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.

Six Great Children’s Gardens to Visit for Mother’s Day

childrens gardens header

There are so very many different ways to fete the mom of your kiddies on Mother’s Day: breakfast in bed, a fancy brunch, takeout Chinese. Or you could make the whole fam happy with a visit to a children’s garden. It just so happens Temple landscape architecture professor Lolly Tai has a pretty new book out, The Magic of Children’s Gardens, and among the 19 American gardens it highlights are six — six! — within day-trip distance where your offspring can get up close and personal with the natural world instead of with an iPhone. Here they are, with a brief overview of the wonders they hold. Read more »

The Best Thing That Happened This Week: Philly Did Philly

Fans and media gather on the red carpet before the first round of the 2017 NFL football draft, Thursday, April 27, 2017, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Fans and media gather on the red carpet before the first round of the 2017 NFL football draft, Thursday, April 27, 2017, in Philadelphia. AP | Julio Cortez

Some cities might have been thrown for a loop by all that went on here this week, between the NFL draft, the Penn Relays, and the first really summer-ish weather. Not Philly. We smiled at the wide-eyed strangers in our midst, waited indulgently in traffic for packs of roving bruhs, made way for the odd feminista uprising, waved at all the cops. We booed Roger Goodell with lusty pleasure. We booed first-round Eagles pick Derek Barnett. (Welcome to Philly, kid!) We gave hometown hero Haasan Reddick, the Temple walk-on who went to the Cardinals just ahead of the Birds’ pick, the biggest cheers of opening night.  Read more »

Puppies Just Might Make All the NFL Draft Hoopla Worth It

Prefer Puppy Bowl to the Super Bowl? Pissed that you haven’t been able to drive to your house in Fairmount for a week? Or maybe you just need a friend.

Consider heading to Morris Animal Refuge today between 2 and 5 p.m. for some canny canine counter-programming to the NFL Draft jawnboree: the Road to Puppy Bowl Draft Adoption Event. Real-life Eagles (and great sports) Mychal Kendricks, Ron Brooks, Najee Goode and Terrell Watson will join Temple U. draft hopeful Dion Dawkins in evaluating this season’s crop of Puppy Bowl contenders from Morris and sorting them into Team Ruff and Team Fluff. (Last year, Morris sent Rottweiler Leah to the Puppy Bowl.)  Read more »

The Best Thing That Happened This Week: Cherry Blossoms!

Photo by PongsakornJun/iStck

Photo by PongsakornJun/iStck

What with all the weird weather that went into spring this year, there was a lot of free-floating botanical consternation hereabouts. What would Stella’s late-season snow mean for our gardens? Were the star magnolias safe? How about the cherry trees? Philly has a ton of flowering cherry trees, a.k.a. Prunus serrulata, along with a 20-year-old annual festival dedicated to them (and brought to you by Subaru, because hey, nothing in life is free). Philly’s first 1,600 flowering cherry trees were planted in 1926, during the nation’s Sesqui-Centennial Exhibition, as a gesture of friendship by the government of Japan; since 1998, the Japan America Society has planted a thousand more, along the River Drives, by Memorial Hall, and across Belmont Plateau. In Japan, cherry blossoms, known as sakura, embody mono no aware, variously translated as “the pathos of things,” “an empathy toward things,” and “the ahh-ness of things.” Their transience only heightens their beauty, and their passing brings a deep, gentle sadness: Such is life. Go sit beneath a cherry tree.

The Best Thing That Happened This Week: Brock Stassi Made the Big Leagues

Photo by John Raoux/AP

Photo by John Raoux/AP

We live in a world of insta-success these days. A single tweet, a viral video, and you (or you, or I) can be the Next Big Thing. Which makes what happened this week to longtime Phillies minor-league first baseman Brock Stassi—well, here’s how his younger brother Max explained it on Facebook: “My brother Brock: cut early in area code tryouts, didn’t have a D1 offer until late in his senior year (to pitch), was told he wasn’t good enough to hit in college … drafted late as first baseman … 1K bucks. Plane ticket. Offseason substitute teacher … ” But Brock, a 33rd-round draft pick in 2011, had a blistering preseason (.339, a team-leading six home runs), and on Thursday, Phils manager Pete Mackanin called him into his office for what up until this year has been, for Stassi, a heartbreaking chat. Not this time. “What number do you want?” Mackanin asked his 27-year-old rookie. Stassi was still crying in an interview afterward. “Dream come true,” he managed. “I made it to the big leagues and can finally say I’m a big leaguer.” Play ball!

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