Five by 8 – 3/30/10: Game on, Texas!

1) The U.S. Census Bureau has come up with an ingenious way to get us to fill out the census forms, which arrived in the mail a week or so ago — play to our competitive streaks. The census agency is posting participation rates. As of this morning, Minnesota is surrounded by states that are participating more than Minnesota. In fact, 8 of the top 10 cities for census participation are in North Dakota and South Dakota.

Courtland, Minnesota is the only Minnesota community in the top-50 cities for participation. Courtland is on the banks of the Minnesota River, southwest of New Ulm. Its population is 617.

The worst participation rate is the Gulf Coast and Texas, where people have been pretty well spooked to believe that the census is a government plot. Game on, Texas!

(h/t: Than Tibbetts)

Update: The Census Bureau has sent out a news release expressing some alarm about Texas and also calling out the laggard cities:

Brownsville = 25% (Census 2000 = 63%)

Laredo = 27% (Census 2000 = 63%)

Austin = 33% (Census 2000 = 68%)

Houston = 33% (Census 2000 = 64%)

San Antonio = 37% (Census 2000 = 72%)

2) Over the weekend — that’s right, I work seven days a week — I wrote about the “novelty effect” of Target Field and how long it’s expected to boost the Twins’ on-the-field fortunes. Coincidentally, a U of M sports management professor, Eric Brownlee, considers this question. I wasn’t aware of his video until last evening. (h/t: Ryan Maus)

3) Want to learn everything about the health care law in an easily understood form? Pick up a copy of today’s New York Times. It has an entire section of stories about the impact of the law on real people. There’s an online version here.

4) Ethics question: Does YouTube have a responsibility to take down the channel operated by Hutaree, the group that was raided by federal authorities yesterday and is accused of plotting attacks against police officers and the government? Should YouTube reveal to authorities the names of people who signed up as “friends” of Hutaree on YouTube?

Another ethics question: The man accused of shooting his wife to death in Mankato posts a Web site claiming the victim abused his children. She’s dead and can’t speak for herself. Others are bound by privacy laws. Do I quote it and link to it? (Answer: I took the cowardly way out and linked to it on Twitter.

5) I still have a slight bump on my head, from when I bumped into Mrs. News Cut in the dark on Saturday evening. We had turned out our lights as part of the Earth Hour promotion. I endured the pain because I knew I was taking one for the team and that cutting even an hour’s electricity usage would lead to a substantial reduction in the number of railroad cars full of coal used to generate it that we saw on our recent trip to the southwest.

Did it? I asked Xcel Energy. Here’s Patti Nystuen’s reply:

Unfortunately, we cannot calculate an hour-by-hour change in usage for Earth Hour and we do not have those numbers available. Usage is based on hour-of-day, the weather, the economy… and what do you compare it to – the hour before? the year before? the day before? A drop or rise in usage may simply be attributed to the time of day or the outside temperature. I’m sorry that we can’t be of more assistance.

Bonus: If male Islamic extremist suicide bombers get eternity as martyrs with 72 virgins, who do female suicide bombers get to spend eternity with? Slate has the answer: Their husbands.

Contest: Study this photo, which I took while driving toward Arizona two weeks ago.


Find the story on the MPR Web site this morning that directly relates to the picture. The story won’t mention anything about the field, however.

The winner gets a pony. *


Monday’s suicide bombings in Moscow prompted security alerts around the world, including in the United States. Do you worry about terrorist attacks coming to Minnesota?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Making the college decision. As college acceptance letters arrive this spring, many students are weighing complicated financial packages as major factors in their decision. The high cost of college is forcing some to turn down their dream schools.

Second hour: It’s not a cure for blindness just yet, but some scientists hope that a bionic retina may actually return sight to people who can’t see. The early adopters of this technology report they can see shapes and distinguish dark and light. They can even read. Also what others of us can do to preserve sight from one of the main causes of blindness as we age.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Minnesota House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher and Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller will be in the studio to answer listener questions about the key issues in the session, as lawmakers start the Passover-Easter break.

Second hour: NPR reporter Deborah Amos, speaking at the MPR Broadcast Journalist Series about Iraq.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: The ethics, technology, and

legal legitimacy of drones.

Second hour: Actor and novelist Gene Wilder.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – MPR’s Bob Kelleher looks at the effect of the health reform bill’s tax credit for small businesses that buy health insurance for employees. Small business people remain wary of federal health care reform passed into law last week. Even those who strongly support health care availability worry that reform will push up the costs of providing employees health insurance.

Gilberto Gil, seminal Brazilian musician and former minister of culture, comes to Orchestra Hall on Saturday. MPR’s Euan Kerr talks to him about his music, his life as a political exile in the ’60s, his campaign for digital diversity, and how he feels about performing now.

(*) – This is a lie.