Black History Month at the Palm Beach County Library

For folks from the Northeast and California who are afraid to move to Florida because of a perceived lack of righteousness, the local Palm Beach County library branch’s displays for Black History Month…

First, in the kids’ area:

It turns out that identifying as “female” is actually Black-adjacent. Here’s a book that was part of the Black History Month display:

Kids are encouraged to engage in a wide range of behaviors that would get them arrested in Florida:

And for adults:

Readers: How are your Black History Month celebrations going?

Full post, including comments

The Heat Stroke World Cup (TM) in Miami 2026?

The mostly corruption-free folks at FIFA say that seven World Cup 2026 matches will be played in Miami (source):

How will this work given that the World Cup is set for JULY? All the games will be at night? They’ll accept a 70 percent player attribution rate due to heat stroke? My bet is that the games are scheduled for 8 pm in Europe, which means 2 pm in Miami. This will maximize TV viewership.

(Miami isn’t actually hotter than many northern cities in July, but the humidity is reliably close to 100 percent. In fact, the New York Times says that Floridians are constantly on the verge of “extreme danger”. See Floridians brave Extreme Danger heat levels (July 2023), for example. And, as a loyal follower of The Science, I wouldn’t pay to sit outdoors on a summer afternoon in Miami and watch soccer, Taylor Swift, or anything else that people pay big $$ to watch. The Formula 1 spectators apparently don’t care. The Miami race is held in May during the hottest hours of the day and sells out.)

Full post, including comments

Claudine Gay won’t be hired by any state-run university in Florida

It’s a good thing that Claudine Gay has a paycheck-for-life from Harvard…. “Florida’s State Board of Education passes rule to ‘permanently prohibit’ DEI at public colleges” (WPTV):

The board said the rule prohibits Florida College System institutions from using state or federal funds to administer programs that “categorize individuals based on race or sex for the purpose of differential or preferential treatment.”

Targeting DEI has been a key talking point of Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state’s education department during his second term in office.

How many people will lose their Victimhood Industry jobs?

The governor also asked Florida’s public colleges and universities in 2023 to report how much money they are spending on DEI. He later said they self-reported at least $34 million.

If we assume a fully loaded cost of $200,000 per year per bureaucrat, that’s 170 DEI experts who will now be looking for jobs in more righteous states.

Who doesn’t like a race-neutral environment?

Meanwhile, Black leaders have pushed back on the initiatives to limit DEI at state colleges, saying DeSantis is playing politics in his pursuit of the Republican presidential nomination.

Some students have expressed worries that campuses across the state won’t be as welcoming to minorities in light of the changes.

A statement against racial equality from “Equality Florida”:

“There’s no surprise today that the State Board of Education, a board that has been a rubber stamp for Governor Ron DeSantis’s agenda of censorship and surveillance, moved forward with another sweepingly broad rule that abolishes diversity and inclusion programs in the Florida College System. The Board’s rules go well beyond what’s required by Governor DeSantis’s already extreme SB 266, handcuffing state colleges from using any state-funded resources on diversity programs that help recruit talented faculty, support students with unique needs, and help Florida’s colleges compete for national research and funding. This is a brazenly political attack on Florida’s colleges, and all minorities in Florida, and is one more way state agencies have been weaponized to support Governor DeSantis’s failing political ambitions. Shame on the State Board of Education for passing rules that weaken and threaten Florida’s colleges in service to one more manufactured culture war.”

Full post, including comments

Checking the COVID-19 Olympics scores for Florida and California ahead of the DeSantis v. Newsom debate

Governor French Laundry and Governor Science Denial are debating this evening. Let’s do a little pre-debate fact-checking. Americans have agreed that all of a society’s success can be measured by the society’s score in the COVID-19 Olympics. A society that achieved 0 COVID-tagged deaths by pushing all of its citizens into Hamas-style tunnels for 10 years (until a vaccine-style vaccine became available that definitively reduced deaths on a population-wide basis) would, for example, be celebrated as the best of all possible societies.

