Columnists

Medical practice makes perfect

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Written by Christopher South Thursday, February 26, 2015 12:00 am

I was not really surprised by the recent announcement that the cure for the peanut allergy might be…peanuts.

Literally, the first thing that came into my mind was making snake bite serum from snake venom. You know, making medicine from the thing that kills us or makes us sick. The flu vaccine is a small dose of a dead flu virus, which is introduced to our system in order to get the body to recognize the virus. Honestly, I’m not sure what it does once it recognizes the virus. Perhaps the body develops a friendship with the virus, which in turn agrees not to make us too sick. The flu shot doesn’t completely protect us from the flu, after all, just as snake serum doesn’t keep us from being bit by a snake.

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The Mom’s Beat: What age is the right age to leave them home alone?

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Written by Laura Stetser Tuesday, February 24, 2015 04:15 pm

Last week a conversation I had with a friend about each family’s rules of when and why children may be left unsupervised led me to do some digging into the legal boundaries of such arrangements.

While my husband and I do not yet feel comfortable leaving our children unattended, we are likely nearing that age with our oldest one. After my conversation, I was curious if there were laws that would help inform our decision. I found that, much like most things in our country, there is a wide variety of guidelines across the states.

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At Large with Tom Williams: Chris Christie for president?

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Written by Tom Williams Tuesday, February 24, 2015 12:28 pm

About a dozen men are expected to seek the Republican presidential nomination next year, although none of them has officially declared his candidacy. The most recent polls show that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is the early leader, by a slim margin

The website Real Clear Politics took the latest polls commissioned by CNN, Fox and ABC and averaged the results. Bush led with 13.7 percent with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee second at 12.3. Next were Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (11.3), Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (9.0), retired surgeon and political novice Ben Carson (9.0), New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (6.7) Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (6.0), Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (5.0), former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (3.7), Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (2.3), former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (2.3) and Ohio Gov. John Kasich (2.0).

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How people drive me crazy

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Written by Christopher South Thursday, February 19, 2015 05:05 am

We just had our first measurable snowstorm, which meant a lot of people stayed home. That’s a nice concept, but it’s not what happens when you work for a newspaper. A measurable snowfall is a photo opportunity at the least, so we get out on the roads and go to work.

I had a bit of a scare but it had less to do with the snow on the road than what another driver did.

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Joe's Take: New election plan: A fish on every line and a boat in every dock

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Written by Joe Wilkins Wednesday, February 18, 2015 12:32 pm

The television weather hucksters can talk all they want about the heavy snow that brings down power lines, and the huge drifts that close highways and crush the roofs of houses and the black ice that makes our neighborhood driving so tricky. But the deadliest snow of all is the snow that covers the boats in our side yards and kills the dreams of impatient fishermen from Cape May Point to the Brigantine Inlet and all the way up the Jersey coast. It doesn’t matter if it’s 1 inch or 12, the brutal fact is that it’s there at all.

If you fly a small plane up the coast this freezing week, you will see boats by the thousands between beach and Parkway and as far inland as you can look, all snugged up in their white or blue shrink-wrap waiting out the season. There’s a variety, of course. Hundreds and hundreds of side yards and driveways feature snow-covered ski jets and other personal watercraft, the little brothers of the Grady Whites and the Boston Whalers.  Marinas and dockyards sit quietly, filled with the snow-covered and chocked-up sailboats too humble to be in Florida with the big money. Even the pontoon boats along the coastal rivers are winter’s prisoners.

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The Mom’s Beat: There are better ways to fight childhood obesity than fining parents

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Written by Laura Stetser Tuesday, February 17, 2015 02:51 pm

The Mom’s Beat:There are better ways to fight childhood obesity than fining parents The Mom’s Beat:There are better ways to fight childhood obesity than fining parents Puerto Rican lawmakers recently proposed a bill that aims to fine parents of obese children up to $800 per year if their children fail to lose the weight in a year – a measure that comes in response to a reported 30 percent obesity rate among the children there, according to a story in Newsweek.

According to the article, if the law is passed, teachers would notify social workers of a child’s obesity, prompting a meeting between health officials and the child’s parents. The reasons behind the child’s obesity would be identified – bad eating habits or medical reasons, for example – before a diet and exercise program is created. An official would visit the family and child after six months to evaluate progress. If progress is not made six months later, the parents would face a fine of between $500 and $800.

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Feeling the love on Valentine’s Day

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Written by Christopher South Thursday, February 12, 2015 12:00 am

Some years ago I asked some people if they remembered where Valentine’s Day got its name. There were a few people who remembered when it was known as St. Valentine’s Day, so I asked if they knew why St. Valentine was connected to the holiday associated with love and romance.

“Because he used to shoot people with arrows and make them fall in love,” someone said.

“I think that’s Cupid,” I said.

“No, Cupid is one of Santa’s reindeer,” my friend said.

“Yes, you’re right,” I said and walked away.

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The Mom’s Beat: Trips to Disney have a point of no return

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Written by Laura Stetser Tuesday, February 10, 2015 02:42 pm

The Mom’s Beat: Trips to Disney have a point of no return The Mom’s Beat: Trips to Disney have a point of no return I am not diving into the debate on vaccinations, but there seems to be one glaring issue that came to light during the reported Disneyland measles outbreak that kick-started a national conversation on the matter.

In the case of the family that visited the California theme park in early January, the person who had measles may have wanted to stay home, but since the “happiest place on Earth” may also be one of the most expensive, the family may have felt compelled go anyway.

