Monday, November 28, 2005

Louisiana to D.C.: Save Us

From a writer at the Baton Rouge daily, some of the frustrations of hurricane recovery:
The unreality of the debate about loaning St. Bernard Parish money is breathtaking viewed from down here. But it’s only a small part of how Louisianians resent what’s going on post-Katrina and post-Rita.

God knows we’re grateful for those who came and helped. Outside my window were ambulances from Yuma and Spartanburg, Coast Guardsmen and Marines, volunteers from across the country. Thousands came to work long hours and save many lives.

But once the rescue was over came life with FEMA. A bloated bureaucracy installed itself at Camp FEMA, a huge former department store near downtown Baton Rouge. Security enforces a separation from the community only slightly less stringent than Baghdad’s Green Zone.

More aspects of the Gulf Coast situation coming over the next several days at the SouthNow blog, a political junkie's delight at UNC Chapel Hill.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Non-Life Insurers At Risk in U.S.

For homeowners in Florida and all coastal states, a sobering look at the insurance situation following this year's big hurricanes. In

Friday, November 25, 2005

Sometimes, a Tax Cut for the Wealthy Can Hurt the Wealthy

I wouldn't want to seem overly cynical here, but maybe, just maybe, this will give second thoughts to some of the lawmakers and policymakers who never met a tax cut they didn't like. The piece by Robert H. Frank is in the New York Times.

Cold facts reveal our hot climate-change

At last, here's a concrete contribution to the global-warming debate, in The Australian: [November 26, 2005]

Hopeful note about health care

You've probably heard the talk of reforming medical care by getting doctors and hospitals to record and share patient information electronically. While my computer experience assured me this could be done, the idea has seemed like pie in the sky until now. Here, though, is a man who has been putting the dream into practice. Frank Greve writes in the Miami Herald.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Chinese hack attacks

Lest there be any doubts about who our friends are, check out this at the ZDNet website.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Love that yellow light

The light is different this time of year in Miami, and I love it. You could see the difference in our little townhouse yard on Sunday afternoon, an hour before sundown. But where it's most noticeable is near Biscayne Bay. I and others at my office have often marveled at the beauty of the bay, and my wife, Liz, snapped this shot that begins to capture it. The camera was her phone, so the image only begins to show what I'm talking about. Not bad, though, considering the tools at hand.

Can you see that yellow spot in the water, near the center? There's a story behind that. And here is a closer view of that "inflatable villa."

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Main Street Strategy for Selling Knight-Ridder

I have been preoccupied lately with the future of Knight Ridder, owner of the Miami Herald and 31 other daily newspapers. The investment houses that hold major blocks of KRI have been trying to drive up the value of their investment. Knight Ridder has been aggressive about cost-cutting for several years, and is far leaner than a decade ago, but is yielding to the Wall Street gang and looking for how to sell itself -- as a unit or in pieces. That's depressing to many in the company's newsrooms. But Jay Rosen, one of the really smart students of the industry, has a notion for how the company could be broken up in a good way. Check out his piece and see how you think it work in your town.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Monday, November 07, 2005

Deliver the vote

Am listening to a fascinating interview with Tracy Campbell, the author of a new book about election fraud. Campbell is a historian at the University of Kentucky, and on XM Radio's "Bob Edwards Show" he makes a compelling case that a culture of corruption pervades the U.S. electoral system. I have ordered a copy for myself and hope that you'll do the same -- or request it from your public library.

-- The publisher's website
-- Miami-Dade Library's book request page

Longtime Public Radio fans will remember Edwards from his NPR days. It's a great pleasure to hear him again in his new gig.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

So long, good old tree

The live oak that shaded our kitchen window lies in pieces now behind our townhouse -- one of hundreds, maybe thousands of South Florida shade trees ruined by Hurricane Wilma or scarred by the storm and sacrificed by their owners.

At first we thought to save our tree: prune the broken top, hire a crane and set the tree back in its hole. We'd deepen the hole, help the roots reach deeper so they'd hold on tighter against the next storm.

Then we noticed how the roots had grown within inches of our sewer drain. Another year or two and the pipes would have been broken, maybe jammed with roots. Our loss of a tree revealed how close we'd come to a costly excavation.

So we sacrificed a tree that might have been saved. It is sad to lose the shade, and we will pay more in electricity come the next warm months unless we find another way to shade the three windows on our southwest side.

All around us for the past two weeks, people have been cutting trees. Some needed to come down, but many did not. It's a huge loss to the metropolis, this decimation of the tree canopy. In our block of townhouses, the condo officers talk of replacing the leafy trees with palms. I cringe at the thought. No leaves to rake, of course, but heavy fronds will drop at any time with no respect to who or what stands below. Give me a tree with leaves every time, leaves for shade in this sunny clime, branches where songbirds nest and squirrels play, leaves green and refreshing as they whisper in the breeze. The poet's tree, that thing unmatched by verse for loveliness, must surely have been not a palm but oak or maple, ash or poplar, gum or sourwood -- a tree, I'm sure, native to its place.

Want to do right by your new tree?
From the University of Florida, here are tips on selecting a tree and putting it into the ground so it will grow strong and healthy. Planting trees in urban landscapes