Five at 8 – 7/14/09

1) What causes a stir in financial and economic circles? Mortgage foreclosures? Hedge funds? Ponzi schemes? Sometimes. But today it’s teenagers and Twitter. And the buzz is being caused by a 15-year-old intern for Morgan Stanley who wrote a research report on teenager media habits, according to the Guardian:


His report, that dismissed Twitter and described online advertising as pointless, proved to be “one of the clearest and most thought-provoking insights we have seen – so we published it”, said Edward Hill-Wood, executive director of Morgan Stanley’s European media team.

So what’s the more interesting story here? That Twitter isn’t for teens? That Morgan Stanley gets its research from 15-year-old interns? Or that a 15 year old writes better and more thought-provoking insights than the rest of the gargantuan company?

Now, the typical reaction of the marketing people will be to say “OK, the heck with Twitter, then. The kid says it’s pointless.” The kid, though, said he doesn’t know anyone who reads a newspaper, saying kids prefer to get their news from the Internet and TV. Wait, did someone say “Internet”? That’s where Twitter is, isn’t it? So maybe someone should say to the kid, “Twitter is a great place to get news. Maybe you and your pals should think about not being quite so proud about being so ignorant.”

Related: Northeastern University building collapses. Paper covers it via Twitter.

2) – The American Wind Energy Association has released a report card on the Department of Energy proposal to generate 20-percent of U.S. electricity from wind by 2030. We’re going to need more creative ideas than slapping up windmills. So Popular Mechanics (still the best site for contraption geeks!) looks at 10 wind turbines that push the limits of design.

Example:

3) They’re building a Habitat for Humanity house out in Worthington (Daily Globe – reg. possibly required) , which is always a reminder that there still is plenty of it — humanity — out there.

“I’ve had guys just call me up and say, ‘If you need anybody to help, don’t be afraid to call,'” said (Dan) Wagner of other contractors in the area. “It’s a matter of the time (when the work needs to be done). That’s the important thing.”

Meanwhile, the 17th Ride to Rebuild is underway through southern Minnesota. The group rides to a location, raises some money, helps build homes, and rides on. First stop: Rushford. Thursday: Austin.

4) Our weeklong celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Apollo moon shot continues. Today: We used to pay attention to space launches. You’ll love the New York Times’ Lens blog’s pictures of us noticing.

These days, you’d have to block out a month to have a chance to see a space shuttle launch. The latest scheduled flight has been delayed again.

Whose old check (remember those?) from a living human being is worth more than any other currently living person’s? Neil Armstrong’s.

5) The big story locally is the continuing investigation into the disappearance of Somali young men in Minneapolis, several of whom have turned up dead in the civil war there. Slate steps back from the present to ask a significant question: Why aren’t people blowing themselves up in Jerusalem anymore? Christopher Hitchens writes:


But, actually, none of these would explain why the suicide campaign went into remission. Or, at least, they would not explain why it went into remission if the original cause was despair. If despair is your feeling, then nothing can stop you from blowing yourself up against the wall as a last gesture against Israeli colonial architecture. If despair dominates your psyche, then targeted assassinations of others are not going to stop you from donning the shroud and the belt and aiming yourself at paradise, even if only at a roadblock. If despair is what has invaded your mind, why on earth would you care about this or that short-term truce?

Bonus: The gems of St. Paul: The Wabasha Bridge and Raspberry Island (on my personal blog).

TODAY’S QUESTION

Should employers be able to regulate your personal life? Just to show I’m not a 15-year-old kid, I thought this pertained to the use of Twitter.

WHAT WE’RE WORKING ON

It’s Day 2 of the Sonia Sotomayor Supreme Court nomination hearings, now featuring more Sonia Sotomayor. The hearings start online and on air at 8:30 a.m.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – During the hearing’s lunch recess, we’ll be joined by David Stras, associate professor of law at the University of Minnesota Law School and Ann Althouse, law professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – Unlikely to air on the radio because of the hearings, but if it does the first hour of the show will consider whether members of the Bush administration should be investigated for war crimes. Hour two: Focus on Sotomayor.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – MPR’s Laura Yuen is tracking the missing Somalis story and she may have a report this evening. Dan Olson profiles Loaves and Fishes, the program that was supposed to be temporary when it started back in 1982. Twenty-seven years later, Loaves and Fishes has expanded from two dining sites to eight, one of the largest meal programs in Minnesota. Volunteers serve thousands of people each day. Demand is up. Two of the founders lament the growing need for the service.

NPR’s Elizabeth Shogren will have a story on how charities might be negatively affected by the Cash for Clunkers car program designed to get you to prop up the auto industry. The charities think people will stop donating their old cars to them.