Daily Bread for 9.28.23: Legislation to Protect Wisconsin’s Election Workers

 Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of 71. Sunrise is 6:49 AM and sunset 6:40 PM for 11h 51m 27s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 98.9% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1066, William the Conqueror lands in England, beginning the Norman conquest.

Anya van Wagtendonk reports Legislation to protect election workers moves forward at Wisconsin Capitol (‘The proposal would make it a felony to assault an election worker’):

Under the bipartisan proposals, attacks on election workers would become a felony; election workers would have access to whistleblower protections; and voters would receive text message updates about the status of their absentee ballots.

The proposal about protecting election workers comes after civil servants faced increased harassment and threats after the 2020 presidential election, when many people falsely accused workers – especially in swing states like Wisconsin – of participating in voter fraud and stealing the race from former President Donald Trump.

“Election workers are the backbone of successful elections and deserve to operate without fear for their personal safety or job security,” said André Jacque, R-DePere, who co-authored the bill, at a public hearing of the Senate Committee on Shared Revenue, Elections and Consumer Protection on Tuesday.

It would also make it a Class I felony to intentionally harm an election worker. Currently, most forms of battery are Class A misdemeanors, but this bill would provide special protections for election workers.

Some version of this bill is long overdue. 

See 2023 Wisconsin Senate Bill 291:

Bear devours picnic inches away from onlookers in Mexico:

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Daily Bread for 9.27.23: Pioneer Spirit and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Family

 Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will see intermittent showers with a high of 69. Sunrise is 6:48 AM and sunset 6:42 PM for 11h 54m 20s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 88.5% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1962, Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring is published, inspiring an environmental movement and the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Jennifer Van Haaften, Assistant Director of the Wisconsin Veterans Museum, discusses how the lives of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s pioneer family was portrayed in her novels and presents a more complex image of what it was like to live on the prairie during the late nineteenth century:

Watch the moment NASA capsule lands on Earth:

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Daily Bread for 9.26.23: Rain

 Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be rainy with a high of 71. Sunrise is 6:47 AM and sunset 6:44 PM for 11h 57m 13s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 88.5% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1983, Soviet Air Force officer Stanislav Petrov identifies a report of an incoming nuclear missile as a computer error and not an American first strike.

It’s raining. That’s the post, all of it — the beauty of a rainy day.  Let it pour.

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Daily Bread for 9.25.23: The Special-Interest Hierarchy of a Small Town

 Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of 73. Sunrise is 6:46 AM and sunset 6:46 PM for 12h 00m 06s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 78.7% of its visible disk illuminated.

The Whitewater School Board goes into closed session shortly after 6:30 PM and returns to open session at 7 PM

On this day in 1804, the Teton Sioux (a subdivision of the Lakota) demand one of the boats from the Lewis and Clark Expedition as a toll for allowing the expedition to move further upriver.

In a small town, and perhaps elsewhere, there are four tiers within a special-interest hierarchy: principals, operatives, catspaws, and residents. Only the first three serve, reliably, the special interest; the fourth is a large group of unaffiliated people that the special interests must persuade or dissuade repeatedly. 

Principals. These are men who have control over property or assets. Private property is the foundation of a free society. Some small number of private men, however, through entitlement or greed, come to believe that they have a right to direct public goods as they, not the public, wish. Those are the principals about whom I am speaking, men who care more about their own businesses than a society of free markets (in capital, labor, and private goods) and equal access to public institutions.  These are the entitled.

As owners, this first group has a direct financial interest in the success of a venture. (A special interest might be ideological rather than financial, but that’s less likely in a small town. For the most part, it’s a businessman who is at the center of small-town financial interests.) This interest may start as one man who, owing to the limits of a town marketplace, quickly develops a sizable advantage over a commodity or service. 

When they show up to argue for their own economic benefit, they pretend to be speaking in a different role (‘wearing a different hat’). There is no worse joke: a man who claims to speak while wearing different hats speaks with the same head and tongue regardless of his feeble claims otherwise.  

Human nature sometimes being dark, and men being proud, avaricious, and emotionally needy, the man begins to believe he has a right (and feels he has a need) to maintain his advantage perpetually. So he looks for ways to secure that advantage beyond legitimate marketplace competition. 

He turns to the government: he looks (and feels) that he can (and should) use the government to secure an everlasting advantage as an incumbent business by advancing his interests and retarding his competitors. He wants councils, boards, and commissions to advance his views.

In the beginning, he may act alone this way, but as he grows bigger he will enlist family members and shove them onto boards, commissions, foundations, etc. Other good candidates will be pushed aside or ignored, on the false claim that only that one businessman or one family could possibly have the expertise to serve. (Ludicrous, of course: places do better without nepotism in public affairs.)

