Tag Archives: Massachusetts

MacArthur Foundation ‘Genius Grants’ Announced

Why isn’t the annual announcement of the MacArthur Foundation “genius grants” for extraordinary creativity in the sciences, arts, engineering, and other disciplines televised nationally like baseball’s All-Star Game? The awardees are the ”stars” of intellect, creativity, and insight. The NYTimes today reports on the latest MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grants.” At least three of the 23 recipients live in Massachusetts. Read about the winners here, and get the NYT if you value the journalism. 

The MacArthur Fellows Program awards unrestricted fellowships to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction. There are three criteria for selection of Fellows: exceptional creativity, promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishment, and potential for the fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work.

The MacArthur Fellows Program is intended to encourage people of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations. In keeping with this purpose, the Foundation awards fellowships directly to individuals rather than through institutions. Recipients may be writers, scientists, artists, social scientists, humanists, teachers, entrepreneurs, or those in other fields, with or without institutional affiliations. They may use their fellowship to advance their expertise, engage in bold new work, or, if they wish, to change fields or alter the direction of their careers.

Although nominees are reviewed for their achievements, the fellowship is not a reward for past accomplishment, but rather an investment in a person’s originality, insight, and potential. Indeed, the purpose of the MacArthur Fellows Program is to enable recipients to exercise their own creative instincts for the benefit of human society.

The Foundation does not require or expect specific products or reports from MacArthur Fellows, and does not evaluate recipients’ creativity during the term of the fellowship. The MacArthur Fellowship is a “no strings attached” award in support of people, not projects. Each fellowship comes with a stipend of $500,000 to the recipient, paid out in equal quarterly installments over five years.

Mass. Economy Outpacing Nat’l Economy

Our blogging colleagues at leftinlowell.com have this link up also, but the Globe story is important enough for broad coverage. Economic analysts at UMass are reporting that the Massachusetts economy is growing at a healthy pace, more than twice as fast as the national economy. This is data from MassBenchmarks, the respected journal to which our own Prof. Bob contributes. Read the boston.com bulletin here, and remember that the Globe sells subscriptions and is on sale on the street and on newstands if you appreciate the reporting.

Lowell and Merrimack Valley Special Places Announced

The Massachusetts Office of Tourism has been reminding us by e-mail and on the official web site that last year: 

 ”The Special Commission Relative to Designating 1000 Great Places in Massachusetts was created by an Act of the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick on January 15, 2009. Its mission is to identify and recognize the 1000 most truly special places in the Commonwealth, in order to celebrate pride in our history and culture, increase knowledge of our natural surroundings, and encourage regional and international tourism.”

Today that list of 1,000 great places from Abington and Acton to Worcester, Wrentham and Yarmouth has been made public. See the full list here on Boston.com – just scroll down to the article “Panel Unveils List…” and click on the Excel list. It encompasses the historic, the preserved, the natural, the environment, the arts, sports and  ethnic, the traditional, the spiritual and so much more. It’s no surprise to see over eighty listings for historic Boston. Lowell has ten places listed!  Looking to our home area in the Merrimack Valley we find:

In Lowell:

Brush Art Gallery and Artists Studios
LeLacheur Park
Lowell Heritage State Park
Lowell National Historical Park
Lowell Riverwalk – Sampson Pavilion
The American Textile History Museum 
The Jack Kerouac Commemorative
The Revolving Museum
Tsongas Industrial History Center
Western Avenue Studios

 In Lawrence:

Den Rock Park 
Essex Art Center
Great Stone Dam, Merrimack River
Lawrence History Center

In Haverhill:

Bradford Common Historic District
Historic District
Lake Kenoza Walkways and Park 
Winnekenni Castle and Parks/Trails

In Newburyport:

Audubon Joppa Flats Nature Center
Firehouse Center for the Arts
Maritime Museum
Maudslay State Park
Newburyport Boardwalk
Plum Island and the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

In Tewsbury:

Public Health Museum at Tewksbury State Hospital

In Chelmsford:

Chelmsford Center Historic District

In Dracut:

Farmer Dave’s

In Methuen:

Methuen Memorial Music Hall

Did your choice (s) for great places in Massachusetts make the list? Let us know.

Another Lowell Connection in Yankee Magazine and Much More

Yankee Magazine arrived the other day. There are a myriad of stories and articles pertaining to summer in New England. Learn the  history and “art of the sail” with Robbie Doyle a Marblehead sailmaker. Follow seasoned kayakers along the Coast of Maine’s Island Trail. Enjoy Rhode Island natives Casey and Garret Roberts’ home in Jamestown along “cliff and cove.” Get tips for trapping then cooking the iconic Maine lobster. Get lost in Richard Schutz’s photographic odyssey along coastal Maine as he shares his sense of people and place.

