1) If you listened to the gubernatorial candidates forums on MPR's Midday yesterday, you heard a derivative of this point twice -- The government must budget more like families, who have to live within their means. President Obama, in discussing his new red-ink federal budget proposal, made the same claim. It's common. It's also inaccurate in that it assumes families know something about budgeting and living within their means that the government does not.
Clearly, spending no more than you make is a great idea; it's just not one whose time has come to the American family. The median family income in Minnesota, for example, is about $66,000, according to the Census Bureau. Most of that is spent. The average household saves only 5 percent of its income; not enough to pay off debt.
Average credit card debt for household last year was $8,329, or 12.6 percent of income. 13.9 percent of a family's income goes toward servicing their credit card debt, according to creditcards.com. And more than 1 out of 10 households have more debt than total income. And that's just credit card debt.
Throw in mortgages (that often are worth more than a home's value), cars, and the average student loan debt per child ($23,000) and it's clear American families are living in a sea of red ink in the long run, with the hope that the money will appear. Most of the time, it does, but the notion that American families square a dollar earned with a dollar spent at the end of every month is incorrect.
On the other hand, it's true most Americans don't buy a new home every year; they just finance the big promise they made a few years ago. But debt is debt.
The latest federal budget proposal from the White House is $3.8 trillion, with a deficit of about half that. That's probably not that far off from the American family. Neither is a picture of good financial stewardship.
2) Robert Krulwich is, unquestionably, a genius. But even he couldn't mask the real reason why time seems to speed up as we get older. Sure, he kept saying "nobody really knows," but it sure sounded like "because your old and your brain is in the process of checking out." Listen to the entire piece. If you have time.
The comments attached to the story are priceless and insightful. For example:
when you are two days old a single day is half your life.
when you are one year old a single day is one/three hundred and sixty-fifth of your life.
when you are fifty years old a single day is... well, you get the idea.
this is why time goes faster as you age.
but, the older you grow, the wiser you should be getting.
you should definitely be wise enough to live by the old adage: make every moment precious; it could well be your last.
Time's percieved speed is relative to how long you've lived. It's easy math to see at two years old a year is half your life, and at 80 one year is an eightieth.
Now, the (scary!) interesting part is to find out the perceptual "middle age". Let's say that I felt that a year was really the length of a year at age X: The formula for the year's percieved length is (x * 1/(age)). If I live to 90, I'll have have a sum of 9.55x "perceptual" years. I lived half of them by when I turned 8. With a life expectancy of 60 years (4.38x total "perceptual"), you've experienced half your time by age 6 1/2.
Meanwhile, research out today shows older people need less sleep. Or we just think we've gotten the same amount as the whippersnappers but time is moving faster.
More fun with demographics: Saints fans are smarter than Colts fans.
3) A Minnesota moment:
Before last night's girl's basketball game in Wrenshall, the players brought flowers for their parents, who were introduced as the players were.
4) Is there a real and significant difference between the salary potential of those who graduate from college and those who don't? Not really, the Wall St. Journal reports.
Dr. Schneider estimated the actual lifetime-earnings advantage for college graduates is a mere $279,893 in report he wrote last year. He included tuition payments and discounted earning streams, putting them into present value. He also used actual salary data for graduates 10 years after they completed their degrees to measure incomes. Even among graduates of top-tier institutions, the earnings came in well below the million-dollar mark, he says.
5) I admit that I once thought if I were in a free-falling elevator, I would simply jump up just before it crashed. So it's no wonder I've wondered whether it's possible to fall 35,000 feet and live to tell about it. Yes, it is. But only if you read this article in Popular Mechanics and are very, very lucky.
Depending on your size and weight, and factors such as air density, your speed at that moment will be about 120 mph--and you'll get there after a surprisingly brief bit of falling: just 1500 feet, about the same height as Chicago's Sears (now Willis) Tower. Equal speed means you hit the ground with equal force. The difference is the clock. Body meets Windy City sidewalk in 12 seconds. From an airplane's cruising altitude, you'll have almost enough time to read this entire article.
Bonus: What's in a name for gubernatorial hopefuls. Eric Ostermeier examines the role a name plays:
A Smart Politics analysis of Minnesota's 64 gubernatorial races finds that those candidates with more unusual letters (those scoring higher points in Scrabble) and those with longer names win at nearly twice the rate as their closest opponent.
In total, 41 of the governors elected to the Gopher State have first and last names with higher Scrabble scores than their opponents, or a 64.1 percent rate of victory.
It's probably a mere coincidence that in the highest-scoring Scrabble game ever, Scamster was one of the big point-getters.
Minnesotans will gather tonight in political caucuses around the state. Participants will elect delegates to party conventions and vote in a straw poll for governor. Observers predict a low turnout. What would make you more likely to attend your caucus?
WHAT WE'RE DOING
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) - First hour: The U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision that opens the political process to more campaign donations from corporations. That's the subject of hearings on Capitol Hill. Some Democrats, including President Obama think the decision went too far in altering campaign finance law. But does campaign cash really influence how politicians act once in office?
Second hour: Recently released statistics show that, after years of decline, the teen pregnancy rate in the U.S. rose by more than 3% in 2006. The increase is leading some teen pregnancy prevention advocates to call for more creative efforts to address the issue.
Midday (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.) - First hour: On precinct caucus day, Minnesota's three major political party chairs -- DFL Chair Brian Melendez, Republican Tony Sutton and IP chair Jack Uldrich.
Second hour: Stephanie Curtis talks about the Academy Award nominations.
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) - First hour: Child trafficking in Haiti.
Second hour: What's next for "No Child Left Behind"?
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - North Star Foods has announced it will not rebuild the processing plant that burned down in April. What will this news mean for the town's largest private employer and the 250 workers that worked there? MPR's Elizabeth Baier will report.
