How Minnesota Supreme Court rulings play out -- literally -- on the street: Hubbard County has ordered police to stop using breathalyzers to catch suspected drunk drivers because of an April Supreme Court ruling that said defendants have a right to the device's source code to determine if it's calibrated correctly. Cops don't have the code. The Park Rapids Enterprise said the ruling -- and subsequent action -- could derail hundreds or thousands of pending DWI cases in Minnesota.
Who's in your cockpit? "Sam," who writes the Blogging at FL250 blog has done it again. A blistering assessment of the training and qualifications of some pilots who are flying people around on regional carriers disguised as just smaller planes in big airlines. This all springs from the Colgan Air crash -- in that case the plane was made to look like Continental Airlines. The coverage of the crash focused on a few conversations between the pilot and his inexperienced first officers, and generally ignored the near scandalous situation that the Twin Cities-based pilot-blogger describes. His "circle of blame" for the situation -- which reallyis an accident waiting to happen -- includes... you.
DFL campaign cash bundler Sam Kaplan is reportedly being vetted before being appointed ambassador to Morocco. On Thursday, the Obama administration nominated three other fundraising fat cats and Slate Magazine considers the "cushiest" ambassadorships in the world. "The swankiest gigs, according to former ambassadors, are the Scandinavian countries--Norway, Sweden, Finland--as well as Luxembourg and the Caribbean islands," it reports.
Scientists in Germany have inserted a human gene for language into a mouse. It doesn't talk, but it squeaks differently. "It would have been truly spectacular if they had wound up with a talking mouse," another researcher said, jumping to the lead for the most obvious statement of a newsmaker this year.
WHAT WE'RE WORKING ON
Midmorning - I'm live-blogging the second hour of today's how, during which host John Moe will consider the lure of sports. You can share your story here. In the first hour. The first hour will examine the possible bankruptcy of GM.
Midday - The program wraps up its look at the economy, the American dream, and the middle class with a call-in featuring Chris Farrell in the first hour. Second hour: President Obama's national security advisor and retired Marine General James Jones, speaking to the Atlantic Council of the United States.
Talk of the Nation - It's Science Friday! How your brain decodes the spoken word, the bacteria that thrives on your skin, art that communicates DNA (sound familia? I wrote about it on a Five at 8 a few weeks ago.), and the tale of the world's first telescope. Alas, no talking mouse.
All Things Considered - Laura Yuen's piece on Somali gang activity (originally scheduled for last evening) is slotted for this afternoon's broadcast. Ambar Espinoza looks at the progress of the Highway 23 bridge replacement in St. Cloud. Nina Totenberg looks at the appeals court decision to overturn a Connecticut firefighters exam because too many white candidates were in a position to advance. Sonia Sotomayor was on that panel.
Here's a video the ARW team produced on the subject:
On one segment earlier in the week, a commentator said the American Dream is still alive only because few enough people achieve it to keep them talking about it and keep others dreaming, sort of like Powerball.
In the first hour of today's Midday, Chris Farrell considered whether the recession is killing -- or has killed -- the American Dream.
Like the end of the Olympics, I am having spelling bee withdrawl withdrawal today. I am not yet ready to let go of the two astounding -- if predictable -- facts surrounding the annual spelling extravaganza.
1) We have far too many useless words in our language. Perhaps there should be a sunset provision whenever someone makes a word. If it is not used for one year or if it's use is followed by the more common "huh?", it is banished from our language. Forever. We're not fooling.
Alcopops, chengguan, and chiconomics (the ability to maintain one's fashion sense in a bad economy) are dangerously close to entering the lexicon (n. Gk. lexikos, of words. Def. What you write when you've already used language too much in a blog post.)
2) We feel a little queasy about whether we put our kids through too much. National TV? Prime time? Academics have often wondered what would happen if the math quiz got the same attention as sports, but as far as I know, Grey's Anatomy has never been delayed to show a kid's sporting event.
There was a moment near the end of last night's spelling bee in which a young woman spelled the word wrong, then buried her sobbing head into her parents' embrace. On the other hand, the last remaining young man who spelled his word wrong, calmly sat down as if it was just another day in homeschooling hell.
If you've seen the documentary Spellbound, you know the lengths to which some kids--and, more to the point, some parents--go to prepare for the Bee. The finalists will have spent hundreds of hours--possibly thousands in the case of veteran spellers--memorizing arcane words. They will have been tested via printed word lists and interactive software. They will have been drilled ceaselessly by demanding moms, dads, teachers and coaches. For the top competitors, the pressure is profound. (As the Bee has evolved, it's grown more difficult. The winning word in 1981 was "sarcophagus." Not to brag, but my first-grade daughter can spell that.)
(Aside: Do these kids "text" on their cellphones? Do they spell out all of their words or abbreviate, thereby misspelling them?)
Most people seem to agree, however, that it's not an entirely bad concept to watch kids using their brains for a couple of days; even if they have no sense of chiconomics.