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May 13, 2009


Having moved to a suburb of Chicago recently, I must say that I miss Lehigh for two reasons. Counterparts of the Civic Theatre of Allentown, Zoellner Center are at least one hour away and are much more expensive. Other than these your post is spot on.

Now that's making lemonade!

I've visited Lehigh Valley on several occasions and wonder if the legacy of Lucent/Agere/LSI hasn't made an impact in the make-up of the population. But then again, I've been told that most employees don't actually live anywhere close to the company, preferring to scatter west towards Reading, east towards NJ, or south towards Philly.

I find the area a bit too provincial for my own personal tastes. I must say, though, that Coca-Cola Park is a beautiful stadium.

Interesting that the post "Underdogs and Innovation" discussing the article from the New Yorker:

"How David Beats Goliath When Underdogs Break the Rules."

immediately follows this post "Life in the Lehigh Valley".

If looking at "How David Beats Goliath" from a point of view that the David's are of little or no value (those who seek to provoke and/or manipulate only for their own good and/or to only agitate), are they (the David's) not winning by someone acknowledging their existence?

If someone lets themselves be unwillingly manipulated and provoked (by the David's who are as defined above), does this mean they are not allowing themselves to be free to think for themselves and to live where and the way they want? Thus, letting the David's create an undesirable environment in which to live (the David's goal).

There are many people in the Lehigh Valley who want (desire) to live among and interact with and are glad to have as neighbors highly educated, motivated, well versed, and culturally aware world-class people. They want them to be an active part of the community because the Lehigh Valley is in need of these people to lead and be role models not only for children but also for the adults. While at the same time attracting people of similar backgrounds along with new businesses and giving current businesses a reason to stay. These people (intellectuals) as you have noted are "a disruption to the existing power order" and in addition educational development comfort zone are wanted and needed importantly for this reason.

The segment "Making The Case For Intellectuals" about "George Scialabba's new collection of essays and reviews: What Are Intellectuals Good For?" that I listened to a couple of weeks ago on NPR, can be accessed below:


Ms. Thiele,

Villa's daughter was tragically killed by a drunk driver. He has been unable to come to terms with what has happened. He has slowly spiralled out of control. He has blamed the Lehigh County DA for not being tough enough. He has blamed several local papers for not doing enough investigative reporting. And over time, he has alienated just about every person who has tried to help him. I can list numerous bloggers and public officials who have gone out of their way to help him find closure, only to have Villa turn on them.

I am the other, older blogger, to whom you refer. I had to set up a blog just for trolls like Villa. He spammed by blog with 500 repetitive comments in just one day, among other things.

The hateful comment you mention is on that troll blog, where many hateful comments from Villa himself are posted. I have deleted none of them bc it would defeat the purpose of a troll blog.

As far as hacking into Villa's blog and deleting comments there is concerned, I'm well aware that Villa has accused me of that. He has also called me the Blog Nazi and der Fuhrer. But here's the thing. I have never deleted a word on Villa's blog. That was a blogger glitch I had noticed myself and had tried on someone else's blog, after notifying the person I would try it. In fact, I reported the glitch to Blogger, something I would not do if I was intent on deleting Villa comments from his own blog.

As far as defending the drunk driver is concerned, I merely pointed out that, contrary to what had been claimed by Vila, he did show remorse for his actions. He is a human being, too, something that seems to hav eluded the Villas.

Villa was convicted on 5/19 for criminal harassment as a result of his behavior in the blogosphere. Other charges are pending.

If you do pride yourself on being an intellectual, you should do a little more research before posting about a subject on which you are very poorly informed.

"I'm not going to pretend life is fun in the Valley for people who happen to take pride in being intellectuals. The fact that the Lehigh Valley has chosen to emphasize tourism for its renewal after the Bethlehem Steel bankruptcy (positioning Bethlehem as the Christmas City, opening a casino) also suggests the locals are a lot more comfortable with taking the money of people they don't live with as their business model, and view minimum-wages jobs as a normalcy.""With my PhD from MIT, I'm so completely out-of-place it'd be hilarious if it weren't so sad."

