Five at 8 – 4/8/09

  • Once again, this is the page our neighbors to the northwest are turning to each day — the Red River projection. During the previous crest, I tried to figure out a way of portraying just how inaccurate these things can be. The predictions for a 43 foot crest never materialized, and frustrations were high when the weather people would announce they were off by a foot in their predictions. Last week, we newsies were all atwitter when a projection suggested a chance of a 43-foot crest. By Tuesday, that projection, too, had been replaced by a lower one.

    No doubt, the weather people are doing the best they can. The level of the water depends on lots of things, including the temperature and any rain we do — or don’t — get. But the notoriously unreliable projections are putting residents and officials in a tough position.

    This was a big issue in the great flood of 1997, when the National Weather Service understated the river projection. In 2007, MPR’s Cathy Wurzer talked to a weather service official who said flood forecasting had improved since then. And it has. In 1997, the weather service was off by 5 feet.

  • There are two must-reads following Monday’s death of former WCCO host Steve Cannon. One is Brian Lambert’s tribute. The other is Tom Mischke’s. A good obituary makes you mad at yourself for not getting to know the dearly departed better. Mischke scores bigtime on that scorecard.
  • Is anybody going to ask why Asian Americans need an actor to be their liaison to the White House? Apparently, Kal Penn will make more than you. He’s been hired as the associate director at the Office of Public Liaison, which means there’s an actual director of this office.

    Says its Web site:

    The Office of Public Liaison & Intergovernmental Affairs (OPL-IGA) is the front door to the White House through which everyone can participate and inform the work of the President.

    OPL-IGA takes the Administration out of Washington and into communities across America, stimulating honest dialogue and ensuring that America’s citizens and their elected officials have a government that works effectively for them and with them.

    OPL-IGA will bring new voices to the table, build relationships with constituents and seeks to embody the essence of the President’s movement for change through the meaningful engagement of citizens and their elected officials by the federal government.

    We’ll be adding many more ways for you to interact with OPA-IGA at this page in the weeks and months ahead. In the meantime, please take a moment to share your thoughts using the form below.

    It’s hard to hide patronage when it has its own Web site.

    Penn’s character on House killed himself on Monday’s episode. Adding to the absurdity of it all, Fox has created an online memorial to the man who didn’t really exist. On Facebook, there are thousands of people mourning someone who didn’t really die.

    Perhaps we need an office to solve that problem.

  • We in the Twin Cities love lists, but I’m not sure what to think about our “failure” to make this one. The 20 top procrastinating cities when it comes to filing taxes. We’re not on it. In fact, only two of the cities are in the Midwest — Indianapolis and Chicago.
  • Yesterday, Judy Collins — an icon of my generation — was on MPR’s Midmorning. Depression set in around the News Cut cubicle when a colleague — a young whippersnapper — admitted he’s never heard of her. It could be worse. We could be Cambodia where an entire generation is growing up never having heard of the Khmer Rouge.


  • Did you ever have one of these days?


    Midmorning – In the first hour, Kerri Miller looks at the regulation of tobacco. In the second hour, Miller further reveals herself as a frustrated biology and science teacher. Her guest considers how much she — and I guess, we — are like animals.

    Midday – Messrs. Scheck and Pugmire talk about happenings at the Capitol in the first hour. House Minority Leader Marty Seifert’s speech to the Humphrey Institute occupies the second hour.

    Talk of the Nation: We get an hour of out-of-towners telling us about ourselves. NPR’s Political Junkie Ken Rudin talks about the Minnesota Senate race. In hour two, the 2009 version of “Is God Dead?” This time, it’s Newsweek’s cover story, “The End of Christian America,” an interesting topic for the most holy week of the year. Note the similarity between the Newsweek cover and the famous Time cover.

    All Things Considered — If we were all in the health care business, would we be giving health care the kind of hand-wringing attention that we’re giving to the future of newspapers? Unfortunately, that’s not the topic of Curt Nickisch’s segment, which wrings hands over the coming demise of the Boston Globe.

    This is a topic for another day, of course. I’m not unsympathetic to the plight of newspapers, but the next time some journalist tells you there isn’t a bias in newsrooms, ask him/her how many stories have been cranked out about the problems in the journalism industry. Then ask why his/her news organization decided that was the pressing problem worth expending resources on.

    Of course, it’s because it’s the problem that personally affects reporters. This is why some organizations — and, sure, I’ll give a plug to MPR’s Public Insight Journalism initiative — have set up vehicles for the public to direct part of the editorial process. There are issues facing you — and thousands of others — that aren’t covered because they don’t personally affect us. That needs to change.

    • BJ

      @Did you ever have one of these days?

      No but I have known many people who are like that every day. She stepped like 5-6 stories while just going up one.