Monthly Archives: August 2011

I Am Not Going to New York Tomorrow

We were planning to go to New York tomorrow, but the event we were going for is cancelled due to the city being closed this weekend for hurricane. It’s a little ironic for a Miami person to not be able to go to New York because they are having the hurricane, but there it is.

I can’t help but be reminded of a previous trip that I scrubbed due to bad weather. I had planned to go to DC in mid-February, 2010. That got scrubbed due to an enormous snowstorm. During the time I’d planned to be away, my aorta burst. Had I been in DC, I likely would not have been as near a hospital, nor as likely to go to one, as I was at home — with deeply bad results. Had I flown out late, delayed due to weather, I could have been on the plane when it happened. Had I been on the plane, I’d be dead.

Instead, I’m pretty well — and very lucky. I hope New York is lucky too.

We’re going next weekend instead, assuming New York is still there. By Miami standards the predicted winds by the time Irene gets to New York seem strong, but not incredibly fierce — sort of on the border between a very bad tropical storm and and a lesser hurricane. But I suppose they’re not as well set up for it as we are.

Posted in Personal | Leave a comment


Given all the years we’ve had cars, rain, and umbrellas, why isn’t there an easy, or even effective, way to get into the driver’s seat of a car with a very very wet umbrella that doesn’t either get you wet before you get into the car, or get you wet when you bring the umbrella into the car?

(I mean of course when the car is parked outside: parking indoors makes this easy, but that’s not always an option.)

Posted in Etc | 2 Comments

End of an Era

Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda Resigns From Slashdot.

I could have had a four-digit slashdot number, but never bother registering until I had something to say. So I’m a five-digit member, #18607. For me, Slashdot was essential for years. Then it stopped being essential several years ago. But it never stopped being worth following.

Posted in Internet | Leave a comment

Talk About High Concept / Low Comedy

OK Go meets the Muppets

Posted in Completely Different | 1 Comment

UM to Ban Smoking on Most of Campus

UM is becoming a no-smoking zone:

the University of Miami is launching the first step in a three-year initiative to make our Coral Gables campus smoke free. Starting on September 1, 2011, smoking will only be permitted in designated areas on University property. Additional information on our new policy, including a map with the designated smoking locations, is available at

The inside of the Law School buildings has been nonsmoking for many years. What this means for me is that I’ll be able to eat lunch in the Law School’s wonderful quadrangle, known as “The Bricks”, without having to keep moving to avoid being downwind of some smoker.

Incidentally, the news came via an emailed letter from UM President Donna Shalala which began like this,

To the University of Miami Community:

If we only knew then what we know now.

We believe that wisdom and smarter choices come with time and experience. Warning signs are often the collective voice of hard-earned lessons …

It turned out to be about the dangers of cigarettes, but I hope I can be forgiven for thinking at first that the letter was going to be about something else.

Posted in U.Miami | 31 Comments

Everybody Loves South Florida

Tourists are not only back in force, but are coming here year-round:

“It used to be that August here was slow, reserved mostly for us locals,” said Carmen Ferreira, a graphic artist, who last week dined poolside with friends at the Soho Beach House, a private club and hotel on Collins Avenue. “But that just isn’t true anymore.” In Miami Beach, the once-strict delineation between high and low seasons has eroded of late. Rogue squalls and the intermittent threat of hurricanes (and a restiveness fueled by an unstable economy) have done little to stem the tide of tourists thronging restaurants, bars, hotels and shops, and crowding beaches to catch a vagrant gust of wind.

Their presence has fattened the city’s coffers, driving retail sales and boosting hotel occupancy to new seasonal highs, transforming Miami Beach and its environs from a wan summer ghost town into a magnet for visitors of every stripe.

Celebrities busy on a few productions being filmed in Miami this summer, including “Rock of Ages,” and TV shows like the coming “Charlie’s Angels” and “Magic City,” set in 1960s Miami Beach, have lured the paparazzi, who perch on rooftops, prowl the beach and stand rooted like sentries near the doors of the city’s most fashionable dining spots.

And, foreigners love it here so much they are snapping up real estate.

South Florida is the default capital of the country. Here in Miami-Dade County, one out of five households with mortgages is in foreclosure. Nearby Broward and Palm Beach counties are not far behind. Nearly 200,000 South Florida families are stuck in the mire of default.

And yet much of Miami is gripped by a housing mania as the oversupply of distressed homes dries up and foreigners and investors swoon. Only a few years after it seemed there were so many unwanted high-rise condominiums that the only solution was to tear some of them down, there are plans to build even more.

