The Conch Republic

April 23 was the 35th birthday of the Conch Republic. It was an important day because once it turns middle aged it can start lying about its age. Lying is an important part of the story because a well told lie is the heart of any legend.

You may not have heard of the Conch Republic, the Independent Florida Keys. To some people, that’s just as well. But the story needs to be told because it is a tale of lust, greed, power, and … well, actually, it’s just a lot of fun. You can get a lot further with a good gag than you can by being a jerk. And so it begins.

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A Crisis of Faith

Rejection of the “mainstream” is an important part of the polarization and radicalization of America. Socially and politically, movements on the left, right, and whatever else there is measure their stands by how far outside the establishment they are.

For all the bluster, it’s mostly nonsense. Trump supporters often rely on Obamacare, as they are learning, if not social security and other programs. Left wingers usually have jobs like anyone else. Everyone has sold out in nearly every way possible – except one. Religion and spirituality is the one place where the true mainstream is indeed slipping away, caught in an “uncanny valley” where the teachings seem too simple, too childlike, to be relevant.

And this is the one place where America is truly failing.

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St Patrick’s Day

I like to re-use this post every St Patrick’s Day as one of my personal favorites.  It has a new meaning this year, sadly.

Good people go to Heaven, but the Celts went everywhere. There isn’t a corner of the globe where you can’t find us if you look hard enough. Nations as far flung as Canada and Australia are largely Celtic in origin, and the majority of those Celts came from Ireland.

Our people have wandered the earth like almost no other, and for one day we all return home with the help of a hyphen. Many of us become Irish-Americans or Irish-Canadians on Saint Patrick’s day when any other day American or Canadian would be enough. We drink up well in pubs, cheer on the bagpipers, and think back to what our ancestors must have gone through to get us where we are.

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Yes, Anything is Possible

As we revisit Barataria’s history approaching the Tenth Anniversary next month, this piece from nine years ago stands out.  You can see that nothing happening now really surprises me, but it certainly does disappoint.  

When I was young, I lived in a time and place where just about anything was possible. It’s amazing just how terrifying that prospect was.

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Why We Write

Leading into the 10th Anniversary of Barataria in less than two months, I am re-running pieces from the first year.  Some of these pieces, like this one, are more personal and introspective.  I hope you enjoy it.

Why do we write? It’s a tough question. People put a lot of effort into blogs, but not too many of them are worth reading. Most of these will eventually cease to be amusing, stop being updated, and gradually dissolve as if there were never more than some kind of atmospheric turbulence. So why are they started in the first place?

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New Line of Thought

This piece is actually from an old blog I had in 1999.  This was before the current Depression, before the Millenium, and indeed before the word “blog” was commonly used.  This is part of a retrospective heading into the tenth anniversary of Barataria this April.  It is presented unchanged from 18 years ago.

Politics is often defined in America by an intense partisan struggle. The language used is one of division: red states versus blue, Fox versus NPR. Not only is most of this nonsense, it is actually dangerous.

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National Brand

Around the surprisingly excellent Superbowl we have the usual display of ads. It’s one of the features of the big event – and for some the main event. But what do these over-produced ads usually bring the advertisers who are spending $20M and more for a minute?

Most of them are here to “build the brand,” or improve the image of the company more than actually sell a product. Anyone who has been in marketing for any length of time will roll their eyes at the idea. It’s usually an excuse for the worst excesses of advertising, the small telenovelas which are really money pretty much down the drain. Targeted advertising, driven by “Big Data,” is what really sells products, after all.

Still, branding is an important exercise all around. People are willing to pay more for a product they feel good about – whether that is corporate responsibility, perception of quality, or a connection to a greater good. And brands are more than corporations sometimes – the value of a brand can also come in a tag that says “Made in USA” or any other nation.

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