As illustrated so clearly here, we are living in a time of “mediated” existence. Most of us, much of the time, are connected to our friends, family and the external world through one form of media or another. I-phones, computers, TV, newspapers, movies…all both separate and connect us all. Good thing, or bad thing? Both, most certainly. We see people, ideas, events that we could not be present for personally, at a given time or place. But we remain separated from many of those same people, ideas and events by the very digital technology that connects us. Sometimes we can’t tell the difference, and sometimes we can. Yet nothing can replace sitting across from one you love, holding hands, or touching your sweet cat, or gazing at the beauty of nature, with nothing but the short distance from that living being or object to your eye standing in the way. We innately know that the best “connection” is the live, interpersonal connection, unmediated by technology, yet technology enables us to leap beyond our physical boundaries, whether it’s reaching out to family or friends, or reaching out and connecting with the world beyond our grasp. Yes, communications technology changes us, but it does not eliminate our personal responsibility to maintain the live, real  contact with the world that will always be important to our lives. We cannot live only “mediated” lives. But, while all of it is real, it is somehow vital that we recognize and value the meaning of our tactile connections to the world.

The wrecking ball is taking this handsome old red brick building down, beginning today. The photos were taken just last night — its last as a complete structure. Once the long time home of Waal’s department store, an old fashioned store in the Marshall Fields tradition, and until recently the site of the beloved Antique Mall in Walworth, Wisconsin, it shall soon be but a memory, along with the end of the town square, thanks to plans to straighten out the highway for passing trucks (the corner of the town square with, a beautiful statue, also to be moved, can be seen in the foreground) This little community, long on small town tradition, will soon be “longing” to find ways bring some of it back.

Old Waal's Dept Store/Antique Mall, Walworth, WI

From today’s Milwaukee Business Journal:

Fans of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s print edition can take heart: The CEO of the newspaper’s owner predicts continued publication of a hard copy “for a long, long time.”
Milwaukee is the media market where Journal Media Group (NYSE: JMG) has the greatest daily newspaper penetration with consumers, so the print edition will remain safe for the foreseeable future, said the company’s CEO Tim Stautberg.
“I suspect in a market like Milwaukee, it’s a long, long time (for continued printing),” Stautberg said at a joint luncheon Tuesday of the Milwaukee Press Club and the Rotary Club of Milwaukee at the Milwaukee County War Memorial.
Stautberg has been CEO of the new publicly traded company since April 1 after the closing of a transaction involving Milwaukee-based Journal Communications Inc. and Cincinnati-based E.W. Scripps Co. Prior to taking the helm at Journal Media Group, Stautberg was the top newspaper executive at Scripps.
Journal Media Group consists of the Journal Sentinel, 13 former Scripps daily newspapers and a number of community newspapers.
The print edition of daily newspapers remains the preferred way of attaining news for many consumers, Stautberg said. He said 45 percent to 50 percent of adults still read newspapers.
“To me there is still a habit that is very important to a lot of folks in the communities where we operate off reading a physical product,” he said. “I like to remind folks that a newspaper is actually the first mobile app.”

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CE and the SeaBell, 7-09

CE and the SeaBell, 7-09

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We all remember the legend of Pearl Harbor, the surprise attack on America on December 7, 1941 “a date that will live in infamy” by the Japanese fleet that triggered U.S. entry into  WWII. But more misty in time was the sinking of the RMH Lusitania by a torpedo from a German submarine, on May 7th, 1915.More than 1100 people were lost in that sinking, including 120 Americans. The mighty Lusitania, queen of the British Cunard fleet, and holder of the Blue Riband (fastest to cross the Atlantic), went down in just 15 minutes, not far off the coastal town of Cobh, Ireland (near Cork). Many bodies, and survivors, were brought ashore at Cobh, and some were buried there. While WWI had began the year before, and it would be two years more before the U.S. would enter the war, the sinking of the Lusitania was the trigger that brought public opinion in the U.S. and Europe firmly against the Germans.

We happened into Cobh a couple weeks ago, on May 7th, 2015, by happenstance, and came to be witness to the ceremonies marking the 100th anniversary of her sinking. As we stood at the entrance to the Titanic exhibit at the pier where the last passengers boarded her on her fatal first Atlantic crossing, a crowd formed in front of us, and a cordon of Irish sailors assembled. Soon a motorcade pulled up and the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins (a poet and scholar known as the old leprechaun) got out and inspected the sailors and laid a wreath at the monument in the town square to those lost on the Lusitania.. He next moved to a seaside pavilion, where speeches were given by him and the ambassadors of Great Britain, the U.S. and Germany, as a form of remembrance and reconciliation. The President of Cunard also spoke. Then, at exactly the minute the German torpedo hit the Lusitania 100 years before, all the mighty horns of the gigantic new Cunarder docked nearby, the Queen Victoria, sounded, and the band struck up.playing Navy hymns. There was not a dry eye to be found. My own Vicki, our friend Lydia and I lunched at the hotel across from the pier, where Lusitania survivors had once been brought, then moved on with our driving trip through Ireland.