Home sales in the metropolitan area during the first half of the year rose 16 percent from 2010 for the best spring since 2007, according to the research firm DataQuick, far outpacing the negligible growth in the rest of the country. Two-thirds of the sales were all cash.

“The Brazilians walk in, they don’t even negotiate,” said Mr. Dezer, who said he would announce two new projects by the end of the year. “It’s a no-brainer for them.”

Even right-wing propagandists love South Florida:

Palm Beach and South Florida have become a magnet for conservative media personalities. Matt Drudge, Ann Coulter, Dick Morris, Conrad Black and Lou Dobbs have all moved in over the years.

Newsmax, a Web site and magazine popular with Tea Party conservatives, decided to establish its headquarters not in the conventional media hubs of New York or Washington, but instead in West Palm Beach.

Opinions differ over why so many conservative media stars have relocated here. No state income tax. Only two hours from New York and Washington, yet a world away in mind-set. Year-round warm weather.

So why is local unemployment over 10%? And who is worrying about the long-term consequences?

Posted in Miami | 3 Comments

Why I Have Nothing to Say About the Great Miami Football Scandal

Someone wrote in to ask why, being such a moralist (his word not mine), I haven’t posted anything about the looming UM football scandal set off by voluminous and it seems detailed allegations from convicted and jailed Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro.

There are, I suppose, three reasons why I don’t have anything to say about it now, and may not have much to say about it later either:

First, I don’t actually know much about how the NCAA works, so I have no reason to think I have any value to add to the current conversation. For what little it is worth, when it comes to big-time college football I’m in the ‘pay the gladiators’ camp. Ever since we got a projector, I’ve enjoyed watching UM play. But despite that, the whole college football system seems to me to be an exploitation of young people by universities. But that’s hardly an original view. UM claims, and apparently actually achieves, one of the highest graduation rates in big-time college football. Even so, I’d wager football players graduate at a much lower rate than the college average, and that too many of them take weak majors. Meanwhile the coaches and the people behind the college bowl system are making much more than professors and taking junkets. (Of course, coaches don’t have tenure, which partly offsets their higher salaries.)

Second, in general, as regards criminal allegations or the like, I like to give most people a presumption of innocence. (I sometimes do apply a different standard to politicians and to writing about politicians. Who we vote for can’t be held to the standards of courtroom evidence, because you often don’t get that kind of fact finding in time for the election. Also, there can be a case for posting even unoriginal things about politics as repetition helps swing elections.)

This story looks pretty bad, and often where there is smoke there is fire. But what do I know? And sometimes there isn’t a fire. Consider for example the fun so many people had about UM President Donna Shalala being pictured grinning at a check presented to her at a local bowling alley/club. That story has a whole different look to it after you read the account in today’s Herald, in which it seems the check was a complete surprise to her and by no means the point of the event. (See Bowling center owner defends UM president Donna Shalala.) Former head Coach Randy Shannon apparently tried to keep the guy at arm’s length, which doesn’t suggest there was recent institutional involvement, at least at the coaching level. Jumping to the top, UM President Donna Shalala has, I think, been a very effective leader for the University, and I would be very surprised to hear that she was either knowingly complicit or even, given her hands-on style, negligent. Recall that one of the main jobs of a college President is to raise money. And given that the City of Miami is built on new money, and well supplied with slightly louche or fairly zany millionaires, expecting a university that ran a $1 billion capital campaign in an effort to become a major research center to turn up its nose at their money is just silly. If a guy like Nevin Shapiro can con hundreds and hundreds of millions from investors, and present all the local indicia of wealth, can one reasonably expect a university to see through him any better than the investors did? There is, after all, a difference between being tricked and being culpable.

Similarly, is it obvious that even if the college kids were partying like crazy on this guy’s yacht that the university higher-ups necessarily knew or even should have known? I honestly have no idea. I don’t know enough about how tightly controlled the players’ lives are. Miami is a big city. I assume players – college students after all – are not watched 24/7. But like I said before, what do I know? It seems telling that few if any of the players rumored to be in trouble have spoken to the media on the record. But then again, they might just have a smart lawyer whose first reaction surely would be to tell them not to talk to the press. (And now I see that the one player quoted by name is recanting: Ex-UM RB Moss recants, says he never took Shapiro’s money. But Yahoo! Sports says they have him on tape admitting it.)

Third, I have a conference paper due in a couple of weeks…

So, really, I’ve got nothing to say about this one. Not for now anyway.

Posted in U.Miami | 1 Comment