The Olympics are approaching, the every-four-year period in which it's acceptable to say "stick it" on TV. But the Olympics occur against a backdrop of important athletic issues that cannot be ignored. Is prancing and tumbling around waving a stick with a ribbon a "sport"? Is hitting a little ball being thrown at you at 90 mph a sport?
Is ballroom dancing a sport?
What events do you think should be in the Olympics? What events do you think shouldn't?(10 Comments)
What do you say to someone who has cancer? That was one of the questions a caller asked earlier this week when MPR's Midmorning talked with Leroy Sievers, a journalist who has been writing about his battle with cancer on an NPR blog.
Yesterday, Sievers wrote about the question on his blog:
Cancer patients know how difficult it is to talk about our disease. It's hard for us. I have broken down into tears any number of times recently.
But what's more important, more important than the words you might say, is the effort to simply say anything. And if that "anything" isn't about cancer, that's even better.
The best conversations I have these days are about something, anything else. Politics, sports, books, whatever.
If cancer is not in the room for even an hour or two, that's a gift.
The difficulty, of course, is sometimes "How 'bout those Twins?" sounds a lot like "this is me not talking about cancer." The comments section of the blog post provided a good example: a mix of highly sensitive thoughts mixed in with questions about politics and the Red Sox.(2 Comments)
News Cut is in a nostalgic mood. It happens every time I read another story about vinyl LPs making a comeback, especially if it's accompanied by a picture of a record rack featuring albums, every one of which -- I think -- is in the News Cut vault (i.e. an unopened cardboard box in the crawl space under the stairs from at least three moves ago).
But this item in this morning's Worthington Daily Globe sealed the deal:
Pat Boone will present holiday concerts at 3 and 7 p.m. Dec. 6 at the Business, Arts and Recreation Center (BARC), 1012 Fifth Ave., Windom.
Tickets for the event are now on sale with all seating reserved.
Boone hit national fame in 1955 with his recording version of "Ain't That A Shame." He hit the national spotlight via his first television appearance singing on the "Ted Mack Amateur Hour." Pat Boone sold more records in the 1950s than any other artist except Elvis Presley. He has sold more than 45 million records and has charted 60 songs, 18 of which hit the Top 10.
Pat Boone? Is he still alive? Yes, and he's on a 50 year anniversary tour (aren't we all?), according to his Web site, which automatically plays him singing "Tears of a Clown." and -- if that's not enough to make your day, reports that there's a petition drive to get Pat Boone into the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame.
The prospect of an evening checking out Pat Boone fans in Windom on a December evening during his 50 Year Anniversary Tour cannot be ignored.
Now the only thing left to make it a perfect entry into the holiday weekend is to stumble onto a Hot Rod race for pink slips on the way into work.(4 Comments)
Much is being made across the various national media today about a report that some states are selling lottery tickets after the advertised jackpot has already been won. It stems from a USA Today story (media insight: Most stories start with a newspaper article) earlier this week.
About half of the 42 states that have lotteries -- including Florida, New Jersey, Michigan and Tennessee -- keep selling tickets after the top prizes are gone. The states say the practice is fair because lottery tickets and websites disclose the practice. Also, other prizes are available.
And Minnesota? "To your question - we pull all remaining scratch games in a game once the last top prize has been validated and awarded, to a player," Minnesota State Lottery Director Clint Harris told me in an e-mail today.
It's the slowest news day in a traditionally slow news week, which allows me more time to think deep thoughts. Today's deep thought: How many things that you owned in 1977 are still working and still useful to you?
If you were born after 1977, then think back to the deepest recesses of your memory for a similar object.
I just moved a couch that I bought in 1983, out of my house and into my son's new apartment after convincing him that an orange-dominant, all-plaid couch never goes out of style. That's about as far back as I can go to find a useful object.
1983 is six years after this country launched two Voyager space probes, which originally were intended to fly past Jupiter and Saturn, but worked so well that their mission now is to reach interstellar space, which is the space in a galaxy that is not occupied by planets or stars.
In 1977, the picture of the year was Annie Hall. Hotel California was the top song, and the Oakland Raiders beat the Minnesota Vikings in the Super Bowl, 32-14.
Voyager II was launched the same year Apple Computer was incorporated, and the Apple II computer was unveiled. Tandy's TRS-80 made its debut, the Atari 2600 game system was first sold, and the Concorde made its first regularly scheduled flight from London to New York, and this baby was the Motor Trend Car of the Year:
All of those things are now, for practical purposes, junk. And yet, there is Voyager, still functioning. And this week it taught us that the bubble of solar wind surrounding the solar system is not round, but has a squashed shape. It's an impressive thing, even though we admit to having no idea what it means or what its significance is.
Meanwhile, back on terra firma in 2008, the average lifespan of a cellphone is 14 months.(15 Comments)
I often think that if Cirrus Design were based in the Twin Cities instead of Duluth, it'd be a bigger "Minnesota" story than it is. The company has, over the last decade or so, become the most influential general aviation aircraft maker in the country (with a nod to Cessna).
Today, the company pushed a new boundary that has the real possibility of changing all sorts of things about aviation -- it flew its personal jet for the first time.
You know, no doubt, about the small planes that buzz all over the country. Now, there is likely to be a transformation from piston engines to jet engines in some of those small planes. The so-called very-light jet category (VLJ) is aimed at the business flyer. It's no secret -- or shouldn't be -- that I'm a big aviation guy, but I'm not convinced that the aviation world is ready for this.
Already, small airports are closing in the United State every day. Despite the best intentions (in most cases) of the private pilot to be a good neighbor, many people don't want airplanes flying around their houses, even though the airports were there first. The VLJ is designed to fly into airports which are too small now for standard jet traffic. That introduces the possibility of new fronts in the airport noise debate.
My pilot friends will be very mad at me for pointing this out but it's anticipated there will be up to 20,000 VLJs within two years flying around the country, and airlines, which have a habit of blaming general aviation for ills of their own making, have got a few high-powered friends believing that air traffic congestion will result.
Supporters of VLJ point out, on the other hand, that the airlines are grounding their flights to lower costs and raise fares and if people are finding alternative ways to navigate by air, then whose fault is that?
The Associated Press must've realized today that there' simply no dignified way to write an obituary when the deceased is Bozo the Clown.
Take the last line of this paragraph, for example, in the obituary for Larry Harmon, who died today at 83:
Although not the first person to play Bozo, Harmon took on the famous clown's persona and, as an entrepreneur, he licensed the character to others, particularly TV stations. Those stations then recruited their own Bozos for local shows.
(The AP rewrote the last line for the morning papers.)