Off Key

| March 1, 2015

By Bob Frederickson

From Quiet Time in Sarasota to Uncertain Science

“Now Entering Sarasota: Shhhhh…”
Research Data Services of Tampa called last month’s Thunder By the Bay event a resounding success, generating $8 million for the local economy. But Sarasota Commissioner Susan Chapman has found a cloud in this silver lining, citing the event’s noise and accompanying traffic congestion as reasons to reevaluate some special events that may have become “too successful” for the city. Chapman also took exception to the recent Music Half Marathon for similar reasons (i.e. noise and traffic).

No surprises here. Chapman’s election to the commission was in part fueled by early support from residents frustrated with noise from downtown bars and such special events. Downtown condo dwellers looking for the amenities of urban living – along with the seemingly incompatible hush of a library or hospital zone – remain the core of this savvy politician’s base. No matter that Chapman sometimes comes off as the city’s resident scold, reminding some of the curmudgeonly homeowner down the block, forever yelling at the neighborhood kids to stay off her lawn.

As for Thunder By the Bay? Well, perhaps the city can replace the event with a Vespa Rally. The scooters are so much more refined than those muscular, American born and bred Harleys-in-heat, no? And then there’s the Italian connection so many movers-and-shakers in these parts are so enamored of.

Next target? The Suncoast Offshore Grand Prix replaced by a sailing regatta or a rowboat race on the bay? Perhaps…as long as the cheering from the shore is kept to a whispered hush.

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R.I.P. Pelican Press

Though many industry news observers would have called the patient’s time of death as having come back in the summer of 2011, the removal of the Pelican moniker from the masthead of the Observer’s Siesta Key edition officially ends a run that began in 1971 when John and Elizabeth Davidson began publishing what would become Siesta Key’s very own, award-winning voice on matters large and small.

Sometimes, quirky, often irreverent, several generations grew up learning about their community from its homegrown perspective.

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Media Matters
John Stewart announced last month he is walking away from The Daily Show at the peak of the show’s popularity; his penchant for delivering the news with what The New York Times’ Dave Irzkoff called “layers of silliness and mockery” has earned him the respect and adulation of millions of predominantly younger Americans who have come to rely on him as their principal source of news, fake or satirized as it may be.

Meanwhile, across town, on the very same day Stewart made his announcement, NBC pulled Brian Williams off the air for also making a mockery of the news.

Unfortunately for Williams, his efforts were not so well received.

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Do as We Say, Not as We Do…
Every chance they get the powers that be at the Sarasota/Bradenton Airport urge local residents and businesses to show their loyalty by flying into and out of SRQ International instead of the larger airports (with more connections) in Tampa and Fort Myers.

So what do they do when they have the chance to show a little loyalty of their own in selecting a new marketing firm? Shop local? Of course not! They, head out of town and hire an Orlando firm instead.

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Fleeting Fame?
Actual Sarasota Craigslist ad read online recently:

“Outstanding condition Charvel/Jackson acoustic guitar with built in pick up. It’s signed by a famous musician but I can’t make out the name. Call Frank \ $175 OBO.”

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Weather…or Not
Apologizing for a botched forecast predicting a catastrophic blizzard for New York City that never materialized, a National Weather Service forecaster offered this explanation:

“It is an uncertain science…”

Funny, but that’s never seems to be the case when it comes to predictions of global warming…then it’s always a lock, despite all the “record setting” data presented being within the margin of error for the statistical models used.

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Shocking News? (Well, maybe not…)
WFLA news reporter Melanie Michael was incredulous over national statistics ranking Florida third among the states when it comes to calls made to the human trafficking hotline.

“Hard to believe,” said Michael.

Perhaps someone should tell Michael that Florida is the third most populous state in the union. As such, why would it be hard to believe it would rank third on this list or any other?

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Pulling the Plug on FPL?
Tesla – the electric carmaker with a showroom at the new UTC Mall – doesn’t just want to sell you a battery-powered car. They want to power your house too. And with a market capitalization of $28 billion, they might just have the juice to pull it off.

Founder Elon Musk, who made his fortune creating PayPal, is also the driving force behind SpaceX, the private sector answer to NASA’s retired shuttle program.

During Tesla’s most recent earnings report conference call, Musk matter-of-factly mentioned his company is developing a whole house battery that just might help you break your dependence on the local power utility.

I’m sure FPL is thrilled.

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Quote of the Day
”Heavier than air flying machines are impossible…” Lord Kevin, President, Royal Society, 1885

Wilbur and Orville must have missed the memo.

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Category: Columns

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