Tuesday, December 12, 2017
News Roundup

Finding beauty and virtue amid the noise of everyday life

When things look the darkest it is natural for us to look the hardest for slivers of light.

We find them, or they us, at strange and unexpected times, and they don't arrive with flashing lights and bugle fanfares.

Sometimes we have to watch and listen.

My son, Sean Holland, died Oct. 24 at 47 after a long and courageous battle with cancer. His wife, mother, stepfather and I were at hand. There were tears, hugs and great towering waves of anguish for all of us.

I mention this primarily because I wrote about his illness a couple of months ago, and was touched by the kind responses from readers and friends, but also in part because of something that happened a few nights before his death while I was staying in a Gainesville motel room between visits at Haven Hospice, Shands at the University of Florida and his home.

Disgusted by endless campaign advertising and talking heads filling airtime with droning discussions about what they don't know, I switched to a favorite, The Daily Show, for a lighter touch.

Host Jon Stewart was interviewing Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling and, not being a big Harry Potter fan, I wasn't paying rapt attention other than that due from any writer when another writer who has made more than a $1 billion with more than 450 million books in print is speaking.

But then I heard what she had to say about why she has chosen to "stay and pay," and I perked up.

Rowling could be living somewhere like Belize or Monaco, where there are no income taxes. Instead she chooses to live in her native United Kingdom where tax rates that pay for the kind of social system abhorred by some Americans are massive.

Don't ask me how massive. Like most Americans, I can't figure out a 1040, much less the ins and outs of a complex system that provides government paid health care and "benefits," as the British call them, for the poor. I feel comfortable saying she pays millions in taxes.

Why?

Because at one time in her life, Rowling said she was "as poor as it is possible to go in the UK without being homeless."

She wrote for seven years without knowing if any of her books would ever be published.

She stays and pays because she feels she owes it to those who are less fortunate.

"I owe," she said. "My country helped me. There were places in the world I would have starved."

In a week of bellicose bellowing about entitlements, she spoke of obligation.

The second uplifting message came from my friends Molly Moorhead and her husband, John Sessa. She is a reporter for Politifact and he is an expert bicycle mechanic who works for an international racing team.

Molly and John were at a wedding in Port Townsend, Wash., for a rider on the team.

They noticed that the best man's girlfriend was hearing impaired and were impressed that he was signing other people's words and the wedding ceremony to her.

But more impressive was that the best man's friends, including the groom, had also learned sign language in order to be able to communicate with her.

Some, Molly noticed, were spelling words out in sign language.

They had learned the American Sign Language alphabet and not just a few signs, meaning they had gone to a lot of effort.

"It's hard to imagine a greater display of love and friendship," said Molly, tearing up as she told me the story.

So there you have it: a billionaire writer who feels obligated to reach back and help those who are now where she once was (what Stewart called " a perfect example of government making a good investment") and a group of friends, on a bride's special day, going out of their way to make the best man's girlfriend feel welcome.

These are, perhaps, not earthshaking examples. Maybe they lack drama, but please know this.

I am touched and moved that I have friends who have friends like the guests at that wedding — and who are smart enough to know when they are in the presence of grace.

And, though never a fan (not a detractor, either, just not a fan) of the Potter books, I have purchased Rowling's new book, The Casual Vacancy.

I am buying it partly because it deals with the social milieu from which she came. And I am buying if for the same reason I bought The Satanic Verses in 1988 when the Ayatollah Khomeini ordered that author Salman Rushdie should be murdered over content he said was blasphemous. Frankly I never understood it, but buying it was a matter of principle.

And I know I am quoting Linda Loman, from Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, out of context, but it still fits.

Sometimes, especially when the universe is throwing more minuses than pluses at you and something makes you smile, "Attention must be paid."

Comments
The Bucsí problem isnít how they finish; itís how they start

The Bucsí problem isnít how they finish; itís how they start

For the second straight week, the Buccaneers had the ball in the final minutes of a tie game.For the second straight week, they could not finish.As disappointing as that might be, they have a larger problem, and one that has existed all season: The B...
Updated: 9 minutes ago
Lightning opens road trip with shutout of Blues

Lightning opens road trip with shutout of Blues

ST. LOUIS ó This showdown was supposed to be about the best team in the East versus the best in the West. In reality, the Lightningís 3-0 win over the Blues on Tuesday night pretty much came down to this:Andrei Vasilevskiy is one of the best goalies ...
Updated: 8 minutes ago

Lottery resultsLottery numbers drawn after 9 p.m. are no longer available by our deadlines. For results, go to tampabay.com/lottery.Pick 2, 3, 4, 5Tues., Dec. 12, midday:90 578 4984e_SRit30459Tues., Dec. 12, evening:85 659 2558e_SRit95745Fantasy 5Tue...
Updated: 1 hour ago

High school scoreboard for Dec. 12

Tuesdayís scoreboardGirls soccerCountryside 5, Tarpon Springs 0Palm Harbor U. 8, Alonso 0Boys soccerShorecrest 2, Indian Rocks Chr. 0Palm Harbor U. 3, Alonso 0Girls basketballNortheast 65, Dixie Hollins 25...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Defendant asks jurors: Do I look like Charles Manson?

Defendant asks jurors: Do I look like Charles Manson?

LARGO ó Daniel Richards, on trial in the murder of his 83-year-old mother, began his own criminal defense on Tuesday by asking a few questions to the pool of prospective jurors."If you were accused of killing your mother, would you want to represent ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Career Q&A: Two bosses who donít care for each other

Career Q&A: Two bosses who donít care for each other

Q: I seem to be caught between two high-level managers who really donít like each other. One is a director, the other is a vice president, and I am an assistant to both. Whenever the director stops by my desk to chat, she makes critical remarks about...
Updated: 2 hours ago
St. Pete losing two assistant police chiefs; one will join Rays

St. Pete losing two assistant police chiefs; one will join Rays

ST. PETERSBURG ó Two assistant police chiefs are stepping down next month, leaving two of the three second-in-command jobs vacant at the St. Petersburg Police Department.Assistant Chief Jim Previtera announced this week that he will resign from the d...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Winter meetings journal: Rays add more infield depth, claim it isnít prelude to a trade

LAKE BUENA VISTA ó The Rays on Tuesday adding their third infielder in the past two weeks would sure look like a precursor to trading front-liners such as 3B Evan Longoria or 2B Brad Miller.But GM Erik Neander insisted that was not the case and that ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Tax package would lower top tax rate for wealthy Americans

Tax package would lower top tax rate for wealthy Americans

WASHINGTON ó Congressional Republicans on Tuesday rushed toward a deal on a massive tax package that would reduce the top tax rate for wealthy Americans to 37 percent and slash the corporate rate to a level slightly higher than what businesses and co...
Updated: 2 hours ago
GMs-turned-pundits believe now may be the time for Rays to sell

GMs-turned-pundits believe now may be the time for Rays to sell

LAKE BUENA VISTA ó The Rays have been doing a lot of talking, making another small deal Tuesday while still working toward bigger ones of a still-being-determined degree.And there have been a lot of baseball people at the winter meetings talking abou...
Updated: 2 hours ago