Let’s go to Brandon (Florida)

Our 8-year-old ran out of books to read on our recent excursion around the Florida Free State. Google Maps showed us that the most convenient bookstores between Lakeland and Tampa were in… Brandon, where the hated anti-#Science governor recently went to sign an anti-#Science law passed by the anti-#Science legislature.

According to Wikipedia, Brandon, FL is merely an unincorporated part of a county, i.e., not an actual city or town. It is home to a huge shopping mall, a bunch of strip malls, various components of the health care industry, and some car dealers. For the COVID-averse, the Westfield Mall has an outdoor dining area:

If you’re concerned that you’re not sufficiently obese for SARS-CoV-2 to get a good grip on you, you can get an entire pint of Cinnabon frosting inside the mall. Also a hijab, if you’re not satisfied with Is the face mask the Church of Shutdown’s hijab?

(It was much more common to see covered women, including in full burqas, in the Tampa area compared to in Jupiter/Palm Beach.)

The LEGO store in the mall had a huge stack of “Everyone is Awesome” rainbow kits near the register. The web site says “The new LEGO Everyone is Awesome set celebrates positivity and kindness in our families, our communities and our world.” and contains an inspirational story from the designer, Matthew Ashton: “Being LGBTQIA+ myself, I knew I needed to step up to the plate and make a real statement about love and inclusivity, and generally spread some LEGO® love to everybody who needs it. Children are our role models and they welcome everyone, no matter their background. … Being quite an effeminate kid, I was constantly told by different adults around me what I should and shouldn’t play with, that I needed to behave like a ‘real boy’ and to toughen up. I was dissuaded from doing the things that came most naturally to me. … I was actually fine with all the kids at school. … this set is not just for the LGBTQIA+ community. It’s for all of the allies – parents, siblings, friends, schoolmates, colleagues etc. – out there as well.”

If you need some body shape inspiration before hitting the food court, the mall includes a manatee sculpture:

Inconsistent with the town’s status as the World Center of Deplorability (not only in Florida, but also named “Brandon”), there is apparently a high demand for Alfa Romeos:

22 thoughts on “Let’s go to Brandon (Florida)

    • Senorpablo: Thanks for the link. The insurance executive says ““We are seeing, right now, the highest death rates we have seen in the history of this business…” By “right now” I’m assuming that he means right now. He talks about “third quarter” and “fourth quarter”, by which I think he means of 2021. Given that nearly every vulnerable person in the U.S. was vaccinated prior to Q3 2021 (see https://www.forbes.com/sites/alisondurkee/2021/11/11/stunning-vaccine-stat-985-of-us-seniors-have-had-shot/?sh=783c40315777 ), this is not a great advertisement for the power of COVID-19 vaccines as a public health measure.


      is from December 2021 and says “Fortunately for life insurance buyers, Covid has not led to increases in term life insurance prices. The life insurance price index from Policygenius hasn’t shown significant price changes from January 2021 to now, and only very small changes during the year.”

      I’m not sure what to make of this guy’s statement. Deaths are up 40%, but rates are actually trending down slightly? How can that make business sense?

    • If any of the purported increase in deaths is due to COVID-19, it is tough to understand why the insurance companies don’t have different rates for the vaccinated and unvaccinated.

      Science tells us that only the unvaccinated are at risk of dying from COVID-19 (see https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/16/health/us-coronavirus-friday/index.html “This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during Friday’s White House Covid-19 briefing.).

    • It is hard to make sense of this:

      “Most of the claims for deaths being filed are not classified as COVID-19 deaths, Davison said.”

      So if the third and fourth quarters of 2021 have the highest rise, that would coincide with the time when vaccines were widely available to the affected age groups.

      It’s a pity that no one gives out clear information. What was the classification? Fentanyl abuse due to lockdown depression? Myocarditis due to vaccine injuries?

