How the ‘haves’ have (5×8 – 10/31/11)

Is it work or luck, if you ruin it they won’t come, 7 billion and counting, the making of the Google doodle, and would you jump out of a plane?

The Monday Morning Rouser:


Driving along Duluth’s shoreline, past the mansions that screamed “we’ve got it and you don’t,” I wondered how many of those who live there now came to their wealth by way of the womb, and how many got there by way of work.

They probably aren’t in the top 1%, but they’re close. But is the 1% a “thing?” Do people get there by the same route? Or were they all essentially there by a generous amount of luck? If the 99% are a diverse collection, aren’t the 1%, too?

Over the weekend, NPR looked at the question of why the “haves” have what they have.

Part of it, one expert says, is technology, the thing that idealists said would give people more access to things they previously couldn’t have.

The United States is becoming more and more of a winner-take-all society. Cornell University economist Robert Frank co-wrote a book with that name. It describes how technological change allows top performers to claim an ever-larger slice of the economic pie.

“The most vivid example we had for a long time was the tax advice industry,” he says. People who once might have gone to a local accountant to have their taxes done can now use mass-produced software instead. That puts a crimp on the income of local accountants. But the CEO behind TurboTax made more than $4 million last year.

Superstars in sports and entertainment have long enjoyed that kind of outsized gain. But Frank says the winner-take-all pattern of concentrated rewards is spreading to one field after another.

This, of course, brings us back to the Occupy movement, which faces a critical point where it will either become a social movement, or die, the San Francisco Chronicle says.

What stands in its way? Winter.

This person, however, has started an Occupy protest that doesn’t require people to stay outside in the snow…


The news that the family that owns the Field of Dreams in Iowa is selling it to an investment group in Chicago reaffirms the bittersweet nature of change:

But Don (Lansing), 68, who retired from his job at John Deere, and Becky, 58, decided that they had done as much as they could. They listed the property in May 2010 for $5.4 million. Some local residents said they were asking too much, given the value of farmland and the weak economy. The Lansings wanted to sell only to someone who would preserve the authenticity of the field, which has been free to visitors.

“We really have been aware all these years that the field has to grow in some capacity,” Becky said. “We have done what we needed to do with the field. We nurtured and protected it and allowed the field to become all it is meant to be.”

The site will feature 12 state-of-the-art fields and an indoor training dome where players will work on their skills. The tournament site will offer 16 weeks of tournament play. And that’s nice, but it’s not a cornfield.


While you slept, Baby 7 Billion was born. The daughter of a poor farmer in India, Nargis Kumar was chosen as the seventh billion baby to focus attention on the ills of female foeticide and India’s skewed sex ratio, Plan International said.

What does it mean? “For all of humanity to experience a material standard of living now enjoyed by a tiny fraction, we’d need four more Earths,” according to

How’d we get so big?


Go to to see the video of today’s Google “doodle,” which is, of course, Halloween themed. Here’s how they made it:

Not quite as cool, but still…


That’s the front staircase at Glensheen in Duluth during its Spooktacular. Click the image to enlarge.


The University of Minnesota skydiving club had planned a week of jumping. Sunday got weathered out, but it appears that Saturday was a fine day to jump out of an airplane…

University of Minnesota Skydiving Club 2011 Tandem Event from AJ Stuyvenberg on Vimeo.

But don’t you hate when this happens? You’re paragliding over the Himalayas when you hit an eagle

Bonus: A town in Spain is considering whether to make its blue makeover — for a Smurf movie — permanent.

Bonus II: It’s the natural progression of our entertainment demands. Jousting is making a comeback:


Gov. Rick Perry’s staff says there are too many presidential debates, and Perry himself has said he may sit some of them out. He also says it may have been a mistake for him to participate in the debates so far. Today’s Question: How important are the presidential debates to your understanding of the candidates?


The historic Halloween snowstorm of 1991.

There is, you may have heard, a huge problem in the east where a blizzard struck this weekend. A jet sat on the tarmac in Hartford for more than 7 hours. One question: How stupid do you have to be to not figure out a way to get people off an airplane that’s just a few hundred yards from the terminal?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Writer Annie Murphy Paul says that people should not get caught up with the quantity of homework students are getting, but rather the quality of the assignments. We talk about homework and the science of learning.

Second hour: As new technology continues to develop, comic books are slowly being transformed. We discuss how new media is changing comic books and the ways that comics can be used in academia.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: MPR political commentators Todd Rapp and Maureen Shaver discuss presidential and state politics.

Second hour: Live National Press Club broadcast featuring GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Students discuss how loans have affected their decisions.

Second hour: TBA