First, They Came For Walmart

A year or so ago, the nation’s news media really glomped onto stories about Walmart as a crime attractor. For years before that, Walmart was wrecking the local economy.

I don’t know why that particular worm has turned to dollar stores.

I saw this story at Neo’s place: The war on the dollar stores:

This article is a few months old, but it just recently came to my attention and I read it because I love dollar stores, although the article is a typical anti-capitalist attack on them as somehow harming minorities in poor communities who don’t have easy access to other grocery stores.

Then I saw a story on the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel‘s Web site:

No link because it’s subscriber-only, and I’m not a subscriber.

So did the media beat Walmart? Or did Walmart up its advertising budget enough that it’s not a target?

Gem Buried In The Article

The article itself is not funny: ‘Terrifying:’ Man shot and killed at MetroLink station after dispute on train.

But this bit is quite telling:

Metro President and CEO Taulby Roach, six months into the job, said on Wednesday afternoon that he was driving out to the shooting himself.

Note that he is not taking the Metrolink to the Metrolink train station. Ever wonder why he is not eating his own dog food and using his own product?

Maybe because it’s inconvenient or prone to crime?

Light rail is not having a good week. Earlier this week, some wilding youths attacked people at a light rail station in Minnesota.

Soon To Be A Major Motion Picture From Marvel Studios

Environmentalist superhero Captain Planet visits kids at Discovery Center:

With so many shows and games for kids to play it can be hard to get them excited about things like the outdoors. But today, the Discovery Center brought a superhero in to help bring shows and excitement about the environment together.

Captain Planet from the well-known show made a visit to the Discovery Center today to interact with kids and teach a little about the environment.

From the well-known show?

Which one is that? The one that ran for two years in the early 90s, or the one that ran for three years in the middle 1990s?

Hey, I’m not knocking it. Keep promoting it as “popular” and maybe even “collectible.” I’ve got a copy of the Marvel Captain Planet and the Planeteers #1 that I need to increase in value if I’m going to retire someday.

Broken News

Clearly, two different city papers have read two different Mueller reports.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel found evidence of collusion:

It’s also running a red banner throughout the site saying that the report shows links between Trump aides and Russia, but ultimately found no crime.

The response in Springfield is more muted:

Join me in speculating why the Gannett properties are so different. The editors know their audiences? They want to tip the balance in Wisconsin, but know editorial spin wouldn’t make a difference in Milwaukee?

Milwaukee Tries Harder

News from DC: D.C. housed the homeless in upscale apartments. It hasn’t gone as planned.:

The SWAT team, the overdose, the complaints of pot smoke in the air and feces in the stairwell — it would be hard to pinpoint a moment when things took a turn for the worse at Sedgwick Gardens, a stately apartment building in Northwest Washington.

But the Art Deco complex, which overlooks Rock Creek Park and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is today the troubled locus of a debate on housing policy in a city struggling with the twin crises of homelessness and gentrification.

Located in affluent Cleveland Park and designed by Mihran Mesrobian — the prewar architect behind such Washington landmarks as the Hay-Adams Hotel — Sedgwick Gardens was once out of reach for low-income District residents.

That changed two years ago, when D.C. housing officials dramatically increased the value of rental subsidies. The goal was to give tenants who had previously clustered in impoverished, high-crime areas east of the Anacostia River a shot at living in more desirable neighborhoods.

Milwaukee is going to try the same thing, only harder: Downtown apartment tower would include affordable units — and the city Housing Authority as developer:

A new $150 million downtown Milwaukee apartment high-rise would have an unusual feature: a large number of units with affordable, below-market rents.

Perhaps even more unusual is the developer — the city Housing Authority.

The proposal, which would redefine Milwaukee’s public housing scene, was unveiled Wednesday.

“It will allow us to change the narrative,” said M. Joseph Donald, a Housing Authority board member.

The 32-story building would have around 315 to 350 apartments, as well as 43,000 square feet of office space. Its conceptual plans call for a swimming pool, fitness center and other amenities typically found in upscale high-rises.

Anyone want to bet that it’s a different outcome? I wonder if the people behind this program would even take the bet.

