Tag Archives: The Florida Times-Union

One phone call away from the full story

By Calvin Palmer

Florida is one of two states forecast to lose restaurant jobs this summer, according to a report by the National Restaurant Association. The other state facing a fall in restaurant jobs is Arizona.

The Florida Times-Union carried this story in its Business Section, on Thursday, stating restaurant employment in Florida is estimated to shrink by 3.1 percent, from 614,100 to 595,100 jobs, as well as pointing out that Alaska’s growth is projected at 23 percent; Delaware’s is estimated at 20.6 percent and Maine’s is projected at 31.1 percent.

Given that Florida is a state where tourism forms a large part of the state’s economy, this story immediately begs the question, why is its number of restaurant jobs projected to fall?

Sadly, The Florida Times-Union was not prepared to go the extra yard and provide its readers with an explanation.

The Jacksonville Business Journal, however, was on the ball. It contacted the National Restaurant Association and concluded its coverage of the story with the following paragraph:

Florida and Arizona’s busiest seasons for travel and tourism are not the summer months, an association spokeswoman said.

Was that too difficult a task for Florida Times-Union reporter, Kevin Turner? Apparently it was.

[Based on reports by The Florida Times-Union and the Jacksonville Business Journal.]

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Filed under Business, Economy, News, Newspapers

Fairy-tales have no place in the science classroom

By Calvin Palmer

With important local elections coming up in Jacksonville, The Florida Times-Union yesterday chose a letter on five key political issues as its letter of the day.

Only in Florida could the teaching of evolution be described as a key political issue. Surely a greater political issue is the way expenditure on public schools is being eroded away to the point where children are not going to get much in the way of an education.

But that suits the tea party idiots and ultra-conservative Republicans. Why would they want educated voters who are able to think for themselves about issues?

The reader from Jacksonville Beach suggests that intelligent design or creationism be taught alongside evolution.

Well, there is a perfectly good reason why it isn’t.

Evolution is a theory based on scientific evidence and has underpinned scientific inquiry for more than 150 years. Creationism, on the other hand, is a bloody fairy-tale!

The reader states:

Since the debate involves public schools, why not teach both views in an unbiased way and let the students choose for themselves what they believe about a subject that is as much an emotional issue as it is science?

I love this appeal to objectivity. I wonder if the same reader, in the interests of objectivity, would be in favour of Islam being taught in public schools so that children could decide for themselves on the true religion?

Thought not.

There are none so blind as the ignorant and bigoted.

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Filed under Education, Newspapers, Science

Headline writer’s premier blunder deserves the coup de grâce

By Calvin Palmer

It is widely assumed that people who work on newspapers are educated – in America it is possible to earn an undergraduate degree in journalism. However, the people who teach the courses often have no experience of  working on a newspaper.

Would you want your surgeon to be trained by someone who has never performed surgery? I thought not.

If journalists and members of the editorial team do not possess a degree, they usually more than compensate by having a broad knowledge of the world and its affairs. They are savoir-faire, as the French would say.

It is also a great shame that a great many Americans possess little or no understanding of a second language.

This linguistic shortfall, combined with a lack of knowledge that is within the grasp of most 11-year-olds in Britain, led to an unfortunate advertorial headline in the property section of my newspaper.

The headline ran : “Four premiere builders move to Durbin Crossing”.

I dare say 99 percent of the paper’s readership did not bat an eyelid. I would even guess that the editorial board thought the headline was all right, somewhat sophisticated by the newspaper’s usual standards.

But for the well-traveled and knowledgeable, the headline raised an eyebrow and consternation regarding the caliber of the newspaper’s editorial staff.

A premiere, which should take a grave accent and be written première, is the first performance of a play or film, a movie in American parlance.

Premier, on the other hand, means first in position, importance, order or time. Hence the English Premier League is football’s highest league in England.

So what the unfortunate headline writer wrote equates to four first performance builders move to Durbin Crossing. In other words, complete and utter nonsense.

It will probably come as no surprise that the newspaper in question was The Florida Times-Union, based in Jacksonville.

As a former copy editor, the only thing left to say is, Sacré bleu!

