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All you need to know about Freakfest 2014

9 hours 59 min ago

With a little more than a week left until Halloween, it’s time to prepare for Freakfest.

Last year, an estimated 35,000 people attended Madison’s annual combination costume party and music festival. Below are your must-know details for the event, including where to get tickets and information on the lineup and transportation.


Freakfest takes place Nov. 1, and gates open at 7 p.m.

It also falls on Daylight Savings time this year, adding an extra hour to the State Street Halloween party.

Freakfest attendees will be able to access State Street through several entrances.


Tickets will be available for purchase before Freakfest for $8, or for $12 on the day of the event.

Logan Reigstad/The Badger Herald

Several local businesses will sell tickets for the event, including B-Side Records, Knuckleheads, Mallatt’s Pharmacy, Ragstock, Strictly Discs, Sunshine Daydream, University Bookstore, Community Pharmacy, Stop and Shop, Los Gemelos, Osaka House, Madison Optometric Center, Tower Apartments and Red Card.

Businesses, city gear up for Freakfest 2014Organizers of this year’s Freakfest Halloween celebration said “it’s going to be a pretty cool party,” but heard from downtown …

Tickets can also be purchased online.

Residents living within State Street access areas can request complementary tickets.


The music lineup, which consists of both local and national talent, will be spread across three stages.

This year’s headliner, Minneapolis-based hip hop group Atmosphere, will play on the Capitol Stage at the top of State Street with the Capitol in the background.

Freakfest’s main stage to showcase mainly hip hop actsFreakfest organizers are trying to “keep it fresh” this year, according to Frank Productions spokesperson Jesse Sherman, who confirmed the …

The Capitol Stage will also play host to other acts, including deM atlaS, Prof, WebsterX, Charles Grant and Coby Ashpis.

The Gilman Street Stage will feature alt-rock group American Authors, known for their single, “Best Day of My Life.”

Also playing on the Gilman Street Stage are The Mowgli’s, Generationals, Springtime Carnivore and Step Rockets.

The WSUM Frances Street Stage will feature local acts, including Eagle Trace, Catch Kid, Sky Urchin, Dense City and Midas Bison.

Public Transportation

All Madison Metro buses that normally operate in the State Street corridor will be detoured Nov. 1.

Westbound buses will wrap around the south side of the Capitol Square, turning onto Broom Street until returning to the regular route on University Avenue.

Eastbound buses will turn off of Johnson Street at Bassett Street and follow a detour that runs south of the Capitol Square.

Route 80 will be detoured onto University Avenue and Park Street before continuing on its normal route on Observatory Drive. Routes 81 and 82 will be combined into one route, and will not serve the State Street and Langdon Street areas.


Parking for the event will be available in city ramps in the downtown area.

Hey Badgers! Are you ready for Halloween?! #Freakfest14 is right around the corner! #badgers #madison #Bucky

— freakfest (@freakfest) October 18, 2014

Categories: Local Media

Alders propose changes to Soglin’s 2015 budget

13 hours 55 min ago

City alders offered amendments to Mayor Paul Soglin’s 2015 Executive Operating Budget at a Common Council meeting Tuesday at the City-County Building.

City Council members proposed additions and cuts to the budget in order to prioritize programs, which included neighborhood policing, body cameras for police and general ways to raise city revenue.

Many alders spoke in favor of increasing funding for three additional neighborhood resource officers, which Police Chief Mike Koval proposed in his budget request.

Ald. Maurice Cheeks, District 10, said the lack of officers was felt throughout the community.

“Neighborhood officers have been extremely effective in Allied, and when we reduced the number of neighborhood officers in Allied when we were having staffing limitations in the summer the neighborhood really felt it,” Cheeks said.

Ald. Scott Resnick, District 8, proposed equipping police officers with body cameras, saying the cameras would provide a cost savings to both the police department and city residents.

Public Safety Review committee meeting talks body cameras and fire response At a Public Safety Review committee meeting Tuesday, representatives from Madison Police and Fire Departments further discussed a city alder’s …

The city has received 425 emails regarding body cameras for police officers, Resnick said.

Ald. Mark Clear, District 19, questioned whether the city should spend as much as it planned on the renovation of the Madison Municipal Building.

Plans for Madison Municipal Building renovations in the works The renovation of the Madison Municipal Building is one step closer to becoming reality, as the design firm working on …

“I think we need to think hard about whether we need to spend $30 to $40 million on office space for city employees,” Clear said.

Ald. Matthew Phair, District 20, suggested eliminating the proposed Wi-Fi service in Metro buses.

Madison Metro buses could have Wi-Fi as soon as 2015University of Wisconsin students could have Wi-Fi on their bus rides as soon as next year, as Mayor Paul Soglin’s …

“The Wi-Fi service wasn’t a top priority when we’re facing so many big questions,” he said.

Clear and Phair also said they supported Koval’s request for additional neighborhood resource officers, though Clear favored realigning the existing positions in the department instead of increasing funding.

Ald. Anita Weier, District 18, proposed making up the difference by allocating the funds to hire a new assistant police chief to two neighborhood resource officers.

Several alders, including Phair, said they were in favor of eliminating an assistant economic development director position within the Department of Planning and Community and Economic Development.

Other proposed cuts included selling the Yahara Hills Golf Course, which has been losing money for the city and rolling back funding for the Overture Center to current levels.

They also proposed reducing funding for a neighborhood center on the city’s southwest side and cutting funding for the recently passed public market on the east side of the city.

One proposed source of additional revenue the council debated was exploring the possibility of raising parking ticket fees.

Alders also discussed their current rate of compensation and whether they could become eligible for benefits.

