Twenty-six acts of kindness (5X8 – 12/19/12)

Social media for good, the gun business booms, a kid named Julio,stick a fork in pro hockey, and the chemistry of a snowflake


As written on 5×8 yesterday, social media came in for a deserved share of criticism in the moments following news of the shooting in Connecticut.

Now this defense of social media: Anny Curry, the former Today Show host, recommended people do 20 acts of kindness in response. The Twitterverse got ahold of the idea, upped it to 26 and created the #26acts hashtag to spread the word.

It worked.

(h/t: Suzanne Guertin)


Mass murder and the subsequent debate over gun control is good for the gun business. It’s not entirely surprising. The election — and then re-election — of President Obama spurred gun sales amid fear he’d propose gun control legislation. Now, the Star Tribune reports, there’s been a sharp uptick in the number of people in some metro Minnesota counties seeking gun permits.

The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, though, says the number of requests for background checks this week is actually behind the number the week before the Connecticut shootings. But an Anoka County official says that’s probably because clerks in the counties are too busy handling the permit requests to submit the paperwork for background checks.

A similar pattern is being reported in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.

In its editorial today, the Duluth News Tribune takes a “do something” stand…

What about arming teachers, as suggested elsewhere on today’s page? Why stop there? How about ushers at movie theaters? Clergy? Ticket-takers at the ballgame? Waitresses at the steakhouse? Sounds a bit crazy, and it is hard to imagine how adding more guns could result in less gun violence. Isn’t that like adding sugar and expecting sour lemonade? But at this point — with Newtown’s schoolchildren still being buried and mourned — should any idea be off the table?


Kathryn Draeger, the University of Minnesota professor who writes the blog, Resettling Big Stone County Minnesota, was driving home from Saint Paul last week when she stopped at a small grocery store in Kerkhoven, MN.

A farmer was selling squash inside but when she went to check out, she was $1 short for the locally-grown food, which had to be paid for separately. That’s when Julio stepped in by stepping up.

I turned to look at the young teenage boy in a hoodie buying his Mt. Dew and Doritos. “Really?” I asked him. Here I am – a stranger, a middle class, Scandanavian looking woman in my professional attire– and this boy was stepping up to buy my family our healthy, local food. I paused- wondering whether accepting this boy’s money was the right thing to do. I mean, should I take money from this young guy? Maybe his family needs that food money more than mine.

“Thank you. I would really appreciate that” I said and he handed his money over to the cashier to pay for my food.

“Did you just see that?” I asked the bag boy who was helping me take my groceries to my car. “That kid just bought me – a rich white woman- my groceries.” And I used the word rich, because I am rich in that middle class kinda way- with a home, food, car, loving family, interesting and meaningful profession, etc… I grabbed my camera and went back into the store.

(h/t: Julia Schrenkler)


The National Hockey League’s players and fatcat owners are on a suicide mission, new data shows.

The Globe and Mail reports that two-thirds of Canadians — Canadians, people! — are either neutral or completely disinterested in pro hockey.

It describes a marketing report whose graphics describe the damage to the NHL brand since the lockout began, and its impact on sponsors and firms associated with the brand.

From a branding point of view, NHL hockey and its multiple corporate sponsors are facing a huge hurdle, Kincaid says. The passionate fans are angry, the neutral fans turned off and bored, the mostly non-fans – the people hockey needs to attract if it hopes to grow – disgusted.

“Think what this means to the sponsors of hockey,” Kincaid says. “For almost one-third of Canadians, you are wasting your time on them. You’ve lost them. They are not going to become even ‘neutral.'”

As for those who do care about the game and still feel cheated, Kincaid says anyone who believes all the NHL has to do is come back and all will go back to as it was should think again.

Vancouver Sun columnist Cam Cole says the lockout is hurting “little people.”

But there’s a whole sub-stratum suffering here: Single-mom ushers, concession workers, ticket sellers and popcorn hawkers, “non-essential” team front office employees, bar-and-grill operators, waiters and parking attendants … and real charities, not just the few you hear about, that NHL hockey legitimately supports.

Meanwhile, the Star Tribune reports that despite the claims of St. Paul pols that the lack of hockey is killing the downtown economy, it’s not. And the owner of a local bar stepped forward to acknowledge that the economic impact of NHL hockey isn’t close to what some people would have you believe.


Thanks a lot, chemists, for squeezing every ounce of romance and awe from a snowflake.

Bonus I: How much does it cost to power your Christmas lights?

Bonus II: If the world hadn’t invented the obscenity, what would people use when surprised or quickly scared? Don’t watch this video if you’re easily offended:

Bonus III: The man who won’t let Minnesota forget the Andrews sisters…


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: School crisis management.

Second hour: What you should know about caffeine.

Third hour: The Instagram controversy.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Robert Caro, speaking about LBJ’s ability to use his power in Congress and the presidency. His newest LBJ biography is titled, “The Passage of Power.”

Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – The Political Junkie.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – For NPR’s Backseat book club, kids share their thoughts with authors and authors respond. This month’s reading assignment: The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan.