How can those who love the wolf come to accept a hunting season?
Nancy jo Tubbs, a resort owner near Ely, Minn., explains her view that emotional connections sometimes trump science when people are talking about management of Minnesota's wolf population.
"I've helped raise captive-reared wolf pups and held the feisty little beasts in my arms while they nursed from a bottle. For me, seeing wolves killed in legal hunting and trapping seasons will be like watching Bambi being shot in the horrific old Disney movie of the same name.
"Yet, there's much talk about whether wolf hunting and trapping will start in Minnesota this fall. Can I come to a personal acceptance of that eventual reality? ...
"Whether we Minnesotans will feel grief, exultation, relief or indifference at the realities of a wolf season will have everything to do with our personal experiences. The emotions of the trophy hunter will differ from those of the cattleman whose herd has suffered depredation from a pack. Or from those of many who worked to see wolf populations recover under the Endangered Species Act, or who legislated or will manage this proposed hunt. Emotions will likely run high, and individuals' values, too, will come into play."
"A very thoughtful, well-reasoned commentary. Much to think about here." -- James Walsh, St. Paul
Standardized tests are a poor yardstick for measuring teacher performance
Sarah Lemanczyk, a St. Paul writer and independent radio producer, points out that while the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs) are used to determine whether schools are making adequate progress, teachers have no way of making sure that a bunch of third-graders will do their best on any one thing at any one time.
"In the weeks leading up to the testing periods, my sons' elementary school begins to hum, to vibrate with a sense of panic led by a group of men and women who are usually calm in the face of everything from vomit to vitriol. Weekly updates include pleas for math practice in increasingly large fonts. Inspirational quotes disappear from the school billboard, replaced by 'M - C - A.' Curriculum switches from Ancient Greece to test-taking strategy.
"And it all culminates in an April cacophony of: Please! — make sure your kids are at school that day! Please — get them to bed on time the night before. Please, cooperate with me so that I don't lose my job, even though I'm entirely competent if not incredibly awesome and I love it. But seriously — go over fractions one more time. ...
"See, the whole thing relies on kids performing their best. Not on their knowing stuff, not understanding larger concepts and contextualization, but performing. And if you've attended an evening of elementary theatre, you're aware that not everyone is — say — entirely vested in the re-creation of the John Henry legend or singing 'Puff the Magic Dragon' or even being there."
Don't look to the issues as a guide to the election's outcome
Lawrence R. Jacobs, a political scientist, thinks that debates over the big issues of the day actually have very little to do with who wins elections.
"In Peter Pan's world, the best analysis would win elections, America would speak with one voice and send a clear mandate, and the outcome would be decided by the 24-7 media round-robins on issues from Trayvon Martin's death and Anne Romney's working life to the flaps yet to blossom.
"I'm all for dreaming and I adore fairy tales. Dream away. ...
"One of the most important political moments of the spring will be the release of the first quarter's Gross Domestic Product figure on Friday. ... If GDP holds steady or rises from its winter level of 3 percent (an outcome few are expecting), [President] Obama's prospects will brighten and [Mitt] Romney's problems are likely to intensify. But if it falls and employment growth continues to dip as it did in March, the undecided are more likely to punish the incumbent and you should expect Obama's prospects to sink this spring."
"The rallying cry for this voter will not be 'It's the economy, stupid,' because I know the cause of our economic collapse was GREED. What motivates me? 'It's the stupid inequity' of this economic system." -- James Gust, Eden Prairie
The law gives us the right to free speech, but we take it away from ourselves
Hani Hamdan, a dentist, wonders why Americans are so quick to punish those who say something that others find offensive.
"The First Amendment guarantees that the American judicial system cannot punish you for saying something, no matter how objectionable what you say may be. But if making a single, fleeting statement causes you to lose your job, your family's security, your reputation and your future career prospects, what is the point of having a First Amendment in the first place?
"Correct me if I'm wrong, but there appears to be a serious popular infringement on free speech that is widespread among us, the public. Try conjuring the most compassionate, polite words you can muster to tell your obese sister that she needs to lose weight, because you dearly love her and are genuinely worried about her, and you'll know what I mean. You may cringe at the very suggestion.
"There now exists a culture of squelching where just about everyone has opinions he or she cannot voice out loud, whether on a small family scale or a large public one. At the same time, in apparent retaliation, people are prepared to exact the harshest punishment on each other for speaking their mind."
"This is a great article. There should be a distinction between freedom of speech and hate speech." -- Huda Fay, Richmond, Va.
Having a pro football team may make us feel good, but is it worth it?
Jim Foti, a ministerial intern, says the debate over public funding for a Vikings stadium is wrong when it frames pro football as an indispensible asset to the community.
"The Vikings fans decked out in horns and jerseys while visiting the State Capitol are just one reminder that the debate over the stadium goes far beyond the rational. Professional sports are businesses that exist to funnel money from everyday people to extremely wealthy men. Those men do not live in our community and are continually looking for the next team or city that will make them even richer. Pro football's owners and players do not at all care where or whom that money comes from.
"No matter how good something feels, it isn't love if they don't love you back.
"Whenever someone worries about the fate of Minnesota if the Vikings were to leave, I like to point to NFL-free places such as Portland, Ore., and Austin, Texas, with their vibrant cultures for young adults and growing populations. Then, for comparison, I like to point to NFL-blessed places such as Detroit, Buffalo, Cleveland and St. Louis."
"So rational you're sure to be ignored. Let the Vikings build their own stadium, or get private funding." -- Doug Traversa
"You are misguided. Detroit has a huge growing young adult population. Twitter actually just moved an office and crew down there from San Francisco." -- John Thomas, Minneapolis
"It seems like a break-even deal at best when you look at any potential taxes for the next 30 years vs. what we just give them for the privilege of having the Vikings here." -- James Eckard, Minneapolis
"Thank you for speaking some inconvenient truths about sports, and particularly football." -- Anne O'Connor, Viroqua, Wis.