Five by 8 – 4/1/10: Making connections

Rest easy, citizen. There are no cute April Fool’s jokes hidden anywhere in today’s 5×8. Truth is always more interesting than fiction.

1) The connections we have with each other are at the same time fragile and incredibly strong. This week NBC’s Nightly News carried a story that seemingly had nothing to do with Minnesota. Just another name that we’ve never heard of.

It turned out, however, the bond from a bracelet connected a St. Cloud State University professor with the past…

2) Colin Carlson aced an exam at school the other day on the evolution of green plants. The kid is 13. The school is the University of Connecticut. He’s been taking college classes since he was 9. So here’s the thing: Why do we tend to believe that the worst stories coming out of our school system are indicative of the system, but the best ones aren’t?

3) Wolford, North Dakota is getting some serious love from the New York Times today because it’s sent in all of its census forms. The Times provides a lovely and idyllic slideshow here. The story is here. But the most interesting quote is right here:

“We have a high degree of trust in our elected officials,” said Curt Stofferahn, a rural sociologist at the University of North Dakota, “and that carries over to times like these.”

Let’s check back on Minnesota’s race against Texas:

4) Remember when spending taxpayer money for a new Twins stadium was the most emotional issue in decades at the state Capitol? Eventually, lawmakers decided their taxpayers wouldn’t pick up the bill; Hennepin County’s taxpayers would. Many of them will be hailed as heroes when the Twins stadium opens. The biggest supporters of the political effort will throw out the first pitch at Saturday’s exhibition game. The New Ulm Journal profiles one of them — Rep. Brad Finstad:

“I’m not the kind of guy who says, ‘Let someone else do it,'” Finstad said. “This was an issue that was being debated back when I was in high school, and I was sick of the debate. I wanted to get it done. And it was one of the top five issues people brought up when I was campaigning. They’d ask, ‘What’s going to happen with the Twins?'”

Here’s the Wayback Machine look at that bill.

On the field, Hardball Times has five questions for the Minnesota Twins.

Today commentary: A roof would only foul this beautiful ballpark.

5) Some people in Woodbury won’t understand, but the BBC has produced one of the most poignant multimedia slideshows I’ve seen in a long time. A woman chronicles her husband’s descent into the world of Alzheimer’s. Here’s a Kleenex.

Here’s an in-depth discussion with the woman from a Fresh Air episode last November:Bonus From The Daily Show: How to talk to a racist. Warning: Not suitable for workplace.

Follow-up: Ruh roh. An influential conservative delivers the backlash to the Republican staffer’s trip to the strip joint.


President Obama announced plans Wednesday to open vast areas to offshore oil drilling. How aggressive should the United States be in developing its oil reserves?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Perhaps the best known prosecutor of clergy sex abuse cases says the top hierarchy of the Catholic church should account for what he says was a cover up of sexual abuse perpetrated by clergy for decades. Meanwhile, cases in Florida and Kentucky attempt to link the Vatican to cases of sexual abuse. (Catholic church insiders will talk about how they are trying to reconcile with victims and change the way abuse is handled in a separate hour on Monday, April 5.)

Second hour: The enduring appeal of Sherlock Holmes. Journalist David Grann contemplates the strange death of the world’s foremost expert on Sherlock Holmes and a dozen other real-life mysteries in his new book. Grann says the appeal of Holmes is that he restores order to a bewildering universe.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: The number of homeless people in Minnesota is up substantially. Two experts discuss what can be done.

Second hour: Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, speaking at the City Club of Cleveland about food labeling and nutrition.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: The national debt is $12 trillion and the government is on track for record spending this year. “So who’s going to pay?” asks the man charged with finding a solution. Taming the debt with former Senator Alan Simpson.

Second hour: Why aren’t there more new jobs? That answer might just surprise you. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke suggests the people who have jobs might just be working too hard.