Thursday October 25, 2012

The November 6th ballot: part 2: the people

voting machinesI promised you people a part 2 to our election guide, and here we are, less than two weeks to election day. Lots of people have done absentee voting, taking hours and hours to research all the stuff on the ballot, so we need to figure this out. Back to the sample ballot. (Note: your ballot will look different! To get YOUR actual ballot, go to this page, type in your info, then click Sample Ballot in the second blue box. You’ll also get to see a photo of your voting place, which is kind of cool.)


You people don’t need me to tell you who you’re voting for, so I’ll keep this as short as I possibly can. Generally, I’m a fan of “anyone but the first two” strategy on this one, on the grounds that we need to do whatever we can to strengthen the voice of third parties generally. But it’s a close election that Florida is most likely going to decide. So none of that funny business. I’m still registered Libertarian, and I like a lot about Jill Stein, but no.

Now, a word to my Republican friends. I don’t think you guys are unreasonable! A lot of you see the problems with Romney, but on the other hand he looks like a Reasonable Republican in a tough situation Doing What He Needs To Do. Let me submit to you that the next president will appoint probably two Supreme Court justices, and that if Romney is elected we have an excellent chance of ending up in a country where abortion is outlawed for decades. If that concerns you at all, then consider this: the economy is in recovery. Obama has not done everything he could have done, but it’s a fact that Republicans for the last few decades have been much worse for the budget deficit, and Romney’s “cut taxes and grow the military” is a strategy for more of that.

He underestimated the recession, doubled down on government secrecy, and refuses to stop the drone strikes. But hold your nose and vote for Obama.

US Senator

Your choices: Bill Nelson [D], Connie Mack ®, and two independents: Bill Gaylor and
Chris Borgia. Both the independents have a touch of the tea party about them, but Borgia is talking the “big rethink of government” talk that I think we need to hear more of. I don’t agree with all his positions, but I like the cut of his jib. He won’t win, but there’s a good argument here for voting for an independent voice.

US Congressman

I don’t get to vote for a congrescritter, but they’re up for reelection in districts 23, 25, 26, and 27. Look your people up on Vote Smart and figure it out.

State offices

This is the place to get smart. I can’t really help you, because everyone will be voting for different people. But keep in mind: your vote here is maybe the most important of any you’ll cast today, because there are a lot fewer people voting in each of these races and you have a real chance of swinging an election. You know all that stuff Rick Scott did that you didn’t like? These are the people who voted on it. Don’t be a dumbass — you have maybe a half-dozen people to look up. Do it. Check out Vote Smart, Ballot Pedia, and the Herald’s recommendations.


Good news: nothing too bad coming out about these people, and replacing them gives more people to Rick Scott. Yes on all of ‘em.

Board of County Commissioners, Community Development Districts, etc.

What I said for the state offices? More so here.

State constitutional amendments

See part 1 of this guide. (Short story: No on everything except maybe the Veterans stuff.)

School Board Questions, County Charter Amendments

That’ll be next week. Stay tuned for part 3! (Wow, this turned out to be surprisingly useless.)


Tuesday October 23, 2012

LOAD Seeing Load in the early 90s (opening for Marilyn Mason at Squeeze, whazzup) was a pretty formative experience for me. Bob Johnston, lead singer of Load, died recently. This would be an excellent time to listen back to their music, and since it’s not available for sale I’ll just link to the complete Load discography at Cosmic Herse.



Miami Science Museum new building fly-through

This is new to me: an architectural fly-through of the new science museum building going up downtown next to PAMM. Pretty awesome. Also: huge, right? The video is silent, so I’m adding a separate player underneath, with suitable rendering fly-through music for you. Hit play on both:

The shark aquarium that the building wraps around is some pretty neat stuff. By the way, remember the park part of museum park? Yeah, well it turns out that’s sort of off for now.


Monday October 22, 2012

AT&T saga, part 2

This is just a quick followup to my AT&T post from three weeks ago. It’s long, but you should read it before proceeding.