" Several people have told me "we need more people like you here," but there's a big difference between need and want. The Lehigh Valley doesn't want people like me. I can't blame them - we're a disruption to the existing power order,"

I enjoyed this blog and can relate to it. I am a transplant from Miami and have found it is easier to create events and organizations than to actually find one in the area. Keep me posted on the novel, i will definitely buy a copy...

Alfonso Todd

Every time Bernie O'Hare pipes up about how remorseful Sheena Villa's drunk-driver killer Robert LaBarre was, we need to inform/remind all drive-by readers that this remorse did not keep LaBarre from going AWOL from the Lehigh Valley for a 10-day vacation in sunny Belize, Central America while out on bail.

"Jesse Smith" is just one of the many psudonyms used by the Villas. Next time you write about the LV blogosphere, do your homeork.

Jesse Smith's IP address matches a location in Colorado. I will not jump to conclusions and assume it's Mr Villa, who as far as I know still lives in the Lehigh Valley. It could just as well be one of his daughter's friends.


You should be aware that IP does not necessarily reflect where the comment comes from, especially depending on the ISP. There are numerous comments on the Topix forum that have locations like Ontario or Seoul, but they are actually being posted right here in the LV. Did you say you have a PhD?

I am certain that "Jesse James" is Villa. This is on the basis of having read his comments over a two year period of time. It is also on the basis of his admissions to me and to others. He actually uses quite a few pseudonyms.

He also impersonates people. He has impersonated a Catholic seminarian and has him featured on his blog. On his sidebar, he has posted a photo of this seminarian and accuses him of having a " obviously profound internet blogging/lying addiction." Amazingly, you link to all that hate. Are you proud of yourself?

I can't think of a single LV blog that still retains a link to the Villas. He has also falsely accused this seminarian of pedophilia. You link to a blog that giggles with glee that a Morning Call editor has been laid off.

Villa's loss is tragic, but he has turned into an angry and bitter person. The man responsible for his daughter's death is serving twice the normal sentence for that kind of offense, but that's not enough. If you do not independently check what Villa tells you, you will soon believe there is some deep dark conspiracy involving the Morning Call, DA Jim Martin and everyone else.

There is no cronyism, no case-fixing, no sweeping things under the rug. What happened is an unfortunate and senseless death. You are enabling a mentally ill and increasingly dangerous person.

Your claim that Villa somehow won $3.1 MM is also false. Sure, a jury awarded him that sum, but against a Defendant who has nothing and whose insurance policy is not close to that amount. The bar that actually served this defendant, and Villa's daughter, was found to have no responsibility. It won't be paying a dime.

Villa is no "prominent voice of dissent." He's lost touch, and you'll see that yourself if you take the time to check him out. This is a guy who could not stop at tormenting an Allentown City Councilman. He had to go after a son and the wife, too, with vicious personal attacks.

Had you done any sort of real research on this matter, you would know all of this. Instead, a supposed "intellectual" not only reaches the wrong conclusion about Villa, but does so in a blog that pretty much insults the entire Lehigh Valley. We had fun w/ that today on my real blog, LV Ramblings. You made no friends, nor should you.

Incidentally, some of us resent the Promenade bc it was built with nonunion labor and illegal immigrants. It creates an artificial environment instead of real life, something that seems to have eluded you. If you really gave a damn, you would not go there for your "life is good" Ts.

As a current Lehigh graduate student, a total wonk, and someone who considers myself intellectually curious & motivated, I have to say I think this post is kind of over the top on the "woe is me" vibe.

I have very very rarely found that the blue-collar base of the Lehigh Valley are as rude or xenophobic towards well-educated or well-paid neighbors, etc... as many of my peers are condescending and snobby towards the "locals."

I do find that many "old-timer" Lehigh Valley residents are resentful of outsiders, but.... they'll all be dying off soon anyway.

I guess my point is, cheer up - having a few dozen whiners whine about the Promenade Shops on a web forum somewhere doesn't actually impact your ability to go and enjoy your shopping experience there.

Dr. Thiele,

I would like to vouch for all that is presented by Mr. Bernie O'hare. His remarks could not have been more on point than anything I could have written.

You might ask the questions: Who are we? And, why should I even consider their comments?

Look at the sites Mr. O'hare mentioned. You are wise enough to make your own decision.

