Social Tensions Not Getting Better Soon

Two troubling developments I heard about today:

A Unite The Right white nationalist rally is scheduled in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 12. Not clear how many protestors and counter-protestors might show up, and what they plan to do. Whatever the plans may be, these things have a way of getting out of hand.

The Aug. 12 rally in Washington might fizzle or it might explode. Who knows? But it seems like a possible escalation of a similar white nationalist event in Charlottesville, VA, in summer 2017. That didn’t turn out so well.

I hope counter-protestors will consider NOT coming to Washington on Aug. 12, so as to avoid confrontation. Remember, it takes two to fight, and we really don’t need further violence or division in our society at this point.

In Chicago, 74 shootings reported this past weekend, with 12 dead, as reported today by Brian Williams on MSNBC. It is possibly the worst weekend for shootings ever in that great but troubled city.

Division and violence commonplace. Our culture and society are in trouble. (Just my opinion.) I said I was going to avoid writing about politics, and I’m holding to that. This isn’t about politics. It’s about the health of our American culture and society. The prognosis is uncertain.

— John Hayden

Advertisements

Stand Your Ground And Self-Defense In Florida

Anger over deaths caused by guns is boiling in Florida this summer. And controversy over the “stand your ground” legal principle in the state’s self-defense law is reaching a frenzy.

Please, let’s all take a deep breath, step back, and think about this slowly and carefully. It’s important for us to get the issues and facts straight. Fortunately, the Tampa Bay Times has published on each of the past two days excellent front-page news reports regarding the shooting death at a convenience store in Clearwater and the resulting controversy.

I recommend that everyone read the following two stories from start to finish. Not just the front page but the jump to an inside page. The stories are available on the Times website.

STORY ONE –“IN STAND YOUR GROUND CASES, DOES IT MATTER WHO STARTED IT?” With the secondary headline, “Not when the provocation is verbal, experts say, as the McGlockton case may show.” By Kathryn Varn, Tampa Bay Times, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2018, starting on the front page and continuing on page 4A. Importantly, the Times also published on the front page four large time-lapse photos that show quite clearly what happened outside the convenience store. Those photos may be the most important evidence in the case. They were provided by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s  Office. Clearwater is a city in Pinellas County. Many additional photos are on page 4A.

Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who has a law degree, has investigated the shooting death at the convenience store, and he is one of the people at the center of the controversy because he has declined to arrest the shooter, citing the stand-your-ground principal of Florida law. The case is not closed however, because the sheriff has forwarded the case to the state attorney, who has the final decision on whether to charge the shooter and prosecute the case.

STORY TWO — ” ‘Lock him up, or give up your badge’ ” With the secondary headline, “Marchers, candidates and civil rights activists call for an arrest in a store shooting and the repeal of the state’s stand your ground law.” By Tracey McManus and Langston Taylor, Tampa Bay Times, Monday, Aug. 6, 2018, starting on the front page and continuing on page 8A. The Times also published on the front page a large photo including the Rev. Al Sharpton and civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump at a Baptist church service Sunday afternoon. All five Democratic candidates for Florida governor in the November election and one candidate for state attorney general attended the church service and spoke from the pulpit, according to the news story. It said about 400 people filled the church and an additional 300 demonstrated outside.

Also on the front page is a photo of Markeis McGlockton, the black man who died from the gunshot. Also, a photo of protesters marching in Clearwater to demand justice for the deceased man. Notably, the protest-march photo shows numerous signs with the words: “MICHAEL DREJKA: THE PEOPLE SAY GUILTY.” Michael Drejka is the white man who fired the fatal shot at the convenience store. On page 8A is a photo of Crump holding Mr. McGlockton’s five-year-old son as Crump speaks at the  protest rally.

I believe that the above two news reports, taken together, and the accompanying photos, provide a comprehensive overview of the facts and issues. If the Tampa Bay Times continues such comprehensive coverage of the controversy, I believe the stories taken together might earn the paper a Pulitzer Prize.

I have to study the reports carefully, and still I have difficulty understanding the fine lines drawn around the right of self-defense.

— John Hayden

 

One Year In Florida

ducks for blog

THE DUCKS THINK THIS BRIDGE WILL TAKE THEM ACROSS THE BORDER TO CANADA. 

As of Aug. 1, I’ve been a Florida resident for one full year! Driver’s license, car registration, voter registration, all accomplished within the first couple of months. Survived my first hurricane, too. Last week, I signed a lease renewal. Small rent increase, now will pay $699 a month. And my typical electric bill is around $46. Zero commuting time and distance.

Won’t try to write a full account of the year, but if I did, it wouldn’t be long. Compared with the first nine months of 2017, which included putting my financial house in order and removing myself from Maryland to Florida, the past 12 months have been a walk in the park.

