sea” (the modern Pacific Ocean). Despite a series of storms and mutinies, the expedition reached the Spice Islands in 1521 and returned home via the Indian Ocean to complete the first circuit of the globe. Magellan did not complete the entire voyage, as he was killed during the Battle of Mactan in the Philippines in 1521.

The Magellanic penguin is named after him, as he was the first European to note it.[3] Magellan’s navigational skills have also been acknowledged in the naming of objects associated with the stars, including the Magellanic Clouds, now known to be two nearby dwarf galaxies; the twin lunar craters of Magelhaens and Magelhaens A; and the Martian crater of Magelhaens.[4]

….At 52°S latitude on 21 October, the fleet reached Cape Virgenes and concluded they had found the passage, because the waters were brine and deep inland. Four ships began an arduous trip through the 373-mile (600 km) long passage that Magellan called the Estrecho (Canal) de Todos los Santos, (“All Saints’ Channel”), because the fleet travelled through it on 1 November or All Saints’ Day. The strait is now named the Strait of Magellan. He first assigned Concepcion and San Antonio to explore the strait, but the latter, commanded by Gómez, deserted and returned to Spain on 20 November. On 28 November, the three remaining ships entered the South Pacific. Magellan named the waters the Mar Pacifico (Pacific Ocean) because of its apparent stillness.[23]Magellan and his crew were the first Europeans to reach Tierra del Fuego just east of the Pacific side of the strait.

For UW football, 1901 was a good year:


On this date the University of Wisconsin defeated the University of Chicago, 35-0, to finish its first undefeated football season in school history with a 9-0 record. [Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]


Daily Bread for 12.20.14

Good morning, Whitewater.

Saturday in Whitewater will be cloudy in the morning, sunny in the afternoon, with a high of thirty-four for the day.  Sunrise is 7:22 AM and sunset 4:23 PM, for 9h 01m 40s of daytime.

On this day in 1989,  America begins an operation to topple Panama’s leader:

WASHINGTON, Wednesday, Dec. 20 — The United States launched a military operation in Panama early this morning designed to topple the Government of Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega.

Reports from Panama said that American troops and tanks were moving on General Noriega’s headquarters, with mortar and machine gunfire echoing through the city. American citizens were ordered by the American military command in Panama to stay off the streets.

Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega surrendered to American forces about two weeks later.

A generation earlier, on this day in 1957, Elvis Presley is drafted, and serves in Europe:

After six months of basic training–including an emergency leave to see his beloved mother, Gladys, before she died in August 1958–Presley sailed to Europe on the USS General Randall.

For the next 18 months, he served in Company D, 32nd Tank Battalion, 3rd Armor Corps in Friedberg, Germany, where he attained the rank of sergeant. For the rest of his service, he shared an off-base residence with his father, grandmother and some Memphis friends. After working during the day, Presley returned home at night to host frequent parties and impromptu jam sessions.

At one of these, an army buddy of Presley’s introduced him to 14-year-old Priscilla Beaulieu, whom Elvis would marry some years later. Meanwhile, Presley’s manager, Colonel Tom Parker, continued to release singles recorded before his departure, keeping the money rolling in and his most famous client fresh in the public’s mind. Widely praised for not seeking to avoid the draft or serve domestically, Presley was seen as a model for all young Americans.

After he got his polio shot from an army doctor on national TV, vaccine rates among the American population shot from 2 percent to 85 percent by the time of his discharge on March 2, 1960.

WEDC Claims Success by Writing Off Bad Loans

Wisconsin has had years of embarrassments from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, of economic manipulation, of picking supposed winners as though party hacks would know better than markets. It was a method bound to disappoint.

These smarmy men at the WEDC have been trying to show progress on the millions of bad loans they’ve made. Lazy men that they are, they’re reducing millions in bad loans not by trying to salvage them, but simply by writing them off

Friday’s audit [by the Legislative Audit Bureau] found that the troubled loans held by WEDC dropped from 49 loans totaling $13.2 million as of June 2013 to 30 loans totaling $5.5 million as of December 2013.

Of the $7.7 million decrease in troubled loans held by WEDC, the biggest chunk — $3.2 million — came from loans that were written off by WEDC because they were 90 days past due.

For the state to proceed with the collection process, those loans had to be transferred from WEDC to the Department of Administration. So by itself that change is just a bureaucratic shuffle, not a gain for taxpayers.

The audit didn’t examine what had happened to the loans after they went to the administration department.

The next biggest chunk of past due loans, worth $2.1 million, had their contracts rewritten by WEDC to delay repayment by the borrowers.

Another $1.3 million in loans were forgiven by WEDC in whole or in part….

See, Audit: jobs agency makes progress on bad loans by writing many off.

When Messrs. Telfer, Knight, and Clapper met for a second time at the Innovation Center with WEDC leader Reed Hall, to crow about what a great program the WEDC has been, it’s a shambling, stumbling, dishonest agency they were praising.

