Paying to play, talking txt, roundabouts reconsidered, the point of no return, and busted in a boom.
1) PAY TO PLAY
Is this the beginning of the end for high school after-school activities?
Lakeville has joined the list of school districts that have chosen to charge parents more money if they want their kids to play school sports or other activities. The parents will pay 75% of extracurricular fees and there'll be no cap on the amount parents would pay. If you've got a brainy kid who can pass the puck, you'll have to pay more.
Sure the the $600 for basketball, gymnastics and volleyball, and the $440 for adaptive sports and cheerleading is pricey, but there's still an argument to be made that athletics should be sacrificed before academics (although there's a good debate on this going on at Lakeville Patch). But the school board also tacked on fees for debate, math league and mock trial.
What's happening in your district? What are the fees, if any? Has your family sacrificed extra-curriculars because of them?
The Duluth News Tribune has the other side of the coin: Students have left the school district and now the district is ready to spend money on a marketing campaign to get some back. "School districts years ago didn't worry about marketing," Superintendent Keith Dixon said. "There was no other choice. Market share? We had it. It's a new day."
It's not known yet what the marketing plan will push but the paper quotes a district spokeswoman, who cited the main reasons given by parents whose kids left the district. Athletics and extra-curricular activities did not appear to be near the top.
When did we start talking like text messages, the Associated Press asks.
People who think acronyms are new may be suffering from what linguists call a "recency illusion" -- the illusion that something is new merely because one has just noticed it. They may not realize, for example, that the oft-used "snafu," in its cruder, more popular version, contains the same "F" that "WTF" does.
But one thing that does seem genuinely new, Greene says, "is that these three-letter phrases from the Internet and twitter-speak are being spoken out loud."
It turns out, speaking in acronyms has been part of language for hundreds of years. Alright, that's taken care of. Next up: Why do people start sentences with "so"?
3) ROUNDABOUTS RECONSIDERED
Why are people still get worked up about roundabouts -- "rotaries" we we used to call them in New England? In Crow Wing County -- Brainerd -- a man objected to a proposed roundabout in the city, invoking World War II in the process.
"Being a good American that I am and thinking we fought a war with Europe over some things, this is one of those things that seems to me to be European," County Commission Chair Paul Thiede said. "... What are we accomplishing and if it doesn't work what is the corrective action?"
It'll work, the traffic engineer said.
And, indeed, they have when they've been installed. A lot of people predicted doom when Woodbury's Bailey Road roundabout was built a few years ago -- one of the first ones in the state. They predicted a lot of accidents, but there've been relatively few and when there are, they're at slower speeds than people running through stop signs or red lights, which Woodbury drivers do with -- literally -- reckless abandon.
Oh, the Crow Wing County Board approved the roundabout project. Brainerd, the Paris of Minnesota.
4) THE POINT OF NO RETURN
Here's a guy who really doesn't want to be a robber:
It happened around Seattle. The man got $300 and was arrested a short time later.
Let's put our heads together here: What other options did the man have?
Also on the crime beat: In Northampton in the UK, a bunch of punks on scooters were no match for an old lady with a purse when they tried a smash-and-grab at a jewelry store:
5) BUSTED IN A BOOM
MPR's Dan Gunderson details the negative side of any economic boom. People flocking to an area looking for work and ending up homeless because they didn't find any. It's happening in a big way in Fargo and other parts of North Dakota, he reports.
This winter, local agencies are hearing from as many as 60 people a week who looking for shelter.
For the first time, the local school has hired a homeless liaison, said Darianne Johnson, who runs the local domestic violence shelter. People are sleeping in cars or cramming 10 people into a one bedroom apartment.
Johnson said she's heard people are renting unheated storage garages to sleep in.
Bonus: Bloopers from everyone's favorite Super Bowl commercial.
THE UNOFFICIAL "TODAY'S QUESTION"
The sun rose this morning in St. Paul at 7:22 a.m. It rises 19 minutes later on the state's western border. The sun sets in St. Paul today at 5:32 p.m. It sets on the western border at 5:42 p.m. -- 10 minutes later. Where do the 9 minutes come from?
THE OFFICIAL "TODAY'S QUESTION"
The health care law passed last year has drawn fire for its requirement that every American buy health insurance. Advocates say such a mandate is necessary because without it, only sick people will buy coverage. But other incentives might induce healthy people to enroll - for example, a five-year waiting period before those who at first opt out are eligible to buy coverage and enjoy any of the discounts or guarantees provided under the law. If your choice was to enroll in a health plan or remain on your own for at least five years, what would you do?