I met the neighbors in the other three apartments on my floor. Three lone individuals, like me. I speak to one of them nearly every day. Big improvement over the $900 basement apartment in wealthy Montgomery County, where my neighbors were the storage room, the trash room, and the laundry room.

I soon discovered two excellent public libraries and one big bookstore with excellent discounts. And I tried a few churches. Like everyone else, I shop at Publix supermarket and Walmart. Four cheap restaurants are nearby. They meet my need for simple food and ambiance. But I eat in the apartment a lot. I know where to recycle newspapers and aluminum cans, but not plastic bottles.

Each apartment has its own air conditioner outside. My unit died in early July. No problem. Apartment management installed a window unit to tide me over two days while a new outside air conditioner was installed. It is powerful and efficient. Inside air temperature is NOT a problem, I can assure you! The outdoor temperature, humidity and rain in summer, that’s another story. Don’t even want to talk about it.

You have not seen lightning until you’ve lived in the Tampa Bay region.

Full disclosure requires me to report that I turned 70 in June. I’ve been aging at an alarming rate the past few years. Sleep too much. I accomplished the move to Florida on adrenaline fumes. Did it in the nick of time; not sure I’d be able to manage such a feat five years hence.

Truth is, I’m well on the way to becoming a cynical old man. Possibly I’ve already arrived. If a man isn’t cynical at this point, he just hasn’t been paying attention.

The move to Florida was necessary, and possibly life-saving. I escaped the nasty winter cold and the impoverishing Montgomery County cost of living. I haven’t had bronchitis since departing Maryland. Here on the Gulf Coast of Florida, I survive nicely and balance my budget. And that’s enough honesty for one blog post.

— John

Goodbye Twitter

It’s early morning, but already I’ve accomplished something. A few moments ago, I deactivated my Twitter account.

Hadn’t much used the account for more than a year. Now, I simply do not want to be associated with Twitter in any way. I don’t want to say anything bad about Twitter. But I can’t think of anything good. Twitter is not making the world a better place. Let’s let it go at that.

Farewell Twitter! You will not be missed.

Will Facebook be next?

— John

End Of The Civil War

Quote

“Being on the wrong side of history carries consequences. V lives that truth every day. If you’ve done terrible things, lived a terrible way, profited from pain in the face of history’s power to judge, then guilt and loss accrue. Redemption becomes an abstract idea receding before you. Even if your sin — like dirt farmers in Sherman’s path — had been simply to live in the wrong place, you suffered. Didn’t matter whether you  owned slaves or which way you voted or how good your intentions had been. Or how bad. You might suffer as much as the family of a great plantation, which was maybe not completely just. But if you were the family with the great plantation, you had it coming. Those were times that required choosing a side — and then, sooner or later, history asks, which side were you on?”

— Charles Frazier, writing in “VARINA”

End Of The Civil War

Quote

“A part of her believed this one moment — Carolina woods, a wagonload of children, lights of heaven blazing on a clear spring night — was sufficient. An eternity in itself. A perfect instant if you erased guilt of the past and dread of the future.”

— Charles Frazier writing in “VARINA”

New York Times on Florida’s Nature Coast

Finally scored a copy of the New York Times on Friday. I have been sorely missing reading a good newspaper since I moved to Florida. (The Tampa Bay Times is OK, probably better than most  surviving metro dailies. But it is NOT the New York Times or the Washington Post.)

Publix in my neighborhood carries the New York Times, in theory. But only a few copies are delivered to the store, and they are snapped up quickly. As you may know, I’m not exactly an early riser. So the Times is always sold out for me. I’ve been told the customer service desk gets frequent requests from people who would like the store to hold a copy of the NYT. Far more requests than they can honor. I have yet to find any store in my area that carries The Washington Post. I like to think you could find the Times or the Post in Miami, maybe even in downtown Tampa or St. Petersburg.

But where I live, a little north of Tampa- St. Pete, no. Seems to me, this is a growing suburban area. Maybe the farthest northern reach of the Tampa Bay suburbs, but also the far southern tip of Florida’s more sparsely populated Nature Coast. Off the map as a prime newspaper circulation area. Despite the general decline in daily newspaper readership, the New York Times is definitely still in demand here in Florida. The demand is not being matched by supply. Maybe I can do something about that?

— John

God Save The Queen

America has nothing to match the British monarchy and royal family.

I’ve mostly ignored the royals, and I doubt I’m getting sentimental in my old age; I’m getting cynical. Never watched a royal wedding before, but Saturday I watched the entire ceremony in the cathedral, and a bit of the endless processionals before and after.

It was a well-choreographed show, with generally excellent execution, a splendid display of nationalist symbolism that has been perfected through centuries of practice. Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, and Meghan Markle, now Duchess of Sussex, had the starring roles, and St. George’s Chapel was the setting.

But the royal wedding was about something far grander than one young couple. Harry is only sixth in the line of succession to the throne, after all. And where is Sussex?

