Why do we live here again? (5×8 – 1/27/14)

The Monday Morning Rouser (caution, obscenity near the end):

(h/t: Elaine Love)

1) THE FRAGILE FLATLAND
Times like these are a good chance to consider how fragile our comfortable existence really is. The news yesterday, for example, that people in northwest Minnesota had to lower their thermostats to 60 to conserve natural gas is just one example. A natural gas pipeline exploded near Winnipeg. We take the infrastructure that provides our utilities for granted until they fail.

It’s not just natural gas, of course. The cost of propane has gone through the roof if you can find it.

It’s difficult to get away from our dependence. Even if we heated with wood, we’d be looking out the window right now, comparing the forecast to the amount of wood that’s left. Few people are going to have enough.

No matter what you use to heat, it’s going to cost you a fortune, Time.com says.

And there are the highways, which closed down on Sunday afternoon because of the blizzard conditions. TV stations took to the roadways that state officials told us to stay off of, in order to tell us we should stay off the roads. But we couldn’t listen because … why is it we don’t listen?

People were more than willing to risk not only their own lives, but those of first responders because they simply had to get to their mostly-irrelevant destinations, considering the conditions.

Jeremy Messersmith posted this Vine. He’s heading to Missouri on a show tour.

Blizzards are nothing to sneeze at and anyone who’s ever traveled the flatland should know that.

Consider this incredible picture, taken by Bonnie Hofer of Hendricks, Minn., and sent on by Steve Hemmingsen.

Courtesy of Bonnie Hofer

“I took these standing in my doorway,” she wrote. “The kids are about 20 feet from me. It must be bad out if our sheltered yard is like this. The kids are having fun, but I told them not to go any further out.”

The conditions led to many schools to cancel classes for today, and probably tomorrow, too. Everyone saw this coming, so why did some larger districts wait so long, WCCO’s Esme Murphy asked on her blog.

In Minneapolis, high school students who live less than two miles away have to walk, take public transportation or get a ride. All of this is so much easier and safer to plan for when the call is made sooner rather than later. Parents in South St. Paul got calls at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday that school would be closed the next day. How do you get day care at 10:30 p.m.?

On her Facebook page, Osseo school superintendent Kate Maguire outlined the number of factors involved.

Besides student safety, some of the factors we consider include mechanical concerns with buses and facilities, the ability of staff to get to work, and consistency with neighboring districts.

Meanwhile, Minnesota will today announce its bid to host a Super Bowl. What could go wrong having the premiere world sporting event of January in a place where highways and schools close, we run out of heating fuel, and the temperature hits 25 below zero?

Oh, and have we mentioned there’s really not much an economic boost to hosting a Super Bowl?

We don’t even want to be here right now? Why would anyone else?

And yet, it’s all kind of pretty.

2) KLUWE GOES NUCLEAR
Over the weekend, former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, who earlier said he didn’t want to name former teammates, revealed who else witnessed what he says were homophobic rants by one of the team’s coaches: it was kicker Blair Walsh, who now is put in a difficult position to narc on his boss.

According to the Pioneer Press:

In a five-hour meeting Friday with investigators, Halunen said Kluwe identified Walsh and long snapper Cullen Loeffler as witnesses to Priefer allegedly making homophobic comments numerous times during the 2012 season in meetings with the punter, kicker and long snapper, and that Pico was told about it after the fact. Halunen noted that Kluwe told investigators he is willing to take a polygraph test.

Walsh issued a statement through the Vikings on Jan. 2 in defense of Priefer. But Halunen said Kluwe retained text messages in which Walsh referenced what Priefer allegedly said, including a text related to Priefer allegedly saying, “We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows.”

This will, naturally, ratchet up the daily angst in Vikings Nation. K.J. Segall of Daily Norseman kicks it off:

Look, I really like Chris Kluwe. I think he’s smart and funny, I liked his book, I did support his public stances. I was still planning on getting a stinking punter’s jersey because of all that- but I don’t think I can support all of this.

The truth is if Mike Priefer said what he said then yes, some sort of action should be taken. Any coach that personally belittles a player in such a public and ruthless manner needs to at minimum be strongly disciplined, and I wouldn’t be opposed to his release.

I don’t really care where you stand on same-sex issues; the point of the matter is that it boils down to Priefer bullying a player because he didn’t agree with certain views. I don’t care if you’re a player’s coach or a hardass, that’s never acceptable, and it will cause issues sooner or later in the locker room.

All that said, I feel Kluwe is going too far here. First off, switching from “I’m not naming names to respect others” to “I don’t like what they said so here are their names” comes across as something of a tantrum to me.

If Kluwe took personal issue with what Walsh said, then hash it out behind closed doors. Cut off the friendship, give him an angry phone call at 1 in the morning. Do what you have to do but c’mon, threatening to take him to court to put him under oath? And again, after claiming you wouldn’t even publicly say names?

And I again don’t know why Loeffler’s name got thrown out- maybe something happened we never heard about, but it seemed like those guys were BFFs, so how you end up publicly dragging him into this (with the same court room threat), that just seems… odd? Not sure what the right word is.

