When Donald Met Jeeves

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imagesWe Americans may think of Jeeves and his employer, Bertie Wooster, as quintessentially British. What we may not realize is that, influenced by their biographer, P.G. Wodehouse, who became an American citizen, Jeeves and Bertie have long divided their time between London and New York.

President-Elect Trump, working on his high-level appointments andunknown-1 long fascinated by Jeeves’s fabled brilliance, invited him to Trump Tower one late-November evening:

Ah, Jeeves, I’m glad you could drop by.

One endeavors to give satisfaction.

Come again?! Oh yeah, I get your drift. You Brits are such a stitch. But I hope I’m not lobbing too many Americanisms at you.

Not at all, sir. A gentleman’s gentleman must always be cognisant of regional linguistic variations lest he do a disservice to his master through any failure to comprehend the lexical and dialectical idiosyncracies which comprise his quotidian encounters.

Ummm … yeah … that is so great … and so right … great … and right … really. Anyway, Jeeves, I understand you’re a first-class brainiac, especially after you’ve had a fish dinner. Is that true?

One does as one is able. As to the question of piscine alimentation, one would not wish to exaggerate its benefits, though one often does feel a postprandial effect upon one’s cerebral processes.

Yeah … sure … that thing you just said. Anyway, I do have a kinda problem I’d like your thoughts on. Some people say I’m a little too abrupt and, now that I’m about to be President, I gotta act more Presidential, use more elevated language, though frankly, between you and I …

Begging your pardon, sir, but the correct usage would be “between you and me” since the preposition renders its referent pronoun in the objective case.

Really? Good to know. Well, anyway, I think you see where I’m going with this.

Indeed, sir, there is that ratiocinative aspect of political discourse which, in reasonable balance with the emotive, augments the potential to render the recipient of one’s message susceptible to assent.

Y’know, Jeeves, I don’t have a fucking clue what you just said, but …

One does beg your pardon, sir. No offense was intended.

And none taken, my man. That’s exactly the point. Whatever it is you’re saying, you weave a spell that’s like when some delicious chick knocks your socks off and it takes time before you get your act together and can grab some pu….

A most apt simile, sir, though one would never wish to be thought of as someone who would willfully obfuscate.

If that word means what I think it means, count me as agreeing. Straight talk is what got me here — Bomb it; Build it; Grab it; Screw it — but sometimes you gotta make ‘em stop and think, float it at ‘em like a knuckleball, dazzle ‘em with your slider. But, I forgot, you probably don’t follow baseball.

To the contrary, sir, many have been the happy hours spent at Yankee Stadium, where I have thoroughly imbibed the jargon of America’s version of cricket.

Dammit, Jeeves, you are something else! You’ve convinced me. Here’s my proposition: I want you to be my White House Spokesman! You’re a goddam verbal magician! The stupid, lying media won’t know what hit ‘em!

Thank you, sir. One is humbled.

So, it’s a yes?

That would be somewhat premature, sir, and a transgression of the obligations one owes to one’s employer. However, considering such past successes as when one persuaded Mr. Wooster to remove his mustache and to cease wearing purple socks, one is confident that one will shortly be in a position to give satisfaction.

Great! Stay in touch, or rather, do endeavor to maintain telephonic contact. See, I’m getting the hang of it!

Very good, sir!

Gwen and Barack

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gwenimages-1

In the course of about two months, we will have lost two of our most comforting public figures: Gwen Iffill, who died on November 14, and Barack Obama, who leaves office on January 20.

Calling them comforting may seem almost condescending, as if they were cuddly puppies or down-filled blankets on a cold morning. They are much, much more (I refuse to use the past tense). But comforting does sum up both their personal warmth (Gwen, a little more than Barack) and the thoughtfulness, fairness, and integrity — call it character — that clothes a core of burnished steel.

We sometimes call our President our Comforter-in-Chief, and Barack has too often had to reassure us that the sun will rise tomorrow.

It is not quite so apparent that a journalist might fill that role, but Walter Cronkite, a stern but kindly uncle, did it after the Kennedy assassination. Gwen has done it, under less fraught circumstances, more like a loving parent, letting us know that, as bad as the news may be, it is not the end of the world.

One should never fall in love with one’s newscaster. I stepped across that particular boundary long ago. What could I do? That beautiful face, that glorious, toothsome smile, that laugh.

