1) The U.S. Census Bureau has come up with an ingenious way to get us to fill out the census forms, which arrived in the mail a week or so ago -- play to our competitive streaks. The census agency is posting participation rates. As of this morning, Minnesota is surrounded by states that are participating more than Minnesota. In fact, 8 of the top 10 cities for census participation are in North Dakota and South Dakota.
Courtland, Minnesota is the only Minnesota community in the top-50 cities for participation. Courtland is on the banks of the Minnesota River, southwest of New Ulm. Its population is 617.
Update: The Census Bureau has sent out a news release expressing some alarm about Texas and also calling out the laggard cities:
Brownsville = 25% (Census 2000 = 63%)
Laredo = 27% (Census 2000 = 63%)
Austin = 33% (Census 2000 = 68%)
Houston = 33% (Census 2000 = 64%)
San Antonio = 37% (Census 2000 = 72%)
2) Over the weekend -- that's right, I work seven days a week -- I wrote about the "novelty effect" of Target Field and how long it's expected to boost the Twins' on-the-field fortunes. Coincidentally, a U of M sports management professor, Eric Brownlee, considers this question. I wasn't aware of his video until last evening. (h/t: Ryan Maus)
3) Want to learn everything about the health care law in an easily understood form? Pick up a copy of today's New York Times. It has an entire section of stories about the impact of the law on real people. There's an online version here.
4) Ethics question: Does YouTube have a responsibility to take down the channel operated by Hutaree, the group that was raided by federal authorities yesterday and is accused of plotting attacks against police officers and the government? Should YouTube reveal to authorities the names of people who signed up as "friends" of Hutaree on YouTube?
Another ethics question: The man accused of shooting his wife to death in Mankato posts a Web site claiming the victim abused his children. She's dead and can't speak for herself. Others are bound by privacy laws. Do I quote it and link to it? (Answer: I took the cowardly way out and linked to it on Twitter.
5) I still have a slight bump on my head, from when I bumped into Mrs. News Cut in the dark on Saturday evening. We had turned out our lights as part of the Earth Hour promotion. I endured the pain because I knew I was taking one for the team and that cutting even an hour's electricity usage would lead to a substantial reduction in the number of railroad cars full of coal used to generate it that we saw on our recent trip to the southwest.
Did it? I asked Xcel Energy. Here's Patti Nystuen's reply:
Unfortunately, we cannot calculate an hour-by-hour change in usage for Earth Hour and we do not have those numbers available. Usage is based on hour-of-day, the weather, the economy... and what do you compare it to - the hour before? the year before? the day before? A drop or rise in usage may simply be attributed to the time of day or the outside temperature. I'm sorry that we can't be of more assistance.
Bonus: If male Islamic extremist suicide bombers get eternity as martyrs with 72 virgins, who do female suicide bombers get to spend eternity with? Slate has the answer: Their husbands.
Contest: Study this photo, which I took while driving toward Arizona two weeks ago.
Find the story on the MPR Web site this morning that directly relates to the picture. The story won't mention anything about the field, however.
The winner gets a pony. *
Monday's suicide bombings in Moscow prompted security alerts around the world, including in the United States. Do you worry about terrorist attacks coming to Minnesota?
WHAT WE'RE DOING
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) - First hour: Making the college decision. As college acceptance letters arrive this spring, many students are weighing complicated financial packages as major factors in their decision. The high cost of college is forcing some to turn down their dream schools.
Second hour: It's not a cure for blindness just yet, but some scientists hope that a bionic retina may actually return sight to people who can't see. The early adopters of this technology report they can see shapes and distinguish dark and light. They can even read. Also what others of us can do to preserve sight from one of the main causes of blindness as we age.
Midday (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.) - First hour: Minnesota House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher and Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller will be in the studio to answer listener questions about the key issues in the session, as lawmakers start the Passover-Easter break.
Second hour: NPR reporter Deborah Amos, speaking at the MPR Broadcast Journalist Series about Iraq.
