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SRQ DAILY Sep 12, 2020

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"One could hardly imagine a better subject for such an approach than the pandemic. It has touched virtually every aspect of our lives and society."

- Donal O'Shea, New College of Florida

[Under The Hood]  Dems Can Win 72. It Feels Like They're Losing.
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

Florida House District 72 represented more than one win for Democrats two ago. When a special election arose at a low point in Donald Trump’s popularity, the nation turned to Sarasota's suburbs to see how middle America felt about politican. It felt pretty blue.

Margaret Good on Feb. 13, 2018 snagged the House seat, prevailing in a district Donald Trump won by four percentage points. In fact, Good won by seven points, an 11-point swing. Compare the Good win to retired Republican Rep. Alex Miller, who won the seat in 2016 by 16 points, and you suddenly envisioned the sea change in suburbia about which Democrats fantasized in plain view.

Sure, it always was more complicated, considering the dynamics of a special election with one race on the ballot. That became clear when Good narrowly won reelection in November by just over 1,200 votes. Still, Democrats held on.

So why’s it feel in September of 2020 like the district will soon swing red again?

There should be plenty of hope Democrats can hold the seat. Following an analysis of August returns for Where The Votes Are, I dug deeper this week and confirmed 505 more Democrats in House District 72 voted in the Aug. 18 election than Republicans. That's despite the fact Republicans as of July 20 held an edge of more than 8,200 registered voters compared to Democrats. 

Republicans also had to pick a nominee in a heated primary, where Navy vet Fiona McFarland defeated Charter Review Board member Donna Barcomb by a mere 263 votes. Democrats had no primary, even after Good took herself out of the picture to challenge Vern Buchanan for his seat in Congress. Despite a sudden vacancy, only one Democrat, Drake Buckman, filed for the seat. That means while Democrats had plenty to vote on in August, a House District 72 primary took up no space in their minds last month.

Where do things stand now? As we speak, polls show Trump possibly tied but likely losing to Democrat Joe Biden in Florida, four years after winning his adopted home state by nearly 113,000 votes over Hillary Clinton.

As for money, Buckman has a cash advantage— for now. Without any primary, Buckman was also able to sit on his money. Through Sept. 4, the Democrat had $44,339 in cash on hand. McFarland’s campaign, after being drained to $2,724 at the end of the primary, now reports $20,119 in cash on hand.

But that's just a partial telling. The young GOP candidate just spent a quarter million dollars boosting name recognition between campaign spending and political committee support. Barcomb helped raise McFarland’s profile too. Sure it was with disparaging messaging calling McFarland soft on protesters and shaky on abortion, but the sharpness of those attacks dulls in a general election and maybe even paints McFarland as a moderate as she appeals to independents for the first time.

Meanwhile, Democratic sources at the state level appeared to all write this race off the day Good declared for Congress. Florida House Victory seems to be struggling to direct mass resources into battleground, and maynot even send five figures to the Sarasota Democrat. Florida Republicans, led by local leader Joe Gruters, seem ready to deliver six figures worth of assistance.

When I argued months ago Buckman needed a primary challenge, he bristled. Democrats instead seemed sure the party was better off betting all their chips on November and skipping a divising August contest. But no one in Tallahassee seems to be buying the message. Good, meanwhile, appears in poor standing against Buchanan after abandoning a race where she almost certainly would have the upper hand right now.

Jacob Ogles is contributing senior editor for SRQ MEDIA. 

[Higher Education]  New College’s COVID-19 Course is an Interdisciplinary Look at the Pandemic
Donal O'Shea, doshea@ncf.edu

An excellent liberal arts education requires both depth and breadth. Students should master one discipline and acquire a working knowledge of a range of other disciplines. This affords each student a set of disciplinary tools, and a set of different ways of viewing a situation or problem. 

One could hardly imagine a better subject for such an approach than the pandemic. It has touched virtually every aspect of our lives and society.

At New College, religion professor Manuel Lopez and digital humanities librarian Cal Murgu have brought together 20 faculty members from various disciplines to teach a fully remote course this fall entitled “COVID-19: An Interdisciplinary Approach to the Pandemic.”

Among the instructors are biologists, an epidemiologist, a medieval historian, an ecologist, a biochemist, a data scientist, a computer scientist, a medical anthropologist, sinologists, political scientists, a constitutional historian, an economist, a sociologist, a physician, literary historians, a dramaturg and a creative writer.

“This is not going to be a normal semester at New College, or at any other college and university in the United States for that matter,” Murgu and Lopez say. “As part of a collective effort at New College to understand the current crisis, we have designed a course that will explore the pandemic using an interdisciplinary approach, and with a specific focus on how it has affected our local communities.”

To the latter end, we are bringing in experts from the Sarasota-Manatee area to discuss the impact the pandemic has had on the local region. And the course includes a separate internship that allows our students to work with Dr. Lisa Merritt at Sarasota’s Multicultural Health Institute on community-based COVID-19 research.

