1) Without question, the darkest days in our nation's history were the early '80s. Everyone wore yellow ties. They were the "power ties" of the day. Yellow! I lapsed to that trauma reading today's article in the New Scientist, "Winners Wear Red; How Colour Twists Your Mind." It's all about red, my friends:
In one experiment, volunteers were asked to carry out a 5-minute IQ test. They were assigned a bogus "participant number", written in either red or black, on the corner of the test paper. Volunteers whose numbers were written in red scored consistently lower on the tests. Elliot also gave the students different coloured folders and asked them to choose their preferred level of difficulty for an IQ test. Students given red folders tended to choose easier tests
But the research also shows that just viewing something red can make you more timid.
More science: Farmers are destroying the ozone layer.
Who says science isn't cool? The chemical structure of a single molecule has been photographed for the first time.
2) Good grief, has there ever been a bigger understatement in the news than this one? "She was in good health, but living in a back yard for 18 years does take its toll." That's El Dorado County Undersheriff Fred Kollar describing the recovery in Sacramento yesterday of Jaycee Lee Dugard, who was abducted on her way to school 18 years ago, and kept in the backyard of a sex offender's home. There are so many angles here, it's hard to know where to begin. How does a guy sentenced to 50 years for rape get parole so quickly? How does the world make it right for the girl's stepfather, who was convicted of the abduction in the court of public opinion? How does someone who steals a girl, and keeps her isolated for 18 years end up handing out religious material? But the BBC program, World Have Your Say, has the best question: Should we be nosier neighbors?
Have we become a 'look-away' society? In an effort to respect each other's privacy, have we gone too far in keeping to ourselves? Should we all be nosier neighbours?
Think carefully about this because there's an extreme to getting involved in what your neighbors are up to.
3) Why can't Iowa get some love? People in Cedar Rapids, hard hit by a flood a year ago, are feeling neglected. "The recovery here is only limping along as waterlogged buildings are still being gutted, thousands of displaced families remain in temporary housing, and large-scale demolition to make way for a new downtown has just begun," the New York Times reports. The city manager says "we're the forgotten disaster."
Lisa Kuzela, who lost her home in the flood, writes on a blog that residents who've lost their homes have gotten property tax bills recently.
I was born, apparently, with the curse of good memory. So I couldn't help but think about the comments that were posted in this News Cut post I made during the Iowa floods, based on this comment by a Star Tribune letter writer:
The difference is our fellow Midwesterners are picking themselves off the ground, brushing themselves off, and getting to work. Their first instinct is not to blame government; their first instinct is to help each other out and try to put their lives back together.
4) It's the end of Reading Rainbow! LeVar Burton has been getting kids excited about reading for 26 years. The third-longest kids' show in PBS history is getting snuffed out today. The show assumed kids already knew the basics of reading. That might've worked 26 years ago, but not anymore. Efforts are being redirected toward teaching kids how to read.
5) Is it obscenity or is it art? A woman posing nude was arrested this week at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. "There are nude sculptures and paintings all over the museum. It's the height of stupidity accusing a live model of showing the same thing in a house of art," her lawyer said.
In other arts news, The Naked Woman, a Picasso painting found in Iraq, may be a fake.
Bonus:: The son of a quilter is collecting quilting/crafting supplies to be sent to northern Iraq. This week, he's getting inundated with "Bundles of Love". (h/t: Heather Heimbuch)
TODAY'S "SHOW ME YOUR AUGUST!" PHOTO
"For a Minnesota expat in Jerusalem, here's what August looks like," Allison Schmitt writes. "During Ramadan, the annual Muslim month of fasting and celebration, the plazas around the Old City acquire a carnival-like atmosphere. Vendors sell treats, housewares and trinkets. Sidewalks are packed with celebrants. Lights that rival any Christmas display are strung from lamp posts, door frames and, in the case of Damascus Gate, ancient stone walls. It's a welcome diversion from daily life under occupation. "
Health officials are urging people to take precautions because of a likely outbreak of H1N1 flu this fall. The precautions include such common-sense strategies as handwashing and covering your mouth when you cough. How seriously do you take the threat of H1N1 flu?
WHAT WE'RE DOING
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) - First hour: Did Cash for Clunkers work? The government's $3 billion Cash for Clunkers program was wildly popular, but plagued with problems. Two auto industry analysts assess the program that one car dealer called "the best program we all hate."
Second hour: The history of national parks.
Midday (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.) - First hour: Michael Osterholm will be in the studio to answer questions about the flu. He is director of the University of Minnesota's Center for Disease Research and Policy.
