1)THE PEOPLE WE KNOW AND THE PEOPLE WE DON'T
Today's observation is the diverse ways that people reach out for help, and the tools that work and the ones that don't.
I was on the bus yesterday afternoon when a woman behind me hopped on her cellphone to confess her inadequacies to a -- I presume -- friend. She had been, if I understood the one side of the conversation correctly, on an "introspective journey" and found she doesn't measure up. She is, she said, confused about her life. She was clearly in pain, and was encouraging her "friend" to offer her own criticisms in the interest of helping her becoming a better person. It was also clear from the conversation that the person at the other end blew her off and she hung up quickly.
I never turned around, but I imagined her middle aged and wondering where she'd gone wrong in her long, difficult life of rejection. She finally got off in a suburban development and I got a look at her. She was just a kid -- high school perhaps. Heading home, my mind said, to parents who would ask how her day was and she'd say, "Fine." And that would be that. She would suffer her confusion alone for as long as she could.
She set me to thinking about the ways we reach out to make things make sense. Shortly thereafter, I stumbled across this video (language warning):
Their story is substantially different but they're still people in pain. They're kids who lived in the house in Virginia Beach that was destroyed by a falling F-18 jet last week.
They're reacting to the reaction on Reddit after she posted about the crash:
Hi my name is Devin and I'm 21 years old. I can't even begin to wrap my mind around what has happened. Who thinks they're gonna wake up one morning then have their house destroyed by a jet?? My brother was the one who saved the pilot (Colby Smith) The amount of support I have gotten has been incredible. I decided to turn to reddit since I knew it was such a new and weird story. It's even crazier that no one died. But I guess I wanted to see how many people have had anything similar....tornado, fire, etc of their house and how did you feel? When did it get better? How was it seeing your house?
People who lost things in fires talked them through it. People who were tornado victims offered advice, and over the course of a weekend, they found whatever solace they needed to find from a computer and people they never met.
Meanwhile, a girl on a bus wasn't finding it from someone she had.
2) THEY HEART THE SUPREME COURT
How many people do you think have ever read a Supreme Court decision or even followed Supreme Court arguments?
That question springs from a Rasmussen poll that's out showing that 41% of likely U.S. voters rate the Supreme Court's performance as good or excellent. That's up 13 points from 28% in mid-March and is the court's highest ratings in two-and-a-half years, the law blog, Volokh Conspiracy reports. What happened? The court held health care law hearings and has yet to issue its opinion, although the experts -- that is, the media -- think they'll kill it.
The partisan turnaround in views of the court is noticeable. Three weeks ago, 29% of Republicans gave the Supreme Court positive marks for its job performance; now that number has climbed to 54%. Similarly, among voters not affiliated with either of the major political parties, good or excellent ratings for the court have increased from 26% in mid-March to 42% now. Democrats' views of the court are largely unchanged.
Among all voters, 28% now think the Supreme Court is too liberal, 29% say it's too conservative, and 31% believe the ideological balance is about right. The number who view the court as too liberal is down five points from a month ago.
3) ART OR HATE SPEECH?
Some Catholics in Duluth are asking the University of Minnesota Duluth to cancel a play because it criticizes the role of Pope Pius XII in the Holocaust. UMD, however, is standing firmly behind the play, part of a week of events to raise awareness of persecution of Jews, the Duluth News Tribune reports.
But it's not just the play that's caused the upset. The postcard invitation mailed out for the Baeumler Kaplan events depicts a faceless bishop and a Nazi officer standing on a Holocaust victim on one half. It's an image of the painting "The Concordat" by Fritz Hirschberger, a Holocaust survivor critical of Cardinal Pacelli, who would later become Pope Pius XII, for his negotiation of the 1933 "Concordat'' agreement with Hitler that outlined which religious freedoms would be allowed in Nazi Germany.
The other half of the postcard shows an image of Pope Pius XII above a death camp crematorium.
Kunst called the play and the postcard "nothing more than hate speech against Pope Pius XII and Catholics.''
"All of the allegations raised in this play have been debunked by scholars. ... This has little or nothing to do with history and more to do with attacking the church,'' Kunst told the News Tribune.
4) SAME-SEX DIVORCE
Can a same-sex couple get a divorce in a state that doesn't recognize same-sex marriage? The highest court in Maryland is considering the case of Jessica Port and Virginia Anne Cowan, who have been denied a divorce in the state.
The case represents just one of the many blind spots in the legal infrastructure of same-sex marriage in America, the Washington Post says. The irony, of course, is that in their zeal to prevent same-sex couples from getting married, some states are forcing them to stay married.
