Five at 8 – 8/19/09

It’s hard to get away from all the Favre talk, but let’s try. The commotion is reminiscent of the one that followed Gov. Pawlenty’s announcement that the state’s most vulnerable citizens would be denied health care next year, isn’t it? A Star Tribune columnist today said the story is one of the biggest sports stories ever! Indeed, it rivals the day Harmon Killebrew signed with the Kansas City Royals.

They said yesterday’s 5@8 was depressing. Let’s see if we can find five themes today that aren’t depressing, but also aren’t trivial. None of these stories, of course, will be from Minnesota. News organizations here are presently preoccupied.

1) I think I could look at this picture all day:


But I can’t do so without thinking to myself, “when is the last time I saw a drop-dead fascinating picture in a newspaper?

In an essay today, Stephen Crowley of the Lens blog considers the era of storytelling in photography. It seems to me we have more outlets for photography than ever before, and we’ve never had worse storytelling.

2) I appreciate that you check News Cut every day — you do check News Cut every day, right? But why? Why do we search the Internet so aggressively? What are we looking for? Why aren’t we finding it? Why is it the first thing we do in the morning (OK, maybe the second thing)? Why is it the last thing we do at night? We are, it’s suggested via Slate, “hard-wired” to love Google and Twitter and texting:

We actually resemble nothing so much as those legendary lab rats that endlessly pressed a lever to give themselves a little electrical jolt to the brain. While we tap, tap away at our search engines, it appears we are stimulating the same system in our brains that scientists accidentally discovered more than 50 years ago when probing rat skulls.

Too depressing? Let’s take a break.

3) – Reuben Appelman was 15 and sitting in the library studying when a taller, stronger teenager he knew walked up and punched him in the face for no apparent reason. That punch changed the course of Reuben’s life, instilling a deep fury inside of him that he could not shake.

Recently (two decades later) Reuben received a Facebook message from the guy who punched him. The two corresponded. Reuben talks with Dick Gordon on American Public Media’s The Story about the power of anger and forgiveness.

4) The “life chemical” has been found in a comet. The discovery of glycine in a comet supports the idea that the fundamental building blocks of life are prevalent in space, and strengthens the argument that life in the Universe may be common rather than rare,” commented Dr Carl Pilcher, who leads Nasa’s Astrobiology Institute. Let’s hit the Tivo remote on that one: “life ….. in ….. the …. universe … may … be … common … rather…. than … rare.”

5) Let’s think about this for a minute:


It all started with a mention in The Financial Times that Barack Obama is like Felix the Cat. That started a brouhaha with The Atlantic’s James Fallows (and also the New York Times’ Paul Krugman) that the assertion is inherently racist.

Stay tuned for the beer summit.


Republicans and some Democrats in Congress are resisting the public option being proposed as part of health-care reform. One alternative under discussion is the member-owned cooperative, along the lines of those used by dairy farmers. Based on your experience with other cooperatives, would a member-owned co-op work for health care?


I am taking this afternoon off so posting will be relatively light. Colleagues may fill in here this afternoon. Or not.

Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) First hour: We know we spend a lot of dollars on health care, but where does all that money actually go?

Second hour: Photographer Lauri Lyons, who asked people she met on the street to pose with the flag and then talk about what the national symbol meant to them.

Follow-up: Lane Wallace, who was a guest on Midmorning the other morning (I live-blogged it), follows up on a caller who asked “why do so many people tell you that you can’t succeed when you say you want to try something different or go out on your own?”

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Rep. Tim Walz, DFL-Minn., will be Gary Eichten’s guest from Mankato to discuss his health care reform public hearings and other key issues before Congress.

Second hour: Jim Klobuchar will be in the studio to talk about the Vikings and the popularity of football. He’s out with a new book this month, called “Always on Sunday.”

Talk of the Nation (1 – 3 p.m.) – First hour: Guest Political Junkie Ron Elving.

Second hour: Stress still plagues troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now,

a new Army program requires soldiers to take mental stress training.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – New rules governing the amount of haze in BWCA take effect soon. How will these clear-air rules work and who will have to cut back to make them happen? MPR’s Stephanie Hemphill has the story. It’ll also be online around mid-afternoon.

Is the flu color-blind? No. When it swept through Boston this year, minority and the poorer neighborhoods bore the brunt. Richard Knox reports health officials are trying to figure out why and what it means for the return of the H1N1 flu this fall.

Martin Kaste has techniques politicians are using to avoid town hall forums.

Tom Bowman has a story on how tensions between loved ones boil to the surface when Marines are deployed overseas.

  • At the *very least*, the assertion that Barack Obama is Felix the Cat (and the way it was expressed “Black and lucky”) is clumsy and stupid.

  • JackU

    You’re right that’s a great picture. You would think that modern technology would allow the photographer more freedom to experiment with “the moment”.

    I think the 24 hour news cycle and the merging of print and online conspire to take the time needed to construct a photo like the one you have here away from news photographers. I think if you go into the realm of art photography you’ll see the stories you want. But in an age when all news is either breaking news or old news there isn’t time for finding the image that tells the story.

  • Bob Moffitt

    Hard to see racism in a cartoon cat. Sure, Felix is black, but so is Mickey Mouse and Daffy Duck. Perhaps his reference was to Felix’s famous “bag of tricks” which he used when he was “in a fix.” I’m just old enough to remember that theme song.

    Now, if Obama had been compared to Kazy Kat, that would have been bad. Not only is Krazy Kat, well, krazy, the gender-confused feline is in a wierd interspecies love triange with a brick-throwing anarchist mouse and and police dog called Officer Pupp.

    Imagine what talk radio and the bloggers would do with that!

  • bsimon

    But I want to talk about Favre, if only to note that the breathless coverage seems to think the 39 year old can still play like the 26 year old that won a superbowl & doesn’t hold the record for interceptions (as well as touchdowns). Vikings fans are in for a rollercoaster ride…

  • JohnnyZoom

    >> life in the Universe may be common rather than rare

    Sure, that’s not huge news (Drake equation and the like), but how about intelligent life? Sometimes that appears to be vanishingly rare 🙂