After Kluwe, shirtless shovelers, and blaming the victim in car crashes (5×8 – 1/3/14)


Players have rallied to the defense of a Vikings assistant coach, charged by former punter Chris Kluwe with homophobic rants.

“Any notion that Chris was released from our football team due to his stance on marriage equality is entirely inaccurate and inconsistent with team policy. Chris was released strictly based on his football performance,” the Vikings said in their reaction to the Deadspin story yesterday.

Where does the story go from here? Probably nowhere. points out there’s no way to prove the Vikings wrong.

But in the process he raises another question: Can today’s NFL incubate any kind of activist? For LGBT rights, Kluwe was never the best match. He wasn’t a star, and he happened to be straight. Brendon Ayanbadejo and Scott Fujita, two linebackers now out of the league who have also supported LGBT causes, fit the same profile. Really, only the league’s rank-and-file is courageous enough to question the status quo on a number of issues: player safety and gay rights chief among them. But that can make them undesirable employees in the next-man-up league. Kluwe’s head coach and general manager had never told him he was wrong; they asked him only ”to be quiet,” and to “please fly under radar.” Just the stars have the clout to talk. But they don’t, likely out of fear that their endorsement prospects will dim. (As Michael Jordan famously put it once, “Republicans buy shoes, too.”) And so little ever changes in the NFL’s sinister swamp, even when outside parties plead their cases with reams of evidence. It all seems futile.

The nice thing, though, about wetlands — filled with muck and all kinds of decaying matter — is that they tend to give more life than one would expect. Before too long, someone will emerge. And he’ll be strong.

There’s no way that person comes from the ranks of the Minnesota Vikings.

Kluwe will be on MPR’s Daily Circuit today at 11:45.


Sorry, Minnesota, but Massachusetts just won winter.

Wisconsin, you’ll get your chance to reclaim this “title,” when that row of shirtless kids show up for this weekend’s Packers game.

Still, Minnesota is making a game of it. Colleague Hart Van Denburg said it was -5 when he found the “windbreaker people” playing hockey around Lake of the Isles. That’s -10 when you shoot in black and white, though. Impressive.

Hart Van Denburg/MPR News

But you can only cheat the weather for so long. Today is the last day for the Madeline Island Ferry. The ice is getting too thick between the island and Bayfield (video).

By comparison, last year the ferry stopped running in late January, after not needing to shut down at all in 2012.

In Canada, they’re hearing booms in the night. They’re ice quakes, the CBC reports.

Related winter: 10 Ways Snow Days Change in Adulthood (Mashable).


I’ve written several times over the years about the difficulty of including details about seat belt use in stories in which the person not wearing them dies. There’s no way to include the detail without some reader translating it as “serves ’em right; they weren’t wearing seat belts.”

At the same time, the theory goes, including the details provides a reminder to others that they should buckle up. Still, that’s a message that can be delivered without piling on the pain on the family of the deceased.

Which is why this headline in today’s Star Tribune is worth discussing…


“An SUV flipped over on a county road in western Wisconsin on New Year’s Day, killing the unbelted driver and leaving the belted passanger unscathed, authorities said Thursday,” the story’s first sentence said.


It’s rather hard to believe that up until today, there wasn’t a Hmong firefighter in Saint Paul. The Pioneer Press introduces us today to Tou Lo, who was inspired to become a firefighter after he saw a documentary about 9/11 first responders. He had never seen a firefighter who looked like him.

The Twin Cities has the largest concentration of Hmong Americans in the United States.

There are only two Hmong firefighters in Minneapolis.


A West Fargo teen may face charges for calling in a fake fire report at a community center where a dance team was practicing. The Fargo Forum reports the young man thought it would somehow help him get a date with one of the dance team members. Oh, son!

Bonus: Portraits of a Rust Belt Mill Town (

How closely do you record the developments in your life?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: This week on the Friday Roundtable, our panelists will discuss the big stories of 2013, the overlooked stories, and how the changing media landscape is a shaping the way news is covered and consumed.

Second hour: Luke O’Neil thinks the Internet is broken, and to be fair, he had an unwilling hand in its demise. O’Neil is a journalist, who in addition to writing thoroughly investigative, thoughtful stories, has had to supplement his income by pumping out blog posts about celebrities. It’s not that writing about the latest escapades of Miley Cyrus isn’t news to some people, it’s more that the sites that post such stories don’t seem to care whether they’re true or not. It’s all about the clicks.

Third hour: While the Republican Party has undergone soul searching this year, the Democratic Party may not be far behind itself. The punditry is already looking ahead to 2014 and 2016, or the Post-Obama era, to see if two big factions, the progressives and the centrists, can and will get along. The Daily Circuit will preview this perceived divide. Will it be disastrous or can it be reconciled without too much damage?

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm) – The president’s chief science advisor, John Holdren. Speaking at the Computer History Museum in California about the major science issues facing the country. Climate change, the Brain Initiative, guarding against meteor strikes and more.

Science Friday (1-2 p.m.) – Tips to simplify your inbox. Plus, a look at the Endangered Species Act 40 years later. And the truth about that glint in your eye.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – In 2004, a tsunami devastated much of southeast Asia. But nine years later, life is improving for some survivors in Indonesia. The catastrophe helped bring an end to decades of brutal conflict. Government forces and a separatist group have finally found peace. NPR will have the story.