Whack-a-flood (5×8 – 4/11/11)

Whack-a-flood, a cost-benefit analysis of religion, life on a string, the final haircut, and saving the world with video games.

The Monday Morning Rouser:


Defeat a flood in one location and it’ll pop up somewhere else.

When I was driving around the rural parts of North Dakota and Minnesota south of Fargo on Saturday (video here), I had this revelation: “There’s no river here.” And yet, check out this video from the Fargo Forum, taken north of the cities, along I-29.

Untitled from chris dorsey on Vimeo.

In many cases, the rivers are several miles away (in some cases, too, they’re not), but the snow-bloated farm fields can’t drain into the river and, as the rivers rise, the water backs up until you’re left with overland flooding from tributaries (mere ditches, in many cases).

The flood fight in the region is shifting to the rural areas now. The focus on Fargo Moorhead’s successful flood preparations masked the reality that outside of the cities, small communities were heading for big trouble.

Meanwhile, a new “reporters standing in water” watch has been posted for the entire region.


On ABC’s Good Morning America today, a reporter got a ride with a homeowner on an ATV through the water of a flooded street. “The water’s pretty high here!” she exclaimed. Yes, ma’am, it is. Floods are funny like that.


What makes people religious? The threat of dying, a new study says. LiveScience.com reports on an economic study of religion which found that people’s religious attendance and likelihood of describing themselves as “religious” went down as life expectancy went up. Ten extra years of life expectancy correlated to an 8.4 percent drop in people’s likelihood to call themselves religious, the study said.

“We show that higher life expectancy discounts [the] expected benefits in the afterlife and is therefore likely to lead to postponement of religiosity,” study researcher Elissaios Papyrakis at the University of East Anglia said in a statement. In other words, young people who expect to live a long time put off worrying about what will happen to them after they die. Thus, they don’t feel the need to visit a church, mosque or temple until they get older and closer to death. (Another recent study found that being close to death increases belief in intelligent design.)


What’s not to love about John Brewer’s Pioneer Press story about the Roseville String Ensemble? It had everything : Great music and a lovable 92-year-old.


Lawrence Tolliver II, a barber by trade, wasn’t sure he could do it at first. But now he thinks he’s ready. The tools are in his backpack, and he is preparing to travel to a funeral home to cut the hair of his deceased son (LA Times).


“If we want to solve problems like hunger, poverty, climate change, global conflict, obesity,” she said, “I believe that we need to aspire to play games online for at least 21 billion hours a week by the end of the next decade,” Jane McGonigal says.

It’s not the games your kids might be playing, though. Take her “World Without Oil” game, for example:

Bonus: Take me out to the war zone…

Here’s the story behind the video.


Although the overall employment picture is improving, the job market remains tight for young people. High school students especially are having a hard time finding summer jobs. What was your first job?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: The government shutdown debate: now what?

Second hour: Why many people love the ’80s.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: House GOP Speaker Kurt Zellers and House DFL Minority Leader Paul Thissen discuss the state budget and major legislation this year.

Second hour: David Rubenstein, speaking at the Aspen Ideas Festival about the Emancipation Proclamation. Tuesday is the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War.

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

Second hour: Children, tradition, and love in interfaith families.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – A small town just north of Fargo-Moorhead is dealing with flooding without the volunteers and support the larger cities get. MPR’s Tom Robertson will report from Georgetown. (I wrote about this town here)

Twin Cities real estate numbers are out today. MPR’s Annie Baxter will have them.

The job market for new college graduates is going to be tough this spring, as it has been for the last two years, MPR’s Tim Post will report. But some say there’s a glimmer of hope on the horizon for young job seekers.

  • Jim Shapiro


    Interesting stuff. I always think it’s important to distinguish between religion and spirituality.

    Religion ( generally) is about control. It is about rules, order and fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of being alone. Fear of being punished. Fear of death. Fear of having to make decisions in life. Fear of the other. Fear of oneself.

    Religion is about sitting in a building where you have to be quite except at the appropriate, preordained times, and old guys with white beards in the sky.

    Spirituality, on the other hand, is the recognition that there is something greater than ourselves ( perhaps contained within ourselves), and a sense of joy that comes when encountering it. It is a personal relationship with the divine wherever ( optimally, in all things) and whenever ( optimally, always) it is found. Spirituality can and often does contain ritual, but it is a ritual that one finds to be useful as opposed to simply rote.

    Yes, primarily religious people can be spiritual, but primarily spiritual people are seldom religious, because religion is too restricting.

    Religion is about converting – or killing – the unbeliever for the glory of our guy, while spirituality is about recognizing that we’re all one, and that the important thing is to love and forgive ourselves and others – difficult as that may be at times.

    But what the hell do I know.

  • Ben Chorn

    My first job? I worked as a Kennel Attendant at the Brighton Veterinary hospital… it spawned my hatred of cats (especially feral) and made me realize how much puppies hate you. Had to do bloody laundry from surgery and clean all the throw-up and poop off the walls of kennels (especially puppies who have a tendency to dance in it). However I still enjoyed it and my favorite was when dogs who were in boarding had their owners pay extra to have 15 minute play times. Being paid to play with a dog for 15 minutes? Awesome.

  • kennedy

    A church/synagogue/mosque can form a softball team. No matter how devout their sprituality, an individual cannot.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Dear Kennedy – Touche’. Fast pitch or slow pitch? Co-ed? Is beer allowed during the game, or only afterwards? 🙂