Thursday, October 19, 2017

Stop Giving Us What We Want!!

Milwaukee County is considering a lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies and distributors blaming them for the rise in opioid addiction.  The argument will be that the drug companies profited from the painkillers prescribed to people that later turned into heroin addicts that either died from an overdose, required medical treatment for overdoses, or ended up in jail or prison for crimes committed in the pursuit of money to buy drugs.

The argument in these lawsuits is that the makers of painkillers downplayed their potential for addiction--while marketing them to doctors and patients.  It mirrors the lawsuits that were filed against tobacco companies accusing them of downplaying the risk of cancer and promoting cigarettes and smokeless products to an "unwitting public".  The issue that I have with such suits--and the huge judgments usually awarded by sympathetic juries--is that they are based on the assumption that if people know something is risky or bad for them, they will automatically not want to use it.

In the case of cigarettes, warning labels first went on their packaging in 1966.  What effect did that have on smoking rates in the US?  Did anyone in your family ever talk about the first time they saw that warning and immediately gave up tobacco use?  As I recall, smokers were everywhere in the 70's.  Why?  Because people didn't care.  They thought smoking helped keep them thin, or it helped to keep them awake, or it made them look cool.  Warnings did little to curb demand.

And the same holds true for prescription painkillers.  Doctors could tell patients "If I prescribe this for you, you will end up becoming addicted, switching to heroin after the prescription runs out, you will steal from your family and employer to buy more drugs and you will likely end up dead in your car parked behind some abandoned building" and the first thing the patient will say is "But I won't feel my back pain, right?"  And if that doctor were to say "I'm not giving you painkillers because I think you can live with that pain" the patient would be in a different physician's office later that day demanding pain pills.

America's opioid epidemic is not the result of a slick marketing campaign or alleged cover up of scientific studies.  It is the end result of our societal belief that we should not have to deal with any discomfort in our lives.  Painkillers--like erectile dysfunction medications and drops for chronic dry eye--are products of public demand.  If everybody wasn't demanding to not wake up with soreness in their back or knees painkiller addiction would be a minor issue.  And we wouldn't have TV ads for products that "cure opioid induced constipation".  But, because those responsible for their own situation don't want to be held responsible, elected officials are more than willing to try and prove it's someone else's fault.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A Lot On Our Plates

An effort is afoot to take "America's Dairyland" off of Wisconsin license plates.  The catch-phrase has adorned our plates since the 1950's--when milk marketing really started taking off--but the folks at Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce believe it somehow limits how the state is perceived--like dairy farming is some backwoods operation conducted by country yokels.

But let's say that the DMV decides to change our plates, what should go on there instead?  I can tell you what I definitely DON'T want to see: FoxConn Valley.  This is the ridiculous name Governor Scott Walker is trying to coin that describes the part of Southeast Wisconsin where FoxConn is going to build their plant--and other tech companies are supposed to follow--like "Silicon Valley" in California.  I strongly urge my fellow media members to reject this term and continue to call it Racine County.

I wouldn't mind if we trolled our neighbors a little bit with our license plates. Land of More Than 10,000 Lakes would remind Minnesotans that Wisconsin has more lakes than their claim to fame.  We could also go with Semi-Permanent Home of Paul Bunyan's Axe--as the Football Badgers have not lost to the Golden Gophers in 13 YEARS!!  No Tollroads Yet, Far Fewer Murders, Much Lower Taxes, or Not Financially Insolvent would be perfect pot shots to take at our neighbors to the south in Illinois.  Still the Owners of Door County would be another good one.

Some self-deprecating humor could be fun.  Out-Drinking Your State Since 1848 certainly fits.  Say Cheese!! would probably cause a lot of national buzz and make our plates collectors items.  Get Lost In Our Roundabouts would suit our aging driving population well.  Beer, Packers and Deer Hunting certainly encapsulates our priorities--and sums up life in the state perfectly.

WMC is pushing for our state motto: Forward--which is boring.  When Governor Tony Earl asked for license plate suggestions in the 1980's two top vote-getters were America's Northern Escape--which hasn't aged well--and We Like It Here!--which is the kind of marketing consultant crap that would likely be recycled if the state was willing to waste a couple million dollars on focus groups and test marketing.

My final suggestion sums up perfectly the state and country that we live in now and really helps to explain how we got here: The Land Hillary Forgot.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Millennial Town

As the City of Oshkosh moves closer to selling off Lakeshore Golf Course so the Oshkosh Corporation has a sleek, modern headquarters to lure "young talent", let's start planning some other changes to cater to our new millennial neighbors.  Here are some of the things that other cities are doing to "attract and retain" the next generation:

Streetcars--Millennials don't own cars.  They can't afford them due to the colossal amount of student loan debt they took out to get their marketing degrees.  So they expect the Government to provide for their transportation needs.  Milwaukee is building theirs now because Portland built one and Portland is a "progressive city".  Just like Portland's streetcar line, Milwaukee's won't ever break even because it doesn't go through neighborhoods where people beside urban professionals would be able to ride it.  The Oshkosh streetcar go run along Marion Road and down Main Street so the young folks don't have to worry about stumbling home from the bars.

Densely concentrated housing--Millennials don't own houses.  They can't afford them due to the colossal amount of student loan debt they took out for their sociology degrees.  So they are only interested in dorm-like apartment complexes where they live stacked upon each other--somewhere near the streetcar line or close enough for them to walk to work or the bars (unless the weather is bad).  They need to be pet-friendly for "fur babies" and they need to have rooftop party spaces.  I guess Oshkosh homeowners are out of luck--since no one will be in the market to buy our property in the future.

Free Wi-Fi...everywhere--Young professionals today expect wi-fi for their multiple electronic devices anywhere--and they don't expect to pay for it.  Businesses unwilling to provide that can expect fewer customers--and the City itself will be asked to foot the bill for public wi-fi--since everyone has a "right" to broadband internet.

Delivery services--Millennials aren't about going out to eat or going out to shop.  There are video games to be played or a new season of Game of Thrones to binge watch on their tablets.  So Oshkosh needs to have delivery service for everything.  You want fresh sushi at 3:30 am?  Somebody had better be open and have a delivery driver available.  Grocery stores will need to have order pickers ready at a moments notice, and delivery vehicles idling in the parking lot because today's shopper doesn't expect to wait for their boxes of Lucky Charms and kale.  Oshkosh may want to start working on its "drone corridor planning" now so local shops can compete with Amazon Prime.

Fewer schools and churches--Young Americans aren't having kids because they can't afford them.  And they don't have space for them in their densely-concentrated housing units.  The Oshkosh School District can start planning now which facilities to close and tear down as enrollment numbers will surely drop.  And our millennial friends aren't too religious--so the rigid stained glass and steeple buildings can be torn down to make way for churches that more closely resemble social clubs--with workout facilities, coffee shops and religious philosophies that more closely adhere to the Democratic Party platform than the Bible.

A shiny new building on the lake alone won't guarantee Oshkosh gets the "best and the brightest".  We need to be ready as a city to cater to Millennials' every want and whim--as ever-changing as they may be--because they are used to getting pretty much everything they want.

Monday, October 16, 2017

It's All on Mike Now

It was certainly coincidental that the Green Bay Packers' Super Bowl hopes were likely dashed on the very field where the game is going to be played in February.  The loss of Aaron Rodgers for at least the rest of the regular season puts the pressure on someone whom I think has been allowed to skate for a number of years--Head Coach Mike McCarthy.

Gone is the "hustle to the line to catch the defense with 12-guys on the field on third down to pick up an easy first down".  So too is the hard count to get the defense to jump on third and short or to get a free play for a bomb down the sidelines.  No more recognition that the roll out right, throw back left to Jordy Nelson on the deep slant will inexplicably be completely uncovered by the defense.  The perfectly underthrown pass that creates contact by the defensive back for a huge interference penalty to flip field position won't be so easy anymore.  And the hail mary to save games on the last play won't be as common either.

Mike McCarthy is going to have to re-design an offense on the fly that no longer has one exceptional player to make up for inadequacies in both personnel and balance.  The last time Aaron Rodgers was out with a broken collarbone in 2013, the Packers went 2-4-1 with Seneca Wallace, Scott Tolzien and Matt Flynn at quarterback.  And that was with a healthy offensive line and a young, still slightly-motivated Eddie Lacy in the backfield.

The 2017 Packers have an O-line that can't stay healthy and a converted wide receiver at tailback.  So how does McCarthy craft a scheme that keeps Brett Hundley from having to win games by himself?  Will he finally commit to a running game?  To seek actual balance on offense?  To controlling the clock so his equally-ineffective defense doesn't spend the entire game on the field?

Mike McCarthy is the seventh-highest paid coach in the NFL--and has never come under any scrutiny since his Super Bowl victory in 2011.  For the rest of this year, we are going to see if it's the coach that makes the quarterback--or the quarterback that has been making the coach.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Spare Us the Indignation

Hollywood can spare us the indignation and "shock" over the Harvey Weinstein case.  The same people that gave a tearful standing ovation to convicted child rapist Roman Polanski when he was awarded an Oscar (in absentia to avoid arrest and going to prison for drugging and sodomizing a 13-year old girl) in 2003 are now "horrified" to find out that Weinstein (who once signed a petition to have Polanski pardoned) systematically harassed and abused female stars.