WHAT WE'RE DOING
A pledge drive starts today -- lots of rebroadcasts of some favorite shows coming.
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) - First hour: She was called Queen of Kings, and in her lifetime Cleopatra was romantically linked with both Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. Biographer Stacy Schiff discusses her.
Second hour: Historian Joseph Ellis's new book takes a look at the enduring relationship between John Adams and his wife, Abigail, as revealed through their letters to one another.
Midday (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.) - First hour: Former governor Arne Carlson previews the State of the State address by Gov. Mark Dayton.
Second hour: Live broadcast of the State of the State address.
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) - First hour: Ken Rudin looks at the future for moderates in the Democratic Party.
Second hour: The Blind Side's Michael Oher.
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - Gov. Mark Dayton delivers his first State of the State speech to the new Republican-led Legislature. He's expected to make the case for why he thinks the state needs to raise income taxes on top earners. Republican leaders are likely to react by saying they can balance the budget with spending cuts alone. MPR's Tim Pugmire will have the story.
Central Corridor Light Rail has set goals that exceed federal standards on hiring minority and women-run contracting firms, but those goals may not be achievable, MPR's Dan Olson will report.
Difference in elevation differential?
Fargo is 904 feet above sea level, about the same as Woodbury. I could understand if there were a big mountain to the west of Fargo that might make sunset occur earlier -- since there isn't one in St. Paul -- but there's nothing but flat land as far as the eye can see.
Latitude. The further north you go in winter, the less daylight you have. Go far enough (ie, above the arctic circle) and you have 24-hour night.
We can confirm this by looking at Duluth, which is approximately the same latitude as Fargo and longitude as Woodbury: Sunrise 7:22 -- same as Woodbury. Sunset: 5:24, or 8 minutes earlier... just about the same length of day as Fargo.
Interesting piece on Lakeville. Last bit of news I heard last night before drifting off was that they had a significant budget deficit...and would be laying off 80 teachers and closing an elementary school. I think I'd rather pay for sports than risk my kids being put in a classroom with 40 kids. How will they fix this problem? All extra curriculars are just that...not saying they aren't good, they are, but do we want our kids to learn to read or throw a football for their future? What are the stats on HS football stars that actually make it to the pros? And if they get a college scholarship for it, how are they doing in their academics? Hasn't MN learned it's education lessons yet???
One thing, though, nanci is that the fees aren't just for sports. Take "math challenge," for example. Is that an extension of wanting our kids to learn to do math?
It seems like alot but could the extra 9 minutes be coming from the fact that the days are getting longer right now? During the day the sun moves more north making the end of the "longer" than the beginning.
Oh, and sorry to be leaving so many comments, but I would like to say a few things about roundabouts/rotaries. Not only is the name different between the midwest and the northeast, but the functions are typically different too.
Midwestern "roundabouts" tend to be small, intersection-sized things with one lane of traffic that connect busy residential-type streets.
Northeastern "rotaries" are larger interchanges, typically with two lanes of traffic, designed to connect busy highway-type thoroughfares.
Both seem to work pretty well once people get used to driving in them.
Never mind my last thought was wrong. If you are measuring along the same line of latitude both should be changing at the same rate. I also though maybe it's because they are further west in the time zone than st. paul but that just means that it would that the sunrise and sunset would be later but the total time of day would be the same.
It could be where they are measuring the sunrise from. I know you said elevation shouldn't be a problem but it actually can be depending on where you measure. St. Paul can be as low as 700 ft down by the river which is about 300 ft less then out west. This would mean that the west would actually have a longer day then which isn't the case (10:10 of sunlight for st. paul but only 10:01 for west).
So I have no clue
"The sun rose this morning in St. Paul at 7:22 a.m. It rises 19 minutes later on the state's western border. The sun sets in St. Paul today at 5:32 p.m. It sets on the western border at 5:42 p.m. -- 10 minutes later. Where do the 9 minutes come from? - NEWSCUT"
I am shocked that the question needs to be asked. The answer is longitude.
The earth rotates at a constant rate. One revolution every 24 hours. If you know the exact time, you can fix your east-west position by the sun-rise. That is why longitude is divided into degrees and "minutes" It is how ships navigated the seas prior to GPS.
