Thursday, October 13, 2016

“The Card Is In The Mail…..”

You know we’re grasping for straw when we take an old saw like “the check is in the mail” and morph it into “the card is in the mail.”  The thank you card, that is.  Which always arrives from an appreciative and gracious recipient, even if a bit late.


Many of us have had thank you cards from newly married couples show up months after the event, and we’ve always assumed it was since their parents received numerous ‘ahem’ phone calls asking if ‘the kids are OK, because we haven’t heard back from them.’

We’re surmising that since we haven’t received our thank you, you probably haven’t received yours either.  On the other hand, if you have, and we haven’t, that pretty much confirms where we stand in the town social order.  We have no illusions about that; we’ve done a pretty thorough job alienating various actors in the local aristocracy, at least one of whom refers to us as “Mr. Grumpy.”  In public places.

By now you’re probably wondering who the illusory thank you card might be from…..if only in our dreams.

Here’s a clue:


In case that’s not enough, there’s this:


So what is the occasion for sending this note along?  Believe it or not, it’s been three years plus since this post appeared:

It contained this passage:

Here are the actual words from the note:

3. On or before August 1st, 2016, one hundred percent (100%) of the original principal sum, equal to Two Hundred, Forty Seven Thousand Dollars ($247,000), and the accrued interest, in the amount of Thirty Three Thousand, Five Hundred Twenty Five and 07/100 Dollars ($33,525.07), for the loan term for months one through thirty six, and the accrued interest of Twenty Thousand, Nine Hundred Sixty One and 67/100 Dollars ($20,961.67) for the loan term for months thirty seven through sixty, will be forgiven, so long as the Maker is not in default of any of this Promissory Note’s terms and the following requirements have been met:

We find the presence of the words “On or before August 1st, 2016..” combined with the words “for months thirty seven through sixty…” cognitively dissonant, thank you very much.  But you know us; we’re just a country class engineer, not a ruling class attorney or government official.

Well here we are, more than two months beyond the trip-wire date mentioned above, and we have it on official source that the principal ($247,000) and the accrued interest ($33,502.07), for a total of $280,525.07, have been totally forgiven.  Here’s the proof (in two clips):



All you should need, we think.


Finally, after all this time, the gracious lady above, and all the other good ladies of Brunswick who put their hearts and minds and souls into this arrangement, can have their precious “closure.”


Not to mention the Kings of Brunswick Taxi, who now have closure on a one-time liability on their books, in the amount of $280,525.07 or there-abouts.

Compliments of Brunswick Taxpayers, we should note.


Which is why we’ve been watching our mail for a Thank You card, just as you have.

But you never know.  Maybe Brunswick Taxi will be personally delivering your card to your door.  Although not every one is willing to believe that…..


One last thing; it is college football season, and as we’ve speculated in the past, the Kings of Brunswick Taxi could well be Florida Youniversity fans.  We don’t know what your card, if it ever comes, will say, but we’re expecting ours to close with a hearty “GO F You.”

Friday, October 7, 2016

“Brunswick Believes: A Strategic Framework…”

Greetings faithful readers; as you know all too well, our pace of publishing has been almost zero in recent weeks (and months.)  We’ve been exceptionally busy of late on other matters, but we won’t bore you with the details.  At least at this moment.

Today we want to tell you about a “work” recently published by the Brunswick School Department.  You can find it here:


We hope you’ll take the time to read and study it to get a sense of what your local government school department prioritizes in this day and age.

We won’t give you our thoughts just yet so you can read it without being biased by anything we might say or not say.  But we will offer this advice.

Read it once to get an overall sense of the themes and content.  Reflect on that, and come back in a day or two and reread it more carefully now that you’ve had a chance to think on it.

Whether you have children in the system now, or will have them there in the future, or had them there in the past, try to see the material presented in the context of how you would like the schooling of your children to be conducted and focused.

And if you’re in the age bracket of the Sides, make sure you consider the material in the context of how you would want your grandchildren to be schooled, and the priorities of the school system they might attend.

Pay particular attention to the vernacular, phraseology, and vocabulary of today’s government school establishment.  It might even give you reason to go back through the material a third time.

Enjoy…and be ready to pay for the taxes to make these strategic moves.

Technorati Tags: ,,

Friday, September 2, 2016

The road to “social justice:” paved with unclear and troublesome intentions


As we often say, we’re cursed with an active mind.  It’s one of the reasons this blog exists.

And that characterization is becoming all too real…the cursed part, that is.

