1) WHY DO WE POUND DOWN THE BOOZE?
We drink a lot in Minnesota. We binge drink a lot, too. The new national rankings for health in the country are out and we're the #6 overall healthiest state -- the same as last year. But it's binge drinking that knocks us down a peg. Only six other states are worse than Minnesota when it comes to pounding down the booze. Almost 1 in 5 have us have engaged in binge drinking in just the last 30 days.
Curiously, while we're one of the healthier states in the nation, we're one of the worst when it comes to public spending on health -- 46th in the nation.
And in the last five years, the percentage of children in poverty increased from 9.0 percent to 17.4 percent of persons under age 18, according to the United Health Foundation.
What's your experience? Are you living a more health lifestyle than five years ago?
2) WHY DO PACKERS FANS BUY WORTHLESS STOCK?
When people spend money on a worthless piece of paper, maybe the economy isn't so bad in the households of Wisconsin afterall. The Packers put stock in the team on sale yesterday, only it's not investment stock. It's not worth anything, as the Wall St. Journal points out:
The shares don't help fans get hold of coveted seat licenses, for which a team spokesman said there is a 93,000-person waiting list. The shares don't trade on an exchange, and they aren't transferable, except to family members, by gift or in the event of death.
The team concedes in its 12-page offering document that the stock "does not constitute an investment in 'stock' in the common sense of the term," but it implored fans to invest anyway, to help keep crowd noise in Lambeau and to "maximize our home-field advantage."
Peter Duffey, a 25-year-old Wauwatosa, Wis., resident, acknowledged the conditions of the sale indicated "you're just getting a piece of paper, not much more than that," but said it was worth it because "I've grown up being a fan of the Packers and loved them all my life."
The Packers are going to make $62.5 million on the deal.
3) PEARL HARBOR AT 70
It's the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and there are plenty of stories about local people who were there.
Lola Yoder of Afton tells the Pioneer Press she could see the face of the pilot as the Japanese fighter flew over her house. "The milkman came flying into the house and jumped into our broom closet," she said. "We couldn't get him out. He didn't want to leave. He thought he was safer with us."
Agnes Shurr, of Grand Forks, was a nurse on a hospital ship in the harbor. She's the last of the 13 nurses aboard the ship. "But I don't see any point in dwelling on the past. Why do you want to remember the bad things that happened, and what can you do about them at this stage of the game?" she tells the Grand Forks Herald.
Richard Thrill of St. Paul, on the other hand, says it's important to keep the day alive. "I go to a lot of funerals," Thill tells the Star Tribune. He was on a destroyer that sunk a Japanese mini-submarine.
Not everyone was there. The only man at the University of Minnesota to win the Heisman Trophy, had to rewrite his acceptance speech, two days after the attack. An audio recording of it was recently discovered, according to ESPN.
At Pearl Harbor today, members of the Sauk Rapids-Rice High School will lay a wreath at the USS Arizona memorial.
4) THE HEALING ARTS
There'll be a lot of chatter today about the state of the arts in Minnesota, what with a couple of major organizations revealing they're bleeding red ink badly. The arts are often considered a "nice to have" rather than a "need to have," but quite often the arts is a need to have.
Two stories this week prove the point.
MPR's Cathy Wurzer talked with Bruce Kramer this week. He directed the Good Samaritan United Methodist Church choir in Edina. A year ago, yesterday, he was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. Music keeps him sane, he says:
The Associated Press reports today that dance -- and in particular, a dance class in Chicago -- is lifting the spirits and hopes of people with Parkinson's.
Dancing, because it's accompanied by music, may offer benefits beyond other types of exercise for Parkinson's patients, including socialization for people otherwise isolated by their disease, said Harvard neurology professor Dr. Daniel Tarsy, director of the Parkinson's disease center at Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
"When you hear music, it sort of drives the emotional parts of the brain," he said.
5) DIY AIRPLANE
Wired.com takes a look at do-it-yourself-airplane building today. In its piece it says, "Many of the aluminum parts on the RV-7, RV-8 and RV-9 are pre-drilled for easier fitment and riveting. That saves time, and those planes can be built in around 1,500 hours."
Last week, I passed 2,800 hours of work on mine.
You know who needs one of these? Alec Baldwin.
Bonus II: How people "picture" the NPR stars. This would be a fun exercise for the MPR "voices." Is there an artist in the house?
Some prominent Twin Cities arts organizations are suffering persistent fiscal problems - the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra and Penumbra Theater, to name three. Today's Question: What could arts organizations do better to get you in the door?
THE BIG STORY
The Big Story Blog examines the financial challenges of Minnesota arts organizations.
WHAT WE'RE DOING
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) - First hour: Retired Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong (rebroadcast)
Second hour: Excerpts from conversations with Ray Davies of the Kinks, Minneapolis-based Dessa, and the legendary Al Jarreau.
Midday (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.) - Both hours: Remembering Pearl Harbor.
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) - First hour: Joe Rochefort's War, from the intelligence disaster of Pearl Harbor to triumph six months later.
Second hour: Putting a stop to band hazing. Plus, an update on Egypt's elections.(18 Comments)
Linda Bilmes, a senior lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School and coauthor of "The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict,'' today assesses the Iraq war in the Boston Globe.
