Five at 8 – 2/18/10: Revenge of the killer potholes

1) The pothole assault is underway early in Minnesota and, from what I can tell, just about everywhere else. The excellent blog, We Like It Here, analyzes the early appearance of potholes in Minnesota and nails the problem perfectly:

Street repair (he says as he hops off his bike and onto his soap box) is one of those functions of government that, while decidedly unsexy, unambiguously serves the common good. All of us-motorists, pedestrians, cyclists, transit riders-depend on the roads to get us where we’re going, and to get our goods and services delivered. Potholes are committed democrats and social levelers: they’ll as gladly mangle the suspension of a Lexus as crumple the wheel of an old 10-speed. If anything can remind us that we’re all in this together-rich and poor, old and young, Democrat and Republican-it’s the rough shape of the roads we all share. At least until the wealthy start building helipads, at least, or perfect teleportation technology.

Out in Sioux Falls, the early onset of potholes means workers get to fix the same pothole over and over.

I’m putting the call out early — pictures of potholes. You know you’ve got ’em. Send ’em. Even better: Make a video. Add music.

2) Here’s something to think about the next time you post information about your life on a social networking site, the BBC reports. A Web site — — claims to reveal which houses are empty, based on the reports posted to sites such as Twitter:

“It started with me and a friend looking at our Twitter feeds and seeing more and more Foursquare posts,” said Boy Van Amstel, one of PleaseRobMe’s developers.

“People were checking in at their house, or their girlfriend’s or friend’s house, and sharing the address – I don’t think they were aware of how much they were sharing.”

3) Has the stimulus worked? Some MPR reporters have been looking into the question. It kept some special education jobs in Minnesota, Tom Weber reports. So-so in St. Cloud, says Ambar Espinoza. The Associated Press examines the promises vs.the results and let’s out a giant, “meh.” And Slate says you can judge its success by the people trying to take credit for it.

That argument was wrong in theory–and now it is also clearly wrong in practice. And the very Republicans who voted no on the stimulus are clamoring to take credit for stimulus spending. And many of the Republicans who voted against the stimulus (on the grounds that it couldn’t create jobs) have since petitioned government agencies on behalf of their states and districts to get stimulus funds–on the grounds that it would create jobs. (Rachel Maddow of MSNBC had a particularly good listing of the culprits here.)

We’re hearing very few first-person accounts of people going to work today because of the stimulus, however. If you’re one, let me know. Disclaimer: MPR received $50,000 in stimulus funding.

4) I’m going to go see B.B. King and Buddy Guy in concert this weekend, checking another item off the “bucket list.” Still on the list and possible: Driving a Zamboni. Not likely to get a checkmark: Going into space.

So NASA’s image of the day will have to do. Here’s the latest one (click image for larger view): The view of the Sahara from the newly-installed observation deck on the space station. Boom De Ah Dah!


Want more? Follow Japan’s Soichi Noguchi (he took this one) on Twitter.

It’s pretty enough to make you want to break into song, isn’t it?

5) The whole state is talking about Lindsey Vonn this morning. So let’s talk about the men’s curling team and the mystery surrounding it: How did a guy from Florida get on a curling team made up of guys from Duluth, Gilbert, and Eveleth? It’s not really much of a mystery. He curls out of Chisholm. It’s just another thinly veiled Olympic excuse to bring Stephen Colbert into the action.

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Skate Expectations – Curling Team Tryouts – Colbert vs. Shuster
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Skate Expectations

Incidentally, what’s the deal with your curling outfits, Norway?


But the coverage of the Olympics is increasingly focusing on the coverage of the Olympics. TechDirt is the latest to challenge the “spoiler” issue of a tape-delayed Olympics:

This does highlight a larger issue that I’ve been noticing lately. In our more “real-time” society, especially with things like Facebook and Twitter, the idea that you can hide from “spoilers” is increasingly arcane. Now, for most broadcasters (other than NBC, apparently) this should represent good news: as it will drive more people to watch content live, rather than trying to save it for later, since they’ll want to avoid spoilers ahead of time. In this case, though, NBC has apparently decided that it knows better than to enable such things.

Of course, plenty of people are smart enough to realize just how badly NBC is managing this, falsely believing that people will just sit and wait until NBC decides to show what it wants, rather than letting people actually follow what’s happening. News reports are popping up highlighting how many people are ****** off at NBC for the ridiculous decision to hide live events in a real-time world. With the end result being that NBC’s brand is being dragged through the mud for not understanding how to broadcast a sporting event in a real-time world:

Have you been avoiding news coverage of the Olympics so you can watch the taped event on TV later?(polling)

Bonus: A 90-year-old man is claiming to be the world’s oldest paperboy.


Minnesotans claim Lindsey Vonn as one of their own because she was born in St. Paul. But Vonn’s Team USA profile does not mention Minnesota, saying only that her family moved to Vail when she was 12. What makes someone a Minnesotan?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Liberal pastor Jim Wallis says the economic downturn is an opportunity to re-weave the moral fiber of the country. In his latest book he says he sees a fundamental shift in values.

Second hour: The humanist chaplain at Harvard, Greg Epstein, preaches on living an ethical life without belief in God as the underpinning. His new book explores why people manage to do good without belief in a deity.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Three examples of MPR’s in-depth coverage of the major issues of the day: Laura Yuen on Somalis in Minnesota, Jess Mador on the Red Bulls, and Tom Crann on Ben Larson’s death in the Haiti earthquake.

Second hour: Newsweek editor and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jon Meacham, speaking this week at the University of St. Thomas about civility in public discourse.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: An update on the Olympics.

Second hour: Jazz singer Dee Dee Bridgewater, and the new documentary film about Daniel Ellsberg.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.)

President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency is on a collision course with

Texas, according to a story on NPR this afternoon. The EPA says the state has to rein in its polluters, or let Washington take over. It’s a legal battle over regulating greenhouse gases in the nation’s most polluting state.

  • bsimon

    1) the new space station window looks like the firing station on the Millenium Falcon.

    2) Despite knowing the outcome in advance of seeing Ms Vonn ski, it was an exceptionally exciting run to watch.

  • Al

    “Have you been avoiding news coverage of the Olympics so you can watch the taped event on TV later?”

    I’ve been trying to avoid news coverage as part of my overall strategy of Olympic avoidance. I’m tired of the giant commercial disguised as over-inflated drama. Once the Olympics became little more than a marketing event I gave up on them. Besides, who’s doping on the latest, can’t-be-tested-for-yet substance? Don’t know, don’t watch, don’t care.