There is less danger that one will fall in love with one’s President. He (She, next time!) has to be as enigmatic as open. There are secrets to be guarded, interests to be manipulated, players to be orchestrated.

Gwen, the mother; Barack, the father.

The days and months ahead will see changes in policy and changes in the substance and style of the media, but, as always, we and our ship of state will be slow to turn. Each of us will have some victories and some defeats. More jarring, but no less important, will be the personal effect of changes in attitude, style, personality, and, deeper still, spirit, values, and character.

We may long for the likes of these two, who have embodied goodness and given solace. If we are in despair, at least we will have the comfort of knowing that such people are possible.

We Lost It, But Let’s Not Completely Lose It!

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imagesSnatching victory from the jaws of defeat is laudable. Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory is lamentable. Snatching defeat from the jaws of defeat is laughable, but a few of us liberals apparently want to give it a try.

One way to do it is to urge Trump’s Presidential Electors to vote their conscience. Conscience!? Our whole campaign was based on the premise that Trump and his acolytes have no conscience. Why would they be different now, after they’ve won? (Perhaps we want to make them die laughing?)

Even if there might be a few who would forsake the darkness for the light, who’s to say that the call of conscience might not persuade as many Hillary supporters, drawn by the aroma of victory, to cross in the other direction? We liberals may think of ourselves as angels, but we shouldn’t forget that Lucifer was simply an angel who saw an attractive job-opening.

There’s something more serious in this spasm of mindlessness. One of the pillars of our opponents‘ temple is States Rights, a philosophy that, though grounded in the Constitution, has reeked of bigotry, injustice, and violence since the Civil War.

The Electoral College is, in a way, a protector of States Rights, designed originally to keep the Union intact by giving the less populous states of the South greater political weight than their raw popular vote would have warranted. In this election, States Rights states, in the South and beyond, were, by and large, Trump states.

To a liberal, for whom the Federal Government is usually a better guarantor of consistency, fairness and justice than is the theology of States Rights (remember civil rights legislation), it might seem nonsensical to favor the Electoral College over the popular vote. The alternative, however, would radicalize these angry states, drive them further to the right, and into the arms of the Voldemort also known as Texas.

Another good way to discredit our liberal principles would be to support the stated intent of some city and state political leaders not to cooperate with, possibly even to stymie, Federal immigration efforts now that Trump is to be President. It was only a couple years ago that we were blasting Arizona, and the notorious Sheriff Joe Arpaio, for interfering in immigration policies which, we argued, were the prerogative of the Federal Government.

Have these policies suddenly devolved to the individual states, each with its own policy and border control? Have liberals become States Righters? Just because there are fundamental moral issues involved doesn’t mean we should change our strategic position that, over the course of time, the Federal Government is the best bet for giving moral principles the force of law.

If you lose the game, you don’t change the rules so that they favor your particular weaknesses. You remedy the weaknesses. The Cubs got a new front office, a new manager,unknown new players, a new attitude. They didn’t pout, at least not for long.

OK, so the Presidency isn’t as important as the World Series. But pretend it is. Otherwise, it could be 108 years before we get back to the White House. That’s a long time to pout.

What I Learned on the Campaign Trail

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images-6I did a lot of Hillary canvassing this year. I had to, in order to stay at least borderline sane. There is something comforting in going door-to-door, with simple questions — Are you registered? Have you decided? Will you vote? Have you voted? — as Election Day approaches.

Grand strategy and weighty policy positions are important. But it’s the ground-game that does the gritty job. In our post-election wake, organizers said that Hillary’s victory margin in Colorado was largely attributable to the canvass effort. Consolation, though small.

At my advanced age, it’s an open question whether I’ll be able to pound pavements and climb stairs four years hence when Elizabeth Warren or Kristen Gillibrand challenges Trump. So, it’s vital to share lessons learned:

Dogs: With a dog at-home ratio of one-in-two, and humans only one-in-six, you are more likely to be bitten than punched. Don’t take the yapping personally. They sound like Trump supporters, but they can’t vote … yet.

Dog Owners: At least they know you’re there, even if the doorbell is broken or your first knock was inaudible. They’re usually apologetic. Use that advantage to press home your message. You may have to shout.

Doorbells: A recent study shows that Democrats’ doorbells are twice as likely to be broken as Republicans’. If you can’t hear the ding-dong, assume the worst and knock. No one’s going to admit they heard you the first time, but ignored you.

