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Archive for October, 2009

LETTER FROM TOKYO: Asian Kids Vs. White Kids

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

80s-yearbook-18Lijie Ding _1802-X-1

evathumb.thumbnail.jpgAn observational study on the differences between western and Asian students studying in Japan by Eva Liao

TOKYO, JAPAN — I’m in class for four hours a day, which means I am bored to the brink of insanity 20 hours a week. I’m amazed I’m not bald from pulling my hair out from the roots. There’s  nothing else to do but to analyze the people in my classes. Forgoing political correctness for a stint, I must say, it’s truly amazing how clear-cut some stereotypes really are.

The subjects: Korean, Taiwanese, Chinese, Thai, Indian, French, British, Italian, German, Canadian, and American students

The setting: Small classroom; average 15 people

The ambassador: Small, sometimes old,  unassuming Japanese women (our Sensei)

The atmosphere: Death.

Comparison #1 : Complaining

Westerners complain. A lot. They whine, bitch and moan about everything, be it relevant or irrelevant. They like to be heard. They have about 5,920,472 grievances and two opinions about each one.

Asians do not complain. They take the abuse, dutifully and often with a smile. Chances are, they have the same grievances. But years of rigid schooling and strong work ethic make them a little bit more thick skinned. Whether or not they have an opinion is debatable, but if they do, they sure as hell aren’t going to share it with you.east_vs_west.jpg

Comparison #2: Authority

The westerner sees the teacher as an equal, a peer amongst adults.  If the Sensei makes an insulting over generalization or an asinine demand, which is not uncommon, the westerner will rebuke. He will ask questions, he will challenge the subject at hand. Whether or not the rebuke is warranted is up for debate, but the westerner believes in discussing discrepancies and if need be, challenging authority in defense of personal value and beliefs.

Asians rarely challenge or doubt authority. The hierarchy between Sensei and student is clear. Thus no matter how absurd the technique or demand, the Asian student always acquiesce. Asian students take authority at face value, and  are less likely to analyze information before digesting it.

Comparison #3: Fashion and Apparel

The average western person dresses very, well…average. Outliers include cute, fashionable women and very sloppy boys in sweats and flip-flops.

The average Asian person also dresses in a casual, plain manner- jeans, t-shirt, sneakers. But on the whole, their fashionable counterparts are much trendier. In a word, fashionable Asian people are FLY. Some go overboard with the gaudy makeup and short skirts, tacky hair color and ill-fitting shoes, but ultimately, they exert a lot more effort which doesn’t go unappreciated. MORE

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BENSALEM 911: It Took FIVE Cops To Bust Woman Allegedly Offering Sex-For-World-Series-Tickets

Thursday, October 29th, 2009


NEW YORK POST: Within an hour of posting the ad, Finkelstein recounted, she heard from a man who said he was a construction worker and claimed to have an extra ticket. Finkelstein wanted to meet “somewhere I’d feel safe,” so she agreed to go to Bucks County to meet at Manny Brown’s, a popular bar and restaurant. “He had a couple of beers, and he bought me one,” Finkelstein said. They then started talking. “We were jovial, friendly, joking —the normal kind of conversation you would have sitting with someone you just met.” Citing the pending charges, Finkelstein declined to disclose specifics of the conversation — but said they never even got around to talking money. “I told him that ideally, I would like two tickets, one for me, and one for my husband,” Finkelstein said, and the man told her he’d call his brother to ask about another ticket. “He kind of walked away from the bar a little and start dialing,” Finkelstein said. “That’s when I was arrested and handcuffed.” Four other undercovers [NOT pictured, above], who’d finkelstein.thumbnail.jpgbeen sitting a table near the bar, made the collar. MORE

DAILY NEWS: Susan Finkelstein, the 43-year-old Southwest Philadelphia woman allegedly willing to trade sex for Phillies tickets, is getting her tickets without sex. On Friday, Finkelstein, the assistant PR director of Penn’s Wistar Institute, will receive two tickets for Saturday’s Phillies-Yankees game, the first one to be played in Philadelphia and the third in the World Series. Last night, Finkelstein, also a University of Pennsylvania master’s-degree candidate in liberal arts, told “Inside Edition,” aired locally on CBS 3, that she never intended to offer sex for tickets in the ad that she placed on Craigslis. MORE

PREVIOUSLY:  Bensalem Woman Arrested For Offering To Trade Sex For Series Tickets

PREVIOUSLY: This Is The Best Use Of Limited Police Resources? Really?

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WORLD SERIES: Who You Callin’ ‘Frillies’ Now?

Thursday, October 29th, 2009


GAME ONE: Phillies 6, Yankees 1

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THE EARLY WORD: The Bloodsucker Proxy

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

nosferatu-for-busineess-card.jpgTraverse Arts Project announces its second annual Nosferatu Screening, featuring African American Woman Organist T. Desiree Hines on Friday October 30th at the First Unitarian Church, 2125 Chestnut Street. Tickets for each regular performance are $10 per person, and $5.00 for students and seniors. More information about the event may be found at T. Desiree Hines is most familiar to Philadelphia from several articles and stories written about her life as an African-American Transsexual woman who is an accomplished Classical Organist.  Among her achievements is being the soloist at the 2008 Summer Solstice Celebration on the Fred J. Cooper Memorial Organ at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. She was also the subject for the extensive May 28, 2009 cover story of Philadelphia’s City Paper, “She’s On a Mission”. Additionally, her story has been profiled by other Philadelphia-based alternative newsweeklies, including the Philadelphia Gay News and the Philadelphia Weekly for their April 28, 2009 Queer Issue.

WIKIPEDIA: Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (translated as Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror; also known as Nosferatu: A Symphony of Terror or simply Nosferatu) is a German Expressionist vampire horror film, directed by F. W. Murnau, starring Max Schreck as the vampire Count Orlok. The film, shot in 1921 and released in 1922, was in essence an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker‘s Dracula, with names and other details changed because the studio could not obtain the rights to the novel (for instance, “vampire” became “Nosferatu” and “Count Dracula” became “Count Orlok”). MORE

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Wednesday, October 28th, 2009
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PREVIOUSLY: Why The Right Hates ACORN, How They Took Them Down, And Why Philly Didn’t Take The Bait
PREVIOUSLY: The Nutcracker Strikes Back!
PREVIOUSLY: Cracking The Nutcracker
PREVIOUSLY: The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy Flow Chart

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COMMUNICATION BREAKDOWN: On Sunday Cops Start Cracking Down On Cell-Phoning Drivers

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

cellphonetits.gifDAILY NEWS: Texters and hand-held cell phoners may experience an unpleasant surprise next week if they continue using their gizmos while driving, cycling, or even skateboarding. That’s because on Sunday, Philadelphia police will begin enforcing an ordinance that bans the use of hand-held phones while driving, said police spokesman Lt. Frank Vanore. “We’re going to do a heavy month of education where you’re going to see . . . warnings going out,” Vanore, said. Those warnings will be issued through November, he said. Then, on Dec. 1, police will begin issuing code violations that will carry a $75 fine. Bluetooth users and people who answer phones with built-in car systems are in the clear, Vanore said. “As long as you’re not holding a phone up to your ear, you’re OK,” he said. MORE

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CINEMA: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009


Michael Jackson’s This Is It (2009, directed by Kenny Ortega, 112 minutes, U.S.)

BuskirkByline_REV.jpgBY DAN BUSKIRK FILM CRITIC For Michael Jackson, dropping dead last June was just the capper to the worst decade of his long career.  His last album dropped in 2001 and was the first of his solo records to be perceived as a failure since Off The Wall sent his career into the stratosphere in 1979.  His interview with Martin Bashir in 2003 (broadcast on ABC as Living With Michael Jackson) seemed like a perverse attempt to grab the public’s attention, if not with his music then by parading his twisted psychological state.  From there he fended off a second round of child abuse allegations, fled the country for Bahrain, nearly lost Neverland in a financial collapse, and was frequently spotted looking frail and dazed in public. The news that he was making a comeback this year with fifty lives shows was treated with skepticism, and for many a sinking feeling that things were unlikely to go off as planned.

