SHOW ME YOUR AUGUST!
August gets a pretty bad rap. It has an air of finality, an earlier sunset, the bookend of a dying summer. But what's not to love about cooler nights, the heavy morning dew, the plants and flowers you haven't seen since last August, or the Perseid meteor shower? Over the next 2+ weeks, send the photo you think best portrays August in Minnesota.
1) Hells Angels redux. A hearing last night in Carlton County brought plenty of complaints about the way the police acted during the Hells Angels' visit to the region, the Duluth News Tribune reports. One woman said she saw a group of bikers -- many of whom had just helped her get her car started -- stopped and ticketed for speeding, when they were driving below the limit. A business owner said all the cop cars in his parking lot scared customers away.
2) Ugh. In Worthington, a man is charged with raping a 13-year old girl and told her he'd report her family's illegal immigration status if she talked. (Worthington Daily Globe - registration required)
"This is the reality of the broken immigration system and what it does to people," Worthington Public Safety Director Mike Cumiskey said. "People are being taken advantage of because of their status." The family is not in danger of being deported, he said.
3) Discussion point. Lane Wallace makes a fascinating observation on her Atlantic.com blog. In a world of Twitter and Facebook and live-blogging, is it possible to experience life and relay your experience at the same time?
When I had an assignment to fly a a U-2 spy plane last fall, high enough to see the curvature of the earth, I got so preoccupied with taking photos and notes that I realized, part-way through the flight, that I wasn't actually experiencing any of it with any real depth. And to write anything of substance, I needed to first experience something of substance. So I turned off my intercom microphone, put the camera down, and just sat for a while. Looked out the window. Focused on what my senses were experiencing. Let my mind wander and my eyes drink in my surroundings. And in the richness of that silence, impressions softly bloomed. Of how fragile the world's atmosphere appeared. How being that high above the earth felt as if we were surreptitious invaders at the edge of a foreign realm ruled by powerful titans who needed no heat, air pressure or oxygen to survive. Of how lonely even a beautiful planet would be without anyone to welcome you home again.
This, of course, gets back to the question we raised a few weeks ago about whether we adequately "disconnect" from our online lives, but it's not necessarily a new phenomenon. I would contend that camcorders paved the way for the "barrier technology" between us and that which we are experiencing.
Incidentally, Lane will be a guest on MPR's Midmorning next Monday. I feel a little sheepish telling you I'll be live-blogging the experience.
4) This has all the makings of an urban legend spread by someone with a book to sell, but it's just crazy enough to be true. Helicopter parents, worried that their children will be abused or neglected by the adults in the house, are banning them from going to "sleep-overs."
Now, experts say, many children throwing sleepovers simply invite everyone in the class to prevent hurt feelings, meaning parents receive invitations from families they've had little or no contact with. For mothers and fathers who are concerned about safety, this is frightening.
But even families the parents know well may not share the same values.
Newsome, who does allow her children to spend the night at a few relatives' homes, recently picked up her kids up from a cousin's and found them watching an R-rated movie that she and her husband had decided was inappropriate.
OK, I take it all back. It reminded me of the time one of my kids attended a sleepover and they watched "The Shining."
5) It's performance review season at many American companies, or -- as I like to refer to it in my cubicle -- the "what have you done for me lately?" season. In an NPR commentary, Alain de Botton, the author of The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, takes on the "gentle whipping" of the American worker.
However, the whipping has to be done so gently, like handling uranium, for fear of the ego smashing into watery pieces on the office tiles. All must have prizes. So criticism evolves into mutual vows to do better next time: "to keep the goals of the organization more in mind," "to remember to focus on results rather than procedures," to "engage more with the client-facing side."
As millions of Americans have been laid off, many millions more have picked up the slack. They've lost their retirement plans, their health care, time with their families, and had piles of stress heaped on them. Maybe this year everyone's performance review should have two words -- and only two words -- on it:
Bonus: New Twins Ballpark has some new photos as the infield begins to develop at the park, which is intended to take your mind off the fact the team that'll play there starting next year isn't very good and is barely competitive.
A recent study shows the rate of homeownership in America has declined by more than 2 percent since 2004, and is projected to drop even more over the coming years. Has homeownership lost its luster in the wake of the mortgage crisis and recession? Is owning a home part of your American Dream?
WHAT WE'RE DOING
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) - First hour: A new report from the Congressional Oversight Panel warns that toxic assets tied to bad loans remain on the balance sheets of many small banks, and could trigger further economic instability. Second hour: This one ought to light up the phones. Ethics writer Randy Cohen thinks Americans don't file enough lawsuits when they've been wronged.
Midday (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.) - State epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Lynfield will be in the studio to answer questions about the H1N1 flu. Second hour: Shibley Telhami, speaking at the Chautauqua Institution about the U.S. role in the Muslim world, and prospects for Middle East peace.
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) - First hour: What's behind the outrage at the various town hall forums politicians are having? Second hour: An exploration of Chinatowns in the U.S.
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - MPR's Annie Baxter will jump into the real estate numbers due out today and consult the economic Ouija board. Teresa Boardman, on the St. Paul Real Estate blog, has her latest prices by neighborhood post up. Economic indicators could dominate the news today after yesterday's big drop on Wall Street.
