Five at 8 – 8/24/09:

Monday morning and you feel like turning around, grabbing the old beat-up VW van and heading cross-country? OK, here’s a Monday Morning Rouser for you, then. Write when you get work.

1) If you’re going to run a store that caters to liberals, you better not stray far from the politics of Barack Obama. John Mackey of Whole Foods Market has learned that too late. In an opinion piece in the Wall St. Journal, he proposed a free-market alternative to Obama’s health care plan, and found out liberals read the Journal, too. The pickets went up and so did the calls for a boycott. It’s the latest shoe-on-the-other-foot situation that usually comes with the changing of an administration. Wayback Machine: There was a backlash against the Dixie Chicks, when they spoke out against the war in Iraq during the Bush administration. Religious groups boycotted Ford for extending benefits to same-sex couples. Same song; different singers.

Of course, those protest efforts didn’t have the same social media to fuel them as presently exists.

2) Griff Wigley of Northfield sent this “Show me your August!” photo.


In the Carleton Arboretum on Saturday, he wrote on his blog, the monarchs were plentiful. It’s the second report I saw over the weekend disputing the assertion that monarchs are in shorter supply these days. Cool, dry weather is partly to blame.

3) Compared to Iraq, Afghanistan has always been portrayed as “the good war.” It’s where the plan for 9/11 was launched. There weren’t a lot of protests against it; Iraq got the lion’s share of coverage. But now, America is taking another look at the war. “I’m certainly aware of the criticality of support of the American people for this war and in fact, any war,” Admiral Michael Mullen said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” He’s about to ask for more more troops to support the war in the country that is running, apparently, a crooked election, and is adopting some Taliban ways — treatment of women, primarily — as a matter of government policy. Overnight, we learned another 20-year-old Minnesota was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, and a journalist was shot and killed in Pakistan when his bus, returning from Afghanistan, was ambushed. Discussion point: What now?

4) Meanwhile, back in America, a Duluth bar has become the first in Minnesota to install Chilldiscs, coasters that keep mugs a frosty 26 degrees, the Duluth News Tribune reports. It’s like a food-grade antifreeze, but there are no coils like a standard refrigerator,” said Fred Kent of Maryland, who invented the product. As with many inventions, it started with a simple idea. Kent wanted something to keep his beer cold in his shop while he worked and watched Ravens games. Coming soon: A breathalyzer key switch for the power saw. (h/t: Nate Minor)

5) Steve Brill at the New Yorker is the latest journalist to call attention to the rubber room for lousy teachers in New York City, a story that has gotten so little traction that it’s become a commentary on how easy it is to shrug our shoulders at such things.

Everyone seems to agree the system — giving teachers a room to sit in rather than go through the hassle of firing them — is irrational, but it continues:

The teachers have been in the Rubber Room for an average of about three years, doing the same thing every day–which is pretty much nothing at all. Watched over by two private security guards and two city Department of Education supervisors, they punch a time clock for the same hours that they would have kept at school–typically, eight-fifteen to three-fifteen. Like all teachers, they have the summer off. The city’s contract with their union, the United Federation of Teachers, requires that charges against them be heard by an arbitrator, and until the charges are resolved–the process is often endless–they will continue to draw their salaries and accrue pensions and other benefits.

Teachers of another stripe: Open Culture calls our attention to this YouTube video showing Helen Keller and her teacher, Annie Sullivan.

Bonus: They’re installing the new grass at Target Field today. New ballparks are also supposed to lead to reinvigorated areas around them. The blog, Ballpark Magic, provides a photo tour of the three-block area around the new Twins stadium. Minneapolis has its work cut out for it.


What would you be willing to pay higher taxes for? Some high-income Americans are urging the government to roll back tax breaks that have benefited the wealthy. They want the government to spend that money on education, health, energy and infrastructure. What would you be willing to pay higher taxes for?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: That “pay more taxes thing.”

Second hour: Homeowners are making the most of the summer with President Obama’s tax credits to upgrade everything from windows to roofs with energy efficient products. Midmorning’s home care team tackle questions about home repair and design.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: An update on the war in Afghanistan and the election there.

Second hour: Some civil rights history on the 45th anniversary of the 1964 Democratic National Convention. Here’s Robert Kennedy’s speech at the convention, which was held in Atlantic City, NJ.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Why is the nation’s top talker, President Obama having so much trouble?

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Green jobs could be on the way to the Leech Lake Indian reservation. Leaders there want to start manufacturing solar furnaces. MPR’s Tom Robertson will report.

NPR’s Ari Shapiro will look at a Department of Justice report on the ethics of a former official who wrote memos on terrorism. David Greene revisits some of the people he met during a nationwide tour documenting people’s lives 100 days after the inauguration of President Obama. And Brenda Wilson has the story on the difficulty faced by people who have adopted children from China and Ethiopia.

  • Al

    For a well told story on the NYC rubber room check out the archives of ‘This American Life’.

  • Nate

    I’d second Al’s recommendation. That was a powerful episode.

  • Kim V

    “I am not dumb now.”

    You tell ’em, Helen. What an inspiration, Helen and Anne both!

  • Duke Powell

    Thanks, Bob. Jessica is my all time favorite rock song.