Five at 8 – 11/18/09: ‘Down in front!’


1) MPR senior producer Jim Bickal did a nifty tour of Target Field field last week. It’s spawned a post on the Web site, Ballpark Magic, about obstructed view seats. When I was growing up, for example, it wasn’t uncommon to end up in a seat at the old Boston Garden and have a steel girder between your legs. The scoreboard? Forget it, nobody sitting downstairs beneath the overhang ever saw the scoreboard.

So the writer at Ballpark Magic did some calculations and found the largest degree of obstructed view seating will be in the outfield seats — the cheap seats.

It’s also possible that none of this will matter. Out in the bleachers at Wrigley, people barely pay attention to the game at all. The views aren’t obstructed, but if they were, nobody would probably care. Maybe that type of party atmosphere will pervade the outfield seating. It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, I suppose. (But leave those damnable beach balls at home! You don’t see those things at Wrigley.)

So maybe from your seat you won’t get to see Nick Punto at bat. You’re not missing anything

2) Fascinating piece from the Denver Post, which followed a young man from high school, into the military, and to Iraq. There’s been a lot of high-brow chatter about the future of news this week. This is the Future of News. (h/t: Molly Bloom)

On that front — the future of news — MPR has posted the video of its keynote speaker at a conference on the subject earlier this week:

Somewhat related: This is what good reporting looks like. NPR’s Daniel Zwerdling, doing it the old-fashioned way, uncovers a document proving that psychiatrists at Walter Reed Army Medical Center put their concerns about the accused Fort Hood shooter in writing.

3) It’s unlikely that the Wilf brothers wanted their long-expected play for a taxpayer-financed stadium to play next to a story about poor people losing their access to health care at the hospital nearly across the street from their current sports ghetto, but that’s how it worked out.

Hennepin County Medical Center, the largest provider of health care to the state’s poor and uninsured , has been whacked by Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s $381 million cut to General Assistance Medical Care, a program for poor adults in May. It’s closing clinics and denying care to out-of-county uninsured.

The Minnesota Vikings, meanwhile, are complaining that their stadium deal is the worst in football. Their stadium supporters recommend taking the $26 million they say the team generates in state taxes, add up to another $18 million and building a new stadium for the team. The Vikings probably have a better chance at a stadium with Brett Favre this year than had Tavaris Jackson remained at quarterback.

So, you’re a Minnesota state legislator. If you’re not a city person, you’re probably hearing from more football fans than poor, sick people. What do you do?

Here’s one of the quotes from one of the parties involved in these stories. Guess which one. “We would expect to be treated fairly and with some minimum level of respect.”

4) Are they truants, sufferers from a legitimate psychological disorder, or just overprotected kids? Today, the BBC Magazine jumps into the question of “school phobia.”

It is thought the worst ages for school phobia are five to six, 11-12 and 13-14, says Mr Blagg. There are no precise numbers for how many children suffer the condition, but he notes one estimate is that 1% of children will have it at one point during their school careers.

5) Toilets. What? You think I’ve got something to add to that?

Bonus: How a library book gets to you. It’s a new video from the Minnesota Historical Society. In about 10 years from now, someone’s going to stumble across this on YouTube and will be amazed at how the people who lived way back in 2009 got books in a library.

More bonus: Justice Alito speaks. It would be great if members of the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the media to record the speeches they give. We would learn more about the people who interpret the Constitution.


The Obama administration has announced that it will prosecute five men charged in the 9/11 attacks in civilian court. Critics of the decision argue that accused terrorists do not deserve the legal rights afforded by the U.S. justice system. Do terrorism suspects deserve the same legal rights as other defendants in court?

Rudy Giuliani was on CBS’ Early Show this morning with his view:WHAT WE’RE DOING

Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Sarah Palin brings out strong opinions, from people in her own party, from others across the political spectrum. Experts on conservatives and women in politics talk about what Palin’s possible political career means.

Second hour: A renowned British neurosurgeon has traveled to Ukraine for 15 years to treat desperate patients who were given no hope of survival. Henry Marsh performs complicated brain surgery in archaic and hostile conditions in the Ukraine as the focus of a new PBS documentary.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: MPR President Bill Kling in the studio to answer listener questions about the future of news and MPR.

Second hour: Live broadcast from the Westminster Town Hall Forum, featuring journalist Sarah Chayes, who has lived in Afghanistan since 2001. She is author of “The Punishment of Virtue: Inside Afghanistan After the Taliban.”

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: An emotional debate erupts after President Obama announces he will try five 9/11 suspects including ringleader Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in the city they attacked. Will it provide closure, or simply reopen old wounds?

Second hour: You use Google for searches, for email,and where would you be without

Google Maps? But how much do you know about the company that knows everything about you? Ken Auletta, the author of Googled joins guest host Rebecca Roberts.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – How are state colleges and universities spending federal stimulus money? Much of it going to projects that don’t produce a lot of jobs, MPR’s Tim Post reports.

With final numbers in from the ‘Give to the Max’ Day on, what went well, and what are the concerns? MPR’s Marianne Combs will have the story. But if you’ve been reading her blog for the last few days, you already know.

John Burnett revisits the massacre at Luby’s, the 1991 shooting that killed nearly two dozen people not far from Fort Hood.

And Jonathan Hamilton will have details of a study which suggest you can take a nap and learn at the same time.

  • Elizabeth T

    Re #2: walter reed

    It is unethical (not to mention illegal-HIPAA) for anyone @ a hospital to give anyone any patient information.

    Is it then contagiously unethical for a journalist to report on it?

    I’m not questioning legality, just ethics.

  • Elizabeth T

    umm … I meant without the patient’s consent. Which, somehow, in this case, I can’t imagine the patient giving.

  • Bob Moffitt

    Agree with you on Daniel Zwerdling’s Ft. Hood follow-up. A real scoop that adds to our knowledge — and raises even more questions.