HOW'S THIS for a novelty: In Maryland's First Congressional District (the Eastern Shore, much of Anne Arundel County and a sliver of Baltimore City), neither the Democratic nominee nor the Republican nominee received a penny in special-interest money during the general election campaign last year.
That's right, Wayne Gilchrest and Ralph Gies managed to run an entire congressional election campaign without any special-interest group or political action committee (PAC) money.
Mr. Gilchrest's efforts were especially commendable. The Republican incumbent raised $82,000 through individual contributions and easily won reelection.
Mr. Gies, the Democrat in the race, raised $21,000 -- $11,000 through his personal contributions and $10,000 through a personal loan. That's known as a self-supporting campaign.
He did try to gather funds by holding a bull roast, but he lost money when only 50 people showed up. The extra food, though, went to good use: He gave it to a soup kitchen in Baltimore.
* * * IT USED to be that the poles were -- well, the ends of the Earth. They had a certain mystery about them and so did the pioneers who traveled over them.
In those days it was just the explorer and his trusted dogs, dependent on each other for survival. Man and Man's Best Friend huddled close at night for warmth, alone against the elements.
Now the adventurer is never alone. School children and arm-chair travelers from around the world can call him up on e-mail or chat on the Internet.
Thanks to this modern technology, the International Arctic Project, running from March to July, will be carrying a large chunk of civilization with it. But at least it has dogs; 33 to be exact.
A recent Antarctic expedition that just completed a 2,000 mile journey can't claim as much: Bulldozers were used to cross the southern glaciers. The three machines may not have needed as much care as the dogs, but who would want to curl up to one for body heat?
* * * THE GREAT Atlanta Pot Festival is getting ready to swing into action on April 1. Organizers want to hold seminars on non-violent civil disobedience and advise participants to request jury trials if arrested. Since 30,000 people showed up last year, the prospects of police carrying pot-smokers to paddy wagons and holding trials at $3,000 each appear remote.
Meanwhile, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, meeting in Atlanta, is discussing the sex lives of insects and the memory of plants. Sounds like some people are still feeling the effects of last year's Pot Festival.