While the format and content of the course is unique to New College, the idea of bringing the topic of COVID-19 into a collegiate curriculum is not. Similar courses have been implemented at other institutions like Whitman College and the Imperial College of London.

“If you have a global crisis like the one we’re living in and you’re at a liberal arts institution, you have to talk about it. We are all going to deal with the crisis in one way or another but, as an intellectual community, we can think about in a unique way,” Lopez says. “I think we can really show our community and Florida that what we do here is relevant; it would be a missed opportunity not to do this.”

The introduction to the three-month-long course was held on August 24. Lectures will follow on multiple topics, such as the history of epidemiology, microbiology and quarantine; outbreaks and the tools used to track the data; the economic impact of the virus; pandemics in literature; social determinants of health and community-engaged approaches; environmental changes and pandemics; and “The Wuhan Diaries.”

This will be a course unlike anywhere else, as we bring in expertise from all disciplines and share what we have learned over the past several months. 

The experience be will be accessible to a much broader audience than the New College community as a sort of time capsule.

“We want to use the course website as a repository—an artifact that gives you a sense of what happened here during the pandemic,” Murgu says. “Perhaps we could build on this model in the future at New College, where we offer a regular interdisciplinary approach to important challenges that we’re facing.”

Donald O’Shea is president of New College of Florida. 

For more information on the “COVID-19” course, click here.

[On Politics]  Buchanan's Record of Shameful Votes
Gabriel Hament

Congressman Vern Buchanan is either ashamed of his record, afraid of his opponent state Rep. Margaret Good, or acting arrogantly. The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee, Sarasota Tiger Bay Club and the League of Women Voters of Sarasota County all extended invitations to Buchanan requesting his participation in candidate forums. Buchanan summarily dismissed each inquiry. I surmise he is hiding under his desk in light of the recent revelations surrounding his discriminatory record towards gay people. 

Buchanan's sprawling network of allies at the highest levels of the regional news media continue to paper over the Congressman's history of intolerance and bigotry. You may wonder why you have not heard about Buchanan's vote against the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 which augmented 1969 federal hate crimes law and extended federal investigatory and prosecutorial powers into violent crimes motivated by one's gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. For hate crimes motivated by the victim's race, color, religion or national origin, the prerequisite that the victim be engaging in a federally protected activity was removed.  The bill's namesakes — Matthew Shepard and James Byrd — were both victims of unthinkable crimes.

This bill, ushered through Congress with bipartisan support, was advanced by a broad coalition of national organizations including the National Council of Jewish Women, the Anti-Defamation League and the NAACP.  We are left scratching our heads when Buchanan's vote against the Shepard-Byrd Act is juxtaposed with his vote to extend similar federal power to the investigation and prosecution of animal cruelty cases. I guess gerbils come before humans in the warped world of Buchanan. 

Further, Buchanan voted against the Equality Act which would have made discrimination illegal on the basis of sexual orientation in the workplace and public accommodation. 

Of the 364 votes Buchanan missed over the years, those are two votes for which he made sure to pull the lever. 

This type of prejudice is shocking and should not be embraced by our community. This November, please safely return your ballot by mail and put an end to Buchanan's bigotry. 

Gabriel Hament is a Sarasota native. He has led and volunteered on campaigns for the Sarasota County School Board, Sarasota City Commission and Florida House, including volunteering for Good’s state House District 72 campaign. 

[SOON]  MUSEUM: Yoga on Ca'd 'Zan Lawn , August 20 – September 17, 7:00pm

Yoga Instructor Ashley Stewart will lead a yoga session the front lawn of Ca' d'Zan. With your health and safety as a top priority, these classes are limited to 50 participants and at least 7 feet of distance will be maintained between people. Class size is limited, tickets must be purchased in advance

The Ringling, 5401 Bay Shore Road

[SOON]  SCIENCE AND NATURE: 5th Annual Reef and Beach Cleanup , September 12 – September 13

Calling all Scuba Divers, Fisherman and Land Lubbers! This event is for everyone who cares about our shoreline and water ways. This is a "one of a kind" competitive trash collecting event. Bring friends and family. Trash collectors of all ages are welcome. There is NO entry fee. Community Service hours available for groups and students. Over $6,000. dollars in prize money will be spread out over 20 different categories. Categories include: most anchors, most recyclables, chain & other metals, tires, non-recyclable trash, fishing gear, nets, rope, tackle and an award to the most unique item brought in (as determined by judges). We've added a new category this year. There is now a category for Lion Fish. Lion fish are taking over our reefs. They are an invasive species that are killing off indigenous species.

Bradenton Yacht Club, 4307 13th St. West, Palmetto, FL

[SOON]  HEALTH: Sup & Run 5K , September 12, 8am

Three great races, world-class venue, awesome shirts, custom 4" finisher medals, challenge coins, great prizes, spectacular post-race party with the libation lounge, sip & rum, yummy food, live DJ and more. Choose between 5k Run: Choose to run or walk in this family-friendly 5K race around the lake. All skill levels welcome. 5K Sup: Bring your own stand-up paddleboard or rent one in this 5K race on the lake. All skill levels welcome. 5K Sup & 5K Run: Want a challenge? Complete our 5K Sup AND our 5K Run in this race. All skill levels welcome. The "First 100 Club" receive custom super special swag. This means the first 100 people to register each year. $1,000 in cash prizes, awesome shirt, great awards and prizes plus the best (summer) post-race party around.

