Five at 8 – 2/23/10: The new 60

1) Political talk. Is 56 the new 60? For all the hand-wringing that losing a super majority would grind Congress to a halt (how would anybody know?), a funny thing happened yesterday. A jobs bill got passed in the Senate with the help of moderate Republicans.’s Nate Silver says more are likely to be elected in November, but most Republicans running are conservatives, he notes. But yesterday’s vote re-establishes that northeast Republicans, for example, don’t generally play by the same rules as the rest of the caucus.Meanwhile, likely presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty has painted Gov. Tim Pawlenty into a corner. As a presidential candidate, Pawlenty is against extending the federal stimulus. But as a governor, Pawlenty is for the federal stimulus, at least enough to use the cash in the budget proposal that he submitted just last week?

Pawlenty’s dilemma reveals the difficulty in having two jobs at once as these two paragraphs from Tom Scheck’s story show:

In the past, Pawlenty defended his position on accepting stimulus money by arguing Minnesota gives more in tax money to the federal government than it gets back. He also said the stimulus funds would have been better spent if they were geared towards cutting payroll taxes and taxes paid by small businesses.

But state economist Tom Stinson noted the federal stimulus included $231 billion in tax cuts. That includes a $400 credit for low and middle income workers, a $250 one-time payment to Social Security recipients and disabled veterans, and a break for businesses that purchase capital equipment.

This is the sort of thing that keeps Jon Stewart in business, comparing the words of politicians with the words from the same politicians.

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2) How to get your kid into college: Get him/her on YouTube. The New York Times says student applications are increasingly including produced YouTube videos, like this:

Once you get to college, what do you have to do to get out? A relic of post World War II is still in force at some of the premier institutions, the Boston Globe reports. You have to prove you can swim.

Also on the competition front, today is the first day of the February Bar Exam.

3) George Clooney is up for an Oscar for his latest film role in which he plays a man who fires people for a living. But what’s it really like to sack people? The BBC profiles those who spend their days ruining others’.

4) Science! What’s in household dust? You don’t want to know.

More science: Some of the world’s greatest cities may be the next Port Au Prince.

5) Spotted outside a grocery store in Woodbury yesterday (by Mrs. News Cut). It begs for a caption contest, doesn’t it?


More dogs: What is it about the Law and Order theme that’s freaking out dogs?

Bonus: Embracing winter. An aerial tour of St. Paul and environs. Hat Tip to Pete Howell. He’s the guy I’ve written about several times who uses his airplane to rescue dogs around the country.


Severe cold cracks pavements. Moisture seeps in and expands when it freezes. The ice displaces pavement, more moisture seeps in, the cycle repeats and a pothole is born. Do the potholes seem worse than usual this year?

(Another question: Is this machine the solution?)


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Reading a favorite book a second, or third time can be like seeing an old friend. It can also spark new insights and emotions, or a new appreciation for the beauty of the language. Midmorning looks at the pleasures of rereading.

Second hour: Think you know where words come from? A special challenge edition of Midmorning with word origins scholar Anatoly Liberman.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – Both hours: MPR chief economics correspondent Chris Farrell answers listener questions about the economy and personal finance! He’s out with a new book, “The New Frugality.”

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: After September 11th, John Yoo wrote some of the most controversial legal documents in recent history — the so-called “torture memos.” He’s Neal Conan’s guest.

Second hour: Some college campuses now have threat assessment programs, to spot potentially dangerous people, before they act. Can you predict violent behavior?

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Northstar commuter rail ridership numbers for last month exceeded projections. Ridership numbers increased on snowy days, confirming that people are using rail as a bad-weather alternative. MPR’s Ambar Espinoza will have the story.

NPR will report on how climate change science has been rattled recently, how figure skating music is selected at the Olympics, and the grilling Toyota will get on Capitol Hill.