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Daily Bread for 12.2.21: Kasparov on How Foreign Dissidents Can Help Renew U.S. Democracy

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of 49.  Sunrise is 7:07 AM and sunset 4:21 PM for 9h 13m 28s of daytime.  The moon is a waning crescent with 4.8% of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater Fire Department, Inc. holds a business meeting at 5:30 PM and the Landmarks Commission meets at 6 PM.

 On this day in 1804, at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, Napoleon Bonaparte crowns himself Emperor of the French.


 Jennifer Rubin interviews Garry Kasparov in Q&A with Garry Kasparov: How foreign dissidents can help renew U.S. democracy:

Rubin: Why did RDI [Renew Democracy Initiative, a nonpartisan and nonprofit organization] believe the experience of foreign dissidents could help promote American democracy?

Kasparov: Foreign dissidents benefit from two things Americans by and large lack: personal experience resisting authoritarianism, and the ability to look past partisan politics and see threats to democracy for what they are. In some ways, you can call them the global experts on how authoritarian tendencies spread through society and how democratic institutions crumble. We’d be crazy not to consult them.

They can’t be accused of having a dog in the partisan fight. They have nothing to gain and, if American democracy falls, everything to lose. Most importantly, they want to help Americans see the U.S. through their eyes. During the darkest days of their struggles, American democracy often inspired them. RDI launched Frontlines of Freedom in the hopes that their stories might now inspire us.

Rubin: To what degree is the United States’ current situation a reflection of worldwide trends, and to what extent is it uniquely American?

Kasparov: From 1990 to 2008, the world experienced one of the greatest increases in prosperity and freedom that it’s ever known. However, during that time period, democratic nations assumed that liberal democracy had essentially won the narrative war and failed to make a case for it. Needless to say, history did not end because evil does not die. It might stay dormant under the rubble of the Berlin Wall for a while, but inevitably, it will reemerge. Meanwhile, because most free nations did not offer a sufficiently strong defense of democratic values on their own merits, many people supported democracy only so long as it brought economic prosperity. As soon as the financial crisis hit in 2008, everything changed.

Kasparov identifies, rightly, the significance of the financial crisis (the financial crisis was cause to the Great Recession’s effect).

It is from the Great Recession that maladies new or exacerbated afflicted communities across America, including small towns like Whitewater: stagnation and poverty, a drug crisis intensified, malaise, nativism, a rejection of expertise, claims of false expertise, and a taste for autocratic solutions that has become a chronic hunger.

The Great Recession formally lasted from 2007-2009, but policymakers (especially local ones across America) carried on as though it had not happened or as though it quickly ended.

For many of these rural places, the Great Recession never truly ended.

Boosterism, local officials’ ideology of choice, didn’t end the maladies of these communities — it merely papered them over.

See Opioid Crisis : Great Recession :: Dust Bowl : Great Depression.


Christmas tree lit in Nazareth:

Daily Bread for 12.1.21: On Schedule, the Pretext for Wisconsin’s Next Gerrymandering

Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of 48.  Sunrise is 7:06 AM and sunset 4:21 PM for 9h 14m 45s of daytime.  The moon is a waning crescent with 11.1% of its visible disk illuminated.

 On this day in 1941, Japanese Emperor Hirohito gives the final approval to initiate war against the United States.


 Patrick Marley reports Wisconsin Supreme Court says it would minimize changes to current election maps, handing Republicans an initial redistricting victory:

MADISON – A narrowly divided state Supreme Court announced Tuesday it would minimize changes it would make to Wisconsin’s election maps, effectively guaranteeing Republicans will continue to maintain control of the Legislature for the next decade.

The 4-3 ruling comes as the justices prepare to issue a final ruling that will establish the exact contours of the state’s legislative and congressional districts. Where the lines go has a profound effect on which political party has an edge in elections.

Tuesday’s decision broke along ideological lines, with the four conservatives in the majority and the three liberals in the minority.

In the most significant part of their ruling, the justices wrote that they would limit the changes they would make to maps that were drawn 10 years ago, when Republicans controlled all of state government and established district lines that favor their party.

