2010.02.24 Odd man out

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

There are people who make a living by annoying other people. It pays if you’re in the right business, such as working for a company engaged in opinion polls.

I recently came across an article about a poll by Rasmussen Reports, purveyor of “the most comprehensive public opinion data anywhere.” “...that I’ve never heard of,” I might add. Fortunately, I’ve never been called away from dinner to answer any of their survey questions.

A few of the company’s recent polls have discovered that:

• 47% believe U.S. can win in Afghanistan;

• 49% favor building new nuclear plants;

• 47% blame global warming on planetary trends and 41% says climate change is no longer a serious problem;

• 36% look forward to Valentine’s Day and 20% dread it.

You think I’m making that last one up, right? Wrong. If your business is tied up in polling people, you have to get on the telephone and start polling people, no matter how silly the question.

The concept of making a poll just to make a poll came to mind when I saw a poll with the title “What Did You Do Last Week?”

I learned fascinating information such as this:

• 85% of Americans watched the news on television. Those over 40 years of age are much more likely to than younger people.

I’m pretty deep in a minority already on that one. I never watch television news. Can’t stand the stuff. Makes me want to throw objects at the screen.

I’m referring to “local” news, all the garbage that the Toledo stations consider worthy of reportage. I could make a newspaper with a similar format. Round up every bit of bad news I could find in Morenci, Fayette and the area. And you know what would happen? Readership would skyrocket. People would love it. Screaming headlines about traffic accidents and loose dogs. Our crime is much tamer than Toledo’s, but with effort it could be done.

Seven parking tickets issued! Front page coverage of every suspicious situation. Just what sort of damage was done in that domestic assault?

That’s how to get 85% of local residents reading the Observer, and have I ever gotten sidetracked.

I don’t watch TV news. I listen to the news on public radio.

Sixty-three percent of Americans engaged in a sport or physical exercise last week. I could have answered “yes” to the question, but only if details weren’t required. We went walking once. I ran up and down the stairs once. Not much.

Sixty percent of Americans went out to dinner last week; 86% of those making more than $100,000. Count me out once again. My wife suggested dinner out Friday night, but I stayed late working on Parents’ Pride. I suggested it Saturday night—some fish at the Legion—but Colleen fell asleep after staying up half the previous night.

Fifty-three percent had friends visit. Not us. We were seldom home. This poll is actually from Super Bowl week and Rasmussen believes that question might have been skewed.

Fifty-nine percent found time to read a book; women more than men and government employees more than the remainder of us. I read old New Yorkers or Rolling Stones every night in bed, but usually not books.

Here’s a puzzling one: 46% attended a church service and 51% did not. That leaves a mysterious 3% who did neither. Come to think of it, I think I’m among that 3%.

Pastors are doing much better than theatre owners. Only 14% of Americans attended a movie theatre and finally I’m in the majority. I watched one entire movie and finished another, but it was all in my living room.

Forty percent of adults had an alcoholic beverage—Republicans more than Democrats—and married people drank more often than unmarried. I would like to be part of this crowd, but I really don’t like the taste of alcohol. Even wine tastes bitter. But vinegar is fermented stuff and I had a lot of good balsamic vinegar in the past week—on rice, on the weird stew thing I made, on salad. It wasn’t exactly a beverage, but I had my alcohol right there with the married Republicans.

OK, Rasmussen, I admit it. I am not a normal American, but I didn’t really need a poll to figure that out.

  • Cecil
    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.snake
    Lannis Smith of the Leslie Science and Nature Center in Ann Arbor shows off a python last week at Stair District Library's Summer Reading Program.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Pipeline Spread
    LINED UP—Lengths of pipe were put in place last week along the route of the Rover natural gas pipeline that will stretch from Defiance, Ohio, to Ontario, Canada. Topsoil was removed before the pipes were laid out. The 42-inch diameter pipeline is scheduled for completion in November.
  • Front.rock Study
    ROCKHOUNDS—From the left, Joseph McCullough, Sean Pagett and Jonathan McCullough peer through hand lenses to study rocks. The project is part of Morenci Elementary School’s summer camp that continues into August.

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