Hot Air: A Growing Concern

Before folks in the seven sections that Mayor John Hamilton has ID’d as prime fodder for Bloomington’s lebensraum start having nervous breakdowns — and the bwana of this global communications colossus is feeling a tad jittery as well — let’s take a deep breath and try to understand what this annexation biz is all about.

(You know as well as I do some peeps w/ hair-trigger aggrievement reflexes will, sooner rather than later, begin comping Hamilton with the leader of the Third Reich. The Hitler card is our holy land’s go-to smear when one public official or another does something even remotely unpopular.)

Anyway, the process to incorporate some 10,000 acres of surrounding land into the city limits by the year 2020 began long before Hamilton swore to uphold the laws and whims of our sprawling megalopolis. Former Mayor Mark Kruzan set his various departments on the course of determining which of the surrounding unincorporated neighborhoods to gobble up.

Acc’d’g to several of my inside sources, Kruzan wasn’t prepared to suffer the slings and arrows of rage that would be sure to follow any annexation announcement. The plan sat dormant until Hamilton decided, hell, we throw water and sewer service at those areas, among other goodies, so why don’t we reap some tax revenue from the residents thereof?

Bloomington has been annexing collar lands since the early 1970s with the last land-add coming about a decade ago. The annexation proposal isn’t, to be sure, a done deal, but I wouldn’t bet against it at this early date. The City Council must hold public hearings on the scheme and odds are the members of that august body will catch earfuls from zone residents who stand to become future Bloomington taxpayers.

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Bloomington City Council

An interesting consideration — many of the voters in the targeted zones aren’t necessarily fans of the People’s Republic of Bloomington status quo. Meaning, more than a few of them tend to vote Republican. The inclusion of 15,000 new voters may well affect the balance — or more accurately imbalance — that tilts Dem hereabouts. So the Council makeup that stands 9-0 good guys, today, may look a scosh more equitable as we head into the ’20s. A second consideration is that in this town, a Republican who stands a chance to get elected would be the equivalent of a Marxist in, say, Martinsville, so I wouldn’t necessarily worry that we’re in line to become Tea Party heaven anytime soon.

Big Talk: Last & Next

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In case you missed last week’s extravaganza, my guest on Big Talk was Sean Buehler, the majordomo behind our town’s Science on Tap. SoT is a monthly gathering of science geeks, drinking beer and eating bar food as they listen to a single speaker or, more often, a panel of experts discussing hot topics in the science rackets these days.

During our interview, Sean and I chatted about our common history as Catholic high school boys. His alma mater was the Jesuit Brebeuf College Prep School in Indy. Me? I suffered though four years of Dominican inculcation and face-slappings at Fenwick High School in Oak Park, Illinois.

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Buehler

Buehler is a loyal Christianist, so we hashed over the difficulties of keeping the faith while adhering to the strictures of scientific thinking. I quit the church so long ago it seems as though I’d never ever worried about running afoul of the Big Daddy-o on the Sky. Buehler, though, made a compelling argument for his belief in a Supreme Superman while still calling himself a scientist.

Check out the 8-minute feature here and the lengthier, unedited interview here.

I’ll be recording with woodworking savant Nancy Hiller today for Thursday’s Big Talk. Hiller’s publishing a new book of funny, informative stories from the woodworking world. Release date is scheduled for some time in mid-March. Catch Hiller & me Thursday, February 9th, on WFHB’s Daily Local News at 5:00pm.

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Hiller

BTW: I just got word that WFHB News Director Joe Crawford has submitted my Big Talk with IU journalism prof and author Tom French for an Indiana Society of Professional Journalists feature of the year award. Fingers crossed, babies!

The Thinking Maze

Think you’re smart? I think I’m smart.

You’re not. Neither am I.

I just came across a fascinating diagram of some 200 cognitive biases that color our reasoning every day, every minute, every time we hope to make a decision or form an opinion. I’d reproduce the diagram here but it’s pretty much impossible. Tell you what I’ll do — I’ll take a screen shot of an itty-bitty piece of it, just to give you an idea of how insanely complex it is.

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The Cognitive Bias Codex, 2016, by JM3, John Minoogian III & Buster Benson

I don’t mean to dissuade you from thinking, from arriving at a position, or from becoming an advocate for anything. Only that what we think — even the fairest and most curious among us — comes to us through a baffling array of filters that turn real objective truth into…, well, something more and something less.

You want to know the truth? Thinking, babies, is hard goddamned work.

Lovely Day

Babies, I’m feeling optimistic these days as the sun sets later and later. Spring’s coming. Pitchers and catchers report on Valentine’s Day. And there’ll be more of these sunny, warm days to come. At freaking last!

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