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Joe's Take: Puccini a la carte

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Written by Joe Wilkins Tuesday, February 10, 2015 09:55 am

We drove, on a cold Tuesday evening in February, up the Atlantic City Expressway and across the Delaware, then up Broad to Dickinson, and so to dinner at one of South Philly’s most venerable landmarks, the famous Victor Café where young waiters bring the appetizers, then set down their serving trays, ring a bell for quiet, and stand on a convenient step to sing arias from the famous operas of the world

The Victor Café, originally a shop selling RCA Victor gramophones to music lovers in a brown brick rowhouse which morphed from expresso and spumoni into the two-brownhouse, three-story restaurant of today, will celebrate its 100th birthday in a few years. It is a place of warmth and elegance; of delicious and tantalizing smells of Italian cooking; of garlic, olive oil, coffee and wine; of walls covered with aging photographs of the operatic greats who dined there; of crisp white tablecloths and the cheerful clink of glasses and silverware heard against a background of cheerful conversation, and of music.

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At Large with Tom Williams: It’s Black History Month

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Written by Tom Williams Monday, February 09, 2015 04:06 pm

Black History Month in America Black History Month in America Black History Month in America started in 1926 when historian Carter Woodson, the son of slaves and the second black man to earn a Ph.D. at Harvard, announced that the second week of February would be Negro History Week.  The idea was to encourage the coordinated teaching of the history of American blacks in the nation's public schools.

The first Negro History Week did not receive universal approval. Only the states of North Carolina, Delaware, and West Virginia participated along with school administrations in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. The second week in February was selected because its proximity to the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln, Feb. 12, and Frederick Douglass, never known exactly but later celebrated on Feb. 14.

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Overhyped storms and deflated footballs

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Written by Christopher South Monday, February 09, 2015 12:48 pm

Quite early on Tuesday morning, Facebook users were posting images of our non-event snowstorm, proudly proclaiming, “I survived the 2015 blizzard,” and “We will rebuild.” The same kind of postings came after a slight earthquake hit our area. There were images of a lawn chair tipped over, with the words, “We will rebuild.”

I laughed about it. I’m not sure why. The blizzard was very real for some people in New England. I guess we have the luxury of laughing when there seems to be hysteria over what people think is going to happen, and then nothing really happens…to us, that is.

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Referral to…the Twilight Zone

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Written by Christopher South Monday, February 09, 2015 12:08 pm

I was given a referral to a cardiologist, and I stopped by the office to make an appointment – or so I thought.

Rather than call, I went to the office and there were at least three doors with the same doctor’s name on them. The doctor apparently has more than one type of office for his business, including a walk-in clinic, a diagnostic center, and dry cleaners.

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At Large with Tom Williams: Do not bet against Warren Buffett

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Written by Tom Williams Friday, February 06, 2015 09:47 am

At Large with Tom Williams: Do not bet against Warren Buffett At Large with Tom Williams: Do not bet against Warren Buffett There has been a lot of negative talk in the media about Atlantic City and its suburbs. Casinos have closed, the local television station has gone dark, and a lot of people are unemployed and facing decisions. It does seem like one of the closed casinos will open as a college campus, another as a housing development, and another may reopen as a casino.

But it hasn’t happened yet, so many are still worried.

They should consider Warren Buffett.

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Letter: Offshore drilling would put New Jersey’s economy at significant risk

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Written by Staff Reports Friday, February 06, 2015 12:00 am

The following letter, dated Jan. 30, 2015, was sent to President Barack Obama by U.S. Sens. Robert Menendez, Cory Booker, and U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, all Democrats from New Jersey:

Dear Mr. President:

We write to express our deep concerns with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's newly released 2017-2022 outer continental shelf oil and gas leasing draft proposed program (five-year plan), which proposes opening the Atlantic Ocean for the first time to oil and gas development.

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Joe's Take: Dreams of a medical school could lead to renaissance

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Written by Joe Wilkins Thursday, February 05, 2015 04:52 pm

“The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers” 
— William Wordsworth

It was an iffy kind of announcement. The movers and shakers held yet another meeting about how to save Atlantic City. Somewhere in the proceedings the president of Rowan University opined that his office was thinking about opening a branch of their School of Osteopathic Medicine in Atlantic City — the sort of school that produces primary care physicians. They might have a plan in a year or so. The meeting moved on to other things. The Atlantic City Press, always behind the home team, headlined its story “Rowan seeks to bring medical school to Atlantic City.”

The “iffy” part doesn’t matter. Hope rises all the same. The time is not long ago when Rowan University was the far more modest “Glassboro Teacher’s College” and Stockton, soon to be a University, was merely an idea. Now they’re up and running strong.

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The Mom’s Beat: Go ‘Back to the Future’ by sharing these great ’80s movies with your kids

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Written by Laura Stetser Tuesday, February 03, 2015 03:14 pm

The Mom’s Beat: Go ‘Back to the Future’ by sharing these great ’80s movies with your kids The Mom’s Beat: Go ‘Back to the Future’ by sharing these great ’80s movies with your kids  My husband and I hold great nostalgia for the movies of our childhoods, and now that our kids are old enough to handle a PG or maybe even a PG-13 rating, we have been introducing some of our favorites to them with mixed responses.

We started with “Ghostbusters,” which was released in 1984. We waited to show this one to them until they could handle seeing that gargoyle-dog creature that chases poor Rick Moranis’ character Louie across the city after he asks “Hey guys, who brought the dog?” The effect that seemed so intense and real at the time were laughable our kids.

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