A grand gesture (5×8 – 1/21/11)


When I visited the Grand Canyon last year with the trophy wife, I ended up doing the mall-walking thing. I was the old man, huffing and puffing, trailing the in-much-better-shape spouse. It wasn’t my finest moment, but it’s a high elevation and all. I wanted to walk down into the canyon, but though the spirit is willing, the body is weak. It’s a young man’s trip.

So I was impressed yesterday when I heard about the plan of Redwood Falls native Nikolas Oman and two colleagues who intend to run the 46.5 miles through the Grand Canyon to raise some money for charity. They intend to do it in 24 hours.

“I’ve been outside running and cross country skiing more than anything right now,” he told me last night. ” I’m going to Norway on a military training exercise for a while in February. So I’m focusing on that more than the R2R2R. I’m a triathlete and usually ride and swim during the warmer parts of the year. I don’t use any supplements like most other people so conditioning is critical to the success of our goal.”

Apparently, this can be done as this video proves:

The trio is raising money for the Armed Forces Foundation and Diabetes Action. Learn more about their quest here.


The shooting in Tucson earlier this month was blamed on political rhetoric long before there were sufficient facts to support the conclusion, a young man’s death in central Minnesota last weekend was blamed on gay bullying before it was ruled the death was a suicide, and today MPR’s Tom Scheck documents what most people probably already know — if Michele Bachmann gets her facts right, she got lucky.

“We have checked her 13 times, and (found) seven of her claims to be false and six have been found to be ridiculously false,” PolitiFact editor Bill Adair told Scheck.


The indictment is as much reflection on us as anyone else. “Respect for facts just doesn’t mean a whole lot any more,”Norm Ornstein said. “You don’t get punished. You don’t get shamed if you say things that are patently false. Let’s face it: for many, repeating them over and over again — even after you’ve been told and it’s been made clear that what you say is false — just doesn’t have any impact at all.”

Why not? Is that an indictment of people who speak with only a casual relationship with facts, or people who are willing to believe them? In the case of Bachmann, as I’ve written before, the more her district knows about her, the more popular she becomes. But everyone with an agenda has contributed to the lack of respect for facts.

If Ornstein is correct that respect for facts doesn’t matter anymore, the real question is: Why not?



Did the Founding Fathers require people to buy health insurance? Writing at Forbes.com, Rick Ungar says merchants marines were required to buy insurance as part of a health care plan:

Yes, the law at that time required only merchant sailors to purchase health care coverage. Thus, one could argue that nobody was forcing anyone to become a merchant sailor and, therefore, they were not required to purchase health care coverage unless they chose to pursue a career at sea.

However, this is no different than what we are looking at today.

Each of us has the option to turn down employment that would require us to purchase private health insurance under the health care reform law.


In rural Minnesota, poverty is people working harder and falling further behind. In Pine City, a volunteer effort involving city residents and the University of Minnesota tried to do something about it.

Meanwhile, in the Twin Cities today, poverty looks a little different — people on the street. With last night’s cold well predicted, workers and volunteers hit the streets to try to reach people who couldn’t — or wouldn’t — move in to shelters for the night, MPR’s Dan Olson reported.

They didn’t reach everyone. Reports this morning say a woman died in the cold when she tried to walk to the Harbor Lights shelter.

New poll: Americans want fewer programs and lower taxes, but don’t want to cut the two programs that drive debt.


The backyard hockey rink. The video raises an important question…

… why don’t kids care about the cold the way adults do?

Bonus: Here’s a daydreaming idea to get you through the cold day:


The Metrodome is almost 30 years old and may need a whole new roof. Authorities aren’t sure how long it will take to fix. What would you like to see happen with the Metrodome?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Doctors are “rock stars.” Giffords is a “fighter.” Her recovery is a “miracle.” Ordinary people are “heroes.” As we all root for Congresswoman Giffords, has the public, the media and the medical community turned her recovery into a primetime reality show?

Second hour: The first representatives of the Baby Boomer Generation are turning 65 this month, but whether it’s due to the economy or their own personal preference, many are not ready to retire. Will boomers change the way we think of retirement?

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: — DHS commissioner Lucinda Jesson.

Second hour: TBA

Science Friday (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: The future of the gulf. How does all that oil figure into long-term recovery for the wetlands?

Second hour: How the effects of climate change–including sea level rise, and acidification–are changing the oceans.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Some low-income kids in Minnesota struggle to get enough nutritious food over the weekend, when they aren’t getting lunch at school. Now three Rochester schools are sending those kids home on Fridays with backpacks full of food. There’s a hodgepodge of similar programs across the state, but they’re hard to fund in the schools that need them most. MPR’s Julie Siple will have the story.