Archive for April, 2013

Tim Bawden and His Weltanschauung

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

My good friend, Tim Bawden, recently died. He was a treasure to all who love this state, all who treasure the local, the authentic, the sense of place.

We got to be friends while grad students in Geography at University of Wisconsin-Madison. The friendship was cemented over beers at the Terrace. The stories are legion.

He was a fun-loving person, and in that spirit I post this image of a map he made wayyyyyy back in grad school. It was so hilarious I kept it all these years! Below that, some explanatory text (good luck with the German!–I had to use his family’s pre-WWI “echt Deutsch” spelling for his name!).





Tim was very proud of & very knowledgeable about Wisconsin’s heritage, particularly its German heritage. He was originally from Sheboygan Falls. To him Wisconsin culture was centered on Sheboygan. According to The Bawden General Theory on Wisconsin, you could run a distance decay function and find in any & all tests (accent, culinary traditions, Packer Fan-dom, fishing & hunting prowess, etc.) that Wisconsin-ness lessened the farther you were from Sheboygan. And he could prove it, too!

Tim was too young to die (47). He was a beloved UW Eau Claire professor, and beloved by all who came upon him.

I’m not a good obit writer. Here is the Eau Claire paper’s version. But I’m also going to include some things written by his other friends from grad school & beyond.

From Karen T:

While I didn’t know Tim as well as many of you, he helped me understand the Midwest and Wisconsin. His love of his home, that included so much humor in his storytelling, still remains such an important part of my fond memories of grad school and Madison. We will miss his generous soul. It is also tragic for all of us to know of his struggle and perhaps we can learn to figure out better ways (as a society) to prevent this disease from the harm it does to us all. Wendy surely must be having an especially difficult time for all sorts of reasons, so for those of you who can make the service,please do send our love as a group as well.

A sad, big hug, xx Karen

From Mary B:

[The] comment about Tim’s ‘thriftiness’ immediately
made me remember how he’d go over to the University Bookstore and pick up discarded receipts,
if any were around, so he could cash them in with others.  What a dumb thing to remember about him.
Of course I remember a lot else, too:  his good nature, his intelligence, his lack of pretense, his
kindness, so many things.  Just makes it all that much sadder.

This is indeed a very sad time for some really good friends. We’ll miss Tim forever. Our very best wishes go out to Wendy & Max.


Needling the Power: Rummel’s High Road Strategy

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

I’ve always admired Salman Rushdie’s hammering of the arrogant, the powerful. This is classic.

Very much brings to mind the dynamic on our neighborhood’s listserv ( People who question the arrogant power-wielders get routinely trashed by the listserv-marms. Those enforcers of civility (well, their short-sighted version thereof) are (at best) mute to,  and (more accurately) apologists for actual, physical abuses of power. Our local alder, Marsha Rummel, for instance, is all about destroying air, land and water with her paving ways, but the establishment progressives come rushing to her defense the moment her policies come into question. To question–with words–her physical abuse of our environment (and the people who drink water and breathe air) brings denunciations of, “Cyber-bully!” or snide condescensions of “That’s not how we do it in the 6th.” And the ultimate: question her votes for trashing the air we breathe and the water we drink and you get thrown off of your city commission (or, alternately, your appointment gets blocked). As you can see from my previous posts, her violence against our aquifer is now starting to cost us–in cash–as ratepayers and taxpayers. I’ve written extensively about its effects on our city finances over the years; here’s a classic. (Make sure to click through to the “Madison is paving itself into oblivion” article–yes, she voted for all of those extreme paving budgets except for the ’09 budget.)


Rummel’s “High Road Strategy”

But the defenders of Rummel’s pollution-as-usual policies are always successful in cowing those ready to move forward from her 1950s mentality. Every election her oh-so-sensible defenders sniff, nose in the air, with condescending disgust, their “disappointment” that an opposing candidate would have the temerity to actually run against such a progressive saint as Marsha Rummel. The stalwarts of progressive piety denounce as blasphemy any opposition: To merely run against Rummel brings on denunciations of not being sufficiently “high road” to represent the district; “That we just don’t do negative campaigns in Madison;” etc. To run against Rummel is to invite the wrath of God Herself. And the district bows down before the icon; the last two elections it voted in droves for the symbol over substance–70% for Rummel.

And thus continues the paving, the annihilation of our drinking water and the air we breathe, the diversion of city resources from the poor, from basic services. Yup, the most proudly liberal/progressive district in the universe voted for it.

More to come on all that, I’m sure.

Water Waste in the Emerald City

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013
Dear Common Council Members,
Tonight you are being asked to approve plans to drill a new Southeast Side Well (Well #31) at 4401 Tradewinds Pkwy – just S of the Beltline – just W of Beltline-I-90 (Agenda Item 101):
Please oppose this. 
We oppose it. Because:
-The well is not needed. Well 9, off Buckeye Road near Stoughton Road, which supplies water to the SE Side, has been down (out of operation) before. The Water Utility has continued to supply water to the SE Side even with Well 9 down–apparently with no problem. A 2nd well for the SE Side is not a priority we can afford right now.
-While the Water Utility created a Citizen Advisory Panel (CAP) to consider a new SE Side well; the SE Side CAP approved going ahead. But the CAP recognized the problem with siting a well in this area (pollution, low volume well output, etc.), and so actually suggested siting it up at Felland Rd. 
-This area is notorious for low productivity wells, even by Water Utility estimates. You won’t get what you want in terms of water volumes. This will end up being an expensive boondogle at ratepayers’ expense.
-There is a significant TCE (industrial toxins) groundwater plume from GE Medical in the I-90–Femrite area. The TCE plume is headed right for the new well (by Water Utility’s own analysis). Pumping this new deep well will almost certainly pull the TCE further, faster towards the new well, again by Water Utility’s own admission.
-The Utility’s financial priority should be:
a. Cleaning up the significant water quality problems at our existing wells. (Why are we digging new wells when we can’t even properly manage the wells we already have?)
b. More rapid payback of City property taxpayers for a ‘loan’ of property tax money to the Utility;
c. Increasing the rate of replacement of leaky old pipe throughout the City (this would actually provide much of the volume the Utility is seeking; 
d. Institute a progressive rate structure that creates strong incentives to use less water.
e. Use the profits from the higher rates on water wasters to provide rebates to water users who install water conservation measures.
There is a lot of science denial going on at the Water Utility right now. You could bring a strong dose of reality there by voting against the well. You are, after all, the corporate board of directors of this publicly owned utility. You have the fiduciary responsibility to keep the utility from wasting citizen’s financial resources.
Again, we adamantly oppose the approval of a new well proposed in Agenda Item 101.
Michael D. Barrett and Pamela S. Barrett
P.s. You have permission to forward this anywhere, to anyone.