I guess those in Hollywood have never seen the movie The Godfather where Vito Corleone's godson--Johnny Fontane--isn't given a movie role because the studio director is angry that a young actress that he was having a controlling relationship with left him for Fontane in the past.  Perhaps, someone should have arranged to have a horse's head put in Harvey Weinstein's bed while he slept--to "send him a message".

Of course, not everyone in Hollywood is "denouncing" the long-standing practice of sexual control.  A few leading men that have dared speak out have come under a barrage of accusations themselves--most notably Ben and Casey Affleck--who sound like some real classy guys.  Of course, that didn't stop President Trump from throwing Weinstein under the bus--which inevitably led to the re-release of the Access Hollywood audio recordings and the return of everyone's favorite pre-election catchphrase "Grab 'em by the p%$$#"

Instead of being angry with Hollywood studios, producers and stars, our attention should instead be on the folks at NBC News--for whom the person responsible for breaking this story, Ronan Farrow, works.  Except Farrow didn't get his story produced by NBC News, but instead had to go The New Yorker Magazine.  Farrow alleges that the suits at NBC quashed his story because exposing Weinstein could be detrimental to the entertainment division--which obviously relies upon studios run by guys just like Weinstein--who don't like their dirty laundry aired in public.  Of course, Farrow has an axe to grid with Hollywood, as his dad--Woody Allen--left his mother--Mia Farrow--for his adopted step-sister--which everyone in the entertainment business treats like it's no big deal.

I find it hard to believe that Farrow didn't poke his head into the office of Rachel Maddow and tell her about the juicy scoop that he had.  Being the champion of women's rights, Maddow certainly would have given Farrow a platform for his story--well at least after Weinstein was done raising incredible amounts of money as a "bundler" for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. Which brings us to the tepid condemnation of Weinstein by Clinton after being badgered on the topic for several days.  That has inevitably resurrected the names of Juanita Bryant and Paula Jones--not to mention fun with interns in the Oval Office.

So just go back to gratuitous female nudity in your films, and casting fifty-something year old men as the romantic leads with twenty-something women and patting yourself on the back at award shows for how "tolerant" and "empowering" you are, Hollywood stars.  We know your true colors.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Best Team Parents Can Buy

Now that we've had a day to poke fun at US soccer fans after their team's miserable failure to qualify for the World Cup, let's talk about the serious threat that led to the debacle: elitism in sports.

More than one expert pointed out yesterday that Team USA was not a collection of the "best of the best" but rather the "best of those whose parents could afford to put them through the increasingly expensive 'elite' soccer training programs".  In other words, the men on Team USA are the kids that didn't play with their friends from school on a local team--but rather were on the "elite travel team".  And they went to the "elite soccer camp" during the summer.  And they were enrolled in the "elite fitness program" during the winter--featuring specialized training and "elite coaching".  All of which is very expensive.

But soccer is not alone in this.  Baseball too has moved to a division between the "elite" and the "recreational".  You can see that bifurcation right here in Oshkosh, with Oshkosh Youth Baseball focusing exclusively on the "traveling team" of "all stars"--each of whom has to come up with the cash to pay for uniforms, diamond rentals, equipment and tournament entry fees--with the YMCA running the actual day-to-day leagues for the kids who can't afford to be "elite".  And as they age, those that can afford it go to hitting camps, or pitching camps, or fielding camps--not to mention winter throwing programs and private "hitting leagues" at indoor batting facilities.

The next time you are watching a major league baseball game, check out the composition of the teams.  You'll notice a dwindling number of African-American players from urban backgrounds--because baseball is all but dead in cities--and those with a talent for the game are shut out from the "elite" programs cater to the kids in the suburbs.  If Hank Aaron or Willie Mays were kids today, there would be no chance they would ever make it to "The Show".

Individual sports are the worst for "elitism".  All American tennis pros now come from the "academy system"--where they go to school at warm-weather-based "tennis schools" with private tutors for academic work--and personal coaches for tennis training.  Serena and Venus Williams grew up playing on public courts in Compton, California and were coached by their dad.  They will likely be the last American players to take that route.  Youth golfers sign up with swing coaches and short game coaches and mental coaches before they even get to high school--and they play only against other "elite" talent in the American Junior Golf Association circuit--with hefty membership and tournament fees that weed out a lot of potential competition.  The closure of municipal golf facilities like Lakeshore here in Oshkosh provide even fewer entryways to the game for those who parents don't belong to the country club.

Basketball is also guilty of "elitism"--but the lower-economic-class kid still has a chance at success because the "sneaker culture" is helping to fund the "elite camps" and the "elite travel teams" with the hope that the next generation of stars will wear their brand.  (Which has led to the latest recruiting scandal in college hoops).  But you still see the best playing only with and against each other during the off-season--instead of with the teammates they will have in high school during the winter.

Being the weakest of our sports, the collapse of US men's soccer should serve as the "canary in the mineshaft" for the effect "pay to play" is having on our sports infrastructure.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

I Believe That We Don't Care!

It looks like Americans won't have to pretend to be interested in soccer for the next five years.  With a shocking loss to Trinidad and Tobago last night, the US Men's National Team fails to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. 

That means no lengthy on-line stories about how a deep run in the World Cup will "finally be the spark we need to make America a soccer mad country".  There will be no TV features about local chapters of the American Outlaws (Team USA's official fan club) meeting at sports bars at 4:30 in the morning to watch the game, chant their chants and sing their songs.  There won't be any commercials with soccer stars endorsing products and viewers having to ask "Who is that?"  ESPN won't have to take time away from discussing controversies killing the NFL to break down action on the pitch.

There was great wailing and gnashing of teeth on social media last night about how missing the World Cup "will set back US soccer for decades".  I have to ask "Set us back from what?"  To put soccer's place in society in perspective, last night's crucial qualifying game was on Be In TV.  It wasn't on ABC or ESPN or Fox Sports 1 or even Fox Sports 2.  It was on Be In TV.  Even if I had wanted to watch the game, it would have taken me almost an hour to first find out who was carrying it--and then somehow locate that network in my channel guide--if it's even included in one of the cable packages I get.

I'm old enough to remember when the formation of the North American Soccer League was going to make the US a "soccer country".  And then the signing of aging international stars for NASL was going to do the trick.  Then it was hosting the World Cup in 1994 that was going to ignite soccer-mania.  Then it was the formation of Major League Soccer that was going to up our game.  Then it was the US Women winning their World Cup several times that would do the trick.  Then it was a long run in the World Cup a few years back that "announced our arrival on the international stage".  Now a few years later, we are back to square one--unable to beat tiny Caribbean island nations who had nothing to play for.

As I've mentioned here before, it is okay if we suck at soccer.  There are a lot of other sports we aren't good at--and nobody goes on five minute long rants on national TV to complain about it.  Has the US ever qualified for Olympic Team Handball?  What's our world ranking in field hockey?  A couple of years ago, Soldier Field in Chicago was sold out to watch the New Zealand All Blacks destroy the US Eagles in a rugby "friendly"--were there calls to completely overhaul US Rugby after that?

Let's all agree that the United States has moved on from rudimentary sports like soccer.  There is a reason that everyone's kids play it--it's easy.  You run around for awhile, you kick the ball a few times, everyone goes home with a trophy--that's why little kids like it.  But once you grow out of that phase, you learn to appreciate the difficulty of hitting a round ball with a round bat in baseball, or you enjoy watching men collide at full force and get back up to do it again in football (as opposed to acting like you have been shot when someone steps on your foot).  Or your find the speed of hockey intoxicating. 

So let the rest of humankind get all worked up about the World Cup next year.  That will give us more time to focus on our fantasy football drafts.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

No Highlights, Just Challenges to Your Beliefs

The powers that be at ESPN find themselves at a crossroads.  Are they going to be a sports network, or are they going to be "agents of social change"?  The network suspended SportCenter host Jamele Hill for two weeks after she tweeted about boycotting Dallas Cowboys' sponsors and not buying their gear anymore because owner Jerry Jones has threatened to bench any player that protests during the National Anthem.  Hill had previously been warned about "impulsive tweeting" after calling President Trump's supporters "Nazis".

The executives at ESPN have managed to put themselves in an unwinnable position.  For the first three decades, they were the place fans could go for scores, highlights and plenty of live games.  SportsCenter hosts were middle of the road "here are your stats" talking hairdos--with some, like Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann injecting some humor and a heavy dose of sarcasm.  But then, the decision was to make the network more like sports talk radio.  So shows moved away from highlights, scores and live action and into "discussion and debate".  Anchors were replaced with "insiders" who eventually gave way to "hot take machines" who threw out unsubstantiated opinions in a loud manner that seemed to give them some credibility.

That was followed by a conscious decision to present more "voices of the under-represented".  ESPN went from a collection of frat boys to something a bit more representative of America's population--but not ESPN's core audience.  And now that "voices of the under-represented" are saying things that those core viewers--and executives in the leagues upon which ESPN depends for its highest ratings--don't like, what do you do?

Jerry Jones of the Cowboys heads up the NFL's Broadcast Committee.  Right now, the league spreads around it's broadcast rights to numerous outlets (and some social media as well).  ESPN suits know full well that Monday Night Football and one of the Wild Card playoff games could easily go to Turner Broadcasting or Fox Sports 1 or kept in house on NFL Network.  So when Jamele Hill takes shots at Jerry Jones, ESPN is given no choice but to shut down Jamele Hill.

