Getting along after a snowstorm, can the NHL survive, end of the American ascendancy, a choir's dream, and maybe the 'cloud' isn't all it's cracked up to be.
In Minnesota, it often doesn't really matter what else a politician does, as long as the roads get plowed in the winter and the potholes get filled in the spring, which is a curious thing since none of them drives a plow or wields a shovel.
The 36 hours since Sunday's storm have not been kind to the people who have to remove the snow. The warm weather at the start of the storm made the snow wet, the people who just had to be out driving out in it on a Sunday packed it down, and the cold backside of the storm turned it into glaciers.
Here's a typical Tweet from the morning commute today:
To all of you people who love winter so much, do you not have to ever drive in rush hour traffic?!?!?! #thisbites
And this was a recent update...
Avoid Mississippi River Blvd in St. Paul. The city has not salted/sanded and the 2-wheel drives are getting stuck on every hill.— Mpls/St Paul Traffic (@MSP_Traffic) December 11, 2012
Drivers mostly don't care why roads are in bad shape. They just want them cleared. Period.
What happens when they're not? It's a good time to hit the Wayback Machine:
"Now I've lived there for 46 years and this was the worst that I have ever seen. The only time that the road has been worse is right during a storm and it seemed like that in those days, as soon as the storm has let up, they were out there."
That was a DFL senator in March 2004, when a committee of the Minnesota Senate voted to oust then transportation commissioner Carol Molnau from her job, taking advantage of the reaction over snow removal to retaliate against a Republican administration over budget cuts.
The controversy even forced MnDOT to commission a report proving that the snow removal was better than DFLers said it was.
For example, on heavily traveled roads like Interstates 494 and 694, MnDOT's goal is bare lane one to three hours after the snow stops falling. The average snow-removal time on those roads last winter was a little more than two hours. But the average times were longer than a year ago, when the state had less snow, and also longer than two years ago, when snowfall was about the same as this year. And while MnDOT met its goals statewide, it failed to meet its plowing goals in the Brainerd area during the month of January, and in the Rochester area in February.
But the DFL didn't buy it. "Minnesota drivers know that they spent longer in traffic, that there were more accidents, and that they were put in jeopardy, all because of the Pawlenty/Molnau administration budget cuts," then legislator Matt Entenza declared on the steps of the Capitol.
It took almost four years for the full Senate to finish the job of firing Molnau. By the time she was removed in 2008, the bridge had collapsed in Minneapolis and nobody was complaining about snow removal.
So far, the condition of roads hasn't surfaced as a political grenade in 2012, although it's obviously early yet. A DFLer sits in the governor's office, of course, and the DFL has regained control of the Legislature in the upcoming session.
And the commissioner of transportation? Tom Sorel got out just in time. He left for a new gig with AAA 11 days ago.
Somewhere around Chaska, Carol Molnau must be smiling.
(Photo: MnDOT. Highway 10 East of 7th at 9:47 a.m.)
That giant sucking sound this morning was an asteroid "just missing" Earth. Or not.
The Washington Post says "XE54 came about as close to crashing into Earth as an asteroid can without actually doing so - close enough to be 'eclipsed by Earth's shadow, causing its shadow to 'wink out' for a short time.'"
That's not even the scary part.
Universe Today says there's only two other known instances of an asteroid being eclipsed by the Earth's shadow. "Asteroid 2008 TC3" which entered the atmosphere over Sudan in 2008, and a flyby in 2012.
That's not the scary part either.
The asteroid is only about 100 feet wide and the Post says although it might not have done much more than lit up the sky had it entered our atmosphere, "a direct hit by remaining rock chunks on a populated region could be disastrous." A 500-foot wide asteroid would be like an atomic bomb, it says.
That's not the scary part either.
This is: Nobody knew it was there until an hour before it missed "us."
But the Post assures us "there are no sure collisions on the horizon even over the next few hundred years, " while also informing us that much of the sky isn't really being monitored.
Question: If you only had an hour before a large asteroid might hit Earth, would you want to know?(8 Comments)
A story out of Massachusetts may be the crack in the dam for collection of Internet sales tax receipts.
