Five by 8 – 5/24/10: High points

The Monday Morning Rouser. It’s Bob Dylan’s birthday.

1) When I was 15, Janet Lynn was winning Olympics medals. She was 16. And what had I accomplished? A couple of prize-winning chickens at a 4-H fair. Big deal. So, 13-year-olds, I feel your pain of inadequacy today. Jordan Romero, 13, became the youngest person to reach the top of Mt. Everest over the weekend. “I’m doing this to inspire other kids, hopefully across the world, to get outdoors and to set goals in life. I’m doing this to set an example for them,” he said. What do you do with the rest of your life once you’ve climbed Mt. Everest at 13? Clean your room?2) A tale of two communities and how residents are — or aren’t — adding glue to what keeps us together. In Rochester, residents of the Slatterly Park neighborhood got together to repaint murals. And, the Post Bulletin reports, people from other neighborhoods showed up to help. “Every time they drive by, they can see that they had an impact in improving and beautifying their community,” an organizer said.

In Duluth, meanwhile, they’re battering “problem properties.” The Duluth News Tribune’s investigation found that “despite repeated inspections and orders that landlords clean up their properties, many of the worst properties remain decrepit eyesores.” Some of the worst slumlords get “hefty’ federal subsidies, it said.

Some people paint murals. Some make slums.

3) Let’s play. An interactive developer in Estonia has developed this Google map, which shows the most touristy areas in the world. You’ll have to click here to play with it. The yellow/red show the most interesting areas.


Let the record show that North Dakota, Nebraska and South Dakota (except for Mt. Rushmore) are not interesting. I shall further alienate my Nebraska friends by pointing out that border signs that say “Welcome to Nebraska, birthplace of Arbor Day” aren’t likely change your tourism luck. I’ve got no suggestions for you, North Dakota.

4) Climate change skeptics had a get-together in Chicago and the BBC’s environmental analyst found science and data often took second place to politics and theology:

In a bravura performance he had the audience roaring at his mocking impersonation of “railway engineer Rajendra Pachauri – the Casey Jones of climate change”; hissing with pantomime fury at the “scandal” of Climategate, then emotionally applauding the American troops who have given their lives for the freedom that their political masters are surrendering to the global socialist tyranny of global warming.

His closing words were delivered in a weeping whisper, a soft prayer of praise to the American constitution and individual liberty.

As the ecstatic crowd filtered out I pointed one delegate to a copy of the Wall Street Journal on the table. A front page paragraph noted that April had been the warmest on record.

“So what?” he shrugged. “So what?”

Why don’t ice ages last forever? New Scientist explores the question today, featuring a University of Minnesota scientist.

5) Milton Bradley, now of the Seattle Mariners, has been well-known over the years for “erratic” behavior. He’s been easy to ridicule. That all changed a few weeks ago when he finally sought help and now he’s sharing his story of thoughts of suicide in the Seattle Times:

Now, obviously that’s an attention-getter right there. It’s what folks will be talking about in the street tomorrow. But it’s only part of what Bradley wanted to convey. This doesn’t mean he was about to end his life. What it does mean is that Bradley, as a man who does an awful lot of thinking and put quite a bit of thought into the answers he gave me this morning, began pondering the merits of suicide. He told his wife that he could understand why people chose to end their lives. Not that he was about to rush out and do it himself. But that he could sympathize with their feelings. And that’s not a good thing. To be so unhappy that suicide begins to look like a reasonable alternative.

In the past, no sane person rooted for Milton Bradley. Suddenly, no sane person can root against him.

Bonus: As we’re in to poll season,’s Nate Silver’s confronts the 800-pound gorilla in the room. Everyone’s got a cellphone. Many don’t have landlines, and political pollsters can’t — or won’t — call cellphones. What’s the impact on a poll’s accuracy?

Cellphone-only households are different from their landline-using counterparts. They tend to be younger, poorer, more urban, less white, and more Internet-savvy. All of these characteristics are correlated with political viewpoints and voting behavior…

I certainly wouldn’t go out and append 6 points to the Democrats’ generic ballot number. For one thing, some pollsters do include cellphones in their sample. For another, the results from Pew reflect just one study/experiment, one which itself is subject to sample bias. Also, Pew’s study finds that cellphone-only adults are less likely to vote, so the differential is probably less in the case of likely voters.


Genetic scientists say they have taken a big step toward the creation of synthetic life. What concerns does the prospect of synthetic life raise for you?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Are too many attending college, when they don’t need to? Students that don’t excel in high school academically still feel the pressure to pursue four year degrees. Some who study higher education question why that degree should mean more than a career certificate or an apprenticeship. Others say a BA is the only sure way to higher earning power.

Second hour: Author Monica Ali is considered one of the best young novelists in Britain. Her latest novel, “In the Kitchen,” is about the efforts of a chef to succeed in a once grand restaurant, despite huge pressures at home and a murder. Last week, she talked with Kerri Miller in the Talking Volumes finale.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Former 9-11 Commission senior staffer Michael Hurley discusses the upheaval in the intelligence staff and recent intelligence failures

Second hour: A new documentary from the America Abroad series: “Iraq: The Next Act.”

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: The battle over ethnic studies. A month after its strict new immigration law, Arizona’s legislature and governor approved another controversial measure… high schools that promote the study of one ethnic group — Mexican American history, or African American literature — risk losing 10 percent of state financing.

Second hour: Blair Coward is a senior at American University, and she has been to a lot of job fairs with very little result. She’s terrified. And she’s not alone. The job market, for most grads in most areas is absymal. Neal Conan discusses the great graduate job search.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – State transportation officials say they will increase the amount of money they spend to hire more minorities and women. The announcement by the Minnesota Department of Transportation comes after five years of talks with ISAIAH, a coalition of religious groups that proposed the change. At the same time MnDoT says it is increasing its efforts to expand the business it does with women and minority owned companies. MPR’s Dan Olson will have the story.

MPR’s Annie Baxter reports the outlook for workers has dimmed. The U.S. economy is likely to grow slower than in previous recoveries. And Minnesota’s jobless rate is likely to remain high by historic standards for years to come. But within a decade the retiring baby boom will bring down the jobless rate, and may lead to a shortage of workers that crimps the economy.

NPR profiles sparsity? To enlarge a picture, sometimes you don’t need the original– just parts of it. That’s the idea behind a mathematical theory called “sparsity.” It’s being explored as a way to do more with less — paving the way for quicker M.R.I. scans and other high-tech applications.

  • Let the record show that North Dakota, Nebraska and South Dakota (except for Mt. Rushmore) are not interesting.

    The Badlands in both Dakotas are where we mostly disagree on that, Bob. (and the map link confirms it).

    Mt. Rushmore is neat, the Black Hills around it are also great to visit–one national park, one national monument and a great scenic drive.

  • Emily N

    I totally agree Bob. Nebraska is lame. That’s why its called a fly over state. I’ve lived here (NE) for 3 years and I cherish every time I cross the border. Nice people and of course, good beef steaks.

  • kennedy

    I may use the “touristy” indicator different than most. Valuing solitude on a vacation, I would shun the orange areas.

    Give me a tent in the woods with no one else around.

  • Ken Paulman

    I don’t think anyone outside the state tourism board has ever made the claim that Nebraska is interesting. It’s just not as boring as people who’ve never ventured more than a quarter-mile from I-80 would make it out to be.