Five at 8 – 8/31/09: Is it safe to answer the phone now?

Ah, sweet Monday! I was leaning toward bluegrass for a Monday Morning Rouser today. But then reader Kay Smith sent me a better idea:

And, remember! Always floss

Now, then…

1) New robocall rules go into effect tomorrow. New Federal Trade Commission rules prohibit the recorded telemarketer calls — usually timed to coincide with your first bite into the rib eye — unless the telemarketer has obtained permission from consumers who say they want to receive them. If you’ve signed up to receive automated robocalls, contact me. I think we need to talk.

Purely informational robocalls — like a notice that your library book is overdue — are still OK. Of course, calls from politicians are exempt from the rule because a higher rule applies. The Rule of Politicians: Thou shalt take care of thyself.

2) What are the odds Republicans will take over the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2010? Eric Ostermeier, who writes the Smart Politics blog, calculates that the odds are longer than the DFL assembling a veto-proof majority. Tomorrow he’ll highlight the “swing districts.”

More politics. Nate Silver at considers whether it’s a really big deal that President Obama’s approval ratings have dropped markedly.

First of all, although I’m on record as being quite pessimistic about what’s liable to happen to the Democrats in 2010, odds are that Obama’s approval will have to be somewhat worse than 50 percent for the Democrats to lose the House. The relationship between Presidential approval and his party’s fate at the midterm elections is quite linear. An approval rating of 50 percent would typically be associated with a loss of about 26 seats.

3) Arthur Schack is the only man standing between people and a life on the streets. He’s a foreclosure judge in Brooklyn. “I’m a little guy in Brooklyn who doesn’t belong to their country clubs, what can I tell you?” he says, adding a shrug for punctuation. “I won’t accept their comedy of errors,” he says of the big bankers who appear before him daily.

Down in Florida, meanwhile, neighbors are trying to prevent blighted, foreclosed properties from ruining what’s left of their homes’ value.

4) There are only two minor league baseball parks in America where you can’t buy a beer. One is in Mormon territory; the other is in the very cradle of baseball– Oneonta, New York. The owner of the team was disgusted watching a drunken fan during a minor league game with his wife and three kids in the ’60s. “I saw a guy in Syracuse, he had his fly open, he had a dirty mouth – it was not good,” he said. He’s 90 now. He still owns the team. You still can’t get a brew in Oneonta.

5) Have we reached our limits in our ability to waste our time? It appears so.Have I mentioned you can follow me on Twitter?

Bonus: The State Fair by air.


Pig cam!

It comes from the Museum of Animal Perspectives on Flickr. (h/t: Gawker)

Alternative: Plane-crash cam.


Another school year is about to start, an event that transforms the lives and daily routines of students, teachers, district employees and parents. What are you looking forward to – or dreading — this school year?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: A major criticism of the U.S. health care system is that many common treatments and procedures do not work. Proponents say the increased use of evidence-based medicine will lead to fewer unnecessary procedures and lower costs, but some critics are concerned about creating what they call “cookbook medicine.”

Second hour: Ben Vereen talks about his big breaks and weathering tough times.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Three award-winning teachers give “back-to-school” advice. Elementary teacher Derek Olson, middle-school teacher Amber Damm and high-school teacher Sharon Ornelas.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – Columnist Leonard Pitts

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Joann Silberner reports on a study due out today that suggests prostate cancer is overtreated.

  • Joanna

    I’m looking forward to the “back to school” advice from the teachers. My kid is starting her sophomore year in high school. So far, so good, but time seems to be galloping by!

  • Kay

    Thanks, Bob! I love the way the two singers casually sing away with hands in their pockets.