"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Wisconsin festers and Gannett chokes

None of us pauses too much to think about the state of Wisconsin, where the sports fans choose to root for cities instead of the state.
The political focus is coming to the state with the Republican primary and the recall vote. The state of the Green Bay Packers, Milwaukee Brewers and Milwaukee Bucks will assume a higher profile.
Minnesota has teams named for "Minnesota." We assume that's the way it should be but we wonder why our neighbor to the east is different. Is "Wisconsin" a secondary identity?
Wisconsin seems in a world of hurt now with division. One wonders if Minnesota would be in similar straits if we had elected Tom Emmer. I'm surprised the Republican came as close as he did, and were it not for an old DUI issue he may well have gotten swept in as part of the Republican/tea party/reactionary wave.
Many of the people who pulled the lever for Republicans in 2010 thought they were voting for normal Republicans.
It wasn't unusual that the electorate would lean Republican in the off-year election. We had elected Barack Obama president and there was some hesitation over whether we really wanted the Democratic agenda to take over.
The electorate can be blamed for not getting properly educated. Maybe these new ID cards for voting should include some proof you're not voting impulsively.
People just assumed that Republicans were a predictable sort of animal. I mean, we have Democrats and Republicans and we'd like to feel they are all decent, rational human beings with manageable differences in terms of political philosophy.
They should be able to argue vigorously, even with a profanity or two, and then get together for a drink afterwards. A Pepsi.
This is the way politics used to be. The idealized model was Tip O'Neill vs. Ronald Reagan. I just cannot see Ronald Reagan among the fire-breathing goons who call themselves conservatives today.
Wisconsin is engaged in considerable soul-searching now as it ponders whether it really feels comfortable with the more hard-edged brand of Republican, which they apparently didn't know they were getting.
We have the Democrats who are a pretty known commodity. We have Republicans like Olympia Snowe who have fallen out of the mainstream of her party, hence her harried departure.
Then there is this weird third branch, which reminds me of an episode of the old Monty Python Flying Circus. The faux news program was reporting on an election that included not only the "Sensible" and "Silly" parties but an "independent Very Silly Party." When reporting the candidates' names of that latter party, this newsman had to use a noisemaker.
The very conservative activists among us might well be called "very silly." Wisconsin chose a governor from that category and things have been quite amiss there since. This individual is Scott Walker.
We now have the official nod for a recall vote. That's pretty drastic and pretty embarrassing for Wisconsinites, who'd love to just focus on Packer football.
What state in its right mind would want to be perceived as having had its head up a certain part of its anatomy in the last election? And what a huge and expensive distraction this is. Perhaps it's dividing families.
The type of people with pro-gun bumper stickers will back Walker. These people also shake their fist behind the "stand your ground" laws, the castle doctrine and voter suppression policies. The right wing industry swoops into the state with propaganda and intimidation tactics.
Is that an overstatement? Just think of the ridiculous effort to intimidate media organizations by finding out who among them might have signed the recall petition. I became aware of this when checking Fox News last week. There was a self-righteous talking head (a program guest) berating the "biased" media.
The petition regarding Walker got 900,938 signatures, while only 540,208 were needed. It was a totally legal process in which all citizens should have felt welcome to participate.
There are chain newspapers in Wisconsin that showed absolutely no spine in standing up to the pro-Walker cabal. I have to laugh because I would be astounded if a chain newspaper company showed any spine or conscience.
Chain papers know what the rest of us are slow in learning: that newspapers are businesses that live on advertising dollars, and their decisions are wholly grounded by that consideration, not by any particular journalistic ideals.
In other words, they scare very easily, like "Beaker" of the Muppets.
Businesspeople are scared very easily by conservatives. The Wisconsin papers of the Gannett chain felt they had to apologize. Because the petition signers were public information, and because zealous groups can comb through those names for purposes of harassment, it was learned that 25 employees among those Wisconsin papers signed the petition.
The suits that run the company prepared a column that was run in these papers under the names of local editors (lackeys). They went through the painful gymnastics of explaining that as a matter of principle, "journalists must exercise caution and not become involved with issues that may cause doubts about their neutrality as journalists."
Gannett claims that none of the "political activists" (my words) in their ranks are involved directly in political coverage. Even so, the ones who signed are seen to have committed ethical violations and are subject to discipline, the company says as it cracks the whip.
Of course, principle plays no part in any of this. The people running this newspaper company, in a business that is in a well-known retreat, are just scared. They absolutely don't want to confront the right wing harassers.
It's purely quaint to think journalists should be neutral. Besides, isn't not signing the petition a political statement?
What if Gannett's attitude spread to other companies? It would become a serious intrusion into our political process. Because the recall effort, however divisive it might be, has the imprimatur of the state. It's legal.
The truth is that reporters should report fairly regardless of their political beliefs. It doesn't mean they should be devoid of political beliefs.
Besides, wouldn't you really rather know the opinions of the writers whose work you are consuming? Much of the media today is in fact partisan media. There is a great market for it.
Meanwhile the staid old newspaper business draws a yawn as it fades into the sunset.
What about newspaper chains like the Forum of Fargo, owner of two papers in Stevens County, that actually endorse candidates? How would the right wing harassers in Wisconsin square that?
The Forum has a right-leaning reputation - can you name a left-leaning newspaper chain? - so the Wisconsin activists would pay no heed. Anything that furthers their agenda.
Isn't signing the recall petition just like voting - a citizen's valid option or duty (at least to take a side)?
Gannett rebuts this. The soulless bigwigs who pull the strings, who daily are in meetings on how to manage the newspaper industry's retreat, are saying the recall vote is too "emotional" to be viewed like this.
Emotional? It's a legal process. If certain people choose to become emotional, it's their problem.
Gannett says "the super-charged emotions should have been a red flag for journalists. They should have realized there'd be a public backlash."
There was no "public backlash." There was a carefully orchestrated cry of foul from the usual suspects on the right, people like Brent Bozell, ol' Redbeard, who has made a racket out of this kind of feigned outrage. It's a nice gig for him.
It's ridiculous to even talk about "media bias" today when there are a million voices out there. We just have to carefully choose what we consume. It's not hard to figure out what voices reflect a certain agenda.
Wisconsinites might well reject the recall effort because it just looks untoward, nationally speaking, to just yank a governor. It's embarrassing to admit the citizens of the state were misguided in the first place. They just didn't see they were electing a member of the "Very Silly" party.
This is a guy who has hired defense attorneys. There is an ongoing criminal investigation of former Walker aides.
The conflict in Wisconsin is being described as a "civil war." Did we in Minnesota barely miss ending up in the same or worse situation?
I'm surprised Republican Emmer came as close as he did. We could have ended up in a roiling political atmosphere here, in the state that once elected Walter Mondale and Paul Wellstone. Today we elect some people like we're South Carolina.
The partisanship of today is so severe, we can't even seem to reach a general agreement on the Trayvon Martin murder case. Oh wait, it might not be a "murder." The righties are taking pains - just watch Fox News - to get the shooter's side of the story as a way of protecting Jeb Bush from embarrassment.
It was Bush, generally considered "the smart Bush brother," who signed the Florida "stand your ground" law. Jeb applied the pen with an NRA official standing right behind him.
Floyd R. Turbo would have been proud.
We once laughed at Johnny Carson's Turbo character as being an ignoramus. Today these people are getting elected.
God save us from the "Very Silly" party.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Seductive mantra of "supporting education"