Carbondale, Illinois, Police Send Emergency Response Team To Florida

A rare emu-like bird attacks and kills Florida man, officials say:

A cassowary, a giant bird with long claws on each foot, killed its owner after he fell in the backyard of his Gainesville, Florida, home, officials told CNN.

A cassowary? A causetoworry, if you know what I mean.

Forget Florida Man; we need to really worry about Immigrant Floridian Bird.

(Oh, you short term readers–I have to explain the Carbondale Police Emu thing from 2006, look here.)

The 21st Century, Where All Weather Is Above Average

Powerful ‘bomb cyclone’ could trigger 50 mph winds in Ozarks:

A powerful “bomb cyclone” storm that’s expected to bring blizzard conditions to the high plains states has prompted a high wind advisory today for Springfield and southwest Missouri.

The National Weather Service in Springfield said wind gusts of up to 50 mph are likely in our area through 10 p.m. Wind gusts up to 40 mph are expected through Thursday.

The high wind and relatively dry air is increasing the risk of wildfires in the Ozarks.

Spoiler alert: It is neither a bomb nor a cyclone, both of which mean different things, and cyclone is another meteorological phenomenon that serves as a poor metaphor for the rotation of a low pressure system. Also, bomb is a sudden explosion metaphor, and a low pressure system is not a sudden or fast thing.

Why not call it a regional coldnado? Or should I not give the headline writers at Weather.com ideas?

You know what we call wind gusts of up to 50 miles per hour at Nogglestead? Normal for spring.

I am starting to get the sense that all the meterologists are millenials whose life experience consists of reading contemporary reports of how nothing has ever been like this before.

Quick Comments on the News

I don’t comment on the news a lot these days because it’s boring and everyone does it. Maybe I should, though, because in the heydey of this blog, I was doing a lot of snark on the news. But most of the heydey of the blog came before Twitter.

At any rate, a couple recent stories caught my eye.

Look at this headline:

Dems and divided GOP approve birth control bill makes it sound like a bill sponsored by Democrats peeled off a couple RINOs. However:

Over the objection of a handful of conservative holdouts, a bipartisan majority came together in the Missouri House on Monday to pass a bill making it easier to refill birth control.

The St. Joseph Republican told colleagues that current requirements can leave women with gaps in coverage that make it more likely they will have unplanned pregnancies and either abortions or babies they’re not prepared to support.

This was a Republican bill with bipartisan support. Why do the Democrats get the top billing in the headline? Speculate the usual way among yourselves.

Also, there’s this story: Springfield woman sentenced for statutory rape involving 14-year-old boy:

On Monday, Conway, 42, went before a Greene County judge to be sentenced for two statutory rape convictions.

Conway was convicted at a trial in November, more than two years after the victim came forward about the abuse, which prosecutors say began in about 2012 in Springfield.

Assistant Greene County Prosecutor Dane Rennier said Monday that Conway’s case was one of the first child sex abuse cases he was assigned, and he vowed to treat it the same as he would if the gender roles were reversed. The majority of cases prosecutors handle involve male defendants.

At Monday’s sentencing hearing, Rennier asked for 15 years in prison, which he said is slightly more than the average sentence for someone with Conway’s convictions.

Sounds like the prosecutor reads Instapundit, who often highlights how women get sentenced more lightly than men in these sorts of cases (like this one today).

(I struggled with how to work Holly Getsentencedlightly into this snark, but I could not.)

Like the Cobra Scare of 1953

Cyclists, hikers find alligator along Ozark Greenways Trail in Springfield:

Cyclists and hikers spotted an unexpected reptile along a trail in Springfield over the weekend.

Jason Stratton said he was riding his bicycle Saturday afternoon when he received text messages from his son, AJ, who was cycling just ahead of him on the South Creek Trail. The trail runs from National Avenue to Battlefield Road.

“He sends me a couple text messages saying ‘Hey, you need to come down here,'” Jason Stratton said. “And then he gives me a call, ‘No, you really need to come down here and check this out. You won’t regret it.’”

