August 30, 2016
By Caitlin Fitz Almost 200 years ago, as the United States approached its 50th birthday, a new baby name swept the nation. It wasn't biblical or even Anglophone. It was Bolivar . Hundreds of mothers and fathers, living in Kentucky log cabins or Illinois farmhouses, named their newborns after Spanish America's most celebrated revolutionary: Simon Bolivar of Venezuela. The baby Bolivar boom wasn't an isolated oddity, either. Other Americans named their new towns, their boats, and even their livestock Bolivar, adopting the Spanish-speaking revolutionary as one of their own. Given how much of our current election cycle has been marked by talk of border walls and racial slurs, it may seem surprising that ordinary Americans held such early affection for Latin America.
July 7, 2016 |
David Cross does not look like a guy who would discuss sex in public. Clean-shaven and bespectacled, with a patriotic bow tie, white shirt, pressed khakis, and sensible close-cut hair, he is mild-mannered and soft-spoken - a seemingly gentle soul, for a one-time criminal lawyer. Yet, get him started, and Cross talks a blue streak about the sordid details of Philadelphia's most historic characters. Sure, he'll espouse the better-known virtues of our frisky founding fathers - the stuff of Benjamin Franklin and his prostitutes - but Cross can share the rarer tidbits, too. He'll speak about Gen. George Washington and his quest for the aphrodisiac Spanish Fly, and Thomas Jefferson's lustful ways with the local lionesses of Philadelphia society.
June 18, 2016 |
Father's Day is Sunday, and Philadelphia boasts a number of opportunities to show Dad how much you care while also having a ball. One Liberty Observation Desk 10 a.m.-10 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, One Liberty Observation Deck , 1650 Market St., 57th Floor, 215-561-3325. If your father's big on heights and sights, he'll get free entry to One Liberty Observation Deck on Saturday and Sunday, when accompanied by one paid admission. If you're really ambitious, catch a free Philly From the Top tour between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Academy of Natural Sciences 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday, Academy of Natural Sciences , 1900 Ben Franklin Parkway, 215-299-1043.
June 18, 2016 |
There's a stuffed bald eagle giving a wild turkey a little side eye at a museum on Independence Mall, a stern look of "Don't make me fly up there. " In the United States of America, the bald eagle is most definitely the boss, the symbol of our nation, even though Benjamin Franklin preferred the gobbler over that snowy-headed raptor. On June 20, 1782, the Second Continental Congress voted to make the bald eagle a national symbol, and 200 years later, President Ronald Reagan deemed June 20 "National Bald Eagle Day. " "Whether silhouetted against the sky on a rocky pinnacle in Alaska or soaring majestically overhead in Florida, the bald eagle is admired as one of nature's most spectacular creatures," Reagan said in a proclamation at the time.
June 10, 2016
Even as Hillary Clinton's clinching of the Democratic presidential nomination heralded a historic opening of the nation's highest office to half the population, presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump was sounding a dramatic retreat from our halting, hard-won progress toward truly representative government. Having declared that a Mexican American U.S. district judge could not fairly consider complaints against Trump's nominal university because of his ethnicity, the candidate added that a Muslim jurist probably couldn't be trusted either.
June 3, 2016
WILLIAM PENN once wrote that "governments, like clocks, go from the motion men give them. " Mayor Kenney moved Philadelphia a step forward this week by adding two important Muslim holy days to the official list of school holidays. Beginning in the 2017-18 school year, the district will be closed, so Muslim students and staff can observe Eid al-Fitr and Eid-al-Adha. The first marks the end of Ramadan, which is the Islamic holy month of fasting. The second celebrates the trials and triumph of the Prophet Ibrahim, known at Abraham in the Old Testament.
May 9, 2016
As Alexander Hamilton enjoys a musical makeover and star turn on Broadway, hum along to the story of a truly musical treasury official: Francis Hopkinson, treasurer of the Continental Loan Office. Born in Philadelphia to a prominent family, Hopkinson (1737-1791) was a member of the first graduating class of the College of Philadelphia (now the University of Pennsylvania) in 1757. Before returning for an advanced degree, Hopkinson wrote "My Days Have Been So Wondrous Free," commonly regarded as the first secular musical composition by an American composer.
March 2, 2016
ISSUE | SECURITY VS. PRIVACY Apple is right to oppose court order Apple CEO Tim Cook should continue resisting FBI overtures to circumvent the company's encryption software ("CEO defends Apple's stance," Sunday). If the company gave in and wrote a software program to access the content of a single terrorist's iPhone, who could assure us that the master key to unlocking data of Apple iPhones worldwide would not be abused? What if the software got into a terrorist's hands? Would accessing the data of one terrorist, now deceased, be worth giving a terrorist organization the ability to access every iPhone, including those with highly classified information?
February 29, 2016
ISSUE | SUPREME COURT GOP owes it to citizens to fill bench The Republicans are denying citizens a cornerstone of our three branches of government. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate Judiciary Committee will not consider any nominations to the Supreme Court ("A firm 'no' on court nominee," Wednesday). This refusal to fulfill our right to a complete court was never an intent of our Founding Fathers. Shame on you, McConnell. |Gail Scoufield, Philadelphia
February 25, 2016
ISSUE | ANTONIN SCALIA Obama failed us I taught my government students that one of the major roles of the president of the United States is chief citizen, representing all citizens of the country. In this role, President Obama should have attended the funeral of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia ("Scalia's life of faith is reflected," Sunday). When you attend a funeral, you are paying respects to the grieving family and showing them that you feel for their loss. Scalia spent decades interpreting the wonderful document that created this nation.