South Florida is teeming with dangerous and weird wildlife, much of it non-native and out of control.
And, no, I don't mean the local lawyers or South Beach nightlife.
Forget the Gators: Exotic Pets Run Wild in Florida: The southern end of Florida, the most tropical state outside Hawaii, is teeming with exotic beasts. As if alligators, panthers and other native creatures were not enough, the steamy swamps, murky waterways and lush tree canopies here are a paradise for furry, scaly, clawed, fanged and otherwise off-putting things that have no business roaming this side of the equator.
“This stuff doesn't happen in New Jersey, it doesn't happen in Ohio, but in South Florida it happens constantly,” said Todd Hardwick, whose trapping business, Pesky Critters, gets 60 calls a day from people with peacocks on their roofs, caimans in their driveways and iguanas in their tool sheds. “Miami-Dade County is probably ground zero for exotic animals that are on the loose and doing very well.”
Then again, that last remark does fit some people I know….
Over the years, I have been involved in a number of local political campaigns, albeit none recently, and there's nothing like doing retail politics to meet a lot of regular decent folks, most of whom have a lot of good sense. It gives you some faith in the basic long-run reasonableness of the nation (although that faith sometimes gets shaken during periods of martial enthusiam).
And that's why I think there's a decent chance that the Bush-Rove plan to polarize America will backfire. Consider South of the Suwannee, a blog that never struck me as at all radical:
Haven't I Heard All This Before? What if President Eisenhower had advocated a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court's “overreaching” in Brown v. Board of Education? His advocacy would not have been based on any racial prejudice, but that the desegregation of American society by judicial fiat denied the electorate to have its say through the legislative process. He might have said, regretfully, “On a matter of such importance, the voice of the people must be heard. Activist courts have left the people with one recourse.”
Farfetched? Hardly. I vividly remember the “Impeach Earl Warren” billboards that dotted the highways throughout the South, and the politicians whose opposition to civil rights was couched in terms of the South's “traditions.” I also remember my grandfather stating his belief that the real goal of integration was legalized miscegenation.
Fortunately for America, Ike resisted the call for radical reaction to the Supreme Court's decision and subsequent event proved him right. Contrast that restraint with President Bush's call for a constitutional amendment to defend marriage.
I didn't start out being in favor of marriage for gay couples — and there may be some valid reasons to go slow in this process. But most of the arguments I have read seem to be based either on religious proscribtions, vague calls to preservation of traditions, or advocacy of seizing an opportunity to reign in out-of-control judges.
I've been married (to the same woman) for over three decades, and have a recently-married offspring and another who might not be that far away from “tying the knot.” I cannot see that allowing gay marriages threaten my or my children's relationships. On the other hand, a constitutional amendment does threaten a number of citizens and demeans one of our most significant civil documents.
I think, I hope, that there's a lot of that around.
While on the subject of blog mechanics (a subject that seems to draw more comments than most…up there with the Lord of the Rings and Knee Defender)…I've just installed a new MT plugin by Gavin Estey called MT-flipflop which is supposed to let me have alternating background colors in the comments. I've gotten rid of the divider lines which I never much liked,
and have managed to get one of the colors to change; the other stubbornly stays fixed to the blog's overall background color. Well, it's just version 0.1 of the plugin. Update After running a CSS validator, I fixed four errors in the style sheet. The IE and Firefox versions now look much more alike, and both colors in the comments are now quite distinct.
This, however, raises the question just how lurid the background color(s) should be. Should I restrict my choice to a non-dithering color? It's a very limited set of colors. Or should I widen the choices and pick a bright yellow (#EEEE00)? A bold light blue (#63B8FF)? Something sorta purpleish (#CCCCFF)? Living in Miami makes us willing to explore garish choices…
Oh, I love this: Kieran Healy of Crooked Timber has an idea — “High Concept for a Horror movie: The Constitution really is a living document.”
Bet you someone actually does this as a short.
The NYT has finally gotten around to covering the scandal about the US government trying to impose prior restraints on US scholarly journals editing manuscripts authored by foreigners in countries subject to a trade embargo. Treasury Department Is Warning Publishers of the Perils of Criminal Editing of the Enemy has lots of good quotes, but probably doesn't tell you much more than you might have read here in my October entry, US Export Control Rules Applied to Prevent Editing of Scholarly Articles.
I make the full text of my blog available via the rdf & xml feeds. This is great for readers like me who like to read all their news in a newsreader and minimize the clicking. But it's bad for writers like me who like to know how much their stuff is being read, as the act of reading RSS doesn't increment any of the blog's counters.
Is there a silent majority, or even significant minority, of RSS-readers out there? In an effort to find out, some time early next week, I think I'm going to attempt to redirect, at least temporarily, the existing rss feeds to the ones provided by feedburner. This will give me some statistics and should be seamless for everyone, but it's possible that some newsreaders will detect the change and be unahppy.
Feedburner is “pre-alpha” software, so I won't do this for long, at least for now. If you are a reader who relies on either the rdf or the xml feed and find that this change causes you any grief in the next few days, drop me a note and I'll discontinue the experiment. (Or, if you think this is a lousy idea, please say so in comments, and I'll reconsider.)
Groklaw has put online a transcription of my friend Eben Moglen's latest public speech. (Eben is a professor at Columbia law and also general counsel for the Free Software Foundation.) A Moglen speech is a performance. It is a provocation. It is darned good fun, and gives you much to think about. And this one is also about SCO, and patents, and freedom — it's always about freedom. Enjoy.