2020 February

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Letters to the editor with pictures since 2002. Published on Big Pine Key’s garbage days, Tuesdays and Fridays.

[Can Key Deer Survive Drinking Brackish Water] Interesting deer fact from Save Our Key Deer: There is a widely circulated claim Key deer’s unique adaptations to their island environment includes their ability to survive drinking water with higher salinities than other animals. This statement appears in many places, including recent scientific articles, and USFWS web pages. The claim was taken for granted by the Key deer Refuge management after Irma, when they stopped providing supplemental water (and discouraged residents to continue) after some natural water holes’ salinities dropped to 15 parts per thousand (ppt). Last March SOKD initiated a project to monitor natural water hole salinities on multiple islands within the Key deer’s range – one of its objectives being to verify or dispute this claim. Research.
So what constitutes drinkable water? Body fluids of humans and other mammals contain about 9 ppt salt ions (close to 1% of us is salt). So drinking water with a higher salt content is counterproductive since the extra salt has to be excreted through urine or sweat, and both require more water. Birds such as seagulls have specialized glands to excrete salt (that’s why they always seem to have a runny nose), and manatees and dolphins have longer “Henle” loops in their kidneys, allowing them to produce more concentrated urine.
The notion that Key deer have adapted to tolerate relatively high salt amounts started in the 1970s when Dr. Klimstra, a prominent Key deer researcher at the time, wrote in one report that he saw deer drinking out of a water hole with 12-13 ppt salt. Subsequently, one of his students reported seeing deer tracks at holes with even higher salinity. For comparison, sea water is in the 35-37 ppt range. The long-repeated belief is that Key deer do just fine drinking half-seawater. This has been passed on in more recent publications and is now widely stated as fact, without any additional proof. The truth is, however, that seeing a deer drink saline water once provides no information on whether it continued to do so, and seeing tracks on a mud bank are no proof other than a deer walked there, perhaps just to test the water. SOKD’s trail cameras targeting water holes with 12-15 ppt salinity have not, in almost a year, documented any repeated drinking by Key deer, even with no other lower salinity water sources in the vicinity. Since there is no published evidence of any physiological differences in Key deer kidneys vs. regular whitetails kidneys, there is no logical explanation how Key deer would be able to tolerate an increased salt load. We have thus become very skeptical of the salt tolerance claim. We thus consider the likely long-term drinkable limit at less than 10 ppt. Much more data exist for farm animals’ tolerance of water salinity and they parallel our observations. At 5-7 ppt animals don’t do too well, at 7-10 ppt pigs are the first to get really sick, and at more than 10 ppt everybody (pigs, goats, sheep, cows) croaks after a week or so.
For more info and recent results of our salinity monitoring project, go to our web site and click on the “Water Monitoring” tab:
[Baba Ram Dass is Dead] Timothy Leary invited some friends — including Richard (Baba Ram Dass) Alpert and the poet Allen Ginsberg — to his house in Newton, Mass., on March 5, 1961, a Saturday. In his kitchen, he distributed 10-milligram doses of psilocybin. After taking his, Mr. Alpert recalled, he felt supreme calm, then panic, then exaltation. He believed he had met his own soul. He said he realized then that “it was O.K. to be me.”
The Moody Blues–Timothy Leary’s Dead
[Housing] Do we need more housing? No. “Build it and they will come” is a truism. For example, let’s say there are a thousand people living in a very desirable area. If you build 20 more houses, you get 20 more people moving there. That’s also true.  Build it and they will come development is what they are doing under the guise of affordable housing. There is no empty housing in any year-round resort. If you don’t believe people earning $66,938 a year are poor and in need of affordable housing, you should yell about this smoke and mirrors scam being pushed on us. And that’s for only one person. Crap, if a couple making upwards of $140,000 a year can’t afford market rate housing, they’d better learn to budget better. If the politicians representing us were honest about affordable housing, they’d let us rent our downstairs enclosures. Everyone knows that, but they won’t do anything about it. There’s no money in it.

