Daily Archives: September 28, 2010

Sound Bites, Tuesday: Chomsky On Rage; Women And Pain

Published September 28, 2010

I’m always scanning the public radio universe and Boston blogosophere for tasty morsels…

Noam Chomsky says we should embrace, not marginalize, the Tea Party. He was on WBUR today. (On Point)

Massachusetts might lose a Congressional district. That would make the stakes even higher for the current election. (ElectionWire)

The United States is wiretapping Mahmoud Karzai, the owner of Cambridge’s Helmand restaurant. Also, Hamid Karzai’s brother lives in Cambridge?! (Wicked Local Cambridge)

Thomas Wright of Brookline could have met this tragic end if Boston police had not intervened. (A.Currell/Flickr)

Thomas Wright of Brookline could have met this tragic end if Boston police had not intervened. (A.Currell/Flickr)

Women suffer from pain more than men. But women have more pain to put up with. (Radio Boston)

Kitty Dukakis is taking on beer distributors. The former alcoholic opposes the repeal of a sales tax on liquor, which funds addiction recovery services. (Universal Hub)

Zipcar is telling Cambridge drivers not to “door” bicyclists. The company is putting stickers on every side-view mirror. (CommonHealth)

Boston Police arrested Thomas Wright, of Brookline, for cruising around in a stolen golf cart. He “found” it outside of City Hall. (BPD News)

The putter used by Jim Furyk to win $11.35 million at the Tour Championship this weekend was purchased for $39 in Easton. It had been traded in by Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist Paul Szep. (ESPN)

Numbers Of Note In New Census Data

Published September 28, 2010

The 2009 American Community Survey is out — a sort of annual “mini-census” that should not be confused with the decennial census data coming out later this year.

I’m digging into the numbers for Massachusetts to see what has changed from 2008 (in statistically significant ways). Here are my initial discoveries:

  • The percentage of unemployed people rose, from 6 percent to 9.1 percent.
  • Fewer people carpooled to work.
  • More people took public transit.
  • More people worked at home.
  • Fewer people worked construction and sales jobs. More people worked management and professional jobs.
  • The average household income (salary+benefits) fell by about $1,500, to about $85,500.
  • More people lived in poverty, although the increase is statistically insignificant.
  • The number of people without health insurance actually went up, to 4.2 percent (resulting in a statewide coverage rate of 95.8 percent — compared to a national average of about 85 percent coverage).

Any interesting bits that I missed?

You can also get data for the City of Boston and the Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH metropolitan area.

Menino Wants Your Help Finding Mattapan Murderers

Published September 28, 2010


Thomas Menino, Boston’s tough-on-crime mayor, is asking for the public’s help finding the “cowards” who killed four people, including a toddler, on 40 Woolson St. in Mattapan early this morning. The suspect or suspects are at large.

“We’re all united on this one. We’re gonna get ’em, we’re gonna lock ’em up and throw the key away,” Menino said in a news conference, seeming almost to cry.

“Cowards kill. Cowards use guns to settle their scores. Cowards hide. Let me tell you, Mattapan is strong and will not let them hide. To those who have no respect for life — and would commit these brutal acts — our streets are not your playground. Our kids cannot your collateral damage. We will not allow you to poison our city,” he said.

Police are looking for information about a silver or gray SUV seen driving away from the scene. You can report tips anonymously to Boston police detectives at (617) 343-4470 or (800) 494-TIPS.

The Globe quotes Monique Golay, 26, who summarizes my feelings exactly: “It’s ugly. It’s been ugly like this all summer long. Something has to happen,” she said. “It’s ugly, so ugly.”

On Saturday, the Globe reported:

An explosion of late-summer violence drove a 32 percent increase in murders so far this year over the same period in 2009, erasing what had appeared to be progress in fighting crime and alarming Boston police, who say they are scrambling for money to beef up patrols.

Another, non-fatal shooting occurred right next door, at 42 Woolson, late last month. It is not clear if the shootings are related.

Meet The MacArthur ‘Geniuses’ From Mass.

Published September 28, 2010

Six New Englanders, four of them from Massachusetts, became 2010 MacArthur Fellows today.

