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School Board, 8.12.19: 4 Points

Updated 8.13.19 afternoon with video. Whitewater’s school board met in special session on Monday night, with two main agenda items: hiring a new middle school principal, and considering among several expenditures from five-hundred thousand dollars available to the district.

A few points to consider:

1. The school board unanimously selected Chris Fountain, most recently of the Delavan-Darien School District, as Whitewater Middle School’s new principal. More about Fountain: (1, 2).

2. Every new hire represents possibility, and at first only that. One always hopes for the best, as this community has always been deserving of the best.  (See Changes at Whitewater Middle School: “There has never been a time – and perhaps never will be – when a mere departure, a mere change of personnel – proved sufficient.  A change of leadership is sometimes necessary, but hardly enough, to create a better climate.”)

3. Oddly, it’s in the discussion of the expenditures – what otherwise would seem the smaller matter when compared to the schooling for three grade levels of students  – that one encounters an issue almost as important.

The issue is not the money, however large the sum, but how to approach any expenditure.

We live in difficult times, where the end of the Great Recession has left stagnation and poverty, for our rural community and many others.

Under these circumstances, Whitewater’s conditions are less those of a boutique for cosmetic surgery than an emergency room.  

Emergency rooms, or other places of serious need, should operate under principles of triage, in which degrees of urgency are assigned to illnesses to decide the order of treatment of a large number of people.

From Whitewater’s district leadership team (DLT) came a list of possible expenditures:

DLT met on August 1st to discuss a 2019-20 budget update. With the budget compiled with all known information, we believe we have $500,000 of revenue or authority available. DLT discussed recommendations:

– Combining two part-time special education paraprofessional vacancies at the HS
– Updating PA systems in three elementaries and MS
– Appropriate additional funds to IT and Curriculum
– Increase sub pay 5% and explore a permanent SpEd para sub
– Waive summer school fees
– Update CO 3rd meeting space
– Increase math interventionist at Washington to 1.0 FTE (from 0.5)
– Add 1.0 FTE pupil services support at Lincoln/Washington (e.g. social worker)
– Increase Lakeview school counselor to 1.0 FTE (from 0.5)
– Appropriate $110,000 for classroom updates (amount dependent on final budget)

Board members had different ideas about whether or how to spend this money, and so there was no action taken.

What’s unexpected, though, is that in difficult economic and fiscal conditions, no one in the meeting could recite from memory an ordered list of district-wide priorities and match that global list against these DLT spending recommendations, right then and there.

Whether in individual agreement or disagreement with such a list, everyone in the district (certainly including elected board members) should be able to recite an agreed-upon triage protocol. Individual disagreement should be encouraged (see Local Gov’t Desperately Needs a Version of the ‘Tenth Man Rule’) but that disagreement requires an established, commonly-understood set of priorities against which to measure alternatives.Continue reading

Daily Bread for 8.13.19

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with  a daytime high of eighty.  Sunrise is 5:59 AM and sunset 7:59 PM, for 13h 59m 38s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing gibbous with 96.5% of its visible disk illuminated.
Today is the one thousand eighth day.

 A City of Whitewater Joint Public Works and Finance Committee will meet at 6 PM.

On this day in 1961, Communist East Germany begins construction of the Berlin Wall.

Recommended for reading in full:

 AJ Vicens reports Mayberry v. Moscow: How Local Officials Are Preparing to Defend the 2020 Elections:

In early June, the Allegheny County Board of Elections held a special meeting in downtown Pittsburgh, inviting a trio of election security experts to offer advice as the county selects new voting equipment. Marian Schneider, a former Pennsylvania state elections official and the current president of Verified Voting, an election security watchdog group, gave an opening statement framing the day’s conversation in stark terms.

….

After the meeting, Candice Hoke, a longtime election administration and security expert who’d also been invited to speak, described the gathering as an unusual bright spot, contrasting the attention Allegheny County had devoted to the issue to many places around the country where the state of election security lags. Efforts by federal agencies to work with states and jurisdictions to improve election security are helping, Hoke says, but the bureaucrats overseeing the country’s more than 10,000 election jurisdictions are still routinely outmatched.