Who doesn't want to applaud when a politician talks about the need to "support education?"
The political people know that nothing makes them look more virtuous. They talk about expanded educational opportunity. Surely this is a plum or an ideal, right?
We're in the fifth year of a recession so maybe we need to start peeking under platitudes. Do we want to be creative about education or keep propping up a model that increasingly looks outdated?
Heaven only knows how education could be transformed if we just got out of the way and let creative destruction take effect.
There is a specter over discussions about how money is spent at institutions like the U of M. Our U just happens to have been in the news lately.
That specter is the "higher education bubble" theory. Not everyone agrees it's there, hovering in such a way as to cause considerable whistling in the graveyard. But what I read seems to have an awful lot of merit.
A bubble is a speculative boom and bust phenomenon. The rhetoric about the virtues of education covers up a dubious path where huge sums of money continue to get infused in this sector. The bubble has been kept up by government subsidies and to a certain extent foreign students.
Tuition is a burden. And debt loads? We're talking sleepless nights.
Politicians talk about expanding the supply of higher education. We applaud without critical thinking. Fundamentally what we fail to do is separate the virtues of actual learning from the bricks and mortar institutions full of pretentious human beings who demand ever more generous compensation.
This at a time when information systems have been transformed. We are drowning in information today. We should pinch ourselves to see if we're dreaming. How quickly we forget. Knowledge once seemed scarce which is why we needed all these institutions.
That scarcity is gone with the wind, and it's a tremendous blessing. No more need for "paper" encyclopedias. Hats off to those intrepid salesmen - they were pure Americana.
But what if we woke up one morning and realized we simply don't need college libraries anymore? Literally don't need them? Might that time have already come and gone? Have we not smelled the coffee yet?
I think the young people know exactly what's going on. When they're old enough to have power they'll see to it that our institutions are redesigned and streamlined to focus properly. In the meantime we talk about ridiculous largesse at our University of Minnesota.
It's our beloved U of M of course. We're supposed to look at everything through rose-colored glasses. If an institution stands for education it's supposed to be above reproach, right? This is the fog of rhetoric that irritates me.
Yes, I have some friends who smirk a little because they think I'm just so cynical. Have they read Charles Murray? We ignore his insights at our peril. We're all too eager to ignore his insights as we tout whatever alma mater we come from. We wear our college beanies, at least figuratively, and pledge allegiance while ignoring the forces of change that are bubbling up.
The real estate industry tried resisting change. The Internet enabled new and more efficient models that actually benefited home buyers and exposed scam-like flaws in the existing system.
The Texas legislature, as reported in a noted TV documentary, passed laws to try to protect the legacy system with its largesse for the insiders. Those hugging the status quo weren't eager to have media people around. I was heartened when I heard a respected analyst say "eventually the barriers will come down."
The Internet has that kind of effect: It seems to break down all barriers. Kids see this and absolutely cheer for it. They cuss when they see older people try to put up restrictions as with onerous intellectual property rules. The "forces for good" won with the recent retreat of SOPA and PIPA.
Yes, the barriers eventually come down. Only a fool can't see that this transformative democratization of knowledge isn't going to have a big effect on legacy education models. The ivory towers won't just come down, they'll be ignored.
Politicians preach that "jobs of the future" are going to require degrees. Of course these same knaves smiled on the expanded supply of "affordable housing." There is a siren song imploring us on security and insurance against the future. Hence the housing bubble.
And in the future, "education."
I put "education" in quotes because I'm talking about the legacy system of bricks and mortar and the entitled-feeling people who run them and preside in classrooms like they're performers, which they are. We hear the seductive mantra about "supporting education." It seems like a pie in the sky promise.
We once were convinced housing prices would always rise. Similarly we look with an inadequate critical eye on the platitudes about "education" (again, with quote marks, not to be confused with real learning which is nothing but laudable).
Holy cow, we're told the "jobs of the future" will require all this special learning. Our little morning coterie at the Morris McDonald's has discussed this. I have asserted that the "jobs of the future" pronouncement is absolute poppycock.
I have an ally in Paul Krugman (the economist, not a regular Morris McDonald's patron). Krugman is a pariah for those who watch Fox News, and for me this increases his credibility. He takes on the popular wisdom that tech progress puts refined knowledge at more of a premium.
Shouldn't Krugman's conclusion be rather intuitive? Don't we live in a Wall Street-driven culture? Isn't it quite basic that the captains of industry are going to use technology to "dumb down" the jobs they offer? Aren't they judged purely by the bottom line?
Don't they use the likes of Fox News to beat down any notion that we need taxation to lift up our society?
They owe favors to no one. They will salivate as they discover tech shortcuts to trim workforce and make jobs as basic as possible.
Krugman argues that tech progress will reduce the demand for high-end jobs, not just the low-end. We have harnessed computer software to perform tasks that once called on throngs of pretty well-educated and specialized people.
Tom Friedman argues we'll still need "the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker." But can anyone feel safe now?
(BTW it'd be neat if Krugman or Friedman could join us at McDonald's some morning.)
My friend who sells ads for the Willmar radio station says "everyone seems scared." Have you noticed that too?
Post Office jobs were once the epitome of safe and secure jobs. So many postal workers were likable veterans, models with how they lived their lives. But the Postal Service now has vultures circling over it daily.
Can our overbuilt system of colleges dotting the landscape really feel any safer? To their credit, they have weathered the storm thus far. Is there a tsunami coming?
I remember reading a personal thinkpiece by a Star Tribune writer who said "we all know" there's a tremendous amount of waste and duplication between the University of Minnesota and the state university system. Really? "We all know?"
If that's true, hang on to your hats. Even Democrats are going to be comfortable with this (efficiency push).
We thought Steve Sviggum might be of the type with a mission to push austerity with education. He's a Republican and those folks can be like a bull in a china closet - good rhetoric but with a horrible grasp of execution. Sviggum was forced off the U of M board of regents because of a conflict he should have easily recognized.
Democrats know that if large, bulky and amorphous education institutions lose their credibility, as the U of M might, their whole premise of promising a reliable if interventionist government could be threatened. Whistling in the graveyard indeed.
The U of M has been hung out to dry recently. U President Eric Kaler, his honeymoon having been crushed, announced that fossil Joel Maturi will be paid $352,000 in the year after he retires as athletic director. Ten other U executives have gotten a combined $2.8 million as "parting gifts" upon retiring, according to the Star Tribune.
The Star Tribune does have some fight left despite being part of a famously declining business model itself.
The U's Robert Bruininks, a favorite out here on the prairie because of his fondness for the UMM Jazz Festival, unfortunately looks like an insider with the predictable parochial instincts. Having been in the U since 1968, and having concluded a stint as president (a quasi-royal role in Minnesota), he's a good old boy with all the protections and benefits of the doubt that status confers. Up to a point.
The information age makes it much tougher for the entitled-feeling folks. Bruininks - why can't he just spell his name "Brunix?" - has funneled a huge sum to an ungodly bureaucratic monstrosity (it appears) called the Center for Integrative Leadership. Whew.
The people who crafted this entity are of the same stripe that designed our "green community" here in Morris, for our old school property. It has won an award.
I have written that our "green community" is like the rabbit "Harvey" in the Jimmy Stewart movie of the same name.
We are all waiting with baited breath, I'm sure, to see what "integrative leadership" can do for us. Or maybe not.
It's a heckuva career transition plum for Mr. Bruininks and some of the small fish who accompany him. Equally bloated are these "executive transition leaves" that we're not supposed to pay much heed to.
The windfall for that integrative thing came from "presidential discretionary funds." OK, let's call it a slush fund. The gods up on Mount Olympus pull the strings. Not much need to peek around. Well, in the old days that mindset worked. This was back when we had encyclopedias.
All the windy talk about the virtues of a formal education will work to a point, but it's losing potency, I feel, as we speak.
We have indulged Wall Street somewhat up until now. That's partly out of fear. George W. Bush felt we "had" to pass TARP.
Unfortunately the notions of elitism promoted by Wall Street crept into our culture as a whole, so we get these ridiculous compensation packages for a self-defined "elite" at our colleges, ironically at a time when we are drowning in information (i.e. the fodder students consume) due to our new age.
We have the delusion that because certain people seem special, they deserve dizzying compensation packages.
The U says it has to attract top talent. Fine, but if the U is in fact blessed by such genius, why do we have these revelations that are causing such concern by the regents now? Can't these talented people be prudent? Do they need the regents holding their hand?
If so, it's rather scandalous.
The embattled insiders would say only one-third of the U's budget comes from tax dollars.
You could argue that the masses who continue to cover a substantial part of the U's expenses shouldn't have to pay anything to anyone who doesn't have a readily demonstrable need.
"Let's reduce tuition for the non-elite," writes Tom West of "West Words."
The man from Stony Brook (Eric Kaler) says he "expected" the Maturi package to be controversial. Really? He proudly states he didn't "hide" from the controversy. But if he feels his decisionmaking was truly sensible, should he really have anticipated "controversy?"
Who cares if Maturi's role is privately funded? Those private funds could be directed elsewhere. He's a good fundraiser? Is that such an exclusive talent?
The man from Stony Brook says "as promised in July, I'm holding the line on administrative costs." He adds: "Leading a culture change at this or any university takes time."
But my whole point is that time may not be on the side of our legacy education institutions, who likely face an encyclopedia-like future. Shudder? Accept it.
I already have, as I'm a refugee from the newspaper industry.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Trekking to the west near the (future) Morris

A sign along the narrow and winding roads out by Wintermute Lake reminds of the oldest chapter in our community's history. (Photo by B.W.)

