Five by 8 – 7/2/10: Former Gopher now living in desperate times

1) A bunch of marginal NBA players became big-time millionaires yesterday on the first day of the free-agency period. The Timberwolves signed two centers who they feel can continue the honored tradition of Stanley Roberts and Cherokee Parks.

But then there’s former University of Minnesota player Ray Williams, now 55. The Boston Globe reveals the sorry state of life after basketball.

Williams has needed help since he went from owning fine cars and comfortable homes — one for his mother in his hometown of Mount Vernon, N.Y., another for his family in Englewood Cliffs, N.J. — to seeking bankruptcy protection in 1994. No longer able to sustain his NBA lifestyle, he worked for a couple of years as a substitute teacher. He also delivered mail and tended bar, but he had trouble holding the jobs partly because he had spent his life training for little else but playing basketball.

He got a little help from a fund financed by contributions by NBA players. He got $2,000, or about the amount Timberwolves center Darko Milicic will make every 30 minutes (based on a 40-hour work week) under the contract he agreed to yesterday.

2) The Kagan hearings are over. The streak is alive. You’ve probably seen this clip of Sen. Amy Klobuchar, DFL-Minn., strangely invoking the “Twilight” movie at the beginning of her questioning of the Supreme Court nominee.

It’s an attempt, of course, to show that senators and Supreme Court nominees are just like “normal” people, even though they’re not.

But what is it about Minnesota senators and Supreme Court nominees? Let’s hit the Wayback Machine. At Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination hearings, Sen. Al Franken, DFL-Minn., also went all popular culture.

What did we learn about the new Supreme Court justice over the course of three days. She’s got excellent comedic timing.3) Ryan Air, the no-frills airline, is considering selling standing-room-only airline tickets, according to the Guardian.

The airline is going to start testing “vertical seats,” which allow inmates passengers to be seat-belted to a seat standing up. It may be time to bring back a thread here on your worst airline experiences.

Airline? Who needs an airline? The FAA has given the OK for the Terrafugia — the flying car — to be certified under the agency’s “light sport” category. That means you can fly it — or is it, drive it? — solo with as few as 20 hours of instruction.

4) The media has — mostly — moved on from Wadena, ravaged by a tornado a few weeks ago. But last night the students in the city found out what their educational future will be. They found out it may be two years before they get back into their school. At a pep rally, the Brainerd Dispatch reports, we got an idea just how complicated taking a school away from a town can be:

As for lunch, the decision has yet to be made whether student would eat at M State or eat in shifts at the elementary school. A woman wondered about her graduating senior’s transcripts. All safely stored in accessible computers, school officials reported.

Students wondered about the future of classes such as physical education courses. The school is still looking into a proper location for a weight room. But officials said the plan is to offer all the programs the school provided before the tornado struck while noting there is a lot to do before Sept. 7.

Band and choir trips are going forward as is the behind-the-wheel instruction, although the driving course may be delayed a couple weeks as they are seeking a vehicle.

It could be worse. In Chicago, 258 students were shot in the recently completed school year, the New York Times reports.

“Have you ever been shot?” the student, a high school senior, asked. When Ms. Tinajero replied no, he looked genuinely amazed and said, “Wow, almost everybody I know’s been shot.” Later, he ticked off a list of his own bullet wounds: upper thigh, left hand, scalp.

“I should have been dead already,” he said.

That’s Chicago’s version of test score results. If you’re still alive at the end of the school year, you’ve met standards. (h/t: Vince Tuss)

5) The city of Canby, Minnesota had a celebration for dentist Ziad Tedini on Flag Day. He became a U.S. citizen that day,

“It means a lot for me. I love this country a lot,” he said. “I love Lebanon and appreciate Lebanon, but there is something unique about the United States.” (Marshall Independent)

And that provides today’s — and this holiday weekend’s — discussion point. What is it that’s unique?


News that authorities were searching a farm near the scene of Jacob Wetterling’s abduction has generated intense interest among the media and the public. Why do we find the Jacob Wetterling story so compelling?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Stimulus vs. deficit. President Obama has been touring the country this week to tout his economic plan. While he makes the case for more stimulus spending, world leaders at last weekend’s G-20 summit pledged to halve their government spending to avoid the fate of Greece. Can Obama fix the economy while reducing the deficit?

Second hour: Three life decisions that couples have to make. 1. How they will work together on money as a couple– in their daily couple life? 2. What happens if their relationship ends? 3. What happens when the first one of them dies? Financial planner Ruth Hayden is the guest.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Education Commissioner Alice Seagren will answer questions about the latest school test results in math and reading.

Second hour: David Rubenstein, speaking at the Aspen Ideas Festival about the Declaration of Independence. How it was written and why it is central to American life.

Science Friday (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: A new look at the sun and how scientists track the activity of our closest star.

Second hour: A discussion on longevity and new research that reveals the genes shared by many centenarians.

  • Tyler

    Bob, thanks for posting the Declaration of Independence piece. I caught that on the radio during the drive to work, and it makes me think that we should read and hear these founding documents more than once a year. Good stuff.

  • Kim E

    More praise! Thanks, Bob, for the article on the mentor program for at-risk teens in Chicago. Very neat.