Thursday, August 31, 2017

AABBB: All Aboard Brunswick’s Breez Bus!

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We know it’s a bit early to judge the success of the new Metro Breez service between Brunswick and Portland, but we can’t help but wonder how the lovely ladies of All Aboard Brunswick are coping with the new approach to inter-city transport.  Are local pharmacies running short on smelling salts?  Or bicarbonate of soda?  Is Hannafords seeing a decline in demand for bubbly and caviar? 

If nothing else, at least Staples should see slight growth for printing new stickers for the ladies to hand out to Brunswick’s always faithful but unrealistic transport groupies.

If so, we wouldn’t be in the least surprised.  The schedule and route flexibility of the Breez service simply blows away Downeaster service between Brunswick and Portland, and by extension, between Brunswick and Boston.  Not to mention the same for Freeport and Yarmouth.  The Breez will get you to Portland for $3, with far greater schedule and stop location than the Downeaster could ever hope to offer.  We can think of no credible reason to choose taking the Downeaster to Portland over the Breez other than fanatical devotion to trains, which in many places in the world, makes one a “foamer.”

For those who want to go to Boston, there is no reason to select the Downeaster as the way to get to Portland as part of that journey.  Taking the Breez to Portland, aside from its far more frequent runs and drop off choices, will get you to the Portland Transportation Center (PTC) where all the options for heading further south open up.  You can choose a Concord Bus to take you directly to your gate at Logan Airport, or choose the Downeaster to drop you off at North Station, where you can get to your downtown Boston destination by other means.

Let’s be honest.  Frank Lee, the combination of the Breez to Portland with the options for getting to Boston from the PTC simply cannot be matched by Downeaster service.  We expect the latter will soon have to put special fare discounts in place to compete with the Breez.  This would increase the annual subsidy required for the train, which if Portland North service were discontinued, could be used to more than cover Breez operations.

This situation is a perfect illustration of why passenger rail service has all but died over the last several decades; it simple doesn’t make sense from any perspective in all but the very fewest cases.  Digging heels in and demanding that no matter the evidence, the Portland North train service must continue, is a breach of the public trust, hanging on to a legacy boondoggle that benefits the few at the expense of the many.

The condition of our roads, bridges, and the rest, especially locally, should make it clear to all but the most gullible and intransigent that it’s time to acknowledge the mistake that was made and correct it.

We don’t see how anyone could look at the details available here and conclude otherwise:

http://gpmetrobus.net/

We could simply copy the schedules and route graphics, but that won’t suffice.  You need to look at the information yourself.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Admin Note

If you signed up for email notification of new posts on Other Side, but have not been receiving them, be sure to check your spam folder to see if they’ve ended up there.

We’ve been puzzled ourselves by this, and just found several notifications from recent weeks in our spam folder.

This has been the source of other problems for us over the years.  Somehow the email app decides to change its knowledge base on spam, without telling us.  So it’s good to take a look every now and then.

The editors.

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Bowdoin spares Brunswick from national embarrassment

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Although in truth, their actions may draw attention to our lovely and perfect little town, given the nature of the “news industry” (formerly journalism) these days, and its scouring of the internet for juicy tidbits.  Especially if they come on the backs of other blockbuster stories.

 

Out of an abundance of concern, we presume, and no doubt paralyzed by fears of incoming student unrest, a shortage of safe spaces, places of refuge, a run on counseling services, stuffed animals and coloring books, and other stability and tranquility preservation modalities, Bowdoin administrators must have conducted a “tossing” of the campus in a manner worthy of official thought police.  They must have been looking for the slightest mention of or artifacts that might be construed as official recognition of any person, act, or portrayal relating to or referencing the Civil War era, and specifically, those who were on the side of the South.

Intent on signaling their virtue, and to prevent this elite and harmonious area from becoming a stop on the road out of Charlottesville, the Administration contacted Maine’s major print media outlet to tell them of their due diligence and resulting purge from public display of anything that might cause shame to rain down upon “Fort Bowdoin – Headquarters of the 1794th Northeastern Social Justice Warfare Command.”

http://www.pressherald.com/2017/08/19/bowdoin-college-is-moving-confederate-memorial-plaque/comments/

We can’t help but wonder whether the process also discovered all sorts of things that will require degendering. 

Calling the HRTF!  Have you scrubbed the town from stem to stern?  Shirley there must be numerous offensive items everywhere if you look hard enough.  And those looking to be offended victims will, we assume, look hard enough if not too hard in their search for validation and new-found stature in the pantheon of PC.  Curtis Library, here they come!

What about the 300 year old First Parish Church?  Is your record clean?

How about those of long ago who wore cotton clothing?  And who dug up the clay to make all the bricks in Brunswick buildings?  What basics of our lives back then originated in the south, and were the fruits, at least in part, of slave labor?  Did anyone eat citrus grown in the south?

Well, you should get the point.  It’s like the game “Seven degrees of Kevin Bacon.”  If you think about it enough, you can usually connect one thing to some other random thing with fewer logical steps than you might guess.

And cultural purges, in particular those driven by political correctness and social justice concerns, could easily become the subject of party games and chit chat nationwide.

One can only wonder how long it will take Bowdoin’s bleachers to go through the library, faculty offices, the bookstore, student housing, administration buildings, and any other places where books and other materials may contain reference to historical events or individuals that could be an embarrassment to modern day sensibilities, and more importantly, to the pristine reputation of the college as a leader in political correctness, no matter what that might entail in knowledge management.

And we’re just talking about one old college in Maine.  The search for virtue has only just begun, as demonstrated here:

http://www.pressherald.com/2017/08/19/whats-a-jefferson-davis-plaque-doing-in-joshua-chamberlain-territory/

                               

Let the games begin!

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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Who you gonna trust….your lyin’ eyes, or the ???

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Anyone who knows us is aware that we are anything but apolitical.  In fact, we might even qualify as a “political junkie” at the JV level.  We readily and happily admit that we have strongly held partisan preferences and principles.

