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.

  • JackU

    #1 – I’m old enough to remember when the surefire way for a corporation to raise its stock price was to layoff workers. (It’s not downsizing its “right-sizing”.)

    #5 – The only problem with the video is we don’t get to see the number on the jersey. It would have more impact if was lightly worn McNabb jersey.

    I have to agree that Manny Acta gets style points for what he did. Thome says he may be back next year, but I would bet otherwise. He’s no where near any other milestones and there are only a few teams that would probably be interested. I suspect that he takes his 600+ home runs and waits for Cooperstown to call in 5 years. He’ll have open invitations from the Indians and Twins to come and be “an instructor” at Spring Training that’s guaranteed.

  • I broke up with the Vikings about five years ago or so and haven’t looked back. Yet. What stinks is not having a pro football team to call my own. Thankfully, I love football for being football.

    When the Vikings signed McNabb I was concerned about being sucked back in to that abusive relationship, as I’d been a fan since his Syracuse days. But I was cheering lustily for the Lions yesterday, so I think I’m okay.

  • josh

    Jess, there is always plenty of room on the Packer bandwagon.

  • Josh, I think pretty much every Packer fan who finds out I’ve broken up with the Vikings suggests jumping on the Packer bandwagon. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to do it, but it’s delightful to know y’all are so welcoming.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Regarding cops with pepper spray: referring to law enforcement officers like this as pigs is an insult to pigs. When the revolution comes… 🙂

    Regarding Power Without Status: Adorno et al published a book titled The Authoritarian Personality in 1950. About your kiss up-kick down type fellow workers. Same analysis and results from a psychological perspective. Yes, 1950.

    Re The Vikes: 3 consecutive losses after 10 point leads. What are these guys doing during half-time? Quaaludes? Clearly the coaches aren’t taking the “motivator” part of the job very seriously. That said, good. Maybe it will stop corporate welfare from going to build a new stadium.

  • John O.

    Thank goodness for “NFL RedZone,” otherwise fall Sunday afternoons would be a lost cause.

  • bench

    A point on the Packers vs Vikings thing…

    My wife works as a waitress and has said Vikings fans are usually nice. Packer fans FROM Minnesota are also nice, but Packer fans from Wisconsin are usually not that nice and dont tip well.

    So better to be a Packer fan from Minnesota than a Packer fan from Wisconsin (?).

    Either way, I’m all for the Bills to go all the way this year.

  • Disco

    Once a Packers fan, always a Packers fan. They are the greatest sports franchise in America. Probably the greatest pro sports team the world has ever known. They are community-owned, but it’s more than that. I grew up in the 80s towards the end of the Packers’ dark days. It was a Sunday tradition each fall that we’d watch the green and gold, no matter how poorly they played (and oh did they have some awful teams). We’d go outside into the street during halftime (and sometimes towards the end of the game if they were getting humiliated on-field) and toss the pigskin around. We’d watch the game and joke about how bad they were. No matter the score, it was fun.

    I learned thru these experiences that being a Packers fan is a way of life. It’s a welcoming community, and the team’s record has almost no bearing on the fans’ dedication. Every home game since 1960 has been sold out. When they started winning games and making the playoffs in the early 90s, everything was that much more fun. And then to see them win four road playoff games with Aaron Rodgers as the Super Bowl MVP — all from this “small market team;” the smallest American city with a pro sports team — well, it doesn’t get any better. Now that I have a child of my own, I’m hoping to show her how rooting for the Packers is so enjoyable.

    This is all the more evident when I see the Vikings flail about like they did yesterday. My grandfather instilled in me a deep hatred of the Purple People Eaters. I think he secretly enjoyed watching them lose more than watching the Packers win. Top to bottom, front office, players, facilities, reputation, fanbase, there’s no comparing the two teams. It’s night and day. If the Queens won the next ten Super Bowls, I’d still feel this way.