Categories: Local Media

UW professor talks about history of wilderness on 50th anniversary of Wilderness Act

Wed, 10/22/2014 - 12:55am

On the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act of 1964, University of Wisconsin history professor William Cronon spoke on how history has impacted the perception of the wilderness.

In the Tuesday talk at the Memorial Union, Cronon addressed the concept of wilderness and said he sees a strong intersection between humans and nature.

“These lands are all about touching, knowing and loving the world we inhabit,” Cronon said.

He said children in today’s world are experiencing nature differently, either through screens or what he called the “virtual natural.”

“The idea of wilderness is a culture phenomenon,” Cronon said.

He said America’s history involves a land that was home to millions of native peoples. In the beginning, land was known as “the frontier,” but Cronon said it eventually transformed from wilderness into land.

Native people made treaties essentially signing over their property rights and eliminating native and human rights, he said.

He also said the French Revolution was an important part of land history, and people during that time shared the land in order to become a nation.

Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau also had an impact on the perception of landscape, he said.

Cronon said Niagara Falls was a popular destination for mostly wealthy white males in its earlier days, especially considering their travels there for the purpose of pilgrimages.

He showed artwork that depicted couples and families taking pictures with the view of Niagara falls in the background.

He also discussed the “infamy” of Yellowstone National Park and how it was grounds for Americans to use nature for recreation.

He detailed how the Army was appointed as administration of the Yellowstone National Park and held the responsibility of protecting it.

Cronon also said railroads held the most centralized role within the history of the wilderness while the invention of the automobile held the most decentralizing role.

“Railroads helped take people to see natural wonders,” Cronon said.

However, he said the automobile did the opposite. He said highways made their way into the wilderness by connecting metropolitan areas to rural areas.

Categories: Local Media

10 trivia tidbits to know about UW

Wed, 10/22/2014 - 12:52am

As Homecoming week gets underway, the Wisconsin Alumni Association shared 10 bits of trivia Badgers might not know about the homecoming tradition, campus icons and Madison culture.

Here’s what they said:

1.       “On, Wisconsin” could have been “On, Minnesota”

This tune was not originally written for the University of Wisconsin, but for the University of Minnesota. The anthem’s composers Carl Beck and William Purdy brought it to UW after Minnesota rejected it because UW is Beck’s alma mater. The song debuted here in 1909, according to university archives.

2.     Mifflin Street Block Party originated after a protest 

This tradition marked the first anniversary of the French student rebellion in 1968, at which 100 were arrested for disturbances and 70 were injured. The party also occurred as a political demonstration against the Vietnam war.

3.       Former Chancellor went from Bascom Hall to White House

Chancellor Donna Shalala served as the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services from 1993 to 2001 in President Bill Clinton’s cabinet.

4.       Gopher vs. Badger football rivalry is 100 years old 

The first game took place in 1911. UW wanted to “Wallop Minnesota,” but ended with a 6-6 tie.

5.       Law students have unique homecoming halftime tradition 

The UW law students organize a “cane toss” at halftime of the homecoming game during which they throw a white cane over the goal posts. A tradition for third year law students, catching their cane on opposite side of the posts is a sign that their first case will be a success. This custom came from Harvard to UW in 1910, according to the university website.

6.       Origin of antique firetruck, a parade favorite 

The homecoming parade wasn’t included in campus tradition until the third homecoming game was held. Also, the La France fire engine, a parade favorite, was given to the Wisconsin Alumni Association in 1932.

7.       State Street Brats has deep roots on State Street

This campus treasure originally opened in the 600 block of State Street in the 1930s. The owners A.S. Keys and Warren Lamm originally called it the Log Cabin. It moved to its current location in 1953 and was called the Brathaus. The name was changed in 1989.

8.       Pitchers weren’t always available at the Rathskeller

It was open during prohibition and therefore did not start beer sales until its end in 1933.

9.       ‘The birthday place of Madison’ turns 46 this year

The Nitty Gritty is well known for its birthday glass. Students have been going there for free beer, or soda, from 11 a.m. until midnight on their birthdays since 1968.

10.   First bowl game appearance happened six decades ago

UW’s first Rose Bowl was against USC and the Badgers lost 7-0 in 1953. UW won its first Rose Bowl in 1994 against UCLA. Since then, Wisconsin has had nine Rose Bowl appearances.

Categories: Local Media

C-SPAN ‘Cities Tour’ to feature Madison

Tue, 10/21/2014 - 10:54pm

Cable network C-SPAN selected Madison as a featured city of its 2014 Cities Tour, showcasing historical and literary aspects of Madison on its nationwide network.

The tour is part of the series, which premiered in 2011. Debbie Lamb, the coordinating producer for C-SPAN Cities Tour, said C-SPAN was attracted by many special features of Madison.

“We came to Madison, because it’s the capital of Wisconsin, to see how it has developed throughout the years, and because there is a great literary culture of nonfiction authors here,” Lamb said.

C-SPAN’s producing team will visit various locations around Madison to interview local historians, authors and civic leaders over the course of the week, according to a statement.

Among the historical sites of Madison the tour plans to feature are the State Capitol, the Vietnam War era protests, the Wisconsin Historical Society and University of Wisconsin Libraries.

The Book TV program will feature local authors, including Ron McCrea, author of “Building Taliesin,” and “Dollarocracy” author John Nichols.

The tour showcases cities that C-SPAN’s national audience won’t always get to experience by highlighting each city’s public policies and cultural tradition, according to Lamb. 

“Our national audience gets a chance to get an inside look at Madison and its rich heritage,” she said.

C-SPAN is teaming up with the Charter Communications in Madison to bring the tour in Madison to life, she said.

Our partner @cspan filming segments about the history of @CityofMadison #wisconsin Watch: @WKOW @CSPANCities

— Charter News (@CharterComPR) October 20, 2014

They reached out to Charter because the cable industry has local means to keep viewers informed, Lamb said.

