August 15, 2016 |
In 2003, George Funkhouser and Susan Nitka drove to Bridgeton, N.J., where George, who buys and sells precious metals and antiques, was going to meet with a client. At the time, the couple were living in Philadelphia's Port Richmond section in a home she had inherited from her parents. They had been together for a decade and were considering buying a larger house. That day in Bridgeton, they drove down streets lined with mansions built in the 19th century, when the city was a center for industry in South Jersey.
June 24, 2016
"BREAKING: SIX-PACKS APPROVED FOR SALE AT PENNSYLVANIA GAS STATIONS!" - Headline on Gov. Wolf's blog WITH THAT, Pennsylvania, your beer laws have finally entered the 20th century. And, yes, I do mean last century, for despite the screaming caps, last month's approval is both meaningless and illustrative of the small thinking that accompanies liquor regulation in this state. For starters, the approval applies only to nine gas stations statewide, and most are in the boondocks, so . . . next time you are in Mahanoy City, fill 'er up!
June 14, 2016 |
HARRISBURG - Wine on supermarket shelves. Beer sold in 12-packs. Sunday liquor purchases. Is this really Pennsylvania? Last week's enactment of a law that will let hundreds of stores add by-the-bottle wine sales was the latest in a slow drip of efforts by lawmakers and regulators to loosen the state's long-derided grip on its system of alcohol control, and nudge the Keystone State into the 21st century. What remains to be seen is whether the changes will be enough, for now, to quell the advocates who have called for turning over the system to private enterprise, or whether it will, instead, just speed the momentum in that direction.
June 8, 2016 |
Carved canoes and hand-drawn carriages climb the walls. Woven baskets and wooden cradles hang from the ceiling. In the dimly glowing concrete tower, a gorgeous mess of early-American relics seems to come alive. "We call this the 'oh, my gosh' room," said director Doug Dolan - because that's what people generally say when they walk into the central court, crafted by Doylestown-born archaeologist and historian Henry Mercer in 1916. It's a spell that has been cast for the last 100 years upon visitors to the Mercer Museum, where the display of artifacts from 19th-century life has remained largely unchanged.
May 27, 2016
SOMETHING must be done to cut the tangled mess of knots that has paralyzed state government over spending and taxation. Everyone knows how bad it has been, with Gov. Wolf and the Republican-controlled Legislature entangled in ceaseless rounds of proposals and counterproposals. It stymied passage of a state budget last year, resulting in real pain for local governments and school districts that depend on a steady flow of state subsidies. The governor, at least, is making soothing noises about budget negotiations this year, but there is no reason to think real progress will be made.
May 27, 2016
By Joe Queenan George Santayana was sitting in his stately, well-appointed Cambridge home when the housekeeper announced he had visitors. Seconds later, Mrs. Hudson ushered three oddly garbed men into the parlor, where he greeted them with sherry and cheroots. "We'll cut right to the chase, Mr. Santayana," the tallest of the three, one Jared Polanski, said. "We're visitors from the 21st century, and we've come back in time to ask you for a huge favor. " "So H.G. Wells was right about time travel?"
April 25, 2016
Robert Garnett is a professor of English literature at Gettysburg College Four centuries in the grave, Shakespeare is still with us. But times change; tastes alter; language evolves. Will he survive the 21st century? Over the years, he has annoyed even his greatest admirers. His friend (and rival) Ben Jonson scoffed at his learning ("small Latin, and less Greek") and wished he had revised more carefully. A great 18th-century critic complained that Shakespeare's swelling rhetoric often tarted up "trivial sentiments and vulgar ideas"; more perplexing was Shakespeare's addiction to "quibbles," or puns: "A quibble is to Shakespeare, what luminous vapours are to the traveller; . . . it is sure to lead him out of his way, and sure to engulf him in the mire.
April 21, 2016 |
NEW YORK'S long-awaited primary had two big winners Tuesday night, the GOP's Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, but literally millions of losers - as huge swaths of the electorate were disenfranchised by the state's arcane voting rules and then by an inexplicable, massive purge of voting rolls in New York City. A night that was supposed to bring clarity to one of the most divisive presidential campaigns in decades instead became an embarrassing, muddled nightmare for American democracy, as horror stories mounted from polling places all over the nation's largest city.
April 15, 2016
There is a consensus that aggression by one nation against another is a serious matter, but there is no comparable consensus about what constitutes aggression. Waging aggressive war was one charge against Nazi leaders at the 1946 Nuremberg war crimes trials, but 70 years later, it is unclear that aggression, properly understood, must involve war, as commonly understood. Or that war, in today's context of novel destructive capabilities, must involve "the use of armed force," which the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court says is constitutive of an "act of aggression.
March 17, 2016 |
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical opens at the Academy of Music on Tuesday. It's playwright Douglas McGrath's tale of how musicmaker Carole King went from writing pop songs in the late 1950s to becoming the goddess of the singer-songwriter movement with 1971's multiplatinum album Tapestry . The jukebox musical spins King hits soulful ("Some Kind of Wonderful") and heartfelt ("You've Got a Friend"). But a good half of the show's tunes come from two of King's best buddies, the famously married songwriting team Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil.