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Stadiums, grammar and silos prompt prose and poetry

Old topics (stadiums and smoking bans) and new ones (light pollution and good grammar) sparked lively comments from Minnpost readers recently. And don’t miss the poetry inspired by North Dakota missile silos.


Tony Wagner was among those commenting on Jay Weiner’s July 17 post, “Vikings stadium debate takes a decidedly new turn”:

I still don’t see how a retractable roof is necessary – there will be two brand-new open-air stadiums within two miles of the Dome. Virtually all of the extra events that it is argued this stadium would bring in (conventions, NCAA basketball, a Super Bowl, etc.) would want to be indoors anyway. The retractable roof cost alone was $200 million in the previous plan, and this new plan would seem a lot more palatable with a fixed roof at $653 million. …

Given what we know about the retractable roof cost, I would not be surprised if such a plan still came in at about 50 percent of the proposed new construction cost, around $425 million now. That would be reasonably close to the Twins and Gophers stadium costs, and it could sneak through the legislature within a few years with financial help from the Vikings and the NFL. Otherwise, it seems the primary argument for new construction is the Vikings’ desire for that “new car smell,” but I just can’t see any other entity willing to pony up $600+ million to help the Vikings achieve that.

Ben Reichelt chimed in:

What makes anyone think that the final cost will be the proposed cost? When’s the last time a large construction project has been on time and on budget? Once they get underway there won’t be any turning back, so they just need to get the work started and they’re home free.
I hope they get a new stadium, because I think it will help the downtown area, but it will just serve to price out more people, making going to a Vikings game something that rich people get to do.

From Susan Lesch:

One million listeners [to Viking games] is a lot, but it is reassuring to know that so many Minnesotans might have something else to do. I count 5 million minus 1 million equals 4 million, or 80 percent of the state’s population. Thank you for the excellent story.

From Don Campbell:

I wish the Vikings were smart enough to learn from more successful enterprises. I have to point to hated rivals to show what I mean. First the Dallas Cowboys placed their new stadium BETWEEN two large population areas, drawing people from both – the Vikings focus on one population center. There are large, sparsely populated areas that would place a new stadium geographically closer to more population. Second, the Green Bay Packers wanted some stadium improvements so they sold shares of the team to the public for financing. Apparently, very successfully. While the Packer shares do not pay dividends, a Vikings stadium bond might provide some financing for a new stadium and give fans a solid feeling that the Vikings are our team.

An excerpt from Tony Wagner‘s response:

I think public ownership of sports teams is a great idea, but sadly it is prohibited by the NFL (and likewise prohibited or discouraged by the other pro leagues, I believe). Green Bay’s public ownership structure was grandfathered in, and it’s the only one of its kind in American pro sports. The idea would also be near-impossible to implement now, as the cost of a franchise in the major leagues is inflated by the presence of free facilities. The best bet would be a private owner donating a club to a municipality, if the league ever allows it (I know MLB forbid this with the San Diego Padres in the 1980s).

John Olson summed it up:

Two words: Good luck.


John E. Iacono had this to say about Eric Black’s July 18 post, “Electoral College snapshot II”:

I can’t remember for sure, but it seems the Dems were the ones arguing for changing the electoral system last time – to a simple majority of total votes cast or something like that.

Looks like those arguments are not likely to surface this year, unless from the other side.

Eric Ferguson responded:

I won’t go into details here about why I hate the Electoral College. … For now, I just want to refute John E. Lacono’s point that the Democrats won’t argue for changing the Electoral College this year. Even though I like the predicted result, I still hate how we’re getting there. I suspect the national polls are a better reflection of public preferences, though we still can’t tell from that because pollsters ask likely voters or registered voters, and the fact only a few states really get to decide the election means most voters lack an incentive to register and vote. If we had a direct popular vote, we would have a very different campaign and the polls would be different too.


Dan Hoxworth commented on Steve Berg’s July 18 MinnPost.World essay, “Back to Afghanistan”:

Okay, so Iraq was a distraction to our real, legitimate efforts to effectively eradicate cells of terrorism in Afghanistan. We’ve known this now for five years but have not made any changes in policy.

