Tales from the trail (5×8 – 6/9/11)

1) BIKING TO WORK

It’s Bike to Work Day, so named because Bike Back Home After Work Day doesn’t sound so noble and exciting. And exciting bicycling can be, given the hazards presented by the people who, well, you know.

In New York, Casey Neistat got a citation for riding outside of a designated bike lane. He tried to tell the cop that riding in a bike lane isn’t safe because there are so many obstructions. The cop didn’t listen.

So Neistat made this video this week. Bicyclists make better videos than drivers, by the way.

Here are a few more events this week for bike week in Minnesota.


2) HOW DEEP ARE ATTITUDE CHANGES ON SAME-SEX MARRIAGE?

The numbers have been out for a few weeks but a graphical representation of attitude’s toward same-sex marriage in America are particularly striking in this slideshow released this week by the Pew Forum.

gay_marriage_poll.jpg

Comparing attitudes with each year for the last decade, Pew found that almost every category of person surveyed has shown more acceptance of same-sex marriage. While one might expect the young to be more accepting, the trend also extends to Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation, Republicans, and conservatives. The exception is white, evangelicals, of which there were comparatively few in the survey.

What does this mean for the same-sex marriage ban likely to be on Minnesota’s 2012 ballot? Perhaps, not as much as one might think. Look closely at most of the lines. The drop in acceptance over 10 years usually occurs in even-numbered years — election years.

Meanwhile, Cambridge Massachusetts is finding a way to get around what it considers a discriminatory practice in the tax code toward same-sex couples. Beginning in July, the city will begin paying quarterly stipends to city employees in a same-sex marriage who must pay federal taxes on the value of the health benefits their spouse receives from the city.

3) DELTA FLIES BACKWARDS

Delta Airlines has quickly changed its policy of charging soldiers returning from war for checked bags. It’s all thanks to YouTube, where the soldiers posted this video on Tuesday…

For a normal (non-military) traveler, Delta charges $25 for the first checked bag, $35 for the second, $125 for the third and $200 per bag after that. But returning soldiers have more bags — they were carrying their weapons in the fourth bags — than regular travelers.

Delta spent the day at first trying to defend the policy, noting that it was in line with its contract with the government, and noting the military will reimburse soldiers for the extra expense. By the end of yesterday, however, the airline had come to understand that in matters of viral videos, just saying “it’s legal” doesn’t really cut it.

The soldiers learned something, too: You can’t delete a viral video. They took the video down from YouTube, but dozens of copies of it were immediately posted in its place.

Welcome home, fellas.

4) HISTORY IS SO YESTERDAY

The continuing debate over whether Sarah Palin has a grasp on history reveals why The History Channel has given up on history and now pretty much runs nothing but shows about people driving trucks on slippery roads.

Even public radio — public radio! — can’t say for certain whether Paul Revere rang those bells and fired them shots.

The public radio show The Takeaway gave voice to Sam Jones, creative director of the Freedom Trail Foundation in Boston, who says there may have been bells and there may have been shots but there was no Revere with bells and shots.

At NPR, meanwhile, a history professor at Suffolk University — you can see the Old North Church from there, you know — says Mrs. Palin’s comments were accurate, given the big picture.

What’s the problem here? We don’t know history, commentator Leonard Pitts writes…


You may think that statement is meant to encompass the likes of Glenn Beck (who said conservatives started the Civil Rights Movement), and Rep. Michele Bachmann (who said the Founding Fathers ended slavery) and it is. But the troubling thing is, it also encompasses many of the rest of us as well. Where history is concerned, this is fast becoming a nation of ignoramuses and amnesiacs.

The alarm bell has been ringing for years. Consider “Losing America’s Memory: Historical Illiteracy in the 21st Century,” a 2000 study by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, a Washington-based advocacy group. Researchers found that the majority of seniors at the nation’s best colleges could not identify the words of the Gettysburg Address or explain the significance of Valley Forge. They did not know, the study concluded, because

they had not been taught. History, the study said, was no longer a requirement in the nation’s top schools.

5) DRIVE-THRU MAGIC

Something tells me the next few days aren’t going to be a lot of fun for people who work the drive-thru window…

Bonus: Rosemount’s controversy: Should people be able run a tattoo business from their homes? The state allows it but Bill Roehl at Lazy Lightning reports the City Council overrode the position of the city’s staff and banned the practice, partly on the strength of a Council member who took an informal poll of her students, he says.

TODAY’S QUESTION

Today is Bike Walk to Work Day in the Twin Cities, part of Minnesota Bike Walk Week. A proclamation from the governor notes that Minneapolis has been named the Number One bike-friendly city in the nation. Today’s Question: Is your community bike-friendly?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: The killing of Osama Bin Laden was a blow to al-Qaeda, but what will be it’s lasting impact on terrorism?

Second hour: Electrocognition and mind reading

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Congressman Tim Walz on the Iraq war troop withdrawal and the implications for Minnesota’s Red Bulls.

Second hour: From MPR’s “Bright Ideas” series, Stephen Smith talks to biologist P. Z. Myers.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Saudi Arabia, the U.S., oil and the Arab spring.

Second hour: The promise — and reality — of new advances, in the war on cancer.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - Hunger-Free Minnesota this week launched a campaign to fight hunger in the state. But efforts to fix gigantic problems often run into roadblocks or fail altogether. President George H. W. Bush said that by the year 2000, US students would be the first in the world in math and science. They weren’t. Gov. Tim Pawlenty wanted to end chronic homelessness by 2010. We didn’t. Why do so many efforts fail, and is this one any different? MPR’s Julie Siple will have the report.

Employees at a Target store near New York City vote later this month on whether to unionize. Target and arch-rival discounter WalMart have successfully fended off union votes so far. This new effort may have legs in the heavily unionized New York area and as Target cuts back workers hours, according to MPR’s Martin Moylan.

  • Duke Powell

    This is a perfect example why News Cut is one of my favorite daily stops.

    1. If you skipped over the video of the bike rider getting a ticket, I suggest you watch it. Very well done.

    2. The Delta kerfuffle is a good example of how markets work to drive down costs – something a lot of commenters on this site would do well to learn.

    3. Congrats to News Cut and NPR for having the grace to begin to “walk back” the Palin story. That’s what you get for depending on heavily edited video from TV News.

  • bsimon

    “Bicyclists make better videos than drivers, by the way.”

    I suspect the creative population among bikers is a larger portion than the creatives among car drivers.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Dear Bob – Regarding : How deep are attitude changes on same sex marriage?

    “The drop in acceptance over 10 years usually occurs in even-numbered years — election years.” ?!?!?

    Are we looking at the same chart? Is this an eye test?

    Liberals, who would be the strongest supporters, showed 1 drop and 3 increases of support in even numbered years.

    Moderates showed 2 drops and 2 increases.

    Conservatives showed only 1 drop and 3 increases.

    Every group showed increased acceptance over the last 2 election cycles, which of course is the more relevant statistic.

    Everyone knows about lies, damnable lies and statistics, but what hope have we if our beloved blogger doesn’t even read the charts right? :-)