Greg Roach's Berkshires Blog
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
  Didn't see this coming...
Old Hippie endorsing a white-supremist cloaked in Libertarian garb:
Singer-songwriter Arlo Guthrie yesterday issued a statement backing the presidential candidacy of U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas.

"I love this guy," said Guthrie in the statement. "Dr. Paul is the only candidate who would have signed the Constitution of the United States had he been there.

"I'm with him because he seems to be the only candidate who actually believes it has as much relevance today as it did a couple of hundred years ago."

Paul is the only Republican candidate who has endorsed an immediate withdrawal of United States troops from Iraq. He has also pledged to reduce the federal budget to its bare bones. He is opposed to free trade agreements, supports the anti-abortion movement and believes in the right to keep and bear arms.

Paul also supports securing the nation's borders from illegal immigrants and also favors improved funding for veterans' services.
I guess Arlo missed this stuff (an excellent compilation of Paul's involvement with the white power movement), or maybe Woody's son is just an idiot.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
  This Sucks
Just a few weeks ago, George Peterson, owner of Central Coast Brewery in San Luis Obispo, Calif., spent $160 to brew a batch of beer equal to eight kegs. Last week, he was spending a staggering $920 per batch.

“It’s a big deal, and it’s something that you have to think about every day because it’s an ingredient. I can’t just pick up the phone like I used to and say, ‘Hi, I need 45 pounds of this,’ ” Peterson said.

Small breweries feel the worst pinch
Brewers said the average cost of a six-pack of domestic beer would likely rise about a dollar by the end of the month, just a few days before the Super Bowl. Retail tracking services say beer sales traditionally rise as much 15 percent in the two weeks before the game.
Ouch. It's bad enough that medical stuff has hit me in the checkbook, but my favorite adult beverage, too?!?!

I think I'll go have a glass of box wine.
Kinda' what a Michigan fan goes through in Columbus. But unlike my college days I'm on the side of the more vocal and obnoxious bunch.
To test a theory that local sports fans are getting complacent in victory, entitled with all their success, a Globe reporter put on the full colors of next Sunday's Super Bowl opponent and wandered from the crooked streets of downtown to Copley Square and Commonwealth Avenue, from the bowels of the Green Line train stations to the silent stacks at the Boston Public Library.

Drivers rolled down windows to hurl expletives, pedestrians wearing Patriots garb stopped in mid-step to point, yell, and snicker at the loser in the jersey.

"Take that off!" yelled one man wearing Patriots gloves, hat, and coat.

"[Expletive] you!" said a man outside Boston University, pointing, smiling, and chuckling with glee as he climbed into his silver sedan.

One woman simply made eye contact, then stuck out her tongue. A cheery-faced man trying to collect money for a children's charity on a Downtown Crossing street corner avoided shaking hands, saying only, "Giants? Giants?"
Friday, January 25, 2008
  Winter's Days Past

The NYTimes has a nice article about lost Vermont ski areas and the first one they bring up is Dutch Hill, just across the state line on Rte 8. The article directs you to the New England Lost Ski Areas Project where you can find a great history with photos of Dutch Hill.

Also, the North Adams Historical Society has a great little display at the History Museum of memorabilia from the slopes including many photos of locals and the wintertime social activities for those who refused to hibernate.

It was there a few years back that I came across a stunning picture of a local woman dressed to kill on a pair of skis from the 40's or 50's. On a little closer examination, I discovered it was my elderly neighbor, Mrs. DeFalco, who passed away just a few month later. It makes you wonder what folks will be looking at 50 years from now.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
  The Wrath of Post Pubescent Females
Fred Phelps had best watch out. Unlike most of his protests outside funerals that are maturely ignored by the mourners, the throngs of late-teen girls gathering at a service for Heath Ledger might just kick the crap out of him and his "church".

And no jury in the world would ever convict them.
Well, today set a new record number of for this blog. Aside from my usual 50 - 75 visitors, or so, and, of course the dozen extra hits from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, I've been visited by folks from the American Medical Association, several hospital ISPs and various others around the country thanks to CNN. Heh.

In the past two weeks I've been picked up by Blue Mass Group and the Massachusetts News Ladder. All have been mostly interested in the healthcare issue. I wonder what that means.
  Holy Crap!

I got linked to by CNN. It seems that complaining about health insurance is all the rage.
  8:44 am. I lose the bet.

