In the Globe today, author Jane Brox writes about the waning days of the incandescent light bulb, that staple of modern life. Read her essay here, and consider subscribing to the Globe if you appreciate the writing.
The Merrimack Valley’s own Jane Brox earned a full page review of her new book “Brilliant: The Evolution of Artificial Light” in the NYT Book Review. A full page review in the Sunday Times is major-league attention. Reviewer Elizabeth Royte spends most of her sentences describing what’s in the book and is sparing in the kind of praise that authors, editors, and publishers, especially the marketing people, crave. I didn’t see the proverbial “killer quote” (in a good way), but Royte gives Jane her due for this in-depth exploration of one of the basics of life these days. We just expect to have light at night now. Wasn’t always the case, as Jane explains so thoughtfully in the book.
Here’s some applause from the reviewer: “Ruminative and curious, Brox excels at discussing the cultural and psychological changes wrought by more and better light….”
Read the full review here, and considering buying one or more copies of the book, please. This commercial is brought to you by the Merrimack Valley Writers Association (or would be if we had one).
Columnist and “talking head” Thomas L. Friedman of the NYT has his fans and his detractors; he turned off a lot of people with his support for the Iraq invasion. The current mess in Afghanistan can be traced in large measure to the bad decision to start a second war in Iraq in 2003. He doesn’t have much credibility regarding defense policy. But Friedman has been consistent in his push for greener energy policies for what they will give the U.S. economically and politically. He’s the guy who a few years ago wrote “Make them fight all of us.” In his blunt analysis of the Af-Pak situation today, he writes:
And we should diminish our dependence on oil so we are less impacted by what happens in Saudi Arabia, so we shrink the funds going to people who hate us and we make economic and political reform a necessity for them, not a hobby.
The Roll Call of voting in the House and Senate on the Casino bill reported out by the conference committee makes for very interesting reading. My bold for legislators from the Greater Lowell/Merrimack Valley area. This is from the AP and found on the WCVB-TV web-site:
“Here’s how members of the Massachusetts House and Senate voted Saturday on a bill to allow the licensing of three casinos and two slot machine parlors at the state’s existing racetracks. The House voted 115-36 in favor of the bill. The Senate approved the bill on a 25-15 vote. ”
Kevin Aguiar, D-Fall River – X
Geraldo Alicea, D-Charlton – Y
Willie Mae Allen, D-Boston – N
James Arciero, D-Westford – Y
Brian Michael Ashe, D-Longmeadow – N
Cory Atkins, D-Concord – Y
Demetrius J. Atsalis, D-Hyannis – X
Bruce J. Ayers, D-Quincy – Y
Ruth B. Balser, D-Newton – N
Fred Barrows, R-Mansfield – Y
Carlo J. Basile, D-Boston – Y
Jennifer E. Benson, D-Lunenburg – Y
John J. Binienda, D-Worcester – Y
Daniel E. Bosley, D-North Adams –N
Bill Bowles, D-Attleboro – Y
Garrett J. Bradley, D-Hingham – Y
Michael D. Brady, D-Brockton – Y
William N. Brownsberger, D-Belmont – N
Antonio F. D. Cabral, D-New Bedford – Y
Jennifer M. Callahan, D-Sutton – Y
Thomas Calter, D-Kingston – Y
Linda Dean Campbell, D-Methuen – Y
Christine E. Canavan, D-Brockton – Y
Stephen R. Canessa, D-New Bedford – Y
James M. Cantwell, D-Marshfield – Y
Katherine Clark, D-Melrose – Y
Cheryl A. Coakley-Rivera, D-Springfield – Y
Thomas F. Conroy, D-Wayland – N
Michael A. Costello, D-Newburyport – Y
Geraldine Creedon, D-Brockton – X
Sean Curran, D-Springfield – Y
Steven J. D’Amico, D-Seekonk – N
Robert A. DeLeo, D-Winthrop – Y
Manuel deMacedo, R-Plymouth – N
Brian S. Dempsey, D-Haverhill – Y Conferee/Negoiator
Marcos A. Devers, D-Lawrence – Y
Stephen DiNatale, D-Fitchburg – Y
Paul J. Donato, D-Medford – Y
Christopher J. Donelan, D-Orange – Y
Joseph R. Driscoll Jr., D-Braintree – Y
James J. Dwyer, D-Woburn – Y
Carolyn C. Dykema, D-Holliston – N
Lori A. Ehrlich, D-Marblehead – Y
Lewis G. Evangelidis, R-Holden – N
James H. Fagan, D-Taunton – Y
Christopher G. Fallon, D-Malden – Y
Mark V. Falzone, D-Saugus – Y
Robert F. Fennell, D-Lynn – Y
John V. Fernandes, D-Milford – Y
Ann-Margaret Ferrante, D-Gloucester – Y
Barry R. Finegold, D-Andover – N Candidate 2EM read more »
In the past week, there have been two prominent opinion pieces attacking Republicans for their lack of concern about deficits over the past few decades. Neither talks much about Democrats and I’m not really sure if that’s because the authors think criticism of Democrats on this subject goes without saying or because the authors think there should be a balance between the two parties, with one being fiscally conservative and the other promoting welfare spending.
The first piece came last weekend form Martin Wolf, an associate editor and the chief economics commentator at the Financial Times. In it, he talks about what he sees as the political genius of supply-side economics, as well as the threat it poses to the future solvency of the United States.
The second piece was published in today’s New York Times. It was written by David Stockman, a director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Reagan. A nice summary of his op-ed might be: “I want my Party back.” It’s a very poignant criticism of the Republicans’ willingness to run massive deficits. read more »
Don’t miss the story in today’s Lowell SUN about the surviving “trolley parks.” Oue regional and well-used Canobie Lake Park in neaby Salem, NH is featured. I’ve written before about these parks built by the trolley companies as a way to extend their business into the weekends and to provide access to a whole new realm of leisure activity. There are many books, postcards, phographs and posters celebrating this special era and much available memorabilia dear to collectors. Locally, Willowdale and Lakeview Parks were popular destinations.
As AP Travel writer Beth J. Harpaz tells us:
The parks were built by trolley companies at the end of the line in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as a way to get workers and their families to ride streetcars and railways on weekends. They had carousels, picnic grounds and live entertainment, and they were often located by lakes, rivers or beaches where visitors could take a boat ride or swim.
On Canobie Lake Park:
Canobie Lake Park in Salem, N.H., located 30 minutes north of Boston, also remains family-owned and attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors annually, according to marketing director Chris Nicoli. The park is three times its original size, and the old trolley station has been preserved as a Skee-ball building. A new exhibit at the park documents its dance hall, which through the years hosted Duke Ellington, Sonny and Cher and Frank Sinatra.
Canobie’s rides are a trip through history too: The carousel is a 19th century antique; the Yankee Cannonball wooden coaster is vintage 1930s, and the looping steel Canobie Corkscrew dates to the ’70s.
“We’ve got children coming on their eighth-grade field trip whose grandparents came on their eighth-grade field trip,” said Nicoli.
Canobie Lake Park continues and thrives as an amusement park today enjoyed by families across the Merrimack Valley. My granddaughters love the park. Do you have memories of days at Canobie Lake Park? special outings with groups or as a family? Do you still go to Canobie Lake Park? Do you remember Lake View Park? Share your stories.
Read more here in today’s Lowell SUN on-line.
This steroview from the collection at the UML/Center for Lowell History shows typcial weekend day at Willowdale Park in nearby Dracut, Massachusetts cira 1890s.
The Globe outlines the stand-off that now exists between the Governor and the legislature over casinos. As I understand it, all parties (the Governor, the House and the Senate) agree on three Las Vegas style destination resort casinos but differ when it comes to placing slot machines in the state’s four race tracks (creating so-called “racinos”). The House favored slots in all four, the Senate and the Governor wanted none. On Friday, in the midst of House-Senate negotiations, the Governor said he would assent to a single racino but when the conference committee returned its final bill there were two. That’s what passed both chambers yesterday just before the year’s legislative session ended. The Governor has been steadfast in asserting he will veto any bill with more than one racino. He has ten days to veto or sign the bill; if he does neither, the bill becomes law. What will happen now?
I believe we are witnessing some high-level political brinksmanship right now. With the Senate initially opposed to racinos, I suspect the House will relent and allow the legislation to go forward with just one. The House may believe that the Governor cannot afford to not have this bill go through and expect him to blink first. I suspect that would be a miscalculation because should the Governor back down now, he will look weak and subservient to the legislature and the political cost of that would greatly outweigh the cost of not getting the casinos done.
I guess I’m with the Governor and the Senate on this one. Visiting a resort casino is not on my list of the 100 Things to Do in Life, but many people I know and respect thoroughly enjoy their outings to Foxwoods and who am I to judge how they spend their leisure time and money. If a comparable facility was available within Massachusetts, so much the better. The racinos are another story. To me, they seem to be more about keeping alive rapidly fading race tracks than they are about economic development. If racing is soon to become a relic of the past, tossing in 1000 slot machines won’t save it. And while the resort casinos offer more than just gambling – hotels, restaurants, shows, shopping – a facility with nothing but slot machines seems like nothing more than a place where people can be relieved of a lot of their money for not much in return.
Whatever happens, I’m sure the behind-the-scenes maneuverings are fascinating. We’ll never know what’s really going on, but even the parts that are made public are worth watching.
The sign board at Stevens and Parker Streets in the Highlands now reads STEVENS ST WORK COMPLETED; THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE. Although I live nearby, I managed to avoid that area during the July-long construction period. The road now looks great: a smooth stretch of deep black hot top without a mark on it. As inconvenient as these construction projects may be to those who use the roads, I’m always glad to see them – each represents dozens of jobs and paychecks for folks that might not otherwise have work. Given the state of the economy, that’s a very good thing.