AT&T I vaguely remembered that both my iPhone orders, the one that supposedly went through and the one that was supposedly canceled, indicated that I’d get my phone between October 21 and 28. This Saturday was the 20th, and I still hadn’t received an email confirmation of placing an order (much less that anything’d shipped) so I figured it was time for a call back to AT&T. I’m battle hardened, so I’m expecting problems. But I’ve also got order confirmation numbers, and a list of phone numbers. I call the one for AT&T “Premiere,” where I was last told they had the information about my order.

When the system comes on, I start hitting “0” per Get Human. The frist thing you get is a long recording giving you all the reasons you might want to hang up and abandon your call. (“If you ordered a phone, it’ll ship in 14 to 21 days. We can’t change your shipping address. Check your status in your account online.” etc.) When the system finally receives your first 0, a much louder and sterner recording comes on.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t understand you!”
“I’m sorry, I still didn’t understand you!”
“Thank you for calling AT&T. Bye!”

And yes, the machine hangs up on you. I call back, and now I have to actually listen to the options. There is (of course!) no option to talk to a human being. I go through the “check your order status” section, knowing full well that I can’t trust what the system will tell me. I’m on hold, and the recording, still trying to convince me to hang up, tells me I can check my “Premiere Order Status at,” a secret page that doesn’t get linked from AT&T’s website or from your account page. I hang up an give it a shot.

It’s a modest page with a single form field. I punch in my order number, and I get a page that says “Your order has been processed and will be shipped shortly.” Online system speak for “fuck off — you’ll get your thing when you get it.” For shits and giggles, I reload the page and punch in my other order number. “Your order has been processed and will be shipped shortly.” Now I’m starting to lose my shit a little. But I call back, go through the system again, and wait on hold.

When I’m “connected,” something very odd happens. I get a strange staticky recording, kind of like you’d hear in a bad WWII movie when the pilot’s way out of range and can’t communicate with the tower? I actually can’t make out most of what it’s saying, but the gist is clear: we’re not here. Call back Monday. And now I really lose my shit. I start sputtering about how I’m going to call back monday morning, cancel my order, dissolve the family account, and get a phone from Verizon, Sprit, anyone but these asshats. Then I decide to hit the twitter.

I don’t think the tweet embed shows you the time it was posted, but it was at 12:52 pm. A few minutes later at 12:56 pm, I added this one:

Obviously I’m not expecting a response, but I got one! At 1:07 pm, this:

Which is pretty strange … if he’s there M-F, how am I getting a tweet? Does he not want me to respond until Monday? Also, AT&T has people answering customer service complaints on the weekend but not anyone answering the phone? And what’s up with the format of this response? A signature?! Whatever. I ignore it. Saturday. Shit to do.

The kicker comes later in the day when I check my email. And now you’ll understand why I went back and double-checked the time on those twitter posts. Here’s 1:16 pm, exactly 20 minutes after my tweet and 26 days after my actual order:

AT&T order confirmation

Coincidence? Seems impossible to believe. But it’s also impossible to believe that a guy that’s on Twitter on a Saturday afternoon can get a phone shipped off. Basically, I have no idea what happened here. All I know is that I’m stuck with AT&T for at least another two years. But yeah, the next time a Republican tells you how efficient free enterprise is, and how government programs are bureaucratic and inefficient, do me a favor. Just chuckle quietly to yourself.



All your Kindle are belong to them

Here’s an email I just sent to Amazon customer support:

Hi Amazon!

I bring to your attention this blog post:

A couple of days a go, my friend Linn sent me an e-mail, being very frustrated: Amazon just closed her account and wiped her Kindle. Without notice. Without explanation. This is DRM at it’s worst.

To sum up: this customer was abruptly blocked by Amazon, had her Kindle purchases deleted from her Kindle device, and did not receive clarification about why it happened after multiple requests.

I understand that I’m only getting one side of the story here, but it rings true — this is how corporations act with some regularity. Do you guys have any comment? Is there more to the story?

See, in the absence of a response, I’m not sure how much business I want to conduct with Amazon in the future. I’m holding off buying any Kindle books for the time being, but I’ll be re-evaluating my other Amazon purchases going forward, too. (You can look through my order history and see that I’m a very regular customer. I have a Prime account, and I use it multiple times per week.)

