It’s ‘Theft of the Blog’ Day

But enough about me; now it’s your turn to run this blog for a day.

This is a Theft of the Blog Day, during which I encourage you to be the blogging creative class and share your essays and posts on a topic of your choosing.

The sky’s the limit. It can be a news story if you wish. Or it could be a personal story that something else in the news reminded you of, or it could simply be a movie review, an unfinished book with only one chapter, or you can cut and paste something you’ve already written on your own blog that you think should have a wider audience.

Post your essay/post below (alternately, you can email me directly) and if we can get a few, I’ll break each out into its own NewsCut blog post. Don’t worry; I’ll protect you from the trolls.

Need an idea? Here are a couple that might get you thinking.

St. Paul leaders urge witnesses to talk in wake of shootings
MPR’s Matt Sepic reports today that city and civic leaders are frustrated because witnesses and victims won’t talk about a Mounds Park shooting during a weekend of violence in the city.

Idea: When’s the last time you could have helped something or somebody, but chose not to?

After 17 times in treatment, this addict pins hope on new drug
Jon Collins’ series of interviews with people who are addicted to opiates and people whose loved ones have died from overdoses has been beyond sad and disturbing.

“There would be times that I would be driving to the dope man and I’d be bawling because I knew that I was worth more and there was something out there that was better,” his guest today said. “Yet I was sick, and I wanted drugs, and I was going to get what I wanted. I went to any length to get it.”

“We are definitely important people. We do bad things, but that doesn’t mean that we’re bad people,” she said. “We’re good people with a bad disease.”

Idea: Do you have a story about wanting to help someone with an addiction — or have you been addicted yourself? What keeps you from giving up?

1,000 Words: Voters thank Susan B. Anthony
This is from a quick blog post last night about people in Rochester, NY, who visit Susan B. Anthony’s grave every Election Day and slap “I Voted” stickers on her tombstone.

“I’ve never voted in my life because I left Albania when I was too young to vote. It’s been a long journey to citizenship, I don’t know what emotions it will be, but I know it will be emotional,” a professor at a nearby college said.

Idea: Who inspires you?

Why do girls tend to have more anxiety than boys?
The New York Times’ Well column carries the observation of a doctor that the pattern in his practice is unmistakable. Boys he sees are laid back and underachieving. Girls are hyperachieving and anxious. Why? And what can parents do to change it?

If your daughter is the girl sitting in her bedroom looking at other girls’ social media, maybe she shouldn’t be in her bedroom at all. In the typical American household today, when kids go home, they go to their bedrooms and aren’t seen again except perhaps for meals. That’s crazy. A family can’t be a family if the kids spend more time alone in their bedrooms than with their family members. Insist that your daughter, or son, do whatever they’re doing online in a public space: in the kitchen or the living room. There should be nothing in the bedroom except a bed: no TV, no PlayStation, no screens. That’s the official recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Idea: What works and doesn’t work in your child rearing attempt(s)

All others welcomed! Good luck.

  • >>Idea: What works and doesn’t work in your child rearing attempt(s)<<

    I have done as my parents had done even though they were some of the first to do the "two careers while raising a family" thing (mind you, this was starting in the mid-1960's): Be involved and support your children. My kids ALWAYS know they have a support system in me.

  • Sam Bergman

    Here’s something I wrote for the Minnesota Orchestra’s Inside the Classics blog (no longer online) in 2011 or so. Not sure whether it’s up to the NewsCut standard, but it’s definitely still relevant for those of us who work in the music biz…

    Back in 2001, I had just begun working as a part-time editor over at Doug McLennan’s indispensable ArtsJournal news
    site, and I found myself combing through a metric ton of newspaper
    stories about some previously obscure file-sharing service called Napster.
    You might remember Napster – it was where you went in the early aughts
    to download pretty much any song in the universe for free. Or, to put it
    another way, it was where you went to steal music.

    There
    was a lot of debate at the time over whether using Napster actually
    constituted stealing, and whether it actually mattered if it was
    stealing or not. The articles I was reading about the attempts by
    government and the recording industry to shut Napster down were full of
    tortured metaphors comparing peer-to-peer file sharing to a mix tape
    passed between friends. Advocates for the site protested that the record
    companies had been ripping off artists forever, anyway, so ripping off
    the companies in return was practically a patriotic duty for real music
    lovers. The whole “information wants to be free”
    meme that had become so popular during the dot-com boom was invoked
    (and distorted) again and again by countless well-meaning people whose
    hard drives were loaded down with stolen music.

