Greg Roach's Berkshires Blog
Sunday, March 29, 2009
  Opt Out
Do you want Verizon Wireless to "share" your all your cell phone info? I bet you don't:
A "legalistic pamphlet" that informed [Weinberger] he has 45 days to opt out of 'agreeing' to let Verizon share his personal information.

Weinberger, unlike the majority of us who rarely read the associated paraphernalia that arrives with bills and the like, noticed that Verizon's modus operandi was to share Customer Proprietary Network Information - the data created as a result of your relationship with Verizon Wireless - unless you ask them to stop.

This information includes "services purchased (including specific calls you make and receive), billing info, technical info and location info. They promise to only share this with 'affiliates, agents and parent companies.' It will definitely not be shared with 'unrelated third parties' ... unless, perhaps that third party pays Verizon to become an affiliate, whatever the heck 'affiliate' means," Wienberger wrote.
The story leads to this blog post, which tells of the tale of trying to opt our online and eventually tells you how to do it.

Short version - call 1-800-333-9956 or click here if you've created an online MyVerizon account.

Does Massachusetts State Law allow crappy business practices like this? Or does federal law trump all?
Saturday, March 28, 2009
  The Garfield Chronicles
For all the grief I've recently given the Berkshire Eagle for their headlining of Jerry Springer-esque stories, The Transcript's print edition had one of my all-time favorite headlines last week over a story that actually deserved prominence in local newspaper. It made me grin like.... well... the Chesire Cat.

  When White Folks Get Profiled
Surprise! Conservative white folks don't like being judged by stereotypes any more than black folks.
The uproar revolves around a report released last month by the Missouri Information Analysis Center, a “fusion center” for local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to collaborate on domestic security issues. The report concerned militia movements in Missouri and across the U.S., and described how they had evolved over the last several years.

But it suggested that domestic militias often subscribed to radical ideologies rooted in Christian views and opposition to immigration, abortion or federal taxes. The report also stated that it was “not uncommon” for militia members to support third-party political candidates.
And what happens when you get "lumped in" with stereotypes?
Conservatives in Missouri and nationally have criticized the report for lumping people with conservative political views in with domestic terrorists and potentially opening them to harassment from law enforcement.
How many of those who are "outraged" by this report think it is perfectly appropriate to pull someone over because the color of their skin makes them stand out?

Hypocrite profiling sure is easy!
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
  Call Out the Jerry Springer Bouncers

The Eagle continues its domestic psycho-drama panderfest by putting this story as the top of the page leading headline in the print edition.

I wonder if The Eagle is consciously trying to find Drudge-worthy stories these days. Sad.
Monday, March 23, 2009
  Even Stuffy Folks Like Me Need a Laugh
Via my friend Larry Murray's new blog, Gay in the Berkshires (No Robin, I am not switching teams), I found this:
One of the lesser known things about me in these parts is the fact that I spent years and years studying and performing as a classical musician. I even have a fancy piece of paper from the University of Michigan to prove it. I thought I had seen it all, but this is, in fact, the very first time I have ever seen a Dremel used as a musical device.

Contrary to Larry's assertion, this is absolutely the perfect act for Mass MoCA.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
  Be a Cog inThe Machine
Monday night, 7 pm at the North Adams Holiday Inn, the North Adams Democratic Committee, is sponsoring a platform hearing to help guide the state party craft the platform as it will be presented at the State Democratic Convention in June. The party is sincerely interested in local issues and propsals.

There will only be three such hearings in Western Massachusetts so now is your chance to have some input.

Whether you are Democrat or just an interested person, come on down and share your thoughts on issues that are important to you.
  Deal Breaker?
Governor Patrick is shoring up those Western Mass bona fides again. From The Transcript:
Local officials are seething about Thursday's announcement of $168 million in federal stimulus funds for education -- the bulk of which they say will go to help wealthy towns and cities that routinely fail to meet the state's required minimum contributions.

While a few local communities received funding as part of the package, others, such as North Adams and Williamstown, were left out in the cold.

The town of Adams received a mere $30 -- to assist with tuition payments to other districts.

As part of the announcement, Gov. Deval L. Patrick said the funds would assist cities and towns in meeting their obligation to fund their school districts at "foundation" level -- the minimum contribution to run a school district.
If the Governor's asinine formula considers North Adams and Adams to have a strong "foundation" compared to wealthy suburban districts, then there is obviously something wrong with the formula.

