The Insatiable Political Money Appetite

Some years ago a friend’s relative ran for political office.  The friend sheepishly asked if we might make a contribution to the campaign.  I didn’t know the relative, but we wanted to be supportive, so we kicked in a modest sum.  It’s the only political contribution I’ve made in recent memory.

What happened next was that my email address, and the fact that I’d made a financial contribution, got shared with other politicians of the same political party — and suddenly I was receiving regular emails from lots of elected officials and erstwhile candidates for national and statewide office.  The list of my political email correspondents continues to grow, and every one of the messages, without exception, seeks money.  I’ll get four or five emails a day from the candidates themselves, their campaign managers, their political directors, and even other politicians who are supporting their campaigns.

67815-mr_creosote-monty-python-obesity“I’m asking you for $5.”  “Robert, did you see the message from X?”  “We need your help to meet our March fundraising goal.”  “Don’t be fooled — this is not a safe seat.”  “We’re counting on you to help us crush the dark forces of evil represented by the other party.”  (OK, the last one isn’t a verbatim quote, but that’s the gist.)

It’s amazing how many fundraising appeals are sent, and how constant the barrage is.  I suppose I could remove myself from the lists, but I find it interesting to get even this limited perspective into how our current political system works.  It’s all about money, and scare tactics, and a parade of horribles designed to wrest a few bucks from the common man.  And interestingly, every email with a desperate request for money that I get makes me less inclined to make another contribution.  The fundraising pleas aren’t only manipulative, they also show that if I did make another contribution I’d only be feeding the beast, encouraging an even more overwhelming barrage of emails, and probably causing the campaigns to hire more people to do even more fundraising.

The appetite of political campaigns for money is as insatiable as the appetite of Monty Python’s colossal diner.  You wonder if, like the diner, one day it’s all going to blow up.

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What The Hell?

According to an aging Italian journalist — so take it with a grain of salt – Pope Francis has declared that there is no hell.  The Vatican has denied that he said that, exactly.  Apparently, the Vatican says he has been misquoted.  Hard to believe that any Italian would misquote the Pope, but there it is.

825150531185141541Not being a Catholic, or particularly religious, I must nevertheless admit that the Pope’s declaration is a bit of a relief.  I’ve been spending the evening listening to Beatles music, downing Lite beers, and trying to follow the Cavs game, and my understanding of Catholic theology is that my actions have probably involve a number of sins.  Like sloth, for example, or gluttony because I’ve downed a few brewskis, or maybe envy too because I’m a Cleveland sports fan and, well, envy is about all we’ve got to go on.

I’m not saying that I thought I was going to hell because I’ve downed a few beers, but it’s nice to have some reassurance from the Ultimate Authority on that front.  But having quaffed a few beers I wonder:  If you’re Catholic and you don’t have to worry about going to a fiery hell, doesn’t that cause you to revisit the very basic tenets of your faith?

Shore Colors

Kish and I are off to the shore for a quick weekend visit. I love the colors and designs that you see in shoreline cottages and cabins — the yellows, the greens, the nautical grays, the checkerboard tile patterns, and all of the other little touches that tell you that you’re in a place where nobody gives a crap about formality and fun and whimsy can come to the fore.

It’s easier to mentally relax when all of the visual, physical cues are sending that same, consistent message.

On To Baseball, And (Eventually) Summer

Today the 2018 Major League Baseball season starts.  On Opening Day, fans of every team can approach the new season with optimism that this might just be the year for their team to win it all.

1cfa76df7b9fae74e7898045efb9d360Fans of the Cleveland Indians, like Russell and UJ and me, are hoping that, on this 70th anniversary of the Tribe’s last World Series title, this might be the year that the team ends a very long drought.  With the winless streak now celebrating its 70th birthday, we think it’s time for its mandatory retirement.  And after last season, where Cleveland won more than 100 games but lost to the Damn Yankees in the playoffs, Tribe fans are hoping that the team has the pieces in place to make another legitimate run for the championship banner.

But Tribe fans are not alone, of course.  The start of baseball season is great, because every baseball fan everywhere feels inward optimism about their squad, even if they won’t admit it publicly.  Lightning can and does strike.  Sometimes teams just gel, and unlikely heroes emerge, and rookie phenoms actually pan out.  Every year, it seems, there is a Cinderella story, and at the start of the season every fan hopes that their team will end up donning the glass slipper.  The sense of hopefulness and possibility is intoxicating — but also can be brief and ruined by reality.

This year, though, at least for those of us in the Midwest and East who’ve been enduring the Winter that Won’t Go Away,  there’s another reason to celebrate the arrival of baseball’s Opening Day.  If the Summer Game is finally here, we can hope that summer itself isn’t far behind.

The Din At The Gate

Yesterday I was flying back home, connecting through O’Hare.  As we sat at our gate, crammed in the overcrowded, narrow seating area, there was a small child screeching somewhere nearby, three guys in the next row over were talking loudly, and a woman sitting two seats down was speaking into her cell phone.  And above all the din was a TV set tuned to CNN, broadcasting at sufficient volume so that anybody who was interested could hear talking heads yammer about Stormy Daniels and her alleged tryst with President Trump.

Let’s just say it wasn’t exactly a peaceful, relaxing waiting area.  Instead, it was close to the exact opposite — an area seemingly designed to jack up the tension and general unpleasantness that could have been made worse only if somebody was dragging their fingernails against a chalkboard or running a dentist’s drill with that high-pitched whine over a loudspeaker.

There’s not much you can do about a crying baby, or the talking habits of your fellow passengers.  Those are things that you just have to endure when you travel.  Notably, however, so far as I could tell nobody in our cramped waiting area was watching the CNN broadcast on the TV monitor overhead.  It was just a big part of the background racket contributing to the general unpleasantness.  And while you can argue about whether following the news at all these days is good for your mental health, do we really need to have the TV news on in public areas, bombarding us with more noise during every waking moment?  At an airport gate waiting area, at least, there’s no way to turn the TV off to try to minimize the tumult.

Finally getting on the plane, where it was a little bit quieter, was a relief.  The experience made me appreciate our Columbus airport, where there aren’t TVs blaring at every gate area and you actually can sit quietly while waiting for your flight.  I don’t know if the O’Hare airport authority gets paid something by CNN for broadcasting the news in every waiting area, but I’d sure appreciate it if they junked the TVs and reduced, at least a little, the noise pollution and the din at the gate.

 

A New Sign Of The Approaching Apocalypse: Melt-Resistant Ice Cream

We’re in the midst of an era of profound technological change, with advancements in “smart” technology, robots, self-driving cars, designer plant and animal breeds, and countless other developments that all have one overarching goal — to allow lazy, pampered human beings to move and do as little as possible while being amply fed, tracked, and tended.

thebslaproteAnd now there’s been a development that is the latest sign of the approaching apocalypse:  scientists have developed melt-resistant ice cream.  The scientists determined that “banana plant waste,” in the form of tiny fibers from the banana plant stem, can be mixed into ice cream compounds and significantly slow the rate of melting.  The resulting mixture also is supposed to be creamier and potentially healthier, because . . . . well, because banana stem fibers are bound to be healthier than the combination of sugar, cream, chocolate, and other totally empty calories that make ice cream so delectable in the first place.

Some might argue, as the article linked above does, that this is a significant positive development that won’t leave ice cream consumers with “sticky hands” and “stained pants.”  I think the exact opposite is true.  The meltiness of ice cream on a hot day is part of the fun, requiring inventive ice cream fans to develop highly technical strategies on how to approach their cones in a way that minimizes melt loss and maximizes actual consumption of ice cream, like regular use of the “around the top of the cone” lick, careful attention to telltale signs that parts of the ice cream scoop might be liquefying, and properly timing the decision to bite into the bottom of the cone itself to allow all of the cool, already melted ice cream to run into your happy, waiting mouth.

Now, thanks to banana fiber technology, we won’t have to worry about such things and instead will be able to take desultory licks of our cones without thought or fear of consequences.  Is that really something to be hailed as a profound advancement in the history of homo sapiens?

You’ll be surprised to learn that I’m not a fan of self-driving cars, either.