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Friday, May 25, 2018
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Steve Otto Columns

Otto: Starting the day with the news blues

At least hump day has that camel meandering through the office making us all laugh.

Today has nothing. I’m not even sure I want to get out of bed.

The Frau likes to turn the news on while we’re still lying there, trying to ignore the dogs with their noses at the end of the bed who are ready to go outside, to see if it’s going to rain or the world is going to end and she won’t have to cook ... things like that.

This morning began with a politician explaining to a talking head on the tube why the government wasn’t going to shut down and then going on to babble about why it might anyhow. He didn’t seem to care whether Congress has piled the entire country into Thelma and Louise’s back seat and headed for the cliff.

Then they started talking about something called Biggert-Waters. For some reason I thought they were talking about floods in Colorado and then it dawned on me Biggert-Waters is about flood insurance and it means our flood insurance could go up by as much as 25 percent a year and drive us through the clouds of love bugs on Interstate 75 out of Florida.

I pulled the covers over and wormed deeper into the bed as the news went on to mass murders everywhere from Kenya to the Washington Navy Yard.

At least there was sports to look forward to this weekend. There was USF, recently named the worst football team in the country in one story, about to play the fifth-ranked Miami Hurricanes. I dug deeper and looked for another pillow to cover my head before they moved on to the Sunday games and the Bucs and why their franchise quarterback is now out.


Speaking of the Bucs, which we try not to do too often in this corner, the Frau called me over to where she was coupon clipping on the Internet to show me that Groupon had a deal for tickets to this weekend’s game with Arizona.

Wasn’t there a time not too long ago when there was a waiting list 3 miles long for tickets? Now they were on Groupon, right next to ads for hang-gliding, radio-frequency skin tightening and toenail-fungus removal.

At least we still have the Rays, who at last word had not been moved to Charlotte or Omaha, that announcement likely coming after they move into the playoffs.


A lot of mail about last week’s column on the process used to evaluate Hillsborough school Superintendent MaryEllen Elia.

Related was this one from Tom Wilson, who writes, “I enjoyed your column and its discussion of Superintendent Elia’s difficult job. I retired from the district last year. ... I was moved to write by your reference to the ‘very logistics of just moving tens of thousands of children around the district safely every day.’ I went to school in South Bend, Indiana, in the 1960s and we did not have school buses. Students also were not allowed to drive a car to school. Most families only had one car. Parents sometimes drove us, but the city bus was more common (or walking). ... School buses in our part of the country were primarily for the rural schools. ... Magnet schools will probably always need busing but when you look at the city buses, often going many miles to carry three or four people, it certainly looks like a couple dozen schoolchildren could jump on board.”

Yeah, in theory it sounds good, but the idea is the school bus driver is supposed to have some responsibility for the kids. These days, who is going to protect regular passengers from those same kids?

Finally, regular contributor Teacher Joe sent in a list of “Lexiphiles.”

I don’t like to encourage this guy, but some aren’t too bad, such as:

“When fish are in schools they sometimes take Debate.”

See what I mean? How about “When the smog lifts in Los Angeles, U.C.L.A.”

OK, one more ... “Did you hear about the fellow whose whole left side was cut off? He’s all right now.”

Can’t stop ... “Show me a piano falling down a mineshaft and I’ll show you A-flat miner.”

That’s it ... last one ... “When you’ve seen one shopping center you’ve seen a mall.”

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