I would bet most long-time Morris residents have never seen Wintermute Lake. It can't be seen from any artery for transportation. There are few clues along Highway 59 North that you're passing a lake.
You can get a glimpse of the lake from dirt roads that aren't the best. If you pass by Heartland Motors and keep going north you'll see it.
That road is a short distance from where I live but I rarely take it. I took it once going out to the chili feed for the annual predator hunt. I wanted to mutter some bad words under my breath about how poorly maintained the road seemed in winter.
My point is that Wintermute Lake seems remote. It seems like a typical obscure Minnesota lake. There seem to be no recreational possibilities. But any lake affords aesthetic pluses.
Some nice homes are out there, located in a scattered sort of way. That's the way development seems out along Highway 59 North: scattered.
Some very narrow but paved roads wind out and around at Wintermute Lake. "Sunday drivers" should be aware you might end up at a dead end. You could end up in the yard or driveway of Roger McCannon. The McCannons have a nice tucked-away residence that gives you a great view of Wintermute Lake and its still pretty much untouched surroundings.
You might want to close your eyes and imagine how the intrepid 19th Century settlers headed west saw it. Wintermute Lake may seem like a non-descript Minnesota lake but it's significant historically. It was a backdrop for the Wadsworth Trail.
As a kid my first reaction to hearing of this trail was to think of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. No connection. The name inspiration was from General James E. Wadsworth, Civil War general.
The Wadsworth Trail proceeded to Fort Wadsworth, west of present-day Sisseton, South Dakota. Things were pretty quiet out here on the pristine prairie in the mid 19th Century. What a blessing that was, compared to the stuff going on back east.
The Wadsworth Trail and the fort were established in 1864. It was the last full year of the U.S. Civil War, the unspeakably bloody conflict. The kind of conflict that happened at Spotsylvania Courthouse showed human beings at their worst.
Some of the most uncivilized conflict was inland quite a ways in what was then called the "west" like in Kansas. The movie "The Outlaw Josey Wales" was very instructive. What demons lurk in our souls sometimes?
West Central Minnesota was too remote to be touched by any of that. The Sam Smith statue reminds us of our ties to the Civil War. But Sam did his fighting in the east, then came out here to live a peaceful life.
Morris history really begins with Gager's Station, a collection of log buildings amidst the trees near Wintermute Lake. There were several barns and a building to accommodate travelers. The post office there was called "potosi" - a wooden box with pigeon holes.
Other features were a blacksmith shop and grog shop. It was the temporary county seat.
The first general election here was in 1868. The people heading west in that time were a fascinating assortment. They were willing to endure a substantial risk in order to try to find a new life.
Many of the protections of a civilized and well-ordered society faded or disappeared as one plunged into the interior of the continent or began the trek across the seemingly endless plains.
The east was much more developed, to be sure. The U.S. Civil War contradicted that attribute. The South after the Civil War was a smoldering and dangerous mess. Up here, European civilization was just starting to stretch its legs.
The Wadsworth Trail cut through Stevens County in an east-west direction. The trail wasn't totally fixed, as adjustments were made depending on the season, weather and road conditions.
The people taking the route embraced adventure. I'm reminded of Arthur Fremantle, British observer with the Confederate Army at the height of the Civil War, who described the inhabitants of Texas in the same way. He listed all the categories of fascinating people, in a conversation with General James Longstreet.
Fremantle saw Texas because his options for entering the country were limited by the Union army.
He might have been describing patrons of the humble grog shop at Gager's Station - nothing more than a keg of whiskey and a glass, overseen by a Swede. There wasn't even a shanty or tent.
The land offices were humming in Alexandria and St. Cloud. The first real settlement here was in 1866, in Framnas Township. The U.S. government christened the Wadsworth Trail. The trail had its role in county history from 1864 to 1871.
The wide spectrum of folks you encountered along the trail were a hint of the kind of melting pot America would become. No inhibitions and no aristrocracy. America was free soil.
Colonel Fremantle, who made his name with the Coldstream Guard, could have been listing intrepid folks along our trail. There were government supply teams, traders, "soldiers of fortune," gold seekers en route to the Black Hills, Native Americans with their dogs and ponies, and of course settlers.
The stated purpose of the Wadsworth Trail was to transport supplies from St. Cloud to Fort Wadsworth near present-day Sisseton. Fort Wadsworth became Fort Sisseton in 1876.
The Wadsworth Trail got established as cannons roared in the eastern U.S. The fate of the Union hung in the balance. It seems the South was simply resisting destiny. General U.S. Grant launched "total war." The secretary of war was Edwin Stanton whose son Lewis came to Morris to live. The cannons finally fell silent.
One would expect some conflict to the west where law and civilization were so fledgling. Think of "North Fork" in the TV series "The Rifleman" (with Chuck Connors, perhaps the best western actor ever).
Today the law penetrates into all aspects of our lives, to our annoyance sometimes (as with wearing seat belts). Imagine back when law was hardly established. A territory couldn't become a state until the law could be asserted without resistance.
The people using the Wadsworth Trial had fresh memories of the Sioux uprising. It has been called the "Minnesota massacre."
There was a fear the Sioux might join hands with tribes further to the west. Soldiers were dispatched out here to try to quell any such resurgence in hostile efforts. European settlers needed basic protection.
The Wadsworth Trail was a stage route. (I remember a stand-up comic once who mused on western movies and how a female character would step out of a stage absolutely exquisite in appearance, when in fact there must have been considerable dust and dirt.)
Transportation evolved. In the early days of the fort, supplies and equipment came up to St. Cloud on the Mississippi River. After 1866 the rails took over with the St. Paul and Pacific Railway.
Proceeding from St. Cloud into what must have seemed like a "great unknown," the route followed the already-established Red River Trail. This proceeded to Sauk Centre. There a new path was carved out, destination Glenwood. It snaked around south of Lake Minnewaska and came out here through present-day Hodges Township.
But as stated previously, it wasn't fixed. The travelers eventually preferred skirting Lake Minnewaska on the north side, and they arrived here through the northern part of present-day Framnas Township.
I have read that Gager's Station was a stopping place of some distinction along the trail. Part of me wants to dismiss that as back-patting for us. But let's assume it's true.
Henry Gager got established here in 1866. The location was Section 12, Darnen Township. This was merely temporary. The next year saw him re-locate to Section 12, Morris Township, adjusting to the more northerly route. Log buildings sprouted. A small trading post was established.
The place was abuzz with the sharing of news. Teamsters, stage coaches and ox carts would make their way.
Henry Gager is remembered as one of the frontier's "good guys." He saw to the education of children around the settlement. One would think piano lessons would be the furthest consideration from anyone's mind, but Henry saw that his daughter Carrie got such instruction, and sent her on the stagecoach to Sauk Centre for this.
We mustn't sugar-coat what life was like, though. Rough edges of the frontier made their presence felt. The likes of cattle rustlers and horse thieves might make their way through Gager's.
Several men of mysterious means and background seemed to hang around also, fond of gambling and idle time. There was a tacit understanding their livelihood was by unsavory means - theft of "luckless animals" etc.
Gager's Station was a vital but transitory chapter in our county's history. It was transitory because development was coming in giant steps. Henry Gager left the county in 1870 to be followed later by wife Mary. Word had spread that a new town was to be established.
Morris came officially into existence in 1871. I remember the year well because I participated in the Centennial in 1971.
Gager's Station faded into history. The railroad surged into the picture with enormous transformative force. The year of Morris' founding, as a "tent town," was when the St. Paul and Pacific Railroad Company reached here.
In 1880 the railroad reached Browns Valley. Fort Sisseton (or Wadsworth) was closed up in 1889. Civilization, European anyway, took root here by leaps and bounds.
The 1880s saw Victorian style houses, a symbol of wealth, sprout here. Lewis Stanton established one such home, still standing (on Park Avenue).
The environment was deemed most accommodating to many people who set down roots. They must have thought "the trees were the right height," just like Mitt Romney in Michigan (LOL).

Click on the link below to read more on this subject from my companion website, "Morris of course." Here is the permalink:

- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Thursday, March 22, 2012

We should guard U's interests "every day"

Eric Kaler is president of the University of Minnesota. (Image from City Pages)

Eric Kaler wants us to "judge the University of Minnesota on what it does going forward."
Perhaps he wants us to apply the little Etch a Sketch in our mind. Shake it and erase whatever image or conclusions we have now. Our current conclusions might not be real flattering.
The Etch a Sketch is a toy very familiar to boomers like me. It has sprung into the political area in the past couple days, amazingly.
The U of M's Kaler would love to have us apply that Etch a Sketch in a manner suggested by Mitt Romney's operative. Realistically we must assess the past too.
"I welcome a close look," Mr. Kaler wrote as his nose grew longer.
The University periodically experiences a mess like this. It's a behemoth of a public institution which we are coached to love from a young age. Because it's large, gets tax dollars and is made up of human beings with failings, well. . .
Mr. Kaler actually used the "rear view mirror" term, as in "let's not concentrate too much on looking back."
He penned an essay seeking to quiet the agitated masses some. It was dated 3/18. It appeared in the Star Tribune but I studied the online representation Tuesday.
As of then, no one had corrected a misuse of the English language that the U president committed in the opening paragraph. In asking for the public's confidence, the man from Stony Brook wrote "I know we must earn it everyday."
When I was young I'd give the writer a break. Back then everything in a newspaper was "typeset." Screw-ups could easily happen in the production process.
I had a typesetter make a mistake in a correction line of all things. I was writing about an archer and quoted him saying "there is no great money" to be made in the pastime. "No" got changed to "now." The source later told me "it was caught" (i.e. understood as a typographical issue).
Today so much is "copied and pasted." When I was a kid, "pasted" suggested Elmer's Glue.
I'm sure the essay by Mr. Kaler was submitted electronically and processed in the typical lightning-fast way. Would an essay by a university president require even cursory editing?
So I think we can lay the English language misuse at Kaler's doorstep.
"We need the public's confidence," Kaler wrote. "I know we must earn it everyday."
The issue here is "everyday" as one word. We hear a lot about "everyday low prices" at Wal-Mart. That's certainly a blessing and Wal-Mart is to be complimented on the catchy phrase that has permeated our lexicon.
But there is a distinction between "everyday" and "every day."
The one-word version, "everyday," is an adjective that means "commonplace, ordinary or normal." It's used in front of a noun. This I learn from the "learn English language" website. Here we also get a usage example: "These shoes are great for everyday wear."
Another: "Don't use the everyday dishes - it's a special occasion."
Kaler should have easily realized we need the separate words. My online source instructs that "every day" means "each day." Examples illustrate: "I go to the park every day." And, "Every day I feel a little better."
I doubt U of M officials use the "everyday dishes" very often. That's the crux of the problem now. We're in one of these periodic cathartic episodes where the U deals with something uncomfortable or untidy.
At issue now is the very liberal tossing around of funds - it's only money? - benefiting the administrative elite.
"I have committed to doing things differently," the still-new U head wrote in response to the hubbub over monetary issues.
So we can expect the man from Stony Brook to vigorously shake that red-framed Etch a Sketch and start again, provided the public just shrugs, I guess.
I was bothered he got off to such a bad start with "everyday." The overall essay seemed rather stock and unremarkable in dealing with controversy. Kaler wrote how the U should have a "single focus" which is "what is best for our students," as if any other objective should cloud the matter.
There appear to be clouds obstructing accountability. It's as if the U consciously or unconsciously is mirroring the values of Wall Street. People anointed as movers and shakers get these dizzying figures. We become almost numb to the numbers.
It's our culture now, isn't it? "We mustn't tax the job creators."
A common word from someone under siege is "context." No matter how discomforting the facts, you can always say they're being viewed "out of context" or say that a particular quote - this is very common - is "taken out of context."
The conservative idiots among us assail Media Matters that way: "You're taking quotes out of context." Denial of the fundamental facts becomes unnecessary.
Kaler writes "the recent reports are troubling but let's put them in context." He reminds us the U has a $3.7 billion annual operating budget. "I expect and welcome close scrutiny," he stated, Pinocchio-like again.
The U of M is well known in media circles for not being enthusiastic about discussing messy topics. You know, like when a Clem Haskins type of thing comes up.
How many of you remember the famous "Minnesota Daily Humor Issue?" This goes back to the dark ages of about 30 years ago, when the Twin Cities campus paper, enjoying the type of monopoly perch such media had then, came out with a National Lampoon type of issue that angered many.
I remember doing a thought piece about it. I remember that for a long time henceforth, we at the newspaper got an occasional inquiry about what I wrote, meaning that it somehow got traction in those primitive days when we didn't speak of something "going viral."
We used Etch a Sketch (and Elmer's Glue).
Perhaps a photocopy of my work made it to the "big city" and was discussed in someone's class - whatever. But I always felt flattered.
I can't remember the exact points I made, but looking back I think that humor publication was just as offensive as it was funny. Well-executed humor in a vein of parody is to be appreciated, no matter how much it skewers. But the immature students at the U came up with ideas like calling Sid Hartman "Sid Fartman." I rest my case.
The matter reached the board of regents, which I remember well because I attended a regents meeting out here at the UMM HFA, where people got a little hot.
"Do we control University funds?" I remember one regent huffing when it was explained that "free speech" might protect the Daily and its status regardless of the regents' feelings. I knew that argument was bankrupt, just like I flinched reading "everyday."
The Daily has no guarantee of University funds just like Rush Limbaugh's inane thoughts needn't be bankrolled by sponsors who can't exercise independent judgment. They're exercising that judgment quite thoughtfully and appropriately now, belatedly yes, but the public (i.e. customers) got fed up.
So, the University of Minnesota every few years has a mess that makes officials go through a process of inspecting one's navel. They try to internalize all that stuff. They say they welcome scrutiny but if you believe that, well. . .
The headline for Kaler's piece was "Judge the U on what it does going forward." Let's just shake that Etch a Sketch, get it clear. Or, as Leslie Nielsen's character of Lt. Frank Drebin would say, at the scene of an obvious calamity: "There's nothing to see here folks, nothing to see."
But the revelations seem a little too troubling. And they involve money. They say money is the mother's milk of politics. It's quite the bedrock for higher education too.
I'll quote Jesse Ventura for the fourth or fifth time on this site, who said in a standoff with Mark Yudof that "for the amount of money the University is asking, maybe I should run it."
Well, someone sure as heck needs to seize on these matters with special resolve, and we can't count on the likes of Robert Bruininks who joined the University in 1968. The Monkees were at their peak of popularity.
We can't let "lifers" in an institution have so much money power. Their position is too cozy, where they have nurtured friendships and feathered preferred nests.
Cozy relationships and a "good old boy" mentality seem in evidence with the recent revelations about the loose purse strings issue at the U. And I don't think we can dismiss such matters like shaking an Etch a Sketch. We need to focus, be objective and vigilant and disregard any apparent sacred cows.
And we must do this "every day."
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Kids may be "safer" today but is it better?

