The Best Thing That Happened This Week: Bucks County’s Fox Pox

When we were growing up in Bucks County in the 1970s, it was a wonderland of deep dense forests and verdant farmland and misty hills, intersected by winding asphalt trails with quaint, mysterious names like “Burnt House Hill Road” and “Snake Hill Road” and “Cold Spring Creamery Road.” Now it’s a wonderland of developments pockmarked with abominations like “Normandy Court” and “Pagoda Cluster” and (gag us) “Appian Way.” Far be it from us to stand in the way of such progress. But there’s a cost to turning every available square inch of land into suburbia, and this year, nature’s taking her revenge: Our former childhood haunts are being overrun by vixens and kits.  Read more »

The Best Thing That Happened This Week: Our Giraffe Count Stabilized

We have a soft spot for giraffes. They were our mom’s favorite animal, for some peculiar reason. (How does a South Philly girl end up loving giraffes?) Also? They’re just so weird and graceful — living, breathing embodiments of evolution’s strange designs. (The name is from the Arabic for “fast walker.) They’re the tallest creatures on Earth — the tallest ever measured was more than 19 feet high! (Find out what the giraffe says here.)

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11 Things You Might Not Know About the 1926 Sesqui-Centennial Exhibition

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

In 1876, Philly put on a Centennial Exhibition that set the gold standard for big, innovative civic parties. Fifty years later, it put on a Sesqui-Centennial International Exhibition that, well, tanked. A new book from Temple University Press, historian Thomas Keels’s Sesqui! Greed, Graft, and the Forgotten World’s Fair of 1926, has the whole sad story of the failed fair, which opened to the public on May 31, 1926. Here, some highlights from the municipal celebration that makes Frank Rizzo‘s Bicentennial debacle look good. Read more »

Amy Reed, Penn Physician and Patient Advocate, Dies at 44

Amy, Hooman and their kids. Photograph by Jennifer Capozzola.

Amy, Hooman and their kids. Photograph by Jennifer Capozzola.

In the March 2016 issue of Philadelphia magazine, I told the story of Amy Reed, a young Penn-trained physician and mother of six who in 2013 went into Boston’s prominent Brigham and Women’s Hospital for the routine removal of a fibroid. Because her surgeon, without alerting her, used a device known as a power morcellator to chop up the fibroid for easy extraction, a deadly, undetected cancer spread throughout Reed’s abdominal cavity. Yesterday, three and a half years after that operation, Amy Reed died of uterine cancer. She was at home, surrounded by her family. She was 44 years old. Read more »

Remember When People Told the Truth?

Photos by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images Sport (Irving); Pool/Getty Images News (Trump); Associated Press (Williams); Chris Goodney/Bloomberg/Getty Images (Conway)

Daniel Langleben has a terrible sense of timing.

The Penn neuroscientist and psychiatrist was the proud lead author on a scholarly treatise published last November in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry showing that MRIs are superior to traditional polygraphs at detecting when people are lying. Five days later, Donald J. Trump was elected president of the United States, and lying didn’t matter anymore.

Trump’s election, and the litany of claptrap he and his administration keep spouting, is what spurred Time magazine to ask on a recent cover: IS TRUTH DEAD? But the President is only the most prominent prevaricator in our midst. Last year, Volkswagen became the best-selling automaker in the world — hot on the heels of a scandal in which the German company lied for years about its diesel emissions. Kevin Deutsch, a veteran reporter whose work has appeared in publications as august as the New York Times, Newsday and Newsweek, is the most recent writer pegged for lying about sources, in the grand tradition of Stephen Glass, Jonah Lehrer and Janet Cooke. Syria swore six ways to Sunday it got rid of all its chemical weapons. Read more »

The Best Thing That Happened This Week: The End to a Seaside Heights Catfight

On one side, in sleepy Seaside Heights, New Jersey, you have the cat lovers, the locals who’d fed and cared for and cleaned up after the town’s colony of felines who’d made their home under the boardwalk.

On the other side, you had the, well, not cat lovers, who were sick and tired of the howling and mewling and the smell of cat feces and urine baking in the hot summer sun. Read more »

The Best Thing That Happened This Week: The Awakening of Aaron Altherr

Philadelphia Phillies’ Aaron Altherr in action during a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners, Wednesday, May 10, 2017, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Some weeks are so full of hope and wonder that we have a hard time choosing amongst all the Best Things That Happen. Then there are weeks like the one we just had. While the Republic crumbled around us, we stood in the rubble and said to ourselves, “Oh, yeah, right, Best Thing … ” And it’s not as if we could turn to our sports teams to save us (though the Union did win their second straight game). The Phillies got spanked, 10-9 and 11-6, in their abbreviated midweek stand against the Mariners (in the midst of six straight games against the Nats; who makes up these schedules?). They also got beat on Saturday night in the bottom of the ninth by a walk-off homer by—wait for it—Bryce f’ing Harper.

On the other hand — and, yeah, we’re digging deep here — left fielder Aaron Altherr is tearing it up these days. In Wednesday’s game he smacked two home runs and became just the third Phil since 1929 to hit three-run home runs in three straight games. (His company? Mike Schmidt, in 1981, and Whiz Kid catcher Andy Seminick in 1949.) Through Wednesday, he’d had nine extra-base hits in eight games, prompting coach Pete Mackanin to marvel, “He’s turned into a monster.”

Oh, and we got to see Carlos Ruiz again. You see? There’s always something, if you dig deep enough.

Follow @SandyHingston on Twitter.

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