October 28, 2003

Sam Katz for Mayor and other really important information. 

This week is Halloween, and as such by coincidence marks my fifth wedding anniversary to my wife Taney. To say that my life has taken an interesting turn since walking down back down the aisle with my wife on my arm one wet and windy October Saturday afternoon in Enfield, would be somewhat accurate, but a great understatement.

Since we moved to America, my eyes have been opened to a new way of thinking, of new ideas and exciting possibilities, not least our plans to adopt from China. I thank Taney, for making taking my hand through a journey that has expanded my horizons, and allowed me to start to fulfill my hopes, aims and dreams, that have made me as a person richer from the experience and complete with a wife who make a great traveling companion along life’s highways. Thank you Taney for all that you have done and all that you will continue to do in our future.

Not least, I must also thank Taney for writing the last post to London Chimes. While some mush have thought I had gone AWOL at best, time has been the one resource that I have little control.

Professionally, there has been much going on behind the scenes at MSAA, with the lead up to the launch of Sweeten the Season. The number of volunteers from every state except North Dakota for some reason, has in the last couple of weeks taken my volunteer management resources towards meltdown, such has been the outpouring of support for a campaign that involves the sale of a card candy cane for $1, to help raise funds for the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America. The volumes of emails leaving my office to these willing helpers have reduced the length of my fingers by a couple of inches.

In consequence, the last thing I want to do was sit and type London Chimes despite the good quality subject matter that I so badly wanted to write about. Not least the mayoral elections in Philadelphia that a Hollywood film writer would have had trouble selling such a fictional storyline that is indeed fact. Between an attempted firebombing, an FBI bug in the mayors office, seized documents, a civil court action against the challenger, the racial undertones brought to the surface, in a multi-cultural city, that has given the polls added weight to the incumbents campaign, this has been a really interesting political election.

Elsewhere in the world, there has been the last flight of the Concorde, a subject that is close to my heart. I remember sitting in my parents back garden in Finchley one sunny Saturday afternoon looking skyward waiting for the first Concorde to fly over North London to land at Heathrow. On that occasion I was disappointed, but I have seen Concorde fly a number of occasions since and had the pleasure to sit on a plane at Heathrow at the end of the runway behind Concorde and watch this symphony of aeronautical engineering take off. Awesome. It is sad that Britain has not found a replacement to continue to be an ambassador in the skies, promoting the best of British engineering. This week, it was brought to my attention that the QE2 liner will cease the transatlantic journey to New York in 2004. The new Queen Mary super liner will replace this. It would seem in short succession that the British ambassadors of the waves and the air are no longer what they once were.
I have been keeping a watching brief on the derailment of a tube train at Camden Town on the Edgware branch as well this week. After several days, there is a highly disrupted service for commuters from North London into the City and West End of London. Questions are being raised over the safety of the Underground system again, and again the arguments of years of neglect by previous managements are being made. Given the volume of commuters who use the system each day, and the number of breakdowns, it is surprising that there are not more engineering problems, yet, this public transport workhorse continues to serve the resident of London daily. The Underground system is a testament to the engineers who built and extended it to all parts of London. For the city to continue to be a world leader in commerce, the infrastructure needs to be 100% reliable. In the most part it is, but rather than shoring up the existing system, the cheaper alternative, other methods must be found to enhance the system, new lines above ground, or perhaps, mono-rails that run above existing streets would be far costlier than new tunnels, similar to the Docklands Light Railway an automated system.

Sadly, it has taken decades to agree to the new euro-rail link through Kent and under London, as too many influential people have claimed not in my back yard, to often. Sadly, any major overhaul or enhancement to the existing London Transport system would only be bogged down in similar beaucxracies on a grander scale.

Without Mayor Livingston and the people of London working together with London Transport, London itself is threatened by choking itself out of contention with other international cities through its own arrogance. Given the timeline of major engineering projects as this, the politicians of today are unlikely to be around and accountable when such a project is eventually complete. Sad but true.

This brings me back to the mayoral race in Philly. Strip away the campaigning, lies, half-lives and half-truths (by one of the candidates at least), we are left with two men, one who is mayor, a career civil servant of over twenty years who has little to show on record of revitalizing a city that sits close to the eastern seaboard of America between New York and Washington DC. The other a business man with political ambition that has watched in despair at the destruction of the commerce, industry and neighborhoods of the fifth largest city in America. Residents of Philadelphia are moving out of the city into the suburbs to escape the city wage tax of the current mayor, the Section 8 housing. Philadelphia was once a proud city, proud for more than just its sports teams. Philadelphia was once the capital of the United States of America. Was and used to be are terms that have been adopted too often when describing Philadelphia.