These relatives will reflect the will of the businessman to advance his financial position. 

Some relatives will be messengers and enforcers of the special-interest line. They’ll call up and harangue others endlessly about what they want, and what must be done, droning on while others feel hostages on the line to a small-town businessman’s ego. (Note well: a proper man or woman does not entertain the greedy or the addled. A conversation is controlled from both ends. Men and women of the city: all these years, you should have hung up the phone. There’s a difference between politeness and self-degradation.) 

Operatives. These men or women are the scheming agents of the special-interest owners. They aren’t principals, but agents, and they gravitate toward special-interest men to do their bidding. They communicate with the men at the top, and spread that message out through the community. On their own, they have nothing to say and produce little that’s uniquely theirs; they receive attention only because they represent someone else. Part communications types, part lickspittles, all repulsive. 

These are the legal prostitutes of a community, with a twist: they serve at the pleasure of the special-interest men, but it’s the community they f-ck. 

Catspaws. Catspaws are people who are used to carrying out the selfish and unpleasant tasks of principals or operatives. They’re dupes, suckers, stooges, etc. Sometimes they believe they’re doing the right thing. Most of the time, they’re needy losers (often in public office) who just want to fit in. Behind their backs, the operatives and agents laugh about how easy it is to manipulate these catspaws; to their faces, the operatives pretend they care, really care!, about these dupes, suckers, and stooges. 

Ordinary residents. Ordinary residents, as all of us are (for who could want more?), remain a problem for special interests. The principals, operatives, and catspaws will try to trick residents into believing that all is well through boosterism, toxic positivity, or excuse-making, but that seldom works for long. People come to spot excuse-makers and liars when they see them. 

If special interests can’t get the assent of residents for their plans, then they’ll hope no one notices their own schemes. If they can find enthusiasm, they’ll hope for malaise.  

This libertarian blogger has written that ordinary residents are at the bottom of the special-interest hierarchy (that is, how special interests see things) but in fact, ordinary residents are at the top in any normal, well-adjusted community. What the special-interest man wants is incompatible and opposing to what an American man or woman deserves within a community. 

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Daily Bread for 9.24.23: National Parks of Wisconsin

 Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be cloudy with nighttime showers and a high of 77. Sunrise is 6:45 AM and sunset 6:48 PM for 12h 02m 59s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 69.2% 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.  

Seventy-one years later, Roosevelt’s choice hosts a foreign delegation:

National Parks of Wisconsin:

Storm Ophelia floods the US mid-Atlantic:

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Daily Bread for 9.23.23: Wild Flamingos Spotted at Port Washington Beach

 Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of 77. Sunrise is 6:44 AM and sunset 6:49 PM for 12h 05m 52s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 58.2% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1846, astronomers Urbain Le Verrier, John Couch Adams, and Johann Gottfried Galle collaborate on the discovery of Neptune.

These are unusual times. Danielle Kaeding reports Pink flamingos spotted at Port Washington beach (‘DNR biologist says it’s the first known sighting of a wild American Flamingo in Wisconsin’):

Five pink flamingos were drawing crowds of curious onlookers on the beach in Port Washington today.

Ryan Brady is a conservation biologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. He said American Flamingos have been spotted across a dozen states like Ohio, Kentucky and Pennsylvania over the last month.

Brady said it’s the first known record of sighting a wild American Flamingo in Wisconsin.


How Haggis Made It Big In Japan:

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Daily Bread for 9.22.23: A Dog-Bite Story (That’s Not Only About Dogs)

 Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be mostly cloudy with a high of 76. Sunrise is 6:42 AM and sunset 6:51 PM for 12h 08m 45s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 47.2% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1862, a preliminary version of the Emancipation Proclamation is released by Abraham Lincoln.

Sometimes a dog story is more than a dog story. The tale begins, however, with a genuine dog in New York. Andy Newman reports A Quaint French Bookstore’s Violent Dog Problem Turns Deadly:

The quaint little shop on the Upper East Side is New York City’s only store dedicated to French children’s books. But lately, the shop, La Librairie des Enfants, has earned a more sinister distinction: It has been the sometime home of Syko, a 98-pound white German shepherd with a penchant for eviscerating smaller dogs.

On Friday, Akiba Tripp was walking her seven-pound toy poodle, Baby, past the store when the owner opened the door and Syko lurched out, sank his teeth into Baby and broke her spine, Ms. Tripp said. Baby was euthanized that evening.

