Celebrating Valentine's Day with links from 2008

The only proper way a journalist could celebrate Valentine’s Day 2009 is to look elsewhere, the past, namely.

It might have been hard to think in February 2008 that one year later would only look darker for newspapers. Let’s look back on those happier times with what was going on in the blogosphere circa Cupid’s Day 2k8, via the archives of 10,000 Words. Thanks Mark.

For those of you pathetic souls alone and online searching today, something that can totally take away the pain is due up later this morning.

Image from Wikipedia.

Five books I reread in 2008 that you should try in 2009

Today is Jan. 2, 2009.

Looks like you ought to find something new to read. For me, there are those books I can’t seem to put down, even if I’ve already read them and have a stack of new stories I hope to try.

In 2008, I returned to more old friends than I normally do. Below, see the five books to which I returned and why you should give them a go if you haven’t, or a second look if you can.

Continue reading Five books I reread in 2008 that you should try in 2009

Your digital legacy: we know your wild past won't forget, but who doesn't?

PlayPlay
Image by Steve Carroll

We already got the message. Twenty-somethings of today, I suspect, are already careful about their presences online. We were coming to professional age when we were first joining social networks.

But the conversations seems to be ongoing.

The Economist magazine has released its annual forecast for the coming year, and, among their predictions, the U.K. politics magazine says 2009 may be a year in which the social networking phenomenon will reach critical mass: hurting security, employability and socializing.

Hear their audio and my thoughts below.

Continue reading Your digital legacy: we know your wild past won't forget, but who doesn't?

Recession thick, but some sectors still hiring

People in line for unemployment benefits in Detroit. (Photo by Francis Miller, January 1952)
People in line for unemployment benefits in Detroit. (Photo by Francis Miller, January 1952)

I now know a handful of bright people – some family, some friends, some young all smart and competent – who are victims of what is becoming a growing economic hysteria, made worse by media… and blogs. This from the Washington Post:

New unemployment figures from the Department of Labor show average new jobless claims for the past four weeks up more than 200,000 from a year ago to their highest level since Dec. 1982.

The latest Washington Post-ABC News poll found job cuts reaching a broad swath of Americans: nearly two in 10 reported they or someone in their household had lost a job in the past few months, and almost three in 10 said their household had been hit with a pay cut or reduced hours at work.” [Source]

That can only affect this freelance journalist, as it does millions of Americans.

Continue reading Recession thick, but some sectors still hiring

I heart John Baer: Move Pennsylvania Society weekend from NYC to Philly

Ed Rendell and others at 2006 Pennsylvania Society dinner in New York City.
Ed Rendell and others at 2006 Pennsylvania Society dinner in New York City.

One of the largest and, admittedly, one of the many embarrassments of old Philadelphia is that the annual Pennsylvania Society dinner is held in midtown Manhattan.

It seems like a suggestion that Pennsylvania’s largest city – the city of firsts, the workshop of the world, the first great city of the United States – isn’t good enough. Or as Fred Anton, head of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association, told eminent Daily News columnist John Baer, Philly isn’t “exotic” enough.  His recent most column lambasted the 109-year-old celebration:

Cancel next month’s Pennsylvania Society weekend in New York City, or curtail it, or work on moving it to its home state.

In the worst economy since the Great Depression, with 1.2 million jobs lost this year, with state unemployment at 5.7 percent, the highest rate since right after Gov. Rendell took office in ’03, with the city facing job cuts and a $1 billion shortfall, it just strikes me as a tad unseemly to, you know, party hearty. [Source]

But, this deal is even more twisted than even Baer acknowledges, though I would like to take this opportunity to point out that I was once in a group photo with him.

Continue reading I heart John Baer: Move Pennsylvania Society weekend from NYC to Philly

Thoughts on City Paper cover story on Philly porn star

Photo by Michael T. Regan for CityPaper
Photo by Michael T. Regan for CityPaper

So turns out one of today’s biggest, brightest and youngest upcoming porn stars lives in South Philadelphia.

And really, where else could Stoya live.

Philadelphia City Paper devoted its latest cover story to her. Nearly 5,000 words, friends. Writer Matt Stroud is getting beaten up a bit in the blogosphere and on the story comments – though some are complimentary – and there’s been some buzz around it, so I gave it a read, though I’m currently out of Philly.

Continue reading Thoughts on City Paper cover story on Philly porn star

This Land is Their Land: Could You Afford to be Poor?

I am reading the book This Land is Your Land by Barbara Ehrenreich, the noted author of the 2001 investigation into the U.S. working poor Nickel and Dimed.

It is mostly the standard fare criticism of the wealth from the left – not suggesting it is justified or not, but standard nonetheless.

However, one brief chapter did stick with me, one entitled “Could You Afford to Be Poor?” [Page 41 in hardcover].

She referenced a 2006 study of the Brookings Institution, which cited the “ghetto tax,” a higher cost of living in low-income urban neighborhoods. Many of the individual examples we all know or could recognize but seeing them together collectively was daunting.

Here is her list

  • Poor people are less likely to have bank accounts, which can be expensive for those with low balances, and so they tend to cash their pay checks at check-cashing businesses, which, in cities surveyed, charged $5 to $50 for a $500 check.
  • Nationwide, low-income car buyers, defined as people earning less than $30,000 a year, pay 2 percentage points more for a car loan than more affluent buyers.

Continue reading This Land is Their Land: Could You Afford to be Poor?

Exceptional Parent: "Wisdom of a Child"

Family friend Lee-Ellen Pisauro shared with me a warm piece she had featured in this month’s edition of Exceptional Parent, a magazine for parents of children or young adults with disabilities.

The mag doesn’t share it’s content online, so I thought I would – it’s brief and isn’t losing them a darn dime.

The Wisdom of a Child

By Lee-Ellen Pisauro

My four-year-old son, Steven, is wise beyond his years. His faith is so strong. His belief in “the good” does not waiver.

When my second son, Sam, was born, friends and family members assured my husband and me that Steven was the perfect big brother for Sam. After all, he is so gentle, loving and compassionate. I was sure everyone said this to take the sting away from the diagnosis. Sam was born with Down syndrome.

Continue reading Exceptional Parent: "Wisdom of a Child"

Sharing 'Seeking Widsom' from Philadelphia Weekly

pw-philadelphia-weekly.gif

Recently, I stumbled upon one of my favorite contributions to a newspaper I’ve ever read, “Seeking Wisdom,” a note by Philadelphia Weekly‘s Editor Tim Whittaker from last April.pw-philadelphia-weekly.gif

Whenever he was facing a dilemma or required a bit of counseling or simply needed relief from the assault of everyday fools, he’d hunt down Wisdom. Ethical crisis, love impasse, job dustup, financial quandary, whatever, Wisdom was his go-to guy. With Wisdom, he learned, it was best to express your predicament quickly and directly.

“Cut to the chase, my man,” he’d say the second a story seemed it might have a beginning and a middle.

Once, five years back, he went to Wisdom torn up about two girls he thought he liked equally. Wisdom asked if he was certain beyond doubt he couldn’t keep both.

Certain, he told Wisdom.

“Tragic,” Wisdom said, sorrow filling his voice.

Read more of it here at PW.