    I remember having
    a conversation with a friend at the time, during which I expressed my
    befuddlement at the idea that Napster might be construed as anything but a
    global music-stealing apparatus. And I remember being extremely
    frustrated that, no matter how many times I explained why this was
    clearly, logically, and irrefutably a fact, my friend continued to
    disagree. I was baffled.

    Ten years later, I think I’m finally
    starting to understand what was going on, what had caused Americans to
    begin believing that it was okay (even morally virtuous) for them to
    take something that someone else was selling without paying for it.
    Napster was an early blip in what has become a massive shift in the way
    we perceive and value people in the 21st century. To put it in the
    crassest and most corporate terms, we have gone from valuing people who
    produce content to valuing people who deliver that content.

    Just
    to be clear, I’m using the term “valuing” pretty literally here. If you
    value something, it means that you believe it is worth a certain amount
    of money, and you are willing to pay for it. You might think that
    sunsets are pretty spectacular, but if someone told you that they now
    cost five bucks, you’d snort and go back to watching them for free,
    because you can. On the other hand, when your cable company raises the
    amount you have to pay for HBO, you have to do an immediate calculation
    of how valuable HBO is to you, and whether or not you care to continue
    paying for it.

    There are a lot of people who believe that the
    internet has conditioned us to accept (or even embrace) a certain level
    of bad behavior, because we can quickly, anonymously, and easily do
    things we would never do in the offline world. You would never think of
    walking into Cheapo
    and stuffing a DVD under your coat, but you might be perfectly willing
    to download that same movie from BitTorrent because, hey, someone put it
    up there, it’s not hurting anyone, I pay for plenty of other stuff,
    blah blah blah.

    But I think blaming the convenience of the online
    world misses the point entirely. The dangerous shift I’m seeing is that
    we are increasingly fetishizing content delivery systems (iTunes,
    Kindle) and the people who create them (Steve Jobs) while becoming
    dismissive of or outright hostile to the people who create the actual
    content. $550 for a shiny new iPad2? That’s a bargain for all you get,
    right? But when you log into iTunes and see that a track you want to
    download is going for $1.29 instead of $0.99, you immediately feel like
    you’re being ripped off, don’t you?

    And that’s no accident, either. This is the world the content delivery
    people have deliberately and intentionally created out of the rubble of
    Napster. And while, in some ways, it’s opened up wonderful new frontiers
    for artists to reach the broader public, it’s also made it harder than
    ever for musicians to actually make a living playing music. YouTube
    videos and too-cheap-to-be-believed downloads allow you into the
    viewfinder of thousands of people who otherwise might never have known
    you existed, but it also conditions those people to place zero (or close
    to zero) value on what you’re producing. And while you’re trying
    desperately to leverage your online presence into convincing a tiny
    fraction of your fan base to leave the house and pony up $15-$20 to hear
    you perform live once or twice a year, they’re clicking over to the
    next free video clip and salivating over the latest $400 device that
    will allow them yet another way to enjoy your music without paying you.

    This
    mindset scares the hell out of me. I’m not in the least afraid of
    technology, or change, but I believe that creativity has value, and that
    creative people who produce something tangible shouldn’t be expected
    to simply give it away in exchange for some vague (and usually false)
    promise of future success. This is why I pay for an “e-edition”
    subscription to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, even though I usually just read the stories from their free web site. It’s why I pledge to public radio and TV, and why I send a text to donate $10 to This American Life and RadioLab when they ask me to.

    There’s
    nothing wrong with offering up free content. It’s a terrific way to
    earn new fans and reward old ones, and I’m constantly advocating for my
    industry to scrap certain outdated rules about recording and
    broadcasting so that we can distribute more free content.

    But
    when the machine you listen to music on becomes hundreds or thousands
    of times more valuable to you than the music, we have a problem. When
    millions of people have convinced themselves that downloading content
    someone is trying to sell without paying for it isn’t stealing, we have a big problem. And I’m not sure what the solution is.

    • Craig

      I think pirating music is not just about sidestepping the financial cost. Payment might force a realization that the buyer could not create such a thing. I know I could not build an Iphone from scratch, so I gladly pay a fee to have one. But I have a piano, and paper, and pencil; so each time I take dollars out of my wallet and exchange them for sheet music I must admit that the marks on that sheet are in more clever positions than I could have figured out.

    • Al

      Sam, Inside the Classics was a regular highlight for me. Glad to see it back, sort of, at least here.