From top-left, clockwise: Jessie Little Doe Baird, Matthew Carter, Nergis Mavalvala, Annette Gordon-Reed (Courtesy of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation)

From top-left, clockwise: Jessie Little Doe Baird, Matthew Carter, Nergis Mavalvala, Annette Gordon-Reed (Courtesy of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation)

Each one got a surprise phone call with the news that he or she will get $500,000, no strings attached, for being a genius. Pretty sweet.

The Bay Staters are Jessie Little Doe Baird, an indigenous language preservationist in Mashpee; Matthew Carter, a type designer from Cambridge; Annette Gordon-Reed, a historian at Harvard Law; and Nergis Mavalvala, a quantum astrophysicist at MIT.

Carter invented the ubiquitous Verdana (a font I hate) and Georgia (a font I love, which you’re looking at right now). He designed the body text for the New York Times (the newspaper chose from among 19 alternatives) and the Boston Globe.

“There aren’t a great many people around the world who do what I do. It’s a very small profession. We’re not very numerous,” Carter says in a MacArthur video. “My job is to make type that’s readable. Also, I want it to have some sort of quality that is mine.”

Gordon-Reed is the Harvard Law professor who exposed the Thomas Jefferson-Sally Hemmings relationship more than a decade ago — subsequently proved true by DNA tests. “It started as a fascination as a child with Jefferson and Monticello and slavery,” she told NPR’s Ari Shapiro today on Morning Edition.

Gordon-Reed argues that white written history has long been given priority over black oral history. Her next book takes the Hemmings family into the 19th century in an exploration of race.

Baird, of Mashpee, is working to resurrect the lost language of the Wampanoag nation in Massachusetts, a tongue that has not been spoken for 150 years. She has produced dictionaries, phrase books and grammars to help pass on the language to children.

Finally, Mavalvala is a physicist who studies gravitational waves — “fluctuations in space-time curvature that propagate as waves in a pond” — to see further back into the history of the universe than ever before.

Nicholas Benson, a stone carver in Newport, R.I., and Sebastian Ruth, a music educator in Providence, round out the New England representation.

We’ll be looking at the work of these geniuses in greater detail today at 3 on Radio Boston.


Update: In an earlier version of this post, I trashed Verdana in the same sentence I cooed in admiration for Matthew Carter — only to discover while listening to All Things Considered that Carter, in fact, designed Verdana.

Tuesday Morning: Mattapan Massacre, Home Sales, Cape Wind

Published September 28, 2010

I’m back and slightly spaced out on cold medicine. Here’s what’s news on a gray Tuesday morning in Boston:

Toddler Among 4 Dead In Mattapan Shooting

The child, said to be 2 to 3 years old, was one of five victims gunned down at 40 Woolson St. at 1:15 a.m. A mom, her toddler son and two men are dead, as the fifth victim, a man, clings to life, sources said. (Herald)

August Home Sales Drop To Lowest Level In 2 Decades

Sales of Massachusetts single-family homes in August fell to their lowest level in more than two decades as the housing market continued to feel the effects of the expiration of a federal home buyers tax credit, the Warren Group said today. (Globe)

You Can Almost Hear The Whoosh Of Windmills

It’s been a very long journey for Cape Wind, and now it comes down to this: an obscure government panel, meeting in a makeshift hearing room above South Station in Boston. (WBUR)

Mass. GOP Blocks Supplemental Spending Bill

A pair of prisons would close, services for homeless families would be curtailed, Medicaid benefits for low income residents would sharply cut and state troopers would lose their jobs if lawmakers fail to approve a $400 million spending bill, Patrick administration officials and legislative Democrats said Monday. (State House News Service)

Boston Closes Fiscal Year With $9M Surplus

In a city that spent $2.3 billion last year, the extra money is not a windfall that will restore cuts in the coming year. The surplus represents less than half a percent of the city budget. For the average household in a city with a median income of $52,000, it is the equivalent of discovering an extra $208, a nice find, but not enough to pay the mortgage or fix the roof. (Globe)

More: Phoenix columnist David Bernstein saw this from a mile away.