Saturday, August 16, 2014

Made in Wisconsin: the Republican Party

In 1854, a group of people met in a little white schoolhouse in Ripon, Wisconsin. They were members of political parties such as the Whigs and the Free Soil Party, as well as some disaffected Democrats. These people were united in their opposition to the Kansas-Nebraska act, which would have nullified the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and thus would have allowed for the possibility of new states joining the United States to do so with legalized slavery.

The people meeting there in Ripon, Wisconsin decided to dissolve the Whig and Free Soil Parties in order to band together in a new party, which they termed the Republican Party. 


Anti-Slavery remained one of its primary causes as the first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, was elected in 1860. 

The Republican Party today is equated with Conservatism, but that wasn't always so. Indeed,  abolitionism was the "liberal" position, while continuing to allow slavery was the "conservative" position.

The Republican Party historically had a strong current within it of Progressivism, emblematic of which was the
Wisconsin native Robert La Follette, Governor of Wisconsin and then Senator from 1906 to 1925. La Follette was a champion of Women's Suffrage, Labor Unions, progressive taxation, and a minimum wage. He has been called one of the ten greatest senators in the history of the Senate. 

The current Republican governor of my home state of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, is, according to my research, the first Wisconsin governor ever elected to not have a college degree. He undid the collective bargaining rights of unions,  something La Follette supported. 

Wisconsin has every right to be proud that something as historically and politically significant as the Republican Party was founded on her soil. And Wisconsinites of various political persuasions have every right to continue working, within that party or others, to further the progressive ideals that have set Wisconsin apart.








Keith Massey was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin. He has his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Biblical Hebrew, with a minor in Arabic. After 9/11, he served as an Arabic linguist at the NSA. He is currently a Latin teacher at a public high school in New Jersey.


Keith is the author of Intermediate Arabic for Dummies. His fiction novels follow the adventures of Andrew Valquist, roughly patterned after himself--a man born and raised in Wisconsin who gets pulled into the world of international intrigue. 



Keith's novels are A Place of Brightness, Amor Vincit Omnia: An Andrew Valquist Adventure, Next Stop: Spanish, and In Saecula Saeculorum.



Made in Wisconsin: Orson Welles

The film Citizen Cane (1941) is consistently rated the greatest motion picture of all time. If you haven't seen it, you simply must. It really is all that good.

The film's producer, director, co-writer, and lead actor was Orson Welles. And, it turns out, Orson Welles was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin in 1915.

His family left Wisconsin for Chicago when he was just four years old, but returned briefly such that Orson Welles attended fourth grade in my hometown of Madison.

After that, they returned to Illinois, and Welles would evolve
into the world-renown film maker we know today.

I would like to think that, as he said the words, "Rosebud," a bit of his inspiration was the beauty and innocence of the original state of his nurture, Wisconsin.










Keith Massey was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin. He has his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Biblical Hebrew, with a minor in Arabic. After 9/11, he served as an Arabic linguist at the NSA. He is currently a Latin teacher at a public high school in New Jersey.


Keith is the author of Intermediate Arabic for Dummies. His fiction novels follow the adventures of Andrew Valquist, roughly patterned after himself--a man born and raised in Wisconsin who gets pulled into the world of international intrigue. 



Keith's novels are A Place of Brightness, Amor Vincit Omnia: An Andrew Valquist Adventure, Next Stop: Spanish, and In Saecula Saeculorum.



Made in Wisconsin: Marissa Mayer

Mayer in Vogue Magazine
Yup, turns out the current President and CEO of Yahoo and former executive at Google Marissa Mayer is, incredibile dictu, a Wisconsinite!

She was born in 1975 in Wausau, Wisconsin. Her brilliance was already manifest while quite young, since she was one of two delegates selected by then Governor Tommy Thompson to represent Wisconsin at the National Youth Science Camp in West Virginia.

She moved away from Wisconsin when she started college at Stanford, where she would eventually get an M.S. in Computer Science. She was the twentieth employee at Google and the rest is history. 

Yahoo had been struggling for years, and early signs are that she is definitely turning things around. Good luck and God bless, Marissa Mayer! Wisconsin is proud of you.






Keith Massey was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin. He has his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Biblical Hebrew, with a minor in Arabic. After 9/11, he served as an Arabic linguist at the NSA. He is currently a Latin teacher at a public high school in New Jersey.


