November by the numbers, how much does a hurricane weigh, is sad so bad, the Disneyland disaster, and why don't college students graduate in four years?
1) NOVEMBER BY THE NUMBERS
Quick! Who leads in the polls for governor in Minnesota? We're knee deep in the every-other-day-a-new-poll season. Today, the MPR-Humphrey Institute poll shows Democrat Mark Dayton with an 11-percentage-point lead. All of the polls use different methodologies and all of them weight their polls differently. The expert who oversees the poll says the reason is Democrats now intend to turn out to vote in percentages equal to Republicans. Chances are: They always intended to, they just weren't interested in immersing themselves in the election in the middle of the summer.
The other wild-card is Independent Tom Horner. The poll shows more Republicans are swinging to him. At 16-percent, Horner is running out of time to be something other than a third-party spoiler. If he doesn't show stronger support in three or four weeks, the big story will be whether all of those Republicans supporting Horner jump back to Emmer.
|Star Tribune (9/26)||
|KSTP/Survey USA (9/15)||
So many "ifs," what, then, do these polls really tell us? Have you decided yet?
Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight takes a different approach. He calculates the chances a candidate will win based on "100,000 simulations with random variation in the local and national political environment," whatever that means. He calculates Dayton has a 78.1% chance of winning, Emmer has a 21.9% chance of winning, and Horner has no chance of winning.
2) HOW MUCH DOES A HURRICANE WEIGH?
Does Robert Krulwich ever run out of science questions?
Of course, we're more concerned about the weight of flood water around here. So, my napkin-math this morning reveals that the Mississippi River is moving through St. Paul at 63,000 cubic feet per second. A cubic foot of water weighs about 62 pounds. The Mississippi, the calculation suggests, weighs 3.9 million pounds at the observation point. Now, what do we do with that?
The city of Chaska has just posted this time-lapse video of the city's athletic field.
And this video, taken Monday, from Redwood Falls is another example of the paradox of the beauty of destructive forces.
3)IS SAD SO BAD?
"Depression is an illness with a global reach," Mary Kenny writes on the BBC today. But, sometimes, can't we just be sad as part of the natural course of life's events? She posits that we are losing old rituals of sadness.
No doubt we are better off for shedding much of the stigma surrounding mental illness - but with it, have we lost some of the variety, the dark poetry of the human condition?
Related from the BBC: Your mid-life crisis will likely start in your 30s.
4) "THE MARK TWAIN IS SINKING!"
Disneyland Disaster. Wired.com has a look back at the day Disneyland opened, with the real story.
5)WHY DON'T COLLEGE STUDENTS GRADUATE IN FOUR YEARS?
The University of Minnesota is trying to get students in and get them out in four years. Today, the U Daily editorial finds some problems with the plan, and offers its own solution:
In this country, college is supposed to be a place for intellectual exploration, not merely a clearinghouse for the marketplace. It's impractical to think all students should know what they want to pursue in four years. Many change majors and many pursue multiple studies. Most are here for a more fulfilling life.
Students also take longer than four years because they feel financial pressure to work and avoid taking out big student loans, delaying their progress. On that, Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education Robert McMaster had this to say: "What we'd rather have students do, instead of working ... is find other resources." So why not offer lower tuition for a student's last semester if it gets him or her out in four years or less?
It's an idea that is 180 degrees opposite the U's plan, which increased tuition the longer you stay in college. What if tuition went down the closer a student is to graduating?
Bonus: There's nothing wrong with youth sports that getting rid of adults won't cure.
Law enforcement officials are seeking new rules to make it easier for them to tap e-mail accounts the way they do phones. What right should government have to read your e-mail?
WHAT WE'RE DOING
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) - First hour: Assessing the impact of the bailout.
Second hour: Davis Guggenheim, director of "Waiting for Superman." His other films include "An Inconvenient Truth" and "Training Day."
Midday (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.) - First hour: Political scientist Larry Jacobs of the University of Minnesota discusses the gubernatorial race.
Second hour: A Chautauqua Lecture about Supreme Court decision making, given by former Solicitor General Paul Clement .
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) - First hour: Political talk with Ken Rudin, NPR's political editor.
Second hour: Marlo Thomas discusses her new book, "Growing Up Laughing."