I see a city of potential, under the guidance of the right man working with the full support and cooperation of all in City Hall. That man needs to be a businessman, not a career civil servant. In this the last London Chimes before the elections next week, unlike a permanent legal resident without voting rights such as me, if you have the right to vote next week, please use your right to vote, I appeal to you to vote for Sam Katz, the only candidate for mayor who can and will bring Philadelphia back from the precipice on that which it sits over an abyss, driven closer in no thanks to John Street.

Happy halloween, trick or treat
Sam Katz for mayor!!
Until next week, I am celebrating my wedding anniversary.

Feedback always invited, please email me.

October 26, 2003

The Show must go on, written by Taney Friend. 

We have heard from a few of our readers that you miss London Chimes.

Our writer, Malcolm Friend has been very busy at work and home that he hardly gets to sit down in front of his computer unless it has to do with work, or answering his daily 280 emails.

I, his trusty wife have been asked to sit in while the “hubby” is unable too.
Why so many e-mails? Malcolm and I both belong to an online Yahoo group called APC.

APC stands for adopting parents from china. Last I checked it has over 12,000 members. If you are interested in pursuing an adoption from China, go to yahoo search and type APC.

So what’s going on our world?

Well, The Mayororal elections in Philadelphia is near the finish line, with last I checked John Street the incumbant was still ahead, much to the distress of this writer. Sam Katz, the challenger is still going strong so it will really come down to what people decide to do when they pull the switch behind the curtain. John Street as many of you have read is in hot water. The FBI are as we speak is sending out subpoenas and has acquired Mayor Street’s wife and son’s bank records along with other accounts that are under the Mayor’s control. So what is my prediction? I think that Street may stay as Mayor and will be arrested four days after the election.

My hope is Katz is the next Mayor and Street still is arrested four days after the electionJ

News from the home front: We are still full steam ahead with the “paper chasing” for the adoption from China. Saturday we are going to register with Babies R Us. It may seem early to some to do this but after talking to many (and I do mean many) people who have adopted from China this is the norm. As some of you know an international adoption is costly and so we are instead of asking for presents for ourselves for Christmas, we are asking for baby items for our future daughter. We personally do not need anything or even want anything for ourselves, so this makes sense.

I am going to end this “chime” now. Love to all of our readers and I promise Malcolm will be back soonJ

Feedback always invited, please email me.

October 02, 2003

Rush Limbaugh’s storm in a teapot enters the Eagles neighborhood. 

For my British readers, can you imagine Sir Trevor McDonald making a racial comment about David Beckham on national television and within twelve hours of resigning from his television job the appearing at David’s core fan base? It would never happen, but makes for an interesting scenario.

As a “Philly Blogger”, I am obliged to weigh in on a national news story that is focused on Philadelphia placing the mayoral race in the shade.

Who is Rush!
Recently noted by the New York Times as one of the most influential voices in America, Rush Limbaugh the alleged villain of this story delivered a keynote address at The NAB Radio Show in Philadelphia this morning. Limbaugh’s number one radio talk show, syndicated by Premiere Radio Networks, airs on nearly 600 stations, reaching 20 million listeners.

Who did he insult, and how?
Rush, appearing in Philadelphia less than 12 hours after resigning from ESPN for his racially charged comments about Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, Limbaugh dismissed the affair as "a tempest in a teapot." He said that he regretted that his on-air remarks caused some of his TV co hosts to "feel uncomfortable."

Known as a man with opinions he has recently been employed to participate on an ESPN football program, broadcast before the games on Sundays. The offending comment Limbaugh said that McNabb was “overrated because the media want a black quarterback to succeed” further "I offered an opinion," Rush said. "It was not a racial opinion. It was an opinion about the media." Resigning, Rush concluded, was "the path of least resistance," adding, "The great people of ESPN did not want to deal with this kind of reaction."

The storm in this teacup gathered more strength than Hurricane Isabel since Sunday. I find it very interesting that by yesterday evening when he resigned, Rush had been denounced by two leading Democratic candidates for president, two dozen members of Congress, all can easily be imagined waiting to publicly stab Rush in the back in retaliation for his pointed political arguments on his daily radio program over the years.

Donavan McNabb, the quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles and the focus of the remarks made on Sunday said he was “disappointed that his race had entered a discussion of his talent”.

As Rush landed at Philadelphia International Airport last night, the mood on the street from a cross section of Philadelphians was of upset and disappointment towards the radio host. His appearance at the Convention Center was widely discussed last night offering an invitation for a demonstration of some strength by Philadelphians. For a city when roused, can muster great support for a cause, specifically sports motivated, do we remember Hoagie-Gate at the start of the football season? Five protesters stood outside holding placards and chanting "Racist Rush Go Home" and "Stop the Hate." Their chants attracted mostly smiles and nods from passersby.

With the week not yet over, Rush Limbaugh now finds himself allegedly under investigation in Florida for allegedly illegally obtaining and abusing prescription painkillers, although he has issued a statement to the effect that his is unaware of any investigation by any authority involving him.

