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The Live Wire Weekend: Kent Sharples’ Latest Folly, Scott Sinking and Panthers Rising

| September 24, 2010

full moon Chugach Mountains

A full moon rising over the Chugach Mountains as seen from the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuuge Wednesday evening, in a photograph by the Anchorage Daily News' Marc Lester. For the first time in 19 years, the full moon and the autumnal equinox coincided.

The Live Wire is an experiment. Think of it as a cross between a book of hours and a web version of the doors of perception. You contributions are welcome, in the comments or by email. The previous edition of the Live Wire is available here.

Today’s Live Wire: Quick Links

Former Bunnell Commissioner Jim Marquis Dies

4:50 p.m. We’ve just been informed that Jim Marquis, husband of Flagler County Historical Society Past President Diane Marquis, died today. He was 71. Marquis was a retired forestry worker and had served as a Bunnell city commissioner.

“When he worked for the forestry service he was a really amiable person. He was easy to get along with when he was doing his job, he was one of those guys who went out with his fire plow, put out people’s fires when they weren’t supposed to be burning,” Elbert Tucker, a Bunnell city commissioner, said. “Just good folks, good down to earth folks.”

Daytona State College’s Kent Sharples’ Latest Folly: Paying Stars With College Money

“Daytona State College pulled $1.26 million out of its operations fund to help pay the six-figure band fees of Usher, the Jonas Brothers and other singers at the American Music Festival,” the News-Journal’s Eileen Zaffiro reports. The college’s Board of Trustees never got to vote on the matter.

I, Kentius

“Trustee Forough Hosseini said the $1.26 million should have been discussed at the board’s July meeting. ‘It’s against what we agreed to,” Hosseini said. ‘That’s not our job to take care of foundations (that put on concerts). We are there for teaching and learning. … There is no way the college has the authority to do that.'” […] No numbers are final yet but preliminary figures show it cost the nonprofit Community Cultural Foundation $1.76 million to make the festival happen. With revenue around $1.9 million, the four-day series of concerts on the beachside is showing a profit of roughly $143,000, college records show.”

Of course, anything connected to college or American Music Festival accounting now is a little more than mildly suspect.

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Sink leads Scott in Mason-Dixon poll

Florida Capital News: “A seven-point lead for Democrat Alex Sink over Republican Rick Scott depends on strong support from core constituencies and winning the independent vote. Scott trails Sink in a new poll released Thursday in part because the Republican’s bases are delivering thinner margins. […] Sink’s advantage among groups that support her candidacy — Democrats, women, black and Southeast Florida voters — are wider than the leads Scott holds among his own supporters among Republicans, men and in regional strongholds in Southwest and North Florida. Sink also leads among crucial independent voters and in the swing area of Tampa Bay. The poll showed 11 percent of likely voters are undecided 40 days before the Nov. 2 election. […] Sink’s 81 percent support from Democrats is more than the party’s two previous candidates for governor — Sink’s husband Bill McBride and Jim Davis.” She also has a crucial 44-37 advantage among independents, who will decide the race in Florida. The full story and Mason-Dixon’s original.

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Florida’s Panthers Are Better Off

florida pantherFrom UF: “In 1995, conservation managers made a desperate bid to save the Florida panther from extinction and released eight female pumas imported from Texas in hopes they’d breed with native males. Fifteen years later, the Florida panther population has increased threefold, and while the species remains in peril, the big cats now have a better chance for survival. Two new research papers — in the journals Science and Biological Conservation — document the breeding program’s success and outline an unusually long, collaborative effort among agencies. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, National Park Service and the National Cancer Institute’s Laboratory of Genomic Diversity have been conducting field and lab work on panthers since the 1980s.” The full story.

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Learning to Love Subdivisions Again?

