Matthew Philips

Stories by Matthew Philips

  • Politics: Do Robo-Calls Work?

    These days, answering your phone often means listening to a recorded political message. But do robo-calls work?
  • Education: Interactive Whiteboards in Schools

    Teachers are conditioned to tolerate a lot of abuse—it's a professional hazard—but what faculty members at Sir G. E. Cartier Elementary School in London, Ontario, went through last spring seems beyond the call of duty: a few of them agreed to be duct-taped to a gym wall while students hit them in the face with pies. Why on earth would they do that? To raise $3,000—enough cash for an interactive whiteboard, the most coveted piece of educational technology on the market right now. These Internet-age chalkboards are essentially giant computer touchscreens, and they're all the rage among teachers. But with little room for them in school budgets, many educators are doing whatever it takes to raise the money themselves. "We're a desperate breed, aren't we?" says Sharon Zinn, one of three teachers who volunteered for Cartier Elementary's whipped-cream-flavored firing squad.At schools fortunate enough to have them, interactive whiteboards are a blessing for educators struggling to engage a...
  • Fast Chat With Tiger Woods On His New Video Game

    As he recovers from knee surgery, Tiger Woods has been spending time with his 14-month-old daughter and logging hours on his new videogame, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09. He spoke with NEWSWEEK's Matthew Philips. ...
  • Fast Chat: Tiger Woods

    If Tiger Woods had to have knee surgery, he picked an ideal time: while he recovers, he gets to spend all day with his 14-month-old daughter, Sam—and his new videogame, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09. He spoke with NEWSWEEK's Matthew Philips. ...
  • Discount Carriers Revive Bus Industry

    If all you did was follow the headlines, you'd think it's been a lousy summer for the bus industry. In July, Greyhound made news when a Canadian man was decapitated by a fellow passenger on a bus trip to Winnipeg. A week later a bus in Texas drove off a bridge, killing 17 people. And, of course, swollen gas prices must be ruining the industry's bottom line, right?In fact, the bus biz is enjoying a renaissance. Ridership is up for the first time since 1960, thanks to the rise of discount carriers such as Megabus, and Greyhound's BoltBus. With cheap fares and slick new buses equipped with Wi-Fi and electrical outlets, companies have lured travelers looking for a dependable ride on someone else's gas dime. And no dingy bus stations: the new carriers offer strictly curbside pickup."We're remaking the image of the bus," says Megabus president Dale Moser, whose company offers Web fares as cheap as $1. In May it expanded from the Midwest into the jampacked Northeast corridor, which already...
  • Is Favre Latest Madden Cover Jinx?

    For the 20th-anniversary edition of its Madden videogame franchise, EA Sports wanted an NFL icon for the cover: Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre. On March 1, EA sent him an offer; the next day he accepted. Two days later he announced he was retiring. The timing, says EA marketing director Chris Erb, "was certainly funny." The notorious Madden "cover jinx"—which stung Michael Vick, Daunte Culpepper and Donovan McNabb, all of whom suffered severe injuries the year they were cover boys—had struck again.But then in July, Favre unretired, and suddenly the pick looked ingenious—even, dare we say, conspiratorial. Was EA in on the Favre flip-flop all along? "No," Erb says, "but we felt he might come back." They didn't anticipate, though, what happened next: the Packers no longer wanted Favre. Trade rumors ensued. Favre was headed to Minnesota, then Chicago, then Tampa Bay. EA scrambled, releasing screen shots online of Favre in various jerseys. Finally, on Aug. 7, five days before...
  • Why the Housing Bust Is Good for the Homeless

    The real-estate bust is creating an unexpected benefit: housing for the homeless. Even as the foreclosure crisis pushes some low income families into shelters, chronic homeless rates are shrinking thanks in part to the foreclosed and vacant buildings social-service agencies can now afford to buy. In Denver, persistent homelessness is down 36 percent since 2005, as nonprofits have turned seized apartment buildings and run-down motels into 1,242 rooms, complete with access to addiction treatment and health care. A Worcester, Mass., nonprofit will soon close on five multifamily duplexes that will provide 20 to 30 units for the homeless, and Ventura County, Calif., is in talks with local banks to take over 100 homes for permanent use. "These are opportunities we haven't seen in decades," says Philip Mangano, the Bush administration's homelessness czar.Historically, economic downturns are good for the homeless, just as booms tend to be bad. During the 1990s, despite record spending and...
  • In Tobacco Country, a Ban on Smoking in Schools

    In North Carolina, the governor may be the top public official, but for the past 200 years tobacco has been king. The state grows half of all the tobacco in the United States, and the original cash crop remains its economic backbone. But beginning next month, North Carolina will be home to one of the nation's toughest youth smoking laws, with a ban on tobacco use in public schools. Most students can't smoke at school anyway, but the law applies to everyone on campus, year-round: parents in the stands at football games, maintenance crews in the school garage, teachers in the parking lot.Getting the law passed was no simple feat in a state that still depends on people lighting up. North Carolina spends just 4 percent of its annual $426 million of tobacco revenue on smoking prevention (less than half the minimum federal recommendation), and, at 35 cents, maintains one of the country's lowest cigarette taxes. In all, it took six years of local advocacy and the votes of all 115 of the...
  • Closure: Cubs Fan Steve Bartman

    News stories captivate us for a moment and then vanish. We revisit those stories to bring you the next chapter. ...
  • Religion: God’s Word, According to Wikipedia

    A few times a week, Alastair Haines, a grad student at the Presbyterian Theological Centre in Sydney, sits down with a Greek version of the New Testament and translates a bit of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians. Haines doesn't speak Greek, but he can read it. When he's done, he loads his work onto a Wikipedia page as part of the Wiki Bible Project, a take-all-comers effort launched in January to create "an original, open content translation of the Bible's source texts," which by most counts includes about 30,000 manuscripts. Along with Haines, who admits to signing up for duty as a way to put off finishing his dissertation, 21 others have answered Wikipedia's call to "claim a chapter!" The eclectic group includes a liberal Christian living in the United Arab Emirates and a Methodist financial counselor in Texas. Some claim to be formally trained in Biblical Hebrew and classical Greek; others, such as user John Kloosterman, admit to being "without qualifications of any kind."...
  • States Of Emergency

    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is in a jam. Even after $10 billion of proposed cuts, California still faces a $17 billion budget gap. Most voters and lawmakers don't like his plan to fix it by borrowing billions against the state's lottery, meaning the Governator will likely have to resort to raising taxes, something he vowed never to do, and bump the state's sales-tax rate by one cent.Arnold isn't the only governor facing a killer budget crunch. After two years of surpluses, the housing market and national economy have plunged more than half the states—29, and the District of Columbia—into red ink this spring. Altogether, the total budget shortfall is $42 billion for the rest of this fiscal year and for fiscal year 2009; the biggest gaps are in states where the housing boom and-bust was most pronounced, such as Arizona, Nevada and Florida, which are now coping with too many unsold houses and tanking property values. And the bottom is at least a year away, says Mark Zandi, a chief...
  • In the Classroom: Giving Laptops the Boot

    The tech revolution at the nation's top law and business schools, where students now routinely use laptops and wireless connections in class, has created an insurgent population: professors, who believe they're losing the fight against wandering minds. In retaliation, at schools such as Harvard, Yale and Columbia, some profs have banned laptops from class altogether. In a more measured approach, the University of Chicago Law School cut its classroom Wi-Fi signal this spring, citing an "epidemic" of Web browsing during lectures, while at UCLA law, profs can activate a "kill switch" to disable Wi-Fi if they sense an attention deficit. The results, they say, are striking. "I'm getting much better eye contact," says Michigan law professor Richard Friedman, who installed a no-laptop policy in January. "It's been like renewing an acquaintance with an old friend." To others, though, the crackdown lets the real culprits off the hook. "If you're so boring that students are zoning out, you...
  • Analogies: Clinton v. Nixon

    The Comparison Despite increasing calls for her to drop out of the Democratic nomination race, Hillary Clinton insists that she's staying in because she's "never been a quitter." Her defiance brings to mind the protestations of Richard Nixon, who in his day leaned into such head winds—once successfully, and once to no avail. Why It WorksDuring his veep run in 1952, facing illegal campaign donation charges, Nixon said in his "Checkers speech" that he would stay put, silencing calls for him to step aside. With her nomination hopes dimming, Clinton has similarly turned the pressure on her to quit into a display of her willingness to tough it out. Why It Doesn'tThere's a big moral difference between weathering self-inflicted scandals and fighting back for the chance to win a still-unresolved election. Also, while Nixon did quit over Watergate in 1974—after saying for more than a year that he wouldn't—Clinton might never walk away. She could just lose.
  • Texas: Worst CO2 Emitter

    Texas produces more carbon emissions than most countries, but the state government and business community don't seem too concerned.