Blogster's Miscellany: From a Cape Cod Reef to Those Ever-Risky Backyards of MA

Friday, August 5, 2016

AS EXCITING AS LAWMAKING.  In March, federal funds and proceeds from the sale of state recreational saltwater fishing licenses were used to create an artificial reef in the Atlantic Ocean, two miles south of Saquatucket Harbor in Harwich.  The 9.9-acre reef is providing a breeding ground and habitat for black sea bass, scup, tautog, and various other marine organisms.  Departing from its usual fare, the State House News Service yesterday posted on its site a silent film of the reef, shot by a diver on June 15.  You can gather how my life is going by how I: (a) eagerly clicked on this video, and (b) proceeded to enjoy every moment of it.  So fascinating, so tasty, those little creatures of the deep.

IF CIGAR FLIES, YOU SHOULD TOO. Garrett Bradley, the longtime Hingham rep who has resigned from the legislature, effective August 1, to take on larger role at his law firm, was giving his farewell speech to the House on Saturday afternoon, July 30, when he offered a tip on the Speaker, Bob DeLeo, to the newer members of the House.  “The Speaker never smokes a cigar, he just chews on them,” Bradley related.  “If he’s just chewing, that’s good, but if he breaks it in half or throws it across the office, it’s time to go.”  Bradley, age 46, has been one of DeLeo’s favored lieutenants.  His departure creates a vacancy in the second assistant majority leader slot.
BIG ZAP MIGHT BE GOOD FOR SENATE.  In an interview published August 4 in Bloomberg Businessweek, reporter Joshua Green asked Elizabeth Warren, the Bay State’s senior U.S. Senator, “I know you have grandchildren.  I don’t know if they watch Saturday morning cartoons.  But a banker I spoke to at the Democratic convention said he worried (that) you and Bernie Sanders would become the liberal Wonder Twins if Democrats take over the Senate.  How will you and Bernie work together next year?”   She responded, “We will touch our rings together and use the lightning bolts to energize all of our colleagues.”

CITY OF BROTHERLY LIBERTARIANS. I’m still trying to figure out what our lovable former Republican governor, Bill Weld, was up to on the floor of the Democratic Convention that second night in Philadelphia.  Asked why he was there by a reporter/cameraman for a web news site whose name escapes me, Weld basically said he was an old friend of Hillary Clinton (true) and just wanted to be there for her at this biggest moment in her political life.  Weld has raised unconventionality to an art form, as we were reminded several weeks ago when he joined the ticket of Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson as vice presidential nominee, so there was probably no better way for Weld to keep that unconventionality streak going than by going to an opposing party’s convention.  Maybe he was on a secret mission from Johnson to enlist Bernie’s bitter-enders?  Or maybe he was just bored and wanted to have some fun in Philly.
PROGRESS CAN ASK TOO MUCH OF US. The Boston-based Pioneer Institute wants the state “to embrace transponder technology for a wider variety of applications, such as parking and retail services.  A newly published institute report “explores transponder use in other states and encourages cooperation between public agencies and private industry to simplify and rethink customers’ transportation experience.”  Said Pioneer Executive Director Jim Stergios, “Whether it’s dealing with a parking lot ticket machine or sitting in line at a drive-thru window, Massachusetts commuters face a number of unnecessary hurdles.  Transponder technology has the capacity to consolidate these different services and extend their use, to make life easier for millions of people.” Time and trouble will doubtless be saved when transponders can pay for coffee, burgers, ice cream, dry cleaning, etc., at the drive-thru windows of our lives, but we’ll be sacrificing those special moments with the window clerks as they hand us our change.  Are you really prepared to see “Have a good one” vanish from the land…whatever “one” might be?

DANGER LURKING ON PATIO, PART 1: Speaking of summer fun, a la videos of fish on Cape Cod, consider these facts next time you go to throw a fillet on the barbie:  according to the State Fire Marshal, there were 431 fires involving grills, hibachis and barbecues reported to the Massachusetts Fire Incident Reporting System between 2011 and 2014, all of which resulted in 20 civilian injuries, three firefighter injuries and $3.5 million in property damage.
BETTER WHEN I DIDN’T KNOW. I have been going up to the Massachusetts State House for decades.  I love the State House for its classical architecture and for how it uniquely blends the qualities of a good museum with the flavors of a normal, busy office building: the profound and the prosaic all rolled into one big beautiful Bullfinch masterpiece.  But, if pressed, I could not tell you which portrait of a former governor hangs where, nor would I be able to give you any details on the lives and work of most of those long-gone guvs.  So, I was caught by surprise this past Monday when education and religious advocates associated with the Center for School Reform at the Pioneer Institute publicly asked for the relocation of a portrait of Gov. Henry Gardner, which now hangs to the right of an entrance to the House chamber, in the center of the third floor.  This spot is much too prominent, these folks assert, and thereby accords Gardner a degree of undeserved honor and respect. They find in Gardner, a member of the Know Nothing Party who served as governor from 1855 through 1858, an abhorrent figure, “a symbol of bigotry.”   The Gardner portrait “belongs in the State House,” allows Jamie Gass, director of the Center for School Reform, but not in a “position of prominence.”  Before Monday, I knew nothing of this Know Nothing exec; now, when I avert my eyes from his portrait, I shall know the seductive sensation of self-righteous symbolism.

NEWS FLASH! TEACHER UNIONS HEART HILLARY.  This had to be the most unnecessary press release in the history of Massachusetts.  On Wednesday, the Massachusetts Teachers Association put it in writing that its board of directors had voted “to concur with the National Education Association’s recommendation of Hillary Clinton for president.  The MTA is the state affiliate of the NEA.  Was anyone expecting the teachers to embrace The Donald?
TRY CALLING HARVARD GUYS LOSERS, “SAD.”  Speaking of Trump, the Harvard University Republican Club late yesterday sent a letter to its members and alumni informing them that, for the first time in its 128-year existence, it would not be endorsing the Republican nominee for president.  The Harvard group is the oldest chapter of the College Republicans in the nation.  “Donald Trump is a threat to the survival of the Republic,” it declared.  Read the letter in its marvelous entirety at:

TYCOONS FEAR HIS SHORT FINGER ON TRIGGER. The final word on Trump in this post goes to Senator Warren.  In the aforementioned Bloomberg Businessweek interview, Warren was asked, “Given that the financial industry has given Hillary $41 million this election vs. $109,000 for Trump, do you think banks will exert renewed pressure within the Democratic Party?” Said she, “I don’t see it as a swing back to Democrats so much as I see it as supporting sanity.  The financial-services people, as much as many of them would like to see more deregulation, are also deeply frightened by the prospect of a Trump presidency.  Nuclear war is bad for business.”   
DANGER LURKING ON PATIO, PART 2: “It’s only a matter of time before the fear of local Zika transmission we are experiencing in Florida becomes the reality for every state in the nation,” stated Ed Markey, the Bay State’s junior U.S. Senator, yesterday in a press release concerning the promising efforts now under way in Boston to develop vaccines to prevent the spread by mosquitos of the Zika virus, (“Senator Markey Joins Doctors and Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess in Boston to Discuss Promising Zika Virus Vaccine Candidates”).  Markey  says it’s time for the Congress “to pass a robust emergency funding package to deal with this growing crisis.”






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