So long, summer (5×8 – 8/31/11)

Our Fair summer, a better way to board an airplane, the life of Irene, 9/11 at 10, and cross carrying Chuck.


So there it is, then. August 31. The last of the summer months. Gone in just a few hours. “Meteorological fall” starts tomorrow.

Our summers. They grow up so fast. It seems like only yesterday we were bringing this one home from May. After today, the only remnant of summer will be this:

There was a time in ye olde newsroom when the Fair was a bigger deal than it is now from a journalism point of view. We produced two or three stories from the fair a day. We even had a rule that nobody could take vacation during State Fair. Somewhere along the line, that changed, presumably when people realized that for 10 days out of the year, news organizations became the public relations arm of the Fair.

Little news is actually made there, of course. Most every story has been done before and the challenge is repackaging it to look new again. But that’s OK. Maybe what we’re looking for is a Fair that doesn’t change; that still links us enough with our childhoods that we can spend 10 days as a kid again, with our own kids being now what we were then.

Say, when’s the llama dress-up competition?

That was Nikki Tundel’s work from 2009. Later today, we’ll have a post on the MPR News website featuring her images of people caught sleeping at the Fair (Update: Here you go. Just when you thought Nikki couldn’t be more awesome, she turns in more awesome!)

I’m not able to get to the State Fair this year. If you can’t either, you’ll probably want to follow along on the MPR State Fair page.


There’s probably an expert for the airlines who has calculated that the way they board passengers makes the most sense. Board the first-class people first so they can smugly watch the “little people” parade past them, then board the people at the end of the plane last, so they have to wait for all the people in the front to try to jam their frost-free refrigerator into the overhead bin.

Someone has figured out a better way…


NASA has released a time-lapse video of Irene’s life…

In Vermont, meanwhile, the National Guard is airlifting in supplies to areas of the state cut off from the outside world. People, this is Vermont! More helicopters from the Illinois National Guard will arrive today.

Good, because they work better than trucks sometimes…

The Los Angeles Times notes an important — and underreported — aspect of the story. Vermont’s economy is heavily dependent on tourism, especially now that the leaves are starting to turn. That part of the economy has been destroyed.

Could rebuilding large parts of New York, New Jersey and Vermont help the economy? No, NPR says.

4) 9/11 at 10

We like round numbers so for the next few weeks we’re going to relive 9/11 on its 10th anniversary. For many of us, it’s still too raw to need to relive and we’ve seen all the images and it always ends the same way.

But CBS has been given some new footage from beneath the World Trade Center towers.

There’s more video here.

The New York Times documents the changes around the World Trade Center site:

The Star Tribune continues its fine 9/11 series this morning with a stop in Dearborn, Michigan, home of one of the country’s largest Muslim communities.

“Growing up here is really cool,” a Palestinian says. “We’re one of the most diverse cities around with Jews, Muslims, Mexicans, blacks and all walks of life, including idiots.”

And that’s the problem with 9/11 retrospectives. There were idiots in abundance before 9/11 and it’s difficult to separate the anecdotal evidence of their nonsense from a pattern that suggests a societal shift among the learned. Or maybe that’s a 9/11 story worth doing: Are we more stupid now?


Chuck Johnson, who graduated from Moorhead High School in 1980, has crossed the country about a dozen times in the last 10 years or so, all while carrying a cross.

Johnson has been found dead in a South Carolina motel room.

Related (sort of): A pastor in Florida wants an online registry of all atheists.

Bonus: How to determine whether you should leave a comment on Facebook:


(h/t: GraphJam)


Estimates suggest that more than 5 million Americans may have Alzheimer’s Disease, the most common cause of dementia among older people. Today’s Question: If you were likely to develop Alzheimer’s Disease, would you want to know?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Treatment developments and what it means to live with early-onset dementia.

Second hour: The pros and cons of medical screening tests.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: The series on the GOP presidential candidates continues MPR reporter Mark Zdechlik discusses the candidacy of Michele Bachmann.

Second hour: Siddhartha Mukherjee on the future of cancer.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Dick Cheney re-emerges with a new memoir. President Obama returns early from vacation. And Michele Bachmann says, “just kidding.” The “Political Junkie” joins host Neal Conan.

Second hour: The fight over Canada’s oil.

  • Vivian

    About that time lapse on Irene; it never occurred to me that the air or wind moves from the outside to the inside. Is this what creates the ‘eye’ of the hurricane? At least this is what it appears to be according to the video.

    On the other hand, with tornadoes the air or wind begins from the center and moves outwards.

    Never would have given this a thought.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Meteorological Fall?!? Damn. Learn something new every day if you aren’t careful, I guess.

    That said, Long Live The Equinox!

  • Kassie

    September is only fall if you have kids or are in education somehow. The rest of us get to keep on keeping on with the summer. I’m planning a camping trip and a couple long bike rides for next month. It is going to be 94 degrees tomorrow, that’s not fall.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Regarding Cross Carrying Chuck:

    Blessed are the mentally ill, alcoholic, bar-fighting, former disco dancers who think that Jesus’ main message is “get baptized”, find meaning through lugging around an ancient implement of torture, and end up dying alone in a cheap hotel in born-again bastion South Carolina.

    Further proof that God has a marvelous – if somewhat bizarre – sense of humor.

  • matt

    I dunno Jim, if it gave him happiness or if he sincerely thought it brought him happiness is it any less sensible than

    -working 50 hours a week to amass a fortune you will never spend and die of a heart attack?

    -chaining yourself to a tree in California?

    -spending spare time commenting on websites so others can marvel at your wit or wisdom?

    -climbing a mountain because it is there?

    -reading Shakespeare?

    Work of the soul is work of the soul, he seemed to spend a lot more time working on his soul than most of us. He might regret not having a normal life, not mowing his lawn or playing fantasy football…but I doubt it.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Matt – I’m as much of a “whatever turns you on/floats your boat/gets you through the night” person as the next guy. Probably more than most.

    My point is the irony, ultimate folly, and I would argue misunderstanding – of his chosen media of performance art.

  • vivian

    I think whomever created the whole idea of ‘salvation’ has a hefty karmic clean-up.

  • Eric J

    Thanks for featuring my State Fair Time Lapse. 🙂