NPR's Tom Goldman will take a swing at the pedestal on which we've placed Tiger Woods. He'll look at Tiger's alleged "attitude" problem. Let's define that. He apparently is described as "focused" and "competitive." Oh.
Let's jump into the minefield of corporate executive travel.
When the big automakers needed a Washington bailout, they arrived in their corporate jets, to the scorn of the public and the politicians. The public, they reasoned, shouldn't be subsidizing such excess.
"[When] corporate executives use the company aircraft for personal business, I think that rubs the public the wrong way," Rep. James Oberstar said.
But the taxpayer was already subsidizing corporate travel through the Essential Air Service program, which is intended to provide air service to small communities. Alaska is the big winner in the 1980s-era legislation, which was only supposed to last for 10 years.
It doesn't cost that much in the big scheme of things, $123 million this year.
Today, Oberstar announced a third commercial flight is being added to the Hibbing-Chisholm area, subsidized under the program.
The primary beneficiaries, according to Oberstar, will be mining executives.
One fallout from the program, however. The program from the government's left hand kicks in a wave of new bureaucratic regulations from the government's right hand. Once commercial air service comes to a smalltown, private pilots and the business who operate at the airports -- the ones who mostly use and benefit smaller airports and their communities -- are slapped with new security regulations.
A new Department of Homeland Security directive, which the agency refuses to make public, "puts undue burden on rural airports and general aviation personnel" and "stifles rural aviation, which is a lifeblood for many of these smaller communities," one activist wrote.
In Minnesota, that applies to Bemidji, Brainerd, Duluth, International Falls, St. Cloud, Rochester, and Thief River Falls.
In rural Minnesota, the government gives, and the government taketh away.
Why wasn't President Obama's health care town hall forum in New Hampshire yesterday as raucous as some of the video clips we've seen at forums around the country recently?
"I doubt we're seeing a representative sample of any series of town hall meetings despite the food fight on cable every day," Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said at his daily briefing today. The Boston Globe reports:
"People want to take the opportunity to find out from the president -- to have him answer their questions about why he's doing what he's doing and the concerns they may have on the legislation," he added. "I think most people took that opportunity as something that was positive.
"I think some of you were disappointed yesterday that the president didn't get yelled at," Gibbs told reporters, chiding them for paying too much attention to the back-and-forth between protestors outside."
"A bunch of your stories had more to do with the fact that the -- the sideshow on each side of the street outside than what was actually going on inside of the town hall," he said.
Nothing in politics happens in a vacuum, of course. Presidential town hall forums are staged affairs with attention to detail about how it'll play on the TV screen in the evening.
They're not inherently phony, of course, and provide a piece of a larger contextual story. But so do the sometimes staged affairs going on outside, too.
Meanwhile, the White House is pushing back in the public-relations war, creating a Health Insurance Reform Reality Check page.
Conservative sites are already setting up a Health Insurance Reform Reality Check reality checks.(12 Comments)
The newsroom is working on the plane crash in Eden Prairie today. You can find the particulars here.
I don't -- yet -- have permission to post the images of the plane from the people holding the copyright, but here's one from the 1980s. And another. (Received permission tonight. Thanks to Gary Chambers! Gary says he last saw the plane parked at Flying Cloud's Air Expo last month. Its left engine was undergoing maintenance.)
It's obvious that it had a life as a commuter in Florida before it was restored to its original splendor.
The registration of the plane is a little spotty. The FAA, officially, says the registration -- N3038C -- is "in question"
The last time it had a trackable flight plan via online sites was in 2006.
Of course we don't know what happened and won't -- officially -- for months, but we can take the current evidence and reach an educated view of what might have been factors in play. Reports say the plane was in trouble right after it took off. That suggests an engine problem. It was returning to the airport and crashed north of it, and witnesses said it was wobbling just before it crashed, which indicates it had stalled (in aviation, stalling doesn't refer to the engine, but to the inability of the wings to provide lift because the airplane had slowed to the point where enough air wasn't flowing over the wings to provide the lift, and it simply falls).
Quite often, flight instructors advise against trying to return to the airport when a plane has an engine problem but to land "straight ahead." Attempts to turn back and land on a runway frequently fail. This is why "safety zones" are created around airports. Building is restricted around an airport just for such occasions as today.
A controversy about the need for those, for example, is currently brewing in St. Paul, where residents say it's too restrictive.
At the time of the crash, the winds at Flying Cloud were from the south, indicating that the plane may have taken off on runway 18.
In the picture below, this is the runway that intersects the two, right to left (click for larger image).
The one area that doesn't have a safety zone is runway 18. The airport is on the edge of a bluff overlooking the Minnesota River. Ahead is Valleyfair Amusement Park and Canterbury Downs racetrack, both of which would've been full of people today. (The main parking area for the PGA Championship at Hazeltine is Canterbury.) At the approach end (on the right in the picture above), there's nothing but trees and a lake.
Today's fatalities were the second and third general aviation accident fatalities in Minnesota this year. In June, a pilot was killed when he landed in a late-night rainstorm at Crystal airport. Today's were the first deaths at Flying Cloud airport since 2001.(2 Comments)