The attack followed two others in May in which Syko and his siblings injured three other dogs, their owners said. In recent months, the proprietor’s German shepherds — five of them, including Syko’s parents — had spent time in the basement and the main area of the store.

They terrorized people and dogs alike, according to several victims along with online reviews of the shop, which has an adjoining cafe.

Syko’s reign of terror has now apparently ended. His owner, Lynda Hudson, said that on Saturday, Syko and her other four German shepherds moved permanently to her new house in Westchester County and would no longer come to the store.

Consider the irresponsibility of dog-owner Lynda Hudson: she knew for months that her poorly-trained dog had been attacking other dogs and people. She claims now to have tried to restrain the dog, etc., yet she was ineffective in controlling her canine when other people are able to restrain, retrain, or re-home their own dogs. While it’s true that Syko the dog attacked people and other animals, an incompetent owner was the root cause of these attacks.

Those who hold the leash bear responsibility for their dogs’ misbehavior. 

People, unlike dogs, bear a greater responsibility for their own actions. See Whitewater Needs Neither a King Nor a Mind Reader, Scenes from a Council Meeting (Responsibility), and Scenes from a Council Meeting (Representations).

And yet, and yet, even in the case of people, those who have an influence over others have an obligation to produce a mature demeanor, personal discipline, hard work, thorough reading, etc.

That’s why this story about a dog is about more than a dog.

Why it is that no one in Whitewater can ensure that Whitewater’s Common Council leads with discipline and diligence? 

Black Sea fleet HQ engulfed by smoke after Ukrainian missile strike:

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Film: Tuesday, September 26th, 1:00 PM @ Seniors in the Park, It Ain’t Over

Tuesday, September 26th at 1:00 PM, there will be a showing of It Ain’t Over @ Seniors in the Park, in the Starin Community Building:


Rated PG

1 hour, 39 minutes (2022)

An intimate portrait, and emotional and uplifting documentary, that takes us beyond the caricature and “Yogi-isms” into the heart and personality of one
of baseball’s most beloved legends, on and off the field: Yogi Berra. 

One can find more information about It Ain’t Over at the Internet Movie Database.

Daily Bread for 9.21.23: What’s Left of Old Whitewater’s Politicians Put Past Practice Ahead of Principle or Reason

 Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 77. Sunrise is 6:41 AM and sunset 6:53 PM for 12h 11m 37s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 36.5% of its visible disk illuminated.

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

Consider a sign in front of a church, listing only three words: FAITH. REASON. TRADITION. (Another ordering of these words would alter the positions of the first two, as Martin Albl’s Reason, Faith, Tradition does. A secular equivalent for politics or business might simply be Principle, Reason, Past Practice.) 

These orderings share one characteristic: they place tradition or practice last. Other qualities come first: a set of beliefs or principles and the application of human reason to them.

That’s not how Old Whitewater’s remaining, aged politicians carry on. For that ilk, tradition — business as usual— always comes first.

There are likely two reasons that they prioritize tradition.

First, it suits their ability to control institutions when they insist that the future must look like their own (admitted failed) past practices. It is they who are most familiar with their own dull conduct, so it is they who are most likely to continue along those same lines. (Indeed, competitive and dynamic people would find nothing useful from the aged men on the Community Development Authority or from the man who now sits both on the CDA and as Common Council president.)

Old Whitewater’s excuse-making failures may delight in themselves, but sharp people have no interest in letting that skunk smell permeate their clothes.

This conveniently leaves Whitewater’s political institutions in the hands of incompetent, but self-satisfied, old men.

Second, tradition is the easiest to master within a trio of principle, reason, and tradition. It simply requires less work. To be candid, even an illiterate or semi-literate person could follow ‘business as usual’ without much effort. This shows in both the old men of the CDA and Common Council: even after decades with the city in their geriatric grip, they struggle to follow an agenda or comply with state statutes and local ordinances. They’re entitled, and their entitlement makes them, and keeps them, dull.

America, Wisconsin, and Whitewater are filled with creative, dynamic, hardworking people. Sadly, they’re not to be found among those who run Whitewater’s Common Council or its Community Development Authority. 

Streets turn into rivers as Typhoon Haikui inundates China’s Fujian:

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Daily Bread for 9.20.23: Snyder on Russia’s Genocidal Project in Ukraine

 Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater be cloudy with a high of 78. Sunrise is 6:40 AM and sunset 6:55 PM for 12h 14m 31s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 26.7% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1519, Ferdinand Magellan sets sail from Sanlúcar de Barrameda with about 270 men on his expedition which ultimately culminates in the first circumnavigation of the globe.

