We don't ask much, living in Minnesota and all. It's been a terrible month, weather-wise, which makes morning's like today more special than if we'd been spoiled by an occasional glimpse of the sun. This morning, however, I could do this for the first time in weeks:
Sitting on the deck, enjoying coffee, listening to birds, and scouring the Internet for 5x8 candidates. This is the suburbs, so any minute now, the lawn mowers should start.
I've been sitting out here for awhile, now. Last night, at 10:30, it was still twilight in the northwestern sky. Around 3:30 this morning, it started getting light. In June, Minnesota is like Alaska without the oil spills. If you had your choice of anywhere to wake up, where would it be?
1) I so enjoyed reading your stories yesterday about your favorite summer job, that I'm compelled to pry into your diary again. Tell me about the best friend you ever had. I ask because of a New York Times article today that confirms that the educational 'experts' are at it again. When I was a kid, if you wrote with your left hand, they'd whack you until you wrote with your right hand. Now, the story suggests, they might whack you if you have a best friend.
But it's not just them. It's us. We don't turn our kids loose in the neighborhood anymore. We schedule our kids' times. We've done this to them:
That attitude is a blunt manifestation of a mind-set that has led adults to become ever more involved in children's social lives in recent years. The days when children roamed the neighborhood and played with whomever they wanted to until the streetlights came on disappeared long ago, replaced by the scheduled play date. While in the past a social slight in backyard games rarely came to teachers' attention the next day, today an upsetting text message from one middle school student to another is often forwarded to school administrators, who frequently feel compelled to intervene in the relationship. (Ms. Laycob was speaking in an interview after spending much of the previous day dealing with a "really awful" text message one girl had sent another.) Indeed, much of the effort to encourage children to be friends with everyone is meant to head off bullying and other extreme consequences of social exclusion.
Another group of experts -- psychologists -- say this new no-best-friend era will make kids very good at superficial relationships.
So maybe you're the last generation to have a best friend. Tell us about it.
2) Let's be honest here. Making fun of Rep. Michele Bachmann is a cottage industry in Minnesota. Entire blogs would go out of business if they couldn't write something -- anything -- about her on a daily basis. And quite possibly she hasn't quite realized the national media often has her on their shows because she says outrageous things and that's the fuel that makes the national talk shows zip.
Eric Ostermeier at the Smart Politics blog looks at her record and concludes she's more conservative than her district, and that the gap is among the widest in the country:
The analysis found that the difference between Bachmann's ideological ranking and her district's partisan ranking was among the Top 15 largest among GOPers in the U.S. House.
The Republican tilt for Minnesota's 6th Congressional District of +7 points makes it only the 142nd most Republican district in the country. Representative Bachmann, meanwhile, tallied the 28th most conservative score in National Journal's 2009 vote rankings, or a district partisan vote/Representative ideology ranking differential of +114.
The theory may well be true. But how often do we treat the issues that compel us to vote as an equation, as opposed to, say, someone who entertains us (Insert Jesse Ventura analogy here)? Perhaps over the last two elections, the 6th District has employed a "close enough for government work" view when it comes to elections.
3) A BP executive is under fire today for referring to people on the Gulf Coast as "small people."
"I hear comments sometimes that large oil companies are greedy companies who don't care. But that is not the case in BP. We care about the small people," BP Chairman Karl-Henric Svanberg told reporters.
He has since apologized.
Even if he really meant that people who aren't chairman of oil companies are a life form just above sea plankton, how would you refer to the people who couldn't understand what President Obama was saying the other night because he used some words that had up to three syllables in them?
A CNN story says the president of Global Language Monitor says Obama's speech was too difficult for Americans to understand:
He singled out this sentence from Obama as unfortunate: "That is why just after the rig sank, I assembled a team of our nation's best scientists and engineers to tackle this challenge -- a team led by Dr. Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and our nation's secretary of energy."
The average number of letters in the words Obama used in his speech the other night? Four. "Small" has five. If we're a people who can't understand a sentence like that Dr. Chu highlights, that pretty well explains why we can't plug an oil leak.
