Five at 8 – 8/12/09



August gets a pretty bad rap. It has an air of finality, an earlier sunset, the bookend of a dying summer. But what’s not to love about cooler nights, the heavy morning dew, the plants and flowers you haven’t seen since last August, or the Perseid meteor shower? Over the next 2+ weeks, send the photo you think best portrays August in Minnesota.

1) Hells Angels redux. A hearing last night in Carlton County brought plenty of complaints about the way the police acted during the Hells Angels’ visit to the region, the Duluth News Tribune reports. One woman said she saw a group of bikers — many of whom had just helped her get her car started — stopped and ticketed for speeding, when they were driving below the limit. A business owner said all the cop cars in his parking lot scared customers away.

2) Ugh. In Worthington, a man is charged with raping a 13-year old girl and told her he’d report her family’s illegal immigration status if she talked. (Worthington Daily Globe – registration required)

“This is the reality of the broken immigration system and what it does to people,” Worthington Public Safety Director Mike Cumiskey said. “People are being taken advantage of because of their status.” The family is not in danger of being deported, he said.

3) Discussion point. Lane Wallace makes a fascinating observation on her blog. In a world of Twitter and Facebook and live-blogging, is it possible to experience life and relay your experience at the same time?

When I had an assignment to fly a a U-2 spy plane last fall, high enough to see the curvature of the earth, I got so preoccupied with taking photos and notes that I realized, part-way through the flight, that I wasn’t actually experiencing any of it with any real depth. And to write anything of substance, I needed to first experience something of substance. So I turned off my intercom microphone, put the camera down, and just sat for a while. Looked out the window. Focused on what my senses were experiencing. Let my mind wander and my eyes drink in my surroundings. And in the richness of that silence, impressions softly bloomed. Of how fragile the world’s atmosphere appeared. How being that high above the earth felt as if we were surreptitious invaders at the edge of a foreign realm ruled by powerful titans who needed no heat, air pressure or oxygen to survive. Of how lonely even a beautiful planet would be without anyone to welcome you home again.

This, of course, gets back to the question we raised a few weeks ago about whether we adequately “disconnect” from our online lives, but it’s not necessarily a new phenomenon. I would contend that camcorders paved the way for the “barrier technology” between us and that which we are experiencing.

Incidentally, Lane will be a guest on MPR’s Midmorning next Monday. I feel a little sheepish telling you I’ll be live-blogging the experience.

4) This has all the makings of an urban legend spread by someone with a book to sell, but it’s just crazy enough to be true. Helicopter parents, worried that their children will be abused or neglected by the adults in the house, are banning them from going to “sleep-overs.”

Now, experts say, many children throwing sleepovers simply invite everyone in the class to prevent hurt feelings, meaning parents receive invitations from families they’ve had little or no contact with. For mothers and fathers who are concerned about safety, this is frightening.

But even families the parents know well may not share the same values.

Newsome, who does allow her children to spend the night at a few relatives’ homes, recently picked up her kids up from a cousin’s and found them watching an R-rated movie that she and her husband had decided was inappropriate.

OK, I take it all back. It reminded me of the time one of my kids attended a sleepover and they watched “The Shining.”

5) It’s performance review season at many American companies, or — as I like to refer to it in my cubicle — the “what have you done for me lately?” season. In an NPR commentary, Alain de Botton, the author of The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, takes on the “gentle whipping” of the American worker.

However, the whipping has to be done so gently, like handling uranium, for fear of the ego smashing into watery pieces on the office tiles. All must have prizes. So criticism evolves into mutual vows to do better next time: “to keep the goals of the organization more in mind,” “to remember to focus on results rather than procedures,” to “engage more with the client-facing side.”

As millions of Americans have been laid off, many millions more have picked up the slack. They’ve lost their retirement plans, their health care, time with their families, and had piles of stress heaped on them. Maybe this year everyone’s performance review should have two words — and only two words — on it:

“Thank you.”

Bonus: New Twins Ballpark has some new photos as the infield begins to develop at the park, which is intended to take your mind off the fact the team that’ll play there starting next year isn’t very good and is barely competitive.


A recent study shows the rate of homeownership in America has declined by more than 2 percent since 2004, and is projected to drop even more over the coming years. Has homeownership lost its luster in the wake of the mortgage crisis and recession? Is owning a home part of your American Dream?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: A new report from the Congressional Oversight Panel warns that toxic assets tied to bad loans remain on the balance sheets of many small banks, and could trigger further economic instability. Second hour: This one ought to light up the phones. Ethics writer Randy Cohen thinks Americans don’t file enough lawsuits when they’ve been wronged.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – State epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Lynfield will be in the studio to answer questions about the H1N1 flu. Second hour: Shibley Telhami, speaking at the Chautauqua Institution about the U.S. role in the Muslim world, and prospects for Middle East peace.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: What’s behind the outrage at the various town hall forums politicians are having? Second hour: An exploration of Chinatowns in the U.S.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – MPR’s Annie Baxter will jump into the real estate numbers due out today and consult the economic Ouija board. Teresa Boardman, on the St. Paul Real Estate blog, has her latest prices by neighborhood post up. Economic indicators could dominate the news today after yesterday’s big drop on Wall Street.

NPR’s Tom Goldman will take a swing at the pedestal on which we’ve placed Tiger Woods. He’ll look at Tiger’s alleged “attitude” problem. Let’s define that. He apparently is described as “focused” and “competitive.” Oh.

  • bsimon

    “is it possible to experience life and relay your experience at the same time?”

    Great excerpt. And I think you can make the argument that the problem precedes even the camcorder – how many people stroll up to an attraction, take a snapshot and move on to the next?

  • Tyler

    Judging by the pics, even a losing game will be an enjoyable one. The new ballpark looks beautiful.

  • Joanna

    Great round-up! I love August, but I love September even more.

    My child went to the neighbor’s for a sleep-over when she was about 8-9 and we later found out they watched some Romero zombie movie. Gleep!

  • Emily

    I experienced a month in Greece by journal and sketchbook. I drew ancient sites, the amazingly beautiful people of each place I visited, the distinct and wonderful fauna. I would write at night while sipping wine on my hotel balcony so that I wouldn’t forget about the details. An older English tourist peered over my shoulder at a Mycenaean site, was impressed and told me I would cherish my little homemade pictures forever. He was exactly right. I look back through the journal and all of my senses maintain a memory of each place.

    *The pictures I did take were of food, because I couldn’t draw as fast as my hand could put the fork to my mouth.

    I watched The Exorcist for the first time at a friends house when I was 12. But I couldn’t spend the night and had to walk the five blocks home at 10 pm…ALONE. I wish my parents would have let me sleep over.