The amazing, changing you (5×8 – 1/4/12)

Overestimating your ‘wonderfulness,’ jobs and the health-care law, the value of the UMD brand, whatever happened to the tornado victims, and a Moorhead man steps up for the people he didn’t know.


You’re going to change more than you think, a Harvard study reports today. The Boston Globe reports the survey demonstrates that we’ll likely make bad decisions by underestimating how different we’re going to be. Soon.

To test how well we predict and remember personal change, the scientists surveyed 19,000 people ranging from age 18 to 68. Their answers demonstrate that people not only underestimate how much they will change, but may use such information to make bad decisions, for example investing too much in a present-day preference because they assume it will remain true in the future.

One of the authors of the study, Jordi Quoidbach, a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard, hosts a popular television series in France about the science of happiness and used the website of the show to recruit thousands of research subjects. In an initial experiment, he asked 7, 519 people to complete a standard personality assessment and either to report how they would have answered it 10 years ago, or predict how they would answer it 10 years from now. Instead of waiting 10 years to see how predictions were borne out, the authors compared people of different ages. For example, 18-year-olds’ predictions about how much they would change in the future were compared with 28-year-olds’ reports of how much they’ve changed.

The New York Times says people tend to think the basic elements of our lives now will be the basic elements of our lives 10 years from now.

When asked about their favorite band from a decade ago, respondents were typically willing to shell out $80 to attend a concert of the band today. But when they were asked about their current favorite band and how much they would be willing to spend to see the band’s concert in 10 years, the price went up to $129. Even though they realized that favorites from a decade ago like Creed or the Dixie Chicks have lost some of their luster, they apparently expect Coldplay and Rihanna to blaze on forever.

“The end-of-history effect may represent a failure in personal imagination,” said Dan P. McAdams, a psychologist at Northwestern who has done separate research into the stories people construct about their past and future lives. He has often heard people tell complex, dynamic stories about the past but then make vague, prosaic projections of a future in which things stay pretty much the same.

“Helps explain why/how I outgrew my husband/marriage,” a commenter on the NY Times website said. The comments, by the way, are worth browsing.


The health care law debate should flare anew with Moody’s declaring it will have a negative impact on job creation in 2013, USA Today reports.

Under the Affordable Care Act, businesses that employ at least 50 full-time workers — or the equivalent, including part-time workers — must offer health insurance to staffers who work at least 30 hours a week. Employers that don’t provide coverage must pay a $2,000-per-worker penalty, excluding the first 30 employees.

The so-called employer mandate to offer health coverage doesn’t take effect until Jan. 1, 2014. But to determine whether employees work enough hours on average to receive benefits, employers must track their schedules for three to 12 months prior to 2014 — meaning many are restructuring payrolls now or will do so early next year.

About a quarter of businesses surveyed by consulting firm Mercer don’t offer health coverage to employees who work at least 30 hours a week. Half of them plan to make changes so fewer employees work that many hours.


Jim Fetzer, the former UMD professor who insisted the death of Paul Wellstone was a government assassination, is at it again. The Duluth News Tribune reports that Fetzer’s latest theory is that the government was involved in the Connecticut school shootings.

What little weight Fetzer’s research generally carries usually comes from these words “University of Minnesota Duluth professor.” That bothers some people, the News Tribune says.

But to the average person who reads the Fetzer piece, it appears Fetzer represents UMD, said Donna Halper, an associate professor of communication at Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass. Fetzer identifies himself as a UMD professor emeritus and notes his faculty page on UMD’s website.

“For a professor to be spreading stereotypes under the guise of academic freedom is profoundly disappointing,” said Halper, whose earlier career in radio led her to Duluth several times. She found Duluth to be tolerant and compassionate, she said, and she was surprised to read Fetzer’s work, which she classified as a “fringe view.”

“I’m not saying he doesn’t have the right to speak, but … when it comes from a professor, it makes me wonder: What did he teach his students?” asked Halper, who teaches courses on philosophy and communication ethics. “Here you have someone who is allegedly an educated person spreading such uneducated opinions in the name of Duluth. That’s outrageous.”

More education: And there’s the teacher you wish you and your kids had. It’s fitting that he’s Mr. Wright.

Wright’s Law from Zack Conkle on Vimeo.


Long before there was Hurricane Sandy victims, there were the victims in Marysville, Indiana, where a tornado wiped out part of the small town last March. Marysville couldn’t be more different than the people in the cities who have gotten well-deserved attention for their problems. Marysville has no mayor, no school and no shopping center.

The out-of-towners who came in to cover the aftermath suggested the small town was history.

Perhaps you remember this picture of Marta Righthouse I posted, which started a long-distance series of connections between people in the Midwest (which I wrote about here), which revealed that we’re all more tied together than we might think.