      • Sam Bergman

        Thanks! We had a great community of readers for a while there.

    • CHS

      I look back at my own experiences with online sharing platforms, like Napster, and have a somewhat different take on it that I would be interested in hearing people’s opinion on. To me things like napster didn’t just fill a need for some people to get free music (which I’m not denying it did), it filled a need for people to have a way to experience new music and explore things they didn’t have access to in any other way. When napster was making the runs through the circles of people I knew, we had no access to radio that played anything but stale classic rock and top 40, no record stores that carried anything but a basic set of those same things played on the radio. If you wanted to get exposed to new music, you ordered it through the record store, or an online store that you hoped you could trust and hoped that your 10-20 dollars was worth it. More often than not, it wasn’t. With napster, you could download something, if it wasn’t what you liked, delete it and move on. When you did find something you liked it exposed you to something new and more often than not you would buy it. It was a risk free way of being exposed to things you wouldn’t otherwise.

  • Angry Jonny

    This is something I wrote for a speaking invitation on the topic of aliveness at our church during Lent. There’s a groaner of a joke in the beginning that I left out.

    My name is Jonathan. I live and work here in Willmar, but I was born and raised in northern Minnesota. I went to St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Bagley Minnesota, from Baptism to Catechism to First Communion to Confirmation. Through a long, convoluted series of events, I find myself here today. My family and I have begun our faith journey here, at Vinje, as we all seek aliveness in the spirit, in our faith, and in ourselves. That journey of aliveness, for me, has involved confusion, anger, loss, reconciliation, humility, and transformation. I am humbled to have been invited to share some of that with you.

    Along with volunteering to be part of the music ministry of Vinje, I also have the opportunity to be a youth mentor during Lent. Part of our weekly preparation for mentoring includes reading from the book of Psalms in preparation to talk about our aliveness. The Psalm referenced in the mentoring packet this week is Romans 12: 1-2. It’s a short but sweet couple of verses that speak to being transformed, preparing one’s self to truly live in the spirit.

    Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. —New International Version

    Therefore I exhort you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice—alive, holy, and pleasing to God—which is your reasonable service. 2 Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God—what is good and well-pleasing and perfect. —New English Translation

    I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.— King James Version

    These are not easy suggestions that are being made, here. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world.” What a message! Don’t conform! Rebel! Make a 90 degree turn away from what you see in this world! Surrender yourself, be transformed, into something else than what society expects you to be.

    As a young man coming of age in the 90s, I sought aliveness. And I’ll be the first to admit, I did it through any variety of ways that usually left me wanting. I struggled. I listened to the supposed word of God, and as I tried to reconcile that alongside the actions of man, I felt more and more that the notion of faith, of the spiritual, of the very idea of God, was incommensurate with how I had come to understand the world around me. The summer of 1996, I was in church and heard one particular verse that sealed the deal.

    Matthew 18:8. “Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes! 8″If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire. 9″If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell.”

    What? What am I supposed to take from that? I mean, I already know that I’m a sinner, but really? Am I condemned to an eternity of suffering because of my own misgivings, my own doubts, my own sins? I left the church that day, and except for a funeral or two, I never went back. I was embittered, defensive. Jesus may have come and died for your sins, but not mine. I sure didn’t ask him to. My sins are MY OWN. I’ll accept that responsibility, and I don’t need anybody else to presume to bear any burden for me.

    As time went on, I became further convinced of the irrelevance of the spirit, of the meaninglessness of faith, of the titanic suspension of disbelief that was required to even set foot in a church without feeling like a complete hypocrite. I continued to ask unanswerable questions. If my faith is supposedly the one true faith, then what about the millions of souls who came before who had no inkling of the notion of “God”? Are they doomed for something they couldn’t have possibly known? Are the countless other religions and faiths and beliefs and creations myths completely invalid? Why is Christianity the only answer? A man rose from the dead? I understand that, historically speaking, a man of peace was brutally executed for simply suggesting that we all should just try to be nice to each other. But to be “resurrected”? Bogus. That stuff does not happen. It is empirically impossible.

