Daily Bread for 5.30.23: Institutions Are Upstream, Social Media Are Downstream

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of 87. Sunrise is 5:19 AM and sunset 8:25 PM for 15h 05m 44s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 76.4% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1922, the Lincoln Memorial is dedicated in Washington, D.C.

If a broken clock is right twice a day, then Ross Douthat of the New York Times can be right at least once a month. In his column on Musk & DeSantis, How Twitter Shrank Elon Musk and Ron DeSantis, Douthat is right, or at least in the vicinity of right. There are lessons for small towns in all this, too.

Douthat observes that   

The actual launch of DeSantis’s presidential campaign, in a “Twitter Spaces” event that crashed repeatedly and played to a smaller audience than he would have claimed just by showing up on Fox, instead [of a savvy move] offered the political version of the lesson that we’ve been taught repeatedly by Musk’s stewardship of Twitter: The internet can be a trap.

For the Tesla and SpaceX mogul, the trap was sprung because Musk wanted to attack the groupthink of liberal institutions, and seeing that groupthink manifest on his favorite social media site, he imagined that owning Twitter was the key to transforming public discourse.

But for all its influence, social media is still downstream of other institutions — universities, newspapers, television channels, movie studios, other internet platforms. Twitter is real life, but only through its relationship to other realities; it doesn’t have the capacity to be a hub of discourse, news gathering or entertainment on its own. And many of Musk’s difficulties as the Twitter C.E.O. have reflected a simple overestimation of social media’s inherent authority and influence.

Douthat is right that social media are downstream of other institutions. Social media reflect the quality of the institutions in their target communities.

(Twitter, by the way, was never a platform popular in small towns. Never. Trump used Twitter to mock the press, national politicians, and cosmopolitan liberals, not connect with rural Idaho. There’s not much left of Twitter now, and many of us who enjoyed the platform are on the hunt for something better, but no one on Twitter joined for small-town influence, because Twitter never resonated in small towns.)

It’s Facebook, not Twitter, that is the pre-eminent social media platform for small-town America. There are three observations one can make about Facebook’s role.

First, most small-town institutions do a poor job of communicating with their residents. Institutional press releases and dedicated websites are ill-read and what’s published there is ill-written. Facebook didn’t make officials grandiose in thought and florid in prose. They were and are like this on their own. 

Second, although Facebook is good at sharing general information to its users, it’s a failure as a vehicle for more advanced discussion, especially about politics. Too many trolls, too much sway of algorithms that promote the most inflammatory claims. 

The third observation is the most significant: as these social media are downstream of other local institutions, they reveal what a poor job these local institutions are doing. If native-born Facebookers too-often write about politics in fractured English and egregious fallacies, it’s because public and private K-12 education in their schools has failed them. 

Politics on Facebook is both over-heated and under-thought, ill-advised and ill-expressed. 

That’s not because rural Americans are dull-witted; on the contrary, people are very sharp, performing hundreds of complex tasks each day. They have, however, received less — and expected less — from their K-12 experience than they should have. 

Empty and nutty small-town ideas like boosterism and toxic positivity would not have taken hold in rural communities that expected more of their high school graduates. 

Facebook? That downstream medium would be clearer if upstream institutions weren’t so muddy. 

These Sheep Have the Perfect Summer Job Cleaning Up Governors Island:

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Daily Bread for 5.29.23: Memorial Day

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of 81. Sunrise is 5:20 AM and sunset 8:24 PM for 15h 04m 23s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 68.3% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1848, Wisconsin became the 30th state to enter the Union with an area of 56,154 square miles, comprising 1/56 of the United States at the time. 

Every commemoration has an origin. For Memorial Day, that origin is an order of Gen. John Logan, of the veterans’ organization the Grand Army of the Republic:  

Headquarters Grand Army of the Republic,
Washington, D.C., May 5, 1868.

   No. 11

I. The 30th day of May, 1868 is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form or ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose, among other things, “of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion.” What can aid more to assure this result than by cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains and their deaths the tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten, as a people, the cost of a free and undivided republic.

If other eyes grow dull and other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remains in us.

Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us as sacred charges upon the nation’s gratitude—the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan.

II. It is the purpose of the commander in chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to call attention to this order, and lend its friendly aid in bringing it to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.

III. Department commanders will use every effort to make this order effective.

By Command of —
John A. Logan,
Commander in Chief

N.P. Chipman, Adjutant General

Webb and Chandra telescopes in space team up for amazing imagery:

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Daily Bread for 5.28.23: UW-Whitewater, and Most UW System Campuses, Have Projected Budget Deficits

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of 79. Sunrise is 5:20 AM and sunset 8:23 PM for 15h 02m 57s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 58.9% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1987, an 18-year-old West German pilot, Mathias Rust, evades Soviet air defenses and lands a private plane in Red Square in Moscow.