Norman Rockwell captured the less-structured and probably more hazardous play activity of an earlier time. His brush would have done justice to a number of Morris kids I remember. ("Saturday Evening Post" image)

A couple friends and I once built a soap box derby type of contraption for an informal competition in town. It was probably a little dangerous.
Notice I didn't say "racer," I said "contraption."
Several race crews gathered at the downhill slope on the east side of the old school. It was the typical type of childhood activity where we were self-starters. One imagines a Norman Rockwell type of painting. Maybe I could suggest a Dennis the Menace strip panel too.
Boomers often did things like this. Our enterprise was admirable. The activity itself might cause the parents of today to shudder. We played sandlot baseball in the same spirit.
We mustn't become too nostalgic because there were defects. Bullying could sprout and be undeterred. This current push to eradicate bullying probably gives boomers pause. We grew up under the laws of the jungle. We'd leave the house and do things unsupervised.
We gathered at the school hill and sent our "racers" down, testing to see who had the best approach. The kids at the bottom of the hill had better look out for what was coming down. The same held true with sledding. It was a madhouse with no adults to be seen.
I was reminded of that romp years later when watching an episode of the Red Green show on Public TV. The determined but calamitous Mr. Green had advice on making a good soap box racer. "The key," he said, was "large wheels."
I laughed because this was an area where my little group (of three, including the late Skip Sherstad) went wrong. We used wheels off an old stroller. Make no mistake, we deserved credit for our effort. Our engineering judgment was nonexistent. We moved onward, learning from mistakes.
Today kids are steered toward organized activities. They grow up in a time where any parent caught not using a child car seat might be stoned to death. Children's activities are supervised and structured. Parents probably sign forms agreeing to certain terms.
There are "waivers" where a slight risk factor might be presented. I'm sure lawyers hover over anything. Even waivers don't provide an airtight protection from legal action.
Kids aren't treated as human beings, they are treated as rare collectibles. There's no Norman Rockwell painting for the type of things kids do today. We have certainly built facilities for them.
I recently wrote about the "sandlot" days of hockey in Morris. "Sandlot" is figurative and applies to the ragtag nature of kids' activities once, when we needed to come up with our own amenities like bases for baseball.
We'd gather at the old elementary playground for baseball. We were spoiled having such an expansive playground available. Today the buildings and grounds are totally idle. The community could come up with no fresh use. A part of town that was once abuzz with the activities of youth is now idle.
I remember it was a challenge to try to glide down that slope in winter as if you were skiing, only you were wearing shoes. Terry Rice was good at it. Many of us ended up on our rear end. We'd laugh.
Today it would all be considered dangerous. We'd probably be chased away.
We played baseball without uniforms. The hockey kids were off on their own, using whatever adequate outdoor ice they could find, undaunted in enjoying their sport. Today the kids don't even have to think about the basic resources for their sports. We have an "infrastructure."
Can you imagine a Morris without a Lee Community Center? That's the Morris I grew up in. Varsity basketball was still being played at the old elementary auditorium/gymnasium. We had what you would call a "neighborhood" school. These were once the norm but seem to have fallen out of favor.
The safety-obsessed parents of today seem to insist on some distance from the real world of neighborhoods and adults going about their business.
Instead we have these "prison" schools. That's not my term, as I picked it up from a Morris Area school board member. She noted that so many new schools of today look like prisons out on the outskirts of town.
This sure makes me look at them in a different light. I admire the analysis this term reflects. They certainly look like prisons.
I was always reminded of the quote when driving past the KMS school.
The Morris school has grown like a monstrosity on the southern edge of the community. We are to be commended because the school isn't totally out beyond the town. Federated Church is right across the street, for example. So I won't call it a prison school.
But our culture is definitely protective to the maximum, which is fine in principle. We want everyone to be safe. But I think sometimes we need to encourage more of a notion of kids looking out for themselves.
A recent "Friday Facts" email included a notice from our police chief on the proper caution when driving near a school bus. Some very responsible people have been ticketed for violations in this regard.
I suspect many such violations aren't egregious. The police chief would probably disagree with me. A law is a law and it reflects proper judgment, he'd say. He'd better think that way, I guess.
I should state here that I have never received such a citation. A former Morris mayor has gotten at least one.
I'm not sitting here arguing that what these people did was totally safe and should be disregarded.
My argument is that in an earlier time, we expected kids to try to be responsible and careful on their own, up to a degree. When you're getting on and off a school bus, you should know there are cars out and about around you, so just be careful and look around.
Applying this to the computers of today, kids should know, and I'm sure they have the intelligence to know, there are risks and dangers out there and one ought to be vigilant about communications from any stranger. Instead we go after any adult "crossing the line" as if the mistakes are totally theirs.
These guys caught on the Chris Hansen TV series are just "bozos," I have written before. They need some sort of sanction that will scare the heck out of them and be a deterrent, but I'm not sure we need to get out the orange jump suits.
Good grief, America already has a disproportionately large percentage of its population incarcerated. It's being noted throughout the world. I agree totally with Ron Paul and other libertarians on how we need to back off on drug offenses.
I read a while back about a law enforcement person in Minnesota seeking to pull over someone who had an outstanding warrant or some such thing. The suspect fled. There was a collision and people got killed including a young child. And what was the individual wanted for? "Drug charges," I read. I groaned.
Our Chief Beauregard is to be commended on thinking about safety and carrying out society's wishes on this. He knows his job. My task as an idle pundit or thinker (hopefully) is to give some historical perspective, to conjure up those Norman Rockwell images of kids on their own, with ragtag or nonexistent resources, being self-starters and learning about life's challenges.
No indoor ice for hockey. No major league facsimile uniforms for little league baseball. (We wore T-shirts at Wells Park.)
Today our little mob with the homemade soap box "racers" might be chased off. There might be liability issues with school property, of course.
I'm not the only one who sees things like this. We got to talking in church one morning over coffee about these societal trends. An acquaintance of mine who works at UMM commented: "The way we protect kids today, maybe we should just wrap them in Nerf until they're 18."
Maybe it's all for the better. Maybe I'm just showing misguided boomer bias.
In our teens we hardly set an example. We'd plead the Fifth answering questions about that.
Today we seem rather fat and content. Different generations will have their values.
History will judge.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Stadium drumbeat beginning to grate

What price for this?

