New England roundup #10

"Pittsfield, in the Near Future," a 1906 postcard depicting North Street with a monorail and assorted flying vehicles (cc scan by thecameo; click on the image for more background)
"Pittsfield, in the Near Future," a 1906 postcard depicting North Street with a monorail and assorted flying vehicles (cc scan by thecameo; click on the image for more background)
  • WAMC, the public radio station in Albany, NY, spins—or starts to—a regional interpretation of the recently-signed financial reform legislation.  Steve Felano’s report, titled “Wall Street Reform — Made in New England,” notes the central roles of Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), as well as the crucial support of Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Scott Brown (R-MA). NECN adds “one other New England angle”: the possibility of Harvard Law School’s Elizabeth Warren running the consumer protection agency created by the bill. It is tempting to chalk this up to inborn Yankee values or similar cultural factors.  But such interpretations falter when among the key players are an Oklahoman (Warren) and a New Jerseyan (Frank). More-mundane factors, albeit each with important regional dimensions, explain the coincidences just as well: the geography of higher education in the U.S., House and Senate seniority rules, and a balance of power in the Senate that makes the Snowe/Collins/Brown troika key to passage of any legislation.
  • More politics: “the Republican Party’s inability to consistently build a farm team of office holders at the city and state level” in New England may limit its chances to win Congressional seats in the region this November.
  • The Globe covers efforts in Pittsfield, MA, to turn the city into a center of arts and culture.
  • Southern New England will not face a five-year ban on lobster fishing, after all—a prospect mentioned here last month. Corby Kummer at The Atlantic has more details.
  • Jonathan Yardley reviews Eric Jaffe’s The King’s Best Highway: The Lost History of the Boston Post Road, the Route that Made America for the Washington Post. (Yardley includes a welcome shot at publishers for relying on the crutch of “changed the world” and “made America” to hype their titles.)

About this feature: Each week, I compile recent articles and other items relating to New England’s history, its regional identity, and its future. If you come across something interesting or relevant, please submit it for inclusion in a future post. Click here for previous roundups.

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