Lockdown-champ California starts off in the lead in the COVID-19 Olympics by having a lower COVID-19-tagged death rate. Once you adjust for the percentage of the population over 65, however, the death rates are about the same and the excess death rate may actually be higher in California (the CDC makes these data available, but somehow doesn’t bother to make it easy to compare states).

Where is SARS-CoV-2 having a field day right now? The CDC’s wastewater page:

The Science-denying Republican strongholds of Minnesota and Vermont are seriously plagued (God hates Republicans and loves #Science). California is moderately plagued and the plague level in Florida is “low”. In other words, if we accept that current Scientific dogma that humans, especially politicians and bureaucrats, are in charge of viruses, Gavin Newsom’s lockdowns, mask orders, forced vaccinations, school closures, etc. have resulted in a higher rate of SARS-CoV-2 infection than the Team Sweden approach that Ron DeSantis adopted in the summer of 2020 (see Ron DeSantis and Coronapanic for excerpts from the not-so-great man’s book).

I continue to maintain my position that Nikki Haley would be more likely to prevail over Joe Biden in November 2024 because Ron D doesn’t have the soothing optimistic tone that Americans love. For example, Americans want to believe that someone who hates Jews and loves jihad will do a 180-degree flip once exposed to suburban life in Michigan or Minnesota. Ron just says “no”:

(Possible influence for Ron D’s rejection of Immigration Dogma: Florida is where, in 2016 (prior to Ron DeSantis assuming the governorship), first-generation Afghan-American Omar Mir Seddique Mateen killed 49 people at a gay nightclub. Mr. Mateen came from a “moderate Muslim” family and had spent his entire 29-year life in the land of Diversity is Our Strength (TM).)

Loosely related:

Full post, including comments


This year, I’m especially grateful that there is no war on U.S. soil. Regardless of which side in the Hamas-Israel fight one supports, nearly everyone will agree that war is hell and those who are insulated from war are fortunate. Since 1865, Americans have enjoyed better insulation than almost any other group of people, though, of course, quite a few Americans who identified as men have been sent off to fight.

Zooming all the way to the other end of the spectrum… I’m grateful that we can eat outdoors in nice weather in Florida without being besieged by yellowjackets, the wasps that ruin what would otherwise be great experiences in the Northeast U.S. I’ve enjoyed outdoor meals on both coasts and in Orlando and never been bothered. Florida is supposedly part of this insect’s range, so I have no explanation for why yellowjackets don’t swarm around restaurants and backyard barbecues.

For something in the middle… ChatGPT, which will be one year old on November 30, especially its ability to liberate programmers from the tedium of having to search for libraries and API calls (admittedly a tedium created by other programmers, drunk on the near-infinite memory capacity of modern computer systems). ChatGPT and similar have the potential to make programming an interesting job once again (see Is “data scientist” the new “programmer”?).

Readers: What are you grateful for this year?

Full post, including comments

Halloween in Florida

Due to the crowds drawn by our neighbor’s fantastic pirate house, we ran out of candy last year after giving out 1,500 pieces. This year, the stock is 2,000 pieces (thanks, Costco). Here are a few photos around the neighborhood:

We need this costume (at a neighbor’s party):

Johnny Depp is attacked by a more aggressive foe than Amber Heard:

I love this house:

Forecast for trick-or-treating here in Jupiter is 79 degrees and clear.

One of the nice things about Florida is the geographical and psychological distance from upsetting world events. No matter how upsetting the headlines, people here recognize that (a) they’re not important or powerful enough to change anything, and (b) their own life is mostly unaffected. A typical Floridian’s mood is not controlled by the media.


Full post, including comments

Meet in Orlando at the big fencing tournament?

