Taking on bullies (5×8 – 9/22/11)

The cost of fighting back, Adam and Eve 101, the execution, the end of social media as we know it, and staying rich in Minnesota.


1) THE COST OF FIGHTING BACK

It’s been a week of fighting back against bullies, but it’s the parents doing the fighting. A Wisconsin man could get 14 years in prison if he’s convicted of all the charges lodged against him for throwing a football at a 13-year old kid who was allegedly bullying his 5 and 10-year olds, the Journal Times reports. The older boy has a different story:


According to court records, the 13-year-old, Brad Kugel, was among several boys playing at Roosevelt Elementary School, 915 Romayne Ave., on Friday.

Brad, of Racine, said Monday he was with his brother, cousin and two other friends playing the game sandman when Jackson’s two sons joined in.

“When we told them they weren’t playing right, they started yelling,” Brad said, adding the two boys used profanity.

Jackson’s two sons, aged 10 and 5, also were chasing another boy and calling him names, the complaint said, so Brad chased them away. A short time later the sons returned with Jackson who yelled at Brad, knocked his cell phone out of his hand and threw a football into his ribs hard enough to knock the breath out of him.

In Minneapolis, a woman who confronted those who allegedly bullied her son on the school bus, has been banned from Lake Nokomis Community School, WCCO reports.

Minnesota has one of the weakest anti-bullying laws in the nation, MPR News reports. When the Legislature passed it, it was weak, feel-good legislation, and everyone knew it was weak, feel-good legislation. When it came time for a Senate floor debate four years ago, there wasn’t a single comment on it.

2) ADAM AND EVE 101

One of the problem of tackling questions of religion is there’s no acceptable way of saying “I told you so.” MPR’s Midmorning program yesterday looked at the question of whether one can believe — literally — that Adam & Eve existed and also believe in evolution.

If you didn’t get enough of it, NPR’s Talk of the Nation will pick up the debate this afternoon in its second hour, though it will devote much less time.

For many people, believing in God comes down to a gut feeling that a benevolent deity is out there. LiveScience.com reports “a study now finds that gut feelings may be very important in determining who goes to church every Sunday and who avoids the pew:”


People who are generally more intuitive in the way they think and make decisions are more likely to believe in God than those who ruminate over their choices, the researchers found. The findings suggest that basic differences in thinking style can influence religious belief.

“Some say we believe in God because our intuitions about how and why things happen lead us to see a divine purpose behind ordinary events that don’t have obvious human causes,” study researcher Amitai Shenhav of Harvard University said in a statement. “This led us to ask whether the strength of an individual’s beliefs is influenced by how much they trust their natural intuitions versus stopping to reflect on those first instincts.”

How was this theological question resolved? Math. Researchers asked respondents about their belief in God and then asked, “A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?”


The intuitive answer to that question is 10 cents, since most people’s first impulse is to knock $1 off the total. But people who use “reflective” reasoning to question their first impulse are more likely to get the correct answer: 5 cents.

Sure enough, people who went with their intuition on the math test were found to be one-and-a-half times more likely to believe in God than those who got all the answers right. The results held even when taking factors such as education and income into account.

3) “DAVIS BLINKED HIS EYES RAPIDLY. HE SQUEEZED THEM TIGHT. THE CURTAIN CLOSED.”

When the Supreme Court announced it would delay the execution of Troy Davis in Georgia last evening, his family hit their knees.

death_penalty_prayer.jpg

The answer was “no.” A few hours later, Davis was dead.

The Atlantic’s Andrew Cohen, its chief legal editor, says there was no way Davis could satisfy the requirements of avoiding execution:, which are much tougher than the standard for sentencing him to death in the first place:


Here’s what Davis was up against, to cite just one example. Last summer, at the request of the United States Supreme Court, U.S. District Judge William Moore held an evidentiary hearing to examine the new claims, and new evidence, presented by Davis and his attorneys. Under federal law, Judge Moore reminded the litigants and the world, Davis had the nearly insurmountable post-conviction burden of establishing by “clear and convincing evidence” that no reasonable juror would have convicted him based upon the new evidence. Applying that standard, which flips on its head the standard applied at trial, Judge Moore unsurprisingly held that Davis had failed to meet his burden.

