May 15th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Raising money to raise money, the history of baseball caps

Follow the money is probably the most famous line associated with the Watergate scandal—even though it was never uttered by any of the key players in the story and is best credited to All the President’s Men screenwriter William Goldman. Wherever the line came from, it’s proven to be good advice over the decades. Sometimes, following the money leads you to criminal wrongdoing by politicians. Other times, when you follow the money, you realize that it’s not actually going anywhere. “Since 2014, the five groups have pulled in $89 million from small-dollar donors who were pitched on building political support for police officers, veterans and firefighters … About 90 percent of the money the groups raised was simply sent back to their fund-raising contractors, to feed a self-consuming loop where donations went to find more donors to give money to find more donors. They had no significant operations other than fund-raising, and along the way became one of America’s biggest sources of robocalls.” NYT (Gift Article): How to Raise $89 Million in Small Donations, and Make It Disappear. “The campaign-finance system is built to police who puts money into politics, legal experts say. These groups embodied a flaw: The system is poorly prepared to stop those who raise money and channel it somewhere other than candidates and causes.”


I’d Cap That

Michael Clair shares a very interesting look at the the long, strange history of the baseball cap, and how it went from not even being a thing in baseball to being ubiquitous. “We can go to a seminal moment in the late ’80s when NWA emerges, particularly when Eazy E emerges in the White Sox hat … It’s one of those things that went from being something that was associated very strongly with where you’re from, and very strongly with being a fan of the sport, to transcending that and saying a statement about cool and saying a statement about aesthetics and saying a statement about athleisure and lifestyle.” If that’s a long way of saying it’s a great way to cover your bald spot, then I agree.


City Haul

The real estate in American cities is getting too expensive for almost everyone. “Boston’s pull with college graduates has weakened. Seattle’s edge vanished during the pandemic. And the analysis shows San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles and Washington all crossing a significant threshold: More college-educated workers left than moved in.” NYT Upshot (Gift Article): Coastal Cities Priced Out Low-Wage Workers. Now College Graduates Are Leaving, Too. (The bright side? Less traffic for me and more college-educated voters in other states.)


Ja’s Rules

“Ja Morant was suspended by the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday after he appeared to be holding a gun in another social media video that was streamed live on Instagram, the latest in a series of concerning incidents involving the two-time All-Star guard. It’s the second time in less than three months that Morant was seen on Instagram holding what appeared to be a weapon. The first led to an eight-game NBA suspension that was handed down in March.” On one hand, it’s remarkably disappointing that Morant would risk fame and fortune just to wave a blurry gun around in a social media post. On the other hand, should Ja have to live by different rules than the rest of American society? Congress doesn’t do anything about guns, SCOTUS supports our gun culture, states loosen laws around killing machines even as our schoolyards become killing fields, and politicians send out holiday cards with their families holding AR-15s. Isn’t it a little hypocritical to single out Ja Morant for swinging around a gun on social media? What’s Morant’s crime? That he’s not shooting it at someone? That it was only a handgun and not a more efficient killing tool?

+ Texas Monthly: Deaths from firearms keep climbing in Texas, decades after lawmakers began weakening gun regulations. “The rate of firearm-related deaths in Texas has reached a level not seen since the 1990s. Texas lawmakers have approved more than 100 bills that loosened gun restrictions since 2000.” (Maybe the NBA should take over Texas.)


Extra, Extra

Off Script: “The patient — a mechanic who was a husband and father of two — had been born with a particularly sinister gene mutation that should have doomed him to dementia before his 50th birthday. Instead, his life had been one of remarkable resilience, bucking the script written in his genes.” WaPo (Gift Article): He defied Alzheimer’s for two decades. Scientists want to know how.

+ Sweet Surrender: “People should reduce the sweetness of the diet altogether, starting early in life.” Don’t use sugar substitutes for weight loss, World Health Organization advises.

+ Succession: NYT: The Greatest Wealth Transfer in History Is Here, With Familiar (Rich) Winners. Plus, a conversation with Matthew Desmond: The War on Poverty Is Over. Rich People Won.

+ Erdogan For the Books: “Elon Musk, a self-described ‘free speech absolutist, agreed to censor Twitter in Turkey on Saturday, the day before a critical election.” And every little bit helps. Turkey will hold a runoff election on May 28, with Erdogan in the lead.

+ One Last Fold: “As he detailed in his memoir, ‘The Godfather of Poker,’ Brunson saw poker grow from illegal games in Texas backrooms, with players often shunned by society, to nationally televised broadcasts that made players, including Brunson, into celebrities” Poker legend Doyle Brunson dies at 89.

+ Hurt So Good: NYT (Gift Article) takes you Inside the Last Old-School Seltzer Shop in New York. “Good seltzer should hurt — it should be carbonated enough that it kind of stings the back of your throat.” Speaking of Seltzer, it’s always a good time to look back at a scene from Taxi.


Bottom of the News

“Police called the boy’s actions ‘extraordinary’ and said he deserved to be commended after defending his sister with a weapon many associate with the biblical hero David – in his mortal battle against Goliath – and Link, the protagonist of the classic video game The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.” Michigan boy, 13, saves sister by hitting potential kidnapper with slingshot.

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