Working twice as hard to get half as far (Five by 8 – 9/02/10)

1) Racial disparities. Speaking in the Twin Cities last night, sociologist Algernon Austin said the metro area has the biggest disparity in black-white unemployment rates of any major metropolitan area in the country, the Twin Cities Daily Planet reported.

He narrowed the reasons why down to three, the first of which is discrimination. The final two, he went on to explain, are more specific to the Twin Cities.

The Twin Cities has a higher high school dropout rate for African Americans and lack of education is a major contributor to unemployment.


The relatively young age of the African American labor force in the Twin Cities is also a factor, because younger people have higher unemployment rates.

So where do we go from here? One solution offered by members of the panel following Austin’s speech was a proposition to ban private employers from asking about the criminal record of job seekers in the first steps of the application process (it’s currently banned by public employers, apparently). Good idea? Bad idea? Tell me what you think.

2) The gold rush. Journalism school, unfortunately, doesn’t teach its students a whole lot about personal finances, but it does teach you how to spot B.S.:

As tempting as the sound of gold coins clinking in my hand is, forgive me, Gordon Liddy, if I don’t pick up the phone right this minute.

But wait, you say, doesn’t gold offer a secure investment? It certainly has in recent months, David Moon said on Marketplace last night. “It only makes money as long as people move their money into gold,” he said. “The reason we pay attention to it is because marketing works.”

3) Manny being Manny. Slugger Manny Ramirez is now with the hated Chicago White Sox, and he’s speaking Spanish in press conferences, even though speaks English fluently.

Hey, if we get to see him pulling stuff like this in Target Field, I’m all for the excitement it could bring to our very own AL Central pennant race.

As long as it doesn’t get too exciting, that is. Respected Twins blogger Aaron Gleeman warns that he is not as over the hill as we’d all like to think.

4) Getting into the holiday spirit. Ramadan, the Islamic holy month, will wrap up next week. Since early August, more than a billion Muslims across the world have been abstaining from water, food and sex during the daylight hours to teach themselves about patience and spirituality.

There’s more to it than that, Dr. Bushra Dar, a Family Medicine physician at Allina Medical Clinic told a Startribune blogger. Dr. Dar has been raising funds to send to flood-stricken Pakistan.

“Removing worldly distractions such as food and other petty affairs allows the believer to spend their time immersed in remembrance, thankfulness, and repentance before God. Likewise, during this time Muslims strive harder than usual to do good deeds, as the reward for righteous acts is multiplied many times over in Ramadan, through God’s mercy.”

If anyone needs mercy now, Pakistan does.

It’s been noted before that aid to Pakistan is no where near as much as the aid Haiti received after the January earthquake, and Pakistan’s links to terrorism are often named as a reason why. A BBC reporter in Pakistan says those fears are unfounded:

These areas are of no strategic interest to anyone because they have neither exported terrorism nor do they have the ambition to join a fight against it. Their only export to the world outside is onions, tomatoes, sugar cane, wheat and mangoes.

5) It’s not duck or rabbit season; it’s bear season. And according to the Ely Timberjay, it’s looking like this will be a good year.

The latest population estimate from the Department of Natural Resources does point to an upswing, mostly as a result of lower bear permit numbers the past few years.

Needless to say, please know what you are doing, like these guys do, before you head for the woods.