Regular readers know that one of the consequences of Side’s affliction is a tendency to read journals dealing with ‘academia,’ and specifically the state of affairs on college campuses.  Combined with the proximity of Bowdoin College, which we ‘watch’ to some modest degree, we can find ourselves in the strangest of places.

Now throw the Brunswick “Human Rights Task Force” into the mix, and we end up with a concoction so yeasty that we worry it could ‘explode’ all over the walls and ceiling of the Other Side editorial kitchen.  It’s actually quite amazing what basic flour, salt,  yeast, and water can do if you give them some time, and don’t pay attention.

Our friend Chance stops by from time to time, and he’s visited longer than we would have liked this week.  He told us of some happenings on the campus of our Alma Mater, Rutgers University, that figuratively blew our minds.


Our memories of the four years we spent on the Old Queens campus in New Brunswick, NJ are so strong and fresh in our mind that we were afraid what he brought to us would burst our bubble, to borrow an image.

We stipulate that we are a cranky old SOB, and not easily given to the social compulsions and trends of our day.  We even think, from time to time, that whatever we’ve learned and experienced in our three quarters of a century might offer some useful counterpoint to the au courant sensibilities of the post-modern era.

As one example, we find it a bit cognitively dissonant that the coeds of Bowdoin make an annual ritual of  putting on a Vagina Monologues show, and willingly subscribe to a ‘hook-up’ culture that rationalizes and glorifies the one night stands of not that long ago.  Yet at the same time, they bemoan the ‘objectification’ of themselves, and the ‘campus sexual assault’ culture.

Duh, we say.


The image just above is at the top of this article:

There’s enough in the article alone to keep us busy, if we’d allow it, for weeks.  For now, we’ll just hit you with some of the ‘new language’ developments, like the three types of ‘micro-aggression:’ microassaut, microinsult, and microinvalidation.  Just imagine the new types of victimhood this opens up. 

Are you paying attention, Brunswick Human Rights Task Force members?  You better be if you’re gonna stay ahead of the game.  And THIS is a game; a very serious one.

Fertile as our imagination is, we see this whole ‘micro-‘ thing working its way into the hook-up culture.

“Hey, babe, I may be micro-attracted to you, and it could turn into micro-affection.  If I told you I micro-loved you, would you take it laying-down for one night of micro-sex?” Maybe micro-relationships will evolve from the hook up culture.  You know, something lasting 36 hours or more, which is to say beyond the hangover phase.

(Warning to those with fragile sensibilities; a brief adult moment follows immediately)

Reminds us of the old joke about a guy at a bar asking the broad sitting next to him is she’d go to bed with him.  “What is it with you?   You don’t care about my mind; all you care about is my body!”

“Whadda ya mean?  I wanna bleep your brains out!”

Ok; the moment is over.

Then there’s this passage:

Rutgers president Robert Bachi defended Yiannopoulos’ right to speak on campus despite expressing views that may be considered offensive, but the “Language Matters” campaign contradicts that message through 60- to 90-minute workshops examining how “negatively charged words...create a damaging environment for all of society,” during which presenters seek “to demonstrate how microagressions hinder our ability to have a diverse and inclusive society/community."

Once you’re paying staffs good money to generate that sort of psycho-social-babble, there’s no turning back.  They become self-perpetuating and self-breeding.

Call us alarmists, but we wouldn’t be a bit surprised if students at the Rutgers College of Law are busy preparing themes on how to take this concept and turn it into a case to repeal First Amendment free speech rights.  “For the greater good,” you understand.

The link embedded in the passage quickly took us here:


Which offered up innumerable rabbit holes; far more than we care to explore right now.  But if you spend a few moments surfing through the top level menu options, it shouldn’t take you too long to find out about the annual “Gaypril” celebrations, and the free renaming services.


“Whatever floats your boat” obviously won’t cut it anymore.  Between what you’ll find on the bleeding edge of campus social revolution and the now relatively mundane “body art” pursuits, somebody needs to come up with a fresher platitude.  We’ll gladly accept your suggestions here, and offer them up for our readers.  Here’s a hint: we think sinking fits better than floating.

We’ll leave you with this assurance: we aren’t the least bit apolgetic for being put off and saddened by what we glean from our ‘scholarly research,’ both that we’ve given you a glimpse at, and far more that we haven’t.  What we’ve found doesn’t make us ‘more hopeful’ or ‘renew our faith in humanity.’  To the contrary, we fear for what our children will be facing as they approach the years of sending our grandchildren off to an IHE (Institution of Higher Education) they’re willing to tolerate.  And for your progeny as well.

