Five at 8 – 9/22/09: Pondering change

Several of the items today have to do with dreaming the impossible. How things happen for the better.

1) I start writing 5@8 each morning around 5:30. It’s too early for the feeling that maybe my life’s scholarly accomplishments have fallen short. But what do you expect from reading the biographies of the 25 people who today have been awarded “genius scholarships” from the John D. and Catherine T. McArthur Foundation. None is from Minnesota but there is one from Iowa; he’s a professor who’s an expert in the art of hand papermaking.

There’s also the woman whose work challenges the notion that falls are are inevitable consequence of getting old, research that perhaps means little to you if you don’t have a parent who’s fallen.

The woman who did this also got a genius scholarship.

2) A brewing ethical dilemma? A Maryland company has received FDA permission to test its spinal cord stem cells in 12 patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — Lou Gehrig’s disease, the Nature blog “The Great Beyond” reports today. That’s intriguing enough; a step, perhaps on the cure for this disease.

But it’s the last part of the post that raises the questions:

As with human embryonic stem cells, the patent situation for neural stem cells is contentious. In a pair of dueling press releases this May, NeuralStem and Stem Cells Inc both claimed key intellectual property on these cells.

What if the tests led to tremendous success, maybe even a cure for a horrible disease, but it was held up in a court fight over what company owns the intellectual rights to the cure?

More Tuesday ponderables: Would we have a different view of rats if it turned out they were the key to curing cancer?

3) The digital divide? It’s being bridged.

4) In Maine a deliveryman for a furniture store noticed the new guy looked familiar. He turned out to be his long-lost brother. It’s a good reminder of how changes in the law have a real impact on Main Street. Maine changed its law in January that now allows people who are adopted to get their birth certificate.

Oh, after the brothers found each other, they found a lost sister.

You don’t have to go to Maine to find stories like this. Try Minneapolis. Two kids — one from Minneapolis — grew up believing they were only children. They weren’t.


5) Here we go again with the balance-the-egg thing. Many people — too many people — think you can balance an egg on its end on the first day of spring and the first day of fall. Of course, it’s nonsense. You can balance an egg any time of the year if the conditions are right. But what conditions are those? The right egg, warm temperatures, and it seems to work better near cities where the baseball team is within 2 1/2 games of first place.

This will probably be the last time we’ll be able to utter these words ever. There’s a potential conflict between the Minnesota Vikings game and a possible Twins playoff game. If the Twins and Tigers end up tied, a playoff game would be at the Metrodome on the same night as the Vikings and Packers are scheduled to play.


As President Obama considers whether to send more troops to Afghanistan, the American general in charge of allied forces is warning that, without more troops, the war may end in failure. Is victory in Afghanistan worth the cost?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: What you can do to prepare for the H1N1 flu?

Second hour: Author Jim Shepard.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Dr. Jon Hallberg will be in the studio to answer questions about health care reform, H1N1 and other medical items in the news.

Second hour: Iran native Reza Aslan, speaking to the Commonwealth Club of California about his new book, “How to Win a Cosmic War: God, Globalization, and the End of the War on Terror.”

If you don’t want to wait:

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Is there room in the military for Facebook?

Second hour: Race and politics.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Brandt Williams looks at why R.T. Rybak is getting no significant opposition in his re-election bid for mayor of Minneapolis. MPR’s Elizabeth Stawicki asks what it would take for the Mayo Clinic to support proposals for health care reform.

A doctor/painter in Nordeast is engaged in his own kind of health care reform. He’s set up a practice which provides affordable care to people with no or high deductible insurance — mainly artists. MPR’s Chris Roberts has that story.

  • BJ

    If memory serves converting field from baseball to football takes about 4 hours, not sure about the other way.

    Could football/baseball be moved to am?

  • Bob Collins

    A Monday morning NFL game? The sport is run by the TV networks. They’d never stand for such a thing.

    I would think a day playoff game for baseball makes more sense; and also would be a nice throwback to when baseball was actually a decent sport — important games were played in the daytime.

  • BJ

    Since I don’t follow either sport thought it was a Sunday!

    I think I remember sitting in Jr High class listening to one of the Twins/Tigers in 1987, I think we had to listen to the end on the bus ride home.