Nice to have you here. Here's what's coming up today on News Cut:
Why didn't someone tell me the Ectomobile was parked at Best Buy headquarters in Richfield yesterday?
The Ectomobile, as you may know, was the vehicle of choice in Ghostbusters, and apparently Vivendi has built one to promote a coming video game, I guess. Find a ton of pictures, here.
Here's the thing, though. Apparently the "community" of Ghostbusters fans has more than a few people who have built their own... sort of.
Like I needed something else to scare me. Help us, Mr. Stay Puft man!
(H/T: Michael Wells)(2 Comments)
There was an earthquake in the Midwest today. The epicenter was in southern Illinois and apparently caused only minor damage.
The U.S. Geological Survey, keeper of the cool instruments that tell us the numbers, has a great idea: an online space where people can report how violent -- or not -- the earthquake was in their area. Unfortunately, at this point, it's all about the numbers, and there's no "community" space yet where people can share their stories, but the possibilities for quickly getting the information and then being able to plot it all on a map are enormous.
How common are earthquakes in Minnesota? Not very. The last one was February 9, 1994, a rip-roaring 3.1 centered in south-central Minnesota. In November 1968, another earthquake in south-central Illinois was strong enough to be felt in the Austin-to-Rochester area. The last strong earthquake in Minnesota was a 4.6 quake that cracked foundations in Stevens and Morris counties in 1975.
So I'm probably wasting my time asking you for stories of any time you felt an earthquake. I was in San Francisco last October for our 25th wedding anniversary. A fairly strong earthquake -- at least by Minnesota standards -- struck the San Jose area. We didn't feel a thing although everyone on the street was talking about it. On the day after my first son was born, a 5.3 earthquake struck nearby Armonk,
Now that freedom is on the march and there's a movement afoot to allow us to burn incandescent light bulbs if that's what we want, perhaps the next battleground is water.
As the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports today, there's a coming "crackdown" on people who use too much water on their lawns.
"To crack down on such water wasters, Woodbury is pioneering a new water-conservation tool -- water audits."
"Officials were outraged to learn that a single user -- a home in the ritzy Powers Lake Point area -- used 471,000 gallons last summer."
A "crackdown"? "Outrage?" You'd think the "targeted" homeowners were breaking the law. But, in fact, they aren't. While these homeowners may be gluttonous, earth-destroying, sloths, there's no law to stop them. Should there be?
As usual, the greatest show on earth, is the comments section of a newspaper's Web site, with opinion ranging from:
More liberals controlling our lives-Kids are starving in Haiti due to ethonal and we wnat to monitor water usage in Woodbury. Great!!!!!
The state legislature needs to get involved in this water debacle. We need to implement a state-wide tax of at least $1 per gallon of water used.
That last one came from someone from North Dakota. Three words, Fargo: You go first.
As any newspaper carrier can tell you, an early-morning drive around Woodbury, especially in the rain, will find lots of automatic sprinklers in action (usually in townhome developments where no single person appears to be in charge anyway).
There actually is a law in Minnesota that requires rain sensors to be installed on lawn-irrigation systems. It passed by wide margins in the Republican-controlled House, the DFL-controlled Senate and was signed by the Republican governor.
The real mystery here is what is it about green lawns that drives Minnesota into such irrational exuberance? I have friends -- yeah, in Woodbury -- who weren't sucked into the lawn-care marketing and when dandelions sprouted, their neighbor came in the dark of night and applied weed-killer to their lawn. What is it we think a green lawn says about us that we're so desperate to have it say?
Ted Steinberg, author of "American Green: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Lawn," says it's a Post World War II thing:
As American industry became more efficient in turning out innovations people needed--such as washing machines, stoves, cars and more--there still was plenty of capacity left over to turn out even more products that were less essential--such as those that could be used to create and maintain perfect lawns.
Tom Lehrer turned 80 last week. Good grief, that's more depressing than watching a M*A*S*H reunion special. 80.
