It's a quick scan this morning. I have to get into work early because I'm live-blogging the first hour of Midmorning when we discuss the relationship between alcohol and college sports. The new stadium was built with an idea of allowing tailgating. We all know that tailgating involves pounding down a few brews. Football in general is synonymous with getting drunk... or at least drinking. How is it that colleges can crack down on drinking on one hand, while embracing the culture that encourages it on the other?
1) Fifties and 60s at night, around 80 during the day. If this were January, would that be your prescription for a perfect Minnesota day? "We need more heat around here," my meteorological colleague, Paul Huttner, told Tom Crann on All Things Considered yesterday afternoon. Paul details the sad story on his blog, Updraft. July was the coolest month in Minnesota... ever.
Today's discussion point: So what? I just came in from watching the sunrise out on a bench on my lawn -- a lawn that is gloriously green and not crunchy, by the way. The cardinals were singing a happy song. I'd just had a good night's sleep with the windows open. The perennial garden has never looked better. The air is clear and -- I think -- clean. Perfect.
So where does this "our cool summer is a bad summer" narrative come from? What do we do when the temperature hits 90 around here? We close our windows, draw our shades, turn on the air conditioner, and try to get our homes and offices to be as cool as it is outside right now.
What's wrong with us?
2) A tale of two Minnesotas in two stories:
Story 1: A growing number of businesses in Bemidji are putting up signs in the language of the local Native American community. Words in Ojibwe are popping up as welcome signs, on restroom doors and in grocery stores, MPR's Tom Robertson reports.
Story 2: In Duluth, residents are criticizing racist T-shirts on sale at Canal Park. According to the Duluth News Tribune, "one of them said, 'My Indian name is 'Drinks Like Fish' and the other said 'My Indian name is 'Crawling Drunk.'"
What's wrong with us?
(h/t: JPRennquist on Twitter)
3) This is an idea that can catch on. Sneak Some Zucchini onto Your Neighbor's Porch Day. Though I suspect it could easily lead to "Dump some asbestos on the porch of your generous neighbor with the zucchini day."
4) How do we put lipstick on this pig? By 2011, half of all mortgages in the U.S. will be underwater, Reuters reports. It was 26 percent last March. If 26 percent was enough to nearly collapse the financial system here, what is nearly half going to do to us?
5) The BBC -- appropriately -- is devoting live coverage today to the funeral of Harry Patch. He died last month at 111. He was the last living Brit veteran of World War I.
Students who have been found intoxicated and ejected from a Gopher football game will have to take a Breathalyzer test before they can attend another game, under a policy being developed for the University of Minnesota's new football stadium. The plan would tolerate no alcohol in the system of a student too young to drink and only some in students of legal drinking age. Officials are trying to limit rowdy behavior, which they say is closely related to alcohol use. Does alcohol have a proper role at campus sports events?
WHAT WE'RE DOING
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) - We're living blogging the alcohol-college sports discussion in the first hour (see above). Second hour: Research suggests that women in the workplace build better relationships than do men, but take fewer risks on the job. Do these behavioral differences make women better bosses, and how much of a role does our biology really play in our leadership ability?
Midday (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.) - MPR's chief economics correspondent (I'm pretty sure we only have one), Chris Farrell, will be in the studio to answer questions about the latest economic news.
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) - First hour: In any war, civilian deaths present tactical, strategic and moral issues. The debate now focuses on Afghanistan. The segment looks at the rules of war and civilian deaths. Hour two: The connection between mass media and mass marketing thrived from the invention of movable type, until the Internet came along. Bob Garfield, of NPR's On The Media, takes us through the digital ruins, and beyond -- in his book, The Chaos Scenario.
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - TBD
Let's face it: This week is dragging. We need a Rouser.(4 Comments)
We're live-blogging today's Midmorning discussion about the relationship between college sports and alcohol. Please add your comments to what you hear and we'll pull the great ones and read them on the air.
Here's Kerri Miller's intro:
When the gates open at the U of M's new football stadium this fall...drunk and rowdy students--beware. If you're kicked out once--your name will go on a list...and you'll have to submit to a breathalyzer before you can get in for another game. The university hopes it will help control the behavior of fans and the drinking culture around football games--- But what kind of an effect will it really have?
Tailgating will still go on right outside of the stadium doors...and there are bars within walking distance. There is also a close connection between student athletics and alcohol advertising--so we'll talk about that.
Ervin Cox: Director of student assistance and judicial affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Toben Nelson: Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Community Health at the University of Minnesota.
Murray Sperber: Visiting professor in the graduate school of education at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of "Beer and Circus: How Big-Time College Sports is Crippling Undergraduate Education."
9:08 a.m. - Cox came up with the "show and blow" program at the University of Wisconsin. This is the model that's going to be used at the University of Minnesota. He said students found it "more fun to go sober."
9:11 a.m. - Here's MPR's Tim Post's story on how the program will work at the U of M.
9:12 a.m. - Toben Nelson, who acknowledges he's a cheesehead, says the problem isn't drinking itself, but the behavior. He says the challenges that campuses face is their relationship with alcohol. Are they going to sell it? Promote it? And how many alcohol outlets will be available near the stadiums?
