Year of the water balloon (5×8 – 4/14/11)

A day to Thai one on, defending Dylan, the creative process explored, slave trade in the classroom, and Patton Oswalt Radio.


Happy New Year! Here’s a water balloon in the kisser. Thai New Year (April 13-15) involves the throwing of water. According to Wikipedia.

“Thais roam the streets with containers of water or water guns (sometimes mixed with mentholated talc), or post themselves at the side of roads with a garden hose and drench each other and passersby. This, however, was not always the main activity of this festival. Songkran was traditionally a time to visit and pay respects to elders, including family members, friends, neighbors, and monks.”

Duluth is into it!

The tradition also includes going back to one’s hometown to visit the elders. Here are some images from Thailand. Expand to full screen to experience all the this-is-better-than-getting-drunk-and-throwing-up goodness (sorry, iPad users, you won’t see this):


St. Paul native Jon Wiener, a history professor at the University of California Irvine, pens a vigorous defense of Bob Dylan against Maureen Dowd’s assertion that he’s a sellout because he submitted a set list for approval before his concert in China last week. Writing for The Nation, Wiener says there’s no evidence Dylan wanted to sing the more iconic protest songs of the ’60s over the objection of the rulers.

But look at what Dylan did sing in Beijing, starting with “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall”: that song describes a place “Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters/Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison/Where the executioner’s face is always well hidden.” You could call that a “protest song” if you wanted to.

He also sang “Ballad of a Thin Man”: “Something is happening here, but you don’t know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones?” I would say that carries a pretty strong political charge.

And he sang “All Along the Watchtower”: “Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth/None of them along the line know what any of it is worth.” If you were looking for critical commentary on China today, this would work.


Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, hosts of public radio’s ‘Radiolab’, joined avant-cellist Zoë Keating for a discussion on the creative process.


As the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War approached earlier this month, a teacher in Virginia separated the white students from the black and mixed-race students and then held a mock auction in which the white kids could bid on the black kids.

“The lesson could have been thought through more carefully, as to not offend her students or put them in an uncomfortable situation,” the school’s principal said.


Around the time comedian Patton Oswalt was a guest on MPR’s Wits series, he taped a segment for The Current’s Theft of the Dial. He did a pitch-perfect example of a typical public radio announcer, which is the easiest way for anyone to get mentioned on 5×8.

Bonus: A Concordia College student has won the contest to guess the crest on the Red River in Fargo Moorhead. While the experts were predicting a near-record, Paul Miller didn’t think it would be a big deal. He uses an advanced technique not available to the experts, however. “Basically, I was pulling it out of thin air,” he tells the Fargo Forum.


President Obama’s plan to cut the deficit relies in part on changes in the tax code. He also says he will refuse any further extensions of tax cuts for the wealthy. Today’s Question: What changes would you make to the tax laws?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Last-minute tax tips.

Second hour: How to develop service-minded kids.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Severe weather awareness.

Second hour: A debate from NPR’s “Intelligence Squared Series”: Should America clip its foreign policy wings? Debaters are Lawrence Korb, Peter Galbraith, Eliot Cohen & Elliot Abrams.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: What’s changed in Afghanistan?

Second hour: How Vietnam defined the lives of soldiers who fought a war there.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Lanesboro, a southern Minnesota bluff town (pop. 724) is a summer tourism destination for cyclists, fishermen and paddlers. There’s one thing missing: a grocery store. When outside grocers declined to set up shop here, residents took matters into their own hands, MPR’s Elizabeth Baier will report.

As former Gov. Tim Pawlenty travels to key GOP nomination states, national and state Democratic groups are combining efforts to debunk Pawlenty statements and get out their message. The Minnesota DFL says it’s delighted to help its counterparts in other states counter Pawlenty’s massage. MPR’s Mark Zdechlik will have the story.

Nearly a year after the BP oil spill, much of the Gulf fishing industry is back open for business. The seafood has been declared safe to eat, but many customers are not yet convinced. Fishermen battle perceptions of oil-tainted seafood from the Gulf. NPR will have the story.