Five at 8 -12/14/09: Are Minnesotans nice?

Yeehaw! It’s the Monday Morning Rouser:

For an even better version, try here.

1) There’s nothing better for a little give-and-take than a good commentary on Minnesota Nice and variations thereof. For that we’re offering up a Syl Jones commentary, “”The unwritten rules that tell Minnesotans how to be nice.

Of course, many Minnesota residents today don’t come from a Scandinavian background. Yet, there’s something contagious about Janteloven. It’s tempting for people of all backgrounds to pretend to be nice when they aren’t. In fact, part of that famous Minnesota charm — the part that can actually lull you to sleep, if you’re not careful — is the idea that things are, well, just fine around here, thank you very much.

2) Is it possible your smart phone is a little too smart? In the Netherlands, some researchers have developed software that allows your phone to predict your next move. Sure, it’s all for good…

So if your regular drive to work takes you through a particular phone cell, the “going to work” signature could trigger the software to negotiate with the cellphone network to ensure that the cell will have the 3G capacity to maintain your streaming music channel as you drive through it.

“The data smartphones generate must remain under their owners’ control, and not be hijacked by advertisers or other self-interested third parties,” New Scientist says.

One of the first projects I started when I became managing editor of MPR’s online efforts in 1999 was this one. The Surveillance Society. Almost all of the fears in that series have come true. But here’s what we didn’t see at the time: We thought it would be others who would compromise our privacy. We never envisioned a decade in which we’d give it away voluntarily.

3) Time for a trip around Planet Research:

Economics: A study in the UK today shows people who clean hospitals return 10 times the value of what they’re paid, more than bankers, the BBC reports. Bad: Tax accountants and advertising executives: Good: Child care providers and waste recycling workers.

Science: People who look young for their age live longer.

Religion: New poll shows more Americans are “grazing” when it comes to religion.

Health: By 2050, life expectancy for Americans will increase by more than government projections — as much as 8 years for women. This is not considered a good thing.

4) What a terrible story! Police say three members of a Lakeville family were killed when a pickup driven by a teenager collided head-on with their car in the southeastern Twin Cities. The driver responsible for their deaths is 17 and was driving without his lights on. He hasn’t been named in media reports. Police say only that he’s from Dundas. Quite often, teenagers aren’t named in stories like this and also with crime stories because they’re “juveniles.” Should they be identified?

“Juveniles deserve a special level of privacy protection, especially those in their pre-teen years, because of their vulnerability,” Al Tompkins of the Poynter Institute wrote. Other journalists weigh in on the issue here.

Should 17 year olds be identified in public safety news stories?(online surveys)

5) A few years ago, Minnesota lawmakers passed a law requiring school districts to adopt a policy on cyberbullying, while giving no guidance on what the requirements should be, nor how school districts were to police the students’ activities in their off-hours. Nobody challenged the law. In California, however, similar anti-cyberbullying rules have run afoul of the Constitution.

“To allow the school to cast this wide a net and suspend a student simply because another student takes offense to their speech, without any evidence that such speech caused a substantial disruption of the school’s activities, runs afoul [of the law],” (U.S. District Court judge Stephen V. Wilson wrote in a 60-page opinion.

“The court cannot uphold school discipline of student speech simply because young persons are unpredictable or immature, or because, in general, teenagers are emotionally fragile and may often fight over hurtful comments,” he wrote.

Bonus: Puppies!

More Bonus: Wait! Wait’s Peter Sagal profiles the Second City comedy people, including alumnus Stephen Colbert. “”Every night I say something I actually believe… I’m just never going to tell you what it is,” Colbert says.


Here are the players in this leg of the Golden Snowball Challenge.

Chikage Windler (KSTP) – 2-4″ (3″)

Mike Fairbourne (WCCO) – 2-4″ (3″)

Jonathan Yuhas (KARE 11) 1-3″ (1.5″)

Ian Leonard (KMSP) 3-5″ (4″)

Paul Huttner (1-3″) (2″)


A growing percentage of the population doubts that human activity contributes to global warming. Many Americans also dispute the value of vaccines and the evidence of evolution. Is there an issue on which you think the accepted science is wrong, or untrustworthy?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: A discussion about the future of the health care reform bill.

Second hour: Sarah Hicks, the recently appointed pops conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra, talks about how she sells new music to audiences young and old.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: An update on the H1N1 flu situation from the chief of immunization at the Minnesota Department of Health, Kris Ehresmann.

Second hour: Karen Mills, head of the Small Business Administration, speaks to the National Press Club about economic recovery, loans for small business, and health care reform.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: The political world awaits a major decision from the Supreme Court that could flood the 2010 elections with

corporate campaign cash. Plus: A primer on the climate change summit.

Second hour: What’s the most important organism on earth? Humans rank

number six. The flu bug, algae, and earthworms all make the top ten. Christopher Lloyd argues his case for 100 species that changed the world.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – After years of declining student enrollment, some school districts are seeing their largest kindergarten classes ever. Is this a demographic shift that will reverse historic enrollment declines. What does it mean for schools and communities? MPR’s Tom Robertson has that story.

  • boB from WA

    Re: religious “grazing”

    As I see it it is part of the consumer mentality that we have in the western world. In other words I want a religious experience that fits with my preconceived ideas of what spirituality should look or be like.