“Corruption Never Has Been Compulsory”

Robinson Jeffers’ short, prophetic poem, “Shine, Perishing Republic” is especially poignant if not palpable today. Readers can experience the unraveling of our 238-year old republic on TV, which didn’t exist 89 years ago when he published it. Talk about vision.

Gonzo Journalist and activist Chris Hedges, America’s moral conscience today, recently chronicled the demolishment of our democracy: “Corporations have captured every major institution, including the judicial, legislative and executive branches of government, and deformed them to exclusively serve the demands of the market. They have, in the process, demolished civil society.” (Truthdig Report: 12/7/14)

Nevertheless, nothing is final yet in this fluidity we call time. Continue reading

Dear Ernest

Dear Ernest,

I thought of you the other day as I drove down Whitehead Street and nearly ran over a family of tourists. They had stepped out from between the parked cars to take pictures of your house. Your brick wall is still there. I always like to speculate about the wall. Was it to keep the tourists out as you worked? Now it keeps them in. It also keeps in the cats. I bet you would never have thought they would name a type of cat after you, but it wasn’t the African lion. Too bad. By the way, no one lives in your old house anymore. It is a tourist attraction. Remember when you wrote in “To Have and Have Not” that they were going to starve out the Conchs to make room for tourists? Turns out you didn’t have to worry about the Conchs. They ended up being a lot smarter than you thought. Continue reading

Beyond the Possibility

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“Oh, that flagon! That wicked flagon!” (Joseph Jefferson as Rip Van Winkle, 1896, US-PD)

I feel a little like Rip Van Winkle today. It’s only been two weeks or so since my last blog, not twenty years, but time, as someone once said famously, waits for no one. For Rip, being asleep for two decades was a blessing of sorts. Washington Irving describes him as “one of those happy mortals, of foolish, well-oiled dispositions, who take the world easy, eat white bread or brown, whichever can be got with least thought or trouble, and would rather starve on a penny than work for a pound.” He wasn’t happy at home, however. His wife berated him endlessly, with good reason, for not taking better care of his farm and his family. His escape from this was to wander off into the Catskill Mountains with his dog Wolf. Continue reading

With Friends Like These…

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“Buck up, Job. You’re getting what you deserve. Isn’t that what everyone wants?” (William Blake illustration of Job’s tormentors, 1792, US-PD)

Once in a while the Merriam-Webster Word of the Day email comes up with something surprising. Today the “word” was “Job’s comforter.” The term describes “a person who discourages or depresses while seemingly giving comfort and consolation.” The MW people offer this example to illustrate: “Danny, a reliable Job’s comforter, assured Shane that the girl who’d broken his heart had always been out of his league.” Continue reading

Hold Your Head Up! Hold Your Head Up!

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(Human Spine, US-PD)

In 1972, the British progressive rock group Argent released a single called “Hold Your Head Up.” If you look up the lyrics, that line is basically the entire song, repeated over and over. (For trivia buffs, Argent was founded by Rod Argent, who was with The Zombies before that.) I thought of this song not because I was having a moment of nostalgia for the 1970s, but because I just read an article from The Atlantic titled “What Texting Does to the Spine.”

Please, Don’t Text and…Well, Anything Continue reading

It’s the Thought That Counts

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“You say tomato and I say not tomato and we are both right.”
(Philosopher John Duns Scotus, US-PD)

Most people (and this may be wishful thinking on my part) in the United States are familiar with the acronym SCOTUS. If you aren’t, I will give you a quick hint. It does not refer to a male body part. Rather, it refers to a group that includes male body parts but female ones, too: the Supreme Court of the United States. SCOTUS has been around since 1789, established by Article Three of the US Constitution. The article states that justices for the high and lower courts “shall hold their Offices during Good behavior.” This “good behavior tenure” means they have the job as long as they are “good,” which gets us (me at least) into thorny interpretive waters. During the court’s history, judges have been removed fourteen times, apparently for being naughty, by congressional impeachment. Two of these were for drunkenness, one for graft and corruption, and one for “failure to live in his district,” whatever that means. Continue reading

