Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Brunswick’s “Health Care” Evolution, wanted or not…

This might be a good time for you to reread this post-

http://othersideofbrunswick.blogspot.com/2015/08/you-can-trust-us-with-your-health-care.html

from last August, which featured this graphic as an opening:

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It included these as well:

                    

How prophetic, thought it took no particular insight or genius to read the handwriting on the wall.  And the Side family has now experienced the final shoe dropping.

Let’s go back a bit.  At least for us, there have been three ‘major’ players involved in this evolution.  The Mid Coast Health System; the Parkview Adventist Medical Center (PAMC); and the Central Maine Medical Center (CMMC), located in Lewiston.  From Side’s perspective, all three have failed to live up to their commitments and ideals of their calling, and worse, been downright dismissive of the clients involved in all the churning and chafing of ownership, practices, and facilities.

Mid Coast, in recent years, has been on an expansion/acquisition crusade that at least from our perspective approximates the feeding behavior of crocodiles.  PAMC, never particularly ambitious or aggressive business-wise, in keeping with its roots, was easy prey on Mid Coast’s home turf.  CMMC somehow came into play in a futile attempt to rescue PAMC from imminent total financial collapse.

Going back to last year’s post, we told you how we lost our specialist, who had become an employee of PAMC.  In the letter notifying us of his ‘separation,’ it’s fair to say that the explanation and guidance offered were at best perfunctory.  In fact, his practice in the nearby Parkview Professional Building was shutting down completely.

The practice that included our PCP’s, which operated in the main Parkview building, in the medical office wing, continued to operate more or less ‘normally.’  At one time a privately owned practice, it eventually became Parkview Family Health Care, and all employees became employees of PAMC.

Eventually, as part of dealing with their financial difficulties, CMMC got involved in ownership/management of the practice, at which time it became Brunswick Primary Care, still located in the Parkview office wing.  How that worked we have no clue.  But checks got written to CMMC for services rendered.

A little more than a month ago, Side visited his Primary Care Physician for an annual ‘wellness check.’  At that visit, a memo posted in the office said that one of the Doctors who had been there for years was leaving, with no further details provided.  I mentioned it to the nurse who took me in and took my vitals, asked the usual questions, etc.  She has been there for quite a while.  She told me they were confident that the practice was in a stable position, and no-one was particularly worried.

Our visit with our Doctor went as usual, with no indication given that change was in the air.

A few weeks later, Mrs. Side had an office visit with her Nurse Practitioner at the office, and came home to tell me that Side’s Doctor was leaving, with no details, other than for a non-clinical position with Mid Coast.  Oops….several more dominoes fall.

Yesterday, April 25th, both of us received letters dated April 8th from Central Maine Medical Group stating that Side’s doctor had ‘resigned,’ and that the Brunswick Primary Care practice would be closing in mid-May.  Why it took 17 days for that letter to reach us we can’t say.

So besides your editor having to find a new specialist, both Side and Mrs. Side have to make new arrangements for our primary care.  Having to do so in our mid-70’s with so little notice is not the least bit appreciated, thank you very much.

Service providers in the health field are often referred to as members of the ‘caring professions.’  While we were generally happy and pleased with the care we received from our personal practitioners, we are anything but happy with those managing the major transitions underway, to who knows what end. 

We don’t know whether similar churning is going on all around the country as the Health Care industry adjusts and realigns to Obama Care (the ACA), or that instead, we in this area have been singled out for our own narrowly targeted travails.

What we do know is this.  The management of the one time proposed “Mid Coast Parkview Health System” has been mis-leading and duplicitous in its pronouncements, and progressive disclosure has been the norm.  Public assurances that things would be worked out for the benefit of all seem insensitive at the least in retropsect. 

Respect and consideration for their aggregate client base, which leans heavily toward the senior citizen demographic, has been essentially non-existent, at least from our personal experience.  We assume this reflects on whatever combination of Mid Coast and one time Parkview management has been and is in place over the transition period.

Similarly, the letter we received yesterday, signed by the VP of Practice Operations at the Central Maine Medical Group, is a model of detached, impersonal, and disinterested language.

If this is what ‘caring professionals’ are like in our day, heaven help us and our progeny.  If we had a say in it, which we clearly don’t, you’d be hearing raspberries all around.

Gender concerns invade food science; finally, the wait is over!!

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As we’ve told you before, Other Side has a small cadre of anonymous, strategically placed correspondents who from time to time give us a tip on a ‘breaking’ news story.

The most recent such tip came yesterday, telling us of a segment on Good Morning America on ABC.  It featured two successful young food entrepreneurs, who in the screen clip above with host Robin Roberts, look for all the world like soul-mates of Mark Zuckerberg.

The one on the right has developed pasta made from garbanzo beans, making it gluten free.  The one on the left has developed a collection of “Fluffbutters,” and other healthy snack items.  Fluffbutter is promoted as a healthy alternative to peanut butter and similar products.

We decided to see what all the buzz is about on our own, and found this on a retail web site:

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The 10 ounce jar ‘lists’ for $10.99, but is on sale for $8.99.  To put that in perspective, we have a 40 ounce jar of JIF Peanut Butter on hand, which Mrs. Side believes we paid on the order of $4.00 for, perhaps in a dual pack from BJ’s.

So in round numbers, the Fluffbutter sells for ten times the price of the JIF on a per serving basis.  But as you would expect, and we hope demand, you get so much more in your jar of Fluffbutter.  Just gaze at the label info:

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Do you see that?  The damn stuff is GENDER NEUTRAL!  Where the hell else are you going to find certifiably gender neutral spread to use on your snacks?  It’s also dairy free, gluten free, soy free, and suitable for vegan diets.

What a breakthrough; no doubt commercially available ‘off the shelf’ peanut butters are loaded with dairy products, gluten, and soy.  Both though, do include ‘nuts’.

