What I Learned About Philly Through My Google Search History

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I realize that I’m late to the Google search download game.

The option to download your search history – as in, your entire search history – has been available since January, when Google quietly rolled out the feature. It came to the attention of the Internet masses last week, when a third-party blog spelled it out: Everything you have searched for while logged into Google has been saved, and you can take a peek if you want.

I did not want. Read more »

Philly’s 5 Worst Reality TV Moments

Kate Gosselin | Shutterstock.com; Parking Wars | aetv.com; Real World Philadelphia cast | mtv.com

Kate Gosselin | Shutterstock.com; Parking Wars | aetv.com; Real World Philadelphia cast | mtv.com

What exactly did Philadelphia do to deserve TLC’s “Summer Block Party”?

The short answer is that Northeast Philly resident Lisa Miller “won” a contest to host the event, which will bring a slew of the network’s reality stars — including the expansive Duggar family from 19 Kids and Counting, Kate Gosselin of Kate Plus Eight and a grown man who refers to himself as The Cake Boss — to Penn’s Landing on May 20th.

(We should resist blaming Ms. Miller, who seems to be a lovely woman trying to do something nice for her community. Sometimes good citizens mistakenly wish catastrophic events upon their hometowns.)

The longer explanation is that Philly’s karma debt runs deep, and the universe took a quick break from indifference to hand-tailor an 11th plague, just for us. It seems you can’t put shows like Parking Wars out there and expect to dodge the consequences.

Here are the city’s worst moments in reality TV — until, of course, TLC films a special of next month’s unholy gathering. Read more »

These Are the 20 Stupidest Computer Passwords

You know you ought to change the passwords you use online more often. You hear about it, you read about it, you even know that lady in accounting who got hacked and is still trying to straighten out her finances six months later. But your passwords are like your slippers — cozy and comfortable. It’s so hard to remember the passwords you already have. You just can’t face the prospect of changing them again. Right?

Well, good news. We’re not here to try to get you to change your computer passwords. We already tried that, and besides, the Wall Street Journal just tried it, too, in an article by Punam A. Keller, a professor at Dartmouth’s school of business. Well, actually, her article was on how businesses can encourage password-changing amongst their clientele. But even Keller admits she hasn’t changed her password — she uses the same one for her computer, iTunes, PayPal, and lots of online shopping sites — in three years.

Doesn’t that make you feel better — knowing that an Ivy League professor who’s getting paid to tell companies how to get their customers to change their passwords doesn’t change her password? That’s the business we’re in today, my friend — making you feel good about yourself.  Read more »

These Are Philly’s 10 Worst Catcalls, Ranked

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A sign declaring “No Catcalling Anytime” in Brooklyn’s Grand Plaza area, Thursday, April 16. A nonprofit company called Feminist Apparel says it hopes to have at least one sign up in every borough by week’s end.

I hate to say it, but sometimes, I don’t mind a catcall.

Ideally, yes, women would be able to walk down the street without eliciting any unwanted comments, rendering Fishtown’s fantastic new “No Catcall Zone” signs obsolete. In reality, well, sometimes “Looking good, honey” is the nicest thing I’ll hear all week. (Ever since resolving to meet this city halfway, I sleep better and drink less. Join me.)

The following, however, have no place in civilized society, or even Philadelphia. From drive-bys to bike bys, from the Northeast to Washington Avenue, these are Philly’s worst catcalls. Read more »

TV’s Dr. Oz Defends Against Calls for Dismissal

Dr. Oz, seen here with Today show anchor Matt Lauer, is under attack for promoting questionable medical treatments.

Dr. Oz, seen here with Today show anchor Matt Lauer, is under attack for promoting questionable medical treatments.

Dr. Mehmet Oz — better known as “Dr. Oz” to his television audience — is coming under increasing attack for promoting what critics say are questionable medical treatments. There’s a movement afoot to boot him from the faculty of Columbia University, where he serves in the medical school. Read more »

Selfie Sex-Ed: Should High Schools Teach Sexting Risks?

Sexting

According to a long-term study by researchers at the University of Texas, sexting may actually be a normal part of sexual development among teens.

As provocative as that sounds, I think it’s probably true. And — as exaggerated and semi-Puritan as this sounds — it’s also true that sexting can completely ruin a teenager’s life.

A girl who shares an intimate photo with her boyfriend can be charged with a summary offense in Pennsylvania. He can face charges for having the images, too.  Read more »

The Argument for “Free-Range Kids”

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Shutterstock.com

It’s been a couple of years now, but the shock still feels fresh: I took my young son to Fitler Square for some morning playtime, and there we found another young child.

Playing by herself.

No adults in sight.

Had she been abandoned? Had she wandered off on her own? Why wasn’t anybody around?

God help me, I wasn’t quite sure what to do. I resolved to stay close, keep an eye on her — and if too much time passed, I’d call the police. Luckily, it never came to that: Her father rushed up a few minutes later — he’d brought his daughter to the park, then left her there for a few minutes to grab something from his house nearby. He’d never thought her in danger. I kind of thought he was a giant jerk.

But this probably has some bearing on the story: The father was European — for the sake of neighborly relations, I’ll not identify him more specifically than that — and, possibly, not wise to the panicky “stranger danger” alarmism we American parents are marinated in. Read more »

Apple’s New Emoji Have Created Brand New Ways to Be Culturally Insensitive Online

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More than half of Americans are in possession of a smartphone, with many using emoticons. It is fair to say that while all races are not represented by emoticons, all races use emojis. As Black-Emoji.com explains, “Emoji & Emoticons are the alphabet of the social media generation.”

Last week, Apple unveiled new diverse emoticons, including a set of emojis with an adjustable range of emoji skin tones to pick from, including yellow, brown and black. It’s been a long time coming — the Black Twitterverse and scores of others online denizens have complained for years that Apple’s emoji set was woefully lacking. As Vice reported in 2014, “emojis include the middle finger, the Vulcan hand salute, an optical disc icon, a chipmunk, and a black droplet. But no black people.” Up until last Thursday, Apple emoticon users could only use yellow Lego-people-colored graphics as representation of themselves. Read more »

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