By the way, we’re currently considering renaming Bowdoin College “Fort Bowdoin, Home of the 7th Brigade of the Social Justice Warfare Command” or something to that effect.  What’s going on there seems too militaristic at this point to continue thinking of it in the old ‘boola, boola’ framework.  If it makes you feel any better, we intend as well to rename our Alma Mater “Fort Rutgers, Supreme Headquarters of the Social Justice Special Warfare Command.”


And for a little levity, we’re going to put together a training syllabus for the skills we adopted and perfected during our college days.  We exoect the response will be underwhelming on both campuses, but you gotta start somewhere.

    Image result for mooning from car

Good night, moon.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

On Foamers, Sow’s Ears, and Silk Purses

Funny how thoughts and memories come at us as we ponder a possible post.  For reasons we can’t explain, in this instance we remembered the silly phone pranks of our childhood in the 50’s.

“Hello, do you have Prince Albert in a can?”

“Yes we do.”

“Then please let him out, he’s suffocating.”


Which led us to think about “Foamers in a can,” and off we went from that point.

You probably wonder why the term “Foamers” came into play.  Well, If you frequent the halls of power in Augusta frequently enough, which we don’t recommend, you’ll eventually hear the accolade “foamers” used by weary and cynical bureaucrats.

Though we suspect it has wider use, in our experience it’s most often applied to describe passenger rail advocates, and especially those seeking millions upon millions of OPM so they can indulge their hobby at the expense of the rest of us.  Our interpretation is that their exuberance for their favored project often causes them to figuratively, if not literally, foam at the mouth.  But it’s a close shave.

Yesterday we had a few moments of clarity.  To begin with, Side and three friends met for lunch at Byne’s Irish Pub at the Brunswick station.  The place was 80-90% empty, and our food was relatively undistinguished, though that matters little in this essay.

At roughly 12:30, we felt the rumbles of the incoming Downeaster and stepped outside to the adjacent platform to view the ridership for ourselves.  We personally counted 14 or 15 passengers gettting off; our friends had a count no higher than 17 as best we can recall.  The Amtrak conductor in charge, however, indicated he had a count of 20 riders to turn in to Amtrak and NNEPRA officials.

Say what you will about Side, but we assure you that no-way, no-how did 20 riders get off that train.  So we’re left, as we have many times in the past, to ponder just how Downeaster ridership figures are collected and compiled.


Back to the foamers.  Two of our favorite in this category include Tony Donovan, Portland real estate developer and head of the Maine Rail Transit Coalition.  He recently had an opinion column appear in the Portland Press Herald, in which he made this assertion:

“A mile of road costs about the same as a mile of rail line, but a road must be rebuilt every decade or so. In contrast, rail lines last more than a half of a century. Also, by reducing the number of cars on our road system, trains reduce road repair costs substantially.”

Along with a dozen or so equally unsubstantiated propaganda claims


Then, of course, there’s our old friend Wayne Davis, Founder and Chair of TrainRiders/Northeast, who humbly assigns himself credit for creating NNEPRA and bringing the Downeaster into being.  The same Wayne Davis who not that long ago said he ‘wished we hadn’t brought the Downeaster to Brunswick,’ and told the Governor’s staff that it was his job to select nominees for the NNEPRA Board, in spite of statute saying that is the Governor’s task.  You can see the modesty and humility in his face in the photo above.

Davis was also quoted in a recent article, in which plans for spending another $9.4 million in capital construction to ‘optimize’ Portland North (Brunswick) service was described:

Constructing the Royal Junction track and completing the layover station will add ridership from Brunswick, which has consistently exceeded forecasts, said Wayne Davis, chairman of TrainRiders/Northeast, a passenger rail advocacy group.

“We are glad that something we recommended over 20 years ago is finally coming to fruition,” Davis said Tuesday. “The ridership figures are way above forecast. July was the biggest July ever. It just gets better, which is wonderful.”

Which sets up the final scenes in this story.  Wouldn’t you just know that NNEPRA recently held a Board Meeting, as they do from time to time.  If you read the briefing  package prepared for these meetings, you’ll rarely see anything that grabs your interest.

In this case, however, we’re extremely grateful to Mr. Davis and his groupies at TRN.  Because they posted a report on the Board Meeting that reads as follows:

  TRN Report August 2016full

Which is to say that they published the truth for a change.  We hope you read the entire page, but if you don’t, please take note of the mention of “the botched tie job” in FY 15 and 16, and the fact that you can already count on Downeaster Service out of Brunswick (as far south as Wells) being totally cancelled for at least two months coming soon.

