Sunday, January 30, 2011

Price Increase

The Philadelphia Inquirer & Philadelphia Daily News raise their newsstand price from $0.75 to $1 on Mon., Jan. 31st. The Philadelphia Inquirer Sunday paper will remain steady at $1.75. The Daily News doesn't publish a Sunday Edition.

I've lived in Philadelphia for about 4-5 years. When I first moved here, the daily price for both papers was $0.50.

I usually purchase both copies on a daily basis though $2 will definitely cause me to purchase them less frequently. I already pass on Sunday's paper every other week.

Note: Home delivery subscription prices will remain unchanged.

In National News:

Rep. Lamar Smith (R., Texas), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, on Friday rejected a request from all 16 Democrats on the Committee to hold hearings related to gun safety in the aftermath of the Tucson shootings. Judiciary has jurisdiction over firearms laws.

Arizona legislators reintroduced legislation aimed at making President Obama prove his U.S. nationality by birth.

N.N.Info via The Philadelphia Inquirer (Sat., Jan. 29th edition, pg. A9)

Friday, January 28, 2011



Sacrificing Microcredit for Megaprofits

Click Here for Editorial by Mahammad Yunnus, Founder of Grameen Bank & Recipient of The Nobel Peace Prize in 2006

Monetary Matters Continued:

Republicans on Financial Crisis Committee Issue Dissent From the Panel's Report

WASHINGTON — The government commission’s account of what caused the 2008 financial crisis offers a broad indictment of regulatory weakness, Wall Street avarice and corporate incompetence. But that narrative is competing with alternative views by the Republicans on the panel, who released their dissenting reports on Wednesday.

The main report, a 576-page paperback due in bookstores Thursday and titled “The Financial Crisis Inquiry Report,” offers ample ammunition for critics of Wall Street.

It cites “pervasive permissiveness” by regulators, “dramatic failures of corporate governance and risk management,” and “a systemic breakdown in accountability and ethics.”

It compares the financial system before the crisis with “a highway where there were neither speed limits nor neatly painted lines.” And it finds fault with the deregulatory orthodoxies of the last 30 years, saying of regulators, “The sentries were not at their posts, in no small part due to the widely accepted faith in the self-correcting nature of the markets and the ability of financial institutions to effectively police themselves.”

But that analysis is “too broad,” according to three Republican commission members: Bill Thomas, a former congressman from California and the vice chairman of the commission; Keith Hennessey, who was an economic adviser to President George W. Bush; and Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office.

In a 25-page dissent, the three Republicans say the Democratic report “is more an account of bad events than a focused explanation of what happened and why. When everything is important, nothing is.”

The three men say that some of the majority report’s culprits — excessive political influence of Wall Street, a deregulatory ideology and a flawed regulatory structure — fail to account for the failure of financial institutions in Europe.

“By focusing too narrowly on U.S. regulatory policy and supervision, ignoring international parallels, emphasizing only arguments for greater regulation, failing to prioritize the causes and failing to distinguish sufficiently between causes and effects, the majority’s report is unbalanced and leads to incorrect conclusions,” Republican congressional commission members allege.

The dissent also suggests that the Democrats were too quick to blame exotic financial instruments, like over-the-counter derivatives and collateralized debt obligations. The problem was not the instruments themselves, but a failure to use them appropriately, Republican congressional commission members also allege.

Click Here For Complete Article by Sewell Chan

More: Recommended Reading -

The Quants: How a New Breed of Math Whizzes Conquered Wall Street and Nearly Destroyed It by Scott Patterson

Bonus Round:

Hacker smacks Zuck right in the Facebook


And Finally, One For The Road

RIP Gladys Horton of the Marvelettes

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

FLP System Wide Shutdown

All Free Library of Philadelphia Branch Locations (including Central) will be closed Thursday, Jan. 27th, for a Professional Development Meeting.

Monday, January 24, 2011

City Paper's Bell Curve


[+8] Police make an arrest in the Kensington Strangler case. Reached for comment, the suspect says he supports the elimination of the Sheriff's Office.

[+1] State Rep. Paul I. Clymer tells the Philadelphia School Reform Commission that he has "serious concerns" and "if we don't get a serious response, then we'll have to pursue other alternatives." Adding: "First off, we recommend extending Arlene Ackerman's contract for 35 years with annual raises of 25 percent."

