5 x 8: Hero or traitor?

First, the Monday Morning Rouser, submitted this week by reader Chuck Pederson:


Here’s Edward Snowden’s “money quote” from his acknowledgement yesterday
that he’s the leaker of the information revealing how much spying the U.S. does on its own citizens:

“I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone, from you, or your accountant, to a federal judge, to even the president if I had a personal email.”

So many questions:

How does a 29-year old get access to so much spy data so quickly?
Why is the U.S. privatizing its own spying?
How does a kid without a high school diploma end up in such a powerful position?

Farhad Manjoo at Slate has another one: “If the NSA trusted Snowden with our data, why should we trust the NSA?”

Related: All the Infrastructure a Tyrant Would Need, Courtesy of Bush and Obama – Conor Friedersdorf – The Atlantic.


Hardball Times is taking a look at all of the hidden fees and charges when you want to buy a ticket to a baseball game.

Milwaukee is the only team in baseball that makes it impossible to buy a ticket without some sort of fee, it says. The Minnesota Twins have the sixth-most-heftiest add-on charges. But it has among the lowest add-on fees for the people who buy the most expensive seats. Do the math on that one.

But baseball has had an interesting development over the years. Now, damn near half of the teams include the convenience fee in the ticket price when you go online. It’ll tell you the ticket costs $10, and when you go to order, you learn that the ticket itself is $8, and the convenience fee is $2. They’ll still put the order processing charge on afterwards, but that’s it.

This is quite the development. Add-on costs are no longer necessarily add-on costs, because they’re staring you right in the face. And it really is nearly a perfectly even split between teams that do this and teams that don’t: 14 include convenience fees in their price, 16 don’t. (Note: all 14 have the same web page layout when you buy tickets. They all let you pick the specific seats you want for purchase, which is another nice touch. So just by looking at a team’s website, you can know in advance how much sticker shock to expect).

Since it’s half one way, half the other way, the difference in sticker shock between teams can be rather notable, certainly a lot more profound than it was just two or three years ago when no team put the convenience fee on the upfront value of its tickets when you went to the team’s web site.


The ash tree in the front yard, the tree that was a little stick when we moved in 20 years ago , has finally blossomed its leaves, which — as has been the case for years — it’s now shedding. Apparently, this is pretty common among ash trees and isn’t a particularly good sign. It’s some fungus and it indicates that it’s probably not a healthy tree anymore. It’s only a matter of time, then, before the emerald ash borer gets it.

If I lived in Rochester, maybe it would already be gone. The city has just started cutting down the least healthy of the city’s ash trees this year. One hundred of them will soon fall.

“I used to live on a street with all kinds of elm trees,” resident Jerry Reising told the Rochester Post Bulletin. “They cut down all the elms and didn’t replace them.”

Rochester has already cut down about 3,000 trees in an attempt to stop the EAB.

It probably makes sense to cut my own ash tree down in the interest of stopping the EAB. But the problem is a replacement tree won’t provide any decent shade in my lifetime.

“Most people say ‘I want something that will grow and be a mature, large tree before I die.’ We have such a short lifespan compared to trees,” Dr. John Lloyd, an area tree scientist told me four years ago yesterday. “I love oak trees. They have some health problems, but it’s something we can manage. The faster a tree grows, the poorer the form will be.”

We plant trees for ourselves. We want the benefit of our own investment. I’m reluctant to cut down that tree even though I know it’s the right things to do in the long run. But I’ll get no direct benefit from it and the benefit that comes from the tree that replaces it may go to someone I may never even meet.

A tree makes a great metaphor.


An artist burned down a replica house in Saint Paul early Sunday morning. Does that make it art? Or is it just a really cool bonfire?

More art: Bringing poetry to recreational trail users in Mankato & I’m in (MN. Prairie Roots)

Picture of the Day: When Art Meets Nature «TwistedSifter.


It’s Bike Walk Week in the Twin Cities, the week in which people pledge to ride their bike or walk to work at least once. All the particulars are here. Some people will be participating in a study, but it’s limited only to iPhone users.

Here’s the Facebook page. You can plan your trips here. Here’s a list of pit stops, but don’t bother if you’re commuting from East of Saint Paul.

