The kid and the baseball (5×8 – 7/22/11)

Everything you think you know about kids today may be wrong, shuttle pictures worth oogling, the Red River wins in Moorhead, cigarettes and the Constitution, and landing a plane on a highway.

After 9 days on a ladder, it’s nice to be back at, umm, work. Here’s the result of my time off: A freshly painted near-70-year-old house. A happy mother. A heatwave avoided. Yahtzee!


I know you had a little heatwave and a big shutdown, and the Twins were more plucky than lucky, but to be honest with you, I spent most of my time listening to The Current. It’s better for establishing a painting rhythm than Morning Edition. So let’s see if we can dig up some news you haven’t already read.


If this kid had stabbed a neighbor, he’d lead a newscast. This will never lead a newscast. It probably should. Watch this:

Attaboy, kid.


This is America’s first day out of the human space launch business. Atlantis, as you probably know, landed early yesterday morning. Check this picture (click image for larger version).


It’s the plasma trail of the shuttle as it entered the atmosphere (click image for larger photo).

Here’s every shuttle mission in 8 minutes:


Over the last several years, I’ve followed several families in a Moorhead neighborhood who have battled the Red River each spring. Few have inspired NewsCut readers with his determination more than John Brummer, whom I first met in 2009. John may be the driving force in keeping the Riverview Circle neighborhood fighting against the river (you may recall he organized a neighborhood dinner last February, months ahead of the flood). His uncommon hospitality was matched only by his uncommon gumption.

So it was sad to get an e-mail from John yesterday that he and his wife, Jeanie, have decided to put their names on the list of property owners who wish to be bought out by funds appropriated in the newly-signed bonding bill.

“It’s not the good old neighborhood anymore,” he says. Several houses have already disappeared with a previous round of buyouts.

It turns out that the Red River is beating Riverview Circle. I’ll have more on this in a few weeks.


Out in Worcester, Mass., the Constitution is being tested in a big way. The city has banned any signs for cigarette sales if they’re visible from streets, parks, and schools. The city says it has the right to ban the signs under the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which has received little scrutiny in court.

The city’s attorney tells the Boston Globe

“Actually, this is a relatively mild step,” he said. “We’re not banning smoking or the sale of cigarettes. But we read the federal law to say that when there is a substantial public interest and smoking is very substantial, a city is allowed leeway. We’re not banning advertising just because we don’t like the smell of cigarettes on our clothes. We’re doing it because cigarettes are a fatal product.”

And a legal one.

The ban was motivated by a group of young people who protested the existence of signs advertising cigarettes.

No one, of course, argues that cigarettes can kill you. But Nazis can march in Skokie and be protected by the Constitution. The Westboro Baptist Church can picket soldiers’ funerals and assert their deaths are God’s revenge for America’s tolerance of homosexuals, also under the protection of the Constitution. But in Worcester, you can’t say that Marlboros are going for $5.75 a pack.

Should signs for cigarettes in store windows be banned?


It’s disappointing when you see a respected news organization like NPR ignore the facts in favor of making a good joke. In Montana, a pilot landed on a road when his engine quit. It had run out of fuel. It’s not entirely unusual and it’s not a bad choice; it’s a road, and it’s Montana, not I-35W.

Here’s how NPR spun it this morning…

James Hollis was in the sky over Darby, Montana, when his engine died. The retired air traffic controller skillfully piloted his aircraft downward. He touched down on a highway. His heroic landing was made necessary by a basic oversight: He forgot to put gas in the plane.

Oh, stop it! First, the landing wasn’t “heroic.” The plane doesn’t know the difference between asphalt on a straight stretch of empty highway (you think he first didn’t check to see if there was anyone in danger if he landed?) and asphalt on a runway; pilots are well trained for just such circumstances. Second, he didn’t “forget” to put gas in his airplane. His plane has a tank in each wing and requires the pilot to switch tanks manually. He thought he was drawing fuel from one wing’s tank when, in fact, he was drawing from the other, emptying it.

Facts of news stories shouldn’t be changed for the benefit of a better laugh.

The Washington Post also gives it a shot of undeserved drama:

The two-lane highway is flat in the area where the plane came down, but there are trees on both sides. Hollis also was lucky to avoid power lines in the area, the trooper said.

Lucky? Sure. In the same way Chesley Sullenberger was lucky when he landed his crippled jet in the Hudson River.

Coincidence: It was four years ago today a plane had to land on a highway near Oshkosh:


This weekend marks the first big outdoor stadium concert the Twin Cities has seen in decades, when U2 plays TCF Stadium at the University of Minnesota. Today’s Question: What was the best rock concert you ever attended?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: The debt ceiling debate.

Second hour: Can Murdoch survive the hacking scandal?

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: The same-sex marriage amendment debate in Minnesota.

Second hour: Author Lisa See.

Science Friday (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Remodeling hearts with stem cells.

Second hour: How to take a science vacation.

  • andy

    It’s great to have you back Bob!

  • Greg W.

    That video from the D-Backs game was a great way to start the day. Thank you!

  • lucy

    If you somehow ever rub the mpr powers that be, the wrong way, you could definitely pursue house painting.

    Nicely done Bob!

  • Bob Collins

    Truth be told: I’m in the 20th consecutive year of rubbing the MPR powers that be the wrong way. Though, they’re not the same powers as year 1.

  • Tyler

    My dad always pet the cat backwards. The cat would nip him, walk away, and come back for more.

  • Snyder

    Welcome back, Bob! The house looks great!

    As for the cigarettes question, my first thought was to support the ban, but then I realized it might do more good for people to both see, and for others to see, that they’re paying $5.75 a pack to slowly kill themselves.

  • JackU

    This is America’s first day out of the human space launch business.

    I don’t think this is accurate. There was a period in the late ’70s after Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz that we were out of the human space launch business. It would 4 to 5 years before the Shuttle took it’s first test flights. I think a lot of people forget that we’ve been here before. If there were no plans for a new launch vehicle I’d be more pessimistic.

  • lucy

    //Truth be told: I’m in the 20th consecutive year of rubbing the MPR powers that be the wrong way. Though, they’re not the same powers as year 1.

    Well Bob, your rubbing must be effective if the same ones from the beginning are no longer there. ; )

  • Suzanne

    I love the color of the house. Nice job!