What makes NY different? (5×8 – 10/31/12)

Waiting for the outpouring, how money is buying an election near you, the mystery of the disappearing gravestone letters, are you afraid to show a tattoo, and why is your situation your situation?


There’s something different about the disaster in the New York-New Jersey area I couldn’t quite put my finger on until now: Where are all the appeals for donations for recovery? In most disasters — take your tornado-flattens-a-town disaster, for example — the Red Cross and other agencies would’ve flooded the email inboxes within in hours, seeking donations for the fine work they do. I’ve gotten but a trickle of them. The Twitter feed would be loaded with retweets of appeals to text to a certain number to donate $10. People might’ve even been moved to change their avatars. But the feed is comparatively still with little of the “let’s rally to help” social media effort for which the medium has gotten considerable — and well-deserved — credit in the past. And websites aren’t prominently featuring the “what you can do to help” angles.

There are, of course, exceptions:

We are not predisposed to root for the metropolitan area. They’ve got everything. But the unexpected lack of ‘buzz’ for disaster relief suggests people have a somewhat different view of the victims of this particular situation. What is it?

Related: And now the rats! Close the toilet lid! (HuffPo)

How AP filtered out phony images from the real ones. (AP)

It’s not like we weren’t warned. (NY Times)

We can fix the weather, but should we? (NPR)

Who are the victims? Some of the best writing you’ll read today is right here. (NYT)

What kind of person deliberately spreads lies during a disaster? (BuzzFeed)


PBS’ Frontline and American Public Media’s Marketplace have teamed up to focus on the effect of money on the election in the wake of the Supreme Court decision that gives corporations and organizations almost unlimited ability to influence elections.

Bottom line? At a time when a constitutional amendment in Minnesota purports to preserve the integrity of elections, integrity vanished from the electoral process months ago.

Watch Big Sky, Big Money on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.


The painted letters on headstones at Fort Snelling National Cemetery are fading and disappearing, just as officials intended, the Star Tribune reports today.

“It’s been four years now, and everything is gone off that stone. It’s horrible,” the daughter of one veteran told the Star Tribune’s Mark Brunswick. “Family wouldn’t be able to tell as well where she is, and that’s happening to all the veterans and family members who have died since then. If they would have asked me, I would have paid whatever to keep her name on that stone.”

It’s just as federal officials intended, however. They want the letters to fade to match the headstones in the rest of the cemetery.


Should a tattoo keep you from getting hired or getting a promotion? Delaney Daley at the University of Minnesota Daily considers why people get tattoos and then keep them covered up.

Can “guy with skull and anchor on his left arm” translate into “hirable?” It’s not impossible. If the employer is hiring for a position in which body modification is considered a personal characteristic, then it may be fine. If not, the effect of your body modifications is going to be at odds with your chances of being hired.

But is this fair? Shouldn’t an employer care more about an employee’s skills rather than his appearance? Probably, but while one’s body art is representative of personality, an employee is representative of his employer’s principles and values. To most customers, employees are the face of the company. Indeed, in a challenging job world, there is pressure to cover up or even remove body modifications in order to get hired.


How do you account for your economic station in life? NPR’s All Things Considered team has been traveling the country asking people why their situation is what their situation is. Some people are wealthy; some are not. Why?We can consider this too. What’s your life and why is it what it is?

Bonus I: Tips from the world champion pumpkin carver. (BBC)

Bonus II: The Minnesota mirror. Local kid Tom Friedman looks at the election from the district from which he hails. (NYT)


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: What would a Romney presidency look like?

Second hour: Homeless veterans.

Third hour: Rebroadcast of a conversation with Rajiv Chandrasekaran about his book “Little America.”

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): MPR’s Voter ID constitutional amendment debate from the Fitzgerald Theater, featuring Reps. Mary Kiffmeyer and Steve Simon, and Doug Chapin from the University of Minnesota. Tom Crann, moderates.

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

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – NPR looks at the battle for a congressional seat in Florida. Republican Allen West has criticized Muslims, feminists, and accused House Democrats of being Communist Party members. Despite moving to a more conservative district, he’s in a very tough re-election bid.

  • Joe

    Jimmy Fallon actually promoted giving aid last night on his show. He did it on the air with his cell phone to the Red Cross and also for a food shelf in the area as well. But I too have noticed that it is as prevalent as say a Tsunami in India, earthquake in Haiti, etc…It also might go to the strength of the people who live in that area and the great job that all of the officials and volunteers and the like have done with this whole disaster.

  • B joe

    Maybe people are just assuming that they already have contributed via their tax dollars, and that FEMA et al. will take care of the rest.

  • Kassie

    I have a small tattoo on my wrist that I covered up when I interviewed for my first government job in 2001. I haven’t covered it since and I have had five other jobs in government. Today you can see both that small wrist tattoo and, since my shirt is sort of transparent, my large arm tattoo. I see lots of my co-workers tattoos regularly. I think tattoos are pretty much mainstream, though I think covering them for interviews is always a sound decision.

  • Bob Collins

    // ollars, and that FEMA et al. will take care of the rest.

    That could be, but why wouldn’t they feel the same way (again, judging by “buzz”) about, say, Joplin?

  • Mark Gisleson

    Why give money to the city that has all our money?

    This is the acid test: will NYC’s billionaires give anything back to the city they do business in? Or is does their contempt for the 99% include their neighbors?

  • http://www.oldtokyo.com noodleman

    Re: NY/NJ. I echo some of what @Mark writes. However, I feel, too, that hearts are reaching out to those on the Jersey shore and inland affected by the storm. Also, that FEMA was up and running even before the storm reached land (unlike Katrina). The Red Cross, too, according to what was broadcast on NBC last night. Preparation before saturation … very much UNLIKE how operations were handled leading up to Katrina (and boo to Michael Brown for his warped sense of priorities).

    Specific to Manhattan, though, the shear volume of infrastructure that was damaged or destroyed (power generators, subways, tunnels, etc.) is, perhaps, too large for many Americans to comprehend. The Red Cross will have no impact on any of that recovery; the Federal government has already dispatched the US Army Corps of Engineers to provide material and personnel aid.

    How many people will remain homeless for how long still remains to be determined, but it appears to me that the governments involved are patiently making their calculations and that whatever aid that will soon be needed will be provided.

    Also, unlike Katrina and the Gulf Coast/New Orleans, the Northeast was/is blessed with a considerable network of mass transit options that made it relatively easy for people to evacuate. There did not appear to be any panic; Gov. Christie even ordered that tolls on toll roads in NJ not be collected from those escaping Sandy’s wrath.

  • David G

    On #3: Form the picture accompanying the Strib’s article, the headstones are engraved, correct?

    So it’s not as if when the lithochrome fades, the headstones are completely blank.

  • Jim!!!

    Shorter Mary Kiffmeyer debating on Voter ID – “trust us”. No thanks. I’m voting NO.

  • B Joe

    //That could be, but why wouldn’t they feel the same way (again, judging by “buzz”) about, say, Joplin?

    I don’t know. I do suspect that NYC and Joplin have vastly different cultural significance for the rest of the country. Maybe NYC, the self proclaimed ‘greatest city on earth’, with all of its big city self importance and hubris, is finding it difficult to garner sympathy from the rest of the US?