Help Segall out here. What’s the right word, people?

3) SHOULD SCHOOLS HOST CHURCH SERVICES?
In my neck of the woods — Woodbury — the school system rents out schools to churches on the weekends. The massive Eagle Brook megachurch turns the East Ridge High School into its campus on Saturdays and Sundays. And several of the evangelical churches that line the southern part of the city, got their start in a school building.

Should this be illegal, Slate asks while supplying its own answer. “When the public enters the school to attend the church, they can’t help but associate the two,” it says.

It’s a complex situation when teenagers are asked to publicly accept Christ in the very same room where they watch safety assemblies and choir concerts. In school, students study truths—the seemingly unchanging facts of science, math, grammar, and history.

In church, though, people study Truths. If capitalizing the first letter is perhaps insufficient to mark such a monumental change in meaning, then likewise a change in day of the week is too slight to mark such a monumental change in a building’s function. Instead of shifting seamlessly from school to church and back, the building broadens to encompass both, with jagged and blurry distinctions, only visible in certain lights.

A school is a vibrant and complicated space that’s constantly changing. One week, there’s a student-body election and mock political flyers paper the walls. Later in the year, it’s spirit week and everyone is wearing inaccurate ’80s attire.

Entering the school at either time, you’d find a unique space, a unique energy. And when dozens of newly baptized teenagers return to school on Monday ready to fulfill Elevation’s mission of “reaching people far from God [to] be raised to life in Christ,” the school is new again, entirely.

More religion: Atheist for a year: Pastor Ryan Bell explores life outside Seventh-day Adventist beliefs.

4) NPR LOOKS AT THE OIL BOOM
NPR this week is dedicating plenty of programming to the oil boom in North Dakota, which has been documented in these parts for years now. It will likely be fascinating listening (and reading), but would it have gotten more attention if it were occurring closer to media capitals?


Related: Wildlife Officals Tackling Dwindling Population Near Oil Patch (KVRR Fox Fargo Moorhead).

5) THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HOPE AND NO HOPE IS ONE PERSON WHO CARES
At North High in Des Moines, Iowa, the basketball team is having its best start in years, thanks to a coach who helps them get to school, gets them meals, and takes care of the needs they’d otherwise do without. Eighty-five percent of students at the school qualify for free or reduced lunches, a measure of the poverty there.

“Basketball has saved me,” said one member of the team, which includes a young man from Minneapolis.

It’s been two weeks since the story appeared in the Des Moines Register. Over $30,000 has been donated since then.

One letter came from a man who lived through the Depression and World War II. Another lamented about two grandchildren who liked basketball but failed to run into coaches like Ryan, Morgan Wheat or Taylor Phipps — and fell into drug dependency.

A 99-year-old woman who graduated from North High walked into the school unannounced, found Ryan and handed him $100. Another person walked in with a McDonald’s receipt for 20 hamburgers, explaining that he’d brokered a deal with a nearby store to honor the slip of paper when someone from North returned.

The student council at Ankeny Centennial High School then became the biggest contributor with a check for $1,200. (And a smidge of breaking news: The boys’ and girls’ basketball teams at crosstown Ankeny High School are supposed to arrive soon with a check for $1,700 and gift boxes with Gatorade, beef sticks and other goodies to be shared among the Polar Bear basketball teams.)

Bonus: “On a tiny scrap of island near our home stands a battered cabin, long abandoned,” Leif Enger of Aitkin County writes, introducing his latest film. “Who built it, and why they went away, are mysteries. Every winter I ski out there – to look for clues, and to pay respect to the beauty and fleeting nature of dreams.”

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: The national debate about government surveillance and privacy comes to Minnesota on Tuesday when DFL State Rep. John Lesch holds a hearing on state and local law enforcement’s collection, use and retention of people’s personal data. How much privacy are Minnesotans willing to give up in the name of public safety? And how can we be assured our data is being safe-guarded and not misused?

Second hour: Duluth schools are considering implementing a testing program despite a recent national study that shows testing to be ineffective Guest Dan Romer, who co-authored the study, says, “Drug testing doesn’t really work.”

Third hour: Clive Thompson, author of “Smarter Than you Think: How Technology is Changing our Minds for the Better.”

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm) – A preview and audio highlights of nine speakers who are coming to the MPR News Top Coast Festival, presented by the University of Minnesota College of Continuing Education.

The Takeaway (1-2 p.m.) – The latest on the political crisis in Ukraine.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Art can imitate life. And computer animation can imitate the news. As a matter of fact, a Taiwan-based company has made a full-time business out of animated re-enactments of the days stories. Not many people take it seriously, but the company is looking to change that. NPR reports on the animation studio trying to chart the future of news.

Chester Bowl is a 117-acre, community-operated park in Duluth. It’s a community gathering spot year around with a long history of supporting seasonal sports based on private support. It’s also a hot spot for teaching kids to ski. MPR’s Dan Olson is scheduled to tell the story.