“C-SPAN came to us and sought a partnership and asked us to help us with the Madison portion of the tour,” Kim Haas, a spokesperson for Madison-based Charter Communications, said. ”We basically are helping organize it and offer input, just wanting to be a good host.”

This is a great opportunity to showcase the city, since Madison has such a rich history and vibrant charm, Haas said.

Every first and third weekend of each month, a city in the United States is featured with seven segments on its unique history and nonfiction authors.

The Madison portion of the Cities Tour will air Nov. 15 and 16 on Book TV on C-SPAN2, Charter channels 76, 997 and 742 in HD. American History TV segments will be broadcast on C-SPAN3, Charter channels 88, 996 and 743 in HD.

Categories: Local Media

Bill Clinton to stump for Burke Friday

Tue, 10/21/2014 - 8:14pm

A spokesperson for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke announced Monday that former President Bill Clinton will campaign for Burke in Milwaukee this Friday.

The event will take place at the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee at 11 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 24. Tickets can be reserved in advance.

Ticket pick-up begins on Wednesday at 3 p.m. and continues through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at various Burke offices throughout the Milwaukee area.

BREAKING: President @billclinton will headline campaign event for @Burke4WI this Friday in Milwaukee. Details TBA soon. #TeamBurke #GOTeV

— Joe Zepecki (@JoeZepecki) October 20, 2014

President Barack Obama is reported to campaign for Burke the week of the election Nov. 4.

Obama campaigning for Burke in Milwaukee right before electionPresident Barack Obama will stop in Milwaukee to campaign for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke in the week before the …

First Lady Michelle Obama has visited the state twice to rally voters on Burke’s behalf.

Michelle Obama to UW students: ‘This election is about you’First lady Michelle Obama made her pitch to college students in Madison Tuesday, telling them to vote for Democrat Mary …

Categories: Local Media

Bucky Badger dances in Big Ten mascot parody of Taylor Swift single

Tue, 10/21/2014 - 12:49pm

Bucky Badger dons a tutu and “dances on his own” in the Big Ten Conference mascot collaboration video featuring Taylor Swift’s single “Shake It Off” from her new album 1989.

Mascots from across the conference joined Bucky in shaking their stuff. On top of Bascom Hill, Bucky is seen banging on cymbals, jamming on the guitar and perching on Abe Lincoln’s lap while twirling a streamer.

This isn’t the first time the conference’s mascots have joined forces in videos like this. In 2012, mascots got down and danced to Carly Rae Jepson’s hit Call Me Maybe.

They even go on trips together to places like Chicago and Washington, D.C. with Big Ten Network.

#B1G mascots drop by the Chicago Mayor's office.

— Big Ten Football (@B1Gfootball) July 26, 2013

We're all just one #B1G family. #selfie #B1GWelcome

— Big Ten Conference (@bigtenconf) June 30, 2014

Watch the video below:

Categories: Local Media

Burke urges students to vote early during event at Memorial Union

Tue, 10/21/2014 - 8:00am

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke visited the University of Wisconsin campus Monday, stressing the need to get out to vote early.

Burke’s visit fell on the same day as the first day of early in-person voting, which allows voters to cast their ballot with their municipal clerk during business hours. Early in-person voting runs through Friday, Oct. 31.

Students marched to the Capitol while chanting in support of Burke before stopping to vote early.
Rachael Lallensack/The Badger Herald

Both Burke and Gov. Scott Walker have stressed the importance of early voting in the election. The Republican Party of Wisconsin also held several early voting events around the state Monday.

During Burke’s remarks before several dozen UW-Madison students at the Memorial Union, Burke reiterated points from the recent gubernatorial debates, emphasizing the need for affordability of higher education for all Wisconsin students as a way to propel the state’s economy forward.

Walker and Burke face off in first gubernatorial debateIn their first gubernatorial debate Friday, Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke butted heads over questions related to …

“What we’ve seen under Gov. Walker are the largest cuts to public education on a per-pupil basis of any state in the entire country,” she said.

Keeping college graduates in Wisconsin by having a growing economy will help the state prosper, Burke said.

Burke also addressed issues of higher education with college media outlets from UW-Oshkosh and UW-Madison in a conference call.

Burke answered pre-submitted questions about the two-year tuition freeze Walker signed into law last year, keeping well-respected faculty at UW System schools and increasing affordability and accessibility of higher education.

Burke said Walker’s two-year tuition freeze was good for the higher education system because the reserves were available to offset it.

However, she said in order to apply another tuition freeze additional state aid would be needed to support academic programming.

“I would support it as long as we are sure it is not going to undermine the quality and accessibility of our UW System,” Burke said.

The UW-Madison College Republicans released a statement Monday saying Burke refused to commit to another tuition freeze.

“UW-Madison students deserve to know if she is planning to raise tuition if elected like her predecessor Jim Doyle chose to do,” Charlie Hoffman, chairmen of College Republicans, said in the statement.

Burke said she attributes a rise in tuition over the past decade to a coinciding decline in contribution from the overall state budget.

“Right now, we’re spending more on Corrections than we are on our UW System,” she said.

There are several ways to reduce the cost of college in addition to increasing state aid, she added. She said refinancing would cut the cost for students already living with existing loans.

She said she would work with universities to determine what is standing in the way of lowering costs.

Overall, Burke said not enough was being done to alleviate financial hardships for students, and that more can be done.

Walker and Burke face off in higher education debate With the most recent Marquette Law School poll showing the gubernatorial race in a dead heat, the two candidates’ views …

On getting out the vote, Ald. Scott Resnick, District 8, said he cast his ballot at the clerk’s office Monday.

