Monday, February 28, 2005

don't get on paul vallas' bad side...

Vallas makes an interesting point in an article by Susan Snyder, in today's Inquirer*. He wants to get the school district away from the management of alternative schools, despite a recent spike in enrollment.

"I don't think we should be in the business of alternative schools at all," Vallas said in an interview. "There are companies for which it is their profession. Their livelihood depends on the programs, and the extension of their contracts is contingent upon the performance of their students." [MORE...]

Isn't that what he was for? And No Child Left Behind? This is outsourcing. If it happens, the company chosen should be from the city or as close to it as possible.

Meanwhile, further "anticipatory" snow closings today. Not a flake has fallen, yet.

If you're sick of it, head on over to this blog, and help a girl out with her homework.

*Requires registration.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

matt takes you thru the oscars, live

We love Tattered Coat!!

residence evil

Easing rules about workers' city residences... obvious much?

by Dan Keashen

No coat-hanger residences, ever. That's the message coming from city controller and likely 2007 mayoral candidate Jonathan Saidel, who is going public with his desire to revamp residency restrictions for those who work for the city... [more after the jump]

first amendment or sixth amendment?

Again & again, judicial secrecy in this country is blamed on journalists gone wild. In yesterday's Philadelphia Daily News, Theresa Conroy updated the public on the secret pre-trial hearings in Eddie Batzig's Fishtown murder case*. The rationale is that Batzig's right to a fair trial will be compromised by public exposure to graphic crime scene photographs.

(I won't even ask why this case isn't considered air tight- rock solid enough to withstand presupposed dangers. It's clear that jury selection is under a lot of scrutiny right now, as the Jackson molestation trial gets underway with an odd ratio of African Americans to whites).

I've posted about journalistic responsibility before. Many analysts have pinpointed this erosion of press freedomes to the OJ trial that so dominated its era.

To be frank, I see this as less a presidential problem & more an error in law interpretation. The judges are at fault. So, has every anti-press ruling in the past ten years been the fault of a swathe of feisty new ultra-ultra conservative judges?

Of course not. But the environment has changed. And perhaps to that extent, our government has only worsened the situation for many journalists. We are now being ruled in this country by an indispensible tool- fear.

While the U.S. continues to instruct others around the world on the best possible course for democracy, we're locking up our own reporters.

Ann Cooper heads the Committee to Protect Journalists. CPJ is a great resource for anyone interested in press freedoms.

*Here's the link to Conroy's piece. (Requires registration).

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

art of all things weird

So does the art make the man, or the man the art?

Where did the larger-than-life persona of Salvador Dali originate from? Some critics say his gravity-defying mustache ruined his artistic legacy. On the other hand, would he have been so well known- such a good advertising package- without his intense ego?

The show is at the Philadelphia Museum of Art through mid-May.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

m&m is an advice columnist

Five Easy Steps to Falling Out of Love

Today is about bitter reflection. My first love, the man I decided should pine for me forever, is getting married. This uncomfortable situation has driven me to a three-minute session of quickie introspection.

Approaching the goddess throne, I asked her to enlighten me. And, in a moment of gracious wisdom (was it indigestion?) she elected to share the secrets of the universe. I emerged from that confab with the conclusion that, even though Paul Simon says there are 50 ways to leave your lover, there are only five ways to fall out of love.

How can our friends and our psychotherapist alike blame us for nursing a crush when there are reminders everywhere? Ticket stubs from first dates, movie reruns on cable, his sweater, ew- his boxers, his friends. The places you went, the places you meant to go together. The places you refused to go.

Way number one to fall out of love: Control your thoughts.

Don't let him bring you down. Don't think about him. We women have a tougher time than men, handling a breakup. Not only does the guy go, so goes the pleasant fantasies, idyllic imaginings, the possible futures. Yes, for women, 75 percent of a breakup is divorcing your thoughts and expectations- things that, in all likelihood, bore a loose relationship to reality anyway!

Way number two to fall out of love. There's a strange phenomenon that occurs in life, when one part of an impassioned organism is lopped off. (John Bobbit knows what I'm talking about). It's the same when a serious relationship heads the way of the dodo, the leg warmer, or Janet Jackson's career. Sadness sets in your soul, and you miss your former flame in a way you never thought possible.

You miss them in the morning, you miss them in the evening, you miss them... all over the place. Because of this, friends find reasons to avoid you- the thought of another possible sighting, the sound of one more lovelorn sigh. You're on your own for girls night out.

That's way number two to fall out of love... make friends, add some new goddesses to the pantheon. It's what you do when the going gets tough and nobody calls you back.

