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December 10, 2007

Grade School Geniuses?

An Inver Grove Heights grade school is giving kids as young as kindergarten instruction in the Advanced Placement (AP) style used by high school kids to get into better colleges and take care of basic required classes. According to a Wednesday Dec. 5 Star Trib article, only a few other schools in the country have put this Pre-AP program into action. The residents and teachers of Inver Grove Heights quoted in this article give positive reviews for the program. Some teachers already work on some of the concepts the program details, but not necessarily to the extent. The article doesn't say anything about any problems of limitations inherent in the program, if any are present. It appears from the article that each teacher is responsible for making up their own programs for each class, but on the Inver Grove Heights Community Schools website, it seems like they go through a training course.

December 9, 2007

Get 'Em Out By Friday, or Don't. They Can Just Wait

This December 4 Star Trib article talks about how airplanes are starting to be fuller and fuller. It says that the reason for the packed flights is because the airlines are charging less for each ticket in order to steal people from competitors. This means that when flights are canceled or delayed, the next available flights get filled up faster, resulting in all too many people getting stuck and missing appointments and such. This title and tone of the beginning of this article suggest that it will make a horrible villain of the airline industry for forcing this change, but the industry can't really be blamed for the economic and political problems, including the "tech bubble burst" and 9/11. The article closes with the statement that the problems probably won't end soon. So, the villain of this article is neither the consumer nor the airline industry, but the rest of reality.

The Golden Vaulted Ceilings of Edina

The homebuilding trend for the past few years has been to buy a decrepit house on salvageable land, knock it down, and then build an incredible hulking behemoth in its place. This has the result of making the rest of the neighborhood look worse in comparison. These old, single family homes were affordable and remain that way. But the gigantic castles that people are building today ruin the atmosphere of the neighborhood, say some residents. Supporters of the giant houses say they help elderly and retired residents who stand to make tidy profits from the sale of their homes. This article balances the opposing sides well. It alternates sympathy in each chunk.
I picked this article because, to me, it is a local concern in my hometown in Illinois too. The house that went up next to mine is the biggest house in a neighborhood of huge houses. It is dark and imposing, and it supposedly cost over a million dollars. The price tag on the superlarge houses is what the people complaining about them really care about. The bigger the house, the higher the price tag, which means new families probably won't be able to afford living in that neighborhood, which keeps new blood out of the area, which makes it less desirable to live there.

December 2, 2007

A Green Holiday

The "Holiday" (Christmas) Tree in St Paul's Rice Park hosts 360 LED lights this year instead of a full compliment of regular incandescent bulbs. This article, from the Friday print edition of the Star Tribune, is a bit of a puff piece, but I feel it's notable for a few details. First, the article conforms to the current trend of referring to the Christmas season as the Holiday season. This trend has been building for a few years now, but it has finally overtaken the traditional name. A lot of people hate this trend, but a much louder portion of the public sees the continuation of the Christmas name as an invasion of religion. The other trend this article reports on is the Green trend. Even though the 360 LEDs won't really affect the emissions of the "Holiday" tree, the article was still printed. I suppose the basis of the article was to tell people that the tree will be entirely LED next year, but then that information should have been farther up in the article.

Warning: Temperatures Dropping. It Could Get Cold

An article in Sunday's Star Tribune talks about the ramifications of Vladimir Putin, Russian President's plans for his post-presidential career. The article is clearly written with the intent of making the reader think back to Cold War tensions with Soviet Russia. It mentions Stalin several times, and describes Putin's options of post-career with negative connotations. The article says that even after Putin's second term is up, he will likely still remain in some form of power, either as a prime minister, a "national leader", or become a "ruling party strongman in the mold of Josef Stalin." The latter half of the article talks about how much Putin has done, or at least claimed to do, for Russia. Interestingly, in the layout of page A6, the Putin article is sandwiched between one about Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, which talks about a vote being put forth that could, among other things, make Venezuela officially a socialist country, and an article about Iran's nuclear program. This page's layout seems tailored to produce the maximum amount of worry. Iran's nuclear program raises concern for nuclear terrorists. The Putin article suggests a return to the days of one-party communism, and the Chavez article suggests a socialist Latin America and Caribbean. Certainly, the editors of the Star Tribune wouldn't want its readership to worry too much, would they?