The look (5×8 – 4/29/11)

Faces of war, tornadoes and climate change, when people do good, the kissing case, and Superman snubs the U.S.


These expressions never change over time, and yet they are always the most compelling of photographs when they appear.


This is the family of Joseph Kennedy of Inver Grove Heights. The soldier was buried at Fort Snelling cemetery yesterday, killed in Afghanistan last week.

They are the same expressions as this picture I’ve carried in my wallet for almost 20 years (which I wrote about here)


(© John Francis Ficara)

And here


and here…


And on thousands of other people since war began.

What you can’t see here, of course, is what the grieving relatives see: a battery of camera lenses pointed at you. It takes an incredible amount of grace and courage to allow others to document the worst moments of your life.


It’s the question many people are dying to ask, but don’t want the usual political chatter that follows it. But let’s ask it anyway. Are the tornadoes in the southeast a link to a changing climate? addresses the question today. The answer? It’s not “no,” but it’s not “yes,” either.

“The impacts of climate change on any weather events will likely only be seen in the statistics — more rainfall that occurs in intense bursts, more overall water vapor, more heat waves, less cool nights,” Gavin Schmidt, a climate scientist with NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, wrote in an email to LiveScience. “But the combination of events that lead to the tornado swarms we’ve seen are both rare and complex, and to ask climate scientists to pronounce definitively on them the instant they happen is just asking for trouble.”

What does seem to be changing is that tornadoes are hitting cities more often, but that may well be because there are more cities now, especially in the south. A tornado at night in the middle of Nowhere, Minnesota? People may not even know it existed to add it to a count of the number of tornadoes.

What we’ve learned this week — if not earlier — is we people in the Twin Cities can’t be depending on the mythical “heat island” to protect us from tornadoes.

President Obama is flying to the region today to survey the damage from Wednesday evening’s tornadoes. That’s not fast enough for one letter-writer to the Star Tribune today:

So many floods and tornadoes across the south. Loss of life. Devastation. Wildfires in Texas. President Obama flies over all of it to go to California to raise money for his 2012 campaign at political fundraising dinners.

Any other president would be called out on this. Where is the media demanding accountability? We need a leader.


Speaking of the wildfires in Texas, a friend of mine took a look at the damage the fires caused in the Dallas area. Find his photos here.

Closer-to-home weather factoid: On Sunday, the Red River in Fargo-Moorhead will drop below major flood stage for the first time in about a month.


Some kids in Hermantown have organized an art show and auction for Saturday to raise money for an organization that helps homeless young people.

“When you’re a high school senior in your last quarter, you’re thinking about graduation and prom,” a history teacher tells the Duluth News Tribune today. “Here’s a large group of seniors doing something to benefit homeless teenagers. It just makes you feel good about being an educator.”

Senior Rachel Hannan is one of the organizers, drawing on her childhood of poverty. “It was just really tough,” Hannan, 18, tells the paper. “But my mom made sure I had everything I wanted. There were Christmases when she didn’t have money to buy toys, so she rewrapped ones I had forgotten about. She did everything by herself.”

Pass it on.

More good: Architectural students have helped Hammond, Minnesota recover from last year’s tornadoes flood (h/t: Minnesota Prairie Roots).

The cost of doing good: It cost $170,000 for a small church in Emily, Minnesota to meet state standards for a kitchen that provides free meals. That’s a lot of money for a church that gets fewer than 100 people in the door for services on Sunday, the Brainerd Dispatch says. When it was shut down a year ago, it served more than 170 meals a day in the community. It reopened on Wednesday, thanks to donations and volunteers, but still is about $7,000 short.

Related: Researchers say the number of Minnesotans who are homeless jumped 25 percent between 2006 and 2009, the latest count. Many people who are homeless rely on shelters and hot meal programs for food. A new group in Ramsey County is working to improve the nutritional quality of those meals.


In 1958, James Hanover Thompson was arrested, taken to jail, and beaten by the cops. A white girl had kissed him on the cheek. Thompson is black.

He and a friend spent three months in detention, and each week they were sent to a psychologist. “And he’d tell me, ‘They should have castrated y’all.’ I mean, it was just something,” he tells Story Corps.

You’ll want to read and listen to their story.


Superman may renounce his U.S. citizenship, setting off alarm among commentators on the planet. “‘Truth, justice and the American way’ – it’s not enough anymore,” Superman says, “The world is too small, too connected.”

“It doesn’t seem that he’s abandoning those values, however, only trying to implement them on a larger scale and divorce himself from the political complexities of nationalism,” Comics Alliance says.

Plus, he can’t run for president here, anyway.


The move creates an opportunity for you, Christian Ponder.

Bonus: Northfield’s British Pub, The Contented Cow, hosted a wedding-watching party this morning. Griff Wigley snapped some photos:


The wedding broke online streaming records across the planet today, an indication that at least a few of the people pooh-poohing the fantasy, were fibbing.


The federal government has proposed new guidelines for marketing food to young people. The voluntary guidelines would aim to promote healthy food choices. Today’s Question: Should the federal government try to limit food marketing aimed at children?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Judging GOP contenders through job creation

Second hour: Jazz legend Irv Williams.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Gary Schwitzer, publisher of Health News Review

Second hour: BBC’s royal wedding highlights special

Science Friday (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: The Cape Cod wind project.

Second hour: “Blood Work” author Holly Tucker.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – We might have something about the wedding.