None-the-less, we’ve worked hard to keep Other Side out of partisan political battles, as distinquished from local issues of a political sort, which are for the most part not overtly partisan.

Every now and then, however, we observe things in our midst that are dripping in and shaped by partisan bias, and this was one of those weeks. As your faithful correspondent, we feel a duty to tell you about them, and you can be the judge of whether we’re off base.

We’re talking about two articles that appeared on The Forecaster web site this week, both reporting on local events that were organized in response to the violent clash in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend.  Neither appeared in the print edition we picked up yesterday.

We found both to be extremely deficient in their references to the facts of that clash.  In the past, we’ve generally found The Forecaster to be pretty accurate in their reporting, especially when judged by those stories in which we have first hand knowledge.  We won’t go so far as to say that the lapse this week results from them becoming a branch of the Portland Press Herald media conglomerate, but we will certainly be watching more carefully from here on out.

We can’t be sure what coverage of the Charlottesville activity you watched, but the coverage we saw, in video form, clearly portrayed that there were two “sides” or factions on the scene and engaged in pretty serious physical ‘rumbling’ involving various forms of cudgels, shields, helmets, flame throwers (whether working or not), hurled items, and all the other modern day accoutrements of civil unrest, as some like to call it, or rioting, as others might call it. 

Clearly, the violence involved two opposing groups, because it was violence against individuals, rather than violence against property.  At least in the coverage we saw.

Now to The Forecaster reports posted on their web site.  We really don’t want to give you the links and generate more clicks than they deserve, but we suppose we have no choice.  We’ll begin with the content that jumped out at us as intentionally and blatantly one sided.

First, their coverage of a rally in Portland on Sunday published on their web site on Monday the 14th.   Here’s a snip of the article’s opening lines:

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Here’s the passage that tweaked us:

In Trump’s Aug. 12 response to the violence that began as white nationalists, Confederate sympathizers and neo-Nazis objected to the planned removal of Lee’s statue from a Charlottesville park, the president said “many sides” were responsible for the fighting, injuries and death.

But for the people in downtown Portland, there were not two sides to be considered, only a growing presence of intolerance abetted by the Trump administration that could only be confronted at the most basic levels.

One of the photos in the article is below, and as you can see, it centers on a sign claiming that only one side was involved.

You can take this two ways….blatant distortion of the facts behind the actual Charlottesville event, or an “inadvertent” error of omission.  Clearly the nation is divided on how they see it.

But arguing for The Forecaster becomes more of a challenge when you look at the second item, which reports on a far smaller event in Yarmouth.  Here are the relevant points.

Yarmouth responds to Virginia violence

By The Forecaster on August 15, 2017
About 40 people gathered in downtown Yarmouth Sunday evening, Aug. 13, to show their opposition to bigotry and racism after a demonstration last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, by neo-Nazis, white nationalists and Confederate sympathizers turned violent and deadly. The Yarmouth marchers heard statements by local lawmakers and then marched together singing “We Shall Overcome.” (Roger S. Duncan / For The Forecaster)

This coverage clearly describes the Virginia event as a “violent and deadly” affair in which only one element on the political spectrum was involved, as if the fighting shown in the video coverage was between friends just to generate news reports.  Gimme a break, will ya?

We’ll stop here, rather than inflame any local passions with our essay.  But you can bet we’ll no longer accord The Forecaster the respect we have since we first started reading it.  And we know many in our midst once did as well.

For years we’ve referred to our local print media as The Ostrich; maybe this is the start of The Forecaster’s campaign to take that title away from them.  We hope not, but these are perilous, uncertain, and unpredictable times, 

Come to think of it, we haven’t even considered the effect these events will have on the mental stability of Bowdoin students as they show up on campus.  We suggest the Counseling Service “brace for impact,” as they say in the Navy.

And then there’s this:

“There are none so blind as those who will not see.”

Oh yeah:

The Portland event coverage link: http://www.theforecaster.net/hundreds-denounce-racism-in-downtown-portland-rally/

The Yarmouth event coverage link: http://www.theforecaster.net/yarmouth-responds-to-virginia-violence/

Friday, August 18, 2017

Zip-a-dee-doo-dah and Bowdoin’s High Anxiety Levels

 

Humor us as we make another delayed observation on Bowdoin and self-evident truths.  It turns out the term “Zip” has taken on a new interpretation in today’s world of instant gratifcation, no matter what your desires may be.  That’s the truth, it’s actual; just lookee here:

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In a sense, zipcar is a modern day parallel to renting motel rooms by the hour.  And communicating with tweets of 140 characters or less.  Or hooking up on campus.

In hooking up, you start a relationship and end it in one party or less.  Sounds like fun, unless you think beyond your libido and the next 12 hours, which today’s brightest and best apparently see as passe.  You know, so yesterday, and so confining.  So restrictive…so, well, suggestive of commitment.  Who wants that?

So perhaps we should think of the student body at our nearby paragon of small, elite, highly selective, very expensive liberal arts college as zipguys, zipgirls, zipqueers, and any other fashionable term for hook-up partners.  And when we do, given the high level of stress and neuroses among the student body, we think it’s right to wonder whether such rampant serial hook-up promiscuity could result in relationship and itnterpersonal anxiety.  Not that there’s anything wrong with it….

Unless you consider that when you dehumanize yourself to the sum total of your erogenous zones, gay abandon, and willingness to chug-a-lug, smoke, and swallow whatever is offered to you, in copious amounts, you don’t really have much claim on victimhood or wanting to be respected for who you are, do you?  Either in the morning, or the night before.

Call us old-fashioned in such things,

But you know what?  As we recall our lifetime of experiences, in which we somehow escaped the need for regular visits to a therapist, we’ll accept that designation with great joy and satisfaction.