Onto number three... Perhaps in fairness to the hairier sex, I should spread the blame. Madison Avenue bears a lot of responsibility for the demise of your relationship. It's those ad meisters who set impossibly high standards. Perfect hair, perfect life, perfect career by 26. Married by 28 (at the latest) two perfect kids by 30 (even then, you're coming in just under the wire). We women think this is the only schedule that matters- no alterations allowed.

We're fooled into having impossibly high expectations of our relationships thanks to movies, TV, and music. Don't miss this now. Madison Avenue peddles escapism and fantasy. What's the result? People who don't want kids, people incapable of having kids, people running families and stepfamilies all because outside sources tell us we're not whole without it.

In reality, we have all the time in the world to live our lives, provided our priorities are in order. The passage of days is less our enemy than feeblemindedness, distraction, or weak character. That's way number three to fall out of love, and down the slippery slope to reality. You excise the silliness and make Madison Avenue want for someone else's dough. No movies starring Meg Ryan. No TV shows featuring long-suffering would be couples. No pop, country western, jazz, or blues- the first two because of schmaltzy love themes and the last two, high suicide probabilities. Get thee to a music store and learn some new tunes! The perfect cure for the lovelorn is Bob Dylan, the E Street Band, and show tunes. Yes, show tunes. (Tell me the Chicago soundtrack doesn't lift your spirits!) Way number three: Excise the silly, cut the negativity. Onto number four...

Get religion.

When I say that, I mean get spirituality. Find your center, your deity, your peace, your core, your pit, whatever you want to call it. If that means a church, blessed be. If it means meditations, ommmmmm, I'm with thee. If it means quiet, well, just get to the end of this article and turn out the lights.

Religious texts- and any other innovative reading material- should be top priority for you. Buddhist texts. The Bible. The Koran. These ancient books are filled with poetic musings of souls not so dissimilar from your own. Because of the infinite interpretations that arise from religious traditions, because of how spirituality speaks to our inmost need, it's way number four. Get thee to a church. Amen.

But not quite.

The goddess had one more pearl of wisdom to share. She told me my great love was already in my life, that I was already neglecting my duties to this love. Oh, I fed, I pampered, yet I neglected. It was time for me to realize the only immutable thing in my life- the one indestructible, immortal component of my life- is Me.

Way number five to fall out of love: don't let sorrow blind you to the truth that there is great love for all of us. You are your whirlwind romance. Be confident, be real, be in love.

Know that a partner worth your time may not come in the package you expect, ladies. Your knight in shining armor might not be late- he might not come at all. There are husbands, there are kids, there are talents and gifts allotted us by God. It may be a person, a parent, it may be your career.

Love- great, unfathomable, boundless love- is there for the taking. Learn to see what's real. That's way number five. Fall in love with you and the world will abound with possibilities you never imagined.

*marjo moore wants to be dear abby

new method for police lineups

Twenty-five years of research by Professor Gary Wells of Iowa State University is exposing the unreliability of witnesses asked to ID criminals in police lineups. Many local police departments are beginning to change the way they conduct lineups. Wells describes a new technique: the sequential lineup.

Yep, it'll likely help in the number of one-on-one victims identifying attackers. But will it aid on a wider scale, for someone who believes they can identify a suspect... but may not have had the best look? Say a bank robbery, or a mugging in a park.

These lineups should conclude with the standard group shot.

You can listen to the actual NPR piece, here.

Friday, February 18, 2005

war on terror deserves our support, no matter what

Last year, a friend of mine asked why people only send care packages to soldiers on holidays. She didn't mean family members, of course. What she described was the same phenomenon that sees soup kitchens overrun with volunteers just 1-2 days per year.

Following this insight, my friend gathered her Girl Scout Troop to send boxes to a young marine she knew. This marine had become famous in their town because his uncle, a local icon, had insisted he spotted the young man in a frantic Associated Press photograph. The photo depicted soldiers entering a heavily populated Iraqi village, on the outskirts of a major city.

In fact, the picture did closely resemble Brandon- gaunt features, heavily rimmed glasses, hanging back from the rest of his unit. Quiet, easygoing, some called him shy. He came from a family who'd not known military service prior to him. They were so incredibly proud of this young man.

Brandon was a groundbreaker in his family.

Often, throughout the course of what we could call the 'Iraqi conflict' (sorry for the grim humor) I've wondered about female soldiers. Here's an interesting link on how other nations have dealt with re-matriculation, post conflict. They have a host of deeper problems to consider, due to major cultural differences.

Recently, I've heard some horror stories from women in this country, who have served. Not only do these heroes (twice-over for me) go into foreign countries supporting America ideals, but once there, they must fight Mid-East tradition, whose default assumption is to cast all non-native women as immoral.