About five minutes later, Jason Stratton arrived to find his son and a couple other folks staring at what looks to be a stick in the middle of the trail.

“I’m thinking ‘Why is this of any interest at all?'” Jason Stratton said. “As soon as I got up close to it, I could tell what it was we were looking at, of course.”

It was an alligator.

Not only do we have to sometimes worry about cobra around here, but now alligators.

Although I have to say it was a pretty active alligator for winter.

And before you ask, yes, that trail does run right by my boys’ school; they run on it during cross country season all the time.

UPDATE:Here is some security camera footage of the Greenway Trail the night before last:


via GIPHY

The Boys Are Learning What It Was Like To Go To School At Carleton (Not Really)

In Springfield, a second shooting in the last three months occurred within blocks of my children’s school: Springfield police shoots, kills armed suspect at apartment building.

The previous one was in December and involved drugs, of course: Springfield man charged in connection with shooting at Essex Place apartments

We were headed to school for a Christmas program when we encountered the police cordoning off the neighborhood as they sought the fleeing suspects. It wasn’t clear at the time whether the gunman was the one on the loose (he wasn’t), but we ended up having dinner at a restaurant whose slow service pushed us past the program’s start time. So we missed the program, and it turns out the gunman wasn’t on the loose.

Well, children didn’t get walked home by Bea, the seemingly elderly (which probably meant 40) crossing guard after the estranged father of our friends two doors down shot his wife in the alley behind our apartment building and then shot himself in the bedroom two doors down. And their friends in fourth grade had not already been arrested for possession. So it’s not exactly the same.

But one of the reasons we moved to the Springfield area was for the safety of a smaller city. Headlines like these make it seem like the area is getting more dangerous, but most likely no worse than anywhere else.

And my kids just ride through the neighborhood for the most part.

So it’s not like it at all.

News from Up North

After 180 years, beavers return ‘home’ to Milwaukee River in heart of downtown:

The beavers are back. For the first time in nearly two centuries, the buck-toothed rodents have been gnawing away at trees in the very heart of downtown Milwaukee. What better way to start the new year than by cheering the return of these ancient natives to their ancestral home?

I first noticed their presence on a boat trip down the Milwaukee River last summer. On the west bank, just south of St. Paul Ave., several small trees had fallen into the water, and a larger one was leaning precariously in the same direction. I went back on foot a few days later, and it was beavers, all right. They had been munching away on the white poplar and green ash that line the riverbank, and there were piles of wood chips among the plastic bags and empty bottles that littered the scruffy little grove. I had to look around to remind myself that I was just east of the Pritzlaff Building and directly across the river from some of the trendiest nightspots in the Third Ward.

This is, of course, very bad news for people who like mature trees along the Riverwalk in Milwaukee. Sadly enough, it’s often the same people who like mature trees downtown who like the cute furry beavers downtown, and you can probably only have one or the other.

Hah! Just kidding. After the trees are gone, you might well have neither as the beavers move on.

Escape room fire kills 5 teen girls celebrating birthday in Poland

Well, this is in the Journal-Sentinel, but the story takes place in Poland, which I have just confirmed on my globe is still north of here (all of Europe, it seems, is north of the United States). Still, I have not really been tempted to try this sort of entertainment venue, and I’m sure not likely to try one now. They’re on their way to the dustbin of faddish storefronts, along with self-serve yogurt joints, cupcake bakeries, and, before too long, vape shops.

Figi’s announces 276 workers will lose jobs by mid-March; 129 let go Friday

This is my aunt’s doing. Every year for a long time, she has sent us a cheese and sausage gift basket from Figis, but this year she sent us a granola bar package instead. Little did she know she was driving hundreds of people out of work in the middle of the cold, cruel Wisconsin winter. They’ll have to resort to trapping. Maybe next year, she can send us a small fur-bearing animal gift basket chock full of muskrats and urban beavers, but it won’t be the same.

Fixing the Headline for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Their headline: As trash fills the seas, Missouri lawmaker wants to block government crackdowns on plastic:

State Rep. Dan Shaul, R-Imperial, the Missouri bill sponsor and director of the Missouri Grocers Association, said he has no problem with business owners cutting back on wasteful materials, but he said he does not believe the government should mandate restrictions.