They did not of course but This Is It, the rushed documentary compiled from the weeks of Jackson’s rehearsals from this past Spring, show the troubled entertainer in surprisingly solid shape, teasing just a little more magic out of his over-exposed hits and giving us an engaging behind-the-scenes look at the creation of a major pop show.  Looking alarming thin at times, it’s still a question whether he could charge through this spectacle night after night but this in-process run-through gives every indication that Jacko may have retired from the concert stage at a career high point.

Early leaked footage was not as promising, showing a tentative Jackson walking through routines and barely singing along.  Not so here; cutting back and forth through multiple takes (and a range of fancy outfits) This Is It is able to maintain a high level of energy that was probably not present at any single rehearsal.  Jackson looks quite at home standing twenty-feet tall on the movie screen, the first shock when he hits the stage is that he had never had his own concert film before.  The hits keep coming, all with embellished arrangements that allow extra dancing but there is a nice tension in not knowing when each performance may break off, as they occasionally do, in order to fine-tune the band or one of the posse of on-stage dancers.  As entertaining as the show appears, with robot spiders, some eye-catching sets and flames that chase the performers around the stage, it is an extra thrill to see the last minute decision-making that Jackson and the ever-present director Kenny Ortega are forced to do.  Jackson, ever the perfectionist, might have preferred the seams not to show but is is much more revealing to see his process at work.

The band would have probably gotten overlooked in all the stage fireworks so it’s interesting to see this group of mostly middle-aged African American men as they try to decipher Michael’s awkward, poetic directions.  It is apparent that one of the things Michael sacrificed for his career in show biz was an education and when he tries to communicate with the band and Ortega you can see the difficulty on their faces as they try to translate Jackson’s grammatically obtuse demands.   He’ll often end these comments with a phrase like “”with love, with l.o.v.e.” in an seeming attempt buffer his role as a taskmaster.

While the run-through is engagingly rough, the filmed segments of the show are surprisingly big-budgeted little gems, including the graveyard-set variation on the Thriller video, with what would have propelled 3-D ghouls floating above the stage.  As fun as these riffs on his past hits are, there is a sadness that here is where Jackson’s career was at the age of fifty.  Much like the mid-seventies Beach Boys of the “Endless Summer” years, he seems done treading new musical ground, intent to instead deliver some well-packaged nostalgia. “Play it the way they’re used to hearing it” Jackson tells one band member.  Thriller cemented Jackson place in musical history but it was also a straight-jacket: all his follow-ups were gentle shake-ups of the formula, attempts to “do it again” that inevitably fell a bit short.  Nonetheless, it is a marvelously tailored, rhinestone encrusted straight-jacket that Jackson created, and no star on the horizon is likely to equal its impact should they dare to try it on for themselves.

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CONCERT REVIEW: Pearl Jam At The Spectrum

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009


BY ADAM BONANNI Pearl Jam know they had their work cut out for them: to send the Spectrum beyond the clouds and somewhere over the rainbow to reunite with Veterans Stadium in that great arena final resting place in the sky. “We’re not the cleanup crew” Eddie Vedder exclaimed between songs Tuesday night at said Spectrum, alluding to the fact that Springsteen closed out his series with a four-hour banger the other week. Not to be outdone,Vedder made a bold claim: “By Saturday night, we’re gonna try to play every song we know…and that may include some that nobody know.” It’s a super-ambitious goal, and one that was clear in focus Tuesday night.

