On-campus struggles for returning vets (5×8 – 11/29/11)


Visit any college campus in Minnesota, especially the community colleges, and the chances are good you’ll run into a veteran. The Post-9/11 GI Bill is sending many returning veterans back to school, and many are having a difficult time with the readjustment, the Washington Post reports.

As a result, colleges are contending with adjustment problems and serious disorders far different from those for which their staffs have been trained: traumatic brain injury; post-traumatic stress related to combat and often accompanied by depression and substance abuse; and military sexual trauma, as sexual abuse in the service is known.

Some student veterans say they have little in common with their younger, more sheltered classmates whose concerns typically revolve around their social lives and separating from their parents. They describe feeling both conspicuous and isolated, put on the spot when they are singled out in class by well-meaning faculty members who solicit their views on foreign policy; turned off by the unstructured, sometimes frivolous, college atmosphere; and loath to admit they are having difficulty. Many mourn the absence of the close friendships and intense sense of mission that are often the glue of military life, particularly in a war zone.


The Star Tribune today has posted an op-ed response to its somewhat crude editorial on the efforts of some Target workers to get a break around the Thanksgiving holiday (“they should be grateful they have a job,” the dismissive advice was). Elissa Hulin Peterson, a psychologist who says she works with dysfunctional families, penned the response:

There is an old proverb about how the best way to fit rocks, pebbles and sand into a bag is to put the rocks in first and fit the pebbles and sand around them.

It is interesting that even the thoughtful editors of a newspaper in a family-friendly state say that the corporations’ needs are the rocks, and families will just have to fit around them, rather than vice versa.

Let’s be clear that intruding into holidays is only one way in which corporate interests are squeezing out everything else. They have already crowded out leisure time — we work, on average, nine weeks a year longer than do Western Europeans, longer even than the Japanese.

They have seeped into our public spaces — we now attend sporting events at places named after corporations instead of revered senators.

But, as you may have heard, plenty of people went shopping last week, and went online yesterday. One line in MPR reporter Marty Moylan’s story stood out. Andrew Lipsman, a vice president of marketing and industry analysis for comScore, which tracks retailers’ website traffic, observed our habits:

About half the online shopping done Monday occurred at workplace computers, mostly during coffee and lunch breaks, Lipsman said.

Coffee and lunch breaks? Do people really wait until a break to do their personal thing on the web? Confess.

Economic reality check: Santa is worried about his economic future:


Recycling is too hard for many people in Duluth, Hermantown, and Proctor, the Duluth News Tribune reports. The Western Lake Sanitary District in Duluth ripped open all the plastic garbage bags recently and found them filled with glass and aluminum, things that should’ve been recycled:

“We knew we had an issue with beverage containers. But when we did the math, it was shocking,” WLSSD spokeswoman Karen Anderson said. “It came to more than 18 million pop and beer cans, and another 19 million plastic bottles, every year.” And that only from Duluth, Hermantown and Proctor, she said.

That’s a lot of AquaFina, Mountain Dew and Bud Light — 423 cans and 461 plastic bottles per house per year in the Duluth area that aren’t being recycled.

That’s $721,000 in lost revenue to the District — the amount recycled aluminum, plastic, and glass brings in.

The survey may give some impetus to efforts to enact a “bottle bill” in Minnesota, requiring deposits on bottles and cans to encourage recycling. A 5-cent deposit in Iowa, the paper says, has led to a 90-percent recycling rate.

More trash: In Maplewood, city officials last night voted to require residents to use one trash hauler, the Pioneer Press reports, saying it will be more efficient.

At one point, Mayor Will Rossbach warned an angry crowd to act like adults.

“You’re not the boss, and you’re not the king!” one man shouted.

“Yes, I am, as a matter of fact,” Rossbach replied, threatening to have police evict anyone who continued to disrupt the meeting.


The Northern Lights yesterday afternoon in Fergus Falls:


CAT scanners were developed to detect cancers and other illnesses. But a conference of radiologists in Chicago has been told of a stunning new use — violins. A Stradivarius violin has been “recreated” using the scanner normally used to detect cancers and injuries, researchers say. The team said the technique could be used to give musicians access to rare musical equipment, according to the BBC.

It’s a big deal for serious music students who need an intrument to learn to play is “at the level that you need to have a really first rate career,” a Julliard dean says. But they can’t afford the $16 million an original Stradivarius goes for.

Bonus: Urinal video games have been installed in London.


Relations between Pakistan and the United States continue to deteriorate, following the deaths of two dozen Pakistani soldiers in NATO airstrikes. Pakistan has closed supply routes into Afghanistan and ordered a CIA drone base shut down. Today’s Question: What should be the goal of U.S. policy toward Pakistan?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Getting paid to lose weight.

Second hour: In the space of a few weeks, four serious dramas about mentally unstable characters were released in theaters. We discuss how mental illness is portrayed in film, and how filmmakers use narrative form to put audiences in the same frame of mind as the characters they’re watching.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: The latest from Pakistan.

Second hour: From MPR’s Bright Ideas series, Carol Stack gives advice on selecting and paying for college.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: A look at holiday retailing.

Second hour: Police tactics and the Occupy protests.