Looks like you might want to invest in motor coach stock, if you can get your hands on any.

While the service ‘break’ should give the staff at the Brunswick Station Departure Center a well-earned rest from their grueling service, we do expect that the ladies of the AAB will be left agog.

                         Image result for All aboard brunswick

There’s nothing more unsettling, of course, then leaving our town lovelies agog. You know who we mean: Knox, Harris, Boochever, Wilson, Dunbar, and the rest of the All Aboard Brunswick dance team.  We mustn’t mess with the bookies and the schoolies; now we can add to that the trainies.

Oops!  We almost forgot; there is one other teenie weenie little problem.  AAB ladies and the other trainies know that TRN provides ‘volunteer hosts’ riding along on Downeaster runs, ensuring that customers are content and enjoying their sumptuous accomodations, provided at an extremely high discount via the generosity of unknowing taxpayers.


We don’t know whether the volunteers will be told to ‘stand down’ during the months long service stoppage, or asked to (oh, the horror!) ride the buses standing in from Brunswick to Wells.

If they do, they’ll be forced to give new credibility to the old saw about turning a sow’s ear into a silk purse.

We hope they carry spare knitting needles with them on each ride.  If they’re inclinded towards humor, they can always ask passengers whether ‘they have Wayne Davis or Tony Donovan in a can.’


And when riders look perplexed, whip a handy can of Barbasol out of their kit bag, and recite an appropriate jingle from the old days..  If they can’t pull it off, they’ll lose their porcine cosmetology license.


Who says we’re not still crazy after all these years?

Friday, August 19, 2016

Snowflakes, Town & Gown, and Human Rights Task Forces


“What do you get when you cross a …….”  On second thought, we won’t stoop so low as to make a joke on this.

Besides, what happens here in official Brunswick when said Task Force finally fights their way out of the box they’re in will in all likelihood be far more yuk-worthy. 

And wouldn’t you just know it, we got a glimpse into this just today:

Let’s look at a few passages:

BRUNSWICK — The Town Council accepted a report from the Human Rights Task Force Monday, and authorized the panel to continue working on its mission through the end of the year.  The 7-1 vote approved eight recommendations and initiatives that the task force will undertake in the upcoming months, many of which build on or complete  work the group has already begun.

Translation: “Whooh!  We managed to kick the can down the road, and avoid having to be decisive, conclusive, or judgmental in any way.”

The Human Rights Task Force was established last December in response to an increase of racial and gender-specific slurs downtown and near Bowdoin College. Soon after its inception, the task force expanded the scope of its inquiry to include all classes protected under the Maine Human Rights Act. Brayman called the conversations “open and informative,” and an opportunity to sit down and listen to the community. Most notably, the conversations have resulted in the Police Department’s implementation of an online bias report page, which has had two submissions to date.

Translation:  “In keeping with bureaucratic tradition, we immediately expanded the agenda to muddle the original impetus for the effort.  Our PD has established an on-line reporting portal, whose use to date has been underwhelming, but we still consider it a major step forward.”

According to the report, “the Task Force was not presented with evidence of widespread bias. The incidents reviewed by the Task Force appeared to be isolated, individual acts.”  The task force’s inquiry was originally supposed to take six months. But Brayman said the group believes the town will benefit from the continuation of the conversations they’ve started, especially because it has since widened its scope.

Translation:  “Yeah, we got swept up in the heat of the moment and over-reacted.  But now that we dug this hole we’re in, we’re hoping to find some prescious stones to make the effort seem worthwhile.  And come up with post facto reasons for why acceding to campus demands will eventually look like the right thing to have done.”


Beyond granting the task force more time, the council also accepted a list of recommendations to encourage community organizations to participate in the dialogue. The recommendations include workshops and web pages devoted to the issue, as well as promoting lines of communication between the town, Bowdoin College, and the Police Department to identify and deal with incidents of bias.“We met people from different parts of the community that we don’t usually talk to,” Wilson said Monday. “I think the relationships (the task force) is building with organizations in the town will be worth” the effort.

Translation:  “More workshops, more web pages, and encouraging dialogue.  Leadership 101, making it clear ‘this is who we are.’  Besides, we met some more people, and we’re hoping they can offer up some new complaints to make the task force seem worthwhile in retrospect.  They may even give us reasons to turn this into a never-ending effort, with no need to reach a conclusive result.”

We’ve written about the Task Force, as you likely know, in cautionary terms, and wondered when we would hear something decisive.

We submit that the use of the term “bone-headism” by one of our town leaders may be the most piercing and prophetic observation to date on this subject.

