Greg Roach's Berkshires Blog
Monday, June 29, 2009
  Ranks Right Up There
This is going to go down as one of the great scams of all time if eBay allows it.

And hopefully the winning bidder will help that guy in Africa who keeps sending me emails about his inheritance, too.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
  It's my job to get inside your head
As a chef, the idea of making appealing food is, by definition, what I do. However the notion that our FDA chief has written a book about something that Pavlov described quite aptly over 100 years ago is amusing:
When it comes to stimulating our brains, Dr. Kessler noted, individual ingredients aren’t particularly potent. But by combining fats, sugar and salt in innumerable ways, food makers have essentially tapped into the brain’s reward system, creating a feedback loop that stimulates our desire to eat and leaves us wanting more and more even when we’re full....

The result is that chain restaurants like Chili’s cook up “hyper-palatable food that requires little chewing and goes down easily,” he notes. And Dr. Kessler reports that the Snickers bar, for instance, is “extraordinarily well engineered.” As we chew it, the sugar dissolves, the fat melts and the caramel traps the peanuts so the entire combination of flavors is blissfully experienced in the mouth at the same time.
This get's the No Shit Sherlock award.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
  2 Seaters
It strikes me that Airlines are in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act if they force clinically obese people to buy two seats.
On airlines such as Southwest and United, people who can't fit into 17-inch seats with the armrests down and their seat belts fastened must buy a second seat or they don't fly. US Airways and American Airlines are likely to offer free second seats, but on a full flight they make extra-large passengers pay for them.
Obesity is as often as not not a simple matter of gluttony or lack of will power. There is a ton of research going on that show there are dozens of factors, from viruses to air-conditioning to trace synthetic hormones. It seems pretty clear that in many, if not most cases of true obesity, too many Twinkies are not the cause.

As more and more information comes out, I suspect that lots of things will change, from medical advice to the way we process food. More importantly I suspect that fat people will no longer be the one group that it is OK to ridicule - or charge for two airline seats.
Friday, June 19, 2009
It's going to be a rough year for a whole lotta' folks. Next year's budget:
Under the proposal, the sales tax would increase from 5 percent to 6.25 percent, which is estimated to bring in an additional $900 million annually, roughly a third of which would be earmarked for the transportation system.

The budget would also boost taxes on meals by 1.25 percentage points statewide, estimated to raise $108 million. Cities and towns would be allowed to raise the meals tax by an additional 0.75 percent.

In addition, the budget would eliminate an exemption on alcohol taxes for items sold in retail stores, and allow communities to raise the local hotels tax by 2 percentage points.
No word in this story about the cuts that are included. I'm sure they'll be in the full edition of the Globe tomorrow.

I still think that raising the sales tax is a mistake, especially during a recession.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
  No Right to Evidence?
This really bothers me:
Convicts do not have a right under the Constitution to obtain DNA testing to try to prove their innocence after being found guilty, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.
As usual, those who claim to defend rights are the ones narrowing them:
Thursday’s ruling in District Attorney’s Office v. Osborne, No. 08-6, reversed a ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Joining Chief Justice Roberts in the majority were Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr.
While this particular case has some weirdness to it, the overall precedent is truly astounding. All I can say is I hope our state legislature has already created a legal means for people to obtain potentially exonerating DNA evidence if no such testing was done prior to, and presented at, their trial.

Because, you know, we never wrongly convict people.....
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Holy crap. This is obviously going to very ugly before it resolves.

I was just becoming aware of world events (thanks to my paper route!) in 1979 when the Iranian Revolution took place. I remember being riveted by the hostage crisis and the surrounding events. As with many "movements" that are tied to a specific generation, there is often tension as the younger generations become the political majority. It would not shock me if we are seeing a last gasp (a la Orange Revolution). Nor would it shock me if, instead, this is the event that solidifies a dictatorship (a la Tienanmen Square).
Thursday, June 11, 2009
  Push Polling
Our household received one of the recent "Polling calls" from John Barrett's campaign, or a group that has an interest in seeing him re-elected. While not your typical, over the top push poll, the questions about "financial leadership" versus "change" were most definitely designed to evoke a certain answer.

More importantly, these polls were not confidential. They are designed to tell whoever is paying for them exactly who is voting for whom for mayor...

And THAT is very bothersome.

Unlike scientific polls, where names of voters are separated from the calling list, the pollster knew exactly who she was talking to. The caller asked for the voter by name.

Depending on your point of view, in a city this small, disguising a campaign call as a poll could even be interpreted as intimidation.

What you will likely see come out of this is a campaign ad, run by the Mayor's committee (or some group closely connected), that claims that a majority of North Adams' voters want strong financial leadership during the current crisis, inferring that John Barrett is the person that those polled are going to vote for. And, of course, that is not what the questions asked.

It bothers me that somebody thinks that North Adams voters are this naive.

UPDATE: Jen Huberdeau writes a solidly straightforward piece that fills in a few of the gaps. "No comment" indeed.
Friday, June 05, 2009
  You might have noticed....
I have turned on the comment moderation feature for blogger. It will stay this way through the election.

While I have always valued open debate and even enjoyed the the bare-knuckled rancor, I am now running for office and this blog is, whether I want it to be, or not, part of my public persona. Hence, I will not allow my own blog to be a tool for those who would intentionally cause my campaign problems. If you want a civil discussion, I will certainly allow that on the blog, but character assaults will not be approved for posting.

And, after reading some of the sillyness on the topix threads, I think I made the right decision. If you want to bash me, go over there.

As always, I welcome your emails and comments that you prefer be kept off the record. Keep 'em coming.
Thursday, June 04, 2009
  National Forest? Interesting.
From Senator Downing's weekly press release (sorry, can't find a link):
3 Public Forums: Exploring the Possibility of a National Forest Designation

The Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) has hired the Massachusetts Office of Dispute Resolution & Public Collaboration (MODR) to conduct a series of focus groups with a broad range of stakeholders to explore a new model for a "family-forest based" National Forest designation in western Massachusetts.

Stakeholders including state and municipal officials, environmental organizations, recreational and sportsmen organizations, foresters, forest industry/wood producers, agricultural organizations, private landowners, land trust and conservation organizations are asked to attend these focus groups.

The purpose of the meetings will be to hear the thoughts, concerns and ideas of local citizens and to identify ways in which the public can be actively engaged in the exploration of the concept of a National Forest designation in Massachusetts.

Local Focus Group Meetings:
Monday, June 8, 2009, 10AM to Noon
Berkshire Community College

Tuesday, June 9, 2009, 10AM to Noon
Mass. College of Liberal Arts

Tuesday, June 9, 2009, 2pm to 4PM
Mass. College of Liberal Arts

Please RSVP by Tuesday, May 26th to Courtney Breese at MODR (617) 287-4046 or
As someone who casually enjoys the woods, mountains and waters of our region, I'm curious where this proposed forest would be and how it would affect us. Good? Bad? Indifferent?
Tuesday, June 02, 2009

It's official:

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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