Knocking: Since most doors require a hard knock (the majority of Democrats’ door-knockers also do not work), be sure occasionally to give your favored knocking hand a break. The Party wants to shed its bloody-knuckles image.

Holding Your Clipboard: Alternating your knocks means shifting your clipboard from hand-to-hand. Now, your knocking-hand is holding and your holding-hand is knocking. In that confused state, and considering all the rest you have to remember in order not to fall down the stairs, concentrate especially on your name. If you can remember that, the rest is easy.

Holding Your Clipboard in a Windstorm: Your clipboard contains all your contact pages, which you must regularly remove from the top and re-insert at the bottom; plus reams of promotional material you are expected to slide, hang, stuff, or wedge. Your clipboard is briefly very vulnerable. One gust at the wrong moment could get you nine months for littering. Be exceptionally careful; better yet, ask to be reassigned to a large, non-gusty, apartment building.

Large Apartment Buildings: Getting through the lobby door is the challenge. Fortunately,images-1 Democrats tend to live in buildings with broken front-door locks and laid-back tenants. If only for that reason, I’m glad I’m a Democrat.

No Soliciting Signs: When canvassers swap stories after-hours, the biggest laugh-getter is the No Soliciting sign, the canvassing equivalent of the Do Not Block This Intersection sign. Ignore it but, on the very slim chance you do get yelled at, apologize and go immediately to a different floor or neighboring house, and continue your rounds unafraid. The Party has very good lawyers.

Keep Yourself Well-Watered: It does the campaign no good to have canvassers collapsing at people’s front doors (though the possibility of a sympathy vote shouldn’t be dismissed). Carry a water bottle. But be judicious. Having finally gained entry to a buttoned-up building, there is nothing more self-defeating than sacrificing it all for a pee.

Keep Yourself Well-Peed: Pee if you must. The Party may be rigorous taskmasters, but they don’t want to lose their troops to kidney failure. Before you start, have a pee-plan — the nearest Starbucks, a gas station, a 7/11. But don’t let your guilt at using their facilities induce you to buy a coffee or a Slurpee, which will keep you on an endless urinary merry-go-round and could cost the Party votes.

imagesAbove All, Have Fun: Most people are pretty nice, and some really appreciate what you’re doing. Even if it was only one vote that, otherwise, wouldn’t have gone our way, You Made a Difference!

God Loves Baseball …

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… and, it seems, He follows it religiously. Otherwise, why would all those players kiss their finger-tips and, gazing beatifically, point toward heaven after a decisive home run or a rally-ending third strike?

You don’t see this in hockey, basketball, football, or soccer, where God must be watching, at least for form’s sake, since He is present in all things.

Perhaps God loves baseball more.

It’s possible. He’d have to be inhuman not to be thrilled by a pitch as fast as a race car; a leap above the outfield wall to pick off a home run; an infielder’s graceful double-play pirouette at second. Why else but for love of The Game would He have created Willie Mays, Joe DiMaggio, and Ernie Banks (but not Pete Rose or Alex Rodriguez)?

It seems, too, that God doesn’t simply watch. He intervenes. What’s more, so our worshipful players seem to be saying, He takes sides, blessing the stalwart home run hitter and damning the errant pitcher, even though both are equally His creatures.

How could this be? After all, this is not a case of good vs. evil (unless you’re a Red Sox fan and the Yankees are involved).

Some argue that God isn’t really taking sides. In a perfectly just world, He will, in time, bless the victimized pitcher with a crucial strikeout just as He may make the once-proud home run hitter the victim of this very strikeout. And, since pitcher and hitter are simply parts of a larger game, God assures equity by seeing to it that, at the end of the season, the combined wins of all the teams exactly equal their combined losses. What could be fairer?

Others, however, question this reasoning, asking how, but for His malign intervention, could the Cubs and Indians have gone more than a combined 160 years without winning a World Series? And, though one of them must win the 2016 Series, He still took an unconscionably long time to bend the arc of the universe toward justice!

This brings us to the question whether, beyond individual instances, God favors those players who demonstratively thank Him for His blessing over those who do not. In the long run, do the former hit more home runs or toss more strikeouts than the latter?

Statisticians have investigated and come to a startling conclusion: no matter what the measure (batting average, home run total, pitching wins and losses, earned run average and the like), players who publicly praise Him rank significantly below those who do not.

Interestingly, players in the higher-ranking group include those who credit Him, but privately, and those who credit themselves, even the publicly boastful chest-thumpers.

In other words, God uniquely punishes those who publicly credit Him with their success. If He is just, why would this be so?

Theories abound: God is not pleased to have His obsession with baseball made public; He feels he must counter the assumption that He is biased; He wants to make it clear that, in the 2016 World Series, though He wants justice for both teams, only one of them can escape its sad history.

No one knows for sure, though there is a growing body of opinion that, in those whounknown publicly attribute their personal success to Him, God sees, not modesty, but a kind of juvenile pridefulness (God loves Me best!), and THIS REALLY PISSES HIM OFF!

America the Beeeautiful

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My dedicated reader knows that I am not fond of The Star Spangled Banner. I have long unknownwished we could substitute America the Beautiful, which has a nice, singable tune, and celebrates aspects of America — especially its extraordinary physical beauty — that all of us, whatever our ethnicity, gender identity, race, creed, or political persuasion, might agree on.

Be cautious what you wish for! I was excited to learn recently that Donald Trump, seemingly agreeing with my sentiment, intends to make America the Beautiful our national anthem when he becomes president, and that he, too, finds the theme of extraordinary physical beauty compelling. His interpretation, however, is slightly different, as his changes in the words suggest:

O beeeautiful for spacious thighs, for Amber, Dawn, and Jane,
For nippled mountains’ majesties above their “fruited plain!”
America! America!  god shed his grace on Me
And crown My good with all things nude, from she to shining she.

O beeeautiful for pretty feet that, with impassioned stress,
Upon My chest divinely beat, while I look up their dress.
America! America! god bless Me, without flaw.
Confirm My soul, but don’t control, My liberty! My law!

O beeeautiful for bimbos proved more luscious than My wife,
Who more than self their master loved and foreplay more than life!
America! America! May god My gold refine
Till My success be happiness and every gain be Mine!

beeeautiful, voluptuous dream that sees beyond the years.
Mine alabaster cities gleam, and damn the human tears!
America! America! god shed his grace on Me
And crown My good with plenitude from Me to shining Me.

If nothing else influences your vote on November 8, think of what you might be forced toimages stand and sing at the beginning of the next ballgame!

 

Agony Anthem Revisited

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th-5The I Did It My Way version of our National Anthem causes me pain. I dutifully stand, eyes closed, victimized. I want to sit, with my fingers in my ears, but haven’t the courage. My coward’s refuge has been my seniors’-night-out fictional alter-egos, whose booing set off a riot at a local hockey game as a student group lacerated the Scar Strangled Banger (Agony Anthem; October, 2011).

When I first heard of Colin Kaepernick’s decision to sit out the National Anthem at an NFL football game, I cheered, fleetingly imagining an aesthetic ally. When I learned the real motivation — his protest at America’s treatment of African-Americans — I realized I was wrong.

But was he wrong?th-3

He certainly raised a whirlwind! How could he dishonor the two great symbols of our country — our flag and our anthem? How could he so disrespect those who defend the freedoms these symbols represent? How could he threaten football’s hallowed place in the American psyche?

In an on-line vote that The Denver Post publishes daily with, at most, a few thousand responses, its question about Kaepernick’s action got over 62,000 responses, about 80% of them negative.

Condemnation, however, was not universal. Some pointed out that, by taking so public and controversial an action, he was, simply and courageously, exercising America’s most fundamental right — free speech — whose protection, especially of controversial speech, our flag and anthem symbolize.

In following weeks, other football players joined Kaepernick’s protest, kneeling rather than sitting, a new posture Kaepernick also adopted.

Kaepernick was not wrong to sit, and he and his fellow players were, subsequently, not wrong to kneel, just as the majority — players and fans alike — were not wrong to remain standing. All were exercising their rights and contributing to a lively debate that is the essence of free speech.

However, their choices, all of them, came with limitations. Sitting does differentiate the sitter from the standing majority, but its implication is passive opting out. Kneeling, too, differentiates the kneeler from the standee, but its symbolism of subservience is probably not the message these protesters would want to send. Standing is strong, but, like sitting, leaves little room for nuance.

There is a possible compromise: the crouch. The croucher is a standee with attitude, moving down into the middle ground, symbolizing neither apathy nor fanaticism, but rather a give-and-take attitude that is the catalyst of democracy. The croucher can dip to whatever level is appropriate to the occasion — bending the knees slightly to signal agreement but with reservation, or hunkering all the way down in a posture of strong, but not absolute, dissent.

