The musical shutdown (5×8 – 7/5/11)

Musical interpretations of the shutdown, when people do good, what’s it like to be fireworks, the death of the serial comma, and the Milky Way from South Dakota.

The Shutdown Rouser…


The effects of the Minnesota government shutdown are being felt in increasing abundance; people are recording songs about it. Richard Pelletier originally wrote this during the shutdown of 2005 but changed the words.

Reporters fanned out to the July 4th parades yesterday, trying to gauge the sentiment of voters toward marching legislators. What they found: Some people supported the Republicans, some people supported the DFLers.

Gov. Mark Dayton was on MPR with Cathy Wurzer this morning, denying Republican claims that the two sides were close to a deal when it all went toes up last week.


The people who work in fire departments around the city of Tyler, Minn., probably had better plans for the July 4th weekend than cleaning up the town after a tornado hit it late last week.

No bother, however.

“A bunch of us got together when our town got hit and we heard these guys got it worse, so we all decided to come over and help out the best we can,” said Dana Benson of Balaton. “They need our help and we’re here to do it.”

“A lot of the residents have had friends and family come in,” the city’s mayor tells the Marshall Independent. “As soon as they get done with theirs they help the neighbors as well. It’s been wonderful and it’s helped clean it up fast.”


We trust you enjoyed the official fireworks in your neck of the woods. The unofficial kind — the ones the neighbors two blocks over fire off around mignight — should continue over the next week until they run out. Frankly, we cared a lot more when we had a dog that hated fireworks and thunderstorms. The Blog Dog is cool with it all.

That might explain why I saw her watching this video over and over again — a guy mounted a camera on some fireworks…


Oxford University has killed off the serial comma. As GalleyCat reported, the university’s new style guide advises writers, “As a general rule, do not use the serial/Oxford comma: so write ‘a, b and c’ not ‘a, b, and c’.”

That’s led to thoughts of revolution exactly where you’d expect to find it —

The serial comma is one of the sanest punctuation usages in the written language. It gives each element of a series its own distinct place in it, instead of lumping the last two together in one hasty breath. Think about it — when you bake, you gather up your eggs, butter, sugar, and flour; you don’t treat sugar and flour as a pair. That would be crazy. That is why, like evangelicals with “John 3:16” bumper stickers on their SUVs, punctuation worshipers cling to CM 6.19 – the Chicago Manual of Style’s decree that “in a series consisting of three or more elements, the elements are separated by commas. When a conjunction joins the last two elements in a series, a comma is used before the conjunction.” So valuable is that serial comma that it’s on frickin’ Page 2 of Strunk and White, right after the possessive apostrophe. And it is good.

The Oxford PR people backtracked following the tumult, saying the guidelines were only intended for news releases and internal communication.


From Randy Halvorsen of DakotaLapse:

During the month of May, I shot Milky Way timelapse in central South Dakota when I had the time, and the weather cooperated. The biggest challenge was cloudy nights and the wind. There were very few nights, when I could shoot, that were perfectly clear, and often the wind was blowing 25mph +. That made it hard to get the shots I wanted. I kept most of the shots low to the ground, so the wind wouldn’t catch the setup and cause camera shake, or blow it over. I used a Stage Zero Dolly on the dolly shots and a “Milapse” mount on the panning ones.

This was all shot at night. If you see stars and it looks like daylight, it is actually moon light. 20+ second exposures make it look like daylight.

Plains Milky Way from Randy Halverson on Vimeo.

Bonus: Somewhere in Minnesota, kids are making it hard for us to sit in cubicles and be adults.


It’s Day 5 of Minnesota’s state government shutdown. The Democratic governor and Republicans in the Legislature remain deadlocked over the state’s budget deficit. Today’s Question: What’s the best way to end the state government shutdown?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Today starts the first work-week since the state government shutdown. What impact has the last five days had on a political solution, on unemployed worker’s anxiety and on Minnesotan’s access to government services?

Second hour: The drug war.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Former IP gubernatorial candidate Tom Horner discusses the government shutdown and the failed attempts to balance the budget.

Second hour: President Obama’s domestic policy adviser Melody Barnes, speaking at the Aspen Ideas Festival about immigration.

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

Second hour: In his teens, Gary Younge moved from his home in England, to Africa. People there often asked, “where are you from?” His answer didn’t compute. “English,” they told him, meant white.” He discusses his book, “Who Are We? Should it matter in the 21st century?”