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What Jeff Klinkenberg wrote about his father

When we're little, we idolize our parents. When we're teenagers, we sometimes hate them. As the years go by, we begin to suspect that they're smarter than they once seemed. In middle age, as we experience our own bruises and failures, we might begin to see our parents not as icons but as flawed human beings. When we're old, we forgive them. But it doesn't mean we will understand what made them tick. Read it now or read it in Floridian in Sunday's Times.

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11 things that happened in May that would've been called SO FLORIDA had they happened in Florida

I did it for January, and I did it for February, and I did it for March, and I did it for April, and so now I'll do it for May, too, okay?

1. A naked man doing push-ups in a road was hit and killed by a car.

2. One man killed another man in a fight over a possum.

3. A man got a calf tattoo of a KFC Double Down.

4. A 31-year-old woman was arrested for impersonating a sophomore at a Christian high school called New Life.

5. A woman trying to keep her family from learning she had dropped out of college called in bomb threats to what would have been her commencement.

6. A man tried to have sex with an ATM and a picnic table.

7. A man nicknamed "Peaches and Cream" made a bomb threat and then peed in a parking lot outside a convenience store.

8. A man sued a stripper, saying he thought their relationship was personal and that he had given her a credit card and let her borrow movies, including his collection of Harry Potter DVDs.

9. A man stole a bread truck and made deliveries in his underwear before being taken to a psychiatric hospital. …

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'... for the state to kill graying convicts ...'

Staying in Starke, or at least generally within the subject matter for which the small North Florida city is pretty much synonymous, here's the Supreme Court exchange from earlier this week that The Economist chose to highlight:

JUSTICE BREYER: …[T]his man has been on death row for over 35 years, I take it?

MR. WINSOR: Yes, sir. 1978 was the ­­-- was the --­­ was the act.

JUSTICE SCALIA: How has it gone on this long? 1978 is when he killed this woman.

MR. WINSOR: There have been a number of appeals in this case. There have been a number of issues raised, and there was a --­­ but yes, there is --

JUSTICE KENNEDY: The -- ­­ the last ten people Florida has executed have spent an average of 24.9 years on death row. Do you think that that is consistent with the purposes of the death penalty, and is --­­ is it consistent with sound administration of the justice system?

MR. WINSOR: Well, I certainly think it's consistent with the Constitution, and I think that there are obvious ­­--

JUSTICE KENNEDY: That wasn't my question.

MR. WINSOR: Oh, I'm sorry, I apologise. …

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That thing we do up in Starke

The New Republic's Ben Crair on the mismanaged and gruesome 2006 execution of Angel Diaz:

In all likelihood, Diaz remained conscious as the drugs pooled in his arms and the pancuronium bromide began to paralyze him. Diaz would have become chemically locked in—that is, mentally aware but without control of any voluntary muscles—and he would have starved for air as his diaphragm shut down and he slowly suffocated. In the autopsy report, the medical examiner noted "bilateral venous jugular distention"—an abnormal swelling of both jugular veins in Diaz's neck that could be a sign he struggled for air. …

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The national spelling bee, Jacob Williamson, kabaragoya and Cape Coral

Has anybody pointed out that Jacob Williamson, who at the big spelling bee so virally misspelled the word kabaragoya, which is a giant water lizard, is from Cape Coral, which is home to a bunch of ... giant water lizards?

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Two boys from Florida

Jacob Williamson. The suicide bomber in Syria. As always: Big, interesting, complicated state.

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He had crude tattoos on his face and he needed them to be gone


Courtesy of Eriks Mackus


The latest from Leonora LaPeter Anton:

CLEARWATER — The man with the ominous tattoos perched on a metal box in a dusty welding booth, sparks spraying on his jeans and white T-shirt as he ground down another mistake.

Moments before, his instructor at the Pinellas Technical Education Center had shone a flashlight inside the pipe and pointed out a shadow the size of a pinprick. If this had been his final welding test — which was just a week away — he would have automatically failed.

Eriks Mackus, 22, had spent two years mastering the tasks to become a pressure pipe welder. Along the way, he'd learned the skills to weld parts on buildings, barges, train cars, even ships. He'd worked hard to achieve what his instructor called "the Ph.D of welding," the certification that would allow him to make good money at a power plant or on a natural gas pipeline. It had not been easy. …

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8 things I underlined about higher education in Florida in the June Florida Trend

All in articles by Mike Vogel.

1. Florida Poly received 1,300 resumes for 30 full-time faculty positions and 20 adjunct positions. Including faculty, the university employs 69.

2. There will be only a limited traditional library. Parker says technology allows students to build a personalized digital library.

3. UF expect UF Online to be a profit engine that will break even in the seventh year and generate $14.5 million a year in profit on $76.6 million in revenue by 2024.

4. With no room and board to pay, UF says online students will pay about $10,800 less per year than on-campus students.

5. Expect online to grow. Inside Higher Ed's 2014 survey of chief academic officers found 52 percent of provosts at public universities, 53 percent at private and 74 percent at for-profits anticipate major allocations of funds in the new budget year on online ed.

6. For those who don't care for online classes, Eckerd is the place.

7. In an address, Eastman quoted political philosopher Leo Strauss: "Liberal education is the counter-poison to mass culture." …

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The never-ending game of Whac-A-Mole that is the war on drugs

Have you seen the Billy Corben documentary Cocaine Cowboys? It's good. You should. And if you haven't, now would be a good time. Jumping off the front of today's New York Times:

SAN JUAN, P.R. — With its navigation lights off, the 35-foot speedboat raced north toward Puerto Rico one night this month, its two large engines at full throttle. Above, a Coast Guard helicopter chased it and then let loose a few warning shots. But the boat roared ahead. Then, thwack, the crew on the copter shot out one of engines.