Kimberly Wethal reports UW System projects a $60M deficit:

Most University of Wisconsin System schools are projected to have structural deficits in the millions of dollars at the end of 2023-24 without additional state support, System President Jay Rothman warned Thursday.

System officials released financial forecast numbers Thursday that show all universities except UW-Madison, UW-La Crosse and UW-Stout are projected to have tuition fund balances in the red by summer 2024 because of planned one-time expenses and structural budget deficits. Most deficits hover between just under $3 million and $6.5 million, with UW-Milwaukee being a standout with a projected $18.8 million deficit.

Projected deficits total $60.1 million across the ten schools facing shortfalls. Shoring up finances will be difficult without more investment from Legislature, though, Rothman said.

Universities are spending down their reserves to balance their budgets, which Rothman said is unsustainable in the long run. He didn’t rule out closing campuses in the future, stating the System needs to face “economic reality” while keeping closures as a last resort.

Of the ten campuses running deficits (where figures in parentheses indicate a deficit), UW-Whitewater is at a projected $4,784,006 loss:

UW-Madison: $2,858,979

UW-Milwaukee: ($18,811,666)

UW-Eau Claire: ($5,662,460)

UW-Green Bay: ($6,358,828)

UW-La Crosse: $1,123,457

UW-Oshkosh: ($5,381,929)

UW-Parkside: ($3,645,509)

UW-Platteville: ($6,520,360)

UW-River Falls: ($2,950,824)

UW-Stevens Point: ($5,618,318)

UW-Stout: $283,899

UW-Superior: ($400,107)

UW-Whitewater: ($4,784,006)

Only three of the System campus are, by Rothman’s figures, in the black.

Looking only at individual campus deficits, however, and not by programming expenses across each school within the entire System, makes it impossible to prioritize which System campus deficits (or portions thereof) are most easily remedied. Platteville, for example, is at a $6,520,360 projected loss, and Green Bay a projected $6,358,828 loss, but knowing what constitutes each loss is necessary to make an ordered series of cuts (or, as Rothman may hope, increases to some budgets).

Within the entire System, even if operating without a deficit, there may be some institutions for which deficits will continue for sound reasons, with some programs compensating for losses in others. These topline numbers are concerning, as so many schools are operating at a loss, but the toplines are also inadequate for knowledgeable remedial action. Line-by-line detail is what’s needed. 

Service Dog Receives Diploma Alongside Owner:

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Daily Bread for 5.27.23: Would You Try Mongolian Fermented Horse Milk?

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 76. Sunrise is 5:21 AM and sunset 8:22 PM for 15h 01m 28s of daytime. The moon is in its first quarter with 49.2% of its visible disk illuminated.

By:User: Overandderivative work: Overand (talk) – Chrysler_Building_by_David_Shankbone.jpg, Public Domain,

On this day in 1930, the 1,046-foot-tall (319 m) Chrysler Building in New York City, the tallest man-made structure at the time, opens to the public. 

Would You Try Mongolian Fermented Horse Milk?:

If you’re a fan of kefir and yogurt, you might be excited to try ‘airag,’ a traditional Mongolian drink made from fermenting mare’s milk.

The process has remained largely unchanged since the 13th century, and the fermentation process gives it a slightly sour taste with an alcohol content of over 2%. So, maybe this one’s not for your breakfast table…

It’s hard to find outside of Mongolia, but Beryl Shereshewsky has tracked it down for a taste-test.

The Largest Image of Mars:

Here’s that link (opens in a new window):

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Daily Bread for 5.26.23: The Opening Scenes of Peter Jackson’s King Kong

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 73. Sunrise is 5:21 AM and sunset 8:21 PM for 14h 59m 57s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 39.3% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1927, the last Ford Model T rolls off the assembly line after a production run of 15,007,003 vehicles.

Although film director Peter Jackson was born in New Zealand, the opening scenes of his 2005 King Kong are as affectionate a depiction of ordinary Americans persevering during the Depression as any ever filed. They are not meant as though a documentary, of course, but are instead a 21st-century look at 20th-century Americans getting by as best they could. 

Jackson’s King Kong is beautiful throughout, but nowhere is it more loving — and respectful —of ordinary Americans than in these opening scenes of living through hardship.    

Our people have overcome difficult times before. We can do so again.

Jupiter’s lightning resembles Earth’s, NASA data show:

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Film: Tuesday, May 30th, 1:00 PM @ Seniors in the Park, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

Tuesday, May 30th at 1:00 PM, there will be a showing of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea @ Seniors in the Park, in the Starin Community Building:


PG; 1 hour, 45 minutes (1961)

Tidal waves! Tsunamis! Earthquakes! Global warming! And the sky is on fire!  A race against time as the fantastic futuristic submarine Seaview attempts to save the Earth before it’s burnt to a cinder! A classic film starring Walter Pidgeon, Joan Fontaine, Peter Lorre, Barbara Eden, and Frankie Avalon.

