John Glenn died today at 95. He comes from an era of heroes to little kids who grew up to blog for a living and also enjoyed looking up at the sky and wondering what it would be like to fly.

I wrote the following in a post over the summer and it seems, for many reasons, like a good time to take another look at it with some updates included.

Godspeed, John Glenn.


(Originally published July 18, 2016)

Former U.S. Sen. John Glenn, right, shakes hands with eight-year-old Josh Schick before the start of a celebration for the renaming of Port Columbus International Airport to John Glenn Columbus International Airport Tuesday, June 28, 2016, in Columbus, Ohio. Jay LaPrete | AP

John Glenn is 95 years old today. He was, you may have heard, the first American to orbit the earth, willingly climbing atop a bomb to go try something no American had tried before.

No surprise. He didn’t see himself as a hero but said in an interview on PBS NewsHour a few years ago that it’d be OK with him if his story got more kids interested in science (video below).

“I see the things that built this country, education and basic research, I see those being equally important now to what they’ve ever been in the past, and the nations of the world that lead in those areas will be the nation that leads the world 50 or 75 years from now.”

The country was enamored with the original seven astronauts — the Mercury 7, they were called — who represented a new age of youthful possibility, the same idea that swept a young man into the presidency a year after the Mercury 7 were introduced.

And now, they’re all gone.

Photo: NASA

He flew 63 combat missions in Korea, and then was a test pilot for the Navy.

He won election to the U.S. Senate in 1974, was a candidate for vice president in 1976, authored the nuclear non-proliferation act of 1978 and then ran for president in 1984 (losing out to Walter Mondale), got caught up in the savings and loan scandal in 1992, became the oldest person in space when he flew in 1998 at age 77, and then retired from the Senate in 1999, $3 million in campaign debt.

He could’ve been picked for VP three other times — 1984, 1988, and 1992– and was passed over all three times.

This morning, CBS This Morning showed a focus group from Frank Luntz, the GOP operative, in which a person declared that he was stunned that the nation had gotten itself into a position this year in which the choice is between two people “so unqualified to lead” the nation.

That’s when I thought of John Glenn’s career and wondered whether the nation really knows what it takes to run the nation if it couldn’t let Glenn within a heartbeat of the presidency.

Glenn is now the oldest living person to have served in the U.S. Senate, and, of course, the oldest living former astronaut.

Former space shuttle astronaut Michael J. Massimino says Glenn embodied what the country wanted to be like.

He had a war record, looks, was a national hero, had experience, and was still married to his high school sweetheart.

By all accounts, he was the perfect candidate, and just what voters say they want. But voters fib. What they say they want isn’t what they’ll vote for.

John and Annie Glenn with son, John David, in 1965. Wikipedia Family members of former U.S. Sen. John Glenn, left to right, son David Glenn, wife Annie Glenn, and daughter Lyn Glenn react to Glenn’s speech during a celebration for the renaming of Port Columbus International Airport to John Glenn Columbus International Airport Tuesday, June 28, 2016, in Columbus, Ohio. Jay LaPrete | AP

In 1970, 92 percent of 30-year-olds in America earned more than their parents did when they were that age. That’s the goal of a lot of parents; give your kids a better life. That’s the American Dream.

And there’s more evidence today it’s on life support, the Wall Street Journal reports.

According to new research, the percentage of people making more than parents dropped to 58 percent by 1992. And the researchers from Stanford said while that held about steady through the ’90s, it began to plunge again around 2002. By 2014, it stood at 50.2 percent

“Wages have stagnated in the middle class,” Raj Chetty, a Stanford University economist, told the Journal. “When you’re in that situation, it becomes very hard for children to do better than their parents.”

Mr. Chetty, 37, has explored poverty and income mobility in a series of papers that have gained widespread attention across the political spectrum. His research finds that upward mobility depends heavily on government policies, a position common among Democrats, as well as on neighborhood churches and two-parent families, as Republicans often argue.