4) Today's "What if the world were more like John Wooden" moment comes courtesy of Houston, Minnesota's John Green, via the Pioneer Press. Green, who played basketball for Wooden at UCLA, recounts a game at Williams Arena in his sophomore year. It was his homecoming, and all of his Minnesota family and friends were there:
"Anyway, we're warming up at Williams Arena, and the referee comes up to me and says, 'Hey, (No.) 45!' I thought, 'Holy cow, what have I done now? The game hasn't even started.' He said. 'You're captain.' I said, 'No, you made a mistake.' He said, 'Is your name Green?' I said, 'Yeah.' He said, 'I didn't make a mistake.'
"I looked over at Coach, and he had the biggest smile on his face because he knew probably 50 percent of the people (at the game) were my friends and relatives. I can just imagine what they must have thought seeing me go out to halfcourt and shake hands with (Gophers senior captain) Ron Johnson from New Prague. They must have thought, 'My God, he's just a sophomore and he's a captain already?' "
John Wooden's funeral will be held tomorrow.
5) Spotted in Maine (by my sister) over the weekend. "Congratulations underage graduates; now how about getting hammered with some cheap beer?"
State health authorities say it's dangerous to drink raw milk, but some consumers and other advocates insist that it's a healthy alternative. Should government be able to prohibit the sale of raw milk?
WHAT WE'RE DOING
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) - First hour: The latest guidelines for what Americans should eat were released this week, and they are geared toward battling the obesity epidemic. But when there's such a disconnect between dietary recommendations and what Americans actually eat, will the guidelines make any difference?
Second hour: Vuvuzelas, balls that take funny bounces, and one epic goal-tending blunder have marked the first week of the 2010 World Cup. What's to come in the tournament, and at the state of soccer in Minnesota.
Midday (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.) - First hour: Department of Natural Resources Parks and Trails Director Courtland Nelson talks about the newest state park on Lake Vermilion.
Second hour: A new American RadioWorks documentary about the "War on Poverty."
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) - First hour: What's changed and what hasn't in being openly gay in public school?
Second hour: President Obama left no doubt who's picking up the tab for the gulf oil spill. But how do we calculate that bill?
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - A new report released today shows wide inequalities still exist for women in Minnesota when it comes to income, leadership positions, economic status, and health. MPR's Rupa Shenoy will have the story.
Minnesota says it may crackdown on raw milk sellers. Off-farm sales are illegal. But the sales are going on in plain sight. MPR's Mark Steil looks into what the enforcement effort has been up to now?
So the Big 10 is going to have 12 teams and the Big 12 will have 10 teams. Welcome to the new math of college sports. MPR's Tim Post examines how the University of Minnesota will benefit -- or not -- from expanding the Big 10 conference. Insert your U of M athletic jokes here.
Lake Winnipeg, the world's tenth-largest freshwater lake, is threatened by runoff from farms in the Red River Valley. Excessive nutrients threaten drinking water, commercial fishing and recreation. Red River floods tend to dramatically increase the impact. Canadian scientists are monitoring the effects of the pollution with a specially outfitted research ship. The data is used to support efforts to reduce pollution in Canada, but Manitoba has no authority over the largest source of pollution, south of the border in Minnesota and North Dakota. It's sounds like MPR's Dan Gunderson has been on a road trip.(5 Comments)
I'm not altogether sure I understand the fury from the Minnesota Nurses Association (by way of David Brauer's blog at MinnPost) over the fact a meeting the nurses had was closed to the press, but the Strib inflitrated.
According to David:
The latest flashpoint is a Strib story that includes quotes from what the MNA says was a closed-to-the-press union membership meeting Wednesday. The piece, written by Josephine Marcotty and Chen May Yee, includes passages such as:
One nurse stood up and said, "I'm a young nurse and I talk to a lot of young nurses." She said she was worried that some would cross the picket line.
MNA spokesman John Nemo says the media organizations were informed via press release that the meeting was closed.
I'm probably old school here but I'm inclined to respond, "so what?" It's the job of reporters to find information and that's what the Star Tribune did. Did they break the law to get it? Not that I can tell. Did they get the story wrong? That doesn't appear to be the contention.
Far more troubling are two other parts of Brauer's story. One in which the nurses union spokesman seems to acknowledge he'd already been favoring certain media outlets over another. And one in which a TV reporter seems more than willing to accept information crumbs as the nurses are willing to provide them.
In any event, Nemo vows payback. "I told the Strib I'm cutting them out of the scoops. On Monday, they'll have to wait for the strike vote. I'm giving it to [Pioneer Press reporter] Jeremy Olson first."
