University of Massachusetts

The Mega Millions jackpot reached a record high of $500 million today, news which has no doubt led to a rash of half-serious ticket-buying by normally judicious spenders. They, along with the rest of the regular scratchers, shouldn’t hold out much hope: The odds of winning the lottery, Mega Millions officials report, are about one in 176 million. (But that’s what makes it so special.) Still, someone has to win, and it’s worth knowing: Does winning the lottery actually make you happier?  In what should come as great news to the millions who will fail to win the lottery every year, it does not.

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Few things are more grating to the proud people of Massachusetts than claiming to understand their worldview on the basis of a few Good Will Hunting quotes. Still, even the most jaded Bay Staters should admit that sometimes a dose of Ben Affleck helps to clarify things.

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I doubt the rest of the country is as preoccupied with all things Bulger as we are here in Boston. After several days, still the chit chat—everywhere—is about getting Whitey. (Do you think the FBI wanted him not to be found?

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Transitions

On April 18, a transgender woman named Chrissy Lee Polis went to the women’s bathroom in a Baltimore County McDonald’s. When she came out, two teenage girls approached and spat in her face. Then they threw her to the floor and started kicking her in the head. As a crowd of customers watched, Polis tried to stand up, but the girls dragged her by her hair across the restaurant, ripping the earrings out of her ears. The last thing Polis remembers, before she had a seizure, was spitting blood on the restaurant door.

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Reform Made Simple

CNN's Sanjay Gupta is staring a series called "Health Care Simplified" and invited me to be a guest on the first installment, which ran over the weekend. The other participant was Darshak Sanghavi, who is a frequent writer on medical issues and chief of pediatric cardiology at the University of Massachusetts. Like me, Sanghavi supports the bills moving through Congress, albeit with reservations. For next week's segment, Gupta has said, he'll interview two relative skeptics. About eight minutes of the discussion ran on air, which is a veritable eternity for cable news.

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Speculation as to who will succeed Ted Kennedy is proceeding apace, with his nephew, former Congressman Joseph Kennedy II, the likely frontrunner in the January 19 special election. The eldest son of Robert Kennedy, Joe held the House seat once occupied by his uncle John and House Speaker Tip O’Neill, representing Boston from 1987 until 1999. If he does run, Kennedy would start with a financial disadvantage.

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The recent Teamsters strike, The Los Angeles Times declared, "has served as a reminder of how much the union's influence has waned." The outcome, The New York Times wrote, showed how the union's "power has shrunk." There is some truth in these statements, but they reveal more about the national press's attitude toward labor than about the Teamsters union. During the twenty-four-day strike, the longest in Teamster history and the first since 1979, the union achieved almost 100 percent support from its rank and file, in spite of violent dissension in its upper ranks. In the provisional settlemen

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