Jonathan J. Rosenberg, Senior VP, Product Management at Google posts a tribute to the Harvard mathematician.
From "The Masochism Tango" to "Who's Next" to "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park" (trust us, you have to hear it), Mr. Lehrer's unique music carved out a distinctive place in popular music in the 1950s and '60s. He made his fans feel smart. An entrepreneur -- and we like entrepreneurs -- he self-produced and sold his songs via mail order. And for all the edginess in his humor, he ended up writing some ten clever songs for the '70s public television children's program The Electric Company, including a tune about the letter 'e.'
Lehrer turned math into comedy and made it OK -- even cool -- for us victims of "new math" to say "I don't get it."
Math is easy. It's comedy that's hard.
(H/T: Jeff Jarvis)
Posted at 12:46 PM on April 18, 2008
by Bob Collins
Every now and again I come upon an obituary of someone I didn't know, and wish I had.
John Bartkowski of International Falls died this week at age 93. He was a well-known guy in that neck of the woods; he started the Coca Cola bottling plant there, distributed Budweiser, and apparently touched hundreds of lives there.
Insight into the man was provided today by Faye Whitbeck in the International Falls Daily Journal.
My favorite anecdote was one of a man who encountered Bartkowski while he was having a teenage keg party on Bartkowski's property:
We were having a great time at this perfect spot, with a little road to a beach," said Davis. "Then a dump truck comes along and an old guy (seemed like it then) gets out."
"You know, this is private property," said Bartkowski. After a few moments, Bartkowski continued: "Well, you guys have a good time and don't be tearing the bark off the trees." Then Bartkowski went on his way, but offered one last quip: "That keg better be Budweiser." (The beer he sold at the time.)
... or maybe this one is my favorite:
Ladd Kocinski said Bartkowski knew how to work hard as well as have fun. Kocinski, who is a building craftsman and instructor, remembers roofing a garage for him at his Dove Island residence. "Amelia was out of town and John told me to be there early," said Kocinski. "Now apparently his early was different than my early." Bartkowski gave the carpenter a lecture but softened it by concluding that "Getting chewed out is an educational experience." It's a quote Kocinski has never forgotten. "He was a fair man, and he always treated me well."
Here's his obituary, which appeared separately in the paper today.
A lot of folks had a bad feeling when video monitors started popping up at the gas pump. It started with weather reports and then some local news, maybe an occasional blurb about a sale on beef jerky inside. But this? Now we're going to have to be subjected to political ads while we fill-up.(8 Comments)
There are a couple of intersecting stories in the news today; the thread between them is that there's always more to the story.
The story: Katherine Kersten's article "Teacher questions Muslim practices at charter school," documented the experiences of a substitute teacher to conclude that Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy in Inver Grove Heights is "an Islamic school, funded by Minnesota taxpayers."
The "more to the story" - MinnPost's David Brauer reports the sub was a conservative Republican activist in college, who had been shown a previous Kersten column on the school by her parents.
The story: During the presidential debate on Wednesday in Philadelphia, a video of a woman was shown, in which she asked Barack Obama if he "believed in the American flag."
The more to the story: McClatchy reports that the woman appeared in a feature in the Washington Post awhile ago, critical of Obama for not wearing a flag pin. ABC tracked her down specifically to ask the question, as opposed to having randomly submitted video questions from which this was plucked.
For the record, the "more to the story" doesn't render "the story" false. But when the full story isn't told, it makes it far too easy to question the motives involved, even though they may be pure. Plus, in the age of blogs, it's really a dumb idea not to disclose these things.(13 Comments)
Off to the Indians-Twins game tonight, so no time for the clever graphic, which -- judging by the scores some of you revealed in last week's quiz -- isn't helping you all that much, anyway.
So here's this week's News Cut Quiz. You know the drill. Take it. Report back here. Vow to read News Cut more often next week.
Just remember: There's no crying allowed.(9 Comments)