Maybe it's unhealthy for a product to be as popular as NFL football.
Baseball seemed king for a very long time. The Minnesota Vikings didn't even exist in the 1950s. Today the Vikings have such stature, they absolutely loom at the state capitol and over our lawmakers (many of them anyway, most notably our governor, sad to say).
The drumbeat for a new stadium is starting to grate. This fear of the Vikings leaving is a specter that hovers and irritates.
Teams seem to need new stadiums the way restaurants redecorate. The comparison isn't so far-fetched. Football is pure entertainment and it fears getting stale. It needs new frills now and then to keep fans curious and fired up.
All this is absolutely fine if it could stay in the private sector. But not only is it seizing the attention of our politicians like Governor Dayton, it is causing gambling to be thrust in our face.
No, Rudy Perpich is not turning over in his grave.
You might say "Governor Goofy" gave us this state of affairs. Perpich was a mentor for Dayton once. I hope there's no natural affinity between Democrats and gambling.
Perpich seemed like a quite upright man himself. But the expansion of gambling didn't make him flinch at all. I wonder if he had any real experience doing it. Did anyone ever give him the message it was dangerous and ought to be considered only on the most sober and measured terms?
Gambling was driven out of Minnesota in the late 1940s. It had crept into places like resorts.
The Perpich era seems distant but let's be reminded it lasted ten years. The once-taboo activity of gambling came into the daylight. Whereas we once only put up with low-stakes bingo in church basements, we came to almost embrace a "Pottersville" type of model.
The trend began at about the time I graduated from college. Charitable gambling stretched its legs beginning in 1978. How can you argue with something that's "charitable?" Five years later we saw the die cast for Canterbury Downs. Racetrack betting was there to tempt us now.
I remember picking up a brochure for Canterbury that had your All-American family, pure as the driven snow, on the front, with dad holding up a betting slip as they all rooted. The heading was "you bet it's fun."
Remember how Canterbury was ballyhooed at the start? It was considered a new part of our "big league mix" in Minnesota. I'm sure there was a special section in the Star Tribune at the time of its opening. We read how this was "the sport of kings."
Canterbury went through a decline that was also treated as a big deal by the media. Up through today, when we seem barely aware of Canterbury's existence but somehow it continues.
I went to Canterbury with a friend several times and it felt like spending a whole day in a Perkins restaurant. Not even the quarterhorses with their sprint could really thrill me. We might write this off as innocuous entertainment if it were not gambling.
The purpose of gambling is not for its sponsors to give money away. It's the opposite, you fools. It's going to play a big role in the construction of our Emerald City Vikings Stadium, unless the public registers enough skepticism. We should be holding our breath this week.
No one's liberty or property is safe when the legislature's in session. I think that's how the saying goes.
Our elected leaders find it proper to hold hands with an entertainment business that hardly looks like it needs subsidies. With owners who are clearly part of the "one per cent."
And Democrats are a party to this? Does Dayton, who generally doesn't seem "goofy," think pro football is some sort of opiate and that our withdrawal would be catastrophic?
We read that Governor Dayton, standing at the podium with his revenue commissioner (a la Gotham City officials making some sort of pronouncement), said allowing electronic bingo and pulltabs in the state's bars and restaurants would produce $62.5 million annually to finance the state's total $398 million for stadium construction. I read an analysis that suggests the numbers are far more daunting than they seem.
But let's not get bogged down in the numbers. We know there's a selling job going on now and our officials have been yanked into this, many with feet of clay that might be appropriate for Gotham City, where the Joker's minions sneak about.
I imagine electronic gambling is more efficient than having to support a horse racing industry. It's more efficient than "analog" gambling of the type that gave Las Vegas its famous imagery - a casino worker spinning a "wheel of fortune," for example. (I have read that the "wheel" is a very poor-odds game.)
I suppose we can dispose of the casino workers now that we have electronic tools. Welcome to the rest of the economy. The days might be numbered for grocery store checkout clerks.
Rudy Perpich made gambling palatable. He saw that the doors got swung wide open. He claimed it was just the people's will.
Whatever, then-State Senator Dean Johnson of Willmar said at the end of the 1989 legislative session "the gambling floodgates are open."
A state planning report stated in 1992 that "Minnesota was the largest casino gaming center between Nevada and New Jersey."
So much for the reserved nature of Minnesota Lutherans. Howard Mohr, author of "How to Speak Minnesotan," might have had to modify his thinking. The stereotype was threatened.
But I suppose we have learned how to rationalize gambling. We can go on with our Minnesota manners, maybe with a wink.
Meanwhile we see headlines about employee theft. It seems this has happened in Stevens County, and it doesn't always make headlines. It happened where I was once employed. That wasn't prosecuted, although the person in question - rest in peace, dear - reportedly signed some sort of document acknowledging it happened.
It wasn't the worst thing I was around in my career. I'd say adultery was the worst. We are so human an animal.
Gambling is a regressive tax. We all know people who will tell a tall tale about gambling success. I don't doubt these people have had success on isolated occasions. Without this lure, gambling would die. They play us like a piano.
I visited Las Vegas several times in the 1980s so I could tell you a story or two about raking some money in. We don't talk so readily about the "outgo" (of money).
The outgo will help build the palatial Vikings stadium, if the current proposal or something like it gets shepherded through our legislature. The shepherds are the "one per cent." Or as my friend Glen Helberg would say, "money talks and bulls--t walks."
State Senator Johnson was prescient. Of course he'll always be remembered for the terribly awkward flap over his surreptitious conversation with Minnesota Supreme Court members. His political stock dropped thanks to a minister with a tape recorder. Ah, the lot of politicians.
But Johnson was right on principle when he indicated concern about gambling's expansion. Native American tribes got a lucrative monopoly type of arrangement in 1989. They had better preserve their windfall from that. Because we're steadily becoming "Pottersville" with gambling becoming about as ubiquitous as people saying "you betcha" or "heckuva deal."
The camel's head isn't just poking into the tent now. The legalization of electronic pulltabs would build on the dubious legacy given us by "Governor Goofy."
Fortunately there appear to be some reservations about the stadium proposal beyond the gambling aspect. Let's have a push for a moratorium on "new stadium proposals."
It's starting to make us look ridiculous, like the Joker and his minions are taking over.

Click on the link below to read some more of my stadium thoughts which are on my companion website which is called "Morris of course." Here's the permalink:

- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Boys succumb to Benson in South semis

Many are called, few are chosen. That might be the theme for this time of year in prep basketball. The ranks of the teams "still going" have been cut way down.
The MACA boys had hoped to get this far. They made the trip to Collegeville Saturday, March 10, hoping to take that next step through the Section 6AA South tournament. It was sub-section semis day.
It's not as high on the ladder as you might think. To get there, the Tigers won one game, and this was over Eden Valley-Watkins. Yes, it was hard getting past EV-W. It required overtime and had a final scoreboard margin of a mere one point.
So it didn't really bode all that well. But there were other background facts promoting optimism. The Tigers were seeded No. 2. They in fact won on a pretty regular basis through the regular season.
Their Saturday foe at St. John's University, Collegeville, would be Benson, the team with the No. 3 seed.
The Tigers certainly showed they could handle the Braves during the regular season. The Tigers won by a comfortable margin at Benson. Our orange and black squad was second in conference behind only Montevideo (in the WCC-South). In all the Tigers had won 16 times going into Saturday.
So, could we prepare a winning script? Alas, no.
The teams all begin 0-0 in the post-season. You could wipe away the on-paper credentials. Benson certainly demonstrated it was a new season. Those rival Braves beat us when it hurt. They handed our Tigers a 68-53 defeat.
Thus the curtain comes down on the 2011-12 campaign for coach Mark Torgerson's squad. The final won-lost numbers: 16-11. Benson came out of the weekend at 18-9.
Benson won the right to face Litchfield in continuing tourney play. The Litchfield Dragons are 22-5 as I write this. They're breathing fire.
The score for the Morris-Benson game doesn't appear in the portion of the article that appears on page B1 in the March 12 Willmar newspaper. You have to follow the "jump" (to B3). This is something I would have been reprimanded for in my newspaper days.
Someone once complained to Lou Gelfand, then-ombudsman at the Star Tribune, about a Gophers basketball score not appearing on the front of sports. The suggestion was made that the score should appear real early-on. Lou's reaction? "Amen and Hallelujah."
MACA fans don't like looking at the score. But, there it is on B3 of the Willmar paper: 68-53. Not even that close. The Tigers had lost some of their luster (or roar).
Their reputation was as a more defensive-oriented team. Benson likes to accent offense. It was Benson's day to rule Saturday, led by Logan Connelly and his 23 points.
Matt Ahrndt - remember him as the football quarterback? - put in 16 points, and Sam Peterson added 14. Connelly and Ahrndt each made three 3-point shots. Peterson made one from that range, and Benson as a team was a superb eight of 14.
Benson punched down on the accelerator in the first half and outscored the Tigers 41-21. The orange and black fans must have felt stunned. The Tigers managed a 32-27 scoring advantage the rest of the way.
The Tigers were five of 20 in three-point shooting and 21 of 57 in total field goals. Logan Manska made two of the 3's while Brody Bahr, Riley Arndt and Jacob Torgerson each made one.
The Tigers were six of 13 at the freethrow line.
Austin Dierks led in rebounds with seven. Chandler Erickson was tops in assists with six. Arndt stole the ball three times.
Manska topped the scoring list with the rather modest total of eleven points. Bahr broke into double figures with his ten. Then we have Arndt 9, Lincoln Berget 9, Dierks 7, Erickson 4 and Jacob Torgerson 3.