5) ALIVE INSIDE
Reader Jessie Sorensen alerts us to Music & Memory, which is creating a program to put iPods in nursing homes and health care facilities in order to bring personalized music into the lives of the elderly or infirmed.
Bonus I: Will there ever be a major sporting event again that isn't preceded by a display of military muscle? What does a bomber have to do with baseball?
Bonus II: Want to have lunch? Give Us Wings -- I profiled the founder Mary Steiner a few months ago -- is having a silent auction as part of a fundraiser this Saturday at International Market Square, in Minneapolis.
The money will fund microfinance loans under the program in Kenya and Uganda, "Building Business for Family Sustainability." According to a press release:
Loans under the "Building Businesses for Family Sustainability" will be repaid within a time determined by the business groups, which will be working with a professional business consultant. The new businesses will be monitored and the borrowers will be assisted, as needed, to ensure success. The loan program has four stages. In the first stage, the borrower receives both a grant and a loan. If the loan is successfully repaid, the borrower moves to the second stage in which he or she may receive a larger loan and the amount the grant is reduced. This process is repeated in the third stage, provided that the loan is successfully repaid. In the fourth stage, the borrower receives only a loan. Members of the business groups will be trained in village banking as part of this program, and the business groups will manage their own loan portfolio. If each of these stages is successfully completed, the business groups will be given a grant to increase the funds available for lending. The business consultant will continue to monitor the village bank until the business groups are ready to operate it on their own. Give Us Wings' "Building Businesses for Family Sustainability" will build sustainable businesses that will allow the business owners to support their families and build for the future.
I've donated lunch and a behind-the-scenes tour of the World Headquarters of NewsCut.
Bonus III: What did you do on your vacation?
It's college acceptance season. Prospective students and their families are watching the mail, making choices and filling out financial aid forms. Today's Question: How do you know if a college is right for you?
WHAT WE'RE DOING
Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) - First hour: Trayvon Martin and the media.
Second hour: Big-box retailers 50 years later.
Third hour: Cuts in early-childhood education.
MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): Iran and the Bomb. Iran's nuclear ambitions have the world on edge. Because of its reluctance to admit international inspectors, and its progress in enriching uranium, the situation is increasingly tense. A nuclear Iran could lead to a Middle Eastern arms race and destabilize the world's oil market. But are sanctions and other diplomatic efforts enough to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons?
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) - First hour: A peace plan for Syria.
Second hour: The rights and responsibilities of teachers.
Although some sports stars got credit recently for speaking out about the killing of Trayvon Martin, it's still good business for the athlete to stick to athletics and cliches about athletics.
Two sports "stars" bear witness to it.
First, Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen -- not much of a shrinking violet before a microphone -- has been suspended by
Major League Baseball his team for speaking out -- apparently favorably -- about Fidel Castro. That's not something you do in Florida.
He told Time Magazine, "I love Castro." It didn't help that Time buried the story behind an online paywall, leaving only the incendiary sentence available for the audience.
"It's like going to New York's Jewish district and saying, 'Hitler wasn't so bad. He managed to stay in power for a few years,' " veteran Spanish-language baseball announcer Amaury Pi-Gonzalez, who fled Cuba at age 17 and lived in Miami for five years.
Today, Guillen paid the price:
Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas, on the other hand, didn't take the bait when it was offered today.
A few months ago, Thomas refused to go to the White House for a ceremony honoring the Stanley Cup champions, because he disagrees with the role and size of government.
At a media gaggle about the team's upcoming playoff series, Thomas didn't miss a beat when a reporter tried to stir up trouble:
Tim Thomas is no fool.
Milwaukee is about to have another stadium controversy. This time it's about its basketball arena.
The Bradley Center is only 24 years old, but in an editorial today, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says it's "outdated by NBA standards." It says the team needs a way to make money when the NBA team isn't playing, mainly through shops and concerts.
Following the script of these sorts of things, the paper suggested if Milwaukee doesn't build a new arena, the team will leave:
For those who don't think the Bucks could leave, consider a story that appeared in The Seattle Times last month. The story listed the Bucks as one of five teams that would be a good fit for Seattle. Seattle lost its team to Oklahoma City in 2008, after unsuccessful efforts to persuade Washington state government officials to provide funding to update KeyArena.
The Seattle Times put the odds of the Bucks moving in the next five years at 10-1.
Paul Swangard, managing director at the University of Oregon's Sports Marketing Center, said the Bucks would be intriguing for any city looking for an NBA franchise because the team has an aging owner in Herb Kohl and it lacks a sizable increase in local support.