For a man who sets the gold standard for Talk Radio in the US, to discuss the news, this week he is the news and this has no doubt been a long week for him.

The irony that within days of the comment being made he finds himself in Philadelphia, home of the Eagles and their ardent fans, it could be said that he was given a cold welcome in the city.

Personally, whoever the quarterback is for the Eagles, I truly have no opinion on media bias providing the team is successful. That statement I hold true for any athlete in any sport. Let the results speak for themselves and let bias, in particular racial bias become a topic of the past.

Feedback always invited, please email me.

October 01, 2003

BBC America you are bang out of order and other accents! 

The management at BBC America truly need a “slap” after without little to no warning canceling EastEnders from their schedules after five years.

The Saturday afternoon schedule for two and one half hours will be all the more bland for the loss of the top soap and one of the consistently top programs aired by the BBC back in blighty.

I am but one of the thousands of American viewers left furious finding out that BBC America have pulled the plug on the series last Saturday, my rude shock was through The Independent on-line news service and not even from the BBC America email service that I subscribe to.

The US broadcast on BBC America is three weeks behind the british transmissions and with the lure of the return of Den Watts character after it would seem not being killed off by a gun in a bunch of daffodils, the final episode viewers saw was of Phil Mitchell's somewhat tumultuous wedding celebrations, which we missed.

Complaints are being received by the British Ambassador in Washington from viewers as replies to written and verbal communications to the management at BBC America are not sympathetic. Had any advance warning by BBC America been given to the viewers in America, one can only imagine at the lobbying that would have resulted.

BBC America, a digital cable channel funded by advertising which aims to provide US viewers with "razor-sharp comedies, ground-breaking movies, provocative dramas, and news with a uniquely global perspective", said its decision was the result of the show's poor viewing figures. It will be replaced by At Home With the Braithwaites, Monarch of the Glen and Cash in the Attic.

A message on the BBC America website, said: "We regret to inform you BBC America is ceasing to air EastEnders. We would like to thank those loyal fans who have supported this great show from the beginning."

Perhaps the poor viewing figures has something to do with the fact that a 2.5 hour show on a Saturday afternoon, (complete with commercial breaks) is not exactly a popular time slot for advertisers.

Before moving to the US, I lived within a short drive of the studios in Hertfordshire and to watch on Saturdays provided me with a cultural connection to my London roots, regardless that it is only fiction. I am not a soap junkie, but I do appreciate the consistent quality of the EastEnders show and having the plug pulled am left with the option of following the storylines on the BBC EastEnders web page, or watching the old reruns on PBS that are four years behind.

I feel betrayed by BBC America, and will miss the cockney, London and home counties accents on the program.

On the subject of regional accents are a distinct disadvantage to people who want to succeed in business according to a new survey*. Research amongst British businesses reveals that over a third of businessmen (35%) consider a strong regional accent to be a disadvantage in business, while only 1% consider it to be an advantage.

Strong overseas accents are regarded more favourably for businessmen than a UK regional accent, with 10% of respondents stating European accents to be an advantage in business practice.

Businessmen with a London or Home Counties accent are judged most likely to be successful, with 37% of respondents considering them fairly or very successful, closely followed by those with a Scottish accent (34%). An American (34%) or European (31%) accent are considered more successful than many other UK regional accents.

Businessmen who speak with a Liverpool accent are considered the least likely to be successful, with only 8% of respondents believing them to be fairly or very successful,

A Welsh accent is also considered a handicap in business, with 14% of respondents believing people with a Welsh accent to be less successful than average.

Businessmen with a 'Geordie' or Scottish accent are considered to be the most honest and trustworthy, with 23% believing these accents convey above average honesty.

Those with a Scottish accent are considered to be the most industrious and reliable, with 27% believing businessmen with a Scottish accent are fairly or very hardworking.

Businessmen with an American accent are considered to be hardworking and reliable by 25% of their British peers, a higher rating than those with any UK regional accent other than Scottish, although 10% of British businessmen believe that their American counterparts are less honest than average.

The results show that when people hear certain regional accents, subconscious prejudices are triggered. Those of us from the UK have witnessed stereotypical portraits of the Scouser, Brummie and Geordie in the newspapers and on TV. Yet, all things being equal, Scousers are just as likely to be as successful as people with a Home Counties accent, but this survey shows that the Liverpool businessman must overcome the associations made between his accent and poor media profile the city has, unfairly, attracted over the years.

Accents can speak louder than words because of the subconscious discriminations they arouse. People should not attempt to get rid of their regional accents - after all, in some situations they can be a distinct advantage - but, in the light of these results, the message given by the pollsters is to advise business people to tone down broad regional accents and avoid localised vocabulary which others may not recognise. The key area where accents can be a hindrance is where words are poorly pronounced.

Sloppy speech is often a major obstacle to understanding.

Feedback always invited, please email me.

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