Stuff YOU Should Know

Posted by on Nov 8, 2016 in Stuff You Should Know

Cubs Win!

Last Wednesday night, in a game that lasted ten innings, included a rain delay, and dragged on until early Thursday morning, the Chicago Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians 8-7 in the seventh and final game of the World Series, becoming the new World Series champions. The victory was especially important for Chicago fans because, up until now, the Cubs had not won a championship in 108 years–the longest drought in baseball.

It was an exciting game for both sides. After an initial lead by the Cubs, the Indians began to close in with three runs in the eighth inning. The ninth inning ended with a tie score and a seventeen-minute rain delay, followed by two more runs by the Cubs in the tenth inning. In front of a crowd of 38,104 people, first baseman Anthony Rizzo caught Cleveland’s final hit of the night to end the game.

Despite their legendary reputation as “Lovable Losers,” the Cubs won 103 games in the regular season this year, the most of any team in baseball. They also became the first team to come back from a three-to-one Series deficit on the road since Pittsburgh did it in 1979.

For fans of the Cleveland Indians, who have not won a World Series since 1948, it was an especially hard loss. And now that the Cubs have won, Cleveland now holds the new record for the longest dry spell between championships.

Dig Deeper Use the Internet to research the “Billy Goat Curse” that was placed on the Cubs 71 years ago. Write a short paragraph in which you briefly describe the circumstances of the curse and answer the following question: Do you believe in curses and other superstitions, and their potential to affect a sports team’s performance? Why or why not?

October Jobs Report Released

Last Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics delivered its October jobs report. This report is especially significant because it offered the last look at the state of the economy before Election Day on November 8.

Young man looking over job postings

Young man looking over job postings Credit: Ingram Publishing

In general, the jobs report indicated steady growth and an economy that is at its strongest point since the Great Recession seven years ago. In October, the unemployment rate dropped from 5 percent to 4.9 percent–an historically low level–with the addition of 161,000 new jobs. Wages rose ten cents per hour, higher than at any time since 2009: the average wage is now $25.92 per hour, up 2.8 percent year-to-year. A total of roughly 15 million new jobs have been created since 2010.

However, while the report was generally positive, it also indicated that manufacturing jobs continue to decline (9,000 manufacturing jobs were lost in October). The number of jobs in the technology sector has decreased slightly as well. On the other hand, there is more demand than ever for middle-skill jobs (jobs which require vocational training, experience, or an associate degree) at higher salaries. And higher wages mean that workers are finally beginning to feel the effects of the post-recession growth.

All of this looks very good for Hillary Clinton; in general, people tend to vote for the incumbent party when the economy is improving. Also, Trump’s campaign has been run largely based on the idea that the economy is stagnant, which this latest report disproves. However, it may be too little too late; studies show that voters tend to form their opinions in the first seven months of a presidential year.

Dig Deeper Using the Internet, look up jobs reports from 2008, the year that President Obama took office. Compare these figures to the most recent report released this month. Based on what you’ve read, do you believe Donald Trump’s claim that the economy is in poor shape? Be sure to give evidence to support your position.

British Court Halts “Brexit” . . . Temporarily

On June 23, the British people surprised the world when they voted by a narrow margin (52 percent) to leave the European Union. Last Thursday, however, Britain’s High Court ruled that the government can’t begin the process of “Brexit” without the approval of Parliament.

While the ruling will probably not halt Britain’s exit altogether, it will certainly slow it down. Under Article 50, which describes the legal process of leaving the EU, two years are allowed for negotiating the process. Before last week’s ruling, Prime Minister Theresa May had planned to begin legal proceedings by the end of March, and to keep the terms of her negotiations largely secret. Now, however, she will need to work with Parliament and to share her plans with them openly. Also, it’s possible that if Parliament (which was largely against Brexit in the first place) stalls long enough, another national election will be held. If enough anti-Brexit candidates are voted in, the exit process could theoretically be halted.

On one hand, a “hard exit”–a Brexit in which Britain largely severs its ties to the rest of the European continent–could have devastating economic and social consequences. For this reason, it’s important to slow down the process and to allow Parliament a voice in the negotiations. On the other hand, many British leaders argue that the Court is attempting to undermine the wishes of the 17.4 million citizens who have already voted in favor of Brexit.

The British government plans to appeal the ruling.

What Do You Think? Imagine that you are a British voter. Based on what you have seen and read in the news, would you vote in favor of Brexit? Why or why not? Be sure to give reasons to support your position.

New Museum Faces Long Lines and Crowds

On September 24, the National Museum of African American History and Culture opened in Washington, D.C. If you want to go, it might be wise to wait a few months, or even years: the museum is already sold out through the spring.

While admission to the museum is free, a timed pass system is used to control crowds. Timed passes are ordered in advance online, but because they are already sold out for the next five months, a limited number of same-day passes are given out each morning as well. To get one, potential visitors often line up outside the museum as early as 4:00 am every day. Those who are lucky enough to receive a pass often face more lines once they enter the museum, and crowd “choke points” (places where the flow of visitors is slowed) at and near certain popular exhibits.

The curators of the museum explain that at least part of the problem has to do with “dwell time”: in other words, the amount of time visitors spend inside. Normal dwell time for museums is under two hours, but at the African American History and Culture Museum, dwell time often stretches to six hours, making it impossible to allow more people inside. Also overwhelming is the sheer number of people who want to visit the new museum: 103,000 in the first ten days alone, and an average of 10,000 every day since.

The museum’s Web site encourages visitors to use public transportation rather than try to navigate parking; to beware of counterfeit passes; and to expect additional long lines at the gift shop and the café.

What Do You Think? Have you ever waited in a long line to buy concert tickets or a new video game? Why were you willing to wait so long? Every day, hundreds of visitors to the African American History Museum often wait outside for up to five hours just for a chance at a pass to get inside. Why do you think so many people are willing to do this?