Enough said.  Our purpose tonight is to pass along a ‘learned article’ to provide some context for the task force.  Written by a faculty member from Princeton, it provides some ‘insider’ insights into the campus activism of  our age, along with an interesting theory on what is behind much of it.  We found the article informative and rational.


We caution you not to assume from the title that it’s ONLY about black rage.  You’ll see as you read it that it covers virtually every type of ‘snowflake’ currently inhabiting IHE’s like Bowdoin.  Here’s a key passage:

I believe that much of this recent frustration can be explained—and the perplexing question “Why now?” answered—by a phenomenon long known to historians and social scientists that might be termed the “Tocqueville Effect,” after its first extensive description by Alexis de Tocqueville in The Old Regime and the French Revolution (1856). In this work Tocqueville explains why extreme anger and hostility are often the result, not of the most objectively oppressive conditions under which people may live, but of what has been called a “revolution of rising expectations” in which people come to entertain exaggerated hopes of a better future that the actual conditions of life inevitably disappoint. Unfulfilled social expectations lead to painful frustration, frustration leads to bitterness and anger, which, in turn, lead to social and political unrest—up to and including riots and revolution.[1]

The article is a bit of a slog, but we believe that those who read it all the way through will be much better informed in the atmospherics of our ‘community.’  And when you do, keep in mind that the physical borders separating the campus from the town are indefinite and confused.  So when you read the words ‘campus community’ in the article, we think it’s fair to interpret that more broadly to include in town neighborhoods surrounding the campus.

The article is well foot-noted.  And it may cause you to wonder whether what transpired in Cape Brunswick isn’t part of a larger, orchestrated effort to show ‘solidarity’ with other campus activists across the nation by ‘joining up,’ rather than an organic initiative arising from within.

Here’s the link:

We’ll be interested to hear your reactions and comments, though our readers are historically loathe to post actual thoughts.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

$10 million here, $60 million there, pretty soon you’re talking real money….

We’re paraphrasing, of course, a famous quip by Senator Everett Dirksen some decades ago in which he famously said something like “a billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.”

If you really want to shock your system, watch the under two minute video recorded in 1965 in which he worries about national debt.  You’ll find it here:

We’re here today because of circumstances that astonish even your correspondent, and that’s a bit of a challenge, given the bizarre behavior we’ve observed over our lifetime.  Thanks to the Mackinac Center for their concise intro for what we have to say.



So let’s get right to it.

There appears to be no limit to the preposterous stupidity and recklessness with which our federal and state governments will spend other people’s money.  Money they don’t even have to spend, given federal deficits and runaway national debt.


And no limit to the number of silver pompadoured elite activists who will demand government do so to satisfy their hobbyist cravings, and  then have the gall to pat themselves on the back for coming up with the idea and convincing those in charge to spend it with wild abandon. 


Flim-flammers like this believe it is their right to have Government take funds from others (you and yours, and ours as well) by force of law, so they can spend it on their personal wants and ego monuments.


What are we talking about?  This article from yesterday:

It describes NNEPRA’s plan to spend another $10 million or so ‘optimizing’ the Portland North Downeaster Expansion, on which roughly $60 million has already been spent on capital projects, with no hope of recovery.  Downeaster operations, just for good measure, bleed about $1 million a month on top of that.

So you can readily understand how another $10 million in capital spending is warranted.

We’ve written about this very subject before…in fact a number of times.  We all know that NNEPRA, TRNE, AAB, and the other guardians of public funds have a stable full of horses in this race. Still, as the saying goes, there’s no such thing as a horse that’s too dead to beat.

So we’re going to refer you to a post of last year, in which the need for this siding was proven totally false, based on the analysis of a career professional passenger rail manager, with far greater experience than anyone on the proponent’s side.

Here’s where you can find the post:  You’ll find out that NNEPRA has failed more than once getting a federal TIGER Grant to fund their wildly unnecessary expansion plans, because, well, it’s fun to spend OPM, right?


The core of the opposition to the need for this $10 million siding is this simple diagram, which shows existing track conformation, and the proposed new siding:

In a blinding statement of the obvious, just 3 miles away from the site of the proposed project is an existing 1.9 mile siding which can easily accomplish the same functions.  If only those concerned wanted to do so.  Yet there has been no public airing of the options, or second thoughts in the halls of Augusta.


Why?  Because if we don’t go ahead and spend money we don’t have, there will be too, too many unhappy ladies of the town, worrying that they’re not being catered to like they’ve come to expect.