Keith is the author of Intermediate Arabic for Dummies. His fiction novels follow the adventures of Andrew Valquist, roughly patterned after himself--a man born and raised in Wisconsin who gets pulled into the world of international intrigue. 



Keith's novels are A Place of Brightness, Amor Vincit Omnia: An Andrew Valquist Adventure, Next Stop: Spanish, and In Saecula Saeculorum.



Smallest Ever Catch on a Fish Hook?

While fishing today, I cast out, saw some action on the line, felt a little fight and then ... nothing. Experience has taught me that there is now a good chance that the worm on my hook has been stolen and I will need to reapply bait.

And so, I reel in the line. Now, at my little fishing spot, on the north end of my property, I invariably have to reel back through a patch of weeds. As I set my pole on the picnic table on my pier, I see something on the hook. It looks small and black. I assume at first glance that a portion of the worm survived the incident and I will be able to just reapply some more worm on top of this remnant.

A closer examination, however, initially confused me. That's no worm. What is that thing? 

I have to take my glasses off to look at anything close up (even my bifocals are no good for very close up inspection). And, lo and behold, I see that I have hooked ... a small snail!

I'm honestly asking the question. Might this possibly be the world record smallest living organism ever caught by a fish hook?

Granted, every time you reel in, there are microbes on the hook smaller than this guy. But I can dip my finger in the water and bring up microbes.

This snail was actually caught by the tip of the barb of that hook. 

Mirabile dictu, the little guy survived! As I removed him from the hook, I saw that the snail had contracted safely into his shell. 

This picture doesn't really show well the scale of just how small this thing was. I use small hooks because, fact is, you can catch even the biggest fish with a small hook, but you can't catch small fish with a big hook. The leader the hook is on provides a bit of perspective on the relatively small size of the hook and, therefore, the tininess of that snail!

I practice catch and release. And so, back in the water he went!

Looking forward to catching you again some day, Mr. Snail. When you're bigger and can put up more of a fight...







Keith Massey was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin. He has his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Biblical Hebrew, with a minor in Arabic. After 9/11, he served as an Arabic linguist at the NSA. He is currently a Latin teacher at a public high school in New Jersey.


Keith is the author of Intermediate Arabic for Dummies. His fiction novels follow the adventures of Andrew Valquist, roughly patterned after himself--a man born and raised in Wisconsin who gets pulled into the world of international intrigue. 



Keith's novels are A Place of Brightness, Amor Vincit Omnia: An Andrew Valquist Adventure, Next Stop: Spanish, and In Saecula Saeculorum.



Friday, August 15, 2014

Made in Wisconsin: the Supercomputer

When I was at the NSA, I was well aware that supercomputers were a key element in the decryption of intercepted signals that I, as an Arabic linguist, would then translate in defense of my nation.

But I didn't know that, mirabile dictu, it all started in Wisconsin.

Seymour Cray was born in 1925 in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. He served as a code-breaker in the Pacific Theater of World War II. Upon his return, he went to work in nearby St. Paul, MN for an early computer company, Engineering Research Associates (ERA). He left ERA in 1958 to go to work for Control Data Corporation (CDC), where he was primarily responsible for the production of what is acknowledged as the first true, commercial supercomputer, the CDC 6600. 

Seymour Cray left CDC to create his own venture, back in his home of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. His efforts would eventually evolve into the Cray Computer Corporation, which produced supercomputers such that the term "a Cray" is synonymous with "supercomputer." 

I had the chance to visit the NSA's main supercomputer building, on the Fort Meade campus. Basically, imagine warehouses full of hundreds of connected supercomputers, going several stories underground.

But who knew that a Wisconsinite with an early love for technology would matter so much in this field?
 









Keith Massey was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin. He has his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Biblical Hebrew, with a minor in Arabic. After 9/11, he served as an Arabic linguist at the NSA. He is currently a Latin teacher at a public high school in New Jersey.


Keith is the author of Intermediate Arabic for Dummies. His fiction novels follow the adventures of Andrew Valquist, roughly patterned after himself--a man born and raised in Wisconsin who gets pulled into the world of international intrigue. 



Keith's novels are A Place of Brightness, Amor Vincit Omnia: An Andrew Valquist Adventure, Next Stop: Spanish, and In Saecula Saeculorum.



