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Off Key

By Bob Frederickson

 From Red Tide Hitting Home to Chihuahuas and Megaphones

“Survey Says…”

A survey conducted by the Venice Area Chamber of Commerce found that more than two/thirds of 135 responding businesses reported suffering losses in August related to the area’s continuing red tide outbreak.

Those businesses reflect a cross section of the local economy, with restaurants, shops and real estate agencies participating. In total, almost $1 million in lost revenues were reported when respondents compared August 2018 business results to the same month last year.

The red tide outbreak has sporadically impacted the southwest Florida coastline for the better part of a year, making it one of the longest and broadest such outbreaks on record, with reports of blooms stretching intermittently from Naples beginning last fall and reaching north to St. Petersburg by late summer.

Sweetheart Deal?

Restaurants on or near the water have been especially hard hit by the unappetizing stench associated with the red tide. But Sharkey’s on the Pier has an advantage over its competitors. According to the terms of its 2008 lease with the city of Venice, as reported in the Sarasota Herald Tribune, the restaurant enjoys a reduction in rent during red tide outbreaks.

Now I like Sharkey’s. And I like Venice too. But I doubt I’d feel the same way if I owned a restaurant in town and had to compete with an establishment subsidized by my own (and my fellow citizens’) tax dollars.

Just saying…

Motivated Seller?

Robert Schneider, 59, headed to Lazy Days RV near the intersection of I-75 and I-4 in Seffner earlier this summer looking for a deal on an RV. He found just the model he was looking for: a gently used Winnebago model. He negotiated the price down a bit, agreeing to a final sales price of $246,000. So he pulled out his checkbook, wrote and signed a check for the full amount, jumped behind the wheel and drove off the lot, destination unknown.

Trouble is, the check bounced.

Now, three months after the fact, a warrant has been issued for Schneider’s arrest.

Which begs the question: how does something like this happen in the first place? I mean, I wrote a check recently for some minor repair work on my car at a local dealership and the process was only slightly less tortuous than the recent senate judiciary committee hearings to approve Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court.

Lazy Days employees told Tampa’s Fox TV affiliate they had no comment. Gee, now that’s a surprise.

But I guess if you’re looking for an RV, Lazy Days is the place to go…I mean they must REALLY want to make a deal.

Things I Love About Texas…

“I’ve lived long enough to know that there’s a bully on every block ready and willing to take advantage of anyone stupid enough to let them.”

–An elderly southern woman calling in to the Mark Davis radio program, heard one summer afternoon while passing through Texas

“No Soup for You!”

Those fabulous self-appointed arbiters of what can and can’t be said in our brave new world (posing as journalists for a west coast periodical) have classified as verboten the following words and phrases: ‘Indian Summer,’ ‘Sitting Indian Style,’ ‘Off the Reservation,’ ‘Blackball,’ ‘Whitewash,’ and ‘Inmates Running the Asylum.’

That last one is particularly hard for me to accept, given it is the exact phrase that fits here.

Which Explains Why…

…eighty percent of Americans say they are fed up with political correctness. This according to the website moreincommon.com. It is the one issue in today’s fractious society that unites us across the board…young and old, black and white, republican and democrat, tall and short, wide and skinny…

So why do so many of us care what a mendacious…minority…thinks? (I was going to say ‘mob,’ but that’s soon to be on the verboten list as well).

Beats me…

But I think the lady quoted above I heard while driving through Texas had it just about right with what she had to say about bullies…

Economist Eric Weinstein calls it “The Chihuahua Effect,” where a very small group produces most of the noise. If you Google ‘Weinstein’ + ‘Chihuahua Effect’ you should find a podcast in which he gives an explanation that includes the following:

“I ran a poll (asking): ‘if biology and gender studies conflicted as disciplines on a matter of sex or gender, which would you be more inclined to believe?’ It was about 50/50 in terms of the vociferous debate on twitter. But when you looked at poll results it was astounding. It was 95 percent in favor of trusting biology as a science…”

Which of course explains why we have the absurdity of college students believing their gender studies professor when he or she (or a self-described combination thereof) maintains that gender is not determined by biology, but rather by some free-form notion of personal identity. The arguments on social media platforms like twitter make the argument seem rational and mainstream when it is in fact anything but.

Just remember: A Chihuahua with a megaphone is still just a Chihuahua.