In his current work, he and his co-authors found that the declining ability of children to outearn their parents is greatest in the Midwest, an industrial region that has been battered by greater import competition, especially from Japan and China, and by technological changes. When looking only at males nationally, the decline is even starker. As of 2014, only 41% of 30-year-old men earned more than their fathers at a similar age.

Reversing the trend will be very difficult, the economists found. If income distribution remains as tilted toward the wealthy as it is now, they calculate, it would take sustained growth of more than 6% a year, adjusted for inflation, to return to an era where nearly all children outearned their parents. Since World War II, the U.S. hasn’t experienced anything near that level of growth for a lengthy period of time.

They paint a bleak future. Even if the economy grows at nearly twice the rate it is now, the number of young people earning more than their parents would be only about 61 percent.

On their website, The Equality of Opportunity, the researchers show the areas of the country where upward mobility is most likely.

The researchers cited Minneapolis, along with Salt Lake City, as two cities in the nation where children’s chances of moving up and out of poverty “remain high.”

Such cities, they said, tend to have five things going for them: lower levels of residential segregation, a larger middle class, stronger families, greater social capital, and higher quality public schools.

If you want to understand the true horror of gun violence, talk to a pediatric surgeon like John Densmore, a pediatric surgeon at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

Between November 2012 and August 2016 he’s treated 12 gunshot victims. Children. The hospital as a whole has treated 200. Children.

In its most recent podcast, released this week, Milwaukee Public Radio’s Precious Lives talked to Densmore, who recalled the most memorable of the 200 — a one-year-old boy who was inside a home shot up by a gang over a drug deal. It was the wrong house.

It’s today’s “must read”.

Densmore needed the permission of the one-year-old boy’s family to tell his story. They didn’t hold back.

The baby, Bill Thao, had lost a lot of blood by the time Densmore arrived at the hospital. He tried, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says.

In a matter of minutes, the team made a decision: They would try to place a special catheter into a vein in Bill’s neck or arm.

But Densmore couldn’t get it in place, and he didn’t have the luxury of waiting.

He started surgery.

Major vessels — arteries and veins — carry blood from the heart throughout the body. The bullet, which had entered the infant’s stomach, had an incredibly unlucky trajectory, tearing through a set of arteries and veins tasked with transporting blood to his legs.

Densmore and his team worked feverishly to control the bleeding and isolate the injury, but there was something they couldn’t see because of all the blood.

The bullet had hit a second set of blood vessels.

Seconds ticked by, and Bill got worse. The bleeding did not stop. They lost his pulse.

And that was that. The baby was dead. All that was left was to tell the family.

It was, he said, like “watching a soul come unstitched.”

He says national programs would help — after-school programs, improved child welfare, and other efforts to prevent violence.

“I know there are already people doing wonderful work; my only plea is more, more,” he said. “We need more help. It’s not a simple thing, it’s many things. And it’s expensive.”

When he repairs a kid, he says he hopes it’s “an 80-year solution.” But some of them come back, shot again.

The woman told the doctor about how her son fell in with a group of friends she was wary of and how her long work hours kept her away. Densmore gently asked if moving was an option. It wasn’t, the woman replied. A parent, she sighed, can only do so much.

It was something he had heard from other parents.

Densmore mentioned Project Ujima, a hospital program that provides a wide range of services, including counseling, for families after a violent injury to a child.

“I think it’s important to know you’re not alone and that the struggles you feel, many others have felt,” he said to the mother.

The patient’s mother later decided to cut back on her work hours so she can take her son to and from school. But it’s probably not a sustainable solution. Densmore worried about seeing this patient again, treating him for another gunshot wound.

But he knows the future is out of his hands.

“I have a lot of hope because that patient has someone who loves him and that’s the first step,” he said. “If you’ve got that, then you’ve got something to work with and then the community needs to figure out ways to support them

If a community — a nation — is interested in doing so, of course.

The court ruled in the case of James Yates, of St. Paul, who had coverage from Founders Insurance Company as an Illinois resident when he moved here in 2013. He didn’t know the company wasn’t licensed to sell insurance in Minnesota. He found out two months later when he collided with a car that had spun out of control on a highway ramp in Maplewood. Read more