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Check out the big head on Minneapolis/St. Paul!

The Twin Cities is smarter than Denver. PLUS: Gingrich has a crush on Pawlenty, cougars are afoot in Eagan, and the NY Times is fascinated with paint on the Metrodome field.

We Minnesotans seem to find lists irresistible, as long as we’re on them. There’s just something about being No. 7 on, say, a list of cities with attractive children, or No. 2 on a list of places Vince Vaughn will admit to as his birthplace, that tickles us. It can be awfully lonely out here in the Midwest, with the coasts mocking us as “flyover land”; sometimes it’s nice to know somebody noticed. So even though the Twin Cities only came in fourth on the Daily Beast’s list of America’s Smartest Cities, it’s still a point of pride. It’s nice to know that all those extension classes at the U have finally paid off, because now we’re officially smarter than Denver.

And while we Twin Citians can bask in pride at being brainiacs, St. Cloud gets to pat themselves on the back for being popular — once again! — in Eastern Europe. As the Associated Press reports it, St. Cloud’s mayor is on his way to the Czech Republic, where his city is a finalist in the annual LivCom Awards for being the “world’s most livable city.” It’s St. Cloud’s second shot at the top spot; in 2007, they tied for the title of most livable. Some of you may be wondering what makes St. Cloud just so livable as compared with, say, the Twin Cities, where giants with oversized heads wander the streets babbling mathematical equations. Well, let us at the Daily Glean remind you that St. Cloud has the Beaver Islands.

So it’s Twin Cities for the eggheads, St. Cloud for the islands, and Eagan for the … cougars? Apparently so. Frederick Melo of the Pioneer Press informs us that there have been three unconfirmed reports of the big cats in Eagan, and these reports seem credible, in part because cougar feces was found at the police gun range, which is how pumas taunt policemen. Police have been warning residents to be alert but have been quick to point out that cougar attacks are “”highly unlikely.” We at the Daily Glean would insert a joke here about cougars being spotted malingering in area bars, talking about their ex-husbands and flirting with college students, but you’ve probably already thought of a similar joke of your own.

Pawlenty’s undeclared presidential ambitions (The Hill calls it the “invisible primary“) got a boost this past weekend when former House Speaker Newt Gingrich complimented the governor in an interview with Andy Barr of Politico. “Governor Pawlenty is a terrific talent, he’s a very attractive guy and he has a good reform record,” Gingrich said. We presume Gingrich meant that Pawlenty is an attractive candidate, but we’re not going to preclude the possibility that Gingrich has a photo of Pawlenty in his high school locker and kisses it between classes.

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We can be fairly sure that 911 operators in Detroit Lakes and Thief River Falls aren’t swooning over any Pawlenty images, though. The governor signed an executive order to consolidate 911 calls to Duluth, Rochester and Roseville, and, as the Associated Press reports, this has raised some concerns. Clay County Sheriff Bill Bergquist, for instance, is worried that a Duluth dispatcher might not know enough about his area to be effective, while Becker County Sheriff Tim Gordon worries that there won’t be enough dispatchers to handle all the calls.

Medtronic’s implantable defibrillators have undoubtedly saved a lot of lives. After all, their function is to send a jolt of electricity to the heart if it seems at risk of stopping, if we can be allowed to grotesquely simplify their function. But a Medtronic defibrillator performed another lifesaving function in Florida, related by the Pioneer Press’ Christopher Snowbeck and summed up with one pithy quote: “Although rare, this case describes an as-yet-unreported new benefit of ICD implantation: Protection from gunfire.” The subject of the story, an unnamed Florida patient, showed up in an emergency room with a bullet hole in his chest; fortunately for him, the bullet lodged in his defibrillator. The patient was treated and released the next day, which usually isn’t the case with a gunshot to the chest, although the device was rendered “nonfunctional.”

“I have long hated the Metrodome,” writes the blogger who calls himself “Old Twins Cap” on the Twins blog Twinkie Town. What? Why? “Because the Metrodome has been, for 28 years, the flat-out worst venue for baseball on either side of the Mississippi, north of the Mason-Dixon line (there is Tampa’s stadium after all) — and that includes minor league affiliates, small-town amateur parks and liberal arts college backfields.”

Maybe so, but the Dome was such a regional superstar this weekend that the New York Times felt a need to comment on it, with writer Pat Borzi detailing the difficulties in quickly converting the stadium from a baseball diamond to a gridiron and back again. Apparently, it’s the last part that’s tricky, as it involves removing the football lines off the field, and they have been literally painted on the Astroturf. KARE11 also peeks in on the process in a story by Jeff Olsen that points out the time crunch in having football on Monday night and baseball-ready on Tuesday morning, quoting Field and Ground Supervisor Al Kuehner: “We’re really crunching the numbers this time. Usually it’s a 16-hour change. We’re going to have to get it in 12.”

Good, bad or merely an awful lot of work, the Metrodome was nonetheless the site of pure theater Monday, when Brett Favre faced down his former team, the Green Bay Packers, and provided what Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune (or, at least, whoever authored his headline) has dubbed a “Packer Smacker.” Favre completed “24 of 31 passes for 271 yards with no interceptions,” leading the Vikings to a 30-23 victory.