Made in Wisconsin: the Gideon Bible

My own life trajectory was profoundly affected by the Gideon Bible twice, one academic, the other spiritual. And it turns out that the Gideon Bible actually comes from my home state of Wisconsin. Even so, my encounters with the Gideon Bible did not turn out as the Gideons themselves would have preferred.


History of the Gideon Bible

In 1898, traveling salesman John Nicholson, from Janesville, Wisconsin, checked into the Central House Hotel in Boscobel, Wisconsin. Because the hotel was full, he was only able to stay in a double room with another traveling salesman, Samuel Hill, from Beloit, Wisconsin.

As they made their common acquaintance, they discovered that each was a Protestant Christian and they conceived that night of the concept of businessmen such as themselves somehow promoting evangelization efforts. They met again the following year in Janesville, Wisconsin, joined by a third interested party, William Knights. They formalized their new organization and selected the name "Gideons." Early in their efforts, since most of the people they recruited for their new mission were traveling salesmen, someone suggested they arrange to place a Bible in every hotel room in America. Their mission was born.


1977 - A Gideon Bible on the way home from Florida


This is essentially the page I saw.
My family took a vacation to Florida in 1977. While on our back, we were snowed in somewhere and stayed in a hotel. Bored, I was looking through the Gideon Bible in the room and I stumbled upon Psalm 119. This psalm is an acrostic in the Hebrew and this particular edition printed the Hebrew letter corresponding to each stanza (which then all begin with that letter in the original Hebrew). To the left is an example of what I saw. 

When we got home, I was so enamored by this alphabet that I practiced writing the letters over and over until I had the entire thing memorized. I would eventually study Biblical Hebrew formally in college, as a way to follow through with my earlier exploration. And I would get my doctorate in Biblical Hebrew. And my doctorate minor in Arabic. And I would serve as an Arabic linguist for the NSA. And I don't think any of it would have happened, had I not opened that Gideon Bible.


1985 - A Gideon Bible on my way to University


The Bible he gave me. Of course I still have it!
In the Spring of 1985, during my second semester at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I stepped off the bus and a gentleman handed me a small green-covered Gideon Bible. Up to that point, I had been very uninvolved in the Lutheran Church of my nurture for several years. I would still be attending services with the family on major holidays, but that was it. Between classes I would typically have hours of time to kill. That day I read the Gospel of Matthew in its entirety from that little Bible. And I consider that day the beginning of a spiritual revival that never abated. Following years of biblical, historical, and theological research, I made the decision for myself to leave the Protestant tradition.  In 2003, I become a member of the Eastern Orthodox Church. It was after my entry into the Orthodox Church that I met my Romanian-American wife, I did not convert for her.


Lamentabile dictu, the Gideons do not allow non-Protestants to be members or serve in their organization. As such, they apparently do not consider non-Protestants such as Catholics and Orthodox to be, in fact, Christians at all.

Which is ironic, since I consider the man who handed me that Bible that day to have had a key role in me being a practicing Christian today...






Keith Massey was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin. He has his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Biblical Hebrew, with a minor in Arabic. After 9/11, he served as an Arabic linguist at the NSA. He is currently a Latin teacher at a public high school in New Jersey.


Keith is the author of Intermediate Arabic for Dummies. His fiction novels follow the adventures of Andrew Valquist, roughly patterned after himself--a man born and raised in Wisconsin who gets pulled into the world of international intrigue. 



Keith's novels are A Place of Brightness, Amor Vincit Omnia: An Andrew Valquist Adventure, Next Stop: Spanish, and In Saecula Saeculorum.




Made in Wisconsin: the World's Best Cheese

http://www.cedarvalleycheesestore.com/
This post was, of course, inevitable. There's obviously one about beer coming some time in the future, as well.

But I know you're interested in more than just the simple assertion of a loyal Wisconsinite who hails from Dairy Farming stock. 

In this post, I'll explain historically how Wisconsin emerged as the undisputed leader of the dairy industry in the United States.


Still America's Dairyland

Wisconsin became the nation's largest producer of dairy, including milk, in 1915. It would remain the largest milk producer outright until the 1990's. In 1993, California surpassed Wisconsin in overall milk production. In 1998, California passed Wisconsin for the largest number of dairy cows.

But keep in mind that Wisconsin has just 1.8% of the total US population.  California has 12%. So Wisconsin is obviously producing enormously more milk per capita than California. And Wisconsin still is outright producing more cheese than any other state. Therefore Wisconsin still has every right to continue calling itself "America's Dairyland."


