Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily midday digest of what local media outlets and Twitter-ers are gabbing about.
It Really Is a Superior Lake
You’ll be glad to know that Lake Superior is on the right side of history, Roe v. Wade-wise. The lake’s satirical Twitter—City Pages best Twitter account of 2019—has previously had low-stakes beef with Mount St. Helens, and now, it’s provoking pro-lifers. It started on June 24, when the great lake tweeted, “This lake vehemently stands with women having the right to choose.” To a certain kind of fragile, debilitatingly online Blue Check account, these were fighting words. Take Tom Fitton, whom I gather is some kind of pro-Trump talking hairpiece, and who quote-tweeted the lake’s remarks of solidarity with “Water is wet and abortion kills a human being.” The lake quickly responded: “Thomas, not even your first talking point is correct. Water is not wet, what water touches is wet. I’m confident I have a lot more experience in making things wet than you do.”
Lake Superior has been on one, in the parlance of our times, all week, going viral with takedowns of folks who don’t want the great lake to get political (“To begin, water is one of the most politicized resources in the world“) and those who think being called “cis” is a slur (“Sir, the tweet you are responding to is about urine and water volume“). My favorite thing about this is that now, when you Google “Tom Fitton,” the third or so link is about how he got his ass owned by a lake. As dozens have joked already: Lake Superior hasn’t wrecked anyone this bad since the Edmund Fitzgerald. Folks!
Minneapolis Schools Discontinues Use of Creepy Online Surveillance Tech on Kids
You know how you don’t build trust and honesty with children and teens? By round-the-clock computer surveillance. But when schools mostly moved to online learning during the pandemic, that’s the route they chose to go, spending $355,000 on Gaggle. The service uses moderators who sift through billions of files, emails, and chat threads in search of unsavory content. Gaggle says its tech has saved 1,400 students, but there’s no outside research to support this claim, according to a piece by The 74. However, students have reported being flagged for using words like “gay” and “lesbian.” Another creepy thing pointed out in another article by The 74: Moderators receive little training, and former employees have raised concerns on how easy it would be to keep the sensitive info and images they find while working. The city’s shrinking school budget means they are cutting ties with the service, which basically went from $0 to a $3 billion company during lockdown. These days, when it comes to potential safety threats, the district is recommending that parents and students “report issues to police officials with the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.”
Mpls Slowly Takes Baby Steps Toward Possibility of Discussing Small MPD Reforms
The Community Safety Work Group convened last year by Mayor Jacob Frey has reported its findings. The 35-member committee, co-chaired by Nekima Levy Armstrong and Rev. Dr. DeWayne Davis, called for bringing in outside experts to rewrite training materials and toughening up the department’s disciplinary process. Among other reforms suggested: a new community safety liaison, expanding mental health and response programs, and increased funding to violence interrupters and outreach workers. Pretty standard stuff, which makes it even stranger that the committee insisted on meeting in private (a decision which led former mayoral candidate Sheila Nezhad to resign her membership).
In response, according to the Strib, Frey said “some of these recommendations are already being implemented” (ugh, he’s so annoying) and rehashed some of his favorite pointless quotes. Did you know there’s no one quick fix to public safety? Meanwhile, the MPD has modified its field training program so that officers who’ve received multiple citizen complaints, such as Derek Chauvin, can no longer train newcomers. Just think, all it took was weeks of public protest and a cop convicted of murder to convince the MPD not to allow its most thuggish officers to mentor rookies.
Pandemic Data Goes Weekly
In another sign that the pandemic is over despite everyone you know getting COVID within the last few months, the Minnesota Department of Health announced today that COVID-19 indicators will be reported weekly rather than on a daily basis starting Thursday. The Star Tribune’s Jeremy Olsen reports that the shift comes “amid continued declines in pandemic activity,” though again, those “declines” are a result of the fact that most state testing and reporting centers have been shut down. In good news that we can quantify, the Strib also reports that COVID-19 hospitalizations statewide declined from 482 on May 31 to 379 on Monday.