Could you disconnect? (Five by 8 – 9/13/10)

The Monday Morning Rouser features blues Monday:

1) Could you live a week without social media? The computers at Harrisburg University in Pennsylvania will block Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking sites starting this week. It’s an experiment to teach kids — apparently — what a bad, bad thing social media; that the friendships one makes online aren’t real friendships; not at all like the ones you can make by going to a bar, for example.

The silly notion — it seems to me — is that the issue is discussed as though online friendships and offline relationships are mutually exclusive. Maybe it’s time for the older professors to hand this issue off to someone who knows they’re not.

Writing in the Boston Globe, Phil Premack takes note of another, much more distressing sociological change — the empty playground and kids who don’t experience nature. And you can’t blame this on computer games or social networks.

According to a study this year by the Outdoor Foundation, participation in outdoor activities among youth aged 6 to 17 dropped more than 11 percent between 2006 and 2007. If kids are outside at all, it’s mostly for sports or other organized events. “Children now spend more time in vehicles being transported from one indoor activity to another than outside in nature,” said a study cited in the May issue of Current Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Health Care. Returning kids to nature isn’t just about nostalgia. It’s about resetting the overall health of a generation. “An increase in sedentary indoor lifestyles has contributed to childhood chronic conditions, such as childhood obesity, asthma, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and vitamin D deficiency,” researchers wrote in Current Problems.

Premack says we keep our kids caged.

Related: What does your Facebook profile image say about you? A study out today includes this nugget: Men are much more likely to retouch their photo than women.

2) If there’s a better gig than being a big shot at the University of Minnesota, what is it? The Duluth News Tribune reports University of Minnesota president Kathryn A. Martin retired in July, she’ll still end up being the third-highest paid employee on campus. She’ll make $186,000 for “select administrative assignments for the university that draw on her expertise and experience.”

It’s still less than the $1 million a year U of M football coach Tim Brewster makes.

3) I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that most Minnesotans will go to the polls in November and vote for judicial candidates without having a clue who they’re voting for. Judicial elections don’t get any publicity and for years Minnesota rules didn’t allow judicial candidates to actually talk about issues that might come before them.

But those rules changed when Republicans challenged them on First Amendment grounds. Now, judicial candidates can tell you what their political philosophy is. Here’s one Web site of a candidate in Washington County, for example, who makes no secret of the fact he’s conservative on the issues.

Here’s a good resource to start learning something about the people who want to run the courts — Judgepedia.

4) Would you travel to Duluth just to see some manhole covers?

5) Nice story from KARE 11 — the Men of Mow Night.

I guess we know why they’re not the Men of Tree Pruning Night..


Each Monday now through the election, we’ll pose a question on an issue that’s pertinent to the race for Minnesota governor. Today’s Question: Does Minnesota need to change its approach to environmental protection?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: A recent report card from the American Society of Civil Engineers gives the United States a cumulative grade of D in infrastructure. Will President Obama’s plan for $50 billion to repair the nation’s roads, rails, and runways be enough for significant improvement?

Second hour: A long-standing fascination with Utopian thought led writer J.C. Hallman on a journey to six modern Utopian projects. In the process, he found in these communities a desire to make things better that he believes is missing in much of modern-day America.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Roy Grow of Carleton College discusses the cultural, economic and political situation in China and Japan, as Gov. Pawlenty conducts his trade mission there.

Second hour: Gubernatorial candidates debate on education funding and policies (recorded on Friday).

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: TBA

Second hour: Duels, slavery, book binding. All once considered honorable, but no more. Kwame Anthony Appiah explains how our morals have evolved and discusses his

new book, The Honor Code.