Confirming the theory that fools can ruin even the best of occasions, some dim-witted people at the Minnesota State Fair deliberately punched a horse and were responsible for 11 people being injured Saturday night.
It could have been a lot worse considering the huge crowds at the state fair. Fortunately all of the victims were treated and released although four of them suffered injuries which were serious enough to warrant taking them to a nearby hospital.
One wonders what could have been going through the minds of people foolish enough to deliberately spook a horse in a confined area. This wasn't a case of a skittish horse who got loose and hurt people. The 11-year-old horse had been used by fair security officials for eight years. When it was punched by the unknown assailants, it did what comes naturally and bolted, injuring innocent bystanders along the way.
It would have been poetic justice had the horse injured the attackers, but that wasn't the case.
The Minnesota State Fair has earned a reputation as one of the biggest and best in the nation as well as being one of best-run fairs. Unfortunately, there's no way to screen the few boorish fairgoers who would endanger the safety of themselves and others with their foolish behavior.
As is the case with many human-animal interactions, it's the humans who are the root of the problem and not the animals.
Decline in state's high technology may have been exaggerated
Less than a year ago, the University of Minnesota convened a summit of Minnesota's business and political leaders to ponder fears about the state's deteriorating position in the high technology "new economy."
The concern was that Minnesota is no longer in the entrepreneurial vanguard of America's high technology sector. The state particularly seemed to be falling behind in computer and telecommunications technology.
The past year has burst the "new economy" bubble; telecommunications and computer firms that were flying high have crashed. Yet the Twin Cities economy is weathering the turbulence better than many of the dot-com meccas. Part of the reason may be that the local economy is in fact more of a high tech leader than people thought. That's according to a new study released recently by two University of Minnesota researchers, Ann Markusen and Karen Chapple. They report that when a broader definition of technology is used, the Twin Cities emerge as the ninth largest high technology center in the country.
Like revolutionary technologies of the past -- electricity, say, or automobiles -- information technology will ultimately change economic life most as it is applied to producing all other kinds of goods and services.
In the end, the best strategy for ensuring Minnesota economic future is to see to it that Minnesotans and Minnesota's industries are positioned to capitalize on crucial technological advancements and opportunities. That means excellence in education at all levels, a first-tier research university, solid infrastructure for transportation, energy and communications, and a business-friendly tax and regulatory climate.
It's reassuring to hear that the state's technological decline may have been exaggerated. It's usefully humbling to be reminded that economic crystal balls are usually cloudy. But the only safe course for the future remains an urgent pursuit of broad policies to keep Minnesota competitive.
-- St. Paul Pioneer Press
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