Having wasted closing in on a half-trillion dollars or more in Iraq and devastating a culture and a civilization, we have also now enabled the Taliban to resurface in Afghanistan. The reality is that both our effort in Iraq and our lack of effort in Afghanistan have led to incredible human suffering and millions of refugees. Refugees who we bear the responsibility for. And by far, women have born the brunt of our failures with the Taliban resurgence and the growing fundamentalist influence in Iraq, which once was a progressive country for the advancement of women.

All of this said, we in Minnesota have an opportunity to voice our strong dissatisfaction with this course of action in November. Unfortunately, for all his positive leadership in the city of St. Paul, Senator Coleman condoned and supported this course of action and the waste of billions of our tax dollars. When he had the chance to investigate the flagrant contracts in Iraq given with no bidding he passed.

We need a leader in Washington, D.C. who will stand up and take the courageous stands for our nation and ask the uncomfortable questions. I am disappointed that Senator Coleman has not done so. It’s time for a new Senator from Minnesota to represent our interests and those of our nation.


Sally Rolczynski weighed in on Eric Black’s July 18 story, “Blogging and talking about mainstream media”:

I am a loyal reader of the Star Tribune newspaper. I also enjoy reading MinnPost. And I am a big fan of Don Shelby.

I fear the decline of newspapers, local television news and radio. What blogger is going to quit their job and fly themselves to Iraq to give me an impartial view of the situation?

I believe it would be wise for ‘old media’ to work together to cover the news as cost-efficiently as possible. It seems bloggers are taking advantage of the old media model for now. What are they going to do without it?


Thomas Laprade was one of many commenting on the July 17 Community Voices essay, “Nine months and smoke-free: It’s already paying off,” by Dr. Jennifer Holmes of Mid-Minnesota Family Medicine Center in St. Cloud:

There has never been a single study showing that exposure to the low levels of smoke found in bars and restaurants with decent modern ventilation and filtration systems kills or harms anyone.

As to the annoyance of smoking, a compromise between smokers and non-smokers can be reached, through setting a quality standard and the use of modern ventilation technology. …

From John Olson:

This is one of the very few public policy issues where the victors feel the occasional need to take yet another victory lap and gloat. You won. Move on. Help people without the preaching or smugness.

Look, I personally prefer the smoke-free restaurants and bars, but the tone of this commentary only serves to reopen tired old debates.

From Ryan Evans:

I find it all very amusing. Yes, the smugness of the victors is irritating, and at this point I think Minnesota is something of a lost cause for the time being.

As long as you folks keep your mess on your own side of the river, I have no gripes. After all, that’s why we have states. One goes smoke-free, another doesn’t, and then people are allowed to make a choice. Those who enjoy a nanny state stay west of the river, those of us who are adult enough to live our own lives and contend with any potential consequences of our choices can stay east.


Ron Gotzman was moved to comment on Julie Wilbert’s July 18 story, “Dark stars: Light pollution fills metro sky”:

Please run for office on this “light pollution” platform or try and find a sane politician to run with this agenda.

Joe Musich added:

Well, here it is again. For years the old rhubarb of “more light, safer environment” gets brought into the discussion regarding light pollution. This time at least there is a counterpoint. Thank you. Now really make my “night” by drawing connections to the energy industry and the growth of outdoor lighting by both the public and private sector. Kind of like, bring them electrical power and they will come. Do we really need lights on 24/7 at the Mall of America parking lots? There is a reason, at least in my mind, as to why this conservation of energy is having such a difficult time getting a hearing in public. Someone is going to lose money and power. No pun intended. It’s time to see the stars. They in fact are the canary in the coal mine.


Bernice Vetsch commented on Sharon Schmickle’s Monday essay, “Obama’s foreign trip offers benefits and risks aplenty”:

Do we really want an “experienced” politician who clings to the neocon dream of world domination via intimidation, pre-emptive wars of choice and “regime change” wherever we think a country has not elected a leader sympathetic to our wishes and/or corporate interests?
Or would we prefer a really smart and diplomatic man who, according to last week’s Newsweek, has thought long and deeply about the moral implications of living and of governing and, like Abraham Lincoln, does not hope that God is on our side but that we are on His?

From Stephen Lehman:

“But any stumble along the way could prove disastrous with American voters. ‘He could end up looking like an innocent abroad, which would produce precisely the opposite effect Obama is seeking,’ Newsweek said.”

