Friday June 15, 2012
I don’t have a whole lot of interest in visiting the not-so-new Parrot Jungle on Watson Island. I see where it makes perfect sense for them to be close to the urban center, and I even see the need for attractions like that in places like that. But there’s an old-Florida charm to the original location that I think I’d miss too much. But it turns out that the original location is still open, boringly renamed Pinecrest Gardens.
Tuesday June 3, 2008
In Miami, a dense urban and suburban strip of communities borders the Everglades on the west and the Atlantic on the east. So it’s easy to forget that most of the rest of the country is rural — a web of roads connecting scattered homes, farms, and the occasional small town. This is commingled with lots and lots of largely raw nature, with forests, prairies, rivers, and lakes, many of which look exactly as they have for thousands of years.
Or rather, on some level we’re aware of it. You can’t leave the state via I-95 without driving through stretches of forest, but it’s always seemed like an abstraction to me that way. And of course the best thing about riding a bike, even around the block, is for the slow way you experience your surroundings. Here then, the first of a few slide shows from the trip. I edited out anything with overt traces of humanity, trying to convey the varied and primal nature that’s still out there.
The route I followed started in Savannah and followed Section 6 and Section 7 of the Adventure Cycling Association’s Atlantic Coast series of maps. Through Georgia the rout heads about 60 miles inland from Savannah and meanders through the interior of the state, then follows the coast for most of Florida. Here’s the slideshow.
Tuesday March 11, 2008
The Charles Deering Estate is a nature and historical preserve in South Miami. It includes two historical buildings, and the largest virgin coastal tropical hardwood hammock in the United States. The wooden house was built in the late 19th century, the stone house was built in the early 20th. Here’s the aerial view, and you can clearly see the key-shaped dock, main lawn, and the huge mangrove forest surrounding the property.
A photo at the site shows the buildings after hurricane Andrew in 1992. The wooden house was about 60% kindling, but was restored. South Miami was ground 0 for Andrew.* By the way, Aramis and Pepe have studios at Deering (part of a relatively new artist residency program), and were kind enough to provide a lot of information about the estate.
A boardwalk snakes through the hammock . . .
Not that much to see, actually. But you appreciate the people that originally lived here — getting around was not at all easy. Marsh, thick foilage, and woody root-fingers sticking up everywhere. Oh, and cottonmouth moccasins.
Kind of a swank place. This is incidentally the sister estate to Vizcaya, which was built by Charles Deering’s brother(!). Unlike Viscaya’s lush gardens, Deering is all-native, and a lot more rustic (all things being relative, here).
The obligatory Historic Kitchen. The interior of the buildings is about a 7 on the interestingness scale, a fact acknowledged by various spicing-up measures, including a great little exhibition of contemporary Miami artists in the wood house.
Fancy doors in grand staircase of the stone house.
So, Deering apparently has back-to-back weddings lined up most weekends of the year. At $6,000 a pop, they’re booked over a year in advance. Here, they’re just setting up, but check out that key-shaped dock and big lawn. Perfect.
Prohibition-era wine cellar. The cool thing is that the cellar is behind a regular door, a steel-bar door, an uber-serious bank vault door, and a swing-away bookcase because, duh—it was built during prohibition, of which ‘ol Charlie wasn’t going to get in the way of his appreciation of wine.
* Not technically true, as a commenter points out — Andrew hit Homestead, about 10 miles south of the estate. However, even my parent’s house, another 40 miles further north, was trashed and without power for over a month.
Monday November 12, 2007
From Saturday’s bike ride. Despite the scenery, I do not recommend that stretch of Krome Ave.
Tuesday October 9, 2007
Wednesday September 5, 2007
This little guy, the Mexican bromeliad weevil, has been plowing through the air-plant population of the Everglades and residential neighborhoods. Well, now scientists have discovered species of fly in the Honduras that feeds on these particular weevils, and are releasing these flies here to kill off the population. Really interesting glimpses into the local habitat here.
Wednesday August 15, 2007
Environmentalists are up in arms about Cypress mulch. They say coastal Cypress forests are being wiped out to produce it, endangering humans while clearing old-growth forests (yes, the video trots out images of Katrina-devastated New Orleans). Meanwhile, the stores selling the mulch claim that the mulch is created from the parts of trees that can’t be used for lumber, that the trees would be cut down anyway, and that regardless the logging is being done in a sustainable fashion.
