Nobody died (5×8 – 6/21/12)

Picking up in Duluth, the jobless recovery, the jobs we do, the Neiman-Lanpher snit remembered, and 21 images to restore your faith in humanity.


1) PICKING UP DULUTH

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(Photo: Sunrise this morning in Duluth, via Gary Carlson on Twitter)

It’s the fact you have to step back and consider in all the video and images of the flash flooding in Duluth. Nobody — at least no humans — died.

This was the biggest flash flood in more than 40 years in Minnesota, and everyone is OK. There have been lesser floods since the 1972 Little Falls inundation. People died in those floods. On August 18, 2007, for example, heavy rains and blocked rivers in the Rushford area created flash flood conditions. Seven people in southeast Minnesota lost their lives.

Duluthians are looking at a broken city this morning and taking stock. There’s a world of stress still to come if Rushford is any example (and it is).

But before that sets in, some have taken the time to play. Here’s the story of people who went JetSkiing yesterday…

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Disasters give us a glimpse at our humanity that often disappears when days are normal. The things that separate us begin to define us. Disasters show us who we really are.

Disasters show us our best side, the side where people still tear up because an 8 year old survives certain death.

Today, Duluth starts to pick up the pieces of a city that hung together.

2) THE JOBLESS RECOVERY

If people can’t get jobs, how can there ever be an economic recovery? APM’s Chris Farrell today declares that the economic recovery “is going to be a jobless one.”

“So you know, businesses are really embracing productivity rather than hiring workers. ‘Let’s get more out of our people before we hire more.’ And you’ve got the information technologies, and those have wiped out whole departments of low-level, white-collar workers. And then of course there’s globalization. So Jeremy, if you look at a lot of these companies — the S&P 500 companies, the ones that we talk about all the time — they’re hiring. They are hiring. But much of the hiring is going on overseas,” he says on Marketplace today.

It portends a future few people seem to want to talk about. The world may not need all the people who will be looking for jobs in the future.

I thought about this yesterday while listening to the American RadioWorks documentary, “Bridge to Somewhere,” specifically, the part in which an old ad was played in which Jimmy Durante pleads for American business to hire people as a matter of patriotic duty as a part of the New Deal.

Discussion point: Does business have a patriotic duty to hire people?

3) THE NEIMAN – LANPHER SNIT REMEMBERED

No obituary of painter Leroy Neiman, a Saint Paul native, is complete without a mention of the 1997 snit between he and a Saint Paul Pioneer Press columnist that had local politicians on their knees begging him to bring a museum to the city that by now would likely be closed.

It was the summer of 1997, when Neiman, who long before had moved from Saint Paul, considered opening a museum in the city. The Legislature, in fact, had appropriated $500,000 for the project. The Saint Paul City Council bought the Jemne Building, to provide a home for the museum.

Then, former MPR colleague Katherine Lanpher, who was a Pioneer Press columnist then, wrote, “I think his work stinks.” (Some examples of his work here)

It was a great example of when newspaper columnists held more influence here than they do now.

Neimann pulled his support for the museum. Then Mayor Norm Coleman and then-Gov. Arne Carlson traveled to New York to beg him to reconsider.

Letters poured into the paper urging Lanpher’s head be delivered on a platter. But her editor stuck behind his columnist, going so far as to write a commentary explaining to people why it’s important for newspaper columnists to be allowed to express opinions that are unpopular.

That story — the story of how one person’s opinion kept a city from making a bad mistake — was left out of today’s Pioneer Press Neiman obit.

4) THE JOBS WE DO: THE CHEF

Scott Meldahl has a calling: Serve the seniors in Fergus Falls meals with fresh ingredients and make their day.

“It was that feeling of providing a bright spot in someone’s day, that creating of a memory that drove me to grow my skills and push forward in this career choice,” he says.

Story here.

(h/t: Jessica Sorensen)

5) TWENTY-ONE PICTURES TO RESTORE YOUR FAITH IN HUMANITY

Why didn’t I think of this before? Wait. I did. Buzzfeed, too, tires of the drumbeat of hopelessness. “People aren’t always awful,” it says in introducing its presentation of images to pick you up. “Sometimes, they’re maybe even just a little bit wonderful. ”

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As journalists, we have to ask ourselves constantly, “why do so many people crave this?” And, moreover, we have to ask ourselves why we see these as a threat to more serious stories of the day?

(h/t: Barb Abney, who is hoping you’ll add your own to this list. “What if kindness went viral?” she asks.)

Bonus: And then there are the kids of Greece, New York (language warning).

The kids taunted the woman about taking her own life, unaware that her son had taken his.

Originally posted on Reddit, the video prompted its users to begin a campaign to raise money to provide a vacation for the woman. It’s raised over $100,000.

“Instead of letting what happened rip us apart as a community, I hope it helps bring us together,” the chair of the school board said. “This (incivility) is a problem not just in this district but of the nation, and what are we actually doing about it,” she said. “… What are we all going to do to make sure this doesn’t happen on another bus in another school district tomorrow?”

TODAY’S QUESTION

It was a stormy season even before the heavy rains and resulting floods that struck Duluth over the past day and a half. Today’s Question: Do you worry that severe weather is becoming less of a fluke?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

It’s the first day of the MPR membership drive. Many of these shows are rebroadcasts.

Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Second hour: Brian Cox, author of The Quantum Universe.

Third hour: Diana Reiss, professor of psychology at Hunter College. She is the author of “The Dolphin in the Mirror.”

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): TBA

Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – The mistake of “supermax” prisons.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - Gov. Mark Dayton tours Duluth today. We’ll have an update on the clean-up in the city.

NPR takes a look at Disney’s “princess marketing machine.” Consumers spend some $4 billion a year on the princess culture.