Resnick said he was proud to support Mary Burke and other Democratic candidates on the ballot.

He also stressed the importance of the student vote in not only this election but in future elections as well.

“[Students] will be a huge voting block in the upcoming mayoral race,” Resnick said.

Resnick said he knows firsthand how important the student vote is, since much of his district is made up of students.

Categories: Local Media

UW graduate announces bid for Madison Mayor

Tue, 10/21/2014 - 7:34am

Another individual announced his candidacy for Mayor of Madison Monday, joining current runners Mayor Paul Soglin and Ald. Scott Resnick, District 8, in the race for the nomination.

Christopher Daly joined the crowd of candidates Monday, setting up a five-way race for the Mayor’s Office.

Longtime Mayor Paul Soglin faces new opposition for 2015 electionMadison has a decision to make next April as opposition to longtime Mayor Paul Soglin steps up for the election. …

The 25-year-old Daly, who graduated from University of Wisconsin in 2012 with a degree in radio, television and film, said he never intended to run for elected office, but saw it as a chance to bring about change.

Daly, who has never held public office, said he views his status as a political newcomer as an asset rather than a liability.

“I think it would be a positive actually,” he said.

Being new to the political sphere would allow him to more freely imagine the world as it should be, he said.

Additionally, people are “sick of the same old, same old,” Daly said.

Daly said he plans to address online privacy and safety, sustainability, issues relating to the financial system and food safety and availability.

When asked about the lack of a grocery store in the Allied Dunn community, Daly said the neighborhood would be a prime location for a public market, much like the recently-approved market on East Washington Avenue and First Street.

West side Walgreens to close, leaving residents stranded in “food desert”For those living in the west side Allied Dunn’s Marsh Neighborhood, the loss of a local Walgreens means losing a …

Other areas around the city would benefit from a public market as well, he said.

“If we had places where we can grow food year-round, then we could have multiple public markets operating,” he said.

Daly said utilizing currently vacant, city-owned properties to grow food is one way to achieve that goal.

In addition to having a healthy food option close to residents in these areas, multiple public markets would provide good jobs to Madisonians while improving public health, Daly said.

Daly said the city needs to shift its course to meet its goals.

“The direction we are headed is out of sync with where we should be headed,” he said.

Daly joins Soglin, Resnick, a 2007 UW graduate, former District 2 Ald. Bridget Maniaci and Solidarity Singers conductor Brandon Barwick in seeking the mayoral seat.

A primary race February 17, 2015 will narrow the field down to two candidates, who will be on the ballot for the general election April 7, 2015.

Categories: Local Media

SSFC passes funding for Badger Catholic, hears ALPs budget eligibility

Tue, 10/21/2014 - 12:37am

Members of student government unanimously approved Badger Catholic’s budget and heard an eligibility presentation from Adventure Learning Programs in a meeting Monday.

Badger Catholic budget approved

The Associated Students of Madison Student Services Finance Committee unanimously approved Badger Catholic’s $90,890.75 budget.

Peter Cooney, vice president of Badger Catholic, spoke in open forum to address further budget questioning since last Thursday’s SSFC meeting.

He said he wanted to clarify the importance of the organization’s peer mentors who are able to meet and get to know students at their general speaker series, and said this made it important to hear their new budget.

SSFC hears ALPs budget proposal

Sam Toppe and Maty Merkatoris, facilitators with ALPs, presented their budget of $155,839.58, which is about a 4.5 percent increase from last year.

“Our mission is to challenge people through adventure-based learning to discover themselves and understand those around them,” Merkatoris said.

Merkatoris said they are hoping to increase staff from less than 20 people to closer to 45 people. They are expecting this increase based on their “expected growth,” she said.

SSFC Rep. Todd Garon said in past years ALPs has had between 13 and 16 people on its staff, which he said contradicts her claim.

“You just spoke to how you saw sort of an increase in need and you wanted to hire more facilitators, but you have the same number of facilitators […] Why?” Garon said.

Toppe said they have been trying to increase their staff for years, but they tend to hire younger students who can stay for three semesters at a time. Recently, they had a larger proportion graduate, he said.

This budget contained two new programs including an Association for Challenge Course Technology conference and Challenge Course Manager Training for the ALPS advisor.

Toppe said the group’s advisor holds a long-term position and attends training courses on a yearly basis.

Merkatoris said ALPs increased its advertising budget for this year by $900. They are hoping to buy more promotional items and take out print and online advertisements this year, Merkatoris said.

The software section of their budget also increased by $2,000 because they need to replace two Apple computers, Merkatoris said.

SSFC will vote on the ALPs budget this Thursday, Oct. 23.

Categories: Local Media

Wisconsin Science Festival draws thousands in fourth year

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 9:08am

Bringing learning-focused events to venues all across the city and state, the Wisconsin Science Festival this weekend brought in thousands of children and adults eager to gain insight into the world of science at University of Wisconsin and beyond.

In its fourth year, the festival included topics ranging from how the human brain works to robots and talks on how coffee is made as part of the weekend that featured events at Union South and the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery as well as museums and libraries across the state.

The event is non-profit, Mackenzie Carlson, a volunteer at the festival, said, with the purpose of exposing the public to some of the science going on at University of Wisconsin.

“It’s really geared towards everybody … We just like to get everyone excited about science, especially [at a] university that has so much research and technology that the public doesn’t always get to see,” Carlson said. “This is kind of an opportunity to bring some of this out and show people what we’re doing and why we’re all here.”

About 2,500 schoolchildren attended the festival Thursday and Friday, with a few thousand people coming through each of the four days, Adam Erdmann, a volunteer and planner from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation for the festival, said. Ultimately about 10-12,000 visitors attended, he said.

“That’s terrific. That’s right on par with what we’ve done in previous years,” Erdmann said.

