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Otto: Thoughts on yellow, green, sponsors

By Steve Otto
Published: May 16, 2014 Updated: May 16, 2014 at 08:35 AM

Florida Department of Transportation officials say they are puzzled by the 10-mile-long stretch of yellow paint on Interstate 4 headed east out of town.

I personally checked out the yellow paint this week, driving out with the legendary John Germany to Fred’s great farmers market restaurant in Plant City, where you can load up on okra and tomatoes over rice and the best fried green tomatoes in America.

Germany, a founder of the Holland & Knight law firm and the guy whose name is on our downtown Tampa library, is a Plant City native and the fellow you want along when you go into a place like Fred’s. At 91 years young, he attributes his youthful appearance and energy to those tomatoes.

Anyhow, we both were puzzled by the yellow streak on I-4. It might have been understandable if it went all the way to Tallahassee, where the Legislature just wound up another year, but it doesn’t.

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When I saw this next story I thought it was another example of excess in the university system. But after doing some research I learned it is fairly typical.

Back in March the University of Florida invited Jonah Peretti to speak on campus. Peretti is one of the gurus of the online age and is co-founder of the Huffington Post and BuzzFeed.

In exchange for a 45-minute speech and 15 minutes of Q&A, the university paid him $40,000 plus “unrestricted airfare, hotel accommodations, transportation and meals.”

That sounded like a lot of money.

I scouted around, and the truth is that speakers at universities can draw in some big bucks, occasionally going into six figures. I have no idea what Peretti told his Gator audience, but I hope they were listening.

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The Nielsen people released results of a survey this week, and it’s unlikely anybody is surprised that there are more commercials than ever on TV.

There now are an average of 14 minutes and 15 seconds of commercials in an hour of broadcast television, according to Nielsen. If you watch cable it’s even worse: The average is 15 minutes and 38 seconds.

I think the problem is that many of the commercials are pitches for miracle drugs, and it takes a long time to run through side effects that range from growing warts to death.

They used to have it just about right. Commercial breaks were long enough to make it to the fridge or the bathroom and get back to the tube as the last commercial ended.

Now you have time to make a sandwich, heat some leftovers in the microwave or even head over to the computer and do a little work before your show returns.

Nielsen adds that Sunday remains the most popular night, largely because of the series “The Walking Dead,” which is what happens if you watch an entire commercial break.

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