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.
Not too long ago I was doing some research on the original deeds for St Patrick’s Church in Lowell. The initial conveyance was from the Proprietors of the Locks and Canals to a guy named Benedict Fenwick without identifying who Benedict Fenwick was. It turns out he was the Roman Catholic Bishop of Boston. For some reason, early deeds did not identify an individual’s affiliation with the clergy. A possible explanation would be the early residents’ animosity towards Catholics, but that’s a topic for another post.
As part of my research, I decided to inventory the Bishops of Boston up to the present. Here’s my list with the dates of service:
Jean-Louis Lefebvre de Cheverus: 1810 to 1836
Benedict Joseph Fenwick: 1825 to 1846
John Bernard Fitzpatrick: 1846 to 1866
John Joseph Williams: 1866 to 1907
William Henry O’Connell: 1907 to 1944
Richard James Cushing: 1944 to 1970
Humberto Sousa Medeiros: 1970 to 1983
Bernard Francis Law: 1984 to 2002
Sean O’Malley: 2002 to present
Three years ago we received a six month gift subscription to Netflix as a Christmas gift. We didn’t make full use of it for a while – watching a full length movie each night just took too much time – but then we discovered the joys of watching TV shows via Netflix. Top quality programs such as The Wire, Deadwood, Friday Night Lights, Rescue Me and many others were soon a nightly occurrence. Because the episodes were only an hour long, it was easy to fit one in each evening. To me, watching a television series after the fact has great advantages that make are well worth the wait: no commercials, cliff-hanger episodes on consecutive evenings rather than a week or more apart, watching when it’s convenient for you and not when TV programmers say you can watch it, and many more. With three DVDs in our rotation, a red envelope in the US mail delivery system worked quite well.
Recently it became evident that Netflix was changing its model of delivering content. By streaming programs live via the home’s internet connection directly to the television, Netflix would save an enormous amount on postage. Not having a Wii or an XBox or a Blu-Ray, I purchased a Roku box for $50. This device sits ontop of the TV and attaches to your home internet service wirelessly. Soon you’re viewing TV shows and movie on your TV via Netflix whenever you want, not having to wait for the red envelope to arrive. While not everything is “on demand” this way, much is. It’s great.
But now the content producers – the television networks, movie studios and the cable TV providers that charge mightily to deliver that content to your home TV – have targeted Netflix with economic destruction. In today’s New York Times, the chief of Time Warner, when asked about the growing dominance of Netflix, disparagingly said “It’s a little bit like, is the Albanian army going to take over the world? I don’t think so.” And so now when contracts for the provision of content come up for renewal, Time Warner and the like will be seeking exponential increases of the original prices they agreed to pay Netflix. read more »
Early in the morning of December 13, 1977, a fire broke out on the fourth floor of Aquinas Hall, a woman’s dormitory at Providence College. Within thirty minutes, ten young women were dead – seven from the smoke and flames and three from jumping to escape the inferno. I was a sophomore at the school at the time and have vivid memories of the aftermath of the fire although I was at home here in Lowell the night it happened.
December 12, 1977 was the start of “reading period”, the time between the end of classes and the start of exams. I thought I’d get more studying done at home so I returned to Lowell for a few days, but my roommates and others remained and related events to me the next day. It snowed that night, the first of the season. The “quad” formed by McDermott, McVinney and Aquinas Halls became the site of a major snow ball fight involving nearly one hundred students. By 2 a.m., everyone was back in their dorm rooms, mostly asleep. The fire broke out shortly after that in a fourth floor room of Aquinas Hall, an older building that consisted of first floor lecture halls and three floors of rooms for woman residents. Although I’ve never seen an official report of the cause of the fire, I’ve been told that someone trying to dry out mittens made wet from the snowball fight left a blow dryer running inside a closet. Whatever the cause of ignition, the fire started in one of the rooms. I believe the three residents of that room all made it out. Not so many of their floor mates. Aquinas Hall was particularly susceptible to fire at that point because of a long tradition of a Christmas dorm decorating contest. The fourth floor was a top contender, having covered every square inch of the walls and ceiling of the hallway with decorations and crepe paper. The decorations provided deadly fuel to the fire, however, because once the flames made it out into the hallway, all the paper turned it into a tunnel of flame.
At about 6 am on the morning of the fire, an early rising relative had caught the news on TV and called my parents to report the fire and ask if they’d heard from me. Everyone was pleased I was safely in the adjoining room. Later that morning I drove back to the school. There was a memorial mass held that day in the gymnasium. It was a reminder of the importance of religion in getting through tragedy. Exams were postponed until after the Christmas break and everyone left for home. When we returned, a very intense fire safety program was implemented and strictly enforced, something that is very important to me even today. Six weeks later, four feet of snow descended on us as we endured the Blizzard of 78. Three years ago, on the 30th anniversary of the fire, I traveled back to the school for a memorial mass that included the dedication of an alcove of the newly constructed chapel that memorialized the ten fallen students. Fire can strike so, so fast. There’s no substitute for prudence and preparedness.
In the wake of a proposed tax package deal, there’s plenty of finger-pointing, especially by Democrats, about how Obama caved to the Republicans on tax cuts for the rich. There’s even whispering about mounting a liberal Democratic presidential candidacy against him in 2012. (Those who flirt with that should remember the lesson of Ted Kennedy’s taking on Jimmy Carter in 1980.) And many Democrats, including most of the Massachusetts delegation, are digging in their heels in opposition
They have a right to be outraged about the debt-expanding “tax cuts for the rich.” And, as Paul Krugman notes, the deal sets itself up for a repeat scenario next year, with even worse results. The pity is that the President should have been more forceful earlier this year so the extension of unemployment benefits would have been less likely to be held hostage to the extension of the Bush tax cuts. And the Democrats should have handled the Bush tax cut extension issue, before and during the election, better. As Jacob Weisberg wrote in Slate, Obama failed at every step in the tax-cut poker game, and he ended up being the mark.
Ron Elving pointed out on WBUR, the Democrats have been outplayed at every step along the way. Had it been otherwise, the Congress now ending would have passed a public option in the health care bill, tougher regulations on banks, a tougher set of standards on carbon emissions and a totally different tax package to substitute for the expiring tax cuts from the era of George W. Bush
On the tax package, the President failed in strategy and in timing, and worse, he failed even to control the message. read more »