How to become an Occupy icon (5×8 – 11/21/11)

The Pike meme, hard times on Easy Street, the Runestone debate, the look on your face suggests you think this is odd, and Aerosmith on the Vikings

A three-day work week? Yes, please! Who wants to start it with the Rouser:


It’s unlikely John Pike got up Friday with the idea of becoming the new face of evil.

Meet John Pike:


James Fallows at The Atlantic suggests this episode at an Occupy protest at the University of California Davis is an image of an entire movement:

You don’t have to idealize everything about them or the Occupy movement to recognize this as a moral drama that the protestors clearly won. The self-control they show, while being assaulted, reminds me of grainy TV footage I saw as a kid, of black civil rights protestors being fire-hosed by Bull Connor’s policemen in Alabama. Or of course the Tank Man in Tiananmen Square. Such images can have tremendous, lasting power.

Alexis Madrigal, editor of The Atlantic, asks, “What kind of person could do this?”:

Structures, in the sociological sense, constrain human agency. And for that reason, I see John Pike as a casualty of the system, too. Our police forces have enshrined a paradigm of protest policing that turns local cops into paramilitary forces. Let’s not pretend that Pike is an independent bad actor. Too many incidents around the country attest to the widespread deployment of these tactics. If we vilify Pike, we let the institutions off way too easy.

… and he didn’t become a cop to shoot history majors with pepper spray. But the current policing paradigm requires that students get shot in the eyes with a chemical weapon if they resist, however peaceably. Someone has to do it.

The Internet now is rich with the John Pike meme…


(Mike McGinn)


(PJ Seleska)




The cops involved in the pepper-spraying have been placed on leave. The head of the California university system — former University of Minnesota president Mark Yudof — says he’s “appalled by the incident.

You know what’s more effective than yelling and chanting? Saying nothing. Check out this protest against the chancellor of the university, Linda Katehi, as she left a news conference on Friday.

Back in flyover country, Occupy protesters in Minneapolis occupied another home that is being foreclosed upon. City Pages has the story of Sara Kaiser, the homeowner. One theme continues to resonate through the housing crisis: Banks doing little to work with homeowners to stave off crisis. It remains the single biggest mystery, as it has since 2008: How is an abandoned, boarded-up home a more valuable asset to a bank?


The people who contributed to food shelves, are now depending on food shelves. The census bureau says 1 in 3 live near poverty. One big bill, one health problem, and, voila! You’re poor.

In Warroad, there’ll be no bonus checks for the third consecutive year at Marvin Windows, the Fargo Forum reports. But there won’t be any layoffs at the company’s 10 plants, either.

“We say people are our greatest assets, so why would we cut our greatest assets? Having no layoffs has been an even more powerful strategy than we thought it would,” Marvin said.

“When you don’t have layoffs, you don’t devastate company morale or the community. So we’ve been able to keep the quality of the product and service at a high level. This strategy worked because we had a workforce working as a team, with everybody willing to give something to ensure that the person working next to them had a paycheck and health care benefit,” she said.


The Kensington Runestone debate flared again briefly last week when one researcher said he’s deciphered what he says is a code that shows it was a practical joke by the farmer who found it on his Douglas County property. Now, the other side. Minnesota Monthly profiles Scott Wolter, the geologist who has become the defender of the runestone as proof the Scandinavians were here 130 years before Columbus. Unfortunately, there’s only a small sliver of the profile on MM’s website.

PZ Myers thinks the report of a code deciphered is as silly as the idea that the stone is legit, noting the scholar deciphered the “code” by reading from the left:

Uh, why? What if you counted from the left on even lines and from the right on odd lines? What if you counted characters up from the bottom, or whatever other random number-juggling you could do. This reeks of post-hoc fitting of an interpretation to the data set, and I don’t believe a word of it.

Rats. We’re going to have to keep on rolling our eyes at the silliness in that little museum to the north, I guess.



Ted Glover, who writes the Daily Norseman, is off the bandwagon. But you have to like sportswriting that can work Aerosmith into the coverage:

Coming into the 2011 season, I thought the Vikings were a legitimate 8-8 team, and with some good quarterback play and a couple lucky breaks, they might push for a wildcard spot in the playoffs.

I am a dope.

We saw, yet again, a combination of stupid penalties, inopportune defensive breakdowns, and horrid turnovers that resulted in the Vikings dropping their 8th game in 10 contests, this time to the Oakland Raiders. In other words, the exact same things we’ve seen replayed themselves…yet again…and the Vikings were on the short end of the stick.

At least somebody got something out of the afternoon…

Bonus: Organizers of the Boring Conference were worried their program would be too interesting. They had promoted an Interesting Conference last year, but they had to cancel it because of low ticket sales. But tickets to the Boring Conference sold out. There’s a lesson here, we just don’t know for sure what it is.


Births declined in the United States in 2010 for the third straight year. Population experts suggest that the poor economy may be a factor, and that prospective parents may be waiting for better times. Today’s Question: Has the troubled economy led you to delay any major life changes?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: In the face of a bad economy and budget constraints, towns and cities throughout Minnesota are evaluating how much money to spend and what to spend it on. Midmorning looks at some of the choices communities are making, and what it means for their future.

Second hour: Farms and global hunger.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Former Minnesota Congressman Tim Penny, co-chair of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

Second hour: Live broadcast from the National Press Club, featuring the Postmaster General.

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

Second hour: Our instincts about what a sexual predator looks like, in many cases, prove wrong. Why?

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – The Target employee who started a petition drive protesting Target’s midnight opening on Thanksgiving delivers his bounty to company headquarters in Minneapolis. MPR’s Martin Moylan is covering the story.

A conversation with Nissan’s CEO about the future of this next generation of car technology With the government providing tax breaks to buy electric cars, more of those vehicles are expected to begin showing up in people’s garages.