Please stop. I’m bored! (Five by 8 – 10/1/10)

Whale snot and the scientist, the power of 1 and 2, leaf peeping in Minnesota, the debt of World War I, and Jim Thome in song.


All of these great scientists in one spot. The igNobels were handed out last night at Harvard. They’re aimed at academics who appear to be quite good at producing irrelevant research. For example, did you know that people will fall less if they wear socks on the outside of their shoes in the winter? So, do that. Be sure to send pictures.

Another finalist were researchers who figured out that symptoms of asthma can be relieved with a roller-coaster ride. Other scientists were recognized for the revelation that whale snot can be gathered by remote helicopter. This inspires me to suggest additional research. Are people in better moods when they start the day by working the word snot into a conversation?

That’s a lot to get through just to get to the real point: The greatest awards show video ever.2) A ONE AND A TWO AND A…

Is it possible that a solution to education woes is as simple to going back to old ways? Earlier this week, we told you how a school district in Massachusetts with a high dropout rate turned things around by working reading into every class, even gym. Today, the New York Times reports on the math side of the equation. In a New Jersey school, they focus on two numbers — 1 and 2. It’s called Singapore math and its underpinning involves slowing down:

Singapore math may well be a fad, too, but supporters say it seems to address one of the difficulties in teaching math: all children learn differently. In contrast to the most common math programs in the United States, Singapore math devotes more time to fewer topics, to ensure that children master the material through detailed instruction, questions, problem solving, and visual and hands-on aids like blocks, cards and bar charts. Ideally, they do not move on until they have thoroughly learned a topic.


This one is for all of our News Cut readers who’ve moved out of Minnesota. Have a heaping helping of homesick:

The foliage is at 50-75% peak in the Twin Cities this weekend. Perfect. Here’s the DNR’s 2010 gallery of foliage. It’ll help you get through your Friday.


Germany is about to pay off its debt for reparations for World War I.


We have another entrant in the expanding library of songs about the Minnesota Twins:

Thome At The Plate – Whipkey Three from Nick Neary on Vimeo.

(h/t: Perfect Duluth Day)

Speaking of Thome, remember that post I wrote a week ago about the Sports Illustrated curse? Who was on the cover? Jim Thome? Whose back gave out a few days after that? Jim Thome. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

The collision of sports and art II: A play about Vince Lombardi has opened on Broadway.

Bonus: Weird pastimes: Filming yourself catching balls in the stands at Dodger games.


Target Field is setting attendance records as it concludes its inaugural regular season this weekend. For good or ill, how has the Twins ballpark affected the community?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Since the 2000 election, much has been made of the division between red and blue states. But the author of a new book argues that such a simplification is a disservice, and that the “real” America is far more nuanced and complex.

Second hour: The photographer best known for the arresting image of a young Afghan girl that appeared on the cover of National Geographic in 1984 joins Midmorning to talk about his work, his innate curiosity about the world, and how he chose to use the last roll of Kodachrome film.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: The history, science and commerce of chocolate.

Second hour: Stephen Smith presents the first in MPR’s “Bright Ideas” series, featuring U of M President Robert Bruininks on the future of higher education.

Science Friday (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: How laser beams can isolate a single atom.

Second hour: A look at the Stuxnet virus, and whether it’s an act of cyberwarfare.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Whichever party controls the governor’s office and Legislature after the election gets to control the every-10-year process of redrawing political boundaries. No one is talking about it on the campaign trail, but behind the scenes both parties are hoping they will oversee redistricting. MPR’s Tim Pugmire will have the story.