Category Archives: Politics

You are Welcome, Jim Morrison.

Today Governor Charlie Crist led a successful effort to clear legendary frontman Jim Morrison (of The Doors) of indecent exposure here in Florida, posthumously, of course.  Morrison was born in Melbourne, FL and briefly attended Florida State University in Tallahassee, Crist’s alma mater. Gov. Crist – who took the unusual step of speaking on Morrison’s behalf during the hearing – said there remained doubts as to whether the singer exposed himself or not at a Miami concert back in 1969.

 

 

 

While the board’s vote to clear Morrison was unanimous, Attorney General Bill McCollum said he was “disturbed” by all the attention paid to a dead celebrity… we tend to agree.  It seems like there are better ways to be spending the government’s time! I mean, this guy died nearly 40 years ago!

While we love The Doors music, we’re NOT listing this as a Top 5 event.

On a side note, there was an avid Doors fan named Michael Zidanic in attendance for the hearing. “It’s a real relief for Doors fan all over the world,’’ said Zidanic. He later called the granting of the pardon a “historic moment” and a “moving experience.”  (Well, it’s still not going down as a Top 5 event!)

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Filed under Celebrity, Just Plain Weird, Music, Politics, Uniquely Florida

Orville Schell: The Top 5 Concerns Central Florida Should Have about China

The Top 5 was very excited to be able to speak with Orville Schell, one of the country’s leading authorities on China. (You’ve seen him on 60 Minutes.)  Orville is coming to speak at Rollins College tomorrow night, Thursday, November 11.

Special note from the editor: Yes, I did a bit of reading to sound intelligent when speaking with Orville–I tried!– but he was kind enough to explain why relations with China matter to you and me as average Central Floridians.

And, after this conversation, I do realize how important his message is to all of us: from the products we buy and the jobs we may or may not have, to the money we can or can’t borrow from the bank to even preventing future apocalyptic wars. Pretty important stuff, no? Here’s what he had to say…

The Top 5 Concerns Central Florida Should Have about China

1)  Trade

Have you been to a Walmart recently? Come on, even if you haven’t surely you have seen these three words over and over: Made In China.

Confession: I heard about a local school who had a Veteran’s Day Assembly, where several worthy veterans were honored. The students proudly waved tiny American flags to show their patriotism. (The flags were flown on sticks that read “Made in China.” Ugh!)

2) Almost $2 trillion in Debt

Yep, China holds 20% of the U.S. government’s debt, and we seem headed towards going even deeper into their pockets.

Now, my hubby doesn’t let me handle our own bills, because I’m not much with economics, but even I can see the MAJOR problems with this much foreign ownership. It seems to put us in a rather poor negotiating stance, doesn’t it?

3) Climate Change

Although my older brother used to tell me that I could only get to China by digging a hole through the middle of the Earth, the world is apparently much, much smaller than he thought.  If ash from an Indonesian volcano can drift across the Pacific to pollute the western coast of America, then certainly the coal China and America burn affects each other.  We pollute the same air, melt the same glaciers, and destroy the same environment. Think about this: even if all of America switched to electric cars, there would still be 27 million cars in China to deal with!

“China is the fastest-growing contributor of global warming emissions,” says Douglas Ogden, director of the China Sustainable Energy Program, “with its carbon dioxide output on track to surpass that of the U.S. by 2025.”

So the lesson in all this? America must be on good terms with China to be able to work together to reduce the carbon emissions and slow the effects of global warming. Yeah, our very survival as a race depends upon this!

4) Nuclear Weapons

Okay, just Orville saying those two words kind of freaks me out!

There are a lot of countries that have (or soon may have) nuclear weapons, and North Korea and Iran are two that are not so friendly to the United States and our policies.  China, however, seems to have a much better working relationship with these two countries, and so it is imperative we learn to cooperate with China to reduce any and all nuclear threats. (That or we need to dig more fall out shelters here in Florida!)

5) Global Financial System

Here in Central Florida we have all felt the effects of the slow economy. Thousands of jobs lost, hundreds of stores closed, and far too many people out of their homes.  And in a global market dominated by both the U.S. and China, we will need to work together not only to keep the system from breaking down altogether, but to also figure out how to rebuild it.

