1) That's it for 2009, then. And the decade, if you believe that the decade is actually over. Now it's time for the predictions, which will mostly be wrong because the future is a funny thing; it almost never goes as you think it will. Not only do we not really know what will happen, in many cases we don't even have a word to describe it yet.
Not that that will stop us from trying, mind you. The Independent (UK) gives it a stab today, with a glimpse at life in 2020, including "The Great Unforeseen Event of 2015," which is never actually described.
Technology-wise, the BBC predicts this:
I am confident that at some point around 2020 we will all be distracted by early reports that the latest display technology using smart contact lenses that draw images directly onto the retina using low-powered micro-lasers are being hacked into by unscrupulous criminals.
People will hack into our retinas? I didn't see that coming.
2) An aspiring filmmaker lost his job as an ad exec and immediately thought, 'when life hands you lemons, make lemonade.' A filmmaker decided to chronicle that a layoff is not the end of the world. (CBS)
3) A couple of Carleton College grads are profiled in the New York Times. Erin McKittrick captures the essence of a happy marriage. "When we got together, it was more than the sum of the parts," she said. But that's not the story. They now live in a yurt in remote Alaska. Here's the thing: They had to decide what they could live with and live without it. They could live without running water and a toilet. They couldn't live without the Internet. Discussion: If you had to give up something about the way you live now, what would it be?
4) Caviar for the homeless. DNAinfo reports: "City Harvest, the group that distributes food unused by New York restaurants, received a 550-gram tin of Petrossian Paris malossol caviar, worth about $1,100, from an anonymous donor. Unsure of what to do, they called Ennes, who has a reputation for serving high-end seven-course meals to down-on-their-luck New Yorkers at his soup kitchen, Broadway Community Inc. When the delivery truck arrived, Ennes put the can in a locked refrigerator. It remained there until Tuesday, when his staff began preparing the next day's meal. And on Wednesday, the first course of Ennes' lunch menu was an amuse bouche of cornmeal blinis, topped with a small spoonful of those precious dark eggs.
(h/t: Nathaniel Minor)
5) I got quite a few comments about yesterday's post about "Sully," the abused boxer rescued by a local pilot. His foster family reports his first vet check-up yesterday went well and the poor thing is perking up.
Bonus: Obama Praise Radio, is how MIT's Philip Greenspun describes NPR. Hyperbole, perhaps, but worth discussing. Has President Obama gotten the same scrutiny as President Bush?
At this time of year, people resolve to start exercising, or stop smoking, or take up an instrument, or do volunteer work. How well did you keep your New Year's resolutions in 2009?
WHAT WE'RE DOING
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) - First hour: The best books of the year.
Second hour: A new debut novel explores the connection between chronic pain and the emotional pain of loss. St. Paul writer Kate Ledger brings her experience observing and writing about doctors to her contemplation of marriage and grief.
Midday (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.) - First hour: MPR economics correspondent Chris Farrell makes his annual predictions for the economy in 2010, and accounts for his predictions last year.
Second hour: Sports analyst Howard Sinker discusses the year in sports. We'll also talk to football Hall of Famer Randall McDaniel.
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) - First hour: There are eternal questions that haunt philosophers -- where did I come from, how do we know right from wrong -- and is it really okay to be a circus clown when I grow up? Before you addle your brain with champagne, give it a workout. Steven Landsburg's book of philosophic brain teasers is called, The Big Questions.
Second hour: In 1969 reporter Ellen Goodman got assigned to cover a new phenomenon: The women's movement. Forty years later, she's about to publish her last column. She's the guest.
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - MnDOT will release its high-speed-rail-to-Chicago report today. MPR's Tim Nelson is monitoring.
Every New Year, the Fink family of St. Louis Park loads up the car with cross-country ski gear and heads for Duluth. These days, they make the trip minus one pair of skis. Eleven years ago, Mara Fink's mother fell on a ski trail and was paralyzed from the neck down. Mara was in 4th grade and her sister was a second grader. So for Mara, each New Year's Day marks another anniversary of an event that profoundly changed her family's life. She wrote an essay for MPR that will be broadcast on the show this afternoon.
Hennepin County considered laying off probation officers for the first time this year to meet budget constraints. Corrections officials held the cuts off, but worry they're inevitable because next year's budget is supposed to be even tighter. In an attempt to economize, Corrections has dropped 5,000 low-level offenders off probation. Another 50 offenders who stayed at the county workhouse by night and worked off-site by day are being given ankle bracelets and sent home. MPR's Rupa Shenoy will have the story.
New Orleans trumpeter and music ambassador Irvin Mayfield rings will ring in the New Year with a nationally broadcast performance at the Dakota. Mayfield is also the Minnesota Orchestra's first artistic director of jazz. Dan Olson has a profile.(1 Comments)
The Department of Homeland Security has come in for plenty of criticism for not "putting the pieces together" that would've revealed a Nigerian man was going to try to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas.
