The Monday Morning Rouser:
1 The Independent (UK) tackles one of the longest-running conspiracy theories -- that man never really landed on the moon. Credit NASA -- the people who sent the astronauts there (or didn't) -- for its page "The Moon Hoax" on its Web site.
2 "What's up with Minnesota politics, anyway?" the New York Times' David Carr asks. He knows the answer since he used to live and work here. Not that much. I mean, geez, David, it's not like our governor has to resign because he had a thing for high-priced call girl, and then was replaced by a lieutenant governor who, on his first day in office, admitted to at least one marital affair. Carr answers his question, of course. It's populism. What's the matter with it?
3 From the "Support Our Troops" file: More female veterans are becoming homeless. It's still a relatively small number, but it's doubled over the last 10 years according to the Veterans' Administration report. One of every 10 homeless vets under 45 is a woman.
From the "Unclear on the concept file:" Woman who started a running club for homeless vets gets shut down.... by a homeless shelter.
4 A Chicago area woman sued a bank because the ATM didn't tell her she'd be charged a $3 fee. The bank settled and now other people who used the same ATM could get $1,000 apiece.
5 Rick Reilly at ESPN says what this economy needs is more sports in the nation's offices.
If there's one thing games teach us, it's to buck up, dig in and hold on. That's what we cherish about sports -- the faith that no matter how bad things suck, eventually you're going to win. How else do you explain Cubs fans?
Bonus: The joy and pain of running the family funeral home business. (Mankato Free Press)
WHAT WE'RE WORKING ON
Midmorning (9 a.m. -11 a.m.) - First hour: What is your role in health care's future? Second hour: Novelist David Rhodes released three highly acclaimed novels when he was in his 20s, and then was paralyzed in a motorcycle accident. He joins Midmorning to discuss his first novel in more than 30 years, and the long road back to writing.
Midday (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.) - President Obama is in Russia and St. John's University's Nick Hayes is in the studio in the first hour. The tentative second hour is Gov. Tim Pawlenty's address to the Aspen Ideas Festival.
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) - First hour: What we've learned about Sonia Sotomayor. Second hour: Broadcast news people who have been telling us way too much about the death of Michael Jackson, now ask whether we've been told way too much about the death of Michael Jackson.
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - A few years ago, when my lawnmower was having a crisis, I bought a "small engine repair" book and opened 'er up. Following the instructions, I cleaned it all up and put it back together, trying not to pay attention to the extra parts that were left over. "Look at this," I said to my wife as I pulled the starter cord, "maybe I'll do this for a living."
I rolled it down to the edge of the driveway and stuck a "free" sign on it. I say this because this evening MPR's Marty Moylan will report on the recession fueling the do-it-yourselfer in all of us. This weekend, I rebuilt a deck, by the way. So far, she's still standing.
Also on today's show, MPR's Jess Mador tells us about a new law that allows homeowners behind on their payments to postpone the sheriff's sale by five months. The aim is to give them five more months to get current and save the home. Will this help or just delay the inevitable?
NPR's Joe Shapiro reports on people with Alzheimer's who have no insurance.
The ESPN's "My Wish" series will make you feel small for lamenting having to go back to work on a Monday.(4 Comments)
For those of you who didn't live during the Vietnam War era, you might have a better sense of who former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara was if I tell you he was the Donald Rumsfeld of the '60s.
McNamara, one of Washington's "The Best and the Brightest" has died at age 93.
He gave us Vietnam. Like Rumsfeld, he was reviled by the war's opponents. In his book, the late David Halberstam said McNamara "did not serve himself or his country well. He was, there is no kinder or gentler word for it, a fool."
"I don't object to its being called McNamara's war," he said in 1964. "I think it is a very important war, and I am pleased to be identified with it and do whatever I can to win it."
A memoir he wrote in the '90s revealed how much his soul was tortured by his war. He revealed that he had misgivings about the war as early as 1967, but continued to publicly support it anyway. That opened up a barely-scabbed-over sore. The U.S. suffered over 93,000 casualities -- dead and wounded -- from 1967 to the end of the war.
"We of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations acted according to what we thought were the principles and traditions of our country. But we were wrong. We were terribly wrong," McNamara told The Associated Press 15 years ago.(4 Comments)
Posted at 11:13 AM on July 6, 2009
by Bob Collins
Following up on Friday's post about improper wearing, displaying, and eating off of the American flag, reader Al Nowatzki of St. Paul sent this picture along.
Are you a more productive person than, say, 10 years ago?
The question comes in a blog post today by Mark Lewis, president of EMC Corporation, who went "off the grid" recently. Apparently he's plugged in, again:
... is all of this connectivity actually making us more productive, more innovatiove, or even making our lives that much better? Or is Facebook just the "CB Radio" of the decade (the under 40 set might even have to look that one up, or shall I say, "Google it"?). There is no doubt that staying connected with friends is fun and staying connected with work has become almost required in most organizations, but the question remains, are we any more innovative or productive?
I've heard about people who disconnect from the connected universe -- if only for a week's vacation -- but I've never met any of them, especially in the mirror.
Blame the recession, a University of North Carolina professor says. We're afraid of being left out or left behind:
"Once people know you're behaving this way, businesses expect you to be at their beck and call, so vacations become hard," said Gary Marchionini of UNC Chapel Hill's school of information and library science.
People stay connected to the office while on vacation partly because they're expected to, but also because they feel guilty and fear a backlash if they don't, said Marchionini
We don't even know if it's possible to disconnect anymore, though Salon.com's David Sirota is giving it a try.