We’d just like to suggest the current Bowdoin student body reflect on how they’re going to view their scrapbook of random hook-ups 10, 20, 30 and even 50 years from now.  And how a cavalier view of the mysteries, pain, and pleasure of such things diminished or expanded their appreciation of all life has to offer.

PS on Brunswick’s Santa Claus

Recall this post a few days ago: http://othersideofbrunswick.blogspot.com/2017/08/yes-brunswick-just-like-we-told.html

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As we were driving home from lunch today, Mrs. Side remarked on how bad the conditions of Brunswick’s roads are.  And Shirley she is right.  We are the bane of auto owners and a delight to auto mechanics.  Lots of salt, and lots of washboard (and worse) paving, and you have auto mechanics full employment circumstances.

  

Suddenly we remembered our two Senators in Golden Egg land.  And we thought, if these laying hens can squeeze out millions for runways, taxiways, and hangars at BXM, which averages about 3 aircraft arrivals and/or departures a day, surely they can squeeze out an egg or two annually for Brunswick’s roadways.  And taxiways. of course, as we recall the fine fiscal largesse Brunswick Taxi has managed to squeeze out of public coffers.

If the winners, the chosen few in town, can latch on to public dollars so easily, isn’t it time for the rest of us, the thousands of unchosen, to have someone bring home the bacon for us?  Last time we checked, this town, with total spending of more than $60 million a year, was spending in the range of 1% of that for road surfacing/paving. 

Considering the importance of connecting us all via our infrastructure, we find this figure horribly underwhelming.  At the same time, it points out how a few million a year in crumbs from King, Angus and Senator Susan could make an incredible difference in our municipal byways.  And we’re pretty sure we average well over 3 personal, commercial, and public safety trips per day.

Hell, we’re all subsidizing the Downeaster at the level of nearly $10 million a year.  Compare what it means to you on a daily basis, compared to the use of our roads.

  

When you come right down to it, who doesn’t like bacon and eggs?  Especially when it’s free?

Two over easy, please, with bacon crisp!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Post Script: Bowdoin’s school year and self-evident truths…

Let’s begin with a relevant quote:

Illiberal Education

At root the problem is American education, which has become thoroughly dominated by the illiberal thought-world in which social outcomes always trump universal principles. That’s where the battle has been lost.

- from a National Association of Scholars report

Another favorite:

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.

(And this is from 25+ years ago!!!! Before current college students were even born!)

One of the chronic afflictions Side suffers from is the curse of an active mind, which in this particular case means we kept thinking of more comments after we published this post three days ago:

http://othersideofbrunswick.blogspot.com/2017/08/the-social-justice-year-in-review.html

As we thought about the materials in that post, and our hypothesis on why there could be so much anxiety among the Bowdoin student body, we recalled some words from the Declaration of Independence, which for some of us matters more than ever, but for a growing number, is a dusty and worthless remnant of America’s founding by the very essence of ‘white privilege.’

Here are the words we’re focusing on:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

In particular, the notion of ‘self-evident truths’ seemed entirely apropos our earlier essay.  It is, we think, at the core of our hypothesis, that much of what students are confronted with and marinated in inside the Bowdoin bubble and the wider culture is in direct conflict with a multiplicity of realities that society has considered exactly that – self evident truths – for centuries.  Realities they are now being told are relics of the past, simply social constructs from an unenlightened age.  The overarching issue, of course, is at the heart of post-modernism: that there is no such thing as objective truth.                                               

From Wikipedia:

Postmodernism asserts to varying degrees that claims to knowledge and truth are products of social, historical or political discourses or interpretations, and are therefore contextual or socially constructed. Accordingly, postmodern thought is broadly characterized by tendencies to epistemological and moral relativism, pluralism, irreverence and self-referentiality.

                                       

(The Ouroboros, shown above, a dragon that continually consumes itself, is used as a symbol for self-reference.)

Surely having larger truths with the stature of 2 + 2 = 4 in human knowledge and understanding suddenly declared obsolete, myths, or otherwise no longer politically acceptable can cause cognitive dissonance and mental conflicts, and eventually lead to anxieties calling for ‘professional’ help.  As well as behaviors that only make things worse.  When large groups in a common setting begin to experience such consequences, all sorts of responses and reactions are possible, as we are seeing more and more frequently.

Given our list of notes made subsequent to the earlier post, we decided we’ll follow the “random comments” approach to pass them along, rather than go through the struggle of fitting them into a “structured,” linear narrative.  Coherence is so outdated, don’t you agree?  So here we go.

*  Bowdoin Leadership:

At the MSMT production of “Newsies” the other night, we were watching the preshow listing of sponsors on the large video displays.  One of them was Bowdoin, calling itself “a leader in studies of the environment.”

We thought to ourselves that given the growing need for therapy to deal with anxieties, maybe the college should focus more on the psychic environment within which students spend their 4 years.  Which is to say the environment between their ears, and the effects the college is having on it.  Are faculty and administration doing everything in their power to see that student mental equilibrium is ‘sustainable?’

* A Research Idea: 

How about this for some research associated with the above comment?  First, come up with an “Anxiety Index” that can be established by a certified professional, with appropriate scales, types, and factors.

Once that is created, require applicants and/or incoming freshman to submit their Index as part of the intake process.  Then repeat the evaluation during their senior year.

Compare each student’s Index for their intake and senior years to see how much it has decreased or increased during their time at Bowdoin.  Analyze the results for the student body as a whole to see just how much effect matriculation at Bowdoin has on the collective student body.  Comparing the two should help clarify whether each student is inherently neurotic, or the Bowdoin experience, in all its glory, has created the anxiety or amplified it.

                                      

We must allow, surely, for the possibility that one can suffer from Anxiety Free Anxiety Disorder: the irrational fear of not having a socially acceptable anxiety disorder.

* Language Revision:

In keeping with the trend of putting “preferred pronouns” in the official record for each student, we’re wondering just how this trend of redefining the meaning of accepted, commonplace words in the English language will proceed.

