“Silence has become the ultimate luxury,” writes The New Republic’s Chloe Schama.
Unwanted noise is perhaps the most irksome form of sensory assault. A bothersome sight? Close your eyes or turn the other way—eyesores are, generally, immobile. An annoying taste? Spit it out. (Why was it in your mouth?) Sound, on the other hand, is ambient, elusive, enveloping. Even the softest drone can echo cacophonously if it worms itself into your head. Ulysses was not seduced by the sight of the sirens. Poe’s telltale heart does not torment with its smell. “Noise is the most impertinent of all forms of interruption,” groused the nineteenth-century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer. “It is not only an interruption, but also a disruption of thought.”
Noise ranks as the number one gripe of restaurant-goers nationally according to a Zagat survey, and it is the complaint submitted to New York City’s 311 hotline with the greatest frequency. (From 2012 to 2013, noise-related calls to 311 increased 16 percent according to noise activist Arlene Bronzaft.) Even if these complaints are just cyclical resurgences of an age-old problem—the ancient Greek colony Sybaris mandated that certain noisy tradesmen (potters, tinsmiths) had to live outside the city walls; Elizabethan men couldn’t beat their wives past 10 p.m.—we seem to be dealing with it differently. From noise-canceling headphones to the popularity of silent retreats, there has never been quite so great a premium placed on silence. And not only do we value it in a general sense, we’re willing to pay for it.
Today’s Question: Where do you find peace and quiet?
Early indications that the Affordable Care Act is starting to control health care inflation.
“Early signs suggest that US president Barack Obama’s health care overhaul is driving the cost of healthcare lower, according to Goldman Sachs analysts, spotlighting yesterday’s data on consumer spending and prices,” Matt Phillips writes for Quartz.
While the Obamacare overhaul remains controversial in the US, budget geeks are nearly unanimous in spotlighting runaway health care costs as a long-term driver of the US national debt. And cross-country comparisons show that US health care spending is clearly out of line with international norms.
Natural gas costs are up this winter by roughly 15% according to Xcel Energy. Are you feeling the pinch of energy costs? Where are you cutting back to cover other winter-related costs?
“There’s all this give and take going on at the micro level,” according to Toby Madden, an economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. “But at the macro level, we still should be producing $300 billion worth of goods and services this year in 2014.”
What about all the expensive repairs to burst pipes and busted fenders? Economists call that a “loss of wealth.”
Despite those costs, Minnesota’s economy is so big and so diverse that a few months of lousy weather is not likely to move the needle much. In fact, Madden said, all signs point to continued economic growth. (MPR News/KARE11)
Today’s Question: Has this winter hurt your household budget?
I will be headed to Kyiv, Ukraine tomorrow night for discussions there Tuesday. — John Kerry (@JohnKerry) March 2, 2014 “As Russia dispatched more forces and tightened its grip on the Crimean Peninsula on Sunday, President Obama embarked on a strategy intended to isolate Moscow and prevent it from seizing more Ukrainian territory even as Read more →
“The ride-sharing company Lyft announced it is kicking off its service in Minneapolis. However, Minneapolis officials say the company’s model violates city ordinances,” writes MPR News reporter Brandt Williams. “Lyft allows people to use their own cars to give other people rides. Riders can use a mobile phone app to find a participating driver in Read more →
“Both sides in a debate over electronic cigarettes conceded Wednesday there’s scant scientific evidence about the health effects of the devices, but that might not stop efforts in the Minnesota Legislature to regulate them like traditional tobacco products,” writes AP reporter Brian Bakst. “We do know enough to know that risks are here, we just Read more →
Both DFL and GOP operatives say their party stands to gain politically from President Barack Obama’s visit today to Minnesota, writes MPR News reporter Mark Zdechlik. [W]ith the president’s popularity here at an all time low, his presence may hurt Democrats at the polls in November. Republicans are tying DFLers to the president’s struggles — Read more →
– Dave Peters, editor, Beneath the Surface, Minnesota’s Pending Ground Water Challenge You can’t talk about water use in Minnesota for long before you get around to talking about farming. That’s clear from two recent stories by MPR News. One, by MPR News reporter Dan Gunderson, showed how increased irrigation and leaching of nitrates from Read more →
“Supporters of legislation to legalize medical marijuana in Minnesota are considering a new approach for the 2014 session, and the potential changes are winning the backing of some law enforcement groups. “State Rep. Carly Melin, the chief author of the bill in the Minnesota House is working on a much narrower proposal that would allow Read more →
ED @peggyflanagan on far right with MN mayors supporting #RaiseTheWage to $9.50 by 2015! http://t.co/KNP9dqoXLo pic.twitter.com/XogHSzPd30 — CDF MN (@cdfmn) February 7, 2014 “Raising the wage is a top priority for Democrats going into the 2014 Legislative session. Last year the Minnesota House passed a bill to raise the wage to $9.50. The Senate passed Read more →