The power of the neighbor (5×8- 2/6/13)

A rink for the Rossinnis, until hope is found in Kenya, was the farm ad really a tribute to today’s farmer, when is the last time you got an important piece of mail on Saturday, and a return to Grand Central Terminal.


There’s never a good age for Alzheimer’s, but 52 is particularly cruel, especially when your kids are in their early teens.

The Pioneer Press reports today it happened to Tony Rossini of Roseville. In a tribute to neighbor Ken Liung, the paper bites off a small part of how neighbors can still make a difference.

When he was diagnosed five years ago, Mr. Rossini wanted to build a hockey rink for his kids and their friends to provide some distraction for the disease that has now forced him to an assisted living facility.

That’s when Mr. Liung stepped in.

There are no happy endings with Alzheimer’s. But at least there can be good neighbors along the journey.

(I know you know people doing things like this. Tell me about them.)


Filmmaker Patrick Mureithi of Missouri has just released this documentary on the future of Kenya, which he produced with the help of a Kickstarter campaign.

“What I hope is that people can watch the film and they can see severely traumatized men and women who are beginning to heal from their trauma, and they can be motivated to look at their own lives, to look at the trauma in their lives and to begin to address this trauma because if we do not address this trauma on a personal level it continues to perpetuate in our lives and our relationships with our loved ones. But on a national level it continues in terms of repeated cycles of violence,” he tells KSMU Radio.

In December, he returned to Kenya to screen the film. But he didn’t distribute it through movie theaters. He gave the DVDs to pirates in a section of Narirobi “that is notorious for duplication of everything from Hollywood films to local music.”

“I did that because the pirates have the best distribution system in the country. I mean, once the duplicators get ahold of Hollywood films or local music, they then make copies and they give them to their vendors, and their vendors are all around the country, right, there are vendors on many street corners. I knew that if I gave them a copy of my film, which I did for free and I told them to distribute it as widely as they want to–all the profit is theirs, I knew that they then would have the incentive to distribute it throughout the country,” he said.

(h/t: Will Chiles)


The Dodge truck “When God Made a Farmer” ad during the Super Bowl tapped a deep vein of sentiment in favor of the farmer. Who doesn’t think farmers should get a little love? But does it do more harm than good?

Rachel Laudan’s Historian’s Take on Food and Agriculture leans that way…

The last farmer in the video is driving what appears to be a 9R John Deere tractor. That comes in at about $250,000-380,000. If his land is good quality cropland in the Middle West, it’s likely to be about $5000 an acre. If he has a dairy, the family has been using artificial insemination for at least fifty years, tracking milk production with minute care.

He uses computer software to manage the farm. He has a global positioning system to help him manage crops. He follows the agricultural press (especially prices) carefully and goes on regular farm visits to see what new tricks he can learn.

He’s a business man. He has to stay on top of the market. He has a large capital investment, a big loan, and he worries about whether he can send his kid to college. And if he can’t, well then there’s no future as a farmer.

Look, if we continue to accept the kind of images promoted by this ad, images of the farmer as a good hearted chap, working with the technology of the late 1930s, and thus not frightfully smart, how are we ever going to get a sensible grip on agriculture?

That is to say: the images of farming is to the farm today what the corner apothecary is to Target.

(h/t: Than Tibbetts)

Related: God also made a DJ, apparently.


It’s the end of the line for Saturday delivery and, maybe, the beginning of the end of the line for the U.S. Postal Service. It’s announcing today it will eliminate Saturday mail delivery. That’s bad news for the greeting card lobby, and, according to the union, 80,000 jobs.

Is Friday next? In an article last year, Slate indicated that dumping Saturdays won’t even begin to make a difference in the finances of the postal service.

The authorities have been saying Saturday service would likely be ending for years, and the calls have been met with a big bucket of “so what?” from the public.


It seems as though Improve Everywhere got its viral start thanks to its original flash mob (when flash mobs were cool) at Grand Central a few years ago. So it’s only right that as the place celebrates the 100th birthday, there was a role for the group.

Bonus I: Take a hike along the Grand Canyon Bright Angel trail. It’s better than doing any work. Trust me.

Bonus II: The many faces of the Apostle Island Sled Dog Race (warning: cute ahead!)

