You now can read for free Rick Bragg's ode to grouper sandwiches

I posted about this not once but twice a while back and just noticed the piece is available in full in digital bits. Click and read:

For many Southerners, nothing goes quite as well with summer as a fresh grouper sandwich. But these days finding the real thing can be hit or miss

I love fishing stories, which some people equate with lies. I do not believe this is always true. I think weird things happen when you step boldly off firmer earth, and commence to float. This is my new favorite.

Jimbo Meador, outdoorsman, writer, and other things, was fishing the Yucatán about forty years ago. Not far away, a tiny man, a Mayan he believes, was fishing with a hand line from a tiny boat. Suddenly, the tiny man and his tiny boat went shooting across the water. The tiny boat did not have a motor.

He had hooked a Goliath grouper, and it was taking him for a ride.

"Like The Old Man and the Sea," said Meador's friend Skip Jones, who grew up, like Meador, not far from Mobile Bay.

The tiny man hung on, and on, and on.

Finally, he had his prize, and got the weary fish, hundreds of pounds of it, back to the dock. …

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In defense of Orlando

Saw this thanks to Lynn Waddell and I'm passing it along because I think there's a lot of truth here. I'd actually say the juxtaposition of so much that's real and so much that's not is exactly what makes Orlando the most important and interesting city in America's most important and interesting state. …

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St. Pete too

This is St. Pete. This is St. Pete. This is St. Pete. Also?

1. "If I took you on a tour of the city … you can visually see the separation of the races. And you see that all around the city. It implies that something is wrong. These are things you just can't ignore. Let's get the facts. It's a problem that exists. You can't stick your head in the sand over it."

2. "I'm just tired. Tired of being silenced."

3. "It's as if there's an invisible line between everyone."

4. "They act like discrimination is dead, and if they don't talk about it, it doesn't exist. And that's what I feel like goes on in the city of St. Petersburg. And that's unfortunate."

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The Times says Rick Scott should do something about climate change

No excuses now.

MARY ELLEN KLAS | Times/Herald

No excuses now.

The lead editorial in this morning's paper:

Gov. Rick Scott gets credit for listening this week to climate scientists from Eckerd College, Florida State University and elsewhere describe the ways humans are affecting climate change, the impact of global warming on the state and how government can respond. That is more than other skeptics have done, and the Florida Cabinet and the Legislature could use an expert tutorial as well. Now the governor should take the next step and develop a comprehensive approach to addressing an issue that will dramatically affect Florida's future.

Scott, who initially steered the scientists toward his aides after they requested to meet with him, had the political sense to sit with them with the media watching Tuesday after Charlie Crist, the former Republican governor turned likely Democratic nominee, made it a campaign issue. He said little during or after the 30-minute meeting, but now that he has been fully briefed he cannot keep responding to questions about climate change by repeating, "I'm not a scientist.'' Read it all.

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The letter to the editor of the day? L.E. Brinkley of St. Pete

Poverty is the problem:

The news that five of St. Petersburg's elementary schools are among the worst in Florida brings the usual hand-wringing from the Times, while the superintendent assures us of his plans for "intervention." Anyone who has been following this story has seen it all before: the failing schools, the unrelenting "achievement gap," the cries for reform and the merry-go-round of failed "leadership." Next comes the threat of lawsuits, but none of this will matter.

Since the release of the Coleman Report in 1966, Americans have known that the quality of a school is determined by, more than any other factor including funding, the students who go through its doors. That is, middle-class schools will likely succeed while those with a preponderance of socio-economically disadvantaged students are destined to fail. The conclusions of this report have been ratified by reams of evidence and common sense. …

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See how the cops in the riots in St. Pete back in '96 weren't dressed like soldiers?

The Sunshine City 18 years ago.

Times files

The Sunshine City 18 years ago.

Some say Ferguson has reminded them of St. Pete, back in '96, when nearly 200 city blocks erupted in outrage over the shooting death of an 18-year-old black man by a white police officer, Katie Mettler wrote in today's paper. Protests. Fires. Tear gas. The National Guard. A statement from the White House. The nation watching. Just like Ferguson.

