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The artistic director of the Pennsylvania Ballet is stepping down

After 35 years, Roy Kaiser is stepping down as the artistic director of the Pennsylvania Ballet.

In a news release Mr. Kaiser, 56, said that he felt that the end of the company’s 50th season was the right time to “transition the Company over to a new artistic leadership.” A search committee has begun to look for a new director, and Mr. Kaiser will continue in his post until a candidate is chosen. A company spokeswoman said that the board hoped to name the new director in the fall. Mr. Kaiser will remain associated with the troupe as artistic director emeritus.?

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Slate dubs PA 'the most linguistically rich state in the country'

A writer for Slate investigates our state's status as a "regional dialect hotbed nonpareil."
 
A typical state maintains two or three distinct, comprehensive dialects within its borders. Pennsylvania boasts five, each consisting of unique pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar elements. Of course, three of the five kind of get the shaft—sorry Erie, and no offense, Pennsylvania Dutch Country—because by far the most widely recognized Pennsylvania regional dialects are those associated with Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

The Philadelphia dialect features a focused avoidance of the “th” sound, the swallowing of the L in lots of words, and wooder instead of water, among a zillion other things. In Pittsburgh, it’s dahntahn for downtown, and words like nebby and jagoff and yinz. But, really, attempting to describe zany regional dialects using written words is a fool’s errand. To get some sense of how Philadelphians talk, check out this crash course clip created by Sean Monahan, who was raised in Bucks County speaking with a heavy Philly accent. Then hit the “click below” buttons on the website for these Yappin’ Yinzers dolls to get the Pittsburgh side of things, and watch this Kroll Show clip to experience a Pennsylvania dialect duel.

Original source: Slate
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The New York Times shines a light on Comcast's David Cohen

David Cohen, former chief of staff to Mayor Ed Rendell (and star of Buzz Bissinger's A Prayer for the City), is taking a leading role at Comcast. The New York Times profiled this behind-the-scenes institution.

Mr. Cohen is well known in Philadelphia from his time as chief of staff to former Mayor Edward G. Rendell in the 1990s, a six-year tenure that established his reputation as a master of big-picture strategy, fine detail and just about everything in between.

"Whatever the issue is, David learns more about it than anyone, and he can keep it all in his head," Mr. Rendell says. "With me, he knew all about municipal pensions, and he knew about picking up trash — I mean the actual routes of the garbage trucks." 

...Mr. Cohen oversees Comcast’s robust lobbying operation and sets the strategies to shepherd its acquisitions past antitrust questions and other regulatory concerns. It’s a big job — and one that would fully occupy almost anyone else — because Comcast’s appetite for expansion is large, and it needs to be fed with a frequency that some find alarming...


Mr. Cohen has, as well, gotten into the weeds of Comcast’s cable and broadband customer service — a fraught subject since surveys have consistently shown that the industry in general, and Comcast in particular, are held in low regard by consumers. He has even gone on talk radio shows in Philadelphia to take calls from customers, a duty that few executives at his pay grade — Mr. Cohen pulled in just short of $30 million in compensation over the last two years — would seek.

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Robotic milking machines impact the dairy industry in PA

New robotic technology for milking cows has come to the United States, including Pennsylvania.

Desperate for reliable labor and buoyed by soaring prices, dairy operations...are charging into a brave new world of udder care: robotic milkers, which feed and milk cow after cow without the help of a single farmhand.

Scores of the machines have popped up across New York’s dairy belt and in other states in recent years, changing age-old patterns of daily farm life and reinvigorating the allure of agriculture for a younger, tech-savvy — and manure-averse — generation...


The machines are not inexpensive, costing up to $250,000 (not including barn improvements) for a unit that includes a mechanical arm, teat-cleaning equipment, computerized displays, a milking apparatus and sensors to detect the position of the teats. Pioneered in Europe in the 1990s, they have only recently taken hold in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and New York.

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.
 

Penn State researchers ask children to work for food

Penn State researchers looked at how different children seek out food rewards -- especially those that are "off-limits."

In an experiment, researchers at Pennsylvania State University gave preschool children the opportunity to “work” for a food reward. All the child had to do was click a computer mouse four times to earn a cinnamon-flavored graham cracker.
But earning additional treats required progressively more effort. A second treat required eight clicks. Then 16. Then 32.

Some children were satisfied after one cracker, while others kept clicking for a few additional crackers. Most of the preschoolers were done after about 15 minutes, but some children stayed with it, accumulating as many as 2,000 clicks before the researchers ended the task after 30 minutes.

