The road that should be traveled (5×8 – 10/17/11)

Today is the 4th birthday of NewsCut. “They” said it would never last, although by “last” they might have meant, “five years.” Here’s this week’s Monday Morning Rouser:



The Solidago Riders, five women who graduated from Macalester College last May, have finished their summer-long goal of riding their bikes around each of the Great Lakes. Reader Peter Larson spotted them in Stillwater on Saturday.

They were raising money for the organization, Grand Aspirations.

They have a terrific blog with good stories and pictures for those of us who live vicariously.

Since we started our now 67 day trek, the Solidago Riders have had a lot of time for conversation and twice as much for imagination. As much as we focus on the road, we also talk with each other about what’s to come in our new lives after college. Robin and Ainsley want to run a backyard bakery when they return-it might be on Fridays. Jacque, Tressa, and I hope to build an Art Shanty this winter using found materials and replaceable magnets. We all want to host our people’s festival, Solidago Bombago, again next summer. We all want to find jobs. Both collectively and as individuals, one thing we’ve gained from our adventure is a desire for imagining ways to improve and support our communities. Roberto Mangabeira Unger writes that “If we accept that society is made and imagined then we can believe that society can be REmade and REimagined.” For our sakes, acknowledging that the problems we face in the world (like wars, economic upheavals, and institutional inequalities) are made, demonstrates how we can all feel empowered to imagine and practice the solutions we hope to discover in our futures.

In our first days of biking, one friend told us that “If you fall in love with the place you live,” then the things you do for your home and your community “will never feel like a sacrifice.” Two months later, this notion has become somewhat of an anthem to us, as friends from around the Great Lakes region give the same advice described in different words. However they put it, such advice always returns to our relationships-how we build connections with each other and our environments.

These sorts of expeditions — I imagine, since I’ve never gone on one — are transformational for those who take them. The riders’ trip through Cleveland, for example, provides a great testimonial for the value of getting out of Minnesota once in awhile.

Though I consider myself an open-minded person, there are very few times in my life where I have been in the racial minority. In my life, I have lived in white-dominated areas and even our college, which may have more diversity than other small colleges, still is very white. On a daily basis, I generally haven’t been stared at, or had people suspicious and confused because I look different. Though unintentional, I- like many Americans-live a life surrounded by people like me because that is just the way it is. It’s a problem, but it’s “the system.” However, that seems an incredible pathetic answer to the lines that divide and plague our country. It is far too easy to ignore my white privilege and isolation. I do not have a hard time with airport security, will not be arrested for not having enough bus fair, will not be started at in wealthy neighborhoods for my skin. Our country and cities and towns are segregated by race, gender, income, culture, religion, etc., etc., etc., and the inequalities are ghastly. These lines are everywhere. Though they lead us no where, we follow them because we are afraid of going anywhere else.

Welcome home.


Scenes from the Occupy protests:

Protesters in Cincinnati saw the story of a woman who was concerned her wedding pictures, which she’d planned to have taken in a park, would be affected by the fact Occupy Cincinnati has occupied the park. So the protesters moved and they ended up in the pictures anyway.

In Gainesville, Florida, Occupy Gainsville protester Ellas McDaniel was arrested in a park named after Bo Diddley. McDaniel is Bo Diddley’s son.

Barry Ritholtz at The Big Picture ponders the future of Occupy Wall Street…

The founders of OWS are aware of how the Tea Party was Jiu Jitsued by the existing GOP political establishment. OWS want to avoid a similar fate. Such an end could occur of the leaders of, a partisan Democratic group, gets their way. They have bulled their way into the media, pretending to speak for OWS. (The media are suckers for a simple narrative, and provides that).

Hence, OWS needs to demonstrate a few things: A clear leadership. A consistent message. But most importantly of all, some specific policy objectives.

Ritholtz also takes the usual shot at mainstream media for not properly covering the protests (charts don’t translate to sound bites well). But if anyone ever gets around to focusing on something other than tents, maybe this story — did I mention it comes from mainstream media? — might get some attention: Some banks, it’s alleged, are proceeding with foreclosures, even after agreeing to modified mortgage payments with people who are struggling to keep their homes.

“It is all too common for banks to enter a loan mod and then try to foreclose on people and try to harangue them for money,” a spokeswoman at the Center for Responsible Lending said. “All the evidence shows that servicing procedures and record keeping are just a mess. It ranges from disarray to out-and-out fraud.”

Perhaps the debate surrounding OccupyXX can be modified from a question of whether capitalism is or isn’t good to “is a deal a deal?”


Michael Dennis and Winfred Bates don’t hold hands when they’re out in public anymore, not since the couple was attacked by about 15 men, punching them and shouting gay slurs last month, the U Daily reports.

“Everyone is telling us to act like straight people and pretend this never happened,” Dennis said. “I think this is a chance to show people that this does happen and encourage awareness to hopefully end this kind of hate crime.”

Dennis said he transferred to the U of M from out of state because of the culture and resources for gay people here.


“Parenting advice is all future directed,” writer Emily Rapp writes in the New York Times. The Santa Fe woman’s son won’t survive past his third birthday and her compelling story raises a question for many parents: What if we just parented for right now?