How Did We Get There?

The explanation of how Wisconsin emerged in 1915 as the largest milk producer, with cheese production in tow, is a combination of historical accidents and good planning.

When Wisconsin became a state in 1849, lead mining was one of the leading industries. Shortly after statehood, Wisconsin invested in an extensive rail network, which would allow it to more efficiently move any of its products to other parts of the country.

Encouraged by cheap (or even free) land, many people already experienced in dairy farming from areas like New York State began moving to Wisconsin. 

The University of Wisconsin-Madison also had a significant impact in helping Wisconsin achieve high dairy production. The relationship between the University and the governmental and economic interests is quite unique to Wisconsin. So much so, that it is termed the "Wisconsin Idea." The UW-Madison actively encouraged dairy farming in its agriculture school and the percentage of farmers raising cows for milk steadily increased.

People such as my ancestors, Norwegian on my Mom's side and Swiss German on my Dad's, brought their Old World expertise in cheese making. 

Granted, people from Switzerland who knew how to make cheese also settled in Minnesota. But it was the combination of the steadily rising production of milk due to the factors I described above, as well as the introduction of talented cheese makers from abroad that resulted in Wisconsin beginning to dominate the cheese market as well.


https://www.wisconsincheesemart.com/item/cheddar-cheese-mild-wheel-Pd/
Now, at this point Wisconsin cheese making has over a hundred years of tradition and cumulative expertise. California is close on our heels for overall cheese production, just about four percentage points behind. But even if they ever do make more of the stuff, people will still gravitate toward that "Made in Wisconsin" label, because they will know the tradition and the quality.


My Cheese Recommendation
 

http://www.theoldfashioned.com/
If you're ever in Madison, Wisconsin, I strongly urge you to go to a restaurant on the Square called The Old Fashioned. They serve classic Wisconsin food. Make sure you get an order of their deep fried cheese curds. Best I've ever had! 

Here's a picture of them from Jeanne Carpenter's blog "Cheese Underground." Click to visit her blog and learn more from a true expert and connoisseur of Wisconsin cheese! I love her motto: Have fun. Do good. Eat cheese.

http://cheeseunderground.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-downtown-madison-deep-fried-cheese.html









Keith Massey was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin. He has his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Biblical Hebrew, with a minor in Arabic. After 9/11, he served as an Arabic linguist at the NSA. He is currently a Latin teacher at a public high school in New Jersey.


Keith is the author of Intermediate Arabic for Dummies. His fiction novels follow the adventures of Andrew Valquist, roughly patterned after himself--a man born and raised in Wisconsin who gets pulled into the world of international intrigue. 



Keith's novels are A Place of Brightness, Amor Vincit Omnia: An Andrew Valquist Adventure, Next Stop: Spanish, and In Saecula Saeculorum.




Made in Wisconsin: Barbie

Barbie? Do you mean Barbies are made in Wisconsin?

Nope, they're probably made overseas somewhere, certainly not in Wisconsin.

Do you mean Barbie was designed or invented by someone born in Wisconsin?

Nope, the credited creator of Barbie, Ruth Handler, was born in Denver, Colorado.

Then how in the world is Barbie somehow even remotely from or connected to Wisconsin!!!!???

Lamentabile dictu, Mattel decided early in their promotion of this doll that Barbie needed a back story.

And this back story was to be presented to the public through a series of "Barbie Novels" that Random House published in the 1960's.

Here's apparently how the conversation went in the board room:

Maybe we make Barbie be from Nebraska?

Are you f*&^ing serious?

Um, maybe Barbie is from California? Say, Malibu! We can even call her "Malibu Barbie"!

You're fired. There's no way that's ever happening.

Um, um, um, how about Barbie is from Wisconsin!

Yes! Give that man a raise!


And thus, Barbie was given the following back story. Her full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts. She was born to parents George and Margaret Roberts in the fictional town of Willows, Wisconsin. Barbie, by the way, attended the fictional Willows High School in those novels.

We in Wisconsin can hardly be proud of a doll that has perpetuated an unhealthy and impossible body image to generations of girls for decades. 

But, for what it's worth, I guess Barbie's from Wisconsin...










Keith Massey was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin. He has his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Biblical Hebrew, with a minor in Arabic. After 9/11, he served as an Arabic linguist at the NSA. He is currently a Latin teacher at a public high school in New Jersey.