It was a moment of history, and a somber cautionary  reminder (World Trade Center) of the fearsome triggers that can bring a  nation to war.

P.S. The village was known as Queenstown, after a visit by Queen Victoria in 1850, until the 1920s, when her old name, the Cove of Cork was Gallicized into Cobh. .P1010185Queen Victoria at Cobh, IrelandMay7, 2015 .   P1010184

The Patriot Act is up for renewal on June 1, this year. It must be reformed to protect Americans against the bulk collection of private communications, and other transgressions of our rights. We do not need to give up all our rights to privacy for the protection of the nation. Congressman Sensenbrenner, the author of the Patriot Act says himself that he and his committee never intended the act to provide for the bulk gathering of the private communications of all Americans. I have written an email today to President Obama at the White House asking that the Patriot Act be reformed to protect American privacy.

How about you?

Here’s what the ACLU has to say about this issue. By the way, that’s what Edward Snowden was trying to say when he gave up much information about this to journalists, and that’s what America’s newest, besets comedian journalist, John Oliver, explained in his show on Sunday when he ran his interview in Moscow with Snowden. Oliver ought to win a Pulitzer Prize for investigative journalism for helping make this issue transparent for the American people.

What You Should Know

On May 26, 2011, Congress passed a four-year extension of three expiring Patriot Act provisions without making much-needed changes to the overly broad surveillance bill. The extended provisions are set now set to expire on June 1, 2015. Despite bills pending in both the House and the Senate to amend the three expiring provisions and other sections of the Patriot Act, Congress decided instead to move ahead with a straightforward reauthorization.

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More About the Patriot Act
» A Primer
» Myths & Realities
» Section 215
» Talking Points
» Community Resolutions
» Resources

Reclaiming Patriotism: A Call to Reconsider the Patriot Act
Despite the many amendments to these laws since 9/11, Congress and the public have yet to receive real information about how these powerful tools are being used to collect information on Americans and how that information is being used. All of these laws work together to create a surveillance superstructure – and Congress must understand how it really works to create meaningful protections for civil liberties.

The ACLU’s recent report, Reclaiming Patriotism, provides more information on parts of the Patriot Act that need to be amended. The three expiring provisions of the Patriot Act give the government sweeping authority to spy on individuals inside the United States, and in some cases, without any suspicion of wrongdoing. All three should be allowed to expire if they are not amended to include privacy protections to protect personal information from government overreach.

Section 215 of the Patriot Act authorizes the government to obtain “any tangible thing” relevant to a terrorism investigation, even if there is no showing that the “thing” pertains to suspected terrorists or terrorist activities. This provision is contrary to traditional notions of search and seizure, which require the government to show reasonable suspicion or probable cause before undertaking an investigation that infringes upon a person’s privacy. Congress must ensure that things collected with this power have a meaningful nexus to suspected terrorist activity or it should be allowed to expire.
Section 206 of the Patriot Act, also known as “roving John Doe wiretap” provision, permits the government to obtain intelligence surveillance orders that identify neither the person nor the facility to be tapped. This provision is contrary to traditional notions of search and seizure, which require government to state with particularity what it seeks to search or seize. Section 206 should be amended to mirror similar and longstanding criminal laws that permit roving wiretaps, but require the naming of a specific target. Otherwise, it should expire.
Section 6001 of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, or the so-called “Lone Wolf” provision, permits secret intelligence surveillance of non-US persons who are not affiliated with a foreign organization. Such an authorization, granted only in secret courts is subject to abuse and threatens our longtime understandings of the limits of the government’s investigatory powers within the borders of the United States. This provision has never been used and should be allowed to expire outright.
The bill also fails to amend other portions of the Patriot Act in dire need of reform, most notably those relating to the issuance and use of national security letters (NSLs). NSLs permit the government to obtain the communication, financial and credit records of anyone deemed relevant to a terrorism investigation even if that person is not suspected of unlawful behavior. Numerous Department of Justice Inspector General reports have confirmed that tens of thousands of these letters are issued every year and they are used to collect information on people two and three times removed from a terrorism suspect. NSLs also come with a nondisclosure requirement that precludes a court from determining whether the gag is necessary to protect national security. The NSL provisions should be amended so that they collect information only on suspected terrorists and the gag should be modified to permit meaningful court review for those who wish to challenge nondisclosure orders.

