Five by 8 – 7/1/10: A right to surf

Back after two days off. Let’s get to it. Today is Canada Day. Trivia quiz: How old is Canada today? Answer later.

1) Finland, starting today, has made access to the Internet a fundamental right. The country has been one of the most wired countries for years. Ninety-six percent of the population is already online. The idea has legal implications. Would illegal file sharing still be illegal if you had a “right” to the Internet. In the U.S., of course, there is no such right. Some people think there should be. Some people think access to health care, for example, should be a right, too. What other rights should people have that are not presently enumerated in the Constitution? Discuss below.

Meanwhile, one out of five kids say he/she has “Facebook fatique” and plans to quit, a study says.

Of the group that are saying goodbye to Facebook, 45% have lost interest, 16% are leaving because their parents are there, 14% say there are “too many adults/older people” and 13% are concerned about the privacy of their personal information.

2) As you will see below, Eric Ringham’s question of the day relates to whether you should buy new gadgets as soon as they come out. So this Ultimate Gadget Decider Flow Chart on Scoredit today seems more than relevant. Click it for a larger image.


3) Tales from the scene of the crime. Lazy Lightning’s Bill Roehl unearths CSI Farmington. At the scene of a theft, blood samples were taken from a shattered window, processed through the BCA and they got the guy! Bill asks whether — considering the sum of money that was taken ($4,800) — it’s worth it to go to the expense of DNA testing in a case like this? His readers overwhelmingly say yes but several ask a good question: Do cops dust for fingerprints anymore?

And this is just in from the Woodbury Bulletin’s police reports:

Police responded to a report June 20 of a woman with black hair and a backpack running on the side of the freeway at I-94 and Radio Drive. State Patrol officers spoke with the woman, who was 19 years old. The woman said she was walking to Boston. State Patrol officers gave her a ride to Wisconsin.

And Dale Connelly’s sharp eyes spied the money quote in a New York Times article about the alleged Russian spy ring.

There is one person who has impressed me more than anyone else in this whole sorry tale, and that’s a fifteen year old neighbor of espionage suspect Cynthia Murphy, a person identified in the New York Times as Jessie Gugig. Ms Gugig was interviewed for an early online version of the Times story and was quoted saying she could not believe the charges against her neighbors, Ms. Murphy especially.

“They couldn’t have been spies. Look what she did with the hydrangeas.”

These two sentences perfectly capture the absurdity of this situation. There is nothing to add. I believe Ms. Gugig’s quote will be repeated whenever this story is mentioned, today, in the next weeks and months, and one hundred years from now. It will live forever, and when you are fifteen years old this is a great accomplishment. Most people lack the skill and the opportunity to create such a verbal landmark. Jessie Gugig made the most of her moment.

I, on the other hand, would be suspicious of any 15 year old who takes any notice in what anybody does with the hydrangeas.

Nonetheless, it raises the question: What do our hydrangeas say about us?

Here’s my hydrangea effort this year. What does it say, Comrade?


4) In my fair city — Woodbury — they’re thinking of spending $170,000 in the city of potholes to remove the clay roof tiles from the city’s public safety building. What’s wrong with them? Nothing. They work great and will outlast most of us. The problem? They’re too distinctive and in the suburbs, you don’t want to be distinctive. “We don’t have any other Mediterranean-look buildings,” City Administrator Clint Gridley said. City officials want the building to look like all the other buildings in the city.

Which is why this latest TED video is such a joke, it presumes that the suburbs are capable of daring to be different. Still, it’s nice to dream.

5) From the Department of Left Hand, Meet Right Hand: $50 million in stimulus money has been allocated to help homeowners buy solar equipment or other energy-saving devices. At the same time, the two government-chartered agencies that buy and resell most home mortgages are threatening to derail the effort by warning that they might not accept loans for homes that take advantage of the special financing, the New York Times reports.

Bonus: The Timber Twister opens today in Duluth:

Picture of the Day (so far) From time to time, I like to post pictures from Mark Klukow and Mike Kirche’s blog. They’re the Minneapolis cops who ride around giving bike helmets to kids. Here’s today’s featured picture:

June 28, 2010 002.JPG

Find your daily dose of cute here. These guys may have the best job in the Twin Cities.


Some early adopters of the iPhone 4 report reception problems if they hold the phone a certain way. Is it worth it to be among the first to use a new technology?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Conventional wisdom has long held that humans are by nature materialistic and self-interested. But Scholar and writer Jeremy Rifkin argues in his new book that science is forcing us to rethink this notion, and that the growth of human empathy could help solve the problems that confront the world.

Second hour: The FDA will soon hold a public hearing about the safety of Avandia, a widely-used diabetes drug. We’ll talk about how the drug is used, what the alternatives are, and how the health care system is prepared for the millions of Americans who will develop type 2 diabetes in coming years.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: New Minnesota chief justice Lorie Gildea is in studio to answer questions about the court. July 1 is her first day as chief justice.

Second hour: Award-winning author Kate DeCamillo.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: As many states begin the new budget year, July 1 brings painful cuts. Jobs, pensions, police and fire houses, medical and social services, schools and universities are all on the chopping block. The first day of another state budget crisis. In this economy, Is anything safe?

Second hour: Jere Van Dyk walked into the mountains of Pakistan, to write the book about the Taliban, and ended up a captive. He joins Neal Conan and shares his story of being held captive by the Taliban

Trivia answer: Canada is 143 years old today.