Five at 8 – 8/17/09: The power of rumors

Big hair, polyester, and the first laser light beam show? It screams Monday Morning Rouser, doesn’t it? (h/t/: Lorrie Sarafin via Facebook)

1) Eighty-five percent of kids say they have experienced “cyberbullying,” the use of the Internet to bully another student. Minnesota law requires school districts to have a policy against it but no guidance on what that might entail. Late last week, the Worthington Daily Globe reports, school officials around the state heard about some of them:

Often, such high-tech bullying comes via mobile telephones, when students send text messages about other students. A problem that is becoming more and more common is the distribution of nude photos of youths as young as 10 via mobile phones, computers and other electronic devices. Those photos often are spread well beyond the intended recipient.

When Aftab asked how many schools have mobile phone policies, most school board members’ hands went up. Many schools ban students’ mobile telephones in the classroom, some in the entire school, but that raises the ire of parents who expect to be able to contact their children at any time.

They may need more than that. Perhaps they need a Nintendo DSi policy, which can send photos. How far can or should a district extend its reach?

2) The Atlantic’s James Fallows looks at why the death panels claim is “working.” It has laid bare the prediction that blogs would fact check each other so aggressively that mere horse-hocky would never take root. It has taken root, he says, and it’s too late to do much about it.

The truth is having absolutely no effect on the people who’ve bought this toxic nonsense. I had a very illuminating conversation with a neighbor, whom I like (even though I know her to be quite a government-hater), and she believes all of this stuff. She even believes Medicare is not a government program. She believes that if I think otherwise I’m naive and/or being hoodwinked. It looks to me as though the health-care reform plan/s have been thoroughly swift-boated and are dead in the water, just as you say. (Taking care not to mix my metaphors, you will please note.)

Whatever. It’s worked. Last week, the provision that was the basis for the fear was removed. Over the weekend, the “public option,” the part of the health care package that would involve the government providing insurance, seemed headed for the ash heap.

Meanwhile, puts down the hyperbole long enough to examine how end-of-life care and counseling is handled now.

3) The Upper Midwest has the highest concentration of binge drinkers in the country. Kids, eh? Maybe. Maybe not. A Duke University survey, published in a medical journal today, shows 22 percent of older men have engaged in binge drinking in the last month. The effects of binge drinking on older people are considerably more damaging, researchers say.

4) Ninety-five percent of the dollar bills in Washington have traces of cocaine on them, the BBC reports today. That’s up 20 percent from two years ago. That may be true of the money in most big cities, Science Daily says. I’m trying to get a copy of the study to find out if Minneapolis-St. Paul’s money was analyzed. The American Chemical Society, which issued the release on the study, says it doesn’t have a nationwide breakdown.

Update 8:17 a.m. I heard back from the study’s author:

Thank you for your interest in our research. We have not examined the banknotes from Minneapolis-St. Paul yet. If you are interested in having this examination done soon, you may collect some paper money, let’s say 20 single dollar bills, from a local bank or supermarket and send them to us. We can have the examination done in two weeks and send money back to you.

5) What America needs — again — is Calvin and Hobbes, which was only produced for 10 years. Now someone is producing a documentary on the comic and its creator.

Teaser from DMW on Vimeo.

Top that, Archie!


From reader Cheryl Taylor: Sunday Aug. 16, 2009 around 8:30 p.m. Taken at Como Park as the lanterns were being lowered into the Frog Pond during the Japanese Lantern Lighting Festival.


Send me your photo that screams “August!” Here’s an idea: The pre-dawn conjunction of the moon and Venus. It was spectacular this morning, but I don’t have a camera capable of adequately capturing it.


Two years after it began, does the recession feel over to you?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – Hour one: A look at the skeptical public when it comes to health care. Hour two: Lane Wallace, whom I’ve written about several times here on 5@8, is Kerri’s guest when we talk about taking risks. Why leave a safe job for a life that is more interesting? What risks have you taken? What risks do you wish you had taken? I’d like your stories when I live blog the program at 10:06 a.m. You can post them below now if you’d like.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1p.m.) – First hour: D.J. Leary, who’s been a public affairs consultant for 50 years, will be in the studio with Gary Eichten to talk about the state of political discourse in the Internet age. He recently stopped writing a blog and has some ideas about how we can “end the bickering.” Second hour: Matt Miller, speaking at the Aspen Ideas Festival this summer about his book, “The Tyranny of Dead Ideas.”

Here’s a presentation he made to Google staffers earlier this year:

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Anthony Kuhn reports on China’s “marriage markets.” Martin Kaste reports more and more members of Congress are turning to telephone-town-hall meetings rather than the face-to-face variety. And Cheryl Corley will look at Chicago’s efforts to sell its own citizens on the idea of hosting the Olympics.

  • Chris

    I’ll try to listen to Kerri’s second hour. I dread going into my job every day, because it’s boring and meaningless and it seems to sap my energy and creativity.

    I’ve been there for about seven years. During that time, I’ve squirreled away at least a year’s worth of salary. Fear and uncertainty keep me from quitting, even with that safety net accumulated. My “what-ifs” are always negative: what if my car dies, what if I become seriously ill, what if I can’t find a job in the future because of the gap on my resume.

  • CaliGuy

    Interesting that in the same post about the health care initiative being swift-boated, the lead story is essentially an example of our schools being swift-boated.

    Need to contact your kids during school hours? Do what your parents did — call the school office.

    Don’t like your kid getting their cell phone confiscated during school hours? Teach them appropriate cell phone use.

    Don’t like your kid getting their cell phone stolen at school? Don’t let them bring it (better yet, don’t provide one for them).

    The problem is not school policies.

  • Bob Collins

    Many schools haven’t even mastered on-property bullying, let alone the on-line kind.

  • BJ

    Was at Girl Scout camp with my Daisy this weekend. Her group got to do the flag ceremony, I think you would have been touched at how they handled the flag. I will try and get you some photos.

  • momma for obama

    I am tired of ‘the law’ saying that they can’t keep up with technology advances.

    We used to use the schools phones when we needed to contact our parents.

    If we can make laws on gun purchase/usage why not laws on minors with cell phones. Make the cell phone companies monitor the sales and usage.

    I think cell phone monitoring would also create more jobs and we should also monitor the internet usage or create better laws. Computer companies would be responsible for monitoring what they sell who they sell it to and how they are using it.

    If the information that you are putting on the computer is so personal and private then I would think that you should not put it on the computer.