Cox says they don't have many wide-open spots for tailgating at Madison. But lots near the dorms are alcohol free.
9:15 a.m. - Could colleges be doing more to control the drinking culture, Kerri asks. "They're in a tough spot," Nelson says. "They need to work closely with people in the community."
"Do they do enough?" Kerri asks.
"They (college administrators) don't know quite what to do," Nelson says.
9:17 a.m. - A 2005 USA Today article notes these crackdowns started as far back as 2005. Have they made much difference? Caller Seth, a Madison grad, says it's been a lot more fun going to the games and "Minnesota will not regret the decision."
9:19 a.m. - Cox: "If you can't go to a football game for three hours without drinking, there's another issue there."
9:22 a.m. - Nelson is about to release a paper on tailgating, Miller says. I've got to see that.
9:23 a.m. - Mark, a student in Mankato, calls to say Mankato is a dry campus and says the U's policy is a "great idea." Where are all the drunken college kids this morning?
9:25 a.m. - Cox notes that there's a political issue here. With state and university budgets being cut, alcohol provides significant revenue. Cox said the unions at Madison would object to eliminating booze altogether. In Texas, they're championing selling more of it.
9:27 a.m. - U of M Daily article on booze at the new stadium.
9:31 a.m. - Cox notes that drinking problems aren't that big of a deal at basketball and hockey games in Madison. He also notes that the U and Madison are the only Big 10 schools that send student affairs staff to football games.
9:32 a.m. - On the other side of the news, the discussion will turn to Nelson's research on tailgating. Which led me to Tailgating America. I love the Internet.
9:36 a.m. - I wonder how this discussion would play in real college football towns. Just noticed this picture highlighting Gatortailgating.com in Jacksonville.
9:38 a.m. - Murray Sperber has joined us. He's critical of college efforts to curtail drinking.
9:40 a.m. - Nelson previews his paper on tailgating. "Most universities do not sell alcohol in their stadium... those that permitted tailgating and didn't control it, those were the schools more likely to have heavy drinking going on in their stadiums." He says there's a reluctance among colleges to cut back on drinking, because it'll upset the alumni.
9:41 a.m. - MPR's Julia Schrenkler forwards the Web address of "Cruzin Cooler."
9:44 a.m. - Ten yard penalty for improper use of the phrase "begs the question."
9:45 a.m. - We're picking on the alumni. Meanwhile, caller Kurt calls to play devil's advocate. "The more we make it a taboo instead of socializing responsibly, the more it will never change."
9:47 a.m. - Nelson: "Before the minimum drinking age went into effect nationally, drinking among high school students was considerably higher than it currently is." It's an interesting assertion that caller Kurt made, basically that if we relaxed our alcohol bans, alcohol abuse wouldn't be so bad. He invokes the "European model," but alcohol abuse in Europe is also rampant, contrary to popular belief in discussions like this.
Sperber says he spent part of the year in France. "There's a major problem with youth drinking in Europe now," he says.
And Wisconsin, it's safe to say, has a fairly relaxed attitude -- shall we say -- to alcohol. And it's among the biggest binge drinking states in the country (pssst. So are we in Minnesota)
9:52 a.m. - Sperber says large state schools are less inclined to give undergraduates a quality education. Schools have learned that schools really love their beer and they love the circus surrounding it, so they increasingly promote college athletics as a kind of "beer and circus."
"The only thing that slows them down are the school lawyers," he says. "When you say to them, 'why do you allow this excess drinking in the parking lot?' they don't have an answer."
9:55 a.m. -- Caller, a U of M grad, says kids are going to drink no matter what. "We often hear that," says Nelson. "We've interviewed more than 50,000 students in our research and we found the more they drink, the more problems" they're going to have. Rapes on campus and the occasional death are included. "What we need to do is address the heavy drinking going on," he says, saying he's never seen the research the caller said existed at the U supporting her assertion.
9:57 a.m. - Sperber says he's "come around" to Nelson's point of view -- colleges should take a hard line on alcohol. He says when he was in school, "we only drank on the weekends," but students at Indiana, he says, drink every night.
We're wrapping up here. What do you think?(9 Comments)
Twitter and Facebook are under attack today.
Way back when, Twitter outages were so commonplace that it was worth reporting when it didn't crash--as when it stayed afloat during the entire South by Southwest Interactive Festival in 2008. Now, a few million dollars of venture capital later, the service is far more stable.
Twitter wants to establish itself as a communications standard rather than just a social-media brand. It's been a crucial platform for information exchange in the face of global events where more traditional means of broadcasting have been inaccessible or blocked.
Some features of Facebook were also experiencing uptime issues on Thursday--one reader speculated that log-in servers may have been down--which raises the issue of whether a hosting company problem is to blame. Alternately, a denial-of-service attack could have been targeting both high-profile companies.
Facebook is "looking into" the outages, spokeswoman Brandee Barker said in an e-mail.
In the big scheme of thing, perhaps, it's not that big of a deal. After all, I'll live if I don't know you're having ham-and-cheese for lunch.
