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Off-Key

By Bob Frederickson

From Pedestrian Pursuits to Virtue’s Best Use?

“Woke up this Morning, had those Walkin’ Blues…”

A new study from Smart Growth America has this not so shocking news for any Floridian who has been around the block more than a few times (especially if the journey has been on foot): the Sunshine State is the most dangerous place in the nation when it comes to walking. But it gets worse. Turns out the top five most dangerous metro areas for pedestrians nationwide are all right here in Florida. And coming in at number four? That’s right: Sarasota/Bradenton/North Port. You’re safer on a Boeing 737 Max with a meth-crazed student pilot at the controls than you are crossing US 41 at any time of the day or night in these parts.

Another study listed the five most dangerous songs to drive to. Coming in at number one was American Idiot by Green Day, which is altogether appropriate as it also serves as an accurate description of many of the drivers careening along our local highways and byways.

So if you’re out for your morning stroll along MPR (which just so happens to have a particularly dire history in this regard) and you hear “American Idiot” shattering the morning calm, run – don’t walk – as quickly as you can away from the shoulder. There are no ‘Safe Places’ along roadways in these parts; not even sidewalks qualify.

Wondering What George Carlin Would Make of Today’s Language Police…

“It used to be seven words you can’t say on television. Now it’s 15,000 words you can’t say in private conversations.” – David Angelo

California Goes Third World…

California has long prided itself as being a trendsetter when it comes to both public policy and the broader culture at large. But many Californians – including the State’s governor, Gavin Newsom – are hoping the recent “public safety” power blackouts orchestrated by the state’s largest electrical utility, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), aren’t a sign of things to come.

According to the Sacramento Bee, 758,000 electric customers were intentionally taken offline recently due to the threat of extreme fire danger and more than 1.5 million were directly affected when you add in such things as gas station and supermarket closures forced by the outages.

PG&E declared bankruptcy earlier this year in no small part due to financial exposure brought on by lawsuits stemming from fires allegedly sparked by the utility’s faulty equipment and inadequate tree and brush trimming practices.

Newsom, the state’s governor, was quoted as saying, “this can’t be the new normal,” while accusing the utility of not advancing public safety but instead its own profits.

One tweet summed up the mood of many in the state: “This is not Cuba or Calcutta, This is California. And the intentional walk to the Third World marches on! Why do people put up with this foolishness? Unbelievable. #PowerOutage

Florida knows a thing or two about dealing with both high winds and fires, but I’ve never heard of a utility here shutting off power days in advance of a high wind event.

Imagine that: Florida…the new trendsetter!

Flute Traumatized by Man’s Off-Key Caper

A Janesville Wisconsin man tried to shoplift a flute from a local music store by sticking it down the backside of his pants. He was easily caught though, owing to the utterly off-key execution of his caper. Unbeknownst to him, the long narrow instrument managed to cause the leather jacket he was wearing to ride up so high on one side that his crime was on display for all to see while he perused other items in the store instead of making a quick getaway.

Though the flute was recovered, the store manager at Voigt Music Center said that after its harrowing journey to the dark side he couldn’t in good conscience put it back on sale.

Conventional Wisdom Run Amok?

A recent headline in the Herald Tribune caught my eye the other day. It read: “Internet is Fundamental for Academic Success.” The story by Kim Doleatto that followed gave this explanation:

 “A student who can go home to a safe, quiet place where they can use the Internet to do their homework is going to have better quality work than a peer who doesn’t. It makes the playing field completely even…and it gets worse as the curriculum becomes more demanding.”

So why then (as I’ve mentioned in this space previously) are so many of the most accomplished names in Silicon Valley sending their kids to traditional pencil and paper schools and spending dearly to do so…in some cases as much as it would cost in tuition for a year at Harvard or Princeton?

