Mariano: It is time to start talking about and planning for the closing of more churches

If these current trends continue, we are likely to face many more church closings in the years ahead. As a warning, we should take notice that the nearby Diocese of Hartford just announced the closing of 26 church buildings.

Mariano: A champion for women and girls

“If she stands on her toes, she is probably 4 feet, 10 inches tall – maybe. For most of her life, she struggled to weigh in at 100 pounds. But when it comes to helping women and girls who are struggling, there is no one bigger or stronger.”

Sina-cism: Expressway to the future, maybe

The interstates — built for speed on relatively uncongested land — bypassed downtowns throughout America. Many withered. Some died.
Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

As a child, I wondered why construction zones existed along finished highways. Surely so imposing a structure in concrete, steel and macadam could not be moved by even the hyperborean blasts of New England!

Clearly the serpentine bulk of Interstate 290 that bisected Worcester had not always existed, but I assumed it had materialized in the 1950s, when post-World War II affluence and American confidence — less encumbered by environmental and human considerations than today — had given our nation a modern transportation network.

But I-290 was not as old as I imagined.

Its first mile, from Harrison Street to Belmont Street, opened on Sept. 30, 1960, just two days after Ted Williams’ last game for the Red Sox — in which he famously homered in the final at-bat of his Hall-of-Fame career.

That Friday evening, TV viewers could view the first episode of “The Flintstones,” set in a fanciful Stone Age where cars were made of stone and wood, powered by human feet, and had nothing so grand to run upon as the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways.

Last week’s Sina-cism: All we have to fear is … well, you know …

Not until the June 1970 opening of the Quinsigamond Bridge could motorists take I-290 to Marlborough. They might have gone farther. Plans called for I-290 to bend southeast through Northborough and Westborough centers to rejoin the Massachusetts Turnpike.

Mariano: Local fathers offer advice for raising strong, independent daughters

“So, when I heard about Bill O’Reilly and his creepshow, I tried to imagine how I would feel if he had done something like that to my daughter. … I asked other local fathers, who have raised strong, independent daughters, to offer some advice from their own experience.”

Sina-cism: That serpent, fear, stalks America

The international and global problems we face require much more cooperation and are not wholly within our control, but even they are merely variations on past problems.
Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

What are you afraid of? Terrorism? Illegal immigrants? Losing your job to a robot? Donald Trump’s latest tweet or executive order? North Korea? A rattlesnake attacking you while you’re hiking around the Quabbin Reservoir?

Some of these fears could be realized.

Terrorism is a grim reality. Some illegal immigrants commit crimes. Technology replaces some jobs (and creates others). Trump has made and will make mistakes. North Korea could be the flashpoint for a major conflict.

But in most cases, even when such things come to pass, they are unlikely to directly affect the vast majority of those who worry about them. Tragedies are tragic enough without compounding their pain through constant worry.

The least likely on the above list, rattlesnakes, serves to illustrate how irrational we humans can be.

Mariano: What happens if Trump gets impeached?

In my opinion, Donald Trump is a terrible president, a national embarrassment and an international laughingstock. But should he be impeached?

Sina-cism: What if Trump is right about something?

I realize some of you would prefer to simply dismiss everything Trump does, says, or believes as wrong, simply because he did, said or believed it.
Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

It has been three months since Donald Trump occupied the White House, and I can’t decide which has been more amusing: Watching the administration learn as it goes, or watching the left demonize its every move.

To be sure, our nation’s forty-fifth president is often less than presidential. Botched immigration orders and tweets worthy of junior high school come to mind.

But Trump’s resolve to stand up to the Assad regime in Syria and Vladimir Putin’s heinous role there could mark a refreshing change from the Obama years — provided Trump follows tough talk with clear goals and coherent strategy.

And Neil Gorsuch was a superb choice for the Supreme Court — with a brilliant legal mind, personal grace, and a nonpartisan attitude the nation needs.

Usually, however, things aren’t so clear. That is the case when it comes to H-1B visas.

Mariano: Mayor Petty responds to PCB concerns with comprehensive plan

The plan presented is not perfect. The suspect materials remain in the building. But with an aggressive program of cleaning, encapsulating and monitoring, the risk is substantially reduced.

Mariano: Democrats and Republicans can help residents of public housing by requiring work

In increasing numbers, our poorest families are becoming less educated, less employed, and more reliant on government services and support. A system of assistance that was designed as a temporary helping hand has become a permanent way of life.

Sina-cism: Fear what’s just around the corner

What more evidence does one need to conclude that distractions are killing us — drivers, passengers, cyclists and pedestrians alike?
Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

In 1935, Grant Wood produced one of his most iconic paintings, “Death on the Ridge Road,” a dark commentary on the perilousness of life on the American road — and perhaps a commentary on life itself.

In the painting a red box truck and two sleek black cars seem to be headed for a fatal encounter on a narrow country road.

The 1930s were hard times in many ways in the U.S., and not least on the nation’s roads, where nearly 35,000 perished, at a time when there were many fewer vehicles and a lot less driving. The death rate stood at an astounding 15.09 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles of travel (VMT).

Things have gotten a lot better since 1935. Recently, however, the data have veered in the wrong direction.