When words aren’t necessary (5×8 – 12/17/12)

The power of silence, 26 moments that restored faith in humanity, the Sunday school Christmas, where did the farmers go, and Rubio or Peterson?

The Monday Morning Rouser…


I write words about the news for a living, but I haven’t written any about Friday’s shooting, even though I know I’m supposed to. I’ve read some of the words that columnists and editorialists have written and they fall short; each is searching for the profound observation about an illogical act. As for the news stories, I’ve read some of those, too, even though for the most part I’ve turned the TV and radio off and tried not to read the newspaper. Do I really need to know how many times some children were shot or at what range?

No, I don’t. Not that.

We are humans and because we are, we have our thoughts. You don’t need help from anyone telling you how you should feel. You feel it. I feel it.

Which is why I think a comedy show — Saturday Night Live — got it right this weekend.

More: Mass murder is horrible enough without the hype. (Boston Globe)

Related: The incredible healing power of a hug:


Bless you, Internet. BuzzFeed provides the needed perspective on things. The dying man who received more mail than he’d hoped for, the kind stranger who prevented someone’s day from being ruined, the doctor who offered free medical care after Hurricane Sandy, and the parents who tattooed insulin pumps on their bellies so their diabetic son wouldn’t feel “different”, and more.


And…. one! Hayden Carlo,25, of Wylie, Texas was pulled over by police for driving a car with an expired registration. He told the officer he had to buy food for his family and couldn’t afford the renewal fee. When Carlo received his citation, it was attached to a $100 bill.

And…. two! The outdoor skating rink at Phalen Recreation Center in Saint Paul was left a mess when thieves ripped off copper piping in November. So two companies made things right. (Star Tribune)



(Photo: Audrey Kletscher Helbling)

“Now I am at that place in my life when I sit side-by-side with my husband in a pew, our children grown and gone, not yet married, awaiting those Christmases when the tradition of the Sunday School Christmas Program will pass along to the next generation,” Audrey Kletscher Helbling writes on her blog, Minnesota Prairie Roots. Sweet pictures are included in her remembrance of pageants passed.


The DFL — as in Democrat, Farmer, Labor –has regained control of the Minnesota Legislature. but you’ll have a hard time finding any farmers at the Capitol. The Mankato Free Press says only nine lawmakers are farmers, calling it an “extraordinary collapse.”

In the ’70s, there were almost 50 farmers, which allowed for legislation such as the mandate requiring that gasoline be blended with ethanol.

The occupations of the new Legislature allow lawmakers to spend a lot of time getting nothing done, the Free Press suggests. A Legislature of farmers didn’t have that luxury:

There’s probably one other repercussion of the plummeting number of farmers at the Capitol — an effect that most Minnesotans have noticed in recent years as legislative sessions have tended to drag on and on. Several times, the dallying has stretched into summertime special sessions and government shutdowns as lawmakers refused to compromise on budgets and policy disputes long after the mid-May adjournment target.

That trend has mainly been blamed on growing partisanship and inflexibility, but it also has to do with the dearth of farmers, according to Kalis and Torkelson. Lawmakers can dig in and refuse to yield at the Capitol, even when spring arrives because so few of them need to worry that an extended session is going to reduce their yields if they don’t get home and dig into their planting.

Back when farmers dominated the Legislature, it might have been acceptable in January and February and March to debate endlessly and spurn proposed compromises. But when the frost left the ground and the soil dried and the weather turned sunny and warm, farmer/legislators were eager to reach a deal.


Ricky Rubio has returned.

Even the reigning superstar of Minnesota — Adrian Peterson — got in on the celebration.


And Peterson had a good weekend, too, pulling within the NFL’s single-season rushing record.

Which brings up the question: Who is the more beloved Minnesota sports star?

More sports: The principles of game theory and baseball (Hardball Times)

Bonus I: Holiday Party Bingo! Go here for more bingo cards.


Bonus II: The 30 freakiest ads of 2012 (Ad Freak)


In an editorial posted within hours of Friday’s shootings, the Hartford Courant concluded: “… this much is certain, attested to by the Newtown school shooting: It is far too easy in America for a sick mind to find a gun and use it.” Today’s Question: Is it time for a change in America’s gun-control laws?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: How to talk to kids about the school shooting.

Second hour: Regulators are putting the final touches on the Dodd-Frank Act, and the new financial regulation rules are set to go into effect soon. What will these rules accomplish in terms of monitoring the banking industry, and what items does finance reporter Gretchen Morgenson think the Act will miss? How can we make regulation simpler and more effective?

Third hour: In the wake of the tragic shooting in Newton, Connecticut, what can school officials learn? Can school safety and security policies be improved upon?

