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Two connections are missing

In a number of articles in the Boston press on the Governor’s plan to pump $40+ million into biotech firm Shire (The Globe’s Todd Wallack and AP) and on the forward movement of the $1 billion biotech plan (The Globe’s Matt Viser and the Herald’s Christine McConville), two connections are missing. Sure, the “picking winners and losers” trope is being heard, though not with the seriousness it requires. It should be noted that during a recent Joint Committee on Long-Term Debt hearing on the biotech bill, the Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Dan O’Connell noted that the state might even consider investing in certain companies if the state could hold a stake in the company… Guys, if you want […]

ED Hirsch on education in Massachusetts

I’ve always been a little perplexed by the claims that teaching to the test is “narrowing” the curriculum and thereby not giving kids access to a liberal arts education.  The fact is if a student cannot read, do math or perform at a minimal level in science, it is hard to believe that he or she will be able to access a liberal arts education. And, in fact, Massachusetts is known nationwide for having the curriculum frameworks — the basic material from which the MCAS is drawn — that have the strongest academic content.   Don’t ask me.  See an op-ed in the WaPo entitled The Knowledge Connection from education guru E.D. Hirsch. Language comprehension is a slow-growing plant. Even […]

The Dome does not get it

But Steve Bailey does. Not because he mentions Pioneer’s work in yesterday’s column on business costs and unemployment insurance (UI), but because he is the one reporter who understands that the freeze on UI does absolutely nothing to reduce the cost of UI. As Bailey summarizes: Freezing the rate is a little like skipping a credit card payment – eventually the bill comes due. As with your credit card, the way to cut your bill is to cut your spending. Bailey noted earlier in his piece that the Legislature, cowed by labor, has shown no appetite about doing anything about the underlying costs. Right you are, again, Mr. Bailey. The UI rate freeze was passed without a roll-call vote to […]

Chinatown bus

I know there have been, let’s call it, some issues with the Chinatown bus service. I liked when it was called Sunshine Tours, or similar. Sure, there are more comfortable (and some, ahem!, safer) ways of going to NY. But my daughter, Teruha, and I used to like going to NY, with the styrofoam coolers of eels, scampi and fish heads in the aisles. Were those scampi? Were they what the Italians call aragostelle (whip lobsters)? For a picture of the February esoteric culinary reference, see below, for a great place to eat them see here, and for an unorthodox recipe see here). Then there are the passengers, for example, the Chinese women of a “certain age”, as the French […]

Concentrating poverty in our cities

The Globe reports in “Warehouse for the Poor” that Holyoke and other cities in Western Massachusetts are serving as destination cities for the poor and homeless, who are nudged there by the state agencies. Holyoke’s homeless shelters can accommodate four times the number of families per capita than homeless shelters in Boston. And when shelters are full in other places, the state Department of Transitional Assistance sends homeless families to shelters with open spots, often in Holyoke. Last year, 40 families from the Boston metropolitan area were referred to Holyoke, Sullivan said. “Our goal is to place families as close to the local office as possible, based on the availability of units,” said Alison Goodwin, a spokeswoman for the state […]