Five at 8 – 6/26/09

The sun sets at 9:03 this evening. There are only 15 more days here on which the sun sets after 9 p.m. It’s one of the endearing qualities of the region; drive-in movies don’t start until 10 p.m., for example.


Last night, I took this picture at sunset out at South St. Paul Airport (Fleming Field)



Summer in Minnesota provides more “daytime” to enjoy where we live.


New Minnesota Timberwolf Ricky Rubio complained about playing in Minnesota the other day; he said it was too cold here. So here’s the deal: It’s time for the annual “Minnesota Weekend” photo show on News Cut. Take your camera with you this weekend, take a picture of something uniquely Minnesota and send it to me. Ideally, we’ll have a great cross-section of life here.

Here’s last year’s project:



Ricky, you’re going to love it here!


Now, then. It’s Friday. Fridays are for “soft landings” into the weekend.


1) It’s Bring Your Guns to Church Day tomorrow in Kentucky. “God and guns were part of the foundation of this country,” Pastor Ken Pagano told the New York Times this week. “I don’t see any contradiction in this. Not every Christian denomination is pacifist.”

2) Are you sick yet of all the stories about how Twitter is helping bring democracy to Iran? Farhad Manjoo has the other side of the story in Slate today with “The Revolution Will Not Be Digitized: How the Internet helps Iran silence activists.”




The big story in Iran is confusion–on a daily basis, there are more questions than answers about what’s really happening, about who’s winning and losing, about what comes next. The surprise isn’t that technology has given protesters a new voice. It’s that, despite all the tech, they’ve been effectively silenced.


3) Keillor looks back as Prairie Home Companion turns 35. Yes, mentioning Keillor is a cheap attempt to get people to click their way to News Cut. He’s one of the handful of subjects that always causes a spike in traffic here. So is any story about Bob Dylan (whoops, sorry). And Coleman-Franken (my fingers slipped on the keyboard), and Amy Goodman (Welcome, Amy Goodman fans).


4) Is the U.S. becoming the late ’80s Russia, when the infrastructure began collapsing? Time has a feature today on the nation’s rail transit system, which is — literally — a disaster.


Even as national public-transit ridership hits levels not seen since the 1950s — the decade when the new interstate-highway system began siphoning travelers off trains — federal funding has not risen in step, leaving the biggest systems struggling to pay for the very capital projects that could improve performance and safety.


It’s a timely story considering that light-rail in Minnesota is five years old today.


5) Why you can’t trust the online product reviews you read.


Bonus: In the Loop has been looking into the story of Michael Kinsell, the 18 year old who thought he would be the next Mr. Rogers. Kinsell booked and even sold tickets to an event where Tom Hanks, Yo Yo Ma, Bette Midler, Gov. Schwarzenegger and even the reclusive Prince were slated to come.


QUESTION OF THE DAY


If you’ve lost your job, or you’re worried about it, what’s your Plan B?


Of course, this raises another question with me How can you have lost your job and not be worried about it? Follow the link above to discuss it.


WHAT WE’RE DOING?


Why, yes, there will be a News Cut Quiz posted here later today.


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Recent college graduates are facing the toughest job environment in decades. Two career counselors talk about how to navigate the job market and find meaningful work in a slow economy. Second hour: Whether it’s your fantasy career or a job possibility in the wings, you should have an idea where your next job will be, according to career advisors. But knowing you should have a “Plan B.” This is Plan B day at MPR.


Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Jim Walsh of MIT’s Security Studies Program will discuss the situation in Iran. Second hour: Economist Robert Frank, speaking at the Commonwealth Club of California about “Common Sense Principles for Troubled Times.”


Talk of the Nation (1 – 3 p.m.) – It’s Science Friday. The talk focuses on alternative energies– from diatom oil to hydrogen storage in chicken feathers. A look at wind’s potential to power the world and an airplane the flies itself. Chicken feathers? Sure. Check it out.


All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – MPR’s Laura Yuen has a follow-up to “The State Budget in Your Backyard. She talks to city, education and health officials to see how the governor’s unallotment plan affects the city. Former MPR reporter Martin Kaste will have a piece via NPR asking whether the biofuels effort is dying. Seattle has decided to stop using biofuel in its city fleet. They’re looking for something greener.


Trivia: Want to feel old? The Timberwolves pick last night of Ricky Rubio is the first time a player has been drafted in the NBA who was born in the ’90s. (h/t: Bill Simmons)

  • GregS

    “Is the U.S. becoming the late ’80s Russia, when the infrastructure began collapsing

    It’s a timely story considering that light-rail in Minnesota is five years old today. “

    The two stories are very much connected.

    We lost a bridge two years ago due to aging infra-structure. We could have replaced that bridge for a quareter the cost of a prestige project like the Hiawatha Light Rail Line.

    The problem is priorities, not funding.

  • JSmith

    You weren’t listening the day MPR had an interview discussion about the cost of trains as a mode of pedestrian transit, were you? It was mentioned the cost is significantly less per traffic volume vs the highway system. Wasn’t it also mentioned that the amount of traffic on the LRT rivals all of the other busy roads in the state when measured by the same criteria? I’m not sure why in light of all of that we’re not looking into more trains more rapidly.

    BTW, wasn’t part of the bridge reconstruction including building room for train expansion?

    When it comes to the highway system I’d be curious to see if there was an alternate way of constructing roads to deal with the extreme temperature changes here in Minnesota. It causes the asphalt to crack and warp in odd ways which actually reduces fuel efficiency. It also makes riding my motorcycle a little less comfortable.

  • bob

    Regarding Garrison/PHC: Why have we not heard anything about a succession plan? When Garrison retires or dies with his hands on the wheel, will the show go on? If it does continue, who’s on the list of likely successors? Would the show still lean as heavily on the old-timey aspects, or would there be a little updating to entice more listeners from younger demographics? I get the sense that MPR is avoiding addressing this subject.

  • Bob Collins

    No clue. When Keillor took off for Denmark, the replacement didn’t work so well. Then I think they went to old shows (I didn’t work here then).

    Would they keep the show and just get a new host? Like I said, I have no clue. But to my way of thinking, A Prairie Home Companion is Garrison Keillor and I don’t know whether swapping a host has any chance of succeeding.

    I just need him to keep going for another 9 years, 11 months, and 5 days.

  • GregS

    “You weren’t listening the day MPR had an interview discussion about the cost of trains as a mode of pedestrian transit, were you? It was mentioned the cost is significantly less per traffic volume vs the highway system. Wasn’t it also mentioned that the amount of traffic on the LRT rivals all of the other busy roads in the state when measured by the same criteria? I’m not sure why in light of all of that we’re not looking into more trains more rapidly.”

    You are comparing apples to oranges.

    You should be comparing the cost of LRT vs. the cost of buses. In other words, the cost of steel wheels vs. the cost of rubber wheels.

    There is no comparison. If LRT had to pay for itself, rather than be subsidies by people who drive cars, it wouldn’t exit.

    But the issue was infra-structure, not LRT. It was the decision to build a prestige LRT project on a route that could not support a single bus line vs. replace a failing bridge that is vital to daily life in the cities.

  • http://www.cleanairchoice.org Bob Moffitt

    The Seattle biodiesel story Martin Kaste reported on is jaw dropping. A example of the perfect getting in the way of the better.

    Good luck, Seattle. You’ll need it.