Daily Bread for 9.26.22: Up from Business to Markets

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of 60. Sunrise is 6:47 AM and sunset 6:44 PM for 11h 56m 31s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 0.6% of its visible disk illuminated.

 Whitewater’s Urban Forestry Commission meets at 4:30 PM, and the Whitewater Unified School District’s board goes into closed session shortly after 6 PM, and reconvenes in open session at 7 PM

  On this day in 1789, George Washington appoints Thomas Jefferson the first United States Secretary of State.

One of the positive changes in Whitewater, however slow it has been, is the dawning understanding that there is a difference between a business, businesses, and markets (of buyers and sellers). Old Whitewater’s outlook, with its emphasis on the few, viewing the world from behind a metaphorical perimeter fence, has over these last fifteen years faded considerably and fortunately. It was never true — never — that Whitewater’s economy was the product of one landlord’s or one banker’s ambition.

Whitewater’s economy was always, and always will be, the sum of all interactions between all residents as buyers and sellers. Thousands of people, with many interactions and transactions each day, and every day.  

A simple ordering of economic significance, from smallest to greatest: a business, businesses, then markets of buyers and sellers. 

Early on, when I began writing in 2007, some readers asked me why I did not pay as much attention as they’d prefer to the machinations of these few landlords and bankers. It’s true, then and even now, that I’ve paid less attention to them than some in the community would like, but then the slight attention I’ve paid is all they’ve ever deserved. 

Old Whitewater, or at least a few in it, desperately sought the role of Mr. Whitewater, King of the Hill, the Smartest Person in Town, Grand Poobah, whatever. These types never existed except in the imagination of those same few.

And look, and look — there have been these same vainglorious types in every crude and simple society before us.

Even primitive societies, long before the Renaissance and Enlightenment, had men like this, while their communities were unproductive year over year, with most people in poverty and misery. The average person among the Ancients lived in filth, poverty, and disease while only a few prospered. Slave states and feudal states, for thousands of years, each had a few successful businessmen but no general prosperity (yet much general suffering and injustice). 

It’s not a mere business, but free interactions between people of all types, that makes a society productive (and so prosperous for more than a few). In a society of dynamic and free markets, between buyers and sellers of all kinds, a few mediocre, stodgy, and self-important business types merit little regard. 

And yet, and yet — the last to see this economic truth are those who have advanced themselves without concern to others. They shove forward with their special-interest pleading at very public opportunity.  When they see an advantage in their expansion, they provisionally argue for fewer regulations; when they seek to stymie competition, they argue for more regulations to stop competitors. They see local government as a tool for their own gain. Indeed, sometimes it’s as though they seem themselves as the world.

They remind most of one of the characters from Edwin Abbott’s Flatland. In Flatland (A Romance of Many Dimensions), Abbott describes the creatures of a world that live on a plane, a two-dimensional world. They have right and left, back and forth, but not (as we do) up and down. The inhabitants vary in insight and awareness based on the number of sides that they have, so that squares exceed triangles, and pentagons exceed squares, in this regard.

As it turns out, the narrator, a square, has a vision of a one-dimensional world, called Lineland, that exists only on a single line, with back and forth the only directions of travel. This is a vision of an even more confined place.  The narrator describes how the leader of Lineland imagines himself: 

replied the small Line: “I am the Monarch of the world. But thou, whence intrudest thou into my realm of Lineland?” Receiving this abrupt reply, I begged pardon if I had in any way startled or molested his Royal Highness; and describing myself as a stranger I besought the King to give me some account of his dominions. But I had the greatest possible difficulty in obtaining any information on points that really interested me; for the Monarch could not refrain from constantly assuming that whatever was familiar to him must also be known to me and that I was simulating ignorance in jest. However, by preserving questions I elicited the following facts: It seemed that this poor ignorant Monarch—as he called himself—was persuaded that the Straight Line which he called his Kingdom, and in which he passed his existence, constituted the whole of the world, and indeed the whole of Space. Not being able either to move or to see, save in his Straight Line, he had no conception of anything out of it.

To imagine oneself a king on a line is to be no monarch at all, but instead only a captive of one’s narrow imagination. 

Whitewater is more than a one-dimensional line, and more than a two-dimensional plane. It is, instead, a sphere in which many people of equal moral foundation interact each day as equals. 

Not merely a sphere by the way, but a beautiful and luminous one, made so by the many.