Why D’s Naturals didn’t mention that the product is catsup free, broken glass free, and corn by-product free we can’t say.

Given societal pre-occupation with matters (or variations, if you prefer) of gender these days, we can only wonder whether trans-gendered Fluffbutter is in the works.  We expect it to have a higher shelf price to cover the cost of the scientific research and genetic modification to the ‘natural ingredients.’  This could be followed by gender-fluid Fluffbutter.  The possibilities are nearly endless if you follow contemporary cultural ‘transitions.’

Just think of the opportunities for revolutionizing our healthy, natural food supply.  And think of the possibilities for new major fields of study at fine institutions like Bowdoin.  Gender and woman’s studies programs are old news these days, but imagine combined emphasis on gender and food sciences.  It might even call for a new building on campus!

In conclusion, anytime you wonder, like we do, if we’re losing our minds, console yourself with the reality that we’ve already traveled a long, longggg way down that slippery road. 

Kind of ironic, we think, that this trip involves ‘nuts.’

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Other Side joins the grievance groupies; freaks out and is in pain; demands appropriate response from local authorities

We often quip to friends, family, and acquaintances that life is one long learning experience.

Which fits well with the premise of this post - that our perfect little town is, in a manner of speaking, an institution of higher learning: Brunswick College, a small, elite(ist), Northeastern progressive arts campus.  Progressive arts seems far more to the point than liberal arts, especially if you understand the original meaning of ‘liberal arts.’  (Hint: the meaning of the word liberal, at least in the political sense, was pretty much the diametric opposite of what it is these days.  Any connection to liberty has been tossed aside.)

Brunswick College, though, is not particularly selective.  Our student body represents the full spectrum of human age, and all the other measures of diversity, as modern sensibilities demand.

We think of our Town Manager as the Chancellor; the Town Council as the Board of Trustees; and our Public Safety team as Campus Security.  We look to them to see to our comfort, tranquility, and sense of self-esteem.  Which includes responding forcefully to anything that might offend us at any level, because we’re fragile in so many ways.  Not to mention that our annual property tax payments are vital to ‘college’ operation, even if our membership in the ‘student body’ is at best incidental.

Which brings us to this item: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3506491/Emory-president-Students-scared-Trump-2016-chalk-signs.html

It begins with these words, which should frighten even the most stoic amongst our readers:

Students at Emory University claim they were frightened and 'in pain' after someone wrote 'Trump 2016' in chalk around campus.

Officials at the Atlanta school, which has an enrollment of more than 14,000, were forced to act after the youngsters claimed their 'safe space' was violated when the messages of 'hate' appeared on sidewalks and buildings.

One student even said she 'feared for her life' as she thought a 'KKK rally' was going on, while others were scared a mass shooting was going to take place and wouldn't walk alone. 

Jim Wagner, president of the 19th century establishment, wrote Tuesday that the students viewed the scrawling as intimidation, and they voiced 'genuine concern and pain' as a result.

He set up an investigation after members of the student government wrote to him and slammed the university's response, prompting a meeting that was shrouded in protests. 

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3506491/Emory-president-Students-scared-Trump-2016-chalk-signs.html#ixzz46VDMJZx2
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

While some might find the chalking on the stairs shown above disturbing, we submit that the image just below is a hundred times more threatening; nay, a thousand times worse.  It is indicative of what we now see shamelessly displayed on the Brunswick College campus.

We saw it recently on Brunswick’s Quad, and it’s got us all verklempt.  It’s micro-aggressive, and has triggered all sorts of feelings of being in dangerous territory.  The worst of it is that we suddenly feel like we’re back in college, and need to get our grievance gravitas buffed back up for present day use in this most hostile of towns.

We have no choice but to ask that the Brunswick College Human Rights Task Force take our concerns into consideration, and address them in upcoming reports.  They might consider these quotes from others as they do so:

"The most fundamental fact about the ideas of the political left is that they do not work. Therefore we should not be surprised to find the left concentrated in institutions where ideas do not have to work in order to survive." -- Thomas Sowell

Kenneth Minogue writing in National Review, Nov. 18, 1991:

An ideological movement is a collection of people many of whom could hardly bake a cake, fix a car, sustain a friendship or a marriage, or even do a quadratic equation, yet they believe they know how to rule the world. The university, in which it is possible to combine theoretical pretension with comprehensive ineptitude, has become the natural habitat of the ideological enthusiast. A kind of adventure playground, carefully insulated from reality in order to prevent absent-minded professors from bumping into things as they explore transcendental realms, has become the institutional base for civilizational self-hatred.

We hope and trust that you will bond with us as we call for emotional justice, and look for the town to provide safe space and emotional counseling to help us deal with the outrage and endangerment we’re feeling.

And we can’t wait to see what the Human Rights Task Force reports out.

Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Bubbleheads reporting for gender sensitivity training, Mr. Madam

                                        

On those occasions when Blogger’s Block besieges us, we sometimes find ourselves thanking our lucky stars for the Bowdoin Borient, the would be campus newspaper at the nearby college, operated by members of the student body, whatever that means in the postmodern era.

Take this week’s issued, dated today, April 1st.  It’s possible we could be falling for a ‘fools’ day’ trap set by the editorial staff, but two things argue against that possibility.  First, playing an April Fools Day prank on readers would infer at least a modest sense of humor, and based on our experience over the years, we’re pretty confident humor is not an aspect of anything inside the Bowdoin College bubble.

Secondly, the articles that caught our attention in this issue are entirely in keeping with what we have seen in the way of cultural and editorial ‘norms’ in all things Bowdoin.  In other words, this issue differs not a whit from all the others we’ve perused, except for its date.

So let’s begin with a reference to our most recent post, nearly two weeks ago, titled thus:

Appropriately Inappropriate: the self-inflicted trials and tribulations of those inside the Bowdoin Bubble

The front page of the current edition includes this headline:

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It contains this passage (http://bowdoinorient.com/article/11074):

Senior Vice President for Development and Alumni Affairs Rick Ganong said that in the weeks following the party, his office has received over 400 formal comments from alumni and parents. The “overwhelming majority” of these complaints expressed disapproval of how the incident was handled.

