A billion here. A billion there (5×8 – 10/28/11)

Squeeze in, people; one at a time in Duluth, the old ways in the woods, the face of Occupy, and Polar BearCam


It sure took a long time for us to pack 7 billion people on earth. We’ll do it sometime on Monday. Adding the 8 billionth person, however, will only take another 15 years.

Who’s the most typical person on the planet? The one who shares the most in common?

CBS went looking for the person who fit the description of most typical. He’s an immigrant who lives in Queens, NY. Mu Li arrived five months ago from Chong Qing, a southwest China mega-city of 28 million people, CBS says.

By the time we get to 8 billion, however, the most typical person on earth will be an Indian.

Where do you fit among the 7 billion? The BBC has developed this app for you to find out.

You can watch the countdown on this National Geographic clock. Even better, however, is this UN website that not only has a countdown clock, but allows you to see how having 6,999,999,999 others to share the planet with affects you.

I learned that in the entire history of the world, 76 billion people were born before me, which makes me feel relatively young.


In Duluth, Warren Scott St. John and his wife, Tina, were told to fix up their mobile home or get out, the News Tribune says. He’s in a wheelchair; she’s had both hips replaced. So about 50 volunteers from Home Depot, the Leathernecks motorcycle club and the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans showed up yesterday in the snow and rain to get started on the job. “I love it. It’s great,” one of the coordinators, who’s taking vacation days from work, said. “Because you hope at the end of the day if it’s your turn, someone’s there for you.”


In the high falutin’ world of technology, Dan Gunderson’s story about new tracking techniques being taught to would-be rescuers of lost people warms the old soul, because they’re the old tracking techniques.

“If you get down in here you can actually see little details,” (conservation officer Al) Fox said of clues left in the forest during a training exercise earlier this month. “Like right here. See that imprint right there? That would be the heel strike. That would be the back of the boot.”

Slowly following the trail for several yards through the woods, Fox said tracks left on the forest floor, even old ones, stay visible to the trained eye.

“You’ll see things like broken twigs,” he said. “These pine needles, when they’re this dry and you step on them, they’re going to crack, they’re going to break.”

Grass bruises when it’s stepped on. Moss bends underfoot leaving prints much like you’d see on a thick carpet.


The Occupy protests now have a face. Scott Olsen, the 24-year old who served two tours of duty with the Marines in Iraq, has been upgraded to “fair” condition in the hospital after getting hit in the head with a projectile — possibly a tear gas cannister — during the protests in Oakland the other night.

His parents flew in from Wisconsin yesterday.

And there’s new video out showing the threat to public safety that Olsen posed…

“He was standing perfectly still, provoking no one,” said Raleigh Latham, an Oakland filmmaker who shot the footage. “If something didn’t hit him directly in the face, then it went off close to his head and knocked him down.”

He also caught what happened when people tried to help Olsen.


The annual migration of polar bears is underway in Canada. A “Tundra Buggy” is roaming the landscape in Churchill, Manitoba and providing a live webcam, which you can find here. (Update: link fixed)

I’m pretty sure I spent several hours watching this image yesterday. It didn’t move, except to occasionally stretch.


A chat function on the page allows you to discuss what’s on the webcam, although most of the comments during the time I wasted spent on the site yesterday consisted of, “he just moved!” messages.

Nonetheless, let’s admit we’ll be spending much of our Friday watching.

Related: A Canada lawmaker wants the country to dump the beaver and go with the bear.

Bulletin: The fan who caught the homerun ball that ended one of the most dramatic games in World Series history last night — or was it this morning? — didn’t try to make money off his prize. “It’s an honorable thing to do, and it’s a part of history,” Dave Huyette said. “I’m not looking to create any kind of a bidding war. I’m not in such need of the money where I want to do it.”

Bonus: Balderdash! Twenty words that are dying because of text-speak.


Some state leaders have said they are open to the idea of using money from the state’s Legacy funds to help finance a new football stadium. The money would come from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund generated by a sales tax that Minnesota voters approved in 2008. (MPR is among hundreds of organizations that receive money from the fund.) Today’s Question: Are professional sports teams a part of Minnesota’s cultural heritage?


The Big Story Blog will look at the arguments, pro and con, over gambling as a way to pay for sports stadiums and public services.


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Kate Bolick’s Atlantic cover story “All the Single Ladies,” about the growing number of proud, never-married women, has gotten a lot of attention since it’s publication earlier this month. We talk to the author about her decision to stay single and never settle. We also talk to Amanda Marcotte, who is skeptical about the “marriage market” theories.

Second hour: In his new novel, Arthur Phillips spins a tale within a tale about a novelist named Arthur Phillips, and his discovery of a long-lost play by Shakespeare. Is Phillips writing about himself, and is the play the real thing?

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Get your questions answered about Medicare. Guests are Kelli Jo Greiner of the Minnesota Board on Aging and Marilyn Theesfeld.

Second hour: Historian Woody Holton, speaking at the Minnesota History Center about “The People’s Constitution.”

Science Friday (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: A discussion about the value of the flu vaccine. It includes former Minnesota state epidemiologist Mike Osterholm.

Second hour: The FBI’s prime suspect in the 2001 anthrax attacks killed himself before his trial, and the case was closed. Was the scientific evidence against him conclusive?

  • Tyler

    Thanks for covering the Scott Olsen story. It seems like just about every other news source is ignoring it. From what I gather, the Oakland police have a lot to answer for.

    Every time I see cops in riot gear – here in the US – my heart sinks a little.

  • BJ

    the BBC tool is cool 🙂

    My results

    When you were born, you were the:


    person alive on Earth


  • Michele

    Thanks, Bob! Your very witty line, “Move to the back of the planet, please”, gave me a huge chuckle. Generally news of global over population doesn’t bring on the giggles and smiles.

  • Joanna

    In this video about Scott Olsen, if you start looking carefully at 1:17, you will seem him drop like a stone to the ground right when the voice-over says “tear gas canister” (about 1:18-1:19). Whatever it was that hit him, I am convinced he was targeted by a coward wearing a riot helmet.

  • Mandy


    The status quo these days seem to be those who are padded, whether physically or monetarily, cowardly inflict as much pain as they can get away with on those who are vunerable.

    What’s more alarming is that the victim served two tours in Iraq.

    This is the very reason for Occupy to exist, to stop the insanity of greed.

  • Jim Shapiro

    The first time I remember paying attention to the population thing was reading in the newspaper that it was gonna hit 4 billion. That was in 1975. That seemed like a lot of people to me.

    Then I went to the university and learned that the best way to limit population growth was by improving agricultural methods and the standard of living of the poorest among us. And of course through education.

    Today I’m a bit concerned about the Chinese running the world, and their lack of concern for human rights and the environment – but I guess it’s not as though we did such a great job while we had the wheel.

    Maybe it’s almost time that we should start to understand that we’re all connected, and all that that implies. For better and worse.