On Morning Joe this AM, they referenced the serious journalism of comedian John Oliver when in his show last night he interviewed security leaker Edward Snowden in Moscow. So I watched the show, which I record from DirecTV. In it, among other things, Oliver asked Snowden if a dic pic sent from a husband to his wife over the internet could be captured by the NSA, and Snowden answered yes, it could. Funny bit. But disturbing, in the sense of the degree of invasion of privacy the NSA can accomplish into the personal lives of ordinary Americans. Of course, the rationalization is that national security might require such invasions, on rare occasion, to protect the country from terrorists. Thus, we all must give up all, figuratively and literally, of our privacy for such protection. Excellent journalism, indeed by Oliver. Perhaps he deserves a Pulitzer Prize for journalism,for making plain the sacrifices we are all making, whether we realize it or not, for the sake of potential protection from terror. Of course, I became suspicious when the end of the Snowden interview was cut off by my video recorder, leading me to wonder, just wonder, if the NSA was blocking a portion of John Oliver’s Snowden interview, perhaps because they didn’t want America to discover what bald and bold truths were revealed in the final minutes of the show. Am I jumpy? Maybe. Do I have reason to feel that way? I think so.

are using our deer feeders these early spring days…

turkey in deer feeder at Applewood

turkey in deer feeder at Applewood

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National Geographic Magazine in their March cover story, The War on Science, gives some light on our exacerbated political divide as they try to explain the psychology related to the fight over what to believe about science. The author surmises that the left includes “Those with a more ‘egalitarian’ and ‘communitarian’ mindset,” who are, “generally suspicious of industry and apt to think it’s up to something dangerous that calls for government regulation; they’re likely to see the risks of climate change.” The right, on the other hand, includes “people with a ‘hierarchical’ and ‘individualistic’ mind-set who respect leaders of industry and don’t like government interfering in their affairs; they’re apt to reject warnings of climate change, because they know what accepting them could lead to — some kind of tax or regulation to limit emissions.”

The author believes that climate change has become a sort of litmus test about which of these warring “tribes” — the left and right, you belong to. He believes we are not so much arguing about the issue, but about who we are. On the left, we’re all in it together and must deal with consequences on behalf of all. On the right, we stand as individuals against the world, and must fight for our autonomy of belief against the “science” of the masses. Accepting a belief in climate change, one of those nasty “science things,” could get that hierarchical individualist thrown out of his or her tribe.

The author concludes, “science appeals to our rational brain, but our beliefs are motivated largely by emotion, and the biggest motivation is remaining right with our peers.” We still live in a world where science (read: evidence based) often trumps beliefs (read: tradition based). I’m neither a scientist nor a psychologist, and I see some of the dichotomy in this over-simplified analysis, and so I see that the social definitions of these two tribes often overlap among us.  Yet, when it comes to politics, and after all, politics is nothing more than the quest for power within our broader community, the apparent growing gap in organizing belief systems between these two tribes is threatening our democracy.

The genius of our American society lies in our ability to find compromise and some sense of fairness between our varied personal belief systems, and then move forward as a people, individually and together. That is our democracy. And it is in trouble. The answer: we must rationalize the past, as we remember it, in light with what we know to be the truth, today.

While NBC News tonight bawled about drunk drivers with up to 27 convictions going free, and not to jail, while their victims go into physical rehab, if they are lucky enough to survive, I read in the Lake Geneva Regional News that at 9:05 pm on February 20, a drunk driver was cited for his 4th offense in nearby Elkhorn. Every week, I read locally of drunk drivers being cited for their 3rd, 4th or 7th offense, while retaining their license and remaining free, while thousands are maimed and killed, not to mention intimidated and threatened by intoxicated men and women, old and young.

My first corporate job was at the headquarters of Allstate Insurance, working on national efforts to reduce the blood/alcohol levels at which people could be arrested for drunk driving. We worked with the public, with women’s organization and with state legislatures, and we were largely successful in reducing those levels. But thanks to the pervasive tavern lobby, especially here in Wisconsin, and a culture that still endorses having a half dozen or so drinks and still driving, we are still letting people who drive drunk over and over, and are arrested over and over, to remain on the road. Maybe there should be a blood/alcohol ignition interlock in every car on the road. Maybe it’s worth another 50 bucks to save thousands of lives and injuries. Or more simply, let’s exhort these sleepy state legislators to do something useful for a change, and get the drunk drivers off the road.

In addition to being designated drivers when needed, why don’t we all become designated lobbyists to demand that repetitive drunk drivers be kept off the road, at least for the sake of our loved ones? End the drunk butchering on our roads.

July 2015
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