    • Philg – you’ve made many assertions based on the premise that covid, the behaviors of, and people it effects are homogenous. Sweden or Florida vs elsewhere. Pre and post vaccine. You draw the conclusion that because a large portion of American’s are vaccinated now, and people are still dying, that the vaccine doesn’t work. Isn’t that an overly simplistic analysis? Even if it’s in jest, isn’t it kind of ludicrous? Don’t you fail to consider that there are many moving parts to this? The conclusion might be valid if the only difference was vaccination status. But the reality is that our behaviors have changed drastically after vaccines started rolling out, and the virus has mutated to be 3-10x more transmissible. Kids are back in school, people have relaxed their behaviors. This disease seems to be self regulating to some extent. Peoples behavior change over time due to their own shifting risk assessment, or by government mandates, etc. All of these factors produce the massive waves in metrics. It wouldn’t be as silly to say vaccines don’t work if the metrics were otherwise straight lines over time.

      I’m not sure life insurance rates are a great measure of the effects of covid. If you consider long term policies, where people are paying from the age of 30 onwards, and the most at risk people are closest in age to the inevitable payout date anyhow, say age 78, is a few year pandemic going to move the needle much? People are guaranteed to die. Moving the payout date up a few years for some fraction of the pool doesn’t seem like it would have a huge impact. Also, I wonder if folks with life insurance are a good sampling of American society? Presumably, people with life insurance might represent a class of people who live longer and have better health care generally, ie people who can afford it. Finally, are insurance companies even geared to make such short term pricing analysis and modifications? Has there ever been a similar mass death event like this pandemic in modern history? Is there any urgency for them to do this analysis quickly–can’t they just increase prices later on when the dust settles to retroactively right the financial pool? It would seem to me that their investments are much more volatile than life expectancy.

    • SenorP: I said “this is not a great advertisement for the power of COVID-19 vaccines as a public health measure”. That’s not quite the same as “the vaccine doesn’t work”. It could work in a lab environment and still be a failure as a “public health measure,” which necessarily must take into account risk compensation such as you describe, e.g., Karen going to Universal during Christmas Week and the formerly vigilant hosting sleepovers. This is, in fact, the point made in https://www.nature.com/articles/s41541-021-00362-z (“Benefit of COVID-19 vaccination accounting for potential risk compensation”).

      Insurance companies are quite nimble! Following some fires, they tried to withdraw from California’s fire-prone areas and had to be ordered to continue offering coverage because Governor Newsom declared an “emergency”. See https://www.insurance.ca.gov/01-consumers/140-catastrophes/wildfirenonrenewalinfo.cfm

    • Senorpablo: The answer to the price increase is in the video link below (not in the correct thread). OneAmerica serves life insurances for employers and will raise premiums for employers in highly unvaccinated areas.

      This is an odd decision, since in the same video the CEO states that many deaths are not tagged as COVID-19, so SuperDeplorables already predict that they will change the premium increases to highly vaccinated areas soon.

    • Philg – The only way the vaccine is a failure is if there is a net loss of life among vaccine recipients. There’s zero data to support that, and a mountain to the contrary.

      Life insurance is hardly similar to fire insurance.

      Anonymous – clearly you’re interpreting the CEO’s statement in the way you prefer, not the way he intended, which is that there are many deaths not attributed to covid which are indeed a result of covid.

      /df – Who can argue with an article attributed to someone called “meep?”

    • Senorpablo: “The only way the vaccine is a failure is if there is a net loss of life among vaccine recipients.”

      Isn’t that a bit of a walk-back from “the vaccines will end the pandemic”? Consider my June 2020 proposal to give Americans a saline injection as a vaccine. That wouldn’t cause a net loss of life among those who got it, unless you count traffic accident deaths on the way to the vaccine sites. So you’re saying that my proposed saline injection vaccine wouldn’t be “a failure”.


  1. I found the original Chamber of Commerce meeting, the goal of which is to increase vaccination rates. The CEO of OneAmerica, the insurance company, speaks at 21:20. The statement about fatalities that are not tagged as COVID-19 is at 34:40 and quite confusing. First he says that they don’t know, then he blames it on “long COVID” complications:


    All in all I’m not too impressed, but it is interesting to see the original sources vs. the newspaper article.