Megan Squire writes How big tech and policymakers miss the mark when fighting online extremism:

Now, critics of Big Tech are lining up to plead, cajole, and threaten—from the left and right. In June, Senators Cruz (R-TX) and Hawley (R-MO) proposed legislation that would require social media companies over a certain size to prove no political bias when moderating content. Convinced that conservatives voices are being unfairly targeted, they followed up with a letter to the Federal Trade Commission asking for an investigation into moderation policies on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. In July, Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), candidate for the Democratic nomination for President, filed suit against Google for, among other things, “playing favorites, with no warning, no transparency—and no accountability” in their content moderation.

As with the reactive policies implemented by the media companies themselves, this legislation and lawsuit are also naïvely focused on yesterday’s problems. They do not acknowledge the way the platforms are actually being gamed today, nor how they will be abused tomorrow.

Serial harassers and trolls will always figure out tricks to avoid the bans, and even if they somehow catch a block that sticks, the growing “Alt Tech” ecosystem made of decentralized, niche services often located in other countries, is more than willing to scoop them up. Finally banned from YouTube? Try Bitchute or DLive. De-platformed from Facebook or Twitter? Try Telegram, Parler, or Gab—the site favored by the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter back in October 2018—or the so-called “image boards” like 8chan, where the Christchurch, San Diego, and El Paso shooters all posted their manifestos.

How Hong Kong’s Protesters Evade Police and Keep the Demonstrations Alive :

Foxconn: Independent Study Confirms Project is Beyond Repair

Previously10 Key Articles About FoxconnFoxconn as Alchemy: Magic Multipliers,  Foxconn Destroys Single-Family HomesFoxconn Devours Tens of Millions from State’s Road Repair BudgetThe Man Behind the Foxconn ProjectA Sham News Story on Foxconn, Another Pig at the TroughEven Foxconn’s Projections Show a Vulnerable (Replaceable) WorkforceFoxconn in Wisconsin: Not So High Tech After All, Foxconn’s Ambition is Automation, While Appeasing the Politically Ambitious, Foxconn’s Shabby Workplace ConditionsFoxconn’s Bait & SwitchFoxconn’s (Overwhelmingly) Low-Paying JobsThe Next Guest SpeakerTrump, Ryan, and Walker Want to Seize Wisconsin Homes to Build Foxconn Plant, Foxconn Deal Melts Away“Later This Year,” Foxconn’s Secret Deal with UW-Madison, Foxconn’s Predatory Reliance on Eminent Domain, Foxconn: Failure & FraudFoxconn Roundup: Desperately Ill Edition,  Foxconn Roundup: Indiana Layoffs & Automation Everywhere, Foxconn Roundup: Outside Work and Local Land, Foxconn Couldn’t Even Meet Its Low First-Year Goal, Foxconn Talks of Folding Wisconsin Manufacturing Plans, WISGOP Assembly Speaker Vos Hopes You’re StupidLost Homes and Land, All Over a Foxconn Fantasy, Laughable Spin as Industrial Policy, Foxconn: The ‘State Visit Project,’ ‘Inside Wisconsin’s Disastrous $4.5 Billion Deal With Foxconn,’ Foxconn: When the Going Gets Tough…, The Amazon-New York Deal, Like the Foxconn Deal, Was Bad Policy, Foxconn Roundup, Foxconn: The Roads to Nowhere, Foxconn: Evidence of Bad Policy Judgment, Foxconn: Behind Those Headlines, Foxconn: On Shaky Ground, Literally, Foxconn: Heckuva Supply Chain They Have There…, Foxconn: Still Empty, and the Chairman of the Board Needs a Nap, Foxconn: Cleanup on Aisle 4, Foxconn: The Closer One Gets, The Worse It Is, Foxconn Confirms Gov. Evers’s Claim of a Renegotiation DiscussionAmerica’s Best Know Better, Despite Denials, Foxconn’s Empty Buildings Are Still Empty, Right on Schedule – A Foxconn Delay, Foxconn: Reality as a (Predictable) Disappointment, and Town Residents Claim Trump’s Foxconn Factory Deal Failed Them.

