Tuesday, December 6, 2016

You’d ‘Rather’ what?

             

Those of you who know us have more than likely heard us mention that we suffer from ‘the curse of an active mind.’  Those of you who don’t know us should be thankful for small blessings.

In recent weeks, meaning mostly since the election four weeks ago, there’s been much talk in both print and electronic media of a ‘fake news’ phenomena sweeping our system of journalism and the ‘free press.’  Which is to say that serving the purposes of ‘informing the public’ and ‘government watchdog’ is a load of crap in more ways than one.

As we reflected on the general subject, we couldn’t help but recall the case of Dan Rather, the journalistic ‘icon’ pictured above, breaking the story about false documentation for Bush W’s service in the Air National Guard.  As the story unfolded, it became clearer and clearer that the so-called evidence supporting the claim was in fact falsified.

In response, ‘big media’ attempted to turn this sow’s ear into a silk purse by inventing the story line that it wasn’t so much the accuracy of the evidence that mattered, as it was the ‘seriousness of the charges.’

In other words, they can make anything up they like, and even if the ‘evidence’ that they put forward won’t hold water, you all need to listen to them because the ‘charges are so serious,’ even if they are a total fraud.  This was a major step forward in journalism living up to our low expectations.

We can’t help but wonder if this isn’t the MO behind the WGME/Kathy Wilson story we’ve posted about in recent days.  Shirley this isn’t a case of trumped up charges making headlines because the ‘charges are so serious.’  Not here in Brunswick, where all the kids are above average, all the women are good looking, and all the men are hard-working.

We don’t know, but we promise you this.  We’re not going to let this story go until we get to the bottom of it. And when we do, we will do the honorable thing in response, wherever that might place the monkey.

Those with details to pass along know how to reach our offices, and we look forward to the help.

Correspondent’s Notebook

“Could Not Be Reached”

While we’d be a bit presumptuous to call ourselves an investigative journalist, we do admit to a certain curiosity about the underlying particulars behind a story here and there.  Every now and then you find an onion with mule’s ears, and other times you discover a quarter-million dollar forgivable loan to local well-connected businesses.  So it is that we went in search of the rationale for the above story on WGME, which we talked about here: http://othersideofbrunswick.blogspot.com/2016/12/councilor-kathy-wilson-recent-election.html

We pursued two possible sources for more information, and we think they’re exactly the sources most readers would pursue if they were in our socks.  Four days later, neither has replied to our  inquiry.  So we’re going to stick with our original inclination, which reads thus:

Absent any such evidence in the local newspaper of record, we’re left to infer that Councilor Wilson trumped up these accusations in order to incite media attention, inflame local emotions, and reinvigorate the Task Force.

Always intereste in more in more details, we repeat that Councilor Wilson, or anyone with more information, can contact us if they like.

Life Is Just A Bowl of Olives

                              Image result for bartender condiments

Those of you who enjoy an adult beverage from time to time may recognize this garnish caddy once common at traditional bars.  We don’t know if they still are common.  Not because we don’t enjoy such beverages these days, but because we normally have them served at our table, rather than while seated at a classic ‘bar,’ like a Bogart wannabe in a tux.

Image result for bogart martini

But we do recall from time to time asking for an extra olive (or two) in our classic icy Martini, and not having to pay extra for it.  Come to think of it, we may have nipped an olive or two from the caddy years ago when the barkeep was looking elsewhere.

                                 Image result for bogart martini

On occasion we find ourselves on the ‘other side’ of the classic cocktail axis, ordering a Manhattan “up,’' especially in colder seasons.  This drink is typically garnished with a maraschino cherry, providing a sweet counterpoint to the taste of bitters used in the recipe.

As Chance would have it, we found ourself in just such a situation recently at a local establishment.  We asked our server to make arrangements for us to have two (2) cherries in our drink, and indeed we did when it arrived.

