1) MIT and Harvard have produced a video taken from a discussion recently among members of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. They were talking about ways to inspire kids to go into the sciences when the talk turned to what inspired them to do so:
And this inspires me to encourage you to tell us who inspired you most toward your passion in life. Name names. A teacher inspired me, but not for the reasons you think, nor the passion you might think.
2) Is losing your home the new shame? Today's Pioneer Press story that Sen. Mee Moua has lost her St. Paul home and has moved in with relatives has that theme running through it. Moua's parents owned the home, which they purchased for over $800,000, dropped in value to about $500,000, and sold in foreclose for over $300,000. But Moua never said anything publicly about the problems, which she shares with millions of other Americans.
"When it started, I was embarrassed, and I thought I would feel public shame," Moua, who didn't run for re-election, told the Pioneer Press. "But I've come to terms with it, and I know I did my best."
From the sound of the article, she and her family may move from Minnesota.
Moua's story from refugee camps in Thailand to the Minnesota Legislature has always been hailed as the American story. Now she's living the new American story: the loss of her home.
She's at least the second Minnesota legislator who faced foreclosure problems. Rep. Marsha Swails' home fell into foreclosure twice. She recently announced she and her husband, whom she's divorcing, are paying off tax liens and selling the home.
3) Jon Stewart announced last night he's holding a rally on the National Mall next month. The Rally to Restore Sanity will be held in Washington on October 30. His fellow comedian, Stephen Colbert, then announced he'll hold a competing rally, the March to Keep Fear Alive.
Reading Twitter and Facebook reaction to the announcement of Stewart's rally reveals that the partisans on both sides think the rally is primarily aimed at the other guys.
4) MPR's Mark Steil does a fine job of explaining why the issue of continuing -- or not -- ethanol subsidies to farmers isn't a city vs. rural issue. Other farmers say they're the victims of those subsidies. A chicken-farming group, for example, says the subsidies end up boosting the price of corn, which increases the cost of the food they feed chickens. Another group says 3,000 jobs have been lost in the turkey industry because of the subsidies to ethanol producers.
5) Back in the day when wars required most people in the United States to sacrifice something, baseball players went off to war, too. Writer Bruce Markuson says, however, that baseball's role in the Vietnam war has gone largely unnoticed. Until today.
This reminds me of an old News Cut presentation I made, long before you started reading it.
WHAT WE'RE DOING
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) - First hour: The first genetically modified animal for human consumption.
Second hour:William Gibson, the father of cyberpunk.
Midday (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.) - First hour: Minnesotan and best-selling author John Sandford talks about his latest Virgil Flowers novel, "Bad Blood."
Second hour: Republican Tom Emmer, speaking at the U of M's Humphrey Institute gubernatorial candidates series.
Science Friday (1-3 p.m.) - First hour: A car that gets 100 miles per gallon.
Second hour: The spooky physics of "dark flow."
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - For 40 years, barber Eddie Withers has cut hair at the same neighborhood barbershop in south Minneapolis. MPR's Brandt Williams reports that his is one of the few African-American business owners in the area. He's had thousands of customers, from famous professional athletes to neighborhood kids, and one kid who grew up to be a public radio reporter. But in 2008, his shop burned down in a suspected arson. It's taken nearly two years to rebuild the shop. Now he's back in business.
Dan Olson examines the three candidates' positions on LGA, and what it means for cities, particularly Minneapolis and St. Paul, where both mayors based their budgets on the assumption they'd get the full amount of state aid they were expecting.
For the most part, there's no middle ground on the question of tax cuts and allowing the so-called "Bush tax cuts" to expire. People are either on one side or the other, especially since the theory of whether lower tax cut spurs economic growth remains a hotly debated point.
Daniel Gross, writing on Slate, raises five points to consider during the ongoing debate. One is that the people who were in charge at the time the tax cuts were enacted, are many of the same people who are clamoring for them to be made permanent, but they're also the ones who made them temporary in the first place. Welcome to the exciting world of Congress!