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) - First hour: The ethics, technology, and
legal legitimacy of drones.
Second hour: Actor and novelist Gene Wilder.
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - MPR's Bob Kelleher looks at the effect of the health reform bill's tax credit for small businesses that buy health insurance for employees. Small business people remain wary of federal health care reform passed into law last week. Even those who strongly support health care availability worry that reform will push up the costs of providing employees health insurance.
Gilberto Gil, seminal Brazilian musician and former minister of culture, comes to Orchestra Hall on Saturday. MPR's Euan Kerr talks to him about his music, his life as a political exile in the '60s, his campaign for digital diversity, and how he feels about performing now.
(*) - This is a lie.(12 Comments)
Has light rail worked in Minneapolis? A study from the University of Minnesota says at least one component of the master plan has: It's given more low-income income earners access to more jobs.
The study, released a short time ago, said the number of low-wage jobs within 30 minutes' commuting time increased by 50 percent:
In addition, low-wage workers have increasingly been locating near station areas. Hiawatha and related transit upgrades are estimated to have drawn 907 low-wage workers into the Hiawatha station areas. Out of the 907 relocated workers, 78 percent moved to areas near the Cedar-Riverside, Franklin Avenue and Lake Street-Midtown stations.
Likewise, the number of low-wage employers has increased near station areas, with Hiawatha and related transit upgrades having, by estimate, brought in more than 5,000 low-wage jobs into areas near downtown Minneapolis and suburban Bloomington light-rail stations.(5 Comments)
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Posted at 3:02 PM on March 30, 2010
by Bob Collins
It's been awhile since we've heard from Roxana Saberi, the journalist whose parents live in Fargo and who was charged with espionage in Iran almost a year ago. She was released after 100 days and has now written a book.
She was a guest today on NPR's Fresh Air:
At about 11:15 a.m. PDT on March 27, the crew of United Airlines Flight 889, a B777-222 (N216UA) destined for Beijing, China, carrying 251 passengers and a crew of 17, was cleared to takeoff from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) on runway 28L and climb to an initial altitude of 3,000 feet. The first officer, who was flying the aircraft, reported that after the landing gear was retracted and the jet was at an altitude of about 1,100 feet, the tower controller reported traffic at his 1 o'clock position. Immediately following the controller's advisory, the airplane's traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS) issued an audible alert of "TRAFFIC TRAFFIC." The pilots saw a light high wing airplane, an Aeronca 11AC (N9270E), in a hard left turn traveling from their 1 o'clock to 3 o'clock position. The first officer pushed the control column forward to level the airplane. Both crew members reported seeing only the underside of the Aeronca as it passed to within an estimated 200-300 feet of the 777. TCAS then issued an "ADJUST VERTICAL SPEED" alert, followed by a "DESCEND, DESCEND" alert. The first officer complied and the flight continued to Beijing without further incident.The next time someone tells you that commercial airline pilots are glorified bus drivers, remind them of this scenario. Given the estimated speed of both aircraft, disaster was literally just one second away. It recalls one of the most tragic air disasters in the country, when a small plane collided with a jetliner over San Diego many years ago. What happened? Almost certainly this will come down on the small airplane pilot and an air traffic controller. No airplane is allowed within about 5 miles of an airport like San Francisco (and also Minneapolis-St. Paul, where the no-fly zone extends to the ground near the High Bridge in St. Paul) unless they've been given clearance to enter and are under the guidance of a controller. I've found the actual tape of the incident. In this tape, the tower controller in San Francisco clears the United flight for takeoff and tells the smaller plane to be looking for traffic. The smaller plane reports he has the Boeing 777 in sight, and he is told to pass behind the jet. The controller then tells the pilot of the 777 that the small plane is "no factor." She's not happy. "That set off the TCAS," she says, which is the collision warning system. (Note: I edited about 20 seconds of silence from the time the flight is cleared to take off to the time the first traffic advisories are issued.) (5 Comments)