If you're on city property and your pants hang more than 2" below your "natural waistline," you face a $500 fine, and for repeat offenders, jail. Read the rest
An unsigned editorial in the Pensacola News Journal decries the decision of a local high-school teacher to cancel the school's One School/One Book summer reading program to stop students from reading my novel Little Brother. They point out that the principal violated school procedures when he took it upon himself to unilaterally cancel the assignment, and that this is both inappropriate as an educational matter and from the perspective of free speech and free inquiry. It's a great editorial, and it rightly emphasizes the bravery of English department head Mary Kate Griffith, who has fought valiantly over this issue. Read the rest
Last week's news that the principal of Pensacola, FL's Booker T Washington High School had cancelled its One School/One Book summer reading program rather than have his students read my novel Little Brother has alarmed several national anti-censorship organizations, led by the National Coalition Against Censorship. Their open letter to the principal of BTWHS, signed by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, the National Council of Teachers of English, the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, the American Booksellers Federation for Free Expression, the Association of American Publishers, and PEN American Center, discusses the legal and moral duty of educators to put challenging material in front of their students.
I'm immensely grateful to these organizations and especially the NCAC for their support, and I really hope that the principal reconsiders his decision and that I can have a chance to discuss the admittedly challenging themes and scenes in Little Brother with his students in the fall. Read the rest
US Marshals swept into the offices of police in Sarasota, Florida to whisk away records related to operation of "stingray" surveillance tools that the ACLU had requested. The records detailed the farcically low standard for judicial permission to use a stingray (which captures information about the movements, communications and identities of all the people using mobile phones in range of them), and is part of a wider inquiry to their use without a warrant at all -- at least 200 Florida stingray deployments were undertaken without judicial oversight because the police had signed a nondisclosure agreement with the device's manufacturer and they decided that this meant they didn't have to get warrants anymore.
The ACLU has seen a lot of shenanigans in respect of its campaign to document the use and abuse of stingrays, but this is a cake-taker: "We’ve seen our fair share of federal government attempts to keep records about stingrays secret, but we’ve never seen an actual physical raid on state records in order to conceal them from public view." Read the rest
Florida state senator Dwight Bullard thought that a proposed bill to legalize carrying concealed firearms during disaster evacuations was an incredibly stupid idea. So he proposed an amendment to rename the bill "An act relating to the zombie apocalypse." Both the bill and the amendment failed to pass the state legislature.
Richard Masten is the executive director of Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers, a service that promises anonymity to the people who send in tips on serious crimes. So when a judge ordered him to hand over a tip -- with potentially identifying information -- to a defendant's lawyer, he ate it.
As Lowering the Bar points out, this is probably more of a symbolic gesture than a real defense of his source's anonymity, since there's likely a file-copy at Crimestoppers itself. Masten is going back to court this week to receive a punishment from the judge: "I'll bring a toothbrush and some pajamas." Read the rest
Hampton, Florida is a town so corrupt that it offends the Florida Legislature, a body with a notoriously high tolerance for sleaze. With fewer than 500 inhabitants, Hampton's major source of revenue is a diseased, questing wang that it has protruded from its main mass onto a 0.2 mile stretch of Highway 301 -- a stretch where the speed limit dips from 65 to 55. Hampton's hard-working traffic cops write an average of 17 tickets a day against out-of-towners, clearing $419,624 in 2011 and 2012. However, the town also operated at a deficit during this time. Read the rest
Barry Layne Moore, erstwhile mayor of Hampton, Florida, has been arrested for possessing and selling Oxycodone. Upon arresting him, Bradford County Sheriff Gordon Smith quipped: Read the rest
Dave Barry's Insane City is a tremendously fun novel that romps through a Miami full of grifters, pimps, thugs, sweet-hearted beachbunnies, honorable men with pythons, seductive women with spiked drinks who'll rob you blind, dope-sniffing dogs and the cops who handle them, and a girl-crazed orangutan.
Enter Seth Weinstein, who is about to marry Tina, a woman beyond his wildest dreams: beautiful, rich, brilliant, principled -- the daughter of a powerful, uptight billionaire, who has been brought up to seize her goals and never back down. Which is a far cry from Seth, who is a loser who tweets about feminine hygiene products for a marketing company that pays him to astroturf unintentionally humorous consumer packaged goods.
Seth, Tina, and their friends and family descend upon Miami for the wedding. But a comedy of errors, each more improbable than the last, soon has Seth in custody of a refugee from Haiti and her two small children, as well as an angry stripper and her muscle, and the aforementioned man-with-python and sweet-hearted beachbunny. It's a long story, but at least he's doing better than his groomsmen, who have been robbed of everything (including, for one gentleman, all his clothes including his underwear) and dumped on Miami beach.
Though the characters here are stock figures from central casting, the plot is an insane, glorious hairball of best-laid-plans gone wrong, a cross between Fawlty Towers and Weekend at Bernies, building to a crescendo that had me literally hooting with laughter on an airplane. Dave Barry is a funny man. Read the rest