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Etc.: Burning questions
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After last week’s incisive, insightful column of commentary on the burning issues of the day (to wit, my lunch), a few leftovers come to mind:

Hatebook: My colleague at the Grant County Herald Independent, editor David Timmerman, wrote the column page right on the downside of Facebook specifically and social media generally.

We saw two examples of the upside and downside of social media from the same story last week, the tragic death of 9-year-old Derek Lendosky of Fennimore. The upside was Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista’s dedicating Friday’s game to Lendosky, a fan of his, and announcing that on Twitter. (Add to that: Bautista hit two doubles and a monstrous home run Friday.) There is simply no other way to spread such things worldwide than social media.

The dark side was those who saw the story about the death — not, thankfully, from our website or Facebook page — and felt some compulsion to berate Derek’s father, as if parents whose children die of anything don’t second-guess themselves for the rest of their lives. I don’t know what you say to the parents of a dead child, but I do know what not to say.

On Thursday, I went to the Ridgeway–Platteville Home Talent League playoff game. At one point, Ridgeway players expressed their displeasure with an umpire’s call by demonstrating that they know numerous four-letter words (which made me really happy that I had taken my 8-year-old daughter to the game) for 10 minutes.

How does that tie into bad things to say on social media? It is that at some point, some of us have lost the filter between what we think and what we say or type out on a computer for public consumption. Facebook is not to blame for this; that would be like blaming newsprint for what someone said in a newspaper. Facebook’s users are to blame. I’d say that David’s suggestion of unfriending abusive Facebook Friends would be useful except that the blocked or de-friended might not know that. Public shaming, or e-shaming, might be more effective.

The next 151 project: A couple Platteville firefighters at the U.S. 151/Grant County O crash two weeks ago (the top photo of the three photos of vehicular carnage on last week’s page 1) noted how dangerous that intersection is, including one fatal crash in the last year. The issue is traffic either merging from a stop on one of those intersections, or crossing to make a left turn with traffic coming at them at 65 (or so) mph. (Or both, if you’re turning left from O to 151.) At some point, building an interchange at 151 and O might be worth the attention of our elected officials. It would be expensive, but speed limits will never be reduced enough on 151 to make a difference in the severity of a crash.

School daze: By now, parents, and even some kids, are probably ready for school to resume again. That brings to mind two recent subjects editorialized upon elsewhere that may deserve more future comment here: When the school year should begin and end (and who should decide that), and how long the school year should be.

The Wisconsin State Journal editorialized Sunday to eliminate the three-month-long summer vacation. (Which proves that their readers aren’t children.) It wasn’t an especially well-reasoned editorial, given that it didn’t explore the subject (beyond one sentence) of whether the school year should be longer, not merely the same number of days spread out more to eliminate June, July and August as vacation months. It didn’t bring up the subject of farm kids and what they do during the summer at all. (As in: Work.) It also didn’t mention what happens to, for instance, summer sports teams, some of which really can’t be scheduled around school sessions. And it utterly failed to mention that parents, a child’s first and most permanent teachers, have a role in making sure their kids don’t stop doing anything remotely brain-taxing during summer.

State law requires that school and UW System classes start no later than Sept. 1 (and usually it’s the day after Labor Day unless Labor Day is late) for the benefit of the tourism industry, both for seasonal employees and allowing families to schedule vacations over Labor Day weekend. (The fact that kids younger than 16 generally can’t work in the tourism industry apparently didn’t come up when the law was passed in the 1990s.) It is a little strange to have two weeks of high school sports before Labor Day, but starting school earlier, as used to be the case, brings up the specter of classes in non-air-conditioned school buildings. (So does a longer school year, something the State Journal also ignored.)

When school should start is the subject of the new poll question, and I will be interested in seeing the responses.

The next two columns: Assuming that local events don’t intervene (and as you know that has a habit of happening), I plan on writing about the WIAA and the Southwest Wisconsin Conference next week in anticipation of high school sports starting up again, followed by an open letter to incoming UW–Platteville students, with classes starting again. Stay tuned.

Platteville, Center of the Universe: Friday’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel included a story about the Wisconsin State Fair cream puffs and the source of their cream — Prairie Farms in Carlinville, Ill., selected after Golden Guernsey Dairy of Waukesha closed after 88 years in business. This has been controversial, but Dave Schmidt, CEO of the Wisconsin Bakers Association, is quoted as saying in the story that the milk for the cream comes from cows in 44 Wisconsin counties. Schmidt added, “What’s really funny is that everyone thinks the cream is made in Illinois. The plant is actually in Dubuque, Iowa, and everybody knows Dubuque is just a suburb of Platteville.”