Celebrating Minnesota (5×8 – 6/27/11)

The Monday Morning Rouser:


1) THE DIVERSE FESTIVALS OF MINNESOTA

Late June/early July is our kind of time. Every weekend, there’s a breathtaking array of festivals and events that reveal the diversity of the state and give us a chance to get away from the drone of state shutdown consequences.

This weekend did not disappoint. In Minneapolis, the gigantic Pride parade took center stage (Sorry, iPeople. Images are via Flash)…

In St. Cloud, they celebrated Granite City Days

The people of of Garvin, Minn., celebrated the town’s history over the weekend, setting up a temporary museum and considering what it was like to grow up there. “Everyone knew everyone,” a woman told the Marshall Independent. “The sense of community made it a good place to be a kid. After going to Wednesday night movies projected on the side of the Garvin elevator, the place to stop was Courtney Morgan’s cafe.”

That’s what Minnesota needs: more movies on the side of the grain elevator.

In Duluth, the celebration was more solitary: paddling at sunset. Sigh.

2) RUNNING IN PLACE

We’ve switch to more fuel efficient cars, we’re swapping out incandescant light bulbs for CFLs, and we’ve bought more fuel-efficient appliances. But when it comes to saving energy in the home, are we just running in place? Cutting one energy hog while adding more with our newfangled technology.

What’s the biggest energy suck in the home now? It’s the cable, satellite, and DVR box, the New York Times reports. The combination uses 10 percent more electricity than a typical refrigerator, holder of the previous record for kilowatt pig. Nationwide, they consume more energy in a year than the entire state of Maryland.

It is possible to put the items to “sleep” manually, allowing them to “wake up” if there’s something that needs watching or “taping,” but the cable and satellite companies won’t make it automatic because they don’t think customers will tolerate the time it takes for them to warm up.

3) BOYS, NOT GIRLS?

Some things don’t change. Huffington Post reports on a Gallup poll that shows 40 percent of Americans prefer to have a son and only 26 percent a daughter. That’s the same percentages as a similar poll in 1947. Americans who are younger than 30 say they would prefer a boy to a girl by a 54% to 27% margin. That boy-preference gap declines to 12 points among those 30 to 49, to 5 points among those 50 to 64, and finally to only 2 points among those 65 and older. This is a perfect example of the phrase, “youth is wasted on the young.”

Meanwhile, a preschool near Stockholm is doing what it thinks is best to eliminate gender bias. It’s banning the words “him” and “her.” Mercifully, “it” is still OK.

4) MAUER: FROM HERO TO GOAT

How did Joe Mauer so quickly go from hometown hero to prima donna? By being one, apparently. The sportswriters and Twins fans who so embraced, say, Nick Punto, have turned against the Twins’ Mauer, who is oft injured and doesn’t want to play anywhere but firstbase.

On Friday night, a mediocre pitcher called out Mauer for his pitch selection. That doesn’t happen with All Star catchers. But it did.

Today, the Star Tribune’s Jim Souhan rips Mauer


He has proved to be the softest of stars, and if that wasn’t bad enough, his $184 million contract could prevent the Twins from retaining a valuable veteran who plays whenever and wherever the Twins need him.

Mauer makes $23 million a year. Michael Cuddyer is making $10.5 million in the final year of his contract.

While Mauer seems intent on turning his name into a punch line, Cuddyer offers everything you would want from a professional athlete.

The Hardball Times quizzed its stat-centric readers on the question of how many of Mauer’s remaining years will be healthy. Most said 3-4 years, which is pretty good for a catcher of his age.

Should he play them elsewhere?

Better baseball: A war vet who lost an arm caught a foul ball at Yankee Stadium on Friday night…

Here’s his story.

5) A MIDSUMMER NIGHT

Last Tuesday, the residents of Poznan, Poland set a world record when they released 8,000 Chinese lanterns into the sky to mark the shortest night of the year.

TODAY’S QUESTION

With today’s announcement, Michele Bachmann is officially running for president. Today’s Question: What sort of a president would Michele Bachmann be?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Is alternative medicine ready to claim a spot at the mainstream table?

Second hour: Don McGlynn joins Kerri Miller to discuss his new musical documentary, Rejoice and Shout, which traces the evolution of gospel through its many musical styles – spirituals and early hymns, four-part harmony-based quartets, the integration of blues and swing into gospel, the emergence of Soul, and the blending of rap and hip hop elements.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: The presidential campaign of Michele Bachmann.

Second hour: MPR outgoing president Bill Kling.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: The NPR series on China.

Second hour: Redefining black women.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - MPR’s Mark Zdechlik is covering Rep. Bachmann’s presidential announcement in Waterloo.

These are tough times for the ethanol industry. The Senate voted to end a major subsidy. Efforts to grow the market have seen limited success. Even cellulosic ethanol, a major hope for the future, seems to be going nowhere. Some say the industry has peaked. And Minnesota ethanol plants are wondering what sort of economic impact they’ll feel. MPR’s Mark Steil will have the story.

State employees are growing increasingly anxious as it seems more likely that some 25,000 –or more– of them of them could be laid off. They’re worrying how they’re going to balance their own budgets if the governor and legislature can’t come up with a budget for the state, forcing a shutdown of all state operations not deemed essential. MPR’s Martin Moylan will report.

  • bench

    On Mauer-

    If you listen to the games, both Bert and also Gardy (during an interview) stressed that although Mauer offers his idea for a pitch selection, it is ultimately up to the pitcher. Mijares not taking responsibility probably says more about the Twins bullpen than it does about possible issues with Mauer.

    As for his hitting, Mauer is still trying to get back into the groove. What I wonder is why no one is hounding our new Japanese star Nishioka for his lack of hitting.

