The three-day weekend and forgotten holidays (5×8 – 5/27/13)

A day to forget, a house is just a house, how parents and big money ruins kids’ sports, advice for the grads, and Todd Hoffner speaks.

It’s national holiday and I know there aren’t many people likely to stop by NewsCut today, but I’m up early and there are five interesting things worth considering, so why not.

First the Monday Morning Rouser, special “let’s sleep late” edition.


The chances are, you’ve seen this meme on your Facebook feed:



Why do holidays only mean “long weekend” now? Because that’s the way the Congress wanted to treat them. It wasn’t that long ago that national holidays took place on specific dates. Memorial Day was always May 30th, for example. But in 1968, Congress decided people needed three-day weekends and moved a bunch of holidays to Monday. Could they have seen that the result was to diminish the meaning of the holiday? Yes. But it wasn’t Memorial Day they were worried about to the extent they were worried at all; it was Washington’s birthday.

But it didn’t matter to Congress, because the act that created Monday holidays envisioned three benefits. Yep, the same benefits that are criticized today:

According to the Congressional Record:

“Three-day holidays offer greater opportunities for families–especially those whose members may be widely separated–to get together. . . .”

“The three-day span of leisure time . . . would allow our citizens greater participation in their hobbies as well as in educational and cultural activities.”

“Monday holidays would improve commercial and industrial production by minimizing midweek holiday interruptions of production schedules and reducing employee absenteeism before and after midweek holidays.”

Of course, what ended up happening was people started taking Friday off in order to create four day weekends.

Ironically, given this chance to be with family and relax, we blew it.

The Congress of that period couldn’t have imagined the smartphone, on which we’re likely to depend 50-150 times today. The the smartphone has killed the three-day weekend, CNBC says.

Besides driving each other crazy, we are also robbing our brains of critical downtime that encourages creative thinking when we skip weekends and vacations. At extreme levels of exhaustion, rest-deprived brains experience memory loss and hallucinations. But without regular rest, brains fail at more basic tasks. A study at the University of California, San Francisco, found that new experiences fail to become long-term memories unless brains have downtime for review.

Vanderkam also argues that taking breaks makes you more focused when you work. People who work 50 or 60 hours rarely get more done than people who work 40 hours, she argues.

Reboot’s vision is a digital-age Sabbath, Schevitz said, but as she explained it on the phone, she was interrupted by a text message. (“Even I struggle with this,” she confessed.)

“We need a modern day-rest that brings balance back to life,” she said.

So in the end, we were given long weekends to rest, and then we didn’t. And, in the process, stopped observing the actual holiday.

Related: Cute letters from kids to soldiers.

In Iowa, a 100-year old veteran got a personal celebration of his service. He’s in hospice.

Archive: The stories left behind.


This weekend piece from CBS’ Steve Hartman was a compelling look at how a family is handling the tornado that wiped out their home in Moore, Oklahoma. Here’s what’s fascinating: The kids seem to get it. It’s just a house. The mother won’t let the kids look at the house the kids say they no longer care about. She says they’re not ready. The question raised: Do kids “get it” more than older people?3) HOW PARENTS AND BIG MONEY RUINS SPORTS

The Star Tribune’s excellent story about how booster clubs have ruined high school sports by created a land of haves and have-nots is enough to make us wonder if there’s anything about kids’ sports that adults can’t ruin. The same attitude that polluted college sports us now doing its things at the high school level. (Today’s installment focused on the monied private schools)

Eden Prairie, Edina, Minnetonka and Wayzata were singled out but it goes beyond those communities and it goes beyond just the number of titles the schools in those communities have won. It gets to our unwillingness to just let kids be kids.

We send them off to sports camps, we divert dollars to sports while academics suffer, and then when things don’t go our way, we demand some coach be fired.

One commenter — a coach as it turns out — made the obvious point the article did not: Where does it end?

As a head coach of a football program that falls in the “have not” group, this article makes me sick to my stomach. I wish I could go to a school of 200 kids in outstate Minnesota and just coach for the love of it. Instead I am trying to nickel and dime every chance I get to raise enough money at a large school to barely survive. I would like to think I put in the time, the effort, and build the relationships with my athletes just like the coaches at the power schools do, but boy is my pay-off for all that work different than what I just read about in this article. I can’t believe that Dave Stead, the head of the organization I work for, can’t figure out a way to control some of this. Can’t anyone else see that this is just plain wrong…..we are high school coaches and athletes!!!! I can’t wait for 20 years down the road when we are reading the same article, only this one will talk about the high stakes of fundraising for the 3rd and 4th graders in the wealthy suburbs. Where does it end?? Someone in power can put a stop to this madness and make high school sports what they were always meant to be again.

The focus, perhaps, shouldn’t be on who has more money than another school, but why high school sports is elevated to a level that team performance satisfies our adult self-esteem.


Star Trek star Wil Wheaton was asked to sign some high school student’s yearbook. He went beyond that and provided some advice for the graduating student.


What would you write?


You don’t get second chances once you’ve been accused of child pornography, even if the charges turn out to be bogus. ESPN’s Outside the Lines talked with former Mankato football coach Todd Hoffner in his first interview since his arrest and subsequent firing.

Bonus I: In Wisconsin, a man has figured out the perfect business. He’s got employees who only want to be paid with grass and shrubs and don’t complain about the hours. They’re goats and they’re increasingly the solution to invasive plants.

Bonus II: The pain of left-hangingitis in Major League Baseball.



Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Kerri’s interview with Iraq war veteran and munitions expert Brian Castner about his book “The Long Walk” and

Tom’s interview with local author Bill Swanson about his book “Black, White, Blue: The Assassination of Patrolman Sackett.” (Rebroadcast)

Second hour: Journalist Lawrence Wright discusses his new book on Scientology, “Going Clear.” Tom Weber interviews former Vatican correspondent John Thavis about his book “The Vatican Diaries.” (Rebroadcast)

Third hour: Kerri’s interview with author and humorist Calvin Trillin about his book “Dogfight: The 2012 Presidential Campaign in Verse.” Tom Weber interviews Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Tracy Smith about her collection of poems “Life on Mars.”

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): World War II veterans tell their stories, in a documentary called “Lest We Forget,” from the Veterans History Project of the Library of Congress.

Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – TBA

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