Not for the Birds, I Hope: a Thanksgiving-Themed Blogster's Miscellany

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

I’m Thankful I Don’t Have to Drive. More Americans are travelling on Thanksgiving than any other holiday, and man is it ever dangerous out there.  Last year at this time, six persons were killed in road accidents in Massachusetts.  Hundreds of persons were likely hurt in crashes that extra-long weekend, some no doubt seriously and/or permanently.  According to figures cited yesterday by the office of our governor, roadway fatalities rose overall in 2016 by 12.8 percent, to 389 from 345 in 2015. Alcohol-related driving deaths increased by 9.2 percent, to 119 from 109 in 2015.  Wow: We had an average of slightly more than one death every day in traffic accidents in 2016. 

I'm also Thankful that...

My Co-Workers Play it Safe. I’m thankful that no one I currently work with in the Boston office of Preti bicycles to work or uses one of those easy-rental bikes that we see all over to get from one in-city meeting to the next.  A lot has been done to make Boston and the metropolitan area more bike-friendly and more bike-safe. But when I’m walking the sidewalks of our congested capital’s streets, filled as they are with cars, tall trucks, long trucks, construction vehicles, tour buses and duck boats, I cringe each time I see someone in a business suit pedal blithely by, like a junior high football player who has blundered, McGoo-like,  into an NFL game.  The latest bicyclist fatality data I could find was for 2015, from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  It showed that there were nine bicyclists killed on Massachusetts roads that year, including three in Boston. I agree with a gentleman from Walpole, Stephen R. Tarbell, who wrote as follows in a letter to the editor  of The Boston Globe on October 13, 2016: “I don’t want to die…and I certainly don’t want to kill anyone.  That’s why I don’t play on railroad tracks, or play chicken with oncoming traffic.  It’s why I always wear a seat belt and look both ways before crossing the street.  It’s why I would never point a gun at anyone else or play Russian roulette.  It’s also why I would never consider riding a bike in Boston and think people who do are crazy.”

Shrinks Will Flout the ‘Goldwater Rule.’  Speaking of accidents, our Electorally-gifted President continues to be dogged by Ed Markey, our state’s junior U.S. senator, and many other Democrats in the Congress who want to legally limit Donald Trump’s ability to launch a nuclear attack on North Korea.  Last month, they introduced “The No Unconditional Strike Against North Korea Act,” which would prohibit the spending needed to fund such a strike.  “As long as President Trump has a Twitter account,” says Markey, “we must ensure that he cannot start a war or launch a nuclear first strike without the explicit authorization of Congress.  It is time for the legislative body to act and reassert its constitutional role as the branch of government with the sole power to decide when the United States goes on the offensive.”  It’s not just Dems in D.C. who are worried about Trump having the man with the football at his beck and call.  This is giving some mental health professionals, gasp, nightmares.  The other day in Salon, I read a description by a psychologist of Trump as a “malignant narcissist.”  There has never been a malignant narcissist who got to be in charge of a country who did not start a war, this psychologist warned.

Our Governor Is Kindly and Fair.  After the North End Columbus Day Celebration Committee bestowed its public service award last month on former North End legislator and House Speaker Sal DiMasi, Governor Charlie Baker was asked by a reporter if it was appropriate for the group to honor DiMasi in light of his 2011 conviction on federal fraud and conspiracy charges, and his subsequent multi-year imprisonment.  Baker cited DiMasi’s work in helping to pass the state’s universal health coverage law in 2006 as one valid reason for anyone to pay homage to Sal.  Here’s the operative Baker quote from the State House News Service: “First of all, the Massachusetts health care law, which has been a big success here in the Commonwealth, is something that the former speaker had a lot to do with.”  Amen.  Baker also noted that “Who people choose to give awards to, that’s kind of up to them.”  As of today, November 22, DiMasi has been out of prison for one year.  He was released on this date in 2016 on compassionate grounds because of poor health, and now resides with his devoted wife, Debbie, in an apartment in Melrose.  I live in Melrose but haven’t yet encountered DiMasi.  If I do, I’ll shake his hand and wish him well.  He made a big mistake, paid a big price, and deserves forgiveness.  There has to be mercy/forgiveness in this world.  Some who have seen him on the sidewalks and in the stores and restaurants tell me he’s gained weight and strength, and is in good spirits, an extrovert as always.  Sal DiMasi is now 72 years old.  

Lawmakers Have a Sense of Humor.  There’s some opposition to a bill pending in the legislature that would create a statewide septic license for anyone who installs and/or repairs septic systems for the disposal of human waste, House Bill 146, An Act to Create a Statewide Septic License.  During a hearing on the bill early last month, some who work in the business told the members of the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure that  they are worried the bill could be applied to other septic-system-related tasks, thereby making it harder to find the workers needed to drive pumping trucks and perform other icky tasks.  “It’s just not an appetizing job,” one septic pro said.  According to a State House News Service account of the hearing, the only member of the committee who asked a question of the H.146 witnesses was Rep. Stephen Howitt, R-Seekonk.  Said he, “Does a straight flush beat a full house?”



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