Five at 8 – 9/30/09: A nation of heroes?

1) Warning! Geekology ahead. Researchers have determined that a ‘time telescope’ could dramatically speed up the Web. In the future, the letter from the deposed Nigerian dictator could reach you even before there’s been a coup.

2) Spending any amount of time with the news these days will convince you we’re just not the people we were. But maybe we are. The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission has just released its latest list of honorees. Roll your mouse over any of the names and click.

Take this randomly selected honoree:

Bruce A. Baxter rescued Mary E. Newman from burning, Petaluma, California, December 22, 2008. Newman, 87, was in the living room of her doublewide mobile home after an accidental fire broke out in that room. Her next-door neighbor, Baxter, 58, accountant, was alerted to the fire by the structure’s smoke alarm. He responded to the scene, gained entry through the front door, and saw Newman, whose attire was aflame, sitting on a couch in the far end of the living room. He crossed the smoky room to her, lifted her from the couch, and patted out the flames on her attire. Grasping her, Baxter ushered her to the front door and outside to safety as flames spread quickly to engulf that end of the mobile home, destroying it. Newman was hospitalized for treatment of severe burns and died of her injuries two months later.

What’s this “we” stuff? Tom Friedman writes in his column today:

Our leaders, even the president, can no longer utter the word “we” with a straight face. There is no more “we” in American politics at a time when “we” have these huge problems — the deficit, the recession, health care, climate change and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — that “we” can only manage, let alone fix, if there is a collective “we” at work.

Maybe we just need a day — or a week or a year — without politics, which is the new Hollywood. Maybe we should have a day — or a week or a year — when we call in radio talk shows and talk about people who die trying to save people from their burning mobile homes instead.

3) The Internet is stepping up — again — in providing first-person coverage of the tsunami in American Samoa.

More video here. Here’s a blog written by a Peace Corps volunteer.

4) You’ve probably seen this video by now. Hugh Jackman rips an audience member whose cellphone goes off in the middle of his performance.

I think it’s fake, perhaps a stunt to drum up publicity for a play. The phone rings several times. Wouldn’t most people shut it off after one or two rings? And how is it someone is videotaping the play at the moment of the incident? Plus, there were better ways to press the point, the Guardian says. Whatever. It worked.

Discussion point: What’s the most thoughtless abuse of cellphones you’ve encountered?

Today’s Question: When is texting appropriate?

Meanwhile, support seems to be building for a nationwide ban of ‘texting’ while driving. A two-day “summit” begins today in Washington. Question: If you ban “texting” while driving, aren’t you also banning dialing while driving? Isn’t it the same thing, you push buttons on your phone. Why not just ban cellphones altogether?

5) 101 historical moments you can re-live on YouTube. I have to admit, though, I’ve never considered “The O’Reilly Factor” a historical moment. Hysterical, perhaps. Not historical.


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Minnesota is one of several states vetting a new set of English and math standards all students should master before graduating high school. Advocates hope this is the first step toward national education standards, an idea critics say is bound to fail.

Second hour: To what extent can scientists challenge prevailing assumptions, transform their fields, and ask bold questions without losing credibility? Audacity has its cost, but is it a necessary part of doing good science?

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: This week marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Carleton College international relations professor Roy Grow joins Midday to discuss the history of China, and how it’s changed over the past six decades.

Second hour: TBD

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: The Political Junkie with talk about David Patterson and Sarah Palin.

Second hour: Empathy is hard to come by when you’re in a war, and when you’re fighting the A Newsweek feature offers insight into the men behind the cause– one fighter confesses he weeps in his sleep, another describes being in the Taliban as like

wearing a “Jacket of Fire.”

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – MPR’s series on national parks and monuments continues. Today: Grand Portage. This monument site is a testament to the intersection of American Indians with voyageurs and the beginnings of the fur trade. It’s the only monument located within an Indian reservation. Bob Kelleher has the story.

Tangent-time: Most interesting tweet of the morning:


NPR’s David Schaper reports many people in Chicago would like to see the Olympics go anywhere but there. Me? I’m waiting for someone to start tracking organized crime activity to try to get some of the cash that tends to pour into Olympic cities. And what better city than Chicago?

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