Five at 8 – 6/18/09

  • weber_lightning_june17.jpg It was good lightning-watching in the Twin Cities last night (Photo from MPR’s Tom Weber). As I sat out on the bench on the front lawn last night (the bench is the Petri dish of all News Cut posts), I thought “I should take a video for News Cut.” But good weather-watching weather doesn’t translate well to video. So you’ll just have to come sit on the lawn with me for tonight’s storms to experience it. The storms were too far to the south to drive us indoors, but close enough for a great display of lightning. Of course, the big story there is a few tornadoes. This picture from a Mankato Free Press reader reinforces the beauty of the Upper Midwest weather (h/t: J.P. Santori).

    Power has been restored to the Austin area where the Austin Daily Herald has an image of the tornado’s initial moments. The Post Bulletin has after-the-storm video. Nobody indicated it sounded like a train.

    It’s been good tornado-chasing weather this week, too, but sometimes the excitable folks get a little too close:

  • Much is being made this morning of news that PETA — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals — is upset with President Obama for killing a house fly. But PETA’s blog notes it was the media that stirred the drink on this story:

    Believe it or not, we’ve actually been contacted by multiple media outlets wanting to know PETA’s official response to the executive insect execution.

    However, PETA recommends its humane bug catcher for the job (shown here), the operation of which would be worthless for house flies.

    A better idea? How about sterilizing the critters?

  • Al Jazeera explores the Twitter phenomenon in coverage of the unrest in Iran and notes — as I did here yesterday — the potential for the spread of propaganda.

    The network also has an excellent analysis from a University of California professor on the future of Iran.

    The official Iranian position on these things can be found on the English-language site of the Mehr News Agency.

    Nate Silver at takes another whack at the claim that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s strength in rural areas tipped the election.

    So it’s not exactly correct to say that Ahmadinejad’s strength was in rural areas. What we certainly can say, however, is that almost all of the improvements that Ahmadinejad made over his 2005 totals came in rural areas. What was once a weakness of his turned into another strength.

    This means that at least one of two things must be true. Either the urban-rural dynamics of Iran have changed significantly over the last four years — at least insofar as it they affected perceptions of a candidate like Ahmadinejad. Or, alternatively, the election was rigged, and those who rigged it for some reason decided that rural votes were easier to steal.

    Meanwhile, Slate looks at how the protesters of the election are co-opting images of the 1979 revolution.

  • Minnesota-based Medtronic paid nearly $800,000 over an eight-year period to a former military surgeon who has been accused by the Army of falsifying a medical journal study involving one of the company’s products, the New York Times reports. Here’s the interesting part: It’s legal for military doctors to receive payments directly from medical products companies.
  • Why would a news story use solipsistic in a sentence? I have no clue but it’s the second-most-looked-up word on the New York Times’ Web site, according to a study by the Nieman Journalism Lab. Big points to the writer who used many of them in this opening paragraph:

    If The New York Times ever strikes you as an abstruse glut of antediluvian perorations, if the newspaper’s profligacy of neologisms and shibboleths ever set off apoplectic paroxysms in you, if it all seems a bit recondite, here’s a reason to be sanguine: The Times has great data on the words that send readers in search of a dictionary.

    Admit it, my Public Radio friends, you love this sort of stuff!

  • Bonus: Will drilling a hole in your head cure Alzheimer’s?


    Midmorning (9-11) – First hour: President Obama’s proposed rules on regulating financial institutions. Second hour: How alcoholics hide their illness.

    Midday (11-1) – Dr. Jon Hallberg will be in the studio to answer listener questions about all the latest health and medical issues in the news.

    Talk of the Nation (1-3) – First hour: Saying the prison system is broken is easy. How do you fix it? Second hour: Another author becomes a father and does what so many fathers these days do. He writes a book about being a father.

    All Things Considered (3-6:30) – MPR’s Mark Steil looks at Minnesota dairy farmers. Despite lower grain prices, dairy farmers are still losing money. Do dairy farmers ever make money? Annie Baxter will handle the bad news — the latest unemployment numbers in Minnesota.

    • BJ

      “excitable folks get a little too close”

      Bob did natural selection happen or is this guy OK?

    • Bob Collins

      As far as I know, he’s OK.

    • G-man

      I think he’s had “way too much caffeine”.

    • dorothy


      no flying cow? any tornado worth its whirl has at least one flying cow.

    • LK

      My lady would love to come hang out on the bench with you. Is that one of the leadership circle perks?