Daily Bread for 12.14.23: Standalone and Stand Alone

 Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 46. Sunrise is 7:18 and sunset 4:21 for 9h 03m 17s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 3.2% of its visible disk illuminated.

 On this day in 1964, in Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States the U.S. Supreme Court rules that Congress can use the Constitution’s Commerce Clause to fight discrimination.

  Over at Neiman Lab, Andrew Kaczynski’s The Homepage is Back makes a prediction for 2024: 

As some social media platforms diminish in significance as primary news sources for news junkies — because of their perceived unreliability and chaotic nature — there will be a notable rise in the importance of homepages and newsletters as those readers seek more authoritative and trustworthy sources for news.

The reality today is most voracious news consumers — members of the media included — have to embrace a choose-your-own-adventure approach to getting read-in each day, cobbling together an ever-changing combination of news sites, author pages, social channels, and email newsletters. It’s reminiscent of our pre-Twitter days. (RSS feeds, anyone?)

But is that necessarily a bad thing? I’d argue that it is well worth the extra effort. I’d even take it a step further and say there’s something cleansing about avoiding the algorithm and doing a little self-discovery when it comes to news sources. Personally, I’ve rediscovered the value and influence of morning political newsletters in reaching elected officials and decision-makers and the importance of homepages for getting a sense of the big national stories of the day. I’ve embraced the news sections of apps and, yes, I am still exploring the potential for new platforms like Threads.

Yes, for journalists, and for others like bloggers, the homepage is back. Then again, it never truly went away. Standalone and stand alone are both good practices. 

The rubber that stops cracks in their tracks:

Daily Bread for 12.13.23: Politics & News Avoidance

 Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 39. Sunrise is 7:17 and sunset 4:21 for 9h 03m 48s of daytime. The moon is new with 0.5% of its visible disk illuminated.

 Whitewater’s Tech Park Board Executive Committee meets at 8 AM and the Landmarks Commission at 4:30 PM

 On this day in 1769, Dartmouth College is founded by the Reverend Eleazar Wheelock, with a royal charter from King George III, on land donated by Royal governor John Wentworth.

  An except from a new book describes the authors’ study on the relationship between news avoidance and politics. Benjamin Toff, Ruth Palmer, and Rasmus Kleis Nielsen ask So who are the consistent news avoiders? (‘No single variable is more predictive of whether someone consistently avoids news than their level of interest in politics and civic affairs’): 

In general, consistent news avoidance tends to be more common among young people, women, and lower socioeconomic classes. There are also some important political divides regarding who avoids news. In the United States especially, it is much more common among people on the right ideologically. In most other parts of the world, it is more common on the left. But a bigger and more persistent gap lies along what the political scientists Yanna Krupnikov and John Barry Ryan call “the other divide”: the divide between people who are deeply involved in politics and rarely, if ever, avoid news consistently and those who are largely indifferent toward politics and avoid news far more often. To be clear, we are not suggesting that all or even most young people, women, or people of lower socioeconomic classes avoid news consistently. That is verifiably not the case. But if you do meet someone who consumes practically no news at all, there is a good chance they will fall into one or more of these categories.

Excerpt from Avoiding the News: Reluctant Audiences for Journalism by Benjamin Toff, Ruth Palmer, and Rasmus Kleis Nielsen. Copyright (c) 2023 Columbia University Press. 

Behold, a Leucistic American Badger

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Daily Bread for 12.2.23: Chronologies

 Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 41. Sunrise is 7:07 and sunset 4:21 for 9h 14m 05s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 74.8% of its visible disk illuminated.

  On this day in 1942, during the Manhattan Project, a team led by Enrico Fermi initiates the first artificial self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction (“a crude pile of black bricks and wooden timbers”).

By Melvin A. Miller of the Argonne National Laboratory –, Public Domain,

Bad politicians dislike chronologies the way that vampires dislike garlic. (In the case of vampires, it’s possible that they simply dislike natural ingredients that act as blood thinners.)

In the case of bad politicians, however, the objection to a chronology is clear: to be reminded of their past errors and delays is a reminder they don’t want their constituents to have. When someone comes along and lists what has happened (and what hasn’t happened) month after month is for those types an objectionable accounting.  

For ordinary people, by contrast, a simple chronology is never objectionable; it’s merely a factual statement of events. 

All this comes to mind when reading professional reporting on the Whitewater Aquatic and Fitness Center. WhitewaterWise ably recounts the interminable negotiations over the pool in Following attorney’s recommendation, council sends unapproved aquatic center operational, lease agreement back to school district

From that reporting, one reads that

Information within the meeting’s open session packet included a letter received by Weidl on Nov. 1, from von Briesen and Roper Firm attorney Christopher Smith. In his capacity as contracted counsel representing the city, Smith wrote that the version of the contract he had most recently received [from the Whitewater Unified School District] contained two changes made from the previously authorized draft, which had been agreed upon by the two bodies — the council and the school board, describing the changes as “substantive.”

The news story then recounts month after month of negotiations, with change after change, demand after demand, from the school district. The definitive chronology is over four thousand words long. 

After all this talk, over many months, somehow the Whitewater School Board decided to make changes and send the contract back. 

From the school board, this has stopped being responsible dealmaking and has descended into negotiations as a fetish. Those who wish to be taken seriously behave seriously. These board changes aren’t serious; they’re ridiculousness cosplaying as seriousness. 