DART mission explained:

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Monday Music: Nick Cave, Push the Sky Away

Daily Bread for 9.25.22: Putin Rigs the Vote

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be windy with afternoon thundershowers and a high of 65. Sunrise is 6:46 AM and sunset 6:45 PM for 11h 59m 24s of daytime. The moon is new with 0.1% of its visible disk illuminated.

  On this day in 1237, England and Scotland sign the Treaty of York, establishing the location of their common border.

Police officers detain a woman in Moscow on September 24, 2022, following calls to protest against the partial mobilisation announced by the Russian President. President Vladimir Putin called up Russian military reservists on September 21, 2022, saying his promise to use all military means in Ukraine was “no bluff,” and hinting that Moscow was prepared to use nuclear weapons. His mobilisation call comes as Moscow-held regions of Ukraine prepare to hold annexation referendums this week, dramatically upping the stakes in the seven-month conflict by allowing Moscow to accuse Ukraine of attacking Russian territory. (Photo by AFP via Getty Images)

David L. Stern and Robyn Dixon report With Kalashnikov rifles, Russia drives the staged vote in Ukraine:

Officials in Russian-occupied territories in eastern and southern Ukraine were forcing people to vote “under a gun barrel,” residents said on Saturday as staged referendums — intended to validate Moscow’s annexation of the territory it occupies — entered their second day.

Voting is taking place in portions of Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions and will last five days, ending Tuesday. The outcome is not in doubt.

The purported referendums are illegal under Ukrainian and international law and would not remotely meet basic democratic standards for free and fair elections. Western leaders, including President Biden, have denounced the process as a “sham” to prepare the ground for Russia’s theft of Ukrainian land.

In his nightly address on Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke directly to the Russians, warning that “no tricks will help the occupier.”

The speed at which the referendums were announced and carried out and the mobilization of hundreds of thousands of Russian reserves, all within one week, reflect the Kremlin’s tacit acknowledgment of its deteriorating position in Ukraine. After invading Ukraine on Feb. 24 and failing to take the capital, Kyiv, Russian forces have been pushed back in the country’s northeast and are coming under pressure along the front lines of the war.

Hundreds more people were arrested Saturday during demonstrations in Russia against the mobilization.

People have lived on our continent for thousands of years, and there has been an American republic on this land for hundreds of years, yet some of our fellow citizens admire Putin’s and Orban’s dictatorships over our own constitutional order. One hears sometimes that one should not disrespect others, and that one should work across the aisle, but these entreaties would leave us in ruin for the sake of those who’d rather support or excuse than defend against

The Russian woman in the photograph above is incomparably more useful to the defense of liberty than a thousand from our own nativist horde, thirsting as they are to build walls, cage children, persecute minorities, spread lies, and rig our own elections.

Those few of us remaining in America who yet believe in free markets, individual rights, limited and open government, and free trade among peaceful nations would be nothing if we were not plain-speaking.

These Russians who protest risk incomparably more than we do. It is easier for us, and our obligation is to ensure that it remains easier for all of us. Even the smallest efforts to do so are meaningful and useful. 

Here’s what Hurricane Fiona’s surf looked like, from atop a 50-foot wave:

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Film: Wednesday, September 28th, 1:00 PM @ Seniors in the Park, The Hand of God

Wednesday, September 28th at 1:00 PM, there will be a showing of The Hand of God @ Seniors in the Park, in the Starin Community Building:


Rated R (sex, language, nudity); 2 hours, 10 minutes (2021).

This is the final film in our Wednesday Summer series of foreign, cult and documentary films.
Shown in Italian with English subtitles. Nominated for Best International Film Oscar and AARP Movies for Grownups Best Foreign Film.
In 1980s Naples, Italy, a young soccer player and fan pursues his dream only to be interrupted by a family tragedy that eventually changes his destiny. Filmed in Naples, Isle of Capri, Stromboli and Sicily.

One can find more information about The Hand of God at the Internet Movie Database.

Daily Bread for 9.24.22: The Real Threat to American Democracy

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will see morning showers with high of 65. Sunrise is 6:45 AM and sunset 6:47 PM for 12h 02m 17s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 2% of its visible disk illuminated.

  On this day in 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt proclaims Devils Tower in Wyoming as the nation’s first National Monument.