Of course, other voices at ESPN will now rally to Hill's defense--creating even more division within the network.  Ratings and subscription numbers show that viewers are not fans of the current direction of the network.  The time may have come for ESPN (and its parent company, Disney) to decide if they are going to get back in to the business of sports--or go down in flames "fighting the good fight".

Monday, October 9, 2017

Maybe You Should Watch the Livestream at Home

So it had to come to this.  In Neenah this weekend, parents at youth soccer games were banned from yelling anything from the sidelines.  No "RUN! RUN! RUN!" to kids that may have forgotten how to move about on the field.  No "SHOOT! SHOOT! SHOOT!" directed at players who may not know how to score.  And no "HOW CAN YOU NOT CALL THAT [EXPLETIVE] [EXPLETIVE] [EXPLETIVE] FOUL?  ARE YOU [EXPLETIVE] BLIND?!?!?!

As I tell anyone that asks me about my experiences in youth sports, I tell them the only thing wrong with it is the adults.  I think that kids are willing to accept some errors from officials during games--since they themselves make mistakes on the field or the floor too.  But when adults from the stands make every call against their child sound like the greatest affront to justice in the history of mankind, the players learn less respect for authority as well.

I've heard just about every possible insult and profanity you can imagine come from parents and fans at youth sporting events.  But I'm 45-years old, and I can tune that garbage out.  The reason Neenah Youth Soccer put a gag order on parents this weekend is because the refs working their games are teenagers--players in the same program getting experience in a different aspect of the game and likely making some money as well.  This is common in many youth sports programs with older kids working contests for little kids.

But how interested would you be in helping the program when five or six grown men and women spend the entire contest yelling at you?  Of course, those five or six adults are also spending the entire game yelling at their own kids, the other kids and the coaches too--because six-year old girls soccer is without a doubt, the most intense sport on earth and is a matter of life or death.  Interestingly, some of the kids that were interviewed after their much quieter games admitted it was easier to concentrate on the game and what their coaches were yelling from the sidelines, without Mom and Dad constantly calling after them.

Do I think all youth sports leagues should have "silent fan" policies in place?  No way.  In putting a gag order on all comments from the bleachers, you also take away the positive reinforcement of a "good hustle" or "nice pass" that kids like to hear from their parents.  If anything, parents and fans should police themselves--telling Mr Every Call the Ref Makes Against Us Is Wrong to sit his butt down and to shut his mouth because the only thing he is accomplishing is to embarrass himself and his child.  

Friday, October 6, 2017

When Liberalism and Reality Collide....Again

I find a certain degree of irony in the fight to preserve the Appleton Coated paper mill in Combined Locks.  Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson--a perpetual Democratic candidate for several other elected positions--is actively trying to find a buyer to continue to operate a plant that can't make any money because of a movement that Nelson himself fully supports.

I'm talking about the "paperless revolution".  Everyone from utilities to private businesses to government entities are crowing about how they are going away from printing up documents and "wasting paper" by putting all of their forms, reports and even register receipts into digital formats to be accessed by computer, tablet or smart phone.  By "going paperless" we are "helping the environment" by not having to cut down so many trees to make paper.  We aren't spewing carbon emissions into the air from paper converting mills.  And we are using less "toxic" ink to print color pages.

That all sounds great--unless you work for Appleton Coated, or any of the hundreds of other specialty papermakers around the country.  Coated mainly produces glossy sheets for magazines and textbooks.  When publishers touting themselves as "good planetary stewards" encourage their readers to move to digital subscriptions (or just post their content with links anyone can access on social media) what happens to the printing market?  And with more schools using taxpayer dollars to purchase tablets or laptops for students to access their learning materials, where is the built-in market for textbooks?

"Going green" has real economic impacts--to which workers at Appleton Coated can now attest. 
While paper plants close, no one is opening up "megabit" or "pixel" plants to replace them.  If there was some way to "digitally" wipe your butt that would replace the need for toilet paper, I'd bet that Tom Nelson would be installing that system in all Outagamie County buildings to make them more "eco-friendly".  And then a few years later, (provided some TV cameras are there to record it) he would claim to be "working hard to save" all the tissue mill jobs that he and his "green" supporters made obsolete.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

An Alternative History of Gun Control in America

As a student of history, it's sometimes fun to read "alternative histories"--where theories about how different life would be today if say the Confederacy had won the Civil War, or if Germany had never declared war on the US right after Pearl Harbor.  Today, I will present to you the Alternative History of Gun Control in America--if we had "done something" right after mass incidents of gun violence.

We start in 1966 when Marine sharpshooter Charles Whitman took his sniper rifle to the top of the bell tower at the University of Texas campus in Austin and killed 18 people while wounding another 31.  In our alternate history, we immediately banned military sniper rifles and banned all guns from college campuses.

Then in 1984, James Huberty purchased an Uzi machine gun, a shotgun and a pistol hours before going into the McDonalds in San Ysidro, California and killing 22-people while wounding another 19.  In our alternate history we immediately banned the sale of machine guns, required background checks and a waiting period for the purchase of guns.

Then in 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold got their older friends to buy them some guns, before making some purchases of their own after turning 18--learned how to make improvised explosives on the Internet--and a few months later went to Columbine High School, where they killed 15-people and injured another 24.  In our alternate history, we immediately banned the purchase of firearms for another person that cannot buy them, we banned parents of minors from allowing them to have guns, we raised the age to own a gun to 21 and we banned weapons from all school campuses.

Then in 2007, 23-year old Seung-Hui Cho purchased handguns that he used to kill 32 people and wound another 17 on the Virginia Tech campus--despite a ban on weapons at the school.  When it was discovered that Cho had a history of  mental health issues--but had never been committed to an institution, therefore allowing him to pass the mandatory background check and waiting period--in our alternate history we banned anyone with mental health problems from owning a gun.

Then in 2012, unable to buy a gun because of mental health issues, Adam Lanza killed his mother and stole her guns before going to Sandy Hook Elementary School where she taught, and despite a ban on weapons on the campus, killed 28-people and wounded two more.  In our alternate history we immediately banned anyone living with someone with mental illness from owning a gun.

Then in 2016, Omar Mateen--a convert to radical Islam--passed background checks after being removed from the FBI's Terror Watch List and purchased guns used to kill 49 people and injure another 58 at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando.  In our alternate history, we tried to ban all people on the terror watch list at any time from buying guns, but an outcry of racial profiling defeated that effort.

And then in 2017, Stephen Paddock used modification kits to make his more than 40 rifles automatic and used a room in a high-rise hotel to kill 59 people and wound 525 at a Las Vegas country music festival.  In our alternate history, we are going to ban those modification kits, limit how many guns a person can own, and ban guns from high-rise buildings.

But as you can see in our alternate history, "doing something" about gun control definitely made us safer.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Quid Pro Quo

One of the things that has surprised me so far in the debate over selling Lakeshore Golf Course to the Oshkosh Corporation for their new headquarters is that no one at City Hall or on the Common Council has said "Oshkosh doesn't need to be in the golf course business".  I don't know if that is because everyone wants to cover their butts in case the Oshkosh Corp purchase falls through, and the City continues to own the course property.  Comments like that would lead everyone to believe that the City would just walk away from operating the site as a course and leave it on the open market for another development purpose.

So if the City is really interested in continuing to provide a municipal golf course to residents as a recreation option, I'd like to suggest a new deal for the Oshkosh Corp: We will sell you the Lakeshore site for $1, if you are willing to build us a new municipal golf course. 

You talk about a win-win situation for everyone!  Oshkosh Corp gets the "WOW!" site that they are looking for at a price that no other city will be willing to match (except for the old Plexus site in Neenah--at least that's what I've been told) while the current and future golfers of Oshkosh get a brand new facility to enjoy for decades.  And since City Manager Mark Rohloff stated right here on WOSH that the sale of Lakeshore will not be used to pay off city debts--the loss of revenue from the sale should be a wash.

The American Society of Golf Course Architects down in Brookfield estimates a practical municipal golf facility can be built for $3-million.  That is very close to what several real estate brokers here in Oshkosh have estimated the City should get for the 30-acres they are looking to sell for the headquarters project.  The huge benefit for Oshkosh Corp is that instead of spending that on a land purchase, by gifting the new course to the City it becomes a tax write off.  Yet another win!!

The big question is where to locate our new, donated golf course?  I would suggest the area designated as the new Aviation Business Park near Wittman Regional Airport--since actual development of that site is likely on-hold forever--since the Winnebago County Board refuses to fund construction of a taxiway to the airport--which is kind of a requirement for an aviation business park to have if you are going to get any aviation-related businesses to locate there.  Or, there are site near the City that could be annexed in after construction on the course is complete.

But what if City officials actually don't want to be in the golf course business anymore--and no one has said it yet because "We must do everything we can to keep Oshkosh Corporation in Oshkosh" sounds more "bold"?  Well, there is precedence for overriding that desire.  I don't think the City wants to be in the waterpark business either (dragging the School District into the mix by having to staff the facility during the summer)--but when the Leach family "gifted" us one, it would have made City Hall look bad if they had said "no thanks".

So what do you say Oshkosh Corp--a little quid pro quo?  You get Lakeshore and us golfers get to keep playing?

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

I've Concentrated Myself and I Can't Win Elections!!