Outraged is an emotion I never expected to experience with Mr. Patrick. Obviously, after his gas tax trial balloon and his obvious cluelessness regarding school district funding disparities, I am pretty ticked off.
Economist Duncan Black (aka Atrios):
The issue is that Timmeh [Treasury Sec. Geitner] and friends never distinguished between bailing out the system and bailing out the players. There was a way to do that, and they didn't do it.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
  Quote of the Day
Overheard between two 9 year olds:
Question: What do you think caused the Cumby's to burn down?

Answer: I heard that the Slushee Machine blew up.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
  All Publicity is Good - part deux
While not exactly the proper anatomical term for a woman's breasts, "boobs" is hardly offensive. Could it be the inclusion of nipples? I can't figure out if this is a real controversy, or just another attempt by the Eagle to win over the Jerry Springer demographic.

(A long time reader who has actually walked in the Avon 60 Mile Walk disagrees, saying that the focus of the flyer is Hooter-esque and that the fund raising aspect gets lost without closer inspection. However, she applauds the effort, regardless.)

Either way, I bet they get a good turnout.
Friday, March 13, 2009
  Corn Wars
Peter May's take-down of corporate corn is worth the read. I saw that the post was in the printed version of The Transcript, but it is not online.

I noticed the letter to the editor that triggered Peter's comments. It was a long winded public relations form letter from the Corn Refiners Association that obviously gets sent out when a Google search turns up negative comments about refined corn products. It was in response to a simple comment in an article from a coffee shop owner that she did not use high fructose corn syrup.

I've become used to the corporate machine PR trying to monitor its own press, (anybody remember Blue Cross of Massachusetts' visits to the site 37 minutes after I complained about them on this blog?) so it did not escape me that corn is heavily subsidized, hence much of the money that pays for the salary of the letter-happy folks at the CRA are actually our tax dollars. It's just the way corporate welfare works. Lobbying groups are created with subsidized tax dollars in order to keep the financial spigot open.

I'll monitor the location of blog hits and let you know if I get any from the Corn Refiners Association triggered by the words "high fructose corn syrup." My bet is that they'll be here by Monday morning.

  Does Jerry Springer Run the Eagle?
Does this domestic abuse story merit front page news?
PITTSFIELD — A woman who allegedly intended to artificially inseminate her wife with her brother's semen has been charged with domestic assault and battery.
While same-sex marriage is certainly still in its novelty stage, I doubt that a "straight" spousal rape story would have been given the same coverage. Then again, the Eagle's online reader have made it the most viewed story of the day. And the ad hoc Topix thread (which was started by reader because the paper did not create a forum on the story. hmmmm...) is absolute comic gold.
Saturday, March 07, 2009
  What's Worse than Maureen Dowd's Over-Use of Lazy Metaphors?
When she bases a column on the first lady's biceps on a taxi cab ride with David Brooks.

Just friggin' shoot me....... Oy.
  When Wingnuts Crack
I hear caterwauling about liberal professors "punishing" conservative students for their views all the time, but never see any evidence. On the other hand....
Dunkley and his father Daniel Reddy, who live in Tulsa, went to Broken Arrow Tuesday night for a hunter safety course normally required to get an Oklahoma hunting license....

But when father and son arrived at the lesson, the volunteer instructor, Kell Wolf, asked if any of the students voted for President Obama.

Reddy, a transplanted Californian - and ex-Marine - raised his hand.

According to Reddy and others in the room, Wolf called Obama “the next thing to the Anti-Christ” and ordered Reddy and Dunkley from the room. When Reddy refused, Wolf said he would not teach “liberals” and would cancel the course if Reddy didn’t leave.
It's just one case of some poor schmuck losing it, but I have a suspicion that we'll be hearing more and more about incidents like this.

UPDATE: Like most things, the firearms instructor above did not evolve his thoughts in a vacuum. It looks like Oklahoma really has some problems with reality:

THAT the Oklahoma House of Representative strongly opposes the invitation to speak on the campus of the University of Oklahoma to Richard Dawkins of Oxford University, whose published statements on the theory of evolution and opinion about those who do not believe in the theory are contrary and offensive to the views and opinions of most citizens of Oklahoma.

THAT the Oklahoma House of Representatives encourages the University of Oklahoma to engage in an open, dignified, and fair discussion of the Darwinian theory of evolution and all other scientific theories which is the approach that a public institution should be engaged in and which represents the desire and interest of the citizens of Oklahoma.
"Dignified," indeed.