    • Thanks for the video. There is a great section at 30:00 about how every business should require vaccines and the healing value of forced vaccination. The workers are being protected by the vaccines from “falling ill” (unless they become part of the huge surge in deaths that the insurance guy mentions?). But if working in a fully vaccinated environment is completely safe and also extremely gratifying, why aren’t the California tech righteous back on their in-person coding plantations?

  2. Have spent many days in Brandon, you’ve hit the hotspots. I happen to find great joy in the bike lanes along FL-60 where the cars all accelerate to 70mph to get to the next red light and slow down.

  3. This was interesting inre: “Everyone is Awesome” – > “Children are our role models…”

    Think about that for a few seconds.

    I’ve found this to be true among many LGBTQIA+ people I’ve known, particularly gay men. They idolize and idealize children, or more accurately, the childlike state of mind and its purity of not having yet been twisted by the “adult world” of prejudice (meaning, rigid gender and sex roles.) Some of them take this to unbelievable extremes, and I find it fascinating to see that ethos printed on a LEGO product, because until recently LGBTQIA+ men tended to avoid public displays of their idolatry for children. Now it’s right out in the open.

    • It’s also fascinating because it leads naturally to the question: at what age do children start/stop being “role models?” Do you become a role model at breastfeeding and stop when you graduate to solid food? Are you a role model when you successfully complete potty-training but become a boring, regular person when you have your first band try-out?

      I realize that LEGO toys aren’t supposed to be wellsprings of the profound philosophical insight, but if children are our role models, does that explain the behavior of most national-level ambitious politicians? They sure act like children a lot more often these days, it seems. It’s one game after another of “I’ll take my marbles and go home” and “I’ll hold you hostage in my fort” and “nyahh-nyaah-nyaaah-nyaaah I can’t hear you!” and “Tag! You’ve got cooties!” So maybe he’s on to something there.

    • Alex: You raise a good point. When it suits the needs of adults, e.g., in stoking coronapanic, a hospitalized morbidly obese 16-year-old or a 17-year-old is a “child”. But 16-year-olds are notorious for behaving badly, forming cliques, ostracizing those who stand out, etc., and can hardly be considered role models for appropriate adult behavior. The teenagers in the public high school that I attended were certainly not models of tolerance. They would deride someone who wore a disfavored brand of blue jeans, for example. I didn’t try coming out to them as 2SLGBTQQIA+, but I don’t think that I would have gotten a warm reception.

    • @Philg: Yes, that’s exactly what I mean. In high school, I was the first person in our town to carry a laptop computer (a Toshiba T1100 Plus with a Diconix inkjet printer that ran off the parallel port!) around in a big heavy, awkward briefcase and I also shot rifles as part of our competition, state-and-national-championship winning rifle team. I was a late-blooming nerd who enjoyed shooting rifles, so I was about as “weird” as I could possibly be. I wouldn’t have wanted most my peers as “role models.”

      My best role model during that time was my rifle team coach, an exceptional man who was also – interestingly – short in terms of his stature. He was about 5’3″ tall, but he was one of those people who commanded respect without ever having to raise his voice, preternaturally calm, patient and mature, and a fantastic role model. He taught our motley crew of high school kids how to responsibly handle firearms and enjoy themselves while shooting as expert competitors.

      It’s always strange to me when I see people say: “Children are role models.” Children also don’t know very much, and I think it’s a very curious inversion.

    • Alex: In defense of kids, I will say that our 6- and 8-year-olds are, as far as I can tell, untainted by skin color prejudice. Especially now that we’ve moved to a neighborhood where there isn’t any subsidized housing, and therefore skin color cannot be used to estimate someone’s income, they don’t associate any positive or negative characteristics with skin color. On the other hand, they cannot be considered role models unless you believe that starting a massive fight over splitting an item of food or sharing a toy is reasonable.

    • @Philg: That part is true. Kids don’t know racist hatred according to skin color on their own, I agree with that. My younger brother didn’t know Black people were Black until the 2nd grade. One day he came home from school talking about one of the “tan kids” who got sick and threw up in class. We were thinking: “Tan Kid?” Then we realized…

      So that part is accurate. Skin color hatred is taught (and learned, by mistake and inference to externalities!)

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