Bits and Pieces from the Last Week

It's a beautiful day here on the peninsula, and part of that luster comes from the simple fact that Miami and Florida State played a great game last night in Tallahassee. As much as this is a Florida Gators part of the country (with Georgia coming in a close second), the Canes and Noles have their vocal supporters. And the simple fact of the matter is that things are better when the Canes and Noles are relevant. I couldn't make the fourth quarter last night, which is sad because it was a great finish.

Speaking of college football, I'll simply say that Boise State broke my heart with their win over my beloved Ducks last Thursday. And to add insult to injury, we lost one of my all-time favorite players when LaGarrette Blount threw the punch heard round the world. I support Kelly's decision to pull the plug on Blount's season, though I think maybe we should have put a little more deliberation into the decision. Five or six games seems a little more judicious, but I trust Coach Kelly's call. It's his program, and maybe Blount is more of a distraction than just that punch would indicate.

Elmore Leonard's Road Dogs is muy macho. Combining characters from a number of his finest novels, Leonard is on top of his game with this thriller. It's a heck of a sidewinder, this book, with about six angles being played in the third act. Cundo Rey is a great character; he's got heart to spare. Jack Foley? Cooler than the other side of the pillow, friends. And Dawn Navarro is simply scandalous. That woman knows no allegiance outside of the almighty dollar. It's a great read...

State of Play was excellent (A-). This one was a throwback in terms of the pacing, framing and overall look. Crowe does a fine job and Rachel McAdams is up to the challenge. Even ol' Ben Affleck brought the goods on this one. A very good thriller.

Finally, today's the day for paranoid ultra-cons across the country who seriously fear embedded socialist messages in our President's academic address. Many are keeping their children out of school here in Duval County (home to some of the first tea party events and that deplorable Obama/Hitler sign). It would almost be funny if it weren't so sad.

But what's even worse is that NBC Nightly News reported that our country's overall high school dropout rate is almost 30%. That would be great in Duval County, Florida, where it's a staggering 50%. That's right, one in two entering freshmen leave the DCPS with a diploma in hand.

And our mayor wonders why he has a tough time getting Fortune 500 companies to relocate here. When the public schools suffer, the apathy trickles upward to the universities and colleges. Our best and brightest frequently flee Jacksonville at their first opportunity, heading to Tampa, Miami, Atlanta and Raleigh.


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