A thousand words (Five by 8 – 8/20/10)

Here’s an introduction to a neat new section of MPR NewsQ. Minnesota in Photos will spotlight some of the best pictures our photographers have taken and — we hope — yours. Here are our favorites from this week. Want to be part of this? Get in touch with me. I know people.

1) Sometimes, a thousand words is better than a picture. Today’s discussion point: What’s the greatest speech ever given? It was 70 years ago today that Winston Churchill gave his famous “so few” speech. This video is a little creepy with its Conan O’Brien-like rendition of Churchill, so just close your eyes and listen.

“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few,” he said of the pilots who defended his country in the Battle of Britain.

2) Remember that government report a week or so ago that claimed that most of the oil that spewed into the Gulf was gone? Warning: Big shock ahead. It’s not gone. Scientists say the assumption that oil will float on water is wrong. The oil is still there, underneath the surface. And, apparently, it will be there long after we’re not, Time says:


While oil can evaporate or be broken down by microbes rather quickly on the surface, the colder temperatures of the depths significantly slow down that decomposition. In fact, the Science researchers estimate that the temperatures found 3,000 ft. below the ocean surface could mean decomposition will happen ten times slower than it would on the surface. How long the oil will remain in some fashion is anyone’s guess right now, but Florida State University scientist Ian MacDonald told Congress today that the “imprint of the BP discharge will be detectable in the marine environment for the rest of my life.”

3) Aaron J. Brown, son of the Iron Range and staunch DFLer, has broken with his party after the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board agreed to restructure loan payments to a company that has proposed a controversial — that’s probably a mild word — coal gasification plant on the Range.

Brown’s attack is blistering:


Never mind the coal. That’s the least of our problems right now. The real problem is that the developers have shown bad faith in their dealings with the Iron Range and have nothing but billable lobbying and legal service hours to show for the almost $9.5 million in Iron Range Resources loans and many millions more in state and federal grants they’ve received. Truth is, most members of the Range legislative delegation simply realize they’re soaked for $9.5 million and, lacking pleasant alternatives, humility and/or guts, they’re going double or nothing on another spin of the roulette wheel with their good friends, their old hockey buddies at Excelsior Energy.

My friend Rep. Tom Anzelc was the lone “no” vote on the agreement today, and had pushed to table the matter until the developers would explain their real plan for the next seven years and how their project would change (as it certainly will) to accommodate the new reality facing this kind of technology. As it stands, there is NO explanation for what the company will do and Excelsior faces no obligation, other than $100,000 a year, until 2017. At that time this discussion will have been going on for almost two decades. I should say there is no PUBLIC explanation for the changes, because I have since learned that some board members heard a proposal from Excelsior in a recent private “liaison” subcommittee meeting. Yes, they have legal private meetings at the agency so that unpleasant issues may be resolved quietly.

Business North has details of yesterday’s meeting. And here’s some background from MPR on the controversy.

4) St. Paul could probably make a few bucks by renting out some of its downtown streets as test tracks for off-road vehicles. Most of the downtown construction is preliminary work for light-rail construction in the city. It’s taking a big toll on businesses, MPR’s Laura Yuen reports. In her story today, one businessperson has handled the the woes with a heaping helping of Minnesotan:


“This is just kind of how it goes,” he said. “That’s why we went to free delivery. We knew we were going to take a hit. We didn’t know it was necessarily going to be this big, but we knew we were going to take a hit.”

Photographer-blogger-Realtor Teresa Boardman presented a list of streets in St. Paul without construction. “I picked the topic it because I knew I wouldn’t have to write much,” she said. There’s nothing on her list.

5) It took 15 tries but Polish skydivers have broken the record for largest parachute formation when 104-people created a snowflake.

No two 104-person parachute formations are exactly alike, you know.

Bonus: Is multi-tasking a myth?

TODAY’S QUESTION

This weekend is the 45th anniversary of the time the Beatles came to town. What’s your favorite Beatles song?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

I may have a News Cut Quiz this afternoon. Spend the time reviewing the posts from this week to get a leg up.

Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: The latest in consumer financial issues with USA Today personal finance columnist Sandra Block.

Second hour: With the film version of “Eat, Pray, Love” currently reaping millions at the box office, Midmorning rebroadcasts two conversations with author Elizabeth Gilbert about her literary adventures.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Forty-five years ago Saturday, The Beatles played their one and only concert in Minnesota. The Current’s Jim McGuinn and the Star Tribune’s Jon Bream talk about that night, and how the Beatles changed pop music forever.

Second hour: Five years after Hurricane Katrina and on the heels of the BP oil spill, newly-elected New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu speaks at the National Press Club about the challenges facing his city.

Science Friday (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Are scientists being shut out of research in the Gulf?

Second hour: A look at eco-friendly universities, and life in extreme green dorms.

All Things Considered (3-6 p.m.) – The Met Council this week sends in preliminary cost and ridership numbers for the proposed southwest corridor LRT project. MPR’s Dan Olson reports.

The Preservation Alliance of Minnesota is conducting a Lustron tour in Minneapolis tomorrow. These were a post war pre-fab “home of the future,” constructed inside and out — walls, floors, ceilings and exteriors, of porcelain steel. The Lustron craze died out pretty quickly, but left a mark. MPR’s Chris Roberts tours a Lustron in pristine condition.