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The Top Left Corner — 2021/03/10

Above: increased flood projections newly engineered by theFirst Street Foundation offer a detailed state-by-state analysis of the most flood-prone areas in the country; courtesy First Street Foundation.

Hey, Greylock Nation —

Welcome to this week’s show! Spring seems to be springing here in the Berkshires, although we’re never really out of the woods, so to speak, until Memorial Day. Farmers, gardeners, and those of us with long memories know that we occasionally get overnight frosts well into May.

In other Berkshire County news, our vaccination efforts are picking up speed. In fact, one of your hosts received the Johnson & Johnson jab on Saturday down in Great Barrington. Word to the wise: If you get the J&J vaccine, be prepared for a couple of days of flu-like symptoms.
If you’re eligible to be vaccinated in Massachusetts (we’re currently in Phase 2), the easiest way to get an appointment is by following @vaccinetime on Twitter and turning on notifications. When you get a notification that there are appointments available in your area, just click on the link provided to begin the sign-up process.

If you’re here for the first time, the Top Left Corner is a locally focused weekly live internet radio show and podcast based in Williamstown, Mass. We do our best to wade through the spin and biases and cowardice and bring back the important stuff that most of us really care about. Every Wednesday, we’re going to tell you what we think about local current events and the national stories that directly affect the people of Williamston and Berkshire County. We also interview amazing guests.

–Jay and Steve

P.S. We want to hear from you! Participate live during the show by using the chat box on our show page or email us at [email protected]

LIGHT (OR NOT)

The latest mission to Mars is underway.
We think these images from the Perseverance lander are pretty cool.

Why do cats purr?
We’re always interested in new theories on this endlessly fascinating topic. We also have our own theory that explains the proliferation of studies like this, namely that scientists just really want to conduct innocuous research and hang out all day with lovable, non-judgmental animals. Let’s call it the cutified field theory of grant-writing and workplace satisfaction.

LOCAL

Scott McGowan, the Williamstown Police Department sergeant whose federal lawsuit alleged sexual harassment, racism, and retaliation by former Chief Kyle Johnson, has been put on paid administrative leave.

In a story published in the Berkshire Eagle on March 5, Larry Parnass writes that Sgt. McGowan was the focus of a complaint by an unnamed employee regarding a “personnel matter.” The Eagle’s own investigation reveals that McGowan was involved in a domestic assault incident as well as two traffic stops that may have been alcohol-related.

THE COMMONWEALTH

Baker discarded the emergency vaccination plan Massachusetts public and community health officials spent two decades creating.

Here in the Bay State, we have recently started to trend in the right direction on all the important pandemic metrics–new infections, test positivity rate, hospitalizations, and deaths–after the devastating surge earlier this year. So what is Charlie “BlueCross/BlueShield” Baker doing? He’s eliminating capacity restrictions at Massachusetts restaurants.

THE REGION

Things are not looking good for Andrew Cuomo in neighboring New York State.
Veteran Cuomo watcher Ross Barkan breaks it down for us and speculates that the embattled governor may have finally met a scandal he can’t bully his way out of.

WHAT WE’RE READING, WATCHING, AND LISTENING TO THIS WEEK

The predictive flooding maps the U.S. government uses to determine flood insurance premiums are pretty out of date.

In a new study, the First Street Foundation offers a detailed state-by-state analysis of the most flood-prone areas in the country. According to the study, we’re in pretty good shape here in the Berkshires. Boston not so much…

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was created at the behest of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, has published an alarming report entitled Housing insecurity and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report’s findings are grim: More than 2 million homeowner households are three months or more behind on mortgage payments, while 8 million rental households are behind on rent.
Veteran NYT science reporter Donald McNeil was effectively fired last month after a number of high schoolers complained about his comments and behavior during a student trip to Peru’s Sacred Valley in 2019.

McNeil’s ouster raises important questions about freedom of speech, freedom of thought, and where, how, and by whom the line between acceptable debate and offensive conduct gets drawn these days. McNeil has written a must-read four-part account of the controversy published on Substack.

We missed most of Oprah’s interview with Harry and Meghan earlier this week, but we got a kick–if that’s the right word–out of the British audience’s reactions to American pharmaceutical advertising.

There’s a reason you’ve really got to seek out international news in the US. The people who run things here don’t want us getting any ideas.

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