One big difference, though, the St. Pete police chief from then told Ben Montgomery for a story set for tomorrow's paper: "You can look on TV and see that they have a lot better equipment than we had," said Darrel Stephens, now executive director of Major Cities Chiefs Police Association. But that sort of war equipment can send the wrong message.

"That kind of equipment needs to be used in situations where there's gunfire," he said. "That equipment is used in most respects to rescue people under fire. But on a typical protest, there's no reason to have that out in front. Have it in reserve and available if you need it."

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Florida's 'bitter, brooding reality'

Stephen Goldstein's Context Florida column I linked to earlier mentioned a dispiriting report from the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy called "The Condition of Florida by the Numbers." So I of course went and read it. Some of what I underlined?

1. Florida ranks 49th in the nation in per capita state and local spending for education, but corrections is funded well enough to rank 23rd among the states; and the state ranks 43rd in a recent survey of quality of services for the elderly, disabled and their caregivers.

2. Florida's June unemployment rate ranked 29th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

3. The average wage in Florida continues to trail the national rate, and declined further in 2013, to 87.6 percent of the U.S. average wage.

4. The median household income in Florida was $46,071 in 2012, 39th in the nation and well below the $51,017 median for the entire U.S.

5. The number of Floridians filing for foreclosure during the first half of 2014 was the highest of any state. In May, eight of the 10 metropolitan areas with the country's highest foreclosure filings were in Florida. …

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Ferguson has happened in Florida and it'll happen again

Why? Here's Fort Lauderdale's Stephen Goldstein on Context Florida:

Florida remains two states, "separate and unequal" — a cauldron of social conflict ready to explode at the slightest provocation, at any moment.

The first Florida is a cynical myth, the stuff of marketing brochures, a developers' conspiracy of enticing fiction to make their cash registers ring — the American Dream come true for retirees claiming "the good life," a vacationers' paradise from Disney World to Key West, an investment haven for the foreign mega-rich, a business-friendly climate for CEOs who relish playing golf and/or tennis between board meetings and not paying income taxes, the ultimate vitamin D-enriched environment in which to raise a family. …

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Less than 1 in 5 high school students in Florida who took the ACT are totally ready for college

Says here 53 percent are ready in English, 38 percent are ready in reading, 33 percent are ready in math, 27 percent are ready in science, and 19 percent are ready in all four subjects. All of those figures are of course worse than the respective national averages. Related.

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Rick Scott met with climate scientists for half an hour and it went about how everybody thought it would go

He asked one of the scientists if he had moved here from California for lower taxes.

Getty Images

He asked one of the scientists if he had moved here from California for lower taxes.

Some of what the five scientists told the governor in yesterday's meeting, according to reporters from Reuters, from the newspapers in Naples, Orlando, St. Pete and Miami, and from NBC 6 in Miami and WFSU in Tallahassee:

"We're here because major climate change is already happening," the University of Miami's Harold Wanless said. "Further warming of our atmosphere and oceans will occur through this century and beyond. This will result in accelerating ice melt — which is already happening — and sea level rise. Florida will be seriously catastrophically affected."

"It is the most serious problem that the state of Florida and the world has," the University of Miami's John Van Leer said. "Sea level rise is lapping at my door, literally. This is not something for the vague future. This is happening now."

"It's going to be a different planet for our children," Florida State's Jeffrey Chanton said.

"One of the reasons this is so unequivocal is there's multiple lines of evidence," the University of Miami's Ben Kirtman said. …

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Allowing gay people to get married would be good for Florida's economy too

The people in Florida fighting same-sex marriage are going to lose. Arc of the moral universe and whatnot.

Add to that truth the findings of a new report from the Williams Institute at UCLA's School of Law. The authors predict that 24,248 in-state same-sex couples would get married within three years. The money spent on those weddings and guests' travel would add up to an estimated $182.2 million. That would lead to $12.1 million in sales tax revenue and somewhere between 875 and 2,626 jobs in tourism and recreation.