UPDAT Part Duex: My sister-in-law reminds me that liberal echo chambers can have the same effect. Minneapolis on election night:
An Augsburg College student and Sarah Palin supporter from Alaska was beaten on election night while walking to her dorm and was called a racist by a group of four young women because she had on a McCain/Palin presidential campaign button, authorities and the victim said.
Friday, March 06, 2009
  Mark of the .....
Was GE's closing price yesterday a bad Omen? Someone should write a screenplay.
Monday, March 02, 2009
  Woo Hoo!!
After hearing that I had been mentioned on a Topix thread I just had to go read it.... and within a few comments I got my first anonymous-coward-personal-attack.
Roach is nothing more than pro union nut who thinks he knows everything,just ask the people he works with,a Williamstown wanabee.
It's kinda' like my Topix Bar Mitzvah.

UPDATE: A respected emailer suspects the anonymous coward is a local media employee. NOW I'm curious.
  Not Good
I've worried about this a couple of times over the past two years:
The nation's second-largest home improvement chain is also cutting the number of new stores it plans to open this year. In September, it said it would open 75 to 80 stores in 2009; Friday, it cut that figure to 60 to 70 new stores, and officials said the figure could change again. Lowe's opened 120 new stores in 2008.
What I wrote in 2007 (on CJ's defunct blog):
'I'll believe the store is opening only after the ribbon is cut simply because the housing market is getting ready to crash and Lowe's depends on contractor business.'
(Hey. I did a better job predicting the recession than our Federal Reserve! Oh, that's right - 'Nobody could have predicted....')

From what I've been told, the green lights have all been given and the documents have all been signed, BUT what if Lowe's simply cannot make the investment?

My guess is that the developer will contractually get a cash settlement, but North Adams? Who knows?

(link found via Bob the builder on a Topix thread - No, I don't post there very often anymore.)
  Spreading Burdens versus Paying Your Fair Share
I notice that the Governor did not come to our house, even though my wife contacted his office with her thoughts on the proposed $.19/gallon gas tax.
SPRINGFIELD - To gather support for his proposed 19-cent gas tax hike, Governor Deval Patrick launched a statewide campaign yesterday in the home of a woman who had called the idea "unconscionable."

Sitting in front of a fireplace in Teresita Alicea's home, Patrick blamed the need for the gas tax hike on a failure by previous administrations to address a looming transportation funding crisis.

"Our grandparents sacrificed with less income to build this infrastructure," Patrick said. "We're asking for the equivalent of a large cup of coffee a week to maintain it for the next generation. I don't think that's unreasonable."
OK. You drink the expensive stuff at Starbucks. What's your point?
He said that given the number of trips he has made to Western Massachusetts - Patrick has a home in the Berkshires - he felt comfortable striking at the knee-jerk criticism among many in the area who consider any funding for transportation to be unfairly charging them for the Big Dig.

"We're going to have to get past . . . policy-making [based] on regional grievance," Patrick said. "And I say that among friends. I think my western Massachusetts bonafides are sound."
Look - It's nice when the Guv walks in our parades. It's great that he even acknowledge we exist, unlike his predecessor. It's even better that he owns property out here. BUT A country estate built with a personal fortune so he could claim residency to run for governor does not give him "bonafides." Until he actually lives here, rather than "weekend in the Berkshires", saying something so clueless will get him the same reaction I give the summer tourists who wonder why all the stores close at 6pm.

The fact is that the rural 1/3 of the state has already paid for the Big Dig via infrastructure neglect for the past 20+ years. We do not use the Big Dig. Our gasoline is already far more expensive than the rest of the state. Our average incomes are lower than the rest of the state. We drive farther to buy things like underwear, groceries and GAS than the rest of the state. Some of us actually need those awful gas guzzling 4 x 4's because we live in the hills. Our economy has been in a borderline recession for the past generation. And the list goes on....

We are not Boston or the 'burbs. The Berkshires and other rural areas have very little economy of scale when it comes to infrastructure, etc... Unlike eastern Massachusetts, we CANNOT maintain ours without the pittance of the state budget we get from Boston. We certainly do not even dream of projects like the Big Dig (well, not since the Hoosac Tunnel was completed in 1875).

How in the heck can it be justified that Berkshire County pay for the debt service on Boston's tunnel? This plan asks those with the least to pay a higher percentage of their incomes than those with the most.

You'll have to pardon me if I stick to my so-called regional grievance and only buy the cheap coffee.
  It Figures
Playboy (via Barry Riholtz) presents very strong evidence that CNBC's Rick Santelli's call for a "Tea Party" in response to the Obama Home Foreclosure Plan, was, in fact, part of a scheme funded by the neo-gilded-age masters, the Koch brothers.

Millionaire Trader-cum TV Commentator + Right Wing Radio Host and Producer + Gazzillionaire's Wingnut Welfare Funds = GOP version of "Populism."

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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