The new Sahara (5×8 – 6/7/12)


It’s now been a year since the historic Missouri River flood and sections of farmland are now useless desert.

Storm chaser Mike Hollingshead first documented this phenomenon last year but recently has had a look at additional areas of Nebraska that have reopened. This week he released the results of his probe:

Show any of your friends these pictures and ask them to guess where in the world it is.


MPR’s Public Insight Network is rolling out a fascinating project documenting the history of the conservative movement from a personal perspective.

“This project is about getting to know a broad, complex and sometimes fractious community – and it’s about creating a venue for American conservatives to tell the story of American conservatism in their own voices, from their own experiences. But these stories aren’t just for conservatives and they aren’t just about conservatism; they are about the things that shape us,” Jeff Severns Guntzel says.

And, yes, he knows that some immediate reactions are going to be either (a) MPR sells out to conservatives or (b) you liberals are looking to mock conservatives. Helpful stuff, indeed.

“‘Conservative’ itself is not a terribly useful label to stick on a person’s politics,” he writes. “It’s too simple and needs a word or five before it or after it (or both). Conservatism – like any thriving movement or ideology – is a continuum with distinct extremes and a thousand shades in between. The thousand shades are lit up bright right now if you are willing to look and listen.

Find the project here.


You’re a passenger on a plane that’s already late for takeoff. The flight attendants have walked off and the pilot comes on the intercom to tell you why: The flight attendants didn’t think the jet was safe. But the pilot said it was and he encouraged the passengers to stick around.

Do you stay or leave?

It happened in Canada and a newspaper columnist was one of the people who had to make the decision:

The reason, of course, is because most everyone could relate to the impossibly difficult decision that had been foisted on us. Did we place our trust in the captain who said the plane was fine, or did we side with the flight attendants who don’t generally walk off flights for no reason? Did we stay or did we go?

I’m not a terrific flier at the best of times. That is why the slightest bump usually causes my stomach to go hurtling towards my throat at supersonic speed. This was air turbulence of a different sort.


To feed 7 billion people while protecting the environment, it would seem that going local is a no-brainer, Freakonomics radio says, until you start looking at the numbers.


The shin-kicking Olympics in Cotswald in the UK used to seem like mindless nonsense. In the last year or so, it seems like an obvious alternative to the world of political debate.

(h/t: Ben Chorn)

Bonus I: Derek Boogaard’s father reacts to reports the Minnesota Wild and New York Rangers’ team doctors kept prescribing drugs to him even after he was undergoing treatment for chemical dependency. (As It Happens)

Bonus II: To get you through your work day…


High school seniors in St. Charles, Minn., were required to take a breathalyzer test last week at graduation practice. School officials suspected that some members of the class had been drinking. Today’s Question: What do you think of a school’s requirement that all members of the senior class submit to a breathalyzer test?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Abolishing the property tax.

Second hour: Financial regulation in the wake of JP Morgan losses and Facebook IPO debacle.

Third hour: Brain injuries in athletes and soldiers.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): Rebroadcast of a Twin Cities “Pen Pals” Lecture by author Ray Bradbury, who died Tuesday. He talked about his life and work.

Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – Are labor unions necessary?

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – – A bog north of Grand Rapids will be the site of a $50 million, 10-year federal research project to study the effects of climate change on peatlands and forests. Researchers will artificially accelerate warming on experimental plots. It will be the only study of its kind in the world. MPR’s Tom Robertson will have the story.

The population of the United States may be getting more diverse. But the vast majority of American churches remain essentially monocultural. Nikki Tundel investigates the reasons behind this spiritual segregation and the benefits of worshiping alongside those with similar backgrounds.

The U.S. Senate begins consideration of the next farm bill today. The bill phases out direct payments to farmers and expands federally-backed crop insurance. MPR’s Washington reporter, Brett Neely is monitoring.

  • Joe

    Awesome! Glad to see Nick get the video link! I graduated from High School with Nick and have been watching the video’s the he has produced for the past few years and it’s always exciting to see the work he does.

    I would have to side with the flight attendants on this one as it is more of a consensus as opposed to one person’s opinion, at least that is my take.

  • Nick Nelson

    Thanx Bob for posting my little Itasca video! Just uploaded it yesterday with no real promotion, kinda curious how you stumbled on it? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Bob Collins

    Every day I do some keyword searches on video sites, hoping I stumble on just the right “touch” for a particular day. Today I did. Great job.

  • Mary

    The NE video reminds me of descriptions of the dust bowl of the 1930s. It would be interesting to check that out those who remember.

    I remember smaller versions of this in the Dakotas growing up when a creek would flood part of a field. But it was usually a corner, not the entire acre or planting.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Re The New Sahara:

    Guy walks into a bar in Bemidji. Sits down at the bar next to a big guy with a plaid shirt. Asks him what he does for a living. Turns out he’s a lumberjack. Asks him where he’s worked.

    “All over. Washington, Oregon, Alaska. The Sahara Forest.”

    “Don’t you mean the Sahara Desert?”

    “We work fast.”


  • Jamie

    Why ARE you doing a big thing on the conservative movement? Are you also doing a thing on the progressive movement? Or on The Enlightenment? The conservative movement is what has brought our democracy to the point of near-collapse. The conservative movement is what brought us trickle-down economics and a diminishing middle class. There certainly is no reason to glorify it, saying, “The thousand shades are lit up bright right now if you are willing to look and listen.”

  • Jim Shapiro

    Jamie – Agreed. The “thousand shades” rhetoric is rather similar ( intentionally or not) to George Bush the 1st’s “thousand points of light” “kindler, gentler” conservatism.

    Neil Young had THIS to say about THAT:

    We got a thousand points of light

    For the homeless man

    We got a kinder, gentler,

    Machine gun hand

    (Rockin in the Free World)

    That said, Information is Power. Know Thine Enemy. ( A lot’s of other fun platitudes where those came from.)

    One of the nice things about having knowledge about the varieties of conservative thought is that it enables one to convince the least conservative of the error of their ways,

    and thus more easily squash the most despicable extremists like the selfish, heartless vermin that they are.