"Though there were manufacturers in several parts of the United States, the great preponderance of commercially-made aluminum trees were created by the Aluminum Specialty Company of Manitowoc, Wisconsin. When their 'Evergleam' line debuted in 1959, many embraced the shiny trees as an expression of the new Atomic Age. The trees appealed to a Jetsons-style notion of modern living where life was clean, automated and easy; with an aluminum tree, needles never fell, it could be stored compactly and re-used every year, with none of the fuss of a real tree." Etsy: History Lesson: The Aluminum Christmas Tree, by Jeni Sandberg. [more inside]
An appeals panel of the Seventh Circuit ruled yesterday (pdf) that Wisconsin may immediately implement a photo ID law, for the November 4th election. [more inside]
What's better than reading a judge ruthlessly dismantling arguments against marriage equality? Hearing the judge's own voice as he makes lawyers arguing for Indiana's and Wisconsin's bans on same-sex marriage look like fools. Previously.
"Burkhard challenged Miller to a 'Cheese Duel': Burkhard and Miller would sit at a table, and if Burkhard could cut a piece of Limburger cheese and Miller not wretch, Miller would be forbidden from complaining about Wisconsin and her cheese ever again." [more inside]
This week the FDA announced it will not permit American cheesemakers to age cheese on wooden boards, potentially destroying the ability to make or import a wide variety of artisanal cheeses. Despite being legal in the various cheese making states and having been used for hundreds of years, the FDA is cracking down under the Food Safety Modernization Act. A sampling of cheeses impacted: Pleasant Ridge Reserve, Cabot Clothbound, Marieke Feonegreek, Bleu Mont Bandaged Cheddar, along with parmesan, aged cheddar and the only American produced Limburger. [more inside]
Two twelve-year-old girls of Waukesha, Wisconsin, are currently in custody following the attempted murder of a classmate. According to their confessions, they and stabbed her nineteen times in order to prove their devotion to Slender Man. The girls believed that by murdering for Slender Man, they could become his "proxies," and live with him in his mansion in the Nicolet National Forest. [more inside]
Hello, [insert tv market name]!! A collection of the ‘Hello News’ package produced by Gari Communications, sold to various TV networks, nationwide (and Australia.) Hello Bonus 1: Florence Warner sings “Hello Nashville” live, accompanied by the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. Hello Bonus 2: The Osmonds record a “Hello Utah” promo.
For the first time in five years, Lake Superior, the world's largest freshwater lake, has frozen enough to allow visitors from northern Wisconsin to walk across the lake to the ice caves of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. [more inside]
Channel C WISC is a YouTube channel where UW-Madison undergrads from China talk about the experience of being Chinese at a big public American university, with the aim of both helping newly arrived international students understand what's going on around them, and helping American students have some sense of what's going on with their Chinese classmates. Videos include "Why Chinese Students Don't Party,", "Chinese Names,", "Pretty Chinese Women", "Who are the Chinese Second Generation Rich?", "Why Chinese Students Don't Speak English," and many more.
Ellen Raskin (1928-1984) is best known as a writer, author of The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon (I mean Noel) and the Newbery Award-winning The Westing Game. But she always considered herself an artist first. Raskin designed over 1,000 book covers, including the iconic original cover of A Wrinkle In Time, the edition of Dubliners you probably read in college, and the New Directions edition of a Child's Christmas in Wales (Raskin did the woodcuts on the inside, too; further appreciation here.) More Raskin covers are collected in this flickr set from Bennington College. [more inside]
Bulletproof Security is a paramilitary security company. They have provided security to Habitat for Humanity and Empire CAT among others. [more inside]
By a bipartisan vote of 68-26, the Wisconsin state Assembly has approved AB-110, a measure requiring beneficiaries of SNAP -- known in Wisconsin as FoodShare, or more colloquially as food stamps -- to spend at least 2/3 of their monthly benefits on items from "a list of state-defined healthy foods" [PDF]. [more inside]
Between July 28 and November 10, 2003, Ron Haines canoed down the entire length of the Mississippi. Eight years later, he wrote it up as a series of blog posts with lots of interesting photos and observations: Lake Itasca to Minneapolis-St. Paul. Minneapolis-St. Paul to St. Louis. St. Louis to New Orleans. He also wrote up his logistics and some of the press coverage he got along the way. [more inside]
Let's Show Them: We're NOT Going To War. "WHY THE CONVOCATION? This is one of the most effective means for Wisconsin students to serve notice, along with 1,000,000 other students, that WE'RE NOT GOING TO WAR -- ever again!" A protest handbill from the University of Wisconsin, announcing a campus-wide peace demonstration, on April 11, 1940. From the UW Library's compendium of resources on protests and social action at UW-Madison from 1910 through the end of the 20th century.
