1) THE VALUE OF THE 'NET EXPLORED
What's it going to be, NewsCutters: sex, alcohol, or the Internet? The Boston Consulting Group has released a survey including what activities or habits people would give up before they'd give up their Internet access?
To be fair, the survey was more sophisticated than the factoid everyone is focusing on would suggest. The report, The Internet Economy in the G-20, details the impact of a $4.2 trillion "opportunity." And it says tablets and smartphones will account for four of every five ways by which people connect to the Internet.
The power of exponential growth is illustrated by an ancient fable, repopularized by Ray Kurzweil in his book, The Age of Spiritual Machines. It tells of a rich ruler who agrees to reward an enterprising subject starting with one grain of rice on the first square of a chessboard, then doubling the number of grains on each of the succeeding 63 squares. The ruler thinks he's getting off easy, and by the thirty-second square, he owes a mound weighing 100,000 kilograms, a large but manageable amount. It's in the second half of the chessboard that the real fun starts. Quickly, 100,000 becomes 400,000, then 1.6 million, and keeps growing. By the sixty-fourth square, the ruler owes his subject 461 billion metric tons, more than 4 billion times as much as on the first half of the chessboard, and about 1,000 times global rice production in 2010.
The Internet has moved into the second half of the chessboard. (See Exhibit 1.) It has reached a scale and level of impact that no business, industry, or government can ignore. And like any technological phenomenon with its scale and speed, it presents myriad opportunities, which consumers have been quick and enthusiastic to grasp. Businesses, particularly small and medium enterprises (SMEs)--the growth engine of most economies--have been uneven in their uptake, but they are moving online in increasing numbers and with an increasingly intense commitment
Intense, indeed. Check out how much people value their connection.
Most people wouldn't give up sex for the Internet. But if we're reading this chart correctly, they'd give up sex for their car, which is an entirely different story for another day.
More tech: Why Twitter will get more annoying.
Gas prices in the Twin Cities hit $3.79 this week, some of the highest prices ever at this time of the year, and an analysis by the Associated Press takes fuel away from the argument that domestic oil production could drop prices.
If more domestic oil drilling worked as politicians say, the AP reports today, you'd now be paying about $2 a gallon for gasoline. Instead, you're paying the highest prices ever for March.
In fact, the more oil companies drilled in the U.S., the higher the prices went.
In North Dakota, they're drilling for dreams in the Oil Patch. Thousands of men (mostly) are leaving their families looking for a living.
Whatever the reason for the higher gas prices, it's not because of demand, NPR reports this morning.
3) THE TAX THAT QUACKS LIKE A DUCK
We dread paying them, we dread preparing them, but we rarely ask what we did before the U.S. had an income tax.
NPR's Planet Money examines the history of the income tax today and how politicians overcame logistics, the Constitution, and reluctance to make the income tax the sweeping assessment it now is.
They did it with Donald Duck.
Discussion point: What cartoon character would best explain today's hot-button issues?
4) POMERANZ EXITS, STAGE WEST
San Diego? Baseball? Who wouldn't quit his/her job in a second to take the job KARE 11's Mike Pomeranz is taking?
5) KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON
Why do four words from a lifetime ago carry such meaning today?
(h/t: Open Culture)
Bonus I: In the special category of people who can make your day...
Several states are considering, or have already passed, new legislation on abortion. Wisconsin, for example, recently passed a bill that would specify what physicians can legally say to patients in regards to abortion: Virginia and Idaho both passed bills requiring women seeking abortions to get ultrasounds. Today's Question: What do you think of recent efforts to more closely regulate how medical professionals provide abortions?
WHAT WE'RE DOING
Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) - First hour: In the wake of Somalia and Rwanda, the international community set out to define is moral obligations of when to intervene in a country's internal affairs. We're seeing those tensions and decisions more than ever prominently play out in the Middle East. What goes into a country's decision or the United Nation's decision in deciding when, how and why it should intervene?
Second hour: We know that our DNA is uniquely ours, but do we really own our own genetic information? In biobanks across the country, researchers store millions of genetic samples taken from patients - sometimes without their knowledge - and there are currently no clear guidelines on how to deal with the tissues and findings. What obligation do these researchers have to return samples (and the sometimes unexpected findings from the samples) to patients and their families?
Third hour: Does couples therapy work?
MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): (tentative) Joel Ario of the Department of Health and Human Services speaking at the Humphrey Center.
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) - First hour: For more than a year, Michele Norris asked people to encapsulate their thoughts in six words on "race cards." She joins TOTN to discuss the project.
Second hour: Students take standardized tests in grade school, middle school, even high school. Tests that show what they've learned, and what they haven't. So, why not in college?
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - Pianist Jeremy Denk ponders the intricacies and magic of Bach's Goldberg Variations.
