Adjust Your Climate Models Accordingly

Yes, there’s snow in Springfield today (and ice floes in my swimming pool, word). It’s a day of some records with interesting implications, we can infer from this Springfield News-Leader story:

The Ozarks broke a record today in measurable snowfall. According to John Gagan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Springfield, the last time the Springfield-area saw measurable snowfall this late in the spring season was May 2, 1929.

But that’s not the only record expected to be broken today.

The last time there was even a trace of snow in May—meaning flurries, but no accumulation—was May 6, 1944.

The temperature will also be significant. Currently, the record low for the coldest day in May was May 4, 1935 at 43 degrees.

So.

One must infer, then, that on May 6, 1944, and on May 2, 1929, it snowed when the temperature was 44 degrees or warmer, must one not? If May 4, 1935, was the coldest low temperature on record, then these other recorded days must have had higher low temperatures, ainna?

And computer models (!) based on data with this precision is exactly why we must return to subsistence levels. QED.

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Springfield To Vote On Whether To Grant Taxing Authority To Strip Mall

Springfield shopping center eyes face-lift:

The owners of Country Club Center hope to give the aging shopping plaza a face-lift. If City Council approves plans for a Community Improvement District, future customers could help pay for the renovation.

CIDs elsewhere in the city have been used to help pay for infrastructure improvements at new developments or for ongoing maintenance and other services downtown and on Commercial Street. If approved, this would be the first time the special tax district has helped fund an entirely private project.

Once anchored on the north by Smillie’s grocery store, the shopping center at Glenstone Avenue and Bennett Street houses a variety of shops including Cosmic Fish and Springfield Leather Co.

Well, there it is, then. We’ve reached the ad absurdum of the special taxing districts. Here’s a property owner looking to levy taxes on customers of its customers to pay for improvements to a downwardly mobile strip mall that no longer houses a grocery store or an election year GOP HQ but does have a head shop, a tattoo parlor, a discount smoke shop, and a combination leather goods / bead shop.

In a capitalist system, the owner would fund the improvements and raise the rents on the current or future tenants. But in the hybrid-and-rapidly-becoming-solely-cronyist system we have, the owner gets to levy taxes on its tenants customers for the project. Or might very well. That is, through the use and abuse of these special districts, every strip mall in Springfield will have the same legitimate claim to raise sales taxes on customers who shop there. Why not? Jared got it.

Full disclosure: I have bought a strip of miscut leather at the Springfield Leather Company this year, so I would be on the hook for an extra penny every so often. So obviously I’m making this argument because it would impact me personally and not on principle.

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Junior College Would Have Been Cheaper

The Springfield News-Leader has a story about the new dynamic message boards hard-coded into the Springfield traffic scene, and it’s almost critical:

Call it a model for how not to do a public project.

Plagued by delays, complaints and conflict, construction of the city’s Advanced Traffic Management System was an experience many would rather forget.

By the time the $3 million project wrapped up — more than a year after the original deadline — the mess had grown to include charges of biased oversight, a federal prevailing wage investigation and a threatened lawsuit.

Still, all the trouble has served some good, said Public Works Director Phil Broyles.

“It caused us to look at several things,” Broyles said. “There are some lessons learned that, going forward, I think are really going to help us.”

At the cost of $3 million dollars and ongoing annual budget for maintenance, Springfield got a number of signs that mostly offer PSAs, like “Don’t drive drunk,” “Buckle up,” and “Don’t watch these signs–watch the road!” interspersed with information on conditions, like “It’s raining! Drive carefully” or “It’s foggy! You can’t see this!”, and the occasional road hazard warning, like “With our remaining road budget after paying for these signs, we’re fixing a single pothole, but we’re blocking all lanes between here and your home overnight.”

Oh, and some lessons learned.

None of which are related to not splurging on cool things of dubious utility that other cities have so Springfield needs.

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The Smoking Ban Body Count

Fires are up in Springfield, and the officials are quick to put the blame on careless smokers:

Fire officials say they also saw a record number of fires caused by careless smoking in 2012. The number of those fires rose nearly 23 percent (88 in 2011 to 108 in 2012). Large fires at Chardonnay Apartments and Lakeshore Apartments were started when tenants improperly disposed of cigarettes on wooden balconies.

Six residents died as a result of fire in 2012, compared with four in 2011. Both are higher than Springfield’s average of 3.2 fire deaths per year.

You don’t say. I wonder what might have driven smokers outdoors in greater numbers this year?

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Someone Did Not Get The Memo

Change in film industry threatens to close local theaters:

The Moxie is Springfield’s only non-profit, independent movie house, bringing in many foreign films, limited releases, and documentaries. But it is not the only theater that has to fund the costly conversion.

Dangit, that should be non-profit, Native Hipster movie house.