As Orville pointed out, “We are joined at the hip with China whether we like it or not. It is an illusion to think we can separate ourselves.”

Baby Steps

Of course, the teacher in me asked Orville whether he thought today’s schools were preparing tomorrow’s generation to deal with this massive gorilla on our back (metaphorically speaking, of course), and he said no.  He pointed out that schools are not teaching students the history, culture, language, or politics to be able to deal with China. So, I would like to give some kudos to Lake Highland Preparatory School for offering Mandarin Chinese as one of their foreign languages options. At least it’s a start!

I would also like to congratulate the Central Florida city of Tavares, whose mayor Robert Wolfe is currently on a trip to Taiwan to explore a sister-city relationship. By taking the initiative, perhaps we Central Floridians can have a greater influence on international relations than we realize, and this can only be for the good of all!

Go Hear Orville Schell in Person: 2 Chances

Tomorrow night at Rollins College, Bush Auditorium, 7 pm:
Climate Change and the Melting Glaciers of the Himalayas: Why it Matters

Friday morning at Rollins College, Bush Auditorium, 9 am:
What’s Happening in China and Why It Matters: Q & A with Orville Schell

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Filed under Celebrity, Education, General Info, Literary, Politics, Rollins College, TV Fame

Park Avenue Fashion Week Tent Show: The Main Event!

Saturday evening culminated Park Avenue’s Fashion Week with a tent show, which was quite an event.  I attended with several friends, including Katie Murray, major fashionista, Carol Kostick, Rollins alumna, Suzanne Lemons, who sits on the City of Winter Park’s Park and Recreation Board, and Susan Leonard of Tommy’s Island and Shore Brand clothing.

Katie Murray, Susan Leonard, and Top 5 editor Bess Auer

Susan, who has been in the fashion industry for years and has attended a zillion fashion shows across the nation, was complimentary of how professionally the fashion show was presented. We had fun watching the models strut across the catwalk and people watching in the crowd.  Mayor Ken Bradley was seated on the front row opposite title sponsor Harriett Lake. (Ms. Lake leads quite the social life… I had just seen her the night before at the Orlando Ballet. I hope I have such good fortune when I am 88 years old!)

The tent was packed; in fact, we had trouble finding seats despite paying $125 for VIP seating! However, the models were young and beautiful and the fashions were fun. The music was loud and rocking and the crowd seemed to love the evening.  They especially appreciated the Go Red for Women heart survivors, which was a nice tie in. Enjoy this short video from the event:

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Filed under Fashion, Fun, Politics, Uniquely Florida, winter park

NASA: A Historical View

Editor’s note: Yes, I use the more-modern “a” historical view instead of the older “an” historical view. Get over it!

I was so excited to receive confirmation (and then the press credentials!) for the upcoming STS133 #Nasatweetup…it is just a few weeks away! (Only 150 people were selected to attend…alas, @swimmerjoe was not so lucky!) He and I had a wonderful visit with @AndreaFarmer when she invited us to visit Kennedy Space Center’s Visitor Center. (Well worth the trip!)

However, the last (and only time) I was up close and personal for an actual launch was when I was in middle school (think early-80’s) and I was on movie-maker and director Jesse Wolf’s family’s sailboat on the Intracoastal Waterway. And, if memory serves me correctly (since it was one of the early launches) we were able to go much closer than boats would be able to today…I still have the image of the brilliant comtrail against the blue sky burned into my memory banks!

So, when I heard NASA had released some historic photos via their Flickr.com “Commons” account, I just had to check them out. They show some of the very earliest pictures from NASA, including President John F. Kennedy touring Cape Canaveral.  My favorite? Tough to choose but I think the one of President Richard Nixon braving bad weather with the masses (under umbrellas) to witness the launch of Apollo 12.

Enjoy this walk down memory lane…

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Filed under History, Just for Me, Politics, Shuttle, Space, Uniquely Florida

Buddy Jam 2010 (From the DSPN Sports Zone!)

Mayor Buddy Dyer and the kids from PKZ recently hosted “Slam Dunk for the Children!”  Decreasing crime and increasing FCAT scores sound like a win-win combination to us! Congrats to all involved. Now enjoy the highlights video as well as Mayor Dyer’s good sense of humor! 🙂


For other Mayor Dyer videos, visit the City of Orlando’s YouTube channel.

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Filed under Amway Arena, Education, family, Fun, Politics, Resident done good, Sports

Dear President Obama…

I eagerly await your Space Summit here in Florida on April 15. I suppose the significance of the date is to remind us that we are discussing our tax dollars and how you will spend them. I was most upset when you first announced that you would not be funding mankind’s mission to return the Moon and that you would be changing NASA’s budget. I wondered how any American could decide upon such a course for American engineering; how your ideas about space could be so different from mine… and then some ideas came to me.

Your Childhood
Although you are only nine years older than me, your childhood was vastly different than most American children of the time. You were born in Hawaii, which while it is one of the United States, let’s face it; it is a world of its own over 2,300 miles from the continental states. In the 1960s, just how much and how quickly did news travel from the mainland (Florida particularly) all the way to Hawaii? Then, from age 6 to 10 you lived in Indonesia, so who knows what kind of coverage man’s first steps on the Moon you even heard about?

And while I was standing outside my house watching the very first Space Shuttle blast off to go into space, you were in New York City going to Columbia…and how much attention does a typical college student–especially those who may be partying–really pay to current events?  (The space shuttle may have been no more than a blip on your radar.)

Your Work
And once you graduated from college, your focus turned to helping develop communities, a very worthy cause. You helped those in need get job training, prepare for college, work for tenants rights…these are very lofty goals and I applaud your work, but once again we differ…your eyes were looking down at the homeless man sitting on the sidewalk, while mine were looking up at the shuttle’s comtrail glowing a dazzling white against the bright blue.

And when the Challenger exploded in the skies above me, your eyes were not tuned toward the sky. How long did it take for you to learn of it in Chicago?

Your Dreams
I’m imagining that while you were growing up, space travel was little more than science fiction to you. You may have heard about it, seen a clip or two on TV, but how real could it seem to a child on the other side of the world?  While I grew up here, knowing the moms and dads whose sweat made space travel a reality. I knew teachers who were in the running to travel on the Challenger; I dreamed one day I would travel into space, too.

When my grandmother was young, she took the day-long trip by horse and wagon from Orlando to New Smyrna Beach. By the time she was an old lady, she had seen the man travel into space in less than 8 minutes.  So, I could not even dream of what mega-leaps into the future mankind would achieve during my lifetime.

The Debate
I am betting that whenever you read arguments about how we should be focusing on solving problems here on Earth before we explore space, you whole-heartedly agree with them because that makes sense to you. When I read those arguments, I shake my head thinking how ignorant these people are not to realize that exploring space IS helping to solve problems here on Earth: cell phones, medical advancements, satellite technology, etc.  (The list goes on and on of life-altering and saving achievements gained or aided through the space program.)

When I hear President John F. Kennedy challenging man to go to the Moon–not because it is easy but because it is hard–I feel the blood in my veins light on fire!  And, so I am wondering, Mr. Obama, why don’t you? Is it really because of your unusual upbringing and focus on the community?

Funding
Well, I of course believe in helping the community, too, just as many past Americans and Presidents have done. In fact, even while paying for the Vietnam War and funding the Great Societies programs, President Johnson still found a way to give 5% of the Federal Budget to make the Space Race a success. Right now, NASA accounts for less than 0.58% of the Federal Budget… how mush less do you want to give to Space?  For every $1 spent on space, $98 go to social programs. (And I haven’t recalculated this amount to accommodate for the billions just approved for the healthcare bill!)