Unfortunately, neither side has much credibility. Let’s try to sort this out. A recent AP article on the issue notes that the drop in area of Cypress forests is probably a result of changes in mapping techniques. That can be read to mean that they don’t know whether the forests are contracting (hey, nice work there, forestry dudes). Florida Today has a good article, which noted that most of the good Cypress was cut down over a hundred years ago anyway (go read — it’s the best overview of the issue).
The commonsense presumption is that if loggers are planting Cypress as fast as they’re cutting them down, everything should be fine (this could be ensured, btw, by strictly limiting the area they’re allowed to log). Are they? This strikes me as a good opportunity for an enterprising young journalist — we need some real answers.
I did my own investigation down at Home Depot, and sure enough, Cypress mulch is cheaper then other options. $1.67 gets you a 2-cubic-foot bag, vs. $2 for “Red Mulch,” $2.57 for Pine Bark nugget mulch, $2.95 for Eucalyptus mulch, $4.99 for fancy chemical-treated stuff. The Eucalyptus stuff makes pretty strong “Environmentally friendly / produced from plantation growth,” claims. If you’re covering 100 square feet, it’ll cost you an extra $12 over the Cypress stuff, so if you’re concerned about the environment it shouldn’t be a big deal to error on the side of caution. Real answers would be welcome, however.
Tuesday August 7, 2007
Yikes!: Gus and Michelle bought themselves a kayak, and on their maiden voyage were
attacked startled by a 7-food crocodile. A pants-browning experience.
Thursday August 2, 2007
Tuesday July 31, 2007
“It appears that males seek females in the spring by following scent trails, so park biologists, along with other scientists, are testing whether females — with radio transmitters inserted into their body cavities — can serve as ‘Judas snakes,’ a living lure for mate-seeking males.” — The New York Times on fighting the growing Python infestation in the Everglades.
Monday July 16, 2007
A Ghost Orchid (pivotal in “The Orchid Thief” and “Adaptation”) has been found in Florida. Suprisingly interesting story, with a picture.
Wednesday July 11, 2007
WHL visited Flagler Memorial Island Monday, and found it a mess. “Sadly it is in poor condition and the beach had piles of trash and overflowing garbage cans.”
Sounds like sanitation needs to do a better job of maintaining the island, but first it needs to be brought back to some semblance of normalcy. To that end, ECOMB is having a Flagler Monument Island Clean-up volunteer event on the morning of Saturday, July 21. Volunteers needed! Help your city! Meet people and have fun while doing a good deed! All that; please register ahead of time so they know how many people to expect.
Wednesday May 23, 2007
Giant Harlequin Beetle found on cargo ship. A few things about this. I understand that there’s a real threat if these insects establish a foothold here — it turns out they burrow into mango trees, killing them — but mainly it’s just sort of cool that a giant beetle is on the news. Also, why does it look like they sentenced him to death by hanging?
Wednesday May 16, 2007
Miami Fever strikes again. Link goes to big photo, and here is a guy on a bicycle holding his cock.
Tuesday April 10, 2007
Manatees are about to be reclassified from ‘endangered’ to ‘threatened’, but the change does not bring any changes in regulations such as boat speeds, so let’s not freak out. While populations in South-eastern Florida may be declining, the ‘endangered’ status is specifically supposed to mean that a species is on the verge of extinction. To avoid diluting the term we have to be willing to re-classify species when their situations improve.
Tuesday March 13, 2007
It wasn’t always this way, but Miami-Dade has an abysmal tree canopy. The usual scapegoats are Hurricane Andrew and the Citrus Canker eradication program, but the former was 15 years ago, and the latter included cash reimbursements, so the more likely culprit is neglect and apathy. County-wide, the tree canopy is somewhere around 10% (the equivalent of 5 large trees per acre), one of the worst in the nation.