By dawn, the frenzied scramble had come to an end and 1,280 kilograms of cocaine — worth about $37 million on the street — were in federal hands, much of it scooped from the Caribbean Sea, where the smugglers had tossed the bales. An interagency task force of federal law enforcement, the Coast Guard and the Puerto Rico Police Department confiscated the drugs and arrested two men from the Dominican Republic. A third man had jumped overboard and was never found. …

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Good morning. It's Friday, May 30, 2014, and here are your seven clicks:

1. Far from new, unfortunately, but these are always such jarring, unsettling numbers: Across Florida, just under 60 percent of third-graders tested at the proficient level or better in reading and math. (The chart in that link, the North Pinellas chart, is all messed up and tough to read, and I don't know why, and I'm sorry.) Meanwhile, in the paper I get where I live in St. Pete, on the chart I'm looking at — I can't find a link; I don't know why, and I'm sorry — there are schools, in the poorer, blacker areas of the city, in which basically almost all the kids can't read or do math. They're not even 10 years old, and it's already over. They have no chance. Again, this isn't news, but it is still — it is always — an outright outrage.

2. In this morning's paper Sue Carlton called Tampa a "little-big Southern city." Thoughts?

3. Says Dan Ruth: Now it seems making it from one curb to another is an urban version of Survivor — particularly in Florida and especially in Tampa Bay, which is now second in the nation for pedestrian deaths. …

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Murals! Artsy!

One of my favorites.


One of my favorites.

Put together by Alex Sanchez (who also was a big part of how the Bounty story looked the way it looked on here): Eye-catching murals that have been brightening scruffy walls for the past few years have made Tampa Bay a very colorful place. Many are in the Central Arts District in St. Petersburg, but a handful can be found in the city's Warehouse District and across the bay scattered around Tampa. Most adorn the backs of buildings, but many are visible from the street. You just have to know where to look. Click.

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David E. Bruderly of Bruderly Engineering Associates in Jacksonville in the new Florida Trend

His letter to the editor in the June magazine:

Your editorial dedicated one page to the book "A Land Remembered" and the eternal Florida question: Do we have the will to protect our heritage, wild waters, animals and native plants?

The remaining 143 pages of advertising and articles provide the unfortunate answer: No!

The two-page sponsored report, "It's Business in West Palm Beach," says it best: "A key factor driving sector growth is the lack of a state income tax."

The low-tax, no-tax economic development policies and programs advocated by Florida's political leaders are similar to sophisticated Ponzi schemes -- they exploit Florida's clean air, water resources and ecosystems -- our natural capital -- for short-term economic gains. Our current crop of politicians seeks to create short-term economic benefits and short-term profits for a privileged few by monetizing Florida's natural capital, subsidizing selected infrastructure and distributing windfall profits to speculators and early investors. The long-term costs associated with these windfall profits are discounted and passed off to others, mostly future taxpayers and the public sector. …

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Good morning. It's Thursday, May 29, 2014, and here are your seven clicks to start the day:

1. The Bucs' owner died. The Times' John Romano says Malcolm Glazer was the best thing to happen to sports in Tampa Bay. In 1995, when he bought the team for $192 million, that was a record. Now? It's crazy.

2. Alex D. Brickler, the director of obstetrical services and training at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital's family medicine residency program, in his "Florida Icon" interview in the June Florida Trend: "I used to be a backyard astronomer. It broadens your mind and makes you understand how insignificant you are. I had a little telescope at home, and then FSU built some practice fields around our place, and the light pollution got so bad that I gave it to my son, who lives in the mountains in Virginia."

3. The Times' Dan Ruth: Animal House's Faber College dean Wormer comes off as a pillar of intellectual curiosity compared to FSU's presidential search that stretched from the campus all the way up the street to the Capitol.

4. Here's Times book editor Colette Bancroft on Maya Angelou.

5. Florida loses the equivalent of three preschool classrooms to drowning every year. …

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The Times' Will Hobson and Michael LaForgia are in New York today to pick up their Pulitzer

Hobson and LaForgia.


Hobson and LaForgia.

You've read their work that won?

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Florida's best nature writer on summer in this state

The inimitable Jeff Klinkenberg:

Air conditioner groaning: "Humma-humma." Repairman says "I've got bad news." Write check and listen to thunder in the distance. One thousand one. One thousand two. Unplug the television, unplug the computer. Lightning. Frog-strangling rain.

Mosquitoes whine on the patio. Banana slugs slide down the dripping fence. Ice cubes melt in the Coke Zero. Late afternoon clouds climb above the beach like bruised cotton candy. Sand too hot for bare feet — Gulf only a little better. Listen closely: Shuffle while wading in. Sting rays, mating, wait mischievously on the bottom

Laughing gulls with jet-black heads mock human caution.

Poincianas celebrate the season with red-orange blossoms. Palm trees bend but don't look like they'll break. Find a generous neighbor who has a mango tree. Nine-two degrees in the shade. Your kid smells like wet bread.

Ten minutes to the hour.

On The Weather Channel, Jim Cantore says a low-pressure system has just drifted off the coast of Africa.

Florida's longest season is here.

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