FREE WHITEWATER

Author Archive for JOHN ADAMS

Daily Bread for 12.8.22: Enrollment Grows at Wisconsin Technical Colleges

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 39. Sunrise is 7:13 AM and sunset 4:20 PM for 9h 07m 15s of daytime. The moon is full with 99.8% of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Landmarks Commission meets at 6 PM

 On this day in 1941, President Roosevelt declares December 7 to be “a date which will live in infamy,” after which the U.S. declares war on Japan.


Much — but not all — of the news about enrollments at post-secondary schools points to decline. Wisconsin’s technical colleges are seeing increases in enrollment, as Rich Kremer reports in Enrollment at Wisconsin technical colleges grows by more than 10 percent:

Enrollment across the Wisconsin Technical College System grew by more than 10 percent during the 2021-22 academic year. The increase follows a double-digit enrollment decline driven by the COVID-19 pandemic and marks the largest gains for the system in at least a decade. 

All of the state’s 16 technical colleges saw enrollment gains during the 2021-22 school year, according to the most recent WTCS Factbook.

Nicolet Area Technical College in Rhinelander saw the largest increase of 21.9 percent over the previous academic year. Western Technical College in La Crosse reported a 19 percent increase and Northcentral Technical College in Wausau posted gains of 15.5 percent year-over-year. 

The enrollment growth marks a notable turnaround for Wisconsin Technical College System, or WTCS, which saw a 13.2 percent decrease during the 2020-21 academic year driven by the pandemic. During that span, a majority of colleges saw double-digit declines and some saw enrollment fall by more than 20 percent. 

Overall, WTCS added 25,669 students in the 2021-22 academic year. 

WTCS President Morna Foy told Wisconsin Public Radio the enrollment growth is great news for the state’s tech colleges, but there’s still a ways to go before numbers hit pre-pandemic levels. 

Wisconsin’s key requirement for K-12 education is to assure that by the time students leave high school, they have a strong foundation for whatever awaits them next. Whether it’s full time employment, a technical college, a two-year college, a four-year program, or a combination from among these choices, students graduated from high school can and should have foundation in humanities and sciences. 

A good high school education should prepare students to express themselves in standard spoken and written English, to grasp principles of math and science, and to understand the history and laws of our people.

It is both false and wrong to say that this cannot be done, to ignore doing so, or to ignore explaining plainly how one is doing so.

More important than a referendum, more important even than particular candidacies for a school board, is a review of what and how a district explains at each opportunity what it is doing to teach students these fundamentals. 

That’s a worthy project.


Putin vs. the Priest: A Big Story About a Small Sermon:

The Opinion video above tells the story of Father Ioann Burdin, a priest with the Russian Orthodox Church who ran afoul of his government soon after Russia invaded Ukraine. His crime? Well, we don’t want to spoil the plot for you. Suffice it to say, Father Ioann’s tale shows the hazards of following your moral compass in Vladimir Putin’s Russia. (He’s still paying the price.)

The story also explores the often tragic absurdity of the modern Russian state, something that Father Ioann, in our conversations with him, described with a wryness and wit that informed our telling of his story.

To help capture this sensibility, we invited Gary Shteyngart, a Soviet-born American satirist and best-selling author, to serve as the video’s narrator. Born in Leningrad in 1972, Mr. Shteyngart immigrated to the United States when he was a child and grew up in Queens, New York. A critic reviewing his latest book for The New York Times described him as “a writer comparably superb at demonstrating absurdity and generating pathos.” That’s a fair summary of our intention with this video.

more >>

Daily Bread for 12.7.22: The Need for Fundamental Care

Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be foggy in the morning with a high of 40. Sunrise is 7:12 AM and sunset 4:20 PM for 9h 08m 11s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 99.6% of its visible disk illuminated.

The Whitewater School Board’s Policy Review Committee meets at 9 AM

 On this day in 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy carries out a surprise attack on the United States Pacific Fleet and its defending Army and Marine air forces at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. 