That recent post, as readers know, made sport of things inside the Bubble, especially as they related to the response.  We’re not a media consultant, or a statistical expert in public reactions.  None-the-less, for a small institution like Bowdoin, we’re guessing ‘400 formal comments’ is a pretty overwhelming response.  Which we suggest lends significant credence to this passage in that prior post:

Leading us to suggest that the icing upon the sponge cake of this post is the delicious irony that according to published reports, the Grand High Poobahs of Bowdoin’s administration have wet the very beds they sleep in.  On more than one recent occasion, they’ve approved/sponsored the very “cultural appropriation” they so virtuously despise.  Post-modernism is a wondrous thing, isn’t it?

But we’re reminded of the old saying: ‘the proof of the public bed-wetting is in the effect on alumni donations.’

Next, we’d like to highlight this suprisingly revealing article (http://bowdoinorient.com/article/11056,) particularly as it relates to total lack of self-awareness on the part of the student body, if not abject cluelessness.  At least a ‘segment’ of the student body.

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Forgive us a moment of pettiness, but if this was our daughter writing, from her lofty slot at a high end elite ($60,000 plus per year) liberal arts college, we’d call her home and tell her to find something else to do with our money.  Several passages in the column rise up and slap us in the face, including these:

according to Natalie Kitroeff in the New York Times, “many young women are finding that casual sex does not bring the physical pleasure that men more often experience.” The hookup is “over” when the guy “finishes.” This misconception is true here at Bowdoin, but there exists a more serious problem. Frankly, many of the men are so detached and therefore sexually inept that physical pleasure is beside the point. The real inequality that exists in heterosexual hookups at Bowdoin is rooted in disrespect. Men have ceased to treat women in the polite and courteous manner we deserve and have begun to view us as disposable playthings.

Hookups are not a service.

This particular male unjustly deemed my friend and me disposable and still is blind to how objectifying and deplorable his treatment of us was.

As a community and a generation, we need to ask ourselves how we let this happen and how we can establish a safe environment going forward.

I am simply advocating change. Men should not, under any circumstance, treat us like we are disposable objects. There needs to be a complete shift in our hookup culture.

The gender inequality that our hookup scene perpetuates is disgusting. It is absolutely time for men to treat women at Bowdoin with the respect we deserve.

(note that the author is a ‘senior,’  whatever that means in this day and age)

Consider these thoughts in the context of a campus and student newspaper that recently indulged these items :

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This one (http://bowdoinorient.com/article/11056) features this graphic:

                               

And this related item (http://bowdoinorient.com/article/9962)

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Anyone familiar with this “production” knows that it is about ‘women’ getting on stage and waxing theatric about ‘down there.’

And then members of their cohort have the unmitigated gall to talk about being objectified?  Does the word ‘feminism’ mean anything in the common sense area?

Can you say “Duhhh” loyal readers?  Are we to take these fragile flowers seriously?

On the flip side, so to speak, the same Borient issue addresses the merit of “Unmasking masculinity” in an editorial (http://bowdoinorient.com/article/11072.)  A passage or two:

Recently, discussions about the potential dangers of masculinity have been coming out of the woodwork on campus. On Wednesday, the Bowdoin Men’s Group, partnering with the Women’s Resource Center and the Center for Gender Violence Prevention and Education, hosted a screening of “The Mask You Live In.” The film explores the limiting ways in which masculinity is socially constructed and taught to boys from an early age. Many of the ideas it addressed are not foreign to our campus. For instance, in her article for this week’s opinion section, Skye Aresty ’16 calls attention to what she sees as an unhealthy and unequal hookup culture at Bowdoin fueled by men exerting a sense of entitlement over women.

We’re not sure how “gender violence” is differentiated from all the other forms of violence, but we can tell you we don’t feel ‘socially constructed.’  Then look at this passage:

As Professor Judith Casselberry pointed out in the discussion following the screening of “The Mask You Live In,” autonomous spaces, that is, spaces where people can talk with people like them, can be incredibly valuable. This is not to downplay either the importance of incorporating diverse experiences into conversations, or the necessity of recognizing that many of the people hurt by toxic displays of masculinity are not men. The Men’s Group is a good effort by a small group of students to recognize that issues of masculinity—including sex, fatherhood, emotional expression and mental illness—often go undiscussed, and to facilitate healthy conversations in spaces specifically designated for this purpose.

Notice how insiduously the statements infer that ‘toxic displays of masculinity’ (though not all by ‘men’!!!) are a concern, and that safe, designated ‘spaces’ are extremely valuable to address these ‘experiences.’

We’re not sure what the term “Orwellian” means, but we have a hunch it’s creeping right here into our very own perfect little town and its discourse, led by the cultural architects and renovators on the Bowdoin campus.  Think Human Rights Task Force.  Or overpriced gobbledygook spewing from coddled academics.  And degrees in “studies” of various sorts.

Please be careful where you pee, lest you be acused of a display of toxic masculinity.  Such behavior is reserved for the ‘boys will be boys’ men of Bowdoin, who frequently find public settings to be their preferred choice.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Appropriately Inappropriate: the self-inflicted trials and tribulations of those inside the Bowdoin Bubble

    

Appropriate is an interesting word; it’s both an adjective and a verb, each with several distinct meanings.  And it’s the root of other words: appropriately and appropriation, which likewise have multiple diverse meanings.

Lately it’s gained featured stature in the Bowdoin Bubble, and other enlightened spaces, in the term ‘cultural appropriation.’