Second hour: Remembrance of Sen. Edward Kennedy in reports and speeches.
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) - It's Science Friday! First hour: The perils of multitasking, curing genetic disease by swapping DNA in eggs, the latest on the ozone layer, and the video pick of the week.
Second hour: One anthropologist's idea that boiling, roasting and grilling our food may have given humans an evolutionary edge.
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - A St. Paul inventor says electric vehicles don't have to be expensive and are practical for our climate. He's showing off his converted pick up truck at the State Fair. MPR's Stephanie Hemphill has had a look.
A Blue Cross Blue Shield agent in Willmar encouraged an elderly woman to call her senators' offices to oppose a public option in health care. Is that ethical? Health insurers say they merely encourage people to get involved in the debate, and don't advocate a specific position. MPR's Ambar Espinoza will sort it out.
From NPR, Robert Smith is exploring Our Lady of Perpetual Hope, where Ted Kennedy's funeral will be held. John McDonough looks at a debate that played out on the radio about health care options... 50 years ago. And Greg Allen reports that many Hispanic migrant workers in New Orleans are alleging wage theft.
We got this note from a listener today following this morning's Midmorning broadcast about the Cash for Clunkers program:
A comment on Kerri Miller's guests discussing cash for clunker appliances. I totally disagree with their comments-- I have been hoping and waiting for a cash-for-appliances program. We have not been able to take advantage of any of the house or car programs, but we are limping along with an ancient stove and fridge. News flash for your guests-- people do wait and get along with crummy, old appliances and even get them fixed if they can't afford to go out and buy new, even though they know new appliances would be much more energy efficient. I only hope ours keep working until a cash for appliance program begins.
It may not be long. Such a program is coming this fall, though it won't be anywhere near as impressive. Rebates will only be in the $50 to $200 range, according to reports. It's also not apparent whom the program is intended to help. Many of the appliance makers moved their jobs overseas years ago.
St. Cloud's Electrolux, for example, closed down its small chest freezer production in 2004 and moved the jobs to China. The company still employs about 1,200 people in the city, but that's down by about 650 jobs since 2004.
While the Cash for Clunkers program proved popular, a poll out today says most Americans do not favor a rebate program for appliances. Almost half of those surveyed disapproved, according to Rasmussen Reports. Only 39 percent favor such a program.
Support -- or lack of it -- for both the appliance program and the cars program appears to break down along party and generational lines, the poll said.(2 Comments)
What does a country leaving a war look like? In Maj. Art LaFlamme's world at the moment, it looks like this: A pickup truck full of fabric that's been sent to northern Iraq by quilters around the globe.
LaFlamme, a California native, is on his third tour of duty in Iraq, but he says he's been "involved with Iraq" since 1990. A few weeks ago, he says, he and some others in his office were talking about the drawdown of American troops and what would happen to machinery and supplies the U.S. has sent to Iraq, "and wouldn't it make sense if we could convert some of the stuff into good over here for people who have needs."
"We started talking about Ramadan, which we're now in. Generosity is a key component, looking inwards and looking outwards to helping others and how that's a big part of this culture," he told me in a call from Iraq this afternoon. (Listen)
Surplus war equipment and fabric for quilting is quite a leap. But LaFlamme comes from a family of quilters (Listen) and his desire to leave something useful behind led him to start the Iraqi Bundles of Love project. "Sewing fanatics and quilters and knitters tend to have stashes that far exceed their actual needs, and sewing fanatics and quilters and knitters are passionate both about sewing / quilting / knitting, and about sharing with others," he wrote on his blog. So he asked them to send the excess to Iraq for Ramadan. They did.
These sorts of efforts tend to take on a life of their own and this one is no exception. LaFlamme figured if he got a few dozen boxes of fabric, that'd be fine. "I just handed over a good 80-85 of the first group that arrived," he said. "I thought this was going to be a relatively minor project -- in the tens. I don't think they were quite ready when I said (to his colleagues), 'I've got about 100 for you guys to pick up.'" (Listen)
"It'll go out in the area where I'm based. Some will go to individuals who have had grants and loans for things like fabric-related businesses or sewing co-ops, some will go to widows and orphans in the area, people in need. The sheer volume of bundles that are going to be involved in this have us relooking at our distribution plan," LaFlamme said.
The project will end when Ramadan does -- in the third week of September. A few weeks after that, Major LaFlamme will come home.
(h/t: Heather Heimbuch)(8 Comments)