“What we’ve seen throughout the country is a continued attack on business being able to take care of consumers the way consumers want,” said Shaul, who added that any movement toward a more biodegradable future should be consumer-driven.

“It (the bill) will not impede a business from making a decision that’s in their best interest or meets their business model,” Shaul said. “We think it should be their decision.”

Shaul’s legislation, if signed into law, would mark an expansion of current Missouri law, which forbids localities from restricting single-use plastic bags through bans or taxes.

Not found in the article amid the pro-environmentalist anecdotes? Any mention of the developing nations that contribute most of this waste.

Here, let me fix the headline: Paper Takes Opportunity To Expound The Virtues of Meaningless Virtue Signalling, Expresses Enthusiasm For Onerous Government Regulations That Do Not Solve Anything.

On the one hand, I am for pushing regulation down to the lowest possible level, but on the other hand, the “laboratory” of democracy currently experiments with bad ideas by implementing them far and wide through the power of media and social media pressure before anyone can figure out if they work or not. And when they all fail together to solve the problem, the people who make the rules think the solution is more rules applied from the top down.

Coming Sooner to Missouri

Well, Missouri passed Proposition B which will raise Missouri’s minimum wage to $15 an hour (see also Won’t Someone Think Of The Soulless Automatons?), we can look forward to our retail establishments being early adopters of technology like this: Robot Janitors Are Coming to Mop Floors at a Walmart Near You:

Robots are coming to a Walmart Inc. near you, and not just as a gimmick.

The world’s largest retailer is rolling out 360 autonomous floor-scrubbing robots in some of its stores in the U.S. by the end of the January, it said in a joint statement with Brain Corp., which makes the machines. The autonomous janitors can clean floors on their own even when customers are around, according to the San Diego-based startup.

Who could have guessed it? I mean, aside from someone with any proper sense of economics? Which is in very, very short supply amongst people under, what, forty in this country?

Compare and Contrast, St. Louis Post-Dispatch-Style

Why housing choice is important for voucher holders:

Mobility Connection is a program that helps voucher holders move from low-opportunity areas to high-opportunity areas. Tara Kennard, a Mobility Connection Client, and Janie Oliphant, program director at Mobility Connection, talk about why some housing voucher recipients seek greater flexibility in choosing where they live.

Housing people in government-run centers is bad! Letting them choose through vouchers is good!

Editorial: Bad report card for federal school voucher program:

There’s long been a cherished belief among some education reformers that student performance can be lifted by giving private-school tuition vouchers to children stuck in low-performing public schools. That belief took a big hit last month, the latest in a series of big hits.

The U.S. Department of Education’s research division released a report saying that first-year participants in the District of Columbia’s Opportunity Scholarship Program did much worse in math than the kids who were denied a voucher and stayed in public school. Students from kindergarten through fifth grade also fared much worse in reading, and among older students, reading scores were close to those of their public school peers. The findings help debunk the notion that voucher-enabled students in private schools produce better outcomes than those attending public schools.

Educating people in government-run centers is good! Letting them choose through vouchers is bad!

Just kidding about the compare and contrast. Clearly, these are conceptually two different things, not alike at all. At all, you hear me?

New To The Style Guide

When gun violence erupts at a location that is generally considered safe and where normal people go and don’t expect gun violence, make sure to call it the Place Shooting to make it seem more like a terrorist act.

Examples:

I don’t want to diminish the murders that happened, but I get the sneaking suspicion that calling them The Place Shooting is part of an effort to maximize their impact and to turn local crime stories into a greater narrative to influence people to support “reasonable” gun control measures.

Against the Current Fashion

Downtown Lebanon Cleared After Tree Removal:

Commercial Street in Lebanon is looking more clear after city crews removed several trees lining the streets. It happened Sunday. The tree removal project is first in a series of steps to improve downtown. The Downtown Business District Advisory Board decided to remove the trees due to disease, sidewalk damage, blocking of light from street lights and damage to business awnings.

