1) Sweet. Another chance to play "you are," courtesy of the city of St. Paul, where nothing comes easy, apparently.
You are a Ramsey County judge. Carrying a kite in one hand, and dragging Ernest Sawka Jr., with the other, a St. Paul prosecutor walks before you and says, "Your honor, this guy is flying a kite at night and the good people of St. Paul keep calling the cops reporting there's a UFO over St. Paul" (Optional discussion point: Name one thing going on at night in St. Paul that aliens from another world would want to see).
"Is that illegal?" you ask.
"Well, no," the prosecutor says, oblivious to the fact he's tangled his feet up in the kite string. "But it's a waste of our resources every time we have to drop what we're doing to see if life forms from outer space have come to St. Paul, presumably to see how an advanced civilization rips up its streets for light rail. So we want to throw him in jail."
You are the judge, you notice that a cop in the front row bears an uncanny resemblance to Arthur Treacher, and you fight the urge to break into song as you render your verdict. What is it?
2) In the news business, there is nothing more valuable than the newsroom archives. The Duluth News Tribune is demonstrating that with a fabulous thread on one of its blogs. The subject: Concerned citizens. It started after the Web site, Perfect Duluth Day (a perfectly wonderful site, by the way) opined that the faces of "concerned citizens" are priceless. So commenters all had submissions in the category.
For photos that make you drift to another place, however, you need MPR's new Minnesota in Photos blog, which today features Mike Link and Kate Crowley. They've been walking around Lake Superior. For the sheer "I wish that were me" factor, see the last photo.
3) We New England natives knew this a long time ago, but now the world is onto it. If you're a criminal and a thug, you probably wear a New York Yankees hat.
4) Nothing like a good fight about public radio between the hard-throwing lefties from New York (in their Yankee hats, no doubt) and the West Coasters. Jay Rosen (disclaimer: I'm not much of a fan, but not because he can't make a point), the influential journalism professor, takes on Marketplace. He hates it and explains why. Comments are open. Be respectful. Can you be both a floor wax and a dessert topping when covering "business news"?
5) On Twitter yesterday, we had a good discussion on whether anybody from the media really needs to be in a locker room. Quick: Cite the last quote from an athlete in a locker room that was insightful and analytical. This interview from University of Southern California football coach Lane Kiffin yesterday was not recorded in a locker room, but it shows nonetheless how perfectly worthless sports interviews can be. "We're going to have our hands full; they'll come ready to play," Kiffin said of his opponent this week. His opponent this week? The University of Minnesota.
But back to the Inez Sainz controversy. This morning, Sally Jenkins in the Washington Post writes:
In what other profession does one set of people do business with another while they're partially or wholly unclothed? He's right: It's unnatural. But that's not just about women.
It's the job of the media to get inside a player's character and thoughts, to critique and document a team's progress and flaws, and to pass that knowledge on as accurately as possible to the public. It's vital to engage athletes in the locker room, where they experience their tempers and celebrations. It's an exposing situation - for everybody.
Perhaps, but most sports reporters don't do that in a locker room. We don't know what athletes are jerks or what their character or tempers are because for the most part, there's the unwritten code that certain things in the locker room stay in the locker room. Instead we get stuff like, "they'll come to play."
The federal government is again considering whether to remove the gray wolf from its protected status in some states. Should Minnesota's wolves be removed from protection as an endangered species?
WHAT WE'RE DOING
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) - First hour: Is the economy getting worse or is this the new normal?
Second hour: The Master Butchers Singing Club at the Guthrie.
Midday (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.) - First hour: Ben Santer of Lawrence Livermore and David Kluck of NOAA discuss climate change models and what the Midwest impact might be.
Second hour: Gubernatorial debate sponsored by the Citizens League and Bring Me the News.
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) - First hour: A live broadcast from the headquarters of National Geographic. In this hour: A discussion of the Gulf ecosystem.
Second hour: Is it too late to save the oceans?(9 Comments)
One of the hardest decisions for news organizations which sponsor candidate debates is setting a bar for how a candidate qualifies to be included. It's one of the reasons a lot of news organizations don't bother sponsoring debates, anymore; it's a no-win situation.