PLEASE, we need a response. I’ll be cross-posting this message, and any response I get, to my blog,


Friday October 19, 2012

Gwar weekend





Thursday October 18, 2012

Term Limits for Dade county commissioners are on the ballot.
Michael Lewis gives you the argument for voting against the limits. It’s a tough call, but term limits empower government bureaucrats and lobbyists.


Tuesday October 16, 2012

Butterfly garden

butterfly garden

Hey everybody, check out my butterfly garden. Actually, it looks a little sad right now. It’d been planted for awhile and was getting overgrown, so I replanted everything Sunday to give it more space. Consider this a “before” picture.

butterfly garden

That’s not to say there aren’t some flowers happening. How this happened is that Hillary and I were visiting Fairchild like a year ago and happened into conversation with a very knowledgeable volunteer in the butterfly garden. Before you know it I was jotting down names of flowers on my phone (Milkweed, Corkeystone Passion Vine, Border Weed, Tropical Sage, Egyptian Star Clusters, Scorpion’s Tail). He recommended checking out Richard Lyons Nursery”:, which sure enough is an amazing place.

butterfly garden

The guy at Richard Lyons recommended one or two more plants, and these five are the ones we came home with. Milkweed and Passion Vine are for sure in the mix, but I don’t remember what the other ones are. No matter, really, because we have seen exactly ONE butterfly this whole time — this weekend (maybe it’s the start of an influx, tho I doubt it; we’re near the bay, and I doubt butterflies like the salt air?).

butterfly garden

This is the Passion Vine. But in any case, I’ll keep y’all updated. Now that I’ve got this post, it should be easy to drop in more photos as the everything fills in.

butterfly garden

Hey, lizard, this trellis is not for you! This PDF is a pretty great resource on planting a butterfly garden in Florida. It’s complicated! For best results, you’re supposed to take into account plants that are common within a quarter mile of you, among a grid of other factors. I sprawling Miami I should think this amounts to doing trial and error with lots of the species on the list.

butterfly garden

The idea though, is that you need a combination of plants — some that attract butterfly larva, and flowering plants that the adults feed on. Then, different species of butterflies like different plants (some like rotting fruit and manure). The Miami Blue Chapter of the National Butterfly association is an excellent resource. I am also to point out that there is a thing called Butterfly World, and their website at least is a rare and beautiful flower.


Monday October 15, 2012

South Florida Cultural Consortium exhibition 2012

south florida consortium

The South Florida Cultural Consortium is a peculiar thing. It was created in 1986 to share “strategies and resources” among the cultural arms of the governments of Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Monroe, and Martin counties, but one of the things it has yet to create is a website, so getting information on what all the consortium does or how much money is involved is not easy. The yearly Fellowship program is the Consortium’s most publicly visible program. It selects artists from the five participating counties for grants of $15,000. And every year there’s an exhibition, so we the public can see what we paid for. Unfortunately, the exhibition cycles between Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach, and for the latter it inevitably ends up at FAU’s rather un-ideal facilities. It’s an hour drive from Dade (where, on a purely quantitative level, most of the people who care about this stuff live) and offers limited hours. To see it, you’ve pretty much got to set aside a Saturday afternoon and $15 for gas money. And that’s exactly what I did. Let’s have a look.

See the whole article and 16 photos


Friday October 12, 2012

26 fashion blogger weekend





Wednesday October 10, 2012



Here’s a confession: I have no idea what a dive bar is. Does it have something to do with how well lit a place is? How cheap the drinks are? How it’s decorated? Or is it just some intangible assessment one makes about how likely you are to see a roach? I dunno, but I was pretty surprised after I wrote about Fox’s that some people consider it a dive bar. Maybe the term is like 90% positive these days? Anyway, I guess you would consider Sandbar to be one too. All I can tell you is that this is one bar I wish I lived walking distance from.


The entrance to Sandbar is a sliding glass door which I’ve only ever seen partially open. Inside, the floor is sand. Covered with a layer of sand. About half the bar stools are counter-hight beach chairs made of 2 by 4’s and painted bright colors, and some are two-seaters.


