It gets better (Five by 8 – 9/24/10)

Five by eight is a little rushed this morning because I have to be in Minneapolis for a breakfast session featuring Roxana Saberi.

1) IT GETS BETTER

This is an appropriate follow-up to yesterday’s story from MPR’s Tom Weber, which suggested that some of the suicides in the Anoka-Hennepin school district this year were related to the sexual orientation of those who took their own life. This week, the It Gets Better Project was launched by a gay couple with an adopted eight year old boy.

It’s a series of videos with a simple message: Life gets better than high school. Here’s one (language warning):

Even the comments on the site are intelligent and thought-provoking. That’s right. On YouTube!


I wish I could have seen something like this when I was in high school. I am a straight male, but high school was pretty brutal to me, and it did feel like a permanent condition that would be my reality for the rest of my life. Sometimes, looking back I am surprised that I made it through alive, and extremely grateful that I did. This is a great idea, and definitely a great resource for bullied teens, either gay or straight.

Related: What’s it like to want to serve your country, only be told you can’t because you’re gay? A Virginia man tells NPR about it.

2) YOU ARE…

You’re an award-winning documentary producer and you produced a documentary about the Mississippi River, which the University of Minnesota — you’re partner — spiked, saying it was “unbalanced” and wasn’t scientifically reviewed. After a couple of weeks of this, your partner says “never mind. Our bad.” Do you want to work with that partner again?

3) FIRST LISTEN: NEIL YOUNG, ‘LE NOISE

This isn’t your Latin teacher’s NPR. The network’s Web site is streaming Neil Young’s new album, even though it isn’t going to be released until later this month.

Says NPR’s Bob Boilen:


Young only recorded on nights when there was a full moon and brought out his infamous big white electric Gretsch guitar, which was used to record some of his most famous records in the late ’60s and early ’70s. As usual, it works. Young described to the Chicago Tribune how Lanois made that guitar sound by saying, “It sounded like God.”

Find it here. (h/t: Jon Gordon)

More music (You can sing that if you want to remember what radio was like in the ’60s): Bill Deville has the story behind the story of this new Minnesota Twins anthem:

Even more music (Don’t try to sing that): Roseanne Cash reveals her father — Johnny Cash — was vehemently opposed to the war in Iraq.

Cash says that just before the invasion, doctors put Johnny under in a medically induced coma and the first thing that popped into his mind after he came to was whether or not Iraq had been invaded. “He went to sleep not knowing if we had invaded Iraq,” Rosanne said. “It was the last thought on his mind. When he woke up, I was sitting by his side. He looked at me and reached over to pull the television over to him. He was looking at me like, ‘Did it happen?’ I said, ‘Dad, it happened.’ He went, ‘No! No!’ Can you imagine? This is the first thing he thought of when he woke up from a week-long coma.”

4) WHAT GOES AROUND

William Ayers — remember him from the presidential campaign of 2008? lost his bid for emeritus status from the University of Illinois Chicago. The board in charge of the university said Ayers is not shown any remorse for dedicating a book he wrote to Sirhan Sirhan, who assassinated Robert F. Kennedy in 1968. The board is chaired by Kennedy’s son. “There can be no place in a democracy to celebrate political assassinations or to honor those who do so,” Kennedy said.

5) HERE’S TO THE BLOGGERS

I’m a big fan of blogs outside of the Twin Cities. Local writers provide a rooted perspective when things like yesterday’s flooding occur. Here’s a perfect example: Minnesota Prairie Roots, which documents the situation in Faribault. Even when there isn’t a looming disaster, this is a must-read blog. For example, Sunday’s posting about Valley Grove is enough to make us city-slickers pack up and move.

Do you have some favorite Minnesota bloggers outside of the Twin Cities? Please post their URLs below (preferably, in html rather than a long text URL).

BONUS: FOR DAD

The Duluth News Tribune provides another take in the ongoing debate about the worth of high school sports. A Barnus teenager finds solace on the football field after the death of his father. The story requires some reading between the lines.

TODAY’S QUESTION

Suicide is a leading cause of death among Minnesota teenagers. Seven teens in the Anoka-Hennepin School District took their own lives in the past year. What role should schools play in suicide prevention?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: A new study out of Princeton University shows that money can help with happiness, but only to a point. That point, the researchers say, is around $75,000 in annual household income. Above that, more cash doesn’t necessarily mean a better “emotional well-being.” True?

Second hour: Nancy Pearl, author, retired librarian, and regular commentator on NPR’s Morning Edition. Her newest book is “Book Lust to Go.”

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Former GOP Congressman Vin Weber discusses the Republicans’ “Pledge to America” and compares it to the 1994 “Contract with America.”

Second hour: On F. Scott Fitzgerald’s birthday, Patricia Hampl presents Fitzgerald’s vision of “making it big.”

Science Friday (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: What makes us different than chimps?

Second hour: A look at the technology being used to rescue the 33 miners trapped underground in Chile.