Sherry Turkle, an MIT psychologist and author of such books as “Alone Together,” and “Reclaiming Conversation” says it’s because those on tech’s bleeding edge know how dangerous life in front of our ubiquitous little blue screens can become.

If school districts truly wanted to be innovative perhaps they’d follow the lead of those visionary high tech innovators and teach kids how to interact directly with those around them instead of through the filters presented by all the supposedly ‘smart’ devices that have been deemed indispensable by educators, reporters, and other so called experts.

Socialism Laid Bare…

The average Venezuelan has lost 20 lbs. in just the past year.

Meantime, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has gained over 50 lbs. since taking office. And all the generals he surrounds himself with look like they too could be ‘before’ models in a Weight Watchers ad. 

Which pretty much tells you – from top to bottom – all you need to know about socialism. Those at the top get fat while the vast majority below waste away in desperation.

Uber Could Use a Lift…

Uber has just laid off another 350 employees working in the company’s corporate offices. The layoffs are the third round of cost cutting measures since the company went public last May in a lackluster public offering that closed at $41.57 per share that day, far below expectations. Since then shares have sunk to a recent low of $28.37 in early October.

Quote of Timely Note

“Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.” -Benjamin Franklin

A Full Court Press on Reason

So LeBron James thinks supporting freedom makes America look bad? His comments to that effect came in response to Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey and his tweet: “Fight for Freedom, stand with Hong Kong.”

That tweet provoked the Chinese government to throw a hissy fit and ‘reevaluate’ its association with the National Basketball Association (NBA).

But we all know what LeBron and the NBA are really concerned with here: Not America looking bad, but rather losing the potential revenue represented by 1.4 billion Chinese consumers.

Freedom be damned.

The league brass and its ‘woke’ players and coaches had no qualms about taking a stand against perceived injustice in North Carolina and moving their All-Star game out of the state when voters there had the temerity to democratically express their opposition to transgender bathroom policies. But support for those risking their lives in the streets of Hong Kong in pursuit of the same freedoms these pampered, overpaid poseurs in the NBA take for granted? Well, we can’t have that can we?

What a bunch of hypocrites.

Sports commentator Jason Whitlock knows the truth of what is really going on here, and unlike most of his colleagues in the media, he is not afraid to speak that truth, which, after all, is the reason for the first amendment in the first place: so you don’t have to be afraid to speak it; because without that ability, there is no real truth, just what passes for it as enforced by the biggest bully on the block.

Here are his thoughts as expressed in a recent commentary on FS-1:

“This story is really about Nike. Nike is the king of basketball. The NBA is an $8 billion business. Nike is a $30-$40 billion a year business. The NBA answers to Nike. And Nike answers to China. And if you notice, from LeBron James to Coilin Kapernick, who supports them? Nike. This whole thing is about Nike being beholden to the Chinese market; and when we have allowed these American companies to be overrun by these foreign countries and their financial investment in our businesses, they now have the ability to influence American culture. That is exactly what’s going on. Communist countries, for 100 years have used the strategy of smearing the West, a.k.a. America, as being the racist demon of the planet. They do it to cover up their own racism, their own depravity and the damage of communism. And so here we have Nike in bed with China and Nike athletes, Colin Kapernick, LeBron James, smearing the United States I believe in unfair ways as racist. Are we a country that has had a problem with race? Absolutely.  But are we a country that has made incredible progress along racial lines? Absolutely. And to have these athletes – in my view – at the behest of Nike – who works at the behest of the Chinese government, – for them to continually smear America in this way is unfair and it’s having a terrible impact on American culture”

Off Key? Not to my ears.

And make no mistake. This is not just a sports story. And it’s not just about selling sneakers. It’s about Apple, and Google, and Facebook and a host of other western companies torn between greed and conscience. It is a story as old as sin, and one that will likely define this century moving forward as the fault line between freedom and repression is stressed anew as China rises and the United States as a nation is challenged once again to decide if it is willing to stand up once more and defend the principles it was founded upon.