Ripped from the headlines
Relief for schools: My favorite governor, Deval Patrick, reached into his bag of tricks and decided not to penalize rural schools by drastically cutting their transportation budgets. We all know that every state budget in the country is in deep trouble. I keep thinking about what I would do if I were Patrick or Paterson or Schwarzenegger. Hey, the money has to come from somewhere.
This isn’t the United States government — Massachusetts can’t just print what it needs. What was so cool in this case was the outpouring of support for the schools, particularly those in the Berkshire Hills system. Good citizens came forward to try to make up the anticipated deficit. Of course, with the extra money coming in there may actually be a cushion that should be prudently put into a rainy day fund for the next time this happens, or in case the state doesn’t keep its word for one reason or another.
Massachusetts has always been one of those places where money is appropriated and sometimes never actually delivered. For once, at least in the department of bad habits, Massachusetts is leading the way.
Cold air hits the Berkshires: It is incredibly cold out there. I’ve never liked the cold. I have always looked at the Florida snow birds with disdain but I must grudgingly admit that it’s always nice to travel for a week during the coldest times.
I’ve been thinking that maybe it might have been a good idea to keep my mom’s condo in Palm Beach when she passed. I’ve often worried that going to Florida somehow signals that you are giving up to the inevitable end that we all face, sooner or later, like it or not. To me, Florida is the equivalent of the mythical elephant graveyard. But, if I ever retire, and I have no plans to do so, it might be nice to find a place in the Florida Keys or Miami Beach. Somewhere where it’s really hot and I can roll out of bed, go fast walking or jogging, take dips in the pool, or sit in an open air cafe with a fruit drink, admiring the latest in women’s fashion.
It’s just too cold out there. I object to it. I truly wonder how people can willingly put on skis and face the arctic blasts.
Great Barrington considering ban on smoking on all town premises: Good stuff. No smoking in parks and work areas and maybe even sidewalks.
Smoking is already forbidden in most places so this would just add to the list. Personally, as a lifelong non-smoker, I love the proposed rule. This is a very good idea that will eventually be voted on at town meeting. There is no reason for us to be inhaling other people’s smoke. Of course, we do burn wood and that’s smoke. I burn brush every year and people smell that.
In NewYorkState (pronounced as one word in Berkshires) you can’t burn anything anymore. The libertarians won’t like the new non-smoking rules, of course, and the sociopathic bloggers will flip over the fact that we are interfering with our right to kill ourselves, slowly, at the public expense.
Should we also protect our citizens from other potential killers, like the ravages of obesity? I suspect as many people die from being overweight (cancer, heart attacks, and diabetes) as die from smoking. However, when you think about it, it all comes down to choice. I recently had a wonderful obstetrics and gynecology doc, Robert Dropkin, on WAMC’s Medical Monday. He told us that 80 percent of sexually active people have at some time contracted the human papillolma virus (HPV). Some strains of that virus can cause cervical cancer. So now we know that some young women can get vaccinated against that virus or consenting adults can use protection or people can abstain from sexual activity. Should any behavior that flaunts the laws of biology be outlawed?
The real question is whether people will listen or take the choice. Hey, we’re going the other way on marijuana. Isn’t it ironic that as we are making it criminal to smoke cigarettes, we are allowing more choice with pot? I’m all for the idea of banning smoking everywhere. On the other hand, some of the other bans will just have to wait.
Pittsfield’s Park Square rotary to be removed (finally): Hooray, hooray. Great stuff. A feather in the mayoral cap of Jimmy Ruberto.
The thing has always been stupid. You take your life in your hand every time you go round. Don’t worry, old-timers, it won’t be a week before your nostalgia ends. Now if the pompous and stupid state ethics group would only lay off Mayor Jimmy and his baseball tickets and pay attention to the real scoundrels.
Originally Published in the Berkshire Eagle, 1/02/10