Excerpts from articles ranked by highest readership at startribune.com/opinion over the past year.
This is an apology to the lady behind me in line at Cub Foods in Edina on a recent Sunday night. This is also a reminder to me and to others who have ever slipped into believing that we are just a little better than others we encounter. We were at the checkout, and just as the cashier started ringing me up, I saw you come to the line with a small order in your basket. My first apology is that I could not let you go ahead of me, but the checkout process had already begun. My second apology was for pulling out my pile of discount coupons for the order, and especially when one required the manager’s assistance. I know I was holding you up. And then I swiped my payment method and you lost your patience. It was EBT — “food stamps.”
2. “Reading for pleasure is in painful decline,” a commentary by Stephen L. Carter, a professor of law at Yale University who originally wrote the piece for Bloomberg:
Every now and then, we tend to go into a tizzy about the decline of reading among young people. I do, too. But I wonder whether we might be tizzying for the wrong reasons. The tendency nowadays is to sound the alarm by pointing to the pretty well-established correlation between reading for fun and academic achievement. Reason for concern, yes — but more basic principles are at stake.
3. “Twin Cities suburbs should beware of the Met Council,” a column by Katherine Kersten:
The Twin Cities of 2040 will likely be starkly different from the place you live now. People will increasingly live in dense, urban concentrations, even if they’d prefer a house with a yard outside the 494 beltway. What will be the engine of this transformation? An out-of-the-limelight agency we generally think of as running the buses and occasionally approving a new runway at the airport: the Metropolitan Council.
4. “University of Minnesota’s bloat must end,” a commentary by former Minnesota Gov. Arne H. Carlson:
America’s global economic strength has long been driven by the quality and accessibility of its higher education. This has been particularly true since passage of the GI bill at the close of World War II. The new access it delivered defined another opportunity to live the American Dream. Now that opportunity is in jeopardy. Over the past several months, troubling stories have been published concerning the University of Minnesota’s administrative bloat and excessive compensation costs.
Michele Bachmann, whose failed presidential 2012 run embroiled her in allegations of campaign-finance violations, has chosen not to run for a fifth term in Congress. This week, the controversial Sixth District congresswoman’s reckless statements broadcast during a recent trip to Egypt served up a reminder of why Minnesota and the nation will be better off once she’s left office.
Charles Lane’s commentary (item No. 11, below) about costs at public universities, summarized parts of a recent Wall Street Journal article about the University of Minnesota. The articles did not report that despite stunning state disinvestment, the university is more productive than at any time in recent history. The U serves nearly 9,000 more students today than it did in 2000, an increase of nearly 16 percent, and has reduced the per capita cost of educating students by 13 percent.
7. “The trouble with Facebook is the people,” a column by Joanna Weiss of the Boston Globe:
Forget about the privacy concerns, the onslaught of ads, the annoying design of your profile page. If people are slowly turning away from Facebook, it’s not because the company has overreached or gone over to the dark side. It’s because we’ve come to realize that people are boring.
8. “Let’s give adolescents a chance to grow up,” a commentary by Ted Kolderie of the Center for Policy Studies:
It’s hard to absorb a new idea. So it will take time for us all to see the problem that “adolescence” has become. A century ago, in the interest of “child welfare,” America created what became this “separate society for the young.” Today some, like Mark Bauerlein, an Emory University English professor, think it has produced “The Dumbest Generation” (as he titled his book in 2008): teenagers obsessed with their digital devices, disinclined to read and almost unable to write.
9. “Dr. Oz’s miracle diet is nonsense,” a column by Julia Belluz and Steven J. Hoffman of Slate:
As people were getting ready for the holiday season and its accompanying waist expansion late last year, Dr. Mehmet Oz let viewers of his TV show in on a timely little secret. “Everybody wants to know what’s the newest, fastest fat buster,” said the board-certified cardiothoracic surgeon and one of People magazine’s sexiest men alive. “How can I burn fat without spending every waking moment exercising and dieting?”
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