Now comes the City of Miami’s Tree Master Plan, proposed by Manny Diaz in February. I got a copy, and I also talked to Stephanie N. Grindell, the City’s director of Public Works, who had a hand in writing the plan. Here are the highlights:
- The goal is to have 30% tree canopy coverage by 2020
- The city spends up to $1,000 per tree for planting and first-year maintenance, which is why public/private partnerships are the great hope of the plan
- The study aspect: American Forests will conduct a study for the city and county to determine exactly what we have now, and where it’s headed (they’ll look at historical satellite images from 1995, 2001, and 2006)
- The tracking aspect: each new tree planted will be recorded
- The marketing aspect: public service announcements and “community forester workshops” will encourage public tree planting
- Two words: “hurricane horticulture” (translation: plant native tree species that are resistant to strong winds)
- There is something called an Urban Forestry Working Group, a subset of the Miami Green Commission, which worked with city staff in creating the plan
- A Tree Trust Fund was established in 2004, but is just now really being implemented. The fund has $638,000, and 80% of it is supposed to be used annually on tree replacement (money from the fund comes from tree-related code violation fines)
- The city will hire a code-enforcement officer focusing only on tree-related issues
- They’ll also have certified arborists supervising plantings and other projects
But yadda-yadda — here’s the whole plan (.doc) for those interested. And now for the bad news. First of all, the plan uses wishy-washy language throughout. Not “the city will have 30% tree canopy coverage by 2020,” but “The plan . . . will be used as a framework to coordinate efforts to restore and enhance the City’s tree canopy with a goal of a minimum of 30% . . .” (emphasis added). “It is the city’s goal to have a certified arborist . . .” and so on.
Maybe that’s just how public documents are written. What’s worse is that the 30% goal is actually low. American Forests itself recommends 40% coverage for cities everywhere except the dry Southwest (in which we ain’t). And in its two years of existence, 80% of the Tree Trust Fund has not been spent on tree replacement; in fact the program is just now really getting going (Ms. Grindell chuckled when I asked about the plan before explaining).
Don’t get me wrong — it’s great that there’s a plan, and it’s not too late. But it is too little. There’s some indication of City/County partnership in this thing. I say let’s get our new strong county mayor involved, and adapt the plan to the whole county. And let’s set a hard goal, not a soft one. And let’s go for the 40% — flying over Miami in the 1980’s was like flying over a forest (ok, sort of), and it can be like that again.
Thanks to Steve for the American Forests link.
Wednesday January 17, 2007
I saw this while working on a series of photos of houses in Morningside. A crazy tree covered with huge flowers that hang straight down. The hedge around the house was blooming, too, with big flytrap-looking flowers.
Tuesday January 16, 2007
Monday November 13, 2006
We’re on year 2 of a strange blue-green algae infestation of Biscayne Bay. Algae is an important part of the ecosystem, providing food for microscopic animals. But when it goes wild like this, it disturbs the balance of the whole ecosystem. Light doesn’t get down to the grasses that live on the Bay’s bottom, so they start to die off. Then the crabs and fish that eat the grasses start to die. Before long, you could end up with a dead zone kind of like they’ve got in the Gulf of Mexico.
What’s causing the bloom? Well, algae feed on phosphorous, so the short answer is that it’s an increase in the levels of the big-P in the bay. How’d it get there? Check out an Appendix to a South Florida Water Management District report [PDF link; here is a text version] looks at that question. They’re sure it’s a combination of factors, but seem to settle on a sort of combination C-111/Wilma theory.
It goes like this: the C-111 collects water from around Florida City and dumps it in the bay. Normally, no problem. But “hurricane disturbances” last year caused a whole lot of that water to flow all at once last year. Right after that is when phosphorous levels, and the algae, first went wild. Normally, the cold weather of the winter would have killed the algae off, and indeed it did help. But when they did some tests in June and July of this year, the levels were back up. Not good.
Oh, and where’s the phosphorous coming from? Scroll to the bottom of this page and it’ll start to make sense: “The C-111 canal drains from north to south through an intensely-cultivated agricultural area between Homestead, Florida and Everglades National Park.” That’s right, el azúcar grande. Thanks again, guys!
Disclaimer: The photo above may or may not be related to the current algae bloom. I am not a scientist, and I don’t know shit about shit. I love sugar, especially the cheap, delicious, bleached kind. Yum!
Tuesday November 7, 2006
Pictures of Hercules, a half-ton liger at
Metrozoo The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species, supposedly in Miami Myrtle Beach. More info way down in this interview.
