This week America will install Donald Trump as our 45th president. He will begin what is perhaps the toughest job on earth. Regardless of whether or not we voted for him, the least any citizen can do is to wish him well.
A first step would be for every one of us to tweet him: “Good luck, sir!” However, such an avalanche of computer-based messages would surely make the World Wide Web collapse. Among other things, this would screw up Vladimir Putin’s hacking network and might cause him to invade Latvia in retaliation, thus launching a nuclear war and the end of civilization as we know it. So scrub that idea about the tweet.
There is standard progression in the world where journalism and politics intersect. After years of reporting and watching newsrooms shrink, many journalists go to work for the governments they covered, or for an elected official they covered, or for an organization they covered and admire.
A few who stay in journalism rise in the ranks to write columns or editorials, where they are free to express the opinions they like to believe they had kept to themselves.
I’ve always enjoyed novels and movies that involved espionage, secret codes, undercover heroes and despicable interrogators who snarled “Vee haff vays to make you talk!” at captives bound with rope and tape. But as Year 2017 gets underway a troubled thought comes to my mind: aren’t we all trapped in a world of espionage? And most of us are not even spies.
Think about it. When you step outside your home each day, it’s possible, or even likely, that a camera may be recording your every move, plus your car’s license number, make and model. If you drive downtown for a mile, 16 cameras will have tracked you. When you have lunch with your bookie, restaurant cameras will record what you eat, how many drinks you have, and the payoff envelope your bookie handed you during dessert. Many of the cameras aimed at you won’t even belong to government agencies. Today virtually everyone owns a cellphone, iPhone or similar instruments capable of taking pictures of you and me, even if we don’t want them to.
Let’s say you’re a teenager and you do something stupid. I know, hard to believe, right?
Maybe you get caught with a small amount of pot, or you’re in the wrong place when a fight breaks out. Maybe you’re out with the guys and ended up someplace you shouldn’t, or you committed a petty theft.
Do you know who George Michael was? I don’t, or didn’t, until a few days ago when he suddenly died.
His departing set off a wave of hysteria and mourning around the world among his many fans. He was a Brit singer, dancer, showman, handsome straight/gay man, rebel. If you paid the slightest attention to popular music in the 1980s and ’90s you surely knew of George Michael.
At age 81, the journalist, historian, and feminist icon Susan Brownmiller has lost none of the youthful mix of outrage and optimism that fueled the four furious years of research and reporting that became “Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape.”
The highly influential tome was front-page news when first published in 1975.
Last April, in a news release by his office after signing HB-7099, Gov. Rick Scott bragged, “Over the past two years, Florida has cut more than $1 billion in taxes.” What a happy day that must have been for the governor.
He has never met a tax he wouldn’t cut or gut, and that bill was a continuation of the theme. It included the permanent elimination of the sales tax on manufacturing machinery and a three-day sales tax holiday for back-to-school stuff.
In this fair land of ours dwell many thousands of couples that are seldom praised or recognized for their quiet achievements. I'm speaking of those men and women who, for any number of reasons, stay together for decades or a lifetime while remaining faithful and in love, but who choose never to get married.
These people may not be persecuted or ostracized, but they are well outside what for many years has been the idealized norm for couples. That is, after two people meet, they talk, go out on dates, hold hands, have or don't have sex, talk about the future, weigh the odds and probabilities of what marriage might mean, but then finally are joined together at a happy (let's hope) wedding.
Do The Ripe Thing blood drive Select Sweet Tomatoes restaurants will sponsor a Do The Ripe Thing blood drive on Monday, Jan. 23, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Donors can share their power to save lives by giving blood and enjoy a $10 Sweet Tomatoes gift card. For a list of participating Sweet Tomatoes locations, visit oneblood.org/sweettomatoes or call 888-936-6283.
Appointments will be honored and walk-ins are welcome. All donors also will receive a wellness check-up of blood pressure, pulse, temperature and iron count, including a cholesterol screening. Generally healthy people age 16 or older who weigh at least 110 pounds can donate blood. Photo ID is required. To learn more about the importance of blood donation and how donors can target the power of their blood type, visit oneblood.org.
