War? What war? (Five by 8 – 9/30/10)


The big election is about five weeks away. It’s time to move on. The latest release of the MPR/Humphrey Institute poll has Barack Obama “vulnerable” in Minnesota in the 2012 election if he’s opposed by Tim Pawlenty (who seems to be doing OK in the cash department) or Mitt Romney. Maybe. Wake me in late 2011. The Los Angeles Times says Romney and Pawlenty both have a major problem: They don’t work for Fox News.

Following up on the Politico story, liberal media watchdog Media Matters counted the number of times the potential candidates appeared on Fox for more than a passing moment since the start of this year. Former Arkansas governor Huckabee, who has a weekend program on Fox, led the way with 96 appearances. Next came one-time Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (52) , former House Speaker Gingrich (48), Palin (37) and former U.N. ambassador John Bolton (36).

Through mid-September, those outside the Fox stable were central to far fewer segments. Pawlenty appeared 14 times and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, another presidential aspirant, just nine times.

The MPR poll says, shockingly, that the economy is the #1 issue for voters.


“Issues that used to be pretty prominent in debates here including immigration, gay marriage and abortion have almost completely fallen off the agenda,” the poll’s director said.

If you didn’t notice an issue missing from that list, then you’re the person Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was talking about yesterday in a speech at Duke.

“For most Americans the wars remain an abstraction — a distant and unpleasant series of news items that do not affect them personally.”

Expert stat freak Nate Silver begins a series explaining why he’s leaving pollsters in the dust. He’s actually forecasting winners, and he’s defending it as easier than trusting your gut, or depending on the media, which — he claims — interjects too much uncertainty into political stories in order to achieve editorial balance:

I’m tempted to paraphrase Charles Barkley: Any knucklehead can calculate an average, but it takes brains to calculate a confidence interval. But that’s not really right: it doesn’t take any special kind of intelligence to calculate a confidence interval. It just takes data, and a willingness to trust it.

“Confidence interval?” Charles Barkley is smarter than I thought.


Somewhere around here, there’s a cassette tape with our wedding vows on it. I don’t have a cassette player anymore. And what am I supposed to do with these videocassettes? Even digital recordings of our history on 9/11 are disappearing, the AP reports today. A study from the Library of Congress says many historical recordings are already gone. Radio shows from the ’20s and ’30s? Gone forever. Digital recordings aren’t the answer. They last for only about five years. In particular danger, the report says, are family oral histories. Two other problems are highlighted: Technology is changing too fast so recordings are outdated quickly, and anti-piracy laws make it difficult to make recordings of items which may be of historical value.

In other news: Hundreds of recordings from the ’30s swing era have been discovered.

More tech: NPR’s All Tech Considered takes on Malcolm Gladwell’s assertion that social networking doesn’t change the fundamentals of revolution:

Of course Facebook is not the enemy of the status quo. Neither is the landline telephone I have in my house. People, not technologies, are enemies of the status quo. Though enabling those people to communicate more effectively is probably not going to win a lot of fans among repressive regime stakeholders.


Tony Curtis died overnight. Here’s 10 things you probably didn’t know about him.


In Duluth, a pregnant woman with cancer was disappointed after the Extreme Home Makeover TV show led her to believe it would build her family a home, only to choose someone else. No matter. It’s the Twin Ports.


A guy and his son in New York state figured out how to launch a balloon into space, videotape images, return it to earth, and send GPS data to a phone so it can be recovered.

Homemade Spacecraft from Luke Geissbuhler on Vimeo.

(h/t: Bob Ingrassia)

Bonus: Mike Link and Kate Crowley, who recently completed their hike around Lake Superior, are uploading videos of their trek. Here’s one they just posted:


A new drug can add four months to the lives of men suffering from incurable prostate cancer, but it costs $93,000. Would you pay $93,000 for four months of life?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: What can be done to solve America’s dropout crisis?

Second hour: The down side of early business success.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: MPR’s chief economics correspondent Chris Farrell on the latest economic news.

Second hour: Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, speaking at the Commonwealth Club of California

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Pandemics and super bugs.

Second hour: Gender politics in the locker room.