The joy of watching water (5×8 – 3/31/11)

Pondering Minnesota, stadium proponents hit the line, when people do good, the great abandoned bike mystery, the new American dream, and wearing a hijab for a day.


You’ve probably seen the headlines this morning: Deep cuts in programs to help the most vulnerable in Minnesota, the specter of American boots on the ground in Libya. Yesterday, someone noticed that everything on 5×8 involved people losing something. Sometimes, you just have to watch water flow.

Is that better?


From the sound of KSTP’s report on the plan for the state to help build a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings, Republicans at the Capitol have given up on the idea of waiting until there’s a good time to unveil a funding bill while voting for — as today’s headline say — cuts in care for the poor and disabled.

There really isn’t a way to make the two initiatives compatible, even with the claim that public funding will help create jobs. Proponents and opponents debated the subject last night; little new ground was gained by either side. What’s left to say about a philosophical debate that’s been waged for decades now?

A KSTP poll also showed overwhelming support for a new Vikings’ stadium, which would appear to provide plenty of political cover for passing the legislation.

Why do these ballparks and stadiums cost so much? Because of all the technical wizardry that’s now required to get people off the couch, Wired reports.


Chris Belich, 18, of Carlton, will be among hundreds of people packing food for hungry children in impoverished countries this weekend, the Duluth News Tribune reports. He agreed to raise $19,000 and recruit 500 volunteers to put on the event with Feed My Starving Children. So far, he has $13,000. Volunteers still are needed for the fourth shift, from 4:30-6:30 p.m. in Duluth.

“It’s really amazing: 19 cents for one meal. It’s crazy.” he said.


An op-ed piece in today’s Boston Globe from author Neal Gabler, “The New American Dream” says that we are seeking perfection that the dream is no longer about seizing opportunity; it’s about realizing perfection.

Thus not only have the terms of success changed but also the very terms of life. For a person who can live within his illusions, the career has to be perfect, the wife has to be perfect, the children have to be perfect, the home has to be perfect, the car has to be perfect, the social circle has to be perfect. We agonize a lot over perfection, and we dedicate a lot of time, energy, and money to it — everything from plastic surgery to gated communities of McMansions to the professionalization of our children’s activities like soccer and baseball to pricey preschools that prepare 4-year-olds for Harvard. After all, we are all on the Ivy League track now.

Or else. And that’s another thing that a perfectionist society has engendered. It has removed failure as an option because we realize that there are no second chances, that mistakes are usually irrevocable, and that you have to assume there are other people out there — your competition! — whose wives will always be beautifully coiffed and dressed or whose husbands will be power brokers, whose children will score 2,400 on their SATs and who will be playing competitive-level tennis, whose careers will be skyrocketing, whose fortunes will be growing. In a world in which perfection is expected, you must be perfect. Otherwise you are second rate.



This little item had become a downtown icon in Saint Paul fairly quickly, after it was abandoned on St. Patrick’s Day. I wrote about it here:


Mystery solved…


“It broke,” this fella told me yesterday when he came into town to pick it up. It became a two-week landmark because his truck had broken down, too. We probably haven’t seen the last of it.

New mystery: Later in the day, the bike-attracting light pole snared another renegade:


Bonus: The Al-Madinah Cultural Center and the Muslim Student Association at the University of Minnesota provided more than 100 free scarves — hijabs — to non-Muslim women — and even men, according to the U of M Daily — willing to wear the traditional covering for the day.

“Unlike most people think, the point is not to hide ourselves because we are lesser,” said Ariel Schwarz, a recent convert to Islam who does not regularly choose to veil outside of prayer but participated in the event. “The point is not flaunting our outer beauty, so that our inner beauty shines through.”


DNR officials have warned that proposed budget cuts could force it to mothball some of Minnesota’s state parks.Which state parks would you especially want the DNR to keep open?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: The debate surrounding single-gender education has again gained prominence as Mayor Rahm Emanuel pushes for education reform in Chicago. What are the advantages of single-gender schools, and what are the drawbacks?

Second hour: Gabrielle Hamilton, chef, restaurant owner, and writer.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Political analysts discuss Bachmann and Pawlenty presidential bids.

Second hour: Garrison Keillor interviews baseball historian John Thorn

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Preparing for the worst in Japan.

Second hour: How to pay for college.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – NPR has one job-seeker’s success story.

Rushford Hypersonic has been dubbed Minnesota’s first rural nanotechnology company and the world’s only commercial producer of Hypersonic Plasma Particle Deposition (HPPD) nanotechnology coatings. Rushford is also home to a few other new nanotech companies as well as an institute for nanotechnology. MPR’s Elizabeth Baier has the story.