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Comments range from friendship to GOP protests, from Twin Cities marketing to North Dakota’s future

Comments range from friendship to GOP protests, from Twin Cities marketing to North Dakota’s future

Topics that inspired recent reader comments included light rail, a new definition of friends, branding efforts for the Twin Cities, political ads and protesters and … North Dakota? Here’s a selection of their offerings:

Scott Wolf seconded Steve Berg’s Jan. 18 post, “Central Corridor light rail line faces critical moment”:

I, too, am embarrassed for our region. If you build it, they will ride it. If they ride it, they will fund it even more.

Unfortunately, light rail has been a convenient whipping boy for the no-tax reactionaries of Minnesota. To whip up anti-tax hysteria, the NTRs just need to trot out their talking points and screech on about “European” light rail and “subsidies” that will “social engineer” us into socialism. Blah, blah.

A real conservative will fund a 100-year solution planned well. The return on investment will be enormous. A thriving and 21st century economy demands it.

Al Johnson had a different view:

I, too, am embarrassed. The bridges are falling down, and we are siphoning off money that repairs them. Until all of our bridges are safe, quit building LRT and bike trails. The safety of our roads is at stake.

And Matt Steel responded:

Al, that’s exactly why we need to focus on a comprehensive set of transportation options. People commute via LRT and bike trail, too.

It’s sad to think how short-term some of our leaders are. What ever happened to the holistic vision people had when the Interstate system was planned? The Interstate has been successful because it was done right. What if, back in the 1960s, the planners decided to put in stoplights because they didn’t want to pay for interchanges?

Just as the planners in the 1960s planned for their future (freeways), planners now ought to plan for our future (a comprehensive system).

This system could be built and paid for within 20 years with only an inflation adjustment to the 1988 gas tax. If we were paying the same amount (in real terms) as we did in 1988, MnDOT would be receiving an additional $500 million to 600 million a year.

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David Cater had a short take on Christina Capecchi’s Monday post, ” ‘Friend’ inflation: Facebook popularity categories may boost egos but devalue the term”:

It seems to be the same with many social networking sites, e.g., Twitter. Want to be my friend?

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John Feldspar added this to G.R. Anderson Jr.’s Monday post, “Sizing up retail market and state’s mood, the Vikings call a stadium audible”:

In the turnaround-is-fair-play department, I think the Twins should let the Vikings play on their new field when it opens in 2009. Sure, it’s sized wrong for a football field, the seats will face the wrong direction and football was never in the plans. Which would give Vikings fans a nice taste of what Twins fans have suffered through these last 25 years.

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Claus Pierach commented on Dr. Craig Bowron’s Friday post, “Study causing some chest pains over cholesterol drug”:

Do we really have to wait years after a drug has been approved by the FDA and released onto the market before we find out if it has the desired clinical effect? And that can be different from a biochemical effect!

Granted, the statins bring down lipids and change the ratios of some of them. But that would be of little value if some of the statins lack clinical efficacy. And can a physician honestly advise a patient to continue to take these drugs just on the remote chance that somewhere in the future a desirable effect may be shown? Nobody may benefit. Well, except the pharma industry.

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Tom Poe weighed in on Joe Kimball’s Jan. 18 post, “One protest group wants to takes its anti-GOP messages to TV screens, not the streets,” about plans to run protest messages on Jumbotron screens set up near the Xcel Energy Center during the Republican National Convention:

Not sure why Ms. Ballou wants the “crazies” off the street. Her logic eludes me. Five people put up an expression of their beliefs for some to see? Why wouldn’t she want to coordinate a huge turnout in the streets, and let them cheer themselves on the “Big Screen”? Weird.

The right to assembly extends to everyone. It should be encouraged, not marginalized. I don’t think Ms. Ballou represents activism/protest populations.

Thomas Swift added:

I think Tom makes a great point.

Instead of wasting $70K putting up messages that will garner nothing much more than a few laughs, why not provide a live feed from hand-held cameras on the street?

I’m sure Mr. and Mrs. America would much rather see genuine, leftist protesters and activists in action than listen to the Cindy Sheehan Precision Drill Team drone on and on … zzzzzz. Heck, judging from the success of professional wrestling, I think that there might be a sizable audience that would invest in a “pay per view” front row seat!

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Grace Kelly voted nay on Eric Black’s Tuesday post, “Anticipating GOP attacks, Franken’s ads make the pitch that he’s just like us”:

Just like national corporate media ignore (John) Edwards and even tried to end the primaries after Iowa, so are you already trying to make our choices for U.S. Senate? The strategy of endorsement races should not in any way require TV media. In fact, since corporate TV media have so distorted DFL coverage, there is an argument that, like the Ellison campaign, we would be better off starving corporate media.

