Tuesday, January 20, 2015

News and Views From There and Here

News: Say the word California and people smile. Mention the words New Jersey and people laugh. It’s a punchline, not paradise. And apparently not a fun place to live.

Nearly two of every three families making an interstate move involving New Jersey last year were leaving, the highest rate in the country. New Jersey had the greatest percentage of outbound moves of any state nationally with almost 65 percent departing.

It has led the nation in outward migration for the fourth time in five years. Nearly half of those leaving New Jersey were bound for Florida (15 percent), California (14), Texas (9) and North Carolina (7.5).

Views: I have visited New Jersey on several occasions. Each time, I also had the irresistible  urge to leave. Now we know what Bruce Springsteen was trying to tell us when he recorded “Born to Run.”

It’s called the Garden State but we’re not sure why. George Carlin once addressed the nickname this way: “I say let them put it right on the license plate, 'NJ, the Tollbooth State.' What does it say now, the Garden State? Sure if you're growing smokestacks, yes.”

That’s not to say New Jersey hasn’t had its moments: During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the state offered begging licenses to unemployed residents, the zeppelin airship Hindenburg crashed in flames over Lakehurst, and the SS Morro Castle beached itself near Asbury Park after going up in flames while at sea. 

It is home to two National Football League teams, both of which identify themselves as being from New York.

As for those remaining in New Jersey, half say they want to eventually leave the state, and more than a quarter of them say their future departure is “very likely,” according to a Monmouth University poll.

And their governor wants to run for president? Get outta here!

News:  Snopes.Com debunks a new bunch of urban legends.

Views:  I visit the website from time to time, curious about what matter of unfounded paranoia is sweeping the nation. What I found recently is that most of the misinformation shares a common source.

Some examples:

--- Police and local investigators say that the 2-year-old toddler that fired a gun in an Idaho Walmart store, killing his mother, will be tried as an adult.  This story which defies credibility on so many levels is brought to us from the Empire News, a satirical operation which also brought us such classics as "College Student Excused from Classes After Dog Eats Grandmother.”

--- NFL referee Pete Morelli mysteriously came into $500,000 and quit his job shortly after he had controversially announced and then rescinded a crucial pass interference call in the fourth quarter of the Cowboys-Lions playoff game the previous day. That came courtesy of Naha Daily which is 100 per cent satire.

--- On Jan. 6, the Daily Currant published an article titled "Obama Wears 'I Can't Breathe' Shirt to Congressional Swearing-In Ceremony." According to the article, President Obama attended the swearing-in of the 114th Congress clad in a shirt commonly worn by those who have protested a grand jury decision following the death of New York resident Eric Garner.

The Daily Currant is a well-known fake news site whose previous fabricated stories includes one claiming Sarah Palin believed that Jesus celebrated Easter. 

--- In 15 December, World News Daily Report published an article titled "'Little Old Lady' Arrested for Making Fur Coats with Neighbor's Cats." According to the site, an unnamed 85-year-old female resident of Waco, Texas, was arrested and charged with unspecified crimes after police learned of her activities.

World News Daily Report is one of many fake news outlets known to fabricate outrageous stories in the hopes Facebook users will pass the tales on to friends
One of their greatest hits was a story headlined, “Dead Cow Brought Back to Life by Lightning.”

It made me wonder if there are more journalists working in satire then mainstream media. Or maybe satire is the new reality. After all, it’s just the truth with a laugh track attached.

News:  Al Martinez dies.

Views:  A friend and colleague from our days at the Los Angeles Times, Al was called the Bard of Los Angeles, a fitting title.

He had the soul of a poet encapsulated in a rugged body, one that was honed on the hard scrabble streets of Oakland where he grew up and on the battlefields of Korea where he served as a Marine rifleman.

He cut his journalistic teeth at the Oakland Tribune where, in those days, your desk mate was probably packing a fifth of Old Granddad is his desk drawer.

He survived that dubious introduction to the news business, thrived and found his way to Los Angeles where he wrote for the Times, the Daily News, television and various other media.

Al once told me that when he had nothing else to do, he would write. Not for practice or publication, just for the sheer joy of writing, much as a musician would tinker away on a piano for his own amusement.

He often sang the song of the common man, trying to survive and make sense of an uncaring world.

He was also an unapologetic optimist.

“What I am in the long run is not so much a chronicler of woe or a satirist defining human folly as a messenger of redemption who believes that in the wake of every calamity, spring will come again.”

Words to live by.

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