Who would like to meet in Orlando at the big fencing tournament? I expect to be in Orlando on Thursday and Friday (26 and 27). Watching the competition is free. SeaWorld and Disney may also be involved! (Those are neither free nor immune from the inflation that the government assures us does not exist.) A friend’s kids are competing. If you haven’t had your mRNA COVID-19 booster and your flu shot (prevents all flu symptoms except for hospitalization and death), you can get that mistake corrected at the same time:

What if Ron DeSantis comes down from Tallahassee and says something unkind about the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community? Just text “CRISIS” to Dr. Shannon Jolly, the Sr. Manager – Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging for USA Fencing.

Potentially confusing:

USA Fencing encourages everyone to be mindful of others’ pronouns and gender identities. When in doubt, ask politely, and use the pronouns people share with you.

In the first sentence, people are merely “encouraged”. In the second sentence, however, people are ordered to use specified pronouns. Also, what do they mean by “when in doubt”? Are they suggesting that gender identity can be inferred from surface appearance?

Please email if you want to get together!

Full post, including comments

New Yorkers write about the Florida homeowners insurance market disaster… using 100-year-old wooden houses as a typical example

Just as the weather here in Palm Beach County turned perfect (dry and highs of 75-80), friends in Maskachusetts who’ve been talking about escape send me an article from the Manhattan-based Wall Street Journal, “Home Insurance Is So High in This Florida Town, Residents Are Leaving”:

James and Laura Molinari left Chicago for a two-story stucco home in this city’s historic Flamingo Park neighborhood. The four-bedroom house was a short bridge away from Palm Beach island and walking distance to downtown West Palm Beach.

Then the renewal for his home insurance arrived. The new rate for the year starting in September was around $121,000—more than seven times what the Molinaris said they paid last year, and more than 13 times what they paid when the family moved to Florida in 2019.

While they found a better rate from another insurer, at about $33,000 it is still nearly double what they paid last year. The family this month listed the home for sale with an asking price of nearly $3.5 million after determining that insurance costs made staying there too expensive. Others in Flamingo Park told The Wall Street Journal they are drawing the same conclusion.

Paying nearly 1% of the house’s value for insurance is pretty expensive. But… “historic” in Florida? Here’s a house that I found on Zillow in that neighborhood:

It’s almost 100 years old. Is it made from concrete blocks and steel rebar like the typical reasonably new house in Florida? No. It’s a wood structure (“frame”):

So the New York-based journalists write about a 100-year-old neighborhood with the implication that this is typical for Florida. In fact, any house built after Hurricane Andrew (1992; made landfall south of Miami as a Category 5 storm) is likely well-defended against hurricanes. State Farm won’t write new policies on houses built before 2003, presumably due to the fact that a post-Andrew building code took effect statewide in 2002 (a similar code took effect just two years after Andrew in South Florida).

More from the newspaper:

“When you have a home that’s one million dollars or less, your insurance premium becomes higher than your mortgage,” he said.

Can this be true? The article mentions a bunch of folks paying about 1 percent of their house+lot value to insure an ancient wooden structure. Absent a huge down payment or a savvy purchase just after the Collapse of 2008, wouldn’t a 30-year mortgage obtained in pre-Biden times have to be at least 2 percent of the house+lot value?

Separately, there doesn’t seem to be a huge effect yet from the new laws. “Here’s why Florida insurance premiums aren’t expected to go down anytime soon” (WTSP, October 12, 2023):

Karen Clark & Co’s analysis says that while there are factors beyond legislative control causing homeowner premiums to rise, recent laws targeting lawsuits against insurers might at least keep future premium hikes smaller than they might otherwise have been.

According to data, Florida had 10 times the percentage of litigated homeowner claims compared to other states where major hurricanes made landfall. On average, claims that are subject to lawsuits cost about seven times more on average than ones that aren’t. With new laws reducing the amount of insurance claims taken to court, one of the factors driving up future premium costs might be mitigated.

I’m wondering about the highlighted sentence. Is that adjusted for the severity of the damage to the house? It makes sense that a $10,000 problem doesn’t result in a lawsuit while a $100,000 problem might.