The Real Threat to American Democracy describes the ongoing attempts of Trumpists to distort voting to assure that they’ll never lose:

For the past two years, Americans have been overwhelmed by a deluge of headlines suggesting democracy in the United States is under threat: Voter suppression. A shortage of drop boxes. Election deniers seeking key state offices. It can be difficult to gauge what stories suggest a truly terrifying threat to democracy, and which are simply disheartening or even petty. The Opinion Video film above aims to unpack one of the most dire threats to democracy, which includes a sophisticated plot to control not only who can vote, but which votes get counted.

One thing is certain: The 2020 race was not stolen. But Mr. Trump and his Republican enablers have been working to rig future elections to their advantage. (Of course it’s the people shrieking most loudly about fraud that you really need to watch.) The former president has convinced his followers that the electoral system has been so corrupted that the only way to save America is for MAGA patriots to take over the system to ensure that the “right” candidates win going forward. His allies have been busy engineering such a legal takeover, and key pieces of the plan are already in place.

In this short film, we shine a light on those machinations, so that those who care about democracy can act to stop them.

For our Democracy to survive, we need to agree on a shared reality and for the losers — that is those who lose in honest and fair elections — to accept defeat.

4 Waterspouts Off Mallorca’s Coast Caught on Camera:

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Daily Bread for 9.23.22: Preliminary Fall 2022 UW System Enrollment Figures

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with high of 63. Sunrise is 6:44 AM and sunset 6:49 PM for 12h 05m 10s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 5.1% of its visible disk illuminated.

  On this day in 1779, during the American Revolution, John Paul Jones, naval commander of the United States, on board the USS Bonhomme Richard, wins the Battle of Flamborough Head.

There are 2022 preliminary — first day autumn enrollment — figures out for the UW System. Kelly Meyerhofer reports Enrollment dips at most UW campuses, but UW System president thinks campuses ‘have turned a corner’ on COVID-19

The ongoing enrollment decline at Wisconsin’s public universities continues this school year, with preliminary numbers released Thursday showing more than half of the University of Wisconsin System campuses down by 3% or more.

Large enrollment drops drain millions in tuition revenue from campus budgets, challenging the schools to make up for demographic shifts and a slide in the state’s college-going rate in other ways.


Here are the enrollment increases or decreases by campus as collected by the UW System based on the first day of classes. Because the data is preliminary, the percentages could change. Branch campuses are included in overall percentages.

  • UW-Madison: +5%
  • UW-Superior: +4%
  • UW-Green Bay: +3%
  • UW-La Crosse: 0%
  • UW-Milwaukee: -3%
  • UW-Parkside: -3%
  • UW-Stevens Point: -3%
  • UW-Whitewater: -4%
  • UW-Platteville: -5%
  • UW-River Falls: -5%
  • UW-Eau Claire: -5%
  • UW-Oshkosh: -6%
  • UW-Stout: -6%

Two obvious points: these are first day numbers (not the tenth day where the adding and dropping of registrations would be considered) and these numbers show both main campuses and their satellite schools as one percentage of increase or decrease. 

 3D printing with drones

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Film: Tuesday, September 27th, 1:00 PM @ Seniors in the Park, Elvis

Tuesday, September 27th at 1:00 PM, there will be a showing of Elvis @ Seniors in the Park, in the Starin Community Building:


Rated PG-13; 2 hours, 39 minutes (2022)

The life of music icon Elvis Presley (Austin Butler), his relationship with manager Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks), and Elvis’ love affair with eventual wife, Priscilla.

One can find more information about Elvis at the Internet Movie Database.


Daily Bread for 9.22.22: The Next Morning

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with high of 61. Sunrise is 6:43 AM and sunset 6:51 PM for 12h 08m 03s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 11% of its visible disk illuminated.

  On this day in 904, the warlord Zhu Quanzhong kills Emperor Zhaozong, the penultimate emperor of the Tang dynasty, after seizing control of the imperial government.

Organizations and institutions, sooner or later, need to choose new leaders to replace former ones. A frivolous choice is one that considers only the needs or desires of the moment.

Much of bad policy in a community is like this: ephemeral press releases, marketing campaigns, feature stories, etc. It’s all maneuver in a world where attrition truly decides. Old Whitewaternever understood this, the remaining transactional conservative types don’t understand it, and neither do the emergent conservative populists. 

It’s not what one says; it’s what one says in alignment with principle, reason, and history. 

And so, and so, when candidates come along for open positions, one has to decide among alternatives. It’s best to describe that choice in plain terms.

