Sports without fantasy? It could happen (5×8 – 3/12/13)

1) IMAGINE, THERE NO FANTASY

Maybe … maybe… it’s about to get real for fantasy sports fans. What if there were no fantasy sports games allowed? The New York Times says the legal status of the games, in which players draft teams and players and the success relies on the real-life performance of the athlete, is vulnerable. It’s changed real sports and accounts for much of the popularity of the NFL, for example. People aren’t tuning in so much to root for their city’s team as much as for the players on their own teams.

The popularity of the fantasy games has also been popularized by the fact other gambling sites have been shut down.


But people who know the industry also acknowledge some troubling aspects of daily fantasy. Many sites are run by people with backgrounds in online poker or sports betting, activities that have run afoul of government regulators. For the top players, mostly young men, daily online fantasy sports are a full-time job in which they can win six figures annually.

Paul Charchian (from Minnesota) , the president of the trade association, said at a conference in January that the industry’s resemblance to illegal gambling was a concern.

“The caution that I’m recommending to the daily game providers is that they do more than highlight the monetary element of fantasy sports,” he said in a recent interview.

A challenge is underway in Indiana, the paper says, alleging fantasy leagues and sites are exotic wagers on sports. It says if a judge agrees, it’ll undermine the foundation on which fantasy sports are built.

2) HANDS OFF THE CHILI, LAWMAN!

A Crosby area DFLer has introduced a bill to ease the Department of Health’s regulations on chili and soup cook-offs, the AP reports. It’s a big deal in Crosslake where business owners have competed in the Crosslake Chamber chili cook-off for 25 years. But the director of the contest says participation has been cut in half “since the state started requiring contestants to brown meat and mix secret spices at work rather than at home the night before.”

The bill would require contestants to get some training on food preparation and put a label on the bowl revealing that people eating the chili could get sick.

More Legislature: Lobbying efforts build up on same-sex marriage issue (MPR)

Lawmakers consider tax increase on alcohol (Rochester Post Bulletin)

3) YOU PICKED A BAD WEEK TO BE AN ANIMAL ON THE PLANET

Maybe it’s all a coincidence. Maybe not. Whatever, it’s already been a bad week to be a species on Planet Earth.

Just check the headlines from the last 24 hours:

White-nose syndrome hits South Carolina: The deadly bat disease has officially invaded South Carolina, the 21st U.S. state in an epidemic that has already killed about 6 million North American bats.

Paralyzing algae is killing manatees at record pace in Florida: Florida wildlife officials report that 149 of the gentle giants have been killed by red tide this year in just two and a half months, making it almost certain that the state will pass the record of 151, set in 1996. (NBC)

Invasive species may be key to understanding death of hundreds of loons: Invasive zebra and quagga mussels filter the water so it’s incredibly clear, allowing an algae called cladophora to grow in huge amounts. Big storms churn up the algae, which settles to the lake bottom and rots. That creates an environment without any oxygen, an ideal home for bacteria that produces a deadly toxin called Type E botulism. That botulism is ingested by invertebrates, tiny worms and freshwater shrimp. And then it works its way up the food chain. They are eaten by fish, including the invasive round goby, which are then eaten by diving birds like loons. (MPR)

4) IS HAVING A CHILD A RATIONAL DECISION?

It’s not “no,” but it’s not “yes” either, NPR’s Tania Lombrozo writes today. The problem, she relays, “is that one can’t know what it’s like to have a child of one’s own before actually having such a child.” And by then, it’s too late. Or not. Depending.

Her essay is one of those places where it’s enjoyable to read the comments. A sample:


If you’re the kind of person who thinks long and hard about emotional, financial, and environmental costs and benefits for yourself (and everyone else) when deciding whether or not to have a child, then you are exactly the kind of person who (in my opinion) ought to have a child. We need more people like you in the world and fewer people who have kids without thinking about anything or because they are expected to, or because they want some part of themselves to be immortal, or because they think it would make them happier. All of those people are primarily self-interested, and, in my opinion, we could use fewer of them.

… and…

Hmm, this really reads like Plato’s Allegory of the Cave.

I love philosophy.


From a psychological perspective: having a child is very much an irrational (read emotional) choice. It is very much a right brain decision even among those who consider financial and environmental costs because that in and of itself is a choice in consideration of identity and character which are emotional traits. It just sounds more academic and/or thoughtful to say I’m not having a child or I’m having only one child because the planet…I can afford…etc.

It says you are the kind of person (character) who considers others in your decision making or you are a better person because you do. It appeals to a need to appear rational when ultimately, it is serving the identity of the self. Likewise, those who say they will have as many children as they can bear because of their religion are also doing it emotionally because their identity or the kind of person they see themselves as says they should honor their blessings of fertility.

5) GOODBYE, “NEGRO”

The Census Bureau is getting rid of the word “negro,” and at the next census, there will be two choices instead : Black or African American. Some consider the word outdated and offensive.

Sandy Banks, an African American columnist for the Los Angeles Times disagrees and writes today that it ignores “the people who brought us this far:”


I remember being Negro in elementary school, and rather embarrassed about it. Most of my classmates were white, and I had to answer questions about everything from nappy hair to riots.