Earlier this week, some popular sites were also under attack.
Last month, AT&T's network was also attacked.
But coming on the heels of a denial-of-service attack, allegedly by North Korea, a month ago, we might be missing the big picture here. Yes, we're dependent on social media for, possibly, a bigger part of our day than it should occupy. But we're dependent on the Internet and its infrastructure for far more important things, too.
Is it up to the task? Are the same people responsible? Is this the start of something bigger?
Why feds can't stop cyberattacks, on FederalTimes.com was a sobering read.
"For the most part, a more modern infrastructure is an almost complete protection against these attacks," said Mark Pietrasanta, the chief technology officer at Aquilent, a Maryland-based IT firm that does Web development for numerous federal agencies. "And we know a couple of the agencies [that were affected] do not have real modern infrastructure for their Web sites. It's analogous to running a Web site on a computer under someone's desk."
Maybe it's time to push the cybersecurity issue up a bit higher than, say, color-coded threat charts.
I'm having soup for lunch, by the way.
Massachusetts, the home of 'activist judges' if you're inclined to believe such things, may have another nationwide case on its hands.
The issue? Dogs running free.
In the Boston suburb of Newton, some residents are fighting back against the city's designating a portion of a park as a leash-free zone for dogs, the Boston Globe reports.
''Look! Look!'' said one woman as she eyed a Volkswagon Jetta with an out-of-state license plate. ''What is that plate? Vermont? For all I know, that's a dog-walker. Now they're getting out and the radio is blaring. I don't want to be a meanie and call the cops. But really.''
There's always a lawyer ready to take any case and the one the residents hired is making a federal case out of it:
In a letter mailed to Mayor David Cohen last week, Peter F. Harrington, the lawyer retained for an undisclosed fee by Dyer and other residents, warned that adding the off-leash area to the park requires approval from the US Secretary of the Interior. He argued that the off-leash area has decreased the recreational uses of the park, in violation of provisions attached to federal money given by the department for park improvements.
Said one besieged resident:
"Until you live here, you just can't understand.''
Two items testing ethical waters in journalism today.
CLUNKERS VS. KATRINA
NPR's ombudsman, Alicia Shepard, takes NPR's Mara Liasson to task for this:
Nearly 2,000 people died and thousands more were injured or lost their homes during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The Bush administration's inability to help hundreds of thousands of people in New Orleans after Katrina is considered one of the greatest recent examples of government incompetence.
It is inconceivable anyone could compare that disaster to Cash for Clunkers, which simply gives people a voucher worth up to $4,500 to trade in an old car for a newer, more fuel-efficient vehicle.
Liasson, meanwhile, is contrite. "I said something really stupid, which I regret," Liasson told Shepard.
Anytime a news organization plays the "withhold the name/don't withhold the name" game, it runs into a minefield of ethical questions.
Generally speaking, news organizations in these parts withhold the name of people who have been arrested until they've been charged. But most apply the guideline inconsistently.
One canon that the Associated Press has is not naming victims of a sexual assault.
But the AP couldn't see the case of the Wisconsin man coming who, apparently, played around on his wife with four (or more) women, and then was attacked by them. The AP did not name the man because he's a victim of a sexual assault. So far, so good.
Then he got himself arrested on an allegation of child abuse. Now is he a victim? Or a perpetrator who can be named? This morning, the news organization named him once he was charged.
But by afternoon, the AP issued this advisory:
Please note BC-US--Cheater Assaulted, 1st ld-Writethru, which makes an important change deleting the suspect's name because he is named as the victim of a sexual assault in another case.
The AP named three of the women charged in the case, but didn't name the fourth.
Because he's the man's wife, identifying her would identify him.
There's nothing about the Cash for Clunkers program that's going to come easy, apparently.
First, the program was so successful that the government ran out of money to give to people to buy new fuel-efficient cars. The Senate, after days of negotiations, has come up with another $2 billion.
Now there's a shortage of cars.
"Everything's gone," Jerry Haas, the sales manager at Sugarloaf Ford in Winona told me this afternoon when I asked him about the odds of getting a Ford Focus, the second-most-popular car in the Cash for Clunkers program. "We have none and there are no Focuses at any dealer within 100 miles of me."
Haas said one reason for the problem is the "poor timing" of the programming, coming at the end of a model year when dealers were trying to get rid of the older models and the new models haven't arrived at showrooms yet.
"We're trying to move (customers) into other units, but we're all sold out in the first wave of the program. If they allotted more money, we don't have enough cars to sell," he said.
Ford, maker of the Focus had only a 25-day nationwide supply of cars. And only one plant in the world makes them.
"Car production is not something that you can snap your fingers and all of the sudden all the components and materials show up on your loading dock from your suppliers," George Pipas of Ford said.
Toyota says it still has a decent supply of Corollas, at 37 days, according to the Associated Press. But there are shortages of the Prius gas-electric hybrid,
with a 13-day supply.
"It's frustrating," Haas acknowledged. He also can't sell the cars in anticipation that Ford will deliver it later. "Without an MSRP sticker (manufacturer's suggested retail price), I can't sell the car."(13 Comments)