Adam Heskin: One of The Pioneer Press’ Racist Commenters

The Pioneer Press posted an Associated Press article about a group of Somali immigrants who’re dealing with discrimination and bullying. They claim that they’re being treated unfairly by fellow students and staff and, based on the original piece in the St Cloud Times, they’re right.

One of the parents involved in the protest, Sadwda Ali, said similar issues exist at South Junior High. Sadwda Ali said students there have taunted her 11-year-old daughter for wearing a hijab and spat in her face.

Sadwda Ali said she’s particularly disheartened to hear about students trying to link Somalis with the Islamic State group.

“They think that all Somalis and all Muslims are terrorists,” Sadwda Ali said. “That’s totally wrong. Our religion is peace.”

Here’s what Pioneer Press Commenter, Adam Heskin, had to say about this:

adamh2o: Is that all liberals know how to do anymore? Protest this, protest that, who cares if it even makes sense, scream and yell about it.

Adam Heskin Racist
Adam Heskin – Racist Commenter*

I’m not sure if it takes work to willfully ignore the concerns of protestors, or if racists like Adam Heskin save time by jumping straight from headlines to the comment box.

Heskin goes on:

Somali’s should be thankful we even let their Muslim terrorist a$$es into this country.

Adam Heskin - One of the Pioneer Press' Bigot Commenters
Adam Heskin – Pioneer Press Bigot

It looks like the “Heskin” surname is English. It’s really unbelievable that we allow English people into this country considering how much blood is on their hands.

Heskin goes on to explain that recent immigrants from a war torn country are a menace to society.

Get everything off the government dole, work for nothing, send money back to your terrorist families and yet you still whine and cry every chance you get.

Adam Heskin - Not a Fan of Today's Immigrants
Adam Heskin – Not a Fan of Today’s Immigrants

But, that was just a warm-up up for his big bigoted close:

Filthy animals should be grateful you aren’t put on the first plane out like you should be.

Adam Heskin can be found on Twitter @adam_heskin and Facebook adam.heskin.3 and as a racist commenter on many platforms that use the Disqus commenting platform as @adamh2o.

For those of you thinking “There’s no way that comment was actually published to the website of the second largest newspaper website in the State of Minnesota, here’s a screenshot of the article and comment with ads for Cub Foods and the Parade of Homes.

Screenshot 2015-03-19 09.33.19

* I figured that it was important to include pictures of the racist Adam Heskin in order to make it clear which Adam Heskin is the racist commenter on the Pioneer Press’ website. Personally, I find most people named Adam Heskin to be peaceful individuals who’re doing the best they can for themselves and their families during their stay on this planet. To suggest that all Adam Heskins are racist web commenters would be a broad generalization that tarnishes the reputations of the vast majority of Adam Heskins and I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing that.

Janet Moore and Baird Helgeson Repeat Ridiculous Vikings Stadium Jobs Claims #wilfare

Note the sentence in parentheses at the end of the below paragraph from Janet Moore and Baird Helgeson’s StarTribune piece on Vikings stadium corporate welfare subsidies:

Gov. Mark Dayton said in a statement that although the Supreme Court challenge “had no merit, I was extremely concerned that this lawsuit would delay the financing of the stadium, and the progress” of the Downtown East development. “[The] decision clears the way for thousands of Minnesotans to get to work on these two important projects.” (The stadium project alone is expected to create 7,500 jobs over the next two years.)

Think about this. The Vikings stadium will take three years to build. The Vikings claim that it will take 4.25 million work hours to build the stadium. Let’s do the math:

425,000,000 work hours
Divide that by 2,080 hours (hours in a work year) converts that to 2,043 work years.
Divide 2,043 work years by the three years of the project gives us 681 full time jobs worth of work over three years.

Janet Moore and Baird Helgeson repeated the ridiculously misleading figure that uses the number of people who work on the job site over three years rather than the number of full time equivalents. It’s almost as if they work for a paper who’ll profit from the public subsidy.

Another way to look at this: The StarTribune could create 20 more jobs overnight if they cut back Janet Moore and Baird Helgeson’s hours to 3.632 hours per week and hired 18 new employees with the same hours. That would be a big jobs creation strategy if the goal was to inflate the number of people receiving a check from the Strib.

If the StarTribune wanted to be intellectually honest when reporting jobs claims by corporate welfare boosters, they’d explain stuff like this to their readers.

A Quick Follow-Up on @denvernick’s Misleading Time Swampland Story

Back on November 18th I wrote a post about Denver Nicks’ misleading rewrite of a Bloomberg story for Time. Nicks commented on my post:

@DenverNicks Correction Promise

It’s now been 9 days and nothing has changed.

