A changing world and the public radio listener (5×8 – 2/22/11)

The feel-good listener considered, beauty and Lake Superior, the first woman to throw BP, Wisconsin splits at the seams, and women in combat.


As I shoveled — five times — yesterday, I kept thinking about this piece that MPR’s Chris Roberts did yesterday about rapper Sims, whose new album — err, CD — contains a blast against public radio listeners. They’re all talk when it comes to making a difference, he says:

The song may cause some public radio listeners who partake in rallies, sip Peace coffee and drive a Honda Insight to ask, “is he talking about me?” And Sims, who says he’s very liberal himself, would answer yes.

“It is directly pointed at you,” he said. “It’s directly pointed at the fact that you can’t do things to make yourself feel better, you need to do things to actually accomplish the goal that you have in mind which is helping, or changing the world, or fixing the problems.”

I thought we’d get more e-mail on the segment than we did. So it demands a broader discussion. Are people more interested in feeling good than making a difference? And how do you make a difference?



Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Behold!

It’s been a good week for sightseeing there, the News Tribune says.

Sure, the snow has been a pain in the neck this winter. But this has been the best winter ever for time-lapse photography in the Upper Midwest. Today’s entry comes from South Dakota:

Sub Zero – winter night timelapse from Randy Halverson on Vimeo.


Yesterday, a woman threw batting practice to a Major League Baseball team . That’s never happened before. “My daughter thinks she can do anything and she’s ready to tell anybody that. She just has a belief that you can really do anything. That’s the whole point. My daughter actually doesn’t play baseball, and that’s fine with me. All I’m trying to do is show that we should do and be whoever we want to be,” Justine Siegal said.


It’s seems unlikely Wisconsin is ever going to come together again unless it’s about football; it’s another state that is half red and half blue and the two will not meet … at least amiably. Here’s a quick roundup of the lines in the sand.

From Jessica Fehlen, who writes today’s MPR commentary. She’s a student studying to be a social worker:

If it passes, Gov. Scott Walker’s deficit recovery bill may make me reconsider my plans. I believe this is true for many students across the state.

Everyone knows that state employees are grossly underpaid and understaffed already, due to budget cuts. If state employees’ collective bargaining rights are taken away, I may need to work in a different field just to pay the bills.

From letter-writer Marshall Hogenson of Prior Lake in today’s Star Tribune:

These folks seem to fancy themselves the equivalent of the brave protesters in Cairo, even comparing Gov. Scott Walker to Hosni Mubarak. But there is a big difference. The Egyptians were protesting for democracy. In Madison, they are protesting against it.

Today, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports, the Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature may try to lure Democrats back to the Capitol (which would allow them to pass the bill stripping some unions of collective bargaining) by voting on a voter ID bill, which would mandate people show their ID when they vote.

Everybody’s getting tough. School officials in Madison and Milwaukee are planning disciplinary action against doctors who wrote excuse notes for protesting teachers.

Having given Republicans a good grilling yesterday morning, NPR’s Steve Inskeep turned his attention today to Wisconsin Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller.

“Who’s next?” NPR asks. Several states are preparing legislation similar to Gov. Walker’s.

And PolitiFact is out with another fact-check on a politician. Rep. Paul Ryan claimed protesters were rioting. He was wrong, PolitiFact concludes.


Is it time to lift the restrictions on women in combat? Because women are in combat, NPR’s series this week proves.

Bonus: Too soon?


An Indiana company has pulled down some billboards that make reference to mass suicide.


Economic numbers have been providing mixed and sometimes contradictory messages. In employment, housing and other areas, the news has been good and bad at the same time. Is your recession over?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: The uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt were propelled in part by large numbers of young educated who are unemployed and disaffected. And they aren’t the only countries facing that problem. From the Middle East to Asia to the U.S., economies that can’t generate enough jobs to absorb their young people are creating a lost generation that’s getting increasingly frustrated.

Second hour: For well over a decade, the media has been criticizing 20-somethings for not wanting to “grow up,” relying on their parents financially and emotionally for much longer than the age of 18. But the authors of a new book argue that cultural and economic forces have subverted the “traditional” path to adulthood, delaying the onset of adulthood for a generation of young people – and that might not be a bad thing.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: A primer on labor law and labor history.

Second hour: Joel Achenbach speaking about President George Washington.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Jaimie D’Cruz, producer of Oscar-nominated documentary “Exit Through the Gift Shop.”

Second hour: What is Groupon doing to businesses that depend on full-price customers?

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Republican legislative leaders are adamant that the state has enough money and can erase the projected $6.2 billion deficit by cutting spending. Gov. Mark Dayton disagrees and has proposed a muti-billion dollar tax increase. Surprisingly, some members of the large new Republican freshman class at the Capitol agree with Dayton, not necessarily on the income tax increase, but at least on the point that the state needs more revenue to solve its budget problems. MPR’s Tim Pugmire will have the latest.