Showing posts with label Local interest. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Local interest. Show all posts

Saturday, June 20, 2015

I know English is evolving when I hear these words in a courtroom

I was recently snared into Jury Duty in Massachusetts.  This isn't so much an article about that.  Instead, this is about something I noticed while listening to the case before me and my 5 other jurors; word choices.

The first interesting word was uttered by the Prosecutor quoting the defendant who was fighting a DUI charge. The Prosecutor stated that the defendant pleaded with the arresting officer to cut him a break because he was not cocked.  This word cocked was used in a mocking manner by the prosecutor several times in his opening and closing arguments.

The second word that stood out was spoken by the Defense attorney.  While questioning the arresting officer, the Defense attorney asked about the likelihood of something-or-another.  What caught my attention is that he used the prolly, instead of prob'ly or probably.  The use of this word in such a formal manner struck me, since the word is still considered by many to be of the mythically inferior not-a-word status.

The last spoken element I picked up on was the Judge's use of the idiom begging-the-question.  I've written about the idiom begging-the-question quite recently.  There are two official definitions for the idiom.  The traditional definition is based on a logical fallacy.  The modern definition is an alternative for raises-the-question; this was Judge's use that day.  It is interesting to note that both definitions appear in dictionaries now.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

The Fitchburg Commuter Rail Line Improvement Project

Getting into Boston by car isn't a horrible experience on the weekend. It is just really bad, and expensive to park. So, travelling into Boston is often best by mass transit. However, when trying to casually plan a journey into Boston today, I discovered that they shut down the only commuter line in my area of the state, the Fitchburg Commuter Rail Line.

Trying to get into North Boston from the Highway 2 corridor using mass transit is impossible while the Fitchburg Commuter Rail Line is shut down for maintenance until late November 2014. ‎MBTA‬ didn't even setup replacement bus service to replace the rail line. There was already 1 to 3 hour intervals between trains. Seriously, how hard would it be to have a limited bus service on a similar schedule to those stations?

Thank you to the MBTA for thinking about your riders؟

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Amazon.com's double-whammy for Massachusetts comes in one more day (Nov 1)

Whammy #1

Despite the illegality of applying a state tax (of any kind) to an interstate purchase (in direct violation of U.S. Constitution's Commerce Clause found at Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3), Amazon.com has capitulated to Massachusetts' harassment.  As of November 1, 2013, Amazon.com will begin collecting the state's sales tax on purchases sold by Amazon.com.  This does not include third party vendors which sell their product through Amazon.com's website, who are responsible to handle their own taxation (if any).

The problem I have with this is that is really is illegal.  Until such a time that Congress actually passes a law granting states the authority to apply their intrastate taxes to interstate sales, these states are in willful violation of our Constitution.  There are exceptions this that have been allowed by Federal Courts, but Amazon.com (nor most online retailers) does not have a business that operates in such as way as to fall under these exceptions.  Besides that, there are ambiguities that Congress needs to resolve.  Allowing taxation of purchases that do not originate within the state may be an open door for states to outright tax purchases that have no origin or destination within their own territory, but are rather just passing through.

There are a lot of nonsensical justifications for taxation of interstate sales, and there are a lot of good reasons to not allow such taxation.   I would go into detail here as to why, but I've actually covered this pretty well in a previous article about California's similar attempts to harass Amazon.com and other online retailers.

Whammy #2

Not quit as annoying, but still bothersome is that last week Amazon.com raised their minimum purchase for free shipping.  Instead of the $25 threshold, the minimum purchase for free shipping is now $35.  What does this mean for most casual shoppers who don't buy into the Amazon Prime plan?  There may be some short term gain in sales from customers who are not aware of the change and planned on making immediate purchase.  But over the long run, my guess is that many will wait longer between purchases rather that purchase more each time.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston Marathon 2013 tragedy

The attack at yesterday's Boston Marathon was horrible.  A lot of people will live the rest of their lives impacted by this henious act.  The deaths are saddening.  However, it is good that more people weren't killed.  This article is not going to discuss any of the gruesome details since there is already plenty of that in the press right now.

