People power (5X8 – 12/23/10)

When people do good, the power of Twitter, a letter from the Metrodome, what a car crash looks like, and behind the scenes at Talk of the Nation.


If memory serves, we’ve never had a reaction to a story like the one we had about Sean Simonson, the St. Louis Park teenager who wrote the commentary, “Life as a Gay Teenager” for his student newspaper a few months ago. Anonymous comments attached to the school newspaper Web site caused his school, Benilde-St. Margaret’s, to delete the commentary from its Web site.

MPR’s Sasha Aslanian revisited Simonson, who found he was far more accepted as a person than he may have realized.

And he found he had even more friends than he thought he did. In early December, he was elected Grand Knight, the equivalent of the prom king, for Benilde-St. Margaret’s winter formal.

“It was almost surprising to hear my name called, that I was a candidate even,” he said.

And the student suddenly famous for coming out as gay invited a girl to the dance.

The kid’s got guts. So do Mary Johnson, Carolyn Green, and Oshea Israel, who will break bread together over the holiday, the Star Tribune reports in a fine piece of work today. Israel killed Johnson’s son in 1993.

More? Sure. Winona Welle, 11, saved her money for months to buy an e-reader. She gave it to the Salvation Army instead.


Research out today says Twitter can be used to predict the stock market.

We analyze the text content of daily Twitter feeds by two mood tracking tools, namely OpinionFinder that measures positive vs. negative mood and Google-Profile of Mood States (GPOMS) that measures mood in terms of 6 dimensions (Calm, Alert, Sure, Vital, Kind, and Happy). We cross-validate the resulting mood time series by comparing their ability to detect the public’s response to the presidential election and Thanksgiving day in 2008. A Granger causality analysis and a Self-Organizing Fuzzy Neural Network are then used to investigate the hypothesis that public mood states, as measured by the OpinionFinder and GPOMS mood time series, are predictive of changes in DJIA closing values. Our results indicate that the accuracy of DJIA predictions can be significantly improved by the inclusion of specific public mood dimensions but not others.

Right. Whatever. What it means is that 87% of the time, the analysis of Twitter correctly predicted the stock market.

It can also be used to predict the outcome of basketball games, my research concludes:



Unless you’re on its Christmas card list, you probably didn’t get the annual holiday letter from the Metrodome.

Now you’re probably thinking to yourselves, “What about the Twins? The Twins have been at the Dome for years — surely she must miss the Twins and all of their fans?” I was surprised! I didn’t miss them a bit! Opening Day was a little weird, sure, but I kind of liked the quiet — plus, it’s nice to fall asleep not smelling like Dome Dogs. They don’t have Dome Dogs anymore at the new stadium. Ridiculous. I can’t begrudge the Twins for running to that tarted up little slut of a stadium (basically me, but thirty years younger — and topless. Do you believe that? Slut!)

And this has nothing to do with the Dome, but it’s cool:


This isn’t a PSA, but it could be. Brazilian artist and student Uirá L’Amour put together this video as a graduation thesis. (h/t: Ad Freak)

Time Warp Project from uiralamour on Vimeo.


Every now and then, one of the producers of an MPR talk show recounts a caller who didn’t get on the air, and who spared no adjectives to describe the producer. It’s one of the behind-the-scenes details of running a talk show at a public radio station. NPR’s ombudsman, Alicia Shepard, has put together a pretty nifty audio slideshow of the network’s Talk of the Nation.


Minnesota and surrounding states have among the highest rates of drunk driving in the nation, according to a recent survey. When a friend is about to drive drunk, what do you do about it?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Nationwide, more than 63 million people volunteered in their community last year, and Minneapolis and St. Paul had the highest rates of volunteer service in the country. Midmorning looks at what makes people volunteer.

Second hour: A photographer and essayist, who are also seasoned outdoorsmen, explore the Quetico- Boundary Waters in a new book

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Former U.S. senator David Durenberger reviews the year’s achievements in health care reform.

Second hour: Award-winning author Kate DiCamillo, speaking at the Club Book series.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: What’s the movie party you really want to attend?

Second hour: Behavior profiling and the TSA.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – An effort is underway to obtain a congressional pardon for a Dakota Indian wrongly executed after the 1862 Dakota Conflict. It may have been a simple name mix up which lead to the hanging. Some though think Chaska was executed as revenge for his alleged affair with a white woman. MPR’s Mark Steil will have the story.

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