The most common suggestion is "invite them all." It's good for entertainment value. Candidates with no chance of winning often are more inclined to give straight answers than those who are under the control of the political experts. But the more candidates who are involved in a debate, the fewer opportunities there are for detailed answers.
That's why some news organizations adopt a more controversial standard: A candidate has to have a chance of winning.
"People in charge of the debates have no business pre-judging election outcomes when they decide who to let in on a debate," Ralph Nader says.
WBUR, Boston's most popular public radio station, is addressing the issue today on its blog. A minor candidate wants in on gubernatorial debates in Massachusetts.
"Because Jill Stein will get one quarter of the time and camera and she has not a million-to-one chance to become governor. For her to be given a seat at the table is unfair to the voters, who will then have to wade through the clutter of a fourth candidate in the race," WBUR's political analyst says.
A commenter on the blog makes a fine point. "Third and fourth parties may not end up winning, but they often see their ideas co-opted by the eventual winner."(12 Comments)
The Tea Party is heading for a civil war. The only question is whether it occurs before it sweeps into power in November, as some political experts seem to be suggesting.
That was affirmed by a revealing interview on NPR's Morning Edition today, which is trying to find out what the Tea Party stands for.
"The Tea Party stands for Taxed Enough Already," Toby Marie Walker, the president of the Tea Party of Waco (Texas), told NPR's Steve Inskeep. And, of course, much of the coverage of the movement has centered on dissatisfaction with the country's fiscal policies.
But it's clear there's a struggle underway over whether social issues -- abortion, same-sex marriage -- should be part of its agenda.
"What concerns us is if you have leaders in the Tea Party movement that start rejecting those values, because then you no longer have a holistic conservative view," said Brian Fisher of the American Family Association in Mississippi. "We got involved in this because the country needs to be called back to constitutional government, but also the cultural and social values embraced by the founders."
"We don't touch on the social issues and the reason we don't is right now the Tea Party is about the economy," Walker countered. "While the social issues are important to a lot of our members, we stay away from them because they're so divisive. We keep it about the taxes and the overspending of the government."
"The leadership of the Tea Party is in a fundamentally different place," Fisher said. "Morality and religion are indispensable (in government)."(1 Comments)
Want to see the definition of a heck of a story? Read the Twin Cities Daily Planet's report into why a University of Minnesota-funded documentary about the Mississippi River got pulled shortly before it was to premiere. It focuses on agriculture, pollution, and sustainable solutions.
The suggestion in the story -- impossible to prove because the people who could clear up the controversy either aren't talking, appear to fibbing a bit, or don't seem to know answers to legitimate questions -- is that the university didn't want to upset ties to big agriculture. The few people at the U who are talking say the Bell Museum wanted a scientific review of the project, but the show's producer says that's not true.
Now, according to reporter Molly Priesmeyer, there's another angle that's surfaced on the "isn't it a coincidence?" list: The U's vice president of university relations is married to the owner of a public relations agency whose client is the Minnesota Agri-Growth Council, which supports practices that are apparently criticized in the film.
The agency is the same one that was -- until recently -- partly owned by Tom Horner, a candidate for governor.
Priesmeyer doesn't have the smoking gun, but she's at the very least got circumstantial evidence that could only be explained away by the university fully explaining why it pulled the documentary at the last minute.(10 Comments)
Derek Jeter, captain of the New York Yankees and generally considered a "clean" player, has unwittingly thrust an ethics discussion into the often seedy world of Major League Baseball.
It all comes back to this play in last night's game:
Ouch. That must've hurt. Except the pitch actually didn't hit Jeter. It hit his bat, thus making it a foul ball.
But Jeter acted -- in the real world we would call this "lying" -- as if he was hit by the pitch.
"He (the umpire) told me to go to first base. I'm not going to tell him I'm not going to first, you know," Jeter said.
"It's part of the game. My job is to get on base. Fortunately for us it paid off at the time, but I'm sure it would have been a bigger story if we would have won that game."
Cheater? Or savvy sports hero?(16 Comments)