The ‘pay whatever you want’ world (5×8 – 3/28/13)

This is the final 5×8 for the week. I’m on the road tomorrow in Clinton, MN., for an interview for the “You Should Meet” series. Do you know of someone whose work others should know about or who’ve just lived a fascinating life? Tell me.


If this were a “pay-what-you-want world,” how much do you think you’d pay for life’s daily necessities? Lunch today, for example. How much?

Panera announced this week that it’s expanding five test stores in which people could pay what they wanted for lunch. Profits would go to hunger relief charities.

Our friends at Bus 52 profiled this effort last year

The bigger test market is now going to be St. Louis, where APM’s Marketplace found plenty of people willing to pay more for lunch than they have to.

One of the test stores for this idea is in Boston. On Tuesday, WBUR’s Here and Now investigated…

Some people view the store as a food shelf for the homeless and down-and-out, which brings up another important question: What would happen in your town if Panera Cares announced an intention to open a cafe in it?


Fran Heitzman, 88, started Bridging 25 years ago at a suburban Twin Cities church. It’s now one of North America’s largest furniture banks, in which customers too poor to pay can shop for free. And it’s not junk. MPR’s Dan Olson introduced us.

Related: South Minneapolis grandmother spared eviction by Occupy campaign (TC Daily Planet)

Surgeon shovels walkway of Edina patient. (Patch)


Mother Jones’ Michael Behar has his investigation out this morning into geologists’ research that fracking — extracting oil from rock by injecting wastewater into the ground — is causing earthquakes in the U.S. where none would otherwise be anticipated.

The industry, which conducts seismic tests, refuses to talk about it. The EPA refuses to release all information it knows about fracking and the process largely operates in secret.

The USGS’s Ellsworth tells me that some operators track seismic data near well sites but won’t share it, and so far there is no state or national regulatory requirement to do so. And the “Halliburton Loophole” written into the 2005 energy bill at the behest of then-Vice President (and former Halliburton CEO) Dick Cheney excludes hydrofrackers from certain EPA regulations, among them provisions related to “the underground injection of fluids…related to oil, gas, or geothermal production activities.” Upshot: “It’s an age where information has exploded, but this is an area where we’re still working in punch cards,” Ellsworth says.

Just knowing the daily volumes of water being pumped into a well would yield critical clues. “There is a correlation that shows the largest earthquakes tend to be associated with the largest volume wells,” adds Ellsworth. Ideally, the USGS would get real-time data. But operators are only required to track monthly volumes, and those tallies are often delayed six months or more. By then, it’s too late. Rubinstein wants “industry to actually give us hourly or daily injection pressures and volume, so we can model where the fluids are going and predict how the stress evolves over time…and be able to come up with some probabilistic sense of how likely you are to generate an earthquake.”


That’s one small step for pizza. The Pioneer Press reports Eagan has backed down and will now allow two young men to stand by the side of the road and wave at passing cars as part of a marketing campaign by a pizza shop.

City officials had claimed the gimmick violated sign ordinances and wasn’t an infringement of free-speech rights.

But the pizza shop owner changed the message the young men — both autistic — wore to “I love pizza.”

“I got into a huge debate with them,” the store’s owner told the paper. “I argued that with all the things that we are struggling with right now, with Obamacare and taxes, and trying to keep our doors open, that’s the last thing a city should be doing is trying to bust someone’s chops for having gentlemen with autism wearing a shirt or waving or opening the door.”


It takes a lot of water to make beer, and that’s the problem in Cold Spring where the Third Street Brewhouse has to turn to the city for water for the Lost Trout Ale. The DNR is cutting the amount of water the brewery can pump from wells because it threatens a local trout stream, the St. Cloud Times says. So the brewery is hooking up to the city’s water supply and officials worry there won’t be enough water for the rest of the town.

Bonus I: Sleepwalking with Ira Glass. (Smith Journal)

Bonus II: This video inspires just one question: Are there any famous locations in Minnesota mentioned in hip-hop? Yes, I know I should know the answer to that.

“Rap Quotes” Street Art Project by Jay Shells from on Vimeo.

Bonus III: We have our first lawsuit against the closing of an airport control tower under sequestration. Step forward, Spokane! (AvWeb)

Bonus IV: Why the gay marriage fight is over. (New Yorker)

Bonus V: A Florida woman who usually participates in an office Powerball lottery pool declined to pony up for a ticket. The ticket won. Her colleagues shared the riches with her anyway. (HuffPo)


The Internet is making us poor, asserts Christopher Mims, science and technology writer for Quartz. “History is littered with technological transitions,” he says. “Many of them seemed at the time to threaten mass unemployment of one type of worker or another, whether it was buggy whip makers or, more recently, travel agents. But here’s what’s different about information-processing jobs: The takeover by technology is happening much faster.” Today’s Question: Are you concerned that technology is making your job less secure?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: The challenges faced by female veterans.

Second hour: ancestral or heritage travel: How to plan for it, how it affects one’s life, and the aftermath.

Third hour: Kerri Miller speaks with crime writer Owen Laukkanen about his new novel “Criminal Enterprise,”

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): Congressman John Lewis, speaking with On Being’s Krista Tippett about the meaning of the civil rights movement and the importance of nonviolence.

Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – NPR’s Nina Totenberg explains the legal arguments at the Supreme Court.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – A $500 million project to make Veterans Hospitals more efficient means growth for a Fargo company. The company makes the software that will be used track equipment and supplies at VA medical centers nationwide. The Veterans Administration also plans track staff and patients in the future. The goal is more efficient healthcare. MPR’s Dan Gunderson will have the story.

  • Robert Moffitt

    That beer vs. trout story is interesting, as is Bonus IV. Any time Jeffrey Toobin writes about SCOTUS, I want to read it.

  • Jamison

    Just as an FYI about the beer vs trout story: According to the tour guide, by far the largest part of the Cold Spring Brewery is dedicated to the production of energy drinks, not beer. So it’s probably more accurate to say “Monster Drink vs trout” 🙂

  • BJ

    Bonus II: weird, but cool.

  • BJ

    Bonus IV: I wonder if the DOMA result will surprise us, like obamacare it could prove that congress over reached. I’m thinking surprise like a 7-2 vote instead of 5-4.

  • Kassie

    Bridging is such a great organization. They also help low income families with pest control, particularly with getting rid of bed bugs in their homes.

  • Darren

    I have been donating to Bridging for a few years now. I just feel better knowing that my gently used items will be put to good use helping those less fortunate than I.

    Pay it forward indeed.

  • David G

    #1: Someone in my facebook feed the other day posted a piece about coffee shops, primarily in Naples, Italy that offer “suspended coffee” orders. Those orders are then given to those the homeless and others in need.

    Snopes rated the story as “true.”

  • Christin

    I got my first couch, coffee table, and holiday decorations from Bridging when I was 19. Now I am in a position to give back. Thank you for posting about a great organization that helps make a home feel like a home.

  • bsimon

    Hip-hop name check: Atmosphere’s “she’s the one” mentions dinner at Dominguez – Familia Dominguez on 50th & 34th.