    It was shortly after the untimely death of a dear friend that the door was closed to me completely. If God was truly all powerful, all knowing, all seeing, then why would he allow so many atrocities, large and small, to happen? If he could have prevented 6 million Jews from perishing in the worst atrocity our world has ever known, then why didn’t he stop it? I mean, he knew it was happening. If he was powerful enough to create the entire universe, you’d think he’d be able to save 6 million innocent souls from being murdered. Does he not care? Or is he not so powerful after all? Am I supposed to believe, then, in a fallible God? A God that allows this to happen? A God that allows my dear friend to be abducted, her body discarded in the woods, and to go undiscovered for 3 days? If that’s the sort of God that I’m supposed to believe in, I’ll take my chances on my own. As a pallbearer, I laid my friend Leisa to rest. And as her casket was covered in dirt, I left what residual traces of my faith remained behind in that same dirt.

    What came next, with the luxury of looking backwards, seems like years of living without being alive. Life went on; jobs, friends, relationships, school…the sort of things that we tend to find commonplace or rudimentary. Joy, heartbreak, mundanity, elation. But underneath myself, I was still searching. As convinced as I was that this was it-that we were eventually just going to end up as worm food-I couldn’t find anything that totally gave me peace. Life in the grey areas of ambiguity seemed to me to be becoming as much of a Hell as any eternal lake of fire.

    So what does a guy do? I felt like I had literally taken the nails from the crucifixion and used them to seal the coffin of my own faith. But now, we have children. And what is the greater good? Do I deny my children the opportunity to know and understand faith for themselves simply because of my own unbelief? Is that fair? Is unbelief even where I stand anymore? An agnostic is not an atheist. At least atheism is as much of a commitment as faith is. I was on the fence, and struggling with how to know what is ultimately unknowable.

    Nobody ever likes to admit they are wrong. We live in a society filled with soundbites and media clips of people who, rather than entertain the notion of an alternate take on their presuppositions, double down on their own immutable opinions. What good can come of that? Are we so steadfast in our feelings that we refuse to accept the alternative hypothesis as even testable?

    I have my kids to thank. Because, regardless of the chip on my shoulder, nothing should be so large of an obstacle to give them the opportunity to explore faith. And if that particular door opens a little bit for myself? Well, no harm done, I suppose.

    So we came to Vinje. We had come before for Christmas Eve, mostly because of the music. And as a musician myself, if you hook my ears, you hook my heart. And as the wind passed through the pipes of the organ upstairs, and I looked at my family listening and singing along, I felt something. Was this the transformation that comes with the renewing of the mind? Was this the spark of aliveness? Was this John Jahr playing the foot pedals for the final Christmas Eve hymn and rattling my spirit awake?

    Whatever it was, I felt changed. Not a grand catharsis, not a fall-on-all-fours revelation, not a born-again dip in the river. But it was real. It felt like the spirit speaking to me and telling me, “It’s ok to believe. These questions you have? The answers are not meant for man to truly know. But know this…it’s ok for you…for YOU, Jonathan…to believe.”

    So now, our kids get to say “Do I haave to go to Sunday school? Do I haaaave to go to Confirmation?” But they say it in the same way as “Do I haaaaave to do my homework? Do I haaaaave to clean my room? Do I haaaave to eat my vegetables?” It’s normal. It’s what we do. It’s a part of our family life as much as anything else. And that transformation feels good.

    It feels like truly being alive.

    • PaulJ

      The theology of sacrifice can also be seen as a theology of sharing, that makes it easier for me. The purpose of suffering is more difficult to reconcile, but I guess that’s why they say “count your blessings”.

  • Jay T. Berken

    A elderly black gentleman is videoed kicking the crap out of a younger white gentleman on the train in Chicago to cheers for the black man. And literally kick off the train by the black man. Why?

    “What was supposed to be a normal train ride in Chicago for Twitter user @raresoulx turned out to be the complete opposite. According to @raresoulx, a drunken white passenger on the train repeatedly called an elderly black man the n-word for 15 minutes. After being verbally accosted, the unidentified black man took matters into his own hands, literally. And it was, of course, captured on video.” according to a post By: Yesha Callahan on The Root. http://www.theroot.com/blogs/the_grapevine/2016/04/twitter_user_captures_video_of_drunk_racist_getting_handled_by_an_elderly.html

    When is it ‘ok’ to kick that crap out of a person? When is it enough is enough?

    • PaulJ

      I think no violence is the rule, unless your the state or under immediate threat. So it’s probably never ok and usually a matter of a dull temper.

  • Jay Sieling

    This is a note I posted on my Facebook page a few years back after conducting a round of mock interviews. Some tips for those about to graduate and enter the workforce – and some reminders for all of us engaging in good conversation: tell stories!

