Five by 8 – 3/11/10: A tour of news

Bob is out of the office, but if he were in I’d want to watch him watch the New York Times video on this little page: Zamboni Driving Lessons. Enjoy your vacation, Collins.

1) The difference a few years can make could be the difference between a few years and life in prison, if someone is tried and convicted as a juvenile instead of as an adult. Brandt Williams’ piece How old is Seward shooting suspect? highlights just that.

[The attorney for murder suspect Mahdi Hassan Ali, Frederick Goetz] says if Ali is tried as a juvenile and convicted of murder, he could not be sentenced to life in prison. But if he’s tried as an adult, he could.

Goetz presented conflicting information about Ali’s birthdate and The difficulty with birth records – for any number of reasons, including cultural and by calendar type – rang my memory bell, so I pulled up Annie Baxter’s story about how Jan. 1 is a common birth date for many immigrants. It outlines some of the problems in birthdate tracking, and reveals some of the ways our birthdates identify and define us.

2) Although classes at Minneapolis schools resume after yesterday’s lockdown due to electronic threats of violence, students will return to find schools in Code Yellow status. Teaching commences in the standard way, but students stay in classrooms. From @MPS_News:

All MPS schools will remain on code yellow tomorrow, 3/11. Instruction continues, exterior doors locked. More:

Turns out the police traced the school threats to a computer server in Australia. (MPR’s own Tom Weber and Madeleine Baran)

3) Will anyone refer to them as action figures? Mad Men’ Dolls in a Barbie World, but the Cocktails Must Stay Behind.

Soon, the show [Mad Men] will enter a realm of the pop-culture pantheon that its creator, Matthew Weiner, says has surprised even him: Mattel plans to bring out versions of Barbie and Ken styled after four “Mad Men” characters.

Don’t be surprised. Go back in time, back to when Barbie and Ken were aboard the Starship Enterprise.

4) High-Tech Street Show Aims To Make Us ‘See’ Homeless, Raise Money (Mark Memmott on NPR’s The Two-Way blog)

Closer to News Cut headquarters, we have a Twitter account for @TCManWalking, a social media account and related blog with a mission statement of homelessness awareness:

I’m a 54 white collar professional with over 27 years of mkt. experience, but am now two plus years jobless, now homeless and living out of my car. I am not using this platform to blame others for my misfortune or to seek help for myself, but rather to spread awareness about homelessness.

For discussion: Do artistic and social media-based attempts to raise visibility of the homeless work?

(@TCManWalking spotted earlier courtesy @MNHeadhunter‘s Twitter updates)

5) Google map your bike ride (San Francisco Chronicle’s The Thin Green Line blog)

No, really, go ahead. Start in St. Paul, if you’d like. The additional functionality to the online mapping system is available for 150 cities.

Bonus from the much-closer archives…

Today’s Question from March 9, 2010: Does it make sense to reduce car lanes for the benefit of bikes?

Today’s Question from October 20, 2009: What change would be most effective in helping cars and bikes share the road?

5.1) As long as I’m linking up bonuses, let’s take a trip through the not-so-wayback machine. Yesterday Bob Collins presented this highly unscientific but interesting opinion poll:

You’ve purchased something with your debit card and you don’t have enough in your account, would you….

… rather have overdraft protection even if it costs a big fee?

… rather just have the card declined by the merchant?

94% said you’d prefer to have the card declined.


A reported shooting threat has prompted heightened security at schools in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Today’s Question: Are you confident in your school’s ability to respond to threats?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: GOP Rep. Tom Emmer and DFL Rep. Paul Thissen will be on the show at 9 o’clock Thursday morning. They’ll discuss how they plan to address the State’s budget deficit if they’re elected and whether they support Gov. Pawlenty’s budget priorities.

Second hour: President Obama has admitted to smoking an occasional cigarette. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin deals with weight problems. When do the vices of a leader, in politics or the corporate world, begin to undermine their effectiveness?

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour – Minnesota Department of Education Commissioner Alice Seagren.

Second hour – A speech from Dr. John Najarian is a University of Minnesota surgeon and professor and author of “The Miracle of Transplantation: The Unique Odyssey of a Pioneer Transplant Surgeon.”

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Oscar-nominated French prison film opens in Twin Cities. Director writer and star explains to MPR’s Euan Kerr how the film was so revolutionary in their homeland.