So, in conclusion, Mr. President, I make a small request. Before you make any final decisions and recommendations for the NASA budget, perhaps step into somebody else’s shoes for a while.  Somebody whose upbringing was a bit more typical for an American child of the 60s and 70s. Somebody who had their eyes on the stars rather than on the sidewalks. Somebody who shakes her head sadly when Vice President Biden comes to Central Florida to talk up how the stimulus bill will bring a few hundred jobs to Clermont while his President’s actions will be eliminating 23,000 jobs at NASA. Please, oh please see beyond your personal experience, and appreciate the American experience… and understand why funding space exploration is so important!

Like every American President, you aspire to do great things and I hope you will… so make the right decision not only for Americans, but for mankind as well.

This editorial was written by Top 5 editor Bess Auer, native Floridian and avid dreamer.

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Filed under Just for Me, Politics, Shuttle, Space

The BIG 25

So, after a great ending to 2009, I am looking forward to ringing in the New Year with my husband at the Enzian Theatre. They are having a James Bond themed party, complete with costume contest. [Note: Hubby is not happy with dressing up or going out. Our usual fare is to be in bed by 10:00 pm and let our son on come wake us up at midnight. I told my hubby we needed to “live a little” this year…]

The invite!
 
<—–Here’s the invite that came…very sleek and espionage-like…which kind of blows away my “regular mom” persona. So, I now face the dilemma of how to match such a flashy, slick theme.
 
How am I going to transform into a Bond Girl? [Note: My son is laughing whenever I mention this…] My husband is also looking through his closet. Best possible choice for him? Perhaps get fake teeth and a comb-over and go as Jaws? I could maybe go as Mini-Me…oh, wait, wrong movie. My husband is actually very dashing, so he can probably pull off a “Bond, James Bond” type of look…me, however….well…. hmmm…I may not be posting pictures of us that night. Or maybe I will, depending upon how successful or disastrous our efforts turn out to be. (The Top 5 fans might need a good laugh to kick off their New Year!)
 
At any rate, I started thinking about my New Year’s resolutions as I debated my dress. Last year’s resolutions included competing in a triathlon. [Note: I did actually start training for one. And, yeah, that wipe-out on the treadmill was kind of a speedbump…] So, this year I though I’d go more global, or at least more statewide with my resolve.  So, I came up with the following list which will hopefully contain at least one or two items that will also end up on yours.
 
Every Good Floridian’s New Year’s Resolution List…the “Big 25”
  1. Research how to reduce my carbon footprint…then actually do it.
  2. Use less water.
  3. Start recycling.
  4. Actually remember to take in the reusable Publix bags when I go grocery shopping.  
  5. Now that the Light Rail is here, support it.
  6. Research the potential candidates in the Senate Race [insert Crist, Rubio, other names here] and make an informed choice
  7. Cheer for the two Florida athletes in the Winter Games: Anthony Lobello and Jennifer Rodriguez
  8. Spend more time outdoors enjoying Central Florida weather.
  9. Wear sunscreen daily.
  10. Buy orange juice from Florida growers.
  11. Visit a farmer’s market at least once a month.
  12. Shop at local boutiques.
  13. Donate to a local charity that services locally.
  14. Visit the Central Florida Zoo.
  15. Visit the Central Florida Top 5 website to plan my schedule (Yeah, I had to plug it…)
  16. Visit a local museum at least once a month…lots of culture to choose from!
  17. Find out the local musicians/bands and buy their music
  18. Go to the local theatre…there’s some really fantastic talent!
  19. Adopt a pet from the shelter rather than a chain pet store
  20. Become a better neighbor
  21. Support the home team (in whatever sport you choose)
  22. Find a new local blog to follow…we have some great writers with really interesting things to say!
  23. Visit a theme park…when’s the last time you actually went to one?
  24. Read or watch the local news (in print or online…be informed about your community)
  25. Support space travel. (For jobs, economy, and for the future…)
 
Well, there it is…at least a beginning, right?  I am sure there are other, more important items that might be on there, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.  What would you add to the list? Whatever it is, add it to yours, and maybe all together we can make a big difference for a GREAT 2010!
 
Happy New Year from the Top 5!
 
PS I’ll be tweeting from the James Bond New Year’s Eve Party, so follow along on Twitter.

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Filed under Charity, General Info, Music, Politics, The Arts