You do know what the Bowdoin Bubble is, don’t you?  If you follow things in Brunswick vis-a-vis Bowdoin College, you should have heard the term frequently over the years.  Our take is that students use the term to suggest a hermetically sealed environment.  One in which they are intellectually, socially, politically, and culturally confined by the college establishment during their matriculation.  It has as much to do with being held captive, whether one realizes it or not, as it does to do with preventing the fresh air of outside thoughts from polluting the campus atmosphere they are expected to breathe.

                                           

Most of us over the years have seen Bobbleheads here and there.  They’re those goofy figurines with heads mounted on springs so they can move humorously about with the slightest disturbance.  They were once popular on dashboards or the rear package shelf of automobiles.

Town jester that we are, we’ve decided to play off this classic and call the denizens of the Bowdoin campus Bubbleheads.  Given their frequent mention of existing within the Bowdoin Bubble, the moniker seems poetically apt. We trust readers and the Bowdoin community will agree, and embrace the label.

You know us; we reflect on things and look for more logical, precise ways to explain things to you.  Here’s what we came up with during our latest reverie on this subject:

The Bowdoin Bubble:

A unique combination of institutional elitism; administration and faculty pomposity and virtue signalling; and student body self-absorption, immaturity, victimization syndrome, and assorted other trending neuroses of our day.  The result is a toxic and explosive atmosphere where one can barely breathe without threatening the delicate balance and fragile sensibilities of the campus ecosphere.

The “air” inside the bubble consists primarily of obsessive social justice warrior rhetoric, which has the effect of controlling one’s voice, even when one’s mind knows it shouldn’t. Sort of like an inverse truth serum.  This maintains pressure inside at acceptable levels, and helps those submerged in the deep dark underwater canyons of controlled speech and thought avoid the Bowdoin Bends. 

The bubble behaves like an ideal echo chamber, in which officially approved speech and thought reverberate over and over, but disapproved speech and thought disappear into a black hole.  It has multiple safe spaces, but only for officially recognized victimization classes approved and funded by the college establishment.

Those of us on the outside don’t want to get too close to the bubble, inasmuch as it has been known to suck the unwary in, quickly infecting them with early stages of Bubblehead Syndrome.  Intervention and lengthy deprogramming can be required to overcome it.

Drawing a spotlight to our perfect little town, the Bubbleheads have recently been making a big splash in National media outlets, thanks mostly to simple hats that have drawn attention to the workings of elite institutions of higher education like Bowdoin.  Without whom, we remind you, Brunswick would be nothing.

                          

For example, there’s this:  Bowdoin Wrongdoing

We really hope you’ll read it; “The Scrapbook” is a section of The Weekly Standard that often pokes fun at modren (sic) day cultural phenomena, as we like to do ourselves.  It contains references to coverage in the foreign press, among other things.  A few passages:

In early March, a story made its way into the national media that could have come out of Monty Python’s Flying Circus or some other absurdist British comedy revue of the mid-20th century. A group of Bowdoin College students were invited to a "tequila party" on February 20. Someone handed out sombreros.

Two days later, in an email sent to all students under the heading "Investigation," dean of student affairs Tim Foster wrote: "It has come to my attention that an act of ethnic stereotyping may have occurred at the College over the weekend." Foster mentioned that he had been in contact with college president Clayton Rose, who in turn wrote that Bowdoin must be a place where "race, ethnicity and other aspects of identity are not mocked or stereotyped, but rather are understood and celebrated."

On February 24 the Bowdoin students' general assembly voted unanimously to condemn this act of "cultural appropriation" and to demand that administrators establish a "supportive space for students who have been or feel targeted." The assembly made clear that it "adheres to the definition of cultural appropriation as the manifestation of racism where there exists a power dynamic in which members of a dominant culture take elements from a culture of people who have been systemically oppressed by that dominant group, perpetuate racist stereotypes, and/or misrepresent a people's culture." In other words: They made fun of my hat.

And this:

But, since it is our country, forgive us if we don't LOL as readily as our British colleagues. Bowdoin, a once-great American institution, is not being hypersensitive and ridiculous. It is being authoritarian in deadly earnest. Notice that the assembly's complaints of cultural appropriation were followed by a summons to intolerance and retribution: "The Assembly furthermore asserts that such behavior as displayed on 20 February 2016 and the anonymous attacks in the aftermath are unacceptable and do not reflect inclusive values. Such behavior will not and should not be tolerated by the Bowdoin community." The resolution recommended that the college "develop processes for punitive measures to be undertaken against those involved in such incidents."

Punitive measures appear to have been carried out. An op-ed in the Bowdoin Orient alleged that "punishments were given without any opportunity for students to defend themselves. The girls who threw the party are being kicked out of their room and forced to move, as well as being placed on social probation." Those who attended the party had been reprimanded, the correspondent alleged.

It is no wonder that further details are hard to come by, or that students who disagree with the political activists among them have resorted to anonymous posts on social media. The administration and the vigilantes of conformism it has empowered mean to stifle contrary views and have the disciplinary tools to do so. They are not whimpering and hypersensitive. They have got an imaginary grievance in their fevered heads and they are carrying it into the public square in hopes of finding people whose lives they can wreck. Certain Bowdoin parents must by now feel they are paying $60,000 a year in order to subject their children to persecution. Are they wrong?

None other than the “highly respected” Washington Post has written at least twice on the subject.  In case you think we’re pulling that fake moustache of yours, you can look here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/rampage/wp/2016/03/04/bowdoin-update-on-facebook-school-flaunted-photos-of-alumni-students-in-school-provided-sombreros/

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And here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/party-culture/2016/03/03/fdb46cc4-e185-11e5-9c36-e1902f6b6571_story.html

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In the above, you’ll see not only the image this post opens with, but several others that are curious, to say the least.

Then there’s this:  https://bajadock.wordpress.com/2016/03/07/snowflake-students-protest-sombreros/

Which contains these words:

The school’s reaction seems especially arbitrary when you learn that — on the very same night of the “tequila party,” just across campus — Bowdoin held its annual, administration-sanctioned “Cold War” party. Students arrived dressed in fur hats and coats to represent Soviet culture; one referred to herself as “Stalin,” making light of a particularly painful era in Slavic history.