Here’s an idea that builds on the fine example set by our governments.  The next time you want to ride the Downeaster, buy your tickets with counterfeit currency, or pay for them with a maxed out credit card, or write a check for them on an overdrawn checking account.

We’ll close with another truism, and remind you that in this case, ‘government’ is, in effect, NNEPRA, and their hired abetters at TRNE, AAB, MRTC, MRG, and the rest.


So whenever you ponder what your share of the national debt is, be sure to thank your lucky stars that at least you know exactly who to hold accountable for some of it.

As if that will do any good.

Technorati Tags: ,,

Friday, August 12, 2016

Maine Wire: A nation of laws?


The Maine Wire ran another one of our commentaries this week.  You can find their presentation of the item here:

Their editorial practices are a bit less flexible than our own, especially as it pertains to the use of embedded graphics, which as regular readers know, is something we use extensively, if not wisely.

They chose to drop this visual


in favor of the stock US Capitol shot above.  A matter of personal taste, we suppose.  The lovely shot of King George III (the third) followed this opening text:

Recently I attended the MHPC luncheon at which Tom Fitton, Head of Judicial Watch, was the guest. As he spoke, it occurred to me that saying we are ‘a nation of laws’ needs a modifier, and that would be ‘from time to time.’ Or if you prefer, ‘when we feel like it.’

Having laws on the books is one thing; administering them, obeying them, and enforcing them is an entirely different concern. And these are the things that matter; not having the laws on the books.

It became apparent as Tom spoke that when it comes to the latter aspects, we are anything but a nation of laws. In fact we are just the opposite.

You may recall that the President who would be King, currently reigning over the United States, came into office on the heels of an unusual public statement by his Senior Advisor, Valerie Jarrett. Most prior presidents said they were ready to lead, serve or govern. But in the climate of today’s imperial ‘administration,’ such old-fashioned ideas are passé.

“Given the daunting challenges that we face, it is important that President-elect Obama is prepared to really take power and begin to rule day one,” Jarrett, then Co-Chair of the Obama Transition Team told Tom Brokaw.

We hope you’ll read the entire published column, and perhaps be motivated to ponder the subject, and our current state of affairs, a bit more deeply.


It can’t hurt to know who your Kings are, even if we’re not talking chess.

Your move, reader.

Technorati Tags: ,,

Thursday, August 11, 2016

A MUST SEE at MSMT: Mama Mia!

We gave a glowing review to MSMT’s Production of Fiddler on the Roof several days back.  It was a truly memorable show, and one of the all time favorites of musical theater fans.

Well, here we are with an even more emphatic review of MSMT’s Mama Mia!, which the Sides saw tonight.

It is, simply put, colossally good!  We had seen it in Toronto in a touring Broadway production perhaps 10 years ago, and loved it then.  We had front row center seats sitting over the shoulder of the musical director, who was sitting at our level.  The energy of the show was beyond anything we had ever seen, and totally absorbed us.

ABBA is a mostly forgotten musical group at this point, and probably invites laughs if you mention them in discussion.  This show’s magic is that it was created well after their peak popularity, and weaves a compelling  story by using their songs to carry the story forward, and very cleverly so.

As we walked out after the show, Mrs. Side said “this is the best show we’ve ever seen here,” which is high praise, given we’ve had season tickets for 20 years.  We have to agree with her, though we’re reluctant to lower our ranking of the favorites we’ve seen in prior years, like Fiddler.

We had front row seats for this production; our usual location.  The fact is that the quality and professionalism of MSMT offerings has steadily improved over the years.

Trust us when we say that if you like musical theater, you will LOVE this show.  Even if you turn up your nose at ABBA’s music and their costuming.  The show is chock full of superb song and dance numbers, and we promise it will put a huge smile on your face.  It works like magic.

We’re not sure how easy it will be to get tickets at this point; MSMT’s web site says they’ve added additional performances.  We implore you to do what you must to to scare up some tickets; you won’t be sorry.

And you can trust us on this; we’re not like all the others.

Technorati Tags: ,,

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A tchotchke for Side readers


Four of us just got back from a performance of Fiddler on the Roof put on by MSMT on the Bowdoin Campus.

The musical, if you’re not familiar with it, is one of the all time great shows to begin with.  And this MSMT production is spectacularly good!  Broadway quality in every sense of the term.

If you aren’t currently planning to see it, by all means try.  Not sure if they have many seats left, but the show is an absolute winner and will warm your heart and dazzle your senses.

As an added bonus, here’s a link to a Yiddish/Yinglish glossary:

Reading it should give you a barrel of laughs, and coincidentally would be useful homework if you do go to see the show, which is about Jewish people and their traditions.  No yiddish words we can think of appear in the show, but the Jewish style of humor and language usage is on full display.