There is a misunderstanding — perhaps willful for some — about how much damage many communities, including Midwestern communities, have experienced over the last twenty years. Some communities never truly bounced back from the Great Recession, only thereafter to be hit with the effects of a nationwide pandemic. In a community like Whitewater, if an assessment does not begin with how policymakers failed to respond to the Great Recession, it’s a thin, tenuous analysis. Whitewater’s contemporary socio-economics depend on understanding the 2007-2009 Great Recession and its aftermath. 

The pandemic exacerbated problems in communities that had already been struggling. 

A story from Sarah Lehr reminds of how much needs to be done. She writes More Wisconsin high schoolers reporting anxiety, depression:

More Wisconsin high schoolers are reporting struggles with depression and anxiety, according to results from the state’s latest Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

Over a third of the students surveyed reported suffering depression in 2021. That’s the highest level since 1999, when the survey began asking teens if, during the last 12 months, they ever felt sad or helpless almost every day for at least two weeks in row to the point that they stopped doing usual activities.

And more than half, or 52 percent, of the respondents, said they struggled with significant anxiety in the past year, the largest percentage since that question was added in 2017.

More than 1,800 students at 43 Wisconsin public, charter and alternative schools completed the anonymous questionnaire during the fall of last year. Although the data, which is collected every two years by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, doesn’t point to a cause for mental health struggles, social worker and DPI consultant Monica Caldwell suggested the pandemic could have played a role. 

“Essentially what we’ve had here is an interruption in the normal development of kids,” Caldwell said during a press event Tuesday. “So kids have some unmet needs, of course, and they’re catching up on what was lost. And what we have at the same time is we have adults that are tired and have experienced loss themselves. Our systems of care — including schools that are often the first and primary form of mental health support — we’re under resourced, and we’re tired.”

See also Disparities in Maternal and Infant Health Outcomes Plague Walworth and Rock Counties

The way out cannot be the repetition of what these communities have done for years. There is, however, a way out for communities that set aside yesterday’s approaches. See What Ails, What Heals

There’s much to consider here.  


Germany: police arrest far-right extremists planning to ‘overthrow the state’:

more >>

Daily Bread for 12.6.22: Disparities in Maternal and Infant Health Outcomes Plague Walworth and Rock Counties

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 39. Sunrise is 7:11 AM and sunset 4:20 PM for 9h 09m 11s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 97.8% of its visible disk illuminated.

The Whitewater Common Council meets at 6:30 PM

 On this day in 1917, Finland declares independence from the Russian Empire.


Gaby Vinick reports Racial, ethnic disparities in maternal and infant health outcomes remain wide in Wisconsin:

Racial and ethnic disparities in maternal and infant health outcomes are showing no signs of improvement in Wisconsin, according to a national report card by the nonprofit March of Dimes. 

Wisconsin earned a C overall. The state’s preterm birth rate rose over the last decade to 10 percent. Despite that increase, Wisconsin is doing slightly better than the national average of 10.5 percent.

Yet that advantage disappears when looking at areas of the state with higher numbers of marginalized residents. In those communities, health outcomes for expectant mothers and babies trail far behind the state and national averages. Babies born prematurely arrive before 37 weeks of pregnancy. 

“We don’t want to be reactive to a health crisis. We want to be proactive and say, ‘OK, we’re seeing this kind of uptick slowly creeping in, how can we stop this from becoming a statewide F?” said Emily Kittell, the maternal and infant health initiatives manager at March of Dimes, Wisconsin.

The state’s largest city is already there. Milwaukee received an F on its report card for its above-average 12.2 percent preterm birth rate. The county earned a D- at 11.3 percent. 

“We as a state need to say, ‘This is not okay for our moms, for our babies, and we can do better. And we have to do better,'” said Dr. Nathan Lepp, an associate clinical professor of neonatology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

America is an advanced nation, and the nation and Wisconsin can — and should — meet an advanced standard in infant care. Our infant mortality rate at 5.8 is higher than the national average of 5.4. Using a maternal vulnerability index, where a higher score is a greater vulnerability, Walworth County has a score of 22.8, Rock County 32.4, while Dane County has a score of 6.0 and Waukesha County 0.2. 

