1) Pearl Harbor Day
There may come a time when December 7 will be just another day on the calendar. Today is not that day. It is, of course, the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. May we recommend the Minnesota Historical Society's Greatest Generation project on the subject?
From today's Book of Days from the Minnesota Historical Society:
Outside of Pearl Harbor, the destroyer Ward, its crew primarily reservists from St. Paul, attacks and sinks a Japanese midget submarine, the first shots fired on the date of infamy. Inside the harbor, Minneapolis-born Captain Franklin van Valkenburgh is killed on the bridge of his ship, the USS Arizona. He would be awarded the Medal of Honor by Congress.
Traditionally, newspapers have run stories from survivors on Pearl Harbor Day, but this year shows the reality of the day: There aren't many survivors left. Neither the Star Tribune nor the Duluth News Tribune nor the Fargo Forum nor the St. Cloud Times have anything on the day today. The Pioneer Press has the story of a whiskey bottle connected to December 7th.
No, today is not that day. But that day isn't far off.
2) SPUTNIK IN SHANGHAI
Standardized tests have only recently been introduced in China, and the results are in from Shanghai, the New York Times reports. The kids there are even smarter than many outsiders imagined. Why? The outsiders may not like the answer:
The results also appeared to reflect the culture of education there, including greater emphasis on teacher training and more time spent on studying rather than extracurricular activities like sports.
"Wow, I'm kind of stunned, I'm thinking Sputnik," said Chester E. Finn Jr., who served in President Ronald Reagan's Department of Education, referring to the groundbreaking Soviet satellite launching. Mr. Finn, who has visited schools all across China, said, "I've seen how relentless the Chinese are at accomplishing goals, and if they can do this in Shanghai in 2009, they can do it in 10 cities in 2019, and in 50 cities by 2029."
U.S. students, on the other hand, don't fare very well.
In other news,the big buzz in higher education in Minnesota is a new football coach.
3) THE GOD FACTOR
Some research says people who are religious are happier than those who aren't. Why? LiveScience.com says it may have little to do with God, according to a study released this morning:
According to a study published today (Dec. 7) in the journal American Sociological Review, religious people gain life satisfaction thanks to social networks they build by attending religious services. The results apply to Catholics and mainline and evangelical Protestants. The number of Jews, Mormons, Muslims and people of other religions interviewed was too small to draw conclusions about those populations, according to study researcher Chaeyoon Lim, a sociologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
"We show that [life satisfaction] is almost entirely about the social aspect of religion, rather than the theological or spiritual aspect of religion," Lim told LiveScience. "We found that people are more satisfied with their lives when they go to church, because they build a social network within their congregation."
4) BUS INEQUALITY?
Do Metro Transit bus policies favor suburbanites over lower-income city dwellers? A group at the University of Minnesota thinks so, according to Minnesota Daily.
Metro Transit guidelines state shelters should be installed when daily boardings exceed 40 passengers, making the Seventh and Nicollet stop nearly 97 times higher-volume than guidelines recommend. Based on the city's assessment, nearly every bus stop on the east-west transit spine should have shelters.
"We want to put pressure on Metro Transit to make that the norm -- that bus shelters are built and heated once the ridership numbers reach the projected amount," said Peter Caldwell, a member of Students for Transit Equality.
Suburban commuters benefit more from the current transit situation with better amenities and larger subsidies, he said.
5) THE DEATH OF RUDOLPH
Let's see if I have this right. A fat guy in a red suit can squeeze down a chimney, but a reindeer wearing nothing can't get around a traffic light?
Full time child care for an infant is likely to cost more than $13,000 a year in Minnesota. That puts the state's child-care costs among the highest in the nation. How has the cost of child care affected the life of your family?
WHAT WE'RE DOING
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) - First hour:Deficit hawks say any plans to reduce the nation's debt must include major changes to Medicare. Health policy analysts discuss the necessity of Medicare reform and what some of the suggested changes could mean for the program.
Second hour: Big name bands like U2 and Radiohead, along with indie favorites The Shins and Bon Iver, are coming out with new albums in 2011. Meanwhile, '80s favorites The Cars and Thomas Dolby are hitting the comeback trail with new releases. Midmorning looks at what music lovers will be listening to in 2011.
Midday (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.) - First hour: TBA
Second hour: The bombing of the USS Cole.
