Pumping the earth dry (5×8 – 5/20/13)

The new Dust Bowl, when people care for people, comedy and the era of same-sex weddings, the best part of going to a Twins game is watching an old movie, and the land of Tonka.

The Monday Morning Rouser:


The rapid increase in warming on the planet may be easing, the BBC says.

“The hottest of the models in the medium-term, they are actually looking less likely or inconsistent with the data from the last decade alone,” said Dr Alexander Otto from the University of Oxford.

Don’t tell that to the people of Kansas and areas of the Plains that have been hit by drought over the last few years. They’ve pumped the earth dry.

“It’s over,” one Kansas farmer tells the New York Times about the bountiful harvests on his land. The aquifer, that extends from South Dakota to Texas, has dried up.

Vast stretches of Texas farmland lying over the aquifer no longer support irrigation. In west-central Kansas, up to a fifth of the irrigated farmland along a 100-mile swath of the aquifer has already gone dry. In many other places, there no longer is enough water to supply farmers’ peak needs during Kansas’ scorching summers.

And when the groundwater runs out, it is gone for good. Refilling the aquifer would require hundreds, if not thousands, of years of rains.

More weather: Why summer in the city will get more deadly. (Time)

And remember: When the sky turns dark and you hear sirens, it means “grab the camera.”


While crossing a street in Anchorage, Zach Mohs, a South St. Paul native, was struck and nearly killed by a hit-and-run driver and left to die. He probably would’ve were it not for a stranger who stopped. He’s still in fairly tough shape at Courage Center Golden Valley but he has, the Pioneer Press reports, come a long way.

His mother quit her job to care for him. His sister dropped out of college to help. People in Anchorage have raised money for him and the people of South St. Paul, too, are pitching in.

“I just kind of adopted the family,” the man who stopped to help said.


Same-sex marriage will start on August 1 in Minnesota. Feeling any pressure yet?

Related: Border couples face a choice: Stay in their state or move across the border into Minnesota.

Why Griner kept her sexuality quiet (Time)

Bans Of Same-Sex Marriage Can Take A Psychological Toll (NPR)


In the ’90s, the best part of going to a Minnesota Twins game was leaving, when the air pressure of the Metrodome shot you out the door.

Now, the best part of going to a Twins game is watching a 20-year-old movie.


Somewhere, maybe up in the attic, I still have Tonka trucks. They weren’t the cheap plastic of today. They were quality. When we drove to the beach (it was a long trip before the interstate highway system made it a short one), a stop at a Zayre store along the way always resulted in a Tonka truck.

It’s only right that I ended up living in the land of the Tonka.

Bonus: Bring notes next time.

… which gives us another chance to remember Mo Cheeks’ finest moment.


“In the latest effort to boost student performance, the Minneapolis school district wants to give more autonomy to individual schools,” writes MPR News reporter Tim Post. Today’s Question: Should public schools have more autonomy?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: The latest from the Capitol on the last day of the legislative session.

Second hour: Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Paul Anderson.

Third hour: Talking Volumes Isabelle Allende.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): Congressman Tim Walz speaking at the University of Minnesota about drones, national security and civil liberties.

Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – TBA

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

Data show Minnesota soldiers are returning from war in pain stemming from invisible injuries that often don’t grab headlines: chronic back, neck and shoulder pain. Some of this pain is caused by injuries in combat or the dangerous jobs soldiers do. But some pain is caused by the very equipment meant to protect soldiers from harm. MPR’s Jess Mador looks at data showing an increase in musculoskeletal problems among veterans over the last 10 years.

Sandy Spieler is a painter, sculptor, performer, teacher, theater designer and director. She is the artistic director of In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre and one of its founders. Each year she produces the Annual May Day Parade and Ceremony, which brings together thousands of people from diverse Minneapolis communities to make puppets, tell stories, and creatively solve problems. MPR’s Marianne Combs has a profile.

Bemidji has Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. Thanks to an imaginative resident, the town of Montgomery now has Big Honza. The southern Minnesota community hopes the legend of this larger-than-life Czech settler (albeit a fictional one) will help put Montgomery on the map. MPR’s Nikki Tundel has the story.