Five at 8 -11/17/09: Our good side

First, the future of news.

Now, then:

1) It’s alive and it’s beautiful. The European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft is on a mission for a close-up exploration of a comet on the outer edges of the solar system. But not before it does one last fly by of our favorite planet as it slingshots out of our reach. This week, it’s sending back gorgeous images of our good side:


Do yourself a favor and click the image above for the original size for sighs. Find the latest images here, including an anti-cyclone over the South Pacific.

2) Locally Grown, the excellent Web site in Northfield, has a little more on yesterday’s story about the privacy violations when a teacher publicizes test scores by posting them in the classroom. Writer Griff Wigley says he was contacted by the woman who lodged the initial complaint (whom he identifies) and received permission to post her letter to officials (which he did).

3) Sometimes stereotypes happen for a reason. Ambar Espinoza’s story today about mobile homes — trailer parks — in rural Minnesota documents the two Minnesotas. In one, she reports, an owner had 20 black labs. One owner says it’s tough to make things decent in his park “because the renters won’t cooperate.” A resident in one park says the water system pumped sand for several weeks this summer.

An expert on mobile home parks blames the notion that it’s better to live in squalor than to be homeless:

“We saw post-Katrina that as a nation we are not concerned about whether or not people have access to what we think of as ‘decent housing’,” she said. “They are worried about the image of their community or the fact that it might attract lower income residents speaks to that concern, too.”

The fact that rural Minnesota is invisible to most people probably doesn’t help, either.

4) The experts at St. Cloud State are going to release a poll showing Barack Obama’s job approval ratings today. They’ll probably mirror the national poll from CBS, which were released this morning. There’s been a swing — a big swing — in how he’s handled the war in Afghanistan. But, of course, he’s taken weeks to decide what the U.S. is supposed to do in the war it’s apparently losing there, and he hasn’t yet announced what that is. The poll surveyed 1,167. There are 304 million people in the U.S.

But, of course, it’s all in the spin. An ABC poll characterizes the president’s job approval rating as “durable.” It indicates a job approval rating slightly higher than the CBS poll.

5) Skydiving without a parachute: Can it be done? Sure. The question is can you land and survive? “It is doable,” thinks physicist and parachute researcher Jean Potvin at Saint Louis University in Missouri tells New Scientist.

Living on the edge. Discussion point: What would you do if you weren’t afraid to do it?

Bonus: Must read. Daniel Cornell goes back to Vietnam to learn more about the place where his boyhood friend died.


During his current visit to Asia, President Obama has said that the United States does not fear a rising China and seeks stronger ties with the developing superpower. How can the United States and China best cooperate in world affairs?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: A new study says about half of Americans would be willing to pay for the news they get online. The Boston Consulting Group study also found that people in other countries are much more willing to pay. How to pay for content is just one of many questions that dogs the news media as some try to figure out what the future holds.

Second hour: U.S. colleges are graduating as many scientists and engineers as ever, yet employers say they are facing a shortage. Midmorning looks into the motives behind their migration into other fields like finance and what incentives are necessary to keep scientists doing the work they were trained for.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: NPR’s Mara Liasson will be Midday’s guest to talk about Sarah Palin’s new book, out today. We’ll discuss key issues, her level of support, the McCain campaign, and her future in GOP politics.

Second hour: A speech about global warming, by Lester Brown, author of “Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization.” He spoke Monday at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Where’s your next job going to come from?

Second hour: George Carlin chronicled his life in his act. Making fun of language,

people, and institutions. But when it came time to write the story of that life,

he enlisted the help of his friend Tony Hendra. The author talks about helping

to write, and complete, George Carlin’s memoir, “Last Words.”

Breaking news: “Unfriend” is the word of the year. Carlin would hit that one a mile.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Somewhat related. Euan Kerr profiles Aricka Okrent’s new book. Okrent learned Esperanto and Klingon amongst other languages for her new book. We’ll hear some samples

Environmental groups are challenging the rosy record of Wisconsin’s Flambeau mine, held by some as example of successful precious metal mining. MPR’s Bob Kelleher will have the story this afternoon.

Sarah Varney reports on why some states are doing better at distributing flu vaccine than others. And MPR’s Lorna Benson assesses how Minnesota is doing.