Thursday October 26, 2006
Two cool things happening tonight: At the Wolfsonian,
Go Native!: Ideas to Make Your Garden a Natural Habitat — landscape architect Raymond Jungles (ha!) runs through native species suitable landscaping, and shows some recent projects done native style. At the MAC, Dan fucking Grahm. 8 pm. Update: Grahm was great. A true believer in the power of [old-school] video technology to bring people together.
Friday October 20, 2006
Thursday October 12, 2006
“The South Miami-Dade Watershed Study has been an ongoing process to determine the course for growth over the next 50 years. The Infrastructure and Land Use Committee (INLUC) of the County Commission will be present and your voice and attendance is vital to promote sound results that will impact future development and conservation.” A public workshop will be held tomorrow, October 13, from 9:30 am to 2pm. Go to Greener Miami to read how and why to participate.
Wednesday October 11, 2006
10,000 Killer Bees found in ceiling of Miami apartment. Is this for real? It’s an Orlando station.
Friday October 6, 2006
The full moon hits Saturday night. Govern yourselves accordingly.
Thursday October 5, 2006
Python eats aligator and pops: the one year aniversary. Good times.
Friday September 29, 2006
A cute, if somewhat nonsensical, ink drawing from The Everglades Invade the City, an installation by Edwin Villasmil and Elba Martínez, which runs through February 28. From the press release:
Villasmil and Martinez are artists, environmental activists and educators. For the past two years, they have researched the Everglades through our library system and documented their findings through art. The result – a fairytale world of line drawings, sculptural installations and graphic-novel style storytelling that parallels Marjory Stoneman Douglas’ River of Grass and recounts the natural, social, and cultural history of the Everglades. Their goal is to investigate the relationship between art, society and nature, and to create awareness of the need to protect our natural resources.
Call 305.375.5048 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, ‘cause this is the closest thing to a web page about it. It’s at the West Dade Regional Library, 9445 Coral Way, way out here. Make this my default location? Oh yeah, babe.
Tuesday September 26, 2006
Greener Miami has information about the Everglades Skyway, a proposed 11 mile elevated highway which would allow the water to flow the way nature intended.
You’ll have to take my word for it, but this is the ocean, photographed around 5am this morning, low tide. The light bands toward the bottom are the surf breaking on the beach, the little light in the upper right is a ship on the horizon.
No, nobody was swimming in the ocean tonight. It would be cool to go, though. But first, let’s get the shark thing out of the way. Here is the information on shark attacks in Florida. You can have it by month (September leads!), time of day (11am – 7 pm leads, but of course that’s when the most people are in the water!), victim activity (surfing leads, swimming #2: a ‘duh’ might be in order), or by county. That last one is reassuring, at least: total number of shark attacks since 1884? 10. Fatalities? 1, and that was in 1961. So there it is: swimming in the ocean at night is not dangerous, not in Miami.
And now for some links. 12 people want to swim in the ocean at night. Inky Circus has some stuff about ocean phosphorescence, when the ocean produces light in response to being disturbed. (She also transitions nicely away from the shark issue.) Jen saw the same thing in Costa Rica. Does that happen here?
And there you have it: the ultimate Tuesday-morning throwaway post.
Update: Yes, that is a photograph. If you see a black rectangle, your options are (1) adjust your monitor (2) join the commenters in making fun of me.
Wednesday September 20, 2006
In the field next to where the old Miami Beach library used to be, by the Bass Art Museum, there are these amazing huge old trees. People often hang out under them, reading, and generally frolicking. A couple of weekends ago I was one of those people, and took this photo of one the weird pods that fall off the trees (here is the other part; there was also a white, fleshy bit—it’s amazing what grows in the tropics during the summer wet season). Anyone know what these are called?
Also, after much fiddling and experimentation, I have what I believe to be working links to add CM articles (just the ones with titles) to del.icio.us and Digg, for those who like to mess with those services. It makes me feel like I have a real blog. Would someone let me know whether they work (hint: experiment with an article you actually think is worth linking to; ie not this one)? I’m also trying to get my tags (still experimental for now) to work with Technorati tags. Any other services anyone uses that I might should try to set up?
Tuesday August 15, 2006
10 People To Spend Their Afterlife As An Artificial Reef. Seriously. The company is Eternal Reefs, and they’ve been doing this a long time. They cremate you, mix your ashes in with a couple of hundred pounds of concrete, and sink you off the coast of wherever you want. No prices on the web site, unfortunately.