Today, the US Supreme Court will begin the process of deciding if voters can self-segregate.  Oral arguments are scheduled in the lawsuit challenging the state's redistricting in 2011.  A dozen Democrats living in heavily-Republican areas claim they have been "disenfranchised" because they have to vote in a district almost guaranteed to go Republican.  They want the court to redraw the lines so that their districts have more Democrats in them. 

Who they should be suing are all of the Democrats that have abandoned the suburban and rural areas of the state to densely concentrate themselves in urban areas.  Liberals' desire to live near their government jobs, with public transit, neighborhood public schools and government funded recreation facilities have surrendered vast swaths of the state to Republican voters.

That ultra-concentration of support is borne out in the map from the 2010 gubernatorial election--the last one before the 2011 redistricting:

The map shows the dense concentration of Democratic voters in a handful of counties--often surrounded by just as densely concentrated Republican voters--and a few sections of the state that "lean" Republican. 

So when you look at that map, how do you draw legislative and Congressional districts that produce "competitive" races?  Remember when President Obama paid a campaign visit to Milwaukee and he stopped in a Milwaukee district where he garnered 100% of the vote in 2008.  If a Republican couple was to move into that district could they make a claim that they are "disenfranchised"?

Democrats like to use the "we won the popular vote" argument--pointing out that more votes were cast for Democratic legislative candidates statewide than Republicans--but they ended up with just one-third of the seats in the Assembly.  But just like the party learned in the Electoral College, running up huge margins in a select few parts of the country or state doesn't mean you get to run the whole show.  Nor does it explain how the GOP won the statewide US Senate or Presidential races.

But if you think that you can take the map split between dark blues and dark reds and somehow make districts that don't look like Jackson Pollock paintings, go right ahead.  Just hope that Democrats don't decide that city living isn't for them anymore.

Friday, September 29, 2017

A Room With a View

If you needed one more reason to hate Millenials, you can apparently blame them for the likely sale of Lakeshore Golf Course to the Oshkosh Corporation.  In an interview with us at WOSH Radio yesterday, Greater Oshkosh Economic Development Corporation CEO Jason White said that Lakeshore is the only option in the city because the company needs an "impressive location to compete for today's best and brightest talent".  Apparently, today's young workers can't get anything done unless their office overlooks some water--and there are green spaces to walk around in during lunch.

Thinking about White's comments made me consider the visit I made to the Kennedy Space Center back in March.  That is where the all-time best and brightest talent did the work for NASA that initially got us into space and eventually to the Moon and back.  And they did it while working in a god-forsaken, mosquito-infested swamp.  They worked in square, concrete buildings that had very small windows--or no windows at all--because there was a fear that Soviet spies would be able to see what was going on from the outside.  Now despite these "harsh" conditions, those workers still managed to achieve things that today's "best and brightest" don't even attempt.

Without the Fox River, Oshkosh wouldn't even exist.  Entire industries depended on the river from its founding.  But not to gaze upon while taking a break from accounting work--but rather because the river served a utilitarian purpose.  It was the easiest way to get the lumber from the Northwoods to the sawmills here in town.  When it became faster and cheaper to transport that wood by rail or truck, the mills no longer had to sit along the river--leaving behind their blighted properties for us--the modern taxpayers--to clean up.

But now, folks just can't get their work done without a pretty view outside the window.  Sometimes I wonder how I even get these Two Cents done every day when all I can see is Walmart.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Broken Link

With all due respect to Aaron Rodgers, if I was at tonight's Packers-Bears game I would pass on his request to link arms with the people next to me during the National Anthem--rather than place my hand over my heart.  And unless you believe that police officers that shoot and kill young, black men should automatically be prosecuted and convicted, I suggest you pass too.

I'm sure thousands at tonight's game will comply with Rodger's request.  They will be arm-and-arm with their spouse and friends thinking "Look Aaron! I'm with you! I'm all about unity!"  But they will have absolutely no idea what they are "uniting" for.  Some will believe that they are "sending President Trump a message that it is okay for people to protest".  But what are those people protesting?

Perhaps we should go back to the genesis of the NFL National Anthem Protest movement.  49er's quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the Anthem last football season to protest officer-involved shootings that saw the policemen either cleared by internal investigation or acquitted by juries of their peers.  After a couple of weeks, a few of his teammates joined him--and then players on other teams took a knee as well.  Now that Kaepernick finds himself without a team this year, some of those players are carrying on the protest in his place.

Now, when was the last time you heard the Anthem protests framed in that way?  When the kneeling players were criticized by fans the protests morphed into "I'm taking a knee to show support for my teammate".  Then when President Trump profanely inserted himself into the debate a couple of weeks ago the protests became about "We'll show him that we aren't SOB's!".  And now, Anthem protests are about "unity". 

The perfect example of how the intent of the original protester has been co-opted into something completely different can be found on this week's cover of Sports Illustrated--which features images of A-Rodg, NBA stars, team owners, out-spoken coaches and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell--but not Colin Kaepernick.  Can you see why African-American commentators are so frustrated that the issue they wanted people to think about has been completely swept aside.

To be fair, Aaron Rodgers is a California guy--and he comes from a culture where empty gestures and angry yelling is considered "doing something" about a problem.  If he really wanted to get to the root of "institutional racism in law enforcement" he would encourage his fans to join their local Police and Fire Commissions that oversee the departments Colin Kaepernick believes are rife with bigots.  Or he would fund scholarship programs for "tolerant" young people to go through law enforcement programs and to take jobs in the most dangerous neighborhoods in America--with the mindset that they are never going to draw their weapon on minorities.

But go ahead and show how much you love Aaron Rodgers by linking arms tonight.  It's easy--and it doesn't require any thought.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

What Price Victory?

I know that I've said it here before, but I feel the need to say it again: I am perfectly fine with the Wisconsin Badgers never winning an NCAA Basketball Championship or a College Football Playoff title.  I firmly believe that because I don't want the school to lower itself to the level that so many other colleges are willing to go to for that type of success.

The latest example of the "cost of winning" came out yesterday, as federal prosecutors released indictments against assistant basketball coaches, agents, financial advisors and shoe company executives in a "pay to play" scheme involving many of the top basketball recruits in the country.  In a nutshell, kids, their families and the assistant coaches were paid to steer recruits to certain schools that wore Adidas shoes--in hopes that if they were to achieve stardom in the NBA someday, they would "remain loyal to the company" with their endorsement deals.

Some of the top basketball schools in the country are involved in this: Arizona, Oklahoma State, South Carolina (which went to the Final Four last year) and not surprisingly at all, Louisville.  In fact, the biggest payout provided to a player was the $100,000 that went to the family of a top recruit that chose Louisville almost out of nowhere last year.  The indictment even details how an assistant coach at Louisville told the state's informant that the scheme needed to be kept on the down low because "they are already on probation with the NCAA".

That probation was due to Louisville providing prostitutes for recruits that attended on-campus parties arranged by a now-former assistant coach.  A finding that may lead the NCAA to strip Louisville of its 2013 National Championship--as ineligible players may have taken part in those games.  Cardinals Head Coach Rick Pitino claimed to have absolutely no knowledge of the hooker parties in the basketball players dorms--and of course, he had absolutely no knowledge of the family of his prized recruit get the 100-grand.  We should note here that the sex party allegations were made shortly after Pitino himself was accused of raping a former mistress at a Louisville restaurant--which he maintained was consensual.

The federal prosecutors and the FBI both say that their investigation is on-going and that they will be looking into more basketball programs--especially those associated with Adidas (although I highly doubt they were the only shoe maker offering these "incentives" to top recruits).  So I fully expect more major programs and high-profile coaches to be implicated soon.

But the next time you want to complain about how "boring" Paul Chryst and Badger Football are--or you want to ask why Greg Gard doesn't get any five-star "one and done" guys to take Wisconsin Basketball back to the Final Four--consider the price you will be asking those programs to pay--and if you want to see them doing a "perp walk" in handcuffs someday.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Other Affected Americans

Nothing impresses me like the way we Americans rally around each other in times of crisis.  The JJ Watt $37-million hurricane relief effort for the Houston area, the way all of the Wisconsin utilities sent crews down to Florida to help restore power after the hurricane there, ittle kids setting up lemonade stands to help those in both states and the clothing and cleaning supply drives that filled up trailers that went to help those in the South were all great.

But we seem to really be dropping the ball in helping the third group of Americans affected by the hurricanes: The residents of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.  The word out of Puerto Rico is that the island may be without electricity for a month.  Now imagine the response that would have been mounted across the country if the same had been said about South Florida.  Thousands in the Virgin Islands are living in tents--as their homes were destroyed by not one but two category five storms.  How many people would be offering up their rooms or RV's for temporary shelter had that been the case in Houston?

Our underwhelming response may be a case of "disaster fatigue".  Three major storms in the space of a couple of weeks has us tapped out--financially and emotionally--and with little left to give.  But a bigger factor can likely be found in millions of social media posts and replies to complaints about our slow response.  "Let's take care of the American hurricane victims first" is the most common response.  And therein lies the issue--a lot of people either don't know--or don't view--Puerto Ricans and Virgin Islanders as "Americans".

They would likely be surprised to learn that those living on those islands are afforded citizenship.  While they do not pay federal income taxes, they do pay into Social Security and Medicare.  They can vote in Presidential primaries--but not in the November Presidential Election itself.  It's a strange half-in, half-out set up--but Puerto Ricans and Virgin Islanders are "Americans".

