5 x 8: Town ball, county fairs, and terrorist organizations

This will probably be the only NewsCut post today. I’m pushing the merchandise at the MPR booth at the Minnesota State Fair (where it’s also “Follow @CaitlinVanasse Day”) from 1 to 9 p.m. today. There’ll be no 5×8 tomorrow, either. On Sunday, come out to the MPR booth when I interview MPR News boss Chris Worthington. If you can’t make it, post your questions to him below and I’ll ask them.


Bill Lindeke has given me an idea, which I’ll probably have to try to remember next summer: A road trip of town ball locales in Minnesota.

He writes on his streets.mn blog today about his trip to the bucolic park in Miesville, MN.

Miesville is basically a crossroads a few miles north of the Cannon River, pretty near Welch. Miesville can boast of a few houses (including a brand new cul-de-sac), a supper club, a burger bar, a park, and a church or two. But the main feature of Miesville, the one you can see from a mile away, is the ballfield. The lights rise up out of the corn, there’s a lovely sheltered wooden grandstand behind home plate, and a few sets of bleachers extend up along each baseline. The outfield fence almost literally sits in corn-rows, and the whole thing has the feel of the field from Field of Dreams (only it’s a lot closer).

Which reminded me of this great video of town ball from the Star Tribune a few years ago.

Who do we have to thank for the culture of town ball? The Pioneer Press and Dispatch, which organized the first amateur baseball tournament in 1924, FoxSports North says:

“In a lot of towns, that’s all they think about,” said Maple Lake Lakers player/manager Chad Raiche, who expects somewhere around 15,000 people to roll through town during next month’s state festivities. “It’s all they have. Around here, we always look forward to Sunday afternoon games.

“That’s just what they do.”


The New York Times discovers the Kandiyohi County Fair and concludes that demolition derbies, hogs and cheese curds are where it’s at. Also the Frugal Traveler was shocked to learn 4-H and the FFA are “huge influences.”

Related: Internet Cat Video Festival photos: The Grandstand was packed (Minnesota Public Radio).

Did I mention I’m at the Fair today to sell you an MPR T-shirt?


As far as New York City is concerned, if you’re Muslim and attend a mosque, you’re a terrorist. The Associated Press broke the story yesterday that the city’s authorities have designated all mosques as “terrorist organizations” to make it easier to spy on the people who go to them.

The NYPD did not limit its operations to collecting information on those who attended the mosques or led prayers. The department sought also to put people on the boards of New York’s Islamic institutions to fill intelligence gaps.

One confidential NYPD document shows police wanted to put informants in leadership positions at mosques and other organizations, including the Arab American Association of New York in Brooklyn, a secular social-service organization.

The details are contained in a new book which claims the spying doesn’t work:

“A mosque is different than a church or a temple,” a former senior NYPD official told Apuzzo and Goldman, as quoted in the book. “It plays a bigger role in society and its day-to-day activities. They pray five times a day. They’re there all the time. If something bad is going to happen, they’re going to hear about it in the mosques. It’s not as sinister as it sounds. We’re just going into the mosques. We just want to know what they’re saying.”


Drones? The DNR doesn’t need drones. It’s got humans to keep an eye on what you’re up to along Minnesota’s lakes.

The Perham Focus profiles DNR conservation officer Jason Jensen of Brainerd, who flies along lakes in the region looking for the illegal things lake homeowners do.

There is a machine people can use (to remove aquatic vegetation) that’s called a weed roller,” Jensen said. “It’s a big metal tube, powered on shore, that that rolls along the bottom of a lake and uproots any vegetation within its arc.”

It’s illegal without a permit, but people with lakefront property want a beach.


A West Fargo man has been arrested for drunk driving. Police stopped Kevin Smith, 57, in the drive-thru lane of an area liquor store, according to the Fargo Forum. In other news: There are drive-thru lanes at liquor stores.

Bonus I: China Weighs Ban On Homework; Teachers, Students Argue Against (NPR)

Bonus II: Q&A with ‘This American Life’ host Ira Glass (Duluth News Tribune).

Does your phone keep you from living in the moment?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Funding year-round school.

Second hour: The effect of budget cuts on Minnesota courts.

Third hour: Talking Volumes rebroadcast with Junot Diaz (rebroadcast).

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): Dr. Jon Hallberg on health. Host Kate Smith.

The Takeaway (1-2 p.m.) – Is the United Nations still effective?

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Butch Thompson is one of the well known names in the Minnesota jazz scene. At an early age, the keyboard musician bitten by the original jazz bug with a trip to Preservation Hall. He had a stint with one of the region’s premier old time jazz groups and continues to tour and teach. MPR’s Dan Olson talks to him.

Antibiotics may stop working if they’re overused. Some health experts want better data on antibiotics that are given to farm animals. But drug companies object, claiming such statistics are misused to scare people not inform them. NPR looks at the battle over drug data.