Opener “Corduroy” was the perfect way to fire up the audience, and I’m always impressed with how good the song sounds in a considerably more uptempo fashion than the studio recording. Vitalogy, PJ’s third studio album and fan favorite, got considerable representation, and the band was able to hit all of their studio albums, even dipping into their B-sides collection with the intimate and haunting “Bee Girl.” Rhythm guitarist Stone Gossard mixed things up by stepping up to the mic to perform “Mankind”, although his voice sounds more suited to the version he performed in studio. One of the obvious focal points of the show was Pearl Jam’s newly released album Backspacer, with five well-chosen cuts: “Unthought Known,” a fist-pumping anthem of self-revelation; “Supersonic” and “The Fixer”, strong riff-driven rockers; and “Just Breathe” and “The End”, powerful but delicate ballads suited for the large venue.

Vedder’s short acoustic set in the middle of the show — which included “Bee Girl,” “Just Breathe,” “The End,” and transitioning brilliantly into “All Those Yesterdays” — was a fantastic change of pace and demonstrated a more personal side to the charismatic rocker. Still can’t shake those political tendencies though, but he seems to be in a better place, speaking about unity and working together for a common purpose. If this isn’t your bag, it was an easy spot to overlook, but after spending two studio albums trying to claim that the government doesn’t speak for us and now claiming that “we all gotta help out the President, he’s a good guy”, whatever he’s going for is getting a bit old. Doesn’t change the fact that Eddie Vedder and Co. still perform with the intensity of their former 20-year-old selves (while Matt Cameron still looks like he’s 20). These guys really put on a hell of a show, and since there isn’t a band in the world that would turn down the final series at the Spectrum, Pearl Jam acted humbled, grateful, and ready to prove that they should be there.

Setlist: Corduroy, Whipping, Hail Hail, Supersonic, Dissident, Unthought Known, Faithful, Parachutes, Unemployable, Immortality, Green Disease, Not For You, Rival, Nothingman, Ghost, Do the Evolution, Why Go, Bee Girl, Just Breathe, The End, All Those Yesterdays, State of Love and Trust, Mankind, The Fixer, Go, Daughter, Love Reign O’er Me, Black, Leash,Rearviewmirror, Rockin’ n the Free World

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ADDICTED TO AFGHANISTAN: Karzai’s Brother, Suspected Drug Lord, Is On The CIA’s Payroll

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009



NEW YORK TIMES: KABUL, AfghanistanAhmed Wali Karzai, the brother of the Afghan president and a suspected player in the country’s booming illegal opium trade, gets regular payments from the Central Intelligence Agency, and has for much of the past eight years, according to current and former American officials. The agency pays Mr. Karzai for a variety of services, including helping to recruit an Afghan paramilitary force that operates at the C.I.A.’s direction in and around the southern city of Kandahar, Mr. Karzai’s home. The financial ties and close working relationship between the intelligence agency and Mr. Karzai raise significant questions about America’s war strategy, which is currently under review at the White House. The ties to Mr. Karzai have created deep divisions within the Obama administration. The critics say the ties complicate America’s increasingly tense relationship with President Hamid Karzai, who has struggled to build sustained popularity among Afghans and has long been portrayed by the Taliban as an American puppet. The C.I.A.’s practices also suggest that the United States is not doing everything in its power to stamp out the lucrative Afghan drug trade, a major source of revenue for the Taliban. MORE

RELATED: A brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Ahmed Wali Karzai, may be involved in the illegal drug opium-poppy.jpgtrade, which is prompting serious concern among top US officials, The New York Times reported on its website Saturday. Citing unnamed US officials, the newspaper said the US ambassador to Afghanistan, the Central Intelligence Agency’s station chief and their British counterparts, discussed the allegations against Ahmed Wali Karzai with Hamid Karzai as far back as 2006. But the Afghan president has so far resisted calls to move his brother out of the country, arguing he had not seen any conclusive evidence against Ahmed, according to the report. “We thought the concern expressed to Karzai might be enough to get him out of there,” the paper quotes one US official as saying. But “we don’t have the kind of hard, direct evidence that you could take to get a criminal indictment. That allows Karzai to say, Where’s your proof?'” But indirect evidence against Ahmed Wali Karzai continues to mount, according to the report. When Afghan security forces found an enormous cache of heroin hidden in a tractor-trailer outside Kandahar in 2004, the local Afghan commander Habibullah Jan, received a telephone call from Ahmed Wali Karzai, asking him to release the vehicle and the drugs, The Times said. MORE

