Five at 8 – 12/31/09: We’ll never see it coming

1) That’s it for 2009, then. And the decade, if you believe that the decade is actually over. Now it’s time for the predictions, which will mostly be wrong because the future is a funny thing; it almost never goes as you think it will. Not only do we not really know what will happen, in many cases we don’t even have a word to describe it yet.

Not that that will stop us from trying, mind you. The Independent (UK) gives it a stab today, with a glimpse at life in 2020, including “The Great Unforeseen Event of 2015,” which is never actually described.

Technology-wise, the BBC predicts this:

I am confident that at some point around 2020 we will all be distracted by early reports that the latest display technology using smart contact lenses that draw images directly onto the retina using low-powered micro-lasers are being hacked into by unscrupulous criminals.

People will hack into our retinas? I didn’t see that coming.

2) An aspiring filmmaker lost his job as an ad exec and immediately thought, ‘when life hands you lemons, make lemonade.’ A filmmaker decided to chronicle that a layoff is not the end of the world. (CBS)3) A couple of Carleton College grads are profiled in the New York Times. Erin McKittrick captures the essence of a happy marriage. “When we got together, it was more than the sum of the parts,” she said. But that’s not the story. They now live in a yurt in remote Alaska. Here’s the thing: They had to decide what they could live with and live without it. They could live without running water and a toilet. They couldn’t live without the Internet. Discussion: If you had to give up something about the way you live now, what would it be?

4) Caviar for the homeless. DNAinfo reports: “City Harvest, the group that distributes food unused by New York restaurants, received a 550-gram tin of Petrossian Paris malossol caviar, worth about $1,100, from an anonymous donor. Unsure of what to do, they called Ennes, who has a reputation for serving high-end seven-course meals to down-on-their-luck New Yorkers at his soup kitchen, Broadway Community Inc. When the delivery truck arrived, Ennes put the can in a locked refrigerator. It remained there until Tuesday, when his staff began preparing the next day’s meal. And on Wednesday, the first course of Ennes’ lunch menu was an amuse bouche of cornmeal blinis, topped with a small spoonful of those precious dark eggs.

(h/t: Nathaniel Minor)

5) I got quite a few comments about yesterday’s post about “Sully,” the abused boxer rescued by a local pilot. His foster family reports his first vet check-up yesterday went well and the poor thing is perking up.


Bonus: Obama Praise Radio, is how MIT’s Philip Greenspun describes NPR. Hyperbole, perhaps, but worth discussing. Has President Obama gotten the same scrutiny as President Bush?


At this time of year, people resolve to start exercising, or stop smoking, or take up an instrument, or do volunteer work. How well did you keep your New Year’s resolutions in 2009?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: The best books of the year.

Second hour: A new debut novel explores the connection between chronic pain and the emotional pain of loss. St. Paul writer Kate Ledger brings her experience observing and writing about doctors to her contemplation of marriage and grief.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: MPR economics correspondent Chris Farrell makes his annual predictions for the economy in 2010, and accounts for his predictions last year.

Second hour: Sports analyst Howard Sinker discusses the year in sports. We’ll also talk to football Hall of Famer Randall McDaniel.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: There are eternal questions that haunt philosophers — where did I come from, how do we know right from wrong — and is it really okay to be a circus clown when I grow up? Before you addle your brain with champagne, give it a workout. Steven Landsburg’s book of philosophic brain teasers is called, The Big Questions.

Second hour: In 1969 reporter Ellen Goodman got assigned to cover a new phenomenon: The women’s movement. Forty years later, she’s about to publish her last column. She’s the guest.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – MnDOT will release its high-speed-rail-to-Chicago report today. MPR’s Tim Nelson is monitoring.

Every New Year, the Fink family of St. Louis Park loads up the car with cross-country ski gear and heads for Duluth. These days, they make the trip minus one pair of skis. Eleven years ago, Mara Fink’s mother fell on a ski trail and was paralyzed from the neck down. Mara was in 4th grade and her sister was a second grader. So for Mara, each New Year’s Day marks another anniversary of an event that profoundly changed her family’s life. She wrote an essay for MPR that will be broadcast on the show this afternoon.

Hennepin County considered laying off probation officers for the first time this year to meet budget constraints. Corrections officials held the cuts off, but worry they’re inevitable because next year’s budget is supposed to be even tighter. In an attempt to economize, Corrections has dropped 5,000 low-level offenders off probation. Another 50 offenders who stayed at the county workhouse by night and worked off-site by day are being given ankle bracelets and sent home. MPR’s Rupa Shenoy will have the story.

New Orleans trumpeter and music ambassador Irvin Mayfield rings will ring in the New Year with a nationally broadcast performance at the Dakota. Mayfield is also the Minnesota Orchestra’s first artistic director of jazz. Dan Olson has a profile.