….

The majority concluded it should make as few changes as possible to the maps because courts should not weigh in on policy matters.

“Just as the laws enacted by the legislature reflect policy choices, so will the maps drawn by that political body. Nothing in the constitution empowers this court to second-guess those policy choices, and nothing in the constitution vests this court with the power of the legislature to enact new maps,” Rebecca Bradley wrote for the majority.

Dallet in dissent countered that the majority opinion had a political cast to it because it would help cement the Republican advantages that were established a decade ago.

“In effect, a least-change approach that starts with the 2011 maps nullifies voters’ electoral decisions since then,” she wrote. “In that way, adopting a least-change approach is an inherently political choice. Try as it might, the majority is fooling no one by proclaiming its decision is neutral and apolitical.”

See the November 30, 2021 opinion of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, below.

Download (PDF, 446KB)


Tonight’s Sky for December:

Daily Bread for 11.30.21: Watching the Wisconsin Supreme Court on Redistricting

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of 46.  Sunrise is 7:05 AM and sunset 4:21 PM for 9h 16m 07s of daytime.  The moon is a waning crescent with 19.6% of its visible disk illuminated.

 On this day in 1803, in New Orleans, Spanish representatives officially transfer the Louisiana Territory to an official from the French First Republic. Just 20 days later, France transfers the same land to the United States as the Louisiana Purchase.


 Shawn Johnson reports Wisconsin Supreme Court to rule on key issues in redistricting case:

The Wisconsin Supreme Court is expected to issue an order this week that lays the legal groundwork for a case that could decide the state’s political maps for the next decade.

While the order won’t be the final word in the case, it could settle key questions, such as whether justices should approve “least changes” maps that largely copy the redistricting plans Wisconsin Republicans passed in 2011.

States redraw their legislative and congressional boundaries at least once every decade following the release of U.S. Census data, a process designed to keep districts roughly equal in population.

Republicans controlled both the Legislature and the governor’s office during the last round of redistricting in 2011, which let them draw maps that helped them win big majorities over the past decade, even in years when Democratic candidates performed well statewide.

GOP lawmakers passed similar maps earlier this month, but Democratic Gov. Tony Evers vetoed the plans, saying they amounted to “gerrymandering 2.0.”

The conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, or WILL, filed a lawsuit in August arguing that given the likely impasse in state government, the fairest way for a court to resolve redistricting was by mostly preserving the 2011 maps, adjusting only where necessary to address population changes.

“The ‘least change’ approach is the most fair and neutral way for this Court to modify any existing maps,” WILL wrote in a brief filed last month. “It is the approach that best comports with this Court’s duty to assess the constitutionality of laws rather than to draft them from scratch.”

Democrats, and their allies, have urged a different approach, arguing that conservatives are asking the court “do their dirty work,” by entrenching GOP majorities in the Legislature for another decade.

“It’s bad enough that the legislature insulated itself from voters for the past ten years,” argued a coalition of Democratic voters including William Whitford, whose 2015 redistricting lawsuit made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. “It would be even worse if the Court were to perpetuate the gerrymander for the next decade.”


Barbados leaves colonial history behind and becomes a republic:

Daily Bread for 11.29.21: The Pecking Order

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 38.  Sunrise is 7:04 AM and sunset 4:22 PM for 9h 17m 32s of daytime.  The moon is a waning crescent with 29.1% of its visible disk illuminated.

 Whitewater’s Urban Forestry Commission meets at 4:30 PM.

 On this day in 1972, Atari releases Pong, the first commercially successful video game.


Andrew Van Dam and Alyssa Fowers report Which birds are the biggest jerks at the feeder? A massive data analysis reveals the answer (‘Presenting the ultimate bird-feeder pecking order’):

The interactions between birds in the park or at your backyard feeder may look like chaos, but they’re actually following the subtle rules of a hidden avian social order.

Armed with a database of almost 100,000 bird interactions, experts known as ornithologists have decoded that secret pecking order and created a continentwide power ranking of almost 200 species — from the formidable wild turkey at the top to the tiny, retiring brown creeper at the bottom.

Their work illuminates an elaborate hidden hierarchy: Northern mockingbirds and red-bellied woodpeckers are pugnacious for their size, but both would give way if a truly dominant bird like an American crow descended upon the feeder. Tiny hummingbirds can’t afford to lose precious seconds of feeding time and thus punch way above their weight, while the pileated woodpecker, whose fearsome bill and impressive build gives it the aspect of a holdover pterodactyl, actually proves docile for its size.

Among the most common feeder visitors, the American crow is king, while tiny chickadees get pushed around by just about everybody. The oblivious mourning dove outweighs many rivals but proves relatively peaceful. And lively goldfinches love to squabble but are limited by their half-ounce size.

Blue jays are near the top of the feeder bird hierarchy, but no match for crows

Birds most commonly observed at bird feeders in the Northeastern United States. Thicker lines indicate a species interacts with the blue jay more often.

“You see it at your feeder, and you’re like, ‘Oh, that woodpecker? He’s a mean one!’ and you ascribe these individual preferences to birds at your feeder,” said Cornell University ornithologist Eliot Miller. “But if you zoom out, all these same interactions are happening millions of times in cities across the continent, and the way they play out is predictable.”


 Pong Gameplay:

Daily Bread for 11.28.21: The Good Work of Vaccination Outreach

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 35.  Sunrise is 7:03 AM and sunset 4:22 PM for 9h 19m 01s of daytime.  The moon is a waning crescent with 39.1% of its visible disk illuminated.

 On this day in 1895, the first American automobile race takes place over the 54 miles from Chicago’s Jackson Park to Evanston, Illinois. Frank Duryea wins in approximately 10 hours.


 The Washington Post reports on how non-profit agencies are doing the good work of helping California’s Indigenous farmworkers overcome vaccine barriers:

It’s estimated that California is home to over 350,000 Indigenous people from Oaxaca and other states in southern Mexico. Many do not speak Spanish, and therefore are left out of critical information regarding covid-19 and the vaccine. Nonprofits conduct outreach in their native language to get this vulnerable community vaccinated.


 The BBC and PBS offer an adaptation of Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days:

Let the race against the clock begin! Phileas Fogg (David Tennant), Abigail Fix (Leonie Benesch), and Jean Passepartout (Ibrahim Koma) are setting out on the adventure of a lifetime, starting on Sunday, January 2, 2022 at 8/7c.

Daily Bread for 11.27.21: New Americans in Wisconsin

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be cloudy with scattered rain or snow showers and a high of 42.  Sunrise is 7:02 AM and sunset 4:23 PM for 9h 20m 32s of daytime.  The moon is in its third quarter with 49.4% of its visible disk illuminated.

 On this day in 1903, Green Bay Packer Johnny Blood is born:

On this date Johnny Blood (aka John McNally) was born in New Richmond. Blood was an early NFL halfback playing for Green Bay from 1929 to 1933 and 1935 to 1936. He also played for the Milwaukee Badgers, Duluth Eskimos, Pottsville Maroons, and the Pittsburgh Pirates. An elusive runner and gifted pass receiver, he played a major role in the Packers’ drive to the first three championships in 1929, 1930 and 1931. Johnny Blood died on November 28, 1985, at the age of 82. Titletown Brewing Co. in Green Bay named their brew Johnny “Blood” Red Ale after the famed halfback.


 Hope Kirwan reports Experts on refugee experiences in Wisconsin encourage communities to see arriving Afghans as new Americans:

Vincent Her is a cultural anthropologist at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse who teaches a class on refugees and transnational communities. He was a refugee himself 40 years ago, when his family fled their home in southeast Asia in the aftermath of the Vietnam War and came to America.

During a panel hosted by UW-La Crosse earlier this month, Her said he sees similarities between his family’s experience and that of the nearly 65,000 people who were evacuated during the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Nearly 13,000 of those Afghans were brought to Fort McCoy, about 38 miles northwest of La Crosse, while they waited to be resettled, and thousands are still currently living on base.

….

Her said one of the best ways to support new arrivals is by immediately accepting them as fellow Americans instead of outsiders.

“We should not see them as refugees, we should not continue to refer to them as refugees. In the case of Hmong Americans, we have been here for 46 years and many continue to refer to us as Hmong refugees or Hmong,” Her said. “I prefer the term Hmong Americans because I basically grew up here. I raised my whole family here and we are as American as any other family. We eat turkey for Thanksgiving and pumpkin pie. Those are a part of our new food culture.”

But Her said accepting new Americans into a community doesn’t mean expecting them to discard their culture for the food and practices of white Americans.

He said when Hmong people from Southeast Asia started arriving in the U.S. after the Vietnam War, the federal government thought the best way to get people to assimilate quickly was by settling Hmong families in different communities.

“The hope is that if you keep them far apart, then they will quickly adapt, they will quickly become immersed in the community and you will never hear from them again,” Her said. “Rather than opening up to the community, they isolate themselves and they keep to themselves. Neighbors will say, ‘How come these people are so quiet? They’re not like Americans.’ Or if the family does things differently, then they say, ‘Well, these people don’t behave like Americans.'”

He said it wasn’t until these families reunited in communities around Wisconsin that they could regain their identities as Hmong and start to form a new identity as Hmong Americans.


How 20 Years of Halo Changed the Gaming Industry:

HALO – Theme Song Live:

Daily Bread for 11.26.21: A Japanese Recipe for Pancakes

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 32.  Sunrise is 7:01 AM and sunset 4:23 PM for 9h 22m 07s of daytime.  The moon is a waning gibbous with 59.4% of its visible disk illuminated.

 On this day in 1838, the Wisconsin Legislature assembles in Madison for the first time:

On this date, after moving from the temporary capital in Burlington, Iowa, the Wisconsin Territorial Legislature assembled in Madison for the first time. Two years earlier, when the territorial legislature had met for the first time in Belmont, many cities were mentioned as possibilities for the permanent capital — Cassville, Fond du Lac, Milwaukee, Platteville, Mineral Point, Racine, Belmont, Koshkonong, Wisconsinapolis, Peru, and Wisconsin City. Madison won the vote, and funds were authorized to erect a suitable building in which lawmakers would conduct the people’s business. Progress went so slowly, however, that some lawmakers wanted to relocate the seat of government to Milwaukee, where they also thought they would find better accommodations than in the wilds of Dane Co. When the legislature finally met in Madison in November 1838 there was only an outside shell to the new Capitol. The interior was not completed until 1845, more than six years after it was supposed to be finished. On November 26, 1838, Governor Henry Dodge delivered his first speech in the new seat of government.


 Few breakfast dishes seem more American than pancakes, but there should always be room for ideas to make our own favorites even better.  Valerio Farris writes of Extra Fluffy Pancakes, Thanks to This Japanese Secret Ingredient:

Recently, it came to my attention that there was a pancake trick making the rounds on Japanese Twitter. The secret to airier, fluffier, cakier pancakes? Mayo.

Weird, I know. But who am I to scoff? Rather, who are you to scoff? Who are any of us to scoff? So once I finished scoffing, I set out to give this recipe a try, following a translation of the original tweet.

According to SoraNews24, an online Japanese content aggregate, the recipe reads:

  • First mix one egg, 150 milliliters (2/3 cup) of carbonated water, and two tablespoons of mayonnaise together in a pot.
  • Add 150 grams of pancake mix, stir lightly, and heat over a low flame (option to add blueberries at this point).
  • Cook for about three minutes, flip, cook for about two more minutes on the other side, and you’re done.
  • Add butter, syrup, jam, or whatever toppings you’d like, and enjoy! The mayonnaise makes the pancakes fluffier, thicker, and juicier.

Sounds easy, right? Sure enough, it was.

Farris describes the result as a little tart, but not too dense.

Interesting.


Pentagon Creates UFO Task Force:

Film: Tuesday, November 30, 1 PM @ Seniors in the Park, Dream Horse

Tuesday, November 30th at 1 PM, there will be a showing of Dream Horse  @ Seniors in the Park, in the Starin Community Building:

Biography/Comedy/Drama/Sports

1 hour, 53 minutes

Rated PG (2020)

The inspiring true story of Dream Alliance, an unlikely race horse bred by a small town Welsh bartender (Toni Collette) with no equestrian experience. She convinces her patrons and neighbors to chip in their meager earnings to help raise and train the horse in the hope he can compete with the racing elite. Their investment begins to pay off, as Dream Alliance begins to rise through the ranks, and approaches the Welsh Grand National.

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

Enjoy.

Friday Catblogging: Calicos

Mary Johnson lists 5 fun facts about calico cats you should know:

Cats come in a variety of colors and coat patterns, ranging from solid white to jet black and everything in between. For a cat to be considered a calico, three different colors must be present in her coat: black, red, and white. Tortoiseshell cats, which are sometimes confused with calicos, don’t have white in their coats. Instead, they’re usually black and red, sometimes seen with a hint of peaches and cream mixed in. On occasion, you’ll see a lighter tortie in shades of lilac and cream, known as dilute calicos. While no official calico cat breeds exist, you’ll often find these colorful fur babies in numerous cat breeds, including Persians, Maine coons, Manx cats, American shorthairs, and British shorthairs. 

….

1. Most calico cats are female

Did you know that only one out of every 3,000 calico cats is male? Male calicos are so rare that even your local veterinarian will most likely go their entire career without seeing one in person. Here’s why: The gene responsible for your cat’s coloration is located on the X chromosome. Female cats (XX) have a much greater chance of inheriting the unique calico pattern than male cats (XY). But what about those rare males? Sadly, they have an extra chromosome (XXY), and they’re usually sterile

Johnson lists the other four calico facts in her post at Pawtracks.

Daily Bread for 11.25.21: Turkeys Take Over American Campuses

Good morning.

Thanksgiving in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 37.  Sunrise is 7:00 AM and sunset 4:24 PM for 9h 23m 45s of daytime.  The moon is a waning gibbous with 69.3% of its visible disk illuminated.

 On this day in 1783, The last British troops leave New York City three months after the signing of the Treaty of Paris.


 Mitch Smith reports As Turkeys Take Over Campus, Some Colleges Are More Thankful Than Others (‘From California to Minnesota to Massachusetts, turkeys have taken a liking to university life, leading to social media stardom and crosswalk confrontations’):

MINNEAPOLIS — They are lounging next to bike racks and outside dorms. They are strutting across Harvard Yard. And, yes, they are occasionally fanning their feathers and charging at innocent students.

Across the nation, from the riverbanks of the University of Minnesota to the forests of the University of California, Santa Cruz, wild turkeys have gone to college. And they seem to like it. Maybe too much.

Once rare in most of the United States, turkeys became one of the great conservation success stories of the last half-century. But as efforts to expand the bird’s range flourished across the countryside, the turkeys also trotted into cities, laying down roosts in alleys, parks, backyards and, increasingly, at institutions of higher learning.

“College campuses are just ideal habitat,” said David Drake, a professor and extension wildlife specialist at the University of Wisconsin, where a sizable flock likes to hang out near apartments for graduate students. “You’ve got that intermixing of forested patches with open grassy areas and things like that. Nobody’s hunting.”

….

There is little formal study of college turkeys, but on campus after campus, there is widespread agreement that their numbers have exploded in the last decade or so.

Alex Jones, who manages the Campus Natural Reserve at California, Santa Cruz, said he never saw a turkey as a student there in the 1990s. Now they are everywhere, sometimes in groups of dozens: outside dining halls, on the branches of redwood trees and, quite often, in streets blocking traffic.

“The funniest thing to me is that they’ll take the crosswalk sometimes,” Mr. Jones said.


Giant balloons take shape for Thanksgiving Day Parade:

Daily Bread for 11.24.21: Alden Global Capital Comes for Lee Newspapers

Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 50.  Sunrise is 6:59 AM and sunset 4:24 PM for 9h 25m 26s of daytime.  The moon is a waning gibbous with 78.2% of its visible disk illuminated.

 On this day in 1863, at the Battle of Lookout Mountain near Chattanooga, Union forces under General Ulysses S. Grant capture Lookout Mountain and begin to break the Confederate siege of the city.


 Erik Gunn reports ‘Slash and burn’ hedge fund bids for owner of multiple Wisconsin newspapers:

A hedge fund that has cut staff and resources drastically while becoming the second largest owner of newspapers in the country is now bidding to buy Lee Enterprises, which owns several daily newspapers in Wisconsin.

Alden Global Capital is offering $24 a share for Lee, the investment firm stated in a letter to Lee’s board of directors Monday, which would value the company at about $141 million. The offer is a 30% premium over Lee’s share price as of the close of trading on Friday, Nov. 19.

Word of the proposal quickly sent Lee’s stock price to near the offering amount by noon on Monday. The publishing company did not have an immediate comment.

Lee papers in Wisconsin include its state flagship, the Wisconsin State Journal, as well as dailies in La Crosse, Racine and Kenosha. Lee owns 90 newspapers nationwide, including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Buffalo News and the Omaha World-Herald.

Over the last decade, Alden Global Capital has been buying newspapers around the country, including the chains Media General and the Tribune Co. It now owns about 200 papers, according to published reports.

“Alden comes in and it slashes and it burns,” said Lewis Friedland, a University of Wisconsin journalism professor. “They’re basically strip-mining newspapers.”

In this October’s Atlantic, McKay Coppins exhaustively described Alden’s approach in A Secretive Hedge Fund is Gutting Newsrooms:

What threatens local newspapers now is not just digital disruption or abstract market forces. They’re being targeted by investors who have figured out how to get rich by strip-mining local-news outfits. The model is simple: Gut the staff, sell the real estatejack up subscription prices, and wring as much cash as possible out of the enterprise until eventually enough readers cancel their subscriptions that the paper folds, or is reduced to a desiccated husk of its former self.

The men who devised this model are Randall Smith and Heath Freeman, the co-founders of Alden Global Capital. Since they bought their first newspapers a decade ago, no one has been more mercenary or less interested in pretending to care about their publications’ long-term health. Researchers at the University of North Carolina found that Alden-owned newspapers have cut their staff at twice the rate of their competitors; not coincidentally, circulation has fallen faster too, according to Ken Doctor, a news-industry analyst who reviewed data from some of the papers. That might sound like a losing formula, but these papers don’t have to become sustainable businesses for Smith and Freeman to make money.

With aggressive cost-cutting, Alden can operate its newspapers at a profit for years while turning out a steadily worse product, indifferent to the subscribers it’s alienating.

….

This investment strategy does not come without social consequences. When a local newspaper vanishes, research shows, it tends to correspond with lower voter turnout, increased polarization, and a general erosion of civic engagementMisinformation proliferates. City budgets balloon, along with corruption and dysfunction. The consequences can influence national politics as well; an analysis by Politico found that Donald Trump performed best during the 2016 election in places with limited access to local news.

With its acquisition of Tribune Publishing earlier this year, Alden now controls more than 200 newspapers, including some of the country’s most famous and influential: the Chicago TribuneThe Baltimore Sun, the New York Daily News. It is the nation’s second-largest newspaper owner by circulation. Some in the industry say they wouldn’t be surprised if Smith and Freeman end up becoming the biggest newspaper moguls in U.S. history.

More than a few Wisconsin communities are effectively news deserts already, and others have local papers little better than an Alden paper. (The Janesville Gazette and Daily Jefferson County Union, now owned by APG, look like nothing so much as third-tier ad sales networks masquerading as proper newspapers.)

I’ve long been a critical of local newspapers because local newspapers long ago abandoned inquisitive and insightful reporting for boosterism and glad-handing. Alden and APG are bad for the communities in which they operate, but homegrown publishers were bad for these communities long before Alden and APG scooped desiccated local papers off the remainders table.

Alden, if successful in this acquisition, will take Wisconsin and other states yet lower.


One Hedge Fund Guts Local Newsrooms:

Daily Bread for 11.23.21: Myopic Leading the Myopic in UW System Search

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 44.  Sunrise is 6:57 AM and sunset 4:25 PM for 9h 27m 12s of daytime.  The moon is a waning gibbous with 85.5% of its visible disk illuminated.

 Whitewater’s Finance Committee meets at 4:30 PM.

 On this day in 1924, Edwin Hubble‘s discovery, that the Andromeda “nebula” is actually another island galaxy far outside our own Milky Way, is first published in the New York Times.


 Kelly Meyerhofer reports UW System hires presidential search firm involved in 2 problematic hires elsewhere:

After a search for the next University of Wisconsin System president collapsed last year because of complaints over how it was conducted, a UW official said the firm involved in the failed search would not be hired to assist in the System’s second attempt to hire a new leader.

The System is instead working with a different executive search firm that has been involved in at least two problematic searches of its own.

Recently released records show the System hired WittKieffer this summer at an estimated cost of about $225,000 plus expenses to help identify and recruit candidates in its presidential search, which is expected to ramp up over the next two months.

In one search, WittKieffer provided “inaccurate salary information” from a candidate’s previous jobs that led East Carolina University to hire a candidate for a higher salary than the individual might have been paid otherwise, according to a report in Business North Carolina. The candidate was hired in 2016 at an annual $450,000 salary even though he had earned less than $300,000 in his previous job.

….

More recently, the president of Oregon State University resigned earlier this year after only nine months on the job in the wake of his previous employer, Louisiana State University, releasing a report detailing the “mishandling of sexual misconduct allegations and Title IX procedures” while he served as LSU’s president. WittKieffer led the Oregon State search.

The firm did not respond to two voicemail messages left over the past week.

Regent Karen Walsh, who is leading the System’s presidential search committee, said WittKieffer was the Regents’ “number one choice” among companies considered for the job. Neither she nor Regents President Ed Manydeeds were aware of the firm’s involvement in the two problematic searches at the time they hired the company, she said.

It’s possible to start a search poorly and end well, of course, but it seems less likely than starting well.

Whitewater has its own experience with starting poorly (and ending disastrously), in the search that led to UW-Whitewater’s hiring of Beverly Kopper.  See The Dark, Futile Dream and Revisiting Kozloff’s ‘Dark, Futile Dream.’


Uphilling: Ski Resorts Embrace Big New Trend

Daily Bread for 11.22.21: Speeding Driver Kills or Injures Dozens at Waukesha Christmas Parade

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 35.  Sunrise is 6:56 AM and sunset 4:25 PM for 9h 28m 59s of daytime.  The moon is a waning gibbous with 91.6% of its visible disk illuminated.

 Whitewater’s Urban Forestry Commission meets at 4:30 PM, and the Whitewater School Board meets at 7 PM.

 On this day in 1963, President John F. Kennedy is assassinated and Texas Governor John Connally is seriously wounded by Lee Harvey Oswald, who also kills Dallas Police officer J. D. Tippit after fleeing the scene. U.S Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson is sworn in as the 36th President of the United States afterwards.


 News that several are reported dead and dozens injured after an SUV sped through yesterday’s Waukesha Christmas parade is understandably a statewide, national, and international story today —

Bill Glauber, Mary Spicuzza, and Molly Beck of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report A person plowed their SUV through the Waukesha Christmas Parade, leaving five dead and more than 40 injured authorities say:

WAUKESHA – A treasured rite of the holiday season turned into a scene of bloody, deadly mayhem late Sunday afternoon as a vehicle plowed into the Waukesha Christmas Parade, killing five people and injuring more than 40 others, authorities said.

Shortly before midnight, the City of Waukesha posted to its Twitter and Facebook accounts revised casualty totals.

“At this time, we can confirm that 5 people are deceased and over 40 are injured,” the statement said. “However, these numbers may change as we collect additional information.”