WALL STREET JOURNAL: Another former official said Ahmed Wali Karzai had strong ties to the drug trade that extended to other criminal elements. The former intelligence official, however, said Mr. Karzai’s connections to drug trafficking weren’t any more extensive than those of other officials in a country where drugs are a major engine of the economy. MORE


PREVIOUSLY: State Department Official/Ex-Marine Resigns Over Afghanistan Policy, Says War Is Over If You Want It

shepardpeaceobey.jpgUPDATE:  Insurgents Wednesday morning attacked two guesthouses and a hotel in downtown Kabul that housed United Nations and other international staff, in one of their most daring attacks on the Afghan capital. There also were sounds of explosions elsewhere in the city, suggesting a large-scale, coordinated attack on the capital.  The assailants managed to take over one of the guesthouses, Bakhtar, but were repelled by security guards at another, the Imperial. “We woke up at 5:45 am to explosions and shooting, and then heard women screaming and crying,” said Mohammad Jan, a 48-year-old tailor who lives next door to Bakhtar. The Bakhtar sits on one of Kabul’s most secure streets. A U.N. spokesman later said that six U.N. personnel were killed at the Bakhtar guesthouse and that the toll may rise in coming hours because several guests had life-threatening injuries. A representative of Siraj Haqqani, a leader of a Taliban-aligned group who is considered by U.S. officials to be one of the most dangerous insurgents in the country, said in a telephone call that Mr. Haqqani’s men were behind the attacks and “there are more gunmen in the city.” The caller did not give his name. MORE

WALL STREET JOURNAL: Eight American soldiers were killed in two roadside bombings in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday, the U.S. military said, making October the deadliest month for American troops since the 2001 invasion. Taliban attacks in Afghanistan have grown in sophistication in recent months, causing a spike in coalition deaths. Every month since June, Afghan insurgents have killed at least 70 coalition soldiers, and Tuesday’s attacks raised October’s coalition tally to 68. Of those, 55 were Americans. Most of these deaths have been caused by bombs detonated in the path of military convoys and patrols. MORE


JON STEWART: On The Importance Of Being Net Neutral

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
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WITH FRIENDS LIKE THIS WHO NEEDS ENEMAS: Lieberman To Filibuster Any Bill With Public Option

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009


CBS NEWS: During the 2008 elections, Joe Lieberman attended the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn. and pulled a Zell Miller, delivering a rousing speech – for Lieberman, that is – supporting supporting John McCain over Barack Obama for president. Back in the old days, such an act of party disloyalty would have been automatic justification for banishment to political Siberia. But after their election victory in November, the Democratic leadership held its collective nose and cut a pragmatic deal: Lieberman, now a self-styled “independent minded Democrat” got to keep his chairmanship in the caucus, his chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and his seniority – thanks in no small part to support from then President-elect Obama. In return, the Democrats wanted Lieberman to remain loyal in case they ever needed to derail a Republican filibuster. Now we know how that worked out. On Tuesday, the Connecticut Senator became the first Democrat to warn that he would not support cloture if any health care reform legislation includes a public option. MORE

RELATED: Just as Holy Joe wants to make the cloture vote a referendum on the bill’s passage, Democratic leaders lieberman.thumbnail.gifought to make the cloture vote a referendum on Lieberman’s seniority within the caucus. A vote “no” on cloture should be a vote “no” on retaining seniority status, and with it not only his chairmanship but also his entire slate of committee choices. Whoever is next on the wait lists for Armed Services, Homeland Security, and Small Business gets bumped up onto those committees, and Lieberman gets whatever assignments are left after the other 59 members of the caucus have filled the resulting openings. Presumably, that would give Lieberman the junior seats on, say, the Rules Committee, the Special Committee on Aging, and the Joint Committees on Printing and the Library. Maybe someone on Reid’s staff — or maybe Schumer’s, since this is more his style — can sort through the committee requests, run the numbers, and quietly pass on to Lieberman the list of committees he would be left with if his seniority were reset to zero as of the day of the cloture vote. Then let Joe see if the GOP is willing to kick any of its own members off of the committees he wants in order to make room for him. If he can cut that deal, fine. If not, then Holy Joe can contemplate exactly how to keep sufficient corporate money coming in to his campaign for 2012 if he has to spend the next three years sitting in the back of the room on the crappiest committees in Washington. MORE

public-option.gifRELATED: Top 15 Joe Lieberman Betrayals Of The Progressive Cause