Exceptions, like recent knee- or hip-replacements, would be accommodated. Partisans at either extreme would still have the right either to stand tall or sit tight. But the rest should be pleased at the chance for a more accurate, calibrated expression of the moderate views most of us hold. Stronger thighs and better balance are an added bonus.

I can report favorably from personal experience. Recently, I gave a crouching ovation to a performance of The Glass Menagerie, voicing my reservations at its fevered overwriting and the lead’s mannered acting, but still applauding the other actors, who triumphed over the play’s weaknesses.

th-4I was relieved not to have to sit defiantly as all about me rose to their feet, but, standing at half-mast, to be able to express my divided emotions and, by the way, getting the kinks out of legs stiff from sitting through a very long play.

I have recommended my solution to Mr. Kaepernick as a way to remain standing while expressing his views with a deep knee-bend that, by the way, should help keep him warmed up for what really counts.

I’m expecting a response any day now.

Exodus

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thIf Mother Earth is trying to tell us something about our tenancy here, she has lately been whispering rather than shouting. But we shouldn’t mistake her meaning.

In early September 2016, Hurricane Hermine spared our Gulf and Atlantic coasts major devastation. But, to the attentive, Hermine demonstrated what might otherwise have been lost in a more ferocious storm: with rising sea-levels endemic, it will take less and less outside intervention to make these areas uninhabitable.

In about the same time frame, in Colorado, full reservoirs from an above-average snow season got us through a drought-stricken summer. But, to the attentive, the situation demonstrated how little it would take to tilt the balance toward a major crisis.

Climate scientists advise us not to be distracted by big-weather events, no single one of which can be conclusively attributed to climate change. Rather, we should keep our eye on matters, like rising sea-levels and long-term droughts, that provide slowly-accumulating evidence, more conclusively linked to global warming.

In the debate over mankind’s influence on climate change, what is demonstrably happening in the air, in the water, and on whatever land is left to us, is all that really matters.  And it is when and how we abandon homes that can no longer sustain us, where we seek refuge, and how we rebuild our lives that will determine our fate.

Here in America, decisions will need to be made. East Coasters will have to start thinking about what they’ll do and where they’ll go if … when … the Liberty Bell is a National Maritime Park exhibit, a safe Senate seat is a raft, and Boston is Boston Harbor.

Seventy years ago, California would have been the favored destination of these refugees. But, if the drought there continues, the roads will be blocked by reverse Okies fleeing a new Dust Bowl.

Colorado, where I live, could be a popular alternative destination — pleasant climate, beautiful scenery, booming economy, and (at least under current conditions) enough water for all … barely. But, even absent a natural drought, it wouldn’t take too many net immigrants to tip the balance toward a man-made disaster.

If we Coloradans don’t build a wall (which I proposed once I had moved here), we too may be forced onto the road. Where would we go? Maybe Detroit. There’s a lot of cheap real estate, and it’s 600 feet above sea level, with plenty of fresh water and no tornados or hurricanes. Much the same is true of almost any Rust Belt city within a hundred miles of a Great Lake.

This is not to mention how the rest of the world will fare. If the current migration situation is any indication, Europe, the Middle East and Africa are going to have a tough time of it. But that’s their problem. We shouldn’t let ourselves be distracted.

Mother, we are truly sorry about how we’ve treated you. But it would be really helpful ifth-1 you could, for the time being, spare us major natural disasters and possibly even sort of clear the way, like with the Israelites and the Red Sea. At least, then, we’d have time to get a bag packed and the front door closed.

Hugs All Around

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UnknownWhen you dye your hair steel-grey, as American star swimmer Ryan Lochte did for the 2016 Rio Olympics, people might wonder where you got those big blue eyes and that little tiny mind.

And then there was the sequel: the drunken escapade, the petty vandalism, the robbed-at-gunpoint claim, the proven lie, the non-apology apology, the loss of all those lucrative sponsorships.

It struck me hard. Not that I particularly care about Lochte, but I worry about the American male, and shudder at the renaissance of the idiot-hero that the noteworthy success of a mature, controlled Michael Phelps seemed to have vanquished.

Struck hard, but not without hope and a cunning plan:

Elsewhere in the Olympics, an American woman — Abbey D’Agostino — showed that being a world-class athlete does not exclude being a world-class human being.

