The sweet sound of human decency (5×8 – 10/7/11)

Getting life out of the way, the turtleneck and toothpick comebacks, bring on winter, just keep riding, and the mystery of the universe.


The sweetness of human decency could fuel a planet if there were enough of it. Or maybe we’d take it for granted if it were more common, which also wouldn’t be a bad thing.

The Pioneer Press today tells the story of Marcus Woell, who at 96 had never attended a live orchestra performance. Yesterday, he did when he and his family experienced the matinee performance of Richard Strauss’ “A Hero’s Life” with conductor Osmo Vanska and the Minnesota Orchestra.

“Life got in the way,” he said when asked why he’d never attended a live concert before. Life includes Parkinson’s disease.

KSTP also picked up the story, albeit too briefly…

The tickets for the performance came from AgeWell, an organization that helps grant wishes for seniors.

“You bring me life,” Mr. Woell told a representative of the organization yesterday.

What has life gotten in the way of for you?


Prepare yourselves. The world is about to start dressing like Steve Jobs did. The Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal reports there’s a run on mock turtlenecks, the fashion favored by the founder of Apple who died on Wednesday but left his fashion sense behind.

The company that supplied the turtleneck is a Minnesota firm, and says stores are suddenly running out of them.

They sell for $175.

More comebacks: Toothpicks? We couldn’t even make toothpicks in the the U.S. anymore? Cloquet was once the toothpick capital of Minnesota, until a company there outsourced production to … do I have to type the rest of this sentence?

Now, the Duluth News Tribune says, toothpick manufacturing is coming back to Jarden Home Brands’ Cloquet facility. It got too expensive to produce them in China because people there expected more than the minimal wages that made sending the business there attractive years ago.


It’ll be a “brutal winter” for the US, according to Scientific America. And by brutal winter, they mean half as bad as last year, at least for us. It predicts 56 inches of snow for Minneapolis, far less than what we had last year. But it says Chicago will be ground zero for blizzards in the country this winter.

For now, however, we’re the nation’s hotspot, which is a big problem at harvest time. Minnesota Prairie Roots notes that at least one fire was sparked by a combine in the field.


You’re riding your bike past a local grocery store when you see two people trying to steal a pumpkin. You think about intervening to stop the crime.



Doubt. Is it a weakness or a fundamental strength of scientific exploration?

Bonus: This is not your czar’s Russia…


The U.S.-led war in Afghanistan began 10 years ago today. A recent poll suggests that one in three veterans of the post-9/11 period considers the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan not worth the sacrifice. Today’s Question: After 10 years, how do you see the Afghan war?


I won’t be blogging today (but others will be here doing so). I’m traveling to St. Charles to spend some time with the Kaehler family. In a week or so I’ll be doing a series of posts on the people who bring in the harvest.

Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Reaction to the latest unemployment report.

Second hour: A look at fall’s most anticipated films with film critic Kenneth Turan.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: The 10th anniversary of the war in Afghanistan.

Second hour: A rebroadcast of a 1998 Midday interview with civil rights leader Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, who died this week.

Science Friday (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: A chat with this year’s winner of the Nobel Prize for physics.

Second hour: Why this may be the most peaceful era in human history.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Regarding classical concert for the old guy – beautiful. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    Regarding the run on Steve Jobs’ shirt: Maybe I should tell my chemist friends to get ready, in light of this quote by the now patron saint of technology: “Acid was one of the best things I did in my life.” 🙂

  • Pam

    “Doubt. Is it a weakness or a fundamental strength of scientific exploration?”

    I don’t know. But it sure made me think.

    Especially Feynman’s comment about the beauty and complicated action and process that lies within a flower and that the color is created to attract an unsuspecting insect; to lure it into pollination.