I was off by about an hour and half and now it appears that I might be being passed around the BCBS offices. Great to see those premium dollars at work.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
  What our Medical Insurance Premiums Pay For....
This afternoon at 3:06 pm I posted a little rant Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. 37 minutes later, this blog received a visit from:Evidently some PR flak at Blue Cross is paid to monitor blog posts about the company.

Anybody want to guess how long it is before this current post triggers another visit?

I'll take 10:23 am tomorrow morning.

UPDATE: For all of you from BCBS linking directly to this post, see the above post. You folks would be cracking me up if I wasn't so ticked off.
  I've got a bridge in Brooklyn for sale
From the Globe:
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts wants to stop paying doctors and hospitals for each patient visit or treatment, a common arrangement that most experts agree has led to unnecessary, inefficient, and fragmented care that is sometimes harmful to patients.

Instead, they want to pay doctors and hospitals a flat sum per patient each year, adjusted for age and sickness, plus a significant bonus if the providers improve care, Blue Cross officials said. In most cases, the payment would cover all services from primary care doctors, specialists, counselors, and hospitals - forcing them to work together closely.

"We're not looking to spend less than we do today, but we want spending to grow at a rate that's affordable," said Andrew Dreyfus, executive vice president for healthcare services at Blue Cross. "And we want to empower physicians and hospitals to provide the right care."
Blue Cross is already my family's insurer and has done an awful job. Aside from the denial of several prescriptions for my wife, they are currently telling my family that we owe many thousands of dollars in bills because a doctor at BMC referred us to an Albany specialist rather than one in Boston. Did I mention that the Albany doc is a BCBS provider, but he's 'not in our network.'

And now they want us to believe that things will be different this time around as they dust off the old HMO playbook.

Here's a variation on an old joke: "How does an insurance executive say 'Screw you?'"
Answer: "Trust me."
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
  Aw Crap! (sigh)
I hate stories like this:
NORTH ADAMS — A 7-inch leopard gecko and some fish survived a two-alarm fire in Tropical Gardens Pet Center at 17 Eagle St. Monday morning, but the rest of Terri Blair's animals perished in the blaze, including one parrot that had not been for sale, according to emergency responders.

The two-story fire scathed no humans, but Peter May, who owns the building, said he is afraid upstairs tenants Blair and William Cartwright, who ran the pet store, might not ever return.

"This business was her livelihood," May said of Blair as he shivered across the street from the pale aqua-colored storefront in single-digit temperatures just after 10:30 a.m. "I think that parrot she had was her best friend."
While nobody was hurt, this is the last thing any of these folks, or Eagle Street as a whole, needed. That was a cute little shop. Damn, damn, damn.....
  Tough for all the wrong reasons
DA Capeless has got to know that this case would never ever stick in a modern courtroom. It was tried at the height of pre-school molestation hysteria and we now know that the techniques the police and their surrogates used were highly questionable when it came to little kids.

In the recent past Mr. Capeless has been quoted saying that one of the alleged victims (proper terminology since the verdict was thrown out) is asking him to keep pursuing Baran. I guess I can see why Capeless won't let go, but he's got to know that he is wasting money and resources on a case that probably never should have been brought in the first place.
Friday, January 18, 2008
  Around the Time Senator Downing was Born...
... my employer, The Wild Oats Cooperative Community Market, was founded - December 15, 1982 to be exact.

Tomorrow (Saturday) we will be celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Co-op with various promotions, birthday cake, music, etc.... It will be the most fun you've ever had grocery shopping.

Stop by. If you're running for office, you can kiss a few babies. Otherwise just have some cake.
BOSTON — Sen. Benjamin Downing, a first-term Democrat from Pittsfield, picked up some high praise yesterday when he was named "Legislator of the Year."

The Massachusetts Association of School Committees named Downing the top legislator, citing his work on health insurance as a key for helping school districts rein in costs.

"Sen. Downing's commitment to both public education and health care issues demonstrates the kind of forward looking, socially conscious, and fiscally responsible qualities we look for in our legislative leaders," said Joseph Santos, president of the MASC.
What was I doing when I was 25? Oy. This guy is bad for my self-esteem.

