Five at 8 – 7/15/09

Beware the ides of July!

1) – What was your favorite recession moment? Recession. The one that’s over, according to, which has whacked its way through the green shoots to find the Economic Cycles Research Institute and its contention the recession is over.

ECRI’s proprietary methodology breaks down indicators into a long-leading index, a weekly leading index, and a short-leading index. “We watch for turning points in the leading indexes to anticipate turning points in the business cycle and the overall economy,” says Achuthan. It’s tough to recognize transitions objectively “because so often our hopes and fears can get in the way.” To prevent exuberance and despair from clouding vision, ECRI looks for the three P’s: a pronounced rise in the leading indicators; one that persists for at least three months; and one that’s pervasive, meaning a majority of indicators are moving in the same direction.

The local blog, A Day in the Life, considers the revelation:

I don’t know crap about the economy but I will say that this downturn has produced some up-and-coming candidates for Dumpy Strip Malls right here in the south metro of the Twin Cities. Who could have imagined that a coffee shop every six blocks was unnecessary? Who could have ever guessed that the world didn’t demand six auto parts stores all along a two mile stretch of highway? And dammit if I didn’t see a surplus of beads coming. After all, beads make the world go round and if we can’t have a bead store in every strip mall, the terrorists will surely win.

Nails shops. You forgot the nails shops.

2) The Sotomayor hearings continue in Washington and the excitement is palpable. The entire political world is buzzing. Bloggers are at the ready. Al Franken is going to ask his questions today.

Cathy Wurzer got a preview from the senator a little while ago. Don’t listen if you want to experience the excitement live during the hearings:

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The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank had a few more thoughts about the political theater that’s going on. He deciphers some of the code that’s being used. Milbank said he was “born too late” to watch the Robert Bork hearings. Did someone say “theater”? These hearings are nothing.

The Wall St. Journal boils down the Sotomayor testimony so far.

3) How imagination and ingenuity can inspire a family, a village and a nation. Thanks for the heads up, Twitter! Moving Windmills.

William Kamkwamba also has a blog.

4) Continuing the observance of the 40th anniversary of the moon shot: The New York Times gives a sense of time and place by asking readers to submit pictures of what they were doing 40 years ago this week. The best are the ones that have nothing to do with space.

A colleague told me yesterday her husband doesn’t believe the U.S. ever went to the moon. He’s not alone. The Telegraph takes apart the 11 main reasons people think the landing never happened.

5) Trash talk: If you knew the journey your trash takes, would you likely change your trashy ways? Three thousand pieces of rubbish are going to be electronically tracked in New York, Seattle, and London.

Trash in Toronto is not being tracked because everyone already knows where it is. It’s piling up outside and in the hockey rinks. City workers have been on strike for four weeks.

Bonus: Because it’s cool, that’s why. The 2009 Venice Biennale International Art Exhibition titled “Making Worlds”, is now open. The Boston Globe’s Big Picture blog has terrific pictures of the exhibition and Venice itself. Good for daydreaming.


In a hearing today, members of the St. Paul City Council are considering whether to dedicate funds to the creation and maintenance of public art. When, if ever, is public art a good use of taxpayers’ money?


More Sonia Sotomayor hearings will be broadcast live on the radio and online starting at 8:30 a.m. We’ll drop in with additional coverage and analysis during the breaks.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) MPR’s Brandt Williams will report on hearings into Minneapolis’ plan to charge residents a fee for street lights. Which brings up the obvious question:

Should Minneapolis residents pay a fee for street lights?(opinion)

You can debate the issue in the comments section, if you wish.

Also on this afternoon’s program, NPR’s Cheryl Corley asks a great question: “What is going to happen to all of those huge auto assembly plants?” And after Roxana Saberi, interest in journalists detained by governments has faded. But it’s been a year since an Iraqi journalist working for Reuters was first detained by the U.S. and there’s still no charges. Quil Lawrence will have that story.