“One swallow does not make a summer, but one skein of geese, cleaving the murk of a March thaw, is the spring.”
The great naturalist Aldo Leopold took detailed notes in his journals every morning before sunrise, logging the birds he heard calling on his farm in rural Wisconsin. Now, using journals from the Aldo Leopold archives, and bird calls from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, researchers at UW-Madison have replicated what Aldo Leopold would have heard one morning on his farm in the 1940s autoplays bird calls.
He was doubled-over, crying. He looked up at my mom and simply said, "Play this at my funeral." Which we did, on Memorial Day, in our backyard beside his trout pond. .."I made this video with and for my father, Larry Zander, who died a few weeks ago, on May 27, 2011. He was 78. For those of you who knew my Dad, you will instantly recognize him in his natural habitat."
Early Sunday morning a man entered a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, killing six and wounding three, and was killed in a shootout with police SWAT personnel. [more inside]
Not So Pure Michigan (youtube), a play on Michigan's "Pure Michigan" tourism campaign. (For more on Michigan's troubles with its neighbors see Mitten-gate.)
Battleground is hulu's first exclusive scripted original series. A mockumentary drama/comedy depicting a Senatorial campaign in Wisconsin, the show has a run of 13 episodes this season, 12 of which are already available on hulu (the season finale will be released May 8). Happily, the first six episodes are also available on YouTube. 1: The Pilot, 2: Who Is Claire Villareal, 3: Hold The Whipped Cream, 4: The Comment, 5: They'll Burn Your Eyes, 6: Polls Close At Six [more inside]
As the recall of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker draws near, the governor has quietly signed "dozens" of bills into Wisconsin law, including anti-abortion, pro abstinence education only laws, the repeal of the Equal Pay law,, a bill prohibiting insurance plans from covering some abortions, and a bill banning damages in employment discrimination suits.
"...whatever job you take, you're going to spend a lot of time there. You should try to make it fun."
In 2007, the Madison (WI) Police Department hired their first civilian Public Information Officer: former reporter Joel DeSpain. Over the last five years, Mr. DeSpain has reportedly combined "humor, a flair for the dramatic and sense of the absurd", and turned the mundane Madison Police Blotter into an "art form and a thing of joy." So Why Has Madison Wisconsin Has Become the Weird News Capitol of the Midwest? Meet the United States’ most whimsical police reporter. (Last one's a gawker link. If you dislike their site / interface, have no fear: all reports in that article (plus four extras) can be found after the jump.) [more inside]
Think Downton Abbey is good? The New York Times' national desk, and over 30,000 others, can't get enough of the live webcam for Wisconsin's recall (previously). Broadcasting from an undisclosed location, the characters -- including "Sideburns" and "Flirty von Flirtenheimer" -- put the "men" into "Government Accountability Board." Background.
A Million Wisconsinites Petition to Recall Scott Walker: "Petitions with the names of 1 million Wisconsinites were submitted to state elections officials today, in a move that will jump-start the process of removing the nation’s most notorious antilabor governor from office... In all, close to 2 million signatures were submitted Tuesday, building the historic in-the-streets popular uprising that rocked Wisconsin in 2012 into a electoral uprising that has the potential to rock the politics not just of the state but of the nation in 2012. The movement to oust Walker will have secured the support of a higher percentage of eligible voters than has ever before sought to recall an American governor." [more inside]
The Burton Holmes Archive has information about Burton Holmes, the travel writer who became the first person to make filmic travelogues. More importantly, they also have a lot of film clips by Holmes and his associate, André de la Varre, who was also a great travelogue maker himself. Watching these clips is not quite time travel, but it is as close as we can get. Take a look at Reykjavík, Iceland, in 1926, Lake Michigan in 20s, Cairo in 1932 and the 1955 Rio de Janeiro carnival. The later films have sound and narration, but I prefer the silent ones. [Burton Holmes previously, André de la Varre previously, and the Travel Film Archive, which runs Burton Holmes site, previously]
"Change Proposed for State's Electoral Vote Process." Gov. Tom Corbett and state Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi are proposing that Pennsylvania divide up its Electoral College votes according to which candidates carried each Congressional district, plus two votes for the statewide winner. Talking Points Memo says that under the proposed plan Obama would have received only 11 of the state's 20 electors in 2008; Dave Weigel and Nick Baumann say gerrymandering could mean that in 2012 Obama could actually wind up with a minority of the state's electors even if he carries the state. GOP-led legislatures in other states, such as Wisconsin and Michigan, could make similar moves. But could this be a bridge too far for some members of the state's GOP caucus? [more inside]
“I don’t have $15 to ask Rep. Ryan questions, so I guess this is the only means I have to talk to him.”