                            Image result for maraschino cherries

For those not well versed in such trivia, these cherries range from low end, rather small and lifeless without stems, and looking a bit maimed from automated processing.

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To those looking much more sassy, full of color, stems intact, juicy and plump, and relatively undamaged.

From time to time, we’ve had the full range of specimens presented on anything from a wooden toothpick, to one of those little plastic swords or spears, to simply lying in the bottom of our drink.  The stemmed versions, obviously, are less in need of such accessorizing.

On this recent occasion, our two cherries were from the first category above, and absent any accessory to make them easier to enjoy.  We were left to treat them as finger food, or fish them out with a utensil; we won’t tell you which we did.

But we will tell you that the two, sizewise, were at best the equivalent of one of the proud examples in the second photo.

By now, you’re probably saying ‘so what,’ and wondering why we’re bothering you with this story.

Good questions.  And here’s the answer.  Because when our bill came, we had been charged $1 for the extra cherrry, limp as it was, on top of the price of our drink.  In a place whose food prices we found beyond normal expectations.  And whose table settings were wrapped in paper napkins and standing in a little bucket on the quasi picnic table we were seated at.

That’s why.  What’s next?  Charging by the packet of sugar for one’s coffee?

We’re pretty sure the management has no idea what an impression this gave us, because we didn’t complain.  But we can assure you we will not gladly return because of it.

As our spouse likes to tell servers, “he doesn’t get out much anymore,’' and that’s true.  But we did spend twenty years or so of our career getting out a lot, and eating at some of the finest establishments around.  And not a one ever charged us for an extra olive or extra cherry.

At our age, we suppose, it’s only right that we get all the pits, figuratively speaking.

Fair warning: don’t ask for a warmer on your coffee if you haven’t priced it first. 

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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Betke on Brunswick & Freeport Schedules

Our friend George Betke, a railroading professional, had an item published yesterday in The Ostrich.  It dovetails nicely with our item published earlier in the week, about which we posted yesterday.

We thought you’d enjoy this photo, which shows NNEPRA/Downeaster glitterati accompanying Senator King, Angus to the Brunswick celebration of November 21st.  Note how the three: NNEPRA Board Chair Marty Eisenstein; TRNE Chairman S Wayne Davis; and NNEPRA ED Patricia Quinn maintain an appropriate and repectful distance of several paces behind the Senator.

U.S. Sen Angus King, I-Maine, arrives in Brunswick Monday, Nov. 21, to mark the inaugural third daily roundtrip of the Amtrak Downeaster between Brunswick and Boston. He was joined by Marty Eisenstein, chairman of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority; TrainRiders Northeast Chairman Wayne Davis, and Patricia Quinn, NNEPRA executive director. The new late-morning departure and evening arrival were made possible by the recent opening of a new train layover facility in Brunswick. (Keith Spiro / For The Forecaster)

Here is Mr. Betke’s offering in its entirety:

Downeaster schedule shortchanges Freeport, Brunswick

Heavily promoted economic benefits of extending Amtrak Downeaster passenger service north of Portland have taken a step backward. An original impetus for getting the train to Freeport (and leading to further extension of the route to Brunswick) was to enable day-trippers from Boston and intermediate points to enjoy a Maine shopping experience.

The revised schedule recently implemented by the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority lists the first northbound train arrival in Freeport at 4:10 p.m., barely allowing for a convenience-store stop before the last southbound departure at 5:35 p.m. Travelers seeking a same-day train trip to Brunswick are faced with an even more pressing, 55-minute time constraint, 4:25-5:20 p.m. Perhaps NNEPRA marketers had the local overnight lodging establishments in mind.

On the other hand, they clearly were thinking of big-city sporting and entertainment attractions, scheduling late-evening weekend departures from Boston that encourage visiting Mainers to boost the Massachusetts economy. Is there any doubt that the flow of continuing economic benefit from the “Downeaster” is decidedly southward?