"It has the characteristics one would look for in saying that's a team ripe for ownership change and quite possibly location change," Swangard said in an interview with The Seattle Times.
Curiously, what the newspaper left out of its editorial is that Sen. Herb Kohl, who owns the team, says he will not sell it to anyone who wants to relocate it. That part was also in the Seattle newspaper article, which is the only piece of evidence that has Milwaukee sports fans in a sudden panic.
For the record, Minnesota basketball fans can sit tight, even though Target Center is only 2 years younger than its Milwaukee cousin, the team is bad, and there doesn't seem to be any appetite for spending $100 million or so to upgrade it. Minnesota ranks 14th in NBA attendance this year -- far ahead of any teams mentioned as likely candidates to move.
The Minnesota Twins have released one of those GigaPan pictures of yesterday's opening day crowd -- stitched together, super clear panorama shots that allow you to "tag" yourself and other friends. Find it here.
I could spend hours on these sorts of things, looking for embarrassing poses by unsuspecting fans.
This latest one, however, is worth looking for a good view of the real baseball fans.
And here they are:
It was 5:22 p.m., the 7th inning, the Twins trailing by and yet these two are hanging in in some of the worst seats in the park, upper deck, last row, right field. They could've moved down to much better seats, but they stayed.
The worst fans in the place?
Here they are, disguised as empty seats.
In the aftermath of last fall's tragic crash at the air races in Reno, some "experts" suggested the age of the pilot was a contributing factor in the disaster that killed 10.
Today, the National Transportation Safety Board released its recommendations as a result of the crash and none of them involve the age of the pilot. Instead, it focuses on the decisions he made months before the race.
"Our investigation revealed that this pilot, in this airplane, had never flown at this speed on this course," Chairman Deborah Hersman said.
The NTSB recommendations center on the fact that the air racing officials exercise no or little control over the designs airplane owners resort to in order to wring as much speed out of the planes as possible.
In its letter to race organizers today (available here) , the NTSB said the organizers relied only on the say-so of the pilot that the plane was safe:
The NTSB notes, however, that such a statement does not necessarily mean that the airplane, with its modifications, was evaluated while operating within the speed and flight regimes that would be encountered on the race course. Review of the airplane's maintenance records and documentation associated with its experimental airworthiness certificate found no evidence that any engineering evaluation of the modifications had been performed. Such an evaluation would provide an opportunity to identify potential unintended consequences of the modifications. For example, shortened wings require higher angles of attack, which, if executed at higher speeds, raise the possibility of destabilizing effects or control anomalies. The use of one tab to drive both elevators raises concerns about structure and flutter; the pinned elevator tab also raises concerns about stiffness and flutter. The addition of weight behind the hinge line of the elevator tabs may decrease the flutter margin.
It's significant the NTSB focused on the trim tab on the elevator. Here's what I wrote last year:
I have no idea what happened, but it was pretty clear to me by watching the video that it involved the area of the elevator -- the control surfaces on the back of the tail that control aircraft pitch. Am I right? I don't know.
Since then, there's been a focus on the "trim tab," a small piece along the elevator that a pilot can adjust to set a plane's pitch without needing to exert control input via the yoke so intensely.
The NTSB hasn't yet determined the specific cause of the crash, but it appears heading for a ruling that "flutter" is the culprit. Flutter is a frequency that oscillates perpendicularly, is eventually transferred to sound waves that literally rip a plane apart.
The agency said it's concerned that the Reno Air Racing Association didn't analyze any of the plane's modifications to ensure that it could safety operate over crowds.
The NTSB also urged a change in the course design and confirmed that the pilot probably blacked out because of high g forces. It recommended g-force training for all pilots and a requirement they wear g suits to minimize the effects of decreased blood flow to the brain.(1 Comments)
There are lots of big stories in the news today I'd give anything to forget. And there's one that's not in the news that I'd never want to.
Here. Let this kid make your day.
(h/t: Jason Barnett)
The world is still full of 9-year-old kids with big dreams. And big people who give a rip about 9- year-old kids. It just doesn't feel like it.
This is as good a time as any for me to remind you that you probably know people doing good things for other people. Tell me.(7 Comments)
It's a charming picture the Bloomington school district sent to the newsroom today. Ernie Mattson, 97, the last surviving soldier from the USS Nevada, the only battleship to make it out of Pearl Harbor once the Japanese attack started, met with third-graders.
But his story, compelling as it probably is, isn't what caught my attention. It's the number of kids capturing the moment on their smartphones/cellphones.
(h/t:Tom Weber)(1 Comments)