Five at 8 – 7/13/09

Monday and the 13th? We’re going to need some serious Monday Morning Rouser:

Somebody had a nice spot at the Basilica Block Party last weekend. By the way, in the back of my mind, I’m envisioning a News Cut reader-submitted/created Monday Morning Rouser. I don’t have the idea well-formed yet, however. Maybe someday.

1) The last time a prominent politician set a definite goal that had a timetable and a measurable standard of success and failure was 50 years ago. So it’s appropriate that the John F. Kennedy Library is providing “live virtual coverage” of the Apollo 11 moonshot. It has a desktop app to follow the flight as well as audio. Pretty cool. It is, of course, the 40th anniversary of the moon launch/landing. And we know only as much about Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, as we did then. The Telegraph has a compelling — if mysterious — documentary:

Few people truly know Neil Armstrong. He seems a man locked within himself, stubbornly refusing to ’emote’ about his voyage to the Moon. He has looked death in the eye on a number of occasions and made little of those encounters. When his two-year-old daughter died from a brain tumour in 1962 he was back at his desk within days of the funeral, burying his grief in work. Other astronauts, notably Buzz Aldrin, his fellow Moonwalker on Apollo 11, have waxed lyrical about their extra-terrestrial adventures, but not Armstrong, the implacably down-to-earth

2) Would you live in a house built of straw — OK, it’s actually hay — if it cost you only $1.25 a day to heat in the winter? Hay bale houses are coming back in style, the Associated Press says. It’s a story from South Dakota.

More energy talk: An Evanston, Ill., engineer and author thinks we should raise the price of gasoline to $20 a gallon. Among other things, he thinks that’ll lead to us raising more of our own food. If that were the case, the great “why don’t these plants become radishes” quandry at my house would be a disaster, rather than a nuisance.

3) Can video gaming slow the mental decline of the elderly? North Carolina researchers just got a pile of cash to find out.

“I think it is silly for someone to run out and buy a game with the hope that it is going to help them age better. There is no proof that it is going to be effective,” says Columbia University neuropsychologist Yaakov Stern, who specializes in cognition in older adults and is conducting a video game study of his own. “We know that cognitive stimulation is good but we don’t know what type or the amount.”

Another study suggests a couple of drinks can cut the risk of dementia. Future study: The effect of playing World of Warcraft while drunk.

More Monday morning science: Swearing can help you stand pain.

Today is the publication date for Unscientific American, the book that laments our scientific illiteracy (Midmorning did a show on the topic last week). has an article today asking why are our kids are flunking science? We’ll find out if that’s true, by the way, later this week when Minnesota education officials release the math and science test scores.

4) What do you do when you feel helpless to do anything about something? On Thursday, Michael Hillmeyer of Duluth will travel by car with his family to Brooklyn, Mich., to attend his 30-year high school reunion, the Duluth News Tribune says (reg. possibly required). “On Sunday morning, he’ll head back on his bike for the nearly 800-mile trip, traveling north to the Mackinac Bridge, across the Upper Peninsula, then down to Duluth.” He’s raising money to honor his sister, who has breast cancer.

5) The Twins’ Joe Mauer is in the All Star Game Home Run Derby this week. Conventional wisdom says the derby is the Bermuda Triangle for baseball players having good seasons. They go into the Derby and don’t come back. Is this correct? No, says The Hardball Times. Its study shows participants tend to be players who might’ve been playing over the head a bit in the first half of the season. Of course, that doesn’t explain our guy Joe.

Bonus: I have this theory that any story about an old farm tractor is automatically a good story. Today’s example comes from the New Ulm Journal. A group of antique tractor owners is traveled from Lafayette to the Jackpot Junction casino in Morton at 10-12 miles per hour, celebrating their trusty steeds.


What question would you ask Sonia Sotomayor?

MPR NewsQ readers are really smart. Here’s one of the submissions so far:

Do you believe that Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad has been correctly interpreted with respect to granting corporations the same rights as natural persons? If you do believe that this case does so, would you be open to overturning it?


Listening to Sonia Sotomayor mostly, and waiting for the first question Al Franken gets to ask at a Senate hearing. MPR online coverage of the hearings starts around 9. It continues until… ?

Related: More federal judges fear for their lives, the Chicago Sun Times reports.

Midday – During the lunch recess, Midday will provide analysis with Ann Althouse, a law professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – If it airs, the first hour will have a guest who says if we’re upset about health care costs, we should blame ourselves. Second hour: After 30 years in prison, Angel Ramos knew how to survive behind bars. On the outside, he was lost. The segment will focus on adjusting to life after prison.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – MPR’s Laura Yuen will have the latest on the death of two more missing Minneapolis men in Somalia (Here’s a timeline of the controversy. It’ll be updated later today). MPR’s Bob Kelleher has the latest from Cloquet, which is gearing up for a visit from the Hell’s Angels, taking their annual national road trip.

What do undocumented immigrants and Rep. Michele Bachmann have in common? Both want to boycott the census. The undocumented immigrants, at the urging of the National Coalition of Latino Clergy & Christian Leaders, see it as the first step in a sweeping immigration reform bill.

NPR will report on the Librarian Book Cart Championships in Chicago.

Here’s one of last year’s contestants:

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