Can I trust Denver Nicks’ reporting if he isn’t willing to correct his own misleading reporting even after he claims he will?

Or, does Time not care enough about accuracy to clean up misleading stories on their website?

I am Literate, @DenverNicks, and That’s the Problem

Back on November 15th, Denver Nicks wrote a Time Magazine’s Swampland post about a Bloomberg News story. This Time site, Swampland, claims to provide “Political insight from the Beltway and beyond”.

Nicks’ post recapped what Bloomberg reported about Amtrak’s recent financial woes, with a look at their food & beverage services. Bloomberg’s reporting explained that Amtrak’s F&B service lost $72 million last year. They went on to explain that $428,000 of those $72 million in losses were due to offering free wine, cheese, and champagne offered on long-haul trips.

But, when Nicks rewrote Bloomberg’s reporting, he used the title:

Amtrak Serves Free Wine, Loses $72 Million

While that headline is technically true, it misplaces the blame for $71,572,000 of $72m in losses.

But, surely, Denver Nicks clarified this in the post he wrote? Actually, no, he didn’t. He actually made it less clear:

Amtrak, the federally-supported U.S. national railroad, lost $72 million in food-service expenses last year, almost all from long-distance trains on which passengers get complimentary wine and cheese.

The problem with sloppy reporting like this is that people tend to believe it. This includes fellow Time employees like Callie Schweitzer:

@cschweitz on Amtrak

The LOL seems to suggest that she believe Denver Nicks’ reporting. Not that she thinks his reporting is laughably misleading, although that’s funny to consider.

@sumnums took a shot at explaining the problem with Nicks’ reporting to Schweitzer:

@sumnums on Amtrak

Also, notice how much more accurate The Hill’s story is with their title and lede than Denver Nicks’ story at Time.

I offered Schweitzer some help too:

@cschweitz It looks like the problem with your Amtrak characterization is that you relied upon @DenverNicks's sloppy reporting. cc @sumnums

To me, it seems like Amtrak has enough financial problems to solve without having to deal with people like Denver Nicks making it sound like the train service gave away $72 million in food last year. Had Denver Nicks’ story lead with “Amtrak Gave Away an Average of $2.31 in Free Food & Drink to Passengers Last Year” he would have been a bit closer to accurate than what he reported. But, that doesn’t sound nearly as alarming.

Which brings me to this Tweet I received from Denver Nicks:

@edkohler are you literate?

The thing is, that’s the problem. I am literate, and so is Callie Schweitzer. If either of us relied upon Denver Nicks’ reporting, our literacy would lead to us being misinformed about how Amtrak went about losing $72 million on food & beverage last year.

To me, this is a good reminder that we need to increase our media literacy by seeking out reliable sources for our news.

Update: Denver Nicks posted this on Twitter in response to this post:

Denver Nicks' Responses

Nicks has a good point. A lot of writers don’t write the headlines of their articles/posts. But, they do write the bodies of the stories. And, as my above post explains, the problem here is that Denver Nicks story about Bloomberg’s story reported:

Amtrak, the federally-supported U.S. national railroad, lost $72 million in food-service expenses last year, almost all from long-distance trains on which passengers get complimentary wine and cheese.

A Times Swampland headline writer, having read Denver Nicks’ story, could easily end up writing that misleading headline since they likely based it on Denver Nicks’ misleading reporting rather than what Bloomberg actually reported.

More importantly, as far as I’m concerned, is that Denver Nicks has not updated his misleading story. That “less than clear” / misleading story has been tweeted 122 times and liked on Facebook 132 times as of 8:50pm CST on 11/18/2013. If Denver Nicks is not going to be first to a story (he was aggregating content from Bloomberg) or add any value (he subtracted value) what exactly did he accomplish with his piece?

StarTribune Follows the Money on Fitness Center Subsidies (kind of)

Here’s a fun one in the StarTribune that was sent in by a Deets reader:

From weightlifting to Zumba, more Minnetonka residents are taking their workouts to one central place: the city’s fitness center.

Attendance at the city-owned Williston Fitness Center has skyrocketed since it underwent a $4.5 million renovation in 2010. This year, membership is expected to peak at 8,400; users will top 300,000. For the first time, the city has closed nonresident memberships.

Fitness popularity. A solid trend piece. Cool.

“It’s tough to keep up with demand,” Minnetonka Recreation Director Dave Johnson said. “It’s something our community really needs.”