[0] Gov. Tom Corbett is sworn into office. Meanwhile, the subterranean fires of Centralia gather strength and threaten to march west toward Marcellus Shale.

[0] Former Gov. Ed Rendell supports program giving stray cats and dogs to prisoners. "All of a sudden, recidivism's looking like a win-win," says Michael Vick. "I just really enjoy killing dogs. I do not care where."

[-5] Every day, on average, two water mains break in Philadelphia, which sometimes leads to millions of gallons of water pouring onto the street. Bonus spraygrounds, you guys!

[0] Harrah's Entertainment offers to loan Foxwoods $19 million — up from $10 million — in order to win back its license. "We have a system," says Harrah's. "It's totally foolproof."

[0] Gov. Tom Corbett uses William Penn's Bible in his inauguration ceremony. "I tried to get him to use my Tijuana Bible," laughs Rendell. "But he had it deported."

[+3] The interim executive director of the Philadelphia Housing Authority kicks off his new position by imposing a no-gifts policy on all employees. "And that's why I forgot to bring bagels."

[-2] Police pull two cars from the Schuylkill River in a week. "Don't worry," says Rendell, toweling off. "They're just Zipcars."

[+1] The State Department chooses a film about Allen Iverson to be among the 18 American documentaries that it will show in worldwide screenings. The question is: Will the montage end on "I get knocked down" or "I get up again"?

This week's total: 6 | Last week's total: -4


Thursday, January 20, 2011


Ink on Paper Receipt,
Charcoal on WaterColor Paper
4" x 3"

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Pencil Highlights (*)

Coming Through Slaughter by Michael Ondaatje

"On his last night Webb went to hear Bolden play. Far back, by the door, he stood alone and listened for an hour. He watched him dive into the stories found in the barber shop, his whole plot of song covered with scandal and incident and change. The music was coarse and rough, immediate, dated in half an hour, was about bodies in the river, knives, lovepains, cockiness. Up there on stage he was showing all the possibilities in the middle of the story."

page 43
Published by House of Anansi

(*) Library Book checked out from Free Library of Philadelphia. Pencil highlights, now erased, were made by unknown persons.

Note: This Work of Historical Fiction is highly recommended

Friday, January 14, 2011

Zoe Strauss

South Philly (Jehovah's Witnesses), 2002 (negative); 2003 (print)
Zoe Strauss, American
Chromogenic print
Image: 6 5/16 x 10 1/16 inches (16 x 25.6 cm) Sheet: 7 15/16 x 10 3/8 inches (20.2 x 26.4 cm)
Purchased with funds contributed by Theodore T. Newbold and Helen Cunningham, 2003

Zoe Strauss @ Philadelphia Museum of Art

January - March 2012

Zoe Strauss Under I-95 is a mid-career retrospective of the acclaimed photographer’s work and the first critical assessment of her ten-year project to exhibit her photographs annually in a space beneath a section of Interstate-95 in South Philadelphia. Strauss’s subjects are broad but her primary focus is on working-class America. Many of her pictures depict down-and-out people and landscapes, offering a poignant, troubling portrait of contemporary American life.

Strauss (American, born 1970) states that her ambition is “to create an epic narrative that reflects the beauty and struggle of everyday life.” Between 2001 and 2010, her I-95 exhibitions took place on a Sunday in early May. A print was affixed to each side of eighty-four columns in a space the size of a football field. Visitors walked slowly from column to column as they viewed the photographs. The processional nature of the experience underscored the paradoxical setting: an abandoned urban space that bears a certain elegance thanks to the grid of columns that structures a visual experience in classical perspective. Strauss’s installations transformed this site into a viable and vital public space. Many of the images depict people and places from the surrounding neighborhoods, similar districts in other American cities, as well as suburban and rural places in between.

Untrained as a photographer or artist, Strauss nevertheless founded the Philadelphia Public Art Project in 1995 with the objective of exhibiting art in nontraditional venues. She turned to the camera in 2000 as the most direct instrument to represent her chosen subjects. In 2006, Strauss participated in the Whitney Biennial and in 2008 she published her first book, America.