It’s not the desire of the evening, but the conversation of the next morning, that defines an assignation. If only the evening, then one thinks too little of her and of oneself. If the next morning, then one has the hope of an enduring relationship. 

One should live, and choose, for the next morning. 

 Preventing a 2035 food catastrophe:

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Daily Bread for 9.21.22: Wisconsin Among the Hardest Places in America to Vote

Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with high of 74. Sunrise is 6:42 AM and sunset 6:53 PM for 12h 10m 56s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 18.7% of its visible disk illuminated.

 The City of Whitewater is holding an information session for a Fire & EMS referendum this evening at 6 PM on the edge of town at the Whitewater University Innovation Center, 1221 Innovation Drive. (Someone once said “neither do they light a lamp and place it under the dry-goods basket, but rather they place it upon a lampstand, and it illumines all who are in the house.” Advice worth following, even all these years later.)

  On this day in 1780, Benedict Arnold gives the British the plans to West Point.

One sometimes hears (although less often than a generation ago) that one should ‘reach across the aisle’ to members of the opposite party.

How quaint.

In our time, the placement of that aisle is the consequence of voting rights restrictions and gerrymandering. The aisle has been wrongly and corruptly placed. Some are asked to reach out from floor space unfairly restricted to others on floor space unfairly taken. 

Nick Corasaniti and The ‘Cost’ of Voting in America: A Look at Where It’s Easiest and Hardest:

The findings are part of the 2022 edition of the Cost of Voting Index, a nonpartisan academic study that seeks to cut through the politics of voting access. The study ranks all 50 states based on the overall investment a resident must make, in time and resources, to vote.

Researchers focused on 10 categories related to voting, including registration, inconvenience, early voting, polling hours and absentee voting.

The two categories given the most weight, according to Scot Schraufnagel, a political scientist at Northern Illinois University and an author of the study, were ease of registration to vote and the availability of early voting, both in person and by mail. The study’s emphasis on early-voting options meant that states like Washington and Oregon, where voting is conducted entirely by mail, ended up at the top of the rankings.


Vermont, for example, jumped “from the middle of the pack in 2020,” when it ranked 23rd for voting access, to “the third-easiest state by 2022,” according to the study. This was largely because it adopted a statewide vote-by-mail system.

Wisconsin went the opposite direction, falling to 47th from 38th, in part because the state now requires proof of residency on voter registration applications. The state also stopped using special voting deputies, officials whose tasks had sometimes included conducting voter registration drives, according to the study.

Cooperation across the aisle requires a deal between those who’ve been robbed and those who’ve robbed them. 

The study appears below.

See Scot Schraufnagel, Michael J. Pomante, and Quan Li. Cost of Voting in the American States: 2022. Election Law Journal: Rules, Politics, and Policy. Sep 2022.220-228.

Download (PDF, 280KB)

 See James Webb Space Telescope’s view of Neptune in stunning 4K

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Daily Bread for 9.20.22: Gableman, Goblin King of the LARPers

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will see scattered morning showers with high of 86. Sunrise is 6:41 AM and sunset 6:54 PM for 12h 13m 49s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 26.6% of its visible disk illuminated.

 The Whitewater Common Council meets at 6:30 PM

  On this day in 1854, during the Crimean War, British and French troops defeat the Russians at the Battle of Alma.

 Rich Kremer reports Former 2020 election investigator Michael Gableman hints at revolution in speech to Outagamie County Republicans:

Michael Gableman, who was fired from his 2020 election review office by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, appeared to tell Republicans in Outagamie County earlier this month that revolution is necessary to “keep an honest government.” 

At the Republican Party of Outagamie County’s Constitution Day Dinner Sept. 9, Gableman told attendees, “I am beginning to wonder if America’s best days are behind us.” 

He went on to say that America’s Founding Fathers created a “beautiful paradise” that has made life comfortable. 

“But it’s that very comfort that is keeping us from what our founders knew to be the only way to keep an honest government, which is revolution,” said Gableman. 

Gableman then paraphrased a 1787 letter sent written by Thomas Jefferson and said, “The tree of liberty must be watered by the blood of revolution every generation.”

Oh my. It should be obvious, but for the ignorant perhaps it isn’t: Jefferson was not describing attempts like Trump’s to overthrow the constitutionally-elected government of the United States. 

As for those who talk about wanting a revolution or a civil war, they fall into a several types.