Tigers 70, Eden Valley-Watkins 69
It wasn't much of a boost of confidence for the Tigers and their fans to have to sweat so much to get past the No. 7 seed in sub-section.
The Tigers took the court to play Eden Valley-Watkins on Thursday, March 8. The Tigers did win the game. That was the one essential accomplishment.
But it wasn't very heartening to weigh this against what Benson was doing to its first-round foe. Benson manhandled its foe that same night, and Benson would go on to end our Tigers' season two days later.
The March 8 story had coach Torgerson's squad prevailing 70-69 in overtime. Jacob Torgerson provided clutch heroics at the very end from the freethrow line, bringing vocal approval from the fans assembled at our Morris Area gym.
The Tigers outscored EV-W 7-6 in overtime.
This game was close the whole way with Morris Area Chokio Alberta having just a one-point edge at halftime, 37-36.
Riley Arndt was a key player with a team-best 17 points on the night, plus he led in rebounds with five. Actually he co-led in rebounds as Austin Dierks also picked up five. Chandler Erickson and Logan Manska each provided four assists. Manska with his five steals led there.
Manska made two 3-point shots but these were the only MACA successes from that range, in ten attempts. In total field goals the Tigers were 27 of 56. In freethrows: 14 of 21.
Manska had a memorable night with 20 points scored. Riley Arndt put in 17 followed by Austin Dierks with 13. Then we have three Tigers each with six points - Jacob Torgerson, Chandler Erickson and John Tiernan - followed by Brody Bahr and Nic Vipond each with one.
Eden Valley-Watkins ended its season with a 6-19 record. The Tigers would bow to Benson who kept their buzz saw going.
It has been a pleasure for yours truly to cover the Tigers this past season. And now we're obviously ushering in spring. I invite you to read my thoughts on the new Vikings stadium proposal which is on my companion website, called "Morris of course."
Here's the permalink:

- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Advertisers would love bypassing Limbaugh

It's too easy to just add to the cacophony against Rush Limbaugh now. The pied piper of all ignoramuses chugs onward.
Thinking about the Limbaugh mess makes me wonder about the daily grind. Why is it that pundits like Limbaugh get their "gigs" and just seem to go on forever? The conservative ones in particular have no expiration date.
Why is it that conservatives seem to "need" Limbaugh? Hasn't he become more trouble than he's worth, even to them?
Why can't Limbaugh be like a country music singer who has his "run" and then fades? New talent comes along. The audience wants something fresh. All very understandable.
So why is it that conservative throngs out there, people who thump their chest about being "conservative" even though the pure application of those principles might leave them chagrined, seem to want something stale or rotten?
How can they not describe Limbaugh as totally creepy now? How can they not see he has some sexual issues coming to the surface that ought to be subdued?
Sean Hannity of Fox News thought Joe McGinnis was "creepy" just because he rented the house next to Sarah Palin, while researching for a book that is now available at our Morris Public Library. I wondered for some time whether local tea partiers might protest if that book came here. They are as protective of Palin as they are of Limbaugh.
I suspect the McGinnis book is just "old news" now. So many highlights came out and were reported some time ago. Not that I wouldn't want to read it. It's on the new non-fiction rack.
Did Rick Santorum actually insult the nation's conservatives by saying Limbaugh was "just an entertainer?"
Santorum like so many of his stripes is scared of the pied piper. No one on the progressive side exudes this.
The "entertainer" tag might seem to belittle the rotund radio god. A mere entertainer can't dispense serious political thoughts, can he? Oh but he does. He tries to put "progressives" on their heels every day. He knows he has to be confrontational to a degree.
But he also knows this is a daily tightrope act. Because first and foremost he guards the interests of his advertisers. This is despite the fact he likened some of his now-departed advertisers to "a few french fries that might fall out at the drive-through."
If I were one of those advertisers, I'd have a few choice words for the bombastic idiot/manipulator.
The "french fries" comment might in fact be a dagger (for him). He was biting the hand that feeds him, suggesting his whole persona was bigger than his advertisers, many of whom are apparently nothing more than discarded french fries.
Limbaugh has been the de facto leader of the Republican party.
If Santorum brands Limbaugh as a mere "entertainer," not worthy of serious commentary or reaction from a presidential aspirant, what does that say about the nation's conservatives? That they are inspired by a non-thinker? A lot of us have known that all along.
Here's a dirty little background secret about the Limbaugh controversy: A lot of advertisers would absolutely love to bypass him. The tech revolution and new media are increasingly making this possible anyway.
Advertisers simply want to reach their customers. They aren't interested in covering the overhead for a printing plant or delivery trucks as with newspapers. They would love not having to "sponsor" a boob like Limbaugh. They would like not having to sponsor anyone.
The entertainers have just been a lure for an audience.
In the past this model was a given. People who run newspapers know that advertising is everything. They say their mission is to inform the public but it's a charade. I'm not exaggerating.
Most people who run newspapers view their news divisions as sort of a nuisance. They cost money. They can cause trouble. The public can place unreasonable expectations on them.
Newspaper publishers know they have to maintain a modicum of news coverage and public service for reasons of reputation. They gnash their teeth at the same time. They just want local businesses to keep cutting checks to them.
Newspapers used to operate with sort of a monopoly mentality. They have been truly shaken up the past few years. Nothing has improved because of that. The competition faced by newspapers doesn't even fight on their terms. They bypass newspapers, harnessing new tech with efficiency and reach that ought to make our head spin.
Newspapers have been pummeled but they hang on, smaller and less relevant than before. The newspaper in Morris has gone through a non-stop shrinking act in terms of frequency of publication and (let's not forget) page size. And we aren't supposed to notice.
We're flooded with advertising circulars many of which are dumpster-ready.
And on the radio airwaves, we're supposed to revere a mouth that reaches millions in spite of the drivel, paranoia and outright creepiness that emanates from it. Most advertisers are now saying the voice ought not define America or at least a significant chunk of it.
At a certain point, basic civility needs to be invoked. We have to be concerned about our image in the world. Rush Limbaugh is a big fat whatever. I don't care that he's fat, just that he's a cynical and manipulative opportunist.
Isn't there some younger talent out there waiting in the wings? Can't we see a "fresh face" like in country music?
There is talk that a new Mike Huckabee radio show might be a "safe haven" for advertisers. I guess he's not really young or fresh. But he seems a bit more level-headed, less sensational or confrontational.
He's an acknowledged conservative leader. So he can't be expected to speak intelligently all the time. At least he has clergy credentials. He has succumbed to some of the "birther" rhetoric and that's concerning. But the bar must be set very low for these people.
Huckabee won't stir the pot so much. He's not so much of a throwback. He has said Barack Obama grew up in Kenya. He elaborated, saying our president was influenced by the Mau-Mau Revolution. Such mishandling of facts would bring a failing grade in a high school classroom. And this man was a serious candidate for president.
But if conservatives need a pied piper of sorts, no matter how off-base, Huckabee might be more agreeable than Rush Limbaugh the cigar-chomping clown.
I can't imagine Huckabee making the kind of offensive-beyond-words comments that recently came from Limbaugh.
Limbaugh has been in his "daily grind" long enough. Maybe he has just become zombie-like having done it so long. Why doesn't he wake up in the morning sometime and start thinking about something else? Refresh yourself - it'll be good for you.
After a while you might come to see just how absurd you had become. Let the "new country singer" in. Huckabee isn't new but he's fresh at least in terms of the radio product.
We must remind ourselves that we can't expect too much from conservatives, a reflexive and emotional movement that articulates quite well what it doesn't like and what it is suspicious of. But it has no clear eye at all about what clearly should be enacted.
Conservatives crash and burn when they get real power. They begin ignoring real issues and dive into the social issues spectrum, where they can keep pulling those emotional and impulsive levers that have worked well for them. They are in effect a one-trick pony.
They're harmless if they just bide their time listening to an afternoon radio show that reinforces their fears. Let them clog online comment boards with their vitriol. Let them be a sideshow.
This is the line that Limbaugh crossed. His "entertainment," as Santorum would describe it, couldn't be dismissed as innocuous anymore. Calling Sandra Fluke a slut and prostitute and suggesting she have her sexual activity videotaped was the kind of tripe that should cause flamethrowers to be directed at him immediately.
Instead we see Republican presidential contenders with their tepid and cowardly reactions. This speaks volumes.
Lest there be any doubt Barack Obama will be re-elected, it's put aside now.
Ask for your french fries to be put in a sack, then they can be handed off at the drive-through with nothing lost. Turn off Rush Limbaugh on your car radio. Show some discretion. You're better than to require a pied piper.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Seniors Ostby and Gibson impress in state

Tim Ostby and Zach Gibson soared in the closing stages of the wrestling season. It all reaches a big climax at the Xcel Center in St. Paul. (In my younger days I toted my camera to the St. Paul Civic Center.)
The Tiger duo excelled at the Xcel. Tim Ostby captured runner-up honors at 145 pounds. Big Zach Gibson garnered No. 4 at 285. Both were in state last year but came up shy of placing then.
They weren't to be denied in 2012 with an additional year of seasoning under their belts. They applied that savvy and experience to turn back foes, most of them anyway. It's easy at state to run into a "buzz saw" at some point. There are some seemingly superhuman competitors.
Let's begin our review with Mr. Ostby, who began with a 13-3 major decision over Zach Jaeger of Stewartville. Tim took charge with four takedowns during this bout.
Next for Tim was the quarter-finals where he took on Colton Vekved of Becker. Tim took care of business again, prevailing with a 5-2 decision.
Now we're in the semis, and here the opponent for Ostby was Dustin Ellsworth of St. Paul Harding. Tim showed come-from-behind resilience. He and Ellsworth fought into overtime. Suspense was high. Whose arm got raised at the end? It was Tim's!
Tim won by fall, so now he could contemplate moving forward into the finals. It's a very prestigious circle: the state finals.
Tim was assured great satisfaction no matter how it turned out, but he had to square off vs. one of those truly premier foes. It was Jake Short of Simley. Short owned a 40-1 record entering state. He was ranked No. 1 in state and No. 4 in the nation.
Ostby lost by fall in the second period. He stood on the awards stand at No. 2. He projected the orange and black proudly to be sure. As a Tiger senior he went 36-4.
The Zach Gibson story in state began with a win by fall in 5:24 over Preston Woods of South St. Paul.
Gibson was then dealt a setback. He fell by a 16-0 score to Austin Goergen of Caledonia, from a part of the state associated with Spencer Yohe, the iconic former wrestling coach here who was associated with several institutions (including UMM where he was a right hand man to Steve Carr).
Goergen brought a 33-1 record to state. He was the two-time defending state champion. Zach couldn't overcome him. But more mat exploits awaited Zach.
He bounced back with a pin in 1:38 over David DeYoung of Staples-Motley. Then he took care of business vs. Mike Dyer of Richfield, winning 5-1.
Now the consolation semis awaited. Here he faced off vs. Matt Kadrlik of Simley. Gibson won with a flourish, posting a fall in 3:36, thus making his way into the third place match at 285 pounds.
Gibson gamely took the mat to face Sam Stoll of Kasson-Mantorville, the second-ranked heavyweight in Minnesota. A hard-fought bout developed which ended with Gibson on the short end 1-0.
Gibson had a stellar 37-5 senior season.
Congratulations to all the Tiger matmen of Morris Area Hancock Chokio Alberta (MAHACA). But I still wish we would just be called "Morris Area."

