Theft of the 5×8 (5×8 – 8/22/12)

Now this message from reality, live from the hungry, the Serial Stackers, how to close the achievement gap, and the light-rail shuffle.

I turned portions of today’s post over to readers (via Twitter). They didn’t disappoint.


Rick writes about Beth Adams of Lakeville for

I met Beth on Saturday as I was driving through the hinterlands of Lakeville, looking for garage sales. One of the odd things about living through tough financial times is that you get to the point where you notice the desperation in a stranger’s eyes. You meet someone and you recognize the fear, the stress and the way they walk as if the entire world is resting on their shoulders. Living with few options usually isn’t a learning opportunity. It’s more likely the chance to discover how limited your options can be. You can hide the tension for a long time. But like most important things, financial pressures have a tendency to overwhelm your life no matter how strong you think you are.


Reese Leysen and @AtheneLOL are apparently big deals in the online gaming world and on YouTube. They’ve traveled to Mali as part of a Save The Children 24-hour livre broadcast from West Africa.


“Earlier this month in Spokane, some anonymous pranksters were stacking picnic tables at parks into elaborate pyramids (the largest used 45 tables altogether). The stackers developed a cult following after someone started the “Spokane Serial Stackers” Facebook page, where people post photos of things they’ve stacked up.

“That has in turned inspired a local radio station to start Spokane Cereal Stackers , a cereal drive for local food banks. A radio station in Florida has picked up on the story, but I don’t think it’s had any other coverage outside Spokane.

“What I love about this is the perpetrators channeled their mischief into something attention-getting and inspiring, and others figured out a way to use that momentum to help others. It’s a level of whimsy that Spokane isn’t all that accustomed to.”


Every time test scores are released in Minnesota, officials note the relatively unchanging “achievement gap,” and say “we’ve got to do better.” We rarely do better and the cycle has been repeated for years. But it’s clear if we really wanted to better educate motivated low-income, minority students, we could. It’s not a mystery as this segment on PBS NewsHour proves.

Maybe the way to look at the challenge is the way teacher Drego Little approaches it:

“When I look at one of my Latinas, for example, I treat her as though she is going to be my I would say grandchild’s pediatrician, or when I look at one of our black American boys, I try and educate him as though he were going to be my city council person.

I try to treat them as though they are going to be consequential people, and we work back from there. And I find that if you treat them like they actually have a future, they tend to have one.”


Flash Mob Zumba from Nick Clausen on Vimeo.

Bonus I: Yesterday, I posted about the insinuation from a Minnesota politician that people who are voting against the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in Minnesota are unpatriotic. We heard from Jeff Wilfahrt:

“Have Mr. Dan Hall come and see me, I’ll show him the Bronze Star and Purple Heart that allow him to say these things. Then he can hold the flag flown over the Arizona on our son’s behalf, and the coffin flag and oh so much more. Jeff Wilfahrt, father of CPL Andrew Wilfahrt, 552nd MP Company, KIA 2-27-2011, Kandahar, Afghanistan.”

Cpl. Andrew Wilfahrt, 31, of Rosemount died in in Afghanistan when insurgents attacked his patrol with an improvised explosive device. He is the first known gay member of the military from Minnesota to be killed in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Bonus II: The Great Bicycle Helmet Debate ( A non-helmeteer thinks it’s only a matter of time before Minnesota mandates helmets for bicyclists.


The Minnesota State Fair plans to keep its pig exhibits open this year, despite concerns about the possibility of a swine flu outbreak. Former state epidemiologist Michael Osterholm has warned that a current flu strain is being spread from pigs to people, and he urges that the fair’s swine barn be closed. Fair managers plan to watch for sick pigs and encourage people to wash their hands. Today’s Question: Are you satisfied with the State Fair’s precautions against swine flu?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: A look at Mitt Romney’s energy proposals.

Second hour: Mining asteroids.

Third hour: Essential political reading.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): On science fiction writer Ray Bradbury’s birthday, we’ll rebroadcast a Pen Pals lecture he gave in the Twin Cities back in 2000. Bradbury died in June at the age of 91.

Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – The Political Junkie.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – In November, Californians will vote whether to make the crime of sex trafficking easier to prosecute. The proposed law would ramp up the penalties for pimps. That includes having to register as a sex offender. NPR will report on how California uses the ballot box to fight sex trafficking.