Erdmann said this success can be attributed to the multitude of program options at the expo. There was a stronger number of attendance for the adult programs and a steady attendance for the children and young adult programs, he said.

Planning for the event starts in January and February to obtain vendors and non-profit organizations around Wisconsin, starting with those who were involved in previous years, Erdmann said.

“Usually, we rely heavily on other people’s networks for our current presenters and current people who serve on committees to connect us with other people around the state and on campus,” Erdmann said.

One of the vendors involved was EVP coffee, with a demonstration on how coffee is made. Starting with the process of picking coffee beans and ending with a taste demonstration, Sara Tangen, an employee of EVP coffee, explained the process. She included a video of how roasting is done in EVP coffee shops and let everyone sample the different types of coffee the company roasts.

“I absolutely love working where I work,” Tangen said.

Another attraction geared towards younger children was the Robot Zoo, held in a tent on the terrace of Union South. The exhibit contained motorized robots from the College of Engineering’s automotive competition teams.

Inside the tent were tables with posters and pictures of how the robots worked made by groups such as UW Robotics, BadgerBots and the Robotics Education & Competition Foundation.

In regards to future plans for the festival, Erdmann said ideas are flowing but nothing is concrete.

“We don’t have a date yet for next year, we’re still working on that but we’ll certainly be announcing that as soon as we know,” he said.

Erdmann said the festival is an important event that visitors enjoy each year, and the committee looks forward to working on the festival in the future.

Categories: Local Media

UW Center transforms research, understanding of brain function

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 9:04am

The Center for High-Throughput Computing at University of Wisconsin has revolutionized the ability to process and analyze large scale data sets for UW researchers, particularly neuroscientists.

Last Friday, as part of the Wisconsin Science Festival, UW faculty members discussed the ways in which neuroscience research has benefited from UW’s innovative high-throughput resources.

The center, established in 2006, allows researchers on campus to perform large scale computing. HTC becomes necessary when a process takes too long to complete on a single server or computer. The center is an open source, meaning that anyone has access to it, and all standard services are free of charge.

Barbara Bendlin is an assistant professor at the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. Her research group uses HTC to study cognitive impairment associated with brain aging and Alzheimer’s Disease. Bendlin’s studies involve large multi-modal data sets from hundreds of subjects.

The information contained in one brain scan would take 48 hours to process using a standard computer. However, with HTC software, data from 300 subjects takes only about 14 hours to process.

Bendlin’s laboratory uses a brain imaging technique called diffusion tensor imaging, which measures the diffusion of water molecules to map connections between brain regions involved in memory and cognition. By deconstructing water diffusion, researchers can reconstruct bundles of axons that wire up different parts of brain, Bendlin said.

According to Bendlin, individuals who show no signs of cognitive impairment can still exhibit neurobiological symptoms of the disease. These signs include altered diffusion patterns in brain circuits involved in memory.

“People who show more evidence of pathology have greater diffusion,” Bendlin said.

Because brain imaging is non-invasive, it allows doctors and researchers to investigate the structure and activity patterns across healthy and diseased individuals.

Mike Koenigs, associate professor in Psychiatry at UW, said pathophysiological processes underlying various brain disorders can be visualized using scans that measure structure and activity within the brain in real time.

“Pathological levels of certain emotional characteristics derive from abnormal structure and function of the human brain,” Koenigs said.

Koenigs studies the neurobiology of psychopathy. One technique used by his laboratory is called functional magnetic resonance imaging, which measures activity based on blood flow. This allows Koenigs to delineate altered patterns of brain activity in psychopathic versus non-psychopathic criminal offenders.

“Psychopathy is associated with dysfunction in a distributed network of brain regions involved in reward, emotion and decision making,” Koenigs said.

In his research, Koenigs is able to analyze data sets from 100-200 inmates in a matter of days. Software made available by the center allows researchers to analyze millions of images, simulate thousands of events, animate frames and put together movies.

“The computing framework was pioneered on this campus,” Miron Livny, director of the Center for HTC, said. “[We] translated this framework into software that has played an important role in research of [scientists].”

It takes multiple disciplines to model brain networks and their connections. According to Barry Van Veen, professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, methods such as diffusion tensor imaging and functional magnetic resonance do not permit the most precise temporal resolution. Van Veen models electrical activity in the brain using a signal processing approach.

“[Signal processing is] the art and science of extracting useful information from data,” Van Veen said.

Van Veen said cells in the brain communicate via low electrical currents. These currents sum up to generate electric fields that can be detected as fluctuations in voltage. In measuring electric fields at the scalp surface, researchers can measure neural activity on a millisecond time scale.

“We now know that the way our brain functions is by engaging a number of areas in concert,” Van Veen said.

With many subjects being tested across many experimental conditions over time, recordings of brain activity become more complex and require more computing power. In order to keep up with increasingly complex data and better understand brain function, HTC becomes more necessary.

“Extremely large data sets may be analyzed computationally to reveal patterns, trends and associations, especially relating to human behavior and interactions,” Bendlin said.

Categories: Local Media

Burke and Walker butt heads in final gubernatorial debate

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 8:55am

Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke clashed over several topics in their second and final gubernatorial debate Friday, which included questions on jobs, drunken driving and gun violence.

Kent Wainscott from WISN 12 asked each candidate what they would do as governor to tackle the vast unemployment, particularly of African-American men, in inner city Milwaukee in the short term.

Walker brought up the Transform Milwaukee Project, which started in April, that projected millions of dollars in investments that would create jobs in inner city Milwaukee. He said the purpose of this project was to connect people “not just with jobs, but with family supporting jobs.”

He also said he had started a task force in minority unemployment to tackle this issue, but said Milwaukee is in need of capital investments.