Terms like mother, father, son, daughter, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, grandfather, grandmother and their various derivatives are grotesque and primitive biological stereotypes.  Assign a task to incoming juniors to develop a list of replacement for these ancient and hurtful terms.  This easily warrants a “field of study” designation, and creation of courses that address the abuses that have existed for most of recorded history.

Extending the concept, what should expecting “parents” tell friends and relatives?

“We’re having a TBD!”

“It’s a male (female) at the moment, but he (she) will decide later what they are (at that moment).

How about the Doctor in the delivery room?  When he holds the baby up by its feet in the classic delivery pose, and examines the plumbing with which it was delivered, among other things, what should be his allowable choice of declarations?  Here’s what we believe on this subject: our conviction is that sex (or gender) is biologically ‘assigned’ at conception, and becomes undeniably apparent at birth, except for an extremely small number of sad cases where a child is delivered with anomalys.  Later excursions on the gender expression axis, which now contains more than 50 identified variants, do not change biological reality.  Gender ‘fluidity’ makes a mockery of biological science as we see it.

Should we finally get rid of those boring blue and pink color stereotypes we’ve all used for centuries as themes for layettes and nurseries?  Gray would be ever so much more sensible, don’t you think?  Or beige?

* Is Bowdoin a College, or Day Care?

Just for fun, read this item, and think hard about it in the context of triggers, micro-aggressions, safe spaces, etc:

“This is not a day care.”  http://www.okwu.edu/blog/2015/11/this-is-not-a-day-care-its-a-university/

* Sexual “Objectification?”

Perhaps feelings that you, as a female (whatever that means to you at the moment!) at Bowdoin, are sexually objectified stems from some terribly obvious behaviors on your part with the willing support of college administrators, including benign indifference.  Such as calling male partners “f_ck boys;” getting up in front of audiences to talk about your vagina; letting it be known that you willingly participate in the hook-up culture; publishing columns in the campus newspaper that discuss pudenda shaving,  prostate stimulation, and other fine points of hooking up; and an administration that litters the campus with bowls of free condoms.

Be honest for just a moment; the entire campus is obsessed with matters of sexuality in all its splendor and variations.  The notion that any element of ‘mystery’ might best be reserved for adult years, when one is more mature and interested in an enduring relationship and a family of one’s own has been tossed by the roadside like so many empty beer cans.

Just look at trending “studies” areas, and the all consuming challenge of determining what one’s gender expression is this month and might be next month, all while flitting from one sexual escapade to the next, leaves little time for other traditional pursuits.  These issues of gender and sexual expression permeate and envelop an ever growing number of classic “liberal arts” subject areas.  In the classroom, out of the classroom – one cannot escape being bombarded with the views of others on these most personal of subjects.  Or at least they used to be.

* One observer’s view:

After 20 years of observation on the campus of Brunswick, we’ve concluded that the majority of residents, and the overwhelming majority in the governing elite and establishment classes, either graduated from Bowdoin, act like they have, or at the very least, wish they had.

             

We’re going to sign off with this from our extensive ‘favorite quote’ archives:

"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

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Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Single-Ended Double-Ended BMLF; questions of public trust and public benefit all in one swell foop

Before we get to the main subject of this post, we decided we want to remind you of a recent exchange with NNEPRA, as we attempted to fulfill our responsibility of keeping you well informed.  The text below appeared in a post dated June 9th of this year, which you can find here:  https://othersideofbrunswick.blogspot.com/2017/06/downeaster-economic-benefits-and-other.html

We think it’s appropriate to remind you as well that the entity that operates the Downeaster was unable to document “Economic and Public Benefits” associated with the service.  Which is a lovely addition to the fact that Brunswick’s Town Council refused to even discuss the subject of local economic benefit when we proposed doing so in 2015.

Dear Mr. Schaeffer:

This is in response to your electronic request to the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority dated­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ May 31, 2017 requesting documents pursuant to Maine’s Freedom of Access Act, 1 M.R.S.A. § 400 et seq.

Any and all materials produced in response to the FY17 Draft Action Plan item to “Identify and Promote Economic and Public Benefits associated with the Downeaster”.

“There are no documents responsive to this request.”

How’s that for an outcome?  The very organization that operates the Downeaster, pursuing the goal for 11 months, could not come up with any constructive benefits to share with us.

Now that you’re in the proper frame of mind to hear more good news about Downeaster operations, lets see how you react to the new information we have for you today.

Side believes that unelected government bureaucrats, working with OPM (other peoples money) can always be counted on to do a far better, more efficient, and economical job than can their counterparts in the private sector.  Especially those who have Carte Blanche for their efforts, and who operate with essential autonomy from the marginal oversight and accountability practices inherent in the main branches of State Government.  </sarcasm>

            Image result for All aboard brunswick

Which, surprise surprise, brings us to the Brunswick Maintenance and Layover Facility (BMLF) constructed under the management of and with funding from the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority (NNEPRA.)  All with the attentive admiration of the train ladies of Brunswick, known as AAB.  (We’re wondering how they feel about the new Metro-Breez bus service coming to town.)

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The MLF is designed with three identical garage doors at both ends -- East and West; three tracks inside the building; and switched "ladder tracks" at each end to route train sets between the MLF interior and the main-line track.

In theory, this is a "drive through" facility like the modern Fire Station facility east of Cooks Corner.  No backing in or out should be required.  Trains coming up from the south for storage should enter the MLF on the west side.  Trains heading from the MLF to the Brunswick station should exit on the east end and head directly to the station.  Trains heading from the Brunswick station to the MLF should enter on the east side.  Etc,

However, our observers have witnessed train sets regularly backing out of the west end of the MLF via the ladder tracks, and across Church Road (which is blocked during the maneuver) beyond a switch adjacent to the BIW CROF building.  The switch is then thrown, and the train enters the main-line and heads east to the Brunswick Station for the 11:00am southbound departure.  We’ve seen it multiple times ourself.