RELATED: Other Senators That Would/Could Fuck Up Health Care Reform

RELATED: Liberals favor tying reimbursement rates to Medicare because it would keep costs down and would help get the public option up and running. Yale Professor Jacob Hacker, the intellectual father of the public option, insists that the public plan would have a very hard time succeeding if it was required to negotiate rates with providers. The public option tied to Medicare rates saves $110 billion over ten years. Requiring it to negotiate rates only saves $25 billion. If leadership goes with the negotiated-rate plan, that $85 billion difference will have to come from somewhere to meet President Obama’s ten-year, $900 billion price ceiling. The fattest target is the subsidies to help people afford insurance. MORE

RELATED: Looking to build pressure on moderate Democrats, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says it will begin airing new TV ads in seven states and on national cable television attacking the emerging legislation, including a government-run insurance option. MORE

ELLIOTT SPITZER: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce—the self-proclaimed voice of business in Washington—has been eliotspitzer.jpgwrong on virtually every major public-policy issue of the past decade: financial deregulation, tax and fiscal policy, global warming and environmental enforcement, consumer protection, health care reform. The chamber remains an unabashed voice for the libertarian worldview that caused the most catastrophic economic meltdown since the Great Depression. And the chamber’s view of social justice would warm Scrooge’s heart. It is the chamber’s right to be wrong, and its right to argue its preposterous ideas aggressively, as it does through vast expenditures on lobbyists and litigation. Last year alone, the chamber spent more than $91 million on lobbying, and, according to lobby tracker, it has spent more than twice as much on lobbying during the past 12 years as any other corporation or group. The problem is, the chamber is doing all this with our money. The chamber survives financially on the dues and support of its members, which are most of America’s major corporations listed on the stock exchange. The chamber derives its political clout from the fact that its membership includes these corporations. Yet we—you and I—own the companies that support the chamber and permit it to propagate its views. Our passive, permissive attitude toward the management of the companies we own has enabled the chamber to be one of the primary impediments to the reform of markets, health care, energy policy, and politics that we have all been calling for. It is time for that to change. MORE

PREVIOUSLY: The Yes Men Punk The Chamber Of Commerce

UPDATE: The Yes Men Get Sued By The Chamber Of Commerce

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Tuesday, October 27th, 2009


PREVIOUSLY: The crowd, all demonstrably fans of thick frames and cardigans, swayed and lost themselves in what felt like a new New Wave manifesto for the ears. Politely thanking their fans for showing up and being “awesome,” Berman took the time to gush about his affections for Philly’s one and only R-5, recalling all the shows he attended as a teen prior to his days of indie stardom. “Young Adult Friction,” recently released as the band’s second video via music blogs and myspace, got showgoers rocking out like Ian Curtis rose from the dead. Lyrically alluring and audibly contagious, the Pains’ “Young Adult Friction” seemed to last forever in a suspended moment of upcycled throwbacks to the 1980s underground, ending with the repeated mantra of “Don’t check me out.” “Come Saturday” pains2_1.jpgfelt bright and like the sort of epic that goes hand in hand with a first kiss, while “The Tenure Itch,” with its jangly guitar intro mellowed-out the venue’s attentive audience, followed by a flawless transition into a wouldbe springtime anthem “Stay Alive.” Geeking-out about his favorite radio station while growing up, Berman and the Pains unveiled “103″, a brand new tune inspired by Princeton’s WPRB. Smiling throughout its duration, fellow fans of the station cheered at the songs start and clapped in accordance to its ethos upon its conclusion. Then came the band’s first fantastic single, “Everything With You,” before the Pains of Being Pure At Heart ended their set with their namesake track, complete with bubbles floating dreamily above the crowd’s heads. MORE