To support development, they are also trying to make the hurricane evacuation time longer so more building can be permitted. That’s the main thing slowing development in the Keys — evacuation time. That’s the time it takes to clear the Keys in an emergency. Why even have an evacuation plan if its phony.



[Easy Living] I’ve been trying to get my cousin to come down and visit so he sent me this photo of his yard along with his, “Thank you, but no.”



[Community Yard Sale] Saturday, February 15th, 9 am to 3 pm. Port Pine Heights area at the north end of the island. Watch for street signs.

[“Noisy tourist next door”] Open your eyes about so called local control over the short term rentals issue. As dutiful servants of the landed aristocracy, our politicians claim that they are trying to preserve work force housing, Actually their true goal is protect the billion dollar cash machine called tourist housing.
By stopping a maid who happens to work at a resort from renting out a room in her house for 75% less than the hotel she works in, the local aristocracy eliminates lower cost competition, and at the same time reinforces the serf class (local workers) need to work at their low wage jobs. To add insult to injury, the local politicians also allow the aristocracy to build affordable housing that is not affordable, and then tell the serf-workers that it a great deal. Again, guess who is making money on the whole affordable housing scam.


[Rescue Badger] Do you suffer from anxiety attacks? Are they often caused by stupid people? Get an emotional support Honey Badger!
Unlike other companion animals that snuggle up to provide physical comfort and a safe space during anxiety attacks, the emotional support Honey Badger instead physically attacks and savages the absolutely living hell out of the stupid idiot bothering you, thus removing the source of the anxiety. Much more efficient. Ask your doctor if Honey Badger is right for you.

[Weird Department] Where can I sell my toenail and fingernail clippings collection? I have a very large collection of fingernail and toenail clippings I have had for many years.
Reportedly, gangster Al Capone’s toenail clippings sold at auction for $35,000. And here I have been just throwing mine away! If you have been saving yours, you can sell them, but probably not for $35,000. Link
I bought some macaroni & cheese kits in the “under a dollar box” for fast, cheap eats and just cooked one up. It has been years since I ate a box of mac & cheese so I actually read the instructions. After boiling and draining the noodles, it said to stir in 4 tbsp of butter (half a stick!) and a quarter cup of 2% milk. I had to laugh. Why specify 2% milk after melting in all that butter? Whole milk is about 3.25% fat. Butter is about 70-100% fat. A quarter cup contains 4 tbsp, which is how much butter you were supposed to stir in. So the equal volume of milk just serves to make the mac & cheese runnier and so far as the overall butterfat content of your meal goes, 2% or 3.25% milk makes negligible difference. You have a half cup of greasy fat in your mac & cheese that is a minimum of 36% or 36.6% butterfat butter fat depending on 2% or whole milk used.
[Book Club] Are there any book clubs in the lower Keys? I need to get out of the house more.



[Acronym] A “pregnant” crash-test dummy is called a Maternal Anthropometry Measurement Apparatus Version 2B—or a MAMA2B.

[Deepfakes is the Future of Fake News] For internet companies like Google, finding the tools to spot deepfakes has gained urgency. If someone wants to spread a fake video far and wide, Google’s YouTube or Facebook’s social media platforms would be great places to do it. Imagine a fake Senator Elizabeth Warren, virtually indistinguishable from the real thing, getting into a fistfight in a doctored video. Or a fake President Trump doing the same. The technology capable of that trickery is edging closer to reality. Maybe the conspiracy nuts aren’t so wrong after all. Video


[“Deer with lumpy jaw”] We had a deer with an abscess that went all the way through her jaw and continually leaked spit and blood. There was a hole the size of my finger. She was going to die anyway so we asked friends for their old antibiotics and mixed some in her food daily until the abscess went away or she keeled over.  She got better. The deer people probably would have had a fit if they knew what we did to save her.

People watched 1 billion hours of YouTube video in one day!