Children who are highly motivated by food — researchers have called them “reactive eaters” — are of particular interest to childhood health experts. Were they born this way? Or do parents create reactive eaters by imposing too many food rules and imposing restrictive eating practices at home?

...“The message is that restriction is counterproductive — it just doesn’t work very well,” said Brandi Rollins, a Penn State postdoctoral researcher and lead author of the study, which was published in February in the journal Appetite. “Restriction just increases a child’s focus and intake of the food that the parent is trying to restrict.”


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.
 

Applications up 14 percent at the University of Pennsylvania

An increasing number of students aspire to a Penn education -- the Philadelphia university saw its applications rise 14 percent.

It’s not really a popularity contest, but among the Ivies, is anything not competitive? Applications to the University of Pennsylvaniarose by more than 14 percent this year and fell by as much at Dartmouth...As for the upsurge at Penn, the dean of admissions, Eric J. Furda, credits outreach to community-based organizations, like a new partnership with KIPP Public Charter Schools. More low-income students applied: Penn received 7,000 requests for application fee waivers, up from 4,000 last year. Several popular Penn MOOCs are also raising its profile: "An admissions office simply cannot budget that reach," Mr. Furda says.

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Endangered Atlantic Sturgeon shows up north of Easton

A huge, rare fish showed up on the banks of the Delaware River north of Easton.

A commission biologist confirmed Monday afternoon that the landowner found an Atlantic sturgeon, an endangered species that can grow up to 15 feet long and weigh more than 100 pounds. It’s by far the largest fish navigating the Delaware River and perhaps the most elusive.

This particular sturgeon was a male measuring about 6 feet 3 inches, according to Forks Township resident Marty Crozier, who discovered the carcass while doing maintenance on his dock Saturday. Crozier said he called the commission and led a field biologist to it Monday.

“I’ve been on this river for 50 years and it’s the first time I’ve ever seen something of that nature,” said the semi-retired Crozier, 60. “It was an experience. Let me put it that way.”

Greg Murphy, a fisheries biologist with the commission, said the commission should have more information on the sturgeon later this week. In addition to taking various measurements, the field biologist was expected to check to see if the fish was tagged as part of a research program aimed at tracking Atlantic sturgeon. If that’s the case, a wealth of information could be gleaned, he said.


Original source: Lehigh Valley Live
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Huffington Post thanks Pittsburgh for 'Greatest Cake America Has Ever Made'

Huffington Post writer Julie R. Thompson fell hard for the burnt almond torte from Prantl's Bakery.

No cake made in any of the five boroughs of New York holds a candle to Prantl's amazing burnt almond torte. It is probably the BEST cake America has to offer...

To say that the burnt almond torte is light and airy doesn't even begin to describe the texture of this cake. It is beyond that. This cake is so airy it tastes like the idea of a cake, one that can only be tasted in the best of dreams.

Only it does exist in real life -- in Pittsburgh, PA, to be exact-- and it is frosted with the lightest of buttercreams (of course) and then dressed in candied toasted almonds. The contrast of the sugared almond slivers and the cloud-like cake is EVERYTHING. Oh, and did we mention the thin layer of custard in the middle and the large flakes of sugar on top? This is the kind of cake that will have you belly up to the kitchen counter, forgoing the civility of plates and diving in fingers first.

When Bon Appetit named Pittsburgh the best new food city of 2014, they couldn't have been more right. Only it's not because of the surge of hot new restaurants opening up. No, it's because cakes like this are made there -- and it's time people know about them. If a trip to Pittsburgh is not in the near future, you can still get your hands on this cake because, lucky for you, they deliver.

 
Original source: The Huffington Post
Read the complete story here.

Philadelphia hosts world's largest game of Tetris

A Drexel professor and his students hacked the lighting system of the 29-story Cira Center in Philadelphia, allowing them to play Tetris on the building's facade. Check out the video here.

Original source: The New York Times


1,000 dogs have their day at the Western Pennsylvania Kennel Association dog show

It was a big day for dog lovers in Monroeville.

Four Chesapeake Bay retrievers cavorted at ringside, waiting for their turns to compete in the Western Pennsylvania Kennel Association dog show Sunday in Monroeville. For 8-month-old puppies Elvis and Piper, it was a family reunion because they are litter mates, and they also have the same canine mother as Duke, 3, and Flow, 17 months.

Nearly 1,000 dogs were entered in the show at the Monroeville Convention Center, and only one wins the coveted Best In Show trophy. Eight Chesapeake Bay retrievers were entered, and only one wins the Best of Breed Rosette. But in American Kennel Club shows, there are many ways to win. Dawn Logan of Charleroi had more chances to win, because she is the breeder of the four dogs.