Enjoy the show in good health!

Of black holes and other anomalies: Whither goest Brunswick’s Race and Gender Task Force?

Do you remember this post from December last year?


It contained the above image, along with a letter from Council Chair Sarah Brayman describing her intent to form a Brunswick “Race and Gender Task Force” to address worrisome events in town over the prior months.  We warned that doing so would likely place a monkey on the Council’s back; they would have to DO SOMETHING, DO ANYTHING, even if no systemic issues were uncovered.

We also noted that the general phenomenon of campus unrest on such issues appeared to be an organized movement nationwide, rather than a serendipitous unfolding of concerns unique to Brunswick, America’s perfect little town.  We could be wrong, but it seems to us the story has lost some of its legs locally, given that as best we know, there has been an amazing decline in reports of the kind of incidents that sparked the interest of ‘town leaders’ in the first place.

We followed up with another post:

As things unfolded, one member of the council suggested that the Task Force be redesignated a “Human Rights Task Force,” elevating Brunswick, it would seem, to an adjunct of the United Nations.  This reaffirmed our conviction that Brunswick is rife with social justice warriors always ready to bog down municipal government with issues of global politics; issues that are none of their legitimate business in the context of Town Council responsibilities.  (Don’t worry; I’ll get over the bleeding tongue in a day or two.)

A report on the meeting that made disposition of the Task Force plan is here:

Note the public posturing by the usual suspects. A few interesting passages from the article are these:

“I don’t know how much control any (legislative body) has over bonehead-ism,” Councilor Suzan Wilson said.

Councilor Jane Millet, who had originally supported the task force, said she found the direction the motion had taken “bizarre.”

“It’s tough to fix stupid with groups like this (task force),” Councilor Steve Walker said. “But the task force is … an opportunity to learn what tools are out there.”

The task force will report back to the council in June 2016.

Our concern, irrelevant as it is in such matters, is that ‘human rights’ has become a catch-all term for the march to socialism, and justice warriors include such things as these in the mix:

The right not to be responsible for your own support and that of your ‘family.’

Expecting a ‘village’ to raise your child responsibly rather than making that your obligation.

The right to ‘socially construct’ your gender, your biological species, your race, and your sexual experiences.

The right to a free college education, even if you aren’t qualified for college work.

The right to have ‘someone else’ provide whatever it is you’d like to have to live a comfortable middle class existence.

The right to earn a wage well beyond your value to your employer.

The right to be excused from a vast array of criminal behaviors because society made you do it.

The right to have others provide your health care in all forms.

The right to have others pay for your ‘reproductive rights.’

etc, etc, etc…

A few months back we attended one of the Task Force meetings; the discussion focused mostly on the needs of local foodbanks, etc, which seemed well outside the ‘race and gender’ sphere.  Our worst fears were confirmed.  The Task Force had quickly moved beyond its reason for creation, and its charter, and become an open-ended charitable discussion group.

We subsequently inquired when we could exect a wrap-up and report on the group’s work.  Recall the original plan to “report back to the Council” in June.  The answer we got was that reporting out was TBD, and that the group was seeking input from area clergy and others to further explore “community needs.”

We expect any suggestion that they complete their work and report back to the town will be seen as hard-hearted and mean-spirited.  We suggest, therefore, that the easiest way out for those who began the process is to avoid the issue by any means necessary.


All very noble of the principles of course, except for the fact that this has nothing to do with why the group was formed.  We’ll likely be scolded for a lack of compassion, and so be it.

We look for our Town Council to manage the enterprise of Municipal Government, and nothing else.  Their example here does not build confidence in how they manage budgets, town staff, and other pressing issues of town administration.

On the other hand, in most cases we can think of these days, government has become the dominant charity organization at all levels, so why should we expect anything less from our local betters? 

Doing good with OPM can be so satisfying to the soul.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

School construction costs increasing! Quick…get the smelling salts!!!



We’re admttedly pretty cynical when it comes to watching school bureaucracy plans evolve in Brunswick.  Particularly when it comes to their cost and impact upon taxpayers.

That shouldn’t surprise you, because the only domain in which the school bureaucracy operates, for the most part, is in spending and its impact upon taxpayers.  When’s the last time you saw them push a concerted campaign for improving the teaching of the basics (dare we say the 3 R’s?), and for improving ‘the children’s’ mastery of the very basics it takes to navigate a life in today’s complex world? 