The location of the attack in Boston's Back Bay, near Copley Square.  This is an area with a rich history and includes several old churches.  The marathon finish line is on Boylston Street, between Dartmouth Street to the East, and Exeter Street to the West.


View Larger Map

In the direction of Copley Square is the Old South Church

Old South Church in Boston

The tower of this church is visible in the background of the already famous east-facing photo of the second explosion with the smoke of the first explosion visible.  (That photo isn't shown here due to respect for copyright, but it is available on many news sites and blogs, such as these 1 2 3).

From Google Maps, here's what this spot looks like on a normal day, facing West near the site of the first explosion.


The President's statement about the attack about covers the Boston spirit:
Boston is a tough and resilient town; so are its people.
 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

All Seeing Eye sees all, or at least it is translucent

Sometime in Fall of 2011, I was almost randomly driving around MetroWest-ish area of Massachusetts and ended up at this one museum that used to be a lodge of the Free Masons, in Lexington, MA.  At this building, there was this stain glass window with the All Seeing Eye as the focal point.
Stain Glass from 32 Degree Scottish Rite of the Masons II (beware the all seeing eye) 

Look familiar to anyone? If you do a Google image search, you'll find this is not unique in topic for stain glass windows. However, this particular piece is interesting and beautiful in its own way. I serve the eye...I...i...I don't know what came over me there for a second. Oh, Hypnotoad is on. Catchya later!

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Live Oaks Homes of Rivermark

On a recent and brief (mostly business) trip back to California, I was able to stop by my old community and take a photo of the Live Oaks homes within Rivermark.  I think these homes are iconic, representing a well  planned group of neighborhoods at the heart of Silicon Valley.


Many more great photos may be found on Flickr in the Rivermark group.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

I've only been gone 18 months! #49ers Stadium

OK, so I've only been gone like 18 months!  The house that we owned is in the Rivermark area, practically in the shadow of the future home of the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara, CA.  When we sold the home, there was nothing more than a proud sign and a parking lot at the site of the planned stadium.



Eighteen months later?

Future home of the 49ers (wide)

Untitled

49ers new home under construction II

49ers new home under construction I 
I don't think I've ever seen this much progress on a project in California in such a short time! Supposedly, the stadium is scheduled to be completed in time for the 2014 season, followed by opportunities for Super Bowls and other events.

Parking is a big weakness for this stadium.  There is almost no parking on the stadium property.  But let's not bother with details right now.

The jury is still out as to whether this will improve home values near the stadium.  Some say it will bolster values, and other say it will drag them down.  If this project is handled like AT&T Ballpark by the San Francisco Giants, values will soar due to ongoing redevelopment efforts nearby.  If the project is handled like the Oakland Colosseum, eh, watchout!  I already know the 49ers wanted to avoid the AT&T Ballpark model, so a bit of concern is appropriate.  It all depends on how Santa Clara City itself handles things.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Jumpin Jack sign on Highway 495 Southbound

There's a modest sign on the roadside of Highway 495 South, about halfway between Highways 2 and 111. It is simple, with an American flag, and the words "Jumpin Jack". I've wondered what Jumpin Jack was.

Well, he turns out to be a beloved local truck driver named Jack Albert McPhail, a local hero that died while saving others on fateful winter day in March 2007. The story was originally carried by the Boston Herald, but is no longer available.   I was able to track down a Boston Globe article on Boston.com.  It does not mention the nick name "Jumpin Jack".  An obituary still appears on this trucker's forum. It's a good read about the man who was apparently well liked in his community.

For anyone that can safely use Facebook on the road (i.e., a passenger of a car) while passing this sign on 495 S, I've added a place to Facebook to check-in at this location called Jumpin Jack Memorial, classified as a local business under Highway. Facebook is a little odd on how it handles places added by common users, so you may have to search a bit for it (which is why you should be a passenger to attempt the check-in).

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Bricks fell from several stories up in Boston, injuring one person,damage too


Here's the photo close-up the bricks that smashed the car, injuried one person and busted windows in shops across the street today on Beach St. in Chinatown, Downtown Boston!