Whatever our 'American ideals'- the original, the 'Vietnam conflict' reflected a necessity we've never forgotten. Soldiers must be supported regardless of the climate in our country. Their service will always derive from a nobler place than all our political motives. You know, I was absolutely dumbfounded by a recent NPR report about percentages of homeless in Boston. A high number were Vietnam vets who'd never fully "returned" home.

Care packages for the military, all year. A small step. Not a bad idea.

And despite Bush's attempts to turn the War on Terror into a religious battle of good versus evil, capitalism is the partner of all progress. A quick look at historic advancement across Western Europe shows us that when countries sever their governments from religious authorities, their citizens truly prosper.

That's a lot of words- still, not nearly enough- for a subject so polarizing as War. Maybe I should take a cue from those who better understand the sacrifices.

When Brandon returned home on layover, he greeted his uncle. Looking at the AP photo, he said, "I hate to tell you this, but that isn't me."

"It doesn't matter," the older man said. "That picture got us through. Hey, don't get embarrassed I'm staring at you. I had a million neat things I wanted to say. But I can't remember a single one."

We clocked it. They hugged for nearly eight and a half minutes.

Update! *As seen here:
and here:

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

charlie rose & the wonk tackle blogging, little-brother-journalism

A-list bloggers Ana Cox, Joe Trippi, Andrew Sullivan, & Glenn Reynolds were on Charlie Rose Tuesday night.

It's the fashionable thing- these discussions of blogs crowd every corner of the landscape. Journalists ask 'what can we learn from bloggers?' Bloggers ask 'what can we learn from journalists?' And the lofty New York Times- home of Jayson Blair & the sadly tainted Rick Bragg- still sticks its nose in the air, refusing to acknowledge the little brother trend that is "lesser journalism."

But, because it's so en vogue right now, I have a hunch the blogosphere bubble is about to burst. And I'm a little upset at myself (my first post was late last year). I've never stepped in on the edge of any trend. Hell, I had Ugg boots nearly a decade ago.

So, what will come down hard upon this trend? Old-fashioned libel. Mark my words, for all its freedoms, the blogosphere will see judicial regulation. Meanwhile, surprise! Trippi's prediction for the next big thing after blogging is not vlogging. It's podcasting. "One year from now, you'll be doing a show on that, Charlie."

Two words: My ass.

Rose probably had to have his arms twisted for this. It's likely he only gave in because Sullivan has appeared on his show for years with The New Republic.

Anyway, as Cox pointed out, there are broader blogging ramifications than people like to realize. Somewhere amid what's now known as Rathergate, the issue of George Bush's questionable military service was shoved aside in favor of the liberal media argument.

Reynolds didn't share her sentiment. He views his blog as a teaching job. Endless links allow for the seeming 'shallowness' that is a brief post, as well as great depth of sources and context.

Trippi took an interesting position. He said the Social Security argument in this country bores a large percentage of Americans. At least, he seemed to think mainstream TV media & newspapers were doing a good job of clouding the issue. Bloggers, then, could break the ideas into bite-size, layman's bits. Creatively.

Ding Ding!! Hasn't Trippi hit the nail on the head? Isn't that the heart of what makes blogging so special?

Cox said both she & Sullivan enjoyed the blogosphere because it gave them freedoms that mainstream media newswriting had not.

Therein lies my problem, at least. I don't want my heroes that close, that accessible.

The significance of Bowling for Columbine was overshadowed by Moore's now famous outburst at the Oscars. That's such a small part, though. Bill Moyers spoke at length about the Bush administration, at the SPJ conference last fall. What of that legendary journalist's objectivity? Would Picasso still be Picasso if his mental illness was recognizable to all while he was living?

Not only does the Internet allow for seeming proximity to these "celebrities" and their blogs, but it allows for the instant communication of information & transgressions of any kind.

In our new global age, that can seem brave, even new & exciting. Me, I miss the enchantment. The romance. The distance. I will proudly raise my hand for ignorance. I don't want all this information at my fingertips.

I spend too damn much time on the computer as it is.

Monday, February 14, 2005

-ology of love

I met a woman the other day. She told me she could make me a singer.

"Not in a million years," was my reply.

She answered with a theory she assured me has governed her life (and her career as a choral director). Music is psychology. From the time we're young, we're trained to believe certain things about ourselves and our surroundings. We're trained to hear some things, but miss others. We're trained.

