An American crocodile of Florida.
You heard, yes, about this unprecedented "attack" earlier in the week in a tony part of South Florida? The state's foremost nature and culture writer had this to say about it for the blog:
A tough place, Metro-Dade County. Horrific traffic, no place to park, too much crime, rude waiters, overweight men in thong bathing suits, iguanas eating your prized hibiscus. In late summer, even the land crabs can get on the nerves. On roads along Biscayne Bay, they sometimes swarm out of burrows by the thousands and migrate across roads looking for mates and for trouble. Some stretch 15 inches from claw to claw. Pop! There goes your tire, dummy.
There's something Darwinian about my old home county. Make a mistake and you'll pay for it. Let's say you're in your twenties. Let's say you're at a party in Coral Gables, south of downtown Miami. Maybe you're drinking, maybe you're high on life. Anyway, it's the middle of the night. You're sweating. You're immortal. Look: there's a canal in the backyard. Why not cool off? …Full Story
Click to watch mentions of the following:
1. Adam Smith: The single-biggest obstacle to Crist this year is voter turnout history. In 2002, 40 percent of Democrats turned out to vote and 46 percent of Republicans turned out. In 2006, 40 percent of Democrats showed up, and 45 percent of Republicans. In 2010, Scott won when just 38 percent of Democrats voted and 46 percent of Republicans did.
2. "Just as signs of memory loss may signal brain changes related to brain disease, apathy may indicate underlying changes. The fact that participants in our study had apathy without depression should turn our attention to how apathy alone could indicate brain disease." Tom Valeo.
3. More Adam Smith: If you're tired of the negative ads now, wait until Nov. 4 finally arrives.Full Story
James Powell, Ph.D., the founder and executive director of Sea to Shore Alliance:
I grew up in Crystal River. I saw my first manatee 55 years ago when I was 5 while I was fishing with my dad. It glided under our boat and my dad was frightened that it would tip us over. To me they were magical and on that day, I became fascinated by these gentle, lumbering creatures.
I have spent a lifetime studying the manatee -- the African manatee in Ivory Coast and the West Indian manatee of which there are two sub-species -- the Antillean manatee in Cuba and Belize and the Florida manatee here in Florida.
About 5,000 manatees are known to inhabit the waters of our state, and two areas have had the highest population growth, Crystal River on the Gulf Coast and Blue Springs on the St. Johns River. These areas were also the first to implement manatee protections.
The future health, well-being and protection of Florida manatees is going to be decided in the coming months. …Full Story
"I can't remember a governor's race that was so focused on the negatives of your opponent, rather than what you thought you could bring to the people if you were elected governor," said Bob Graham, a Democrat who served two terms as Florida governor and three as a U.S. senator. "All of American politics, unfortunately, are getting more negative, but it's also the personalities and the decisions the candidates have made to put all their energy and money toward attacking the other candidate." Click.Full Story
A freefall designed to mimic a falcon's dive? Six windswpet seconds at 60 miles an hour? With the use of high-powered magnets and a 68-ton countwerweight inside the tower? Midair face-plant? The first drop tower in the world to put riders face-down as they hurtle toward the concrete?
"The worst part of the ride is on the way up," Joseph Pringle, a tourist from the United Kingdom who was taking a moment to catch his breath before getting up the courage to ride again, told the Times' Sharon Kennedy Wynne. "There's something wrong with you if you aren't scared."
Mmm. No thanks.
Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey opened its newest attraction July 4, Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom, which plunges riders 415 feet straight down at 90 mph — the world's tallest and fastest drop. But pursuit of the most extreme may be hitting up against the limits of human tolerance, said editor Robert Niles of Celebration-based ThemeParkInsider.com, an online consumer's guide to theme parks.
"You're getting to the point where instead of making an attraction more popular by having it achieve some type of record, you're actually limiting the audience for that," he said. …Full Story
1. Who will stick up for the value of a liberal arts education and an engaged citizenry?
2. Who will create a policy that encourages energy efficiency, emphasizes renewable energy and reduces the state's carbon footprint?