That’s what they dragged into Whitewater yet again. This agency is the embodiment of disrespect or ignorance of sound policy

That’s a problem of corporate welfare, of course, yet more: if one will overlook such obvious failure, loss, and disgrace to Wisconsin from the WEDC, perhaps one will overlook the risks, costs, and vital details of other bad ideas.

Previously, at FREE WHITEWATER on the WEDC:

See, below, the Legislative Audit Bureau report and a reply from the WEDC’s Reed Hall:

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Daily Bread for 8.26.14

Good morning, Whitewater.

Tuesday looks to be partly sunny, with a high of seventy-nine, and a one-third chance of late morning showers.

On this day in 1939, the first MLB game is televised:

…first televised Major League baseball game is broadcast on station W2XBS, the station that was to become WNBC-TV. Announcer Red Barber called the game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, New York.

At the time, television was still in its infancy. Regular programming did not yet exist, and very few people owned television sets–there were only about 400 in the New York area. Not until 1946 did regular network broadcasting catch on in the United States, and only in the mid-1950s did television sets become more common in the American household.

In 1939, the World’s Fair–which was being held in New York–became the catalyst for the historic broadcast. The television was one of fair’s prize exhibits, and organizers believed that the Dodgers-Reds doubleheader on August 26 was the perfect event to showcase America’s grasp on the new technology.

By today’s standards, the video coverage was somewhat crude. There were only two stationary camera angles: The first was placed down the third base line to pick up infield throws to first, and the second was placed high above home plate to get an extensive view of the field. It was also difficult to capture fast-moving plays: Swinging bats looked like paper fans, and the ball was all but invisible during pitches and hits.

Nevertheless, the experiment was a success, driving interest in the development of television technology, particularly for sporting events. Though baseball owners were initially concerned that televising baseball would sap actual attendance, they soon warmed to the idea, and the possibilities for revenue generation that came with increased exposure of the game, including the sale of rights to air certain teams or games and television advertising….

Google-a-Day asks a question about tennis:

The 2010 tennis match that lasted 11 hours and 5 minutes beat the previous record for the longest match by how many hours?


Daily Bread for 12.1.13

Good morning.

A new month begins with partly sunny skies and a high of thirty eight.

On this day in 1884, an accident alters studies at UW-Madison:

1884 – Fire Destroys UW Building
On this date fire destroyed Science Hall on the UW-Madison campus. As a result, engineering students were forced to use the cramped space of the former dormitory, North Hall, for the next four semesters. [Source: College of Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison]

Early in the twentieth century, Wisconsin gets a heavyweight champion:

1906 – Fred Beell Crowned Heavyweight Champ
On this date Fred Beell, of Marshfield, Wisconsin, won the American heavyweight wrestling championship in New Orleans, taking two of three falls from Frank Gotch. Beell’s reign was brief. Sixteen days later, he lost a rematch to Gotch. Beell’s victory was the only match that Gotch lost from 1904 until his death in 1918. [Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel].


Daily Bread for 7.7.13

Good morning.

Whitewater’s Sunday brings a one-third chance of late afternoon showers and thundershowers, with a high of eighty-four. Sunrise was at 5:24 a.m., and sunset will be at 8:36 p.m. There will be a new moon overnight at 2:15 a.m.


Photograph of the Hoover Dam (formerly Boulder Dam) from Across the Colorado River. From the series Ansel Adams Photographs of National Parks and Monuments, compiled 1941 – 1942, documenting the period ca. 1933 – 1942.

On this day in 1930, America begins construction of the Hoover Dam:

Over the next five years, a total of 21,000 men would work ceaselessly to produce what would be the largest dam of its time, as well as one of the largest man-made structures in the world.

Although the dam would take only five years to build, its construction was nearly 30 years in the making. Arthur Powell Davis, an engineer from the Bureau of Reclamation, originally had his vision for the Hoover Dam back in 1902, and his engineering report on the topic became the guiding document when plans were finally made to begin the dam in 1922.

Herbert Hoover, the 31st president of the United States and a committed conservationist, played a crucial role in making Davis’ vision a reality. As secretary of commerce in 1921, Hoover devoted himself to the erection of a high dam in Boulder Canyon, Colorado. The dam would provide essential flood control, which would prevent damage to downstream farming communities that suffered each year when snow from the Rocky Mountains melted and joined the Colorado River. Further, the dam would allow the expansion of irrigated farming in the desert, and would provide a dependable supply of water for Los Angeles and other southern California communities.

South African filmmaker Stephen van Vuuren recently released a trailer for his new IMAX film, In Saturn’s Rings. The film is a collection of over a million photographs – no CGI or other video effects – of the view from very close to Saturn. The finished film will be ready in early 2014, and looks promising: