Politics & Business

Hopkins Professor Wins Nobel Prize


Adam Riess, a Johns Hopkins astronomy and physics professor, got a 5:30 a.m. call giving him the news that he had just won the Nobel Prize in Physics.  Riess, 41, said several Swedish men were on the line, at which point he “knew it wasn’t Ikea” and his “jaw dropped.” He couldn’t believe he had won.

According to the Associated Press, Riess was one on a team of three scientists awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in physics Tuesday for discovering that the universe is expanding at a faster and faster rate. The other members of the team are fellow American Saul Perlmutter and U.S.-Australian citizen Brian Schmidt. Perlmutter heads the Supernova Cosmology Project at the University of California, Berkeley. Schmidt is the head of the High-z Supernova Search Team at the Australian National University in Weston Creek, Australia

Riess, who has an undergraduate degree in physics from MIT and a doctorate in astrophysics from Harvard, said he spends the last two classes of his introductory astronomy course at Hopkins talking about the discovery. He tells students that they are fortunate to have such an “exciting mystery” to help solve.

In 2008, Riess won a $1 million John T. and Catherine D. MacArthur Foundation “Fellowship Grant,” also known as a “genius grant.” That same year, he was among the 212 fellows elected to the 228th class of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2007, he shared The Peter Gruber Foundation’s Cosmology Prize – a gold medal and $500,000 — and in 2006, he won the $1 million Shaw Prize, considered by some to be “the Nobel of the East.” In 2009, Riess was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

Riess, who lives in the Towson neighborhood of Stoneleigh, is the 35th person associated with Johns Hopkins University to win the Nobel Prize.

Occupy Baltimore Gaining Steam


About 200 people showed up last night for the first organizational meeting for Occupy Baltimore. Another meeting to plan “logistics and create subcommittees” is scheduled tonight at 8 p.m. at 2640 St. Paul Street. The first protest begins Tuesday at noon at McKeldin Square in the Inner Harbor, corner of Light and Pratt streets, according to the group’s Twitter feed. 

According to the Indypendent Reader, grievances of the group included the epidemic of foreclosures in Baltimore, the incentives given to developers, the lack of jobs paying a living wage, the lack of funding for schools, the lack of health care, and the continuing wars overseas.  




Julie Bowen Auction Item Raises Record Bid at Local Fundraiser


At Saturday night’s “Pumpkins on the Green” event to benefit the Irvine Nature Center, organizers auctioned off an item featuring Julie Bowen that scored a winning bid of $21,000. “There was a bidding war going on,” said one man in attendance.  “But once it hit $20,000 the other guy said ‘that’s enough.'”  The auction item includes lunch with the Emmy-winning star, a tour of the Modern Family set, DVDs, a script and cast photo all signed by the stars of the show.

The nonprofit is understandably thrilled: “We’re so proud and lucky to count Julie among our many amazing friends! She is truly lovely, and we can’t thank her enough for being our honorary chair,”  said Beth Lacey Gill, marketing and communications director at the Irvine Nature Center.


Big Fish Q&A with First Lady of Maryland Katie O’Malley


Katie O’Malley can legitimately claim to be a former real housewife of Beverly Hills, just not that Beverly Hills. In January 2007, with a heartfelt sniff-sniff, she swapped the four bedroom/two and one-half bath Tudor home in Northeast Baltimore’s Beverly Hills neighborhood that she shared with her husband, Martin — freshly minted Maryland’s governor — and their four children for a 54-room Annapolis mansion known as Government House. The family was not so much trading up as assenting to tradition and to the dictates of Maryland’s Constitution, which notes that the governor must live in the state capital. Since then, Katie O’Malley has commuted from Annapolis to her Baltimore job as a District Court associate judge. The governor has it easier: He works where he lives. 

Katie O’Malley also can legitimately claim deep Baltimore bona fides. Born Catherine Curran into an established Baltimore political family — her father, J. Joseph Curran Jr., served as the state’s longtime attorney general, as well as its lieutenant governor and as a delegate and state senator in the General Assembly; her Uncle Martin “Mike” Curran was a member of the Baltimore City Council, while her Uncle Robert Curran now sits on that same council – she grew up in Homeland, graduated from Notre Dame Prep, then earned an undergrad degree in international studies at Towson University in 1985 and a law degree from the University of Baltimore in 1991. She married Martin O’Malley in 1990.

After passing the bar exam, Katie O’Malley worked as an assistant state’s attorney in Baltimore County from 1991 to 2001, prosecuting child abuse, domestic violence, homicide, and white-collar/economic crimes, among other cases. In August 2001, Governor Parris Glendening appointed her an associate judge in Maryland’s First District Court, a post she stills holds.   

As Maryland’s First Lady and First Mom, O’Malley, now 49, has taken on two notable child-related hobbyhorses, advocating vigorously to increase reading and to decrease bullying. The O’Malleys’ two daughters, Grace and Tara, attend college – the former is a junior, the latter a sophomore — while their sons, William and Jack, live at home with their parents. Momentarily casting aside her judicial impartiality, Katie O’Malley describes all four kids as being “beautiful, kind, and smart.”

Sum up your life philosophy in one sentence.  

Surround yourself with kind people and ignore mean people.

When did you define your most important goals, and what are they?

Having children was the most defining moment of my life. My singular goal as a mother is to make sure I raise them with love and support, unconditionally.

What is the best advice you ever got that you followed?

The best advice I got was when I was 16 years old from a longtime family friend; she told me that when you have children, love and support them unconditionally.
The worst advice, and did you follow it? Or how did you muffle it?

I’m sure somewhere along my life I’ve received bad advice, but I’m quite sure I ignored it.

What are the three most surprising truths you’ve discovered in your lifetime?

1) Children grow up so quickly.
2) My parents are right about everything.
3) Sometimes people don’t tell the truth.

What is the best moment of the day? 

Mornings at the beach.
What is on your bedside table?

Right now, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian [by Sherman Alexie], a wonderful novel that deals with poverty, dysfunction, and childhood trauma, while at the same time is hysterically funny.

What is your favorite local charity?

The House of Ruth.

What advice would you give a young person who aspires to do what you are doing?

I would tell anyone who aspires to be a judge to be empathetic. So many of the people we see every day have tremendous obstacles that they are trying to overcome. To be a good judge requires a certain degree of empathy.

Why are you successful?

That’s sort of hard to answer. I guess it depends on one’s definition of success. My definition of success is ongoing. To me, success has to do with how happy and content my family is.

In your years on the bench, which case has been the most difficult to adjudicate? Why? And what did you learn from that experience?

I can’t say it is any one case that has been the most difficult. I would say it is difficult whenever I have to impose a jail sentence. I’m very much aware of how painful a jail sentence is — the impact it can have on a family, particularly if children are involved. At the same time, I am also aware of how the public’s safety may be impacted if I don’t impose jail. So it is the balancing of these two objectives that is the most difficult for me.

What do you miss the most about living in Baltimore? What do you miss the least?

I’m in Baltimore every day for my job, so I feel very connected to the city. I do miss my old neighborhood and running at Lake Montebello. Baltimore will always be home to me. It is where I was born and raised, where I went to law school, and where I decided to get married and start a family. There really isn’t anything I miss the least. Baltimore is a great city. I think it’s the “Greatest City in America” …. not sure who I heard that from (ha-ha).
At this point, are you accustomed to having your family, especially your children, live in the public eye, or is that something to which one never grows accustomed? 

No, I’m not comfortable with the children living in the public eye. We really don’t expose them to the public aspects of our jobs very often. They are wonderful people who are proud of their father, but at the same time just want to be like everyone else.

Occupy Wall Street… and Baltimore?


Although, as some allege, the media is deigning to pay much attention, you’ve probably heard that progressive activists — and Susan Sarandon and Cornel West — are protesting in New York City by occupying Wall Street. Inspired in part by the Arab Spring uprisings across the Middle East, the leaderless protesters are mobilizing against corporate influence in politics, bank bailouts, and “those who profit off of the suffering of others.” 

Copycat movements have sprung up all over the US, using social media to garner interest and spread the word. Sure enough, Occupy Baltimore is now a Google Group (you’ve got to register to see postings), and a Twitter feed. Planners hope to occupy the park space around the Washington Monument in Mt. Vernon sometime next week.

Welcome to Fabulous Baltimore City


Overshadowed as it was by the historic election of Barack Obama, it’s easy for us Marylanders to forget the other big decision we made in November 2008 — the approval of slot-machine gambling in the state (allowing 15,000 machines total, of which 3,750 would be in Baltimore City).

There are already casinos in Perryville and Ocean Downs, and we in Baltimore are now closer than ever to lying in that particular bed we made — last week the state slots commission accepted bids to operate at Maryland’s remaining future casino sites. After rejecting two bids for incomplete proposals Caesars Entertainment is now the only business vying for the Baltimore location (Russell Street) and there are only two groups left to fight over the Allegany County site.

In an article in The Sun, the chairman of the state slots commission expressed his intent to have all five licenses granted by early next year.

Doing Something About Jobs in Maryland


Courtesy of Citybizlist – To combat rising unemployment, the pressure is on for government to do something, anything, to create jobs. So, you can expect that Governor O’Malley will present a jobs plan to the legislature at its Special Session in October. Various tax credit proposals are being floated to spur hiring in the medical and tech sectors.

The question is, will they work enough to create work?

Maryland’s HIRE program, the $5,000 tax credit for hiring the unemployed implemented last year, was only partially successful. Less than half of the $20 million allocated was used, resulting in about 1900 jobs.

That all of it wasn’t used won’t come as a surprise to most business people. Most companies hire because their business is growing. A $5,000 tax credit isn’t going to be enough incentive for a business to hire someone that is going to require a much larger financial commitment. While 1900 new hires are better than none, it’s likely that companies that got the tax credit were going to hire anyway.

Read the rest of the story at citybizlist.com

Eight Marylanders on Forbes’ List of 400 Richest Americans


Eight billionaires from Maryland led by real estate magnate Ted Lerner are among Forbes’ 400 Richest Americans.

In the business magazine’s 30th annual ranking, Lerner was ranked 103rd with a net worth of $3.3 billion as of Aug. 26. Besides running Lerner Enterprises, he owns and runs the Washington Nationals baseball team.

Here are the eight Marylanders to make the list, with their ranking, name, age, net worth in billions, residence, and business:

#103. Ted Lerner, 85, $3.3BChevy Chase, Md.; Real estate

#117. Mitchell Rales, 55, $3B, Potomac, Md.; Manufacturing

#139. David Rubenstein, 62, $2.7B, Bethesda, Md.; Leveraged buyouts

Read the rest of the list at citybizlist.com.

Give Corps and Enoch Pratt Hold Tweet-a-Thon for E-Readers


GiveCorps and the Enoch Pratt Free Library will hold one of Baltimore’s first Tweet-a-Thon’s today from 5 – 7 p.m.  The Pratt’s e-reader program is one of the first in the nation and the two groups hope to raise awareness (and money) to purchase additional e-readers. The hashtag for the Tweet-a-Thon is #Nooks4Pratt. 

Click here to make a donation.


The Fetish King: Managing Chained Desires


Name: Christopher King
Occupation: Fetish Boutique Manager
Neighborhood: Gardenville
Years in Baltimore: 8

If you’re the kind of person for whom leather whips, switches and harnesses count as “lifestyle essentials,” you may already be acquainted with Christopher King, the friendly manager of Chained Desires on Mount Vernon’s picturesque Read Street. For those less familiar with the local bondage scene, despite the shop’s exterior, Chained Desires contains nothing to be scared of. Although to the casual observer, the basement level storefront with its rows of whips and chains might seem slightly intimidating, thanks to Christopher King, Chained Desires is about as friendly as a bondage boutique can get.
King, a Gardenville resident, has always had a strong interest in sexual subcultures, especially the world of drag. Before moving to Baltimore, he worked for MAC cosmetics as a makeup artist in the boutique he managed on Philadelphia’s South Street, Trixie L’Amour. Here, he advised aspiring drag queens and female impersonators on makeup to match their wigs, stilettos and feather boas—or to clash with them, depending on personal taste. When Trixie L’Amour closed down three years ago, King continued to work for MAC another five years, then moved to Baltimore and trained in leatherwork as part of his internship at Chained Desires (the boutique has an on-site custom workshop where harnesses, saddles and bustiers are made-to-measure).

The store also sells costumes, whips, shoes, gags and what King describes as “high-end inflatables.” “It’s the only store of its kind in the city”, he informs me, proudly. “And Mount Vernon is the gayborhood. Sure, there are other adult stores that sell novelties, like Sugar in Hampden, but this is the only store that specializes in real custom leatherwork.”

The leather workshop is a hangover from the store’s previous identity. Eight years ago, the space that now houses Chained Desires was home to the Leather Underground, a venue that catered more specifically to gay men. Chained Desires, on the other hand, has a more diverse clientele: straight, gay, queer and trans. “We sell everything that’s needed for bondage, scene play, pony play, you name it” said King. “We have harnesses, bits and bridles, and all alterations are done free of charge on-site.” What kind of costumes is he asked to create? “Anything you can imagine,” he laughs. “Recently I had a special request from a stripper who wanted a squirrel tail made from fake fur. Not just a little thing, either—I mean, she wanted a gigantic tail, proportionate to her body, that plugged into her b(ottom).”

Behind the shop counter in his Read Street basement, King gets the chance to meet a fascinating cross-section of Baltimore’s residents. “My customers are doctors, lawyers, Hopkins professors, as well as just regular people,” he tells me. “A city court judge comes in here a lot, and a private chef.” Their common denominator is an interest in BDSM (bondage, domination, submission and masochism). “The doms and subs have an interesting dynamic,” said King. “The doms will come in and choose what they want, and the subs will pay for it. Under the counter, we keep a Gift Registry especially for doms, with a wish list of all the things they want. Then when they feel like it, they’ll send their subs in to buy them something special from the list. Sometimes they’ll get here in wrist or leg manacles. That can make it difficult coming down the front steps. Sometimes I have to go and help them out.”

Since he’s started working there, King feels, Chained Desires has taken on the shape of his own quirky personality. He oversees two assistants, both female, who, like himself, are relaxed and outgoing—a vital attribute, since those visiting the store for the first time can be nervous and tongue-tied. King likes them anyway. “I love working with all the different people that come in, helping regular customers find the special things they want,” he says. “I also like helping new people, those who’ve never tried anything like this before. I like suggesting new things for them, helping them to experiment and broaden their tastes a little.” Are there any drawbacks to the job? “Not really. Sometimes people just drop in looking for a novelty toy for a bridal shower or something like that, and I have to explain to them we’re not an adult toy store, we’re a fetish boutique. Then there are people who just come in to try things on and don’t want to buy anything. That can be a little annoying.”

What’s his favorite thing about his job? “Everything,” says King. “I love it here. I’m a pervert!”