Who are we:
Mr. O'Hare possesses a B.A. and J.D.

I, myself, posses a B.A., a M.P.A., and a Ph.D. from three fine institutions. I am also currently studying for a Bachelor of Sacred Theology, a Master of Divinity, and a Docorate of Sacred Theology. In addition to those studies of philosophy and theology, I must master several languages with the abilities to read, write, and speak in classical Greek, Arabic, classical Hebrew, and the language of Christ - Aramaic specializing in the dialect of Western Syriac. (Plus I can read, write, and speak English and French.) I am currently studying at The Catholic University of America and The Pontifical Faculity of the Immaculate Conception.

Hopefully, we may meet your minimum standards for having a meaningful conversation with you. And I mean this with all sincerity. Because for face value, this blog thread and your follow up remarks definitely scare me.

It might be heard mentality, but please allow me to show you, just what I posted today, on Bernie's blog regarding this thread:

"Is there any shame at being poor or at the bottom of a power scale? Sometimes the ones at the bottom are more content. Yet sometimes they are bitter towards people that think they are better than themselves because they have $$$ or a superior education. At the end of the day, we are all human beings.

Plus, I have never heard an intellectual call themselves intellectual.

Generally speaking about knowledge, it seems that the more I learn, the more I learn that there is still a lot that I need to learn. (And from the look at that last sentence, I need to learn better English. Run-ons stink!)

Peace, ~~Alex

11:45 AM"

I am concerned with today's youth. Thus, I followed my calling and will try to do something about it. But, I have to be weary of the type of education that the youth are receiving from fine institutions such as the one you serve. I dare not hope that your opinions of our home, the Greater Lehigh Valley, and your superior intellectualism are being conveyed unto these highly impressionable minds.

Therefore, I beleive that we can agree to disagree on such things.

May peace be onto you, ~~Reverend Brother Cantor Alex Joseph

I think that your view of the Valley is skewed. On just the two blocks around where I live in urban North Bethlehem we have 2 teachers, an architect, a counselor and an urban planner. We do struggle with the city government's reliance on tourism, but as someone directly involved in trying to revitalize urban Bethlehem, I find your outright dismissal of the entire population as minimum wage making, anti-intellectual, tourist leeches pretty offensive.

As a native born Allentonian who left the Valley for NYC and returned, I can tell you that this area is complex and takes more than 2 and 1/2 years to get a feel for it. You certainly won't discover any of its mysteries at a desert mirage like the Promenade. I suggest you spend some time in our urban downtowns just walking around. I think you will find that the Valley is a mosaic quite unlike the picture you have painted here.

If you open your mind a little I would be happy to help you with that book.

As a local blog reader, I have the following remarks:
1. Bill Villa is nuts. Period.
2. It doesn't take long to figure out that Villa is nuts, and you don't even need a PhD to decipher the clues!
3. Don't believe everything you read on BLOGS - the SOURCE is the most important component of research, and your SOURCE on the Villas is Villa himself. Hmmm....I wonder if Villa is biased about himself???
4. The Valley is FULL of transplants. I'm one of them. I love it here. All you need is an open mind and a friendly smile.
5. Finally, IMHO, a true "intellectual" does NOT take pride in simply being an intellectual. An intellectual takes pride in learning. There is a lot to learn from everyone, even folks who don't have PhDs.

Good luck to you, doctor! And watch your step - it's hard to move around obstacles if your nose is always pointed straight up in the air.

Dr. Thiele,
I understand your disappointment with living in an “intellectually challenged” community, but I would suggest you seek the best of the hand dealt to you! I appreciate the feeling when I walk into a super market and know that I have more teeth than all the patrons together shopping at that time! Lehigh Valley needs folks like you to raise the quality of life and constantly demand change to the status quo. The valley is losing too much of its intellectual base for that same reasons! They gain their education and move onto greener pastures, returning after they have made their fortunes too old to challenge the system. We need to find ways to bring in those business and jobs that will stimulate. We also need a newspaper that would do the same and not pander to local patrons! We need you to challenge your students to stay here and rebuild!