Daily Bread for 8.12.19

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be cloudy with occasional afternoon thundershowers and a daytime high of eighty-one.  Sunrise is 5:58 AM and sunset 8:00 PM, for 14h 02m 10s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing gibbous with 91.4% of its visible disk illuminated.
Today is the one thousand seventh day.

The Whitewater Unified School District Board meets at 6 PM in closed session, with an open session beginning at 7 PM.

Item 2A on the agenda for the meeting describes the purpose of the closed session: “Adjourn into closed session, pursuant to the provisions of Sec. 19.85(1)(c), Wis. Stats., considering employment, promotion, compensation or performance evaluation data of any public employee over which the governmental body has jurisdiction or exercises responsibility; specifically, to discuss the middle school principal candidate and contract. (Action Item).”

Item 4E describes names the candidate: “Employment – ADMINISTRATOR – Middle School Principal. Motion to approve the employment of Chris Fountain, middle school principal effective ???” [Question marks in original.]

The agenda includes a staff background sheet on Chris Fountain (.pdf), who is now principal of Turtle Creek Elementary School in the Delavan Darien School District, with additional background available in a 2016 news release from that district at the time of his original hiring as a middle school associate principal.

Item 5A on the agenda lists Staffing and Programming Recommendations (Possible Action Item): “Motion to approve the 2019-20 staffing and programming recommendations, as presented.”

The agenda lists these recommendations:

DLT met on August 1st to discuss a 2019-20 budget update. With the budget compiled with all known information, we believe we have $500,000 of revenue or authority available. DLT discussed recommendations:
– Combining two part-time special education paraprofessional vacancies at the HS
– Updating PA systems in three elementaries and MS
– Appropriate additional funds to IT and Curriculum
– Increase sub pay 5% and explore a permanent SpEd para sub
– Waive summer school fees
– Update CO 3rd meeting space
– Increase math interventionist at Washington to 1.0 FTE (from 0.5)
– Add 1.0 FTE pupil services support at Lincoln/Washington (e.g. social worker)
– Increase Lakeview school counselor to 1.0 FTE (from 0.5)
– Appropriate $110,000 for classroom updates (amount dependent on final budget)

Whitewater’s Planning Commission also meets at 6:00 PM.

On this day in 1939, the Wizard of Oz has its world premiere in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.

Recommended for reading in full:

Eric Fanning, former Secretary of the Army, remembers When Children at the Border Got Compassion (‘The United States has a moral responsibility for unaccompanied children—and took it seriously, at least in 2014’):

In the spring of 2014, a sudden surge of unaccompanied children began crossing the southern border from Mexico into the United States. I was the undersecretary of the Air Force at the time, and the Pentagon had been tasked with finding facilities and funds so that the Department of Health and Human Services could shelter children until they were reunited with family. It was my job to review the housing that the Air Force would provide. So, with a few others from the Pentagon, I flew down to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, to see for myself that these children were being cared for and protected…..

Continue reading

Daily Bread for 8.11.19

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will see scattered thundershowers with a daytime high of eighty.  Sunrise is 5:57 AM and sunset 8:02 PM, for 14h 04m 40s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing gibbous with 86% of its visible disk illuminated.
Today is the one thousand sixth day.

On this day in 1919, the Green Bay Packers are founded.

Recommended for reading in full:

David Frum observes The Shame and Disgrace Will Linger:

Today [8.10], President Trump accused his predecessor, Bill Clinton—or possibly his 2016 campaign opponent, former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton—of complicity in the death of the accused sex-trafficker, Jeffrey Epstein

Many seem to have responded with a startled shrug. What do you expect? It’s just Trump letting off steam on Twitter.

Reactions to actions by Trump are always filtered through the prism of the ever-more-widely accepted view—within his administration, within Congress, within the United States and around the world—that the 45th president is a reckless buffoon, a conspiratorial racist moron, whose weird comments should be disregarded by sensible people.

….

