A bicycling report card, a kid worth rooting for, a sister's tribute, dogs caught in beaver traps, and when you should put the video camera down.
Of all the debates held in Minnesota over the years, few rival the traditional "last debate" at the Fitzgerald Theater for substance. Moderator Gary Eichten had a simple rule: The focus is on the ideas and content of the candidates up for election, not the ability of the audience to cheer louder than their opponents.
This week, a moderator of a national debate -- Brian Williams -- set ground rules that the audience's job primarily was to be quiet and let the candidates live and die on their own substance.
Some politicians hated that idea.(2 Comments)
Nothing makes you less inclined to get out of your car and head to your company cubicle than a radio program that reminds you it's only a matter of time before the sun cooks us to a crisp.
Astronomer Bob Berman did the honors today during an utterly fascinating few minutes with Kerri Miller about the bombardment by solar storms, which, he notes, could cripple jetliners flying polar routes, destroy electric grids, and even physically damage oil pipelines. None of that has happened -- yet -- but it could.
So when you see this:
Some of us might be beginning to think of this:
Here's the full interview. You'll enjoy it... if you think short-term:
Figures. On a day when the Minnesota Timberwolves finally declare themselves a legit NBA organization again by signing Kevin Love to a fat contract, Forbes Magazine offers one more bit of humiliation to the Timberwolves before doing so goes out of style. The magazine has named the Timberwolves "the worst NBA team for the money."
The NBA's worst team for the money over the past five years is the Timberwolves. Even though the Timberwolves have kept player costs relatively low in recent years, they haven't won more than 30 games since the 2006-07 season and haven't made the playoffs since 2004.
David Kahn, Minnesota's President of Basketball Operations, has been criticized for both his lack of media savvy and his managerial ineptitude. The latter was highlighted in the 2009 NBA Draft, when he selected three point guards in the first round. The result is a team that has lost 80% of its games over the past two seasons.
The Timberwolves have played so poorly that they rank first despite having the seventh-lowest player expenses in each of the last two seasons. Their on-court ineptitude has been unmatched: they have the worst record of any team over the last two seasons, with just 32 total wins in that time period. Even the solid play of Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio this season haven't been enough to earn a winning a record.
Forbes. Forbes. Forbes. Where have I heard that name and the Timberwolves before? Oh, sure, I remember: It was when Forbes named Kevin McHale, the architect of the Timberwolves failures, as the best general manager in all of sports.
The Timberwolves' McHale has been harshly criticized in the press for not giving superstar Kevin Garnett the supporting cast to win a championship. But McHale has guided the Timberwolves to eight playoff berths and a .539 regular season winning percentage--more than double his predecessor's .244. Winning improvement under McHale has been so great that it offset a 19% rise in salary against the NBA's median payroll during his 11 years as GM.
That was 2007, when the Wolves had already turned in two losing seasons, were working on a third, and would follow it up with three more.
The Minnesota Supreme Court has ruled that requiring people convicted of a crime to submit a DNA sample does not violate a constitutional right against an unreasonable search.
The ruling comes in the case of Randolph Johnson, who was charged in September 2008 with felony domestic assault. Before his trial, the state reached a plea bargain agreement with Johnson in which the charges were reduced to a misdemeanor domestic assault in exchange for a guilty plea.
Johnson was placed on probation, but fought the search for DNA as an invasion of privacy.
The Minnesota database of DNA can be used in crime investigation to match samples collected at a crime scene with the DNA stored in the database.
Citing a U.S. Supreme Court decision, Justice Christopher Dietzen wrote in today's opinion that people like Johnson "do not enjoy the absolute liberty to which every citizen is entitled. Just as other punishment for criminal convictions curtail an offender's freedoms, a court granting probation may impose reasonable conditions that deprive the offender of some freedoms enjoyed by law-abiding citizens."
Dietzen said the process for collecting the DNA from Johnson "is minimal, especially when compared to other intrusions Johnson is subjected to as part of his probation, including random urinalysis." Authorities obtained the DNA by swabbing his mouth.
The Supreme Court also rejected Johnson's complaint that if he'd been charged with a misdemeanor initially, he would not have been subject to a DNA search. Justice Dietzen says the fact a judge found probable cause to charge Johnson with a felony initially, indicates a behavior different from someone charged only with a misdemeanor.
But in a dissent, Justice Helen Meyer suggested the DNA obtained in a search contains private information beyond those of the person who was searched. "DNA is often referred to as the 'blueprint' for life," she wrote. "'DNA stores and reveals massive amounts of personal, private data about that individual,' including information about that 'person's health, propensity for particular disease, race and gender characteristics, and perhaps even propensity for certain conduct.' Genetic information is not only 'information about us,' but also 'information about our parents, our siblings, and our children.'"
"Given the potential of DNA technology to expose extremely private information, I find these full-scale personal DNA searches highly intrusive," Justice Meyer wrote in the dissent, joined by Justice Alan Page and Justice Paul Anderson.
Justice Dietzen, however, rejected the argument saying there's no evidence "the state has or intends to use the biological specimens to extract highly personal genetic information."
Today's decision -- available here. -- came one day shy of the two-year-anniversary of a Minnesota Court of Appeals ruling in the case that upheld the DNA search.
Related: A second Supreme Court decision also affirmed that requiring DNA of a juvenile charged with a felony does not violate the Constitution. Read the decision.(2 Comments)
Maybe there were smarter people who are finalists in Intel's Science Talent Search, but it's hard to believe there were more deserving candidates than Samantha Garvey, who at least could give the others a run in the "all around" competition.
Garvey was a homeless teen from New Jersey who captured the nation's attention when she became a finalist in the competition for a $100,000 college scholarship.
Her story has some reward, however. She received a $50,000 scholarship to the college of her choice after an appearance on the Ellen show.
Five Minnesota young people were on the semifinalist list along with Ms. Garvey. One made it to the finals. He's Evan Chen of Wayzata High School who, according to Intel, is "unraveling the mystery behind satellite cell differentiation."
That is: He's trying to help people with Muscular Dystrophy. A classmate with MD motivated him, he told Lake Minnetonka Patch last year.
"Knowing that there is someone in my vicinity that can benefit from some of the research that I'm doing is really inspirational," he said(5 Comments)