Peter Barberie • The Brodsky Curator of Photographs, Alfred Stieglitz Center

Berman and Stieglitz Galleries, ground floor


More: Art Community Conversations - Arts Initiatives in Philadelphia

Fridays at 6:30 pm on the following dates:

January 14th (2011), with Philly Stake and photographer Zoe Strauss

Location: Alter Gallery (Gallery 176), First floor, Modern and Contemporary Wing

Free after Museum admission

Join a conversation around one of Pistoletto’s mirrored tables, shaped in the contours of the Caribbean and Mediterranean Seas, and learn more about community-based arts initiatives in Philadelphia. Members of innovative arts organizations basekamp, Art Sanctuary (in conversation with Aaron Levy, Executive Director and Chief Curator of Slought Foundation), and Philly Stake (with acclaimed photographer Zoe Strauss) will lead informal conversations outlining their vision, history, and current projects as well as discuss their efforts to diversify the arts landscape of the city.


Friday's Special: 1/2 Price Admission to the Philadelphia Museum of Art courtesy of PMA &

Offer good on Friday, January 14th, from 10 a.m. to 8:45 p.m.

Click Here For Details

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Classical: Searching for New Music

“Most of the music we play,” a musician who specializes in contemporary works told me recently, “is not great. Some of it is very good, but it lacks something. It falls short. But we need to play it — not only because something great may turn up, and if we don’t play it, we won’t know it, but also because this is the music being composed now, and it ought to be heard.”

Listeners who dislike new music, either because they disdain contemporary musical languages or because they simply want to hear what they already know and love, might argue that musicians should do this sifting on their own and perform only the works that they can say, hand on heart, are masterpieces. And that sounds reasonable, to a point. But where new works are concerned, musicians are, to borrow a term from the computer world, beta testers. The problem is that in music, beta testing necessarily involves listeners as well.

Musicians need listener feedback to know whether a piece speaks to anyone else. That response may come in the form of post-concert comments and published criticism, but most immediately a musician will have a more visceral sense during the performance of how an audience feels about the work at hand. And the audience, by creating a buzz about the music or the composer and buying tickets to hear the piece the next time it is performed, becomes part of the mechanism that either sends a score into oblivion or finds it a berth in the repertory.

Click Here for complete NY Times article By Allan Kozinn

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Profit of Islam

New Look for Mecca: Gargantuan and Gaudy

JIDDA, Saudi Arabia — It is an architectural absurdity. Just south of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the Muslim world’s holiest site, a kitsch rendition of London’s Big Ben is nearing completion. Called the Royal Mecca Clock Tower, it will be one of the tallest buildings in the world, the centerpiece of a complex that is housing a gargantuan shopping mall, an 800-room hotel and a prayer hall for several thousand people. Its muscular form, an unabashed knockoff of the original, blown up to a grotesque scale, will be decorated with Arabic inscriptions and topped by a crescent-shape spire in what feels like a cynical nod to Islam’s architectural past. To make room for it, the Saudi government bulldozed an 18th-century Ottoman fortress and the hill it stood on.

The tower is just one of many construction projects in the very center of Mecca, from train lines to numerous luxury high-rises and hotels and a huge expansion of the Grand Mosque. The historic core of Mecca is being reshaped in ways that many here find appalling, sparking unusually heated criticism of the authoritarian Saudi government.

“It is the commercialization of the house of God,” said Sami Angawi, a Saudi architect who founded a research center that studies urban planning issues surrounding the hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, and has been one of the development’s most vocal critics. “The closer to the mosque, the more expensive the apartments. In the most expensive towers, you can pay millions” for a 25-year leasing agreement, he said. “If you can see the mosque, you pay triple.”

Saudi officials say that the construction boom — and the demolition that comes with it — is necessary to accommodate the ever-growing numbers of people who make the pilgrimage to Mecca, a figure that has risen to almost three million this past year. As a non-Muslim, I was not permitted to visit the city, but many Muslims I spoke to who know it well — including architects, preservationists and even some government officials — believe the real motive behind these plans is money: the desire to profit from some of the most valuable real estate in the world. And, they add, it has been facilitated by Saudi Arabia’s especially strict interpretation of Islam, which regards much history after the age of Muhammad, and the artifacts it produced, as corrupt, meaning that centuries-old buildings can be destroyed with impunity.

That mentality is dividing the holy city of Mecca — and the pilgrimage experience — along highly visible class lines, with the rich sealed inside exclusive air-conditioned high-rises encircling the Grand Mosque and the poor pushed increasingly to the periphery.

Click Here for complete NY Times article By Nicolai Ouroussoff & photos by Salah Malkawi

Tuesday, January 4, 2011