There is no structural, insuperable impediment that prevents Walworth and Rock from having lower scores as do Dane and Waukesha. Counties  in the Whitewater area do not fail inevitably, but by preventable error or omission. 


How small businesses in Ukraine have adapted to the war:

The practical and moral outcome for Ukrainian small businesses would begin with the withdrawal of all Russian soldiers from all of Ukraine. more >>

Daily Bread for 12.5.22: General Grant’s Promotion

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 39. Sunrise is 7:10 AM and sunset 4:20 PM for 9h 10m 14s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 93.7% of its visible disk illuminated.

 On this day in 1933, the Twenty-first Amendment to the United States Constitution is ratified (to repeal the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which had mandated nationwide prohibition on alcohol).


Commanding General Grant at the Battle of Cold Harbor, June 1864. This work is from the Brady-Handy collection at the Library of Congress.

 Anne Marshall, associate professor of history at Mississippi State University writes about a pending promotion in Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s pending promotion sheds new light on his overlooked fight for equal rights after the Civil War:

Tucked away in an amendment to the FY2023 U.S. defense authorization bill is a rare instance of congressional bipartisanship and a tribute to U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant.

If approved, the measure would posthumously promote Grant to the rank of General of the Armies of the U.S., making him only the third person – along with John J. Pershing and George Washington – to be awarded the nation’s highest military honor.

As Executive Director of the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library, I believe that the promotion would be much more than a symbolic nod to a great military general. Rather, it would highlight the overlooked legacy of a man who fought to end the last vestiges of slavery.

During the Civil War, Grant rose to fame as a decisive leader who was willing to doggedly pursue Confederate armies and avoid retreat at all costs. He first gained his reputation for tenacity with Union victories at Shiloh, the Battles for Chattanooga and the Siege of Vicksburg.

….

A year before President Abraham Lincoln signed in 1863 the Emancipation Proclamation that freed enslaved people in the Confederate states, Grant oversaw the establishment of refugee, or contraband camps, throughout the Mississippi Valley. Those camps provided basic housing, food and work for Black men and women who had fled from slavery.

Grant also administered the enlistment of African American men into United States Colored Troops units during the Vicksburg campaign.

In March 1864, Lincoln appointed Grant to the rank of lieutenant general and ordered him to take on the Confederate Army in Virginia, a task at which numerous other Union leaders had failed.

At this point during the war, Grant assumed the role of chief strategist for the entire Union war effort. It took the next 13 months of fighting during the Overland campaign before Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox on April 9, 1865.

Gen. Grant’s promotion is long overdue. 


 How Tech Is Betting Big On AI Generated Art

Not every bet pays off… 

. more >>

Daily Bread for 12.4.22: Elections, Candidates, and ‘Open Seats’

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 39. Sunrise is 7:09 AM and sunset 4:21 PM for 9h 11m 21s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 87.5% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1872, the crewless American brigantine Mary Celeste, drifting in the Atlantic, is discovered by the Canadian brig Dei Gratia. The ship had been abandoned for nine days but was only slightly damaged. Her master Benjamin Briggs and all nine others known to have been on board were never found.


It’s the beginning of another election season in Wisconsin. In Whitewater, there are elections upcoming for four common council seats, three school board seats, and the city’s municipal judgeship. 

Incumbents for these city or school district positions have until later in December to file papers of non-candidacy, and incumbents and challengers have until early January to file papers should they choose to run in 2023.

The final slate of candidates is always uncertain, as some candidates may wait until the last minute to file, and some who have filed may change their minds.

One small point crops up every year concerning the Whitewater Unified School District. The district’s Central Office is in the habit of describing any seat that is up for election as an ‘open seat.’ That’s not what an open seat means — an open seat is by definition one in which no incumbent is running for re-election, so that the position will be certain to have a new officeholder after the election.  