That place is really crushing it.

More metro suburbs are getting into the fitness fad, rivaling private health clubs in amenities with everything from rock climbing to water parks. Eden Prairie and Shoreview are both considering multimillion-dollar additions to their heavily used centers. And St. Louis Park is weighing building a new community center.

Wow. Public fitness centers are giving private ones a run for their money. What are they doing differently?

However, not all cities can afford such high-end facilities or get taxpayers to foot the bill.

Wait. What?

Running the center will cost the city about $3.3 million this year.

A $3.3 million annual subsidy?

Unlike most city-owned centers, the Chaska center is self-supporting.

Hold on. I thought the StarTribune just said that they suck $3.3 million out of taxpayer to make the numbers work.

Debt service on improvements is funded through transfers from the city’s municipal electric utility.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)

Ah, so it’s self-supporting after sucking $3.3 million/year out of people who happen to use electricity in the city.

It took two StarTribune reporters to write this.

An Interesting Approach to Content Creation at the StarTribune

Here’s an interesting example of how content is created for the StarTribune’s business section.

Solicit questions for a Q&A in the business section. But, don’t pay a StarTribune business reporter track people down local business folks with questions. Instead, let a PR firm find sources with questions that their client is willing to answer. Then serve it up in the StarTribune (a reputable newspaper).

The following source request is from a newsletter used by journalists to find sources for stories. This particular request may look like it comes from a Star Tribune reporter but the “reporter” in this case is an account supervisor for a local PR firm. St Thomas’ business college is one of their clients.

Summary: Star Tribune Seeks Thoughtful Questions for Expert Advice Column

Name: Jeff Trauring Star Tribune

Category: Business and Finance

Email: xxxxxxx@helpareporter.net

Media Outlet: Star Tribune

Deadline: 7:00 PM EST – 3 September

Query:

The Minneapolis Star Tribune’s weekly business column “Outside
Consultant” is looking for entrepreneurs and small business
owners who have questions that require expert advice. Professors
from the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business
answer short questions regarding small businesses and
entrepreneurship every Monday. Past topics include: hiring,
employee relations, work/life balance, marketing, business
ethics, HR, real estate, business law, leadership, etc. Please
submit a creative 1-3 sentence question if you think you might
benefit from this column. You will get free expert advice and
you will also get to see your name and your company’s name
printed in a reputable newspaper with nearly 300,000 readers and
featured on the Star Tribune website.

Here’s an example of what the end product looks like on the StarTribune’s website:

Question for Opus in the StarTribune

The person/business who lobbed that question to the PR firm earned a link in a major daily newspaper’s website for their effort. In this case, a Minnesota based college handed out free advice in a Minnesota based newspaper to a Chicago based business thanks to a Minnesota based PR firm.

That’s an interesting tactic for content creation that doesn’t involve paying content creators. Just run PR-scrubbed Q&A’s instead.

And, if you run a local business school and would like to generate some PR through a Q&A section in a local newspaper – but don’t actually want to bother talking to local businesses in order to do so – this is one way to accomplish that goal.

If readers are satisfied with the results, great. If they wonder why the heck professors at St Thomas’ Opus School of Business are answering questions from Chicago based businesses in the StarTribune, here’s your answer.

Making Deliberate TV Choices

If someone said that they started cutting out junk food, not eating chips straight from the bag until the bag was gone, and switched to consuming higher quality foods, then told you that they started losing weight and feeling better, you’d probably say, “well, duh.” It’s not just food diets where this applies.

I read a post recently about a couple that decided to cut their TV cable, which isn’t all that revolutionary (Carly and I got rid of our TV & Cable TV service around 2005), but I found their explanation for why they did so well thought out. It wasn’t the cost (although that is a good reason). They did it so they could live more intentionally.

But Kathy & I felt it was time to live more intentionally. That the bundled mass of television channels was enabling easy & bad habits of watching junk.

I can relate to that. When there was a TV in my living room, the TV was on all the time. I’d sit in front of it while on my laptop half watching stuff that wasn’t important enough to devote my full attention to.

Now, when I watch shows (and I certainly watch my share of shows) I do some intentionally. It’s a deliberate choice to watch something. When I do that, the choice tends to be highly distilled entertainment. It’s not 10 minutes of local news distributed over 30 minutes between commercial breaks and weathertainment. Instead, it’s stuff that holds my attention throughout the show.

Granted, there is a downside. I have no idea which pharmaceuticals I need to ask my doctor about.

Not having a cable full of TV channels entering my home achieves three things for me: It decreases the quantity of shows I consume while increasing the quality while saving me a bunch of money.