Sincere Congratulations Ben!
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
  Eat Better and Exercise More
If you live in North Adams, you probably already have an opinion of Dr. Peter May, the enthusiastic chiropractor on Church St. But I'll tell you what, the man cares deeply and passionately about community and personal health. Regardless of your views regarding his adventures in politics, he is worth listening to when he preaches about better living leading to better health.
The most important things we need to do to maintain and improve our health are:

1. Stop listening to and believing ads mongering diseases and the drugs that "cure" them.

2. Reclaim your health by taking personal responsibility and working at it every day.

3. Get regular exercise: 30 to 60 minutes per day.

4. Eat healthy food — mostly organic fruits and vegetables, lean meats, nuts and seeds — and drink plenty of water.

5. Cultivate a positive outlook on life and always strive for personal growth and development.
I can't say that I always agree with him on every medical topic that he written about(i.e. vaccinations) but you would be hard pressed to argue effectively against his premise: As a society we are an over-medicated, unhealthy bunch.

Hopefully he will be writing more on this topic for The Transcript in the future.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
  Non-electoral Primary
Dr. Robert C. Jandl, the President of Williamstown Medical Associates, had an extraordinary and rather dramatic piece in the Eagle last week:
... But the system is so broken, distorted, and lacking in basic respect for the humanity of my patients or the professionalism of my life's occupation, that cynicism, fatigue, and burnout are a constant threat. Nowhere is this truer than in primary care, the bedrock of our health care system.
Good health care, and doctors to administer it, will not come about without fundamental reform. That reform must rest on the basic moral principle that when it comes to health care none of us is more worthy than another. Indeed it is often the poor, the unemployed, or the otherwise disadvantaged, who may require our most sincere efforts.
This piece was accompanied by statement of distress signed by 49 of Berkshire County's primary care physicians.

Ironically, my life of late has been too full of medical matters and work to have caught Jandl's piece the first time around. I only found it because of the slew of letters to the editor that it has provoked.

I can personally attest to the primary care crisis occurring in Berkshire County. My and my wife's own trusted and remarkably talented physician, Dan Sullivan, threw in his overburdened primary care towel a year ago to move to the Cleveland Clinic. Fortunately I quickly landed with another very talented Doc, but my wife was not so lucky. My current Doc reportedly has 3500 patients in his care; far more than anyone can reasonably handle. So his, like most of his colleagues', practices are closed to new patients.

During this time my wife has been in a rather severe and chronic medical situation that needed to be centrally managed by a good physician. Instead, between December '06 and the present, she was shuffled around between no fewer than 8 docs and 2 P.A.s. During this time our supposedly gold-plated insurance policy rejected claims for three critical prescriptions yet unflinchingly paid a bill from an over-rated specialist in Boston who charged $900 for a 15 minute consultation that told us absolutely nothing.

Fortunately, after months of visceral and debilitating pain, she found a new primary physician who referred her to the BMC pain clinic which set her up with an appropriate specialist in Albany. The healing process appears to have begun.

But here is the rub - If she had wanted elective surgery, say a nose job or face lift, she could have had the procedure within a few weeks of making the decision. Yet this real-life intensely critical situation took a year to figure out, and she still has to wait three months for a surgical procedure to help alleviate her pain and hopefully give her her life back.

The system is indeed broken. As Dr. Jandl writes:
I believe that doctors and patients want the same thing: comprehensive, thoughtful, personal, and skilled care. That is an achievable goal if we have the will and determination to fundamentally alter the way primary care is practiced and funded. Viable proposals now exist that will do just that, but given the vested interests of those who profit from health care as it is practiced today, it will never happen without an uprising of popular support.
Uprising?!?! Point me to the barricades.
Friday, January 11, 2008
  I have a dream that my child will be judged by the content of his character rather than the size of his bank account.
There is a myth that Corporations cannot contribute to candidates and politicians and the donations of the wealthy are limited. It is only a myth. All one has to do to lay bare the truth to the money laundering game that is politics is look at the soft money and where it comes from.

"Soft money?"

"Didn't McCain-Feingold's campaign finance reforms eliminate soft money," you ask?

Don't make me laugh.

Check out this IRS filing by the Republican Governors Association.

Scroll through for a few minutes and you'll get the idea. There are literally millions of dollars being donated to this ONE SINGLE OVERTLY POLITICAL ORGANIZATION by dozens upon dozens of the wealthiest and most powerful companies and individuals in America during a single six month period in a year with only three gubernatorial elections nationwide. (Bobby Jindal's surrogates got $95K of laundered money in Louisiana during this period and I am sure much, much more in the following months. I wonder who among the donors have business in Louisiana.)