From New Geography: “When did anyone last hear officials and professionals talking enthusiastically about the social and economic benefits resulting from the subdivision of land to create secure, clean and tradable title? […] Suburban residential development creates many jobs and the residents who move continue to create new employment opportunities for decades. Every home owner becomes a property developer as they add rooms, sleepouts, new decks and swimming pools and upgrade their kitchens, and so on. I should have emphasized that it’s the land around the dwelling that enables so many of these projects to take place over the decades and to create so many jobs. If Smart Growth policies force people to live in apartments, their opportunities to improve their dwellings become seriously limited. City governments appear to overlook the economic and employment impact of rejecting large-scale developments, but the cumulative effect of a multitude of prohibitions of smaller proposals is equally serious. […] We tax cigarette smokers to discourage smoking, and we fine speedsters to discourage speeding. Should we be fining the creators of legal title if our aim is to encourage development, promote employment growth, increase savings and promote personal well-being?” The full story.

Is Obama Anti Business?

Obama“A president who does so little to counter the idea that he dislikes business is, self-evidently, a worryingly negligent chief executive. No matter that other Western politicians have publicly played with populism more dangerously,” The Economist writes, “evidence that American business thinks the president does not understand Main Street is mounting (see article). “But negligence is not the same as opposition. True, he has some rhetorical form as an anti-business figure—unlike the previous Democrat in the White House, Bill Clinton, who could comfortably talk the talk of business. […] A president who truly wanted to wage war on business would have hung onto GM, not rushed to return it to the private sector. Card check has not been pushed. The finance bill, though bureaucratic, is not a Wall Street killer. With the exception of a China-bashing tyre tariff and a retreat on Mexican trucks, Mr Obama has eschewed protectionism. A lot of government cash has flowed to businesses, not least through the stimulus package. And above all his policies have helped pull the economy out of recession.” The full leader.

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Ahmadinejad, Dumbass

The tabloids have Brittney Spears and that actress that can’t stay away from rehab. The international scene has Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president. It had been a while though since his last idiocy. He caught up fast in New York, in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly, stage of a thousand self-parodies. From the Guardian:

“President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran has accused the US government of orchestrating the 9/11 attacks to prop up Israel. Speaking at the UN general assembly, just a few miles away from the still open wound of Ground Zero, he prompted a walkout of the US and UK delegations from the chamber. US diplomats dismissed his comments as “abhorrent and delusional”. At a time when Iran is being squeezed by sanctions imposed through the UN, Ahmadinejad showed no desire to extend a placatory hand and instead opted to repeat several old conspiracy theories relating to the terrorist attacks on September 11 2001. One theory of what happened on that day, he said, was “the US government orchestrated the attack in order to save the Zionist regime in the Middle East”. Addressing representatives of the UN’s 192 member countries, the president said there was evidence that the US government had at least supported the attacks, including passports in the rubble of the Twin Towers of men who had been involved with US officials, while no trace of the alleged suicide attackers was retrieved.” The full story.

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How GOP’s “Pledge” Is Faring Among Some Candidates: Not Too Well

Now that the GOP’s “Pledge to America” is in, the response from some GOP candidates is more tepid than the party had expected. Take Florida candidate Allen West, who’s running as a tea party guy against Democrat Ron Klein: ” “The failure of the GOP to stick to the 1994 contract, leading to an exorbitant growth of government and spending, resulted in their demise.”

Politico continues: “In a blog post, RedState founder and tea party activist Erick Erickson trashed the agenda as “full of mom-tested, kid-approved pabulum that will make certain hearts on the right sing in solidarity. But like a diet full of sugar, it will actually do nothing but keep making Washington fatter before we crash from the sugar high.” Although GOP leaders surely would welcome a fuller embrace of their new agenda, they contend that it responds to hundreds of thousands of comments in their America Speaking Out program, an online, grass-roots issue campaign.” The full story.