In a perfect world, Davis would have had his new evidence evaluated under a legal standard more tuned to ensuring the reliability and accuracy of his conviction rather than upon the timing of his execution. His case wouldn’t have been shoved like so many of the rest down a sterile and formalistic legal hole forced upon the federal courts by the Clinton-era Congress. And, even if it somehow were, even if the justice system failed, Davis would have had a parole board willing to acknowledge what seems so self-evident; that an uncertain death sentence harms more than just the executed.

4) THE END OF SOCIAL MEDIA AS WE KNOW IT

It better be a really big thing that Facebook is unveiling today in San Francisco, because the buildup — by way of Mashable — is certainly suggesting that the online world is in its last minutes of being the way it, you know, is.


I have seen what Facebook is launching on Thursday, and it’s going to change the world of social media. And while I won’t talk about the mind-boggling things Facebook will be launching, I will say this: The Facebook you know and (don’t) love will be forever transformed. The news that will come out of Facebook during the next few weeks will be the biggest things to come out of the company since the launch of the Facebook Platform.

For Facebook, it all boils down to one problem: emotion. Facebook has hundreds of millions of users and spectacular levels of engagement, but it is a platform that has lost its emotional resonance over the years. More and more people visit Facebook out of necessity rather than desire. It’s a platform people prefer to hate, but won’t leave simply because all their friends are there.

Mashable says the changes will alter the “emotional connection” we have with one another on Facebook. The obvious question: What “emotional connection” do you have with people on Facebook you’ve never actually met?

Update 8:51 a.m.AllThingsD says “Facebook will begin tracking and notifying friends of everything a user reads, watches or listens to via Facebook.”

5) STAYING RICH

Forbes is out with its list of the 400 richest people. Here’s Minnesota’s contingent (click image for more readable version):

forbes_richest_2011.jpg

Compare to the state’s richest during the boom years. Here’s 2005:

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Here’s the list from 2001:

Schulze, Richard M., $2.2 billion, Best Buy Co., Edina, 60

Taylor, Glen, $1.8 billion, printing and Minnesota Timberwolves, Mankato, 60

Pohlad, Carl, $1.8 billion, MEI Corp. and Minnesota Twins, Minneapolis, 86

Hubbard, Stanley Stub, $1.4 billion, KSTP broadcasting, St. Mary’s Point, 68

Gage & family, Barbara Carlson, $1.3 billion, Carlson Cos. travel services, Minneapolis, 59

Nelson & family, Marilyn Carlson, $1.3 billion, Carlson Cos. travel services, Minneapolis, 62

Opperman, Dwight D., $950.0 million, former owner of West Publishing, Dellwood, 78

Cargill, James R., $850.0 million, Cargill Inc., Minneapolis, 77

Binger, Virginia McKnight, $685.0 million, McKnight Foundation, Wayzata, 85

How does this compare to the state as a whole. MPR’s Elizabeth Dunbar has put together a map showing Minnesota incomes as reported by the American Community Survey.

TODAY’S QUESTION

Most countries around the world have stopped using the death penalty. But the United States ranks among the top five countries that still execute prisoners. Today’s Question: Does capital punishment serve a worthwhile purpose?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: America’s rising poverty rate.

Second hour: The Chicago-based Ceasefire program uses “violence interruptors”– men and women who were once active in gangs — to promote peace in that city. A new documentary looks at the efforts of a few of these interrupters to stem the tide of gang violence.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Joe Rosenberg of the Tax Policy Center in Washington explores the so-called “Buffet Rule.” Do the rich executives pay taxes at a lower rate than their secretaries?

Second hour: TBA

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Should U.S. troops stay in Iraq?

Second hour: Science and the religious divide over Adam and Eve.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - Census data released today paints a picture of growing child poverty in Minnesota, and some suburbs saw big increases. In Brooklyn Park, nearly one of every three children is living in poverty. MPR’s Laura Yuen will report.

MPR’s Tim Post is covering Eric Kaler inauguration as the 16th president of the University of Minnesota today.