I totally agree with the comment about college being about more than job training. I can't imagine having well rounded, engaged leaders in our communities if all college was about was job training. I graduated in 6.5 years, taking full course loads every semester. I had a double majors in math and chemistry for education (the equivalent of a triple major). I took a few classes I didn't end up needing, some due to horrible advising and some because I was interested in areas outside of what my career was going to be. I learned a lot from some of those classes that weren't math and science and would take most of them if I had to do it over again. Of course if I had to do it again, education would have been as a masters program in the same amount of time (or skipped entirely), but my advisors really were atrocious.
The U's plan to make tuition increasingly expensive in a surefire way to to get people to not end up getting a degree. Let's talk about a place that is so horribly upside down. It's expensive, and the classes keep getting cut back, but, oh, hey! They have a huge new football stadium.
10+ years ago when I was making the decision about which college to go to, it turned out that, with the merit-based scholarship I was eligible for, The U was more expensive (especially with room and board figured in) than a handful of private schools. So I got smaller classes, amazing support from professors, and guaranteed housing for less? Sign me up!
Here's my suggestion: Suspend every single sports program for 5 years at the U and lower tuition with the money saved.
[The Mississippi, the calculation suggests, weighs 3.9 million pounds at the observation point. Now, what do we do with that?]
If we knew the cross-sectional area of the river at that point, we could calculate the average flow velocity of all that water, and from there figure out how much kinetic energy is going by you every second, or how much force a reporter who stands in the stream must be able to withstand.
//figure out how much kinetic energy is going by you every second, or how much force a reporter who stands in the stream must be able to withstand.
See, that's the kind of quality comment the people at YouTube and the Star Tribune can only dream about. Well-played!
//It's an idea that is 180 degrees opposite the U's plan, which increased tuition the longer you stay in college. What if tuition went down the closer a student is to graduating?
Isn't that what is happening now anyway? Each year they are raising the fees.
I like my school, $6500 and I can take as many classes as I can pass. http://www.wgu.edu/
I've never quite understood why there's so much attention paid to political polls. I can see the candidate's campaign strategists being interested in poll numbers, but beyond that why should we care.
I would be like to know if there have been any studies on how polls impact voters choices. Does the idea of not wanting to vote for the "loser" factor into the decision-making process?
Bisumuth, that comment is awesome.
College tuition is totally out of whack. The cost of collega has risen many times faster than the pay for the sort of jobs students hold while in school.
Back in my day (geezer alert!) I could attend a local private college for less than $2,000/year. I was able to earn most of that working part time after school and full time in the summer as well as keep gas in my beater car. I still lived with my parents, so no room and board. I was able to graduate with just couple thousand in very low interest National Defense Student Loans.
This kind of self-financed education was out of the question for my kids. I had to help a lot, and they had to choose a cheaper school. There was no way they could match what I was able to do. Although the wages they could earn have tripled from what I made working at my part-time job, the cost of that school I attended has risen well over 10 times.
It's no wonder students without well to do parents have considerable pressure to work more while they are in school, if they go at all.
I don't think the cross section of the river is needed at all. At least with respect to how much force a reporter standing in the river needs to be able to withstand. Hydrodynamics is not an area of expertise for me, but I would think that the force in this case is related to the cross section of the reporter in contact with the flowing water. So you can determine the force applied to the reporter by determining the force of water per square inch and then determining how many square inches of reporter are in contact with the water. (There will be turbulence effects as the water flows around the reporter but including that just complicates things.)
@JackU - How are you going to determine the force of water per square inch? You'd need the forward velocity of the water -- which I suppose you *could* just measure directly, but given that we already know the volumetric flowrate, all you need to know is what size of a "pipe" all that water is trying to go through.
And since we're doing napkin math anyway...
Let's call the river 1000 feet wide and an average of 30 feet deep (both total guesses on my part), so it has a cross-section of 30,000 square feet. 63,000 cubic feet per second are passing through that area, for an average velocity of about 2 ft/sec, or just under about 1.4 miles an hour.
Of course, that's an *average* velocity. Where the reporter is standing is probably going to be a bit less than that, while the main channel will be a lot more.
@Bismuth-Point taken, as I said I'm not trained in fluid dynamics.
So I decided to use Google and see what I could find. A quick search on "water speed Minnesota river" returns a page from Twin Cities Tours on the Mississippi River. According to this site the surface speed of the river ranges from 1.2 mph at Itasca to 3.0 mph in New Orleans. Also they mention that the Volume of the river is 6 cu ft/sec at Itasca, 12,000 cu ft/sec at Minneapolis and 600,000 cu ft/sec at New Orleans. So if these figures are accurate then the current flow rate is 5 times the normal flow rate. Yikes.