Circling back to the WSJ article… the only way to save money is to move back to the Northeast where the WSJ is based?

Full post, including comments

Gifted education in public schools: Massachusetts vs. Florida perspectives

As a general rule, whatever is sacred in Massachusetts is illegal in Florida and vice versa. In MA, there is no state funding for gifted programs and the typical town-run public school system has no differentiation until 8th or 9th grade. The idea that children of all abilities go through material at a single level, with some bored and some lost, is sacred. In FL, by contrast, county-run school districts are required by state law to offer gifted education beginning in 2nd grade. Parking an academically-inclined student in a grade-level classroom is actually illegal.

A friend and I were chatting about this while on a walk with his dog in Wellesley, Maskachusetts back during my August trip up and down the East Coast. A neighbor walking her own dog joined the conversation and opined that public schools shouldn’t have gifted education because it tended to result in racial segregation, with Black students left behind, for example.

Where had she attended school? Milton Academy ($64,000/year for day students) and then an Ivy League college. Had she sent her own children to the Wellesley Public Schools where they could receive the benefits of sitting in a classroom with a diversity of academic talent if not a diversity of skin color? No. They also went to Milton Academy and then on to the Ivies.

Has the lack of gifted education in Maskachusetts public schools resulted in racial harmony? Let’s check NBC:

At one point, the teen grabbed a bigger stone, threatened the victim with it and called him “boy” and the N-word, according to the police narrative. …

The victim also wrote in his statement that the other juvenile “started laughing and called me George Floyd, obviously making fun of me and showing NO remorse.”

Full post, including comments

The accident chain, hurricane-proof garage door edition

The high price of homeowner’s insurance is one of the rare Florida problems that is not exaggerated by New York-based media (an organized attempt to stem the tax base exodus?). Folks near, but not on, the ocean can expect to pay about 0.7 percent of the structure value (not including the land) annually. Hoping to bring this down to 0.6 percent, and also insulate the recently-air-conditioned garage, I decided to swap out the 20-year-old wind-rated garage door for one that is wind- and impact-rated.

So what if the garage door is damaged in a hurricane? A car parked inside can’t be blown away. The rest of the junk in the garage is probably stuff that you didn’t need anyway. It turns out, however, that if the garage door fails it can open the house up to so much wind pressure that the roof is blown off.

Clopay, the manufacturer of our new 9200 door, configured it for shipment with 10 struts instead of the 5 that actually fit. This was the beginning of what in aviation is called “the accident chain”, a sequence of events that start small and eventually lead to the loss of an airframe. Clopay apparently delivered a kit with both 50 KSI 16-gauge steel struts and also the 80 KSI 15-gauge struts that are required for the W8 wind load that I paid for.

With 10 struts installed instead of 5, the door would weigh a spectacular 703 lbs. So Clopay also included two super heavy springs (the “#7 light blue” ones above). And they included non-standard big drums for the cables.

The high-school graduates (maybe?) who installed the door apparently didn’t get concerned about the extra struts. They put on the 50 KSI weaker struts, as it happens, thus rendering the door a W6 door.

The building inspector said that the result wasn’t right as far as the spring balance was concerned, but that he couldn’t fail the door installation because of that. He didn’t notice that the struts were stamped with “50 KSI” and that this marking didn’t match the “80 KSI” on the engineering drawing filed with the town.

While I was on an aviation hop up to Montreal and back, the installers came out to swap the springs and left without considering it odd that the door was as heavy to lift, once disconnected from the opener, as a 100+ lb. barbell. A properly balanced door can be lifted with a couple of fingers:

I began digging into this and discovered the 50 KSI struts that should have been 80 KSI. The result, of course, was everyone being angry with me. The installers, who’d been out 3 or 4 times total, were upset that I was hassling them and they weren’t at all contrite about having put in struts that didn’t match the engineering drawings, the building permit, or what was required to protect against the next climate-change-driven hurricane. The manufacturer tech support guy was upset because he said it was the installer’s job to calculate and fix everything (does it make sense for the manufacturer to send the installer a bunch of extra parts and the wrong springs and then hope that the installer will be able to do the engineering calculations that the manufacturer couldn’t do correctly?).