Bonus III: Jon Stewart’s funny bit on GOP messaging expert Frank Lutz left out and important question:Why, as CBS News did, do news organizations hire a political party’s spin director as an “analyst” and brand him with the news organization’s name?

Bonus IV: The mystery and masks of the Iron Range. (Minnesota Brown)


Tonight, Gov. Mark Dayton will present his third State of the State address to a joint session of the Minnesota Legislature. Today’s Question: How would you rate Gov. Dayton’s performance after two years in office?


It’s a membership drive. Several of these segments are rebroadcasts.

Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Oliver Burkeman, writer for The Guardian. His new book “The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking” explores the upsides of negativity, uncertainty, failure and imperfection.

Second hour: Neurologist and author Oliver Sacks.

Third hour: Oceanographer and deep sea explorer David Gallo

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s speech to the American Enterprise Institute titled “Making Life Work for More People.”

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

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – As American forces head home, Afghanistan is asking for its own tanks, planes and other conventional weapons to protect its borders. But Washington says the Afghan military should reset its priorities to battling insurgents. NPR will report on the divide between what Afghanistan’s military wants and what the Pentagon says it needs.

School officials in Moose Lake and Rushford-Peterson are teaming up this year to try to get legislative support that would contribute some funding for infrastructure upgrades in both districts. MPR’s Elizabeth Baier will have the story.

So far this year, Congress has scaled the fiscal cliff and dodged the debt limit. Now, lawmakers have at least one more hurdle to jump in the coming weeks. In Washington-speak, it’s known as sequestration. Those are across the board budget cuts that were part of the 2011 debt limit deal. Brett Neely has more on how the sequester could affect Minnesota.

MPR’s Euan Kerr profiles Australian guitarist Ben Frost, who lives and draws inspiration from his home in Iceland, where he creates ambient music.

  • Robert Moffitt

    3) Several farmers I follow in social media liked the Dodge ad. As for helping people understand modern agriculture and ranching, it’s going to take a lot more than a Super Bowl ad. Most people have no real connection or understanding about the industry that makes their food — and fuel.

  • BJ

    3) I second Robert’s anecdote, Hearing Paul Harvey reminded people of their noon time meals from the past.

  • Chuck

    As Robert noted, most people have no connection to the way farming, and many other things, get done in this country. Try reading “Hidden America,” by Jeanne Marie Laskas, which has–among other fascinating subjects–a chapter on Texas ranchers and a chapter on Hispanic migrant blueberry pickers in Maine. It gives a good flavor of what ranching and agriculture are like in the US today.

  • Sarah Marie

    Re: #4) My father was a postal employee for 31 years, he worked his way up from carrying heavy sacks of mail door to door to accounting and retired proud of his career. My sister and I grew up with a sense of admiration for good ol’ USPS, we regularly thanked our local postal carriers and even as an adult I feel a great connection to the postal service. It is sad to see such a mighty arm of American infrastructure slowly come to a crumbling end – the post has played an important role in developing American histroy and culture. While we certainly cannot reverse the tide of change, it’s worthwhile to show some support. Thank your letter carrier today.

  • Kevin Watterson

    There’s an interesting study to be done about why there is a vein of strong reactions against the Dodge commercial.

    Re: Luntz. So? ABC took a Clinton advisor and made him the face of its political news coverage. Big deal.

  • Bob Collins

    // ABC took a Clinton advisor and made him the face of its political news coverage. Big deal.

    It IS a big deal because you can’t do both jobs at once and still have any integrity and credibility as a news organization. You can’t be in charge of a message being framed a certain way, and then be displayed by a news organization, employed as a political analyst.

    If news organizations want to put a guy on the air while he’s working for a political party, then you don’t call him a “CBS analyst,” in this case. You refer to him as Joe Blow, who is in charge of his party’s messaging.

    It reminds me of a situation on the old MPR Midday many years ago. it was before the party caucuses and two political “analysts,” who both made money working for parties, started talking up the weakest person in the OTHER party’s field as the strongest candidate.

    You had to be an idiot not to know what was happening, they were trying to game the system so their guy’s (or woman’s) opponent, would be the softest competition.

    News organizations ought not to pretend that’s journalism. They also ought not pretend it’s not a big deal.

  • Kevin Watterson

    I missed that Luntz is still doing his political work.