And it answers Gimlet’s question How many hipsters do you have down in Springfield???

The answer is Not enough to support a native hipster cinema.

Which is the answer, really, to the question “How many hipsters live place?”

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Kill My Subscription With Fire

I am trying to cancel my subscription to the Springfield News-Leader.

I have taken this paper since I moved the Springfield area three years ago. I was hopeful that I could get a local newspaper that would not irritate the hell out of me as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch did with its slanted news coverage.

I enjoyed it for a while, but recently Gannett has cheesed me off.

For starters, they spruced up the Internet site a little bit and added 20% monthly to my subscription for access to it (it’s mandatory, natch). So now it’s $20 a month. And the Web site has the additional benefit of not having any more content than the regular paper, but I can comment, I think. I don’t visit the Web site, and when I do, it’s to look for events I’ve seen in the calendar section. Which, of course, is separate from the calendar app, you see: If you search for events by day on the Web site, it’s not what was in the paper; to find those, you have to browse articles until you find the complete article from Thursday’s paper and read through that.

That pushes the annual subscription price for the Springfield News-Leader over the annual subscription for the Wall Street Journal, by the way.

The content has been slimming ever since I got here, too; the paper is now down to like 20 pages on Mondays, 10 news, 4 sports, 1 opinion, 1 business, 1 classified, and 3 comics and lifestyles. Most of that content is AP or Gannett content, with the remainder of the local news (that which is not Gannett material, I mean–they rely on Gannett people for local news, but that’s probably an accounting thing) is written by kids fresh out of journalism school who are in the Springfield area for a year until they get a better job elsewhere, and then it’s another 22-year-old pounding the pavement.

Did I say “pounding the pavement”? I meant “putting allegations about Republican candidates above the fold on page one”. This election, we’ve had a great fill of Todd Akin loves rapists more than women stories. We had an allegation about the Republican candidate for Secretary of State whose provenance and only “investigation” was quoting the opponent of that Republican candidate. I mean, by the Secretary of State Elect and incoming Chief Ghostwriter for the Democratic Party. Today’s above the fold story: Blunt Caught in Akin Storm, an “analysis” piece about how a Republican tried to help another Republican get elected. Mostly, though, it’s a continuing effort to try to tie Roy Blunt to Todd Akin’s ill-advised and widely misconstrued turn of phrase “legitimate rape.”

Blunt headline in News-Leader

Because nothing else happened in the city of Springfield or Southwest Missouri all weekend.

So I’m trying to cancel my subscription. They don’t make it easy, you know. You can’t stop it on the Internet; you can only delay it for your vacation. I’ve called and got the phone tree, and the wait to cancel my subscription is 27 to 41 minutes. The machine offered me the chance to call back, and I’m waiting for its call now.

In some portion of my mind, I’m hoping this does not work so I can write them a letter for them to bollix my cancellation and I’ll get to dispute the ongoing charges with my credit card company. I have grown that incensed, not just because the newspaper is behaving like a newspaper, but because the customer service for the newspaper is so lacking.

A couple months ago, one of the stock advisors in Forbes magazine recommended that people buy Gannett stock because it owns a lot of small local newspapers and it “gets” that market. No, Gannett does not. Not at all.

So where will I get my local news? I already carry a subscription to another local weekly, the Republic Monitor. I pick up the bimonthly Community Free Press which has a better news organization than most free pickups. I listen to the radio in the car and will catch some news stories that way. Maybe I’ll start hitting the Web sites of the television stations and the radio stations in the area. Maybe I’ll scan the headlines on the News-Leader‘s Web site.

I don’t know how much down I’ll be in the local news consumption area, but it won’t be as much as one would expect. And I won’t be wasting $250 a year on it.

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City of Springfield, MODoT Team Up For Campaign Advertising

The city of Springfield wants voters to re-authorize a 1/8th cent sales tax for the city of Springfield for transportation projects, and it’s not afraid to spend transportation dollars to influence voters to do so.

Signs like this one have cropped up around town to promise voters what they’ll do if they’re elected:

Bridge at James River widening sign

That is, with the monies this tax would bring in, they’ll widen the bridge on Republic Road (although officially, I guess, it’s Republic Street). Anyone who travels Republic Road knows it bottlenecks from four lanes to two at the bridges over the James River Freeway. So this is a project worth doing.

And:

Republic Street improvements sign

The other place it bottlenecks is between Golden and Scenic. Now that this area is more firmly Springfield proper as it annexes its way to the sweet, sweet sales tax at the new Walmart Neighborhood Market, Springfield officials want to make sure people can get there. Again, probably a good road project.

Like so many other projects Springfield and MODoT are planning.

But.

Springfield and MODoT are spending money in a political campaign when they create signs promising things to voters if they vote one way, such as they are with these signs and others of the like. Assuming the tax passes (on the August ballot, not on the November ballot, which would see a lot of people coming out to vote against Obama and, probably, against any taxes on the ballot at the time).