We cover these tornadoes when they hit, but we rarely follow up later to see how everyone fared. Not this time.

I heard last night from Debbie Gilbert, a Marysville resident who reported that Marta has moved to a nearby town.

As for Marysville, only four homes have been rebuilt and the Marysville Christian Church is under construction. The Community Center is slowly getting renovated and has a new picnic shelter.

My husband and I are building a new home in Marysville, just not in the same location. We lost all of the buildings and grain storage for the family farm operation to the tornado and have decided to rebuild near his mother’s home about two miles away from our former home.

Although we haven’t met, I would like to thank you for thinking of those of us from Marysville. The last nine months have certainly been a trying experience; one I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

I would like to add that we have been fortunate though, in that no one in our little town was injured or killed. We have counted our blessings many times since March 2nd. We feel especially lucky when we see the devastation that has taken place elsewhere.

I can’t imagine going through Hurricane Sandy, or, facing the tragedy in Newtown, CT. We are truly blessed to have friends and family.

I will close by saying that, if you have ever taken notice, the volunteers from all over the country are true heroes. They come in droves no matter what the disaster. They provide hands on help you wouldn’t believe unless you’ve seen it; they bring hope and comfort to those who are too shaken to know whats going to happen next. But most of all, they bring the true human spirit.

In the face of helplessness, they just do what needs to be done and never ask for anything in return. They help put peoples lives back together.

Thanks so much for caring.


In Jamestown, ND, six people were killed in a crash the day after Christmas. The men, several from Mexico by way of Missouri, died when their truck crossed the median and was struck by a semi on Interstate 94.

The need for jobs took them to North Dakota. They were among the first Hispanics to move into their Missouri city.

There wasn’t much Randy Kremer of Moorhead could do other than raise money to send the men’s bodies home. The family members of the dead weren’t sure how they could afford it.

“I’ve had friends who lost parents and loved ones on the holidays, so when the holidays roll around you’re reminded every year,” Kramer tells the Fargo Forum. “I just felt really bad for those people and thought I could do something.”

Bonus I: Again with the fancy proposals…

And here’s another.

But, you know, it doesn’t take much to get married. The real accomplishment is staying married. In Crookston, Clifford and Eva Vevea were married for 65 years when they died within hours of each other.

Bonus II: This would be a good day to sign up for organ donation.

Bonus III: If you’re going to make a citizen’s arrest of a shoplifter, it’s best if you don’t kill him. It happened in West Allis, WI.


The Minnesota Vikings will meet the Green Bay Packers on Saturday for the second time in a week. Today’s Question: Are Minnesota and Wisconsin rivals in areas aside from football?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: The Friday roundtable panel discusses top arts and culture stories of 2012.

Second hour: Why do women outlive men?

Third hour: Swapping jobs.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): Humorist and author Calvin Trillin, speaking in Minneapolis at the “Talk of the Stacks” series about his new book “Dogfight: An Occasionally Interrupted Narrative Poem about the Presidential Campaign.”

Science Friday (1-2 p.m.) – The year in science.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – With a 3D printer, you could make almost anything. What might this technology mean to the future of the manufacturing industry? NPR looks at pre-cursors to another industrial revolution.

  • Greg W

    RE: Bonus I

    That is very cool! Good for him.

    Thank goodness I got engaged before this craze of weird/intricate/heavily produced proposals took hold. I think I would have had a nervous breakdown trying to come up with something other than getting down on one knee.

    My wife is a big fan of Iron Man. I’m doubly glad she didn’t know that building a mock arc reactor would have been a possible option for a proposal. It would have been tough to fit in some sort of night school electrical engineering classes without her noticing.

  • BJ

    Bonus I:

    That Iron Man guy is a real geek. As a serious geek and dork this dude is a very serious geek and dork. Spent more time to talk about the servo motor than girlfriends reaction. I like that he had to point out that she was a geek and she thought it was cool. Also that this is the second Arc Reactor he built.

    Fancy proposal – I might try to hollow out a book to hide the ring it, except I would run the risk that my wife would kill me for wrecking a book.

  • kennedy

    Re #2: As I read it, the story presents a mixed picture. 12% of businesses surveyed (half of 25%) are planning changes to avoid the cost of providing health care to full time employees. The workaround is to stay below the 30 hour limit by dividing the work among more employees. This means more jobs, not less. But the increase will be part time work.

    This only affects businesses that are not currently providing access to health insurance. No change for 88% of businesses.

    Larger companies with more employees are more likely to provide a health insurance benefit. The percent of workers affected will be less than 12%.

    The average cost for employee health insurance is about $450/month. The law does not require companies to provide this benefit for free. Employees typically pay a portion of the premium. The law limits the employee portion to 9.5% of their salary. An employee working 40 hours per week for $10/hour would pay $150/month for health insurance. The company would be required to pay the other $300/month.