Keith is the author of Intermediate Arabic for Dummies. His fiction novels follow the adventures of Andrew Valquist, roughly patterned after himself--a man born and raised in Wisconsin who gets pulled into the world of international intrigue. 



Keith's novels are A Place of Brightness, Amor Vincit Omnia: An Andrew Valquist Adventure, Next Stop: Spanish, and In Saecula Saeculorum.




Thursday, August 14, 2014

Made in Wisconsin: The QWERTY Keyboard

Even as I type this post, I am indebted to the ingenuity of a fellow Wisconsinite, who, mirabile dictu, invented the QWERTY keyboard.

The QWERTY keyboard arrangement was designed to minimize jamming on a manual typewriter in which the type face actually flew up on metal bars to hit the paper. And that is exactly the type of machine I first learned to type on back in the day.

And I can tell you, it minimized jamming, it didn't make it impossible. I can remember needing to slow myself down in order to prevent jams which still inevitably happened. And I would pull the type one by one off the jam by the page, assess the damage, use white out, and go back to work.

When I later took a typing class in high school, in Madison, Wisconsin, we used IBM Selectrics, in which a magnetized ball hit the paper and jamming was now impossible. We had arrived!

But far too many people knew how to type on the QWERTY to even think of changing that up that arrangement.

And now that no one ever types anything that immediately hits type face against paper, you'd think we'd consider a new keyboard arrangement that might speed up typing.

Nope, too late. 2 million years from now, people will still be using the QWERTY keyboard.

Christopher Latham Sholes
The QWERTY keyboard was invented by Christopher Latham Sholes. While he was born in Pennsylvania in 1819, he moved to Wisconsin in 1837, where he would live and work the rest of his life.

He is called the "Father of the Typewriter" because he invented and patented the first practical and widely used typewriter. In trials with his machine, he was
Shole's Typewriter. You can see the QWERTY keyboard
encountering the problem of typeface jamming. By trial and error he arrived at the QWERTY arrangement we still use today and since that is what he patented, that is what all subsequent typewriters ended up using.


Thank you, Mr. Sholes. Your invention arguably changed the world even more than the printing press. And we're proud to claim you as a Wisconsinite.

 








Keith Massey was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin. He has his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Biblical Hebrew, with a minor in Arabic. After 9/11, he served as an Arabic linguist at the NSA. He is currently a Latin teacher at a public high school in New Jersey.


Keith is the author of Intermediate Arabic for Dummies. His fiction novels follow the adventures of Andrew Valquist, roughly patterned after himself--a man born and raised in Wisconsin who gets pulled into the world of international intrigue. 



Keith's novels are A Place of Brightness, Amor Vincit Omnia: An Andrew Valquist Adventure, Next Stop: Spanish, and In Saecula Saeculorum.




Made in Wisconsin: Social Security

During the Great Depression, when America was struggling with a dire level of poverty, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt needed ideas. He knew where to turn. 

The Wisconsin Idea is the policy that the University of Wisconsin has a mission to best advise governmental policy makers and conduct research for the benefit of the common good.

And so, who better to ask for help than the University of Wisconsin-Madison's chief professor of Economics, Edwin E. Witte?

Edwin E. Witte was born in 1887 in Ebenezer, Wisconsin. He was valedictorian of his class from Watertown High School and then graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (from which I'm also proud to have three degrees).

He amassed a body of experience both academic and governmental before becoming a professor of Economics back at our Alma Mater.

And when Roosevelt came calling, there was no one better for the job.

Witte was the principal author of the Social Security Act of 1935, which, when passed into law, created the Social Security Administration that still today provides a critical safety net for this nation's elderly and disabled. For this reason, he is called the "Father of Social Security."

When he finally retired in 1957, he himself, mirabile dictu, received Social Security! He died three years later, in 1960 (which is exactly why you need to start drawing the day you are able).







Keith Massey was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin. He has his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Biblical Hebrew, with a minor in Arabic. After 9/11, he served as an Arabic linguist at the NSA. He is currently a Latin teacher at a public high school in New Jersey.


Keith is the author of Intermediate Arabic for Dummies. His fiction novels follow the adventures of Andrew Valquist, roughly patterned after himself--a man born and raised in Wisconsin who gets pulled into the world of international intrigue. 



Keith's novels are A Place of Brightness, Amor Vincit Omnia: An Andrew Valquist Adventure, Next Stop: Spanish, and In Saecula Saeculorum.