Lessons of the fall (Five by 8 – 9/23/10)


Thanks to the overnight rain, plenty of leaves are on the ground. They’re mocking you. It is now officially fall — thank you for visiting us, sun, won’t you come again? — and few things get people to choose sides like this issue: burning leaves.

This is, of course, Minnesota. We like to burn things, and we like to sit and watch it burn. We like our lawns. We hate our leaves. The solution is simple: Burn them. But that was the old way and we’re smarter now, allegedly.

In Brainerd, for example, the City Council appears to be split on whether to ban the burning of leaves. One council member said it requires common sense: Don’t burn when the wind is blowing toward a neighbor’s house. In my community, the wind is always blowing toward some neighbor’s house.

I think my community bans burning leaves. So I rake them up, and stuff them into a large plastic yard bags (which you can’t use anymore if you use a trash hauler to remove them), with the intent to take them over to the compost site. Maybe I’ll do it next Saturday when it’s open. Or the Saturday after that.

Here’s a picture of a bag of leaves I raked up last fall. I just never got around to taking them to the compost site.


The bags are shredded, the leaves are half-composted. I think there’s some bees that live in there. After the next frost, maybe I’ll “repackage” these and take them over to the compost site. Maybe.

Or maybe I’ll burn them once the wind shifts toward the neighbors who keep burning their leaves when the wind blows toward mine.


Does any industry work harder to drive customers away than the airline business. The Deets’ Ed Kohler has noticed yet another fee — $8 to pre-assign your seat. Check Ed’s graphic. People will pay $8 in advance just to get a middle seat?


MPR’s Tom Weber lifts the cover on an issue that some people want to keep covered — suicides in area high schools. Tom reports that seven people have killed themselves in the past year in the Anoka-Hennepin district alone. Tom reports that some parents are urging changes in the district’s attitude toward gay students, though he stresses that some, but not all, of the students who took their lives were not gay. Suicide is a crisis in our midst but because it doesn’t get the attention that, for example, texting while driving gets, few people know about it unless the occasional letter comes home to parents. Some experts say mentioning it will increase the likelihood of copycat suicides. Indeed, in Tom’s story, Superintendent Dennis Carlson says the idea worries him. But one suicide prevention expert told me earlier this year that only about 1 percent of teen suicides fell into the category.

There’s some evidence, though, that the fear is warranted. Last year, a study in the UK showed suicides happen in clusters, New Scientist reported:

Numerous celebrity suicides have been linked with increased national suicide rates. After Marilyn Monroe took a sleeping pill overdose in 1962, researchers pointed to her death as a trigger for a 12 per cent rise in people in the US taking their own lives during the following month.

“As society becomes more focused on celebrities, and more celebrities are generated by programmes like Big Brother, the problem might get worse,” says Mesoudi.


The NFL Network put a microphone on Brett Favre. Find out what he talks about between interceptions here.


Gizmodo’s shooting challenge this week is collecting photographs of the same place at different times. Like the seagull invasion at the Duluth Lift Bridge.


(h/t: Derek Schille, who leads all News Cut readers on contributions. Do you feel guilty about that? Good.)


Video of Rep. Mark Buesgens’ field sobriety test. He flunked.

(h/t: City Pages)


One Minnesota legislator recently lost her home to foreclosure, while at least one other lawmaker is facing foreclosure proceedings now. How does the state of a politician’s personal finances affect your vote?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Religion and the environmental movement.

Second hour: Talking Volumes with Jonathan Franzen.Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Meteorologist Paul Douglas.

Second hour: President Obama’s speech to the United Nations.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: An assessment of Obama’s speech.

Second hour: The U.N. and the lives of women.