5 Things You Didn’t Know About Ben Franklin

Today is the 306th birthday of the most popular man in Philadelphia history: Ben Franklin. And while everyone’s heard about the kite experiment and bifocals, there are some very cool things about our favorite citizen you may not know. Here are five things about Ben that will make him seem even more fascinating. Read more »

Pat Buchanan Says the Wackiest Things

Pat Buchanan has been suspended from MSNBC since October. Apparently, someone at the network turned off the TV and picked up a book, namely Buchanan’s latest opus, Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?. Buchanan has been saying the same things for years, but he always metes out his extremism with care. You almost don’t notice what he’s saying, which I suppose is the only excuse for MSNBC’s late arrival to the party. Read more »

PATCO: Photographers Are Probably Not Terrorists

In the post-9/11 world we live in, it’s become common for authorities to view folks taking lots of pictures of trains, bridges and tunnels as suspicious—maybe even consider them to be possible terrorists. And so it wasn’t exactly surprising that PATCO (the Delaware River Port Authority subsidiary that shuttles folks back and forth between Philadelphia and South Jersey over the Ben Franklin Bridge) posted the following on its website under the heading What Should I Consider Suspicious?: “Individuals observed filming or photographing passing trains, locomotives, freight cars, passenger cars, rail yard operations, tracks, bridges, tunnels, commuter rail trains, subway trains, transit trains, stations and platforms.”

But now, they’ve taken it down. Read more »

UPDATED Staphmeal: Mayor Nutter’s “Possible Mistress”

Remember Staphmeal? It’s that blog that emerged last year, saying all sorts of nasty things about folks like Georges Perrier and Shola Olunloyo before Georges Perrier and Shola Olunloyo went to court, the guy behind the site ( Joshua Scott Albert) was outed, and Philadelphia magazine published a full-blown feature article on the whole thing in December. Well, Staphmeal is back with a snappy new design and making good on promises to keep up the, uh, good fight. Moments ago, Albert published his latest masterwork, “Mayor Nutter’s Naughty Affairs & Strange Business Deals” in which he points to a “possible mistress” and includes a photo of the two of them at an outing, refers to the mayor as “drunk,” and then rather imaginatively manages to tie the whole thing to that $3 million subsidy the city gave to the Inquirer and Daily News to help fund their move to Market Street. I asked Albert if he had contacted the mayor’s press office about the allegations. His response: “No, that’s for journalists to do.” So I did call Nutter’s press secretary Mark McDonald, who had no immediate comment but said he’d get back to me.

UPDATE 1/10/2012 3:00 p.m.: McDonald’s comment: “This is completely false, outrageous, and crazy.”

 

Next Hot Vacation Spot: North Korea

Photo: Ray Cunningham


I have always found North Korea to be one of the most fascinating countries on earth. From the creepy cult of personality that surrounded Kim Jong-il to the traffic girls of Pyongyang to the fact that it is one of the last bastions of true socialism, this nation has always seemed to be almost of another planet.

Recently, I talked to Ray Cunningham—one of the few Americans to visit North Korea annually—and asked him about North Korean bars, Kim Jong-il, and what it’s like visiting North Korea as an American. Read more »

Christmas Isn’t Sexist At All

The fact that women have to spend more of our less-than-a-man’s wages on disposable items is part of the conspiracy to keep us down. There is the obvious, and the unavoidable, like “feminine products.” We resent this expense, even as we acknowledge there is little way around it. Of course, we now have a birth control pill that reduces the length of the period and can lead to the absence of periods. Disposable feminine products cost the average American woman $12 per month. This “period-be-gone” pill costs $55 per month. Read more »

Who’s Afraid of the Number 11?

Do you see the number 11 everywhere? Does the number keep intruding into your life as if someone is trying to tell you something? Thousands answer yes to both of those questions. They are part of the 11 Phenomenon; a growing mass of people believe we are seeing the number 11 more and more as some kind of sign, possibly a warning. Read more »

“Misplaced” Funds From Sheriff’s Office Legally Belong to Victimized Property Owners

The news that nearly $56 million had been recovered from the bowels of the sheriff’s office’s sloppy bookkeeping was welcomed by government officials. However, the former owners of properties sold at sheriff sale—who are due much of that money—continue to be victimized by government ineptitude. City officials announced that the funds–including unclaimed proceeds of sheriff sales over the last dozen years when property sales generated more than the amounts owed for past-due mortgages, taxes, and utilities–would be transferred to the City’s General Fund and State Treasury.  But, that money was not just misplaced, it was misappropriated; taken from those who were lawfully due the funds.  Unless they act deliberately and quickly to return the money to the rightful recipients, the sheriff, controller and the mayor are working to benefit government balance sheets instead of helpless property owners. Read more »

Smashing Pumpkins’ Conspiracy Theories

A year ago this week, I wrote here about how I wanted to make pumpkin biscotti but couldn’t find any canned pumpkin in the grocery stores near my house, thanks to widespread pumpkin shortages. That was apparently due to the weather in Illinois, where 95 percent of American-grown pumpkins are processed, largely by Libby’s, a Nestlé subsidiary that controls a whopping 85 percent of all canned pumpkin sold in the United States—a market worth $141 million. Imagine my distress, then, when an Associated Press article this year warned that Hurricane Irene had devastated pumpkin crops again. Why was Mother Nature picking on pumpkins? But then I got to thinking: Coincidence? Or something more?
Read more »

Hurricane Irene Conspiracy Theories

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised at the reaction to the local news coverage leading up to the arrival of Hurricane Irene, but I was.

Social media was pregnant with skepticism.

Dave Ernay from Exton wrote on Facebook, “this storm—like most we see—is being excessively hyped by the media for the purpose of keeping people glued to their TV sets. It’s going to rain in most of the tri-state PA/NJ/DE area today and tomorrow, perhaps very heavy rain, but it’s not going to be the catastrophic mind-blowing event that we are being led to follow.” Read more »

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