This might seem like a minor point, but each year it causes confusion in Whitewater about whether school board incumbents are running for re-election. Perhaps they are, perhaps they’re not, but there are no open seats for school board or other races until incumbents file papers for non-candidacy. The mere fact of an election does not create an open seat. E.g., Open seats in state legislative elections, 2021 or Bonneau, Chris W. “Vacancies on the Bench: Open-Seat Elections for State Supreme Courts.” The Justice System Journal 27, no. 2 (2006): 143–59 (‘This article examines the dynamics of state supreme court elections in which no incumbent is present; that is, open-seat contests.’) 

In any event, this libertarian blogger will wait to see what the final roster of candidates offers the community. 


Why Are US Consumers Favoring Experiences Over Goods?:

more >>

Daily Bread for 12.3.22: How One of the Rarest Salts in the World Goes from Ocean to Table

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be breezy with a high of 43. Sunrise is 7:08 AM and sunset 4:21 PM for 9h 12m 32s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with with 79.9% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1947, the first TV station in Wisconsin, WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee, was established. The seventeenth television station in the country, WTMJ-TV was the first in the Midwest


How One of the Rarest Salts in the World Goes from Ocean to Table:


See the James Webb Space Telescope’s view of a galaxy merger in stunning 4K:

more >>

Daily Bread for 12.2.22: (Hey, Whitewater) Here’s How to Bringing Order to Chattering Chaos

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will see a mix of clouds and sunshine with a high of 49. Sunrise is 7:07 AM and sunset 4:21 PM for 9h 13m 47s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with with 71.1% of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Holiday Parade takes place in the downtown with activities beginning at 4 PM and the parade, itself, beginning at 6 PM

On this day in 1954, the United States Senate votes 65 to 22 to censure Joseph McCarthy for “conduct that tends to bring the Senate into dishonor and disrepute.” 


In places large and small, one often hears grandiose claims about why something good might happen, or excuses about why something bad has happened. Such is the case with Sam Bankman-Fried, whose FTX crypto exchange has collapsed, with billions unaccounted. Against the advice of his lawyers, Bankman-Fried keeps talking and talking and talking, with excuse after excuse after excuse.

And look, and look, and look — it’s all too easy to be sucked into some smooth-taking hocus pocus about how it wasn’t someone’s fault, was gonna be great if only everyone else believed, etc. 

How advantageous it is to read Matt Levine’s reasoned assessment of these excuses about the FTX collapse. In his newsletter from 12.1.22, Levine brings order to Bankman-Fried’s mendacious chaos:

It is good, for journalists, to ask Sam Bankman-Fried where all the money went, but he is not going to tell you. The possibilities are:

  1. He knows where the money went, and he has huge incentives to lie about it, or

  2. He doesn’t know where the money went, as he sort of keeps saying, and he will just pass along his confusion to you.

There is not some third possibility where you can sit Bankman-Fried down and he will be like “here is a detailed timeline of all the innocent mistakes we made and how much customer money each one vaporized.” If he had those details available to him, he would not have vaporized the money. Or he would have, but the mistakes were not innocent, and he will not describe them accurately. Either way, you will not get a satisfying explanation, from him.

The person who will tell you where the money went at Bankman-Fried’s crypto exchange, FTX, and its affiliated trading firm, Alameda Research, is John Ray, six months from now. Ray is the current chief executive officer of FTX, appointed moments before it filed for bankruptcy, and the former bankruptcy wrangler of disasters like Enron. He harrumphed into bankruptcy court last month to be like “this is the biggest mess I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen Enron,” and if I were him I’d say that constantly to my kids. Ray’s well-paid and frankly very interesting job is to sort it out, and I assume eventually he will. That sorting apparently involves, like, Googling news articles to see what venture capital investments FTX made, because FTX did not itself keep a list of its own investments. That is what we are dealing with here.  