 Momentarily-important Trumpists clinging to the spotlight. There are so many former Trump officials like this. They rose far above their limited abilities, formed a kakistocracy, and now thirst for more underserved attention and authority. 

 Facebookers and Twitter trolls who spew threats and warnings of doom while doing nothing else. These kinds may also attend meetings and rallies where they say the same in the company of the like-minded. These are the LARPers, the live action role players of Trumpism. They are the overwhelming majority among those ignorant or addled enough to follow someone like Gableman. 

Gableman, quite plainly, is not going to lead any revolution — he’s going to talk about revolution between visits to Krispy Kreme.

(In a different account of Gableman’s remarks, he’s quoted as telling his WISGOP audience that “the greatest challenge of our poor in this country is not lack of food, it’s obesity. It’s a beautiful world. But it’s that very comfort that is keeping us from what our founders knew to be the only way to keep an honest government, which is revolution.” Honest to goodness. Gableman thinks obesity is a problem holding others back? One can guess that he doesn’t have a mirror in his house.)

 Those who take action of some sort, including having fits and tantrums, while sometimes injuring others accidentally through their lack of self-control, or intentionally through their malevolence. These aren’t LARPers, but are instead an undisciplined lot that puts others at occasional risk. 

A last group comprises those who manipulate a horde, or are the horde, committed to an intentional assault against public officials or public buildings, to prevent public proceedings. January 6th was like this, and there may be other attempts to overthrow the constitutional order, perhaps more deadly and effective than the last. 

Gableman, himself, is unlikely to participate in any violent acts against the American Republic.

For Michael Gableman, Goblin King of the LARPers is the role of a lifetime.

 Snack Bandit Bear Steals From 7-Eleven:

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Daily Bread for 9.19.22: Insurance is No Assurance

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with high of 77. Sunrise is 6:39 AM and sunset 6:56 PM for 12h 16m 42s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 35.3% of its visible disk illuminated.

 Whitewater’s Library Board meets at 6:30 PM

  On this day in 1796, George Washington’s Farewell Address is printed across America as an open letter to the public.

 In a nation of hundreds of millions, with a thriving press, a common person can find, as if by synchronicity, a story that means something both nationally and locally. Consider Kimberly Kindy’s reporting that Insurers force change on police departments long resistant to it (‘The high cost of settlements over police misconduct has led insurers to demand police departments overhaul tactics or forgo coverage’):

ST. ANN, Mo. — A patrol officer spotted a white minivan with an expired license plate, flipped on his lights and siren,and when the driver failed to stop, gave chase. The driver fled in rush-hour traffic at speeds of up to 90 mph, as other officers joined in the pursuit. Ten miles later, the van slammed into a green Toyota Camry, leaving its 55-year-old driver, Brent Cox, permanently disabled.

That 2017 police chase was at the time the latest in a long line of questionable vehicle pursuits by officers of the St. Ann Police Department. Eleven people had been injured in 19 crashes during high-speed pursuits over the two prior years.Social justice activists and reporters were scrutinizing the department, and Cox and others were suing.

Undeterred, St. Ann Police Chief Aaron Jimenez stood behind the high-octane pursuits and doubled down on the department’s decades-old motto: “St. Ann will chase you until the wheels fall off.”

Then, an otherwise silent stakeholder stepped in. The St. Louis Area Insurance Trust risk pool — which provided liability coverage to the city of St. Ann and the police department — threatened to cancel coverage if the department didn’t impose restrictions on its use of police chases. City officials shopped around for alternative coverage but soon learned that costs would nearly double if they did not agree to their insurer’s demands.

Jimenez’s attitude swiftly shifted: In 2019, 18 months after the chase that left Cox permanently disabled, the chief and his 48-member department agreed to ban high-speed pursuits for traffic infractions and minor, nonviolent crimes.

“I didn’t really have a choice,” Jimenez said in an interview. “If I didn’t do it, the insurance rates were going to go way up. I was going to have to lose 10 officers to pay for it.”

Where community activists, use-of-force victims and city officials have failed to persuade police departments to change dangerous and sometimes deadly policing practices, insurers are successfully dictating changes to tactics and policies, mostly at small to medium-size departments throughout the nation. 

Although Kindy is writing about policing (and Radley Balko wrote for the Post along similar lines in 2016), the influence of insurance companies extends to all parts of government that are under an insurance company’s contract.