Another problem may be that as islands, PR and VI are very difficult places to reach with people and supplies.  You can collect all of the bottled water, cleaning supplies and canned food you want in the Fox Valley--but then how do you get it there?  WPS can offer trucks, wiring and crews to help restore the power grid--but where are the ships to get them to those islands?  This may be a case where the only thing we can offer is cash to those with the resources to eventually get aid to where it is needed.

But when you hear appeals to help all of the "Americans" affected by the hurricanes, try to remember the millions not living on the mainland as well.

Monday, September 25, 2017

The Man Who Came Out of the Tunnel

When his team was unable to come to an agreement on what it would do to protest the National Anthem before their game in Chicago Sunday, Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin ordered his players to leave the field for the song and stand in the tunnel out of the sight of the crowd.  But one player did come back out for the Anthem: offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva.

Villanueva's path to the NFL is different from pretty much every other player.  His parents are from Spain.  He was born on a US Navy base in Mississippi--while his father was stationed there with NATO.  When the family moved back to Europe, Villanueva went to high school at a facility operated by the US Army--and when he graduated he was accepted to the US Military Academy in West Point--where he played football as a receiver, a defensive lineman and along the offensive line during his career.

After graduating from West Point, Villanueva completed Airborne training--at 6-feet, nine-inches tall--and became an Army Ranger.  He served three tours of duty in Afghanistan.  In August of 2011 while leading his unit on an assignment to protect Afghan civilians from retribution and attacks by the Taliban, Villanueva and his men were ambushed by Taliban fighters.  In the firefight, three men were seriously injured.  Villanueva--still under fire from the enemy--got those men back to safety.  Two of the soldiers survived--but Private First Class Jesse Dietrich died after Villanueva carried him on his shoulders to a rescue helicopter.  For his actions, Villanueva was presented with the Bronze Star for heroic and meritorious achievement along with a "V" device for outstanding valor. 

After completing his military commitment, Villanueva tried out for a couple of NFL teams before spending a training camp with the Eagles--but was cut during the pre-season.  That's when the Steelers picked him up, converted him to offensive line and he became a starter in 2015.

In a statement after the game yesterday, Villanueva pointed out that things are not perfect in the United States--but that having athletes making millions of dollars sitting or kneeling for the National Anthem will not fix the problems--and that people dying overseas to protect that right are making less than $20,000.  He wrapped up his statement by saying that he is "...very thankful to be an American.  I will stand proudly and sing every single line of the National Anthem every single time I hear it.  I will stop whatever I'm doing because I recognize I have to be very thankful to be in this country."

I have to believe that Alejandro Villanueva thinks about Private First Class Jesse Dietrich every time he hears the Anthem and places his hand over his heart as well.  We all know why so many players chose to take a knee yesterday or stayed in the locker room during the Anthem.  I just thought you should know why some did not.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Well You're a Doody Head!

I thought I had a pretty deep vocabulary, but I have to hand it to the person that writes the statements that allegedly come from North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un for pulling up a word to describe President Donald Trump that I had never heard of before: dotard.  For those who also are unfamiliar with the term, dotard means an old person suffering from senility.  Obviously not a term of endearment--and I fully expect the AARP and the Alzheimers Association to immediately issue press releases encouraging Americans not to use the term--as they consider it to be derogatory.

This insult of the President follows Trump taking to calling Jong Un "Rocket Man" for his launching of missiles that are scaring the heck out of South Korea and Japan.  That followed the President promising to rain destruction down upon North Korea if they didn't end their missile program and give up their nuclear weapons--which Jong Un had promised to fire into the US if new sanctions were placed on the country by the United Nations.

I expect that someday historians are going to look back at this time and refer to it as the "Era of Playground Diplomacy".  When adults talking to each other behind closed doors with the common goal of preserving the peace was replaced by two immature man-childs traded insults and passive-aggressive actions in an attempt to prove who was the "bigger man".  The only thing we haven't had so far is President Trump triple dog daring Kim Jong Un to stick his tongue on a cold flagpole.

While this would normally strike me as funny, the fact that both of these idiots have control of nuclear weapons actually makes this terrifying.  Granted, the North Korean nukes still can't make it over here, but we should all feel bad if they were turned on Seoul or Tokyo.  And there should be enough level-headed people in the White House (now that Steve Bannon is out) to keep President Trump from switching from "late night tweeting" to "late night punching in the nuclear codes".

In the meantime, we may have to rely on the fact that both of these guys are all talk and no action.  Nobody is going to make the first move because deep down they are both cowards.  In the meantime, we can just wait until they graduate to such classic insults as "fart-sniffer" and "doody head".

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Just a Reminder: Obey the Law

How would you feel if the Federal Government spent $100-million dollars a year to tell people not to commit murders?  Or if the same amount was spent on groups that went into neighborhoods and reminded people not to rob banks?  You would probably say that was wasted money--as not killing people and not stealing from others is the law--and you shouldn't have to remind people not to break the law.

Well, the "law of the land" as President Obama was so proud to proclaim on many occasions is that you are required to have health insurance--either through your employer or through a state or federal exchange.  In fact, it has been the law for four years now.  But Uncle Sam has been paying $100-million a year to groups across the country whose sole purpose has been to actively recruit people to follow the law.  However, President Trump is looking to cut that to just $10-million next year.

Obviously, these groups aren't doing a very good job.  The uninsured rate--which is the number of people violating federal law--is 30-million people.  That is nearly 12% of Americans--or about one in eight.  Is it possible that that many people have no idea that they are supposed to have health insurance?  Could they have somehow missed in the multitude of pop up internet ads.  Did they all forget the celebrity-endorsed radio and TV ads that have run for years?  Did they not tune into any news broadcasts since 2010?

The "enrollment groups" are outraged over their cuts in funding.  They are of the belief that if they had even more funding, they would be able to convince more people to obey the law.  Their Democratic supporters claim that cutting the promotional budget for ObamaCare will lead to fewer people enrolling in health insurance coverage--I guess because constant reminding that the law requires you to have it is the only way they can remember to do it.

So to save the Federal Government some of that now $10-million dollars that they will continue to spend on "enrollment groups" I'd like to remind you that the law requires you to have health insurance and you can sign up on line this fall.  I should probably also remind you not to beat your children, don't set people's houses on fire and don't steal stuff from stores.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Self-Inflicted Injury Bug

In football--more than any other sport--the possibility of a game, season or career ending injury is greater on every play.  The amount of continuous physical contact wears down the body--and the brain--faster than any other athletic endeavor except for boxing.  It's been described as being in a minor car crash--over and over again.  So why would so many coaches want to maximize the number of times their players are subjected to the risk of serious injury?

While the Packers injury report was expanding last night, there were plenty of on-line questions about why this team always seems to have so many guys get hurt.  The training staff, the medical staff, even the toughness of the players themselves were questioned.  But nobody every seems to wonder if the style of play favored by Head Coach Mike McCarthy may be a factor.

Like a growing number of coaches at all levels of football, McCarthy wants to play an up-tempo offense that often goes no-huddle and with no substitutions for entire series.  The goal is to "maximize the number of plays" the offense can get during the game.  But by running more plays, every game and every season, you also increase the wear and tear on your offensive unit.  Plus, you force the opposing team to keep the same eleven guys on the field--since Aaron Rodgers goes with a quick snap anytime you try to substitute, drawing a 12-men on the field penalty.  But when up-tempo goes three and out--you are putting your defense on the field for a longer time as well--which leads to greater injuries on that side of the ball too.

Today's football players are being pushed to--and often times past--the limits of human endurance for physical contact.  Yes, players were slower and lighter in the past--and were schooled in proper tackling techniques, rather than trying to blow people up every play--but they were also given more time in games and during the off-season to recover from the physical exertion.  Teams ran the ball a lot more--meaning fewer high-speed collisions in the secondary and a game clock that spent most of the game running.  And after each play, they huddled up--giving everybody on the field a chance to catch their breath--or to be substituted for if they were tired or banged up.

I think that it is more than fair to ask coaches like McCarthy, the multitude of college coaches that use no-huddle hurry up and definitely the growing number of high school coaches adopting the same offenses why they think maximizing the opportunities to get hurt is the "only way to win".

Friday, September 15, 2017

My Team is on My Cellphone

Once upon a time, horse racing was one of the most popular spectator sports in America.  Tens of thousands would regularly flock to the tracks--which were located in most of the country's largest cities--but county and state fairs would feature horse races as well.  While there was always the opportunity to bet on the ponies, some people went just to watch the horses run.  Then came off track betting--which allowed people to go to a place not far from their neighborhood to bet on races without having to go to the track itself.  You could even watch the races at the OTB through closed circuit television.  That was followed by on-line betting--which allowed you to not only bet on races from almost any track in the world--but to also watch that race without ever leaving your home.  Today, racetracks hardly draw anyone to watch the races--unless it's a particularly prestigious race--and the sport exists solely for the home bettor.

This Sunday, if you watch something other than just the Packers game at night, pay attention to the wide-angle stadium shots and notice the number of empty seats at most games.  The internet was full of screen captures last weekend of seas of open seats after kickoff in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Cincinnati.  That has led to the TV talking heads discussing why fans are now staying away in droves--for a sport that used to force fans to attend by blacking out games that weren't sold out. 

There's been a lot of talk that national anthem protests are driving away fans.  Or that the media focus on concussions is turning off fans from the sport as a whole.  And you can always point to sky-high ticket prices, outrageous parking fees and food and beverage prices that border on ludicrous--especially when high definition TV brings you much closer to the game at home--where the beer and food are 1000% cheaper.