What principle makes one theme deserving of school sponsorship and another of dorm expulsion? Perhaps race is the bright line, but not long ago people of Slavic heritage weren’t considered white either. Does intent matter? What about distance (geographic or chronological) from the culture being turned into a party theme?

These are worthwhile questions, ones tailor-made for academic debate. But they are also ones that Bowdoin’s students — like students on other campuses roiled by cultural appropriation controversies — now avoid discussing publicly for fear of being labeled a bigot. Many have instead taken to Yik Yak, an anonymous social media platform that the administration has repeatedly urged them to abandon, because anonymity lends itself to ugliness.

But this necessary conversation has no place else to go so long as colleges remain unsafe spaces for free and open dialogue.

Leading us to suggest that the icing upon the sponge cake of this post is the delicious irony that according to published reports, the Grand High Poobahs of Bowdoin’s administration have wet the very beds they sleep in.  On more than one recent occasion, they’ve approved/sponsored the very “cultural appropriation” they so virtuously despise.  Post-modernism is a wondrous thing, isn’t it?

If only it had been in effect during our college years, we could have ‘evolved’ Ohm’s Law (V = IxR) to Poppycock’s Law: V = W*xIxR, where W* is the Whatever Constant, which can be anything we’d like it to be.  We’d have aced most of our Double E courses!

The Bowdoin establishment, predictably, has been profuse in their virtue signalling in recent reports and statements, working feverishly to “wipe clean” the memory banks of past months and school years.

Is the punishment recently meted out to party-hearty students sufficient atonement for the administration’s own mortal sins?  Or should the juveniles on high be forced out of their offices, and placed on administrative probation?

             

Given the administration’s reunion gaffe, we think appropriate members of the administration should be perp-walked across campus, and made to lie prostrate in the center of the quad until such time as they can recognize and admit to what knuckleheads they are.  Submitting resignations would be ample proof of their change of heart.  The Board of Trustees, heavily comprised of one percenters, should demand this response.

On another note, we can’t help but wonder if students behaving sedately over a weekend could be accused of appropriating the culture of normal adulthood.  Leading to the need for Bowdoin officials to create a safe space for town residents who exhibit such minority behaviors.  Think about the possibilities:

A New, Less Hostile Form of Cultural Appropriation:  A Grown Up Party. 

This party will run from 3 pm on Friday afternoon until 11 pm on Sunday night.  Among other diversions, the party will include these fun activities and lessons in real life:

Pay-day:  Each party goer will be issued an identical amount of Monopoly Money with which to navigate the rest of the party.  After all, everyone deserves to be equal and receive their fair share.

Budget Segment:  Players will sit down and project their total expenditures for the rest of the party, and how they’ll allocate available funds to manage them.  Among other things, they’ll have to decide how much to spend on food, clothing, shelter, utilities, insurance, health-care, entertainment, transportation, digital services, etc.

Home Care Segment:  Party-goers will be given a sinkful of dirty dishes and a stack of bills to deal with.  They’ll also be assigned a plot of real estate on the campus, for which they are responsible.  They’ll have to rake leaves, mow the lawn, and pull weeds.  And then they’ll have to do it over and over every week.

Common Good Contributions:  Local, state, and federal officials will man tables in a central space through which party-goers must pass with their available Monopoly Money on display.  Officials will pluck currency from their hands as they see fit to finance whatever it is they wish to do.  Whiners will be ostracized and told that they ‘get what they pay for.’

Running Errands and Other Trivial Pursuits:  Students will have four hours to get an oil change, pick up their dry cleaning, shop for groceries, get their teeth cleaned, stop by town offices to pay property taxes and auto excise tax, pay bills, and work on their income tax filings.

Work:  This segment will include two hours of making phone calls, filling out various reporting documents, and listening to others drone on in Powerpoint Presentations, all while being affirming and non-judgmental.  Diversity training will add another two hours.

Social Interaction:  Party-goers will be required to turn over their digital devices, sit around a table with others, and spend two hours engaging in eye contact and verbal communications while doing so.

Rest and Relaxation:  Finally, a reward for the above efforts.  All in attendance will get to sit down on crappy old couches in their underwear and watch TV.  Shows like Dancing With B Listers, American Wannabes, and Dumbass Reality series with riveting scripts like  “If ah cain’t get this here still a’workin raht, ah may hafta get anutha year outta them thar tars on mah pickup.”

While we can’t speak for our readers and others in town, we give our solemn promise not to charge those attending this party with cultural appropriation of adult realities.

In light of all the foregoing, we’re a little worried that Brunswick could one day be known as the setting for the Bowdoin Cultural Insensitivity Witch Hunt, in which the accused were dipped in the hot oil of campus socio-political orthodoxy to see if they could survive the deep-frying.

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Frightening as this may sound, we remind you that Salem, Massachusetts has reaped the tourist rewards of similar silliness for hundreds of years, so there may be a silver lining to this kerfuffle.  We can even envision NNEPRA’s promotion of Downeaster packages to Brunswick, home of the “famous” Bowdoin Party Costume Trials.  Can’t you imagine vendors on the Town Mall selling Sombreros, Tam O’Shanters, Leprechaun (Irish fairy) toppers, Indian Headresses, and outsized Gangsta’ baseball caps and gold chains?

Color us outrageous for stereotyping Bubblehead culture if you must, but when you shoot yourself in the foot over and over, you’ve got to expect people to start selling bullet-proof shoes.

Before we say Goodnight, Mrs. Callabash, we should let you know there is an occasional voice of reason inside the Bubble, who we note, pays a price for his contrariness.  Read here: http://bowdoinorient.com/article/11019.  We warn you; what you read will be encouraging on the one hand, while confirming of the worst of our impressions on the other hand.  Such is the reality of our day, especially inside the Bubble.