Earlier, authorities said 11 adults and 12 children were ferried to local hospitals. Others were taken by friends and family. Children’s Wisconsin hospital said it had 15 patients and no fatalities.

Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly called the incident a “horrible and senseless act.”

Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson said that around 4:39 p.m. a red SUV broke through the parade barriers and headed west on Main Street.

“The vehicle struck more than 20 individuals. Some of the individuals were children and there were some fatalities as a result of this incident,” he said.

A suspect vehicle was recovered and a “person of interest” was in custody, the police chief said. People were transported to hospitals via ambulances and police vehicles, he added.

Dan Simmons, Mitch Smith, Robert Chiarito, Jesus Jiménez, and Livia Albeck-Ripka of the New York Times report Five Dead in Wisconsin After Driver Plows S.U.V. Into Holiday Parade:

This was the 58th Christmas parade for Waukesha, an annual event that was canceled last year because of the pandemic. The theme of this year’s event was simply “Comfort and Joy.”

Mikey Randa, 14, said he was marching in the parade with his high school football team when he saw a young girl hit by the car. “The car just flew past us, there was a lot of panic,” he said, adding that he initially didn’t grasp what had happened. Mr. Randa said he then saw five or six bodies lying on the ground. “I’m still in a bit of a shock,” he said.

All Waukesha public schools will be closed Monday, the police department said in a statement Sunday night.

Jason Kellner, 49, said that he had just watched his son, a drummer in the Waukesha South High School marching band, pass by, when he first saw a red Ford Escape heading toward the crowd. After passing through an intersection, Mr. Kellner said, the car “started mowing people down.”

“I’ve never felt a worse feeling; wondering what I’m going to find when I get to my kid,” Mr. Kellner said of the moment he ran toward his son, whom he found standing unharmed by the side of the road.

International publications quickly reported on the events. See Reuters in The Guardian, Social media footage shows SUV speeding through Wisconsin Christmas parade – video and Britain’s The Telegraph, Wisconsin tragedy: Five people killed and more than 40 injured after car ploughs through parade

Wisconsin communities that have endured repeated suffering experience yet more. 

Daily Bread for 11.21.21: Roadrunner Makes Trip from Nevada to Maine

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of 50.  Sunrise is 6:55 AM and sunset 4:26 PM for 9h 30m 49s of daytime.  The moon is a waning gibbous with 95.8% of its visible disk illuminated.

 On this day in 1877,  Thomas Edison announces his invention of the phonograph, a machine that can record and play sound.


Claudia Chiappa and Dustin Wlodkowski  report Wily Roadrunner Visits Maine By Hitching Ride in Moving Van From Las Vegas:

Even the fastest birds need to hitch a ride sometimes, it seems.

A curious roadrunner was found in a moving van that had traveled from Las Vegas to Westbrook, Maine, this weekend, police said.

A surprised father and his son spotted the bird — the one made famous by the coyote-evading Looney Tunes cartoon — in the back of their van on Saturday while unloading it at a storage facility after a four-day, cross-country trip in Nevada, according to Avian Haven, a nonprofit wild bird rehabilitation center in Maine.

After finding the surprise passenger, the men contacted the Westbrook Maine Police Department and, eventually, reached wildlife experts at Avian Haven. A volunteer from the area was able to catch the elusive roadrunner with help from the family that had inadvertently transported it, and it was moved to the center.

The roadrunner is now safe and waiting to be returned to its original home. The bird was in “remarkably good shape for having been confined in the van for four days,” officials from the center said in a Facebook post.

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the Arizona Game and Fish Department have been communicating about possible transfer plans, The Portland Press Herald reported on Monday.

As of Thursday, arrangements were still being made for what will likely be a direct air trip from Logan airport in Boston to Las Vegas.

“The shorter amount of time a bird is on an airline, the better,” said Doug Nielsen, a conservation education supervisor with the Nevada Department of Wildlife explaining that there will be coordination between his agency, the State of Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife as well as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Sometimes a roadrunner story is only a roadrunner story…


The Best Pumpkin Pie Recipe | Melissa Clark: