Thursday, August 25, 2016

What Have You Got to Lose?

Over the years, there have been many, many presidential campaign slogans.  Some of them memorable, some not so memorable.  Personally, I find the current slogan "What have you got to lose?" to be particularly offensive and insulting, on many levels.  But it did make me wonder if it's truly any worse than what we've had in the past.

So.. I did a search.

I've always thought that one of the catchiest slogans was William Henry Harrison's  "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too". Harrison won the battle of Tippecanoe, and Tyler was his running mate.   Turns out this was the first presidential campaign slogan, ever.  (source: The Miller Center - a nonpartisan affiliate of the U. of Virginia, specializing in presidential scholarship and political history.)   

In 1952, there was the slogan "I like Ike", for Dwight Eisenhower.  Another catchy slogan.  Although I've often wondered... how on earth is Ike a nickname for Dwight?  Turns out that it's not a nickname for Dwight, it's a nickname for Eisenhower, and Dwight and his four brothers were all called Ike at one time or another. Nope, I don't understand how Ike is a nickname for Eisenhower, either.  Nonetheless, the slogan is rather catchy.

Perhaps one of my favorite slogans came out during the 1896 election.  William McKinley's slogan of "Patriotism, Protection, and Prosperity" is rather inspirational, and has me feeling like I should stand up and face the flag.  Interestingly enough, part of the idea behind this slogan was that the US should stay out of world politics, and protect our interests at home.  And while McKinley won with this slogan, there was a complete reversal of this policy with the subsequent president, Theodore Roosevelt.  And, for better or worse, we've never looked back.

But of course not all slogans are inspirational or catchy.  I always found John Kerry's 2004 slogan "Let American be America Again", to be rather confusing.  Turns out that's actually the title of a 1935 poem that talks about the poor and downtrodden Americans who have never experienced the American dream.  Hmmm.  That's a whole different topic that I'll leave for another time.  8 years later, Kerry tweaked the phrase a bit, and said "It took President Obama to lead America like America again."  To me, that's a bit less confusing, but not much.

Some of the slogans over the years have been amusing.  In 1844, the Whig candidate, Henry Clay, chose "Who is James K. Polk?", in reference to the fact that his opponent was such an unknown.  Ironically enough, Polk won.  Eight years later, the Democrats nominated Franklin Pierce to run against the Whig candidate, and chose the slogan "We Polked you in 1844 and We Shall Pierce you in 1852!".

During the 1928 campaign, prohibition was a major issue.  Those in favor, were called 'drys', while opponents were called 'wets'.  This led to Al Smith's campaign slogan....
Let's all keep our comments to ourselves, on that one.

And then there are the slogans that are more blatantly negative statements about the opponent.  In 1884,  the candidates were Grover Cleveland, and James Blaine.  Cleveland's slogan was "Blaine, Blaine, James G. Blaine, The Continental Liar from the State of Maine."  Hmm..  not only negative, but long.  In that same year, when the news came out that Cleveland had fathered an illegitimate child, the  chant at Blaine rallies was  "Ma, Ma, Where's my Pa?".  And when Cleveland won, his supporters added the line "Gone to the White House, Ha, Ha, Ha".  Sounds a little bit like 3rd grade, to me.

But that wasn't the only year for negative slogans. In response to Goldwater's 1964 slogan of  "In your heart you know he's right," the Johnson campaign came back with "In your guts you know he's nuts."  Oops.. 80 years later and we're still in  3rd grade.

As I look down the list of presidential campaign slogans over the last 175 years, I realize I'm seeing positive slogans about a candidate, positive slogans about a policy, and of course negative things about the opponent.  There was the Reagan slogan of "Are you better off than you were four years ago?".. but that's just a boiled down version of what we see every time an incumbent is running for re-election and opponents are trying to suggest that the incumbent wasn't any good.

But this year is different.  This year, we have a candidate with the slogan "What have you got to lose?"
That makes it sound like we've hit rock bottom.  That feels like it's aimed at the voters on a personal level, rather than being aimed at an opposing candidate.  When the candidate pulls out this slogan, he typically adds - "you're living in poverty, your schools are no good."  Now it's definitely personal.  And of course we all know that when the candidate asks what we have to lose, he is suggesting that since we currently have a Democrat for a president right now, we should switch to a Republican president.

But there's a huge piece missing here.  You see, the United States is a democracy, not a dictatorship.  That means that the President -- whoever it is -- is restricted and constrained by Congress.  In 2010, for the first time in ten years, we had a split Congress.  Instead of both the Senate and House having the same party holding the majority of the seats, the Senate majority and the House majority were different parties.  In 2015, Congress reverted back to the more-common situation of having both parts of Congress controlled by the same party.  But that party was NOT the same as the President's party.  Once I include that missing piece, it's no longer quite so 'obvious' that electing a Republican president will fix any problems I might have.  And I suppose that's not fair.  After all,  the candidate didn't say.. I will fix your problems.  He said.. What have you got to lose?

Forget statistics... as a voter, I'm an individual, not a statistic.  And whether I want to or not, I can't travel back in time, I can only move forward.  As I look at the troubling situations both here and abroad, and as I watch news reports from both this country and from other parts of the world, and I consider the future, I would say that I have a lot to lose.  We all do.

This doesn't necessarily mean that this candidate is bad... after all, it's just a slogan.  But it's a stupid slogan.  And it's insulting and offensive and demeaning to suggest that people have nothing to lose.

That's enough for now.  More than enough.
It's time for tea.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Tips and tidbits about tea

Yes, the name of this blog is Teapot Musings.  Yes, I am often drinking tea,or I've just finished a cup of tea, or I'm about to make a cup of tea, as I'm writing these posts.  But generally, this is  not a blog about tea, or making tea, or different things you can do with tea.  After all, there certainly are blog posts and websites out there that fill that niche...  There's How to Cook with Tea, 7 Ways to Cook With Tea Leaves, How to Grow your Own Tea, lots and lots of sites reviewing the best teas, and Wiki-how even has a page on How to Make Tea -- 15 Steps with Pictures!  (OMG.. just thinking about fifteen steps to make one cup of tea is enough to make me have to stop and have a cup tea!)

Nonetheless.. I do have some tea tips and tidbits that I wanted to share.

First - I was recently asked what it's called when a tea drinker bounces their teabag up and down in their cup.  No, it's not dipping.  Yes, I suppose you could say 'bounces their teabag up and down' if you wished... but I think you'll find the more common word is 'dunking'.  Yes, dunking your teabag.  Not to be confused with dunking your ginger snaps into your tea... which is also nice.

Next -  People!  QUIT dunking your teabags!  While bouncing your teabag certainly gives you something to do, much like a coffee drinker might tap their spoon on the counter while waiting for their coffee...that's all it does.  Studies have shown that, once the bag and the tea leaves inside are wet, diffusion takes over, and your tea will brew at the same rate, whether you dunk or not.

Next, and even more importantly, QUIT squeezing your teabags!  Yes, I agree, when you put your teabag on your spoon, and wrap the string around the bag, and give it a little squeeze... dark tea comes out of the bag.  The problem is that the dark tea resulting from the squeeze has a high concentration of tannins.
Tannins = bitterness.  Want stronger tea?  Let the teabag steep a bit longer, or switch to a brand that makes stronger tea.  But please, don't squeeze the teabag.  (and if that last sentence made you think of toilet paper, you're telling your age!)

And finally, for those of you who are turning up your noses at the notion of using teabags rather than loose tea, I have some news for you.  It makes absolutely no difference whether the leaves are loose, or in bags.  What IS important, is the freshness of the tea.  So if you have an old box of X brand teabags, tucked back in the corner of the cabinet, pulled out once a year when Aunt Petunia comes to visit... yes, I'm quite certain that Aunt Petunia will find her cup of tea to be less than ideal.  But the problem isn't the teabag, it's the age of the tea leaves inside the bag.  Similarly, if you sparingly use that large tin of loose tea that you inherited from Cousin Louise, because she always made wonderful tea and you want to savor and extend your enjoyment of your inheritance ... don't bother.  I suppose if the tea inside the tea is vacuum sealed, and each time you have some tea, you open the bag, remove the desired amount, and then re-vacuum seal the bag, you'll be fine.  But who are we kidding?  Nobody is going to do that.  The trick is to buy just enough tea, that it's still fresh when you use the very last of it.  That's one of the many reasons I enjoy my typhoo tea.  I buy it in teabag form, but it comes in vacuum-sealed foil packs of only 40 teabags per pack.  No, I don't re-seal the bags, but I can most certainly go through 40 teabags before they get stale.

Before I wrap up here, and partake in the steaming cup of tea that's waiting for me, I know that some of you are wondering why I haven't addressed the issue of using one teabag for multiple cups of tea. I have one word for you.  DON'T.  No, make that five words... Don't Ever Do That.  Ever.

Enough said, now it's time for tea.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Black Cat Appreciation Day

Haven't been here in awhile.. my apologies to those who missed me.
Yes, it's true that life has been busy.  Smoking Pen Press has now published its third title, and we've put out a call for submissions for the next title - due out before the end of the year. Family was visiting for a couple weeks, which was a terrific treat.  And we're having some major renovations done to the house.

But I don't think those are the real reasons... the real reason is that I've been so discouraged by all the political garbage being bandied about, that I just haven't felt like posting.  I've never been very political, and I've never liked the political campaigning we have to put up with every four years, but I sincerely feel that this time is the absolute worst it has ever been. The good news is that the election is only a few months away.  We'll still have to deal with politics, but at least we will no longer have to deal with campaigning.

So... on to bigger, much better, and much more important things!

As has been pointed out to me, today is Black Cat Appreciation Day.

I have two black cats.. well, not completely black, they're tuxedo cats.  But they're mostly black.  And in fact, my previous cat was also a tuxedo cat, and the cat before that - my very first cat - was entirely black.  So at least in my household, it's somewhat silly to have one Black Cat Appreciation Day a year... for us, ALL days are BCAD.

But it is true that there are a lot of myths and superstitions associated with black cats, and one purpose of BCAD is to try to dispel some of those.  So - in case you didn't already know -

* black cats are NOT the familiars of witches
* black cats are NOT bad luck
* black cats are NOT reincarnated demons

However, based on my personal experience:

* black cats are particularly adept at making sure that when they shed, their fur lands on a light colored surface... the lighter the better
* black cats do have interesting personalities  (well, yes, this does apply to all cats.. but that includes black cats)

To (perhaps) dispel another myth... it is commonly believed that black cats are the last to be adopted.  But while trying to confirm that, I found an informal study that suggested that the real issue is that more black cats are taken to shelters, than non-black cats.  Nonetheless, it is true that many shelters are giving deeply discounted prices today - Black Cat Appreciation Day - if you adopt a black cat.

I already have two black cats, and I appreciate them every day.  If you're considering adopting a cat, perhaps today is the day, and perhaps the magic color is black.

And before I return to my cup of tea... let me share some pictures of my current cats with you.