What have you learned? (5×8 – 1/6/12)

Forty-five is the new 60, saving the Arboretum or destroying it, the bus people of Fargo, the Twins natives are restless, and temperatures are up and pants are down.

1) 45 IS THE NEW 60

Forty-five or older? Better take a seat, old-timer. Research released yesterday suggests your cognitive functioning begins to decline at age 45, about 15 years sooner than previously thought, the CBC reports.

For the study, 5,198 men and 2,192 women aged 45 to 70 were tracked over a 10-year period beginning in 1997 for signs of cognitive decline. Cognitive memory, aural and visual skills and vocabulary were assessed — and participants experienced declines in all areas except vocabulary. Study participants, who were all civil servants, were tested three times during the 10-year period. Educational backgrounds were taken into consideration.

Civil servants, you say? Insert your own comment here.

The researchers said good cardiovascular health achieved through sensible eating, a healthy body weight and normal blood pressure can help prevent dementia and rapid cognitive decline.

So, maybe you should share what you know while you still can. A group of much older people has.

Karl Pillemer of Cornell University says in 10 years, three quarters of America’s elders will be gone, many taking their knowledge and valuable lessons of life with them. His new book, “30 Lessons for Living,” asks close to 1,500 of American’s elders one simple question: What you have learned? He appeared on PBS NewsHour last evening.

Today’s discussion point: What have you learned?


The University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is one of the “hidden gems” of the state. Popular, but not too overpopulated.


Now, the Arboretum has big plans for expansion, including a treetop canopy walk, Chinese garden, sculpture garden and outdoor performance center.

“We’re looking at big-scale things that are transformational in the way the arboretum presents itself,” Ed Schneider told the Star Tribune last month. He became the arboretum’s director in July 2010.

But the “transformational” reference has some of the Arboretum’s fans upset. Writing in the Star Tribune today, Catherine and Curt Paulsen of Chanhassen said the Arboretum officials risk destroying what makes it special in the first place.

With admiration and confidence, we have watched former administrations clearly understand that when you add on to a natural setting, as in recent arboretum shows such as “Big Bugs,” there is a critical point when these shows overwhelm the context in which they exist. Until now, we have never seen administrators go over this critical point, and we had been confident that it would not happen.

Now we read that this “branching out” is to appeal to the market, which then, by definition, will take the arboretum in a direction that’s in the best interests of numbers and finance. That’s a sad commentary and a betrayal to those pioneers right up to the last administration who made changes, such as the new visitor’s center, without compromising the naturalness of the setting, which always seemed to come first.


A neighborhood in Fargo is unhappy that Jefferson Bus Lines has set up a bus station in their neighborhood, the Fargo Forum reports today.

In a letter to the city, members of a townhome association report that “some of the people who are waiting for a bus on the Jefferson Lines have been soliciting the neighborhood for money.”

Jefferson Lines officials say they’re surprised to hear homeowners are so concerned. They say they welcome feedback and want to change the stigma attached to bus stations.

What stigma would that be? The paper doesn’t go there.

Maybe there should be a stigma attached soon to people who fly. WCCO reports a Minnesota man got so drunk on a flight from Minnesota to Los Angeles, that passengers had to restrain him. There’s video, too! The story also reinforces why much of the “security show” around airlines is so pointless: Passengers won’t sit still when there’s a threat aboard an airplane anymore.


We’re only a little more than a month away from the start of baseball spring training, but there’s a sense of resignation among Twins fans. The team has been cutting payroll in the offseason and lost some of its stars to free agency, even though Target Field is full for every game. The team is not given much of a chance of competing in the American League Central, which is one of the weakest divisions in baseball.

The blog “That’s Twins Baseball” says most of the team’s TV revenue is going to one guy.

So let’s get this straight…the Twins are making $27.5M more a year in TV revenue and cutting payroll by roughly $15M in the third year of a beautiful, revenue spewing ballpark? I now have no problem with fans thinking about their pitchforks and torches. It feels like you can do better than Jason Marquis and no bullpen help when you’re sitting on added revenue, and money that was already cut from payroll.

(h/t: David Brauer via Twitter)


Enjoying the warm weather? Get ready for the downside. Sunday is No Pants Day and there’s not the usual disincentive around here to keep people on light rail from taking part.

Bonus I: If you can pronounce correctly every word in this poem, you will be speaking English better than 90% of the native English speakers in the world.

Bonus II: What happens when science is de-emphasized in America’s schools? This.

Reminder: Please read the story of Mary Steiner.


President Obama laid out his vision Thursday for a leaner military more reliant on sea and air power. While his strategy would be aimed at maintaining overall military superiority, it would no longer require that the United States be prepared to fight two ground wars simultaneously. Today’s Question: What do you think of President Obama’s plan for a leaner military?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Ten years ago this Sunday, George Bush signed into law the No Child Left Behind Act. Since then it has become a lightning rod for criticism, and the focus of the fight over how to improve American education. Midmorning looks at what NCLB has achieved, where it’s failed, and what comes next?

Second hour: Manners in the digital age.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: This week R. T. Rybak marks ten years as Minneapolis Mayor. He will be in the studio with Gary Eichten to talk about the future of the city.

Second hour: Movie Maven, Stephanie Curtis, on the best movies of all time.

Science Friday (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Can a simple sugar pill treat pain?

Second hour: How does winter work?

  • The University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is one of the “hidden gems” of the state. Popular, but not too overpopulated.

    I’d rather have an expanded Arboretum than no Arboretum at all.

    I need to go back this spring. I don’t go there enough.

  • andy

    #2 When in MN, I really enjoyed the Arboretum you have. Being in Chicago now, I am near the Morton Arboretum in the western suburbs. It used to be a simple visitor center and a paved path through the woods. They’ve since expanded. A huge new visitor center was built, a restaurant, junk for kids to climb on, etc. I suppose the objective was met, unfortunately, it’s now so overcrowded, I don’t go anymore. Catch 22 I suppose.

  • Bonnie

    Mary Steiners story is amazing. The story of Africa is so disheartening. Today there is a rally at the Capitol for people who want to wire money to Somalia, and I agree there needs to be a solution. I heard the NPR story the other day about the tragedy of the famine and how it could have been prevented but for U.S. terrorism issues preventing sending aid and cash over there. My question is, and this is probably going to raise some hackles…why don’t we, living here in the twin cities, hear more about the famine? With one of the largest Somali populations in the U.S., why aren’t there people more vocal about the U.S. doing something about the famine?

    As for the arb – its the same story over and over, your favorite quaint spot becomes too popular and its ruined for you. Silly me, I always think there is somewhere “in between” where things can settle to the satisfaction of most. I think they used to call it “compromise”. A quaint notion indeed.

  • Elaine Love

    “45 is the new 60” is sanity producing, oddly enough.

  • John P.

    “If you can pronounce correctly every word”

    I work with a number of people whose first language is Spanish. I really feel for them. English is so incredibly inconsistent about pronunciation. The same sequence of letters can make so many different sounds and different sequences can make identical sounds. I don’t know how anyone who does not grow up speaking English ever learns.

    I know a some German and some Spanish, and I doubt they do spelling bees in either language.