Biking the Trails of Wellesley

I went on a long bike ride today, mostly on the Wellesley Trails.  The system is brilliant, containing more than 25 miles of trails that pass some beautiful historic homes, lovely lakes, and the Charles River.  Today I biked along the Aqueduct Trail which I’ve not done before, at least not for any substantial distance.  It runs along the Sudbury Aqueduct, a historic landmark, though I spent time on several of Wellesley’s trails.  Click here to see the map of my route.

Below are a few photos I took on my ride.

Teen Birth Rate Here and There

from "Trends in Teen Pregnancy and Childbearing." Adolescent Health Topics. The Office of Adolescent Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 12 Dec. 2014.

from “Trends in Teen Pregnancy and Childbearing.” Adolescent Health Topics/Reproductive Health. The Office of Adolescent Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 12 Dec. 2014.

On Friday WBUR reported from Boston

The birth rate among teens in Massachusetts is at its lowest recorded level in the state’s history, a report out Friday says.

The birth rate of teens ages 15-19 fell 14 percent last year, from 14 births per 1,000 women in 2012 to 12 births per 1,000 women in 2013, the Massachusetts Department of Health reported.

“This is terrific news for all Massachusetts families, and a dramatic indication that our decisions to invest in our young people — through education, support and resources — can have a real and lasting impact on their lives and in their communities,” Gov. Deval Patrick said in a statement.

Indeed, according to the Department of Health and Human Services,  the statistics on teenage birth rates were also terrific news for Massachusetts and for most of New England, New York, New Jersey, and Minnesota in 2011 when all those states already had rates below 20 births per 1000 women between the ages of 15 and 19.  They were the only ones, and they really stand out on the map. Continue reading

More Bikes of Cambridge

Bikes of Cambridge in the winter.  Hubway Bikes remain available in Cambridge as a pilot program.

Register to Vote! Preserve your Options!

Jason Mraz urges you to “Register to Vote”

Sometimes when I ask people to register to vote they express frustration with the political system, dissatisfaction the candidates that are running, anger at the role of money in politics, or some other annoyance. Because of these things they say that they’re not sure they want to vote at all. I certainly understand the frustration, but voter registration deadlines are upon us.

As they come I urge you to remember one thing: If you register to vote before the deadline, you still have until election day to decide if you actually want to cast a ballot. If you don’t, you’ve closed the door. You will not be able to vote, no matter how much you feel like you want to come election day.  Obviously it is the Presidential elections that are getting most of the attention, but they are not all that’s going to be on your ballot.

In addition to House, Senate and Presidential races, there are state and local races, as well as local and state ballot initiatives. For example, let’s say you you are a Massachusetts resident who has strong feelings about the legalization of marijuana. Medical marijuana is the subject of a statewide ballot question, but it is not getting a great deal of coverage. In fact, I’m noticing many people don’t realize it’s on the ballot at all. Should those who care about the issue come to realize that the question is there before the election, they will be able to voice their opinion and potentially make a difference only if they have registered before their state’s deadline. If not, they are out of luck, except in the few states that offer Election Day registration.

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Why is Virginia Really Challenging the Health Care Law?

What is wrong with the state government in Virginia? Last week the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond threw out Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s challenge to the Affordable Care Act, but now he and Governor Bob McDonnell have vowed to appeal.

Why are the Republicans in Virginia against ensuring that everyone has access to health care? As I understand it, the law is being attacked as un-Constitutional because it compels everyone to purchase insurance, and the federal government does not have that power. What, then, is the solution? A national system in which the government is guarantor is fine by me, Medicare for all. However, that is not palatable to the right, for one reason or another. It’s costly, inefficient and unlikely to remain solvent, or so they say. My interactions with Medicare have generally been favorable, and wonder about these characterizations. Even if they are true, can’t these things be fixed? Wouldn’t expanding the pool of participants in medicare with healthy, younger people be a way to do that. But the Right is not particularly interested in solving these issues because their real concern is ideological, and they think Medicare is a form of socialism. (Click here to cue ominous music!)

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