What about all the transit-oriented real-estate improvements that supposedly accompany the introduction of rail service? The train actually followed such development in Freeport, and though Brunswick has a nice new station complex, none of its occupants is dependent on rail travelers. Two restaurants simply moved from other locations into new quarters, and the nearby inn reports few guests utilizing the train.

The main purpose of the new schedule appears to be positioning trains for overnight occupancy of Brunswick’s massive new maintenance and layover facility, making the town a regular destination for equipment if not passengers. The obvious irony is that Freeport and Brunswick are being short-changed by this paltry return on a committed investment of more than $70-million. After four years, the transformative economic stimulus envisioned by the “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a train?” crowd can only be described as an expensive hoax.

George C. Betke, Jr.,

Newcastle

And here are the schedules he refers to:

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As the All Aboarders like to day, “we’re livin’ the dream, baby!”

Even though others may see it more as a nightmare for taxpayers, and those whose “safe space” has been violated by the microaggression of arriving and departing train whistles.

Friday, December 2, 2016

For the kids…no matter who screwed up…..

As an early Christmas gift, here’s one of our perennial favorites:

image

We don’t know if you saw this report in this week’s Forecaster:

http://www.theforecaster.net/brunswick-study-finds-new-school-track-could-cost-860k/

We were stunned to see these words in the article:

"excavation and reconstruction of the entire facility"

What have they been doing?  Holding 18 wheeler and dump truck races on the track?

The pictured weeds provide a clue on how to fund the repair. Eliminate the salaried position that was responsible for care and maintenance of the facility, and use the saved compensation and benefits cost to amortize the loan for repairs.  Alternatively, elimate other staff positions to generate the cash flow necessary to do the same thing.  Perhaps doing either of these would inject a new era of reality and accountability into the hallowed and congenitally faultless Brunswick School Department.

We won’t hold our breath, and we don’t advise you do so either.  Instead, take this report as just one more example of the virulent pathologies of school department operation.  Let things go regarding facilities in favor of salary and benefit budget lines, always assuming that capital expenses can be dealt with by appealing to public sympathies, and attendant lack of curiosity into the absence of discipline and diligence in attending to the care of public assets.

Afterall, ‘it’s about the children.’  And ‘the children are our future.’  Not to mention ‘imagine our future.’

Face it; this is a repeat of the unshoveled roof approach at Jordan Acres that is now costing us $30 million in new school construction. Screw up, and nobody pays with their job for the lack of accountability.  And voila, shiny new facilities just like that!

Instead, taxpayers bear the brutal cost of the negligence because of board and schoolie weepiness and 'community pride.'

Isn't it time somebody in authority started thinking about 'community shame,' as well as 'for the taxpayer?'

Of course not.  Instead, let’s just settle for assurances this won’t happen again ‘on my watch.’

And approve those contracts with the guaranteed salary increases for all.

What a way to run a railroad.

Councilor Kathy Wilson: recent election warrants attention by the Brunswick Human Rights Task Force

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We’ve posted before that the Brunswick “Human Rights Task Force,” originally formulated as the Brunswick “Race and Gender Task Force,” exemplifies a ‘solution in search of a problem.’  In recent months, it seemed to be fading off into the municipal sunset, lacking recent incidents to speak out against, atone for, and otherwise provide all the force of government righteousness to resolve.

Then we learned that after failing to convene for some time, the group was going to meet again -  this time on Friday, November 18th.  Which, oddly enough, was 10 days after the latest election, and long enough for, among other things, the Bowdoin student body and administration to publicly wring hands and gnash teeth over the outcome in the Bowdoin Orient.  And untold thousands or area residents to rent their garments or any other handy blanky as well.

Cue the charges of micro-aggression, micro-oppression, micro-invalidation, triggering offenses, and all the rest of the lexicon of social justice warfare of our era.

http://wgme.com/live/brunswicks-human-rights-task-force-tackling-reports-of-hate

Now comes the above report, in which the brief video features Town Councilor Kathy Wilson, a member of said Task Force, speaking of how she has become ‘scared again.’  Both the included text and the caption below the video snippet are perhaps the worst documented reporting we’ve seen in recent years.

