A new history book about Lowell by Richard P. Howe Jr and Chaim Rosenberg to be published on March 11, 2013. To order a copy and to learn about local readings and book signings, check out our Legendary Locals of Lowell page.
The Senate today failed to kill off the Clinton-era “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy that requires the discharge of gay service members. Last month’s decision in the Proposition 8 case in California seemed to establish conclusively that there is no rational evidence that same sex marriage harms anyone. I had hoped that this vote on DODT would piggyback on the momentum built by the California case and other recent court decisions that have struck down roadblocks based on nothing more than some people’s vague “discomfort” with the concept of gay individuals having equal rights in society but that was not the case. Nevertheless, I see this outcome not as a loss but as just another delay of the inevitable – that being the realization of full rights and privileges for all citizens regardless of sexual orientation.
While driving home from work tonight I tuned to 980 WCAP and heard a replay of this morning’s interview by Ted Panos of UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan. Besides talking about all that’s going on at the University, Meehan commented on today’s vote, one that he seemed to expect to kill DODT. He said that the very first bill he filed in Congress back in 1993 was an attempt to overturn Don’t Ask which had only recently been enacted, and that he spent his entire career in Congress working towards it’s demise. Meehan said that the country has now accepted the concept of gay service members but that politicians always lag behind such changes in public opinion. Ted Panos concurred in Marty’s assessment of the country’s acceptance, adding “in twenty years everyone will laugh about the foolishness of this policy.”
From the context of Ted’s comments and his earlier discussion on the same issue, he seemed to mean that any laughter would be motivated by discomfort and not by amusement. To me, in the not too distant future, our dalliances with Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and bans on same sex marriage will be sources of embarrassment. Like racial segregation, ethnic and religious bigotry, and the treatment of women as second class citizens, historians will judge our past and ongoing discrimination against gay Americans to be another regrettable chapter of our nation’s history.
Alan Lightman of MIT, the author of the best-selling “Einstein’s Dreams” and other works will read from “Mr. g: A Novel about the Creation” on Thursday, Sept. 30, at 3.30 pm, in Alumni Hall, One University Avenue, on the North Campus of UMass Lowell. Last May, Lightman received an honorary degree from UMass Lowell. This event is free and open to the public. For the complete schedule of the Kerouac Literary Festival, Sept. 30 – Oct. 3, visit www.uml.edu/artsandideas or www.lowellcelebrateskerouac.org
A modern classic, Einstein’s Dreams is a fictional collage of stories dreamed by Albert Einstein in 1905, when he worked in a patent office in Switzerland. As the defiant but sensitive young genius is creating his theory of relativity, a new conception of time, he imagines many possible worlds. (from www.goodreads.com)
Today’s Globe reminds us that the statewide ban on texting while driving goes into effect in just ten days. While there are many questions about how this is to be enforced, it’s at least a start. While I confess to occasionally talking on my phone while driving, I do try to avoid it and, if I’m in the city, will pull over and stop to hold a conversation. I’ve been good about not looking at text messages and emails while driving and have never been adept enough at working the keyboard to even try composing a message while driving. The biggest temptation for me has been red lights. When you’re stopped in traffic with no hope of moving for a minute or more, it’s tempting to glance at your phone and see if there are any new text or email messages. Doing that is also prohibited by this new law. I suspect that scenario – sitting in a stationary car and looking at a phone – will be the most likely time for police to spot you. So be warned – no texting or reading phone screens while sitting at red lights.
There is yet another story in today’s Globe – this by staffer Robert Weisman – about the Caritas Christi sale. A coalition organized by consumer advocacy group Health Care for All including twenty community groups, health care providers, and lawmakers is asking Attorney General Martha Coakley and Public Health Commissioner John Auerbach to pull the reins and slow the approval process for the proposed sale of the Caritas Christi Health Care system to Cerberus Capital Management. Looking for a review conducted in a “deliberate, transparent, and inclusive’’ manner, the letter cites that the investment goal of this “for-profit” might clash with the needs of the Massachusetts health care system.
Acoording to the article there is no known timetable for the AG or the Commissioner - “Neither the attorney general’s office nor the Department of Public Health has disclosed its timetable for ruling on the Caritas transaction, but decisions had been expected this fall.”
One of the six Caritas Christi Heath Care System hospitals – Holy Family Hospital in Methuen – services the health care needs of many communities in the Merrimack Valley.
Read the full Globe article with comments from the stakeholders on both sides of the issue here.
I was in Boston yesterday for the fall meeting of the Governor’s Creative Economy Council. I’ll report on that in a later post, but want to mention that I passed by the Museum of Fine Arts and saw the red cloths covering the newly inscribed stones on either side of the Huntington Avenue entrane to the Museum. Behind the cloths are words recognizing the $10 million donation by the Bank of America in the form of cash and an Ellsworth Kelly painting. MFA boss Malcolm Rogers, his board, and staff deserve a heap of praise for what they have accomplished in the past few years, lifting the MFA to a higher orbit and ensuring it will be a world-class attraction for years to come. Our own Whistler House Museum of Art leaders and members would be deeply grateful for a $10 million gift—imagine a new multi-story museum building with galleries, curatorial space, and teaching areas in place of the aged one-story Parker Gallery, which has served its purpose well but now needs a successor. Read the Globe story about the B of A gift here, and get the Globe if you value the reporting.
Here is the YouTube description…
“Artist Vassilios “Bill” Giavis of Brush Art Gallery & Studios in Lowell, MA discusses a painting of his “Wife at the Piano” with Mike Flynn. Painting was displayed at the Whistler House Museum of Art, also in Lowell”.
BTW This is the same Mike Flynn known as “wireless Mike” on WCAP. Also seen in the video is Whistler House Director Mike Lally.