Nobody asks dragon parents for advice; we’re too scary. Our grief is primal and unwieldy and embarrassing. The certainties that most parents face are irrelevant to us, and frankly, kind of silly. Our narratives are grisly, the stakes impossibly high. Conversations about which seizure medication is most effective or how to feed children who have trouble swallowing are tantamount to breathing fire at a dinner party or on the playground. Like Dr. Spock suddenly possessed by Al Gore, we offer inconvenient truths and foretell disaster.

And there’s this: parents who, particularly in this country, are expected to be superhuman, to raise children who outpace all their peers, don’t want to see what we see. The long truth about their children, about themselves: that none of it is forever.

The other end of the spectrum: Every five hours in the U.S., a child dies from abuse or neglect, the BBC says.


It took Fauja Singh more than eight hours to finish the Toronto marathon yesterday. He was the last competitor on the course. He’s also 100 years old.


Mr. Singh ran his first marathon when he was 89.

He runs 10 miles a day.

Bonus: The sugar beet harvest in the Red River Valley might start this afternoon or tonight, if the weather cooperates. That’s good news for dozens of “hoboes,” profiled by the Fargo Forum today. They’re part of the workforce upon which the industry depends each season.

They are young, footloose types, living on the road, maybe homeless, technically, traveling with friends by freight train or their thumbs, playing music for tips and finding odd jobs when they can. Word of good jobs travels fast among them.

Micaela Madden, from Petaluma, Calif., is a three-year veteran of the road.

“I’ve been in box cars with 20 people,” she said. Gesturing to include the gathering around the picnic table, she says, “I guess we are all travelers, or just hoboes.”

They are part of a workforce that often goes unnoticed during the valley’s sugar beet harvest.

Bonus II: The Conversationalist has returned after two years in Japan. The Idea Peepshow blog talked with Taylor Baldry yesterday, who set up shop along Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis.

“The Conversationalist is a performance art piece that invites guests to select a topic from the conversation menu…as a means to engage human interaction with a stranger without the aid of social media and technology. As users of social media, we have become consumed with one-sided, broadcast conversations that we have weakened our analog social skills that allows us to converse with friends and strangers alike.”

Which brings us to…


Eighty-three percent of American adults have cell phones, according to the Pew Center’s Internet & American Life Project. Nearly 90 percent own some kind of computerized device. Three in four Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 use social media. Today’s Question: Has technology taken over too much of our lives?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Hope is a word that’s used often in our culture, a concept that is promoted by some and disparaged by others. Is hope less important than hard work, courage and determination, or a necessary companion to those traits? Midmorning examines the value and meaning of hope. (Rebroadcast)

Second hour: We apply principals of ethics to all areas of life, from law to medicine to everyday behavior. But where do our ideas about ethics come from, and who decides what’s ethical and what isn’t? (Rebroadcast)

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Milken award-winning math teacher Seth Brown, from Wayzata West Middle School, on how to teach and learn math.

Second hour: Three award-winning reports from MPR’s young reporters series.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Most big companies aren’t hiring, a lot of small businesses can’t get loans to expand. But there is a bright spark; many mid-sized companies are holding their own and they could start the engine, and drive the U.S. economic recovery.

Second hour: It’s 50 years since the Jets and Sharks rumbled on the big screen. Rita

Moreno and George Chakiris, two of the original cast members, join host Neal Conan.

  • Happy 4th Anniversary to Newscut!

    When you’re a Newscut, you’re a Newscut all the way…

  • I hate to nitpick on your “birthday,” but your master archive has your first post from 11:14am October 16, 2007.

    Is it possible your birthday was yesterday?

  • Happy birthday, NewsCut! And, as we also added when I was growing up on the southwestern Minnesota prairie, “Many more!”

    (I’m glad “they” were wrong.)

  • Bob Collins

    It’s a Monday holiday, Jason.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Bob –

    Thanks for doing NewsCut. As if one couldn’t tell by the frequency and number of comments, I find it extremely valuable on several levels.

    And thanks for having the professional and personal integrity to be the voice of the voiceless.

    The mention of the gay men who were attacked for holding hands has me in tears.

    Bastard. 🙂

  • Mark Smith

    Happy Birthday News Cut!

    I am a frequent reader of this blog and would like to express my hope that it will last beyond five years. Please keep up the good writing Bob (and the rest of the News Cut staff).

  • Eric

    Not bad for a guy from Woodbury!

    Congrats and always good stuff.

  • John P II

    News Cut – Too Big To Fail or Strategically Dangerous Institution? Is Bob Collins the Garrison of the newsroom? Reporting – or just asking questions? Is he really only on the radio once a day at 4:20? Any truth to the rumor he forced Gary Eichten into premature retirement after only 40 years?


  • The Big Dog

    Happy 4th Anniversary. Thanks for all the information you choose to post.

  • jill

    Yah, Bob, Happy Birthday -NewsCut Birthday. Maybe Target will create a holiday after this occasion and profitfrom it? What would those NewsCut holiday cards look like? What color would represent NewsCut? :’ )”

    Great photo and story of the Solidago Bikers.

  • Heather

    Happy birthday, Newscut! Thank you, Bob!

  • Jamie

    Happy Birthday indeed, NewsCut! Best thing on this website, and one of the best things about MPR.

  • vjacobsen

    Happy Birthday, Newscut! I’m with Jamie–best part of the website. Thanks for being the bright spot in my day!