    Interview Skills and Telling Good Stories

    I had the opportunity to conduct mock interviews for a Business
    Professionals Association competition today. I interviewed 18 different
    high school students who were seeking various positions (administrative
    asst./ accounting/ graphic design/ international business
    consultant….the whole gamut). I have done this the last several years.
    I ask the same questions to every
    student. Rarely has the interview gone the 5-7 minutes allotted. Most
    answers are short, stock, vague, not offering much insight into their
    skills and abilities beyond parroting back power words. (team player,
    dependable, go-getter, people person) I found myself writing the same
    feedback and advice on every evaluation. So here are my tip to anyone
    in any interview situation:

    1.
    Firm Handshake. Appearance is only part of a first impression. The
    first contact, touch is indelible stamp. Use a firm grip that shows you
    are at least a living person and not a dead fish. We aren’t all ripped
    athletes, so strength is not expected, but life is.

    2. The
    question “Tell me about yourself” is an open invitation to be
    interesting. Be prepared for it. Have an elevator pitch in mind that
    goes beyond the name, rank, serial number information. If you say your
    name, grade/age, hometown, family tree position, be sure to make that
    information connect to the reason you are there. Without that connection
    you are presenting yourself as a phone book entry

    3.
    Several questions are designed to measure how you react in situations.
    “Have you ever had a disagreement with a teacher or supervisor? How did
    you handle it?” We are looking for a story here. How you tell a story is
    one part of the skill. Your roll within the story is another part.
    Generalized answers, such as “I try to be objective and listen to those
    in charge and follow their advice unless I think it is wrong then I will
    try to talk to them and come to an agreement.” That is obvious. We
    would all like to handle things that way. What is more important is
    “Have you had to deal with that?” and “How did you deal with that?”
    Tell the story. Specific examples help differentiate you from everyone
    else that will handle the situation in the same way. What is unique
    about your situation is it is YOUR story.

    4. Use examples
    as much as you can. Every answer to every question should have room for
    “for example”. Again this let’s you tell YOUR story. The examples are
    specific to you and will differentiate you from every other applicant.
    For example, every student interviewed today answered the question “Why
    should we hire you and not some other applicant?” the same way: “I am
    hardworking, dependable, have experience, really want this job, enjoy
    challenges, like to go above and beyond, have discipline, am
    organized……yada yada yada.” I yearned for any one of them to say
    “This job/company need X,… I have done X when I… ;TELL YOUR STORY.

    5.
    Be prepared to ask questions. The final query in the interview is “Do
    you have any questions for me?” A few that would not get hired simply
    said “Nope” or “I don’t think so”. A couple others had one or two, on
    the lines of “what is it like to work here?” “what are the chances for
    advancement?” Those are fine questions, but might not show that you
    have real interest and curiosity about the position. What went missing
    in today’s interviews was the closing question: “What’s next?” What is
    the next step in this process, when will I hear about results, etc.
    Basically asking for the business.

    6. Humor. Be careful.
    I did have a couple of moments where humor could have eased tension, or
    humor occurred spontaneously. Easing tension humor…has it’s place
    but needs to be rhetorically sensitive. For example, one student’s
    reply to “Do have any questions for me?” was “Yes, did I get the job?”
    Wow!! An interesting question to say the least. As I smiled and blurted
    out some obtuse answer, I thought to myself “that’s rather
    presumptuous!” I really wanted to say “NO!” But afforded him a gentler
    rebuff. Then I wrote on the evaluation: “A better approach would be
    “When do I start?”. That question, rhetorically is more sensitive and
    less likely to put the interviewer on the defensive. It can be laughed
    at while still showing the candidate is sincere. Bottom line: employ
    humor carefully. It is a tool to help ease tension, but shouldn’t be
    used in a way that belittles or mocks the situation. It is an
    interview. It is your story, your life. It is serious. (Kind of).

    Spontaneous
    humor…or inadvertent utterances that would have caused a spit-take
    had I been drinking: In answer to “Tell me about yourself” one student
    started by saying “I’m an okay person, I guess…” I don’t remember
    much after that! Mispronounced or new words: In response to “why should
    I hire you…?” the spit-take reply: “Well, I’m determinated…” Is
    that someone who is resolved to being fired? And last funny gem of the
    day: again in response to “why should I hire you instead of one of these
    others?” the reply was “Because I’m me…I’m pretty amazing…” Again
    the fog of internal guffaws obscured the rest of the answer.