He makes even that sound charitable: "We don't need the mainstream media to tell our story. We built our whole campaign around social networking -- 10,000 fans on Facebook, and MNAblog.com gets 8-10,000 hits a day. It's not 1988 any more."
Ethical? One can't very expect the media to sit and wait for spoon-fed information from one side in a labor dispute, when the people dispensing that information are favoring some media over the other.
Better to just get the information on your own. You know, like reporters do.
As for the need for mainstream media, it's true. It's not 1988 anymore and the nurses don't need mainstream media to get their information out to nurses, but they do need the mainstream media if they're engaged in a fight for the public's hearts and minds, which they are.
Someday, perhaps, the majority of the not-involved-in-nursing-or-hospitals general public will browse YouTube videos and Web site blogs to get these morsels on their own, but that's not a reality of 2011.
As penetrating as "new media" has become in our daily lives, it hasn't come close to carrying the influence the old guard still wields. Like it or not, that's simply a fact.
It's understandable that in a contentious labor situation, cooler heads aren't likely to prevail when it comes to relationships with the media. The communications individuals have a job to do: To get their story told, preferably just the way they want it.
But that's not the job of journalists. If there are elements of the story that are wrong, a reporter's head should be fair game. Attribution, not insinuation, belongs in news stories. Clearly, two sides (or more) of a particular story should be told. But increasingly, the definition of bias among the communications professionals is that another point of view saw the light of day.
Look at another situation, the oil spill in the Gulf. Other than actually breaking the law, at what point should reporters stop trying to get the full story, rather than just the one BP wants told?(8 Comments)
Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, is the face of the BP oil spill today. He apologized to BP executives testifying at a House hearing for the U.S. compelling BP to pay into a compensation fund for the victims of the spill:
Meanwhile, a new poll shows 74% of those surveyed disapprove of the way the federal government has handled the disaster. Only 5 percent said President Obama has been "too tough" on BP. And 82% approved of a BP-paid compensation fund.(11 Comments)
Back when News Cut was a young boy, he traveled to the top of the Empire State Building, where his sister told him if he threw a penny off, it would make a crater in the streets of Manhattan below. Then, as now, News Cut didn't have any money to throw, but the image has persisted. Then, as now, News Cut's sister was in error.
So when we heard today that golf-ball sized hail fell in Backus (and it's heading East), we were naturally inclined to figure out how big of a hole a golf ball could make, if a penny could take out 42nd Street.
The answer comes from NOAA:
We really only have estimates about the speed hail falls. One estimate is that a 1cm hailstone falls at 9 m/s, and an 8cm stone, weighing .7kg falls at 48 m/s (171 km/h). However, the hailstone is not likely to reach terminal velocity due to friction, collisions with other hailstones or raindrops, wind, the viscosity of the wind, and melting. Also, the formula to calculate terminal velocity is based on the assumption that you are dealing with a perfect sphere. Hail is generally not a perfect sphere!
Another factor in assessing the danger of hail is how fast the wind is blowing that might make them speed toward earth.
In any event, the golf-ball sized hail likely presents less of a danger than, say, a golf ball. Unlike the example above showing a .7kg object travels 108 mph (175 km/h), a golf ball weighs a fraction of that -- about .04 kg, and travels about 125 mph when someone who knows what
their they're doing hits it. So a driven golf ball likely presents more of a danger than a falling one.
People are killed by hail. We just don't hear about it much. In Egypt in February, four people were killed by hail. But the last U.S. death from hail on record was in 1979. A man went out to move his new car out of the hailstorm, when he was hit.
But while rare, death by golf ball has occurred more recently.
And yet, we're not interrupting programming today to warn you about the guy on the 7th hole.(1 Comments)
The first severe weather of the season is a boon to those of us who like watching cloud formations. This one presented itself a minute ago over the airport at South St. Paul. If you have some weather pictures to share, send them along.
Stephanie Dobson of Anoka says this picture was taken in Alexandria at 5:05 p.m. "Nikki & Reese Aldrich in Alexandria, MN. One of the two of them took it with their cell phone. They weren't home when it hit. No one was hurt. Their antique threshing machine and 500 gallon propane tank were half a mile away," she says.
WCCO also has some spectacular pictures here.
9:20 p.m. - Orange you glad you live in the Twin Cities?
Marc Nall took this from his balcony in St. Louis Park:1 Comments)