A few years later, “black” emerged as a term of power and pride, instead of the insulting commentary on dark skin the word had been for so long. I coaxed my hair into an afro, and only used Negro in conversation when I was poking fun at someone.

When I graduated from college I went to work at a black weekly paper in Cleveland, my hometown. The owner was a man who’d grown up at the turn of the century in Selma, Ala.

Every time I wrote “black” in an article, he changed it to “Negro.” I protested, and he sat me down for a history lesson.

He remembered, he said, when “white people called you nigra. Right to your face. And you couldn’t say anything about it. If they were really trying to be polite, they might call you colored.”

“Negro” for him was not, as the intellectuals liked to say, “polluted with stereotypes.” The word represented not white oppression but civil rights battles fought and won. People spilled blood for the right to be called “Negro,” he reminded me, more than once.

Bonus: We love our celestial bodies. You only have a couple of days to spot the comet PanSTARRS, which won’t be passing this way again. Tonite might be your best chance.

Bonus II: What happens to astronauts after they see the earth from space?

OVERVIEW from Planetary Collective on Vimeo.

TODAY’S QUESTION

The legal authority for drone strikes comes from a law that Congress passed just after the Sept. 11 attacks, called the Authorization for Use of Military Force. It is an authority President Barack Obama has use more aften than President George W. Bush. Critics argue the law enables a perpetual, ever-expanding war. Today’s Question: Should more restrictions be placed on when the U.S. can use a drone to bomb a military target?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Kids and pressures.

Second hour: In a recent Mother Jones article , we hear the story of an Iraq War vet who is back home after two tours of service. He suffers from a brain injury and PTSD, which unfortunately isn’t all too uncommon. What’s uncommon about this story is that his wife and daughter have also started exhibiting signs of PTSD.

Third hour: Neil Shubin, author of “The Universe Within.”

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): A special from the America Abroad series. “A Decade at War: Afghanistan, Iraq and Counterinsurgency.”

Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – American coal finds welcome markets

abroad. Plus: the New Yorker’s David Remnick, on the scandal at the Bolshoi Ballet.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - The Spanish clothing chain Zara has emerged as one of the world’s fastest

adopters and distributors of new fashions. Zara is both stylish and significantly less expensive than high-end department stores. NPR has the story.

  • Kassie

    #5- I occasionally got push back when I worked at the welfare office about the “black or african-American” choice under race. It usually came from Somali immigrants who told me in no uncertain terms that they were not black, and as a refugee, were not American. I told them they were not required to check a box or could check any other box they wanted. Of course, what I didn’t tell them was that if they didn’t check a box I was required to check a box for them based on my best guess.

    Race is a tricky and touchy thing. I know why we ask for the information in the census and on government forms, but I really wish we didn’t have to.

  • Robert Moffitt

    Perhaps the state could add a new “race” box for Kassie to check in these circumstances: human.

  • BJ

    #5

    to Kassie’s comment

    Why isn’t it skin color with a chart….

    We need it, the tracking, because we know that there are issues with skin color and oh just about everything. Tracking keeps us aware.

  • Kevin Watterson

    I never check the box for “White” when asked about my race. White is a color. I am a human. When the question is ethnicity I also do not check “white” because, again, it is a color, but will check Caucuasian. But mostly I will check other and write “American” because I don’t really know what or where Caucasia is or what it means. And I like to be a smarty pants.

  • Greg W

    Re: #1.

    I will be so glad if fantasy sports are deemed illegal. During the NFL season, the constant blather about someone’s team is unbearable. I agree that it seems fans have no loyalty to a team, but to their own players.

    Combined with the Madden video game franchise, Fantasy leagues have spawned an entire generation of fans who think they know more than NFL GMs and Head Coaches. Not a new concept, but now their opinions are bolstered because of successes in a hypothetical environment.

    I gave up on Fantasy Football a few years ago, and it was the best decision I had made in quite a while. I felt guilty cheering on a Vikings opponent for the completely selfish reason that I may beat a co-worker and get bragging rights for the week.

  • John P.

    My own race got more interesting to me recently. My adoptive parents were told I was 100% German, French and Irish, but I always thought I was bit too dark for that to be quite true. Genetic testing has revealed that those are probably all wrong. Most likely, dad was Jewish or Lebanese, mom was some sort of Scandanavian. Then there is evidence of some Native American and Black mixed in about 5 generations back. All the same, I grew up a somewhat dark “white kid” so I suppose that’s what formed me. On the other hand, I might pass for a middle eastern person. I am a mutt.

    The more years that go by, fewer and fewer people are going to be able to identify as white, hispanic, black, native, or any particular brand of European. It has been interesting to watch Henry Louis Gates’ TV series on geneology. It seems like every guest has heritage they never knew about.

    At some point, I think most of us are going to need to give up attachment to homelands we never saw, and just start calling ourselves Americans. Can we make that work, or will we pick out a new color or shade of person to discriminate against? With each generation, I see the gradual falling away of the unashamed racism of my grandparents, so I am hopeful.