Wednesday, May 14, 2008


The Minneapolis Star-Tribune (AKA Strib) South Metro section had the following entry in this morning's edition under "Police Blotter"

Northfield. Police responded to a report of two young men selling shampoo door to door in the 700 block of Meadow View Drive. Officers advised the pair that they had to get the appropriate city permit.

Soon after reading this, I picked up our office copy of the Northfield News. It has a banner headline about the county sheriff investigating heroin and cocaine use among young adults in Northfield. Several deaths related to the drugs have been reported in recent months.

The first story raises lots of questions. Why would anybody buy shampoo from a door-to-door salesman? You can get a jug of decent shampoo for a buck at the grocery store.* Second, why would city government have anything at all to do with door-to-door sales of shampoo (or dentures or convertible debentures or eyeglasses or shot glasses or anything else)? What ever happened to the free-market economy? Commerce! Enterprise! Caveat emptor!

The second story is very disturbing and also raises many questions, most of them unanswerable.

The juxtaposition of these two items made me wonder about the news judgement of the Star Tribune. Which Northfield crime story is newsworthy? Let's see.... unauthorized door-to-door shampoo sales or young men dying of drug overdoses. Tough call.

* Some friends, one of whom is a retired physician, have recently mentioned that washing hair isn't even necessary. Left alone, they say, the scalp will produce just the right amount of oil. The shampooed pate is apparently an artificial environment -- the tonsorial equivalent of a bonsai tree. I'm still planning to frequently wash what little hair I have.

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