Many great mysteries in the world continue to capture the attention of scientists, philosophers, and other learned people. For example, technicians at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Switzerland, are upgrading the Large Hadron Collider to produce even greater sub-atomic particle collisions. Not content with the mere discovery of the Higgs boson, nuclear physicists now hope to explain it. Likewise, cosmologists continue to … Continue reading Mysteries of a Lesser Kind
Every time I see earth moving equipment, I am reminded of Bertrand Russell’s definition of work. In his essay, “In Praise of Idleness,” he writes Work is of two kinds: first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth’s surface relatively to other such matter; second, telling other people to do so. The first kind is unpleasant and ill paid; the second is … Continue reading Two Types of People ?
For me, the decision to buy a hybrid car or not depends on two key issues. First, will the savings generated through better gas mileage offset the higher price of the hybrid car? And second, is the hybrid car better for the environment than a non-hybrid car? When I last needed a new car, I decided to buy a Toyota Camry hybrid. Before making the … Continue reading Should You Buy a Hybrid Car?
If you are like me, you worry about politicians who don’t share your values. But often it’s the bureaucrat, unknown and out of the public eye, who makes the most frustrating decisions. Recently it was discovered by local environmentalists and nature preservationists that a large bur oak would be cut down to make way for an expansion of Wisconsin State Highway 26 between Milton and … Continue reading Sesquicentennial Oak Tree Felled for Highway Expansion
Several years ago I was driving in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin with a young friend who was newly arrived from China. It was her first time to the United States and she had been in the country for about a week. As we drove past a city park, which was empty, she turned to me and asked, “Professor Cottle, where are all the people? I don’t … Continue reading “Where are all the people?” — On The Use of Public Space
Update: Phoebe passed away on May 19, 2013. She was a sweet, affectionate, and beautiful cat. She will be missed. * * * Phoebe’s Story Phoebe left home in May 2003. She was five years old. I don’t know why she left. She had a good life with lots of care and attention. I looked everywhere for her. I cruised the neighborhood every day calling … Continue reading Phoebe’s Story / La historia de Phoebe
Conversation overheard last night at the Home Town Buffet in Janesville, Wisconsin. You know that guy, Adam Lanza – the one who they said killed all those children in Newtown. Well, I think he was set-up. I think the government did it. You know governments kill more people than anyone. And now the government wants to take away our second amendment freedoms. Isn’t it refreshing … Continue reading Fruitcake Is Never Out of Season – Especially the Kind with Nuts
Earlier today while in my bedroom, I heard a loud thump against the roof in that corner of the house. Thinking that the house had been hit by falling space junk, I raised the blinds to discover a large and somewhat dazed wild turkey in the backyard. I grabbed my camera and ran to the backyard as the turkey rounded the corner of a neighbor’s … Continue reading Wild Turkey Visits Bluewing Court in Janesville, Wisconsin
When is the government justified in making laws that have no purpose other than to protect us against ourselves? Mayor Bloomberg of New York City ran headlong into this question last week when a judge struck down the New York City ban on the sale of “large sugary drinks.” For those who don’t follow U.S. local news, in September 2012 the New York City Board … Continue reading Big Gulps, Obesity, and Political Philosophy
Starbucks charges about $1.85 for a single medium sized (Grande) cup of coffee. That price is at least 600 times the amount received by the person who picked the coffee used to make that cup. It is about 50 times the amount received by the coffee grower who hired the worker to pick it. Between the coffee retailer and the coffee grower there is a … Continue reading How Much Does a Cup of Coffee Really Cost?
Project: How can you make your backyard look like mine in the featured photo? Instructions: Start with an evening temperature of 54°F. Cover with water for three hours. Next, reduce temperature to 36°. Cover with an inch of sleet for about one hour. When the layer of sleet is complete, reduce the temperature again to 32° and cover with an inch of wet snow. Finally, … Continue reading A Wisconsin Winter Recipe: How to Make Your Backyard Look Like You Live Here
Many newspapers in small to medium sized U.S. cities are adopting a “hyper-local” format. If you live in a large city such as Chicago, New York, or L.A., you may not have taken note of this trend. Take a look at the following front page from a recent issue of the Janesville Gazette. Janesville, Wisconsin (recently famous for being Vice-Presidential Nominee Paul Ryan’s home town) … Continue reading Is Hyper-local News Coming to a Newspaper Near You?