The homeless kid (5×8 – 3/26/13)


There was a time when the idea of homeless 8-year-olds in Minnesota would spark a level of outrage.

Discussion point: Are those days over? Are we too desensitized to homelessness to be able to garner public sentiment to do much about it?


Today’s must-read commentary comes from Chris Bauer of Maple Grove, writing in the Star Tribune about her nephew:

My 19-year-old nephew is staying with me this week while my sister and the rest of her family are on spring break. My sister didn’t want to leave him home alone, but it’s extremely difficult to have him here.

Not for the reasons you might think — like that he’s out partying or being uncooperative. It’s difficult and heartbreaking because Andrew, or what remains of him, is sitting on the mantle in a bronze urn, draped with a rosary that belonged to his grandfather.

The family doesn’t yet know for sure why the young man died, although he had a history of drug use and mental illness. The column paints a painful picture of what can happen even if everyone does everything right and asks for help.


It’s time to face the reality: You’ll be paying for news online if you aren’t now. This week, the San Francisco Chronicle was the latest big-city paper to adopt a pay-for-premium-content on its website. The Washington Post announced it, too, will soon escape behind a paywall.

The New York Times started all of this when it erected a paywall with enough holes in it to get around paying, but in the last few weeks, the Times has been closing the loopholes. This week, it closed another one when it neutered the “NY Clean” bookmarklet that let readers dismiss the “over the limit” messages that blocks Times stories.

It probably didn’t help freeloaders that last month The Atlantic published a lengthy article on how to get around the Times’ paywall with NY Clean.

If you’re keeping score, Fast Company details all the ways the Times has played Whac-A-Loophole.

Related tech: How We’re Turning Digital Natives Into Etiquette Sociopaths (


The story here isn’t that the drought affected corn-cob pipe sales at this company. The story here is that there still are corn-cob pipe sales at this company.5) WHY CAN’T U’S MINORITY STUDENTS GET THEATER OPPORTUNITIES?

The Minnesota Daily looks at the problem facing minority students looking for parts they can play in drama productions. There aren’t many.

“There is no doubt that what is considered by some people the traditional canon of theater in America is, at times, greatly lacking diversity at many levels,” Carl Flink, chair of the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance, says.

Bonus I: Might you want to get your head shaved? Children’s Hospitals is holding a fundraiser next month for St. Baldrick’s Foundation:

Head-shaving for a cure for childhood cancer from Children's of Minnesota on Vimeo.

(H/T: Julia Schrenkler)

Bonus II: Isle Royale wolves may have stopped reproducing. (Associated Press)

Bonus III: New poll shows a lot of people who wanted strict gun control after Newtown have now changed their minds (CBS)


The University of Minnesota fired men’s basketball coach Tubby Smith after he led the team to a better record than his recent predecessors. He will be given a buyout of more than $2.5 million. Today’s Question: Do you agree with the decision to fire Tubby Smith?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: The impact of nurses being allowed to set up primary-care practices.

Second hour: Redesigning the classroom.

Third hour: St. Paul mayor Chris Coleman.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, speaking at the Commonwealth Club about her new book “Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War.”

Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – Amid the debate on gun violence, some epidemiology: If you’re white and died by gunfire you likely lived in a rural area, opposed strict gun control and committed suicide. If you’re black and died by the gun, you were likely shot by someone else, lived in an urban area and supported gun control. On this segment: race, gun deaths, and gun policy.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – On farms, grain bins can be dangerous places. They claim the lives of 16 workers each year, on average. Despite tougher safety rules, the death tolls have remained steady as some employers flout the law. NPR will have the story.

  • Robert Moffitt

    1) It seems the answer is “no”

    4) When I still smoked, I had one of those. But of course, I’m from Indiana…

    5) Wasn’t the U heard of “colorblind casting?”

    Bonus II: Maybe they heard about wolf trapping being legal in Minnesota, and it’s a protest. Technically, they are Michigan wolves, and they are protected from hunters as long as they stay where they are. Not that they have a lot of options.

    Bonus III: A lot of people don’t have a clue.

  • Bonnie Wilcox

    I fear that in times of crisis, our culture turns inward, insulating itself from the needs and challenges of others. This is such a time. Fearful for our own retirement needs, worried about job stability, we become more self-centered. Homelessness becomes less visible because we are not looking beyond ourselves.

  • Bob Collins

    // Wasn’t the U heard of “colorblind casting?

    Addressed in the Daily’s article.

  • Matt B

    Regarding number 1, a number of my friends, no matter how good of people they are, have it in their heads that its people looking for a free ride or that spent well beyond their means. There seems to be a lack of empathy or understanding that it’s pretty easy to end up in a situation not of your own making that can cause you to lose a house and end up in a shelter.

    Based on that view point, and the ease that you can take the human face off a problem, I can see how people wouldn’t try to tackle homelessness. It’s stories like this that give it a face, a name, and a voice that will help make people angry again and willing to do something.

  • Robert Moffitt

    So the education director at Penumbra doesn’t believe in colorblind casing, eh? If that’s Penumba’s thing, then fine. What does that have to do with plays at the U?

    The 1993 film version of “Much Ado about Nothing” is a good example of cb casting that works. Denzel Washington as Don Pedro? Keanu as his evil half-brother? It’s a little odd at first, but the actors make it work.

  • MN 123

    As to the homeless video: The most striking part of the video is that this beautiful, smart young child without a home does not think she is homeless. The first reaction to the video is sadness. I think that there is a sense of hopelessness at changing anything for her overtakes any sense of anger. “What can we do about it?” rather than “Let’s do something about this!”

    I truly fear for our society and the seemingly pervasive sense of anger at the person rather than the system which puts a person in the bad situation. Our society does not value children-and they will become adults who know that they are not valued members of society. What happens then?