3. Who will best manage growth as the economy rebounds and pursue a sound state water policy?
4. Who will persuade the Legislature to take billions in federal Medicaid expansion dollars that could help cover more than 800,000 uninsured Floridians?
5. Which candidate for governor will stand up for consumers rather than the powerful property insurers and electric utilities?
Read the whole editorial from today's paper.Full Story
From the piece today on 1A:
1. Charlie Crist, the former self-described Ronald Reagan Republican, officially became the Democratic nominee for Florida governor Tuesday ...
2. The single-biggest obstacle to Crist this year is voter turnout history. In 2002, 40 percent of Democrats turned out to vote and 46 percent of Republicans turned out. In 2006, 40 percent of Democrats showed up, and 45 percent of Republicans. In 2010, Scott won when just 38 percent of Democrats voted and 46 percent of Republicans did.
It's no accident that Crist for the first time in his political career spent an election night in Fort Lauderdale, rather than his hometown of St. Petersburg. His campaign is fixated with driving up turnout in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade, heavily populated, Democratic counties where turnout often lags the rest of Florida.
It also helps explain why Crist through much of the year has often sounded more like a liberal Democrat than a centrist former Republican.
3. Expect a host of Democratic surrogates from across the country to converge on Florida in the coming weeks to help elect a Democratic governor of America's biggest battleground state, including probably Bill Clinton. …Full Story
Lizette Alvarez in this morning's New York Times:
MIAMI — In the clear waters of the bay here, not far from President Richard M. Nixon’s former compound on Key Biscayne, boaters enjoying a floating bacchanal routinely drop anchor on a sandbar, tether their boats together, and spend the day swimming, drinking, blasting music and jumping from boat to boat.
Last month, just after the fireworks faded on the Fourth of July, a group of five sunbaked 20-somethings who had spent the day frolicking at the sandbar joined in the scramble of boats back to shore. Maneuvering his father’s 32-foot boat at high speed toward a popular marina in the dark, the driver, a 23-year-old, smashed headlong into the hull of a 36-foot craft carrying a family of eight.
In an instant, bodies catapulted into the bay. Some lay badly banged up or unconscious inside the two boats. Four young people, including the driver of the first boat, died, and three others were critically injured in the crash.
State agents said there was evidence of alcohol on board the 32-foot boat, but they added that toxicology reports and the investigation into the crash are pending. …Full Story
Martin Dyckman on Context Florida:
In Germany two weeks ago, we were impressed by the multitude of solar arrays along the autobahn.
There were too many to count.
They perched on the rooftops of homes, apartment buildings, barns, offices, shops, storage sheds and garages. They were free-standing in cornfields and pastures — any place with a southern exposure and space to spare.
That part of southern Germany gets an average of 1,709 sunlit hours a year, which is barely half that boasted by Miami.
But think hard: How many solar arrays — if any — are in your Florida neighborhood?
In that respect, the self-professed “Sunshine State” might as well be on the dark side of the moon.
According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Germany generated 31 percent of its electricity from renewable sources, including solar and wind, during the first half of this year. Solar and wind accounted for 17 percent.
Florida, in contrast, gets only 2.2 percent of its electricity from renewable sources, ranking below 15 other states. …Full Story
Something I underlined in a paper by geologist Clint Kromhout that I saw mentioned in a short piece the other day from The Atlantic:
Population growth has likely played the largest role in the perception that sinkholes are occurring more frequently. "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" Figuratively, sinkholes fall under that same quandary. In order for us to know a sinkhole has occurred, someone has to observe it. As we know, the population of our state is always growing, more people means more eyes and ears, and more media reporting outlets to document things. As Florida's population grows it expands into areas which may be potentially more susceptible to sinkhole formation. Therefore, as our population grows, covering more areas of the state, more sinkholes are being witnessed and reported. In this digital age news travels as fast as the telephone, television, and internet can distribute it, especially when an event is tragic (Seffner sinkhole tragedy) or novel (sinkhole forms in a lake and drains it).Full Story
Click to watch mentions of the following:
1. Marlene Sokol: While most high school students feel comfortable in Hillsborough County public schools, many feel less secure when they head toward home. And, according a survey released Monday, neighborhoods are doing too little to fix that.