Nathan Benderson Park, 5851 Nathan Benderson Cr Sarasota, FL 34235

[SOON]  FOOD: Temple Sinai Honey Tasting for Rosh Hashanah , September 13, 10am

Temple Sinai will host a special event this Sunday, September 13, open to everyone in the community, all ages, for a special Honey Tasting in honor of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. Kits will be distributed at 10am in the Temple Sinai parking lot in preparation for the after Honey Tasting on Zoom. The Zoom experience will feature tasting four varieties of honey from Sarasota Honey Company, biscuits from Maple Biscuit Company, cheese curd from Dakin Dairy Farm, and apples from Detweiller's. The kit will also include educational materials about Rosh Hashanah, along with some surprise goodies. 

Temple Sinai, 4631 S Lockwood Ridge Rd, Sarasota, FL 34231

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Pumpkin Patch Express Train Ride , October 17 – October 25

October 17th & 18th and October 24th & 25th. Tickets for this popular event go on sale to the general public on August 12th at 10am, tickets will be available on the museum's website at www.frrm.org Early access for members are on sale now by calling the ticket office. The Ticket office is open Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 4pm. Special Note for Covid 19; For 2020 the event will operate at 50% capacity. Due to the complicity of ticketing in reserved seat cars, window seats will only be sold. However, you may consolidate your group using unsold aisle seats within your seating area. Mask requirements will be based on Manatee County mask ordinance at the time of the event.

[SOON]  SEMINAR: VIRTUAL Forty Carrots Presents Mark Brackett, Ph.D. , September 23, 7pm

Forty Carrots Family Center announces its 18th annual Free Educational Community Speaker Event, presented in partnership with the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. This year’s event transitions to a virtual platform, broadcasting at 7 pm on Wednesday, Sept. 23rd. The event is free and open to the community, but advance registration is required. Dr. Brackett will present insights from his book; “Permission to Feel” helping parents, caregivers, teachers and professionals understand how emotions influence our lives; cultivate emotional intelligence in our children and develop tools for greater well-being and success.  Dr. Brackett is a research psychologist and the founding director at Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and professor in the Child Study Center at Yale University. He has developed a remarkable effective plan to improve the lives of children and adults – a blueprint for understanding emotions and using them wisely to help, rather than hinder, an individual’s success and inspiration in equal parts. Advance registration is required. Click to register online.


[SOON]  SEMINAR: Art Lecture Series with Baila Miller: Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict , October 20, 1pm-2:30pm

Join Historic Spanish Point for incredible stories on the artists that shaped and influenced history around the world. We are proud to offer this art lecture series with Baila Miller as part of our monthly programming. Baila’s unique storytelling presentations will connect you to the art world in a whole new way. All presentations take place at Historic Spanish Point’s Visitor Center Classrooms. Tickets: $15 for Historic Spanish Point members and $20 for future members.

[SOON]  GALLERY: Ian Dean: Nostalgicons , August 28 – October 2, Open by appointment 8/28-10/1 Mon-Fri 10am-4pm. For appointment please email galleries@ringling.edu

Nostalgia can be a powerful trigger of emotions and memories, sometimes even invoking forgotten past events, places, and moments. Nostalgia also sells. Products replicating or calling back to the 1980’s and 1990’s have seen a surge (resurgence?) of popularity recently. These products are often marketed to younger generations who are fascinated with the decades, right along with the adults who actually owned the original items - or still do.

Dean photographs both the popular and old toys he still has from his childhood. Well-known toys that evoke nostalgia in others, the obscure tokens, and the items made by companies that no longer exist; all have histories which have been lost to time. In doing so, Dean found himself pondering the origins of the objects, who might have designed and created them, how many of them were made, the persistence of similar colors, and how many still exist. Over time, each object also picks up its own unique set of bumps and scratches, becoming tiny fragments of years that only grow more distant. Dean creates new art out of the mass-produced trinkets. He makes new memories out of the old, playing with color and shape; creating something for the viewer to enjoy looking through. Perhaps connecting with them as well by unlocking a buried snapshot of a distant time and place.

Patrician Thompson Gallery in the Keating Center, 2700 N Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34234

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine. Note: The views and opinions expressed in the Saturday Perspectives Edition and in the Letters department of SRQ DAILY are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by SRQ Media. Senior Editor Jacob Ogles edits the Saturday Perspective Edition, Letters and Guest Contributor columns.In the CocoTele department, SRQ DAILY is providing excerpts from news releases as a public service. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by SRQ DAILY. The views expressed by individuals are their own and their appearance in this section does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. For rates on SRQ DAILY banner advertising and sponsored content opportunities, please contact Ashley Ryan Cannon at 941-365-7702 x211 or via email

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