We’ll leave you with these additional images mined from the reports cited above:

Note the fake moustaches, sombreros, Bowdoin Reunion tee-shirts, etc.  And make this final observation as well.

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The Bowdoin Bubble is like a snow globe: give it a little shake, and you’ll get endless amusement watching the flakes inside move every which way as they seek a collective equilibrium at the bottom of the globe.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Maine Wire: Part III of Deficits, Debt, and Drug Addiction

Herewith Part III of the subject series, now up on The Maine Wire web site: http://www.themainewire.com/2016/03/part-iii-federal-employee-compensation-reform/

    

This is the final installment, and it addrsses federal employee compensation reform.  Here’s an excerpt:

Now-a-days, constant news coverage frequently cites the salary levels of mid-level to senior civil servants, and I am astonished when I hear the numbers, especially since it’s fairly easy to find out what their benefits, including pensions, are. Many are living the high life, as revealed in the GSA expose a few years back, where one manager had his picture taken sitting in a whirlpool tub in his suite, glasses of wine readily at hand (see photo above). Numerous other revelations from various ‘conferences’ should have been embarrassing to those in charge, but disgraceful behavior has become accepted, and perpetrators assume they won’t be held accountable, lest their superiors be exposed for their own misbehavior.

The notion of ‘public servant’ has been all but invalidated by the behavioral norms of the vast majority of bureaucrats and those they employ as consultants. Witness Prof. Jonathan Gruber’s statement that “lack of transparency is a huge political advantage” and reference to “the stupidity of the American voter.” Throw Lois Lerner’s arrogance into the mix as she refused to take responsibility for clear illegal behavior as a senior manager at the IRS, and that of her agency chief.

We hope your thinking on the subject has been appropriately jostled.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Maine Wire: Part II of Deficits, Debt, and Drug Addiction…

   

This post last week was Part I in a three part series of ours on The Maine Wire.

  

Part II appeared today on their web site, and you will find it here:

http://www.themainewire.com/2016/03/part-ii-suggesting-obvious-starting-beginning-top/

A glimpse or two of the content…

Sometimes, seemingly intractable problems need to be addressed with ‘brute force.’ That is, you tell everyone to stop making excuses, and whack them ‘upside the head’ until they change their ways and remedy the situation. In the case of “addiction,” which is our operating premise here, it may be useful instead to begin lengthy analysis, in hopes of finding the ‘root causes’ of the substance abuse.

Other times, such as that before us, you heed the advice of Ronald Reagan, who said that the solutions to many of our worst problems are simple.

“There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right.” Ronald Reagan

And this….

As simple and obvious as this might sound to most of us, it seems beyond the logical grasp of those in federal government, and even worse, horribly threatening to their standard operating styles and tight grip on their sinecures, whether elective or not.

Which is why I propose instituting a methodology that forces them to confront reality, harsh and inconvenient as that can be.

As before, we hope these thoughts foment some discussion.  For some readers, it might ferment some reaction.

Either way, we’ll take it.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Maine Wire: Deficits, Debts, and Drug Addiction….

          

Earlier this week, The Maine Wire published Part I of our three part series on the title subject.  You can find the item here: http://www.themainewire.com/2016/02/deficits-debts-drug-addiction/

Here’s a few paragraphs to wet your whistle, in case it’s dried up in the winter months:

Maine, New Hampshire, and other jurisdictions are fighting a growing distribution of opiates, including heroin and wholly legal variants dispensed via prescription. Noted for their addictive properties, and overdoses that can be fatal, distribution and attraction for the vulnerable is becoming increasingly difficult to control.

OPM, while not a medical challenge per se’, is in many ways more troubling than opium/heroin. OPM, by its very nature, is addictive not only to those who spend it, but to the millions who receive it in one form or another. They find themselves smitten with those who distribute it, quickly dependent upon it, and hence prone to keep the “OPM dealers” in power. The street name for OPM varies from case to case, but pork is as useful as any.

There are no laws against distributing and spending OPM. In fact, just the opposite is true. Its cultivation, harvesting, and distribution are highly celebrated by most.

We’re very hopeful that you will read the first installment, and make sure to seek Parts II and III once they’re posted.  We consider the first part the ‘preamble,’ and parts two and three the real meat of our proposal. 

That’s ‘meat’ in the figurative sense, so vegetarians and vegans in our readership can partake of subsequent installments without any worries about sacrificing their beliefs.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Puns O’Plenty: “When it trains, it pours?”

 

Morton Salt is famous for its logo, shown above

 

Our pun here is based on the fact that earlier this week, a sprinkler system pipe burst in the Maine Street Station, above Scarlet Begonias and Byrnes Irish Pub, flooding both establishments.  Reports are that it will take weeks (into months?) to repair the damages and reopen.

It occurred to us that Downeaster diesel locomotives stop in the ‘back dooryards’ of both restaurants, as shown in the photo above.  Looks like no more than 20 feet or so away from the structure.  The trains arrive, and the engine idles until it leaves, exposing the ground and the building to considerable vibration loading while it sits there.  This happens multiple times a day, 365 days a year, and has been going on for more than 3 years now.

We can’t help but wonder whether this atypical vibration loading on the building structure and internal piping systems and such could be the cause of the pipe failure.  The building is too new to think deterioration is the culprit.  Vibration of this frequency over this long time span, at the very least, could put unusual stress on pipe fittings and junctions, we would think.

We also wonder whether building design and construction took this unusual vibration loading into account, and made appropriate adjustments to typical standards and reinforcements.

Only the Shadow knows for sure, and we’re confident that if the Downeaster and/or JHR enterprises are culpable in any way, we’ll never hear about it.

We wouldn’t want to spoil the perfect reputations of those who service our perfect town, would we?

Second thoughts on “Color us shocked….”

