Don’t insult someone holding a knitting needle (5×8 – 6/22/12)

Knitting an Olympic-sized controversy, not everything of value has a price tag, Kenny Markiewicz’ wild ride, the dark side of the bus monitor story, and the faces behind the flag.


The Olympics are weeks away and that usually means hamhanded attempts by the Olympic cabal to protect its trademark. But knitters?

“As a member of the Ravelry community I am compelled to voice my support for the Ravelympics, and affirm the positive intention of the organizers in support of the Olympics,” Kjersti Campbell of Saint Paul writes today.

Ravelry is a knitting and crotchet community which is holding the Ravelympics. Knitters compete in their events while watching the Olympics. But the United States Olympic Organizing Committee sent a cease-and-desist letter to the group, saying using “ympics” denigrates the Olympic brand. And it could be confusing, because most Americans can’t differentiate between Olympics and Ravelympics.

You have to go to law school and graduate with a mountain of debt to be able to make a point like this:

The USOC is responsible for preserving the Olympic Movement and its ideals within the United States. Part of that responsibility is to ensure that Olympic trademarks, imagery and terminology are protected and given the appropriate respect. We believe using the name “Ravelympics” for a competition that involves an afghan marathon, scarf hockey and sweater triathlon, among others, tends to denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games. In a sense, it is disrespectful to our country’s finest athletes and fails to recognize or appreciate their hard work.

Thanks to social media, that sort of accusation zipped around the knitting community this week, flooding the USOC Facebook page with protests.

The USOC apologized…

A spokesperson for the USOC said, however, that the letter (quoted above) was a “standard boilerplate cease-and-desist” letter, and it didn’t mean to insult the knitting and crochet community.

Too late, it’s really mad now…

This letter was sent to a very large community of crafters, trivializing our art, culture, and work. It was sent by someone who went out of their way to create an account on a members-only website, hunt down lists of infringing patterns (and projects – personal, not-for-sale projects that people shared photos of and made NO profit from), and glance through a forum regarding an event organized by said community. This person took the time to find links, and gather names of events from our event, but failed to do any more research into why we hold it, or what it takes to “compete.” They failed to consider the time, expertise, energy, thought, and creativity that goes into every project that we do in support of our teams, and of the Olympic games. Ravelympics is NOT a silly little competition where we run around with crocheted blankets tied around our necks, pretending to be athletes. It is a real test of endurance and skill. Consider a typical adult sweater. Do you have any idea how many tens, or even hundreds, of thousands of stitches go into one? Not to mention the mathematical calculations, design process, etc. It can take people years to complete a single sweater. In the Ravelympics, we’re challenged to complete one in a matter of weeks. Can you imagine how much dedication that takes? Have you ever had to ice your FINGERS because they were stiff and swollen from trying to meet an insanely short deadline?

Kjersti Campbell, by the way, is entered in the “mitten medley” event.


Emily White’s column for NPR in which she acknowledges the lack of money exchanging hands in building her music library, certainly struck as big a chord on NewsCut as it did in hundreds of other locations across the Intertubes this week.

Now, local musicians are checking in on The Current’s music blog. Jeremy Messersmith says he doesn’t see much wrong with obtaining a music library without paying for it…

“Loaning a friend a book or film isn’t morally wrong in and of itself. Making mixtapes for someone is still an incredibly meaningful and personal gesture. So I don’t think we’re dealing with a moral absolute here. People have consumed music and other forms of art without paying directly for it for years. In fact, we even built places where people can engage in this kind of free information exchange. They’re called libraries. They work kind of like an analog internet, but with librarians working as your search engine.”

It’s a must read on the subject.


“I hate that ride.”

That’s the conclusion of Kenny Markiewicz, 8, who is the young boy who was playing in a puddle in Duluth Proctor earlier this week when he was sucked into a culvert in the developing flood in the city.

