The Observer

Our City, Our Water

An April 23 Forbes article describes “America’s 10 Thirstiest Cities,” and, of course, each is west of the Rockies and faces some degree of water crisis. Closer to home, the Great Lakes, which hold roughly 20 percent of the world’s fresh water, have dropped dramatically in the past decade. Explanations range from weather patterns to …

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Retaking the Governor’s Mansion

For the past 40 years, there have been three salient facts about Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial elections. Each elected governor has won the limit of two terms (Mark Schweiker served 20 months after Tom Ridge left to lead homeland security). The office has rotated every eight years between Republicans and Democrats. And three of the last six …

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A Reporter’s Carol

When Clark Kent awoke, he felt the cold in his bones. He fumbled for his glasses and put them on his now-bulbous nose. The clock said 8 a.m. “Humbug,” he muttered. Another depressing day at The Daily Planet. Kent had long since ceased complaining about the new management and staffing cuts, long since stopped bothering …

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Why Pittsburgh?

When it was announced that the G-20 summit would be held in Pittsburgh, some in the national press corps chuckled; others raised their brows. It’s the first time the summit has not been held in a capital city. Why? On one hand, with the world’s economy in turmoil, it would seem to make perfect sense …

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Gone Fishing

At various times in a fisherman’s life, it becomes desirable to try a new spot. Perhaps an old place gets too crowded. Maybe the fish move on. Or maybe one simply wants a change of scenery. Of course, truly knowing a fishing spot means getting there early, before the fish start feeding—before the first light. …

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The Losses Hit Home

Justifiably, greater Pittsburgh has felt fortunate to escape the brunt of this recession so far. We’ve read the stories in the national media and seen the statistics. We had no housing bubble here, so there’s no bubble to burst. Our financial institutions are comparatively strong. The healthcare, government and education sectors have softened the blows …

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One Myth Worth Dispelling

Sonoma, Calif. — On an unseasonably warm and beautiful April evening in the heart of the California wine country, an enthusiastic crowd with many Pittsburghers gathered to see the premiere screening of “My Tale of Two Cities,” a documentary about Pittsburgh and the life of the film’s creator, star and narrator, Carl Kurlander. Kurlander is …

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Randy Pausch: The Expert in Time

Thirteen years ago, a young assistant professor at the University of Virginia shared his time management techniques with graduate teaching assistants and fellow faculty members. They all wanted to get ahead—get tenure—and still have time for their friends and family. Peppered with aphorisms, the talk would have made Ben Franklin proud. It wasn’t the work …

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The Revelation of China

To be in China now must be like witnessing the construction of the pyramids. In Beijing, the world’s most powerful totalitarian regime is preparing for next year’s Olympics. Shanghai, a garden of skyscrapers, is getting ready for the 2010 World’s Fair. New highways, airports, power plants, dams and towers are fueled by China’s $1 trillion-plus …

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Training women for office

An observer of the Legislature might conclude there’s something rotten in Harrisburg. Whether it’s the middle-of-the night pay raise in 2005 or recent revelations about the legislators’ fatuous bonus expenses, it’s clear where their interests lie. And with 253 of them, we have the most state legislators in the nation (except for New Hampshire’s anomalous, …

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Reading Between the Lines

In September, Block Communications announced that if it’s unable to reach satisfactory agreements with its unions by Dec. 31, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette may be sold. News outlets reported it as a provocative salvo in stalled negotiations, but it would be a mistake to view the release as posturing. Several facts shed light on the situation …

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The Pace of Progress

In the game of Monopoly, sometimes you land on Community Chest. If fate smiles, you draw a little yellow card that says “Advance to Go” or “Bank error in your favor,” and you collect $200. The worst card shows the mustachioed Monopoly man stooped over, carrying a pick and shovel with the words “You are …

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The Pennsylvania Society

The setting could hardly have been more festive: New York City at Christmas with its crowds, carols, shopping, bright lights and snow. No wonder then that Pennsylvania politicos and business seekers by the thousands tore themselves away for the 107th annual meeting of the Pennsylvania Society. As they roamed through the Waldorf-Astoria seeking the next …

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