The certainty that Trump will descend ever deeper into sub-basements of “new lows” after this new low should not numb us to its newness and lowness.

Neither the practical impediments to impeachment and the Twenty-Fifth Amendment process, nor the foibles and failings of the candidates running to replace him, efface the fact that this presidency shames and disgraces the office every minute of every hour of every day. And even when it ends, however it ends, the shame will stain it still.

Joshua Partlow and David A. Fahrenthold report How a Trump construction crew has relied on immigrants without legal status:

For nearly two decades, the Trump Organization has relied on a roving crew of Latin American employees to build fountains and waterfalls, sidewalks and rock walls at the company’s winery and its golf courses from New York to Florida.

Other employees at Trump clubs were so impressed by the laborers — who did strenuous work with heavy stone — that they nicknamed them “Los Picapiedras,” Spanish for “the Flintstones.”

For years, their ranks have included workers who entered the United States illegally, according to two former members of the crew. Another employee, still with the company, said that remains true today.

President Trump “doesn’t want undocumented people in the country,” said one worker, Jorge Castro, a 55-year-old immigrant from Ecuador without legal status who left the company in April after nine years. “But at his properties, he still has them.”

While the Trump family benefits from undocumented workers at their properties, Trump uses federal power to torment undocumented workers and their families in other parts of the country:

Adam Serwer is right to contend that cruelty is the point; this is a policy by the worst for the worst.

America will need an accounting of those who used the state power in this way, down to the last person. We are, fortunately, an advanced society in which records are easily compiled.

Film: Tuesday, August 13th, 12:30 PM @ Seniors in the Park, Poms

This Tuesday, August 13th at 12:30 PM, there will be a showing of Poms @ Seniors in the Park, in the Starin Community Building:

Tuesday, August 13th; 12:30 PM (Comedy/Drama)
PG-13; 1 hour, 31 minutes (2019)

A delightful comedy about a group of women who form a cheerleading squad at their retirement community, proving that you’re never too old to ‘bring it.’ Stars Diane Keaton, Rhea Perlman, and Pam Grier.

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

Enjoy.

Daily Bread for 8.10.19

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will see morning showers with a daytime high of seventy-eight.  Sunrise is 5:56 AM and sunset 8:03 PM, for 14h 07m 09s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing gibbous with 77.8% of its visible disk illuminated.
Today is the one thousand fifth day.

On this day in 1846, Pres. Polk signs legislation to establish the Smithsonian Institution as “an Establishment for the increase & diffusion of knowledge.”

Recommended for reading in full:

Todd Richmond reports Expert: More than 500 Wisconsin elections clerks use outdated systems:

Election officials across the country have stepped up efforts to block hackers from wreaking havoc during the 2020 contests after Russians interfered with the 2016 presidential election. Congress has been warned that there could be more foreign interference next year, when Wisconsin is expected to be a presidential swing state again.

But Wisconsin Elections Commission Election Security Lead Tony Bridges said in a memo to commissioners released Friday that some local clerks are still logging into the state election system using Windows XP or Windows 7.

Microsoft stopped supporting Windows XP in 2014 and said it will stop providing free security updates for Windows 7 in January. Bridges wrote that it’s safe to assume a large percentage of clerks won’t upgrade before the deadline or pay for updates. Even clerks with current operating systems often fail to install security patches, he said.

The failure to maintain current operating systems exposes state elections to tremendous risk, Bridges wrote. He pointed to an incident in March in which a ransomware variant called Ryuk shut down vital systems in Jackson County, Georgia, including computers supporting emergency dispatch. Ransomware is software designed to shut down computer systems or data until a ransom is paid.

Ryuk gained access to the systems through a file-sharing vulnerability in older networks. An update that eliminated the vulnerability had been available since 2017, but no one had bothered to install it. The county ended up paying a $400,000 ransom to unlock the system.

Lawrence Andrea reports Wisconsin election officials consider lending new equipment to towns with outdated systems:

Wisconsin elections officials are considering spending more than $800,000 to replace outdated equipment, update software and further address computer security as the state prepares for the 2020 presidential election.