Once again, your humble correspondent follows up with some further nuggets related to the subject post published last night.

            

We have word via subterranean channels that Bowdoin student activists, following up on the concerns they delivered to the college administration last year, will soon demand that the Bowdoin Chapel be officially redesignated as the Bowdoin Cathedral of Openness, Affirmation, Sustainability, and New Campus Orthodoxy.  They want to use it as a safe space to draft a Catechism of Postmodernist Academic Theology, and hold mandatory classes for all students and administration personnel.

Separately, we understand these same students will demand that the Town of Brunswick create safe hookup spaces around town in various business establishments, and the Town Hall as well, so that when the urge strikes, instant gratification can be the norm no matter where no matter when.

                 

They plan to ask the good ladies of Brunswick to see to it that bowls of free condoms are made available all around town, and in our government schools, to demonstrate solidarity with contemporary college moral codes.

     

We think these ‘condoms on a stick’ should broaden appeal to all ages, yet befuddle town old foagies into thinking they’re just lollies for the kiddies.

Amazing how clever our good ladies and those crazy college kids can be when they put their minds together for the common good!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Pardon the pun: Color us shocked and questioning

We’re not exactly sure where to go on this post, since it deals with the hyper-sensitivities of the town of Perfect, or more correctly, the ‘community’ of Perfect.  Or if you prefer, Cape Brunswick.

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Along with the more-than-hyper-sensitivities of Bowdoin College, our very own Ivory Tower of higher education and purveyor of the tenets of cultural correctness in the new millenium.  (Some call them, ‘tenants.’  We’re here, if nothing else, to help with your vocabulary and spelling.)

But you know what?  Tough cookies.  In today’s civic discourse, we’re fire hosed with all sorts of grievances and tales of social injustice that threaten the very day to day, formerly inconsequential, pedestrian interactions of daily life.  “Social media,” our supposed internet based path to salvation, is equally useful for paving the road to hell.

Triggers?  Micro-aggressions?  Get serious!  Grow up. Or go back to living with Mommy and Daddy, or whomever helped you develop your ‘world view.’  And your pathological sense of victimization and oppression and entitlement to homage and restitution.

Last fall, our town leaders, sensitive as always to reports of local misbehavior, met with Bowdoin officials, at their request, to address remedies for mutliple allegations of sexual aggression upon Bowdoin coeds, and numerous reports of alleged ‘drive by’ verbal affronts hurled at Bowdoin students.

Since that time, the acts of sexual aggression have been investigated and dealt with by local Law Enforcement Officials (LEOs).  We are, however, unaware of any substantition for the reported incidents of drive by verbal abuse.

Regular readers of Side may recall our cautionary post, just days before Christmas (pardon the micro-aggression) -

(http://othersideofbrunswick.blogspot.com/2015/12/brunswick-bowdoin-race-gender-rape.html) 

- in which we worried that the formation of an official “Race and Gender Task Force” by the town would require a demonstratively forceful reaction, warranted or not. The charter of that group has evolved into a “Human Rights Task Force,” which raises the ante by an order of magnitude.

Is Brunswick ‘opposed to Human Rights???’  Are we a ‘community insensitive to fundamental respect for personal safety?’  Is this ‘who we are?’  Have we abandoned our recognized stature as the most beautiful of people?  Have we no dignity? Are the wheels coming off our carriages?

Who knows.  Anything is possible, we suppose, depending on your self-conception of Brunswick’s extraordinary place in the world.  Our own view was jostled a bit when we looked at the latest edition of the Bowdoin Orient.  The visual at the top of the front page is shown above, harkening back to a mass gathering roughly a year ago.  The article can be found here:

http://bowdoinorient.com/article/10917

The meat of the article is hinted at in this summary of student demands from that date, and how the College (the administration, to be clear) answered:

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As best we can figure, the Bowdoin ‘community’ consists of two primary cohorts.  The student body, made up almost exclusively of those ranging in age between 18 and 22, and conforming with the acceptance criteria of the college.

The other cohort is the faculty/administration, which also conforms with certain very specific expectations.

So to read the article linked to above is to rock us back on our heels, if there is such a thing.

The student body has been brought up swimming in a societal marinade of multiculturalism, postmodernism, celebration of diversity, an anything goes view of gender expression, and the embarassments of their parents’ class, race, and gender biases.

                

The faculty and administration are the masters of the marinade, having spent their formative years and their ascendancy into the campus intellectual elite as the architects of such theories.

We take this occasion to refer you to a recent article of some length that at least for us, tied together a lot of loose ends and connected a lot of dots on the battlefields of the culture war.  We hope you’ll take the time to read it; you may even find, as we did, some passages that seem as if they were written to describe conditions at Bowdoin (and Brunswick, by extension.)

You’ll find the article here: What Next for the Left? | The Weekly Standard

We maintain that if you persevere and read it in its entirety, you’ll have a far more coherent understanding of the current status quo, and may actually go back and reread it, as we have.

Now, because we can be silly at times, we have a ‘sidebar’ for your consideration, related to our main thesis.

What about mascots?

Shown here is the Bowdoin mascot: a Polar Bear.  Polar Bear?  The epitome of white might, power, and privlege?  How can this affront to our sensibilities exist in this day and age?

 

The Assistant Deputy Vice Dean of Mascots, Campus Atmospherics, and Animal Rights needs to face up to a serious town & gown problem.  We’ve been told a nasty whispering campaign is already going on around town, and that it’s even beginning to affect ridership on the Downeaster.

What about black bears, brown bears, gummi bears, kodiaks, koalas, pandas, Chicago Bears, Mama Bears, Pooh Bears, Papa Bears, Baby Bears, and all the rest?

Isn’t it time for bear diversity and inclusiveness?

  

Isn’t it time for this symbol of historic biases and social injustice to wave good-bye?

