Off Key!: From Dominating Retail to Fact Checking Betrayal

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By Bob Frederickson

Commanding the high ground in local retail

Have you noticed the mega warehouse going up on the west side of US 301 just south of Tallevast road near the airport? Soon it will be filled with all manner of shiny baubles from China, Vietnam, Indonesia (and yes, even from a few U.S.-based manufacturers).

 The massive building will soon house this area’s new “last-mile” Amazon fulfillment center.

 Some will likely be impressed by the sheer scale of the facility and marvel at the logistical complexities Amazon has mastered to get all their merchandise to our doors, often in a day or less.

 But I can’t help but see the huge chunk of the local economy the company now controls as made clear by the massive scale of the building.

 I remember the fight residents of Newtown – a few miles to the south – put up a decade or so back when Wal-Mart wanted to build one of its supercenters off 17th street. The community prevailed in 86-ing the project. The same thing happened on University Parkway when residents of the tony University Park successfully countered Wal-Mart’s plan to build another supercenter near their exclusive neighborhood. (They ended up with a Kohl’s instead…go figure). And neighborhoods around the old Ringling Shopping Center just east of downtown also fought back a Wal-Mart incursion a few years back.

 But Amazon? It seems we just can’t get enough of what they’re selling.

 Here’s my question though: whatever happened to the oh so popular slogan back in the day regarding Wal-Mart’s early attempts to gain a foothold in the local retail landscape? You remember the sentiment: “Wal-Mart Destroys Local Businesses.”

 Well, I guess those convictions have been trumped by the convenience of getting that pair of Lululemon knockoff yoga pants by noon tomorrow … guaranteed!

A stand-in for Biden?

A Biden animatronic is set to make its debut in Disney’s Hall of Presidents this month. Meantime, the White House has denied rumors of secret negotiations underway seeking an exchange. 

And you thought Sarasota was growing?

 The Villages, northwest of Orlando, was the fastest growing metro area over the past decade … and not just in Florida, but in the U.S. as a whole. In 2001 the population was 25,000. Today it is more than 130,000, according to the latest census figures.

The 55-plus retirement community grew a remarkable 39% during the past decade. Central Florida as a whole has shown the fastest growth in the state during the period, making it likely that Florida’s newly apportioned Congressional district will be drawn from this region. As a solidly conservative area, Republicans see the new district as a solid pick-up in the U.S. House of Representatives they can bank on to help narrow or even flip the razor-thin majority of just eight seats Democrats now hold.

 By comparison, the Sarasota/Bradenton/North Port metro area grew at an 18.8% pace during the past decade, from 702,00 in 2010 to 833,716, according to the latest figures.

Politicizing language

 Remember when you could talk about the weather with just about anyone from just about anywhere with little fear of sparking a political contretemps? Well, those days are long gone. Nowadays there’s no such thing as “bad weather.” The phrase has been replaced by the politically charged “climate change.”

So even the formerly benign subject of weather, the ultimate entré for connecting us by way of the small-talk that recognizes a universally shared human experience – the cold, the heat, the rain, the snow – has become a potential minefield to be avoided, eliminating yet another avenue of connection that heretofore could bring strangers together while in public spaces like the check-out line at the local market or waiting for a bus or train.

 Progressives among us call this “progress.” But of course, it is anything but as language becomes a tool to create wedge issues to divide us at every turn.

Quote of the day

“The past cannot be cured.”

                        –Queen Elizabeth I

So, who’s checking the fact-checkers?

Fact-checking website Snopes.com is under fire for lifting content from the L.A. Times, The Guardian, and other news outlets according to a report on BuzzFeed News. According to the report, Snopes co-founder and CEO David Mikkelson allegedly ran the appropriated material under his own byline as well as a generic Snopes byline from 2016-2019.

 All of which should serve as a reminder of what our founding fathers believed on the subject: That YOU, the citizen, are the final authority when it comes to fact-checking, not some third party that may or may not have its own agenda.

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