Five at 8: May 21, 2009

I found all of the words below in my driveway this morning when I went out to get the paper. The wind appears to have blown them over from Radio Heartland’s Trial Balloon blog. I’m pretty sure I haven’t been able to reassemble them in the correct order, however.

Wait, upon further review, it’s been determined we need a rouser or we’ll never make it to Monday.

Now, then:

  • No surprise, I suppose. Crooks, cheats, and liars are getting their share of federal stimulus money. The Boston Globe reports how one such company got its mitts on $4.2 million. In Pennsylvania, someone has noticed there’s no way to report fraud in how the state dishes out the dough. reports today that more than $3.8 billion has already gone to companies with long relationships with the government, many of whom have paid fines for fraud or provided substandard work, but still get government deals.
  • A rectangular field is 150 rods wide and 200 rods across. What is the distance diagonally across it? The Worthington Daily Globe’s Reprint blog has unearthed a sample of the test you had to take in 1908 to get a teacher’s license. Alas, no answers until tomorrow. Tangent: How many of you asked yourself in yesterday’s 93-degree heat — while sitting in your air conditioned workplace — what must it have been like in ye olde one room schoolhouse in the old days? We’re soft.
  • So Patrick Swayze isn’t dead. And, as it turns out, neither is the newspaper industry’s fervor for slipping in as many “digs” about Twitter and “the blogosphere” as possible. The Washington Post’s Lauren Weisman writes, “It seems nobody is safe in the blogosphere. A Jacksonville, Fla., radio station announced early yesterday morning the death of actor Patrick Swayze, who is fighting pancreatic cancer.”

    Let’s go over that, again: A Florida radio station made the announcement. Radio. Old media. The BBC reports, “It is not the first time Swayze has had to deny reports about his health – in December US tabloids reported the star had just weeks to live.” Tabloids. Old media.

    New media, however gets credit for the best headline of the last 24 hours, “Patrick Swayze claims he is not dead.”

  • The slippery slope from fear to panic. Did we panic over swine flu because it diverted our attention from the global financial crisis, or is that we just love to be scared about things we can’t control? Jane Brody discusses. Lane Wallace takes it even further. Why is it we pass crashes on the highway all the time, but we don’t obsess about the risks of driving?
  • Timewaster: In Northfield a firm headed by Jeff Ondich has rolled out an iPhone application that allows you to translate anything into Klingon, reports. It was tested by the Klingon Language Institute. Not a close second: Ten things you didn’t know about orgasm. It’s the latest posted video on Ted.

    Now the weather. There’ll be a goat-killing wind in Taiwan.


    I’m driving up to Pelican Lake today to have lunch with Betty Ryan. Betty writes for the Lake Country Echo. She’s 81 and has been writing about her neck of the woods for a fair number of years. So the newspaper industry isn’t entirely dead and I’m guessing she’s an interesting person. News Cut loves interesting people. So I may not post much today.

    Midmorning — MPR has set up a new program — the MPR News Fellows and they’re going to talk about health care. Which reminds me, Tom Bodett is talking about health care, too.

    Midday — In the first hour, former Sen. David Durenberger, who chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee, will be in the MPR studios to discuss the controversy over intelligence gathering, interrogation and torture. In the second hour, we’ll replay this morning’s speech by Barack Obama on national security.

    Talk of the Nation – In the first hour, a discussion about the GAO report on how special needs kids are restrained in schools. I wrote about it on Tuesday (The Silent Scandal). Second hour: Is it possible to change your mind about abortion? Good question. Is it? Give me your answer below.

    All Things Considered — The unemployment report for the state is out today. It’s bad, of course. How much more is there to say about it? MPR’s Tom Robertson reports that weatherization programs get so much stimulus money local staff can’t handle the expected activity. Can prayer heal? NPR will look at evidence of the biology of prayer and healing.