Here’s what I learned: if you live in Florida or some other hurricane-prone region, make sure that the struts on the back of the door actually are the right strength! Also, disconnect the door from the opener every now and then and check the balance.

Separately, a shout-out to Chamberlain and the Mexicans who assembled our 1/3 HP opener back in February 2003. This 20-year veteran has thus far survived the abuse of having to lift 5X the weight for which it was designed.


  • “Buffett’s Florida Bet Bodes Well for Troubled Insurance Market” (Washington Post, July 21, 2023): Last December, Florida’s legislature passed a controversial but necessary set of reforms aimed at shoring up the state’s teetering property insurance market, where a string of insurers had canceled policies and even filed for bankruptcy, leaving homeowners with dwindling options. [note that Governor DeSantis, who is typically blamed for laws passed by the legislature, does not get credit for this insurance “reform”!] … It’s also the top state for property insurance-related lawsuits, which companies contend are frequently frivolous and often fraudulent, pushing the cost of doing business even higher. … In remarks at Berkshire’s 2023 annual meeting, Vice Chairman of Insurance Operations Ajit Jain said the firm had boosted its property-catastrophe exposure by nearly 50% this year, including up to $15 billion now at risk in Florida. … Among other things, the package sought to curb the nuisance litigation by ending the so-called one-way attorney fee statute. Until the change, insurers had to pay prevailing plaintiffs’ attorney fees, an arrangement that the industry says incentivized frivolous lawsuits and helped build a cottage industry around exploitation of the system. In the most egregious cases, contractors would goad homeowners into filing claims under false pretenses, and insurers were often forced to settle to protect against soaring legal fees. Reinsurers in particular are “optimistic that between [higher prices] and the litigation reforms that Florida is becoming more attractive,” Frank Nutter, president of the Reinsurance Association of America, told me by phone on Tuesday.
  • “State Farm doubles down on Florida after Farmers Insurance pulls back” (Deplorable Fox, July 14, 2023): State Farm says it’s sticking with Florida months after ceasing new applications in California … [the company] sees more opportunity [in Florida], thanks to the state’s recent reforms for the industry. … DeSantis press secretary, Jeremy Redfern, said that since that time, the main issue driving up costs for insurers in the state has been excessive litigation. So, in recent years, the state legislature passed a series of reforms signed into law by DeSantis to address the issues. [Fox credits DeSantis while the Washington Post ignores him!] … The company’s statement added, “We are encouraged by the recent insurance reforms and efforts to curb legal system abuse, and we will continue to work constructively with the Florida Legislature and the Office of Insurance Regulation to improve the marketplace on behalf of our Florida customers.”
  • Effect on children’s wealth when parents move to Florida (the main reason to choose a state these days, of course, is whether you agree with the goals of the state/local government (vastly more powerful since 2020), but it still might be interesting to look at the $$. Property tax burden in Florida, as a percentage of value, is similar to in Maskachusetts. Income and estate taxes are 0% in FL compared to top brackets of 9% and 16% in MA. So the person paying more for homeowner’s insurance in FL may find that the tax savings overpower the insurance pain. And, of course, moving into a modern apartment complex dramatically cuts insurance costs, even those paid indirectly via rent. since the typical apartment building is tough for a hurricane to knock over.
  • “Changes in Atlantic major hurricane frequency since the late-19th century” (Nature Magazine 2021, by authors from Princeton and NOAA): “there are no significant increases in either basin-wide HU [hurricane] or MH [major hurricane] frequency, or in the MH/HU ratio for the Atlantic basin between 1878 and 2019”
Full post, including comments