This Valentine's Day, her comment has me wondering...
Philadelphia Calender
Art and Community VII: The Americas
9:00AM-5:00PM Esther M. Klein Art Gallery
Philadelphia, PA
Chef Poon's Chinese New Year's Banquet
Salute the rooster over a lavish fusion feast.
11:30AM-10:00PM Joseph Poon
Philadelphia, PA
Date Skate Monday
Lovers make heat on the ice.
6:00PM-10:00PM Blue Cross RiverRink
Philadelphia, PA

Many sociologists claim that love is an invention of modern America. Some say there is no parallel in other cultures (marriage, yes; "in love," no). We've often heard that Valentine's Day is all about the greeting card industry. My favorite insight came from wise man Andy Martello. "Men fall in love, women fall for love."*

What can we say about the values we're taught? Those, as my choral instructor said, that are ingrained in us as children.

Conservative talk show host Joe Scarborough recently gave a patriotic diatribe about the marriage of Camilla Parker Bowles and Prince Charles, as it related to the British view of Us American mongrels. But at the end, he wisely said, 'You know, the real tragedy isn't Bowles and Prince Charles, as England seems to think. It was Charles and Diana.'

*Sorry Andy!

Sunday, February 13, 2005

larry summers was told to be provocative in his speech

Here's a great column on Summers' now infamous statement regarding women and math/science intelligence.

I'm just wild about Larry
by Heather Mallick

The news came from Lawrence Summers, the president of Harvard University, that girls aren't as smart as boys when it comes to math and stuff. Therefore, it is cause for rejoicing that, during his four-year reign, the proportion of tenured jobs offered to women at Harvard has fallen to 13 per cent from 36 per cent, and last year, only four of the 32 tenured jobs went to women.

Surprise, Lawrence. We can do the math. We've been doing it for decades now...

Thanks for this, Gazetteer.

nick yarris: update

It's been 13 months since Philly native Nick Yarris' release from death row.

Yarris is not your typical exoneree. Bitterness and resentment rarely seem to enter into the equation with this man.

He continues his crusade for the release of inmates Walter Ogrod and Ernest Simmons. Still speaking to political groups and colleges, Yarris maintains his position that the legal system must be overhauled to reflect more fairness.

Check out his website to see what else he's been up to. Please show your support for this amazing man.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

budget = economics - logic

Ed Rendell became a Democrat when he found out he couldn't win as a Republican-- overheard on the street.

Governor Rendell has announced his budget plan to mixed reviews. No new taxes, as they say, but we won't escape pain free.

Despite it being what analysts have called Rendell's tamest offering to date, some view his proposed changes to Medicaid and the new Job Ready Pennsylvania initiative as sweeping and dramatic.

Rendell was applauded, in past years, for his reluctance to alter Medicaid (as many governors have) to an extent that either severely limits coverage or bars some people altogether. In the new budget, Rendell has instituted co-payments, strong encouragement for generics, and other limitations.

Much of this, essentially, to fund a program geared toward job readiness and overall betterment of students (a $23 million increase in community college funding and a new $4.7 million program to prepare students for the job market).

What is this? Steal from the sickly and give to the young?

While I, a perpetual student in my twenties, certainly understand the need for new skills in a new market; while I understand that times are changing and the economy must change with it; while I understand that young, happy voters are a Democratic party mainstay- why must Rendell make the situation more difficult for the impoverished and sickly, and make it easier for young people like me?

There's some guy who used to always be on TV. He wore a colored suit with all kinds of question marks. Name of Matthew something or other. He talked about the absolute and utter abundance of college funding available, and how much goes unclaimed in a given year. Much of this is not public money- and quite a lot of it is, in some form.

Where are the private sector alternatives for people on Medicaid? Why must we make their lives more difficult with these changes?

Everyone deserves a head start in life- a chance to get ahead. But if there is X money to split between the sick and the young... well, you do the math.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

tying together seemingly unrelated subjects...

Yet another complaint was lodged against area icon (and Temple alum) Bill Cosby. The new accuser is a California attorney, and the alleged incident took place more than 30 years ago.

The former Temple employee who first accused Cosby said her attack happened last year. Just today, sources close to that case allegedly ackowledged the existence of taped conversations in which Cosby offered the Canadian woman compensation.

For years, the Cos was beyond reproach. Not only was he a massive area success story, but his sitcom was revolutionary because it focused on an African American family.

In 1997, when Autumn Jackson attempted to extort millions from the man she believed to be her father, Americans questioned their notions of the famous pitchman. Cosby admitted to an affair with the young woman's mother. He gave the family money. Yet, he fervently denied paternity.

