Smart Talk Dec. 15 

Speedy Alka Seltzer
We added a word to our personal lexicon at a meeting last week of the state Racing Commission.

The commission made permanent steps taken last year on an interim basis to prevent the “milkshaking” of thoroughbred race horses that compete at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs. This is a practice in which horses are given a dose of bicarbonate of soda (sometimes mixed with sugar and electrolytes) to ward off fatigue.

Does it work? “Some think it does,” Eric Jackson, Oaklawn’s general manager, told us. Blood testing can turn up the practice when horses have elevated levels of carbon dioxide.

A healthy bonus
The popular War Memorial Fitness Center is undergoing renovation and expansion. That’s good. But what’s bad for the regular users is that it is disrupting their fitness routines. Most of the exercise machines have been removed for the work and various parts of the facility, such as the walking track, have been closed at various times.

In answer to a question posed by users: Yes, the city of Little Rock is going to provide a bonus to people who have been unable to use the center fully. Assistant City Manager Bryan Day told us that fitness center memberships will be extended by the time the center has been disrupted, probably about a month by the time the work has been completed. (Or members can ask for a pro-rata refund.) That’s now projected to be in mid-January, but that’s not a firm date. He said it would have been easier to close the center, but the city felt it should try to keep the public facility open to the extent possible. It’s the city’s only fitness center.

The renovation work will expand the space for cardiovascular fitness, primarily in an area now occupied by a mostly unused concession stand, and will include placement of TVs for the amusement of those slogging away on treadmills. The upstairs area devoted to weight lifting machines will expand and be refitted with the latest machines. The walking track is going to have a new surface, easier on the joints.

Picking apart the poll numbers
KTHV commissioned a poll Dec. 3-5 by Survey USA, which uses an automated telephone poll of people randomly selected from phone lists. The subject was the 2006 governor’s race.

One matchup: Democrat Mike Beebe vs. Republican Asa Hutchinson. Beebe led 49 to 44, within the 3.8 percent margin of error on a sample of 684 registered voters.

Another matchup: Democrat Bill Halter, who’s formed an exploratory committee, against Hutchinson. Here Hutchinson led comfortably, 56 to 34.

None of this is much more than grist for a long-grinding mill, of course, but here are some things we found interesting in the demographic info contained in the poll. For one thing, some 52 percent of the sample was in the Little Rock region, which, depending on how voters defined it, likely amounts to an overrepresentation of that area in the real vote. For another, Beebe enjoyed only a 68-22 lead among black voters. Ninety percent is more common for successful Democratic candidates. For another, Hutchinson led among male voters, 48-46, as Republicans often do in Southern states. This is why Democrats so often find ways to be photographed in camouflage with shotguns and dead animals. Beebe led among women 52-41. He ran strongest among the oldest voters and also among the most educated (graduate school) and least educated (no college). Those with some college or a college education favored Hutchinson. Give us a graduate school-educated older woman every time.



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