6 figure, five figure and even the the occasional million-dollar-plus contibution pop in the various filings for this group. And people thought you could only donate a couple grand a year to candidate or $5000 to a PAC. Hahaha! Yeah, right. If you're rich, give this group $100K and magically it ends up influencing the campaign of your choice.

Pop Quiz: Who was the Chair of this organization just prior to this filing?
(Hint: If you scroll down to the expenditures portion of the filing you will find the fees for a charter jet flying out of suburban Boston.)

And, yes, I know that both parties do it. For that matter this process was more or less invented by Terry McCaullif. It is still repugnant and anti=democratic.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
  The Little Boy Who Cried Racism
There has been one too many stories about how race somehow played a role in Barack Obama's defeat in the New Hampshire Primary. As anyone who reads this blog knows I am not shy about calling out racists. Nothing makes me more nuts than having some white political dilettante pretend it is 1959 and start going all George Wallace about black citizens in the public realm. (Yes, you know who you are.)

But those who think that Barack Obama's loss in NH was a product of the Bradley Effect are nuts. The Bradley Effect is realized when people tell pollsters that they will vote for a black candidate, but in actuality when they get into the privacy of the voting booth, their racial fears cause them to vote for a white candidate. There is some validity to this. In elections past, the data has been overwhelming.

The classic example of this is Doug Wilder's gubernatorial 1989 election in Virginia. Exit polling said that Wilder was going to win by a wide margin. When the votes were counted, the election was startlingly close. It was clear that voters coming out of the polling places lied to the pollsters about who they voted for. To some degree, many have suggested that the same thing happened in 2004 when exit polls showed Bush losing in certain areas but the ballots found him the winner. Were voters ashamed of voting for Bush so they lied? (others suggest that vote rigging was the culprit, while some claim that the polling was flawed.)

Obama's case is pretty simply none of the above. If you look at the pre-election polling, Obama was usually in the high 30s. He garnered 37% of the final count. The exit polls confirm that number pretty solidly. If folks were going to lie to pollsters with impunity, would they do it before the election or after? After is the obvious answer. Before they could plea undecided.

Hillary won simply because she captured the vast majority of undecided voters, increased turnout of her own supporters and seemingly pulled many votes away from John Edwards. There is nothing too hard to figure out there.

Yes. There are most definitely people in the United States who will not vote Obama because he is black. These cretins should be ashamed. But racism is not what caused all the pollsters and pundits to screw up the prediction. That blunder had more to do with their egos than the data.

And that is why we have elections rather than coronations. G-d help us all if Chris Matthews and Dick Morris got to hand pick our leaders.
  Profits Before Patriotism
Then: We are told that the telecom companies that allowed and assisted the Bush Administration in wiretapping US citizens inside the United States without warrants should be granted immunity because they were doing their good-faith patriotic duty.

Now: Those same telecom companies cut off legal and possibly illegal wiretaps because the FBI has trouble paying bills.

Patriotism, my ass! What does it take to send a CEO to jail?
Sunday, January 06, 2008
  Explains a lot...
A blog of random thoughts and reactions emanating from the bank of a mountain stream in the farthest reaches of the bluest of blue states.

May 2006 / June 2006 / August 2006 / September 2006 / October 2006 / November 2006 / December 2006 / January 2007 / February 2007 / March 2007 / April 2007 / May 2007 / June 2007 / July 2007 / August 2007 / September 2007 / October 2007 / November 2007 / December 2007 / January 2008 / February 2008 / March 2008 / April 2008 / May 2008 / June 2008 / July 2008 / August 2008 / September 2008 / October 2008 / November 2008 / December 2008 / January 2009 / February 2009 / March 2009 / April 2009 / May 2009 / June 2009 / July 2009 / August 2009 / September 2009 / October 2009 / November 2009 / December 2009 / January 2010 / February 2010 / March 2010 / April 2010 / May 2010 / January 2011 / May 2011 / June 2011 / July 2011 / October 2011 /

greg at gregoryroach dot com

"Livability, not just affordability." - Dick Alcombright

My ongoing campaign for North Adams City Council

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Because a Chart is Worth 1000 Words

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