Could you disconnect? (Five by 8 – 9/13/10)

The Monday Morning Rouser features blues Monday:

1) Could you live a week without social media? The computers at Harrisburg University in Pennsylvania will block Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking sites starting this week. It’s an experiment to teach kids — apparently — what a bad, bad thing social media; that the friendships one makes online aren’t real friendships; not at all like the ones you can make by going to a bar, for example.

The silly notion — it seems to me — is that the issue is discussed as though online friendships and offline relationships are mutually exclusive. Maybe it’s time for the older professors to hand this issue off to someone who knows they’re not.

Writing in the Boston Globe, Phil Premack takes note of another, much more distressing sociological change — the empty playground and kids who don’t experience nature. And you can’t blame this on computer games or social networks.

According to a study this year by the Outdoor Foundation, participation in outdoor activities among youth aged 6 to 17 dropped more than 11 percent between 2006 and 2007. If kids are outside at all, it’s mostly for sports or other organized events. “Children now spend more time in vehicles being transported from one indoor activity to another than outside in nature,” said a study cited in the May issue of Current Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Health Care. Returning kids to nature isn’t just about nostalgia. It’s about resetting the overall health of a generation. “An increase in sedentary indoor lifestyles has contributed to childhood chronic conditions, such as childhood obesity, asthma, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and vitamin D deficiency,” researchers wrote in Current Problems.

Premack says we keep our kids caged.

Related: What does your Facebook profile image say about you? A study out today includes this nugget: Men are much more likely to retouch their photo than women.

2) If there’s a better gig than being a big shot at the University of Minnesota, what is it? The Duluth News Tribune reports University of Minnesota president Kathryn A. Martin retired in July, she’ll still end up being the third-highest paid employee on campus. She’ll make $186,000 for “select administrative assignments for the university that draw on her expertise and experience.”

It’s still less than the $1 million a year U of M football coach Tim Brewster makes.

3) I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that most Minnesotans will go to the polls in November and vote for judicial candidates without having a clue who they’re voting for. Judicial elections don’t get any publicity and for years Minnesota rules didn’t allow judicial candidates to actually talk about issues that might come before them.

But those rules changed when Republicans challenged them on First Amendment grounds. Now, judicial candidates can tell you what their political philosophy is. Here’s one Web site of a candidate in Washington County, for example, who makes no secret of the fact he’s conservative on the issues.

Here’s a good resource to start learning something about the people who want to run the courts — Judgepedia.

4) Would you travel to Duluth just to see some manhole covers?

5) Nice story from KARE 11 — the Men of Mow Night.

I guess we know why they’re not the Men of Tree Pruning Night..


Each Monday now through the election, we’ll pose a question on an issue that’s pertinent to the race for Minnesota governor. Today’s Question: Does Minnesota need to change its approach to environmental protection?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: A recent report card from the American Society of Civil Engineers gives the United States a cumulative grade of D in infrastructure. Will President Obama’s plan for $50 billion to repair the nation’s roads, rails, and runways be enough for significant improvement?

Second hour: A long-standing fascination with Utopian thought led writer J.C. Hallman on a journey to six modern Utopian projects. In the process, he found in these communities a desire to make things better that he believes is missing in much of modern-day America.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Roy Grow of Carleton College discusses the cultural, economic and political situation in China and Japan, as Gov. Pawlenty conducts his trade mission there.

Second hour: Gubernatorial candidates debate on education funding and policies (recorded on Friday).

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: TBA

Second hour: Duels, slavery, book binding. All once considered honorable, but no more. Kwame Anthony Appiah explains how our morals have evolved and discusses his

new book, The Honor Code.

  • Other than the cited example, do you think we’ll see much of an immediate change in the way judicial campaigns are run in the state? Or do you think that incumbants will be hesitant to suddenly take a firm stand on specific issues? Given the contention surrounding rulings like overturning California’s prop 8 and the accusations of the judge’s personal bias, doing so could open a door for anyone who disagrees with a court ruling to look at previous campaign material and make even more claims about “activist judges” with established personal bias.

  • boB from WA

    //Social Media: This past August when I went on vacation, I chose to stay away from my FB page, to see if I really could do it. I tell you , it was hard. It’s not so much my wanting to post, but rather see what others have posted, to stay connected with those far away, that I care about. It has taught me that I do not need to check in every 2 hours and that I can go a whole day w/out missing too much.

  • Noelle

    Re: Social media

    This article came almost one week after I pledged to go one month without Facebook. What I found interesting was that one of the things I most wanted to “cheat” with was sharing articles of interest, but overall it’s been easier to abstain than I thought. ‘

    I wanted to devote that extra time to read more….and be more productive at work. I don’t think it’s helped to enrich my “real life” relationships, since we still like to get together the old fashioned way.

  • Suzanne

    Re: Judges accepting partisan endorsements. Hi Bob, Thank you for covering the race in the 10th judicial district. Although current law allows judicial candidates to seek and accept endorsements, such activity goes against the Minnesota State Bar Association’s judicial tenets. The MSBA sent a letter and a copy of an oath to neither seek or accept partisan endorsements. Bridgid Dowdal has signed this oath, as I’m sure have many other candidates.

    I hope that you will continue to cover this race. By the way, I met you at the State Fair and really enjoyed talking to you. (We discussed the fact that you met Radar from M.A.S.H. at a McDonald’s while you were traveling.)

    Keep up the great writing!

  • bsimon

    Online friends can become offline friends. This summer I met a bunch of folks for the first time with whom I’ve been communicating online for several years. What was most interesting was not just putting a face with a name, but a voice.

    The mower nite story was pretty good – almost making us wish to live in the suburbs where huge tracts of grass require such an effort to mow. In our little neighborhood in the city, one guy proposed a ‘barn raising’ club – the idea being to pool labor when a guy needs a hand around the house; sadly it hasn’t taken off yet.

  • Whether an application is blocked or not, self-control comes from within

    Ive been using .

    It uses a better procedure than blocking social media sites because it only monitors sites like Twitter during

    production hours. People/Employees still have the option to use it for a breather or during breaks really .

    Sometimes they use it for work too in helping reach decisions. For me its really unnecessary to block Twitter.