Last week, we heard from members of Ojibwe bands who say the grey wolf is an animal respected in their cultural legacy. They're upset at proposals for a new wolf hunting season in Minnesota. Who are the people interested in hunting and trapping wolves? What's their motivation? MPR's Tom Robertson will have the answers.
One of every seven Minnesota drivers has a conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol. The number who actually drive drunk, no doubt, is much higher. It's unlikely they haven't heard the warnings against drunk driving, but they drink and drive anyway.
Will something like this change their habits? A woman involved in a drunk driving crash that killed her two friends hopes so.
Desaleen James, 18, was the only survivor of a crash during a night of drinking in Silver Spring, Maryland. She filmed the crash and is trying to get people's attention with it.
(Note: WUSA has since made the video, UNembeddable, which seems to betray their effort to help the young woman make a difference by publicizing it)
If ever there was a presidential moment designed strictly for a campaign ad later in the year, this was it.
"Today I'm directing my administration to cut through the red tape, break through the bureaucratic hurdles, and make this project a priority," President Obama said, underscoring the seriousness of the southern route of the Keystone XL pipeline by not wearing a tie.
How much difference will today's declaration make? Probably none. The Army Corp of Engineers, which has responsibility for some of that red tape, hasn't seen an application from the company yet, the Associated Press reports.
And the delay in the pipeline from Alberta's oil sands isn't just red tape. Nebraska, a state that knows how to vote red, for example, doesn't want the pipeline to disrupt the Sandhills.
, home of the cranes which draw people to the area every year.
This week, the Nebraska Legislature considered a new route for the project.
Canadian proponents of the pipeline urged Obama to approve the northern segment of the pipeline, though they didn't say why nor how Nebraska should give up its concerns.
An intangible benefit of writing the NewsCut blog and some other blogs I pen are the connections blogs can make between unrelated people.
I've already written, for example, about how the connections created by a tornado and the reach of the Internet helped a widow in a tornado-ravaged city in Indiana get a picture of her husband back from a man in a Cincinnati suburb who found it on his lawn (that picture, by the way, was returned to Marta Righthouse Tuesday evening).
Then there's this post from 2009 about the first person killed in the first Gulf War. Every year on the anniversary of his death, it seems, I hear from a member of the family who discovers the post via Google. The Internet and its search engines make it hard for people to be forgotten.
Today I was reminded again of the "connections" the Internet can give us.
My brother, Mike, died last week in Massachusetts and I was asked to say a few words at his graveside service. So I told the story of Everett Ek of Rochester (left), whose obituary appeared in the Star Tribune last week (you can also find it in the Rochester Post Bulletin). I'm a big reader of obituaries, especially the ones that capture the personality of the individual, rather than follow the boilerplate copy that renders most obits sounding like the one before.
Everett Ek's wasn't like that:
Everett enjoyed his final days. He shared a visit with Kellen, his great-grandson, on Saturday. "Papa" made scrambled eggs for his granddaughters, Alahn and Korah, Sunday morning after their stay over. Monday, he went cruising on his Harley and cleaned out his man cave, aka the garage. Tuesday morning found him savoring a Grain Belt in his man cave with Bob, a morning coffee klutch buddy. Later, when he went out to work in the yard on that beautiful day, he fell to the ground and was gone. Everett and his dad each lived their lives to the fullest, 72 years and 48 days.
Because I told Mr. Ek's story to a group of people 1,200 miles away, many of them also shared the stories of my brother -- the motorcycle rides he made and his habit of showing up for camping trips with 10 pounds of pork chops and only 10 pounds of pork chops. None of it was headline material; all of it provided a much more valuable snapshot of his life, more than any company he worked at or award he received.
Everett Ek died this week after making scrambled eggs for his granddaughters and because he did, you know that he once was on this earth and mattered. A woman loved purple, another loved her fax machine, and my brother just got his last ride from some other good and decent people.
I posted my remarks on one of my personal blogs. The phone rang in the NewsCut cubicle today. "This is Mrs. Everett Ek," she said, and I knew immediately who she was. A relative had also found the post via Google and called her to say, "you won't believe it."
She said she didn't want the obituary to be like all the others so she told it to a friend who wrote it. Today, I learned that Mr. Ek, who apparently always wanted to ride a motorcycle, finally did so at age 69 at his wife's urging. He was the oldest person in the motorcycle safety class at the community college, a class that called him "Papa."
They had a nice funeral, she told me, especially when they opened the doors of the church to hear the person outside revving up the engine on the motorcycle. It was a Catholic mass with the usual amount of standing, sitting, and kneeling. A faithful family dog attended and sat and stood as custom dictated.
None of these things is "headline material," and yet these are the threads that connect us. Because a man in Rochester made eggs for his granddaughters, a man who loved pork chops died in Massachusetts, and some guy in Saint Paul writes a blog for a living, we are never really forgotten.
How I love you so, Internet.
Photo top: via Ek family
Photo bottom: via Collins family