A thorough chronology in this matter is both an irrefutable account and damning indictment. 

Mount Etna erupts again, sending hot lava down its snowy slopes:

Daily Bread for 11.12.23: The Local Press Conference that Was Neither Local Nor a Press Conference

 Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of 54. Sunrise is 6:43 and sunset 4:34 for 9h 50m 25s of daytime. The moon is new with 0.8% of its visible disk illuminated.

  On this day in 1948, in Tokyo, the International Military Tribunal for the Far East sentences seven Japanese military and government officials, including General Hideki Tojo, to death for their roles in World War II.

  On Friday, U.S. Senator Ron Johnson and U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil found their way to Whitewater for a closed press conference. (A closed event like that is a sham event, and simply a glorified press release with a few local people sitting around as window dressing, non-playing characters, tailor’s dummies, etc.) 

But Johnson and Steil, who’ve never carried the City of Whitewater and never will, had a message for a statewide audience. The few, selected, non-local reporters they carefully situated gave Johnson and Steil the headline they wanted:

Wisconsin lawmakers hold roundtable on crime cartels in Whitewater; call on stricter border policies from Biden Administration.

People will not want to visit, shop, send their children to school, or live in a city that is identified, as this state story does, with a crime cartel. 

People who live here now will not want that either. A more level-headed look at Whitewater would have required a thoughtful set of stories, not a television station’s clickbait. 

For insightful local reporting, the kind that Johnson and Steil did not include in their political event, one should look instead to WhitewaterWise:

Johnson, Steil meet in Whitewater with law enforcement officials; policing challenges discussed and Johnson, Steil hold press conference in Whitewater, discuss immigration, border security initiatives.

That brings residents to the question of policing challenges in Whitewater. At the 11.7.23 meeting of the Whitewater Common Council, one councilmember mentioned the need for at least three more officers for Whitewater’s department.

It’s an understatement to say that the way to build consensus in Whitewater for an expanded force will not come from what officials in county, state, or federal offices think. Some in Whitewater will, surely, support the Johnson-Steil approach. The challenge that Whitewater’s department and council face is that a significant number here find Johnson & Steil objectionable (so much so that neither has ever carried the city vote). It’s not simply that Johnson & Steil are unpopular among Latinos here; they’re unpopular generally. 

An enduring consensus here will be the opposite of their approach: not turning up the dial to eleven, but turning it down to four, and then beginning the discussion. This approach will seem counter-intuitive, if not an invitation to trickery, to many who are addicted to the notion that raising the temperature is a sure-fire winner on this issue. (In some places, on some issues, it is; in Whitewater, on this issue, it won’t be.)

This libertarian blogger doesn’t, and never will, represent the government. Whitewater’s officials will have to sort out the local implications in Whitewater if they want incremental gains in both headcount and community relations for Whitewater. People choose freely, sometimes well, sometimes poorly.  

Much will depend here on how insightful local officials will be about their own local politics and community culture.

We’ll see.

Oops! Lion wanders through Italian town after escaping circus:

A lion prowled the streets of an Italian seaside town for several hours after escaping from a local circus, before being sedated and captured.


Daily Bread for 10.2.23: City Staff Members Speak on Behalf of City Manager

 Good morning. Monday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 82. Sunrise is 6:53 and sunset 6:33 PM for 11h 39m 56s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 87.7% of its visible disk illuminated. On this day in 1780, John André, a British Army officer, is hanged as a spy…

Daily Bread for 9.30.23: Fierce or Bust

 Good morning. Saturday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 82. Sunrise is 6:51AM and sunset 6:31 PM for 11h 45m 41s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 98.2% of its visible disk illuminated. On this day in 1954, the U.S. Navy submarine USS Nautilus is commissioned as the world’s first…

Daily Bread for 10.15.22: For the Press, a Duty of Conduct as Though a Free Society Still Matters

Good morning. Saturday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of 53. Sunrise is 7:09 AM and sunset 6:11 PM for 11h 02m 15s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 70% of its visible disk illuminated. There will be a Lakes Project Community Meeting at 10 AM.  On this day in…

Daily Bread for 9.8.22: On Immigrants and Community Relations

Good morning. Thursday in Whitewater will be sunny with high of 82. Sunrise is 6:28 AM and sunset 7:16 PM for 12h 48m 12s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing gibbous with 94.9% of its visible disk illuminated.  On this day in 1966, the landmark American science fiction television series Star Trek premieres with its first-aired…

Daily Bread for 5.11.22: The Neediness of Conservative Populists

Good morning. Wednesday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of 84.  Sunrise is 5:35 AM and sunset 8:07 PM for 14h 32m 00s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing gibbous with 74% of its visible disk illuminated. On this day in 1997 Deep Blue, a chess-playing supercomputer, defeats Garry Kasparov in the last…

Daily Bread for 10.24.21: The Otters of Singapore Offer a Lesson for Whitewater, Wisconsin

Good morning. Sunday in Whitewater will be rainy with a high of 51.  Sunrise is 7:20 AM and sunset 5:57 PM for 10h 36m 49s of daytime.  The moon is a waning gibbous with 86.5% of its visible disk illuminated.  On this day in 1946, a camera on board the V-2 No. 13 rocket [from White Sands…