Sunday June 18, 2006
Ok, it’s the trailer for Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth [Crazy Flash site warning]. Well,
Conductor Songuacassal noticed something peculiar about this clip. There’s a section (about three quarters through the video) where they show the effects of rising sea levels on various parts of the world, including Florida. You’ve heard it all before, and of course it means that your condo is going to be worth much less then it is now. But so Conductor Songuacassal watched that part of the clip very closely, and he caught something strange. It seems that as the rest of South Florida sinks underwater, a little almond-shaped blob conspicuously stays above sea level in the video. Here are the two stills:
See it? Well,
Conductor Songuacassal doesn’t like Al Gore, and he suspects some weird deliberate motive for the blob:
This “used to be next President” now wants us to believe that Miami will conveniently become an island? . . . This inconvenient truth is more like a inconvenient grudge that Gore seems unable to shake.
Having recently seen a A Climate of Fear, I’m a little skeptical of this view. Still, the little blob seems improbable . . . is there some sort of hill there that we don’t know about? And just where is that spot, anyway? Well, I spent some time staring at Google Maps and the two stills, and I honestly am not sure. It looks like west Broward to me, but I can’t say for sure.
Then I find this map. It shows a more detailed view of Florida’s coastline after a 3-meter increase in sea level. For my money, I see a little almond-shaped blob just under the ‘e’ in ‘Fort Lauderdale’ that remains dry. It seems to correspond in position to the blob in Gore’s video, though I’m not sure the sizes match. But video is funny that way, with shapes sometimes blooming a little (plus, we’re dealing with a timeline).
Still, I’m not aware of a higher-elevation area in west Broward, or anywhere close to the weird little dry blob. Anyone know what’s going on here? I’m sure it’s nothing, right?
Sunday June 11, 2006
Carl Hiaasen on the removal of manatees from the endangered species list. “Last year, 396 manatees — more than 10 percent of the estimated population — died. Of those, only 81 fatalities were classified as natural.”
Friday May 26, 2006
I happened to be back down in Fairchild again this week. The Chihuly made a little more of an impression this time, but Audrey III stole the show. Audrey is a Amorphophallus titanum, a bizarre flowering plant of which most lives underground. Once a year (at the most, sometimes once a decade), it produces a gigantic flower, which grows practically overnight and lasts just a few days (it then produces a single gigantic leaf). You can see that when we were there, the flower was already wilting, and the “corpse” smell was gone. It’s fun, because these plants are obviously extremely rare, and Fairchild has one of the really spectacular ones: it grew to over 7 feet: the same height as Shaq!
Here is a picture of it in full bloom, taken on May 21 (my picture is from the 23rd), and Here is a link to Fairchild’s Audry blog. Oh, and here is a link to my flickr set from the visit, and though it’s mostly pictures of signs, I do have a nice one of a molting lizard.
Tuesday May 23, 2006
You know, and I was just about to start feeling bad for Winn-Dixie. First the bankruptcy and all the closed stores, then the unfortunate needle incident. But maybe they’ve had it coming: turns out the WD is rolling with lobster poachers. Tsk, tsk!
Saturday May 20, 2006
Frances Nash goes diving. Making underwater photography look easy, obvious, and cheap!
Tuesday May 16, 2006
Image by Frances Nash
Now don’t get any ideas – this isn’t going to be one of those we’ve been eating them for decades, it’s a wonder they haven’t started eating us sooner type of things. But what’s really going on with all these alligator attacks? Look. Gators have brains the size of a pea. They’re running on some ancient-ass instinctual behavior, and they’re designed to live in the swamp, not in a lake by some dumb UDB-pushing cookie-cutter development (actually, human beings aren’t designed to live like that, either, but I don’t want to digress). What’s more, they’re cold blooded, kind of like a solar panel – the warmer it is, the more energy they have to move around, and the more they have to eat.
But of course the alligators aren’t the problem – the problem is people. Remember the guy from Grizzly Man? He thought he was going to be friends with bears, and ended up getting his brain snacked on by a grizzly while his girlfriend watched. Well, that’s the same thing that’s happening for our whole species with the alligators. The solution is simple: stay the hell away from the gators, and especially don’t feed them. (When gators get used to being around people (and esp. if they associate us with food), the possibility of taking a bite out of our ass becomes to look pretty attractive to a hungry one.)
