Video of the day

If you love the Princess Bride– this is awesome.  If you don’t– what’s wrong with you?

Map of the day

College football talent by state.  No wonder the SEC is so damn good:

Graphic 2

The map is from this article about the state of college football, conference realignment, etc.  I’ve read a lot on the matter in recent days, and this is definitely my favorite take:

By the third quarter, the story had broken: Maryland and Rutgers, a pair of athletic programs with questionable finances and perpetually bland football traditions, were barreling headlong toward membership in the conflagration once known, in its earliest days, as the Western Conference. It was all about television markets, we were told, about “expanding reach,” about every damned MBA concept you could think of except the actual product, because I guess the assumption in the Big Ten offices is that the product will eventually catch up to the money being thrown at it…

Which is why it doesn’t really matter what we think about anything. Legends? Leaders?  [ed-- that's the absurd names for the BiG football divisions] What the hell’s the difference? All that matters is that we continue to show up.

Here’s the thing: They’ve got us, and they know they’ve got us. There are millions of Big Ten alumni — including me — fanned out across America, burdened with positive feeling toward our alma maters, loyal enough to vast state institutions that we show up a hundred thousand strong on Saturdays in Ohio and Michigan and Pennsylvania, and we bleed out an extra six dollars to the cable company in order to watch two or three football games a year and 18 hours a day of high-definition propaganda on the conference’s Riefenstahl-ian television network. The Big Ten’s only advantage over other conferences is its sheer scale, and now they’ve gotten even bigger, and the presumption, I suppose, is that we should somehow celebrate growth for growth’s sake…

Iam writing this on Monday afternoon, with the Big Ten Network muted in the background. There is a press conference taking place at the University of Maryland, and every time I turn up the sound someone is copping to a wholly cynical point of view. For both the Big Ten and a cash-strapped Maryland program, it is so completely about the money that no one can even lie effectively enough to cover it up. “It is not only about money,” says one Maryland official, and then he follows up immediately with: “Somebody has to pay the bills.”

And now Delany is talking about how he built up equity in the Rose Bowl, and about how Maryland provides “terrific demographics,” and I want nothing more than to turn the damned thing off and cancel my whole damned sports tier subscription. But this is my conference, this lumbering and fatuous and fabulously wealthy brontosaurus, and I have no choice but to keep paying in.

Yep.  As long as we keep paying to fill stadiums and $5/month (or whatever) for the Big10 Network, etc, and watching whatever they throw on ESPN, they’ve got us and they’ll keep trying to ruin college sports in the name of ever more money.  And we’re all guilty.

Photo of the day

Love the “Daily Life” series photos they have at Big Picture.  From the latest:

Afghan refugee boy Samiullah Afsar, 5, carries a puppy he found in a pile of a garbage, on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, Oct. 18, 2012. (Muhammed Muheisen/Associated Press)

Foxification of MSNBC

I pretty much never watch MSNBC, but it’s sad to see that at least by some metrics, it’s become just as biased as Fox News.  From the latest Pew study:

Not a single negative Obama story or positive Romney story?  That’s just nuts.

Texas a swing state?

With the rising importance of the Hispanic vote, there’s been a lot of talk about the inevitability of Texas as a swing state, but somewhat surprisingly given Texas’ demographics, that appears to be a good way off yet.  Amazingly, Texas is already a majority-minority state (38% Hispanic, 12% Black, 4% Asian).   Yet, the whites in the state 1) are much more likely to turn out to vote; and 2) are really, really Republican, i.e., Alabama and Mississipi Republican and getting more so.  I’m sure race has nothing to do with it.  Anyway, Nate Cohn runs the numbers:

But in case anyone missed it, demographic changes haven’t actually produced gains for Democrats in Texas. Despite favorable Latino turnout and support, Obama did worse in Texas than he did four years ago and lost by a decisive 16-point margin. Looking back further, Texas hasn’t moved to the left: the state was 19 points to the right of the national popular vote in 2012; hardly an improvement compared to 19 points in 2008, 20 points in 2004, and 15 points in 1996.

How have Republicans bucked demographics in Texas? White Texans keep getting more Republican. Unfortunately, Texas was scrapped from the state exit polls in 2012, making it hard to say just how much worse Obama performed than he did four years ago. But the county results make it quite clear that Obama fared much worse among white voters than he did in 2008. In Texas’ 224 other counties, Romney did better than McCain, including 54 predominantly white counties where Obama lost more than 10 points over the last four years…

Given that Obama lost Texas whites by a 73-26 margin in 2008, it seems that Obama probably fell to something just slightly above 20 percent of the white vote in 2012. Depending on the exact increase in Latino turnout, there’s an outside chance that Obama fell into the teens. Whatever the exact figure, it’s clear that GOP gains among white Texans have overwhelmed advances in Latino turnout and support for Democrats.

Interestingly, there’s a really good reason a lot of those Hispanics are not voting- -they’re not citizens:

With Hispanics already representing 39 percent of the Texas population and poised to reach half by 2030, it’s not hard to see why Democrats are salivating at the opportunities in Lone Star state. Based on that number, Democrats often lament that they could carry the state if the national party would only invest in the state party infrastructure and embark on an expansive effort to register the state’s supposed (but latent) Democratic majority. But Hispanics are younger and less likely to be citizens than the rest of the Texas population, so Hispanics represent just 26 percent of the voting eligible population—a tally leaving Democrats far short of a statewide majority.

In conclusion, Cohn wisely cautions about the dangers of predicting too far ahead in such matters:

If the two parties continue forward along the lines carved by the Bush and Obama years, then Texas would become quite competitive by the end of the next decade and Democrats will routinely approach 400 electoral votes in national elections. But between now and the mid-2020s, the Republican party will make adjustments to compensate for changing demographics and new issues will rejigger the electorate along unforseen lines. After Bill Clinton won West Virginia by 15 points and lost its eastern neighbor by 2, I suspect that few analysts in 1996 forseaw West Virginia becoming the fifth-most Republican state or Virginia voting more Democratic than the country. The ascent of Democrats in Texas is hardly inevitable and even if it is, it won’t be in 2016 or 2020, at least not in a close election.

Hmmm.  That’s some cold water on the Texas is becoming blue meme.  That said, given the under-turnout of Hispanic citizens in Texas, it really does seem like it might be worth the Democratic party investing some in the state.  I also have to wonder the relationship between the growing minority population of the state and the growing Republican-ness of the state’s white voters.

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