Are you a constituent of Paul Ryan and want to tell him what you think? Better pay up. Or maybe not.
After weeks of fake primaries, fraudulent mailers, special interest moneybombs, and last-minute attempts at voter suppression, Wisconsinites went to the polls yesterday in an unprecedented round of six recall elections targeted mainly at Republican state senators for their support of Governor Scott Walker's controversial union-busting agenda. Five of the six races were called by Tuesday evening, with Democrats taking two of the three they'd need to regain control of the state senate. The lone holdout? A dead heat between incumbent Alberta Darling and challenger Sandy Pasch in District 8 -- the very same district that saw suspicious vote-counting by conservative Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus unexpectedly tip the balance towards Walker ally David Prosser late in the crucial state supreme court race this past April. The protracted count and late-night shift toward Darling coupled with Nickolaus's questionable history soon prompted Democratic officials to make accusations of fraud (later retracted). Control of the senate now lies in the defense of two Democratic seats up for recall next week and the possible wooing of GOP Senator Dale Schultz, the only Republican to vote against Walker's bill. Walker himself will be eligible for recall next spring. [more inside]
After creating legislation that requires voter ID in order to vote, Wisconsin Governer proposes closing 10 DMV Offices. Requiring voter ID puts a disproportionate burden on elderly, low income and disabled voters who may not be able to wait in long DMV lines. The new Wisconsin laws are expected to potentially disenfranchise millions of voters across the state. [more inside]
Two weeks ago, the Wisconsin Supreme Court voted 4-3 [video] to reinstate the controversial anti-union Budget Repair Bill, which a district judge had declared void due to a law requiring 24 hours' public notice of meetings. The Supreme Court's deliberations were heated. The liberal Justice Ann Walsh Bradley now says that after she asked conservative Justice David Prosser to leave her office, he put his hands around her neck in a choke-hold. Justice Prosser denies the allegation. [more inside]
70 games in 75 days in the Northwoods League. Andrew Barna, a varsity baseball player at Davidson College during the school year, is spending the summer playing first base for the Madison Mallards. The Mallards are currently a half game back of the Eau Claire Express in the Northwoods League, a summer developmental league where NCAA athletes play for room, board, the adulation of devoted Upper Midwest fans, and the slim hope of making it to the bigs. (Northwoods alums in the majors include Ian Kinsler (Mallards), Ben Zobrist (Wisconsin Woodchucks), and Juan Pierre (Manitowoc Skunks.) Barna's blog offers a look inside the real life of very-minor-league baseball: The best way to sleep on the team bus. Getting caught picking your nose on the field. Welcome back Jumpy Garcia. Signing your first breast.
On the same morning that Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi struck down Wisconsin's infamous union-busting bill on the grounds that it violated the state's Open Meetings Law (PDF of decision, previously), Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin signed America's first state-level single-payer legislation into law. [more inside]
Gov. Scott Walker wants to stop defending hospital visitation rights for same sex couples. His rationale is a 2006 law passed banning same sex marriage or similar arrangements. The visitation law was passed in 2009.
Waukeshocker! After Tuesday's painfully close, still undecided Supreme Court race between JoAnne Kloppenburg and David Prosser, Republicans warned that partisan election officials in certain municipalities might conveniently find bushels of extra uncounted votes after the fact. It has come to pass -- but the extra votes were found in deep-red Waukesha County, represnting the entire city of Brookfield, and give GOP favorite David Prosser a probably insurmountable 50.2%/48.8% lead. Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus's policy of storing election returns on a personal computer in her office with no backup was criticized last August. Nate Silver says the new numbers look reasonable.
Wisconsin Governor Walker's recent union busting bill did more than just bust unions. It also converts 37 top agency attorneys, communications officials and legislative liaisons from civil service positions to jobs appointed by the governor. Meet Brian Deschane a 20-something college drop-out with two drunk driving convictions. He the new man in charge of environmental regulations in Wisconsin. [more inside]
There is a constitutional crisis in Cheeseland. If you haven't been paying attention, WI governor Scott Walker and the Republican controlled Senate and Assembly passed a controversial bill and signed it. [more inside]
A week ago, University of Wisconsin History Professor Bill Cronon wrote a blog post about the organization he claimed was driving much of the legislation in Wisconsin: ALEC. Shortly after that, he wrote an op ed for the New York Times about the legislation. Now, the Wisconsin GOP have sent a FOIA request to the University requesting all emails that Cronon may have sent containing the terms "Republican, Scott Walker, recall, collective bargaining, AFSCME, WEAC, rally, union ..." and others. Cronon responds, calling it an "Attack [on] academic freedom". (via TPM)
There's been a lot of talk about Koch lately, mostly in regard to Wisconsin and Michigan. Now the billionaire Tea Party financiers have turned their eyes to Canada, and are set to lobby the Alberta government. Previously.
In over 35 years of friendship and conversation, Walter Michaels and I have disagreed on only two things, and one of them was faculty and graduate student unionization. He has always been for and I had always been against. I say “had” because I recently flipped and what flipped me, pure and simple, was Wisconsin. When I think about the reasons (too honorific a word) for my previous posture I become embarrassed. ... The big reason was the feeling — hardly thought through sufficiently to be called a conviction — that someone with an advanced degree and scholarly publications should not be in the same category as factory workers with lunch boxes and hard hats. Wisconsin has taught Stanley Fish that academics are workers too. Marc Bousquet (author of How the University Works) responds at the Chronicle of Higher Education with five lessons for academics from Wisconsin.
Republicans remove fiscal measures of Wisconsin's controversial budget repair bill, no longer need quorum denied to them by the 14 AWOL Senate Democrats. After seven minutes and over the objections of the Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, the bill is revised and accepted. The bill passes in the Senate 18-1. Previously. Before that Before even that.
Wisconsin has had some record breaking protests in the past week, with hundreds occupying the capitol building full time, even setting up a small village, with support provided from around the world. Some even got married. [more inside]
WSJ bravely criticizes the "excessive power of collective bargaining." Robert M. Costrell of wsj.com explains how the governor's proposal to restrict collective bargaining...seems entirely reasonable. via twitter.com/ftrain
Anonymous announces action against Koch brothers. Anonymous, apparently decided to stand up for something. They have announced their intention to use their internet powers for "good" and to "spread the word of the Koch brothers' political manipulation, their single-minded intent and the insidious truth of their actions in Wisconsin, for all to witness." I for one, welcome our new anonymous rulers. (via Reddit)
SEIU past leader speaks on Wisconsin The battle is for the future our our country, the middle class, and public ownership of public goods
Indiana Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Cox has lost his job after urging National Guardsmen to use live ammunition during their potential clash with Wisconsin union members and protesters.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is refusing to talk to Senate Democrats in (or rather currently not in) his state. He is, however, apparently willing to talk to David Koch, because that's who The Buffalo Beast's Ian Murphy pretended to be when he got on the phone with Walker and recorded a 20-minute conversation about breaking unions, tricking the Democrats into coming back to pass legislation, the hotness of Mika Brzezinski, and how Walker would love to be "shown a good time" next time he visits Koch in California. [more inside]
To Madison, WI, to the Wisconsin State Assembly, where the Republican majority attempted to move newly-elected Republican Governor Scott Walker's controversial budget repair bill towards final passage, before the Democrat minority had even entered the assembly. The minority leader then proceeds to rip the majority a new one. The cheering of tens of thousands of protesters, composed of public-sector employees and their supporters, can be heard permeating the walls of the assembly chamber. A minority assemblyman responds to the tactic. [more inside]