When good stories don’t have a happy (yet) ending (5×8 – 12/27/12)

Royce White and the quest for a role model, the candy-cigarette debate, reliving history in Mankato, should car seats be required on the airlines, and evaluating the 41st president.


1) ROYCE WHITE AND THE QUEST FOR A ROLE MODEL

It was a little painful, we admit, to see that the sports site, Grantland, has reported that this video about Royce White, the former Minnesota Mr. Basketball, was the most watched video on the site in 2012. More than a million people watched it.

It’s not because it wasn’t a great story — it was, as I wrote about here — it’s that it doesn’t have a happy ending.

Royce White left the Houston Rockets in a dispute over how he’d travel to games. He’s been tweeting about his insistence that the Rockets and the NBA need to provide better mental health accommodations.

And in the last few days, White has retweeted some of the horrible comments he’s been getting as a result of his problems.

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White, who has not responded to my several requests for an interview, has probably undone whatever advance he made by agreeing to be profiled in the Grantland video, and his story has turned out to be among the sadder sports stories of the year.

Only one NBA team was courageous enough to draft a player with known mental health issues last spring. It’s unlikely that one will again soon.

2) THE CANDY CIGARETTE DEBATE

The owner of a soda fountain shop in Saint Paul felt the long arm of the law when she sold candy cigarettes. “We had no idea,” Tobi Lynden told the Star Tribune yesterday after being informed it’s against the law to sell the candy sticks, which she said was among her best-selling items. It’s hard to say what the big news is: That it’s illegal to sell the things, that they still made them, or that they were the top-selling candy item.

Now this comment from a famed legal mind:

The store owner says “someone from Bloomington” ratted her out. Bloomington, where a homeowner got busted last year for feeding birds.

But opponents of candy cigarettes say it’s the first step toward creating an impression in young minds that smoking and “cool” go hand in hand, just as the large tobacco companies intended with their product in the ’50s and ’60s.

3) “THE PAST IS A MESSY PLACE”

One-hundred-fifty years ago yesterday, 38 Dakota men were hanged for crimes allegedly committed in the 1862 U.S.-Dakota War. The ceremony in Mankato dedicated a new monument.

After the war, the Dakota were exiled from the state to Nebraska, South Dakota and other locations.

The interest in the anniversary has surprised some of the regional history experts in Minnesota, according to a panel discussion at the Minnesota Historical Society, which aired on MPR yesterday. They were a little concerned about how the war would be portrayed around the state, given that those involved were as “complicated” as we are today and, “the past is a messy place,” one expert said.

4) CAR SEATS FOR AIRPLANES?

Should people be required to buy a seat and use a “car seat” for babies traveling with parents on the airlines? Parents can save a few dollars by holding a baby on their lap. But is it worth the risk? The only fatality on a regional jet crash in northern Canada on Saturday was the six-month-old infant being held in his mother’s lap, AvWeb reports.

5) EVALUATING #41

Things don’t sound good for the nation’s oldest living president. George H.W. Bush is 88 now and in the intensive care unit.

In the shadow of Ronald Reagan, Bush wasn’t a particularly popular president, but his life will give historians much more to work with than any other living president.

Bonus I: How women rebuilt Rwanda (BBC)

Bonus II: We’re going over the fiscal cliff, but the world won’t end. (Guardian)

Bonus III: If there was ever a better bit than “Who’s On First?”, what is it?

TODAY’S QUESTION

A news website in New York has published an interactive map showing the names and addresses of people who hold handgun permits in selected counties. (Under Minnesota law, such information is confidential.) Today’s Question: Should personal information about gun owners be available to the public?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: How the fiscal cliff will affect dairy prices and dairy farms.

Second hour: How to outsmart hackers.

Third hour: An examination of Minnesota’s education policy.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): Author William Souder, speaking at the University of Minnesota Bookstore about his new book about Rachel Carson called “On a Farther Shore.” This year is the 50th anniversary of her influential book, “Silent Spring.”

Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – Joel Kotkin on the family-less life. Plus:One author goes out on a limb in praise of the cliche.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - A record number of people sought food help in Minnesota in 2012, but the jump was much smaller than what we’ve seen in recent years. MPR’s Julie Siple will report that preliminary numbers show food stamp use is up about 3 percent over 2011, food shelf use about 1 percent. With signs that Minnesota’s economy may be improving. Is hunger leveling off?

MPR’s Dan Olson introduces us to Dean McFarlane, part of a multi-generational stone-carving family whose work includes curling stones as well as the Foshay Tower and numerous U of M buildings.