Memorial Day Brings Out Grills and Beef In a Big Way

TAKE note Colonel Sanders: Memorial Day weekend belongs to beefeaters. Based on a recent study, the National Cattlemen's Association estimates that more than 116 million Americans will eat beef this weekend, including on Memorial Day -- ''the largest beef consumption day of the year.'' A survey by the Virginia-based Wirthlin Group reports that 2 out of 3 Americans will use grills for preparing their holiday fare. Of those, 73 percent plan to cook beef. The NCA expects that 61.1 million pounds of beef will be consumed on Monday -- 25 percent more than the average daily rate of 48.9 million pounds.

Mastering math pays

WHEN elementary and high school students master their math lessons, it pays off.

A good score on tests of simple mathematical skills for high school graduates means substantially better wages only six years later. (The tests didn't include geometry or advanced algebra.)

Economist Richard Murnane and statistician John Willett of Harvard University, and economist Frank Levy of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology related the math scores of 11,500 graduates in 1980 with their wages six years later. Men with good scores earned 57 cents per hour more than those with poor scores. For women, the differential was 74 cents.

The math-skill bonus does not show up quickly. It takes several years for employers to recognize the talents of those who have mastered fractions, percents, and decimals, says Professor Levy. The authors of the National Bureau of Economic Research study see the math score as related to a student's other cognitive skills, such as the ability to follow directions, perception, memory, and judgment.

Tractors attract fans

THE Ertl Company is turning 50 this year, and in honor of its anniversary, the Iowa-based toymaker is offering collectors something special: metallic tractor trading cards. Ertl, the biggest provider of toy tractors and farm equipment in the world, launched a successful line of paper trading cards last summer that profiled the products of John Deere and others. The cards were popular in rural areas nationwide and prompted the metal spinoffs. This summer, in addition to metal cards, Ertl will bring out its second series of paper cards.

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