We’ll be celebrating 12 years of films shown by Mark. He’ll bring the cake!

One can find more information about Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea at the Internet Movie Database.

Daily Bread for 5.25.23: Narcan

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of 66. Sunrise is 5:22 AM and sunset 8:21 PM for 14h 58m 22s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 29.8% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1738, a treaty between Pennsylvania and Maryland ends the Conojocular War with settlement of a boundary dispute and exchange of prisoners:

Cresap’s War (also known as the Conojocular War, from the Conejohela Valley where it was mainly located along the south bank) was a border conflict between Pennsylvania and Maryland, fought in the 1730s. Hostilities erupted in 1730 with a series of violent incidents prompted by disputes over property rights and law enforcement, and escalated through the first half of the decade, culminating in the deployment of military forces by Maryland in 1736 and by Pennsylvania in 1737. The armed phase of the conflict ended in May 1738 with the intervention of King George II, who compelled the negotiation of a cease-fire. A final settlement was not achieved until 1767 when the Mason–Dixon line was recognized as the permanent boundary between the two colonies.

Wisconsinites shouldn’t require legislation to see the need for naloxone in our schools. We have a statewide problem that calls for ready access to emergency medication. In the absence of private action, however, a bipartisan effort to provide lifesaving medication advances, as Corrinne Hess reports in Wisconsin’s public and private schools could have Narcan under new proposal (‘Bill would require schools maintain supply of opioid antagonist on site, in an accessible location’):

Under current law, Wisconsin school boards and the governing bodies of private schools are required to supply standard first aid kits for use during emergencies.   

The bill adds that schools would be required to maintain a “usable supply” of an opioid antagonist, like Narcan, on site and in a place that is accessible at all times.  

Some school districts have already done this, including the Denmark School District and School District of Beloit. 

Sen. Jesse James, R-Altoona, who is a police officer in the Village of Cadott, co-sponsored the bill. He says the opioid epidemic knows no boundaries and is affecting youth across the state.  

“Overdoses in Wisconsin are taking place not only at our universities, but at our high schools and middle schools as well,” James said. “This should not be about the image of our schools, but about life and death.”  

See also from 12.15.22 @ FREE WHITEWATER Prudent UW System Campuses Are Installing Opioid Overdose Kits. On 3.25.23, UW-Whitewater announced UW-Whitewater partners with Wisconsin Voices for Recovery to install overdose kits.

If boosterism, toxic positivity, tax incremental financing, or public relations were what its proponents believe them to be, then Wisconsin would not be where we are now. 

And yet, and yet, we are here now. 

Behind “The Bat Lands”:

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Daily Bread for 5.24.23: For Trump & DeSantis, It’s One or Neither

Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of 71. Sunrise is 5:23 AM and sunset 8:20 PM for 14h 56m 43s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 22.3% of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Board of Review meets at 6:30 PM

On this day in 1961, Freedom Riders are arrested in Jackson, Mississippi, for “disturbing the peace” after disembarking from their bus.

After so much talk about whether DeSantis would run, or what Trump might think about a race against the Florida governor, DeSantis at last announces his candidacy this afternoon (5 PM CT, 6 PM ET) on Twitter Spaces. Although Twitter is in disarray, and was never significant in a town like Whitewater, Twitter under Elon Musk is a conservative social media platform

Conservative populism — Trumpism, really — now faces having to choose a candidate to lead that movement. Trump and DeSantis cannot in 2024 both lead conservative populism: it’s one of them or neither of them. 

The two men are unlike, and leadership under one is certain to be different from leadership under the other. 

If one of them or another populist wins in 2024, then populism nationally, but also in many states and myriad more cities and towns, will have bolstered prospects that will be felt on councils and boards across the country.

Should a populist candidate fail, however, then that movement will face a far greater disappointment than it did from their less-than-expected results in 2022.

The choice of these populists cannot come soon enough, as those of us in opposition, and all America, will then have a more tangible choice to make.

Where do EV batteries go when they die?:

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Daily Bread for 5.23.23: A Wisconsin Shared Revenue Deal Hasn’t Been Imminent for Months (Obviously)

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 83. Sunrise is 5:24 AM and sunset 8:19 PM for 14h 55m 03s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 14.3% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in  1854, the Milwaukee and Mississippi railroad reached Madison, connecting the city with Milwaukee. When the cars pulled into the depot, thousands of people gathered to witness the ceremonial arrival of the first train, and an enormous picnic was held on the Capitol grounds for all the passengers who’d made the seven-hour trip from Milwaukee to inaugurate the line.