The problem with this approach is that everyone has to do it for it to work. Good luck there. Also, all the alligators that have already gotten used to people are not going to un-learn shit. So my alternate suggestion is to watch your ass. Forget the zig-zag running thing – it’s a myth (alligators don’t chase people). The key is to just stay the hell away from them. If you’re attacked, pound the crap out of their snout and eyes. Yikes. All that and more in this fun video:
Thursday May 4, 2006
West down Tamiami Trail, past all the airboat rides, past the Miccosukee casino and village, and past Shark Valley (where Frances recently went) lies Big Cypress National Preserve. A big park ranger station/visitor center has a gift shop (with lots of interesting books, actually), camp ground, and a little boardwalk where you can see lots of alligators. This is halfway to Naples, and many tourists just make a pit stop on their way cross-coast.
The dry season is a good time to visit, because hiking around the station without wading through the actual marsh is possible. Here is a trail that leads west from the station. There were thousands of dragonflies and butterflies (no mosquitoes).
The trees thicken, and get taller; this is the inside of a hammock, sort of an island of trees. In some sections, the ground was covered with tinny sage plants. In others, there were clumps of delicate little orchids.
In the center of the hammock there’s a little pool (reduced to muck now). The word “bog” comes to mind. A wrong step here can sink you into some shoe-loosing mud.
All manner of beautiful little flowers bloom.
There are occasional signs of recent fires. Regular burning is part of the ecosystem, keeping the trees in check, allowing the smaller plants to thrive, and redistributing nutrients.
This is another spot. Yes, there are gators everywhere. No, I didn’t photograph them. And yes, they leave people alone.
Majestic photos, for sale by the pound! Note the eerie blue light coming in from the outside.
Further down the road back, a memorial to those who perished on ValuJet flight 592, May 11, 1996.
Thursday April 27, 2006
I haven’t seen these guys on the beach lately, but Some cranky guy did. My advice is to stay the hell out of the water when they’re around (usually on and after a windy day), because they sting like a mother. More on Wikipedia, including the tidbit that hot water is the best treatment for the pain.
Wednesday April 12, 2006
While digging around in the Everglades, working on a filter marsh, builders came across a 2-foot jaw bone.
The bone belonged to a Giant Sloth, the sort of which regularly roamed Florida about 12,000 years ago. Now, this may not be anything too far from the ordinary, but I’d say it’s pretty damn cool. This thing was the size of an elephant – the biggest mammal ever to have walked the earth. It was one of the animals that lived in North America when humans first spread across the continent, along with saber-tooth tigers, mastodons, and whatnot. Somehow, these bones survived in the everglades muck all these thousands of years.
Researchers from the University of Florida will poke around the site a little more before it gets covered with water for the filter marsh thing (part of the much delayed, $7.8 billion Everglades Restoration Project, natch). Whatever other animal parts there may be will stay there.
For extra credit, find the site on Google Maps. Keep in mind that the site is in the Southeastern part of Hendry County, and it’s 2,000 acres, probably accessible by a road of some sort . . . go to it!
Friday March 31, 2006
- Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden’s International Orchid Festival.
- At the Art and Culture Center, Elisa Monte Dance.
- At MAC, Al Otro Lado a 66 minute film from Mexico, about a 23 year old drug trafficker with a talent for composing “corridos” – ballads about the narcotics underworld and illegal immigrant life.
- You might live under a rock. Otherwise you’d know that the Alvin Ailey Dance Company is in town.
- Note to self: two more weekends to see the shows at MoCA.
- Mozart’s Mass in C minor was unfinished when he died. Now, it’s been “reconstructed and completed” from new material found by Mozart scholars, which I’m totally not down with. Nonetheless, you can expose yourself to the results Sunday.
- Huh? The Go-Gos??
- Monday, free: “join the fellows of the New World Symphony for an evening of learning and lively discussion about the elements which shape the world of classical music.” It sounds lame, but if my experience with Musicians’ Forum is any indication, it won’t be.
Hey: Also, I’m working on something about the UM Janitor strike. Anyone have any thoughts, e-mail me; think of it like comments in reverse. In particular, I want to get my hands on something called “Why the Protest Continues: It’s All About Democracy.”