[Book Review] Lost by Thomas Thompson is his latest best seller. Three people spend 72 days in an overturned trimaran. There was a husband and wife and their brother-in-law boat owner, who was a religious fanatic of the Seventh Day Adventist kind. The zealot capsized the 31’ boat because he was inept at boat handling. He allowed it to broach three times in 50’ seas. He had faith in “God’s will”. He was sent to radio the Coast Guard for rescue, but he had faith, so he told the Coast Guard that there was rough weather — but they were all right. Everything was “God’s will” to him so he threw some of their food and their water purifier overboard. Then he snuck food and drink from their meager supplies and omitted telling them the fact that he didn’t call for rescue. The other couple waited for the non-existing rescue until the wife died.
What could be worse than being trapped in an overturned boat with a religious fanatic for 72 days, never knowing what he’ll do next. Link

[Housing Scam] According to HUD income limits, one person can earn $66,938 to qualify, but depending on how many people are in a household, the numbers increase from there.

Earning $5,578 a month is poor? I wish I made that much. So two people can earn $11,000 a month and still qualify for low income housing? If you make over a thousand a week you don’t need any special discounts for housing. This figure just shows what a racket affordable housing is. You know all these numbers were cooked up by developers’ lawyers in order to bypass existing limits for developments. Now they even want to increase hurricane evacuation times in order to be able to build more “affordable” housing. There is no reason for any of this except to enrich developers at the expense of the Keys.




[Virus] Before you start popping that bubble wrap, remember the air in it is from China.

[Education] Like Pink Floyd sang, “We don’t need no education. We don’t need no thought control.” Famous dropouts
•Grade school dropouts: Mark Twain, Henry Ford, William Faulkner, President Zachary Taylor, Charlie Chaplin, Isadora Duncan, Charles Dickens, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Jack London, Al Pacino, Richard Branson, and Cher.
•College dropouts: Edgar Allan Poe, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, Marc Rich, Sheldon Adelson, David Geffen, Ted Turner, and Ralph Lauren
Pink Floyd – Another Brick In The Wall


[India Gets $2-A-Month Internet] Reliance Jio, a mobile carrier created by Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man, offers free calls and 1.5 gigabytes of wireless data a day for $2 a month (I pay $70 a month for 1Gb of data a month). Jio spent six years building a 4G wireless network, including writing new apps, new towers in rural areas and designing inexpensive new phones that worked with its technology. We were doing over 700 towers a day. “We introduced the JioPhone. It was a $22 device, but we gave it for $10. In 171 days, we had over 100 million subscribers.” Reliance Jio is the fastest-growing company in any sector across any technology company anywhere in the world. Link

[Surveillance Capitalists] We have to decide what humans are in the digital age. Are we just going to be chattel for commerce? We celebrated the new digital services as free, but now we see the surveillance capitalists behind those services regard us as the free commodity. surveillance capitalists have demanded the right to take our faces wherever they appear. Those user agreements you sign are permissions to surveille you. We all search Google, but it’s Google who is searching us.




Mickey Rooney told Elizabeth Taylor on the set of National Velvet that after you learn your lines all you have to do is listen and react. Trailer

Another “No Mail Monday”. Good job USPS.
[Win a $500 Publix Gift Card] Would you like 2 chances to win $500 at Publix? United Way of the Florida Keys will hold two drawings for $500 Publix gift cards at 10 am on March 25, 2020.

Funds raised support Keys residents with access to nutritious food, education and financial stability.

Suggested donation for tickets is $20 each or 6 for $100. Each ticket will be entered in both drawings and only 500 tickets are available, so chances of winning are 2 in 500. Winners need not be present to win and gift cards can be used at any Publix store. Tickets are available online until March 24, or get them from a United Way board or staff member, or by calling the UWFK office at 305-735-1929. Link

[Flu] The Chinese doctor who sounded the alarm about the virus died this week. A Chinese doctor who got in trouble with authorities in the communist country for sounding an early warning about the coronavirus outbreak died Friday after coming down with the illness. Link