Five at 8 – 8/10/09

Thank goodness that pesky weekend is out of the way so we can get up close with the Monday Morning Rouser:

1) The story of the Continental Express jet that kept its passengers on board for nine hours in Rochester is leading to questions about how it could happen. The flight to Minneapolis was diverted to Rochester because of thunderstorms. The screeners had gone home for the night, there was no bus available, and the pilots had flown their maximum number of hours. Every stupid rule was conspiring against the passengers. So 47 people had to sit for 9 hours in a small jet.

“It’s not like you’re on a (Boeing) 747 and you can walk around,” Link Christin, a professor at William Mitchell College of Law, told the Star Tribune. “This was a sardine can, with a single row of seats on one side of the plane and two rows of seats on the other. And they’ve got about 50 people inside, including babies, for the whole night. It was a nightmare.”

Overflowing toilets only added to the ambiance as the passengers sat and sat.

Not to blame the victims here, but why would you? Why not just stand up en masse and say “we’re not going to take this?” Then open the door, pull the emergency chute and breath the sweet aroma of freedom? Or call the local cops and report you’re being held hostage, or — if that doesn’t work — tell them there’s a bomb on board. That would’ve gotten someone’s attention.

Why are we so docile when inside an aluminum tube?

This particular airline is well schooled in this sort of nightmare. Just look at who’s on top in tarmac delays.

2) Why do people who talk on cellphones talk as if they’ve got to get their voice through the taut string between the tin cans? The Guardian attempts to profile Lord Peter Mandelson, but we colonists prefer the lesson he provided to a chatty woman on a train:

“Was I being that loud?” the woman began babbling. “This is a democratic train, and I vote for the other lot!” the first man shouted. “I’m very sorry,” the second man insisted, “but she was being extremely loud.” “Was I being loud?” she yelped. Passengers stared, the aides sank into their seats sniggering like schoolboys, and Mandelson froze, his face a picture of icy bafflement. “This has absolutely nothing to do with me,” his expression seemed to say, “but really, isn’t she awful?”

Eventually, he made the woman cry, which seems only appropriate. But other passengers rallied to her defense. Freedom, you know.

3) Nice. On Sunday, graduates of Blue Earth County’s Drug Court, a diversion program which offers an alternative to the normal court route to jail (I wrote about the concept earlier this year) played softball against the police, some of whom are the ones who arrested them.

4) The rituals of the day are changing. We wake, we acknowledge our family, and then we retreat to our corners of the abode for an hour or so of tweeting, facebooking or, umm, Warcrafting.

The New York Times has noticed:

This is morning in America in the Internet age. After six to eight hours of network deprivation — also known as sleep — people are increasingly waking up and lunging for cellphones and laptops, sometimes even before swinging their legs to the floor and tending to more biologically urgent activities.

The column notes the case of a 14 year old in New Jersey who was given a laptop for her birthday. “In the weeks after, Moriah missed the school bus three times and went from walking the family Labradoodle for 20 minutes each morning to only briefly letting the dog outside.” 14-year-olds were never a problem until you came along, Internet!

5) Lots of corporate jets arrived at Flying Cloud Airport around 7:30 last night. They all came from Akron. Rich golfers are arriving for the PGA Championship at Hazeltine.

I’m getting my coverage this week from The Craig Show:It appears that all of the local newsies are ready for a big week of promotion coverage, including lots of golf tips during newscasts. Not that I need those, of course.


Money Magazine recently rated Chanhassen, Chaska, Lino Lakes and Owatonna as among the best 100 small towns (population 8,500 to 50,000) to live in the country. Rankings were based on strong local economies, good schools, affordable homes and low crime. But how do you measure the soul of a community? What ties you to the place where you live?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Saving for care in our old age usually falls by the wayside in favor of the things we want to pay for now. A relatively little known provision in some health care bills allows people to voluntary contribute to a national fund that would pay at least $50 a day for at home nursing care for people who are disabled. Second hour: It was billed as three days of peace, love, and music, but it turned out to be much bigger than anyone expected. Forty years after the great gathering on Max Yasgur’s farm, a nation reflects on the music and the meaning of Woodstock.

Richie Havens is a guest.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – The military may ask for more soldiers for Afghanistan. Is this the new Vietnam or the next Iraq? Christine Fair of the Rand Corporation, is a guest from Afghanistan. Second hour: Harvard social psychologist Daniel Gilbert, speaking at the Aspen Ideas Festival about his book, “Stumbling on Happiness.”

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Preserving quality of life, handling living wills, resuscitation orders. How to make decisions about the end-of-life decisions. Second hour: Former astronaut and Commander of U.S. Strategic Command General Kevin Chilton joins guest host Lynn Neary, to talk about the next frontier in defense: the Internet.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – A protest is being held today at Rosemary Williams’ house in Minneapolis. She’s been fighting eviction for months. About 100 people are planning to get themselves arrested today.

MPR’s Stephanie Hemphill reports on a county-by-county survey for new species of plants and critters, from bats to plants. Look for that online by mid-afternoon.

MPR’s Lorna Benson is monitoring a legislative hearing on preparations for a pandemic and the H1N1 influenza virus. There’s no chance people are going to take warnings seriously anymore, is there?

NPR looks at interracial dating and seminars encouraging African American women to consider interracial dating. It’s causing a huge stir in the black community, NPR says. Witness this post on the blog, Progressive Black Man.

And former MPRer Martin Kaste looks at the latest controversy in Seattle: The bag tax. Saving the environment or just silly?