But Ray is methodically piecing together the accounts, not giving interviews, and keeping his complaints to court filings. Meanwhile Bankman-Fried is at loose ends in his Bahamas penthouse and seems to be spending his time calling up journalists and compulsively confessing to … whatever it is he thinks he is confessing to? “I didn’t ever try to commit fraud on anyone,” he told Andrew Ross Sorkin yesterday, but, otherwise.

Levine accurately sees that there are no third possibilities for Bankman-Fried and FTX. Not at all.

(Indeed, in a podcast with Bankman-Fried months ago before the FTX collapse, Levine’s questions to Bankman-Fried made plain that Bankman-Fried’s thinking was akin to someone running a Ponzi scheme. See Odd Lots Podcast and Sam Bankman-Fried Described Yield Farming and Left Matt Levine Stunned.)

There are dodgy schemes far removed from the world of crypto exchanges. Against the chattering confidence men in towns big and small, these packs of media relations types, public relations men, development men, and other smooth-talkers, there are (as Levine shows) analyses that bring reason to bear against unreasonable claims. 


 U.S. Economy Adds 263,000 Jobs In November

more >>

Daily Bread for 12.1.22: Trump and Trumpism (Conservative Populism, MAGA, Etc.)

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of 35. Sunrise is 7:06 AM and sunset 4:21 PM for 9h 15m 05s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with with 61.2% of its visible disk illuminated.

There will be a City of Whitewater election machine audit at 1:30 PM, and the Fire Departments’s board meets at 6 PM.  

On this day in 1941, Emperor Hirohito of Japan gives his tacit approval to the decision of the imperial council to initiate war against the United States


This libertarian blogger wrote on 12.1.20, and still contend, that Trump is a spent political force, but that Trumpism will go on. See Man and Movement. After disappointing midterm elections for the GOP, Trump’s tepid campaign announcement, federal and state investigations into his many transgressions, and his evident anti-Semitism, more reason than ever to doubt Trump’s future. 

Adam Serwer observes sensibly, however, that for the GOP Rebelling Against Trump Is Not the Same as Rebelling Against Trumpism (‘Even if Trump himself departs the scene, conservative demand for his approach to politics will remain’): 

Whoever comes after Trump will likely share his most politically dangerous ideological convictions: contempt for democracy, a belief that the rival party’s constituencies are inherently illegitimate, and a disdain for the rights of those the GOP coalition considers beneath it.

Right-wing elites concerned about Trump’s political effectiveness will not likely share the same worries about his heir. Without structural changes to that system, sustained political defeat, or shifts in the nature of the Republican coalition, Trump may go, but the conservative demand for Trumpism will remain. And as long as that is the case, the rise of another Trump by a different name is an inevitability.

Locally, this truth is evident in how conservatism come to be dominated by conservative populism (the MAGA men). See The Kinds of Conservatives in Whitewater.

The rightwing populists are the most energetic and vocal of the conservatives in Whitewater. The traditional conservatives are finished, and the transactional ones (that is, the few dealmaking types of bankers, landlords, and public relations men) have fewer people each year that they can cajole, dupe, sucker, manipulate, or badger into doing their bidding.

These conservative populists, however, have claims to make, scores to settle, and meltdowns to exhibit. They’ve no response to their own reverses except intensification. If, in their thinking, half a dose hasn’t worked, then surely a full dose will… 

Some of their candidates may show up in the spring. While they shouldn’t expect to speak without replies, claim without fact-checking, or contend without pertinent refutation, it’s likely that they will have those unrealistic expectations. The obligation to reason well requires more from them than a bleating what, huh, me? 

Trump’s decline won’t determine the future of Trumpism. That’s a question yet to be decided, in America, Wisconsin, and Whitewater.  


