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Jim Verhulst, Perspective Editor

Jim Verhulst

Jim Verhulst has edited the Tampa Bay Times' Sunday Perspective section since 2006. He has been a journalist since 1982 and has worked at the Times since 1987, holding a variety of posts. He is married and has two sons.

Phone: (727) 893-8837


  1. How the present might look from the future


    In this, the Year of Trump, we know we're living through history. We just don't know how it will play out. When our grandchildren and their grandchildren look back on this year, what might still matter? For fun, we once again pick an event for each month that might seem significant when our future selves look back with hindsight's clear vision. But first, a sentence about Donald Trump: He was such an extraordinary candidate that I have absolutely no idea how history will judge him, so I'm not even going to guess. He becomes president of the United States in 26 days....

    This artist’s concept depicts select planetary discoveries made to date by NASA’s Kepler space telescope. Credits: NASA/W. Stenzel
  2. Pitching in to save a school


    When a school is failing, it is not just its students who stand in harm's way. It is society itself. So when a school needs help, it is essential for the community to pitch in.

    That is what is happening at Fairmount Park Elementary in the Childs Park neighborhood of St. Petersburg. Multiple agencies, including Pinellas County schools, the city of St. Petersburg and the Juvenile Welfare Board, are combining forces to create a holistic approach to helping children and supporting their families to provide a better environment for learning....

  3. Long-distance bicycle rider discovers that routine change is good


    I'm in good shape. I ride my bike a lot, 6,000 to 7,500 miles a year. But twice in recent months, the wheels fell off — not my bike. Me. Blame middle age.

    Every July since 2006, I've taken my bike to Iowa for RAGBRAI (the Des Moines Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa), a seven-day, nearly 500-mile trek of more than 10,000 bikers.

    I was determined to make it this year, too, and learned some lessons to share along the way....

    Jim Verhulst after completion of the 2010 RAGBRAI in Iowa.
  4. A Linkletter St. Petersburg story


    Art Linkletter's death on Wednesday at 97 brought back fond memories of his visit to St. Petersburg more than eight years ago, when he helped to dedicate the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg's new building. While he was noted for recounting the "darndest things" that kids said — and indeed regaled us in the breakfast crowd with a bunch of them — his funniest story that morning was about a visit to a nursing home, or as we used to call them in an earlier time, the old folks' home. Linkletter, sure of his celebrity status, went up to a resident and asked, "Do you know who I am?" The resident studied his face for a moment, then said, "No, but if you go to the front desk, they can tell you." On this page, which is usually dedicated to the serious thoughts of adults, we wanted to honor his passing by sharing some of the wisdom he drew from the mouths of babes (these are from his book Kids Say The Darndest Things). Jim Verhulst, Perspective editor...

  5. If you put the BP spill in your tank


    We now know the BP leak in the Gulf of Mexico is the worst oil spill in U.S. history, but it is still hard to understand its magnitude in everyday terms. Still, let's try. If the escaped crude had been distilled into gasoline (9 million gallons of gas) and pumped into a Honda Accord, and you started driving it continuously from Los Angeles to New York and back (you could make the round-trip 50,000 times), then: ...

  6. A seismic shift for Charlie Crist


    It was only 12 months ago that Gov. Charlie Crist was weighing a U.S. Senate campaign — and was seen as a shoo-in. Now facing a 20-point deficit in the polls to Marco Rubio, Crist has until Friday to decide whether to stay in the race as a Republican, run as an independent or not run at all. With more than six months to go until the general election, it's a good time to stand back from the fray for a minute, and ask some people who are paid to know what's going on, well, what's going on? So we've put some questions to Times political editor Adam Smith, columnist Howard Troxler, deputy editor of editorials Joni James and Times Tallahassee bureau chief Steve Bousquet. ...

  7. The Pier: one man’s plan


    What to do about the Pier? A task force of 20 people has been working hard for a year to come up with options, which the St. Petersburg City Council will hear soon. But instead of options, I thought it would be interesting to hear one informed person's opinion unfettered by the compromises and trade-offs inevitable in committee work. So I asked the task force chairman himself — Randy Wedding, a former mayor and current architect — what he would do if it were his choice alone. Here, in words and pictures, are his ideas: ...

    SCOTT KEELER   |   Times
  8. For a Better Florida: The Times' annual preview of the upcoming legislative session


    The adage says that to get the job you want, be sure to excel at the job you've got. It's an election year, and with Tallahassee politicians of all stripes seeking other offices, they would do well to remember that. Florida's unemployment is at 11.8 percent — a near record — which means hundreds of thousands of Floridians who want to work don't have jobs at all. And it's not just the economy. Florida is facing key issues that deserve answers now, not after the November elections. With that in mind, we bring you "For a Better Florida," the St. Petersburg Times' preview of the annual legislative session that begins March 2. Published every year since 1951, it presents news articles and opinions intended to stimulate debate over some of the most important issues facing our state. ...