    My
    summary and advice, to share with anyone in any interview situation.
    Questions are asked, but you need to SHOW as well as TELL the answers.
    Utilize your STORY. Some advise to “just be yourself”. I think it goes
    beyond that. SHOW yourself. Show yourself through your words, your
    story. Show yourself by how you carry yourself, present your self (the
    handshake!). Be prepared. Practice your elevator pitch. Find
    opportunities to tell your story to others (friends, relatives,
    roommates). You can have mock interviews everyday. This should be part
    of a daily routine. Don’t think that because you have a career now you
    can let these skills lapse. And this isn’t just for job interviews. The
    same skills apply for dating, for med school / grad school /
    scholarship interviews. Even just in meeting people and having a
    fundamental conversation. We all need to keep telling good stories.

    • PaulJ

      How important is gauging your audience? Is it true that the more you can be like them, the more they will “like” you?

      • Jay Sieling

        Gauging the audience is always important. I wouldn’t go so far as to say being more like them makes them like you more. We do “like” people who are like us. But we also like people who are competent, skilled at what they do – in a humble way. We like people who do things we can’t – as long as they don’t brag too much. We like people who like us – usually. There is such a thing as ‘too much liking’.

    • ChrisF

      Interesting read. At age 50 I’m getting laid off and, for the first time in my adult life, am facing unemployment. I haven’t inteviewed for a job in over 20 years. I’m thinking in my biggest challenge in interviewing (not including the challenge of just getting to the part where I get inteviewed) is not blathering on…which I have been know to do.

  • Al

    You raise an interesting idea in rearing girls and boys differently when it comes to achievement and addressing anxiety. As a young girl (and really, through my teens and twenties), I was one of the girls this author described—high-achieving, gifted academically and intellectually, anxious to the point of paralysis about failure, and rarely (strike that: never) resilient when I did fail.

    I was so constantly and consistently praised for being smart or talented, that when I pulled a poor grade, I saw it as a result of not being smart or talented enough—not as a result of lack of effort or work. It was my intellect that was the driver—and because you can’t really change how smart you are, there was nothing I could (or wanted to) do to change the situation. So why bother? Not first chair in band? I must not be talented enough, and practice won’t solve that. Hitless at a softball game? Batting practice wouldn’t solve it. Which is a damn shame. I missed out on a lot as a kid, teen, and young adult when I was afraid to try again, or work harder to improve.

    I don’t fault my parents really—as parents, we’re all swimming blind with our kids, and advice from professionals is often at best ambiguous, and at its worst contradictory or wrong.

    But now I’ve got a mini-me, and it’s starting to hit the fan a bit, if you catch my drift. My own daughter is three, and shows many of the same traits I did as a child—she reads as well as children at least twice her age, has a capacity for spatial reasoning that far outpaces mine (not that mine is anything to shake a stick at), and is extremely shy about trying new things lest she get them wrong. And I’ll be damned if I let her grow without trying my best to teach her resiliency and the opportunity in failure. She knows she’s smart—she hears repeatedly it from friends and family—but I want her to understand that her hard work is what will give her pride and drive her achieve her goals. Or at least enjoy the ride.

    I try to reward her actions rather than her inherent talent, and demonstrate through my own behavior the merit of being honest about emotions and working through failure.

    When I read with her, I tell her how much I enjoy listening to her read, rather than just praising new or difficult words. When we’re at swimming lessons, I tell her how fun it is to watch her splash and swim, instead of congratulating her on immediately mastering a new skill. Right now, her teachers can praise her for doing something right. I’ll praise her for doing something new and challenging.

    As far as my own behavior—of course, it’s a lot harder to put your money where your mouth is when it means changing what you do on a daily basis. I have anxiety and depression (now actually diagnosed—boy, would THAT have been helpful to know as a teen), and when I’m feeling overwhelmed and she picks up on it, we sit next to each other and I say, “I’m feeling [sad/nervous/frustrated], and that’s okay. What can we do to help how I’m feeling?” (Ironically—or not—the way we teach preschoolers to cope with emotions works pretty well for adults, too.)

    If there’s a practical problem to solve, we solve it together, and talk about what we learned—for me, that might be botching a project at work or forgetting to call a friend; for her, it’s having an accident or dealing with a jerk friend at school. We talk about how important it is to keep trying, even if you don’t get something right on the first or third or twenty-third time, that it’s okay to fail, and that it’s okay to be frustrated about it—and that it’s even better to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.

    THAT’S what I hope she takes with her when she doesn’t have me by her side every day.

  • Keith P.

