Friday, April 28, 2006

Get a Life 

Reaction to a version of The Star Spangled Banner in Spanish:
Some Internet bloggers and others are infuriated by the thought of The Star-Spangled Banner sung in a language other than English, and the version of the song has already been the target of a fierce backlash.
If it bothers you that much, don't stand up when it's sung.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

This Doesn't Sound Good 

W. Patrick Lang:
The Bush Administration desperately wants to get most American troops out of the country starting this Summer. They can read the poll numbers in the US which virtually forecast a "bad patch" for the Republican Party both this Autumn and also in the next presidential election.

Unfortunately for them the time has passed in which they could control the actions of the government which they have gone to so much trouble to create. They insist that it is sovereign and it increasingly sees itself as sovereign whether or not it can maintain its unity and whether or not it can control the country's territory.

In other words, the fate of the Bush Administration's policy in Iraq is now in the hands of; a group of grasping and fractious 3rd World politicians, various private armies belonging to sectarian groups and leaders, the emerging armed forces of a fledgling state and the will to fight of various Sunni insurgent groups.

The people who now have the least control over Iraq's future are we Americans.
Whatever one thinks about the wisdom of going to war against Iraq, it's hard to escape the reality that the Bush Administration has bungled it badly at every turn.

"The eternal struggle takes time, Max" * 

What is the old saying, "Cut off your nose to spite your face"?

That's the attitude of the Florida Legislature as it prepares to prohibit academic travel to Cuba. The author of the bill justified it by trotting out the usual excuse:
Rep. David Rivera, a Miami Republican who represents portions of Broward County and is the House sponsor of HB 1199, defended that move as step that will put financial and political pressure on President Fidel Castro.
Yes, I'm sure that Fidel is now contemplating holding free elections so as to make sure that a professor of 19th century Latin American literature can still come to Cuba for research.

On the other hand, I not at all sure that the professor might not be looking at taking a position at a university in state where backward-looking, special-interest foreign policy issues don't trump education.

Who really loses here?

*Professor Fate to henchman in The Great Race.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Why Our Jails Are Overcrowded 

What a stupid waste of time, money and resources.

The real crime was that the Royal Palm Beach "rapid response team" was called into action rather than some other, and more rational, action being taken. Like, maybe a phone call?

How Stupid Can You Be? 

Most people are wary of any stranger who comes to their door, and rightly so.

So how does one explain the success of a 76-year-old South Florida man who went door-to-door, claiming to be a physician, and offering free breast examinations?

The Sun-Sentinel article did note that he carried a black medical bag, which probably convinced the "victims" that this was a legitimate offer.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Let Me Think About This 

One has to wonder about Florida's electorate when the latest Quinnipiac poll shows the 2006 governor's race essentially tied yet 55 percent approve of the way Governor Bush is "handling his job as Governor."

Unless some people approve of the way he is screwing up the state -- it might help bring about a Democrat victory in November.

(via FlaBlog)

Monday, April 17, 2006

Not Exactly as First Reported 

Did I miss this version in the Miami Herald and Sun-Sentinel?
On the night of April 4-5, 2006, the Cuban Coast Guard exchanged fire with three men in a 40-foot power boat just inside Cuban waters. Reportedly, the fight began when the Cuban Coastguardsmen hailed the vessel, which replied with automatic weapons fire. The boat was subsequently boarded, and the three men aboard were arrested; two of them were wounded. The three men, one of whom has since died, were Cuban-Americans from Florida. Normally such an incident would lead to major headlines, fanned by Cuban exiles, but this incident has noted with minimal attention. Apparently the men were smugglers, possibly occasionally bringing out people seeking to flee to the U.S., but more frequently carrying other goods, which has dampened publicity about the incident.

Although not widely broadcast, the U.S. and Cuban Coast Guards frequently pass tips back and forth regarding smuggling, as drug dealers have a market in Cuba, and even when seeking to carry their good to the U.S. frequently try running through Cuban territorial seas to throw off pursuit.
From Strategy Page.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Lock'em Up 

If the statistics in a letter to the editor of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel are correct, they are a damning indictment of our criminal justice system:
Broward has 1.7 million inhabitants (40 percent under 18 and over 65), exactly as many as my hometown, Hamburg. The Broward Sheriff's Office spokeswoman claimed 80,000 inmates-arrestees per year, while Hamburg, Germany, had in 2004 1,466 arrestees (this is not a typo), of which 885 spent at least one night in jail.
There is no question in my mind that too many people, a substantial portion of whom are youths, are arrested and booked into the county jail for relatively minor infractions.