Both refer to ‘three town councilors’ taking action while citing only Wilson.  Both refer to ‘reports of hate speech and confrontation’ without any examples, citations, or other substantiation.  Apparently, said councilors believe the Task Force exists, among other things, to deal with ‘concerns about the recent election and Donald trump’s (sic) victory.’

Since the report is dated yesterday, we presumed we’d be able to find some sort of corroborating report in the pages of The Ostrich.  So we searched the ‘home page’ on their web site for the last week or so, and found no related items.

Absent any such evidence in the local newspaper of record, we’re left to infer that Councilor Wilson trumped up these accusations in order to incite media attention, inflame local emotions, and reinvigorate the Task Force.

We will, however, look further into the matter, to see if acts of bias or hate speech have been reported recently.  We’ll let you know what we find.

Meanwhile, Councilor Wilson can contact us with details of incidents she knows about, and we’ll pass those along as well.  When she does, she can explain to us how the WGME report came about.

All Aboard: The Ostrich Version

Your long absent correspondent had this item appear in The Ostrich earlier this week.  It responds to a front page item they ran a week earlier, which we trust you will search for on your own if you have any interest in what they have to say.

Here’s a snippet of our item from their web site, followed by the link:

image

http://www.timesrecord.com/news/2016-11-29/Opinion/A_Response_to_All_Aboard.html

So many people haven’t called about the appearance of the column that we’ve lost track of who they aren’t, or we’d give you the list.

To make things easier for you, here’s the original items as we submitted it:

==================================================

To the Editors:

“All aboard in Brunswick,” appearing on the front page of the 22 November Times Record, merits a response on several points, starting with this passage: "Sen. Angus King’s office said that Amtrak’s Boston-to- Brunswick rail service set ridership and revenue records from July to September."

Sen. King's office likely echoed the PR propaganda provided by NNEPRA. One doubts the Senator is aware that NNEPRA does their ridership 'projections' in house using undisclosed methodology, making it highly likely they 'regularly exceed projections.' Reporting from Amtrak show that ridership from Portland to Brunswick has already peaked, and in it's highest year, was 33% below projections.

For clarity on how Amtrak reports 'revenues' to embellish their fiscal profiles, look here: http://ti.org/antiplanner/?p=12536

King added these comments: “It really knits our community together,” he said. King lives not far from Brunswick Station. “I hear that train whistle at quarter of seven in the morning, and sometimes at night,” King said. “It just feels right, it just feels like we’re connected.”

Absent a tangible example of what 'knitting our community together' means, this is a fine example of the hollow platitudes typical at public events celebrating deficit spending, on projects of which the officials speaking have virtually no detailed understanding.

Former Town Councilor Margo Knight repeated her frequent sentiments regarding the Downeaster: “It’s a big economic engine for this area.” I've asked before for her to provide specific corroboration for this claim, but none was ever received. So I'll ask again that she provide it for TR readers to study.

And ask her as well to explain why when a suggestion for a 'town & gown collaboration' was made to the Town Council to conduct a study of such economic benefit, I couldn't find two councilors to 'bring it to the table' as an agenda item for discussion, let alone approval. Read about this in more detail in a previously published TR item: http://www.timesrecord.com/news/2014-12-12/Commentary/Afraid_of_Downeaster_Truth.html

Her husband added this: “traveling the Downeaster has it benefits. It’s just a very relaxing way to get to Boston,” he said. I wonder how relaxing it would be if passengers were charged the full cost of their travel, which from Brunswick, would surely be more than double the current fares. Not to mention the relaxing travel experiences we've had on Concord Coach to Boston, enhanced measurably by driver assistance with our luggage, and drop off and pickup curbside at our airline terminal, among other options.