    Something I wrote mainly for my older brother & I about some of our experiences as Detroiters camping in Interlochen, MI, with exposure to orchestral music:

    The Interlochen Chronicles – Best of Both Worlds

    Across the 2-lane highway from Interlochen State Park is the
    internationally-known & respected Interlochen Center for the Arts.
    Along with being a year-round high school, the summer camp brings kids
    from all over the world together for intensive instruction in music,
    painting, dance, theatre & more. Within reason, it’s an open campus.
    This means you can wander the grounds and sit in on rehearsals or
    demonstrations. I used to watch the kids work on plays in the little
    studio theatre. There were dozens of small cabins that the musicians
    would use for practice…you’d hear conflicting but beautiful strains of
    music clashing as you walked between the cabins among the trees.

    Having this right near the campground really gave
    us the best of both worlds. One could spend the day barefoot at the
    beach, then get cleaned up to hear something sublime at night. Every
    sundown a kid from the camp would play Taps from their housing units. If
    you were near the beach you could hear it from across the water.

    The best of the best would play with the World
    Youth Symphony Orchestra every Sunday. They’d have renowned conductors
    and soloists join them in beautiful venues. The Interlochen Bowl has
    seating entirely outdoors & uncovered, surrounded by pine trees.
    Kresge Auditorium has a roof, but no full walls on the sides. It also
    has windows at the back of the stage through which you could see Green
    Lake, so one would usually notice sailboats or swans go by while music
    played. The closest equivalent I’ve seen elsewhere is the Lake Harriet
    bandshell in Minneapolis, but Kresge has a much larger stage with
    wingspace (and a pipe organ!).

    Touring bands came & played Interlochen, too.
    My brother & I saw the jazz group Spyro Gyra at Kresge…they let us
    look around on stage during their soundcheck a few hours before their
    show. We watched another soundcheck – the Oak Ridge Boys rightly
    observed they didn’t have to play as loud “cuz they have orchestras
    & stuff in here.”

    My first memories of live orchestral music are at
    Kresge, and because the place itself is so evocative to me, it -always-
    makes me weep to hear the Adantino moderato section of Rhapsody in Blue
    since I can instantly imagine it being played there (I don’t actually
    remember if I ever heard the Rhapsody played “live” or not, but if I
    did, it likely would’ve been from that stage). At the end of any musical
    performance, the 1st chair violinist or whoever was the best/most
    prominent in that particular group would conduct the Interlochen Theme.
    This is a short, haunting section from Howard Hanson’s ‘Romantic’
    Symphony #2. Traditionally, you’re not supposed to clap after it, so
    you’ll hear the camp kids in the audience go “Shhhh!” (somewhat)
    sarcastically. Sometimes I’ll hear the Hanson on the radio now and get
    taken completely off guard. The Interlochen Theme has some similarities
    to that section by Gershwin, so maybe that’s why I react viscerally to
    Rhapsody in Blue.

  • kennedy

    Should college scholarship awards be biased?

    Education is a hot topic. Bernie Sanders is getting a lot of attention for proposing free college education. The achievement gap is an ongoing concern, with statistics showing it being linked to wealth/poverty. In the global economy, countries with a better educated work force are more influential and generate more wealth for their citizens.

    A recent article by Harold Levy discusses the issue of college schloarships, with the headline Merit scholarships steal from low-income students. While the headline is inflammatory, the article raises a good the question about the role of government in the education of citizens. Public colleges are subsidizing education through scholarships. How should those resources be invested to best benefit the nation and it’s citizens? What is the proper balance between need based and merit based scholarships?

  • R. Rap

    I wrote this a few years ago. My facts aren’t quite right––they never are. Anyhow, it seems relevant with the recognition that Bdote Fort Snelling is a national treasure.

    Bdote

    If I’m lucky, there might be a few weeks between snow melt and the flood when I can run the island. Once the snow recedes, it gives way to the carcasses of deer and turkey that didn’t make it through the winter. The melt also exposes three miles of gravel path that hugs the bank of the Mississippi river around Pike Island. On the south end of the island is the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers.

    For the Mdewakanton Dakota, the point at which two rivers or streams connect is called a bdote. The bdote at the Minisota and Haha Wakpa rivers is a sacred place; it is a place where time roiled the river and sprang forth life. It is the origin, the center, life itself.

    During the time between the snow melt and the annual flooding I like to stop at the confluence. The water is already high and the currents of the two river churn and swirl as they become one. It is a turbulent dance that pulls my eye down river.