A stumble such as, say, twice referring in the present tense to Czechoslovakia, a country which no longer exists? Or perhaps confusing the Sunni and Shia factions in Iraq? Or maybe misrepresenting as hopeful Karzai’s increasingly threatening relationship with Pakistan? Or what if Obama made a joke about killing Iranian civilians – boy, any of those things would sure be devastating to his presidential chances, wouldn’t they.

Of course, since it was McCain who did all those things, I guess it’s no big deal.


Mac Riddel liked state Sen. John Marty’s Tuesday Community Voices essay, “Cut transit fares to 25 cents”:

Brilliant!! The benefit of this would be huge, and as Sen. Marty points out, the cost would be low. The Twin Cities does need a lot more bus routes and if this legislation miraculously goes through, many more routes would be added due to demand. There would be fewer cars on the road, so less accidents, less smog, and the impact of the gas prices will be lessened.

Where it currently fails miserably, Minnesota now has the chance to become a leader in mass transit. Who else can be as bold as the author to make this become a reality?

Craig Westover differed:

Al Franken could take a lesson in satire from Sen. Marty.


John Farrell added a point to Mark Neuzil’s Tuesday post, “Lake water: to drink or not? Here’s the scoop”:

Another drawback of boiling is that the water is hot and there’s no good way to cool it while in camp. With pills, at least you get to drink the water while it’s cold from the lake.

From John Toren:

The article provides information about the number of cases of various water-borne illnesses, failing to note that nearly all of these incidents took place in urban areas, and few or none in wilderness areas. No doubt government agencies advise against drinking the water in the BWCA for insurance reasons, and so would I. But for myself, I’ve been drinking straight from the lakes of the BWCA for more than forty years with no ill effects. Pretty soon we’ll all be wearing bicycle helmets while paddling – you never know when another straight-line wind will drop a tree on our heads!


Barb Davis appreciated Ed Huyck’s Monday post, “Fellowship gives actor Kate Eifrig a break from day jobs”:

So well deserved — Kate, congratulations! We’ll look forward to seeing more of your talented performances. MinnPost, thanks for covering successes like this in our community.


Eileen Bock added a suggestion to Christina Capecchi’s Wednesday post, “Grammar Girl assists Minnesota-nice armchair editors”:

Fogarty’s book should be mandatory in Minnesota’s schools. People will learn that it is improper to say, “I seen a movie yesterday.” (Just one of my many grammar pet peeves.)


Chuck Haga’s July 9 story, “Their nuclear missiles long gone, North Dakota silo and command center will come back to life,” inspired Gordon James Klingenschmitt to share a bit of poetry:

This is an excellent article. As a former Minot missileer from 1991-1995, I can say you really captured the spirit of our duties. The only thing missing is the Missileer poem:

By Capt. A. Wyckoff

In vacant corners of our land, off rutted gravel trails,
There is a watchful breed of men, who see that peace prevails.
For them there are no waving flags, no blare of martial tune,
There is no romance in their job, no glory at high noon.

In an oft repeated ritual, they casually hang their locks,
Where the wages of man’s love and hate, are restrained in a small red box.
In a world of flick’ring colored lights, and endless robot din,
The missile crews will talk awhile, but soon will turn within.

To a flash of light or other worldly tone, conditioned acts respond.
Behind each move, unspoken thoughts, of the bombs that lie beyond.
They live with patient waiting, with tactics, minds infused
And the quiet murmur of the heart that hopes it’s never used.

They feel the loving throb, of the mindless tool they run,
They hear the constant whir, of a world that knows no sun.
Here light is ever present, no moon’s nocturnal sway.
The clock’s unnatural beat, belies not night or day.

Behind a concrete door slammed shut, no starlit skies of night,
No sun-bleached clouds in azure sky, in which to dance in flight.
But certain as the rising sun, these tactic warriors seldom see,
They’re ever grimly ready, for someone has to be.

Beneath it all they’re common men, who eat and sleep and dream,
But between them is a common bond, of knowledge they’re a team.
A group of men who love their land, who serve it long and well,
Who stand their thankless vigil, on the brink of man-made hell.

In boredom fluxed with stress, encapsuled they reside,
They do their job without complaint, of pleasures oft denied.
For duty, honor, country, and a matter of self-pride.

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