It was less than six years ago that nearly 62 percent of Florida voters passed a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, the Times' Adam Smith pointed out earlier this month. Today, though, judges are ruling against the ban and public opinion has shifted sharply. The latest Florida Insider Poll found 87 percent of the 131 state politicos predict that within five years Florida will no longer ban same-sex marriage.

"Gay marriage is the fastest changing social issue of our generation," a Democrat said.

"It's only a matter of time," a Republican said. …

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FSU psychology professor: Self-control is way more important than self-esteem

Of the world's 3,200 "most influential" scientists, 15 do their work in Florida, including Roy Baumeister, who co-authored the 2012 bestseller Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength.

Here are seven things he said at a conference called Young Minds:

1. Making people more conceited really doesn't make them better off in any palpable way.

2. But self-control is the real deal.

3. People with good self-control do better than others. They are more successful in their jobs. They're more successful in school at all levels. They have better relationships to others -- more stable, less conflict. ... They're happier. They have less stress in their lives.

4. People with good self-control actually live longer.

5. What is self-control? It's the capacity to change yourself.

6. It takes energy to exert self-control and it's a limited amount of energy.

7. Self-control works like a muscle. It gets tired after exertion. ... It you regularly exercise your willpower, it gets stronger.

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Esquire: The 'true home' of the Cuban sandwich is Miami

See the map?

Times file

See the map?

I couldn't help but red-pen underline these words in the spread labeled "The United States of Sandwiches" in the September Esquire: Transported originally from Cuba to Tampa to feed cigar-factory workers, the Cubano found its true home in Miami, where the salty, sweet sandwich is an essential part of the late-night landscape.

The good, smart people who put together the top-tier men's mag do know they're wading straight into something of a perma-squabble, right?

In Miami, Arian Campo-Flores wrote earlier this year in the Wall Street Journal, debates over the sandwich can turn fiery — especially when it comes to the city's long-running rivalry with Tampa, which claims its version is the original. Cuban-cigar factory workers were eating it there at least as early as the 1920s, decades before the sandwich surfaced in Miami, said Andy Huse, a University of South Florida librarian who wrote a book on the subject. The main difference between the two: Tampa's has crustier bread and includes slices of salami.

NPR has called it the Cuban Sandwich Crisis.

Last time it flared up was a couple years back. …

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Most people in Florida would support a tax hike to deal with invasive species

Just yesterday I was reading about Cuban tree frogs. Did you know they're basically on their way to eating all the Floridian frogs? And they don't get nearly as much ink as the pythons or the lionfish or even the tegus.

Anyway, when it comes to invasives (although of course not only invasives), folks in the Sunshine State evidently are passionate but puzzled.

In 2012 the federal government spent $2.2 billion trying to prevent, control and eradicate invasives, and Florida, and especially South Florida, is the absolute epicenter.

Best way to go about this?

"Keeping them out in the first place is always your best bet," according to Frank Mazzotti, a UF wildlife ecology and conservation professor and one of the state's scientists on the front lines of the effort. "It's time to stop playing Dutch boy and the dike."

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Just want to make sure you read John Romano's column in this morning's paper

Today on 1B:

A new analysis released by the nation's largest philanthropic health organization suggests that Medicaid expansion not only provides increased health care for the needy, but it actually saves money for states that have embraced the concept.

The report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation highlighted comprehensive studies done in 16 states that determined expansion will help state budgets. Not for a majority of those states, or even most of those states. This was true for all 16 states.

One of the major factors cited was the number of jobs created by the infusion of federal money and the subsequent tax benefits accrued from a larger work force.

So if you break that down, you might reasonably assume expanded Medicaid will:

Save lives.

Save money.

Create jobs.

Pffft, why would Florida want any part of THAT? ...

For a state that boasts about giving tax breaks (i.e. corporate welfare) to businesses on the vague promise of job creation, it is almost inconceivable to think we wouldn't invest in proven job creation through health coverage.

And yet Florida lawmakers have not only rebuffed Medicaid expansion, they don't even talk about it any longer. …

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