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Playing Beethoven in Kinshasa

Shot of the month:


From Germany’s Der Spiegel: “In the Congolese capital Kinshasa, just surviving is hard enough. But one group of people spends hours traveling across town to sit in a sweltering compound and practice Handel. They are members of the Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste, Central Africa’s only symphony orchestra. […] A new German documentary film, “Kinshasa Symphony,” tells the story of the orchestra’s most recent major performance and how it came to be. In the movie, which opened in German theaters on Thursday, filmmakers Claus Wischmann and Martin Baer explore what moves people like Bahati, living in one of the world’s poorest cities, to make a long, chaotic trip after a hard day of work to a stiflingly hot courtyard. There, they sit for hours, rehearsing Handel and Orff — music that has neither tradition nor prestige in Congo, as foreign here as curling or golf.” The full story.

Watch the wonderful trailer:

When Facebook Fails

Noticed all sorts of failures at Facebook lately? It’s like the world is ending for a few million people. And it has, or at least it’s blinked. Facebook knows it. As Tech Crunh put it, “This is a problem not just because the site is down, but Facebook’s omnipresent Like button is also completely down, and so is Connect, and Platform — in other words, the entire Internet (or a good percentage of it) is feeling this pain.”

If you want to keep up with Facebook’s status, here’s where to go.

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How Do You Choose a Final Meal on Death Row?

From Slate: “The most popular request is a cheeseburger and fries. Steak, fried chicken, and ice cream are also common. A communications representative often announces the menu to reporters, but a prisoner can request that his choice remain secret. Until 2004, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice posted the last meals of executed prisoners on its Web site but removed the list after receiving complaints that it was offensive. The last request listed is from double homicide convict Larry Hayes, who asked for “Two bacon double cheeseburgers, French fries, onion rings, ketchup, cole slaw, two diet Cokes, one quart of milk, one pint of rocky road ice cream, one pint of fried okra, salad dressing, tomato, and onion.” (Texas still posts the names and crimes of its executed offenders, as well as their last statements.) According to the TDCJ, a prisoner [executed last year], Yosvanis Valle, asked for four hamburgers, Mexican rice, tomato, jalapeños, cheese, onions, and salad dressing. His request was granted.” The full post.

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Queen Elizabeth’s Marie Antoinette Moment

From the UK Independent: “The Queen asked ministers for a poverty handout to help heat her palaces but was rebuffed because they feared it would be a public relations disaster, documents disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act reveal. Royal aides were told that the £60m worth of energy-saving grants were aimed at families on low incomes and if the money was given to Buckingham Palace instead of housing associations or hospitals it could lead to “adverse publicity” for the Queen and the Government. Aides complained to ministers in 2004 that the Queen’s gas and electricity bills, which had increased by 50 per cent that year, stood at more than £1m a year and had become “untenable”. The full monty.

Salvador Dali on “What’s My Line?”

Isaac Bashevis Singer Revisited

I.B. Singer

Harold Bloom writes in the New York Review, with his usual bluntness: “A Nobel laureate, rather more esteemed by his English language readers than by Yiddish speakers, Singer maintains canonical status. I do not find that his novels deserve that but the very best of the stories seem permanent enough. Oddly they are more impressive in the original than I had remembered because his Yiddish is hardly translatable. He is far from the foremost of Yiddish fiction writers yet his style is remarkable, utterly unlike any of the others and surpassed by none. Its nervous exuberance and compulsive rhythmic drive captivate me despite my resistance to his stance and aims. […] However obvious I find the purpose of this gusto, nevertheless its helter-skelter intensity is seductive. […]

“Some of the short stories of the impenitent Bashevis will survive, though I am wary of selecting them. The ones I like in Yiddish, such as “A Friend of Kafka” and “Blood,” do not please me in English, and those that seem to work in translation alienate me in the original, one being “Short Friday.” My friends and students seldom agree on particular stories and I cannot resolve their perplexities. In a larger sense I uneasily concede that Singer cannot be dismissed. In his own very enigmatic mode his work subtly reacts to the Shoah even as he overtly appears mostly to evade it. There is no way to confront that horror aesthetically. Only indirection can hope to convey response and Singer became a master of intricate evasions, too endless throughout his work to enumerate.” The full post.

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