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MONDAY'S QUICK HITS: Closing schools, overpriced shoes and more

Sunday, I thought the Hernando schools' decision to shut down Monday was about the sorriest, most weather-wimpy, kid-pampering excuse for an extended weekend I'd ever heard.

At my school, up North, we hardly ever even got snow days, I told my kids. Now you're getting a rain day!

My opinion started to change early Monday morning, when the storm woke me up, and over the next couple of hours as I lay awake listening to the rain pour down at, seemingly, an almost Debby-like rate.

On the way to work, I went out of my way to take the most flood-prone route, including along Powell and Wiscon roads. I saw no water in the traffic lanes, but plenty of brimming retention ponds and a vast, muddy mess at Peck Sink.

Depending on how much rain we get the rest of the day, I wouldn't be surprised to see enough water on roads to create disruptive, dangerous conditions. So, maybe closing the schools, was a good call after all.

•••

My sports-crazy younger son can easily while away an hour or two, ogling incredibly overpriced basketball shoes on the Internet.

I don't really wonder where he gets this insatiable lust for these glued-together planks of rubber with a bit of nylon mesh here and a patch of leather there, or why he feels deprived because, unlike some of his friends, he doesn't have a closet full of them.

I know it's marketing, especially Nike's marketing.

But that doesn't keep me from being amazed at the company's nerve and power to sucker young people into thinking they absolutely must possess this pointless merchandise. Nor does it stop me from being disgusted. Which brings me to pro basketball player LeBron James.

I like the guy. I always thought he was a good teammate. I never begrudged his decision to leave Cleveland for Miami.

But now he's done something unforgivable — agreed to put his name on a Nike sneaker that will reportedly cost $315, tinyurl.com/8tvqvdv.

Maybe you remember Hakeem Olajuwan's attitude toward such things. At the peak of his career, he turned down offers from big-money sneaker companies to put his name on, and wear in games, a perfectly serviceable shoe from Spaulding that sold for $35 — slightly more than one-tenth of James' new shoe.

"How can a poor working mother with three boys buy Nikes or Reeboks that cost $120?" Olajuwan said at the time.

Good question.

I heard that James spent time with Olajuwan in the last off-season, learning post moves. It would be great if he could also copy Olajuwan's approach toward mind-rotting commercialization.

•••

I would have written about this earlier, because it's so outrageous, but I didn't because I'm convinced that, thankfully, nothing will come of it.

Brooksville Realtor Buddy Selph, as my colleague Barbara Behrendt wrote last week, is offering the county a crack at a nearly vacant condominium project to use as a judicial center for the price $3.8 million.

It's a totally unnecessary way to spend money the county doesn't have.

But in a way, it would be fitting. A courthouse usually symbolizes what a county is all about.

If the county bought this building, it would mean bending backward to help a developer, in this case the Sasser family, whose patriarch, the late Charles Sasser, thought up and built the Southern Pines Luxury Condominiums.

Turning this into a courthouse would nicely memorialize Hernando's long history of doing such favors at public expense.

On the west edge of Brooksville, the condominiums are several miles from downtown Brooksville or any other real population center. It's sprawl, in other words. And given that Hernando's planning decisions have done so much to promote sprawl over the past few decades, isn't that suitable, too.

Look back over the way the county has grown over the past few decades of growth and you won't see many architecturally distinguished buildings. In fact, you see a lot of sameness and a good deal that's downright ugly.

What more fitting testament to this legacy than the Southern Pines compound, which, despite the name "Luxury" in the title, looks like a minimum-security prison.

•••

Finally, you probably know by now that I'm a sucker (a word that seems more fitting than ever) for the sport of cycling, and I wouldn't pass up on a chance to comment on Lance Armstrong's decision to plead no-contest to the non-criminal doping charges against him.

It's sad, but the feeling among most serious riders I know is that the guy is finally getting his comeuppance.

And to anyone who thinks this is a tragedy because of all Armstrong has done for cancer research, consider this piece from a few months ago in Outside Magazine: tinyurl.com/7ex3fuv.

It shows that almost none of Livestrong's money went to research. Almost all of it went to raise awareness for cancer — and Armstrong.

Follow Dan DeWitt at Twitter.com@ddewitttimes.

MONDAY'S QUICK HITS: Closing schools, overpriced shoes and more 08/27/12 [Last modified: Monday, August 27, 2012 10:37am]

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