       

In other words, in the observed cases, the east end MLF access doors and the east end ladder tracks/switches are not used at all.

This raises concerns that the tracks/switches at the east end of the MLF have design and/or construction flaws that make them unsuitable for maneuvering the Downeaster train sets, and there could be other problems as well.  Design and construction must be well engineered and constructed to avoid damaging train set operating components or exceeding design limits.

                                         

This situation merits investigation, since the east end access doors, switches, and tracks could easily have added millions to the project cost.  That they are not part of operation of the facility as originally planned is highly suspicious.  The workaround adds additional closings of the Church Road gates, and additional noise and pollution impacts to adjacent areas.

                      

We expect responsible authorities to come forward with an explanation, and when they do, we’ll publish it here so you’ll know there’s nothing to see here, and you should just move along.

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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The “social justice” year in review, Bowdoin College style

(Ed. Note:  We’ve been collecting source material for this post for nearly a year now, and concluded it’s time to publish.  Frank Lee, material turned out to be more plentiful than we originally estimated, so the raw form of the post became quite long.  We’ve spent several hours editing it, and after doing so, have concluded the best thing to do is publish it in the form you see below.  It is perhaps the longest post we’ve published, but we encourage you to do your best to make it through the series of cited articles and columns.  We promise that in return you’ll have a new-found appreciation of the social weaponry being developed at Camp Bowdoin, Headquarters of the Maine Regiment of the Social Justice Warfare Command.  Including weapons of mass confusion.  We apologize for our lack of dedication in refining the post further, but not much, actually.  In a wierd way, it may be that the haphazard and confusing structure of the post is entirely appropriate to and indicative of the general subject.) 

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It’s widely accepted that Bowdoin College is the anointed thought leader here in the best little small town in America.  Among other things, they’ve compelled the creation of a Human Rights Task Force, which as we’ve argued before, is a deep hole from which there is no electropolitically viable escape. 

Various town councilors and other community “leaders” meet from time to time looking to validate this body, and to convince those who compelled it that yes, the town heard you, and even though it doesn’t quite know what to do about it, sympathetic officials will keep trying, if only to stimulate complimentary press coverage every few months.  Their work on “who we are” continues, with no estimate available on its completion.

We think you also know that Side considers itself to have a fiduciary obligation to keep readers abreast (sorry for the sexist term) of thought breakthroughs on the Bowdoin campus.  We do that primarily by picking up every edition of the Bowdoin Orient we find in local establishments, and scanning it cover to cover for the latest in cultural breakthroughs, and other overthrows of long held common sensical views and positions.

So today we come to you with an assortment of such ‘advances’ from the campus newspaper during the recent college year.  Among the more compelling and endearing such reports are the items we cite below, in which bloody tampons are celebrated as “art,” and human feces are used as political “statements.”  Kids will be kids, won’t they?

No wonder Brunswick is so much better off for having this elite, highly selective, small liberal arts college anchor our town, and impose our cultural norms.   Not to mention having their way with our municipal government.

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http://bowdoinorient.com/bonus/article/11612

Students could choose to use their own photographs or the photographs of others for their installations. According to Professor Koster, the goal of the project was for the message and themes of the photographs to take precedence over authorship. He encouraged students to think about the interaction between the space, the audience and the installation.

This assignment resulted in nine different installments around campus. Victoria Pitaktong ’17 attempted to reduce the stigma around women’s periods by hanging images of her friends’ bloody pads in the stalls of the men’s bathroom in David Saul Smith Union. 

“I think there’s a lot of taboo around the period—that it’s nasty, people just don’t want to talk about it,” she said. “I find it difficult to hear when men say that women are just whining about their periods when they’re going through pain. You can’t even look at these things directly, how can you say women are weak?”

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http://bowdoinorient.com/2017/03/31/feces-found-in-mens-room-used-tampon-box/

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Couldn’t someone tell those ‘who menstrate and want to use the male facilities’ to carry their own damn tampons with them?  Don’t they realize that such facilities are simply social constructs, and don’t really represent any ‘identity truth?’  Apparently, you can’t post-modernize or socially reconstruct your way out of your body menstruating….which should be a slap up side the head, shouldn’t it?

Not too many years from now, these social justinistas will be sporting looks like this, purchased at great cost from places like Barneys in NYC.

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We can’t help but wonder whether these sociological advances, ‘intersecting’ with the creation of the Brunswick HRTF, will soon result in Town Hall bathrooms, and all other publicly accessible restrooms, being required to do the same thing.  And a local “resistance” movement taking a hint from the Bowdoin crowd on how to respond.

Now that we think of it, the HRTF could make a major step forward by declaring use of the term “john” for a restroom a hate crime, and insisting that it be replaced with “chris,” or “pat,” or, well, how about a contest to unite the community on this vital issue?

“Excuse me officer, is there a public chris nearby?”

How far can we be from installing urinals in ladies rooms?  And condom dispensing machines.  Let’s face it: “Human Rights” in contemporary thinking is a moving target; use of bathrooms; equipping them with the amenities of the opposite sex; etc.  It’s all good, right?  The problem is, once society caves to every current demand, where will they seek accommodation next?

Well, here you go…

http://bowdoinorient.com/2017/03/04/campus-bathrooms-stocked-with-free-feminine-hygiene-products/

Campus bathrooms stocked with free feminine hygiene products

By Nell Fitzgerald

Orient Staff

March 4, 2017

The gender-neutral bathroom on the second floor of David Saul Smith Union has been stocked with free pads and tampons as part of a pilot project created by several female students who received funding for the products from Bowdoin Student Government (BSG)’s Good Ideas Fund. After receiving positive student feedback, the College plans to add feminine hygiene product dispensers in more bathrooms across campus.