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Smoke obscures the point of health advice tips

By Calvin Palmer

The Florida Times-Union yesterday did a feature yesterday on aging and quoted Paul D. Nussman or Paul Nussbaum depending on which part of the article a person happens to read. Looks like The Jacksonville Joke has struck again.

Nussbaum is described as an adjunct associate professor of neurological surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. You will find no mention of him in the Department of Neurological Surgery because as an adjunct he is not a member of faculty.  So his position sounds grand but, in reality, he is part time and non-salaried. And that of course begs the question as to why.

But given the column inches devoted to Nussbaum and the inclusion of the title “Dr”, although my research suggests that this title stems from his Ph.D. rather than M.D. degree, Nussbaum takes on the authority one of the 21st Century’s high priests, namely the medical profession.

Some of these high priests are tremendously skilled and countless people owe their continued existence on this planet to their medical knowledge and expertise. Others seem more inclined to tell us all how we should lead our lives.

Many Americans of the Republican persuasion eschew “big government” because they do not like anyone telling them what they must or must not do. A good many physicians are Republicans but they think of nothing of telling us what to do in terms of our lifestyle. And Republicans not clad in white coats accept it without a thought of staging a Tea Party protest. Such is the power of the white coat and stethoscope. Perhaps if President Obama were to dress up like a medical doctor he would become the darling of Republicans.

It seems Nussbaum has no rightful place among this elite but the media is easily taken in by the title “Dr”. As a result, Nussbaum gets his chance to preach to the masses and gives his top ten tips for maintaining a healthy brain.

Tip 1: Don’t smoke.

Smoking represents a major risk factor for cancer, heart disease and stroke. These leading causes of death represent an ongoing concern for all Americans. Non-smokers might consider taking an empathetic approach to smokers who are trying to quit, and parents might use a “tough love” approach with their children to make sure they don’t even start.

As an aside, the use of “might” here instead of “may” means that they are unlikely to do so.

The piece is entitled “Dr Paul Nussbaum’s Ten Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Brain From 1 to 100.”

Now if his advice were in regard to general health and longevity, I would be the first to agree, albeit reluctantly, with Nussbaum’s number one tip. But it is supposed to be about maintaining a healthy brain and nowhere does Nussbaum discuss the effects, harmful or otherwise, smoking has on the brain.

So what we have here is the white-coated high priest mantra against tobacco and little in the way it might impact the health of someone’s brain.

But in the non-smoking offices and grounds of The Florida Times-Union building, one can imagine the health fascists applauding Nussbaum for a job well done. He no doubt received messages of congratulation from the countless junk scientists allied to anti-tobacco organizations: “Good job, Nussbaum!”

And before you are tempted to dismiss this article, I would point out that I am also a doctor. Granted I am not a medical doctor but then neither is Nussbaum.

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Silence surrounds alleged gang rape in Riverside

By Calvin Palmer

A week ago, a woman in her fifties was allegedly gang raped around 8:00 p.m. on a street in Riverside, Jacksonville, not far from Five Points.

Fire rescue vehicles turned up along with two police cars at the Grassroots Natural Market, on Park Street, where the unfortunate woman, battered and bleeding, had sought refuge. Owner Jack Robison called the police.

At first, the story was that she had been run off the road while riding her bicycle and the person/persons had stolen the bicycle. It then changed to her being robbed of her bicycle by three young men. The final version was that she had been gang raped, as well as being robbed.

In the order of heinous crimes, a gang rape is probably second down from murder, especially when it occurs on a street, and yet The Florida Times-Union did not report the crime until yesterday. No surprises there.

A gang rape is a hard news story and hard news is not the strong suit of The Times-Union. Its front page rarely carries a news story of any form.

But in trying to follow good journalistic practice, the newspaper did seek a comment from Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. The police were not prepared to comment on the case.

Something does not quite add up here. The police have no comment on a gang rape committed early in the evening on a residential street?

The low-key treatment of this case by the police and The Times-Union’s tardiness in reporting on it raises some questions.

If the woman had been gang raped, surely the police would have commented something along the lines that they are seeking three males between the ages of whatever and given a brief description to try and establish their identities, with the hope of arresting the woman’s attackers.

