Five at 8 – 11/3/09: The power of Microsoft

1) If everybody hates Microsoft — and apparently everybody does — then how come the sale of the new Windows 7 operating system is an economic stimulant? The Boston Globe reports:

That a software launch could have such an effect reflects the sheer dominance of Windows and the vast “ecosystem” of tech companies that depend on the software giant’s fortunes. Some make Windows computer hardware; others produce software that runs alongside Windows; others sell Windows-related products, or install and maintain them. Those companies are affected when a new version of the Microsoft operating system, its core product, is a hit or a miss.

Companies will sell an extra $110 billion in goods because of the release.

Related: Why aren’t there more banner ads on Web sites like the ones Apple puts on the New York Times? Like this one yesterday:

2) It’s been a year since the election of Barack Obama and nine months since he took office and the natives are restless, the New York Times says.

“I’m afraid I wasn’t realistic,” Ms. Pauline McAreavy, 76, a retired school nurse, said on a recent morning on the deck of her home here in east-central Iowa. “I really thought there would be immediate change,” she said. “Sometimes the Republicans are just as bad as Democrats. But it’s politics as usual, and that’s what I voted against.”

“All my Republican friends — and independents — are sitting back saying, ‘Oh, what did we do?” Ms. McAreavy said. “I’m not to that point yet, but a lot of people are.”

The article’s theme is people wanted change and didn’t get it, but it makes no mention of exactly what change. The story focuses on Republicans and Independents and suggests that if they had to do it over again, they’d vote for McCain. Be sure to watch the video.

The question: Were people unrealistic in their expectations? Or were they let down?

Here are three races in the country to watch today which could signal whether there’s a significant political shift going on.

3) Tip: When you raise your hand to be sworn in in a courtroom, raise all of your fingers.

4) Tell the truth. You didn’t expect to wake up today and be smitten by the mating habits of the spatuletail hummingbird, did you? Ain’t life grand?

In other news, sales of Viagra are down, but sales of testosterone products already on the market have rocketed 25% in the 12 months ending in June, to just under $1 billion, BusinessWeek reports.

5) One of the newspapers out west — I think it was the Sioux Falls Argus Leader — once had catchy headlines for obituaries, worth cutting out. One, for example, announced a woman’s death and then declared, “purple was her favorite color.” Another said, “enjoyed her fax machine.” It was a daily lesson in introspection, requiring us to ask what one sentence would we want to sum up our lives.

I ask this today as we mourn the death of 87-year-old Robert Rines, seeker of the Loch Ness Monster.

Bonus: What’s with the rash of I-lost/found-a-wedding-ring-on-Halloween stories? Some kids in Blaine say they found one. A guy in Vancouver says he lost his, as did a woman in Ohio.

A Day in the Life:: Have a better day than this person:


Author Tim Flannery, a guest today on “Midmorning,” argues that the fate of the planet depends on our developing a sense of responsibility about climate change. Are you doing anything in your daily life to fight global warming?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Scientist Tim Flannery talks about what new data says about the warming climate. He maintains there are practical ways to address climate change, despite the huge problem he sees looming. He talked with Kerri Miller before an audience at the UBS Forum at Minnesota Public Radio on October 19.

Second hour: A journalist tracks the mind and motivation of a notorious book thief who regularly eludes capture, one of many thieves making rare books the art form most sought after by criminals.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Minnesota native Bruce Laingen, who was U.S. Charge d’Affaires during the Iranian revolution. On Nov 4, 1979 he was taken hostage with 51 other US embassy employees and held for 444 days.

Second hour: An MPR documentary by Mark Zdechlik about our most recent U.S. Senate election.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: President Richard Nixon labeled illegal drugs, “public enemy number one,” and declared war. In October, President Obama changed the federal government’s unrelenting stance, to let state laws cover medical marijuana. White House drug czar Gil Kerlikowske talks about the next phase of the debate on drugs.

Second hour: Carole King’s “Tapestry” became one of the biggest selling

albums of all time. Today, the singer/songwriter is turning toward environmental


All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Pharmacists at the University of Minnesota are ‘compounding’ anti-viral drugs, mainly for use in kids. This is an attempt to get more Tamiflu out among the sick kids. MPR’s Lorna Benson will have that story.

We’ll hear from voters in Minneapolis, who are using instant run-off voting for the first time, and from voters in St. Paul who are deciding if they want to bring IRV to that city.

Tom Robertson has the second installment in our series on stress-testing the economic recovery. In Bemidji, it’s a tale of two economies. The housing bust has hobbled the wood products industry, and factories in other industries have laid off hundreds in the area as well. The region’s economy continues to struggle even as a nearby pipeline construction project fills hotel rooms and restaurants and brings in big spending construction workers to the region.

The small town of Williams, just south of Lake of the Woods recently built a new wastewater treatment plant, but after just six years, the tank is crumbling and may be at imminent risk of failure. If that happens, 60,000 gallons of raw sewage a day runs into Lake of the Woods. MPR’s Dan Gunderson will have that story.

  • bob

    Re: Obama expectations, I’d describe myself as an Obama voter who was hopeful, but realistic. So, I haven’t been let down — but I am disappointed.

    What’s disappointed me are:

    Obama’s commitment to get us deeper into Afghanistan.

    His toadying to Republicans on stimulus and healthcare legislation. I’m with Paul Krugman and Robert Reich, who both say the stimulus should have been much larger. And universal health care should be the centerpiece of healthcare reform, not just a “nice thing” to have.

    His approach to the “Too big to fail” question.

    His dithering on ending “Dont ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

    His continuing of most of Bush’s terrorism policies, with their attendant anti-civil liberties/human rights aspects.

    His anemic approaches to Wall Street excesses and mortgage lending reform.

    The lack of diversity in his inner circle. (It sounds more like “Frat House” than White House.)

    That’s not to say he hasn’t done some good things, but the flavor of his administration so far is a lot closer to “business as usual” than it is to “change.”