Foul territory in rural Minnesota, misleading presidential polls, prisoners of our own culture, battle of the naked Wisconsinites, and skipping stones in Sun Valley.
1) FOUL TERRITORY IN RURAL MINNESOTA
The East Ottertail Focus gives voice today (update: the column was removed because of the reaction in the community. It’s being rewritten and will be reposted later today) to a crisis in Minnesota communities, my friends. Fan behavior at town ball and amateur ballgames is declining this year, it says. It’s not, he says, just the recent beanbrawl between the The Perham Pirates and Detroit Lakes Angels — teams that have a rematch tomorrow night — it was also the game in Midway between the Snurdbirds and Nimrod Gnats. And it was also recent games in New York Mills and Park Center.
The behavior is bad. The language is bad, it suggests.
Now imagine being the umpire dealing with the whole scene.
Some guy on the back of a tailgate is questioning calls. He cannot even see the plate. The backside of a left-handed batter blocks his view.
The absurdities of some fan behavior, when logically examined, are borderline endless. But a Sunday on a tailgate with a cooler full of brews is not a place for pure logic.
As an impartial third-party, it was humorous to witness, but such antics are certainly going to have an effect on the stress already on the field.
Playing or watching baseball is supposed to be fun and fans have a right to bellow if they want, whether they were charged admission or not.
The game needs more public support even if it is from bellowing bench warmers on the other side of the fence.
What the game needs less are the tantrums on the field.
“I have seen better behavior at a beer league softball game where players and fans are all schnockered,” the writer, who is now one of NewsCut’s favorites, says. (Update 11:17 a.m. – Here’s the reworked article)
Let’s step back to an earlier, more sedate time. 2011…
Related ball: Major League Baseball needs to update its severe weather policy. (Updraft)
Even more ball talk: What would happen if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90% the speed of light? (h/t: Derek Schille)
2) THE MISLEADING PRESIDENTIAL POLLS
There’s a new poll out today showing the presidential contest between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is a dead heat, but is it?
Each has 47% of the vote, the Washington Post poll says…
The new numbers reflect a stubborn constancy: Only twice in 13 surveys over more than a year has either candidate held a lead exceeding the poll’s margin of sampling error. Now, the campaign appears destined to remain extremely close in the final four months before Election Day.
The fundamentals seem firmly planted: About two-thirds of Americans consider the country seriously off course, a majority have not approved of Obama’s overall job performance in more than a year, and the president remains in negative territory on dealing with the economy, health care and immigration. Also unmoved since fall are Americans’ attitudes toward spending, with as many saying they would prefer an increase in federal spending to try to spur economic growth as wanting to prioritize deficit reduction.
The poll reporting shows a nagging negligence by the news media, however, to acknowledge an important fact: This isn’t how we elect presidents.
If the election were a popular vote, then the poll might be more accurate, but the election is not a popular vote, it’s an electoral vote and few polls are constructed and weighted to reflect that what the people in some states think is more important than what the people in other states think.
That’s why sites like ElectoralVote, which have been around for several elections, are a better indicator of the status of a contest than mass-callout polls such as the Washington Post. It takes polls within states and recalculates the electoral vote.
Here’s what it shows this morning (click on the image)…
It also shows why the combatants will spend plenty of time in three states — Michigan, Florida, and Virginia. The polls show they matter more.
3) PRISONERS OF OUR OWN CLUTTER
So, it’s not just you.
UCLA researchers have released a study of the effects of a consumer-driven society on the American family. “Something like 50 of the 64 parents in our study never stepped outside in the course of about a week,” a researcher tells the Boston Globe. “When they gave us tours of their house they’d say, ‘Here’s the backyard, I don’t have time to go there.’ They were working a lot at home. Leisure time was spent in front of the TV or at the computer.”
The U.S. has 3.1 percent of the world’s kids, and 40 percent of the world’s toys, but this finding is particularly troubling:
A refrigerator door cluttered with magnets, calendars, family photos, phone numbers, and sports schedules generally indicates the rest of the home will be in a similarly chaotic state.
4) BATTLE OF THE NAKED WISCONSINITES
For decades, nudists have considered Mazo Beach theirs. The spot in Mazomanie, northwest of Madison, is considered the largest nudist beach that is not on a coastline, the New York Times says. Officials — it’s a state-owned park — have looked the other way. But with some recent X-rated arrests, the naturists worry they’ll lose the beach. As usual, the Internet is partly to blame.
5) SKIPPING IN SUN VALLEY
There’s nothing more relaxing than the mindless exercise of skipping stones across a pond in the wide open spaces. But would you wait in line for 46 others to skip their stones first?
Skippy is a robot set up somewhere around Sun Valley, Idaho, to skip stones on behalf of people who have lined up online…
It’s a promotion for Sun Valley tourism. You sign up online and wait for your chance to skip stones. And wait. Forty-six people were lined up ahead of me…
Bonus: In two weeks, five million people have watched this video…
Today, the Associated Press meets the young gentlemen behind it.
Amy Senser’s sentence to almost three and a half years was the lightest she could have received under state guidelines. Today’s Question: Should the goal of a prison sentence be to punish, rehabilitate or something else?
WHAT WE’RE DOING
Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: America’s dependence on foreign oil.
Second hour: The influence of the private sector on public education.
Third hour: A look at “test tube babies” at 34.
MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): From the Aspen Ideas Festival, Admiral Mike Mullen and NPR’s Steve Inskeep on the role of military superpowers.
Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – The new economic reality: The downwardly mobile.
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Can development and preservation co-exist? Gentrification in cities usually means getting rid of old buildings to make way for new ones. But there’s a city block where the old will live inside the new. NPR will have the story of a massive new office building in Washington.