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. Continue reading


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

Washington Post Partners With TRAVELZOO

Update on, an innovative new service brought to you by the formerly great newspaper, The Washington Post. Now owned by Jeff Bezos.

“Ramen and cocktails for two” is the featured Capitol Deal today. Usually $56; via Capitol Deal, only $29!

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Stop The Presses! Forget About News! Advertising Delivered Direct To Your Inbox!

The Washington Post Business section for Sunday Jan. 12, 2014 was ALL BUSINESS, I’m happy to report.

After this blog’s unkind criticism of the Sunday business section last week, it’s only fair to note the impressive week-over-week improvement.

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A Homeless Guy, A Billionaire, And A Dumpster. Be Happy.

blue dumpster

So a rich guy and a homeless guy walk into a bar . . .

Sorry, let me start over. So a rich guy and a homeless guy walk into a dumpster . . .

One more time. A rich guy and a homeless guy walk into The Washington Post . . .

America is officially a “Tale of Two Cities,” as New York Mayor Bill de Blasio says.

The grand canyon between extreme wealth and abject poverty has grown so wide and deep that we have lost all perspective. We have become indifferent and uncaring.

It’s common for the rich, especially, to believe that poor people choose to be poor. The rich imagine the poor are HAPPY.

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Cartoonist Takes Over Business Section Of Newspaper

Of course you want to be happy in 2014! Doesn’t everybody?

Let me save you some time and eyestrain. Don’t bother reading the “happiness” story referred to in the previous post.

I won’t even name the formerly great newspaper. It’s too embarrassing. (Hint: The newspaper’s flag at one time included the words “And Times-Herald.” Jeff Bezos owns the paper now.)

To his credit, the author of the piece, Scott Adams, creator of the comic strip “Dilbert,” is totally, completely honest.

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Mary Corey, Editor Of The Baltimore Sun

Mary Corey, leader of The Baltimore Sun newsroom, died Tuesday of breast cancer. She was 49.

Ms. Corey had worked at the newspaper since graduating from college. She rose through the ranks as a reporter and editor. In 2010, she was appointed to the newspaper’s top editorial position, directing both print and online editions.

An obituary may be found in today’s editions of The Sun.

Power In A Box: Cannon Power Shot SX160


You want to know what an obsolete bachelor’s degree  feels like? Long time ago, as part of my journalism major at University of Maryland, I took a class on news photography. Although 135 mm film and Single Lens Reflex (SLR) cameras were state of the art in the 1960s, the journalism class provided us with older Yashika Mat cameras.

Today, I unboxed the very latest Canon digital camera. It can make an amateur photographer like me feel like a pro! Photography has come a long, long, way since I took that class.

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“Freshly Pressed” Insider’s Report

Being “Freshly Pressed” is the best thing that can happen to a blogger, short of going viral. (But it doesn’t put you in a class with Adrianna Huffington or Matt Drudge.) Human beings thrive on recognition and affirmation.

Freshly Pressed  focused my attention. It prompted some overdue housekeeping around the blog, clean-up and improvements that are hopefully invisible to the reader.

It also reminded me of the largeness of the digital world. One little blog is like a star in a galaxy, or sand on a beach. Though insignificant in the grand scheme of things, one blog can shine light in the darkness, or  — like a grain of sand — irritate the complacent and powerful.

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Typewriters, Stick Shifts, and Newspapers

Typewriters were as significant in the lives of my generation as computers and cell phones are today. For the beginning of the story about typewriters, see Me And The Blog.

Thanks to my cousin, Barbara, for her comment:

“Too funny! I guess we took our spanking new typewriters for granted. My father used his company discount to purchase them. They became a standard Christmas gift. Like you, though, I learned to type at school on an old standard model. Once that year was over, I swore I would never use one again!!! I did, however, learn to drive a standard shift car. I was always happy I did as I could drive any model car out there.”

Gear shift stick of my Mazda Protege SE 1999.

Stick shift on the floor of a 1999 Mazda Protege. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hurray! In some ways, my siblings and cousins are more versatile, more adaptable, than the smarty-pants younger generation. We can drive a stick shift!

How many 25-y-o computer geniuses can do that? Huh? I double dare computer geeks to get into a car with a manual transmission and  drive it around the block. (Please do not try this at home if small children live in the neighborhood.) I believe a 25-y-o could probably figure out how to use a rotary phone, if locked in a room with one for 24 hours.

Barbara’s comment prompted another memory about the IBM typewriter.  (Most of the words in bold type are no longer in common use in the English language. You’ll only need to know those words if you’re taking a class in Ancient History.)

IBM Selectric typeball

IBM Selectric typeball (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I went to work at Congressional Information Service, Inc., in 1977, we had excellent modern IBMs. Then we  upgraded to the ultimate, the IBM Selectric.

And then (drumroll please), the entire office computerized! They dragged me kicking and screaming away from my typewriter and FORCED me to type on a computer. We used a word processing program called Wordstar!  You can forget about Wordstar. It will not be on the test. You will never hear about Wordstar again!

Typebars in a 1920s typewriter

Typebars in a 1920s typewriter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before long, I learned to live with word processing, but that was not the final act. Eventually, I was an unwilling but nonetheless culpable participant in the conversion ruination of two perfectly good newspapers to “pagination.”

(Backstory:  Before computers, reporters typed news stories on  strips of newsprint. copyboy  fetched the story, “take” by “take,” and delivered it to an editor, who scratched it up without mercy and added a headline. The editor rolled the “take” up and tossed it into a square duct, whence it fell by gravity — talk about primitive technology — to the composing room to be set in “hot type” by printers.  Now you know why the composing room was always at least one floor below the newsroom. Some newspapers also used “pneumatic tubes.”  Pneumatic tubes will not be on the test.

With the advent of word processing, stories were typed and edited on computer, but still sent to printers in the composing room to be set in “cold type” and “pasted up” to make a page.)

With pagination, the entire newspaper page was built in the newsroom by editors or page designers using a computer program such as Quark. I supervised conversion of the copy desk at one small newspaper to pagination using Quark; and was a bit player in conversion of a larger newspaper to pagination using Harris software.

Pagination eliminated the composing room, the printing trade, and many jobs. If you want to know what happened to the American middle class, here is a perfect example. A large part of the middle class was made up of union printers. Editors soon met the same fate. Most so-called newspapers don’t have editors any longer. They have “content managers.”

That about covers the history of the world from typewriters to pagination, and from manual transmission to hybrid cars.

In an emergency, my generation will always be able to drive a stick shift or dial a rotary phone. Of course, when the real emergency comes, I wonder how many of us will remember how to grow our own food? Or cook? Or make a fire? I will be among the first to starve or freeze.

Let’s not think about that anymore. Instead, I’m going to think about acquiring a standard typewriter and a Volkswagen Microbus, and driving off into the sunrise.

— John Hayden