  9. Why we should call the new year Twenty-Ten


    Let's call the new year Twenty-Ten. Not Two Thousand Ten.

    Until the turn of the millennium got us all confused, we had an easy familiarity with each year:

    When did William the Conqueror invade England? Ten Sixty-Six.

    When did Christopher Columbus cross the Atlantic? Fourteen Ninety-Two.

    When was the Declaration of Independence signed? Seventeen Seventy-Six.

    And that Tchaikovsky piece? The Eighteen Twelve Overture....

  10. In Afghanistan, background and a reading file from those who have been there


    New York Times Education as a counter to insurgents

    Recently, New York Times op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof argued that building schools and educating people in Afghanistan and Pakistan would do more to stabilize these societies than military interventions. In response, a number of U.S. servicemen wrote to the New York Times with their own stories about education as an effective counterinsurgency measure. One of the most detailed came from Lt. Col. Michael Fenzel. Here is an excerpt, but the full version is available at

    Schools as a source of hope Many see hope in education in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. Here, children leave their school last month after classes in Qutbal, Pakistan. That nation is seeing a surge in private schools, a trend some find hopeful where public education is decrepit and the alternatives are the madrassas, religious schools offering little education beyond memorizing the Koran and seen as a source of militancy.
  11. Superfreakonomics, the book you can't take home to mother


    Their book Freakonomics (The Hidden Side of Everything) sold more than 4 million copies, and now Stephen J. Dubner, an author and journalist in New York City, and Steven D. Levitt, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago, are back with more in SuperFreakonomics, which was published Tuesday.

    They continue to look for the weird but illuminating comparisons and contrasts and to find hidden threads that have deeper meaning, this time on topics ranging from why prostitutes' pricing has fallen in recent decades to why doctors aren't washing their hands often enough. Of course, there is a controversial chapter on global warming. Here we publish some excerpts from the book as well as answers from Dubner to questions posed by e-mail from Perspective editor Jim Verhulst. ...

  12. The race to the moon at middle age: What it meant and what it means


    Name the third astronaut to walk on the moon. • Absolutely no idea? That tells us all we need to know about the space race, which effectively ended 40 years ago tomorrow, when human beings, in the person of Neil Armstrong, first set foot on another celestial body. The grainy, ghosty TV image was seen live by more than half a billion people, the largest shared event in the world at that time. • Six weeks later, Star Trek, the original series, went off the air. Our love affair with space adventure had cooled. We had beaten the Russians, we had fulfilled an assassinated president's promise. And we were ready to move on. • But we were no longer the same. It wasn't going to the moon that changed us — it was the view. • Seeing our own frail Earth from outer space, we intuited that it needed our attention. We began to look inward, not outward. ...

    Earth is seen from the moon as Apollo 8 circles in lunar orbit. This is the view that changed how we think.
  13. Lincoln and Darwin


    Both changed the world we now inhabit Abraham Lincoln, by holding fast to the idea of a United States of America and proving that a nation "of the people, by the people, for the people" could survive, Charles Darwin (known as Charley or Bobby as a boy), by fundamentally altering our understanding of the science of ourselves. The men never met. And in so many ways they couldn't have been more different. Lincoln never left America, while Darwin would not have developed his theory of evolution had he not gone on a multiyear voyage on the HMS Beagle. Lincoln barely had a year of formal education, while Darwin graduated from Cambridge. But they occupied the same intellectual space in a time of dramatic progress in human thinking. We're still living and growing in a world expanded by their vision and insight. And with that in mind, Times staff writers Donna Winchester and Ron Matus offer some facts, figures and interviews with experts about their lives. Jim Verhulst, Perspective editor...

  14. the transformer?


    Well, here we are. Barack Obama is president-elect of the United States of America.

    He changed forever how politicians will run for the presidency. He leveraged the Internet, text-messaging and other technologies to develop a large base of support and raise huge sums of money. And he shattered a towering psychic barrier — yes, in America, an African-American child can now grow up to be president....

    “The change we need isn’t just about new programs and policies,” President-elect Obama says. “It’s about a new attitude. It’s about new politics.”
  15. At museum, all paths lead to Lincoln


    Here are excerpts, condensed and edited, from an e-mail interview with Tom Schwartz, the Illinois state historian, about the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill.

    Former Disney Imagineers designed the museum in consultation with serious historians. It's easy to argue the good and the bad of an Imagineer-inspired museum. What's your take, now that the museum has been open a while? ...