He and his family talked to the Duluth News Tribune

Through tears, Markiewicz characterized her son’s survival as a “miracle.”

“This could have ended in a much different … just saying to other parents, even if it looks like the water is calm — it could be just a puddle on the side of the road — you don’t know what’s under there,” she said.

The Markiewicz family, who live in Lake Charles, La., were on vacation staying with family. Markiewicz, a northern Wisconsin native, said she had endured such rain, having lived in hurricane country for 23 years. But she wasn’t prepared for the number of people who rushed to her son’s aid.

“The community here, the people, the prayers, people going above and beyond, the man who found my son — there are no words,” she said. “I don’t know where they came from, but people were jumping in the water. These people are amazing. This restores my faith.”

Attention today is shifting to Moose Lake.

Moose Lake is well cut off from the rest of the the world. The people are mostly on their own...

Robert Bly’s Moose Lake cabin, where some of his original work is stored, is reportedly under six feet of water.

MPR’s Statewide blog has pictures.

And on his blog, Eclectic Travelers, today, Mike Link documents the trials on the Willow and Kettle Rivers.


Karen Klein, the school bus monitor who was verbally assaulted by 13-year-olds on a bus, is turning her attention to her tormenters. The dark side of the Internet campaign to call attention to the incident has brought threats against the kids. That, she says, isn’t right.

Even kids who were on the bus who didn’t take part in the assault are being swept into the online controversy, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reports.

Theresa Warren said since her son — who doesn’t even ride bus No. 784 — was falsely accused Wednesday in online postings, he’s been harassed incessantly on Facebook and received death threats. And, she’s been hounded by strangers calling her workplace telling her employer she should be fired for being such a bad parent.

“This is going too far,” she said. “This is no better than the kids who did that on the bus.”

CBS reports today the parents of the kids are coming forward…

Early Thursday evening one of the boys’ fathers came to apologize and assure her his son would be punished. The father, Robert Helm, said, “There’s not excuse. And we’re going to get to the bottom of that, but it really broke my heart and I shed a lot of tears thinking about that whole thing and I just want you to know that my family, all of us, are deeply saddened by this whole thing and we’re going to get it right.”

And Klein ended the conversation with the father, alluding to threats the families have been getting. She said, “But you’ll be OK, right?”

Meanwhile, a fundraising campaign for Ms. Klein has raised close to $500,000 for her.


Can one person make a difference? A documentary explores the question and answers it pretty quickly.

GIVE ME YOUR HUNGRY from Delicious Filmworks on Vimeo.

Bonus I: Every time I looked out the window of my cubicle, I saw the flag at half staff this week and, perhaps like you, wondered “why?” So I taped the answer up on the window.

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On an online guestbook for Kedith Jacobs, a person from St. Charles, MN., wrote:

Kedith was black and I am white, he was young and I am middle aged, he served and I did not, he’s a father and I am not, he’s a hero and I’m just another American.

Bonus II: A reader has sent along details of a benefit for the family of a Hennepin County jail worker. Brad Bernston died 10 weeks after being bitten by an HIV-positive man who was being held at the jail. Bernston was only 50. Here’s the details of the benefit.

Bonus III: A few months ago, a young New York Giants fan sent his favorite player $3.36 because he’d heard the team might not be able to afford to keep him. Brandon Jacobs has since moved on to the San Francisco 49ers and was in New York this week to pack up, and stopped by the six-year-old’s house to take him on a play date with his own son.



Duluth tourism officials say the city continues to welcome visitors, even as the mayor estimates that infrastructure damage from this week’s storm and flood could reach $80 million. Today’s Question: Does this week’s flooding in Duluth change your plans for the summer?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Restoring compassionate thinking and action.

Second hour: Did Jesus exist?

Third hour: Financial advice with Ruth Hayden.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): TBA

Science Friday(1-2 p.m.) – Voyager 1 is about to cross into uncharted territory: interstellar space. The show looks at what the space probe may find in the great beyond.