There’s a mighty thin line between informing voters and citizens and seeking to influence citizens, and I think these signs fall into the unseemly latter. The government entities are using tax money not to build roads, but to seek more tax money. We ought to recognize and deplore the effort.

Also, let’s not let the city of Springfield and MODoT off the hook for the nearly $4,000,000 they could have spent on roadway improvements that they spent instead on Public Service Announcement delivery systems. When voters approve taxes, it allows government entities to skew their priorities to silly projects.

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It’s All La-di-da In Minneapolis

James Lileks on bootscrapes:

I’m tired of walking across the lot to beep my ID and walk in the building and see the sign that asks me to stomp my feet to remove the snow. It comes out every year, along with a brush for scraping your boots. It has the company logo. It’s got to be more than half a century old.

It's James Lileks' image, I'm just rehosting it.  Click over to the post to see its original

I AM TIRED OF THE SHOE THING

Well, maybe in the big city, they only bring the bootscrapes out in the winter, but one of the first things I noticed when I moved to the Springfield area is that you’ll find bootscrapes outside many local businesses and whatnot.

Like outside the Republic branch of the Springfield-Greene County Library:

The Republic branch

You’ll have to squint to see it in that picture.

Note that that esoteric branch of the library opened in 2009.

We have bootscrapes out here because we have ranchers out here. Not city slickers with their exotic footcoverings for the snow.

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Where Do You Go When You Need A Gun Sales Anecdote?

Black Friday Best-Seller: Guns:

The numbers, first reported in USA Today, reflect the experience of gun-sellers on the ground. “It was the biggest rush we ever had. Some of the people at the gate sent their kid running to the gun counter to get in line,” said Tom Ritzer, store manager at MC Sports in Springfield, Mo., which opened its doors at 5 a.m. on Black Friday. Gun buyers had to wait until NICS opened at 7 before they could leave with their purchases, he said.

The store sold 70 guns, a mix of rifles and handguns, with big sellers including an $85 World War I replica rifle that is a collector’s item and a$219 Smith &Wesson .22 handgun. Last year the store, which only started carrying guns in 2009, sold 41 on Black Friday.

Not to mention there’s a gun show at the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds this weekend.

This….is….SPRINGFIELD!

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Springfield Would Characterize Itself Differently

A recent link on the StLToday.com Web site, the Internet home of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, recently placed some Springfield news in the “St. Louis” news section with the tag “METRO”. That is, Springfield is part of the St. Louis metropolitan area:

St. Louis wishes.

As much as the largest metropolitan area and its declining city center might like to think that the rest of the state is just an extension of itself (and a touch for taxpayer-funded public/private partnerships), the rest of us are looking for the opt-out link.

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Den Beste, Doubly Impressed

In a post on Chizumatic, Steven Den Beste is impressed with the MO-13 and Interstate 44 exchange he saw here.

The interchange is a diverging diamond:


View Larger Map

As I would have noted if I could comment on his site conveniently, Springfield actually has two of the crazy things. I’ve been through both of them (the aforementioned one is on the way to Bolivar, which strangely enough rhymes with Tolliver in Missoureese) and this one is on the south side of town nearer where I live:


View Larger Map

This second one has a particularly wicked jog before and after the crossover which easily leads the inattentive to veer into the rightmost lane.

What, we’re progressive trafficly speaking here in Southwest Missouri. We even have a roundabout:


View Larger Map

All roads leading into that roundabout have speed limits of 50 miles per hour.

Frankly, I think some traffic engineer in southwest Missouri is burnishing his portfolio so he can get a job doing some traffic engineering somewhere else.

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Ready A Room At The Pen For My Children

My oldest son, 4, is fascinated with guns. He sees guns on the cover of the books his parents read, he sees guns on the cover of the Star Wars video he will watch when he turns five, he even has a couple of clicker pistols to play with, although they don’t actually fully replace the drills, pipe wrenches, and Trio block creations that are also guns. He threatens to shoot bad guys, he threatens to shoot his parents, and I expect he threatens to shoot the other kids in his class who introduced him to the concept of guns.

Which is why stories like this one scare me:

redacted is a shy fourth-grader at Marion C. Early Elementary School with glasses and long brown hair. Each school day she rides school bus No. 9 from her rural Polk County home to the Morrisville school.

Last week, she told her mother, redacted, that a 6-year-old first-grader on the bus threatened to shoot her and a friend with a .22-caliber gun and to kill their families.

“All we said was hi and that was it,” redacted said. Despite the threat, redacted complains that the boy showed up back on her daughter’s bus within days and school authorities refused to tell her how the boy was disciplined.

Those authorities, as well as officials at other districts, say the alleged threat highlights the difficulty that school officials face in separating real threats from kid talk.