Calibrate: The Worship Team Event Tour CLEARWATER – Tampa Bay will be one of three national stops on the Calibrate: The Worship Team Event Tour Jan. 23, featuring Mark Hall of Casting Crowns, Laura Story, Mark Lee of Third Day, Zach Williams, Jason Ingram and Caleb Miller.
This is a one-day conference for worship teams around Tampa Bay and beyond to learn and be challenged from some of the biggest names in worship music. Often times worship teams in churches give and give to their congregations, but don’t find opportunities to gain and grow as a community.
The conference will take place Monday, Jan. 23, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Countryside Christian Center, 1850 N. McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater. Doors open at 8 a.m.
Worship teams will have an opportunity to hear from, and be taught by, the men and women who write many of the songs they sing week after week in their churches. Mark Hall and Casting Crowns have been producing and leading worship for many years, while Zach Williams, with his hit song “Chain Breaker,” is a newer artist who will give a fresh view to leaders.
Pinellas Park Garden Club meeting PINELLAS PARK – The Pinellas Park Garden Club will meet Monday, Jan. 23, 10 a.m., at Park Station, 5851 Park Blvd.
This month’s guest speaker will discuss orchids, including potting them, fertilizing and caring for them. There will also be some orchids for sale. Attendees are also encouraged to bring in a small plant for a raffle. For more information, email email@example.com.
Tai Chi and Qigong classes ST. PETE BEACH – Tai Chi and Qigong classes are presented Mondays, 11 a.m.; and Thursdays, 12:30 p.m., at the St. Pete Beach Community Center, 7701 Boca Ciega Drive, St. Pete Beach.
This class is designed to reduce stress, inflammation and disease associated with stress, as well as improve postural alignment and flexibility. The class combines specific movements, coordinated breathing and a calm focused mind used in traditional Chinese medicine, Tai Chi and Qigong practices that will improve health, vitality and longevity.
No prior experience is necessary. The cost is $5 for adults or free for SilverSneakers. Visit www.spbrec.com or call 727-363-9245 for more information.
Tampa Bay Senior Expo ST. PETERSBURG – More than 50 exhibitors will be on hand Monday, Jan. 23, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., for the Tampa Bay Senior Expo at the Coliseum, 535 Fourth Ave. N., St. Petersburg. Admission is free and no preregistration is required.
Attendees will be able to meet local professionals to learn how to live better, longer and happier. Information will be provided on the latest in alternative medicine, nutrition, organic foods, financial planning and home improvement, among other topics.
Ukulele society workshop SAFETY HABOR – The Tampa Bay Ukulele Society will host a workshop at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 23 at Safety Harbor Library. For more information, contact 727-724-1525, ext. 4107, or visit www.SafetyHarborLibrary.com.
AARP Seminole chapter lunch meeting SEMINOLE – The AARP Seminole chapter will host Ernie Bach, executive director of the Florida Silver Haired Legislature, at its lunch meeting Tuesday, Jan. 24, noon, at Freedom Square’s Roskamp Auditorium, 10800 Johnson Blvd. For more information, call Kathleen Mosher at 727-393-0561 or FSHL at 727-585-1111.
Alzheimer’s support group LARGO – Prince of Peace Lutheran Church and Ruth’s Promise Adult day program are sponsoring a Practical Grace in Alzheimer’s support group, meeting fourth Tuesdays, 9:30 a.m., in the Prince of Peace Chapel, 455 Missouri Ave.
The group will next meet Tuesday, April 26.
Practical Grace in Alzheimer’s Care is a support system designed by Dr. Cate McCarty, dementia coach, to close the gap between maintaining meaningful faith membership while navigating Alzheimer’s and related dementias. As a follow-up to the recent Practical Grace seminar at Prince of Peace, Ruth’s Promise has expanded their ministry to offer this support group to Alzheimer’s caregivers.
The adult day program is available for respite during the meeting provided caregivers.