But this silence is bizarre. It almost begs the question of whether it was indeed a gang rape.

In another time and another place, someone would get to the bottom of this puzzling story.

It is incumbent on newspapers to uphold the truth and inform the public. Sadly, for the citizens of Jacksonville, that role was long rejected by The Times-Union in favor of manipulating people’s minds and feeding their ultra-conservative paranoia.

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Jaguars emerge as Jacksonville Pussies

By Calvin Palmer

In a rare moment in NFL history, the Jacksonville Jaguars became the first team to change its name during the half-time interval at Seattle.

Trailing 20-0 after one of the most inept first-half displays ever witnessed in the NFL, Jacksonville emerged for the second half bearing the name Jacksonville Pussies.

If the cap fits, wear it. And that cap certainly fits Rashean Mathis. Is there any other player on a NFL roster who tackles like a girl? He seems to think a gentle tap on the back of an opposing player with the palms of his hands will stop them in their tracks. Wrong!

What this big girl’s blouse is doing playing pro football escapes me.  I would be reluctant to have him serving on a stadium hot dog concession stand. I doubt he would have the strength to split open a bun.

Quite what Jack Del Rio will say at half-time is anyone’s guess but he did not seem particularly concerned as he left the field.

It would now appear Jacksonville sports two jokes – The Florida Times-Union newspaper and now its football team.

Having suffered further humiliation is the second half, it would be appropriate if every player of the Jacksonville Pussies who took the field at Seattle donated their weekly wage to a charity of their choice. They certainly did not earn this money this afternoon.

Inquiries about the kick-off time of next week’s game against the St Louis Rams are likely to be met with, “What time can you get here?”

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Times-Union verges on the delusional

By Calvin Palmer

Yesterday’s editorial in The Florida Times-Union implores the newspaper’s readers to “Keep your eyes open”. Given where the heads of most of its readers normally reside, as well as many of the journalists, they will not see much even if they follow this advice.

The “advice” proffered stems from recent cases of people being arrested on terrorist charges in Dallas and Springfield, Illinois.

The editorial also remarks on “how easy it is for illegal visitors to get inside the United States (at least 10 million and counting according to federal data)…”

And everyone of them is a potential terrorist, no doubt, in the eyes of The Florida Times-Union.

 Just a minute, wasn’t President Obama’s margin of victory over John McCain 10 million votes? The Tea Party will likely soon be saying each and everyone of those illegal visitors somehow managed to register as voters in the United States and so swung the election Obama’s way. It is about as absurd as most of their utterances.

“In a free society, there are many potential targets and no shortage of extremists.”

Yes, and a good many of those are homegrown. Perhaps the editorial board of The Times-Union should read its own Rant &Rave column from time to time, as well as the Letters Page. Some extreme views certainly seem to be given the oxygen of publicity, courtesy of The Times-Union. Why is that?

The editorial column concludes with typical patronizing piety.

“The possibility of terrorism is an unwanted reality of life. But we can all play a role in minimizing it.”

Why doesn’t the editorial board simply seek the aid of a good psychiatrist to cope with its paranoia and delusions of grandeur, instead of inflicting its psychoses on readers?

It is somewhat pitiful to think that a place such as Jacksonville, whose only national prominence comes through the Jacksonville Jaguars, would ever qualify as a terrorist target.

I can just picture al-Qaeda discussing potential targets and deciding that an attack on Jacksonville will have far more impact in terms of publicity than an attack on say New York City, Chicago or Los Angeles.

And pray what target would they choose? The international airport, which has no international flights? The Municipal Stadium? Well, a lot of people in Jacksonville would see that as the perfect way to get rid of the Jacksonville Jaguars, while at the same time deflecting the blame away from them.

What have I gone and said? Phil Fretz will be on the phone trying to get a number for al-Qaeda before you can say tax increase.

The message of The Florida Times-Union editorial would appear to be misdirected. We should keep our eyes open for the propaganda, misinformation, deceit and specious comments that regularly appear on its pages.

Right-wing Republicans are an unwanted reality of life but we can all play a role in minimizing the influence they seek to exert.

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