Naked on the day it was burned

A few hours after Trump’s travel ban for Muslims started getting serious news attention (including nonstop CNN coverage), the naked guys were standing around the locker room at the YMCA, transfixed by what they saw on television.

It was the end of a Wisconsin Badgers basketball game, however, that enraptured them. Out in the fitness area, virtually everyone was ignoring several screens with live coverage of our constitution going down in flames, complete with stranded travelers and unjust detentions.

One of a series of related cartoons posted on the San Jose Mercury news site.

One of a series of related cartoons posted on the San Jose Mercury news site.

From what I could tell, life was simply moving forward for most exercisers. I didn’t see a single animated conversation, and certainly not one that appeared to focus on the travel ban.

Around that time, a friend of mine — a technology entrepeneur from one of our staunchest Pacific allies, in the U.S. to do business — said he was busy at an airport, spending a substantial amount of time “chatting up the CBP officer to make my case that I’m no criminal”  (CBP being Customs and Border Protection),

We’re all being faced with serious personal choices right now.  Ignore what’s going on around us?  Post a few outraged comments on social media? Join a march?  Boycott a business? Something more?

I’ve seen all sorts of things.  One friend told me yesterday, with a clear tinge of shame, that he’s just trying to keep his head down and do his job,  Several friends took part in the recent women’s marches.  One new acquaintance — a Facebook friend, really — is posting an endless series of anguished comments, multiple times daily.

Fixing this is going to need more, and it’s tough to know how to proceed.  Part of what I’ll do is write more, including on this blog, where I’d committed to focusing more on parks and the outdoors and less on the political side than I have in the past.

As we have seen, however, with the rebellion of National Park Service employees amid renewed political efforts to weaken science, sell off public lands, and silence dissent, there can be no avoiding politics.

I’ve posted nothing since mid-November for multiple reasons, all of which were stressful, but none more so than the thoroughly deflating and demoralizing election in which the worst elements of our national character changed the nature of our country.

It’s time to come back. I’ll still stick mostly to the outdoors, as I’ve got some projects in the works, including the continued production of my outdoors column.  But the ugly side of life in America cannot be ignored now.

Not everything in nature can be beautiful.  It often seems that little in politics is, but there are glimmers of hope here and there through the smoke of our principles being incinerated.

Many are resisting in ways large and small.  Doing so creatively and appropriately, forcefully and effectively, is the task we must all continue.

 

Darn right I had one. Wanna make something of it?

angriest

Stevens Point Still Life: Red bun, read paper, red state?

Cheap marketing ploys don’t do much for me.  The Angriest Whopper, however, is at least a little clever because it seems to tap into our collective psyche right now.

Quick background: I went to the polls early today expecting a Bernie Sanders win, but with my mood tempered by an equal expectation that dark money would deliver the open Wisconsin Supreme Court seat to one of the most singularly unqualified candidates in the United States right now.

A few hours at work didn’t exactly turn me into Mr. Twinkles.  We’re in the midst of faculty searches to replace our departing droves.  Other constant pains in the rear — such as our so-called governance structure at the university — make me question whether I should be bolting from here myself.

I read the piece linked above and decided I could use a bad burger for lunch while reading more about the Panama Papers, which already have resulted in the resignation of Icelandic premier Segret Monibankss Monisson, or whatever his name was.

The burger wasn’t that hot. Neither was it that hot.  And it doesn’t deserve much more review than that, although I still enjoyed it enough as both food for my belly and fodder for my blog, the point of which, at least for tonight, is this:

Yeah, Sanders won, but big deal.  I’m still expecting the Democratic machinery to hand the nomination to a candidate who’s looking more and more like she could finish a comfortably distant second in the popular vote.  Additionally, no matter what happens in the Republican convention, it won’t be any prettier than the end results of the last colored whopper, if you know what I mean.

sanders FBAnd despite early indicators of a happy ending for today’s Wisconsin Supreme Court race, later reports look more bleak.  Regardless, I’m not hopeful for anything much better in the short run.  I’m not seeing any serious discussion of the Sanders candidacy in mainstream media.  Like the Black Whopper, it’s all “but … but … but …” (see screen shot at right).

Little is being done about vote suppression.  And how ’bout that U.S. Senate and its ongoing vacation from responsibility?

My only consolation seems to be the chance to write bad puns and political exhortations directed at whoever has made it this far on this post. My anger is on auto-pilot, and I hope yours is too.

Keep speaking out and making things happening.  We have a long way to go.

Remember the state motto: “Forward”

pelican

Creative Commons photo (license here) courtesy of Dawn Ellner. Cropped from original available here.

Here’s an interesting article from Bloomberg Business, announcing that fossil fuels are just that — a relic of the past — and that renewables have brought us to the only future we can feel comfortable about.

Whether the publication is more conservative or more liberal is beside the key point here. It’s a business publication, and its core audience is concerned about business success.  That makes this brief analysis more than worthwhile.  It has an important message that we’ll all need to hammer into our so-called leaders, again and again and again.

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No shortage of sub-freezing outdoor activity

 

This past weekend was one of those in which I did nothing special, but it ended up being quite special in its own Central Wisconsin way.

It started with no particular plan. By the time it was all said and done, though, I had visited four regional outdoor recreation institutions, with each visit sandwiched around a bunch of indoor activities.

All in all, it was yet another reminder of what a great place we live in.

Izaak Walton Jamboree leaves us hungry for more 
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Welcome, new faculty, to the University of Amazon.com

As expected, the selection of a new president of the University of Iowa is sparking plenty of thoughful analysis, hand-wringing and bloviating about the choice of a former corporate chieftain with relatively little academic experience as the institution’s new leader.

Are we who decry this choice being fair?  Or is ours a knee-jerk reaction to a decision that could bring necessary and helpful changes to one of our leading universities?

weekend

Thanks to Political Loudmouth for sharing this (click picture for page).

A couple of fine pieces of interpretation have come from former University of Iowa professor Steve Kuusisto.  Kuusisto’s blog Planet of the blind: It’s not as dark as you think has perhaps the best quick summary, at least from a common academic perspective, of the political background of the selection.

Kuusisto’s characterization of Iowa regents is none too kind, which raises the question I asked myself both before and after my own short post Friday criticizing the selection.

Taking a step back and approaching issues with as much objectivity as possible are two hallmarks of both science and journalism, my own area of teaching and research. So is interpretation. I’ve thought about my own Friday post a bit this weekend, as it was a clearly pessimistic and skeptical take on Bruce Herreld’s selection.

The question of fairness to Herreld and Iowa’s leadership is too complex to answer in a single blog post.  For most observers, it’s not one that can be answered with anything close to public agreement until we’ve had the benefit of looking back on Herreld’s presidency after a suitable period of time.

But skepticism, which is just a little farther to the negative side of a continuum from hopeful to despairing, is a proper response for academics, journalists and others to this selection.

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