Much has been said about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and among the best of those words one finds the writings of Timothy Snyder. Thoughtful consideration during a distinguished career allows Snyder to describe concisely and aptly Russia’s invasion. In only two minutes, Snyder explains the genocidal nature of the Russian invasion: 

That’s the Russian project, succinctly stated. Those who support or excuse Russian actions support or excuse genocide.

Hurricane Lee’s eye lit up by lightning in ominous view from plane:

An amazing view of Hurricane Lee’s eye was captured during an Air Force Reserve’s Hurricane Hunters flight on Sept. 7, 2023. The eye was lit up by several lightning flashes. Video features the song “Broken Glass” by Logan Spaleta:

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Daily Bread for 9.19.23: There’s a Reason Some Local Politicians Have No Platform

 Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will see morning rain with a high of 69. Sunrise is 6:39 AM and sunset 6:57 PM for 12h 17m 24s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 18% of its visible disk illuminated.

The Whitewater Common Council meets at 6:30 PM

On this day in 1982, Scott Fahlman posts the first documented emoticons 🙂 and 🙁 on the Carnegie Mellon University bulletin board system.

  It shouldn’t be hard — because it’s not hard — for a person of normal ability to write what he or she believes about politics, and of a platform for his or her town’s betterment. See A Sketch on Libertarianism, Libertarians, Bleeding-Heart Libertarians, and All that Lies Beyond, What Ails, What Heals, and Heals & Ails, General & Particular, Public & Private.

And so, and so, if it’s not hard, why doesn’t it happen more in local government? There are three principal reasons elected leaders don’t establish a clear platform: inability, entitlement, or concealed purpose. 

Inability, however, rare among ordinary people, sometimes afflicts a political leader who’s not up to leadership. One occasionally finds an inarticulate person in a position of leadership on city councils or school boards. Instead of a plain description, an inarticulate man or woman will substitute a vacuous phrase. If a student at Whitewater High School needs to write a term paper in descriptive English, it’s not too much to ask the same of those on the Whitewater Common Council.

Entitlement is a second reason that politicians don’t state their views and goals plainly. They don’t do so because they don’t feel they need to do so. See Whitewater Needs Neither a King Nor a Mind ReaderThis entitlement leads to laziness, where the politicians so afflicted don’t read agendas, don’t follow established deadlines, and look for ways to make it easier only on themselves. See Scenes from a Council Meeting (Responsibility).  

Entitlement Doesn’t Recognize Limits and this entitlement leads to Overreach.

Concealed purpose is a third reason that elected leaders don’t announce a platform of their views. Those in this third category are sycophants of special interests, and (needless to say) they are not about to declare a platform that would prevent them from shifting quickly in support of those special interests’ changing needs. Why have your own views when, in the end, those views might conflict with the interests that tell you what to think and say? (Worse, of course: why think for yourself when you act as though the only thoughts worth having come from those special interests?) See Who Holds the Leash?

A politician can carry on this way, but cannot while doing so effectively represent the interests of many thousands.

The Unexpected Origin of the Michelin Star:

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Daily Bread for 9.18.23: Despite Drought, Wisconsin Apple and Grape Crops Look Good

 Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of 72. Sunrise is 6:38 AM and sunset 6:58 PM for 12h 20m 17s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 11.3% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1927, the Columbia Broadcasting System goes on the air.

  There’s some good agricultural news despite an ongoing Wisconsin drought. Hope Kirwan reports Wisconsin apple, grape growers report ‘beautiful’ crop this fall despite ongoing drought (‘Irrigation systems helped many fruit producers make up for lack of rainfall this summer’):

While the drought caused concern for field crop growers, Wisconsin fruit producers say the dry weather was actually a good thing for many trees and vines.

[Manager of Sunrise Orchards in Gays Mills, Sandy] Jeffers said they had a large enough harvest to be able to sell to other orchards in the area that were more affected by the drought. Thanks to irrigation, their fruit was the usual size. But she said the apples would have been smaller than most consumers want if they did not have constant watering.

She said harvest has been slightly earlier than normal for most varieties. But local customers have also been seeking out their apples and other products earlier than usual.

“They’re ready to move on to the next season,” she said. “It’s a little bit cooler. I’ve had a few phone calls already asking me if the trees have started changing colors yet.”

Bill Roethle, owner of Hillside Apples in Door County, said his apple trees had a great bloom this spring, with pollination lasting much longer than usual at his orchard. He said that means each tree has plenty of apples, and cool weather at night has helped the fruit reach its final stages.

“It looks like the color, the red in the apples, is coming on very well,” he said. “Some years, it just doesn’t come. Some years it comes easy.”

Massive filament eruption on Sun captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory:

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