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WORLD SERIES: Bensalem Woman Arrested For Offering To Trade Sex For Series Tickets

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

finkelstein.thumbnail.jpgINQUIRER: Bensalem police said they arrested a Philadelphia woman Tuesday after she offered to perform various sex acts to an undercover officer in exchange for tickets. According to police, Susan Finkelstein, 43, posted an ad on Craigslist that read:  “DESPERATE BLONDE NEEDS WS TIX (Philadelphia) “Diehard Phillies fan—gorgeous tall buxom blonde— in desperate need of two World Series Tickets. Price negotiable— I’m the creative type! Maybe we can help each other!” An undercover officer responded to the ad, police said, and arrested Finkelstein after she made her offer. MORE

PHAWKER: This is the best use of severely limited police resources? Really?

DAILY NEWS: In a city that is consistently named the ugliest in the nation, there is a group of men so attractive that philliesinky_1.jpgtheir hotness quotient is unparalleled by their peers. They are the boys from Citizens Bank Park. Most women can name at least five Phillies players they would pay to watch read the back of a cereal box, let alone play an incredible game of baseball. Rabid, lifelong Phillies fan and Center City resident Toni Brownstein can name 10. “We have the best-looking team in baseball. I mean damn, we look good on the field!” she said. “I watched the ALCS Sunday night and apart from [Alex Rodriguez] A-Rod and [Derek] Jeter, they’re pretty ugly. “Not as ugly as the Boston Red Sox, but still.” Of course we have Cole Hamels, J.A. Happ and Ryan Howard, but the attractiveness of the Phillies does not just come from their good looks.  MORE

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BOOKS: Atlas Mugged

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009


BY SAINT JOHN BARNED-SMITH FOR OBIT.COM During her life, Ayn Rand created a shrouded, larger-than-life myth about herself. She credited only Aristotle as an inspiration for her beliefs and insisted that her philosophy, Objectivism – which conceived of man “as a heroic being with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity and reason as his only absolute” – was a wholly original system. (Never mind that she read Nietzsche along with other philosophers and political theorists.) Ayn Rand changed her name (Alisa Rosenbaum) and home. The novelist and philosopher had a flair for the dramatic: She wore a black cape fastened with a dollar-sign brooch. When fans didn’t agree completely with her, Rand developed her own group – a legion of fervent acolytes who claimed as their most basic and fundamental premise that Atlas Shrugged was the greatest book or idea ever conceived. To this day, many rightwingers and libertarians, including Rush Limbaugh, Leonard Peikoff, Dick Armey, Bob Barr and Dana Rohrabacher, cite her as an influence.

Burns, who received unprecedented access to private papers and journals through the Ayn Rand Institute, follows ayn_rand_1.jpgRand’s development as a playwright to political junkie to novelist to philosopher to cult icon, though one can’t help but feel a little sorry for her – Burns spent eight years wading through Rand’s effects to write Goddess. At times, her teasing apart the contradictions of her subject’s life and personality resembles the dispassionate dissection of a monster. Take, for example, Rand’s relationship with her character Howard Roark, the pauper protagonist of The Fountainhead who succeeds against all odds because of his ideological purity. Unlike Roark, with whom the author seemed to identify, Rand received all the benefits of an upper middle-class education, mooched off her relatives to set herself up in the United States, and enjoyed the support of a veritable army of influential conservative and libertarian intellectuals and elites who championed her work. And where Roark was pure in his singleminded focus, readers learn of Rand’s unbalanced nature and chronic use of amphetamines. Likewise, although Rand’s characters succeeded in the Objectivist worlds she created for them in Fountainhead and Atlas, in real life, her philosophy fell apart. MORE

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Cost of the War in Iraq
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