    Either way, Twins need to stay off the DL (all players in the opening game this season have spent at least 2 weeks on the DL except for three players). With time, hopefully Twins can see Kubel, Span, Cuddy, Thome, Mauer, and Morneau all on the batting lineup at the same time… Until this happens, fans everywhere will keep looking for a scapegoat for the loses, (haven’t heard the words Kevin Slowey in a while).

  • Joe Busch

    Joe Mauer is the highest paid player on the Twins, and this is a media and a fanbase that’s used to dealing with a cash-strapped payroll. They see Mauer making a boatload of cash and getting injured and, since the team is playing historically bad baseball – despite the recent hot-streak before this five game skid – they look to assign blame.

    Trouble is, the team isn’t cash strapped anymore. The opening day payroll this year was just over 113 million. The team is spending nearly 20 million on two relief pitchers, it’s dealing with an unprecedented amount of injuries (unless you’re a Mets fan), and the front office is essentially incapable of properly evaluating player talent, all of which is combined to bring in this nightmarish season.

    Mauer’s contract is big, but it’s not crippling. This is a team that operated on a budget of 71 million or less – successfully! – for almost a decade. Even if you assume Mauer’s cost is a sunk one (even though it’s not), the team’s theoretical budget is still still at 90 million.

    Don’t blame Mauer, folks. If you’re looking for a scapegoat, start with Bill Smith and Ron Gardenhire, and work your way down from there.

  • kennedy

    A question of the day regarding Michelle Bachman as president? That’s some pretty strong bait when fishing for public posts and visitor count. I didn’t know the web had a sweeps week.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Re Mauer – How’s this for a headline: Hometown Hero’s Hubris, Hamstrings, Horrendous Hitting Hampers Home Team”

    He’s got another 3 or 4 good years? Perhaps the Yankees are still interested.

    At least the Timberwolves had another great draft! :-)

  • Rick

    Re: Mauer

    Mauer also called the pick down and away, not down the middle. Jose knows that the pitch was a mistake after it was hit out of the park, but if he would have thrown it and struck out Fielder, who would have gotten the credit. Catchers are a sorry lot when the public starts questioning their calls when a pitcher cannot execute.

    Mauer will catch his groove and start to produce again. When they get him batting more and he gets some more at bats, he’ll start off well. He’s batting slowly because all of the pitchers are so far ahead in getting ready for the year.

    Re: DVRs, there is a solution for the normal consumer. Press the power button when you are done with it. They turn on when they need to record something and then go back to sleep. If you left your large screen TV on 24/7 and never hit the power button on it, it would have a big power use. Comcast remotes have a All On button, my TV takes as long as my DVR so unless it’s recording something, I turn it all off.

  • bsimon

    “Sorry, iPeople. Images are via Flash”

    You don’t need to apologize for their choice.

  • bsimon

    Rick wrote

    “Re: DVRs, there is a solution for the normal consumer. Press the power button when you are done with it. They turn on when they need to record something and then go back to sleep.”

    Perhaps your Comcast unit is different from those discussed in the article, which claims the ‘on/off’ buttons are largely cosmetic – behind the scenes the hard-drives are still spinning & the devices are awake & often awaiting instructions/downloads from outside your home.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Regarding Boys not Girls:

    The difference in preference is not so difficult to understand. Raising a boy is rather simple – throw some raw meat into the back yard from time to time.

    Girls are significantly more complicated, particularly for fathers.

    And the fact that those over 65 voice almost no preference? Grandma and grandpa tend to be unbiased spoilers. :-)

  • JackU

    @Kennedy: There must be something going on, Mauer in the main part of the article, Bachmann in the Question of the Day. MPR must be looking for more “eyeballs”

    On Mauer: I think the statement should be “play anywhere but catcher.” It was implied during Sunday’s game that the rotation at First Base during Morneau’s absence might include Mauer. As far as Souhan’s statements are concerned as a columnist he gets paid to sell papers and controversy sells better than anything. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had a column blasting Cuddyer earlier in the year when he wasn’t playing so well.

  • Jim Shapiro

    JackU and Kennedy –

    Perhaps we should change the definition of conspiracy:

    “The belief by two or more readers of Bob’s blog that two timely and topically interesting and relevant items are posted primarily to increase comment numbers during a fund drive”. :-)

  • Bob Collins

    For the record, I have nothing to do with question of the day.

    I did select Mauer because I found it interesting, which is the standard for 5×8; things in the news I find interesting.

    Here’s an idea: YOU are putting together 5×8. What would you have included if not Mauer? I’m always looking for contributions from the readers.

  • Cara

    Hah! In her home state, almost everyone commenting has avoided the Bachmann question and zoned in on Mauer. And no one has answered the Bachmann question.

  • Bob Collins

    The answers to “today’s question” aren’t intended to be answered in this space. It’s intended to be answered at the link that’s provided. There, there are 73 comments posted so far, considerably more than the Mauer question. (g)

  • kennedy

    Bachman question:

    Conspiracy, no. Pandering, yes.

    Boys, not girls:

    An expressed preference is different than bias. Some nations (China, India) have populations with more males than females. This likely results from abortion and infanticide being more common for females.

    The US population, however, has more females than males. Perhaps the male preference in the US is like calling the coin toss before a football game. You try to judge the weather and pick the path that favors success. Then, regardless of the result, you give it your best.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Kennedy – Pandering to whom? Readers who want to comment on the – by all indications – interesting and important topic?

    And I’m curious as to how you distinguish between “expressed preference” and “bias”.

    However, your analysis of the difference between the Asian preference for/bias towards males and said preference/bias in the US is interesting and heartening.