NPR profiles Andrew Breitbart, who works from his basement (why are so many bloggers working in their basement?), but he wields an outsize influence in the world of online conservative media. The blogger created a series of news Web sites designed to take on what he says is the smothering leftist influence of the federal government, Hollywood, and the media.(10 Comments)
The students were assigned to one of four options: eight hour-long abstinence-only classes; safe-sex classes; classes incorporating both approaches; or classes in general healthy behavior. Results for the first three classes were compared with the group that had only the general health classes. That was the "control group" the study used for comparison.Two years later, a third of the kids in the abstinence-only classes had had sex, compared with half the kids in the general health class.
For one thing, the students in this study supporting abstinence-only education are young. Really young: tweens -- 11- and 12-year-olds, maybe 13, max -- whose sexual activity was surveyed again just two years later, when they were 13 or 14 years old. But the stats on teen pregnancy are for kids aged 15 to 19 -- a completely different age group. Also, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which documented the rise in teen pregnancies, African-American teen pregnancies increased less than other groups, so an abstinence-only study that focused only on urban African-American middle-school students may not be easily applied to teenagers in general.On MPR's Midmorning, Kerri Miller looked at the question of teen pregnancy and abstinence.
A design firm is out with a proposed "eco-friendly" NFL football stadium for a realty corporation that wants to attract an NFL team.
Is it mere coincidence it has a "purple" theme?
"The innovative 75,000-seat stadium will be built at a cost of $800 million, which is about $400 million less than other NFL stadium proposals," the Web site says.
The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, however, has unveiled an $870 million stadium design to try to keep the Vikings in Minnesota. The team's lease at the Metrodome ends after the 2011-2012 season.
(h/t: Ken Paulman)(6 Comments)
WCCO's Mark Rosen is no hack when it comes to reporting. But the media is bending over backwards to declare his report yesterday that Joe Mauer and the Twins have reached an agreement on a 10-year contract "false."
Not so fast.
Let's look at the story, again.
A source tells WCCO-TV's Mark Rosen that American League MVP Joe Mauer has come to a preliminary agreement with the Minnesota Twins for a 10-year contract extension.
Given that Rosen is highly regarded, the odds are that at least one of his sources are:
1. Joe Mauer
2. Joe Mauer's agent
3. The Minnesota Twins
Let's examine the denials
The Star Tribune's Joe Christensen quotes sources "close to the Mauer family" in noting that there's no deal.
Two people close to the Mauer family said they'd heard the framework of a deal -- number of years and guaranteed money -- may already be in place, with the sides simply ironing out details such as deferred payments. Those claims have gone unconfirmed by people close to the negotiations.
"Going unconfirmed" is not the same as saying a story is wrong. And isn't the "framework of a deal" -- money and number of years -- pretty much what a preliminary agreement is?
The Star Tribune's Lavelle E. Neal offers the obvious conclusion -- preliminary deal/no preliminary deal, Mauer is likely staying. And that's the story.
Minnesota Public Radio's Tim Post got the Twins' denial:
But a Twins spokesman tells MPR that a deal between the 26-year-old star catcher and the Twins has not been signed.
But nobody said a deal has been signed, only that a preliminary agreement had been reached.
USA Today's baseball writer, Bob Nightengale, "tweeted" :
Joe Mauer laughed at reports that he agreed to a 10 year contract with the Twins. No truth, he says.
MLB.com also declared there was "no truth" to the report:
but two sources with direct knowledge of the negotiations said there was no truth to the report.
Again, two sources with direct knowledge would likely be (a) Mauer, (b) Mauer's agent and (c) The Twins. If those look familiar, take another look at Rosen's likely sources.
If Mauer ends up signing a 10-year deal, someone's sources are fibbing.
However, as the MLB.com story points out, the general feeling around these parts is that Mauer will sign with the Twins. So Rosen is likely at least preliminarily correct.
In any event, who is volunteering to tell the Yankees Joe Mauer won't be wearing pinstripes?(2 Comments)
The U.S. Olympic team has been finalized, and Minnesota is sending more athletes to Vancouver than any other state. Chisholm, Duluth, and Edina tie for most athletes from a single city.
Here's the final list of the "locals":
Rebekah Bradford; Apple Valley, Minn.; Speedskating (LT)
Wynn Roberts; Battle Lake, Minn.; Biathlon
Natalie Nicholson; Bemidji, Minn.; Curling
David Backes; Blaine, Minn.; Ice Hockey
Erik Johnson; Bloomington, Minn.; Ice Hockey
John Shuster; Chisholm, Minn.; Curling
Jason Smith; Chisholm, Minn.; Curling
Jamie Langenbrunner; Cloquet, Minn.; Ice Hockey
Jeff Isaacson; Duluth, Minn.; Curling
Chris Plys; Duluth, Minn.; Curling
Natalie Darwitz; Eagan, Minn.; Ice Hockey
Allison Pottinger; Eden Prairie, Minn.; Curling
Jenny Potter; Edina, Minn.; Ice Hockey
Kaylin Richardson; Edina, Minn.; Skiing - Alpine
Caitlin Compton; Minneapolis, Minn.; Skiing - Cross Country
Garrot Kuzzy; Minneapolis, Minn.; Skiing - Cross Country
Zach Parise; Prior Lake, Minn.; Ice Hockey
John Benton; St. Michael, Minn.; Curling
Gigi Marvin; Warroad, Minn.; Ice Hockey
Tony Benshoof; White Bear Lake, Minn.; Luge
Paul Martin, Elk River, Minn.; Ice Hockey
(Update: Tomorrow on Morning Edition, Cathy Wurzer tries her hand at curling. I believe we'll also have some video. Don't miss it, because it'll probably be four years before we do another curling story.)(4 Comments)