She points out the ongoing cost after the last soldier leaves, a nation unprepared to absorb veterans into the economy, health costs that are underfunded, and the increase in the price of energy.
All that said, she says there's no telling where all the money went:
We urgently need a system to track military and war spending. The Government Accountability Office, the Congressional Research Service, the Congressional Budget Office, Pentagon inspectors general, and others have repeatedly complained that we lack the basic accounting systems necessary to understand where money is spent. Since 2001, the regular Pentagon budget has increased by some $800 billion in addition to war spending. Yet the Air Force and Navy have smaller and older fleets than before, while the Army and Marines are roughly the same size. Where has all the money gone? The Pentagon's accounting systems are so flawed that there is no way even to perform an audit. The result is a legacy of rampant waste and cost overruns, war profiteering, co-mingling of war and non-war related funds, and an inability to tally the true cost of war.
4,486 Americans have died in the war. There are only 18,000 soldiers left there, most have the same goal: Not to be the last soldier killed in the war.
If they're successful, that distinction will go to Pvt. David Hickman
"I'd tell him: 'You shouldn't have broadcast that everybody would be out by the end of the year. It made them targets. You should have slyly got them out,' '' his mother, Veronica, told the Los Angeles Times when asked what she'd like to tell President Obama.
He was supposed to come home last Thursday.(2 Comments)
This week, the U.S. Department of Education declared what most everybody knows: Minnesota's anti-bullying law is among the weakest in the nation.
MPR's Tom Weber reported yesterday:
The report finds Minnesota has just two of those components in place -- the lowest number in the nation, except for the four states without any law at the time of the report's writing.
The federal report notes Minnesota is one of just three states to prohibit bullying without defining it. Wisconsin is another. Researchers note a statewide definition is crucial, given the fact that bullying means different things to different people.
While politicians have been lining up in recent years to call for stronger anti-bullying legislation, few of them did anything about it back when it was passed in 2007, even though just about everybody told the lawmakers the law was junk.
In 2007, though, kids weren't getting the attention they're getting now when they kill themselves after being bullied. Few in the media paid any attention to the anti-bullying legislation being shepherded by then Sen. Mee Moua.
At the time, I was running the Minnesota Fantasy Legislature, a "game" that was created specifically so that legislation that was being ignored got some attention. The anti-bullying legislation was one such bill.
On the day the Senate passed the bill, I wrote this:
This morning, the Senate passed SF646, a piece of legislation that requires school districts to formulate a policy on bullying. For the record, I agree with the legislation. I've seen, firsthand, what bullying can do to kids. I'm aware that the incidents of school shootings almost always have their roots in bullying. So put me down as a "yes" vote.
But that's not the part of the bill that caught my attention. It was this:
The policy shall address intimidation and bullying in all forms, including, but not limited to, electronic forms and forms involving Internet use.
I watched the Senate Education Committee testimony on this a week or so ago and while there was some rumblings from the minority party about such things as how a school committee can possibly police the off-school-premises and off-school-hours activities of students, squirreled away in their rooms at home... banging away on the Internet, for the most part the response was "we'll let the school boards figure that out."
It was a bad piece of legislation passed by legislators behaving badly by not providing any guidance or definition, even when they were told by people closer to the problem that it was bad legislation that did nothing but allow lawmakers to say they "took action" on bullying.
On the day the Minnesota Senate passed the bill, there was no debate. That day, it spent a considerable amount of time whether to rename a stretch of highway in Duluth after Walter Mondale.
Though it was about Korea, the TV series M*A*S*H did little to hide that it was a show with a message about Vietnam, a war that was raging during the series. It gave anti-war sentiment a popular cultural voice at a time of nasty public demonstrations against the war.
No moment in the highly decorated series was more powerful, perhaps, than this one:
Harry Morgan, the fine actor who played Col. Sherman Potter, died this morning. He was 96.(5 Comments)
It's amazing how you can change a life with a cheap tie.
Meet the staff of the Anoka County Attorney's Office Juvenile Division. A few months ago, they collected donated ties, and then held a tie sale in late October. County employees, including judges, attorneys and sheriffs, bought them and the Division raised $1,300.
And so Joe, and Justin, and Taylor, and Jailin, and Carlos and 12 other people in four families will have Christmas presents later this month.
The people you see here, led by Assistant County Attorney Patricia Fair (standing on right in the black), spent their lunch hour today wrapping the presents.
Social workers gave the office the first names and ages of the four families who needed a Christmas, and these people did the rest, even though they've not met the families and probably won't. But, given the line of work they're in, they have a pretty good idea of the situations the four families are in when it comes to Christmas presents.
Ms. Fair, described by a colleague as "a ruthless cross examiner who's the first to volunteer when someone needs help," organized the "Tie One On" campaign, and approached people for the donated ties. In the past, the office has taken up collections in the office and helped a single family, but this year the "tie idea" raised so much money, they bought dozens and dozens of presents for the four families.
The division handles many child protection cases, which provided a momentary contrast to the gift-wrapping session. Someone brought up a new case in the office, apparently, involving a six-month-old with a broken skull, but it was quickly agreed that these moments would focus instead on the people who are the beneficiaries of people doing good.4 Comments)