The boy’s grandfather said he’s been told that the child made the remarks in retaliation for what he believed was a taunt. The grandfather stressed:

“He’s 6.”

So you have allegations of particularly specific threats of a six-year-old boy to a ten-year-old girl who also, allegedly, only said high. All of these allegations are from the child of the woman who pushed the red button repeatedly. All of the red buttons, in fact.

School officials did not think it was much of an actual threat. They know the boy, know the parents (maybe), and probably scolded him.

But that’s not enough. The sheriff is now involved, the boy will be thoroughly run through a wringer, and the Springfield News-Leader weighs on the issue of whether schools should also have a zero tolerance policy in speech, too.

Because kids were talking like kids.

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I Live In Tornado Alley, So

I just ordered this:

Of course, being me living in Tornado Alley (and if not The Tornado Alley, then at least a South Tornado Court), I have only ordered this on a night where DOOM is predicted sometime after I go to bed.

If you don’t hear from me by tomorrow afternoon, well, it means I’m slow-blogging again.

But you might want to cruise by Nogglestead early Monday evening, just in case there’s a box with a free weather radio in it. Better for you, gentle reader, than just some rubbernecker.

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An Underinformed Voter Goes To The Polls

Tomorrow, the only thing on my ballot is the Republic School Board election.

Of course, I will vote for Mark Craighead, the guy behind Crossbreed Holsters. The only way I would not if three other candidates were named Ruger, Wesson, and Winchester.

Actually, I do have some sort of madness to my method, or vice versa, in dealing with these down ticket races. Give me a couple minutes to whip something up for 24thState.com.

UPDATE: Here is that 24th State piece.

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Book Report: The Brookline Shoot-Out: America’s Bloodiest Peace Officer Massacre by Shirley Walker Garton as told to Bradley Allen Garton (1996)

Now, this is an interesting book. It details the Young Brothers’ Massacre/Brookline Shootout that took place right down the road from where I live in the year 1932. A couple local ne’er-do-wells were wanted for shooting the marshal over in Republic (which is where our Walmart and Walgreens are). Word got around to law enforcement that they returned to their mother’s house for the holidays, and when a couple of their sisters show up in Springfield trying to sell a car with Texas plates, the sheriff of Greene County, nine other law enforcement officers, and a civilian observer rode out to the Young farmhouse. As they tried to get into the building, occupants opened fire. By the time the firing stopped, six of the officers were dead. The Young brothers escaped, only to be captured in Texas shortly thereafter.

This book is interesting because it is written by the daughter of an undercover deputy of Greene County who was not at the massacre itself but who served as part of the large group that secured the scene immediately afterward, and it’s “told to” her son. The author and the son remember her father, Roy Walker, talking about it some, and the author gives some of her family history that prompted her to write the book and then talks about the people in the shootout. She relies heavily on a contemporary source, The Young Brothers Massacre by John R. Woodside, for the actual account of the event itself, but she supplements this account with various interviews with people who remembered the event almost sixty years before (most of the interviews are from the mid to late 1980s).

She also throws in a number of photostats of newspapers, original photos, and some poetry. It’s an eclectic blend, part historical account and part story of the investigation. It’s pretty engaging, although it might help that the book is pretty short and she’s not carrying on so for 300 pages.

I’d recommend it.

As I mentioned, this did take place just down the road from me. Some accounts say the house still stands, but it’s at the outside edge of Springfield now, so it might not last for long. Strange, though, that I’ve moved from historical Old Trees to this little house and I’m suddenly abutted on all sides by history.

Books mentioned in this review:

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That’s My House

Back when I lived in the projects, the other children and I would often declare That’s my (blank) whenever we saw something really nice. By stating that, we were declaring how awesome something was. And probably how unlike it was to anything we really have.

So in that vein (or vain, as the case may be), I’d like to declare about the 2010 417 Homes Homes of the Year winner in the $1,000,000 Plus category: That’s my house:

Some of the home’s unique features include a 60-foot corkscrew water slide that leads into a heated indoor pool. There is a diving rock above the pool, and a hot tub is located nearby. These luxurious features extend far beyond the pool room into the basement with a bistro area, a wine cellar and a walk-in cooler. The finished basement also features a bar made of an antique reclaimed wood beam with a three-tap bar system. And the fun doesn’t stop there, either. There is also an underground shooting range, where the homeowners can polish their pistol and archery skills.

The person for whom the house was built said:

The homeowners stressed to the builder, Doug Pitts of Doug Pitts Construction, that they wanted this home to have a lot of space for their three children to run around in.

Sounds like Daddy took care of Daddy, too. Since <LeonidasVoice>This…. Is… Springfield!</LeonidasVoice>, perhaps the underground shooting gallery was Mommy’s idea. You never can tell down here.

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