Original source: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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Encouraging more women to enter politics

A forum in Harrisburg aims to increase the participation of women in politics.

Siobhan "Sam" Bennett, the former CEO of the Women's Campaign Fund and She Should Run, is no stranger to being the only woman in the room at political gatherings.

"Women must ask other women to run," said Ms. Bennett of Allentown, Pa., a former congressional candidate. "They must write them checks. And when they lose, they must pick up the phone and say, 'When are you going to run again?'"

...The state historically has had low numbers of women officeholders; it ranks 38th nationally in the total number of women in the state Legislature, according to the Pennsylvania Center for Women in Politics at Chatham University. The legislature is a key body for those interested in increasing women's representation, not just for its lawmaking role, but because it often serves as a "farm team" for candidates who go on to seek higher political office, experts say.

Pennsylvania's Legislature -- which is a full-time body, highly paid in comparison to other states, and favors incumbency -- impacts the structures around it and the overall political ecosystem, Ms. Bennett said.


Original source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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UPenn veterinary oncologists learn about human breast cancer from dogs

An innovative program at the University of Pennsylvania looks at mammary cancer in dogs to better understand breast cancer in humans.

Because dogs typically have 10 mammary glands and often develop tumors in several glands at the same time, they present a unique research opportunity, enabling scientists to study lesions that are at different stages of development — from benign to cancerous, and at transitional stages — all in the same animal.

“The dog gives us the potential to answer the question: When did something go wrong at the molecular level?” said Dr. Karin Sorenmo, chief of medical oncology at Penn Vet’s Ryan Hospital, who founded the Penn Vet canine mammary tumor program in 2009. “We can also study the benign tumors and ask: What’s different in that one tumor that doesn’t change and become malignant versus another one that does change?”

This field of research, called comparative oncology, is used to improve the understanding of the biology of cancer and to fine-tune treatment for humans. In the process, shelter dogs get access to treatment.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Live-streaming Pittsburgh's bald eagles

The Pennsylvania Game Commission is now live streaming an eagles nest in Pittsburgh. 

Only 30 years ago, Pennsylvania had a mere three bald eagle nests left in the entire state. Today, Pennsylvania boasts more than 250 nests including this one near Pittsburgh. Click here to view a 20-minute documentary about bald eagle restoration in Pennsylvania and learn bald eagle fast facts, identification tips, nest viewing etiquette and more.

This camera provides a way for us to view the nest without stressing the birds. Federal mandates prohibit anyone from approaching within 660 feet of any bald eagle nest from January 15 until young eagles fledge. It is important to note that nature includes all creatures not just the eagles and eggs showcased through this camera. The Game Commission's mission is to manage Pennsylvania's wild birds, mammals and their habitats for current and future generations. Although we hope to watch three young eagles fledge from this nest, we advocate for all native wildlife and therefore will not take measures to prevent another animal (such as the raccoon that made an attempt at the eggs) from conducting its natural behavior. Despite predation and other nest failures, the bald eagle population is increasing at a rate of 10 to 15 percent each year.


Check out the livestream here.
Via ABC 27

Two Lehigh Valley schools lauded for their music programs

Two Lehigh Valley schools were recognized for their music programs.

Bangor Area School District and Northwestern Lehigh Elementary School both received music recognition from the NAMM Foundation, based in Carlsbad, Calif., according to a news release from the foundation.

Forty-three districts throughout Pennsylvania were named Best Communities for Music Education in the U.S., including Bangor Area School District.

Northwestern Lehigh Elementary School received the foundation's Support Music Merit Award, one of only 96 schools in the nation to receive the honor, the release says.

These schools set the bar in offering students access to comprehensive music education, the release says.


Original source: Lehigh Valley Live
Read the complete story here.

Layover Lift: The Free Library opens outpost at the airport

Bored travelers now have an exciting new distraction -- the Free Library has come to Philadelphia International airport.

The Free Library of Philadelphia recently opened an outpost in the Philadelphia International Airport in the form of a book-themed lounge with free Wi-Fi access to the library’s digital catalog.

Passengers are encouraged to relax in the reading room, in the concourse between the D and E terminals, and download books or author podcasts from the library’s collection of nearly 30,000 titles.

"We brought our high-speed line out to the airport in that little area. That Internet connectivity is extraordinarily robust, it matches what we have in the library," said Siobhan Reardon, president and director of the Free Library.

The idea was inspired in part by an especially snowy winter, she said.

"We were having extensive blizzards here in Philadelphia, and we knew that there were thousands of people camping in the airport," Ms. Reardon said. "We thought, 'What if we put a library in?'"


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.
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