    However, It doesn’t take long for the river to spill its banks and fill the path and low spots with frothy water. The island doesn’t flood as much as it is consumed by the Mississippi. The water breaches the berm on the backside and creeps up the bank beneath the bridge. the water pushes up from underneath the island. It bubbles and spurts and seeps up through the roots and dirt and sand. The water falls from the sky.

    The island is gone again, sunk beneath the river, and consumed by water clouded brown by sediment.

    The river has always run over its bank and deposited sediment in the coarse river grasses and ferns. It’s a greedy river that pulls water from pools and lakes and creeks. Its basin is broad and stretches across the Upper Midwest and into Canada: Dakota Territory. When the heavy snowpack from the far north begins to melt in late March, the river takes more than it can drink and spills the rest in the flats through the entire span it travels from Lake Itasca to its delta.

    ***
    Because the island floods every year, It would have flooded in the spring of 1863, too.

    The island looked different then. It was clear-cut by the soldiers, and teepees were pitched about the island. There were men posted on the wooden bridge that gave access to the island, and they wrapped around the perimeter keeping guard. The soldiers were armed with their Springfields and Wentworths. Their paper musket ball packets hung heavily from their belts. Soldiers were also stationed in parapets in the Fort atop the bluff, their guns aimed down toward the island where 1600 Dakota were being held prisoner. They had surrendered during the uprising the previous summer.

    The Dakota were held prisoner on the north end of the island behind a fence that had been hastily erected over the six days they were forced to march from Mankato to Fort Snelling. On the other side of the fence and about one mile south was bdote: the origin, the center, the genesis of life.

    The winter had been relatively mild, but measles had spread throughout the camp killing some 300 prisoners. When the snowpack began to melt, it would have meant relief for the Dakota interned on the Island. But, the Mississippi drank mightily from its basin.

    When the water spilled over the banks and seeped through the soil and consumed the island, the camp turned to mud. The Dakota wore the mud around the cuffs of their wool pants. Clumps hung from their hair and streaked their skin.

    ***
    Once the flood recedes and I am able to run the island again, it smells of rich, organic life and is covered in greasy silt three inches thick. The river pulls it over its bank and it settles in drifts across the path. The mud is both sticky and slick. It clings to shoes and legs. It slides under foot. It is tracked around the island and back home and up the driveway and into the entry. It coats my calves and speckles my shirt. It dries and cracks.

    In the shower, the mud and sweat stream down my legs and swirl in the water pooled at my feet. It drains out of my house and back to the Mississippi.

    ***
    By mid-May the island was dry, but dirt and mud caked the teepees and clothing of the Dakota. They were forced aboard steamships and pushed off down river to a drought stricken reservation in southeastern Dakota Territory. Just one mile into their final journey, the steamships bore west away from the island and into the turbulent waters of bdote. The Dakota shuffled aboard the boat and glanced back at the origin, the center, at life itself; they turned up river still carrying the island’s dirt underneath their fingernails and in the seams of their clothing.

    ***
    In the summer, when I bring my girls to the island to explore, they poke their heads into hollowed out oak trees and climb atop rotting stumps. They chase fairies that zip from their minds into the underbrush and out of sight. We hide behind giant trees and orchestrate elaborate plans to snare sprites and pixies. They run wild down the path, their little legs grazing the broad leaves that reach out of the thicket. The only place they tip toe is over the bridge where the troll lives. They believe the island is magic.

    Once we cross the bridge and get far enough away where the troll can no longer hear us, I tell them there was a time when the island’s magic was weak. I tell them that there was a time when the fairies had to hide and people were held as prisoners on the island.

    My daughter Alice asks, “Did the trolls do it? Did they keep people in jail here?”

    Not knowing how to answer, I tell her to quiet down. “Shhh, the trolls might hear you.”

    She whispers, “What kind of trolls were they?”

    I look south down the path toward the confluence. “The worst kind. They looked a lot like us.”

  • lindblomeagles

    I just have one observation . . . where is Ted Cruz, and how is he holding up after Super Tuesday’s third place finish??? If you’ll recall, a triumphant Cruz from Wisconsin informed Americans that the tide turned away from Trump. Onward and upward his camp seemed to signal before arriving in the Big Apple. Trump resoundingly lapped across the field with more than 60% of Republican voters in the New York primary while the formerly famous Cruz barely nabbed 10%. Remember when the two men exchanged barbs with one another just two weeks ago? Could this be the end of the 2016 Republican Primary in general, and the start of the new Republican Party specifically?