Burke said the state cannot have a thriving economy without a thriving Milwaukee economy. She said the Milwaukee economy has not come back from the recession at the same rate as the state or the country, and said that Walker’s term has hindered the city in getting back to pre-recession employment levels.

She said forming task forces now is not good enough, and what Milwaukee needs is investment, especially in what she called anchor institutions.

“Anchor institutions, like health care, hospitals and educational institutions that actually work with communities surrounding them to start new businesses, help them to grow those businesses and give them contracts,” she said.

Walker attacked his Democratic predecessor Jim Doyle and said much of his time in office has been spent “cleaning up the mess” from Doyle’s policies in inner city Milwaukee, policies which he said Burke supported at the time.

“[I look] forward to taking on the tough issues around education in Milwaukee because that is what is going to drive economic development and jobs in the long term,” Burke said.

Mike Strehlow of CBS 58 asked about Wisconsin’s relatively relaxed consequences for first-time drunk drivers as compared to the rest of the country, and asked if the candidates thought that Wisconsin should follow in the footsteps of other states in criminalizing drunk driving on the first offense.

Burke said she believed there are currently not enough consequences for first offenses. She also said she would work with law enforcement to cut down on the number of fatalities on the roads in Wisconsin.

“[It is] time to join the rest of the country in realizing this is something that is important to ensure safety on our roads.” Burke said. “We don’t have tough enough consequences we need to address this.”

Walker said he disagreed, but thinks Republicans and Democrats can work together on the issue.

“Criminalizing first time offenders isn’t the answer, it’s going after repeat offenders,” he said.

Ted Perry from WITI-TV Milwaukee asked about gun violence in Milwaukee and what the candidates would do decrease central city violence if elected governor.

Walker talked about the “shot spotter” program in the Milwaukee Police Department which would help law enforcement identify where shots are fired and deploy police resources even before calls are made to the police. He said he is committed to expanding the program as long as he sees continued success.

Burke said Walker’s cuts of shared revenue in certain municipalities has made it more difficult for them to provide local services that would increase safety. She also said, she’d like to see more encouragement of police working with community groups to ensure that improvements are a grassroots effort.

“We are not doing enough,” Burke said. “We have to make sure we provide adequate funding to our communities in order to fight this.”

Other issues discussed were the potential construction of a high stakes casino in Kenosha, a review of the past year’s budget, and future arena issues for the Milwaukee Bucks.

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Study finds link between counting breaths, mindfulness

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 8:14am

A study has found that counting breaths has a positive affect on making participants be more mindful, a practice that is being incorporated into classrooms at University of Wisconsin.

The new study published in Frontiers in Psychology coming from the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior shows the positive effects counting breaths can have on the mind and body. It’s entitled, “A Mind You Can Count On: Validating Breath Counting as a Behavioral Measure of Mindfulness.”

Daniel Levinson, a graduate student at the Waisman Lab and lead author of the paper, said he came up with the idea through video games.

“Part of my research was to try to come up with a game … by playing it, you’d become more mindful,” Levinson said.

The study involves participants pushing a button on a computer each time they take a breath, causing them to be more aware of their breaths.

In addition to the game helping a person become more mindful, it also measures mindfulness, which is the more dominant part of the study, Levinson said.

“In four independent studies with over 400 total participants, we present the first construct validation of a behavioral measure of mindfulness: breath counting. We found it was reliable, correlated with self-reported mindfulness, differentiated long-term meditators from age-matched controls and was distinct from sustained attention and working memory measures,” Levinson said.

For college students, Levinson said the first step is to ensure that they know what mindfulness is. While he said people have heard of mindfulness before, they are not sure if it is actually a thing that can be measured since it is not concrete.

Breath catching is a good way for students to explore what mindfulness is, Levinson said.

Lisa Thomas Prince, an outreach specialist at the Waisman Laboratory, is working on a project similar to Levinson’s with kindergarten-aged kids. However, the goals are the same for college students and young children, Prince said.

“It’s appropriate for 4-and-5-year-olds to the same degree it’s appropriate for college-aged students or anybody. To focus on breath is a really … central practice in mindfulness meditation,” Prince said.

After a presentation on mindfulness at last year’s Teaching and Learning symposium, faculty members are trying to incorporate some of these ideas such as breath counting into their classes, Prince said.

One faculty member even has students do breath awareness practice before quizzes and tests in class, she said.

“As theorized, we found skill in breath counting associated with more meta-awareness, less mind wandering, better mood and greater non-attachment [for example] less attentional capture by distractors formerly paired with reward,” Levinson said.

Hopefully, the next steps in research will be to find out more about what mindfulness is and what is helpful about it, Levinson said. People can then make informed decisions about what mindfulness is and if they want to check it out, he said.

While mindfulness is becoming increasingly popular in the United States, Levinson and other researchers hope it can potentially transfer into mainstream.

“I’m hoping people will get inspired by this research and use breath counting more to see what the effects of mindfulness are,” Levinson said.

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Minimum wage bubbles to the surface of governor’s race

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 8:10am

Minimum wage has bubbled to the surface of the gubernatorial race after Gov. Scott Walker said to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial board while he won’t repeal the current minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, he doesn’t feel it serves a purpose.

His opponent, Mary Burke, has a very different position regarding this issue, Barry Burden, University of Wisconsin professor of political science, said. Burke has come out in support of the initiative endorsed by President Barak Obama to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, what proponents of this idea call a “living wage.”

Walker told the Journal Sentinel editorial board in a meeting Tuesday that while he does not seek to repeal it, he doesn’t think it serves a purpose because “we’re debating then what the lowest levels are at.” He said he’d like people to making two or three times the amount of the current minimum wage, and he’s focused on programs that create higher paying jobs.