Last semester, Annie Glenn ’17 and Sophie Binenfeld ’17 brought their idea of free feminine hygiene products available in campus bathrooms to Director of Housing Operations Lisa Rendall. Rendall connected them with other students who had expressed similar concerns through the Women’s Resource Center.

“This issue was raised three times by different people in the same week,” Glenn said. “[It] shows how important it is on this campus.”

The students decided to call their project “Free Flow.” They sought funding from BSG’s Good Idea Fund in order to facilitate a pilot project. The project was approved—they received $500, which allowed them to purchase 20 baskets of pads and tampons to place around campus.

To determine the logistics of placing the products in bathrooms, the students met with Facilities Management.

“Facilities was really helpful,” Binenfeld said. “But we met in a room of literally all men, and it’s something that they know literally nothing about. They were really forthcoming about that. They said, ‘we know nothing about tampons or pads.’ They understood that they didn’t know what they were doing, but they asked us for help.”

After the conversation, Facilities decided that housekeeping would stock the products in its closets and refill baskets and dispensaries while making rounds.

As a test run, a basket of tampons and pads was placed in the bathroom on the second floor of Smith Union. Binenfeld said that she has already heard good responses from students.

“We’ve gotten really positive feedback. It’s really exciting to hear girls say, ‘Oh my gosh! I really need a tampon right now! This is awesome!’ It’s been really cool,” she said.

Project Free Flow plans on putting baskets in most bathrooms around campus over the next several weeks, including male and gender inclusive facilities in order to ensure that products are available to trans men. Binenfeld said this part of the initiative poses some logistical challenges, since male bathrooms do not have counter space, and were not built to house dispensers.

Given the success of the pilot project, the College will be providing feminine hygiene products in bathrooms across campus in the future. The College bought four tampon dispensaries that can be attached directly to bathroom walls and stock significantly more products than the baskets. The dispensaries, which will dispense products for free, will be placed in central bathrooms on campus, including bathrooms in Moulton Union, Thorne Hall, Smith Union and the basement of Hawthorne-Longfellow Library.

Which ended up spawning this Editorial Board item:

http://bowdoinorient.com/2017/03/31/leave-tampons-alone/

Leave tampons alone

By Editorial Board

March 31, 2017

As part of the Free Flow project to make tampons and pads accessible to the Bowdoin community, Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) is sponsoring free dispensers in several women’s, men’s and gender-neutral restrooms.

Since the dispensers and trash receptacles were installed over break, tampons from the containers in the men’s bathroom have been found in the trash over 10 times. On Wednesday morning a housekeeper found that someone had defecated in the metal receptacle intended for used tampons. Obviously, this is unacceptable.

The pads and tampons were placed in men’s bathrooms for people who menstruate and use the men’s bathroom, such as trans men and some gender nonconforming people. For some students, this may not be immediately apparent. But the type of behavior exhibited this past week is both disrespectful to the housekeeping staff and a direct disregard for the rights of trans* students on campus. It is an act of bias and it deserves a prompt administrative response.

Whether or not a person menstruates does not determine their gender identity or which bathroom they use. While the trans* community on campus is small, it exists, and trans* people have the right to go to the bathroom in a space that accommodates their needs.

While we don’t currently know who was responsible for these actions, it’s important to address the malice they illustrate. That the products have been thrown out over 10 times this week clearly shows that this was not an accident. These actions send a message that trans* people are not wanted or welcome in men’s restrooms, which is a message we as a community cannot tolerate.

It is our responsibility to ensure that trans* students feel comfortable on campus, including in the bathroom. If you see someone throwing away these products, confront them. Putting tampons in the trash is unproductive and disrespectful. If you find issue with the Free Flow initiative, voice your concerns in a constructive, mature manner, perhaps through BSG or the Orient. If you have questions or would like to learn more, reach out.

In a world where it is illegal in some places to use the bathroom for the gender that you identify with or even express your gender identity, it is incredibly important that we show support for trans* rights. Placing dispensers in men’s bathrooms is an important step towards recognizing this community. Many people simply don’t understand what it means to not be cisgender. Trans* students face difficulties that are incomprehensible to people who haven’t or won’t experience them themselves. Questioning your gender identity and navigating a cis- and heteronormative society is often a relentless and onerous stress on a trans* person’s life.

Yet, due to the trans* community’s size at Bowdoin, trans* rights are not often given that attention. In their column from earlier this year, Ari Mehrberg ’20 called attention to a general apathy on campus to these issues. This hurts the trans* community and we cannot maintain this attitude. It is integral that we listen to the voices of trans* students and be supportive where we can. This starts with respecting pads and tampons in the men’s restroom, but it goes beyond this: show up to events, educate yourself about trans* identities and refer to people by their desired pronouns. Surely we can manage this.

It’s hard to keep up with this pace of progress, but you can try, can’t you?  Nuances and complexities and intersectionalities are a challenge, but if you’re going to show solidarity with our gownies, you better get hip.  Or thigh.  Or elbow.

This discussion is almost as riveting as the opinion columns a few years back that described how to shave your V-area, and how to stimulate your partner’s prostate gland.

V-Day is now passe…..so ‘yesterday:’ (14 April Orient)

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http://bowdoinorient.com/2017/04/14/v-day-debuts-original-play-based-on-experiences-of-bowdoin-women/

“There had been talk the past couple of years about how conceptions of female sexuality and gender had sort of changed,” said Heywood, who in addition to writing RISE is a leader of V-Day. “I think [‘The Vagina Monologues’] doesn’t show the nuance and complexities and intersectionalities of being a woman and other identities on this campus and so it doesn’t have that universality that it used to have.”

There were also complaints that the writer of “The Vagina Monologues,” Eve Ensler, distanced the women’s stories from the truth by conducting group interviews and then writing the monologues herself. RISE was written based on the stories of women on Bowdoin’s campus collected through submissions in an online forum and interviews. The directors and actors of the show made efforts to stay as true as possible to the women’s stories, while still preserving anonymity.