Amazon today agreed to start collecting sales taxes on customers in Massachusetts, and it did so without any legislation requiring it to.
"We are thankful Amazon was willing to come to the table and we will continue our conversations with them about creating jobs here," Gov. Deval Patrick said today. "This agreement is a win for all sides, and I am pleased it promises to generate millions in long-term revenue for the Commonwealth."
Like Minnesota, Massachusetts has been under pressure from brick-and-mortar stores to start collecting the tax.
Unlike Minnesota, as far as we know, the state didn't wait for lawmakers to pass legislation. It started negotiating with Amazon, which has a research facility in Cambridge.
In Minnesota, people who order more than $770 of goods over the Internet are required to pay a sales tax, but the sellers aren't required to be the one to collect it. People are supposed to fill out forms online and pay the money, which everyone does. Wink.
Efforts to change the system have gone nowhere in Minnesota.(2 Comments)
Our top story tonight....
Londoners were left confused as the giant inflatable duckie floated from the direction of Canary Wharf.
(h/t: Matt Wells)(1 Comments)
We have new members for the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame.
Rush, Heart, Public Enemy, Albert King, Donna Summer and Randy Newman were added to the Cleveland landmark today. The selection of Rush comes years late, too late for the Hall of Fame to avoid exposing itself as occasionally musically irrelevant. ABBA was in. Rush was out. End of conversation.
The winners were chosen by 500 musicians and music industry veterans, and this year the hall included -- but not very heavily -- an Internet poll of fans music fans.
Who's not in? Plenty of people more talented and meaningful than a few of the musicians who are.
Here then are five musical acts and the categories under which they could justify their nomination:
BEST ARTIST STANDING ON A BEACH WHILE A HORSE RIDES BY... AT NIGHT
Linda Ronstadt. Haven't seen the Hasten Down The Wind cover? Look in any record stash of anyone over 55. It's there. By the way, that album is worth $38 now. She was the premier woman singer in the '70s -- at one point the highest paid, too. Critics say much of her career wasn't about "rock." Now that disco is considered "rock," that should be the end of that excuse. Her 11 Grammys, if you're keeping score at home, is 11 more than ABBA. Her career mostly ended after she was booed off the stage for her "unpatriotic" remarks (she endorsed Fahrenheit 9/11). If the R&R HOF committee were the Nobel Prize committee, she'd be in by now.
BEST USE OF PUNCTUATION
It doesn't matter to us that Hüsker Dü -- did we mention the Minnesota roots? -- wasn't a commercial success. Introduced a new sound era. Also should get in just for Turn On The News.
KISS. Laugh if you will, but pure musical ability is only part of Rock 'n Roll. It's theater. KISS was great theater. And name me one other musical group that can make State Fair attendees dress up. Can also make it in the "But The Dave Clark 5 Is In" category.
BEST ARTIST WHO CREATED A DANCE
Chubby Checker. The Twist was Rock 'n Roll. You couldn't have American Bandstand or Hullabaloo or Shindig (if you don't know what those are, I don't know you) without the Twist and Chubby Checker was the Twist. So if the Twist was Rock 'n Roll and Chubby Checker was the twist, simple grad standards math reveals that Chubby Checker was Rock 'n Roll. He's 71 now. There's some more math the nominating committee should do.
BEST USE OF "DO DO DO DO DO DO and LA LA LA LA LA" WHEN THERE ARE NO WORDS TO SING
In their time there were two killer bands. The Eagles and America. Even today, people get the two bands mixed up. For every hit The Eagles had, America had one, too. The Eagles were inducted in 1998. America is still playing, and even today people are moved to tears by the sheer beauty of a lyric that includes, " There were plants and birds and rocks and things." The test of greatness? Go listen to any classic rock station and just wait a bit. If you're my age, by the third recognizable note, you're back in high school trying to work up the courage to ask Becky Slater to the junior prom. They won't get in, they say, because the critics didn't like them. Well, la la la la la la la la de dah.
Your nominees below. Don't forget the categories
See also: Not In Hall of Fame