There are New England statistics. For instance – did you know that 15,000 gallons of slush are consumed annually at Canobie Lake Park in Salem, New Hampshire? There’s a state-by-state July-August events and history calendar. Look for the Riverfront Music Festival in Newburyport on July 10th and the Latin American Festival at City Hall Plaza in Worcester on August 21st. Did you know that a tornado cut a swarth of destruction killing eight in South Lawrence on July 27, 1890? And on August 2, 1943, JFK’s PT boat was cut in two by a Japanese destroyer in the South Pacific – leaving him and 10 crewmates stranded for days. Learn about puttting up tomatoes, “rosarians,” sharks and ice cream and much more.

Amid this issue of tales, instructions, facts and tidbits is this gem on the “Knowledge and Wisdom” page from none other than Lowell-born painter James Abbott McNeil Whistler:

“You shouldn’t say it’s not good. You should say you do not like it; and then, you know, you’re perfectly safe.”

Whether this advice was meant as an answer when asked by an artist about his work, I can only surmise. Whistler’s most famous work was “Arrangement in Grey and Black” – commonly known as Whistler’s Mother. It may in fact be the most recognized painting in the world. By the way, by all acounts the model in the painting is the artist’s mother – Anna McNeill Whistler.

Purchase Yankee magazine at a bookstore or better yet get a subscription for this really good bi-monthy publication. Read some of the current edition of Yankee on-line at http://www.yankeemagazine.com. Enjoy.

Immigration: Massachusetts an Arizona Wannabe by Marjorie Arons-Barron

The following entry is crossed posted from Marjorie Arons-Barron’s own blog located at http://marjoriearonsbarron.blogspot.com/.

Tough economic times can translate into mean-spiritedness and make things difficult for those who are different. If you’re a Muslim-American, for example, you can be assumed to be a terrorist. If you’re Latino, you can be assumed to be an illegal immigrant. And, when an increase in bias against such groups plays out in the context of an election season, hold on to your seats: it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Immigration policy is, of course, a federal issue. That didn’t stop Arizona, frustrated by federal inaction to update and rationalize our immigration laws, from passing its own statute. And it didn’t stop the Massachusetts Senate from passing an illegal immigrant bill that codifies already existing policy that bars illegal immigrants from getting public benefits.

Rhetoric has been overheated on both sides of the issue, with immigrant advocates calling the legislation “misguided and inhumane,” and proponents painting a picture of widespread rip-offs of taxpayers by infiltrating illegal aliens. As a Boston Globe editorial points out, illegal immigrants have replaced yesterday’s welfare queens as the subject of contempt and punishment.

Sane policy probably understands the truth is nuanced, somewhere between the two portrayals. Law-abiding citizens shouldn’t have to underwrite income assistance, unemployment benefits or public housing for illegals, but, if the child of an illegal immigrant becomes ill, should the hospital turn its back? If the child had a highly infectious communicable disease, should she go untreated? Not to do so could have significant public health implications.

You could also make the case that an 18-year old child of an illegal immigrant should be allowed to attend public university at the in-state tuition rate. Won’t that student be better able to contribute to society with a better education and, if he stays here, better able to provide for his children? After all, we’re not saying that student should go tuition- free, just that he or she should pay the lower in-state tuition rather than the higher out-of-state cost. The children of illegal immigrants are not the perpetrators of the crime; it’s their parents.

And the entire Muslim-American community are not, ipso facto, terrorists. Try telling that to Treasurer and gubernatorial candidate Tim Cahill. He recently blasted the Governor for “playing politics with terrorism” because Patrick had participated a meeting with 1000 Muslim-Americans. As recounted by Adrian Walker in the Globe, Cahill said, “Now is the time for Governor Patrick to look radical Islamic terrorism full in the face” and cooperate with the feds investigating the Times Square bomber. As Walker points out, Cahill seems to think that “any gathering of Muslims is the moral equivalent of an Al Qaeda meeting.”

Governor Patrick meets on a quarterly basis with representatives of the Commonwealth’s ethnic news media. There are reporters and editors from Chinese-American newspapers. Would Cahill charge the Governor with consorting with communist disciples of Premier Hu Jintao?

People need to calm down, especially state politicians. And Congress needs to have a greater sense of urgency about passing comprehensive immigration reform that includes border enforcement, punishment for employers that hire illegals, sanctions as well for those who reside here illegally combined with a rational approach to providing a path to citizenship for those who have been here for a long time and have become contributing members of their communities.

- Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below