Simpson State Free Press Brings Needed Smile

I absolutely applaud and endorse the work and spirit that takes place at Simpson Street Free Press.  Bless those who make space and provide funding for this undertaking.

But also high-fives for the bright curious minds who write the stories, edit them, and work to get it in print form. This week the Wisconsin State Journal carried a report about the continuous work that these young writers are doing, in spite of the pandemic closing schools in Madison, and altering lives in the city

The report was uplifting as it shows dedication and commitment with these boys and girls who are getting their feet more than wet through the power of their own words, which are then honed into publication-ready articles. That is enough to lift spirits.  But then I read the following line.

Most at Simpson Street have older siblings who also work at Simpson Street Free Press and can help at home.

I swear that those words were felt in my chest as they confirm so much about what I believe.  Young minds need mentors to shape them, and homes are the most powerful places where so many powerfully good things can emerge. The act of writing, the thrill of reporting, the personal fulfillment when seeing a byline, and holding the final product in one’s hands is so tremendous.  But to know that this combination of work and curiosity is being passed down to younger siblings proves there are some truly incredible older siblings in Madison who deserve our thanks.

There are so many hard to read news stories these days concerning the pandemic.  Which made the article about the Simpson Press so uplifting.  We will need seasoned writers and curious minds to be the reporters of the future.  And to be able to tell their stories of the times in which we now live.

I have confidence in that future!

Darker Tones For Newspaper Cartoons During Pandemic

I have been watching the cartoons in my local paper, the Wisconsin State Journal, regarding how they catch up to the current pandemic headlines.  The creators of cartoons have many strips ‘in the can’ weeks in advance.  So it takes time, for example, to have Blondie get current on the funnies page to match what readers are learning from the news sections of the paper.

Blondie, on Tuesday April 13th, had a strip about tax day, even though filing this year has been delayed until July while Beetle Bailey still plays off the same template of humor that has been its mainstay for years.

But some cartoons are poking fun at absurd aspects to the crisis, such as ThatABaby.  Or with Heart Of The City.  And Pearls Before Swine.




But we are also seeing cartoons take a hard turn to the darker tones regarding what we are facing in our daily lives.  I understand the need to incorporate contemporary angst into the strips. Seventy-five years from now these cartoons will also be a way to gauge the depth and enormity of the crisis we are living through.


But as a news consumer–perhaps too much of one most days—the funny page of the newspaper is a place to step away from the edge of the cliff and get a fast laugh.  With so few places (it seems) left at this time to feel a reprieve from the constant onslaught of awful heart-wrenching news about COVID-19, I would hope to see the cartoon pages be there for us as we need to find uplifting carefree moments.

We need that respite more than ever.

It Is Official: F-35 Jets Are Coming To Truax Field! Great News For Dane County Economy, Military Preparedness


The Department of the Air Force has officially selected Truax Field as a location for the Air National Guard F-35A jets.   I supported this move from the start due to the role that our nation plays in the world.  It is a role that we must not shrink back from, or deny.  As an internationalist, I feel our duty to work in concert with our allies, and in a team fashion through alliances, can not be tossed aside.  All this is one reason I have enormous differences with the current occupant of the White House.

This decision concerning the placement of F-35 jets at Truax was a needlessly contentious issue, one that provoked more angst than needed.  The outrage was ginned up by the regular loud local voices who seem to dominate too much ‘bandwidth’ when it comes to issues of the day.

I never for one moment thought this matter had anything to do with noise.  Many tried to spin their narratives about how their grandchildren will be scared, school classrooms disrupted, and even how sicknesses would result from these jets.   Those arguments were easy to refute.  As an example, since most of those kids–I suspect–play very violent video games where a jet taking off is the least dramatic event—then we can conclude at the heart of the disagreement over this matter is the disdain about the manufacture and use of the jets.   Many in Madison are very averse to military policy, and the F-35 jets were just a tool for them to use to further the narrative.  

But it was the more calm voices who come to mind as I talked again and again with local people in my community about the rational reasons for supporting these jets in Madison.

Earlier this year I had a nice conversation with a young man working for a local tech company.  He lives in my neighborhood, is friendly and conversant, and given that the Madison isthmus bubbles with politics, we were soon covering all the issues.  One of the topics we landed upon was the appropriateness of F-35’s flying in and out of Truax.

He was definitely opposed to the idea of military aircraft having a continuing presence in Madison.  Since he had grown up in another state I mentioned Truax, for many decades, has been a site for military preparedness. He was a bit caught off-guard by that fact, replying that Truax sure did not feel like an active military facility.

And therein lies one of the truths as Madison and Dane County moves forward in our conversations about the F-35 jets.  The military presence at Truax has proven to be a good neighbor for over 70 years.  

I have a firm conviction that international policy should be aggressive in terms of moral authority.  That is another reason I support these jets, the pilots and crews, and the exercises they do for preparedness.

We take a whole lot for granted living in this great city and dynamic county.  When talking to others about the F-35 issue I ask them to consider the view from a bombed-out town in Syria.  I very much sided with those in Washington who called for a no-fly zone in that country.  That never happened, but had such a policy been put forth it would have been the type of training at Truax which would have aided those frightened and bloody children we saw night after night on the evening news.

We must take our responsibilities as citizens most seriously.   From voting, serving on a jury, or paying taxes it is our duty to step up and serve in a variety of ways.  That also applies to where the military trains, such as at Truax.  I do not know any person on a first name basis who is actively serving in our military.  So the least I can do is support the men and women who have accepted that role.  If I am advocating policies, such as no-fly zones in Syria, I then should also accept the placement of training for such missions near to where I reside. I am not one who suggests the F-35 be relegated to places like North or South Dakota.

Walking the talk matters.

It is always a good day when reason and rational thinking prevails.  I am pleased that Truax Field remains a proud and dynamic part of Madison, Dane County, and our state.  I am pleased that the entire congressional delegation did their work for the best interests of the economy which is pumped up mightly with these jets and employees.

I am never sure if the average person in Madison fully appreciates the amount of money that rolls into the local economy due to Truax.  This unit employs 1,200 men and women. Nearly 500 of them are full-time employees, while 700 are traditional guardsmen.  The end result is a payroll of $62 million being pumped annually into our housing, auto, and so many other brick-and-mortar businesses.  Those who calculate such numbers have placed the economic impact into this region at $100 million.   Obviously, no elected official is going to spit on that powerhouse to our economy.

I am also proud of all those in this city who took their place in standing up for this policy.

A good day, indeed.

Oh, heck, it is a great day!