I am part of the Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer campaign, and I deeply resent you trying to make the Senate race a done deal. Do you have the ethics of a corporate media journalist or a blogger? Because this story is just another horse race story that does not create good government or help us make better choices.

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Ann Spencer was prompted to expand on Steve Berg’s Wednesday post, “Check out this brand: ‘Minneapolis Saint Paul — More to life’ “:

I have long noticed that when we’re traveling and meet new people, my husband says, “we’re from ‘Minnesota.’ ” I’ve taken to challenging him on this: “Why do you say, “We’re from Minnesota”? Why not say we’re from Minneapolis? Other people identify what city they’re from, not what state!” He doesn’t really have an answer to this, but your article suggests that he’s not the only one with this habit.

I think the root causes are many and varied, and as someone “not from here” (having lived in Minnesota a mere 31 3/4 years), perhaps I’m not qualified to opine. But I think it’s partly that Minnesotans identify themselves more closely with their state than most Americans do. (There are others; Texas comes to mind).

I’m from Pennsylvania, but I can’t conceive of a book and hit musical called “How to Talk Pennsylvanian.” There is no commonly accepted constellation of traits, tics, and quirks that define Pennsylvanians — or the residents of most other states. Not so Minnesota! Even though a lot of it is myth rather than reality, we all recognize the taciturn, self-deprecating, “Yah, you betcha” consumer of bland, white food that popular folkore calls the “typical Minnesotan.”

I also think that the Twin Cities is (are?) deeply ambivalent about selling itself (themselves?) to the outside world. There’s a strong strain of isolationism here — remember the old line about the cold weather “keeping the riffraff out”?

We are both anxious to declare our superiority to other metro areas (particularly New York and similar “sophisticated” places) and panting for recognition and attention from those places. Witness the near-hysterical media reaction to the Minnesota angle in the recent Academy Award nominations. Heard enough about Diablo Cody and the Coen brothers to last you awhile? I know I have.

Finally, I think we have a paradoxical tendency to both sell ourselves short and exaggerate our wonderfulness. Yes, on the one hand, we consider it bad form to “brag” and therefore tend to play into some of the negative stereotypes about the Twin Cities. At the other extreme, I’ve heard Twin Cities residents talk to those from elsewhere as if we’re an oasis in the desert, the ONLY place to raise a family, with the BEST quality of life, the CLEANEST government, most EXTENSIVE park system, and on and on. This attitude can come off as arrogant, provincial, defensive, and even as “protesting too much.” Neither extreme is helpful.

So I wish the mayors luck with the rebranding campaign. I find the psychology of my adopted home endlessly fascinating, and I will be watching with great interest.

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Bernice Vetsch had this to add to Doug Grow’s Wednesday story, “Second thoughts on state caucus date change? Nope”:

If the party leaders want more control over who gets nominated, is this still a democracy?

When that is added to the fact that the media (or their corporate owners) chose both parties’ “front-runners” a bare four weeks or so into the campaign and then ignored, or barred, some candidates from debates, we the voters are getting a double-dose of top-down selection.

Anna Quindlen wrote in Newsweek a couple of weeks ago about a method called Approval Voting. At caucuses, in primaries and general elections, each voter could make an “approval” mark next to the name of each candidate she or he could “approve” of for the seat in question. In this system, voters could feel free to “approve” not just the person anointed by his or her party, but their true first choice and a second and perhaps a third choice. The winner would be the person with the greatest total number of approvals.

I could envision drastically different primary results if all those who in their hearts favored Dennis Kucinich, for instance, could “approve” him in addition to Edwards, Clinton or Obama, instead of feeling Kucinich had no chance to win. Or Edwards, as the second choice of many Clinton and Obama voters, might gain “approvals” from enough of their voters to win.

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Abigail Sugahara had this reaction to Chuck Haga’s Jan. 17 story, “The rest of the world declares North Dakota dead — again”:

I read the National Geographic article a few days ago and, halfway through it, said to my husband, “Let’s visit North Dakota!”

I thought Bowden’s article and photographs praised the state. There is a haunting beauty in the open fields and also in the places people once lived that I would like to see for myself.

I just moved to Minnesota from the East Coast, where essentially every square foot of lland seems to have some sort of evidence of recent human presence, whether it’s a building, a road or simply a piece of litter. I am fascinated with places that are devoid of much of this.

We humans are very arrogant to assume that our population should and will always be expanding, filling up every piece of earth that exists. That people have left places that were once inhabited — “conquered,” some might say — is not necessarily a failure or a bad thing.

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