Now, I’m new to this area, and Lebanon really isn’t that much this area that I’m new to, but I wonder if the trees were added in the 1990s or early 2000s to improve downtown.

Whenever I see small trees in planted decoratively along downtown streets when the Powers The Be decide to improve a downtown or district, I wonder if those people know what trees look like in a couple of decades. I have to assume that they do, and that they don’t care. Because a couple of decades from now is someone else’s problem.

Pastor Exposes Modern Ignorance, Gets Rebuked By The Ignorant

A pastor at one of the local megachurches, which I assume is generally heavy on the Gospel, lays down a little law and gets lambasted for it:

A pastor of an Assemblies of God megachurch recently took aim at yoga, saying it has “demonic roots” and warning Christians to avoid the popular activity.

Pastor John Lindell told the attendees of James River Church in Ozark — which has a congregation of about 10,500, according to a 2016 report — that the positions in yoga were “created with demonic intent to open you up to demonic power because Hinduism is demonic.”

Members of Springfield’s yoga community are now speaking out.

A Christian yogi says his practice has brought him closer to God and wants others to know that it’s possible to do sun salutations while following Christ. One owner of a yoga studio said she’s worried that small local businesses are being hurt. An instructor, feeling on edge after a Florida yoga studio was shot up last week, can’t shake a fear that someone might take the church’s anti-yoga message too far.

I am pretty sure that there’s a whole commandment about not following other religions somewhere, and I didn’t see any footnotes in it about it being okay to follow other religions’ practices with your fingers crossed or not believing in the actual ontology behind the practices. It doesn’t matter if Asherah poles help with television reception. They’re still the practices of another religion, and a lot of bad things happen in the old testament when Israel does something similar.

To quote Mohatma Gandhi, “B*tch, you do realize this is my actual religion, right?”

Now, you know, gentle reader, I read a lot of books about Eastern religions and philosophy here at MfBJN (such as The Upanishads), so I’m not exactly a firebreathing fundamentalist Christian out to whip believers into a frenzy.

But practicing yoga while undereducated does put yoga practitioners in a bad spot. Either they have to acknowledge the ontology and origins of yoga and its conflict with Christian teachings, or they have to say that they’re just a fitness program with a veneer of Otherness for flavor. Or defend not knowing where this stuff comes from and what it might mean. This is the standard procedure, but defending it or acknowledging one’s cognative dissonance is not.

Because part of being Christian, unlike part of being Buddhist and many other non-monotheistic religions, means you can’t pick and choose spirituality from a variety of sources and traditions to blend together to make your own special salad. That’s my understanding of it, anyway.

This pastor is just trying to remind members of his congregation about it.

Now, about those essential oils….

Some Federal Laws Are More Equal Than Others

The Springfield News-Leader explains, briefly, the Federal stance on legal marijuana use prior to the election:

Yes. It’s still illegal under federal law. Federal officials currently serving in the Trump administration, such as Attorney General Jeff Sessions, have opposed marijuana reform in general.

Now that it’s passed, however, the Springfield News-Leader wants to make sure that those who violate Federal law obey Federal law:

Medical marijuana may have been legalized in Missouri, but those who opt to take advantage will be jeopardizing their Second Amendment right to buy and possess a gun.

Under federal law, Missouri residents won’t legally be able to have a license for medical marijuana and possess a firearm at the same time, even though voters overwhelmingly added Amendment 2 to the Missouri Constitution on Tuesday.

The article is actually a pretty good exploration of the intersection of the two and the current law enforcement climate and not just an exhortation to give up your guns.

But I certainly didn’t see a full article about how the state measure violated Federal law before the vote.

That Can’t Be It (Oh, Yes, It Can)

So last week’s Springfield Business Journal had an editorial column in the wake of the recent (as of last week) shooting at a synagogue:

It’s a bit of a stretch to include a noose, which is more associated with anti-black attacks than anti-Semitic attacks, although white people were lynched as well. And the A as a KKK hood, okay, sort of.

But what’s with the snake in the middle?

Oh.

I see.

Some simpleton with a steady hand equates wanting limited government with anti-Semitism straight up.

Because of course he/she/it does.