November is National Home Care Month

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Home health care is highly skilled and professional health care, but it provides so much more than what patients & families normally receive from our traditional health care system. Our professional staff meet patients and their caregivers in their home. There is an intimacy and connection that rarely occurs in other settings. Home health care seeks to support someone in maintaining their independence, achieve recovery, and/or optimal functioning from sudden or chronic disease. Home health care can also provide compassionate support for someone facing a life-threatening illness. It strives to alleviate fear and suffering, in whatever forms that may be, in order to free the patient and their loved ones to do the things they want or need to do during the time they have left. And we are there to provide support and assistance to patients and their caregivers.  If you or someone you love is facing a limited life expectancy or recovering from surgery, injury or illness, ask your physician about a home health referral. We will work with your physician to develop an individualized plan of care to promote optimal functioning and well-being. Continue reading

A Note from Roger Cousineau, Candidate for Mosquito Control Board District 2

Roger CoisineauI am Roger Cousineau, and I am running to be your Mosquito Control District Commissioner in District 2. I’m a 20 year resident of the Keys. I have a BA in English, served in the US Army, am a former school teacher, an active real estate agent for the past 18 years, and a volunteer with Hospice/VNA of the Florida Keys. As a hobby I manage several honeybee hives. I’m proud and happy to call the Florida Keys my home!

The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District (FKMCD) has a rich and checkered history. In a period of 15 years Mosquito Control (MC) moved from a reactionary force simply dumping toxins of unknown utility into the environment to a 21st Century science- / evidence-based operation that we rely on today. MC has become a model for mosquito control districts in the US and beyond. We should all be proud. Continue reading

The Importance of Background and Experience on the Mosquito Control Board

Phil-Goodman-headshotThe Mosquito Control Board (MCB) has a very important mission that affects many aspects of our lives in the Florida Keys. The life experiences of each board member are very important to our success.  Mosquito Control involves a broad range of disciplines from business, finance, accounting, administration, biology, entomology, chemistry, chemical engineering, diseases, flying, law, economy, environment, parliamentary procedures and more.  The MCB is not an advisory board but makes the final decisions that determine our success or failure.  The collective knowledge, vision and experience of that board guide the district in hopefully the right direction.  So we better know what we are doing.

The Board gives final approval of a $ 15,000,000 annual budget, offers guidance to the director, who is a scientist, and has total oversight of what is a highly technical organization.  Not everyone on the board needs, nor should they have, the same background.  To optimally function, their collective experiences should span a wide range of important and relevant disciplines and complement each other.  One of our current members is an attorney and one is a pilot.  Both of these backgrounds increase our scope.  My background as a businessman, developing and managing many budgets much larger than Mosquito Control, my knowledge of the chemistries and technologies we use combined with my knowledge of our local environmental needs also broaden our scope as a board. Continue reading

Googol Announces Latest Addition to Wearables, Googol Guns

Now that Googol has mastered hands-free driving they have announced their latest project, Googol Guns. As we drive, hands free, along the Googol Express Lane of the Los Angeles Freeway, Googol project manager Arney Eckley gesticulates with both hands as he explains the latest addition to Googol Wearables, Googol Guns. “Driverless cars have become so ubiquitous that we see the potential in many other areas where people habitually kill each other. Driverless cars may prevent up to 34,000 needless automobile-related deaths a year,” stated Eckley. After a brief interruption while the car ticketed itself for speeding, pled guilty and paid the fine using Googol Wallet, Eckley continued, “The only device besides the car that kills nearly as many people annually in the U.S. is the gun. Once these technologies are adopted the only challenge left for us will be to cure cancer and heart disease.” Eckely is particularly optimistic about the Googol Gun. “With guns, it is a lot more straightforward than cars,” asserts Eckely. “We simply program the Second Amendment, all pertinent Federal, State, and local laws, including “Stand Your Ground” laws into the cloud-based software and the gun knows what it can do. Updates will be available for free download as Appeals Court rulings and statutory and Constitutional changes naturally occur. Each software version will be named after a historic figure. Version 1.01.03 is tentatively designated as “Colt”. With existing face, voice and other recognition techniques as well as highly sophisticated threat-evaluation algorithms, the gun will know who to shoot and who not to shoot with much greater reliability than even the most highly trained gun owners. It will make a huge difference immediately. After all, most gun injuries and deaths are either self-inflicted or to immediate family members and friends. That’s where we have the greatest potential,” said Eckley. Continue reading

A Note From Phil Goodman, Incumbent Candidate for District 2 Commissioner Florida Keys Mosquito Control