Dr. Thiele-

Not knowing you personally, but hearing about your statements regarding this area, I thought I would amble over to see for myself. Not certain if this is how you feel or if you are just having an off day, I do recall that a carpenter friend once said "Measure twice, cut once". Maybe you should've stewed awhile before actually posting this one. Even if only a amall portion of what you say is true, do you really believe that an entire area is comprised of "...locals (who) are a lot more comfortable with taking the money of people they don't live with as their business model, and view minimum-wages jobs as a normalcy", and other such statements. Only going by this posting, you seem bitter, resentful and angry. How sad.

Call me VOR.

Dr. Thiele,

As a lifelong resident here, I understand frustrations with the area at times, but dare I say, you should venture out and seek out the better side of this area. If we all used DA Martin, any of the Clear Channel owned radio stations, or the area newspapers to make an opinion of this area, we'd all go nuts. You would find Northwest New Jersey and Lansdale areas as being rather similar to the one you are in now, you went to those places. I dare say, you should perhaps take a little bit further walk out here, and realize there is a lot of folks here who are no longer in the stone age, and you are perhaps passing judgment based on the worst of us, not the best. This is a rapidly changing, growing area, and those who have told you to take part in it's improvement are doing so because good things are happening here.

Well, this is interesting, all these folks out to defend the great O'Hare.
Let's get one thing clear.

Bernie O'Hare had his license to practice law revoked in 1986.

They are never going to give it back, even if he tried to get reinstated, right Bernie?

That didn't happen because he was such a great guy, it happened because he LIED. He forged Documents. He screwed over clients.

Did I leave anything out?

He uses his blog to settle personal and political scores, perceived and in many cases non-existant.

I disagree with this lady's POV, but I happen to respect her right to have it.

Bernie has written lie after lie about me, in vain attempts to discredit me, but I am still around.

His Blog is his life, it is all he has, and his sole purpose for existence.

If anyone were to take agood look at who in particular is at the center of all these meaningless "BLOGFIGHTS" you will see one variable each time.

Bernard V. O"Hare the III (Is that elitist enough for you?)

go ahead Bernie, launch into one of your vaunted ad hominem attacks against me, call me a political kneebreaker, whatever.

I don't give a flying fuck, because I have more important things to do than TROLL the blogosphere 24/7 as a self appointed policeman and decider of what is proper.

I hope to high heaven that on judgement day, when you stand before God, that she judges you with the same brutality that you have judged the rest of us you self righteous prick.

So why are you after this lady? Is it because I ignore you, Villa mocks you (even if he is nuts, but a grieving father nuts), and most bloggers with functioning brains have shunned you?

To the rest of you, think about this:

Bernie O'Hare has become the face of Blog Hate. For all his trumpeting against media and how it abides hate speech, it is undeniable who the biggest purveyor and participant in that vile activity is. Bernie O'Hare.

So go ahead, Fire at will Bernie, you can't do me any harm. So spend the next twelve hours composing your 20,000 word point by point rebuttal to my ten minutes of vent. I'll be in bed sleeping soundly while you gnash your teeth and vow revenge.
I'll go to work tomorrow and collect my salary, while you sit in front of your laptop in your underwear and pray you get a call to research a title. Because even McDonalds wouldn't hire your fat ass to take money at the window, you would scare the kids and probably poach from the happy meals.

I haven't laughed this hard in a while. Good night Bernie!

You're all loons.

I don't need to fire back at Casey. He's done himself in. His rant would prove Thiele's point about the LV, but he's from Ohio.

Bernie, I was born in Boston. There you go lying again. I guess that makes me a Boston Brahmin, huh?
My Birth Mother works at Brandeis, do I get any elitist points for that?

What a snob you are. And you prove my point, you were back here within three and a half hours with a response.

Got A Life? I don't think so!

Hi Bernie, I'm sure you are closely moderating this lady's blog, so I thought I would leave you a suggestion.
Since you are such a well educated guy, and can't put that J.D. to use for anything, maybe Lehigh University will allow you to teach a course?

How about Victimology 101?

Because you have told us many times that there are people out to get you. I logged on XM radio today and asked them to dedicate "Destroyer" by the Kinks to you.

Great line from that song: "there's a little green man in my head." Sums you up pretty well, except I bet there is a cast of thousands running around in there.