It is also why we have highly accurate clocks.
Roundabouts seem like an opportunity for the already horribly inattentive Minnesota driver to impress even less. I almost got t-boned by yet another SUV-driving mom that wasn't aware you have to yield to cars already on the roundabout. I like roundabouts because they keep traffic flowing, unlike stop signs and lights, but it may take a generation for the populace to adjust.
Like Matt, I have to amend my answer too.
Even though Longitude is the most important variable, latitude and elevation are important for precision also.
Check this website out.: http://www.sunrisesunset.com/custom_srss_calendar.asp.
You can enter your city (position) and chart a calendar of sunrises and sunsets
Bismuth and GregS are both right. It's a factor of both Latitude and Longitude.
For Bob's question about western MN vs. the Cities, it's really about Longitude and the division of Time Zones. As you rotate a sphere (Earth) the horizon will creep along creating sunrise along that horizon line at one particular moment in time. GregS is right on in that you can measure your latitude with an extremely accurate clock. When you create a time zone, the East to West distance makes it so that there is a measurable difference between sunrise and sunset times as that horizon line creeps across. Bismuth is also correct in that as you go further North (or South below the equator) the distance between you and the Longitude line that is "zero" for the purposes of defining the start of the day becomes less. If you're navigating using the sunrise and a clock to determine latitude, that needs to be corrected for. In order for ships to navigate manually a sextant is needed to determine both latitude and longitude.
On starting sentences with "so"
Alright I think I figured it out.
Longitude only matters for the time of sunrise and sunset. Bob’s question was not why are the times different but why is the total amount of daylight 9 minutes shorter out west.
Latitude matters a lot for total time of day. The further North you go currently (as it’s winter in our hemisphere) the shorter the total time of day is. I’m going to give Bob the benefit of the doubt and assume he picked to a spot out west that is the same latitude as St. Paul.
The only other major factor then would be elevation. Previously I thought it was the absolute elevation (that above sea level) that mattered but now that I think about it, it is more of the relative elevation to the surrounding terrain that matters. If you do the math someone who is 4ft tall has a closer horizon than someone who is 6ft tall, which would make the 6ft tall persons total time of day longer (even if only by a few seconds) than the person who is 4ft tall.
That being the case I think wherever Bob got the daylight data from out west has a lower relative elevation than St. Paul does to the surrounding terrain.
Hopefully that’s right and my mind can rest at ease.
The Seamus Heaney translation of Beowulf starts with the word "So". When that came out, I had a college professor who was VERY upset about Heaney's decision to use that word. We had to sit in class and listen to a 15 minute rant on the matter.
So I guess it's not an answer to Bob's question, but I had to share.
So how about Bob? What location did you pick out west? Seems Matt, GregS and I are rather invested in this little tidbit you threw us today. Inquiring minds want to know....
"The sun rose this morning in St. Paul at 7:22 a.m. It rises 19 minutes later on the state's western border. The sun sets in St. Paul today at 5:32 p.m. It sets on the western border at 5:42 p.m. -- 10 minutes later. Where do the 9 minutes come from?"
Science, schmience. As far as I'm concerned its just another example of the metro taking from the outstate more than they deserve...
I picked Fargo, without even thinking about the different latitude.
However, let's take Worthington, which I think is roughly the same as the Twin Cities (maybe a little more south).
According to Google, sunset in Worthington today is at 5:44... two minutes later than Fargo.
Well that solves the mystery. Fargo has a shorter total daylight than St. Paul because its much further north.
Worthington has a later sunset than Fargo (but longer total daylight) because it's further south. While it is more east that Fargo it is far enough south apparently to give it a later sunset.
Worthington also has a later sunrise/set than St. Paul because it's further west. It has a longer total daylight though because it's further south.
Science, amazing stuff :D
By the way, GregS, I think one of the reasons you're shocked is because you didn't understand the question.
Longitude is responsible for the DIFFERENCE in time between west and east. But that wasn't what I was asking.
I was asking about the difference in times between sunrise and sunset. And, you're right, latitude might explain that -- although I do not believe latitude explains a 9 minute difference in the gap of the gap.
Green Bay's sunrise tomorrow is at 6:59 a.m.... 22 minutes before St. Paul's. But the difference in sunset is only 19 minutes. They're both roughly at the same latitude, I believe.