Shawn Johnson reports (in a good story worth reading in full) that Here’s where things stand on an effort to boost local government funding in Wisconsin:

For most of this year, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Republicans who run the Legislature have seemed on the cusp of a deal that would overhaul how the state funds local government expenses like police, emergency medical services and roads.

They can still get there, and maybe soon. But they’ve hit obstacles recently that could endanger the agreement.

Earlier this month, Evers threatened to veto the first version of the plan proposed by Assembly Republicans because he said it included too many strings, and not enough funding.

Then last week, GOP Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, said Republicans in his chamber would likely remove a requirement that Milwaukee voters pass a referendum to raise local sales taxes. Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, responded by warning that LeMahieu’s suggestion could kill the bill.

The dispute threatens an otherwise broad agreement that the state needs to help local governments — from Milwaukee to Wisconsin’s small towns — who’ve reached a tipping point when it comes to paying for basic services constituents expect.


The Assembly and Senate must pass the identical bill in order to send it to Gov. Evers’ desk. If the Senate makes one small change, the Assembly has to vote again on whether to “concur,” or agree with that amendment. In the case of removing the referendum requirement, Vos said that won’t happen.

The Senate could back down, or the two sides could send the bill to a conference committee to negotiate a compromise. Or they could end up not agreeing on one of the biggest issues facing state government this year, one that everyone at the Capitol seems to be talking about.

There may be a deal today, perhaps tomorrow. Know this, however: supposedly connected operatives, lobbyists, and public relations men have been telling people for months that a deal was imminent.

Months is not the definition of imminent. The definition of imminent is likely to happen very soon. Months is a longer time than very soon. Self-described political movers-and-shakers (and everyone who thinks of himself this way should seek a remedial education, counseling, or spiritual guidance) are, in fact, no more than big talkin’ posers.

Shawn Johnson’s story at WPR nicely shows how slowly the negotiations have gone. A deal hasn’t been imminent for months or it would have already happened. 

Meteor lights up night sky near Cairns, Australia:

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Daily Bread for 5.22.23: People Bring Color

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 80. Sunrise is 5:24 AM and sunset 8:18 PM for 14h 53m 19s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 8.7% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1968, “Milwaukee Bucks” was selected as the franchise name after 14,000 fans participated in a team-naming contest. 45 people suggested the name, one of whom, R.D. Trebilcox, won a car for his efforts.

People bring color: 

See Waiting for Whitewater’s Dorothy Day, Something Transcendent, and in the MeantimeAn Oasis Strategy, and The Community Space

Cat crawls out of claw machine after man wins plush toy:

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Daily Bread for 5.21.23: The Wisconsin Political Deceivers from a National Story

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 77. Sunrise is 5:25 AM and sunset 8:17 PM for 14h 51m 33s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 3.7% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1917, the Great Atlanta fire of 1917 causes $5.5 million in damages, destroying some 300 acres including 2,000 homes, businesses, and churches, displacing about 10,000 people but leading to only one fatality (due to heart attack).

Erik Gunn reports New York Times report finds political network with Wisconsin ties deceived donors:

Three Wisconsin men are identified in a New York Times report published Sunday as organizers of a network of political nonprofit fundraising groups that raised $89 million, ostensibly for political ends, but spending very little of that on anything except to pay the fundraisers themselves or other consultants.

The Times report [link is open] described a series of robocall campaigns by five different but closely connected groups that raised money in small amounts from donors “who were pitched on building political support for police officers, veterans and firefighters,” the Times reported. “But just 1 percent of the money they raised was used to help candidates via donations, ads or targeted get-out-the-vote messages, according to an analysis by The Times of the groups’ public filings.”

The newspaper report, published online, stated that about 90% of the money raised was paid back to fundraising contractors in what a lawyer who advises Republican campaigns described as “an elaborate self-licking ice cream cone” in which money that is raised goes to pay the cost of raising more money.

Four of the five nonprofits remain active, according to the Times. 

The Times identified the organizers of the groups as John W. Connors, Simon Lewis and Kyle Maichle. The three “were all active in college conservative politics in Wisconsin about 15 years ago, when Mr. Connors was the leader of campus Republicans at Marquette University,” the newspaper reported.

All three operate consulting firms that have contracted with one or more of the nonprofit fundraising groups. The nonprofits have paid altogether $2.8 million to the three, according to the Times, while paying most of the remainder to other consultants that did not appear to be connected with the organizers.

“In their calls, the groups identified themselves to potential donors as political organizations,” the Times reported. “Beyond that, they were often vague about whom they supported and how.”

(Emphasis added.)

Sneaky Bear Attempts to Creep Into Colorado Home:

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