The toughest sell in cable cord cutting seems to come from people who love watching other people play sports. People who like watching other people sing, date, or argue with each other (reality shows) are a close second. If those things are important to you, cutting the cord is a bigger decision. Before cutting the cord, I watched The Apprentice, American Idol, and The Bachelor. If a TV is always on, shows like that fill a void. If you’d like to see a weather forecast, there are certainly more efficient ways to find that information than television.

By the way, I don’t believe this is some sort of elitist perspective on media consumption. I’m just saying that choices change – and often for the better – when one makes proactive choices.

Zygi Wilf Buys $19 Million Home. $19 Million Less to Spend on a Vikings Stadium #wilfare

The NY Observer reported on the 28th that Zygi Wilf has purchased a new apartment on Park Ave in New York City for $19 million.

Curbed also reported on it.

As of now, no Minnesota newspaper has found this interesting enough to report (BringMeTheNews linked up the Observer piece), which seems strange considering that this is the same guy who’s demanding hundreds of millions of dollars from the State of Minnesota to subsidize his business.

Hijacking StarTribune’s Solar Comments in a Good Way

As anyone who’s attempted to read comments on the StarTribune.com knows, things can get pretty ridiculous there. While they do seem to have improved a bit over the past year, something about the anonymity, lax moderation, or lack of quality filtering seems to bring out the worst in people there. Or, maybe it just discourages quality commenters from sharing sane opinions?

Regardless, it can be fun to attempt to steer a conversation toward sanity. For example, the Strib ran a profile earlier this week about Mt. Iron, MN based photovoltaic power panel company, Silicon Energy MN. The article mentions that company has received government subsidies to get rolling, and a subsidy will be available to people purchasing their panels. This, of course, led to pretty standard responses against any form of government subsidy.

But, things got stranger when people started claiming that solar panels don’t work. If one comment really tied it all together, it’s this one by ironranger6 (closed circuit to the Strib: it would be cool if we could link to specific comments), where the commenter manages to attack the politics of the project and physics of solar energy:

Once again you just can’t fix Stupid….people that claim solar energy is free are so far in la la land that its a waste of time to talk to them….its all about feeeeeeelings which of course are IRRATIONAL…………………. I guarantee that the Solar company will pull out of the iron range as soon as the tax credits that WE all pay for runs out…..SOLAR power is in NO WAY cheap or competitive………..anyone that claims it is is either getting paid to claim that or are just plain stupid………and probably voted for Obama…..

One thing ironranger6’s comment lacked was support for any of his/her claims. For example, a few numbers showing the differences in cost could help ironranger6’s arguments.

Thankfully, a commenter named SirRuslyn showed up that actually provided some numbers:

The only problem with solar power is the cost, we’re decades away from solar power being cost effective enough for home installation. It just honestly does not make sense. It costs between $50-$60k to install solar panels on your roof, and you’ll only get use of them for about 8 months of the year up here, since when they’re covered with snow and ice, they do not conduct electricity. For them to pay for themselves after 15 years, at $50k for installation, your monthly electric bills would need to be over $400/month. My bill averages about $175, it would take me over 35 years to break even. I’m not even sure I’ll be alive that long, let alone in the same house. Solar power may be the future, but the costs need to come down drastically, comparable to the price of a used car, where folks can finance it over a 5 year period and make it cost effective and practical.

I thought SirRuslyn’s numbers seemed high, but at least we now had something concrete to debate. I responded with this comment:

@SirRuslyn, thanks for providing some numbers in your comment. That gives something to debate, which is far better than the political nonsense that came before you in the comments. I recently had estimates done on my home for solar water and photo voltaic. My out of pocket costs for either were way below the numbers you post. The more expensive of the two was solar PV, which came to around $18k with an approximate 14 year break even. Perhaps one difference is due to the size of our homes. My energy bills are significantly less than yours. In fact, I don’t come near $175 with the central air running at this time of year.

We had a chance to exchange a few comments and seemed to have learned a few things from each other about our different housing scenarios and the cost to cool them.

