Jacob All Trades #306
Clickbait candidates, Covid test packaging design, underwater cables, toilet paper, and cringy breakup videos.
I’ve nearly sent out this newsletter so many times this week. We thought Heather was in early labor this past Saturday morning and were nearly packed and out the door when we realized… she wasn’t.
“So, what do we do… just wait?” We recently asked her OBGYN. She gave us a funny look. Admittedly, it’s a strange question for second-time parents to ask. We’ve been through this, right? But, Wilder was induced at 37 weeks. So, here we are at 39 weeks and 6 days in uncharted territory.
We are in the hospital now and strangely this time between water breaking and delivery when I’m trying to distract myself is when I’m finding the time to get this newsletter out. Weird, right?
Anywho – lots of fun stuff this week. The first one’s long, but near and dear to my heart. Everything else is a fun little blurb… and at the very end, I post my extremely cringy breakup videos from 2008. Enjoy!
HERE’S AN IDEA: CLICKBAIT CANDIDATES
Recently, my mom asked me what I knew about the ‘cowboy hat guy.’ When I didn’t know who she was talking about, she forwarded me an email about Marcus Flowers.
Man, this email gets me hyped up. He’s a black guy? In a cowboy hat? And he’s running against an ignorant bigot? In the South? MGT “didn’t even have a Democratic opponent in 2020?” Yippee-ki-yay, motherfuckers! LET’S GET HER OUT OF CONGRESS!
That reaction is exactly how that email is designed to make us feel. But, it’s kind of a scam. Marcus Flowers is a Clickbait Candidate.
Let me explain. Marcus Flowers is a real candidate. He’s an army veteran. He’s got a great name. And, sweet Southern Jesus, he is rocking that cowboy hat. I honestly don’t know much about him, although I don’t love that he spent twenty years working for defense contractors – but none of that matters. Let’s look at who is sending the email:
Serve America PAC is associated with Seth Moulton, a Democratic representing Massachusetts 6th district. He’s won by more than 30% every cycle. It’s not impossible, for him to lose, but let’s just say it’s a very safe blue district.
On the other hand, 75% of Marjorie Taylor Greene’s district voted for Trump. There is statistically zero chance of a Democratic winning in her district.
BUT the Democratic establishment knows they can fundraise off of her because everyone hates her and would love to chip in a few bucks to make her go away. Candidates all over the country will be stumping for Marcus Flowers, telling you how awful MTG and Trump are, and then asking you to help get Marcus Flowers elected. When you read the fine print, it likely says “donations will be split between” Flowers and whoever sent the email.
This isn’t new. Republicans do the same thing whenever someone runs against Pelosi or one of their other bogeymen (bogeypeople?). It’s a fundraising tactic that gets us all worked up and then we make a bad bet that throws money away on a long-shot candidate while padding the war chest for someone like Moulton who might not be able to fundraise as easily when he’s not in as contested of an election.
My gripe with these “Clickbait Candidates” is that these emails inflame polarization while also diverting donations from less flashy but more likely wins — like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and defending seats in Nevada and Georgia.
In 2020, Democratic candidates raised $809 Million Dollars. That’s almost double than Republican candidates – but roughly 25% of it went to Amy McGrath in Kentucky and Jaime Harrison in South Carolina. Why? Well, McGrath was running against Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Harrison against Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Those guys are two absolute scumbags who shouldn’t be in congress – but they were long shots. McConnell and Graham won their races by 20% and 10%, respectively.
Similarly, prospective Democratic Senator Tim Ryan is tweeting about how much of a threat Republican Senate hopeful (and Oprah’s Book Club author) JD Vance would be to Ohio and to the country. It doesn’t matter that JD Vance is polling lower than the other Republicans and is likely to lose his primary. He’s a lightning rod for people’s vitriol so he’ll raise more money for Tim Ryan. It’s all about keeping us angry because when we’re fired up, we reach for our wallets.
