1) THE PEOPLE LEFT WORKING
Millions of people have lost their jobs in the economic collapse of the United States, but what about the people who didn't? What about the people left behind?
They're working harder, often for less, trying to pick up the additional work created by downsizing.
Mother Jones magazine considers the plight of the worker still working...
"I am exhausted," said a "part time" college instructor in Illinois. "I can't help my son with his homework because I am grading papers until late into the night. I get up very early during the week, skip lunch to save not money but time, and the workload never lets up. My employer uses and abuses full-time employees even more so than those of us that are hourly. My supervisor, for example, runs a large department. He was just promoted to a new, even more demanding position, but his position running the department will not be filled. He will now be doing what is a 60-to-70-hour job 'on the side.' I can't complain of overwork, because everyone is competing to get enough classes to pay the bills. If you lose a class, you lose a chunk of your paycheck. If we can't handle it, the class can always be given to another teacher who will be desperate for the work or money."
The magazine also says while men are picking up a greater share of at-home functions, it's still women who are doing most of it ...
Twenty-two percent of those surveyed say they're expected to respond to work-related e-mails when they're not working. A third check their work e-mail while on vacation.
What's happening here? Let's talk. What's your experience in the workplace? And how are you squaring it with your non-work hours in which you find yourself working? And how much of your increased non-working-hours workload are the result of actual employer pressure and how much is self-imposed?
2) BEAUTY AND THE BRIDGE
The "new" I-35W is all Minnesota. It's not particularly flashy, it gets the job done, but it's beautiful, especially at night. The bridge could be Minneapolis' Empire State Building, which uses its lighting for themes. New Year's Eve? It's all white (snow). Valentine's Day? Red, of course. And when a visiting foreign dignitary is in the city, the colors are often based on that country's flag.
When the I-35W bridge was built, designers gave it this capability and on Friday, the city -- thanks to MnDOT -- will get around to using it. It'll be lit in a rainbow to mark this weekend's Pride Festival in the city. John Weeks, who wrote a fine article on the bridge lighting, reports it was lit in pink at least once to promote breast cancer awareness.
Our friend, Paul Weimer, has some of the few images of the bridge in a color other than its traditional blue, taken in 2008 when the lightning system was being tested.
(Image from Paul Weimer via Flickr)
It was a good move by Pride organizers to ask that the bridge be lit appropriately this weekend. What do you say we do it more often, Minneapolis?
3) SURGING TOWARD MINOT
Water broke through the dikes in Minot overnight and the heartbreak is on. It's already a record flood on the Souris River and it's going to get 7 feet higher soon. For many people, there'll be nothing left when -- if -- they return.
Here's the Fargo Forum's collection ...
Flood water is being released by the Army Corps of Engineers from Lake Darling upstream. A surge will hit Minot today. "It will be dramatic," an Army official said.
We should be getting into the dry season now when water tables begin to drop, accommodating rain later in the year and snowmelt next spring. That obviously isn't happening and one wonders what the impact will be on next spring's flood season in the Upper Midwest.
Kathryn Draeger notices the difference in the way things are around her farm this year, in the area of Minnesota once known as "The Dismal Swamp," she says:
I don't have much of a historical perspective, as our first field season on the farm was 2008. But this land looks different than I've ever seen it. It is soaking wet lushness of grasses and tress. Different flowers growing in the roadsides than I've seen.
Overheard at a watershed meeting in Big Stone County this week. The ditches are running full (engineered estimated flows supposed to be 10 inches, currently running for the past month at 44 inches), backing up onto farmland. Crops unplanted-- those planted underwater. When the guest farmer sitting at the table was asked what he's doing about it, he put his hand over his heart, head downcast, and says 'it makes a man go numb.' It's just too much to take in. Too overwhelming to rally a response.
He spoke for many farmers and others. For those who's very being is linked to the land and the water. For those who know what mercy- being at mercy really means.
4) MOBILE PHONE DANGERS BY THE NUMBERS
"If we are going to worry about uncertain risks, there's a lot to worry about," Michael Blastland says. He writes the Go Figure column for the BBC and today he's taking on those warnings that cellphone use may increase the risk of health probems.
There are 5 million known chemicals in the world, he says, and 30 have been definitely linked to cancer in humans. Seven thousand have been tested. "The rest is darkness," he says. And that's where your attitude toward the unknown comes in:
We'd probably have an idea by now if any risk attached to mobile phones was big (unless the damage waits for old age). We haven't found it despite looking pretty hard.
Brain cancer is rare, about 10 cases in every 100,000 people. Let's say heavy mobile phone use doubles that risk over 20 years. Not true, so far as we know, but let's run with it. That would mean that among 100,000 heavy phone users, the number of brain cancers would rise from 10 in 100,000 to 20 in 100,000.
Does that reassure you? Or by failing to rule out a risk of unknown size, has it simply raised your suspicions?
5) QUOTH THE RAVEN: "POTTERMORE"
The big story today is Pottermore. J.K. Rowling took to the Web today to announce an "online reading experience..."
Business Insider parses the statement and says the real story is Rowling is cutting out Amazon and other booksellers by being the exclusive seller of Harry Potter books.
Bonus: Shooting bears. File this under "cool."