I have to note my own skepticism about these women, both their complaints coming on the relative heels of the Cos's diatribe that so angered the black community. He gave impressions that earned him the wrath of many. Whether you agree with him or not, you must note some truth in the overall statement he seemed to convey. Despite the American propensity to blame others, we're all responsible for our own lot in life.

Do I- as a woman who has written for feminist ezines and estrogen powered sites like MBC- do these women a great disservice by expressing my reluctance to believe the worst about the Cos?

It's said that women who are lucky enough not to be attacked by a man will, in their lifetime, know someone else who has been. I've been a victim and not come forward. So, for that man, there was no reprisal.

Do I do a disservice?

Recently, Harvard University President Lawrence Summers (left) claimed that women may not be hard-wired to perform as well as men in the math and science fields. The so-named precision fields.

I am terrible at math. I love science, but I am not much better at that.

However, as there are entire hit shows dedicated to men who possess "female" attributes, logic asserts that there are women in this world who- without a doubt- could far outpace Summers' in an old fashioned thinking contest.

Just to play devil's advocate here: There is no Nobel prize in mathematics. But there are awards in Physics, Chemistry, Economics, and Physiology. Men are the overwhelming winners in these categories. Men also hold a majority of the tenured teaching positions at this country's most prestigious schools.

So, if men do specialize in precision thinking, than logic also asserts that all outside-the-box thinking, all innovations that have ever been, were conceived in the female mind.

Taking that a step further... men may hold all the tenured academic positions, but ask who influenced them.

When our minds are most pliable, we're being molded and shaped and inspired by elementary school teachers, by secondary teachers. And it is women who overwhelmingly people those fields.

I am no good at math. I also chose to forget a man who attacked me. I may not be a great thinker (I may be a downright lousy one!) but the metaphoric "she" is certainly out there.

And now, for the controversial cliff-hanger.... Because these things are so hard to talk about, because they are potentially life changing, it would certainly seem the Cos accusers should have our benefit of the doubt.

And if they are lying- if Kobe's, or Tyson's, or Kennedys' accusers are lying- by making men scared, by making them more aware of their actions, is that the worst possible consequence?

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

shameless plugs

Success! The blogroll is here.

And I really like the new minimalist design of News&Views. Okay, so I'm copying Voxbaby at Dartmouth. But I still need a good tagline like he has- "Aspiring to have more good ideas than deadlines."

I thought about using a friend's favorite word. It's become our group's slang, of late. Sortof-ish Is that 'philly style'? Which reminds me... Check out Bud Buckley's blog, his Feb 6th post, in particular. Buckley is a Philly native.

I am NOT done yet. I have to add the buttons for my regular reads:

Andy Martello



Corporate Crappola

BFP Media

and so on.

Plus, I need my Bert terror alert button back (and all the commercial stuff).

They'll go a little lower on the screen, I think. In keeping with the Buddhist 'less is more' News&Views.

Hold your puppy dogs close, folks, and check out PlanetJanet's view (from February 4th) on why cats are about to take over the world.

hehe! Thanks for these CF!

Monday, February 07, 2005

watch yer step! under construction...

I decided to try something new on the advice of dbrooks. Blogroll coming soon.

And about the Eagles, I won't use some bird pun here. The game was a lot closer than predicted - what a last minute rally!

Sunday, February 06, 2005

ex-president's secret identity- informant man!

"George Herbert Walker Bush is Deep Throat."

"Deep Truth" author Adrian Havill explains in a letter to Jim Romenesko why George H.W. Bush would've had a grudge against Richard Nixon and spilled the beans to Woodward and Bernstein.

Havill writes:

When I presented this theory to Len Garment, a former Nixon aide, he demurred, saying that Bush wasn't the type of daredevil to skulk around in underground garages.

Perhaps, but then who would have figured the former President to go skydiving in his eighties??

Proof, if ever I've heard it. ;)

Thursday, February 03, 2005

hanks-v-powell in 'O8.

That's my new tagline. Everywhere I go, every blog you see me on, I'll end with it. my vote for the ultimate presidential election smackdown.

Imagine... This is perfect because Colin Powell is the most widely loved Republican (both nationally and abroad). It's common knowledge that foreign dignitaries were immensely fond of dealing with him in his capacity as Secretary of State.

Powell, versus none other than Tom Hanks, the man America laughs and cries with at the movies. At every movie. Why not? The Republicans had their Regan, their (shudder) Jesse Ventura, their Schwarzenegger. It's the blue coats' turn.

The blogosphere brought me Dave Lipsky so it's time to ask for more. Maybe I'll do weekly updates- or, monthly... Any ideas for their running mates?

You can thank John Rogers. He prompted this, my latest bit of insanity.

Hanks-v-Powell in '08!