Don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about. It's that urge to answer your cellphone in the middle of a family dinner, that impulse to check your e-mail before going to bed, knowing your boss expects you to. It's the urge to text message a business colleague while driving -- a problem so prevalent and dangerous that state legislatures are outlawing such behavior. And it's that reaction you get when telling people you don't have a Facebook page or a BlackBerry -- that disgustedly stunned look as if you said your name is Fred Flintstone. The expectation is that you are -- and must be -- on the grid at all times.
Technological connectivity is traveling a path previously trampled by human noise.
Utne Reader had a piece a few months ago about the search for places where there is no human sound.
It's not easy to find silence in the modern world. If a quiet place is one where you can listen for 15 minutes in daylight hours without hearing a human-created sound, there are no quiet places left in Europe. There are none east of the Mississippi River. And in the American West? Maybe 12. One of them is in the temperate rainforest along the Hoh River in Olympic National Park.
Have you tried disconnecting? How'd that work for you? Are you and your spouse on the same page when it comes to "connectivity"? Can you leave work behind and still have a job? Share your stories.(5 Comments)
They came. They saw. They made a big fuss. Al Franken, the beneficiary (sort of) of eight months of seeming non-stop coverage, draws a crowd even when he's not there. At the Capitol, a worker put a sign up outside his new office, and a gaggle of reporters was there to document its every word.
It had no comment. It is the most heavily photographed sign at the U.S. Capitol since former Sen. Mark Dayton closed his office because of terrorism fears.
As for Franken, he met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and then met the media, saying nothing he hasn't said before to reporters there to cover him saying it again. The national news media duly reported that Franken did not make any jokes.
Meanwhile, the Senate Web site still lists only a single Minnesota senator. But the franken.senate.gov Web address is ready for him, although it currently redirects to the Senate home page.
Franken will be sworn in on Tuesday.
"The first thing I noticed when I went to work at the Mine was the noise," the writer of Mesabi Misadventures says at the beginning her outstanding post on the recession's effect on her slice of the Iron Range. We don't know her name, but we can determine she works at Hibbing Taconite because she notes her mine's shutdown has been extended into 2010, something that was announced last week.
And just like parents get nervous when their kids get too quiet because it usually means something resulting in a spanking is going to happen, it's hard not to get nervous when the Mine becomes this quiet.
I love to hear the birds in the morning at home. Or the squirrels when they yell at my dog for getting too close to their tree.
I don't want to hear birds and squirrels at work. And I do now.
What's the sound of a recession? Birds and squirrels.
(h/t: Aaron J. Brown)
I've been flying around the Twin Cities for about 12 years and the only time I notice how uniquely diverse Minnesota can be over the course of just a few miles is when I take someone for a flight who's never flown in a small airplane before; someone who knows how to take nice photographs
On Sunday, I took MPR's online producer, Steve Mullis, for a flight from the southern suburbs down to Lake Pepin, then up the Mississippi to St. Paul. A sample of his photographs provides a clearer perspective of just how different things are at the end of a stone's throw.
From the classic skyline of St. Paul (seen from the never-ending Wakota Bridge project):
To the suburban sprawl of -- I believe -- Apple Valley and Eagan
But there's still plenty of land that isn't a housing development... yet.
Holiday rush hour on the Mississippi River:
From the air, you realize just how close the Treasure Island casino is to the Prairie Island nuclear power plant in Red Wing. Lake Pepin is at the top of the picture.
Where does all the gravel come from for roads and construction and cement? It comes from scarring the heck out of the landscape:
There are more gravel pits out there than you may think.
Bluff country, Wisconsin style.
Knee high by the 4th of July? Hard to tell from up here:
(Click any image to enlarge)
Find more of Steve's photography on his Flickr page.(5 Comments)
(MPR photo by Bill Alkofer)
If you didn't know the obvious significance of the new I-35W bridge in Minneapolis, would you pay much attention to driving across it? Does it strike you as an award-winning design or is it just another slab of pavement across the road?
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and engineers. The American Public Works Association has given the bridge an award in its Disaster or Emergency Construction and Repair category. The group cited the 11 months it took to build the bridge (who knew the Twin Cities would adapt to life without it so easily?), the eco-friendly materials, and some construction techniques that "set the standard" for bridge work.
Let's just say it didn't win in the bathing suit competition. I mentioned on Mary Lucia's show on The Current on Monday that for all its design and construction innovation, it doesn't set the spine to tingling.
"Come on, guys! It's kind of gorgeous," listener Laura Brown said. "Have you seen it from, say, the Stone Arch Bridge at night? Muah, it's lovely; a good addition to our night-time light pollution."
"We have a tendency to build bland bridges and so it's kind of nice when we get an attractive bridge every now and again," historian Denis Gardner told MPR's Tom Crann when the bridge opened last fall. He acknowledged, though, that the bridge was the chance "to do something unique and we didn't do that."
The bridge is not entirely new to awards. The Associated General Contractors named it "most significant construction project of 2008" last March. The Construction Innovation Forum nominated it for a "Nova Award" for the 300+ sensors in the bridge that monitor its condition, the use of LED lighting, and the eco-friendly cement which removes pollutants from the air when ultraviolet rays from the sun hit it.
But for sheer beauty -- especially since you can walk across it -- try St. Paul's Wabasha bridge. It has a different look and feel from a vehicle, walking, or from the river. And for "spine tingling," walk down the stairs that allow you to see the river below. Now that's a bathing suit! Or at least a good case of vertigo.2 Comments)