That’s all well and good, but it takes more than a gimick to impress me. There’s gotta be beer, too. Now, I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to beer, but I do not require a Yardhouse-type selection of dozens or hundreds of tap beers. Actually, I find it a bit unseemly. I like a place that can curate a selection of a half-dozen or so tap beers that are interesting and reasonably priced. Sandbar doesn’t carry Old Rasputin or 120-minute anything, but it does pretty damned well. In addition to the Bud Lights and Longboards, there’s Brookly Brewery Lager, Longboard IPA, and a couple of Holy Mackrels. And they’re priced absurdly cheap. (I want to say it was $2.50 each during happy hour(?!) but I’m actually not sure.) And here’s the kicker: free food(!) Friday and Saturday. It was hot dogs with fixins (kraut, chili, onions, etc) one day, sphaghetti another day, and chili (with sour cream, cheese, crackers, etc) another time.


The doorway to the men’s room has a neon light that says “DICKS.” It’s got the last operating cigarette machine I know of. The crowd is a mix of locals and tourists. There’s a sign on the wall that says “Hippies use back door. No Exceptions.” (The ‘no exceptions’ gets me.) All in all, it’s a lot of win. The only real problem is that it’s pretty out of the way, and parking is a drag. Here’s what you do. If you’re coming from the South you’ll be on Collins. If you’re coming from the North you’ll be on Indian Creek. Either way, turn on 67th Street, and head North on Harding Avenue. You’ll find a space.

Sandbar Lounge
6752 Collins Ave
Miami Beach


Friday October 5, 2012

Oktoberfest weekend one

Now listen here people, the REAL Oktoberfest Miami is at the German American Social Club, and it happens the last two(!) weekends in October. That said, I’m all for doing the


Tuesday October 2, 2012

Miami Herald on 'Trayvon Inc.' – any hint of hypocrisy?

miami herald, today's cover Here’s the front-page story of today’s Herald, CASHING IN ON TRAYVON INC.

An iconic photograph of a young Trayvon Martin in his Bulldogs football uniform, staring stone-faced into the camera, has been published in print and online around the world.

The Optimist Club team photographer, Lucricia Woodside of North Miami, owns the copyright to the picture and never authorized its use. Now she is a member of a growing number of entrepreneurs, artists and even some opportunists who have found ways to cash in on a new cottage industry.

Call it Trayvon Inc.

The Trayvon case is tragic and wrong on many levels. But a photographer trying to get credit for her work? That’s the lead in the article about people exploiting the tragedy for profit? Let’s be clear about this: despite the liberties people have been taking with reuse of imagery on the internet (including this very blog!), a person with a camera owns the copyright to every picture they make.

What is the writer, Frances Robles, arguing here? That when something becomes news any photo relevant to the news becomes public domain, free to be used without the photographer’s permission?

In fact that must be the argument. Because that’s what these newspapers and websites did: used a photo without asking for permission of the copyright holder. (From a legal perspective, the fact that the photographer registered the copyright is irrelevant to the story.)

Check out the Herald’s own terms of service

Material published on, including articles, photos, Content Feeds, graphics, bulletin board postings, audio and video clips, trademarks, service marks, and other content (“Content”), is copyrighted by The Miami Herald … You may not reproduce, republish or redistribute Content or any portions thereof, including, without limitation, Content provided by licensors and others, including member-submitted content, without the written consent of the copyright owner.

What do you think would happen if something in Miami became a national news story, and a photo from the Herald started popping up in newspapers and websites? That’s right, they’d get their lawyers on it. It’s wrong because the person doing it is a journeyman photographer? Look: part of the deal with being a photographer is that you might be in the right place at the right time and get a photo that becomes valuable. Trust me: professional photographers have it tough these days. They deserve whatever break they can get.

And they certainly don’t deserve to be made to look like profiteering lowlives by a major national newspaper. This poor woman is going to be getting hatemail and threats from ignorant jerks who read this stupid article and don’t think this through.

The Herald’s got a catchy headline, but it’s completely unfair. Cashing in on Trayvon Inc., eh? Say, I notice that this article is on your front page. Could it be that you’re profiting as much as anyone else from this? Where’s the intellectual honesty?