Weapon of the Poor 

Here's a fascinating history of the car bomb by Mike Davis. It is a history that includes a wide variety of nations, religions and political affiliations.

Davis' article is in two parts -- the second installment can be found here.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Losing Streak 

James Wolcott pinpoints when the right-wingers jumped the shark:
I keep going back to the Terri Schiavo case. That's when I think the rightwing carousel began to break down and the painted horses lost their rhythm, pawing the air to no avail. Talk radio and cable news tilted heavily for Schiavo's parents and against Michael Schiavo, Jeb Bush jowlily postured and interposed himself with shameless zeal, Congressional Republicans stuck their beaks into this private turmoil, Bush broke precedent to interrupt his precious downtime in Crawford to sign a hocked-up bill,--and they all misread the public's mood. The American public wanted them to butt out.
Since that time, all the President's men (and women) have been unable to get traction, and they all seem to be whistling in the dark.

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Florida Rebels? 

This is a couple months old, but interesting nonetheless. The excellent history blog, Civil War Memory reprinted an interview with John Coski, librarian at the Museum of the Confederacy, and author of The Confederate Battle Flag: America's Most Embattled Emblem, in which he discussed the use of the flag by college sports programs in the South.
I found some interesting Florida connections. The University of Florida if I recall correctly in 1941 it first appeared in the yearbook. So Florida actually embraced the flag sooner from what I can tell than the University of Mississippi did, judging by evidence that may not be complete. They probably embraced it earlier than most people realized. In fact the university had in the early 1950s during that flag fad period a school flag that was in orange and blue with the Confederate battle flag pattern. It was surprising to me, since I like most people tend to think of Ole Miss and the flag and not realize how many other colleges embraced it and certainly didn'’t expect to find it at Florida.
Those who believe that Florida escaped many of the most violent and hateful aspects of the Civil Rights era because it was "not really Southern," are, I believe, mistaken. If not for the courageous actions of individual Florida leaders such as LeRoy Collins, this state probably would have shared a fate similar to those of its neighbors.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

SLAPP Fight 

The Hollywood preservation group, Friends of the Great Southern fought the efforts of the City of Hollywood and a local developer to redevelop the historic structure, keeping only a portion of the building's facade. When the Hollywood City Commission voted to go ahead with the project, the preservationists continued their fight, with unfortunate results, as the following Friends press release explains.
Friends of the Great Southern (FOGS) will have yet another day in court. On March 24, Southern Facilities Development, Inc., owned by condo developer Chip Abele, and current owner of the historic Great Southern Hotel, filed what is known as a SLAPP suit against FOGS.

SLAPP stands for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. It is a legal tactic whereby a lawsuit is filed by a large company to intimidate or silence a less powerful critic. The legal fees for the defense and court time can become so burdensome to the defendant it may silence their criticism.

Friends of the Great Southern is a non-profit group founded by local neighbors who are trying to save the few remaining historical buildings left in Hollywood. Over the past year FOGS has tried to raise public awareness regarding the destruction of the historic Great Southern Hotel. Even partial destruction of this landmark building would have a terrible impact on downtown Hollywood's unique listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Letters to that effect have been sent to Hollywood Mayor, Mara Guilianti, by the United States Department of Interior, the Florida State Bureau of Preservation in Tallahassee and the Broward County Historical Commission.

Despite this input from all levels of government as well as numerous historic organizations, the Hollywood City Commission voted to partially demolish the grand old hotel last fall to make way for the developer's condo tower and private parking garage. The Commission's vote prompted FOGS to file a writ and declaratory action with the 17th Circuit Court in Broward County in December 2005. This action is a request that a judge independently review the city's procedures and guidelines and determine whether the City's own historic preservation code was followed and whether the code is too subjective. The hearing for this action will be in May of this year.