Monkey Momma's got it right. You are so busy basking in your own brilliance that you fail to seek the real truth. There are plenty of us well educated transplants (like myself - two bachelors and a doctorate) who actually want to enjoy our lives rather than whine about the failings of the Lehigh Valley. But that's ok, I am sure you are teaching your students a great lesson on how ugly a snob can be.

"I don't need to negatively affect other people's lives to feel good about myself."

No, but apparently insulting an entire town and puffing yourself up does. Wow. I'm embarrassed for you. This entire piece made me cringe.

Dr Thiele:

I have received several emails questioning why I don't condemn you.

First, I have this idea that everyone is entitled to their opinion and perspective.
Second, I also believe in fairness.

Bernie O'Hare is the penultimate hate blogger, as you now have more than enough evidence of your own. I don't make that assertion out of thin air, all I have to do is read the excerpts from his blog that are emailed to me regularly. I refuse to read them most of the time, but when I once again saw him attacking a woman, I clicked on the link sent to me and read your post.

What makes a society grow is the free, respective exchange of ideas. While B O SAYs he supports that, from out of his many other faces he constantly mocks anyone who opposes his "RIGHTTHINK." It is his opinion, OR ELSE.

So go on saying what you think, without regard to whether you think others agree or not. I started to fall into that trap myself once, but I dragged myself free of it.

Screw them if they can't see the forest for all the trees. I may not agree with you, but to paraphrase a great patriot whose name escapes me at the moment, "I will fight to the death to protect your right to say it."

Casey, like Villa, is another twisted soul who seems to be obsessed with me, so much so that he wrote a fantasy blog novel last year having me brutally murdered. Most of the hate I've seen here has come from him. He is not defending free speech. He is actually using ad hominems to try to silence my point of view bc I'm willing to make public officials uncomfortable and accountable.

This is the price I gladly pay for drawing attention to those who set themselves up as shimmering examples of probity, but end up being frauds.

Incidentally, I've taken Thiele to task for her condescending remarks about the LV, not because she happens to be female. Her sex is irrelevant. When Casey suggests that a woman should be able to say something w/o being challenged, he himself is being a sexist.

I can not believe this drivel is still going on. Grown adults with no clue as how to behave.

As for Thiele's blog; there is a rise in anti-intellectualism. We never condemn the rich as much as we condemn those who choose and embrace the road to higher education. There is no such thing as too much money but people are uncomfortable with those who have too much education.
I moved to PA 15 years ago from North Jersey, a stones throw from NYC.
It is a huge adjustment, but over the years the Lehigh valley has turned in to a suburb of NYC/ NJ. There is fair amount of music,art as well as interesting people and places. It is a trap when you sit on the hill and pass judgment with out seeing what is available.
To connect with a complex community such as the Lehigh Valley takes time and effort but can be well worth it.
There was a previous comment in regard to doing it yourself...if you are looking for a particular kind of leisure time activity -make it happen-
start a Salon or a lecture series.

Dr. Thiele,

Don't sweat the attacks being made against you here. There are many transplants to the Valley who feel as you do. I tend to keep my focus outside of the area to maintain some sense of sanity. I've found a few people here who do make it worth it. You'll just need to give it some time to find those folks. Again, don't worry about the attacks here as I found that to be par for the course in some circles here in the Valley.

Just want to point out that the Blog novel thing wasn't about O'Hare, he wishes it was about him, so he could play victim. I did write a blog novel, much like many things I have composed, and he decided it was about him.

I would like to point out also that the Villas, (Another of the people that HE seems obsessed with) chose to post a legal summary of Mr. O'hare's Brilliant (Sic) legal career at their blog. I chose not to post it, but I respect their right to defend themselves. I think you can read it at http://bloggingdottie.blogspot.com/

After a person reads the public record of Mr. O'hare's activities, i think any sane person will come to some pretty strong conclusions regarding Mr. O'Hare.

I still enjoy reading your observations Dr. Thiele. I am a transplant from Columbus Ohio, who came here fifteen years ago after I married, though I am originally from Boston. I hope that no one holds that against me! LOL!

This post has been online for over three months now and the time has come to close the comments section. Thanks to everyone who has expressed kind words. I appreciate it!

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