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Rebkah Tesfamariam ’18 did not participate in “The Vagina Monologues” in the past years, but is acting in RISE this year.

“I think there’s something really special about knowing there’s someone whose story on campus I have the privilege of reading to the campus, and bringing to light some more serious and funny and important issues that people might not feel comfortable with sharing in the other spaces,” she said.

The women who came together to present RISE hope that knowing the stories being performed come from Bowdoin students will stimulate conversation about the issues that come up in the show.

“I hope that people really question their interactions with people on a romantic or even on a friendship level after this, because there’s the weight of knowing there is a woman on this campus who feels this way,” said Tesfamariam.

Heywood is confident that RISE is more effective in showing the nuance and complexity of intersecting identities than “The Vagina Monologues.” However, she recognizes that the show cannot cover the entire range of female experience.

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http://bowdoinorient.com/2017/04/13/acknowledging-the-presence-of-transphobia/

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“Non-binary people”  “othering us”  “Be an active ally”  “normalizing us”

When will they stop “othering” old white men, Republicans and conservatives?’'

When will there be a campus movement to “normalize” conservatives and white males?  Is “cismale” a normalizing, validating term?  Is “cisfemale” the same?

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http://bowdoinorient.com/bonus/article/11708

Letter to the editor

Controversial art display

This piece represents the opinion of the author:

Michael W. McCullom

Contributor

January 26, 2017

We live in a society where very little is sacred and every element of the human condition is on display or exploited for pure shock value. It seems that either destroying or entirely laying waste to previously taboo barriers and boundaries has become an accepted practice in today’s curriculum. This sentiment was recently on display in the most recent installment of The Bowdoin Orient, and I challenge anyone to read Nell Fitzgerald’s article, “Provocative Student Art Brings Menstrual Blood, Trump’s Face in View” and not be repulsed. I cannot fathom how offended I would be to stumble upon photographs of women’s used menstrual pads while visiting a Bowdoin College men’s bathroom. It begs the question: who validates these graphic and visually repugnant pictures as art?  Presumably this was sanctioned by the Bowdoin College Visual Arts Department, so I am assuming there was both consent and possibly encouragement to pursue this project. I strongly doubt any individual who witnessed these horrifying pictures ever drew the sympathetic connections regarding “period angst” that the artist had hoped. Both this project and its presumed objective have failed miserably and has likely fostered antipathy and gall towards its intended subject rather than empathy. Repulsive and disgusting.

Michael W. McCullom ’86

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http://bowdoinorient.com/2017/03/31/international-undermining-of-anxiety-disorder/

     

“Among many things, I often regard my adolescence as a self-discovery of my anxiety.“

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Issue of May 5th:

It’s now “gender confirmation” surgery, and Bowdoin health care covers it.

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Director of the Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity Kate Stern sees many benefits of this policy change, even for students who will never take advantage of it.  

“It’s a really wonderful supportive option that the College is including in our health insurance, but it’s by no means something that all trans students will take advantage of,” Stern said.  “Even for trans students that won’t take advantage of it, it’s quite the show of support that they have that choice.”

Stern believes transgender students are not the only ones who benefit from this change.
“One thing I’ve learned about our queer community is that they are quite the trans allies and advocates,” Stern said.  “When the College does things that support our trans students, it means a lot to our queer students in pretty powerful ways.”

(Above from: http://bowdoinorient.com/bonus/article/10584)

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Student Affairs – Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity

The Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, located at 24 College Street, provides support, resources, safe space, and education for Bowdoin College students of all sexual orientation and gender identities. The Center director serves openly LGBTIQA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, questioning, allies, and asexual) students, as well as those in all stages of the coming out process, and provides education and outreach about LGBTIQA issues to the larger Bowdoin community. Student organizations including the Bowdoin Queer Straight Alliance (BQSA) are advised by the director of the Center. Additional offerings include Winning Together: Allies in Athletics, Proud of My Whole Self, OUTWeek, Februqueery, OUTPeers, OUTAllies, a weekly Thursday evening dinner series for LGBTIQA students, and a regular dinner discussion for men. The Center also maintains a resource library that includes materials from gender, sexuality, and women’s studies courses, classic and contemporary queer fiction and non-fiction, DVDs, CDs, and current LGBTIQA-themed periodicals.

Just a thought: is there any recognition of Growing Up Anxiety Disorder, and treatment for it?  Or I Want My Mommy Anxiety Disorder?

http://bowdoinorient.com/2017/05/05/counseling-service-grapples-with-increased-demand/ 

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This article included the “message” below, which we’ve had to make available via scribd due to production incompatibilities.  So if you’re having difficulty reading the questions below, try going to this link and looking at page 4:

https://www.scribd.com/document/347617543/The-Bowdoin-Orient-Vol-146-No-24-May-5-2017

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After reading the article and the “message above,” you have to ask yourself how these pampered and privileged elite students, swaddled in political correctness, safe spaces, places of refuge, speech codes, officially sanctioned ‘hook-ups,’ and all manner of coddling that was unknown to you and Side in our college years, have managed to become so fragile in their late teens and very early twenties. 

As for us, we still consider our time on campus among the very best years of our life, and we never needed therapy, nor recall anyone else who did.  Hell; we’re not sure having a therapist was even a known cultural option in that era.

We don’t mean to make light of the anxieties and neuroses being experienced by today’s best and brightest, but read their comments in the article.  Some expect to graduate and then continue regular ‘therapy’ outside their local cocoon, often called The Bowdoin Bubble.  Just how well will they be able to cope with the real world, where the less fortunate among us are forced to live? 

If four years of partying your ass off, being nurtured by a faculty and campus atmosphere that cultivates your every social, cultural, and transitional whim, all while living in a sedate and pressure-free rural haven leaves you in a state of mental confusion, distress, and vulnerability, how will you ever be able to successfully and healthily face and adapt to the grown-up circumstances that await you just outside the bubble?