However, I firmly believe that the decline in attendance at NFL games is due almost exclusively to fantasy football and gambling.  People that play fantasy sports now care more about "their teams" on paper than they do about "their team" on the field.  The league realizes that as well--which is why all stadiums are required to have high-speed wi-fi, there are more highlights shown in stadiums, and the NFL app will send you text alerts when any of the guys in your fantasy games score.

But the decision to build so much of the popularity in the sport on the "fantasy" side will be one that the NFL regrets for a long time.  It has already affected the core of the game--with the entire emphasis now placed on offensive production--because that is where the vast majority of your "fantasy points" come from.  Team alliances are whittled away too, as a huge day by Aaron Rodgers may be good for the Packers--but if you are going up against him in two fantasy leagues, that fourth touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson is killing you--and likely costing you money. 

So until the NFL figures out a way to get all of your fantasy guys to play all of the fantasy guys on your buddy's team in a stadium near you, fewer fans will feel the need to shell out the big bucks to sit at the LA Coliseum or Levi's Stadium.  And the once packed bleachers will look like the giant empty grandstands of horse tracks around the country.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Party Pirates

Those heading up national and state political parties have to be wondering how outsiders have managed to come in and hijack their operations.  Both the Republican and Democratic parties are dealing with subversive attacks that threaten to derail their political directions--and alienate some of their largest support bases.

This clearly started with the 2016 Presidential primaries.  On the Republican side, a man who never declared himself a Republican at any time in his life--and who supported Democrats for years--used a coalition of extremists and those from the lunatic fringe to capture the nomination--and ultimately the Presidency.

On the Democratic side, an avowed Socialist--who had never run as a Democrat in any political race--came from out of nowhere to nearly usurp the nomination from a woman deeply-entrenched in the party and more politically connected than anyone that had run in the last 50-years.  Fortunately for the Democrats, they had firewalls in place to prevent outsiders from actually having a chance to win their nomination--unlike the Republican Party.

And now the trend continues into the 2018 election right here in Wisconsin.  On the Republican side you have a Senate candidate that readily admits he was a die-hard Democrat--even addressing the national convention one year--that now wants to be the GOP nominee.  And this week, a long-time critic of the Democratic Party and its big-money political practices and back-room dealings decided he was going to run for Governor as a Democrat.

It was just a matter of time before those pushed the exterior of the political process figured out a way to breach the walls of the powerful two-party system.  When more control and power are concentrated among smaller groups of elites that demand "political purity" from any candidate that dare seek the nomination, voters look for those that may be more like themselves--than just the guys that write big checks to fund campaigns.  It also doesn't help when you keep trotting out terrible candidates that nobody can support wholeheartedly--turning elections into the "lesser of two evils" from the majority of voters.

We shall see if the era of "Party Pirates" is just a one or two election cycle trend--or if those that think they control the political course of this country and state will be made to walk the plank.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Unbelievable! (If it Hurts Our Cause)

If you say that just the mere presence of a conservative speaker on a college campus makes you feel threatened or uncomfortable, administrators will bend over backwards to accommodate you.  There will be "safe spaces" created in another building, student activists groups will rally around you, comforting you and reassuring you that the bad, evil person talking in another building can't hurt you. Antifa protesters will show up and try to drive off the speaker or prevent anyone from entering the lecture hall where they are speaking--or they will destroy private and school property to intimidate anyone associated with the event.

If you say that having Donald Trump as President causes so much anxiety in your life that you can't function--or that concern about global climate change stresses you out to the point that you can't sleep at night--there will be thousands of internet stories devoting millions of words to your plight.  Employers will be expected to accommodate your inability to come to work on a regular basis.  People with "Dr." in front of their names--but who don't actually practice medicine--will publish research papers claiming to discover a new mental health disorder.  And a few people with "Dr." in front of their names that practice "holistic medicine" will be more than happy to prescribe anxiety medications or medicinal marijuana to help you deal with your situation.

If you say that a manufacturing facility located in your city is making you or your kids sick, plenty of politicians and activist groups will rally to your cause demanding new regulations on all aspects of that company's operations.  They will help you file lawsuits and demand expensive testing of soil, water and air to discover the "cause" of your discomfort.  They will organize protests outside of the company's plant and headquarters.  And they will demand huge out-of-court settlements to "make this go away".  This is especially true if you operate a large dairy farm in rural areas that existed long before new subdivisions were built next door.

But if you say that a wind farm built near your house makes you sick, expect no support from any of those same people.  In fact, plan on all of those activist groups, "doctors", and politicians making every effort to discredit your claims.  They will say that you are a "faker".  They will cite Canadian and European studies that debunk "turbine induced illnesses".  And they will suggest that you "just move" if the wind farm is such an "inconvenience".

Belief--it's a powerful thing--so long as it advances your personal agenda.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Folly of "Controlling" Nature

While the folks in Washington are saying "now is not the time to talk about global climate change", I'm more than willing to take on the topic in the wake of our back-to-back hurricanes hitting the US.  Remember that "taking steps to reverse climate change" is an effort by man to control nature.  We firmly believe that by limiting what we emit into the air that we are going to keep climate conditions within a specific range that we think is most beneficial to the planet.  We are warned that failure to do so will result in more damaging storms hitting places like New Orleans, Houston and South Florida.

But what everyone seems to forget is that the reason Houston, New Orleans and Miami are in line for such devastation from coastal storms is a direct result of man's previous efforts to control nature.  New Orleans sits below sea level on a huge river delta.  The only reason it exists is a system of levees and channels that divert water and keep enough land dry for development.  Houston is very similar--sitting in a bayou--with levees diverting water and swamps being filled in to allow for the sprawling metropolis to remain dry.

South Florida was considered uninhabitable until well into the 20th century.  It was a giant swamp extending from modern day Orlando all the way down to the tip of the peninsula.  But then, the Army Corps of Engineers figured out how to use canals to drain the Everglades and coastal areas like Miami and Naples became developable.  Thanks to massive and expensive human efforts, areas that were naturally designed to handle floods from hurricanes and other tropical storms suddenly placed millions of people and trillions of dollars of private property in harm's way.

And our belief that we can control the natural forces of water, wind and tides will not be daunted by these most recent storms.  New Orleans and Houston keep planning for bigger and better flood control and water diversion systems.  And nobody is questioning more and more oceanfront development in South Florida--especially as more Baby Boomers want to escape the cold winters of the North (although we could certainly work on making those less severe, climate scientists).

So if you want to talk about "climate change" right now, tell me how all of the effort and expense you want to put into controlling nature in the future will be so much more successful than all of our previous actions.

Monday, September 11, 2017

She's One of "Us"

I know we still have three and a half months to go, but I think the winner for this year's "Least Surprising News Story" is the arrest and conviction of Oshkosh Common Councillor Caroline Panske for marijuana possession and driving with an open intoxicant.  In case you missed the news over the weekend, Panske was actually stopped for speeding and erratic driving near Wautoma back in July.  Reeking of beer, Panske refused to take a breathalyzer test and kept telling the sheriff's deputy that he had no right to search her vehicle--which turned up several smoked joints and open beer bottles.

I can't remember if she used this in her two campaigns for the Common Council or the two times she ran for Mayor, but I think Panske should adopt the "She's One of Us" tagline should she seek another term on the Council.  I don't mean the "us" that aren't driving around at 2:30 am after drinking and smoking pot--or the "us" that refuses to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance because Hillary Clinton didn't win the Presidential election.

I do mean the growing number of people who believe that laws they don't agree with should just be ignored--and just because you want to do something, you somehow have a "right" to do it.  Panske's Pledge protest is a petulant response to a democratic result that she didn't like--similar to the three year old that falls to the floor in the store because she didn't get the candy she wanted and screams at the top of her lungs as her parents try to get her back on her feet.

Panske was also the lone Council supporter of a "grass-roots effort" (pun intended) to decriminalize marijuana possession in Oshkosh and lower the fine to just 25-bucks.  While supporters of that effort claim it stops the targeting of minorities, Panske had to know that backing the proposal would likely save her a few bucks in the future.

My favorite part of the criminal complaint filed in Waushara County Court was Panske telling the deputy "I know my rights!!" while he searched her vehicle.  Obviously, she doesn't know her rights, as weaving in and out of your lane, smelling like booze and having a few empties rolling around in your vehicle does give a law enforcement officer "reasonable cause" to search your car at 2:30 in the morning.  A person with an actual degree in the law--and a license to practice that--must have informed her of her actual "rights" in that situation--and that's why Panske chose to just plead "no contest" to the charges instead of moving to have evidence thrown out.

I'm sure there will be plenty of people calling for Panske's removal from the Council--but, not surprisingly--there is no legal procedure for removing a sitting Councillor.  Nor is there a process whereby her peers can even censure her.  Besides, there were thousands of Oshkosh residents doing the very same thing as Panske on that same night--well maybe not driving around while buzzed--and they see absolutely nothing wrong with her actions.  And they vote too.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Do You Hear a Window of Opportunity Closing?

Another NFL season is here, and the Green Bay Packers are moving one year closer to Aaron Rodgers' retirement.  The way I see it, they are wasting another precious season for number 12 to lead them to the promised land.  Let's go to the picks!!