 Tonight’s Sky for December:

more >>

Daily Bread for 11.30.22: The Diligence Required for the UW-Whitewater Chancellor Search

Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of 29. Sunrise is 7:05 AM and sunset 4:22 PM for 9h 16m 28s of daytime. The moon is in its first quarter with 50.1% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1941, the SS-Einsatzgruppen round up 11,000 Jews from the Riga Ghetto and kill them in the Rumbula massacre


The UW System has announced the five candidates to be UW-Whitewater’s next chancellor. See UW-Whitewater chancellor finalists named (UW System announcement), Five finalists  announced for UW-Whitewater chancellor position (Fort Atkinson Online), and the explanatorily-titled After years of upheaval, UW-Whitewater announces 5 chancellor finalists (Wisconsin State Journal).

There are two directions from which diligent review of expectations and conditions are required. The first is the obvious perspective of the candidates: they owe it to themselves to understand the environment into which they would be stepping. Interview committees may paint a brighter picture than the real view once one is here for a bit. There’s less bright royal purple in Whitewater than on the UW-Whitewater homepage.

There’s a second direction from which diligence is required. This community, all 14,889 within it, should think about what the campus needs. Among that large number of residents, the number of bankers, landlords, and public relations men is small. UW-Whitewater, if the school is to prosper academically, must be more than a landlord’s income stream. The campus is thousands, the city is thousands, the market between them is thousands, and so the choice must involve and benefit thousands.

A candidate whose greatest ambition is to become chancellor, and will go along and get along with a few to secure that position, is unworthy of the role. 


 World’s largest active volcano erupts in Hawaii:

more >>

Daily Bread for 11.29.22: Deer Crashes in Wisconsin

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be cloudy, with afternoon showers, and a high of 54. Sunrise is 7:04 AM and sunset 4:22 PM for 9h 17m 53s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 38.8% of its visible disk illuminated.

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


 Joe Taschler, Andrew Hahn, and Ricardo Torres report Deer crashes, supply chain in Wisconsin causing drivers to pay more to keep their vehicles (‘Wisconsin drivers keep hitting deer while supply chain issues are causing them to pay more and hang on to their vehicles longer’):

Someone driving in Wisconsin has hit a white-tailed deer on the road each day for the last six years or more, data from the state Department of Transportation show.

In 2021, 16,204 deer collisions occurred on Wisconsin roads, down slightly from 16,547 in 2020. All caused damage to property, and 501 crashes resulted in injuries. Nine deer collisions were fatal.

A crash can cause considerable damage, and experts say more people are choosing to repair their vehicles rather than buy a new car.  

“We just fixed a Toyota 4Runner, it was $38,000, and that was deer,” said James Anderberg, body shop director at Ball Body Shop in Middleton. “I don’t know how fast he was going when he hit it, but it was significant amount of damage.” 

Deer collision numbers for 2022 are released in the spring of the following year, but Anderberg said he feels like his shop has been as busy as it has in most recent years.


 Pong 1972 by Atari:

more >>

Daily Bread for 11.28.22: Oh, Merriam-Webster, It’s About Time

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be party sunny with a high of 45. Sunrise is 7:03 AM and sunset 4:22 PM for 9h 19m 23s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 27% of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Urban Forestry meets at 4:30 PM, and the Whitewater School Board meets in closed session shortly after 6 PM, returning to open session at 7 PM.

On this day in 1967, the first pulsar (PSR B1919+21, in the constellation of Vulpecula) is discovered by astronomers Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Antony Hewish.


One reads that Merriam-Webster has picked ‘gaslighting’ as the 2022 word of the year

Merriam-Webster’s top definition for gaslighting is the psychological manipulation of a person, usually over an extended period of time, that “causes the victim to question the validity of their own thoughts, perception of reality, or memories and typically leads to confusion, loss of confidence and self-esteem, uncertainty of one’s emotional or mental stability, and a dependency on the perpetrator.”

Well, that’s a solid, if tardy, choice. 

What is boosterism if not the accentuation of the positive for supposed economic gain at the expense of a honest description of conditions for all? What is toxic positivity if not the insistence that all is well, always and forever? 

Welcome, lexicographers. Gaslighting’s a fitting catchall for those distortions and others. 


Unicyclist Raises $30,000 for Charity While Cycling from Wisconsin to Arizona:

more >>