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): Rabbi Harold Kushner. The best-selling author’s speech was given this fall at the Basilica in Minneapolis about overcoming loss and disappointment, dealing with hard times, and his newest book, “The Book of Job: When Bad Things Happened to a Good Person.”

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

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – TBA

  • Robert Moffitt

    #4 Just stumbled across the Free-Press story on famers in the MN legislature myself. Thought to myself, Bob Collins might like this…

    #1 Home sick on Friday afternnon, I watched a repeat of a television crime drama about terrorists. It was the least depressing thing I could find on TV that day. That’s what it has come to…

  • BJ

    #1 – Thanks.

    “We are humans and because we are, we have our thoughts. You don’t need help from anyone telling you how you should feel. You feel it. I feel it.”

  • Mary Schaefle

    #1 As usual you nailed it.

    The power of silence.

    The power of a hug.

    The power of music.

    Those three things will get us through those tough times – whether collective or personal.

  • JB
  • Bonnie Lokenvitz


    And what does it say to us in rural Minnesota when the house chair of Ag Finance is from MPLS?


  • Bob Collins

    I saw that a lot of people were reposting it, JB. But I chose not to read it.

    Bonnie, the committee is Environmental Resources ANd Ag Finance. I always wondered why ag committees always seem to be combined with another committee mission.

    OTOH, Rep. Jeanne Poppe (DFL-Austin), has the Ag Policy Comte.

  • tboom

    Bob, I suggest you read the article JB linked. There are many families dealing with children who have mental health issues. Few become mass murderers, they ALL need outside help.

    To the best of my knowledge Jeanne Poppe is not from a “farm family”. Jeanne Poppe is a college counselor representing an agricultural community with an ag related Fortune 500 corporation.

  • Chris N.

    I’ll echo the recommendation to anyone that you read the “I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother” article. It is emotional but not, I think, sensationalist. The most striking point the mother who wrote the article makes is that until her child, or someone like him, commits a crime, there is not much the government can do to support the parents. So she must live in fear of her son until he does something bad enough that he goes to jail or a mental health facility run by the prison system.

    We do need to have a conversation about gun control, but with so much emotion on both sides I am really afraid it won’t come to anything. Or, if it does, the solution will be to “legislate our fear” as a friend said to me, rather than to try to determine the best course of action. So a conversation about our treatment of mental health is, I think, long overdue and more likely to be fruitful.

  • Bob Collins

    // son until he does something bad enough that he goes to jail or a mental health facility run by the prison system.

    tboom, Chris:

    I was sure that was the point it would make because I’ve written about that situation dozens of times and it wouldn’t be telling me anything I didn’t already know. It would repeat, basically, what our series Bad State of Mind reported many, many years ago, to near universal disinterest.

    I hear the same story hundreds of times in Minnesota about parents just like her.

    It’s been endlessly frustrating that so few people cared.

  • Shannon

    Thank you.

  • Chris N.

    >It’s been endlessly frustrating that so few people cared.

    I don’t doubt it. Hopefully after this people will care. It’s depressing to think that the tragedies prior to this didn’t bring the issue any more traction, and that even now we may not see meaningful movement on mental health issues.

    Incidentally I wasn’t trying to call you out on this. You said you didn’t want to read it, and I assumed you had a good reason not to. But for anyone reading the comments down here who hasn’t thought a lot about the mental health aspect of acts like this, I think it’s a good wake-up call. I’ll also check out the Bad State of Mind report, thanks for the link.

  • Bob Collins


  • Michele

    Re #1: This piece makes similar points as those made by Liza Long, e.g. serious mental illness is not treated within our health care system but rather in the penal system.


    The upshot of this piece is that the system and society fails mentally ill patients and questions how expensive treating them would be particularly given all the other vastly more expensive endeavours (Afghanistan, Iraq).

  • Michele

    Re #4:

    Farming is big business. Like it or not, increasing numbers of farms are owned by people who have no training or practical skills specific to farming. They are bankers, doctors, lawyers, and other business people with the resources to buy a farm. Such farms are run by farm management companies who hire a single person to tend multiple farms. This is the reality.

    So it’s not surprising that the DFL doesn’t have many real live farmers in St. Paul.

  • Lily

    Bad State of Mind is still present in 2012.

    Stigma, cuts to direct services, and parent blaming still abound.

    God bless the Lanzas— and the thousands or more similar families still caring for an adult child with major mental illness–as well as for those caring for a child/adolescent.

    Sigmund Freud is still “alive and well” in many respects in our mental health system. Mothers are still the object of blame in some of our largest heatlh care systems ( UMMC-Fairview among the worst…)

    Let’s move mental health care into this century. Let’s listen to parents, treat biological brain illnesses, and fight for adequate funding for treatment and services. Our families deserve nothing less.