Among the proposals in a Wisconsin Elections Commission plan is to establish a program that would lend new computers to municipalities with outdated operating systems.

More than 500 state elections system users are on computer systems that have reached the end of their life or will do so in the next six months, according to a commission memo. Some of these users have plans to update their systems, but the commission is proposing lending 250 devices to municipalities unable to replace them.

The loans will be free and distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. The equipment is expected to cost up to $300,000.

How Trucking Companies Master Data Collection:

‘This is what the love of God looks like’

Emily McFarlan Miller reports An entire Lutheran denomination has declared itself a ‘sanctuary church body,’ signaling support for immigrants:

The action was part of a prayer vigil for migrant children and their families during the ELCA Churchwide Assembly this week at Milwaukee’s Wisconsin Center.

It took place on the same day the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America declared itself a “sanctuary church body,” signaling its support for immigrants.

Both came in response to President Trump’s policies at the U.S. border with Mexico and his pledge to deport millions.

….

More than 570 voting members of the churchwide assembly signed up to participate in the prayer vigil at the ICE building. They were joined by staff from the ELCA and its AMMPARO (Accompanying Migrant Minors with Protection, Advocacy, Representation and Opportunities) ministry, as well as members of the Greater Milwaukee Synod, the New Sanctuary Movement and Voces de la Frontera, a local grass-roots organization.

The group marched nearly a mile from the Wisconsin Center to the ICE building, carrying signs with messages like “We put the protest back in Protestant” and chanting “This is what the love of God looks like.”

Friday Catblogging: Paul the Cat Guy

Meghan Dunn writes Meet Instagram’s Paul the Cat Guy:

Astoria, New York (CNN) — Paul Santell spends at least 30 hours each week feeding and trapping stray cats throughout New York City’s boroughs.

It’s a mission that sort of fell in his lap five years ago but has now earned him the moniker “Paul the Cat Guy.”

“When I moved to Queens, I didn’t realize there were so many cats,” Santell said. “I knew nothing about animal rescue.”

In the United States, there are 30 to 40 million stray or feral cats roaming outside and only about 2% of them have been spayed or neutered. These community cats produce around 80% of the kittens born in the US each year, adding to the overpopulation concern.

On his way home each night, Santell began noticing strays living in poor conditions. He started to feed one of them. That quickly became two cats, then three. Before he knew it, he was feeding a whole colony.

“After about two months of feeding them, I said, ‘You know what? I want to do more to help them.'”

Santell attended an ASPCA class, where he learned about Trap-Neuter-Return, or TNR—defined as the humane and effective approach for managing community cats. Cats are trapped and taken to a veterinarian to be spayed or neutered and vaccinated. After recovery, the cats are released back where they were found or, if they’re friendly, adopted.

“You learn how to use a trap. You understand what colony cats are. And once you get certified, you’re able to use the free spay-neuter service at the ASPCA,” Santell said.

Daily Bread for 8.9.19

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of seventy-nine.  Sunrise is 5:55 AM and sunset 8:05 PM, for 14h 09m 35s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing gibbous with 68.2% of its visible disk illuminated.
Today is the one thousand fourth day.

On this day in 1862, the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, and 7th Wisconsin Infantry regiments fight at the Battle of Cedar Mountain, Virginia.

Recommended for reading in full:

Catherine Rampell writes For Trump and his cronies, draining the swamp means ousting experts:

The latest, most egregious example involves the Economic Research Service, an independent statistical agency at the Agriculture Department.

….

The small-but-mighty ERS is arguably the world’s premier agricultural economics agency. It produces critical numbers that farmers rely on when deciding what to plant and how much, how to price, how to manage risk; and that other stakeholders and public officials use to evaluate agricultural policy.

However, because it is independent, the ERS produces research that the Trump administration sometimes finds inconvenient, such as who has really been helped by his tax cuts, how climate change might affect agriculture or how his trade wars hurt farmers.

The administration’s solution to these inconveniences? Blowing up the agency altogether.