//point of no return:
What other options did the man have? Did he think to ask a local church? the food bank? the NW equivalent of LSS? I know that there are social service agencies that, although stretched thin, would have found a way to help this man.
What is sad is that having performed an armed robbery, he will not be able to provide for his children now. (Granted this is assuming that what he told the clerk is true).
I think this is easier to understand if you think in total minutes of daylight as oppose to sunrise/set times. The times for GreenBay would then be 3 minutes shorter than that of St. Paul.
I think this one is due to elevation as I pointed out above. Since GreenBay is 200-300 ft lower than St. Paul this would mean their horizon is much closer, giving them less daylight.
You can see this very well if you look at the sun rise against a tall building. The top of the building (several hundred feet above the bottom) gets a few minutes more daylight per day than the bottom does. The same would happen due to elevation on earth. Like I said above I think the relative height as compared to the surrounding terrain matters more but absolute height matters too.
I ain't no Galileo, and at times have difficulty finding my butt in the dark with both hands. But with such clearly intelligent individuals perplexed by basic questions of geography and astronomy, I now somewhat better understand why U.S. 16 year olds rank 23rd worldwide in science knowledge. :-)
I can't remember a time when my parents didn't have to pay for my high school sports and activities, except of course that our district offered an individual and family cap on how much was charged. This meant that as soon as three of us had paid for swimming (upwards of $300 each IIRC) we'd maxed out and all other activities were "free for the year" (We still had to pay for equipment, training camps, and etc. though. My sister's Nordic skiing was the most expensive "free" extracurricular my family ever encountered.)
//-- although I do not believe latitude explains a 9 minute difference in the gap of the gap.
OK Bob, get ready for math!
I was hoping to find out the southernmost point that currently sees no daylight to make my point, but couldn't find anywhere that had it listed. So instead, let's look at Barrow AK, where the sun hasn't yet risen today, and who should expect about 5.7 hours of total daylight -- or roughly 4.5 more hours than St. Paul. Barrow is at 71 degrees N, while St Paul is at 45 degrees and Fargo is just shy of 47 degrees.
So the question is: if going north 26 degrees gives you 4.5 less hours of daylight, can going north 2 degrees be responsible for 9 minutes (or about 0.2 hours?)
4.5 hours / 26 degrees is 0.17 hours per degree. Multiply that by 2 degrees, and we should expect 0.34 hours of lost daylight between St. Paul and Fargo -- about 20 minutes!
So yes, latitude can make that big of a difference.
(As to why the calculation overestimates the daytime loss, it's because as you get closer to the poles, the effect becomes more pronounced, or in technical terms, it's not a linear relationship with latitude.)
Since the time difference question has been analyzed from all angles I won't get in on that except to comment on GregS and clocks. He mentioned it's why we also have very accurate clocks. Actually if one is to believe Dava Sobel's treatment of the story in the book "Longitude" it's the other way around. We have a usable concept of longitude because we have very good clocks.
On roundabouts, rotaries or traffic circles: I'll quibble with Bismuth's distinction. I lived in southern New Jersey, for a couple of years and we had the big circles (one was 4 or 5 lanes wide). We also had the little circles at some intersections. (Though these were more common in northern NJ). The feature they have in south Jersey that we should have here is the Jughandle which according to the wikipedia entry linked are used here in Minnesota, but I've not seen one.
Wonder how the roundabout guy feels about bratwurst?
Bob is right, I misunderstood the question. I am backtracking from longitude to latitude. I thought we were talking about the shift in sunrise and sunset, not the difference in time of sunlight.
To illustrate how dramatic latitude can be, I looked up the sunrise/sunset times for the North Pole. At this time of year, the sun is down all day until March 19. Then is up all day until September 25, then it sets until next March..
Roundabouts are great for warmer climates with less snow.
To appreciate what I mean, try creeping into a roundabout with six feet of snow pilled around the rim. You can't see the cars circling up behind until they are almost on you, and you have to strain to over your shoulder to get a glimpse.
" ... this is one of those things that seems to me to be European"
So the guy fought a war to save Europe, and now he's against anything European? Why the knee-jerk rejection of anything not invented here? Only fools do not learn from other people's good ideas, and we Americans are fools lately. I say adopt roundabouts, baguettes, and single payer health care immediately.