And, a couple of real quick notes here:
If you want to spread your political donations with maximum efficiency, I’d suggest Swing Left’s Blue Print – it’s like a hedge fund for political donations.
Running any Democrat anywhere is good. We should run someone anywhere we can.
Losing candidates can lay the groundwork for future campaigns. Beto O’Rourke and Stacey Abrams are great examples of this. Even if Beto doesn’t win, the fact that he keeps trying ups the ground game for Democrats all over Texas.
We need to have a real conversation about the number of crackpots, hucksters, and predators Oprah has birthed into national relevance. JD Vance and Dr. Oz are just a few. I’ve got no hate for Oprah, but daaaaaang.
Three things I’ve seen, heard, or otherwise experienced recently that have been on my mind.
Once I saw Titus Kaphar’s arresting portrait of Sally Hemmings, “Behind The Myth of Benevolence,” it was hard to get it out of my head. Holy Shit. It is currently on display at LACMA. Here’s a great radio interview from On Being between Kaphar and Annette Gordon-Reed, the historian responsible for our awareness of Hemmings.
When at-home Covid tests hit the market they weren’t necessarily pleasing to look at. If you could get one, you were happy to have one, so who cared about the design? Well, now that they’ve become more available I noticed myself starting to judge them based on their packaging design. Abbott’s BinaxNOW feels the most dependable to me, while others feel cheap, and On/Go’s test (pictured above) almost feels too slick. Just when I thought I’d write something about it myself, I was thrilled to see AIGA (the professional org for graphic design) cover it on their blog, Eye on Design.
From the article: “When it comes to branding healthcare products, there’s an uncanny valley between slickness and deadpan practicality. So-called good design can inspire trust, but only up to a certain point. Products that look too nice have a way of reminding customers that healthcare is a business.”
Full article here: At-home Covid Tests Are Having a Design Moment
When Wilder was an infant, our bedtime routine included a reading of Goodnight Moon while listening to Miles Davis’ It Never Entered My Mind. Now that he’s older, it remains one of his favorites along with the other book from the Mooniverse: Runaway Bunny. One night, Heather asked me “Do you know anything about Margaret Wise Brown?” and I went down a Wikipedia rabbit hole. She is fascinating –a wolfskin wearing iconoclast who hobnobbed with Gertrude Stein. Her (very full) life has been recounted in a recent issue of the New Yorker.
CHRIS VANARTSDALEN AND THE NUDE M&M
In case you missed it, I interviewed artist and friend Chris VanArtsdalen about viral art, memes, and being the guy in your sketch group that knows how to use Adobe Creative Suite. Chris created the nude green M&M that went viral last month. Read our conversation here.
Did you know the Internet is all underwater? This great piece from New York Times Interactive explains.
A QUICK AND EASY CLIMATE SWAP
One of my goals for 2022 is to lower my environmental footprint. This section of the newsletter will share something I’ve swapped out and heartily recommend.
Reel Paper is tree-free toilet paper made from bamboo. It’s sustainable, the packaging is all recyclable, and it’s a black-owned business. It feels nice on your butt and you can get it through their subscription service, or at Target and other retailers. They also make paper towels (but full disclosure: I’ve not tried those).
FROM THE VAULT
I cannot believe I am actually posting this publicly, but here goes nothing. I made a promise. In 2008, I went through a really hard breakup. We’d been together for three years – a good chunk of college – and she was my first serious partner. I coped with it in a lot of different ways, but one of them was to make (nearly) daily video diaries about how I was feeling. They’re very cringe.
Before anything else, I want to say how valuable that relationship was both then and in my overall development as a human being. I don’t think I would have been ready to date my wife if I hadn’t gone through all that. And, how happy and fulfilled and madly in love with my partner for the last decade and the rest of our lives. Do not feel bad for the person in this video.
There are HOURS of these videos. Here are a few clips:
Alrighty, that’s it for this week. Feel free to leave a comment or share the newsletter using the links below.