Wrapping It Up:

At some level, reading and absorbing this article in the campus paper could lead you to believe that decades and more of sensitivity training, celebrating diversity, adopting postmodernist views, and firehosing with the precepts of multiculturalism have made things worse, not better.  Especially when you consider that the leading beneficiaries of this cultural crusade should be those who occupy the ‘Bowdoin Bubble.’

Which must make those of us outside the Bowdoin Bubble, as in residents of Brunswick and the region, and those who drive through from time to time, positively savages and cretins relatively speaking.  If things are as bad as they say on campus, surely conditions off campus must be unbearable and wholly uncivilized.

                 

We’re not sure how the ladies of our fair town might take this; another run on smelling salts might be in the offing.  Whether or not the town council’s Human Rights Task Force is up to the challenge remains to be seen.

As for us, we’re reminded of a famous saying somewhere that says ‘physician, heal thyself.’  If the cultural re-education offered at Bowdoin, and the pre-training incoming students received isn’t enough to do the trick, it comes down to a very personal, individual matter.

               

“This isn’t who we are” deconstructs to a collection of “this isn’t who I am’s.”  And that includes all the individuals at Bowdoin, students and administration, who’ve succeeded in projecting their campus concerns about race and diversity onto the shoulders of Brunswick officials and residents.

    

And so we come to our close, whether sensible or not.  Frank Lee, we’re tired of wrangling with this item for the last several days, so we’re going to push the send button and let it fly.

We can’t wait to see the reaction.  Perhaps the Bowdoin Orient staff will even choose to contact us like they did a few years back.

Boola boola!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

CNT/NNEPRA: Brunswick, get ready to become Boomswick!

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Stand by for heavy rolls, Brunswick.  According to the authors of the above report, this area, and several others along the Downeaster corridor, are poised to experience explosive growth and economic development.  And we don’t have to do anything!  The magic of Transit Oriented Development (TOD), like most mystical elixirs, will do it for us.

Shirley you haven’t forgotten The Center for Neighborhood Technology from Chicago, employed by NNEPRA to project the benefits of Downeaster passenger rail service upon our beloved community and state.

We discussed them in December, and pointed out they are anything but an objective, detached, non-ideological honest broker in such specialized topics.  Their effort that we discussed in that post (http://othersideofbrunswick.blogspot.com/2015/12/consultants-honest-brokers-or-agenda.html) was dated 2008. 

They are, instead, the sort of foundation funded snake-oil purveyors favored by TrainRiders Northeast, the Brunswick Downtown Association, and All Aboard Brunswick as they seek air cover for their phantasmagoric advocacy for big taxpayer spending on wasteful programs catering to the few at the expense of the many.

Hiding the waste of such funds in the budget of state agencies like NNEPRA makes it all the better.  This ‘authority’ is virtually autonomous, and lacking in accountability and transparency.

Which is why NNEPRA has been able to contract with CNT for a follow-up ‘study,’ with no complaint from taxpayers, the legislature, or their very own Board of Directors.  This effort is called “Downeaster Going Forward,” and curiously, was delivered in a draft version in 2014.

We’ve managed to obtain a copy.  And we’ve excerpted pages that pertain to Brunswick so that you, dear readers, along with TRNE, the BDA, and AAB can bathe in the wonder of the latest projections.  You can find the Brunswick excerpts here:  https://www.scribd.com/doc/298879006/CNT-2014-Downeaster-Going-Forward-Brunswick-Related-Excerpts

(Note that when the file opens in your pdf viewer window, you should be able to rotate the view of the tables that appear in landscape format in the report.)

At this point, we have no real stomach for drolling on about the delusional views contained in the study.  We ask that you read the excerpts linked to above and judge for yourself.  Perhpas some ‘highlights’ will entice you to do so.  Like this brilliant recording of the promise of Thompson’s Point development plans:

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Not to mention CNT’s mention that the main building at Maine Street Station is three stories, when it is in fact two stories.  Which emphasizes, ironically enough, how CNT engages in story telling whenever it suits their and their sponsor’s interests.

Now for local advocates and foamers, here’s the primary development area the Downeaster will be ‘exponentially’ benefitting economically, to borrow a term from one such advocate:

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Now, let’s whet your appetite with this projection:

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That’s right; 3,276 new households within 3 miles of our train station.  That’s positively California style mega-development in scale.  Imagine the traffic on Maine Street, not to mention the parking crisis.  Oh well, at least the carriage set will have their dignified choo-choo upon which to ride.

Freeport is expected to grow by 945 households in the same period.  Sounds like we better all start building multiple new schools now to prepare for the onslaught, not to mention expanding every other aspect of municipal infrastructure, including the water and sewer systems, public safety services, and you name it.

We also suggest the town council immediately appoint an ‘Explosive Growth Task Force’ to address this looming and much welcomed crisis.  We’re already 6 years into the 20 year growth period used in the study, and have 3,000 plus new households to add over the remaining 14 years, or an average of more than 200 per year from here on out.  Think of the sprawl!  The smart growth!

Don’t you just love it?  Boomswick, here we come!  Tired old retirement community, we think not!

We confess that we have no idea why this particular “Draft” effort has not been refined into a Final version and formally distributed for public consumption.  If we had been in charge, CNT would not have been engaged in the first place, so a draft would never have come into being.  Their wild exaggerations and ideological bent are a matter of public record at this point, and we’ve made note of their reckless projections here on Side, and in a formal presentation to state officials, including the DOT Commissioner, the Governor, and the ED of NNEPRA.  That presentation resides here should you wish to revisit it: https://www.scribd.com/doc/284589130/PRAC-PDF-Briefing-13-October-15

So far, our inquiries to NNEPRA and CNT regarding the status of the effort have yielded absolutely nothing in the way of a response, and we asked months ago now. 

Perhaps those offering such ‘remedies’ have moved on to other more lucrative markets; you can draw your own conclusions.  Just be careful where you walk so you don’t step in something you regret.