Archive for May, 2011

Happy Birthday, Minnesota

Today is Statehood Day, Minnesota’s birthday. 153 years ago today Minnesota became the 32nd state in the U.S. Since then, Minnesota has done pretty well. We’ve had things we can be proud of. Like all places, we’ve had things to be not so proud of. Hopefully, we’ve learned from the mistakes so as not to repeat them.

Today, the Minnesota legislature debated putting discrimination into the state constitution. They also discussed whether climate science is actually valid or bogus. When we celebrate Minnesota’s 160th birthday, or 200th, or beyond, what will our children and grandchildren make of things like these? Will future Minnesotans feel proud about this, or will they be viewed as mistakes that took us away from our traditions and shared values? Our leaders should reflect on how history will remember their actions today and as we move forward.

These Things I Believe

Aside from the successful mission against bin Laden last weekend, it’s hard to find any positive news in the political sphere these days. Congress is talking about deficits, debt ceilings, inflation, bond vigilantes, and budget cuts. GOP presidential candidates are talking in South Carolina about how we have enough fossil fuels in the U.S. right now to eliminate our need to import energy (and the guy who said that won the debate according to the focus group!). In Minnesota, talk is about deficits, budget cuts, voter ID, silver and gold currency, abortion, Vikings stadiums, and giving up. Few are talking about doing something about 9% unemployment or people laid off a year ago still looking for a job. But lots of people seem to think that the answer is simple, and we just need to follow their belief systems (and did you catch the Atlas Shrugged movie? Probably not.).

Sometimes, politics is frustrating. Sure, it can be frustrating when you are losing. Political fortunes rise and fall, and I’ve seen both sides. But a lot of the frustration these days isn’t quite that, I think, especially the frustration I’m feeling. It’s the kind of frustration you get when people are playing Calvinball with reality, changing the rules of the game and the debate. Add to that a healthy scoop of ignorance about how government works both nationally and locally, and you get pretty close to the state of political discourse in the U.S. today that is leading to these general funk. How did we get here? I’m no historian, so I can’t really answer that. How did I get here personally? Ah, now that’s a question I can answer. Perhaps.

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Computers break in strange ways

I’ve been incommunicado for a bit due to yet another computer malfunction. This was a truly bizarre one, and the diagnosis I made, strange and unlikely as I thought it was, turned out to be correct. It’s a reminder that computers can fail in rather odd ways.

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