Burke and her supporters have criticized this position, and Burke said in response to Walker’s comment that she believes “it’s important that people who are working full-time are able to support themselves without government assistance.”

Citizen Action Executive Director Robert Kraig, said he agrees $7.25 per hour is not enough to allow for this.

“No serious economist or person trying to live in our society feels that the current minimum wage in Wisconsin is enough to live off of,” Kraig said.

However, Walker has said he needs more evidence to support this.

Burden said because there is no mechanism in place to adjust the minimum wage over time, it is actually worth less than it used to be and many are in support of at least adjusting the minimum wage to reflect the realities of today’s economy.

This divide could have serious implications for the outcome of the race, Burden said.

“Surveys show that most of the public is in support of increasing the minimum wage, so to the degree that this issue gets primed over the next few weeks, I would think that it would work in Burke’s advantage,” Burden said.

Kraig said he believes raising the minimum wage may only be the first step to improving quality of life and strengthening Wisconsin’s economy, but that it is an important first step. He said the benefits will outweigh the costs all over the board, as consumers are able to purchase more goods and services, as well as support themselves and their families, if they are making more.

In last Friday’s debate, Walker did not directly address minimum wage, but said he would focus on improving access to technical education throughout the state and create more higher paying jobs.

Kraig said people and groups across the country are working to increase the minimum wage, and this debate is not just happening in Wisconsin. He said although minimum wage is not a total solution, it is a first step in making up for the loss of “good jobs” across the state.

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Next term’s governor to face budget challenges

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 7:12am

The recent budget surplus of $517 million may not sway the upcoming election, but experts say the gubernatorial winner will have difficult budget decisions to make in the future.

The biannual budget released last Wednesday showed that the budget balance is worse than last year’s more than $700 million surplus, but slightly better than in previous years, Wisconsin Budget Project director Jon Peacock said.

“It’s positive news that the state has a surplus, but it’s more than 200 million below what they’d been anticipating when they passed the tax cuts and the state expects to spend about 560 million more than it takes in,” Peacock said. “So there’s still a potential that the state will be in the red by the end of this fiscal year if it doesn’t find a way to make some cuts.”

The reason for Wisconsin’s imbalance between spending and revenues in the last year or two is because the state enacted fairly large individual tax cuts and more recently enacted a cut in the technical college property tax, the president of the nonpartisan Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance Todd Berry said.

Berry said regardless of who becomes governor after the election, they will face a budget situation which is “not dire,” like it was in 2010, but there will not be any leftover money.

“We were able to cut income and property taxes by balancing the budget with surplus we carried over, but obviously you can’t do that forever which is why the rubber hits the road next year,” Berry said. “A governor in the next year or two is not going to have that big of an effect on the Wisconsin economy. They may long term, but not in the short run.”

Looking ahead, balancing upcoming budgets will likely require some “painful choices,” Peacock said.

Unless there’s a “miraculous upcharge” of the economy, the state will either have to find a way to raise tax revenue, make a lot of cuts or freeze program funding right away, Peacock said.

“The state will balance the next budget and they’ll find ways to do that and the sky won’t fall but it’s going to require some difficult choices, and they’re going to have to put a squeeze on funding for universities, healthcare and K12 education,” Peacock said. “It’s unfortunate that it could have been avoided if they hadn’t used up the surplus before it even materialized.”

Although 5 percent of registered voters still remain undecided about the gubernatorial election, according to the most recent Marquette Law School Poll, the budget surplus will likely have a minimal effect, Berry said.

The majority of swing voters fall into two categories, Berry said. Within the group, a large percentage will either not vote at all or they are considered low information voters and are unlikely to be turned in to the twists and turns of the campaign trail.

“I don’t think [the budget] is going to have a major impact,” Berry said. “It’s all going to come down to which side can get its voters out: more tactics than issues.”

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Attorney general candidates clash over gun legislation

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 7:07am

While attorney general candidates Brad Schimel and Susan Happ may not disagree on whether law-abiding Wisconsin residents should be able to own guns, the two have clashed over gun legislation specifics as the Nov. 4 election approaches.

The National Rifle Association recently endorsed Republican candidate Schimel. Although Happ has come out in support of the second amendment in the past, she advocates for more background checks for those trying to purchase guns.

“We see Mr. Schimel as someone who is there to do the job as attorney general and act as a defender of the laws of the state of Wisconsin, whether he agrees with them or not,” Jeff Nass, legislative affairs liaison of Wisconsin FORCE, Wisconsin’s charter association of the NRA, said in reference to Schimel’s position on guns.

Nass said Schimel’s position is more favorable to the NRA because it is more in line with the second amendment and Schimel has made it clear he intends to support it to the fullest. Happ, however, has not said she does not support citizen’s right to bear arms and is also a concealed-carry permit holder herself.

Happ released a statement earlier this month saying she sees stricter background checks as an “obvious solution” to reduce gun violence and, as attorney general, she would work to push legislation in support of broader and more in-depth background checks.

The state does not currently require background checks for people buying arms at gun shows or online, which makes up of approximately 40 percent of all firearms purchased in the state.

In a recent interview with the Wisconsin State Journal editorial board, Happ said 80 percent of Wisconsin residents are in support of closing this loophole and that as attorney general she would work to make criminal background checks necessary in all cases.

Schimel, on the other hand, has said he thinks everything is working great, Nass said. Schimel said in a statement last week that he believes “the state has plenty gun laws,” and that as attorney general, he would instead push for more thorough prosecution of those violating the already existing laws.

Along with background checks, Schimel and Happ disagree on specifics regarding concealed-carry permits. Happ told the State Journal that she believes police officers should have easier access to names of people with concealed-carry permits, but Schimel countered that this was unnecessary because officers should already be aware of the fact that anyone they approach could be armed.