In June, the Agriculture Department informed employees at the ERS and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, which manages $1.7 billion in scientific funding, that they were moving to “the Kansas City Region,” precise location TBD. Employees had 30 days to decide whether to uproot their families or lose their jobs.

As of July 26, only 116 employees agreed to relocate, according to a USDA spokesperson. That’s about 20 percent of those initially asked. Representatives from the employees’ union, the American Federation of Government Employees, told me they expect even fewer to ultimately move, since some employees who said they’d relocate are searching for other opportunities.

John Fritze reports A USA TODAY analysis found Trump used words like ‘invasion’ and ‘killer’ at rallies more than 500 times since 2017:

Invasion. Aliens. Killers. Criminals.

Those are among the words President Donald Trump repeatedly uses while discussing illegal immigration during his campaign rallies, according to a USA TODAY analysis of the transcripts from more than five dozen of those events.

Trump, who traveled Wednesday to Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, to meet with victims and family members reeling from mass shootings, is facing pressure from critics who say his language has fed a climate of anger toward immigrants, raising the risk of violence. A manifesto authorities believe was written by the El Paso gunman before his attack decries “the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”

But “invasion” is just one of several incendiary terms Trump regularly embraces.

A USA TODAY analysis of the 64 rallies Trump has held since 2017 found that, when discussing immigration, the president has said “invasion” at least 19 times. He has used the word “animal” 34 times and the word “killer” nearly three dozen times.

How Americans Learned to Love Their Front Lawns:

Common Council, 8.6.19: 5 Points

Whitewater’s common council met in regular session on Tuesday, 8.6.19, and at that meeting the council selected an applicant to fill a vacant council seat.  See Common Council, 8.6.19: The Context of an Appointment.

Today, a few other points to consider:

1. Government is not the community; it’s a slice only. While it’s practical to watch government closely (and it’s a libertarian disposition to do so), the vibrant life of a community is found in free exchange and associations among residents, not in the machinations of elected or appointed officials.

2. In a rural community beset with economic stagnation, where government has been ineffectual or destructive to sound policy (Whitewater’s Community Development Authority comes to mind), the best options are private ones (especially private charitable ones). See An Oasis Strategy.

3. It’s good to expect preparedness, but council members who are older (and likely retired) only condescend when they ask young applicants (who are an absolute majority of the city’s population) “can we count on you spending that amount of time [1-2 hours] to be prepared for the meeting?” (video @ 6:20).

Perhaps the better question for those older residents now in office: if you’ve spent 1-2 hours in reading, what does the average resident have to show for it?

Just as likely, it’s long-time incumbents who need to read more, and read with greater discernment.

4. It’s true (video @ 40:45) that listing service clubs on the city’s website would be useful to newcomers. It’s also practical to solicit feedback about the city’s website (video @ 41:20).

And look, and look – messaging from local government isn’t most often ineffective because it’s poorly formatted – it’s ineffective when the underlying claims are absurd.

Notices about community events or groups aren’t an occasion where politics fails – grandiose claims about political accomplishments are a notable occasion where politics fails.

5. As always, the best record is a recording.

Daily Bread for 8.8.19

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of seventy-nine.  Sunrise is 5:54 AM and sunset 8:06 PM, for 14h 12m 02s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing gibbous with 58.1% of its visible disk illuminated.
Today is the one thousand third day.

On this day in 1974, Pres. Nixon announces his resignation, to take effect the next day at noon.

Recommended for reading in full:

Molly Beck reports Nearly everyone supports universal background checks for gun buyers. Here’s why Wisconsin is unlikely to make it law:

The vast majority of people in Wisconsin agree on making that policy change, according to 2018 polling by Marquette University Law School. Nationally, 96% of Democrats, 84% of Republicans and 89% of Independents support the measure, according to a recent Marist poll.

Despite overwhelming support, the move likely won’t be made here anytime soon.

“For any Republican to say ‘I support universal background checks’ would be career suicide,” Clemson University political scientist Steven Miller said.

The National Rifle Association’s political arm likely would help elect a primary opponent of any Republican candidate who seeks or supports such restrictions, Miller said, and support for the added safeguard, while wide, isn’t that intense.