Now take these words in the article: “The expansion of service is possible thanks to a $13 million layover facility in Brunswick that will service Amtrak Downeaster trains overnight. The facility allows late-night trains to Brunswick to remain there overnight and head south again the following morning, rather than returning to Portland to overnight.”

By all accounts, the actual facility cost is in excess of $15 million, with $1 million in new annual operating costs on top of that. Hence total capital spending on 'stretching' the service 27 miles from Portland to Brunswick currently stands in the vicinity of $60 million, with another $20 million plus planned to 'optimize' the service. Yet the MLF cannot support required FRA safety inspections since it lacks pits to look beneath the trains.

Experienced railroad professionals assert the new schedules are designed to justify Brunswick MLF construction, rather than stimulate economic benefits to Maine, and will push non-Maine ridership over the 50% threshold. They clearly prioritize the needs of those heading south from Maine points to spend discretionary dollars in the Boston area, rather than those in Massachusetts and New Hampshire heading north to Maine locales, including Brunswick and Freeport, to fuel local “economic engines.”

Hence prevailing “economic tradewinds” continue out of the Northeast, and beg the question of why New Hampshire and Massachusetts aren't contributing to the annual cash subsidies required to keep the Downeaster operating.

There is more than enough here to concern responsible oversight authorities in Augusta, especially when it comes to paying one's 'fair share' of operating deficits as they relate to economic benefit. We can only hope the ongoing investigation into NNEPRA's operation of the Downeaster seriously examines such inequities.

Locally, fervent fans pooh-pooh worries about such things when 'knitting our community together,' and revving the local 'economic engine' are involved, even if no one can substantiate either, or will even try.

As they see it, believing in the dream should be more than enough.

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Which brings the Beatles tune to mind….for those who favor dreams.

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Friday, November 11, 2016

Tea and Crumpets, Senate Style

(Ed. Note: Yes, we are still vertical and taking nourishment, much to the chagrin of some, we suppose.)

Our recent submission to The Maine Wire appeared on line today.

Here’s a glimpse of the opening; we hope you’ll read the entire item as linked.

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Commentary

Tea and Crumpets in the Senate Cloakroom, Anyone?

“Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” -Barry Goldwater

On Saturday, October 29th, the Portland Press Herald ran an article that begins with these words:

“BANGOR — In a historic gathering of Maine political firepower, five current and former U.S. senators lamented Friday night the nation’s deep polarization but also expressed optimism – if measured – for eventually moving back toward compromise and cooperation.”

The participants were “Maine’s five living senators – former Sens. William Cohen, George Mitchell and Olympia Snowe and sitting Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King.”

We’ve been hearing for years about the “polarization” and “lack of civility” in Washington. In my view, our Washington types top the list of provocateurs in this story.

Why? There was a time when debates making news in our capitol were about speed limits on the interstates (should 70 be allowed?), or lowering the voting age to 18. These were relevant questions of policy, and could be debated from rational, civil points of view.

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Read the rest at http://www.themainewire.com/2016/11/tea-crumpets-senate-cloakroom-anyone/

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:

http://othersideofbrunswick.blogspot.com/2013/08/were-baaaaa-aaaack-and-with-king-sized.html

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):

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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:

http://www.brunswick.k12.me.us/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Brunswick-Schools-Strategic-Framework_09-14-16.pdf

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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.

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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.

   http://deliveringhappiness.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Rising-Dough1.jpg

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.

  image

The image just above is at the top of this article: http://www.campusreform.org/?ID=8081

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: http://socialjustice.rutgers.edu/about-us/

      

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.

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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

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“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:

http://www.theforecaster.net/brunswick-human-rights-panel-gets-vote-of-confidence/

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.

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

http://othersideofbrunswick.blogspot.com/2016/07/of-black-holes-and-other-anomalies.html

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.

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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: https://www.nas.org/articles/snowflake_jacobins_black_rage_on_campus

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