Week 1 vs Seattle--The Packers have won the last two in this series--both at Lambeau.  But the Legion of Boom defense is back at full strength this time--and Russell Wilson will be special again in Wisconsin.  Seahawks win a shootout 41-37.

Week 2 at Atlanta--Super Bowl losers tend to drop off the next season--and those are the ones that don't blow huge second half leads.  Packers roll 31-14.

Week 3 vs Cincinnati--The Bengals are on the decline.  Green Bay wins another shootout 37-31.

Week 4 vs Chicago--The Bears will be even more embarrassing than usual this year.  The Pack easily 30-3.

Week 5 at Dallas--It would be nice to know if Ezekiel Elliott will be suspended for this one or not.  I'm going to assume he is and Green Bay manages to outscore the Cowboys 42-35.

Week 6 at Minnesota--Everyone agrees Minnesota is the second best team in the NFC North.  And they prove it by losing to Green Bay 27-17.

Week 7 vs New Orleans--Drew Brees and Adrian Peterson are ghosts of their former selves.  Packers roll 34-20.

Week 9 vs Detroit--After going 6-1 before the bye week, the Packers solidify their lead in the division with a 38-35 win over Detroit as Aaron Rodgers completes a Hail Mary at the gun at Lambeau for a change.

Week 10 at Chicago--By this time, Bears fans may be wishing Jay Cutler was back.  Packers win 28-0.

Week 11 vs Baltimore--Finally, the Packers play a good team again.  Baltimore's defense dominates and the Ravens get a 20-6 win.

Week 12 at Pittsburgh--Good thing the Packers are in the NFC North and not the AFC North.  The Steelers offense runs wild 42-28.

Week 13 vs Tampa Bay--After back to back losses create all out panic in Titletown, the Green and Gold get healthy against the Bucs--34-20.

Week 14 at Cleveland--The Browns won't be as bad as they usually are--but not good enough here.  Packers 27-17.

Week 15 at Carolina--Cam Newton will continue to prove he was a one-year wonder.  Packers win again 35-10.

Week 16 vs Minnesota--This is where the Packers likely clinch the division and the second seed in the NFC with a 37-20 win.

Week 17 at Detroit.  With nothing to play for, the Pack rests everyone and loses 20-12.

After a bye in the first round, the Packers host the Cowboys--who have Ezekiel Elliott this time--and he runs wild at Lambeau.  The Cowboys get their first ever playoff win in Green Bay 41-28.

As for the Super Bowl.  Pittsburgh beats Seattle 38-30.  Call it the "One for the middle finger on the other hand".

Thursday, September 7, 2017

How the Rule of Law Works

In his "governance by chaos" style, President Trump is forcing Congress to address immigration issues with a tight six-month deadline by promising to repeal the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy instituted by President Obama.  DACA has always stuck in the craw of those who support enforcing the laws on the books, as it set a Federal policy that the 14th Amendment and Title VIII of the Federal code were going to be openly ignored.  What's more, it was done by Executive Order from the President--and not be Congressional approval.

But childhood arrivals are one of those sticky subjects were two legal issues collide--with no clear direction as to which law should take precedent.  Those who came to this country illegally with their parents for decades do not in any way meet the legal definition of citizenship.  They were not born here, they are not naturalized.  However, they were minor parties to a crime perpetrated by their parents--entering in country outside legal immigration means.

We see cases of children involved in other crimes all the time.  Parents have committed burglaries and armed robberies, sold drugs to undercover informants or run meth labs in the presence of their children quite often.  Some even taught their kids to steal items from stores, because they knew that management wouldn't prosecute a child.  But in none of those cases were the children held accountable for the crimes of their parents.  And that should not be the case for childhood arrivals as well.

These so-called "Dreamers" would still be in the shadows--and less likely to face deportation early next year--had President Obama not sought to create another class of Government-dependent residents with the DACA registration process.  A great deal of effort went into convincing these people to come forward, provide the Government with their information on the unilateral promise of one man that they wouldn't be held responsible for their situation.  They were asked to ignore the likelihood that a succeeding administration would choose to enforce the laws on the books--making it much easier to find them now for deportation.

If we are to hold to the precedent set in not prosecuting those who were minors during the time their parents committed a crime, than the "dreamers" should not be deported.  And Congress should act within the six month time frame set by President Trump's executive order overturning the previous executive order.  It's what we do in a society that governs by the rule of law.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017


A few things never made sense in the original narrative we were fed when it came to the potential sale of Lakeshore Golf Course to the Oshkosh Corporation for a new world headquarters.  Why would Oshkosh Corp--long a good neighbor here in the city--out of the blue ask officials if they could buy the site?  And why would city leaders consider selling parkland--when no such action has been taken in recent years?

But, as always happens, the real story was revealed to all last week in a couple of events.  A budget workshop session of the Common Council included comments from auditors expressing their concerns about the City's ability to repay the 13-million dollars it owes on improvements to tax incremental financing districts, other city projects and Lakeshore's own renovation years ago.  Suddenly, it became clear why those at City Hall would be willing to sell off what is likely the most valuable piece of land we own--with water frontage and easy access to Interstate 41.  A couple million dollars from a quick sale of Lakeshore could cover several more years of TIF district payments--and rid the city of Lakeshore's debt as well.

Meanwhile, later that week, an email that Oshkosh Corp CEO Wilson Jones sent out to his employees--some of whom I have golfed with at Lakeshore who couldn't understand why their bosses would try to strong-arm a deal for the course--revealed that it was not him that started this process, but rather City Manager Mark Rohloff that asked them to consider buying that property.  That set in motion the DNR wetlands delineation study and the review of deeds and titles to make sure the city could actually sell the property.

So in the course of just a week, we went from a story featuring a city that appeared ready to carefully weigh options of quality of life versus retaining the headquarters of a major employer to a city desperate to make a deal to fix financial woes created years ago.  And there is a big difference there, because dealing from a position of desperation make you weak.  What incentive is there for the Oshkosh Corporation to "sweeten the deal" if the city doesn't take its initial offer for Lakeshore?  Will "we are in a really tight spot here, can you find it in your heart to help us out and toss in an extra couple of million on your offer?" be an effective bargaining strategy for the city?  And there are no other lifelines to be tossed to the Common Council--since it appears the Winnebago County Board has no interest in building the taxiway needed to make the Aviation Business Park inviting to any businesses involved in aviation to buy property in that debt-laden site.

As a shareholder in the Oshkosh Corporation, I would like to see them spend as little as possible on land acquisition and construction of a new headquarters.  As a golfer that frequents Lakeshore, I would prefer they spend that money on a site along I-41 on the southern outskirts of the city.  But as a taxpaying resident of Oshkosh, I'm forced to hope that they overpay for Lakeshore--and overbuild on the site to boost their property tax bill--just so City officials can cover the bad bets they made in the past.

Let's hope that desperate times at City Hall don't lead to desperate measures.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Run For the Roses

The Wisconsin Badgers begin their 2017 Football season tonight--and that means it's time for my annual predictions you can take to the bank.

Tonight vs Utah State--The last time the Aggies came to Camp Randall, the Badgers barely won and Barry Alvarez hired their Head Coach Gary Anderson after Brett Bielema quit to go to Arkansas.  Paul Chryst will make sure that Alvarez isn't intrigued by Matt Wells--Wisconsin wins 34-10.

Week 2 vs Florida Atlantic--No contest here, Bucky rolls 40-9.

Week 3 at Brigham Young--Over the summer, a lot of pundits said this would be a "good test" for the Badgers--on the road against a traditional power.  But after seeing BYU's lackluster performance against Championship Sub-Division Portland State last weekend, I'm not sure what everyone is worried about.  Wisconsin wins 27-14.

Week 4 vs Northwestern--Since this one won't be at Ryan Field with its ankle-high grass and 15-thousand unenthused fans, Bucky opens the Big Ten season with a rousing 34-20 win over the Wildcats.

Week 5 at Nebraska--The first real big matchup for Wisconsin.  But the Badgers have won five of the six games against the Huskers since they joined the Big Ten--and that one loss was by just three points at Lincoln.  I like Wisconsin to grind out an ugly 23-20 win in this one.

Week 6 vs Purdue--The Boilermakers are the worst team in the conference.  Wisconsin sleepwalks through a 27-13 win at home.

Week 7 vs Maryland--After the gauntlet that was the 2016 season, Wisconsin has all of the Big Ten cupcakes this year.  Another pedestrian win 40-14.

Week 8 at Illinois--Illini Head Coach Lovie Smith never promised to beat Wisconsin when he took this job.  Badgers roll to 8-0 on the road with a 34-19 win.

Week 9 at Indiana--I'm sure last night's inspired first half performance against Ohio State has Hoosiers fans thinking they might compete this year.  But keep in mind, first game, on the road, lots of new players on defense for Ohio State were the only reasons it was close for three quarters.  Badgers pull away late in Bloomington too, 33-24.

Week 10 vs Michigan--This is the one to circle on the calendar this season.  Wisconsin will be 9-0, Michigan will be in first place in the East Division.  ESPN Gameday will likely be there.  This game will be moved to primetime and the crowd will be electric.  Unfortunately, these are the types of games Wisconsin has been finding ways to lose in excruciating fashion since the Bielema era.  Unfortunately that continues here as the Badgers blow it 48-42 in triple overtime.

Week 11 at Minnesota--Wisconsin has retained Paul Bunyan's Axe for 13 CONSECUTIVE SEASONS.  And given how the Goofs struggled to beat Buffalo at home last night, the Badgers bounce back to claim the trophy for a 14TH CONSECUTIVE YEAR 140 to 14.