But there are signs the DHS is back in the game, Wired Magazine reports. It seized the laptop of a blogger in Connecticut who posted the security directive that detailed the mostly-discredited security procedures that were put in place after the incident.
The document, which the two bloggers published within minutes of each other Dec. 27, was sent by TSA to airlines and airports around the world and described temporary new requirements for screening passengers through Dec. 30, including conducting "pat-downs" of legs and torsos. The document, which was not classified, was posted by numerous bloggers. Information from it was also published on some airline websites.
"They're saying it's a security document but it was sent to every airport and airline," says Steven Frischling, one of the bloggers. "It was sent to Islamabad, to Riyadh and to Nigeria. So they're looking for information about a security document sent to 10,000-plus people internationally. You can't have a right to expect privacy after that."
The bulk of the document, from what we understand, reminded security teams to adhere to the procedures that were already in place.
Frischling writes the blog, Flying With Fishes. In a posting, he's hardly anti-Transportation Security Administration:
The DHS & TSA are taking this matter seriously, and that tells me that they are paying attention to security in detail. Their issue is not that the Security Directive expires tomorrow, or even that I posted SD-1544-09-06 but that someone within the TSA sent this sensitive document outside of the agency. I understand why the TSA wants to find the person leaking this information and I wish I had a long intertwined story about how I got the document, but I don't.
I received it, I read it, I posted it. Why did I post it? Because following the failed terrorist attack on the 25th of December there was a lot of confusion and speculation surrounding changes in airline & airport security procedures.
We are a free society, knowledge is power and informing the masses allows for public conversation and collective understanding. You can agree or disagree, but you need information to know if you want to agree or disagree. My goal is to inform and help people better understand what is happening, as well as allow them to form their own opinions.
Security directives are about as secret (or they're supposed to be) as it gets, but that's the problem. Here's an example: Earlier this year, there was a secret directive that any pilot who flew to any airport where a commercial flight lands, had to have a badge assigned by that airport. If you flew a small plane to say, Thief River Falls, the authorities at Thief River Falls had to set up a system to certify that you're not a terrorist and they had to bear the cost. Why? Because at least one commercial flight lands at Thief River Falls. Each badge was good only at that airport. If you're a pilot flying to other airports, you'd need a badge for each airport.
Silly? Of course. And that conclusion doesn't even consider that maybe Thief River Falls isn't a likely terrorist target. But there wasn't much anyone could do about it because the security directive -- SD-08F --that created it was secret. Because there's no "public comment period" that applies to security directives, they can't be reviewed and smart people can't point out -- where necessary -- the ineffectiveness of the intent.
The only way that can happen is if some blogger gets ahold of it.
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Theory v. Practice - TSA Leak|
We have a winner at the wire in the drunkest person in the Upper Midwest contest. Marguerite Engle, 45, of Sturgis, South Dakota, was found to have a blood alcohol level of.708 earlier this month.
An MPR listener writes in to ask, "How many drinks is that?"
It's difficult to know for sure because BAC depends on several factors including a person's weight, how long it's been since the alcohol was consumed, and the metabolism of the nearly dearly departed.
But we won't let that stop us.
Using the BAC calculator here, and guessing that she's 150 pounds, and guessing that she consumed them in one hour, we find that... well... we don't know. It only allows for 9 drinks in an hour and that's only a 0.2624 BAC.
But reality suggests that the woman involved was not of average size nor average metabolism because the alcohol didn't kill her.
This chart from Texas doesn't have anything close to the woman's blood alcohol content in its evaluation of the range of lethal amounts.
Consider this description from the University of Texas on a .40 to .50 blood alcohol level:
You are probably in a coma. The nerve centers controlling your heartbeat and respiration are slowing down, and it's a miracle if you survive.
The woman recently moved to South Dakota from Minnesota.(3 Comments)
The White House released a statement from President Obama today on the investigation into how the attempted bombing of Northwest Flight 253 could have happened.
This morning, I spoke with John Brennan about preliminary assessments from the ongoing consultations I have ordered into the human and systemic failures that occurred leading up to the attempted act of terrorism on Christmas Day and about our government-wide efforts at continued vigilance on homeland security and counterterrorism efforts. In a separate call, I spoke with Sec. Napolitano to receive an update on both the Department of Homeland Security review of detection capabilities and the enhanced security measures in place since the Christmas Day incident.
I anticipate receiving assessments from several agencies this evening and will review those tonight and over the course of the weekend. On Tuesday, in Washington, I will meet personally with relevant agency heads to discuss our ongoing reviews as well as security enhancements and intelligence-sharing improvements in our homeland security and counterterrorism operations.
It's an odd statement designed not so much to tell us anything other than "I'm working." It's not unusual to have press releases that don't really say anything, of course. But it does raise the question of what exactly is the issue that concerns the White House most?