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) - First hour: TBA
Second hour: Every band dreams of their name in lights, and a big record deal. But most tack up their own posters at the church hall and measure success by regular gigs on the weekends. A very good group called the Blue Rhythm Boys helps us explore the joys of local bands
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) -
The Democratic-controlled lame-duck Congress plans to make one more attempt to pass The Dream Act this week. The Dream Act would allow children of illegal immigrants who graduate from high school, and complete two years of college or the military, to have a path to citizenship. It has support among many Democrats, but most Republicans vehemently oppose the Dream Act, saying it amounts to amnesty. As part of MPR News' Youth Radio Series, one teen takes us inside what it's like to be here illegally.
There's some work going on at the site for the proposed bio-business center called Elk Run. This cluster of med-tech and bio-med businesses has been slow in developing. For years, residents have been hearing about the massive project that's supposed to change the town for the better. What do they really know about the the project? And how do they feel about what could potentially change their small town forever? MPR's Elizabeth Baier has a look.
The University of Minnesota's first semester of its new "apps" class is almost over. Only a few schools offer such classes. MPR's tim Post says the hope of the U prof who teaches the course is that by teaching knowledgeable and passionate people how to make apps, the end product is more useful.
Confronting a furry backyard menace: squirrels. They're adept at raiding bird feeders -- sometimes better than birds themselves. So bird lover Bill Thompson drops by NPR in Washington with ideas for making a backyard more bird-friendly.
Yep, the PISA data is a big deal and is probably a bigger threat to national security than terrorism.
This statement is not hyperbole. See the report from the National Academy of Science, http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12999#toc
The thing about Sputnik is that it was something everyone could notice - there was a new blinking light moving across the sky. A segment or show (in relation to this topic) on how parents can help their kids be competitive in science and math would be a public good.
Re: #3 - That statistic doesn't surprise me at all, and is one of the primary reasons that atheist and secular humanist groups have started creating prominent advertisements in an attempt to bring "closeted" atheists and agnostics together to create that social network within groups of nonbelievers.
Let me take a guess at the transit "inequality". My guess is that the reason there aren't as "nice" of stuff at 7/Nicollet is that most of the buses that stop there are hi-frequency (every 5 minutes) or more regular buses, as compared to the primary suburban routes which I guess would run less frequently. With that high of turnover there's not going to be people waiting as long, hence less of a need for an expensive, heated bus shelter. Just a guess.
I don't think there's really a different number of people waiting at any given time on the high-frequency routes on Nicollet Mall vs the express routes on Marquette or 2nd. I would argue that they need more shelters EVERYWHERE. Of the 3 different bus routes I use, there's only one that actually HAS a shelter - and that's on Nicollet Mall, for the 10 (also the 18, 59, etc.). The other two routes are the express routes I can take to get home to the suburbs, and neither of those stops have any shelter whatsoever, other than crowding the building lobbies where you can't easily watch for your bus. Also, the "real time" signs they have posted on the express routes aren't always accurate, so I tend not to rely on them.
I'd like to add that 7th and Nicollet DOES have a shelter on each side of the street, and shelters are on every other block along the Mall. At most you can pack maybe 15 people in there if you don't mind being cramped, but they're there, and they are moderately heated.
Like one commentator on the article mentioned, many stops in the suburbs don't even have a bench - or if there is one, it's often buried under snow in the winter. One of my routes stops at the Maple Grove Transit station, but the other just drops me off in front of a gas station - no crosswalk, or sidewalk - and I have to dart out in front of or behind the bus to cross the street to get my apartment.
As Noelle said, the time signs really aren't too accurate downtown (they are a bit better at places like the Mall of America), and the shelters aren't big enough to hold all of the people that are at the bus stops at busy times anyway. Plus, the heat lamps don't do much good and the shelters let quite a bit of wind in anyway. I usually just stand outside of the shelters rather than bother with them.
As somebody who lives in the suburbs and uses the bus for 95% of my trips (the others being rides from friends or family), I would gladly, gladly exchange the fancy stations and coach buses for a bus system that was more useful to those of us who don't just need it for commuting. Especially since, from what I can see, that type of use is growing.
"Suburban commuters benefit more from the current transit situation with better amenities and larger subsidies, he said."
So where pray tell does the subsidy money come from? Could it be....(drum roll please)... the suburbs themselves?