Then a person with real world experience in St. Paul, esandeen, hopped in to share what he’s learned from having panels on his home for a year:

@SirRuslyn, @edkohler – I put solar PV on my home 1 year ago. Total cost was about $17k before any rebates, for a 2.5 kilowatt system (11 PV panels). Prices are likely lower now, as they have been dropping considerably. Today you would get ($2.25 x 2500W) = $5625 from Xcel to install such an array, and a 30% tax credit after that. If you could get that array for $15k today, you’d be at about $6500 out of pocket. (Xcel has plenty of good reasons to invest in this way. Last week when they hit a new peak for demand, solar output was also peaking, reducing that peak load for which they pay dearly.) My 2.5kW array produced 3.1 megawatt-hours of energy in the first year, 260kWh/month on average. It’s worked flawlessly. Thanks to an attempt to conserve as well, it produced 70% of our electricity last year. We had 3 bills where our energy charge was (ever so slightly) negative.

So, now we have some real world data based on a local installation. Energy consumed. Cost of installation. And performance. Looks pretty good to me. But rational arguments like that can’t slow down all StarTribune commenters. For example, mnmaggiemn followed up with this take on esandeen’s real world solar experience:

No one idea will work for every one. If it is working for you yay! I would not mind looking into a system like this but I do fear the weather and how much it would work. Every house is different and in a different location. Everyone has different expecations. Obviously someone on here has been able to run more than a fridge and is extremely happy, why try to make an argument out of that!

How strange is that? Is it just me, or does it seem like mnmaggiemn is fighting against physics when she suggests that “no one idea will works for every one”? This isn’t a game of chance. A solar appraisal should be able to provide a fairly accurate estimate of the amount of energy solar panels will absorb based on their geographic location and direction they are mounted. The commenter, esandeen is Eric Sandeen, who attempted to explain to other commenters that the sun does indeed shine in St Paul and provide 70% of his home’s energy needs. In fact, he linked to a site where you can see exactly how much energy each of the panels on his roof generate in real time and historically.

Overall, I’d consider this to be an above-average exchange by StarTribune comment standards. People set in their ways remained that way. People incapable of understanding some pretty basic facts remained in the dark. And people interested in learning from each other did so. And Hitler wasn’t mentioned even once.

Eric seems to have gotten a kick out of this comment exchange as well, and has written about it on his blog. He also just celebrated his first year of solar with a recap of how his solar installation has performed.

The gross cost before subsidies of Eric’s system was $17k. If we assumed that his system’s performance held steady for 30 years, it looks like his electricity costs would be locked in at just under 18 cents per KWH (assuming the panels generate 94,920 KWH of energy over 30 years, which may be a bit generous but is probably in the ballpark). Current rates from Xcel run closer to 10-11 cents depending on whether you opt-in to WindSource or not. But, as Eric points out on his blog, electricity costs will surely rise over time. For example, if the cost of energy went up by 3% per year, the cost per KWH would be 24 cents in 30 years, so Eric’s solar system would be making a nice return on his investment at that point. In fact, at 3% energy cost growth, energy costs would hit Eric’s fixed costs in year 20.

But, Eric took advantage of the rebates available for his installation. Because of that, his out of pocket costs were $5k, bringing his average cost per KWH down to 5.2 cents. Seems like a pretty sound investment.

Put another way, I think we can count on the wind blowing and the sun shining at relatively constant rates into the future, so relying upon those sources for energy seems like a good investment compared to the economic, eco, and health costs of coal (and, um, clean coal).

Update on Ryan Lyk’s Duluth News Tribune Copyright Infringement

Back on Jan 15th, I accused Ryan Lyk of stealing a copyrighted photo from the Duluth News Tribune for use as a stock photo in a blog post he wrote. Ryan quickly removed the photo from that post.

At that time, I also checked in with the Duluth News Tribune to verify whether they were cool Ryan Lyk stealing their photos or now. Frankly, if they WERE cool with it, I might want to get in the game of using their photojournalist’s work as stock photography too. So I sent them Duluth News Tribune an email:

I have a question about the use of photos published on your website.
An example can be found here [Ed. Lyk removed the image.].

In this case, the blogger used a photo he took from your website, and cited your publication as his source with the citation “Photo courtesy of Duluth New Tribune”.

My question is, are you cool with that? It seems like he took your photo, published it on his site (not a personal site), mentioned where he got it from, but didn’t even bother to link to the story or your site?

If you’re cool with that, let me know. I may be interested in taking advantage of that policy as well.

An editor from the Duluth News Tribune kindly responded to my question with the following comment:

Anyone who wants to use a photo or story from us must request permission. Typically permissions go through me; however, this person could have asked our editor for permission. I can check with my editor to determine if we had agreed to its usage. We are NOT “cool” if the blogger took the image from our site without permission.

Not surprisingly, the newspaper did not endorse the use of their hard work being used as stock photography without permission.

Did Ryan Lyk ask for permission? I think his retraction of the photo speaks for itself.