Big Ten Championship Game vs Michigan.  Ah sweet revenge.  A dish not best served cold, but rather served when a bid to the College Football Playoffs is on the line in Indianapolis.  Wisconsin learns from last year's collapse against Penn State in this game and finishes off the Wolverines 34-28.

So it's on to the Rose Bowl and a matchup against SEC Champions Alabama.  In typical Wisconsin form, they hang close throughout, but all the breaks go Bama's way late and the Crimson Tide wins a tough one 20-16.

It should be a pretty fun Fall.  ON WISCONSIN!!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Look For the Helpers

Whenever natural disasters or tragedies strike, I like to think of the advice Fred Rogers--or Mister Rogers for those old enough to remember--provided when he was asked how to talk to kids about such big and scary events:

“My mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.”

While Mr Rogers offered this advice for parents, those of us in the media should be more inclined to follow it as well. 

I guess we have to blame the 24-hour news cycle that requires "exclusive content" or "breaking news" every 30-second out of fear that the viewer or listener is going to get bored and move on to another station or website--but we got way off-base with some of the stuff that received major coverage this week.  We can start with First Lady Melania Trump's footwear on her visit to the disaster zone.  Some poor fact-checker in a New York newsroom probably had to peruse countless on-line shoe catalogs to determine the exact height of the stiletto heels so the talking head going on about how "clueless the Trumps are" could sound "informed".

Then we got sidetracked by Joel Osteen and his church having to be publicly shamed into providing assistance to flood victims.  Can you remember any stories about the pastors that were out there in the waist high water helping evacuees?  I can tell you that every social media user wanted us to know that the mosques of Houston were open for evacuees seeking shelter.

And then there was the continuous selling of the "victimization angle".  While it won't win an Edward R Murrow Award or a Peabody the CNN reporter getting cussed out on live TV by a harried evacuee for whom "how does it feel to be flooded out of your home" became the straw that broke the camel's back:


What we really needed was more coverage like that of Sally Jenkins from the Washington Post who expressed in an article on the "Cajun Navy" surprise that backwoods "rednecks" from East Texas and Louisiana would come to Houston on their own time and their own dime to not only help people they don't know--but to be more effective than the government first responders with the expensive high-tech equipment and training.  And we need to not only spotlight Wisconsinite JJ Watt for his social media fundraising efforts--but all of those who have contributed to his cause.

So if you can sift through the articles and reports on "Trump didn't even talk to or hug any of the victims" stuff--and look for the helpers--you will find the real stories in this disaster.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Not Another New Orleans

Don't be surprised if four or five years from now there will be a number of on-line articles or news network features on the vast differences between how New Orleans recovered from Hurricane Katrina and how Houston bounced back from Hurricane Harvey.  Much will be made about how the "Crescent City" continues to feel the effects of the devastation in 2005--while "H Town" will be back to the bustling metropolis it was before this week.

The biggest advantage that Houston has is that it is the hub of America's energy industry.  Giant oil and natural gas companies are based there--employing hundreds of thousands of people in both production, processing and administration.  America runs on cheap energy and those companies need to be working at all times to prevent this from becoming a national disaster.  That urgency alone will ensure that resources needed for infrastructure, housing and supply chain restoration will take place--and take place quickly.

While it is an important shipping and port city, New Orleans does not have that "corporate" attitude.  Anyone who's been there can tell you "The Big Easy" lives up to that moniker--as the folks there aren't going to bust their butts to get something done that can't wait until tomorrow--or next year.  New Orleans is really a dumpy tourist town.  What were the first areas to be "restored" after Katrina?  The French Quarter, the Superdome and the Convention Center area--so that the people who don't live there could "return to normalcy".

Add to that the fierce independence of Texans.  Houston officials and residents would be embarrassed if five or ten years from now they weren't back to being the "biggest and the best".  And they won't be blaming "the Government" for not doing enough to help the recovery.

That doesn't mean that everything will go back to exactly the way it was before.  Like low-income parts of New Orleans, depressed sections of Houston will likely never bounce back.  Those that are displaced by Harvey will never come back--set adrift like many that came to Houston from New Orleans in the wake of Katrina--and never had a reason to return.  Hopefully, they will move on to places not along the Gulf Coast this time.

While the scenes of devastation after the flood waters recede will look the same, the paths that America's two latest disaster zones will take from here couldn't be any more different.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Scapegoat

It appears that the public has found its scapegoat for the hurricane and flooding in Houston.  You may recall that the person blamed for all failures during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in FEMA Director Michael Brown--especially after President Bush told the world "Brownie's doin' a great job" while news video continued to show people hoping to be rescued from their roofs.  President Bush was blamed as well--because he didn't come to New Orleans soon enough (because he was a racist that didn't care about the predominantly black victims of the flooding)--as opposed to President Trump, who is being criticized for coming to Houston too soon because resources used to protect him and coordinate the visit should be used in search and rescue efforts.

Amazingly, the scapegoat for Hurricane Harvey is not a Republican politician or a political appointee.  Instead, public scorn has turned against Pastor Joel Osteen.  If the name sounds familiar, you have likely seen Osteen's televised sermons--or seen him interviewed on talk shows--usually about coping with disaster or loss.  Osteen is the pastor at Lakewood Church--a mega-church that purchased the former Summit Arena where the Houston Rockets used to play in order to seat more than 16-thousand people for their services. 

Lakewood Church is coming under fire because it closed its doors this week--and is not taking in evacuees from flooded parts of the city.  "Church officials"--not Osteen himself--issued a press release stating that the area around the church is inaccessible--which led hundreds of people to drive down to the church site and post pictures on-line of non-flooded streets and a building with the lights still on.  Many of those posts are then followed by pictures of Osteen's multi-million dollar estate--from where he is believed to be tweeting generic bromides about grace and faith.  Lakewood is adding to the public outrage by launching a hurricane relief donation page that does not promise to share the money with the Red Cross or other disaster relief groups--but rather will go to Lakewood itself and its "efforts to rebuild the community".

Contrast that to former Wisconsin Badger and current Houston Texans defensive lineman JJ Watt, who is becoming even more of a hero in Houston by donating $100,000 to hurricane relief efforts and challenging his fans to contribute even more.  That fund is quickly approaching a million bucks. 

Is Joel Osteen to blame for a hurricane hitting Houston--stalling along its path and dumping prodigious amounts of rain upon the area?  Obviously not--despite his claims to have "connections" with the power his followers believe controls such phenomenon.  But failing to follow through on the promise of service and aid to those in need certainly makes you an easy target.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Since Demand is Dwindling....

If the city of Oshkosh is going to sell Lakeshore Golf Course for a new Oshkosh Corporation world headquarters, or for residential development or even for retail use, I hope that it is not just for a one-time cash grab--but rather it is done as part of a comprehensive review of recreational programs throughout the city.  Most city parks--not just those in Oshkosh--are based on a 60-year old concept of people's activities and interests.  If city leaders and Councilmembers are as "progressive" as they claim to be, ALL parks facilities would be brought up to "modern" usage and demand.

Let's start with ball diamonds.  Most of the facilities in Oshkosh were built in the 1950's when baseball was "America's Pastime".  Neighborhood kids would congregate in the morning--choose up sides--and play until their mother's called them home for dinner.  Now, those diamonds sit empty nearly all day--until the organized leagues come in to use them for just a couple of months out of the year.  And those leagues are struggling to maintain participation levels--so much so that the YMCA now runs youth baseball in the city--while OYB just fields the more-profitable traveling all-star teams.  Adult softball is seeing a precipitous drop in league play as well, as people find plenty of other activities to fill their summer nights.  Doing away with many of the ball diamonds in Oshkosh--and having the Y host their leagues on their site--would open up space in Menominee Park for high-end lakeview condos and room for more senior living in Red Arrow Park.

Playgrounds are another archaic recreational idea that take up space and city resources.  When was the last time you told your child to go to the playground--without your supervision--to play for the day?  "Stranger danger" has all but killed hanging out at the park--and today's "safety first" equipment is boring.  That's what makes the equipment fertile grounds for vandalism--nobody is ever using it.  And when families do come down to swing or slide, the kids usually grow bored within 20-minutes and want to watch videos on the Ipod.  There is additional space the city can sell for boutique coffee shops next to the aforementioned senior living and condo units.

Even vast green spaces are underutilized today.  You can't play fetch with your dog off a leash--and there is a dogpark for that already in town.  The idea of bringing a picnic to the park to eat on a blanket spread on the ground is so old-fashioned that it makes people laugh.  It's so much easier to grab drive-thru at the fast food place and eat in your car.  Limiting our recreational areas to pavilions that generate rental income or bike and walking trails that take up less space and appeal to the few people who want to get out and be active makes far more sense.

And don't think that our decreased demand for recreation space and programs is just a temporary thing.  TV networks are considering covering "eSports"--just like they do professional leagues like the NFL and Major League Baseball.  That means our next generation of "stars" will be inspired not to field grounders from Dad at the neighborhood diamond or to work on their jump shots at the concrete courts but rather to spend more time on their couch hooked up to a virtual reality headsets and game controllers.

So go ahead and put all the research into selling Lakeshore Golf Course you need to do, Oshkosh officials.  It's the first step toward our inevitable future as a fat and lazy city.