But it's on the question of economic growth that Gross, who certainly has a point of view, launches his more vigorous attack against conventional wisdom:
The bold and confident assertions made about the links between tax rates and economic growth, market performance, and prosperity are almost certainly wrong. Turn on CNBC or look at the Wall Street Journal op-ed page these days, and you'll learn that we must keep tax rates on capital gains, dividends, and income precisely where they are because shifting them to different levels will retard economic growth. Keep this in mind: The people who designed the current, unsustainable tax system promised us that lower marginal rates, and lower taxes on capital and dividends, would boost the economy, promote investment, create jobs, spur market performance, and raise everybody's income. They were wrong. (It's no coincidence that these same people also warned us that raising taxes in 1993 would kill market returns and the economy. They were wrong then, too. They're pretty much always wrong.) As I've pointed out, the years under the current tax regime have been a lost decade. Pick your metric--median income, employment, stock market returns, economic growth--the low-tax '00s sucked. Yet proponents of keeping the tax cuts persist in making the argument: To avoid a repeat of the past decade, we must have the exact same tax policies as we did for the past decade.
The Wall St. community had a response. Appearing on CNBC today, Bernie Marcus, the guy who started Home Depot, launched an unusually strident attack on Obama administration policies:
"My solution is that you take a guy like Timothy Geithner and put him in a new reality show. It's called 'Timothy Geithner Does Small Business', something like [the porn movie] 'Debbie Does Dallas', and it ends up the same way," said Marcus. "Basically, what they're doing to small business is very similar in this case [to what 'Debbie' did to Dallas.]"
Later, Marcus said the tea party movement is "a good thing," because "we should throw everybody out who's stupid."
Every now and again, the curtain is pulled back on the newsroom of National Public Radio. NPR's ombudsman does so today with the story of Harry Shearer's complaint that he couldn't promote his film about Hurricane Katrina on other NPR shows, because he had already been booked to appear on Talk of the Nation.
It also gets into the always-controversial question of "underwriting" on public radio, because NPR refused Shearer's copy for an "underwriting credit" to promote his documentary.
Well, here's a clue about what NPR stands for now. I've just made a documentary film about why New Orleans flooded, "The Big Uneasy", in theaters nationwide on Monday. Having been denied access to coverage by either of the network's two flagship news programs, I decided to buy in, purchasing some of those "enhanced underwriting" announcements that the rest of us would call ads.
Ombudsman Alicia Shepard (who is leaving NPR) responded:
But NPR has devoted extensive coverage over the past five years to Katrina and the aftermath. And NPR did cover Shearer's new film - just not in the way he wanted it.
Shearer's attitude that it's only worthwhile to appear on a flagship shows ignores how the Internet has changed news consumption. Millions of people hear NPR content on podcasts, online and on mobile phones.
It was disingenuous of Shearer to criticize NPR on Huffington Post without mentioning that he had in fact appeared, for a half-hour, on an NPR show.
Today, Dr. Susan Weller, the director of Minnesota's Bell Museum of Natural History issued this press release:
"In 2008, the University of Minnesota (Bell Museum of Natural History) received a legislative appropriation, and subsequent additional private funding, to develop an educational documentary on the waters of Minnesota, designed to promote watershed understanding and citizen action in protecting, restoring and conserving water resources.
"Our standard procedure at the Bell Museum is that our exhibits and educational products have at least one researcher who oversees the project's scientific integrity from inception to completion. Unfortunately, this procedure was not followed by the Bell Media unit for production of the documentary, 'Troubled Waters: A Mississippi River Story.' As Director of the Bell Museum, I am responsible for ensuring these standards are followed, and I regret our error in this case.
"Recently, this documentary was previewed by a number of University officials and faculty. In hindsight, this review should have occurred much earlier. As a result of input received from these viewers, I have postponed the premiere of the film at the Bell Museum. I have requested a small group of qualified faculty review the film. These faculty will advise me on whether the documentary as edited meets the specifications of the legislative appropriation to the University, and is scientifically accurate, objective and balanced in its presentation.
"The overall purpose of the review is to assure that the University meets its responsibilities under the legislation to provide the best quality product, one that meets the expectations contained in the legislation and provides high-quality educational material for viewers. No outside interests, as erroneously reported by some news sources, have been involved in this internal decision-making process.
"The Bell Museum of Natural History looks forward to hosting the premiere of the film when this process is concluded. I ask for your understanding and patience as we produce a film that meets our high standards of excellence as a public portal of University research and education on environmental issues."
Update 5:03 p.m. -- Molly Priesmeyer, who's been out front on the story, has an update at Twin Cities Daily Planet that says the responsibility for meeting the conditions of the appropriation toward the film rests with the Legislative Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources.
I test out all of these questions on my cubicle neighbors. It sounds suspiciously like 'Wait Wait Don't Tell Me!' because the fun is the process by which you come up with the answer. Gather the family around!