New Economy, Palm Trees and Alzheimer’s Intrusion

E mbrace and Apply: Florida is neither muddle nor model when it comes to landing “new economy” jobs, says a Washington, D.C. think-tank economist.

The Progressive Policy Institute’s Robert Atkinson, who was in town recently to address a gathering of business and civic leaders, authored a study that ranked Florida 18th in ability to compete for those high-paying, “new economy” jobs. Two years ago, it was 16th. Florida’s worst showing was in percentage of civilian scientists and engineers in the work force (49th) and the percentage of manufacturers with Internet access (40th). The state also ranked 37th in the percentage of adults with Internet access at home or at work. AT WORK.

Atkinson emphasized that “new economy” transcended the recruitment of, say, software and other high-tech enterprises. It has more to do with application. He said successful old economy businesses — such as manufacturers across a broad spectrum of products — can succeed or fail on the basis of “embracing” technology. Apply it, underscored Atkinson, don’t just recruit it.

Ethically challenged: Almost assuredly, the St. Petersburg Times has published another potential award-winner: “Alone Together” — “A Year in the Life of an Alzheimer’s Support Group.” It was nearly two years in the making.

It’s moving and undoubtedly helpful to those unfamiliar with such groups — but in likely need of one. It’s well chronicled, well written and, well, pictorially graphic. As in invasive. As in poor taste. As in ethically challenged.

Perhaps the most depressing aspect of Alzheimer’s is the undermining of a patient’s dignity. Where once was an individual, there is now a tragically sad shell. Ultimately unable to relate. Unable to do for themselves. Unable to give permission to have their picture taken being diapered. Being dead.

Not to worry. Ask enough caregivers, and you’ll find some who will give permission. For anything. It’s akin to signing off for a minor.

But human dignity is no minor matter.

Out on a limb of illogic: Ybor City’s Barrio Latino is palm treed out.

Tampa’s historic Latin Quarter arguably has too many bars and under-age drinkers and more than enough places to get a tattoo and a body part pierced. There’s nothing the Barrio can do about that.

And there are plans for a big building that looks incongruously like a boat. The Barrio did too little about that.

But palm trees on the west side of 15th Street where a new sidewalk is going in? The Barrio is on the case and has drawn a line in the pavement. They turned down the request of the Ybor City Development Corp. to spruce up the street with palms. Not traditional enough, sniffed the Barrio. Try elms.

Explained Barrio Chairman Ken Ferlita: “If we approve (palms) on this block

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