"As citizens in a democracy we have a right under the First Amendment to question our elected officials and seek recourse through the courts if need be," said Sara Case, a member of FOGS. "This suit by the developer only strengthens our resolve to get some answers," she continued. "We simply are citizens who care about saving Hollywood's history."
Hollywood has a great downtown and the powers that be see the need for additional residential developments in the area. Still, the City of Hollywood should encourage the developer to back off the lawsuit; it is spiteful and will serve only to increase the level of acrimony within the community.

Embargo of the Mind 

"The book has content and pictures that are reflective of the current Communist regime. Staff is following approved School Board rules to remove the book from all libraries."
Miami-Dade Schools Supertendent Rudy Crews, in a memo regardng a book on Cuba.

The publication Vamos a Cuba/A Visit to Cuba is part of a series described by Publishers Weekly:
Grade 2-4-These informative and colorful books can be placed either in a reference collection or in a circulating collection. The title pages feature a world map with the respective country highlighted, and a table of contents outlines the broad subject categories covered (e.g., points of interest, homes, food, clothing, work, transportation, language, education, entertainment, celebrations, and the arts). Information is offered in simple statements without commentary, the attractive layout features full-color photographs of children in many different scenes, and selected words are bolded within the text and later explained in the glossary. Appended are key facts about the country, an index, a bibliography, and a short list of words and their many variants (e.g., apartamento-departamento; bus-autob#s-cami?n; calabaza-guaje). These books will be invaluable for homework assignments and will appeal to readers who are curious about life in other countries.
Sorry, we'll tell you what countries you are allowed to be curious about.

We Knew Her When 

Sun-Sentinel television critic, Tom Jicha, writes about Katie Couric's South Florida start:
Two decades ago, the woman who will soon be the first solo anchor of a major network newscast was a general assignment reporter for WTVJ-Ch. 6. Couric, who confirmed on Wednesday's Today show that she will be leaving at the end of May to become anchor of the CBS Evening News, got her on-camera start at the Miami-Fort Lauderdale station. After working behind the scenes at CNN and ABC, Couric was eager to make a name for herself. Not content to cover fires, murders and end-of-the-newscast features, she constantly lobbied to do enterprise stories. Almost to a person, former colleagues reached on Wednesday remember one particular piece, for which Couric dressed as a bag lady and spent the night on the streets of downtown Miami to see what it was like.
She looked a little bit different back them (didn't we all?).

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Jonah Goldberg:
There is nothing the press likes to talk about more than the press, so we can be sure we will be hearing about Couric's career move ad nauseam.
This from his NRO article on, you guessed it, Katie Couric's career move.

Night Move 

Any structure in southern Florida that is a hundred years old is ancient by local standards. What about one that is 120 years old?

In the case of Naples' Haldeman House, it was called endangered.
Built in 1886 as a cottage by Confederate Gen. John S. Williams, the house sat in Old Naples near the pier and the Palm Cottage, which is a landmark and museum. After building the older part of the house, Williams gave it to his friend and Kentucky newspaper publisher Walter Haldeman, who moved his family into the home and expanded it.

More than two years ago a Haldeman family trust, which included Walter's great-great granddaughter, said they could no longer afford to pay the taxes on the house and put it on the market. Naples resident Gerald Goldberg bought it for $16 million late last year. Even though he intended to develop the property into five luxury homes, Goldberg said he would pay $50,000 to anyone who wanted to move the home and preserve it. The Haldeman descendants kicked in another $50,000.
Yesterday the historic structure began a journey to a new location in nearby Bonita Springs.

The local historical society and county museum were unable to raise the funds necessary to move the house to the Collier County museum complex, and so the task of preserving the historic structure was taken on by landscape architect Chris Busk, who has already restored several other historic buildings.

This is a problem that is increasingly common throughout Florida -- increasing property values make it financially difficult to keep smaller historic structures on their original site.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Go Gators 

Congratulations to the University of Florida men's basketball team for winning the NCAA National Championship last night.

Being a true Gator, I was not sure of the win until there was only about 90 seconds left in the game.

A great job by coach Billy Donovan and a very talented -- and likeable -- group of players.

The Gainesville Sun has a good collection of photos from both Indy and Gainesville.

Who woulda thunk it?

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