Girls basketball: New London-Spicer 49, Tigers 28
MACA fans couldn't help feeling their team was the underdog Saturday (3/3) at St. John's University, Collegeville.
Granted, the MACA girls had beaten Paynesville two days earlier in the sub-section tournament.
The Tigers may have felt buoyed by that success but a substantial hurdle presented itself Saturday.
The Tigers were now up against New London-Spicer, a program accustomed to reaching great heights. Lest there be any doubt, the won-lost numbers told a story. The Wildcats of New London-Spicer stood 18-8 while MACA was trying to shake off a losing tendency, with a 9-16 mark coming in.
Yes, the Tigers did upset the Paynesville Bulldogs on the road. It was an on-paper upset but not a huge one.
The Tigers and their coach Dale Henrich were looking for something huge Saturday.
For half of this game, it seemed to be within reach. The Tigers led for some of the first half and found themselves down by just one at halftime, 17-16. But whatever things the Tigers were doing right, they just weren't able to continue.
The Wildcats found some of the attributes that made them the No. 1 seed in Section 6AA-South. They lived up to that favored status, outscoring the Tigers 32-12 in the second half and winning 49-28.
So the books are closed on the Tigers' 2011-12 season.
They faded in three-point shooting Saturday. This is the kind of weapon that can help an underdog. But there was no special magic blessing the Tigers Saturday.
Katie Holzheimer made two 3-pointers but these were the only such successes for MACA. The team was two of 15.
In total field goals the team numbers were eleven of 58. The scant freethrow numbers were four of eight.
Holzheimer may have made a pair of 3's but she was held to eight points by a tight NL-S defense. It was MaKenzie Smith (employing her cross country stamina?) leading the squad with 15 points.
Nicole Strobel scored four points and Tracey Meichsner one.
The 28 team points were a disappointing total.
Smith led the team in rebounds with ten followed by Beth Holland with eight and Strobel with seven. Meichsner dished out five assists.
Taylor Thunstedt was a prime NL-Spicer contributor with 28 points, plus she snared six rebounds. She made three 3-pointers.
Wildcats Amanda Radel and Olivia Setterberg each scored eight points. Radel sank two 3-pointers.
The season ends for MACA with a won-lost mark of 9-17. New London-Spicer climbed to the next rung with a 19-8 mark.

Boys basketball: Melrose 73, Tigers 63
The home of the Dutchmen, Melrose, wasn't a pleasant place for the MACA boys to visit on Friday, 3/2.
The Tigers got on the Interstate to close out the regular season. They were humbled in the first half, badly enough that even some second half surging seemed futile. The Tigers did in fact surge some in the second half.
But they couldn't shake the handicap of having been down 49-25 at halftime.
The Tigers and Dutchmen have similar won-lost records. Maybe it was the home court that made the difference for Melrose. Whatever, the Tigers ended up going down to defeat in the 73-63 final.
The Tigers outscored the Dutchmen 38-24 in the second half. Coach Mark Torgerson's crew certainly hopes to pick up from there when action resumes. The resumption will be for the post-season.
I'm posting this late-afternoon Thursday, 3/8, and tonight is when the handkerchief drops for the start of post-season. Tonight's foe is Eden Valley-Watkins. We're in Section 6 of AA. Our Tigers own a 15-10 season record going in.
Melrose owned a 19-8 record coming out of Friday. Scottie Stone was a big force for Melrose in overpowering Morris Area Chokio Alberta. Scottie poured in 26 points including one 3-pointer.
Other Dutchmen making 3's were Seth Noll and Ryan Ellering.
Melrose made four 3's on the night but were outdone by the Tigers who made five. Jacob Torgerson showed a hot hand making four of these. Logan Manska had the other.
As a team the Tigers were five of 19 in 3's and 26 of 63 in total field goals. In freethrows the numbers were six of 15.
Jacob's hot hand still left him one point shy of teammate Austin Dierks in the scoring column. Dierks and Torgerson led the Tigers in scoring with 18 and 17 points respectively. Chandler Erickson reached double figures too with ten points.
Manska put in six points followed by Riley Arndt and Lincoln Berget each with five. Brody Bahr added two points to the mix.
We'd like to see Jacob and perhaps others get hot from beyond the three-point stripe starting tonight!
Berget collected a team-high seven rebounds. He and Erickson led in assists, each with three.
The Tigers had their high points on the night, and even shaved their deficit to single digits in the second half, but it was a night for Scottie Stone and his Dutchmen to rule.
Now it's time to savor the post-season!
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Remembering Don Mincher, power merchant

Don Mincher on baseball card, which could have been purchased at Stark's Grocery in Morris. (Image from "bolstablog")

Books by George Will and Tim McCarver made me realize how complicated baseball strategy is. As a kid it seemed pretty simple to me. I was among the legions of young Minnesota Twins fans who marveled at the home run.
Those early Twins teams were built for power.
Harmon Killebrew was the clear household name. Winning seemed pretty basic to us. You had 3-4 players in the meat of the lineup capable, at any time, of powering the ball over the fence.
What could be better for captivating Minnesota's still-neophyte major league baseball fans? The Twins were still new in 1965. Calvin Griffith brought them here from Washington D.C. four years earlier. Previous to that we were that "cold Omaha," I guess, which is the term intoned by sports advocates when we see the specter of a team possibly leaving here.
The Lakers left. The Twins put their roots down.
The Twins enthralled us with home runs in 1964 but couldn't win accordingly. My, they finished in a tie for sixth place in the American League. The team's braintrust went to work prior to '65 making sure more of those "little things" would be implemented. The power was still there.
Power alone wouldn't lift us past the New York Yankees who were nearing the end of their dynasty at that time.
Sam Mele was the Twins manager who engineered the more complete attack. An irony is that it worked despite Killebrew missing two months with injury.
How did we adjust? With the power-swinging Don Mincher available, we hardly missed a beat.
We lost Don Mincher on Sunday (3/4). He passed away at age 73 after a long illness.
He played in 128 games for the 1965 Twins who won the American League championship. I have a hard time typing that, as I would much prefer "world champions." But the story didn't end like in 1987 or '91.
It was a seven-game series in '65 just like in those two later years. But the game #7 story wasn't joyous. We failed to overcome legendary lefty Sandy Koufax.
Los Angeles had to adjust its pitching rotation because of Koufax observing a Jewish holiday. The Twins won three games in that series and thrilled their Met Stadium following - no Teflon roof there - with considerable success at home.
Even the pitcher, Jim Grant, hit a home run in game #6.
We were surely the opposite of a "cold Omaha." But victory eluded us in game #7.
It was a bitter end to our otherwise exhilarating ride that summer. Mincher hit 22 home runs in his 346 at-bats. He drove in 65 runs and scored 43. His power bat resonated for 17 doubles and three triples to complement those dingers.
The lumbering Mincher even stole a base. His batting average: .251.
Boomers like me will remember Mincher as a guy who deserved to play more. The problem is that first base got a little crowded for the fledgling Minnesota Twins. We had Vic Power, a pioneering non-white athlete who was a maestro with the glove. I loved his flourishes with that six-finger glove around first base.
Killebrew played first along with third and the outfield - interesting versatility considering he was never considered a great fielder. Bob Allison also had first base credentials.
The early Twins were not known for great fielding. In this sense you might say Mincher fit right in. He wielded a power bat while bringing yawns with his play in the field.
Billy Martin worked on this. Martin joined the Twins in 1964 when he was still a dedicated craftsman of the game, not the character that marked his slow and rather sad demise. Like Hunter Thompson, the journalist, Martin carved out his professional reputation in the standard way, with hard work and dedication, getting one's proper amount of sleep and minimizing any bad habits.
If kids think those later celebrated bad habits had anything to do with achieving success, they are sadly mistaken.
Martin made Mincher a project at first base. He taught the brawny guy to carry himself like a middle infielder, to get in front of ground balls instead of "swiping" at them.
Mincher also learned to "whistle while he worked." Actually he sang, literally. Martin sensed some tenseness with "Minch" when working in the field. Some light singing was therapy, presumably not detectable amid the din of Met Stadium fans.
That stadium was where Mall of America is today. It's slowly fading in fans' memories. But what a magical focal point of Minnesota life it was, never more so than in 1965.
Mincher's career spanned 1960 to 1972. He was with the original Washington Senators when they came here. Griffith might have been a curmudgeonly throwback but he was a hero here for a long time. Mincher and Earl Battey, the iconic catcher, came to the Griffith organization along with $150,000 in cash. This was in exchange for a player named Roy Sievers.
There was no free agency then. Free agency might have allowed Mincher to free himself from the crowded first base situation with the Twins. As it was he hung in there and made big contributions when getting the opportunity.
He homered twice in a game three times in 1965. He excelled in July, connecting for nine of his season total 22 home runs that season.
Boomers had an emotional connection to the team throughout the '60s. There was just one pennant to be celebrated. But the team was respected throughout.
Mincher made an impression in 1964, homering 23 times in fewer than 300 at-bats. We wonder how Mincher could have done as a full-time player. But there was no doubt he was an essential ingredient.
In June of 1966, Mincher was part of a thrilling episode in Twins history, as he was one of five who homered in a single inning! It was the seventh inning of a game against the Kansas City Athletics (later to become the Oakland A's). Mincher rocketed the ball over the fence, Twins style, along with Killebrew (of course), Tony Oliva, Rich Rollins and Zoilo Versalles.
It's still a major league record. Three of those homers were off Catfish Hunter who was destined for greatness, just not on this day. For the record, the other two were off Paul Lindblad.
I remember Del Sarlette of Morris joking that Mincher once hit "40 home runs as a pinch-hitter."
Del was exaggerating, making the point that the early Twins teams were so power-laden, you might almost expect such a thing. He also summed up Mincher's tenure with the Twins, with memorable power contributions in limited playing time.
Eventually Mincher did leave the Twins' fold. He in fact became one of those "journeyman" players. Is that good or bad?
I remember John Madden talking about this type of player in football. He thought it was good. His comments were prompted by Gus Frerotte. Players who seem to "bounce around" actually have good attributes, he said, as they "take good care of their bodies and are good teammates."
Mincher took his power bat to the Angels, Seattle Pilots (in their only year of existence), the A's, the (new) Washington Senators, Rangers, and A's (again). Yes, his whole career was in the American League.
He really had a storied career. He finished with 200 home runs, right on the nose. He drove in 643 runs and twice made the American League all-star team, in '67 and '69. Had he been with the Twins in '69 he would have played under Billy Martin, who by that time was developing some of his eccentricities. Note the fight with pitcher Dave Boswell.
But Mincher was with the fascinating Seattle Pilots in 1969, an orphan team. He led them with 25 home runs. Today Seattle only cares about the Mariners. And Milwaukee only cares about the Brewers. (The Brewers are the former Pilots.)
More significantly, the Pilots gave the backdrop for the seminal baseball book by Jim Bouton: "Ball Four." It was a new kind of sports book, clearly showing that pro athletes were human beings with failings and peccadilloes. I'm not going to dust off my copy to refresh my memory, but I believe there's a story about Mincher "bumming" cigarettes off people and then not immediately lighting them up - cute.
Remember when you could "bum" cigarettes off people? Heck, remember when smoking was a norm in our society?
Mincher reportedly didn't like Ball Four. That was the typical attitude of players at the time.
Mincher's storied career ended with a dramatic hit in his very last swing of the bat in the big leagues. He was with the A's, a team known at that time for reclamation projects. The year was 1972. The A's were destined to win it all.
Along the way they needed Mincher to come through as pinch-hitter. The capable veteran came to bat, adorned in the Oakland green, in the ninth inning of game #4 of the World Series against the Reds. (It was the fall of my senior year in high school.)
It was his only at-bat of the series. He hit an RBI single that tied the score. It might have been the highlight of his career.
We Twins fans would beg to differ. We can close our eyes and think it's 1965 again, envisioning those Twins power hitters like Mincher giving us such priceless memories on the Bloomington prairie.
We can envision Mincher "getting ahold of one," perhaps prompting us to stand in loud acclamation.
Funeral services for Don Mincher are tomorrow (Wednesday, March 7). He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Patsy Ann Payne Mincher, along with three children, six grandchildren and three great-great grandchildren.
Don Mincher, RIP.

