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Archive for the 'Culture' Category

SMELLS LIKE JOURNALISM: Inky Editorial Board Descends From Ivory Tower To Hear Vox Populi

Sunday, January 14th, 2007

Talking to Philadelphians about their city is like talking to a woman about the guy she’s been married to for 30 years. She has his quirks and habits down cold. If you ask nicely, she’ll recite them all for you, in rueful, sarcastic detail. But don’t you go criticizing him, or she’ll knock your block off as soon as she looks at you. She’ll never pretend he looks like Pierce Brosnan or George Clooney, but then again, she never cared that much about that kind of thing. Anyway, for a guy his age, who’s been through what he’s been through, she thinks he looks… not so bad.benfrank-absolutphiladelphia.jpg

For the last few weeks, we on the Editorial Board have been listening to Philadelphians talk about Philadelphia as part of a project called Great Expectations: Citizen Voices on Philadelphia’s Future, cosponsored by the University of Pennsylvania. City residents and suburbanites are gathering in church basements, schools and community centers from Point Breeze to Frankford to compare notes on what they love about the city and what they don’t; what works and what doesn’t; how to strengthen what works, how to fix what doesn’t.
Some themes are consistent: Most people find this city affordable and manageable. They savor its authentic neighborhood feel, its depth and variety of culture, history and things to do. They worry that its gap between haves and have-nots is widening, with no political will to address the trend. As a result, they’re split down the middle over tax cuts and tax abatements. They’re worried sick about the public schools, and aren’t much impressed with reforms done so far. They have a love-hate relationship with SEPTA. They want someone to take better care of Fairmount Park. They see clearly that the flip side of neighborhood spirit is insularity and segregation. Finally, they’re sick to death of how their City Hall behaves, both in failing to deliver value for the tax dollar, and in falling prey to corruption.

INQUIRER: Citizens Say The Darndest Things!
GREAT EXPECTATIONS: Speak Your Mind, It’s How Consensus Is Built, And With A Consensus Everything Is Possible

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JUNK SCIENCE: What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?

Friday, January 12th, 2007

junksciencecartooncarrot.thumbnail.jpgBY ELIZABETH FIEND When dragonflies head south, they like to ride the tailwinds generated by cold fronts. But when they go north, they prefer to buzz home on warm winds. We know this because scientists attached radio transmitters to the insects along with a single-wire antenna, powered by a super-tiny battery, running down the length of their abdomen. Video may have killed the radio star at the tail end of the 20th Century, but radio is back, big time in the 21st. Radio Frequency Identification tags and chips are here. RFID, as it’s called, is an identification system that allows information to be stored and then retrieved via radio waves. The tags can be attached or incorporated into an inanimate “thing” or a living creature. Complex tags, like the ones used on the dragonflies, containbusheavesdroppingsized.jpg silicon chips with antennae which require an internal power source, like that wee battery. But the simplest tags don’t require a power source at all.
Do you use E-ZPass and just cruise on through the tool booth? Electronic tool booth collection uses RFID technology to speed things along on the road. Got one of those new-fangled credit cards that you just wave in front of a reader at the store? It has an RFID chip in it. Already, cell phone makers are building RFID chips into their phones, turning the phone itself into a payment device, which will ultimately replace debit and credit cards. RFID tags are poised to take off in a major way. Wal-Mart and the Department of Defense are at the forefront of developing the way this technology is to be used — both have mandated that their top suppliers incorporate RFID tags in to their products. In its own special Wal-Mart-way, the retail megalith is shoving this technology down the throats of their 100 top suppliers. They’re literally strong-arming other giant companies (which is cool in a twisted sort of way) like Kraft Foods, Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson and Hewlett-Packard to either adopt the technology or Wal-Mart will drop them as a supplier of goods. Fake-hip retailer Target is also on the RFID bandwagon. (more…)

GAYBO: Zane Insane For 2007! Sal’s On 12th Goes Way Gay! Dreamgirls Is Gay All Day! Hooray For Gay!