I might be a little late getting today’s second post up this morning. I’m all in on the bike.

Now then: New York, what on earth is your problem?

Bonus I: It’s cops-help-rescue-ducklings season.


Bonus II: Is this the end of an era for games consoles? (BBC).

Bonus III: The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum fires up the Osprey Cam.

Bonus IV: Ex-cons learn culinary arts while feeding the poor. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

The Supreme Court may rule today on the Defense of Marriage Act and/or affirmative action. If it does, some of these topics will be pre-empted.

Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: The FDA and antibiotic approval

Second hour: Minnesota author Sarah Stonich sits with Kerri to talk about her latest book, Vacationland.

Third hour: Red flags for prospective employers.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): A Commonwealth Club speech: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – TBA

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Faculty at St. Cloud State University say they’re concerned that an unusually high number of students’ grades have mysteriously disappeared from transcripts. They say failure to notify course instructors of changes could be considered an ethical breach. The administration is offering little explanation for why it’s happening, but says it’s tightening up its procedures. MPR’s Conrad Wilson reports.

Last fall’s defeat of a proposed voter ID constitutional amendment did not end the discussion over how to ensure Minnesotans are casting ballots legitimately on Election Day. A new state law is intended to keep ineligible felons from voting. But in the closing days of the legislative session, lawmakers jettisoned a key tool aimed at achieving that goal. MPR’s Tim Pugmire will have the story.

  • Paul Weimer

    Why is the U.S. privatizing its own spying?

    I think, Bob, that is part of the whole tendency for the U.S. Government to outsource and privatizing aspects of the armed forces and a lot of other agencies. *Why* this is a tendency probably has a simple answer: money.

    It’s Orwell with a side order of Philip K Dick.

  • John O.

    It is apparent Mr. Snowden thinks very highly of himself. I’m not sure what his logic is, but China is not the place I would want to be in when revealing something like this. I’m sure their intelligence services would love to sit down and chat with him too.
    I also have to wonder what kind of background checks Booz Allen Hamilton is doing with their applicants if he represents a person who should be accessing this kind of data to begin with.

    • Horace Wilkings

      What does this have to do with anything? This is your takeaway from this story?

  • Scott D

    RE: Including the “convenience fee” in the ticket price

    I worked at the Minnesota Twins Pro Shop in Apple Valley from 2010-2013 and sold many tickets in-store. We added a $1 convenience fee to every ticket — the same is applied at the stadium. Online the fees are much higher.

    Despite the fact that it’s impossible to buy a ticket without a convenience fee (except from the resale market), this $1 caused a large amount of customer reservation during checkout. Sometimes, it caused wary customers to walk away altogether. Eventually, I stopped notifying them of the fee, letting them assume the final price on the receipt was entirely ticket-price driven. They were much happier for it. It’s a part of the cost regardless of what you call it. Labeling it a “convenience fee” instead of a $1 more expensive ticket only causes customer trepidation.

  • jon

    @#3 – Trees are funny things like that.
    You plant it now, it grows into a massive tree that someone else grows up thinking that tree has always been there, and will always be there, it’s very possible that for a person’s entire life a tree might exist.
    The flip side of course is the little apple tree I have in my yard 3 years on I’m thinking 1) it will likely never grow any taller than I am, and 2) I don’t think it will ever actually produce apples.
    We planted it with the suspicion that it would grow and provide shade for the whole back of the house… or at least our patio… it’s presently 6 feet tall, and in constant danger that either me or the dog will run it over and snap the trunk. (it’s already lost some bits to us playing fetch and the ball taking off small branches)
    It is nice to imagine 20 years from now having bushels of apples, and shade, etc. but honestly the odds of me and my wife still living there in 20 years is probably slim… and the odds of the tree surviving that long are slim… and given that I feel the tree has hardly grown in 3 years, in 20 years it might be a foot taller…

    Though my neighbors maple tree drops seeds every year around this time, and if I don’t keep a watch for them there will be 3-4 foot maples growing in various bushes, along walks etc. (tempted to let one grow for shade since in 1 year they can get to half the height of the stupid apple tree) extrapolate that out and in 3 years they’ll be at 9 feet, and 10 years they’ll be 30 feet up…