Art or eyesore? (5×8 – 8/4/11)

When kids paint, talking cake instead of taxes, the power of the Facebook status update, the circus and the Age of Abundance, and the Somalia famine.



So much irony in Duluth. A hillside mural — a “Unity in Community” mural — is splitting neighbors who say it’s ugly. “It’s the same kind of things that they arrest people for,” property owner Dan Williams tells the Duluth News Tribune.

Here’s the thing: Much of it was painted by children. Check your refrigerator door. Is there great art there, or just heartwarming art? Or is it art at all?

The work has stopped and officials intended to paint over it, but that idea, too, has been delayed pending a meeting with everyone involved.

(Image: Screen grab from WDIO)

In Bloomington, meanwhile, the neighbors of Craig Brown are upset, the Star Tribune reports. He feeds the birds but it’s brought other wildlife. Bloomington doesn’t do wildlife. The city law prohibits feeding of wild animals on the ground or at a height of less than 5 feet above ground.


A Minnesota Without Poverty has produced this video, starring the Minnesota Church Ladies, said to be the second in its Enough for All Series. The group obviously has a political view here, but what would happen if we didn’t discuss that issue by talking about that issue and instead talked about cake at a wedding?

I’ll start: The solution involved someone voluntarily providing extra cake.

(h/t: Eric Ringham)

Meanwhile, filmmaker David Lynch has put together this commentary on the debt ceiling issue. Your interpretation is good as any.

HOW THINGS HAVE BEEN GOING from David Lynch on Vimeo.


Wait! What? Kids are breaking up with each other via Facebook, by changing their status? Whatever happened to just slipping them a note while classes were changing in school? Or just not returning phone calls? Or telling a best friend to relay that it’s over? Kids today, eh?

Anyway, the New York Times is on this phenomenon, reporting on a conference for kids on Facebook etiquette.

To help the youngsters envision what a healthy split might look like, pictures and videos of several celebrity couples who managed amicable breakups were projected onto a big screen. Justin Timberlake and Cameron Diaz, for example, were heralded as healthy because “they’re still friends and were able to co-star in a movie together.” Their parting was juxtaposed with those of Kanye West and Amber Rose (West wrote a mean song about her) and Sammi and Ronnie from “Jersey Shore” (Sammi supposedly defriended Ronnie’s friends on her Facebook page), who each exhibited the kind of “unhealthy” breakup behavior that the Boston Health Commission hopes Massachusetts young people will rise above.

In that pursuit, organizers encouraged the crowd to eschew parting ways over text message or Facebook, the most common teen breakup methods. (A bisexual 15-year-old confessed in a morning session that she learned that her girlfriend of two years had dumped her only when she changed her relationship status to single.) Attendees were advised — with mixed results — to bravely confront the awkwardness of face-to-face breakups. When the facilitator in a session titled “Breakups 101” suggested that teenagers meet with “and come to an agreement or mutual understanding” with a soon-to-be ex, a skeptical 19-year-old nearly leapt out of her chair in protest. “So, you’re telling me that you’re crying at night, you’re not sleeping, you’re eating all this food to make you feel better, and you’re supposed to just come to an agreement?”

Sure, kid. “We can still be friends” is a sincere expression during breakups. Maybe you’ll make a movie together.


An honest-to-goodness circus came to Clinton, Minnesota yesterday. It’s the first time anyone can remember a circus setting up a big top in the town, blogger Kathryn Draeger (Resettling Big Stone County) observes. But her post today isn’t about the circus per se. It’s about the “Age of Abundance…”

One should savor every moment of the waning Age of Abundance. As I drove home from UM Morris the orange sliver of a new moon pierced the red and purple horizon and around me were pelicans, geese, fox, a turtle, and frogs to dodge on the road.

But do not despair at the end of this Age– because it brings things to us that we might not otherwise have, like elephants in Big Stone County. Proof in point: On one single day in very rural America, a woman can go from her rustic farm to seeing elephants to being enobled and inspired at a public university.

Give it a read, and consider whether the big top is half up or half down.


Someone pointed out in a post yesterday that there were almost no comments attached to a post I made about the front page of the New York Times picture of a dying child in Somalia. But there were dozens attached to the stealing of letters on the I-35W memorial.

The Associated Press has an unbelievable statistic today, however, that’s hard to ignore: 29,000 children under 5 have died in the famine.

This BBC video details the struggle aid workers are having. Note the ad for Porsche at the beginning.

A Washington Post commentary, printed in the Star Tribune, says this is what happens when the Marines leave a country like Somalia.

Bonus: This is being billed as the world’s largest stop-action animated film…

Gulp. The world’s largest stop-motion animation shot on a Nokia N8. from Nokia HD on Vimeo.

And this is how they did it… on cellphones.

Gulp. The making of. from Nokia HD on Vimeo.


A CNN/Opinion Research Poll this week gives the U.S. Congress an approval rating of just 14 percent. About three in four respondents thought officials acted like spoiled children during the debt crisis. Today’s Question: Is Congress getting a fair shake?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Joby Warrick, Pulitzer Prize-winning national security reporter at The Washington Post. His latest book is “The Triple Agent: The Al-Qaeda Mole Who Infiltrated the CIA.”

Second hour: Why would anyone want to become a doctor?

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Economist Louis Johnston on the condition of the U.S. economy.

Second hour: Best-selling author Lisa See, speaking at the “Talk of the Stacks” series about her new book about China during the “Great Leap Forward.” It’s called “Dreams of Joy.” Her best-selling book, “Snowflower and the Secret Fan” is now a Hollywood movie.

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

Second hour: Linguist John McWhorter,