Monday, January 8th, 2007

gaybo.JPGBY TOMMY ZANE Weeks have just flown by and I’ve been oh, so silent. But that just means more chat to share with you, my pets! Ah, The Holidaze — finally over. Yeesh. No hospitalizations or friendships ended in a fury of expletives, thank Goddess. After listening to James Brown for nearly two hours, New Years Eve I was wasted on champagne and vodka — a deadly combination. Frolicking in a makeshift Stevie Nicks-style skirt, spinning in circles to the sounds of Fleetwood Mac’s “Gypsy” nearly made me barf. Other New Year’s hotspots: Robert Drake and company held court at Fluid, and there was the ever-popular Making Time. My sources tell me Sal’s on 12th was on fire. Ten dollar open bar guaranteed the crowd, which had that great mix of gay and straight scenesters, with a sprinkling of trannies. The bartender at Sal’s On 12th said that it’s basically a gay bar, with a mostly moderately-priced sandwich menu til 10 p.m . and a very mixed, gay/straight scene with DJs upstairs on weekends. Said bartender is going for a “Bob and Barbara’s feel”. Well, Tommy Zane is all down with that! Now get down with this! Swedish DJ Eric Prydz gets the first sanctioned remix/mashup with Pink Floyd! Check out the video for “Proper Education (The Wall)”:
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NOW PLAYING: At The Philadelphia Museum Of Art

Monday, January 8th, 2007


A few moments later, the doors opened, and visitors began to pour in – a woman with a cane, a woman in a wheelchair, a man with a cane, a young man with an earring, a mother with toddler – all focused intently on the huge painting. This was the moment, the culmination of an intense campaign to raise a record amount of money to keep this iconic painting in the city. There were so many people crowding in and pointing and looking that the gallery and the crowded hall outside were enveloped with a blockbuster aura. Hundreds streamed by The Gross Clinic in the first hour or so. But this was no vast exhibition of golden Egyptian artifacts or colorful Monet gardenscapes. This was one big, dark canvas – with some supporting paintings arrayed elsewhere in the gallery – depicting a bloodied, thoughtful doctor demonstrating a difficult surgical procedure to a group of attentive and, in some cases, sleepy students.

It is considered Eakins’ greatest work, and many consider it the greatest American painting of the 19th century.

INQUIRER: Housed In A Museum, It Really Is A Screa-Um

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COMMENT: Bloggerati Killed The Alt-Weekly Rock Stars

Friday, December 29th, 2006

Our hugumbus YEAR IN MUSIC Omnibus is about to drop, but while we’re finishing up polishing this turd, chew on this from our pal JOE WARMINSKY in WASHINGTON CITY PAPER:

Don’t get me wrong—I fully embrace what the blogosphere does provide. It’s essentially a broad, asymmetric rebellion against the SoundScan regime and the stodgy business plans of the major record labels. Blogs offer what good fanzines used to offer: stylistic detours, obsessive detail, contrarianblogger.png viewpoints, and a secondary economy that allows overlooked musicians to flourish, at least on a small scale. There isn’t much money in it, and it’s mostly done for love—or at least for the validation of other geeks. Alternative weekly newspapers like this one have long filled that role, too.

The problem is that—when compared to the worlds of zines or alt-weeklies—the blogosphere often feels like an arms race. Sites battle one another, writers battle commenters, commenters flame one another, and back up the chain again. An album like Clipse’s Hell Hath No Fury, the No. 1 disc on the Washington City Paper’s critics poll, spurred so much good online commentary that I decided to scrap my review of it for the CP. Within a week of the disc’s release, it seemed as though every angle was covered. And that was just because of the debate on one site, Oliver Wang’s popular Soul Sides. (Never mind the fact that it was impossible to get a jump on the blogs. Clipse and its record label were so protective of the disc that advance listens were almost nonexistent until it inevitably leaked online two weeks before its release; those leaks had been thoroughly digested long before less savvy fans could hear the album.) CLICK HERE FOR THE MORE

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Thursday, November 30th, 2006

ELIZABETH FIEND REPORTS: Pharmaceutical corporations hire PR firms to sell disease like they do sneakers. “Just do it” becomes “just take it” — the little purple pill, that is. Do you have a going problem, or is it a growing problem? One pill (Viagra) makes you larger and one pill (Avodart) makes you small. But the question remains, do they do anything at all? smiley-pills.jpg

Go ask Alice.

Alice went to sleep one night feeling perfectly fine. The next day she woke up to learn she had high blood pressure! Absolutely nothing about her changed, her numbers were exactly the same. But a committee redefined the definition of high blood pressure, and Alice and about a million others developed the medical condition, literally overnight.

Naturally, they need treatment. Wow, what a great marketing strategy! And that’s exactly what it is…. (more…)

Via BuzzFeed

Cost of the War in Iraq
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