Five by 8 – 5/20/10: Google comes to the Twin Ports

1) The Duluth area has spent months wooing Google, which is to select a city in which to build a high-speed broadband network. Few communities have been as aggressive as Duluth.

Now a film producer has created “Google Goes to the Twin Ports,” about a little girl named Google “who comes to the Twin Ports and carries with her magical powers. The cast members are all local people who donated their time to help the grass roots effort.” (h/t: Northland News Center)2) We’ve got another MPR/Humphrey Institute poll out today, and as these things tend to do, it leaves us wanting more answers.

Here’s the takeaway question:

If you had to choose, would you rather have a smaller government providing fewer services, or a bigger government providing more services?

Are we really surprised by the answer?

We didn’t ask the obvious follow-up question: Like what? People have answered this question pretty much the same way for years, but as with most polls, it’s all in how you ask the question. Everyone wants fewer services, as long as the services that are extended aren’t the ones that we use.

I’ve asked this question since the days of the old MPR Forum and people almost never have an answer for what they’d give up. MPR commentary editor Eric Ringham gave it a go the other day with the obvious question:

Can you name a government service you’d be willing to do without?

People whose kids have grown said “K-12.” People in the city said “subsidies and programs for farmers.” People who aren’t poor said “social services.” People who get speeding and parking tickets said “parking enforcement cops.”

Writer “Mike” put it this way:

I’m willing to do without all the services that other people use. The ones I use are clearly essential.

Meanwhile, the New York Times considers the lessons from the electorate from this week’s elections and notes this relic, which may be of some interest to Minnesota:

The first is that this age-old idea of “clearing the field” for a preferred candidate, so as to avoid divisive primaries, is now, much like the old party clubhouse, a historical relic. This should have been clear to everyone after 2008, when Barack Obama, shunned by most of his party’s major contributors and its Washington establishment, simply shrugged off endorsements and raised more than half a billion dollars from his own constituencies.

Another lesson is that people simply have less affinity for a political party than they once did, a notion that — if true — dooms the current incarnations.

3) This could be bigger than the bear den cam in Ely. Bowing to pressure, BP has agreed to provide a live video feed of the Gulf oil spill. You’ll be able to find it here some time today. Maybe. If BP allows it. “Are they in charge out there?” a CBS News anchor asked an Obama administration official today. An Associated Press investigation found the answer. “Yes.”

Here’s a fantastic interactive from the New York Times. It allows you to track the oil spill and review the various estimates about how bad it is.

Meanwhile, the head of BP says the impact on the environment in the Gulf will be “minimal.” While NPR reports BP’s accuracy is more than suspect.

4) It was Mukhtars Fødselsdag’s birthday the other day:

Also in the “We Appreciate the Work You Do” file: Ida the canal mule is retiring.

5) Today’s reason to love the Internet. A politician in Alabama creates this:

… and a day later, this is racing around the Internet:


Nurses involved in a labor dispute with Twin Cities hospitals say their main concern is patient safety. Do you believe hospital patients are either more or less safe than in the past?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Author and activist Azar Nafisi says the repression in Iran goes beyond the holding of the three American hikers. She talks about how the Iranian regime tries and occasionally fails to stifle creative expression.

Second hour: Susan Orlean, staff writer for the New Yorker. She’s perhaps best known as the author of “The Orchid Thief.” Her most recent book is for children, “Lazy Little Loafers.”

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – Alice Swan, associate dean of nursing at St. Catherine University, and Connie Delaney, dean of the University of Minnesota School of Nursing answer questions about what nurses do, and how that’s changed over the years.

Second hour: Hanan Ashrawi, speaking at the Westminster Town Hall Forum about the prospects for Middle East peace

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Investigating the oil spill.

Second hour: The future of NATO.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – MPR’s Dan Gunderson has a look at the turnaround challenge facing the Waubon High School. It’s one of 34 Minnesota schools identified by federal officials for turnaround incentives, and one of five on the list that have high numbers of American Indian students. School officials say the turnaround remedies won’t fix problems that have hindered American Indian educational achievement for generations.

The unemployment rate in Minnesota for April will be released today. MPR’s business unit will translate it into English.

Democracy is plentiful in India. But so are poverty and weak infrastructure. Some Indians looking for a model of stability think they’ve found it next door — in China. What citizens of the world’s largest democracy hope to learn from their communist neighbor.

  • Marie

    Thank you, Bob. Those Alabama Ag Commissioner videos were about the funniest thing I’ve ever seen.

  • bsimon

    “Another lesson is that people simply have less affinity for a political party than they once did, a notion that — if true — dooms the current incarnations.”

    That may be the best news I’ve heard all year.

  • Ben Chorn

    The Ag Commiss ads remind me of a Reno 911! episode i saw where Junior runs for roadkill commissioner (or something of a similar name)

  • JackU

    #2: So what you’re telling us is that 65% of poll respondents want to cut the other guys services. While 26% recognize that if they want something so does everyone else.

  • Bob Collins

    Basically, I’m saying asking the same question and getting the same answer isn’t entirely illuminating.