Click on the permalink below to read the blog post by Phil Bolsta, where I got the card image that appears at the top of this post. It's a touching and reflective post that shows Don Mincher to have been a very considerate person. It's also a window into what it was like to be a young fan of the Twins in the 1960s.

- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, March 3, 2012

MACA hoops ushers in March with victories

Boys hoops: Tigers 54, BOLD 47
We're into the month of March which is the prime time for prep sports excitement. The MACA boys ushered in the month with an impressive road win in a conference game.
The site was Bird Island. The opponent was BOLD (the Warriors). The outcome: a 54-47 win for the orange and black crew.
The Tigers broke loose after a deadlocked situation at halftime (a 23-all tied score). Coach Mark Torgerson coaxed his student athletes to a 31-24 scoring advantage in the second half.
The success put a slight damper on a significant BOLD statistical accomplishment. MACA fans are well familiar with the talents of Kyle Athmann. Athmann climbed past 1000 career points in the Thursday, March 1, game. He was "in the groove" offensively with 25 points - the only Warrior in double figures.
He made four shots from three-point range.
Impressive as this exhibition was, it wasn't enough to vault the Warriors past the Tigers.
The Tigers wrapped up their WCC-South schedule 9-3. Those numbers spell second place behind clear kingpin Montevideo. Monte humbled the Tigers in a recent game.
Going into Thursday, it wasn't certain that Athmann was going to surpass the magical milestone. There wasn't clear cause to dispatch the TV crews etc. Athmann needed 24 points. Talented as he is, there was no certainty he could post such a total.
But he did, clearing the milestone by that precious one point. His Warriors closed out the conference at 6-6. In overall they've done a bit better, with 13-10 W/L numbers coming out of Thursday.
The Tigers' win was their 15th overall against nine losses. How far can they climb in the post-season? This is the month to find out.
Logan Manska made the only "3" for MACA Thursday. He'd finish the night with a team-best 21 points. Austin Dierks put in 14 points and matched that total in rebounds.
Continuing with scoring we have Riley Arndt (5), Jake Torgerson (4), Brody Bahr (4), Lincoln Berget (4) and Chandler Erickson (2).
Erickson and Bahr each had four assists, and Erickson stole the ball four times.
From the freethrow line the Tigers made 11 of 17 shots.

Girls basketball: Tigers 57, Paynesville 50
March began on a most upbeat note for the Morris Area Chokio Alberta girls. Tournament-time was already here. The Tigers were seeded fifth and were going to have to strive for upset form vs. the No. 4 seed.
The opponent: Paynesville (the Bulldogs). As the lower seed the Tigers accepted the road assignment. They succeeded as the road team and as the underdog.
Coach Dale Henrich coaxed his student athletes to a 57-50 triumph in this Section 6AA South affair.
The Tigers might find the going tougher today (Saturday, 3/3). Now they face the No. 1 seed, New London-Spicer, who cruised through the opening round with a 71-45 win over St. John's Prep.
Today's venue is St. John's University in Collegeville. It's semis day.
Coach Henrich liked the fast start his team performed against Paynesville. It's always good to quiet the (opposition) home crowd.
Henrich liked the crisp passing by his team. The reward was high-percentage shots much of the time.
Foul trouble began looming. Paynesville took advantage to claw back and get the score tied. They used steals and layups and began looking like the higher-seeded team. The scoreboard revealed the tie score for halftime: 23-all.
The Tigers prevailed partly because of defense and rebounding which won good grades throughout the game. Henrich commented to the media that "we really hustled after the ball."
Different players stood out at key, pivotal times. "Put-backs" fueled the winning surge.
Katie Holzheimer was at the fore with a statistical double-double. She led the squad in scoring with 22 points. She snared ten rebounds. MaKenzie Smith put in 14 points and collected seven rebounds. Tracy Meichsner contributed eight points and ten rebounds.
Three-point shots had their role in the win. Here the team numbers were the quite acceptable four of ten. Holzheimer was dead-on in shooting and made all four.
Nicole Strobel scored seven points, Beth Holland five and Holly Amundson one.
Meichsner matched Holzheimer's rebound total of ten, and Strobel had nine. Holland led in assists with four. Meichsner with her four steals led there.

Wrestling: media observations
The main "wrestling crowd" is in St. Paul this weekend for the state tournament so they aren't around to observe the weekly Morris newspaper, which comes out on Saturday. I assume today's paper includes coverage of the section meet which is a really big deal in wrestling.
By the time the weekend wrestling travelers get home, the section meet coverage might seem as old as the day it was born. But there was a way to appreciate print media coverage of the section meet last week. All you had to do was acquire the Chokio or Hancock newspapers, newspapers that serve Mayberry-like communities. That's a compliment.
The "big town" paper (Mount Pilot?) wasn't published all week. But you could read about the Tigers in the section meet by getting a small-town paper. I checked these out at our Morris Public Library. Both seemed to have a quite thorough summary.
But I noticed something odd. The article in the Chokio paper was written by Blaine Hill, coaching staff member. The article in the Hancock paper was written by a Morris newspaper staff member. (The Morris and Hancock papers are owned by the same Fargo-based company.)
The duplication of effort struck me as odd. I have no idea what the story is behind this. There are lots of little stores behind area high school athletics. Most of the people buzzing about these have little idea that the "outside world" doesn't give a hoot (apologies to the Hancock Owls).
The outside world follows normal life from day to day. We wouldn't dream of getting our blood pressure up over the kind of issues that can consume the high school sports folks.
If Blaine Hill (also Morris city manager) likes to write and wants to provide a public relations outlet, why can't his services suffice for any and all media? I'm just asking.
The article in the Hancock paper required time and coordination between the writer and the coaching staff I'm sure. Section wrestling results are extensive and complicated, with 14 weight classes, data on decisions, major decisions, falls etc.
It seems to me if Blaine is willing to compile all this, let's all just go with it and skip the duplicative process. I'm just wondering.
Beyond that I have another suggestion which should be as clear as the nose on your face. If Blaine likes to write and if Chuck Nelson likes to take pictures - I'm told Chuck compiles a souvenir DVD for fans - why don't they establish an information bureau online - a "Morris Area Hancock Chokio Alberta" website that would be the last word on Tiger wrestling, and a PR outlet?
All they need do is implement a free blogging platform like what you're looking at right now. How about it, guys?
You could then tell any and all area newspapers that they are welcome to come and get anything they want on the site.
Convenient, yes. But the newspapers wouldn't like this because of the realization that fans would simply start using the website. Who needs the newspapers?
The website is free and there are no limitations - no need to "squeeze in" the material as so often happens with newspapers, which try to be all things to all people.
Hey, wrestling people, take care of your own needs online. UMM's winter sports already does. Step into the future and realize (and seize) the new media realities.
Here's a dirty little secret: it's fun.
Blaine is going to have his hands full in the next few months as the City of Morris grapples with the need to tear down the old school. What a mess. If it was going to be torn down, it should have been done sooner rather than later.
I wouldn't want to own property downwind during the demolition. Imagine the gawkers who will turn out.
Congrats to state wrestling achievers Tim Ostby and Zach Gibson and to all the MAHACA Tigers.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com