The art of just getting by (5×8 – 9/26/11)

The Marvin way in Warroad, why do people live in northern Minnesota, the pepper spray attack, power without status, and Vikings fans say they’ve had enough but they’re probably haven’t.

The Monday Morning Rouser:


Could American business be a little more worker-friendly? Warroad-friendly, perhaps? The New York Times profiles Marvin Windows, which has a policy against firing people. When times get tough, it’s the people who work in factories that cater to the housing industry that are usually the first to take a hit. Times are getting tougher again, and the people of Warroad are holding their breath, the paper says.

When the housing market collapsed and, with it, the market for windows and doors, competitors shuttered plants and cut work forces. But as a fourth generation of Marvins prepares to take over, the most obvious — some would argue most effective — option was off the table.

While Marvin’s story might seem quaint, even naïve, Ms. Marvin says the no-layoff policy is as much a business wager as an act of benevolence. She says she is confident that it will ultimately pay off. Already, she says, Marvin is gaining market share from weakened rivals.

Ms. Marvin acknowledges that her family’s private company may have more leeway than public counterparts. It has forgone profits for two years to keep everyone employed, for instance. Nonetheless, Ms. Marvin suggests that corporate America could learn a thing or two from Marvin’s approach and long-term outlook.

“You can’t cut your way to prosperity. You can’t grow if you are cutting your lifeblood — and that’s the skills and experience your work force delivers,” she says, adding later: “Today, I think, to a great a degree, I think things have gotten out of balance. We see Wall Street almost punish companies that take the long view.”

Marvin’s competitors have remained profitable during the downtown, by closing factories and putting people out of work, the paper says.

(H/T: @ruhnke)


Aaron Brown’s new TEDx talk.


This video has gotten some traction since Saturday, when a group of protesters in New York became victims of a walk-by pepper spray attack by a cop.

“If this is what it looks like, it is outrageous,” The Atlantic’s James Fallows says. The mayor and others should say something. And this man can certainly be identified.”

The crowd-to-camera ratio appears to be 1:1, according to this Occupy Wall St., photo.


New York doesn’t mess around with legal niceties.


A new study by three universities shows that people holding positions of power with low status tend to demean others, CNN reports. The research sheds light on why clerks can seem rude or even why the Abu Ghraib guards humiliated and tortured their prisoners, the researcher said.

In an article to be published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, researchers studied the relationship between the status and the power of a job.

“We found that people who had high power and high status, they were pretty cool,” one researcher said. “But it was people who had power and lacked status who used their power to require other persons to engage in demeaning behavior.”


Being a Cleveland Indians fan since the ’60s, I know all about swearing off the team and vowing never to follow them again. It doesn’t work. If you’re any kind of fan, you’re stuck with each other. Minnesota Vikings fans won’t be able to walk away from the train wreck, though they’re getting points for showmanship.

Related (sort of): Being a cheesehead can kill you.

More sports: Cleveland Indians manager Manny Acta said he was up all Saturday night, trying to figure out how to give former Twin Jim Thome his big final moment in Cleveland. He pinch-hit in the 9th inning, in a spot where he normally wouldn’t but that’s the beauty of games that don’t mean anything, and got a great ovation, which was the idea. Then, he was put in the field at third base for one pitch and removed. The idea was that that would be the emotional final bow. But the Cleveland fans didn’t understand what was going on.

Bonus: The things we do for fun. Wingsuit flyer Jeb Corliss jumped out of a helicopter in China with the idea of soaring through a hole — a very small hole — in the side of a mountain…

In Baldwin, Wisconsin, Gertie Nelson jumped out of an airplane. She’s 91.

burning_strawman.jpg In Jordan, Minnesota on Saturday evening, they celebrated. “Vineman is a celebration of the season’s harvest with the ceremonial burning of a wooden man draped in prunings from the vineyard. As symbolism of the flowing of time, the vines on Vineman were actually trimmed from the vineyard last winter and the ashes will be part of the fertilizer for next year’s crop,” according to John Armstrong, who documented it on Google+.


President Obama has proposed cutting farm subsidies by tens of billions of dollars over the next decade. Some farmers say the subsidies are necessary to reduce the risk of their business. Today’s Question: Should the United States reduce subsidies to farmers?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Do college sports need to be saved?

Second hour: Fall home repair.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Syndicated columnist Mark Shields of PBS NewsHour talks about American politics and political discourse. He gives the annual McCarthy Lecture at St. John’s University on Wednesday night.

Second hour: From the Aspen Ideas Festival: Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and former justice Sandra Day O’Connor ponder the question: Does the Supreme Court consider the views of the people?

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

Second hour: Brooke Hauser talks about “The New Kids,” her book about immigrant high school students in Brooklyn. Plus, baseball analyst Bill James reviews Moneyball.