You may recall that, in a heat for the 5,000 meter race, D’Agostino was tripped up when the runner in front of her — New Zealander Nikki Hamblin — stumbled. The two stopped to help each other and hugged before they proceeded to the finish, Hamblin across the line uninjured, D’Agostino, hobbling to dead last and collapsing into a wheelchair. They hugged again and, the following day, D’Agostino, in the crowd, cheered her former rival.

D’Agostino could teach Lochte a thing or two (assuming he is teachable). She should focus on hugging, in which, by my unofficial count, our women took 85% of the American team’s golds, more or less mirroring their official count of almost 60% of the actual American gold haul.

You might think that, even with the best teachers, guys simply don’t have the hormonal wherewithal to be gold-medal huggers. You might believe that hugging is the culmination, not the beginning, of grueling, lifelong empathy-training.

You might, but you’d be wrong. Guys, if you’ve ever engaged a friend, or even a rival, in a genuine hug, you know the endorphin rush it produces, one that no manly handshake can ever equal. From hugging can come empathy. Call it reverse-engineering, but it works.

And there’s more than mere emotional gratification in being a gold-medal hugger. There’s also victory. Consider the contrast between the American women’s gold-medal victory, and the men’s humiliating disqualification, in their respective 4×100 meter relays.

Both teams had amazingly gifted athletes, with the best training. The sliver of difference may have been a crucial empathy deficit among the men. I can only speculate, but there clearly was a disconnect between the last two runners that might, if they had been in mental/emotional synch, have been avoided and at least have allowed them to finish theUnknown-1 race, and almost certainly win at least the bronze that was stripped from them.

It isn’t ESP and it isn’t magic. Even Ryan Lochte may be teachable. Who better than Abbey D’Agostino to convince him that a hug is better than a shrug?!

Naming Rites

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cartoon_circus_huckster_CoolClips_cart0666If only we had put our foot down when San Diego sacrificed Jack Murphy Stadium to the dark forces of Qualcomm, and especially when Cleveland capitulated to the smarmy hucksterism of Quicken Loans Arena, we wouldn’t be in this mess.

The annoying scab that had been limited to stadiums and arenas became a full-blown infection in the State formerly known as Texas (because of copyright restrictions, we can only refer to the former state in this way, and will use the acronym SfkaT for simplicity). It was 2018, when, you may recall, the SfkaT hit the wall, narrowly avoiding a Congressional vote to expel it from the U.S., and then filing for bankruptcy.

Years and years of anti-tax politics had virtually emptied the state treasury, and virulent anti-Federal Government sentiment guaranteed that Washington, though reluctant to push it into the arms of Mexican drug lords, would not bail it out.

That was when, in a remarkable development, Mark Zuckerberg purchased the naming rights to the state for a billion dollars and renamed it Facebook (name used with copyright owner’s permission).

Zuckerberg’s move caught the attention of other states, the next of which to get renamed was the Sfka Mississippi, which went for $1,999.99, and is now known as NASCAR (permission, as above).

This second case raised a storm, not just because of the exceptionally high cost relative to the state’s actual value, but because Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee filed suit, objecting that NASCAR’s (the organization’s, not the state’s) copyright restrictions on the former state name unfairly deprived Scripps of the free use of a vital spelling word. (The judge threw the suit out, citing as precedent previous dismissal of a suit brought by America’s elementary school teachers against Scripps for copyrighting the term spelling bee.)

Soon, others jumped on the bandwagon: the Sfka Connecticut (now Aetna), the Sfka Nevada (Caesar’s Palace), the Sfka Arkansas (Tyson’s Chicken Nuggets) (all permissions, as above), and others.

But regional pride and patriotism began to turn against this crass commercialism, in spite of the obvious truth that corporate sponsorship was the only way to pay for new streetlight bulbs and police services.

With an impasse looming, Missouri made the first breakthrough, insisting on retaining its historic name, but willing to sell its license-plate slogan — The Show Me State — to Hollywood, as The Show Me the Money State.

As before, others followed: Idaho and Minnesota made subtle, but immensely profitable, switches, Idaho inserting Ore-Ida in the middle of its Great Potatoes slogan, and Minnesota shortening Land of 10,000 Lakes to a simpler Land o’Lakes.

However, this naming-rights tide also began to ebb, especially in revulsion atUnknown-1 Massachusetts’ agreement to add an s to The Spirit of America in exchange for fifty-million bucks from Jack Daniel’s Distillery, and ultimately dried up after New York capitulated to major league baseball arbiters’ bribe, and became The Umpire State.