1) The U.S. Census Bureau has come up with an ingenious way to get us to fill out the census forms, which arrived in the mail a week or so ago -- play to our competitive streaks. The census agency is posting participation rates. As of this morning, Minnesota is surrounded by states that are participating more than Minnesota. In fact, 8 of the top 10 cities for census participation are in North Dakota and South Dakota.
Courtland, Minnesota is the only Minnesota community in the top-50 cities for participation. Courtland is on the banks of the Minnesota River, southwest of New Ulm. Its population is 617.
Update: The Census Bureau has sent out a news release expressing some alarm about Texas and also calling out the laggard cities:
Brownsville = 25% (Census 2000 = 63%)
Laredo = 27% (Census 2000 = 63%)
Austin = 33% (Census 2000 = 68%)
Houston = 33% (Census 2000 = 64%)
San Antonio = 37% (Census 2000 = 72%)
2) Over the weekend -- that's right, I work seven days a week -- I wrote about the "novelty effect" of Target Field and how long it's expected to boost the Twins' on-the-field fortunes. Coincidentally, a U of M sports management professor, Eric Brownlee, considers this question. I wasn't aware of his video until last evening. (h/t: Ryan Maus)
3) Want to learn everything about the health care law in an easily understood form? Pick up a copy of today's New York Times. It has an entire section of stories about the impact of the law on real people. There's an online version here.
4) Ethics question: Does YouTube have a responsibility to take down the channel operated by Hutaree, the group that was raided by federal authorities yesterday and is accused of plotting attacks against police officers and the government? Should YouTube reveal to authorities the names of people who signed up as "friends" of Hutaree on YouTube?
Another ethics question: The man accused of shooting his wife to death in Mankato posts a Web site claiming the victim abused his children. She's dead and can't speak for herself. Others are bound by privacy laws. Do I quote it and link to it? (Answer: I took the cowardly way out and linked to it on Twitter.
5) I still have a slight bump on my head, from when I bumped into Mrs. News Cut in the dark on Saturday evening. We had turned out our lights as part of the Earth Hour promotion. I endured the pain because I knew I was taking one for the team and that cutting even an hour's electricity usage would lead to a substantial reduction in the number of railroad cars full of coal used to generate it that we saw on our recent trip to the southwest.
Did it? I asked Xcel Energy. Here's Patti Nystuen's reply:
Unfortunately, we cannot calculate an hour-by-hour change in usage for Earth Hour and we do not have those numbers available. Usage is based on hour-of-day, the weather, the economy... and what do you compare it to - the hour before? the year before? the day before? A drop or rise in usage may simply be attributed to the time of day or the outside temperature. I'm sorry that we can't be of more assistance.
Bonus: If male Islamic extremist suicide bombers get eternity as martyrs with 72 virgins, who do female suicide bombers get to spend eternity with? Slate has the answer: Their husbands.
Contest: Study this photo, which I took while driving toward Arizona two weeks ago.
Find the story on the MPR Web site this morning that directly relates to the picture. The story won't mention anything about the field, however.
The winner gets a pony. *
Monday's suicide bombings in Moscow prompted security alerts around the world, including in the United States. Do you worry about terrorist attacks coming to Minnesota?
WHAT WE'RE DOING
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) - First hour: Making the college decision. As college acceptance letters arrive this spring, many students are weighing complicated financial packages as major factors in their decision. The high cost of college is forcing some to turn down their dream schools.
Second hour: It's not a cure for blindness just yet, but some scientists hope that a bionic retina may actually return sight to people who can't see. The early adopters of this technology report they can see shapes and distinguish dark and light. They can even read. Also what others of us can do to preserve sight from one of the main causes of blindness as we age.
Midday (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.) - First hour: Minnesota House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher and Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller will be in the studio to answer listener questions about the key issues in the session, as lawmakers start the Passover-Easter break.
Second hour: NPR reporter Deborah Amos, speaking at the MPR Broadcast Journalist Series about Iraq.
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) - First hour: The ethics, technology, and
legal legitimacy of drones.
Second hour: Actor and novelist Gene Wilder.
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - MPR's Bob Kelleher looks at the effect of the health reform bill's tax credit for small businesses that buy health insurance for employees. Small business people remain wary of federal health care reform passed into law last week. Even those who strongly support health care availability worry that reform will push up the costs of providing employees health insurance.
Gilberto Gil, seminal Brazilian musician and former minister of culture, comes to Orchestra Hall on Saturday. MPR's Euan Kerr talks to him about his music, his life as a political exile in the '60s, his campaign for digital diversity, and how he feels about performing now.
(*) - This is a lie.
Thanks. Finding the MN vs TX census participation rates rather funny in light of all admonishments to snowbirds to fill out their census at their permanent address.
For a second I thought I was going to read a story about how the census was using lottery scratch-off tickets.
Mathematically/logically speaking, the fact that the Census Bereau can tell you the participation rates seems a little odd. Consider the equation:
Particiaption rate = # of people counted/# of total people *100
Sure they know the # of people counted. But isn't the demoninator, the total number of people, what the census is trying to determine. If you already know that, why do you need a census? If you don't know that, how can we believe the participation rates?
I presume that's the field in Colorado where #TargetField grass was grown...
But, I can't find any new stories related to the ball park on the site today. How about: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2010/03/29/target-field-turf/
The census asks how many people are living at your house on April 1. No one should have mailed it back yet!
//I presume that's the field in Colorado where #TargetField grass was grown...
Saddle up, pard'ner
\\If male Islamic extremist suicide bombers get eternity as martyrs with 72 virgins, who do female suicide bombers get to spend eternity with? Slate has the answer: Their husbands.
Which, of course, explains why there are so few female suicide bombers.
"Mathematically/logically speaking, the fact that the Census Bereau can tell you the participation rates seems a little odd. Consider the equation:
Particiaption rate = # of people counted/# of total people *100"
Perhaps the problem lies not with the Census Bureau, but with the formula provided. Participation rate is not the ratio of # of people counted to total population, it is the ratio of # of surveys returned to # of surveys sent.
i.e. participation rate is dependent on addresses, not people.
Good point. But doesn't that assume that someone lives at every address?
"But doesn't that assume that someone lives at every address?"
Yup. Given that there is vacant housing nationwide, the bureau likely expects to send out more surveys than they will receive. That is part of the job of the on-the-ground followup teams. You have to wonder what kinds of efforts they make to establish whether a home or apartment is vacant or not. Do they check property records? Do they check real estate listings? How do you count all the newly homeless that we hear about living in their cars, showering at rest stops, etc?
Back to the participation rate calculation; I don't know a better way to calculate it than to count the number of surveys you send & compare it to the number you receive. If the goal is to make sure you count everybody, it seems like you have to send more than you expect to get back - i.e. err on the side of sending too many than too few.
Sounds like Earth Hour's impact on energy consumption is so small it can't be distinguished from normal variation.
Ride To Work Day on June 21 might have a similar impact on traffic congestion.
I think the Census bureau would have a better rate of return if all of the households would have RECEIVED a form. I know of two rural households that have not received their Census forms yet.
One of those households is that of my parents, who are both retirees of the Government (one Federal, one State). Last week, they received a postcard reminding them to return the Census form they received. Since they had not received the form yet, they called the toll free number listed on the card. They were then informed that if they did not receive a form by April 16th, that they should call back. They are afraid that someone will show up at their door before then. My mother thinks it would be a waste of money to pay a salary & mileage to someone to get the answers for people who are perfectly able (and willing!) to fill out a form.