Five at 8 – 3/2/10: The billboard brouhaha

1) I noticed another one of those digital billboards went up on Highway 52 in West St. Paul on Monday and thought, “in a few years people are going to wonder why everyone made such a big stink about them.” You don’t see too many car crashes near any of them, because someone wanted to see what was playing on KDWB (nothing very good), or that there’s a special on sausage McMuffins at McDonald’s. So, of course, the New York Times has a story this morning that puts the issue front-page-and-center, including a reference to a hearing in the Minnesota Legislature about them.

The industry has found an ally in some crime-fighting groups and agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which use the new signs to broadcast images of fugitives or of abducted children.

“We’ve had moms grab their sons by the ear and drag them right down to the sheriff’s office because they were embarrassed to see the son on the billboard,” said Bart Dexter, coordinator of the Michigan Crime Stoppers organization, who opposes the Michigan moratorium.

Now, if you want to talk about all those people in their big SUVs watching DVDs while they drive, I’m all ears.

Meanwhile, Clear Channel, which owns the billboards, is thinking of expanding a test program to use the billboards to provide traffic information.

2) A study in Boston says one of 8 parents surveyed has considered hastening the death of their child with cancer. The study was conducted at a Boston cancer center and Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of St. Paul and Minneapolis from 1990 through 1999.

3) MPR’s Rupa Shenoy has a fascinating story this morning about the effect of the recession on women, who are taking on the role of sole-breadwinner because the recession has eliminated more jobs held by men than women. These are very difficult stories to do because it’s difficult to keep them from becoming a man vs. woman debate. As I was working around the house this weekend, I got to wondering when the next story would come along that describes women carrying an unfair burden on the amount of work being done in the home.

Fitzpatrick says women aren’t getting much relief at home either. She said research shows many breadwinning women come home and take care of the kids and cook.

We men hear this a lot and it’s true. Women do a disproportionate amount of cooking and nurturing. As I started up the snowblower the other day, I got to thinking about this and I continued thinking about it as I shoveled the deck I’ve been rebuilding, organized the recycling and took the trash out, repainted the family room (after moving all of the stuff in it), rewired an electrical outlet, checked how much crack-filling I’m going to need to do on the driveway, crawled up into the attic to see if the roof was leaking, evaluated the crumbling cement in the garage, cleaned up after the dog (the melting snow reveals a season’s worth of hidden treasures) and then folded some laundry and cleaned the bathroom. Mrs. News Cut was doing the grocery shopping and cooking and her weekend was pretty much filled with keeping the home functioning, too. And our kids are grown. Face it: Weekends are like painting a bridge in this economy.

When we talk about taking care of a home, why do we define it as cooking and kids only, especially when we don’t really have kids in the home for that much time in our lives?

In Rupa’s story, the overworked woman is overworked because her husband lost his job and is going back to school, and is starting his volunteer work at a hospital. “Boy, it really makes me sound like I don’t do anything,” her husband says. I wonder if that’s true?

How does it work in your home? List all the things you do and compare it to the things your spouse does. Is it a “push”? If not, why not?

In other news, research says couples are happiest 2 years and 11 months after marriage.

4) – What does it mean when the military’s best recruiting tool is a video game? NPR explores the question today:

With its graphics and compelling storylines, America’s Army is just the start of a broader spectrum of something Singer calls “‘militainment’ — where the military is drawing from entertainment for its tools.”

“One study found that the game had more impact on actual recruits than all other forms of Army advertising combined,” he says.

5) The nose knows, indeed. A study from the UK says noses are a better indicator of identity than fingerprints. Says the BBC:

“There’s no magic biometric that solves all your problems. Irises are a powerful biometric but can be difficult to capture accurately and can be easily obscured by eyelids or glasses. People can easily cover up their ears, with their hair for example.

“Of course you can have a broken nose or wear a false nose or have plastic surgery but to have nose surgery to change your identity is fairly drastic.

Wear a false nose?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Kerri Miller speaks with former CIA officers Michael Scheuer and Paul Pillar about the changing nature of the terrorist threat and America’s response, the dangers posed by homegrown terrorists, and whether terror suspects should be tried in civilian courts.

Second hour: In a new memoir, foreign correspondent Paula Butturini reflects on how she tried to keep her marriage together through her husband’s long recovery from a sniper’s bullet and his depression.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: State finance officials release a new budget forecast on Tuesday. Former state finance commissioner Pam Wheelock and former DFL Sen. Majority Leader Roger Moe discuss the forecast and what it means for the legislative session.

Second hour: Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, NJ, speaks at the Westminster Town Hall Forum in Minneapolis about how to bridge the achievement gap and help at-risk youth.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: The Supreme Court already struck down Washington D.C.’s hand gun ban. But D.C. is a federal enclave. Does the same constitutional principle apply to cities and states? And would it cover health care and housing, as well as gun rights?

Second hour: Picking up the pieces in Haiti. It’s nearly two months after an earthquake flattened much of Port au Prince, and despite the grief and devastation, life goes on and many already plan to rebuild.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Tuition costs for online classes offered through many of the state’s public colleges and universities are 30-50 percent higher than regular classes. Higher ed officials can’t really explain why, except to say they have overhead costs not associated with bricks-and-mortar classrooms. MPR’s Tim Post has a look.

The revised Minnesota budget forecast will be released today. The MPR Capitol team will figure out whether it changes any of the debates.

Employment data is also being released today. MPR’s Annie Baxter will make sense of it.

  • Sean

    #4) I’ve been saying that AA was the most genius recruiting tool the Army ever came up with since 2002 when it was originally released. On a game level it has always been pretty good and they provide it for free. It plays off the kids who love shooting video games and make the army look like a fun thing to join for entertainment.