“Her statements on the rights of Wisconsinites definitely puts Mr. Schimel ahead of her,” Nass said. “He believes everything is working great.”

A recent statement from Schimel’s office said the fact that charges of felons in possession of guns are often dropped or ignored is a problem. The statement says Schimel would “push for more thorough prosecution of felons who violate those laws.”

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Man arrested after urinating on police car on State Street

Sun, 10/19/2014 - 6:54pm

A 21-year-old Dodgeville man was arrested late Saturday night after he allegedly urinated on a Madison Police Department squad car on State Street.

Madison Police officers patrolling the area on foot saw Chase Royal Martin urinating on the squad car outside City Bar in the 600 block of State Street just before midnight, according to an incident report.

Several bystanders alerted Martin of an officer’s arrival, but he continued to urinate, according to the report.

After the officer made contact with Martin, he resisted arrest and fled the scene, but was located after he hid behind a building on West Gilman Street, the police report said.

After a brief struggle, the officer took Martin into custody, according to the report. Martin has been charged with disorderly conduct, resisting police, damage to property and depositing human waste prohibited.

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College Democrats face College Republicans in gubernatorial showdown

Fri, 10/17/2014 - 9:04am

At the 2014 Gubernatorial Showdown Thursday, members from the University of Wisconsin’s College Democrats and College Republicans went head-to-head on the upcoming election’s biggest issues.

The debate, moderated by UW political science professor Kenneth Mayer, covered issues including health care, the economy, environmental policy and education. 

In regard to health care, representatives were asked about Gov. Scott Walker’s rejection of funding from the Affordable Care Act.

Marie Jolly, College Republicans secretary, said Walker has provided monetary funding of safe havens for people that experienced mental abuse and took steps toward helping women who have suffered domestic violence.

Hayley Young, College Democrats chair, said while Walker has claimed successes for health care, he has failed to set up a health care exchange. Young criticized Walker’s approach to women’s health care citing that clinics in rural areas closed under his administration.

“People still have access to health care, but it is not thanks to Walker’s policies,” Young said.

She added Walker made health care more costly and less safe by rejecting federal funds.

The debate on the economy focused on job creation. They discussed Walker’s claim that he would create 250,000 more jobs in his first term, while only 100,000 jobs had been created.

Alex Schultz of College Democrats said a vote for Walker is another “four years of failure,” while a vote for Mary Burke is a vote for a “better, more prosperous work force.”

Ryan Grunwald of College Republicans said they should look at the progress that Walker made. Grunwald said unemployment is down to 5.5 percent, the lowest it has been this month since 2008 and the state was down 133,000 jobs before Walker came to office.

They also addressed education in terms of the state government’s responsibility for increasing the availability of higher education.

Alex Morgan of College Democrats, said while the tuition freeze has helped, it is not enough.

“We’ve seen a 10 percent rise in enrollment over the UW system, with budget cuts across UW Madison,” Morgan said. ”Student segregated fees and housing funds have increased … college tuition is not where we need it to be. The real issue here is the tuition freeze is a stopgap measure.”

Charlie Hoffman, College Republicans president, said college tuition has been skyrocketing faster than inflation and Walker has advocated for a tuition freeze for the next two years.

“Students are graduating with huge amounts of debt, so Walker said that this is enough, let’s freeze tuition,” Hoffman said. ”Burke’s policies don’t stop the issue of tuition, she hasn’t even addressed the tuition freeze, or what her cap is for tuition.”

In recognition of bipartisanship, representatives were asked what each thought the opposite party’s gubernatorial candidate did well.

Hoffman acknowledged Burke’s commitment to charity, especially the Boys and Girls Club. Young approved of Walker’s contribution and commitment to Autism Speaks.

Walker and Burke will face-off in a debate at 6:30 p.m. this Friday.

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ASM fall election results announced for freshman campaign

Fri, 10/17/2014 - 9:03am

Results from Associated Students of Madison’s fall elections were announced Thursday, after one quarter of the freshman class cast their votes earlier this week.

The four winners beat out 13 other candidates to secure seats on the student governing body.

August McGinnity-Wake, one of the recently-elected representatives, said he knew he wanted to run for office after having conversations with friends about how to improve campus. He said working on his campaign allowed him to bring those ideas to life.

“It feels good to have won, all my hard work has paid off and it’s very rewarding,” McGinnity-Wake said.

He said he is eager to work to improve sustainability and safety on campus. He also plans to explore adding solar panels to residence halls and extending the hours that Safewalk services operate.

Working on a campaign gave him a firsthand look at how to run in an election, he said.

“It was really cool to be involved in an election where I was campaigning for myself,” he said.

Making students’ voices heard and having the opportunity to advance progressive values for the campus are both a priority, he said.

Ariela Rivkin, another one of the recently-elected representatives, said she knew she wanted to run for office after recognizing three main issues.

The cost of textbooks, wireless connectivity around campus and safety were all issues that prompted her to run, she said.

“It feels amazing and empowering to have won the election, even though it was stressful and all about person-to-person contact while campaigning,” Rivkin said.

Connecting students with ASM and keeping them updated with important issues on campus is another priority for Rivkin, she said.

Rivkin said taking initiative after recognizing the problems will help to make sure they are resolved.

“Why not step up and fix the problem? I can’t keep complaining about it if I don’t step up and take initiative,” she said.

In the election, Rivkin received a total of 693 votes and McGinnity-Wake received 484 votes.

The other winners James LaPierre and Lauren Brinkman received 398 and 369 votes respectively.

ASM Chair Gen Carter stressed the importance of involving students in issues that affect them.

She said ASM has already registered almost 3,000 people to vote over the last few months. They plan to continue the efforts until the Nov. 4 election.

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