Taking risks in uncertain times, gaming the economy, a family goes to war, censoring kids’ stories, the things you can’t do in summer, and going home again.
1) FROM THE DEPT OF YOU NEVER KNOW
Life doesn’t work out exactly like you think it will. Good things interrupt an expected downturn. Bad things interrupt dreams. Sometimes seemingly bad things interrupt seemingly good things and that turns out to be a good thing.
We live in a time where news prognosticators speak of the future as an absolute and a time when we believe too much what they say. Life doesn’t work out exactly like they think it will.
It’s the story of a former college roommate who, having raised children, was looking forward to getting on with her dream of being a writer. But in her ’40s, life did what life does.
There was a baby boy who was in need of adoption. Without going into all the details, Jackson and her husband were asked if they could take him in, because they could provide the most stable and complete family connection and environment for him. Jackson called me to tell me of her decision.
“I’ve been agonizing about it,” she said. “But I just keep imagining this 20-year-old young man appearing on my SoHo apartment doorstep one day and saying to me, ‘I just need you to explain to me why the apartment in New York was so much more important than me.'”
Follow the link to find out how it turned out. Then tell us about a turn in your life that you didn’t see coming, and how that turned out.
2) GAMING THE ECONOMY
Minnesota Sen. Al Franken got a little bit of love last night from law professor John Coffee who revealed how ratings agencies collapsed the economy in 2008. He said it’s like a baseball team hiring the umpire and then paying him on his performance. Congress passed legislation to tighten some of the nonsense, but then refused to fund the program that would do so. Coffee said it was Franken who tried to change what is, basically, a rigged system.
Barry Ritholtz, meanwhile, calls shenanigans on anyone who is saying people should just calm down.
People who try to soothe the savage market psychology do so because its their jobs, and it is in their self-interest. They may work for Fed or the Treasury or a firm so large they cannot be tactical investors.Hence, their calming words amount to little more than propaganda, self-interest, and crowd control.
I prefer the Truth bomb. Precision guided, accurate to within millimeters, high yielding explosive truths. If you think people are sheep, then you try to manipulate their fears and psychology via the media. You engage in color coded terror warnings, you threaten total financial Armeggedon, you warn of an economic seizure. You say what cows the masses into a corner to be harvested and sold off for parts.
He’s looking at you, President Obama. He tried to calm the markets on Monday, an effort that fell flat. That’s a predictable outcome, a professor tells NPR this morning. Presidential therapy sessions rarely work, he says.
When we look at the evidence systematically, and even look at the great communicators, we find that they rarely are able to move public opinion,” Edwards says. “That includes Franklin Roosevelt, that includes Ronald Reagan, that includes more contemporary politicians like Bill Clinton — they all have a very difficult time moving the public in their direction.”
3) A FAMILY OFF TO WAR
Three Valley City, ND brothers are deploying to the Middle East. “A little nervous, a little scared,” their dad said.
Meanwhile, a University of Minnesota researcher is close to collecting data to study driving behaviors of returning warriors, the U of M Daily reports.
One such survey of 150 service members about their driving in the first month of being home showed 31 percent were anxious when driving past objects on the side of the road. About half said they were anxious when other cars approached quickly.
4) CENSORING KIDS’ STORIES
Many parents, the Boston Globe reports, are censoring the scary parts of children’s stories when reading to the little ones. They’re doing them no favors. There’s no escaping loss, danger, violence – all figure in some of the best children’s books of all time. A Harvard prof says there’s a reason death runs rampant in books for little kids. Kids are thinking about what happens if mommy or daddy go toes up, anyway, she says.
Then there’s the question of just how real reading to kids should be.
For Jessie Bennett, 39, of Belmont, reading to her 5-year-old son, Nathan, was an opportunity to revisit the beloved books of her own childhood, including the “Little House” series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. “I really loved them, and I still love them,” she says, “but there are some really troubling things” she hadn’t remembered from her earlier readings of them, in particular the way the books talk about Native Americans. “The sad fact is that the history of our nation is a difficult history,” Bennett says, adding that she tries to add age-appropriate context to help her son understand, rather than censor as she reads – until she came to one word too loaded to explain. “I kept skipping over ‘savages’,” she says, “which is hard now because Nathan can read!”
Exposing mommy as a censor.
5) SOME THINGS YOU CAN’T DO IN THE SUMMER
(H/T: Perfect Duluth Day)
Bonus: No two words can return all the insecurities of your youth faster than these: high school. The New York Times Lens blog focuses on Paul Moakley, who didn’t fit in at his Staten Island high school, and returned years later to photograph it. “I wanted to concentrate on something that made me uncomfortable,” said Mr. Moakley, now 35. “Something that I had questions about.”
Meanwhile, an NPR reporter returned to his hometown recently — the one that was the backdrop for American Graffiti — and found that while you can’t go home again, you can easily be a sniveling punk again.
The fortunes of Republican presidential candidates, including Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann, could take a dramatic turn in this Saturday’s Iowa straw poll. Today’s Question: Should Iowa have the power to make or break candidates so early in the process?
WHAT WE’RE DOING
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: The Iowa straw poll.
Second hour: Hip-hop superstars Jay-Z and Kanye West have billed their new album, Watch the Throne, as an “event record,” meant to be listened to from start to finish. But are the days of thorough listening over? Has digital music changed the way we experience an album?
Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: State education commissioner Brenda Cassellius talks about No Child Left Behind, the Race to the Top, and early childhood education.
Second hour: A Chautauqua Lecture by Bethany McLean , who uncovered the Enron scandal and is the author of “All the Devils Are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis.” McLean is a Hibbing native.
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Making major financial decisions in this economy.
Second hour: What it’s like to live in rural America.
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – New businesses often turn to venture capitalists and so-called angel investors when they need cash. But those sources are not opening their wallets very freely in the midst of the financial crisis. In these hard times, can entrepreneurs still raise the money they need to build companies?