There’s a good result when a private company restrains government (of any type, not simply police departments) from its own errors. If all other lawful means have failed, at least there is reform. Note well, the fount of this reform: a private free market of insurers deciding lawfully that government insurance premiums are to be set at a market price. Government is free to act, but private insurers have a right (and duty to their own shareholders) to price their insurance premiums to account for public employees’ risky conduct. Behavior comes at a market price, for police, fire, teachers, school administrators, or any other public employees.

And so, and so, should we feel better for insurance companies’ influence?

Only in part. Private insurers have a duty to their shareholders, and while they must properly price premiums for risky behavior, they need only concern themselves with informing the public when to do otherwise would violate the law. They can and must act to raise premiums for public employees’ expensive conduct, but they have no need to inform the public about policy changes.

On the contrary, from a private company’s perspective, too much open talk about policy changes may invite attention to other public mistakes and public misconduct that might mean bad publicity or lawsuits.

A private insurer has a right and duty to raise premiums for risky public behavior, but it has neither an obligation nor an incentive to publicize that risky behavior. It has an incentive to reform without public discussion or awareness of prior problems. (Outside legal counsel sometimes plays a similar role, although their ethical obligations are different, if sometimes ignored.) 

Insurers are not, so to speak, open-government advocates. That’s not their role and certainly not their duty. It’s the duty of public employees and public officials to preserve and advance open-government principles. 

In our community and others, one hears about municipal investigations, or cost savings to  our public-school tech ed program, with no public information about those investigations or the basis of those costs savings. 

A fix, without sharing information on the risks supposedly avoided, is an inadequate governmental response. Government’s obligation is to residents from whom its authority, limited and restrained under law, derives.

There’s so much talk — again and again — about how public employees are not merely working, but are instead serving, the public. A reminder: not telling, so to speak, is not serving the public. It’s self-service, and no more.  

This is, however, the situation in which many communities find themselves: reform comes, if at all, covertly through the insistence of private companies unwilling to discount the costs of public employees’ conduct. 

Insurance, however, is no assurance of open government. 

 Hurricane Fiona seen from space over Puerto Rico & Dominican Republic in time-lapse:

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Daily Bread for 9.18.22: ‘Brainfeel’

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with high of 79. Sunrise is 6:38 AM and sunset 6:58 PM for 12h 19m 34s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 44.2% of its visible disk illuminated.

  On this day in 1942, the Spring Valley Flood afflicts Pierce County:

On the evening of September 17, 1942, after a day of heavy rain, water began rolling through the streets of Spring Valley, in Pierce Co. The village, strung out along the Eau Galle River in a deep valley, had been inundated before, but this was no ordinary flood. By 11:30p.m., water in the streets was 12 to 20 feet deep, flowing at 12 to 15 miles an hour, and laden with logs, lumber, and dislodged buildings.

Throughout the early morning hours of Sept. 18th, village residents became trapped in their homes or were carried downstream as buildings were swept off foundations and floated away. One couple spent the night chest-deep in water in their living room, holding their family dog above the water and fending off floating furniture. The raging torrent uprooted and twisted the tracks of the Northwestern Railroad like wire, and electricity and drinking water were unavailable for several days. Miraculously, there were no deaths or serious injuries.

“Why Do We Love TikTok Audio Memes? Call It Brainfeel”:

“Nobody’s gonna know. They’re gonna know.”

If you’ve been on TikTok in the past year, you’re most likely familiar with these two sentences, first drolly uttered in a post by TikTok creator Chris Gleason in 2020. The post has become a hit and has been viewed more than 14 million times.

But the sound is more famous than the video.

When uploading a video to TikTok, the creator has the option to make that video’s audio a “sound” that other users can easily use in their own videos — lip-syncing to it, adding more noise on top of it or treating it like a soundtrack. Gleason’s sound has been used in at least 336,000 other videos, to humorous, dramatic and sometimes eerie effect.

The journalist Charlotte Shane delves into the world of repurposed sounds, exploring how TikTok and other apps have enabled, as she writes in her recent article for The Times, “cross-user riffing and engagement, like quote-tweeting for audio.” She also considers “what makes a sound compelling beyond musical qualities or linguistic meaning.”

While “brainfeel” may be an apt buzzword for the sensation audio memes elicit, Ms. Shane writes, it is more than a mere trend: We have entered the “era of the audio meme.”

7-Foot Mako Shark Jumps Into Fishing Boat:

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