The beatings will continue until morale improves (Five by 8 – 10/7/10)

1) DO YOU HAVE A WORSE ESTIMATE OF YOUR LIFE THAN YOU DID YESTERDAY?

If so, you may be a Twins fan. It didn’t take much to turn the multitude on Twitter against the Twins last night. When the lads on the field may have needed them most, many people were thinking the same thing: Here we go, again.

twinstweet_spelling_bee.jpg

Target Field got quiet — too quiet. It was only the 6th inning, and the Twins were only down by one in their first game of the playoffs against their dastardly Yankee overlords.

Why quit so soon? There’s a personal price to pay, according to a University of Wisconsin study. It found that association with a losing team has greater negative effects than association with a winning one. Perhaps it’s because we transfer the success — or failure — of the team to ourselves, a University of Wisconsin study in the ’90s said.

twinstweet_sniffglue.jpg

A German study, in fact, found that people had worse expectations of their own lives when their team lost. It even found that people who followed losing teams expected worse results from a war in Iraq than people who followed a winning one.

twinstweet_3.jpg

Perhaps this is all a defense mechanism to protect ourselves from reflected failure. But do fans make a difference? Remember the key part of last night’s game. It was a pitch to Alex Rodriguez called ball four, even though it was a strike, or at least close enough to be called a strike. As the Guardian reported in 2008, influencing “officials” is the one area where fans can make a difference:

In what has become a famous experiment in sports-science circles, a sample of 40 referees were exposed to a recording of Liverpool ‘s match with Leicester at Anfield during the 1998-99 season, with half watching the match with all crowd effects included and half watching a silent version. The researchers found that the referees who heard the sound of the crowd were less likely to call fouls against the home team than the ones who saw the game in silence (though, interestingly, the baying of the crowd did not make them more likely to penalise the away team). This preference for the home team coincided with the actual decisions of the match official on the day. The researchers concluded that referees tend to avoid making calls against the home team as a way of shielding themselves from the extra stress levels that come with antagonising the crowd. It’s not that the officials do what the crowd wants (‘Send him off, ref!’); they just try not to do whatever would direct the crowd’s fury straight at them. The psychologists call this ‘avoidance’.

When the Twins head for Yankee Stadium, we’ll have to pay close attention to how the fans react when things don’t go well for the Yankees.

gal_backpage_1007.jpg

Are you going to take that sitting down, Minnesota?

The benediction today comes from TwinsGeek.com

You might need to be a glutton for punishment to be a Vikings fan, but at least those losses only last three hours. A playoff series lasts days, and seemingly each day has at least a half dozen moments like these. Vikings fans at least get the band-aid ripped off fast. You’ve got to man up to be a baseball fan.

2) SAVING SCIENCE

Science Friday host Ira Flatow has gone public: His show, which airs on public radio on Fridays, is in trouble. The National Science Foundation has turned down the show’s funding extension, according to Huffington Post:

Ouch! I think Science Friday is one of the most outstanding radio programs I listen to, and yet it’s falling into that familiar market failure gap: it’s a social good that nobody thinks they should pay for.

The National Science Foundation is a quasi-government agency. What is it funding while cutting Science Friday? Here’s the list.

3) THE TRUTH? WE CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH

An investigative report says the White House essentially kept the lid on the extent of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Scientists who know more than White House appointees had one figure for a worse-case assessment. The White House Budget Office had another. The White House won.

The report from a commission, set up by the White House, to investigate why the federal government’s assessment of the oil spill was so wrong is fascinating, and leads to this question: Why do people in Washington think we can’t handle a little honest talk? The authors of the study give it to the bureaucrats, saying they were either incompetent or simply not candid with the American people. Neither, the panel said, inspires confidence.

I know you may not be interested in starting your day reading a government report. But read it anyway. It’s like a cheap novel… only true.

Amount and Fate.for Release

4) THREE MINUTES TO PUT YOU IN A BETTER MOOD TODAY

You’re a poor boy from Mexico and you were born with undeveloped ears. Somehow, your journey takes you to a doctor who gives a darn.5) WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS, START SINGING

Behind the scenes at the Minnesota Opera. Here’s a new video just posted:

PHOTO OF THE DAY (SO FAR)

5057980417_b524dab3be_b.jpg

The Stone Arch Bridge frames the Mill City Museum in this image from Jim Denham (via Flickr) taken on Wednesday. Find his blog here.

TODAY’S QUESTION

More Americans are working beyond the traditional retirement age, both because of the recession and because they expect to live longer. What are your plans for retirement?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: The University of Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic aim to cure diabetes.

Second hour: Saving the tiger.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: DFL gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton.

Second hour: Stephen Smith moderates a discussion about what makes a great teacher.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: The abuse of power from the pulpit.

Second hour: The extraordinary story of four crew mates, from the New Deal, to the great recession.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) -