Beyond gluttons and sloths (5×8 – 9/19/12)

It’s not just personal responsibility in the fat biz, the over credentialization of our culture, return of the Babe, do we care how the Romney tape came to light, and turning good teachers into great teachers.


We’re fat and getting fatter.

A new report says more than half of Minnesota and Wisconsin residents will be obese by 2030; that’s about twice the current svelte rate.

Why are we so porky? We’re not innocent victims.

The Duluth News Tribune, for example, provides some insight to people’s resistance to simple steps that would not make our weight quite so embarrassing.

Efforts aren’t just geared toward schoolchildren. The Complete Streets resolution that the City Council passed in 2009 is designed to encourage walking, bicycling and use of mass transit, said Jim Skoog, St. Louis County public health educator. Because many streets have inadequate sidewalks or lack sidewalks, the network pedestrians can use to get around is incomplete. The idea is to complete the network, he said.

But specific projects have met resistance. The Glenwood Street project was approved on a 5-4 vote after residents objected to plans for sidewalks and bike lanes. But the council voted 5-4 against construction of new sidewalks on Ivanhoe Street, Skoog noted.

Over in South Dakota, the obesity rate will be more than 60%, the study says, making it the obesity capital of the upper Midwest. It’s only slightly less so in North Dakota.

How did this happen? “This goes way beyond personal responsibility,” one researcher says.


What was your SAT (or ACT) score? The chances are that you don’t remember. But if you want a job in the legal profession, it might be a good idea to look it up. The blog, Above The Law carries details about firms that are asking for SAT/ACT scores to weed out “those people” who shouldn’t be general counsels.

It strikes me as obnoxious that any employer would want to see the SAT scores you compiled a lifetime ago when they have three to seven years of your actual work experience staring them right in the face. If anything, should these firms just test their applicants now instead of reaching into the way back machine for SAT scores? If your mastery of SAT math is really necessary to be a lawyer for these guys, shouldn’t it be your current mastery of the concepts, not the understanding you had when you were 16 years old and trying to score well enough to follow your boyfriend to UT?

Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure we’re going to see more of this because of the general over credentialization of our culture. At this point, you need a college degree to tend bar, you need a law degree to gestate a baby, and you need to be a doctor in order to sell soft drinks.


The Fabulous Sports Babe is back. Nanci Donnellan was a pioneer in the testosterone-dominated world of sportstalk radio. She was the first female host of a national sports talk show. How big was she? She was even a guest on a Minnesota Public Radio program. About sports. She loved opera. She could’ve easily been a guest up on the Classical side of MPR. There was an actual person behind the persona.

And then she disappeared.

Grantland has found her and provides a glimpse into what happened in a fascinating glimpse into what happens when someone develops a persona:

“She drew such a stark line between the character and herself,” said Karlen, who later worked at Minnesota Public Radio. “There were things she wouldn’t discuss. It was like the Berlin Wall. You just didn’t go there. She really did not want to break out of the Babe mode. She really had a fully developed character.

“She was ruthlessly not Nanci Donnellan,” Karlen said.

“She was sort of a fugitive of herself,” he added.


Colleague Eric Ringham writes today’s MPR commentary and asks whether anyone is concerned about the manner in which the infamous Romney fundraiser video surfaced. He uses as an example, the Obama “guns and religion” audio secretly taped in 2008. That was obtained by (former) Huffington Post contributor Mayhill Fowler.

Fowler commented on Ringham’s treatise:

Yes, we should be concerned about how the Romney comments surfaced. (Even though he was stupid, in the digital age, to have said something that his campaign wouldn’t be comfortable appearing on YouTube.) In my case, the Obama Campaign people whom I knew in California were happy that I would be reporting about the event. I had reported on Obama fundraisers previously. How could any of us have known that he would say something so different from what he had been saying on the campaign trail days before, in PA, where I had been reporting? As for Marc Cooper, he is often in my thoughts and prayers, although he and my other “boss” Amanda Michel defriended me on Facebook after the election. I cried over that for months, a humiliating admission for a 60-something (doing here only because Minnesotans were so friendly and helpful during the 2008 Republican Convention). I am 66 now–what’s the point other than the truth?

Over to you, Hodgman:


What if teachers were penalized for poor student performance?

NPR reports on research that gauges whether giving teachers money upfront, and taking it away if students fail to achieve, works.

“Teachers who were paid in advance and [were] asked to give the money back if their students did not perform — their [students’] test scores were actually out of the roof: two to three times higher than the gains of the teachers in the traditional bonus group,” a researcher claims.

Bonus: Because it beats having kids digging in the trash for food.


Scholars say they may have found written evidence that suggests Jesus was married and had a woman disciple. Today’s Question: How would a discovery that Jesus was married affect your understanding of Christianity?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: The defense budget.

Second hour: The Archon Genomics X Prize.

Third hour: Science fiction’s future.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): From America Abroad, “The Next President: Foreign Policy Challenges.” Ray Suarez is the host.

Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – The Political Junkie.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Fall is harvest time, but for Ron Bowen, the harvest is a little unusual. He’s a 40-year veteran of prairie restoration and he’ll harvest seeds to create new prairie. MPR’s Dan Olson will have the tale.

For years, it’s not been easy being a Democrat in the Deep South. And this election seems no different. So how are Democrats planning to regain relevance in such red territory? NPR takes a look at their strategies.