More often than not, adults don't object if kids skip school and hang around on street corners. Gang activity is a growing problem, most of the high school students surveyed reported.
Many said they started using marijuana at 8 or younger. Nearly one in five said they had improperly used prescription drugs more than 40 times in their life. ...
Nearly half said their communities do not meet and work on solving problems together. About 40 percent said neighbors don't watch over one another's property.
Fewer than half believe their neighbors would do something about children skipping school or hanging out. More than half believe gangs are a serious problem — one that's worsening. Sixty-five percent felt public drinking is a problem. …Full Story
Daniel J. Cardinali, the president of Communities in Schools, in this morning's New York Times:
For the 16 million American children living below the federal poverty line, the start of a new school year should be reason to celebrate. Summer is no vacation when your parents are working multiple jobs or looking for one. Many kids are left to fend for themselves in neighborhoods full of gangs, drugs and despair. Given the hardships at home, poor kids might be expected to have the best attendance records, if only for the promise of a hot meal and an orderly classroom.
But it doesn't usually work out that way. According to the education researchers Robert Balfanz and Vaughan Byrnes at Johns Hopkins, children living in poverty are by far the most likely to be chronically absent from school ...
... we have ample proof that everything else being equal, chronically absent students have lower G.P.A.s, lower test scores and lower graduation rates than their peers who attend class regularly. ... …Full Story
Plucked from this helpful list compiled by Tamara Lush:
1. Florida historians say citrus trees were brought to the peninsula in the mid-1500s by Spanish explorers and first planted along the state's northeast coast, near St. Augustine. Oranges and grapefruits have been farmed commercially since the 1800s. By the mid-20th century, an aggressive marketing campaign led Americans to associate the state's abundant sunshine with orange juice.
2. Walt Disney's parents once owned a citrus grove.
3. Famous people have long promoted Florida OJ. Bing Crosby crooned about Minute Maid's "freshly frozen bright sunshine" in 1948. This year, the Florida Department of Citrus signed FOX Sports reporter Erin Andrews as a spokeswoman.
4. In 1965, orange groves covered 695,824 acres. Because of development, hurricane damage and now greening, that number has diminished to 464,918 acres. There are, however, more orange trees planted in the state than a half-century ago: 61,638 trees compared to 53,893. …Full Story
JIM DAMASKE | Times
T.J. Guerrero and his lemonade stand.
Surely you read in yesterday's paper about Doug Wilkey, the man who's spent parts of the last two years railing away about 12-year-old T.J. Guerrero's lemonade stand. Wilkey, who didn't want to talk with the Times' Keyonna Summers -- shocker -- has sent at least four emails to city officials, and I wanted to read them, obviously. Keyonna passed them along to me. Now, after cleaning up some typos, I'll pass them along to you.
1. On May 14, 2013, here's what he wrote to Dave Eggers:
I am writing to report a business that is being operated on a daily basis that has caused considerable disruption in the neighborhood that I have resided in for 30 years. The business I am referring to is a lemonade stand which is operated by a mother & her 12 year old son. …Full Story
Click to watch mentions of the following:
1. "I've never seen an ad focus on the arts," Kornell said, contrasting that with cities like Memphis, Austin, Texas, and Santa Fe, N.M., which highlight their cultural amenities. "A whole host of cities do ad campaigns geared completely to the arts."
2. Judy Lisi, president and CEO, Straz Center for the Performing Arts, Tampa: A few weeks ago, I ran across some old 1950s Florida tourism postcards selling the "Florida glow," and I realized that even though Florida has changed so much, especially here in Tampa Bay, not much has changed about how we promote Florida to visitors.
Many states and countries recognize and capitalize on the growing market of the "cultural tourist"— a tourist who stays longer, spends more money and is searching out available arts and entertainment in their destination. The initial draw may be February in the subtropics, but the cultural tourist travels in search of a more complete, more fulfilling experience, patronizing museums, theaters and historic locations. …Full Story