Worth considering? Dale Connelly wonders what would happen if the state's politicians actually were locked in a room until they reached an agreement?
Last night, President Obama announced an Afghanistan strategy that reduces troop strength faster than some in his administration would like. Today's Question: What do you think of the president's plan for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan?
WHAT WE'RE DOING
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) - First hour: Deconstructing last night's Afghanistan speech from President Obama.
Second hour: The science, and the secrets contained, by the world's most famous mummies.
Midday (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.) - First hour: DFL legislative leaders Tom Bakk and Paul Thissen discuss the state's budget mess.
Second hour: Former President Jimmy Carter talks to Ray Suarez of PBS about his book, "White House Diary."
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) - First hour: Rethinking the rules of commercial fishing.
Second hour: The cost of sex trafficking and the price of sex.
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - Every day, supermarkets cull their shelves, tossing out expired food. That's part of why Americans waste about 150 billion pounds of food each year. But not all of that food is spoiled. NPR will report on a new initiative from Wal-Mart and Feeding America to take food that might otherwise be wasted and give it to the hungry.(6 Comments)
Gasoline prices have been falling lately -- almost 50-cents a gallon -- so it was a surprise today when the Energy Department announced its tapping the strategic petroleum supply in an effort to push the price of gasoline down.
Energy analysts expect the move will mean lower gasoline prices for consumers this summer. That would give Americans more discretionary spending power, helping businesses ranging from grocery stores to ice cream parlors. It will also give manufacturers and truckers a break, because the price of diesel fuel is expected to drop as well.
What will it mean? It means the price of gasoline will drop, then it will go back up again.
Some data earlier this week helps to explain why.
MasterCard reported that the demand for gasoline rose .4 percent from a year ago because the price has fallen...
"As prices continue to fall, gasoline demand seems to have climbed into barely positive territory in year-over-year terms, after the 1 percent to 2 percent declines recorded throughout most of April and May," John Gamel, director of economic analysis for SpendingPulse, said in the report.
It's an intriguing cycle. As prices rise, mostly because of demand, consumption falls, which creates more of a supply with less of a demand, causing prices to fall.
There's no question, of course, that the high price of energy threatens the global economy and the weak recovery from the economic collapse. The blog, The Oil Drum today said that should be enough for governments "to wake up and introduce serious energy policies to deal with the clear and present dangers posed by peak oil."
Christopher Helman at Forbes.com says Americans weren't going to feel the effect of the Libyan oil cut until later this summer, and today's move -- coordinated with OPEC -- indicates a longer term view of what's coming than merely the price of gasoline today.
Markets move based on today's fundamentals and expectations of future supply and demand. The coming months, as we head into the driving season, would likely see the impact of the Libyan crisis felt most keenly; this is why the IEA is acting now. Some producer countries have announced their intentions to raise production, but it takes time for these incremental barrels to be produced and shipped to consuming markets. The use of IEA strategic stocks now will help bridge the gap until these new supplies are available. The IEA will continue to monitor the situation. If supply remains disrupted and markets remain tight in the future, the IEA does not exclude another decision to make additional supplies available to the market.
There's another angle to all of this, of course. Politics. Jay Hancock's economic blog at the Baltimore Sun smells something that's not oil.
This isn't what many people believe the petroleum reserve is for. It's widely thought of as being there for true emergencies such as war and severe supply shocks. This isn't as nakedly political as if reserves had bene tapped in summer 2012. Nevertheless, the political overtones could hurt Obama
People from Minot apparently don't forget their roots.
Actor Josh Duhamel called Minot TV station KXMC today from Moscow. "It's still home to me," he said. "I feel silly sitting in Moscow filming a movie, and I feel like I want to be home."
Duhamel called around 1 this morning and the story may be that a local TV station was still providing live coverage of a story at that hour. It's impressive around-the-clock coverage by people who, in some cases, have their own families to worry about.
It's a pretty neat trick, considering it only has about 10 people (including sports and weather) on its on-air roster.
It's a good example of why the size of local news staffs matters.
Update 2:12 p.m. - Minot officials have expanded their evacuation after officials announced another 2 to 3 feet of water will be released from an upstream lake.(1 Comments)
This is a picture of President Obama announcing his troop withdrawal strategy from Afghanistan last night.
This is a picture of President Obama when he announced that Osama bin Laden was dead.
Other than the dates and circumstances, what's the difference between the two? The bottom image was staged. The White House had a policy of no pictures during presidential speeches, presumably because of the noise they make.
It wasn't exactly a scandal -- other presidents had the same policy -- but it set some journalistic tongues wagging. The Poynter Institute, for example, called for an end to the practice.
It is time for this kind of re-enactment to end. The White House should value truth and authenticity. The technology clearly exists to document important moments without interrupting them. Photojournalists and their employers should insist on and press for access to document these historic moments.
And so, last night we got truth and authenticity from White House photographers, which looked pretty much exactly like the the staged variety.(3 Comments)
This picture from the hockey riots in Vancouver earlier this month was so much better when it was just a picture about unrestrained love.
Alas, reality has stepped in to strip us of all that is good. A video has surfaced which confirms reports that the "kissing couple" had actually just been trampled by the cops.(13 Comments)