Lake Whatshisname (5×8 – 6/15/11)

1) THE CALHOUN KERFUFFLE

The dispute over whether to rename Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis is heating up. The person who’s pushing to rescind the honor once bestowed on John C. Calhoun — John Winters — writes a rebuttal in today’s Star Tribune to some history professors who rejected the notion.


Rewriting history is still popular in the South. I can see how losing a war can be painful and that people want to do something to ease the pain. But please, stop the lying.

A few years ago, my wife and I rented “Gone With The Wind” because she had never seen it. My wife enjoyed the movie. Although the movie was well done, I had trouble getting around the outrageous stream of Confederate propaganda.

Why has the Confederate message dominated the popular culture?

I was upset to see a picture of South Carolinians going to a ball to celebrate the 150th anniversary of secession dressed in their finery. They apparently imagine that if the South had won its “war for Southern independence,” some great and elegant culture would have been preserved.

The professors from Alabama call the move “political correctness.”


His persistent fear was that unpatriotic sectionalism would lead to civil war and a dissolution of the union. His last years were spent attempting to unify the country. On March 31, 1850, Calhoun died in Washington, D.C.

In Calhoun’s interpretation, America’s greatest hope lay in the interposing and amending power of the states, which was implicit in the Constitution. This alone could save the country by allowing for a greater diffusion of authority and undermining the cause of sectional conflict.

Perhaps you can detect a hint of where this debate is likely to end: It may not be a debate over John Calhoun in the 1800s, but a debate over the role of government in 2011.


2) TV: THE NEW DEATH STAR

Your TV is killing you, a new study reports. The research, published in today’s Journal of the American Medical Association, says reducing daily TV watching time by two hours could reduce the number of new cases of Type 2 diabetes in the U.S. The researchers estimated that, among a group of 100,000 people, reducing daily TV time by two hours could prevent 176 new cases of diabetes, 38 cases of fatal cardiovascular disease, and 104 premature deaths a year in the U.S.

Now the fine print: It’s possible those involved in the study had underlying illness unrelated to their TV watching.

What are we to make of this? Have you changed your TV habits? Are you thinking about it?

3) THE LATEST IN POLITI….ZZZZZZZZZZZZ

There is, of course, little progress to report in Minnesota’s march to a government shutdown. The poor are getting letters in the mail this week — how much will that cost? — telling them they may be cut off from services on July 1. Gov. Dayton is filing his plan today, detailing what services are essential and should be kept after the government goes toes up. There hasn’t been much of a public outcry as we near July 1; that’ll come as soon as the DNR announces it’s shuttering the state parks in time for the holiday.

Do you find any of this interesting? David Brooks doesn’t. His column addresses the presidential contest, not the state budget dispute. But at the heart of it, it’s the same thing: Two philosophies.


The Republican growth agenda — tax cuts and nothing else — is stupefyingly boring, fiscally irresponsible and politically impossible. Gigantic tax cuts — if they were affordable — might boost overall growth, but they would do nothing to address the structural problems that are causing a working-class crisis.

Republican politicians don’t design policies to meet specific needs, or even to help their own working-class voters. They use policies as signaling devices — as ways to reassure the base that they are 100 percent orthodox and rigidly loyal. Republicans have taken a pragmatic policy proposal from 1980 and sanctified it as their core purity test for 2012.

As for the Democrats, they offer practically nothing. They acknowledge huge problems like wage stagnation and then offer… light rail! Solar panels! It was telling that the Democrats offered no budget this year, even though they are supposedly running the country. That’s because they too are trapped in a bygone era.

Meanwhile, Jon Stewart has tied a bow on Monday’s presidential debate:

The heretofore Chinese-only news animations are now in English. Today: Michele Bachmann as a wizard…

4) PIANOS ON PARADE

An ice rink in the middle of downtown, dancers on the side of the Lawson Building, and now random pianos around town. St. Paul can stake a claim to being the “cooler Twin City.”

The organization Keys 4/4 Kids has placed 20 pianos around St. Paul, inviting people to sit and play. Simple. Unless it’s raining, of course.

Be sure to spend some time today on Keys 4/4 Kids’ Facebook page and watch the video of the piano player accompanied by the young fiddler. Everyone’s day should start with some fiddling.

Musically related: The Guardian has a series on the history of modern music.

5) SCIENCE WEDNESDAY

A year of the moon in a couple of minutes:

There’s a lunar eclipse tonight. You won’t see it.

Bonus: If you were going to tell the Dalai Lama a joke, what one would it be? Hint: It’s not the one about the Dalai Lama.

TODAY’S QUESTION

The FBI has rewritten its own rules to give agents more leeway in investigating people who attract its attention. Critics say the new rules may open the door to abuse. Today’s Question: What principles should limit the FBI’s surveillance powers?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Can we innovate our way to recovery?

Second hour: We apply principals of ethics to all areas of life, from law to medicine to everyday behavior. But where do our ideas about ethics come from, and who decides what’s ethical and what isn’t?

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: NPR’s media correspondent, David Folkenflik, on the future of news. He’s out with a new book, “Page One: Inside the New York Times and the Future of News”–a companion book to the documentary opening Friday.

Second hour: Cecile Richards, national president of Planned Parenthood. She spoke Tuesday at the Commonwealth Club of California.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Political talk with NPR’s political editor, Ken Rudin.

Second hour: Travel tips.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - MPR’s Brandt Williams is working on assessing the crime picture in north Minneapolis since last month’s tornado.

The Capitol crew will look at Mark Dayton’s plans for a state shutdown.

MPR’s Matt Sepic is considering the sudden rush to run for Congress in the 6th District in the wake of Michele Bachmann’s presidential bid.

  • http://www.iguitaround.blogspot.com Peter C.
  • JackU

    #1 (and #3) – It’s interesting to listen to people try and classify politicians from an era when a debate between 2 politicians could run all day using the techniques of society that finds a 2 hour debate with 7 politicians too long. A late 18th – early 19th century “sound bite” might have more words than a weeks worth of 5x8s.

    #2 – I would assume that the people were expected to be up and active for part of the 2 hours, not doing some other sedentary activity.

    @Peter C. – Thanks for the info on the Space Camera.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Regarding The Calhoun Kerfuffle -

    The solution is obvious. Lake Calhoun should be renamed to The One Between The One With The Islands And The One With The Rose Gardens.

    (However, objections might be raised by the descendants of people unjustly imprisoned on islands, or descendants of The House of York, which of course lost it’s power to The House of Tudor following the War of the Roses).

  • James

    Let’s combine the suggestion that it revert to its Native American name and an acronym from Jim’s suggestion above: Lake Tobtow Tiatowtrog.

    I also like the idea of selling the naming rights as we do for everything else. We could even sell separate names for the water, the beach, the parkway, etc. After all, we now suck up to corporations in the same way that the pioneers did to the politicians.