The pageantry of the royal wedding generated strong and genuine emotion for millions of Queen Elizabeth’s subjects throughout the British Isles and the Commonwealth. Such symbolism and emotion, and the patriotism engendered, are of inestimable value.

The Queen and Prince Philip and the monarchy provide amazing spine-stiffening support for the British people and the British nation state.

By the end of the wedding, was there anyone in Britain who would take issue with the words “God save the Queen?”

— John

Wisdom All Gone

Finally had the last wisdom tooth extracted. The one on the upper left. Yesterday. It’s been on the to-do list for years. Near the top of the list for months. The tooth was in deteriorating condition. So said the dentist. Figured I might as well deal with it now, while I’m still of sound mind and body — more or less — than later. You never can tell about “later.”

I could have my lights turned out for the procedure. So said the oral surgeon. But only if I came in the a.m. and had a driver take me home. Or I could choose local anesthetic in the p.m. My neighbor across the hall and I have a mutual accord regarding driving assistance for such occasions. I’ve taken him to and fro the hospital in Tampa a couple times. But I opted for afternoon. I never willingly schedule anything before noon.

Oral numbness was accomplished. The extraction itself was over in five minutes. No prescription pain-killers prescribed; Motrin or Tylenol recommended. I went with Tylenol. Bleeding continued for a few hours, until all the wisdom drained out. Tylenol did the trick. After-surgery pain was not as bad as advertised. Need only a little Tylenol now, on the day after.

I am under doctor’s orders to avoid exertion and fatigue. No heavy lifting or blogging today.

— John

Thinking About A State To Call Home

Via Facebook, I see that the question of where to live in retirement strikes a chord.

A friend from high school and college (he’s definitely a retirement-eligible Baby Boomer)  provides some interesting info. He reports that the best five states to live in, if you want to stretch $1 million in retirement savings, are Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kansas, and Oklahoma. I can see how they’d all probably be among the low cost-of-living states. And Tennessee is picturesque, plus it has Nashville. I don’t know that I’d be interested in the other four. ($1 million in retirement savings? Only in my dreams!)

Long as we’re on the subject, my friend reports the five worst states to spend your $1 million are Hawaii, Washington, D.C., California, Oregon, and New York. Or maybe they’re the best places to spend a million real fast. They all sound plenty pricey. Hawaii is probably worth it. And the other four all have some advantages to recommend them, depending on your individual preferences.

An excellent source for all kinds of U.S. geographical information is Bob Wells, famous for his Santa Claus beard and his YouTube channel, CheapRVLiving. Bob goes into the question of home states in some detail, including four long videos on YouTube and posts on his website, CheapRVLiving.com.

After listening to Bob, you’ll understand that choosing a state to call home is not an inconsequential matter. Far from it! It’s a lot more than cost of living, although that is important. First, he sets us straight about legal issues. You can own or rent a home in more than one state, if you can afford it. But Bob says only one state is your legal domicile. You can only have a driver’s license or vote in ONE state. “Domicile Sweet Domicile.” Doesn’t sound poetic, but it has serious implications.

I’m not going to repeat everything Bob Wells explains. Go to his YouTube channel or Website. Some of the most important domicile considerations for retirees who aren’t old enough to qualify for Medicare are medical. Does your health insurance cover you wherever you roll in the USA, or only in your home state?

Bob approaches the question of legal domicile from the perspective of folks who live on wheels, in their recreational vehicle (RV). It could be a travel trailer, a Class A, B, or C motor home, a van or pickup truck, or even a car. Whew! Come to think of it, more than a few retired folks choose exactly that lifestyle. Once they were tied to jobs, now they’re free to take to the open road.

Bob Wells identifies some of the best states for RVers to consider as a domicile, even if they’re rarely in that state. They are: South Dakota, Florida, Texas, and Nevada. A major item of interest to RVers is how easy the state makes it to become a legal resident, get a driver’s license and register your vehicles. In SD, FL, TX, and NV it’s pretty easy. South Dakota is easiest of all. And all four states offer the advantage of no state income tax, a major attraction for many retirees.

Other states with no income tax are Washington state, Wyoming, New Hampshire and Alaska. I’m not sure about Tennessee.

I think the Middle Atlantic states are generally among the higher cost of living and taxes. My state of Maryland has an income tax, plus a county income tax that piggybacks on the state tax.

Many people from Maryland move to Delaware for retirement. Far as I know, Delaware has income tax, but no sales tax. My Uncle Joe owns a home in southern Delaware, and besides no sales tax, he brags about his low annual property tax. Uncle Joe just turned 90 and he’s sharp as a tack.

Remember, it’s not all about money. Low cost of living and low taxes are not the only considerations, and maybe not the most important. Please don’t make any decisions based on the information in this post, or anything else you see on the Internet. Do your due diligence and make decisions based on verified correct info.

In a day or three, I’ll get back to why I chose Florida. Hint: It’s not about the income tax.

— John