When’s the last time you heard anyone in the inner circle talk about increasing, or strengthening expectations, rather than relaxing them to account for various social maladies of our day?

Or when’s the last time you heard someone in the bureaucracy publicly apologize for allowing student bathrooms to fall into disrepair, or for allowing roofs to collapse for lack of having snow removed in time?  Or for ventilation systems becoming plagued with mold?  Or for that matter, those responsible being fired, or at the very least, disciplined?

The reality is that you haven’t, just as you haven’t seen or heard much about the reliably generous increases in teacher salaries independent of any performance measures.

But eventually, you do hear, whether you want to or not, about the need to spend tens of millions to remediate the incompetent stewardship of our publicly funded physical assets.  At least according to PDT and Lyndon Keck, who seem to have a monopoly on school facility planning in Brunswick, Topsham, and who knows where else.

Which brings us to the heart of this post:

“BRUNSWICK — The cost of building a new school could be at least $25.8 million, higher than initial estimates, according to a new projection.  The estimate was announced at a meeting of the School Board Facilities Committee Wednesday, June 29, by PDT Architects, the firm that has been designing a potential new school building for the site of the former Jordan Acres Elementary School.”

As often happens in such coverage, the really ‘juicy’ parts of the story are buried several paragraphs further down, where those who just skim the paper might very easily miss them.

“Yet even with shaving about 11,000 square feet from an earlier design, the new estimate is higher than the $24.5 million previously presented to the board. That’s because the earlier number came from a 2014 building analysis, and was informally adjusted for inflation, according to Keck.”

So even though the size of the building was reduced by 12% plus, inflation on the smaller building still drove the project estimate up by 5%.  If you do the math, you could argue that inflation is nearly 20% since that 2014 estimate.  But hold on; there’s more good news:

“The board and PDT, however, still have work to do. Not included in the $25.8 million estimate are premiums for geothermal energy, playgrounds, and interior furnishings, along with inflation. Premiums included, the new school could cost about $27.8 million.”

Board members discussed bringing in furniture from Coffin Elementary School, and possibly excluding geothermal development – a savings of $700,000 – as ways to cut costs.  

Can you hear the mommy mafia, the board, and the other usual suspects furiously arguing that to do so would be ‘penny wise and pound foolish, unfair to the children, and something town taxpayers don’t support?’  We sure can.

Let’s get to cranking up your steam pressure:

“Outgoing Facilities Director Paul Caron presented the pros and cons of geothermal energy, which heats and cools Harriet Beecher Stowe Elementary. “It was good in the beginning,” Caron said, but with future maintenance costs, and the low price of oil and gas, the investment looks less attractive for the future.”

If we didn’t know better, we’d say that sounds like ‘pig in a poke’ language, similar to how the ‘open classroom’ design of Jordan Acres quickly became an orphan child, with no one held accountable.  But wait; there may be even better news coming, in the form of a surprise:

“There may be “big capital assets we never budgeted for,” he said.”

As the article winds down, a glimpse into reality begins to appear:

“The amount of the bond remains to be seen: if the money for a new school is combined with approximately $6 million needed to repair the aging Brunswick Junior High School, voters could be asked to approve more than $30 million.”

You can see how a careless reader might conclude the cost to taxpayers was going up by a million to $25.8 million, when in fact, ‘more than $30 million’ is clearly the talking level of the moment, and the new baseline for further discussions, since you’ve now been nudged that far along on the yellow brick road to our new utopian school plant.

We inquired of the Town Finance Director just how much of an impact the bond issue will have on our property taxes.  She quickly responded with a detailed briefing on the subject she had given in March of this year.  We’ve posted it here for you to read, absorb, and estimate the impact on your taxes:

It may be far more detailed than most readers want to see or are willing to muddle through.  Still, it has the stamp of official analysis to give it credibility.  Except as to the total amount that will finally come before us for a vote.

Given the way things work around here, you might want to think in terms of $33 to $35 million, which is a far more likely amount.  Or, if you look at page 2, and conclude the eventual outcome will be to go for the whole magillah, with the various escalators that will sneak in, more like $40 million.


Needless to say, it looks like we may have to call LT Dover, Benjamin back into duty to help us get into shape for what’s coming.


He should be enough to help the fragile and malleable amongst us come to terms with our tax outlook for the next several decades.  Once the final number is decided upon, we expect the School Board to break it to us gently, and encourage us to accept the figure as one we can all adapt to.


All of this on top of revaluation may make it extremely confusing and difficult for some, however, and especially those who try to get to the bottom of things.

Resistance, however, is futile; there are ways, you know, of turning us around.