“Most people think that’s a good idea, but most people don’t care too much and the people who oppose that are really serious about that,” he said. “Because the minority is much more mobilized, they are more likely to get what they want.”

  VOX-Pol released its latest report in the VOX-Pol publication series, titled The Alt-Right Twitter Census: Defining and Describing the Audience for Alt-Right Content on Twitter, authored by J.M. Berger, on 15 October 2018:

Key Findings
There were four overlapping themes apparent that dominated the alt-right network in this study:
  • Support for US President Donald Trump, support for white nationalism, opposition to immigration (often framed in anti-Muslim terms), and accounts primarily devoted to transgressive trolling and harassment.
  • @realdonaldtrump was the most influential Twitter account among all users analysed in this study; @richardbspencer was the most influential account within the specific network of users who followed accounts that contained the phrase ‘alt-right’ in their Twitter profiles.
  • Support for Trump outstripped all other themes by a wide margin, including references to his name and various campaign slogans in hashtags and user self-descriptions. The most common word in user profiles was ‘MAGA’ (short for Make America Great Again, Trump’s 2016 campaign slogan), and the most common word pair in user profiles was ‘Trump supporter’.
  • The alt-right network was most consistently ‘for’ Trump, but users frequently defined themselves by what they were ‘against’. Top word pairs in user self-descriptions included ‘anti-EU’, ‘anti-Islam’, ‘anti-globalist’, ‘anti-feminist’ and ‘anti-Zionist’.
  • While the alt-right’s presence on Twitter was substantial, probably encompassing more than 100,000 users as a conservative estimate, the sample analysed here showed extensive evidence of manipulation, including manipulated follower counts, follower tracking, and automated tweeting. Neither the source nor the exact scope of these efforts could be conclusively determined.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the Amos-17 communications satellite for Spacecom Ltd. of Israel on Aug. 6, 2019:

Common Council, 8.6.19: The Context of an Appointment

The Whitewater Common Council met in regular session on Tuesday night. A portion of that meeting (video, 2:35-16:58) involved the appointment of a council member to a vacant seat through April 2020. Two students from UW-Whitewater, Zachary Klotz and Matthew Schulgit, applied to fill that vacancy.

After remarks from each applicant, and a few questions from incumbent council members, the council voted unanimously to select Matthew Schulgit.

While a nearby newspaper wrote of this selection in a story headlined UW-Whitewater student picked to fill vacant city council seat held by brother, the story presents the selection without fundamental context.

Whitewater has a population of just under 15,000 (2018 figures), of which (using latest 2017 data) the overwhelming number of residents (67.7%) are under 25 (with 37.3% aged 20-24).

Whitewater is a college town in a small town.

(Over the years, some befuddled officials have contended that the town has too many rental units and too few single-family homes. No and no again: the town apart from the college is small, and a small town will have a limited number of single-family homes. Wanting to boost single-family homes to keep up with a large number of campus rentals is like thinking a chihuahua has to over-eat to make itself big like a nearby Great Dane.)

Although Whitewater has a campus in the middle of town, and one that’s large relative to the rest of the town, she has not seen the kind of uplift from a campus that serious observers typically expect.

James Fallows, for example, observes that being near a university – or a community college – helps a city succeed. See James Fallows on ‘Eleven Signs a City Will Succeed’ (Part 1) and (Part 2).

Whitewater’s picture is decidedly mixed, however: there are some people who have had success, and yet we remain a low-income community with high levels of family & child poverty. (See Reported Family Poverty in Whitewater Increased Over the Last Decade and A Candid Admission from the Whitewater CDA.)

Fallows most certainly does not define community success to include those stark economic circumstances. (There are no serious observers of progress who think community success requires no more than the self-promotion of a right-wing landlord or boosters and their small clique of dogsbodies.)

Whitewater’s selection of a student masks her inability – effectively – to make the most of being a college town. It’s good to have student representation (and good that the representative is talented); it’s better to have genuine integration between the town & campus.

That’s Whitewater’s context of selecting one council member who’s a student; anything else is oddly out-of-context.