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I am Phil Goodman, the current District 2 Commissioner on The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District Board.  I am running on my record as a fiscal conservative and placing the needs of the taxpayers of Monroe County as a top priority.  I am a 15 year resident of Cudjoe Key and live there with my wife of 43 years, Debby, and our daughter Carey.  I am a graduate chemist from North Carolina State University with an MBA degree from the University of North Carolina.  I am a Registered Parliamentarian with the National Association of Parliamentarians, a member of the Sanctuary Advisory Council, the USCG Auxiliary, the Advisory Board of Mote Marine Laboratory, and the Key West Military Affairs Committee.  During my three years on the Mosquito Control Board I have been pro-active in informing Monroe County citizens about the role of mosquito control in the Keys by giving presentations to various organizations throughout our County.  Continue reading

The Eyes Have It

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What my mind sees when someone tries to explain quantum physics.
(Rubik’s Cube, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Remember the Rubik’s Cube? I have a theory that one of the reasons for the world’s ills today was the appearance of this nightmarish puzzle game in 1980. By 2009, over 350 million of these mental torture devices had been sold worldwide, which means that at least five percent of the global population has suffered serious psychological damage trying to match up the colors on the six sides of this “toy.” No doubt some buyers took a hammer to the thing in exasperation after failing to stumble on which of the 43 quintillion possible permutations “solved” the puzzle. Those who somehow restrained themselves from going Rubik in this manner passed the cubes on to others and others and so on ad infinitum. (Forgive them. They knew not what they did.) So theoretically, everyone on this planet could have come in contact with the RC at some point in their lives. I’m thinking the guys who started ISIS must have been among that cohort. Had they not, they would likely have maintained their sanity and the world would be a more tranquil, less deadly habitation. If this is what happened, we should definitely go all Fahrenheit 451 on these things to protect future generations. Continue reading

KEY WEST’S HEIGHT REFERENDUM: What’s It All About?

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Youtube video above by Marc Averette, actual footage during Hurricane Wilma, October 24, 2005

On November 4th we will be voting on a referendum to allow homeowners to voluntarily raise the elevation of their homes above flood level in order to protect themselves and their property. We saw thousands of our homes flooded during Hurricane Wilma. One way to protect them and to lower our flood insurance premiums is to raise them above flood level. Our current height restriction of 35 feet (25 feet in some neighborhoods) would prohibit many of those homes from being raised. One example would be a two-story home in New Town. Continue reading

In Case You Have Nothing Better to Do

Raymond Queneau in his later years
Are wedding-chests having fusion yet?(Raymond Queneau, Oulipo co-founder)

Are wedding-chests having fusion yet?
(Raymond Queneau, Oulipo co-founder)

While watching Vi Hart’s short film “Twelve Tones” (I recommend it if you have 30 minutes to spare), I was introduced to the word “Oulipo.” It denotes a group of French-speaking writers and mathematicians who thought it would be fun to create works using “constrained writing.” (All of my writing seems constrained. I’ve convinced myself, as they did apparently, that it is enjoyable in spite of this.) Although Oulipo sounds like something started by artistic types high on green fairy juice in the 1800s, it was actually founded in 1960 by Raymond Queneau and Francois Le Lionnais.

Constrained writing simply means there are certain arbitrary rules you must follow. If you want to “snowball,” for example, you have to write a poem where each line is one word and each successive word is one letter longer than the previous word. If you take the N+7 route, you replace every noun in your text with the seventh noun that comes after it in the dictionary (see caption above). Here are two examples of Oulipian creations: Continue reading

Where Are the Vampire Linguists?

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Ha! You Vill Never Split an Infinitive Again!
(The Vampire, Philip Burne-Jones, 1897, US-PD)

If this is a question that’s never crossed your mind, don’t feel alone. It did come up, however, in a recently published Speculative Grammarian, “the premier scholarly journal featuring research in the neglected field [?] of satirical linguistics.” The current issue, for example, has articles on “Linguimericks, Etc.,” “Profuse Things You Didn’t Know You Didn’t Know” (this will go on my reading list obviously), and “It Was a Dark and Stormy Noun.”

But I digress. The article in question, written by F. Ang Bangah (oh the pun of it!), presents musings such as this one: Continue reading

Environmentalism, My Opponents, Bees, Dogs, and GM Mosquitoes

Lynda Schuh with Bingo

Lynda Schuh with Bingo

As an activist for so many years it warms my heart that both of my opponents refer to themselves as environmental. Twenty years ago being a tree-hugger carried the same stigma as being a Communist.  And whether you feel you are one because you recycle, or because you do beach clean-ups, it doesn’t matter.  What matters is the direction you are moving in, your growing awareness and your actions.

(However let me say here that Governor Scott calling himself an environmentalist is just too much of a stretch.) Continue reading