It happens that we have a theory to offer up for discussion on what’s actually going on here.  Could it be that deep within their souls and minds, their mysterious inner selves are telling them that they’re being intellectually abused by the entire Bowdoin experience, and that this is causing an inner battle with their innate common sense and humanity?  A battle that is disturbing their mental equilibrium, though it has not yet surfaced as an epiphany?  And hence, driving their need for help in making some kind of sense of it all?  That today’s elite college is a scam, and they’re being cheated and conned out of their birthright compass and sensibilities?  That they’re being robbed of the joy and memories and optimism that their college years should provide in abundance?

What if it was really that simple?  That what really troubles them is an unrecognized and unidentified yearning for something other than post-modernism and social construction and language redefinition and trashing of long held knowledge and truth, and the academic fads that push it as the only real enlightenment?  That such intellectual conflict and dissonance, driven by cultural warriors, is the real culprit that needs to be diagnosed, and “confronted?”

Oh well, we can muse on such things, can’t we?  And we could even suggest that one of the most fundamental Human Rights that should avail to everyone is freedom from intellectual abuse, especially in very expensive captive situations.

One more thing.  In case you worry that such matters are limited to our own “Brunswick Bubble,” inside which the Bowdoin Bubble lives, take a look at this item from a City nearby. 

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Maybe the Brunswick Human Rights Task Force shoud contact Lewiston authorities and suggest they set up a parallel organization.  They could even collaborate; after all, our HRTF has had numerous breakthroughs and advances in their efforts to date.  We’re just not up to speed on them because we don’t subscribe to The Ostrich.

http://twincitytimes.com/news/op-ed-residents-near-bates-college-should-feel-safe-in-their-own-neighborhood

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Yes, Brunswick; just like we told Virginia, there really is a Santa Claus

 

Brunswick airport gets $2M-plus for hangar

BRUNSWICK — Brunswick Executive Airport will receive more than $2 million in federal funds for improvements to one of its hangars.

U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Angus King, I-Maine, announced Monday that funding will come from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Military Airport Program, specifically for work at Hanger 5.

The airport was formally part of Brunswick Naval Air Station, which was decommissioned in 2011 and has since been redeveloped into a private airport and business campus.

It takes some world class chutzpah to call this a PRIVATE AIRPORT.   But as history tells us, politicians are chutzpah specialists.  You know….”we have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it” and other classics.  And that pales in comparison to spreading pork (taxpayer money) the government doesn’t have wherever you go.

Wonder why this deserves to be called ANYTHING but a private freakin’ airport?  Just take a look at these snips, from the Forecaster as well:

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Private airport you say?  The hell it is!  The figures above come to “more than”

$12,778,000

That’s right – nearly $13 million over a period of 6 years, or more than $2 million per year.  And judging from the nature of these reports, one could assume that the spigot will stay on ad infinitum, thanks to those Santas we send to the seat of our nation’s government, Virginia.   Santa Susan, Santa Angus, and Santa Rochelle in these cases.  We all know Maine is in the far northern frozen reaches of our great nation, but now we have a right to think of ourselves as the North Pole.  Better start watching for reindeer crossing our highways and byways.

You may think this sum is a great investment, and we’re sure MRRA officials, Brunswick officials, and representatives of our congressional delegation will rave about the good things that issue from this largess, courtesy of you, your correspondent, and whoever buys our debt, and whoever supplies ink and paper to government printing presses.

Turns out we’ve got some insight for you.  According to staff at the facility, the average day at Brunswick Executive Airport (BXM) sees 3 (three) takeoff and landing events.  That’s equivalent to 1,100 a  year. 

Surely you can see why millions of dollars for improving those hangars are critical to BXM success!  You can, can’t you?  Trust on this, because we’re not like all the others.

In round numbers, then, the federal government has been chipping in about $2,000 for each and every takeoff and landing event.  That doesn’t count the fed’s administrative costs, interest expense, and all the rest.  Our wild guess is that easily adds another $1,000 per event, for a grand total of $3,000 per that taxpayers and lenders and printers have to cough up.

And they want us to think of this as a PRIVATE AIRPORT?

And this is the same federal government that millions are clamoring to have create a single payer health care system?

           

What do they think?  That money grows on trees?

Apparently does, as you can see, and if you have the right connections, and elected representatives who love to trade pork for press releases, you can pick copious amounts.

Is this a great country or what? 

At least before it goes bankrupt.

Monday, July 24, 2017

MLF Sound Update: NNEPRA fails the promise check

Don’t know how many of you are aware of what took place at the Town Council meeting a week ago today, and the news coverage that ensued.  So here you go….a snip of the Forecaster’s article:

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You’ll find the complete article here: 

http://www.theforecaster.net/brunswick-train-barn-neighbors-fears-realized/

As it says in the article, Charlie Wallace of Resource Systems Engineering presented Councilors with a data package documenting ‘rail yard’ sound levels since the Downeaster came to Brunswick and the MLF was built, and how they exceed Brunswick zoning regulations for both night-time and day-time noise level limits.

We’ve posted the entire package here:

https://www.scribd.com/document/354311237/RSE-Sound-Comparison-July-17

We think you’ll be able to work your way through the details with a little effort, but here are a few summary visuals that should help you get the main point – that measured data shows sound levels are well in excess of town limits, and frequently and regularly so.  There is no question that Downeaster related activities have caused measurable sound pollution, in excess of what elected employees once considered the “limits.”

Before the Downeaster came to Brunswick and the MLF was built:

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After the Downeaster came to town and the MLF was built:

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What’s the bottom line?  It’s pretty plain to see.   Noise levels (not to mention pollution levels) are well in excess of town limits. 

And NNEPRA’s promises aren’t worth the spit coughed up when diesel dust descends on the neighborhood.

Unless you’re a foamer, in which case you’re oblivious to reality.

Don’t let that bother you.  Here in Brunswick, facing reality is not a popular activity.